sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2016

Trump campaign plans to attack Clinton with her husband's romantic scandals

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign is ready to attack his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, using the infidelities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, according to lists of talking points prepared for the mogul's surrogates and obtained by CNN.

In the documents, the idea is developed that Trump "has never treated women the way Hillary Clinton and her husband did when they actively worked to destroy Bill Clinton's accusers."

Source: EFE

Rosetta space probe lands on comet, completing mission

A composite handout image released by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Sept. 30, 2016 shows a sequence of images captured by Rosetta during its final descent to the surface of Comet 67P/C-G.  EPA/ESA/ROSETTA/MPS FOR OSIRIS / HANDOUT
The Rosetta probe successfully descended on a comet's surface following an intentional collision to complete its mission, the European Space Agency announced on Friday.

The Rosetta space probe transmitted its last information up until its crash onto the surface of the 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko comet at approximately 11 am GMT.

Source: EFE

Baby with DNA from 3 people opens doors to new treatments

Dr. Alejandro Chavez the director of the New Hope Fertility Center speaks during an interview eith Efe in Mexico City. EFE/José Méndez
The birth of a baby with genetic material from three people "is a watershed" opening doors to new treatments for various diseases, said Dr. Alejandro Chavez, the director of the center that undertook the procedure.

In an interview with EFE at the New Hope Fertility Center in Mexico City, Chavez said that the event, as reported on Sept. 27 in Britain's New Scientist magazine, was the result of an international effort.

Source: EFE

French warplanes join attack against IS in Iraq's Mosul

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French fighter jets took off from an aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean on Friday to engage in aerial attacks against the Islamic State in the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to French media sources.

At around 04:00 am GMT, eight Aéronavale Rafale-M fighters took off from the French "Charles de Gualle" aircraft carrier, which was navigating close to Cyprus as part of France's Operation Chammal in the region, according to French BFM-TV.

The fighters' mission is to assist Iraqi government troops in their bid to expel IS members from Mosul, a current stronghold for the terrorist group.

The "Charles de Gaulle" had just arrived to the area for its third combat tour along with the international coalition led by the United States against IS in Syria and Iraq

The French minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced that the aircraft carrier's deployment will take place from the end of Sept. to the end of Oct. when the ship is due for a major 18 month maintenance overhaul.

Source: EFE

Duterte draws parallel with Hitler, wants to kill 3 million drug addicts

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Comparing himself to Adolf Hitler, the Philippine president said Friday he wants to kill the three million drug addicts he says his country has, in remarks following his return from an official two-day trip to Vietnam.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts... I'd be happy to slaughter them," said Rodrigo Duterte before the press, according to an official transcript from his office.

He said that the way Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have "my victims" - referring to criminals - as a means "to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition."

The leader also renewed his attack against the United States and the European Union for their criticism of his violent anti-drugs campaign, which official figures say has left over 3,500 people dead since June 30, three month ago Friday, when Duterte assumed office.

He said unlike the US and the EU, he had never liked "hypocricy," directed at criticizing their response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

He wondered how while they (US, EU) close their doors to migrants escaping from the Middle East, allowing them "to rot," they worry about the deaths of a few thousands in the Philippines.

Recent weeks have seen the president openly hit out at the US, the United Nations and the EU in retaliation for their condemnation of human rights violations in the Philippine war against drugs.

Earlier, Duterte refused to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, terming the world body useless, and even threatened to pull out the Philippines from the organization.

The current president came to power after an overwhelming victory in the presidential elections held in May, riding on a vow to wipe out drugs and crime within six months of coming to power.

On several occasions since, he has urged Police and citizens to kill drug traffickers as well as consumers.

Source: EFE

US President Obama: Shimon Peres a giant of the 20th century

US President Barack Obama touches the coffin of Shimon Peres after delivering his eulogy during the state funeral ceremony for Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl Military Cemeter in Jerusalem, Israel, Sept, 30, 2016.  EPA/ABIR SULTAN/POOL
The President of the United States on Friday exalted the late former President of Israel to the heights of 20th century greats as he closed tributes at the funeral service in Jerusalem.

Sharing the stage with the flag-draped coffin of Shimon Peres, Barack Obama addressed an audience of world leaders and dignitaries who had gathered at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl national cemetery for the funeral of one the founders of modern Israel.

"In many ways he reminded me of some of the other giants of the 20th century that I've had the honor to meet, men like Nelson Mandela, women like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth," the American statesman said in a eulogy that lasted almost half an hour.

Obama said that Peres' life encapsulated "the story of the Jewish people."

"A free life in a homeland regained, a secure life of a nation that can defend itself by itself, a full life of a friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies, always... this was Shimon Peres's life," Obama added.

However, the president also acknowledged the presence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the service as a signal that the peace process was ongoing.

The poignancy of Abbas' attendance was captured in a gesture when he was filmed shaking hands with current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a funeral that prompted the biggest security operation in the country's history.

Around 8,000 security agents were deployed onto the streets of Jerusalem to ensure that proceedings would not be hindered amid heightened tension in the region.

Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also gave personal eulogies at the funeral of Peres.

The late Israeli statesman was described by PM Netanyahu as a "great man of Israel" and a "great man of the world," adding that the world should find hope in his legacy.

Rivlin, who opened the testimonies, said that not only was Peres blessed to have served as both prime minister and president of Israel, but that the country itself was blessed to have been served by Peres.

"People came from near and far to pay tribute to you. All over the world, people will miss you. We here, already do," Rivlin said.

Also in attendance at the Mount Herzl funeral were former US President Bill Clinton, who also spoke at the eulogy, King Felipe VI of Spain and the presidents of Mexico, Germany and France; Enrique Peña Nieto, Joachim Gauck and Francois Hollande, respectively.

The prime ministers of Italy, Matteo Renzi, and Canada, Justin Trudeau, attended as well, as did Prince Charles of Wales.

In a career spanning over six decades, Peres has occupied virtually every major political office in Israel.

He was president from 2007-2014, served twice as prime minister, has represented five political parties in the Knesset (Parliament) and held 12 ministerial positions since he entered politics in the 1950s.

Following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1994, Peres, as foreign minister, received the Nobel Peace Prize together with then-Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Yasser Arafat.

News of Peres' death was announced on Wednesday, two weeks after the former statesman suffered a stroke.

Source: EFE

quarta-feira, 28 de setembro de 2016

Obama recommits to peace pact in Middle East as tribute to Peres

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United States President Barack Obama reiterated Wednesday his commitment to a peace pact between the Israelis and the Palestinians as a tribute to his "friend" Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday aged 93 years after suffering a stroke.

"Tonight, I can think of no greater tribute to his life than to renew our commitment to the peace that we know is possible," Obama said in a statement in which he called Peres the "essence" of Israel.

Source: EFE

Turkish Justice Minister: 32,000 remain in custody following coup attempt

A file image from July 20, 2016, shows Turkish plain clothed policeman with detainees from the failed coup, Istanbul, Turkey.  EPA/SEDAT SUNA
Around 32,000 people suspected of being involved in July's failed coup d'état in Turkey remain in police custody, the Turkish Justice Minister said on Wednesday.

In an interview on Turkish national television, Bekir Bozdag detailed the figures of those currently going through judicial processes in Turkey as part of a government purge following the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

Source: EFE

Campaign seeks to register thousands of new Latino voters in U.S.

 With the U.S. presidential campaign in the home stretch, Latino organizations were mobilizing Tuesday to register thousands of voters to "avoid surprises" and demonstrate immigrants' true power at the polls next November. EFE/File
With the U.S. presidential campaign in the home stretch, Latino organizations were mobilizing Tuesday to register thousands of voters to "avoid surprises" and demonstrate immigrants' true power at the polls next November.

"A lot of skeptics who don't take Donald Trump's extreme ideas seriously could be in for a big surprise," Sulma Arias of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, or FIRM, told EFE in an interview.

Source: EFE

Insight: Inside Brazil's battle to save the Amazon with satellites and strike forces

A Seringueira rubber tree, which is native to the Amazon rainforest, stands in Chico Mendes Extraction Reserve in Xapuri, Acre state, Brazil, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
When George Porto joined Brazil's environment agency 13 years ago, the country didn't have access to satellite data on illegal logging -- let alone heat maps tracking deforestation patterns or gun-toting agents dedicated to stopping ecological crimes.

How times have changed.

Today, IBAMA, as the agency is known, has access to four satellite feeds monitoring illegal activities in the Amazon, the world's biggest rainforest. It also boasts a network of indigenous watchmen in remote regions and a 1,000-strong commando force.

Environmentalists say the agency's control center in Brasilia, a collection of low-slung concrete buildings from the 1970s, is one of the world's most important hubs for protecting rainforests and the land rights of people who depend on them.

"When I joined there was no GPS or satellite images, it wasn't a strategic way to tackle deforestation," said Porto, IBAMA's environmental monitoring coordinator, as he examined maps showing changes in forest cover at the agency's headquarters.

"Today, the rate (of deforestation) is coming down because of our technology and intelligence gathering," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

For years, Brazil has sought to balance a desire to lift millions out of poverty by making use of the country's greatest natural resource -- the Amazon's trees, land and minerals -- and the need to protect one of the world's most biodiverse regions.

Mounting pressure to save the Amazon, known as the "lungs of the planet" for its role sucking climate-changing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, prompted former president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva to unveil plans to halt the Amazon's destruction.

And in the decade following the start of his first term in office in 2003, Brazil reduced its deforestation rate by more than 70 percent, some of the fastest improvement anywhere.

But the rate increased again last year by 24 percent compared to 2013, Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE) said in September, citing the latest satellite images.

Brazil is still losing the equivalent of two football fields of rainforest every minute as illegal loggers and ranchers exploit the Amazon's unspoiled reaches, according to the National Forest Commission's former director, Tasso Azevedo.

Satellites used by IBAMA recorded about 100,000 incursions into the forest last year.

In a renewed push against the problem, Brazil has pledged to reduce net new deforestation to zero by 2030, down from more than 6,200 square kilometers (2,394 sq miles) today.

Meeting this goal will require enforcement agencies leveraging new technologies to detect problems, and a sustained push for formal land rights, analysts said.

IBAMA officials are also using a "carrot and stick" strategy to reduce illegal land clearing by both large agribusiness operators and small farmers.


About 90 percent of Brazil's deforestation is illegal, much of it carried out by organized groups clearing land for agriculture, IBAMA officials said.

Reducing the problem hinges on law enforcement targeting large operators who destroy the forest while providing peasant farmers with alternative livelihoods and title deeds to land, environmental experts say.

To tackle the lucrative criminal enterprise, environment officials are fighting deforestation based on the logic of counter-insurgency.

"It's a war," said Luciano Evaristo, IBAMA's enforcement director, slamming a fist into his office desk.

When satellites detect large-scale forest clearing, Evaristo's agents, armed with automatic weapons, are deployed to hard-to-reach sites via helicopters.

Before 2002, IBAMA didn't have its own field operatives. The agency monitored the situation and turned information over to other branches of the security services to conduct raids.

"We decided we needed autonomy from the police, as they have corruption problems," Evaristo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "With the rise of pressure around deforestation, the government put us on the frontline."

But in an area as vast and remote as the Amazon, it's logistically impossible for the state to be all-seeing, he said.

Instead of long-term boots on the ground, officials rely on field intelligence from the people who know the region best: indigenous Brazilians.

"The indigenous people are the eyes and ears of IBAMA," Evaristo said.

Across the Amazon, networks of indigenous people gather information about illegal loggers that satellites can't access.

They coordinate intelligence gathering in Quyapo or other local languages on radios provided by IBAMA. When unlawful activity is detected, they send GPS coordinates of the location back to Brasilia.

Evaristo can then deploy a team to destroy illicit logging camps and torch their machinery.

In the last year, Evaristo said his team has made more than 4,000 arrests, seizing 91 trucks, 115 chainsaws and the equivalent of 2,000 truckloads of wood.


It is not only in intelligence gathering that indigenous groups have proven valuable.

Lands formally recognized as belonging to indigenous people have far better forest protection rates than state or private lands. One study by U.S. and Brazilian environmentalists in 2015 showed that more than 98 percent of forests on indigenous lands were intact.

These lands, however, are regularly threatened by "grileros" – a Brazilian term for businessmen fraudulently obtaining or selling properties by bribing local land registry workers, doctoring ownership certificates and other dubious practices.

"In this war, it's the indigenous people versus the grileros," said Evaristo, who keeps a loaded pistol in his briefcase beside policy papers prepared for lawmakers.

To combat land theft by powerful agricultural interests, IBAMA began naming and shaming businessmen involved in deforestation in 2008. The publicly available blacklist now has 50,000 names, including 2,000 added last year.

Blacklisted individuals face financial penalties, lose access to bank credit and rural land registries so they cannot buy new territory, making it harder for them to do business, officials said.

IBAMA levied millions of dollars in fines for environmental crimes last year, but expects to collect less than 10 percent of the money due to Brazil's cumbersome legal system, Evaristo said.


IBAMA officials say enforcement or "the stick" has worked well in reducing illegal cutting down of trees by large agriculture operations that are behind 70 percent of the Brazil's deforestation.

But small farmers still account for about 30 percent of the deforestation and their share has been growing, said Avecita Chicchon of the San Francisco-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the Amazon.

"Poor people are moving into the Amazon for economic reasons and cutting the forest for agriculture," Chicchon said.

Across Brazil, about five million families have no access to land, according to a 2016 study from Canada's University of Windsor. Landless farmers have few options to feed themselves other than clearing territory.

Cutting by small farmers is harder to detect on satellite maps, according to IBAMA officials who hope "carrots" including formal land title deeds and access to credit for growers who do not cut down trees will help.

The government has provided formal land title deeds to 20,000 farmers since 2009.

For small farmers who own land, it's more profitable to work within the law and not deforest new areas in order to access credit and other government supports, officials said.

By distributing land to small farmers while cracking down on large-scale illegal cutting, Brazilian officials say they can reduce net deforestation to zero by 2030.

"Every act of deforestation has an economic purpose behind it," IBAMA official Jair Schmitt told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "If you motivate people to follow the law, you can kill the business model."

Source: Reuters

Senators accuse Yahoo of 'unacceptable' delay in hack discovery

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer delivers her keynote address at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada in this January 7, 2014, file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files
Six senators on Tuesday demanded that Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) explain why hackers' theft of user information for 500 million accounts two years ago came to light only last week and called the company's handling of the breach "unacceptable."

The lawmakers, all Democrats, said they were "disturbed" that the 2014 intrusion, which was disclosed by the company on Thursday, was detected so long after it occurred.

"That means millions of Americans’ data may have been compromised for two years," the senators wrote in a letter to Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer. "This is unacceptable."

A Yahoo spokesman said the company would respond in a "timely and appropriate manner" to the letter, which was signed by Senators Patrick Leahy, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden and Edward Markey.

The top U.S. stock market regulator said separately that prompt disclosure by companies of "cyber events" is a priority. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White, asked about Yahoo, said she could not comment specifically on it.

She earlier said at a conference that SEC examiners in recent months have been checking that companies comply with 2011 agency guidance stressing the need to disclose hacks.

Yahoo has faced mounting questions about exactly when it knew about the 2014 cyber attack that exposed the email credentials of users, a critical issue for the company as it seeks to prevent the breach from affecting a pending takeover of its core business by Verizon Inc (VZ.N).

The internet firm has said it detected the breach this summer after conducting a security review prompted by an unrelated hacking claim that turned out to be meritless. Yahoo has not given a precise timeline explaining when it was made aware of the 2014 attack, or if it knew of the breach before announcing the deal with Verizon in late July.

In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said her agency supported quick disclosures although she declined to say if the FTC was investigating Yahoo.

"In our view, approximately 30 to 60 days (after a breach is discovered) might be appropriate," she told the Senate Commerce Committee. "It is necessary for consumers to be notified so they can take appropriate steps to protect themselves."

In their letter, the senators requested Yahoo brief them on the company's investigation, cooperation with authorities and plans to protect affected users.

The senators asked Mayer for a timeline of the hack and discovery as well as Yahoo's steps to prevent another breach.

Yahoo's shares closed up 2.5 percent at $43.37 each in a broadly bullish market on Tuesday.

The letter came a day after Democratic Senator Mark Warner asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Yahoo and its senior executives fulfilled obligations to inform investors and the public about the hacking attack, which Yahoo has blamed on a "state-sponsored actor."

Source: Reuters

At your service: cyber criminals for hire to militants, EU says

A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013.  REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/File Photo
Cybercriminals offering contract services for hire offer militant groups the means to attack Europe but such groups have yet to employ such techniques in major attacks, EU police agency Europol said on Wednesday.

"There is currently little evidence to suggest that their cyber-attack capability extends beyond common website defacement," it said in its annual cybercrime threat assessment in a year marked by Islamic State violence in Europe.

But the internet's criminal shadow the Darknet had potential to be exploited by militants taking advantage of computer experts offering "crime as a service", Europol added: "The availability of cybercrime tools and services, and illicit commodities (including firearms) on the Darknet, provide ample opportunities for this situation to change."

Overall, the report found, existing trends in cybercrime continued to grow, with some of the European Union's member states reporting more cyber crimes than the traditional variety.

"Europol is concerned about how an expanding cybercriminal community has been able to further exploit our increasing dependence on technology and the internet," its director, Rob Wainwright, said in a statement. "We have also seen a marked shift in cyber-facilitated activities relating to trafficking in human beings, terrorism and other threats."

"Ransomware" - programs which break into databases and demand payment for unlocking codes via virtual currencies such as Bitcoin - continued to expand as a problem, as did highly targeted "phishing" attacks to extract security data from senior figures - "CEO fraud" - and video streaming of child abuse.

Attacks on bank cash-machine networks were also increasing, the report found, as were frauds exploiting new contactless payment card transactions, while traditional scams involving the physical presence of a card had been successfully reduced.

Source: Reuters

Uber expands food delivery business into South Africa

Uber Technologies starts its UberEats food-delivery service in South Africa on Thursday before expanding in the rest of the country and into the continent, it said on Wednesday.

It will begin delivering meals in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, before moving across the Gauteng province and to Cape Town in 2017, Uber Operations and Logistics Manager Dave Kitley told reporters.

Uber is making an aggressive global drive into takeaway meal deliveries, gearing up with a big staff recruitment campaign to enter at least 22 more countries. UberEats already operates in six countries and will launch in Amsterdam on Thursday.

Uber launched its ride-hailing service in South Africa in 2013 and since then the service has grown to over 4,000 drivers in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

"Johannesburg was the first city in Africa to have Uber launch and based on the success of launching in Africa as well as the characteristics of Jo'burg and where we are right now in terms of our maturity it is really about testing the product and being the first city in Africa," Kitley said.

Kitley said Uber would look to expand UberEats into Africa "as quickly as we can, but right now no imminent plans for that".

Source: Reuters

MH17 was shot down by Russian missile, say Dutch investigators

Image result for MH17 was shot down by Russian missile, say Dutch investigators
Dutch investigators announced Wednesday that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile.

Fred Westerbeke, from the Joint Investigation Team, said the Buk rocket was fired from a nearby field in Pervomajsk, in eastern Ukraine, which at the time was in the hands of pro-Russian rebels.

All 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were killed when it was brought down in July 2014.

Source: EFE

Rosetta's ambitious mission leads to new Solar System horizons

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The Rosetta spacecraft's upcoming landing on comet "Chury" this Friday is set to culminate a decade-long mission considered by the European Space Agency (ESA) a scientific and public relations success that opens the door to future Solar System horizons.

Named in honor of the famous stone that deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs, this project _ the first to orbit and land on a comet _ focused on the study of these celestial bodies, reaches the end of its Solar System sojourn with a trunkful of data pending study.
Source: EFE

SpaceX founder Elon Musk outlines plans to colonize Mars in 2022

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Humans will be able to travel to Mars from the year 2022 on a spaceship carrying between 100 and 200 people every 26 months, entrepreneur Elon Musk announced at the 67th International Astronautical Congress meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Anyone with "a few days of training" can travel to the Red Planet for an estimated cost of between $100,000 and $200,000, depending on the luggage, the founder of aerospace firm SpaceX said Tuesday.

Source: EFE

segunda-feira, 26 de setembro de 2016

Deepest aqueduct in South America growing crops in the desert

Image datelined Sep 23 showing one of the Olmos Project irrigation dams.
Two thousand meters under the Andean range, South America's deepest aqueduct carries water that will grow thousands of hectares of fruit and vegetables in one of Peru's most desertic and underdeveloped regions.
The aqueduct, one of the largest engineering works ever undertaken in Peru, travels 20 kilometers (12 miles) under the Andean mountains, diverting the waters of the Huancabamba river towards Peru's northern coast to irrigate 43,500 hectares of crops planted in the desert, as EFE witnessed during a field visit.
Two thousand meters under the Andean range, South America's deepest aqueduct carries water that will grow thousands of hectares of fruit and vegetables in one of Peru's most desertic and underdeveloped regions.

This new development project is set to grow exponentially as its first crops are exported to North America and Europe.

The aqueduct, one of the largest engineering works ever undertaken in Peru, travels 20 kilometers (12 miles) under the Andean mountains, diverting the waters of the Huancabamba river towards Peru's northern coast to irrigate 43,500 hectares of crops planted in the desert, as EFE witnessed during a field visit.

The Olmos irrigation project is located 900 km (560 mi) to the north of Lima and required a $600 million budget, the investment director of the project's concessionary company H20lmos Odebrecht Latinvest, Alfonso Pinillos, explained to EFE.

The tunnel, conceived some 90 years ago by British engineer Charles Sutton, was completed in 2012 to alleviate the hydric resources deficit in the Olmos dry valleys in the Lambayeque region, which sees an average annual rainfall of under 25 liters per square meter.

Pinillos explained that the tunnel perforation, with a 4.8-meter diameter borehole and a capacity of 42 cubic meters per second (1,483 cu.ft/s), was developed using a custom-made tunneler and assembled piece-by-piece inside the tunnel.

No women were involved in the boring phase as a sign of "respect" to an old Andean mining tradition so the Pachamama ("Mother Nature" in the Quechua language) "doesn't get jealous." Its progress had to deal with unexpected rock collapses that delayed work and increased costs.

Once completed, the water will flow from the Limon dam, a wall 330 m (1,082 ft) long and 43 m (141 ft) high built across the Huancabamba river to dam 30 million m3; the starting point of a 65-km (40-mi) route that will carry water to the crops.

After covering 20 km underground, the tunnel becomes a waterfall into the Lajas river, 30 km (18.6 mi) later it is collected by irrigation channels leading to another dam that then proceeds to distribute the water to the fields.

Lands once arid now boast 12,000 Ha of produce: Sugar cane, grapes, avocados, mangoes, asparagus and even cranberries, and now employs 4,000 workers, according to Odebrecht's irrigation concession development manager, Juan Carlos Urteaga.

Urteaga estimated the project will generate 30,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs once its 43,500 Ha are fully operational. This will also require building a nearby new city for 70,000 people.

The project covers 5,500 Ha of Valle Viejo de Olmos' farmlands and 38,000 Ha purchased by Peruvian, Chilean, US and European corporations with an estimated production of around $650 million.

Within the first group, a farming co-op (Asociación Agropecuaria La Juliana) told EFE they plan to ship their first 32.4-ton banana crop container to Holland, which is worth around $9,000.

Among the project's corporate partners, the Peruvian group Gloria has built a $300 million sugar refinery plant and Agro-Frusan, a US-Chilean joint-venture producing 2.5 tons (5,512 lbs) of cranberries daily for export to US and Canada.

This project will achieve full speed once the project's second phase is completed, increasing by four the Limon dam's capacity and doubling the irrigated surface to nearly 100,000 Ha.

Source: EFE

Devaluation of financial assets of Japanese individuals deepens after BrexitJ

(FILE) Money dealers are seen at work as a screen displays the US dollar rate against yen in Tokyo, Japan, 16 June 2016. Financial assets held by Japanese individuals devalued between March and June due to the effects of Brexit on the markets, marking two consecutive quarters in decline, according to data released by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) 26 September 2016. At end of June these assets depreciated by 1.7 percent compared to the same month in 2015, falling to $17.3 trillion. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON
Financial assets held by Japanese individuals devalued between March and June due to the effects of Brexit on the markets, marking two consecutive quarters in decline, according to data released by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) Monday.

At end of June these assets depreciated by 1.7 percent compared to the same month in 2015, falling to $17.3 trillion.

Source: EFE

India launches eight satellites into two separate orbits for first time

A handout picture provided by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) shows the fully integrated PSLV-C35 taking off from the launch pad at Sriharikota's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh, India, 26 September 2016. India on 26 September 2016 launched eight satellites from different nations into orbit from a single rocket for the first time. "Moment of immense joy and pride for India... our space scientists keep scripting history," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. EPA/STR HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY
India on Monday launched eight satellites from different nations into orbit from a single rocket for the first time.

"Moment of immense joy and pride for India... our space scientists keep scripting history," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

Source: EFE

Philippines' Duterte wants to 'open alliances' with Russia, China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the military's Camp Tecson to talk to soldiers in San Miguel, Bulacan in northern Philippines September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he would visit Russia and China this year to chart an independent foreign policy and "open alliances" with two powers with historic rivalries with the United States.

Duterte said the Philippines was at the "point of no return" in its relations with former colonial ruler the United States, so he wanted to strengthen ties with others, and picked two global powers with which Washington has been sparring with on the international political stage.

He last week declared he would soon - and often - visit China, with which ties remain frosty over a South China Sea arbitration ruling won by the Philippines in July. He said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was expecting him in Moscow.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

An arbitration court in The Hague in July invalidated China's claims to the waterway in a case brought by the Philippines, a ruling that Beijing refuses to recognize.

"I am ready to not really break (U.S.) ties but we will open alliances with China and... Medvedev, he is awaiting there for my visit," Duterte told reporters, adding he would open up the "other side of the ideological barrier".

He welcomed investment and shrugged off rating agency Standard and Poor's concerns last week about the Philippine economy on his watch and his unpredictability.

"Never mind about the ratings," he said. "I will open up the Philippines for them to do business, alliances of trade and commerce."

The peso fell to its lowest since 2009 on Monday and foreign investors have dumped local shares for six straight weeks, worried about Duterte's anti-U.S. rhetoric and brutal war on drugs, which has alarmed rights groups at home and abroad.

Duterte also said he would open up telecoms and airlines, which are two domestic sectors long controlled by local players and criticized for being uncompetitive. He did not elaborate.

The volatile leader's vitriol against the United States has become a near-daily occurrence and source of both amusement and concern. On Monday he accused Washington of "hypocrisy" and said Americans were still "lording it over us".

His latest swipe included ruling out participation in a maritime conflict should it be initiated by the United States, despite a 1951 treaty between the two countries under which Duterte said Manila was legally obligated to back Washington.

"I am about to cross the Rubicon between me and the U.S.," he said," without elaborating. "It's the point of no return."

It is unclear whether Duterte's outbursts will impact relations between the two counties. Militaries of both sides are due to carry out joint exercises in the first half of October.

The U.S. embassy in Manila on Monday announced two-week deployment of a pair of C130 planes and 100 troops at an air base in the central Philippines, the third of its kind this year, as part of a rotational troops agreement.

Separately, Duterte said the United Nations, European Union and United States would get a free hand to investigate the killings in his anti-narcotics campaign, but only under Philippine laws.

Deaths in the campaign have averaged over 40 a day since Duterte took office on June 30.

Source: Reuters

Air strikes pound rebel-held Aleppo districts

A man walks on the rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on the rebel held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
Dozens of air strikes hit rebel-held areas of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo overnight, a monitor and defense worker said, continuing a fierce air campaign by Syrian government and allied forces since a ceasefire broke down almost a week ago.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of air strikes hit the rebel-held half of the divided city, the target of a fresh offensive announced by the Syrian army on Thursday.

Aleppo has become the main battle ground of a conflict now in its sixth year. Capturing rebel districts of Syria's largest city, where more than 250,000 civilians are trapped, would mark the biggest victory of the civil war for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Bebars Mishal, a civil defense worker in rebel-held Aleppo, said the bombardment continued until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT).

"It's the same situation. Especially at night, the bombardment intensifies, it becomes more violent, using all kinds of weapons, phosphorous and napalm and cluster bombs," Mishal told Reuters.

"Now, there's just the helicopter, and God only knows where it will bomb. God knows which building will collapse," he said.

Another civil defense worker, Ismail al-Abdullah, said the overnight bombardment had been less intense than it had been in the past few days and the morning was relatively quiet.

The Observatory said it had documented the deaths of 237 people, including 38 children, from air strikes on Aleppo city and the surrounding countryside since last Monday when the ceasefire ended. Of those documented deaths, 162 were in rebel-held east Aleppo city.

Civil defense workers say about 400 people have died in the past week in the rebel-held parts of the city and surrounding countryside.

Rescue efforts have been severely hampered because bomb damage has made roads impassable and because civil defense centers and rescue equipment have been destroyed in raids.

Civil defense worker Ammar al Selmo said rescuers have only two fire trucks and three ambulances left in Aleppo and that three fire trucks, two ambulances and three vans had been hit in the past week.

"We are trying to respond ... but we don't know what tomorrow will bring," Selmo said, speaking from Gaziantep, Turkey after recently leaving east Aleppo.

Brita Hagi Hassan, president of the city council for opposition-held Aleppo, said the bombardment over the past three days has been exceptional.

"The planes are not leaving the skies at all ... Life in the city is paralyzed. Everyone is cooped up in their homes, sitting in the basements. These missiles are even targeting the basements and shelters that we'd set up to protect people," he said from the Aleppo countryside. Hassan has been unable to get back into east Aleppo for several weeks because of the siege.

On Saturday a pumping station providing water for rebel-held eastern Aleppo was destroyed by bombing.

"People are now relying on water from the wells, and that water is not suitable for drinking. It was being used for other things, like washing, cleaning and so on. Now, the people are relying on it as drinking water," Hassan said.

Selmo said eight people died on Monday in air strikes on east Aleppo and the surrounding countryside.


Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria's civil war and 11 million driven from their homes.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the future. But it looks like there's more killing, more bombardment, more blood on the horizon," Hassan said.

In Homs, a second group of Syrian rebels began to be evacuated from their last foothold in the city on Monday, state news agency SANA said.

The Observatory said around 100 fighters were in the group scheduled to leave to the northern Homs countryside.

The first batch of around 120 fighters and their families left on Thursday. The evacuations are part of the Syrian government's attempts to conclude local agreements with rebels in besieged areas that have resulted in rebels being given safe passage to insurgent-controlled areas.

Source: Reuters

Rights group wants settlement soccer clubs to relocate inside Israel

A human rights group urged soccer's governing body, FIFA, on Monday to move matches being played by Israeli teams in the occupied West Bank to Israel, saying that playing in Jewish settlements meant they were playing on stolen land.

The six clubs named by Human Rights Watch are all minor. But the dispute over their location showed how sport, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was widening political divisions rather than bridging them.

In a report, HRW said the Israeli teams, from the settlements of Maale Adumim, Ariel, Oranit and Givat Zeev, and a squad representing the occupied Jordan Valley region, were playing "on land unlawfully taken from the Palestinians".

Settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes that.

In some cases, the grounds the Israeli teams are playing on are on land privately owned by Palestinians, HRW said.

"By holding games on stolen land, FIFA is tarnishing the beautiful game of football," said Sari Bashi, the director for HRW for Israeli and the Palestinian territories.

She said FIFA should require the IFA "to move all FIFA-sanctioned games and activities inside Israel".

The Israeli and Palestinian football associations, both FIFA members, hold diametrically opposed views on the issue.

"Politics should be kept out (of soccer), and we think FIFA should not allow itself to become embroiled in this matter," said Shlomi Barzel, spokesman for the Israel Football Association (IFA).

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Football Association, countered: "(Settlement) clubs must be stopped and Israel must be held to account. It is time to raise a red card to Israel, which does not respect international or FIFA laws."

Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel captured those areas in a 1967 war and pulled out of the Gaza Strip, now run by Islamist Hamas movement, in 2005.

Earlier this month, 66 legislators from the 751-member European Parliament signed a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino calling on him to raise the settlement soccer issue at FIFA Council meetings to be held next month in Zurich.

The Palestinian Football Association has long complained that Israel hampers its activities, including limiting the movement of players between the West Bank and Gaza, and that it has barred some international travel. Israel has cited security concerns for its actions.

A FIFA-appointed committee led by South African Tokyo Sexwale and tasked with monitoring Israel's commitment to easing travel restrictions, was set up last year.

A FIFA spokesman has reported "marked progress" by Israel on the issue but the matter of clubs in settlements was still under discussion.

Source: Reuters

U.S. network of Turkish cleric facing pressure as those at home seek help

FILE PHOTO --  U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Charles Mostoller/File Photo
A network of more than 150 U.S. charter schools linked to followers of Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric the Turkish government blames for instigating July’s failed coup, has come under growing financial and legal strain, according to school officials, current and former members of Gulen’s movement, and public records reviewed by Reuters.

The publicly financed schools, a key source of jobs and business opportunities for U.S. members of Gulen’s global movement, have sharply slowed their expansion in recent years, public records show.

The slowdown comes amid a series of government probes in more than a dozen states into allegations ranging from misuse of taxpayer funds to visa fraud. The investigations launched by state and federal officials have not resulted in criminal charges or directly implicated Gulen, whose name is not on any of the charter schools. The increased pressure on the schools also comes as the Turkish government is cracking down on Gulen supporters at home and presses hard for Gulen’s extradition.

Just three new schools were opened each in 2015 and this year to date, down from a peak of 23 new schools in 2010, according to a Reuters review of the public records of 153 charter schools and their management companies around the country.

The decline runs counter to the steady growth over the past six years of all U.S. charter schools, which receive taxpayer funds but are exempt from some rules that govern traditional state-run public schools.

At the same time, 15 schools have been closed or transferred to owners with no connection to Gulen’s movement since 2010. In at least 11 of those cases -- including in Georgia, California, Pennsylvania and Ohio - the management firms or individual schools themselves had faced official investigations, Reuters found.

“Since these investigations and pressures from media coverage have been going on, the schools are much more, maybe five times more careful, in terms of their finances, how they hire contractors,” said Hakan Berberoglu, acting executive director of the Illinois-based Niagara Foundation, which aims to promote the inter-faith dialogue espoused by Gulen, its honorary president.

“They are much more careful in how they expand,” he told Reuters.

Berberoglu said that the schools are not officially affiliated with Gulen and are not centrally controlled by anyone.

In another sign of a slowdown, the number of visa applications the schools submitted for guest workers from Turkey and other countries declined to 360 last year from more than 1,000 in 2010, immigration records show. The trend reflects a desire by the schools linked to Gulen followers to avoid further government scrutiny, according to current and former members of the movement.

In the wake of the failed coup, Ankara’s attorneys in the United States have stepped up an aggressive campaign to try to persuade local, state and federal authorities to open new inquiries and discredit the charter schools and other U.S. operations linked to Gulen.

Asked about signs that the movement is under stress in the United States, Alp Aslandogan, Gulen’s spokesman, said: “We are not worried about that.”

Many Gulen supporters in Turkey are now looking to their U.S.-based brethren for material support and safe haven, according to current and former members of the movement.

“It's been my job to save people, to help people who want to come over here,” said one U.S.-based Turkish businessman, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his efforts to assist would-be immigrants.

The reclusive imam Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies involvement in the coup attempt.


Gulen’s global movement - known as “Hizmet”, which means “service” in Turkish - seeks to spread what his supporters say is the charismatic preacher’s moderate brand of Islam, which promotes Western-style education, free markets and inter-faith communication.

The United States has become the Gulen movement’s most important base of business operations outside Turkey except for Germany, according to independent experts on the movement.

In addition to the schools, followers run a loosely affiliated collection of businesses, civic associations and charities. Some Turkish-American-owned contractors who do business with the schools have been targeted in state and federal investigations over allegations they received preferential treatment, according to current and former members and legal documents.

Berberoglu said the schools have hired and done business with members of the movement because they can be relied on as trustworthy and capable.

“You want these schools to be successful, you need to depend on people that you know,” he said.

Groups linked to the Gulen movement, including several whose directors have also led charter schools, have sponsored hundreds of U.S. congressional trips to Turkey and nearby countries in the past eight years, according to congressional records. But such trips have mostly halted since 2015 when the Justice Department launched a criminal probe of possible irregularities in funding sources for some of the travels.

Aslandogan acknowledged that some of the schools were started by Gulen “sympathizers.” He added that the movement led by the 77-year-old cleric exerts no central control, and some followers say his role is strictly inspirational.

The school network has put down deep roots in the United States over the past nearly two decades with administrators deftly navigating the public funding process.

A series of bond sales have totaled $683 million since 2006, according to data collected by Reuters. Bond sales by four of the school chains alone in 2014 – the latest annual data available for this niche - accounted for 6 percent of the entire tax-exempt U.S. charter school bond market that year.


U.S. lawyers for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan say they suspect the schools are a front that generates $500 million annually that is funneled from Gulen’s movement for subversive activities against the Turkish state, such as bribing officials. The attorneys do not provide specifics on how they believe this is done.

Aslandogan, Gulen’s spokesman, dismissed the accusations as “false” and unsubstantiated, describing it as part of a vendetta against “movement participants” outside of Turkey.

In at least one instance - a Texas case – the Turkish government’s post-coup accusations against a large school chain have prompted renewed scrutiny.

The Texas Education Agency said in late July they were reviewing a complaint filed by the Turkish government’s legal team of alleged fiscal improprieties by Harmony Public Schools, a Houston-based firm that runs 48 charter schools.

In the complaint, lawyers for the Turkish government accused Harmony of misusing $18 million in public funds, funneling money to Gulen’s organization and also of discriminatory employment practices. No decision on whether to open a formal investigation has yet been announced

Soner Tarim, one of Harmony’s founders, denied any wrongdoing and said there was no “underlying conspiracy” in running the non-profit schools.

“The purpose was really to create math and science expertise,” Tarim told Reuters.

Tarim acknowledged, however, that his company has been squeezed by having to spend more on legal fees and public relations. “So it has some effect on our resources,” he said, “but not our reputation.”

Source: Reuters

From prairie to the White House: Inside a Tribe's quest to stop a pipeline

Three days after guard dogs attacked Native Americans protesting an oil pipeline project in North Dakota in early September, an unprecedented event took place at the White House.

Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents more than 500 tribes, spoke to nearly a dozen of President Barack Obama's Cabinet-level advisers at a September 6 meeting of the White House's three-year-old Native American Affairs Council.

It was the first time a tribal leader addressed a session of the council, and Cladoosby was invited in his role as the Indian Congress’ leader.

Cladoosby, a Swinomish Indian from Washington state, spoke twice at the one-hour roundtable. He told Reuters he praised the Obama administration in his opening statement for its track record on Native American issues such as pushing to reform the Indian Health Service.

But when Cladoosby gave his closing speech, he delivered an impassioned request to his audience: stand with Native Americans who have united with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,100 mile conduit to get oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

That plea marked one of the previously unreported turning points in a drama that played out since February and culminated September 9 with an about face by the U.S. government, from giving the pipeline a green light to backing a request from North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux to halt construction of the pipeline.

The tribe fears sacred sites could be destroyed during the line's construction and that a future oil spill would pollute its drinking water.

This month's win for the tribe, which could be reversed by regulators, is a rare instance of protests resulting in quick federal action and the triumph of an unusual alliance between environmentalists and Native Americans, who both say they were emboldened by the defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline last fall.

It also was the most galvanizing movement in Native American politics in decades, some tribal leaders said, as Crow, Navajo, Sioux and other traditional rivals united to fight what they considered an assault on their way of life.

Cladoosby did not play a high-profile role in the early days of the pipeline controversy. But that day he spoke to a high echelon of power, including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, White House Domestic Policy Council director Celia Munoz, and the heads of the Departments of Energy; Agriculture; Education; Health and Human Services; and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a senior administration official who asked not to be named and to a photo of attendees seen by Reuters.

"The world is watching," he said in prepared remarks shared with Reuters.

A few days earlier, video of pipeline security personnel in North Dakota armed with guard dogs and mace trying to disperse protesters went viral on social media.

One of the first videos was taken and posted on Facebook by Lonnie Favel, a member of Utah's Ute tribe who traveled to North Dakota to support the protests.

"I was getting messages of support from New Zealand, from Europe, from all over the world," Favel said.

Until then, Obama had not weighed in on the Dakota dispute even though he personally had visited the Standing Rock in June 2014.

Just a day after Cladoosby issued his plea to administration officials, Obama attended a young leaders conference in Laos where a Malaysian woman asked him about the Dakota Access pipeline and how he could ensure a clean water supply and protect ancestral land.

Obama said he needed to ask his staff for more information, but touted his track record protecting Native Americans' "ancestral lands, sacred sites, waters and hunting grounds," adding, "this is something that I hope will continue as we go forward."


In late 2014, pipeline operator Energy Transfer Partners made a fateful decision.

Dallas-based ETP chose to route its proposed Dakota Access pipeline away from North Dakota's capital, Bismarck, and southward within half a mile of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's reservation.

Part of its rationale, laid out in a report for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates infrastructure projects that traverse certain inland waterways, was that the route would avoid Bismarck and thus pose no threat to the city's water supply. The Bismarck route also is more populated and thus would require more easements from multiple landowners. Ironically, that 139-page report concluded the Standing Rock route would raise "no environmental justice issues" because the pipeline would not cross tribal lands.

The Army Corps’ decision angered environmental activists and unwittingly introduced a powerful new element into the environmental movement: Indian rights groups, who quickly tapped into an extensive network of green activists forged during five long years of protests against TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama formally nixed last November.


The protest gained steam in February when Standing Rock Sioux leaders asked for legal help from Earthjustice, an environmental law group that had previously helped U.S. tribes and Canadian First Nations fight Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, according to Jan Hasselman, an attorney from Earthjustice working on the North Dakota case, and tribal leaders.

Two months later, about 18 tribe members started praying daily near the pipeline's planned route in North Dakota. The participants would grow in size, creating a group called the Sacred Stone Camp.

The international environmental movement soon took notice, including,, an environmentalist group that helped defeat the Keystone XL pipeline. In July, the group sent a delegation to the Sacred Stone Camp to see how they could help.

In many ways, the Dakota Access pipeline drew its inspiration from the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, according to organizers from 350 and other environmental groups.

"We didn’t have to totally reinvent the wheel,” said Josh Nelson of Credo, a progressive advocacy group.

By then the Sacred Stone Camp, located alongside the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri rivers about an hour south of Bismarck, had swollen in size to thousands, forming a de facto town of tents, teepees and trailers, a school, medic, communal kitchen, horse corrals and a legal clinic.

The tribal members and environmentalists agreed to seize on the U.S. Army Corps' "fast-tracking" of permits for the pipeline in late July, which they argued was illegal and a violation of tribal rights, told Reuters. In this case, the Corps had the right to approve pipelines in general and consider specific local concerns, such as Native issues, if appropriate. The Corps said it effectively considered its due diligence requirement met when it green lit the line in July.

Later that same month, the tribe filed suit against the Army Corps in federal court.


While the government's reversal in September caught most by surprise, a March 29 letter from the Department of the Interior to the Army Corps reviewed by Reuters shows that disagreements within the administration had been percolating for months.

The Interior department, which is responsible for protecting Native Americans' welfare, said the Army Corps "did not adequately justify or otherwise support its conclusion that there would be no significant impacts upon the surrounding environment and community" from the pipeline.

Energy Transfer, the Department of Justice, the Army Corps and the Department of the Interior did not respond to requests for comment.

The letter presaged the intra-government fighting ahead of the White House's decision to temporarily block the line.

The federal delay of the pipeline “isn't something that just fell out of the sky," Archambault, the tribe's chairman, said in an interview. "We feed (federal regulators) information all the time on everything that's illegal here."

Archambault declined to discuss responses from federal regulators he received.

On September 9, just three days after Cladoosby made his plea at the White House, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected a request from the tribe to block the $3.7 billion project.

Minutes after that ruling, the Interior and Justice Departments, along with the Army Corps, suspended construction on a two-mile stretch of federal land below the Missouri River.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said federal regulators, who could still ultimately approve the project, called the pause to make sure the concerns of all parties were taken into account. James Gette, a senior official in the environment and natural resources division of the DOJ, noted in a September 16 hearing that construction was halted mainly because the Dakota Access pipeline didn’t have an easement for the area where the tribe gets its drinking water.

Protesters have vowed not to leave their camp until the pipeline is scrapped or moved far away from their reservation. Their concerns about potential spills, it turns out, have precedent.

An analysis of government data by Reuters shows that Sunoco Logistics, the future operator of the pipeline and a unit of ETP, has had the highest rate of spills since 2010 than any of its competitors. [L2N1BQ1QA] Sunoco told Reuters it has taken measures to reduce its spill rate.

Cladoosby admits he "was really surprised" by the fast moving events after his strategically-timed entreaty.

He will be back at the White House on Monday and Tuesday. Leaders of 567 native American tribes will meet with Obama in Washington to tackle a range of issues facing Native Americans from economic development to environmental protection – including the Dakota Access pipeline.

Source: Reuters

Snapchat to offer camera-equipped sunglasses in first hardware push

A billboard displays the logo of Snapchat above Times Square in New York March 12, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Snap Inc, the newly renamed parent company of messaging app Snapchat, plans to start selling camera-equipped sunglasses starting this fall, Chief Executive Evan Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

The sunglasses, dubbed Spectacles, will be sold via limited distribution for about $130, said Spiegel, who described the device as a toy.

The first hardware to be sold by Snap, the sunglasses will record video from the user's perspective in 10-second increments that can be synched with his or her smart-phone.

Source: Reuters

sexta-feira, 23 de setembro de 2016

12 members of the same family killed in Syrian airstrikes

A file image from Apr. 28, 2016 shows the rubble of buildings in rebel-held Aleppo, Syria.  EPA/ZOUHIR AL SHIMALE
At least 12 members of the same family were killed during overnight airstrikes in Syria, according to a British monitoring group on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who called the attack a "massacre," said the victims in the attack on the village of Shaqatin, west of Aleppo, included six children and three women.

The monitoring group also reported that at least eight civilians were killed in the rebel-held Aleppo neighborhood of al-Qaterji, including four members of the same family.

Many more were injured in eastern, opposition controlled neighborhoods.

The origin of the warplanes that conducted the strikes was as yet unknown but both Russian and Syrian air forces were involved in fresh offensives in Syria's second city.

In an official statement quoted by the state Syrian Arab News Agency on Thursday night, Syrian Army Command announced fresh aerial campaigns in Aleppo and asked civilians to avoid "terrorist positions."

The Syrian Army added that civilians who leave rebel-held eastern districts of Aleppo and head towards government held checkpoints would not be arrested or interrogated, but would rather be considered as refugees.

Airstrikes carried out by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's forces with the backing of Russian fighter jets are part of the regime's attempts to retake land held by armed opposition forces.

The SOHR said that the pro-Assad initiative to empty such districts of civilians would clear the way for bombing campaigns unhindered by international accusations implicating government forces with the killing of innocent civilians.

The escalation in violence in Aleppo comes amid international attempts to salvage a United States-Russia brokered ceasefire that technically expired at midnight on Sunday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry advised Moscow that it had to show a sincere commitment that it could revive the truce in Syria, and said that he would most likely meet his Russian counterpart on Friday to discuss the implications therein.

Source: EFE

The press, the newest enemy in Burundi

A file image from June 3, 2016 shows an anti-government protester in Bujumbura, Burundi.  EPA/DAI KUROKAWA
Journalist Esdra Ndikumana was detained and subjected to hours of brutal beatings at the hands of security agents last year while covering the assassination of a high-level government official in his native Burundi.

"You are lucky to be alive," was the official response when he reported the agents' actions to their superiors.

Source: EFE

First Tintin album reprinted in color almost 90 years after first edition

A picture made available by Parisian auction house Artcurial on June 7, 2013, shows the first Hergé album starring Belgian icon and intrepid reporter Tintin, in his adventure in the Land of the Soviets.
The first album chronicling the adventures of the famous reporter created by Hergé, "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets," is set be published for the first time in color next January.

The reprint will come almost 90 years after the book's first publication and just a few months before the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution.

Source: EFE

Brazil's new president promises investors political stability

President Michel Temer of Brazil addresses the 71st United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Brazilian President Michel Temer on Wednesday promised political stability for foreign investors to put their money in a country weathering the impeachment of his predecessor and the worst recession in generations.

Speaking for the first time to investors in New York, Temer said he was confident he will have enough backing in Congress to pass unpopular fiscal reforms needed to plug a ballooning budget deficit and regain the confidence of markets in the once-booming economy.

Temer, formally sworn in three weeks ago, has managed to approve minor bills in Congress after months of political turmoil that led to the impeachment of his leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff.

However, the 75-year-old constitutional scholar is already facing divisions within his widely diverse alliance in Congress with some lawmakers promising to water down the fiscal reforms.

The head of his economic team, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, told investors at the same event that he saw "extremely high chances" of approval for a key proposal to cap public expenditures.

Meirelles said a controversial reform to reduce generous pension benefits and set a minimum age of retirement will most likely be approved next year.

The proposed reforms and management changes in key state-run enterprises are shoring up confidence in Brazil that is on track for a gradual recovery after two years of recession, Meirelles said.

"Our actions aim to reduce the debt burden and increase productivity," Meirelles said.

He added that the government could consider selling debt abroad again this year if market continues remain favorable.

Temer, who was in New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, on Tuesday assured world leaders at the gathering that the dismissal of Rousseff was fully constitutional. However, delegations of some leftist governments walked out of the session to express their objections about his legitimacy.

Source: Reuters

Brazil police arrest former finance minister in Petrobras probe

Brazilian police arrested former Finance Minister Guido Mantega on Thursday as a sweeping corruption investigation struck further at the heart of the Workers Party (PT) that ran the country for 13 years.

Police investigators told a news conference they took Mantega, long a confidant of recently impeached former President Dilma Rousseff and an early member of the PT, into custody at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. He was there accompanying his wife as she prepared for surgery.

Mantega, 67, was ordered released from custody a few hours later.

The investigators said Mantega in 2012 requested a payment of 5 million reais, about $2.5 million at the time, from Brazilian business tycoon Eike Batista, a billionaire who has since lost his fortune, to pay PT campaign debts.

At the time, Batista's shipbuilding unit OSX Brasil SA was discussing an oil platform project with state-led oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, and loans from state-owned development bank BNDES.

Brazil's longest-serving finance minister of the past 70 years, Mantega in 2012 was also the chairman of Petrobras, the company at the center of a sprawling political-kickback scheme.

Mantega's lawyer, José Roberto Batochio, told reporters late on Thursday that his client never requested money from Batista and said his arrest was "absolutely exaggerated."

"What I can say and what the minister has affirmed to me with total assurance is that he never discussed a donation of any value to pay campaign debts from Mr. Eike Batista," Batochio said.

A few hours after his arrest, federal Judge Sergio Moro ordered Mantega released from custody.

Moro ruled that Mantega's cooperation with authorities, the fact they had already searched his home, and the fact that Mantega was supporting his wife as she fights cancer all suggested the former minister was unlikely to interfere with the investigation.

His arrest came two days after Moro decided to put former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on trial for allegedly accepting more than $1 million in bribes from an engineering company in the Petrobras scandal.

Mantega served as finance minister for almost nine years under Rousseff and Lula, a close friend whom he helped become elected president in 2002.

He helped steer Latin America's largest economy through a commodities boom at the height of Workers Party rule, but came under withering criticism in 2011 and beyond as the economy began sliding into its worst recession since the 1930s.

Mantega left office in 2015 at the start of Rousseff's second term after years of complaints from critics about faulty economic forecasts and ineffective industrial policies.

Mantega's political allies attacked the decision to arrest him.

Workers Party President Rui Falcao called the arrest "arbitrary, inhuman and unnecessary" and questioned the timing of the operation just over a week before municipal elections throughout the country.

Police executed warrants for eight arrests and 32 search and seizure operations in five states and the capital Brasilia on Thursday, according to prosecutors. They said the operation targeted Mantega and engineering firms Mendes Junior and OSX, part of Batista's former commodities empire.

Police named the latest phase of the two-year-old Petrobras probe "Operation X Files" in a reference to the letter X that Batista included in the name of his oil, mining, shipbuilding, and port-operation and energy companies.

Prosecutors said Batista contacted prosecutors of his own volition to tell them about Mantega's alleged request in November 2012 for the 5 million real payment to the PT.

Prosecutors said Batista eventually made an overseas payment of $2.35 million, to Joao Santana, Rousseff and Lula's former campaign adviser, and his wife, Monica Moura. Both were arrested in February for allegedly laundering money in the Petrobras scheme.

Prosecutors said they believe the payment was a bribe destined to pay debt from Rousseff's 2010 campaign, a conclusion denied by Batista, who is under investigation but was not targeted in Thursday's operation.

The Globo TV networks Jornal Nacional nightly newscast quoted Batista's lawyer as saying the payment from Batista had nothing to do with any contracts between his company and the government or Petrobras and that negotiations related to OSX with Petrobras were done by a consortium led by Mendes Junior, not OSX.

A lawyer for Mendes Junior could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Reuters

Trump doubles down on 'law-and-order' appeal in White House bid

Donald Trump on Thursday praised aggressive police tactics and condemned attacks on officers amid criticism of his plan to use "stop-and-frisk" tactics to reduce crime, in a speech following a second night of unrest that shook Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Republican presidential nominee said drugs were "a very, very big factor" in urban unrest and that those suffering the most from the violence were "law-abiding African-American residents who live in these communities."

"Crime and violence is an attack on the poor and will never be accepted in a Trump administration," Trump told an energy conference in Pittsburgh, as a room full of natural gas and coal industry executives listened in silence.

"The violence against our citizens, and our law enforcement, must be brought to an end," he added.

Trump has portrayed himself as the "law-and-order" candidate. Stop-and-frisk, in which police stop, question and search pedestrians for weapons or contraband, has drawn protests and successful legal challenges because it is seen as unfairly targeting minorities.

At the same time, Trump has recently reached out to African-American voters as the gap in many opinion polls has narrowed between him and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Clinton, who did not immediately respond to Trump's remarks on Thursday, has pushed for stricter gun controls to help rein in gun violence and called for the development of national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.

In Pittsburgh, Trump, a New York businessman, called for better training of police and more community engagement.

"If you’re not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you’re watching on television at night," Trump said. "My administration will work with local communities and local officials to make the reduction of crime a top priority."

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said later in a statement that Trump’s comments were not referring “specifically” to the violence in Charlotte, but “addressing a major concern that authorities and moms across the country are raising with him, which is indiscriminate drug use and opiate addiction.”

The fatal police shooting of a black man sparked the protests in Charlotte, and a state of emergency was declared on Wednesday.

There have also been protests in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in recent days after a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man who a video showed had his hands in clear view at the time. A white Tulsa officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday in the shooting.

Police tactics and deadly encounters with African-Americans, many of them unarmed, have sparked protests and unrest across the country in recent years.

Clinton said on Wednesday that the deaths in Charlotte and Tulsa added two more names to the list of African-American victims of police killings. “It’s unbearable, and it needs to become intolerable,” she said.


Trump was at an African-American church in Cleveland on Wednesday when he praised stop-and-frisk, which had triggered protests and court rulings that it was unconstitutional or required outside monitoring in cities like New York, Chicago and Newark, New Jersey.

Before going to Pittsburgh, Trump was asked on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" program to define the tactic. He said: "If they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they'll look and they'll take the gun away."

"They'll stop, they'll frisk, and they'll take the gun away. And they won't have anything to shoot with," he said.

In Washington, White House spokesman John Earnest pointed to what he said was a contradiction in Trump's remarks.

"It does raise questions that a politician would be so dogmatic about protecting Second Amendment rights (to bear arms) yet rather cavalier about protecting the constitutional prohibition against illegal search and seizure," he told a news briefing.

While Trump did not mention stop-and-frisk by name in Pittsburgh, he used the speech to repeat his praise for the policing tactics fostered by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, now a major Trump supporter, who promoted the practice. Trump again credited policing under the Republican mayor with reducing crime in the candidate's hometown.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected that argument on Thursday, warning Trump against embracing a tactic that would worsen relations between police and the minority community.

De Blasio attributed the sharp drop in crime to another strategy adopted by Bill Bratton, the city's longtime police commissioner, who retired less than a week ago.

Bratton championed the "broken windows" policing strategy that emphasizes pursuit of crimes no matter how minor. In his resignation letter, he attributed the decline in crime in New York, the nation's most populous city with 8.5 million people, to additional officers and an emphasis on building bonds within neighborhoods.

De Blasio, who supports Clinton, said in an interview with CNN that Trump "should really be careful because if we reinstitute stop-and-frisk all over this country, you would see a lot more tension between police and community."

Source: Reuters

Wall Street opens lower after three-day rally

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. September 22, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. stock indexes opened lower on Friday but were poised to end the week higher after a three-day rally spurred by optimism that the Federal Reserve will hold off from raising interest rates in the near term.

Twitter (TWTR.N) shares jumped 15.7 percent to $21.55 after CNBC reported the microblogger is moving closer to a sale and that suitors include Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) Google and (CRM.N).

Investors have been in risk-on mode again, encouraged by the Fed's decision to stand pat on rates at a meeting this week.

"There is some consolidation after the very active and positive week for stocks based on news flow from the central banks, said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that U.S. growth was looking stronger and rate increases would be needed to keep the economy from overheating and fueling high inflation. But the central bank maintained the low-interest rate environment that has helped underpin the bull market for stocks.

The S&P 500 index notched its best two-day performance in more than two months on Thursday.

The U.S. central bank had hinted that it might raise rates before the year ends and interest rate futures were pricing in roughly a 60 percent chance of a rate increase by December.

"Barring any major changes in economic data or market volatility, we think a December rate hike is on the cards. The underlying message from the Fed this week was that they want to raise rates," Donabedian said.

At 9:36 a.m. ET (1336 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 23.63 points, or 0.13 percent, at 18,368.83, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 4.41 points, or 0.2 percent, at 2,172.77 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 11.13 points, or 0.21 percent, at 5,328.40.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the technology index's .SPLRCT 0.61 percent fall leading the decliners.

Facebook (FB.O) was down 1.5 percent at $128.11 after the WSJ reported the social media giant overestimated viewing time for video ads by 60-80 percent for two years.

Yahoo (YHOO.O) was down 1.6 percent at $43.44, a day after the company said at least 500 million of its accounts were hacked in 2014 in a theft that appeared to be the world's biggest known cyber breach.

Salesforce was down 3.5 percent at $71.95 and Alphabet was down 0.2 percent at $813.90.

Oil prices were slightly lower, following two sessions of strong rises, on caution ahead of a gathering of OPEC ministers next week in Algeria to discuss possible production cooperation to rein in global oversupply.

Investors will also keep an eye on a number of Fed speakers who are scheduled to speak at different events for further clues regarding the timing of the next rate hike.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,580 to 1,016. On the Nasdaq, 1,232 issues fell and 946 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and five new lows.

Source: Reuters

UPS launches U.S. drone test flights for urgent medical deliveries

United Parcel Service Inc said it began testing the use of drones for emergency deliveries of medical supplies this week with a flight in rural Massachusetts, which the company hopes will eventually lead to federal approval of drones as a regular delivery option.

The test flight on Thursday was handled by CyPhy, a Danvers, Massachusetts-based drone maker in which UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, owns a stake.

The drone delivered a small package from Beverly, located about 25 miles northeast of Boston, to Children's Island, a summer camp for children three miles off the Atlantic coast.

The drone, painted brown and with a UPS logo on the front, made the journey in about 8 minutes.

"This demonstrates a drone is the best and most efficient way to deliver a package in a medical emergency in a remote location," Helen Greiner, chief technology officer and founder of CyPhy, told Reuters.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last month published rules that restrict the use of drones to within the line of sight of the operator.

Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering, said the company hopes to persuade the FAA to allow UPS to expand on its tests and eventually offer emergency deliveries by drone as part of its services.

Earlier this year UPS announced it was backing a start-up using drones in Rwanda to transport life-saving blood supplies and vaccines.

Drones are seen as having great potential to deliver packages, once FAA concerns over safety have been addressed.

Online retailer Inc has been testing drones in the United Kingdom, Canada and Denmark, while Wal-Mart Stores has been using them to manage inventory at warehouses.

Source: Reuters