VIDEO MOMENT: Gangster Crab

 

You’ve probably met the hermit crab, the seashore crab and the hairy mitten crab. Now say hello to the gangster crab. This is not one to be tussled with.

This video, from the Facebook page of DJ VLADER, a disc jockey who has worked with Snoop Dogg and won the DJ Award five times, features the hand of an extremely brave soul attempting to disarm a gangster crab somewhere in eastern Europe. The crab, however, is not up for donating to the local knife amnesty and uncannily wields the blue-handled blade to stop probably becoming the seafood special for that day. Collecting crabs in buckets on the beach doesn’t seem so fun now.

VIDEO CREDITS:
Alia Hellz Bachell.
DJ VLADER, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/djvlader/
“About DJ VLADER” – DJ VLADER, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/djvlader/info/?tab=overview

WORKPLACE PENSIONS: Advice and information from the DWP

Since October 2012, all British workplaces have been required to offer a ‘workplace pension’ to all their permanent employees. The rule was first applied to large companies, but now all employers, even those run by one person with one staff member, must have pension provisions in place by law. Until then, employers varied wildly in their pensions packages or whether they even offered them.

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions, in collaboration with the Pensions Regulator have a useful website which aims to demystify the regulations surrounding compulsory pension schemes, a scheme known officially as ‘Automatic Enrollment’. As millions of people now have workplace pensions that both they and their employer pay into, the website explains to businesses how this will affect them, their businesses and their clients’ businesses.

Even if a company has only a single employee, that employee still needs to have a pension to help secure their staff’s income post-retirement. This includes cleaners, nannies, PAs and other personal care assistants. Employers are defined by the DWP as those who pay wages and deduct tax and National Insurance contributions from their salaries. If a company employs agency staff however, then responsibility for automatic enrolment lies with the agency, not the company using the workers. So far, around 79,000 employers have already signed up.

So far, 5.4 million employees have already been automatically enrolled, where they will see their pensions topped up by the employer and get these contributions paid into their pension pot tax free. The employee also benefits as this means they can start saving for retirement early. The earlier someone starts putting money aside for their later years, the better financial circumstances they will have when that time comes. Until AE was phased in, many employees had no pension plan put in place, which would have meant them relying on the basic State Pension. Many companies simply did not offer pensions, and many workers had not given any thought to what would happen once they no longer need to work. Employees who have retirement plans already in place or who do not plan to retire in the UK, for example, can opt out of the pension scheme if they wish. Under the scheme, employees can only be enrolled if they are not now with a pension, are aged between 22 and the ‘state pension age’ (65 for men and women currently) and work in Britain on a salary of £10,000 or more a year.

Using the catchy hashtag #DontIgnoreIt, the DWP and the Pensions Regulator are promoting the site with the help of a brightly coloured and furry mascot named Workie, a ‘larger-than-life’ character created to help remind employers of their pension responsibilities. The site also features a video starring millionaire businessman and panel member of the Dragon’s Den show Theo Paphitis, explaining the benefits of workplace pensions for employees.

The website is available at: www.workplacepensions.gov.uk

SOURCES:
“HEM Businesses” – The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-businesses
DWP, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DWP
“Workplace Pensions” – Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Regulator http://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/?utm_source=Social%20media&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=TPRAEE102015
“Employers” – Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Regulator http://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/employer/
“Employees” – Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Regulator http://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/employee/
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

HARROW YOUTH ELECTIONS 2016: Young people make themselves heard

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Harrow, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Harrow Times

Youngsters in the Harrow borough in north-west Greater London will have a chance to make their voices heard in the forthcoming elections for the Harrow Youth Parliament next week and decide the next direction for their community and borough’s youth services, local paper the Harrow Times reports today.

The Youth Parliament, which is the largest and most active of any of Greater London’s 32 boroughs, has called on young Harrovians to go out and vote in the 2016 elections, enabling them to challenge decisions made by councillors, get involved in important decisions affecting them and their local communities and express their opinions and concerns to decision-makers.

Polls are open from February 8-12 and thousands of Harrow’s young people are expected to cast votes for Youth Parliament representatives to speak for them on the local government stage. The elections are open to Harrow residents aged 11-18 years only. Seventy seats in the Parliament are to be filled, along with two seats for the borough in the National Youth Parliament, the Harrow Times reports.

Annual Sitting 2009

Annual Sitting 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Current chairperson of the Harrow Youth Parliament (HYP), Dina Khatum said to the Times recently: “Harrow Youth Parliament’s extensive local and national involvement has played an active role in getting young people’s voices heard.

“We try, both with our external activities and internal projects, to do as much as we can to improve the lives of Harrow for young people by representing their views to decision makers.”

The HYP came into existence in 2004, and in its nearly twelve years of operations have helped influence and shape many key regulations regarding Harrow Council‘s provisions for young residents, as well as speaking on behalf of teenagers across the nation.

Lists of candidates contesting the 2016 HYP elections are being put on public view in the borough’s youth centres, schools and sixth-form colleges for voters to choose the Members of Parliament they will be backing.

The elections are supported by Harrow Council’s Electoral Services and organised by the borough’s Youth Development Team.

Youth Parliaments are an important means of getting youth interested in politics. They help give future decision makers a taste of the democratic process and a chance to represent young people in key decisions including the annual debate at the House of Commons. They have been key in helping many of their young members a foothold into local and national politics.

Last year more then 12,000 ballots were cast in the Harrow borough– one of the highest turnouts in London.

The adult Harrow councillor in charge of the portfolio for young people and children’s services, Simon Brown, commented: “By taking part in the youth elections you can help shape the future of young people.

“Challenge us, share your views and speak up on issues that matter to you.

“I encourage you all to vote in this year’s election and look forward to working closely with new members of our fantastic Harrow Youth Parliament.”

In 2015, the HYP has been active in running various projects, including improving relations between schools, between young people and the police, and setting up activities during school and college holiday periods. The Parliament also won a contract with MOPAC in their police and youth community work.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Harrow Times, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Harrow_Times
“Chance for young people to have their say in the 2016 youth elections next week” – Beth Cherryman, Harrow Times/Newsquest (London) Ltd/Gannett (6 February 2016) http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/14257155.Chance_for_young_people_to_have_their_say_in_the_2016_youth_elections_next_week/?ref=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:MYPs at the University of Kent.jpg” – UK Youth Parliament & Pretzels, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (28 October 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MYPs_at_the_University_of_Kent.jpg

CHICAGO BA FLIGHT: Pilot applauded after making emergency stop at Heathrow Airport

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Heathrow, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via WGN and ITV News

A British Airways pilot has been hailed a hero after a mechanical emergency forced him to make a stop at the UK’s Heathrow International Airport, potentially saving hundreds of passengers’ lives, Chicago-based news station WGNTV reports.

Flight BA295 was en route to Chicago, U.S.A. and was two hours into the flight when a malfunction developed with the landing wheels, causing the pilot to take evasive measures and return the plane back to Heathrow, it was reported. The pilot was able to land the stricken plane without any problem after two of the five sets of landing gear broke down, having notified everyone on board.

Boeing 747-400 takes off from London Heathrow ...

Boeing 747-400 takes off from London Heathrow Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a safety precaution to prevent the plane from tipping over due to the instability caused by the damaged wheels, passengers were asked to exit from the rear first. Several of them commented that the experience left them feeling scared but relieved that the pilot, who is currently unnamed in reports, acted calmly in dealing with the emergency.

The UK’s ITV News further reported that Heathrow was forced to temporarily close down the affected runway. Passengers experienced delays as only one runway was still in use. The airport apologised on Twitter for the inconvenience to travellers and advised holiday-makers to check with their airline before leaving for the airport.

British Airways has not yet released a statement regarding the BA295 incident.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/topic/British-Airways/102805706422563?source=whfrt&position=1&trqid=6245885814059875889
“British Airways flight bound for Chicago makes emergency landing” – WGN Web Desk, WGNtv.com/WGN/Tribune Broadcasting (30 January 2016) http://wgntv.com/2016/01/30/british-airways-flight-bound-for-chicago-makes-emergency-landing/
“British Airways plane diverts to Heathrow for ‘technical reasons’ ” – ITV News/ITV plc (30 January 2016) http://www.itv.com/news/2016-01-30/british-airways-plane-turns-back-to-heathrow-for-technical-reasons/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Ba b747-400 g-bnle arp.jpg” – Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons (21 October 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ba_b747-400_g-bnle_arp.jpg

 

DBIS SCALEDOWN: UK Government department to shut Sheffield office, others

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Sheffield, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via The Mirror

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, a government agency tasked with supporting business development and work initiatives in the United Kingdom, has announced this past Thursday it will be closing down its office in the northern English city of Sheffield and moving jobs to London, the Mirror reports.

The closure is due to go into effect by 2018, possibly seeing the loss of 250 jobs at the Sheffield office, and several other DBIS offices may also face the axe as the Department cuts back under the government’s cost-saving austerity programme and as DBIS leaders look to centralise their operations in the UK’s capital.

Often dubbed the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ for its efforts to promote business in the North of England, the DBIS may close another 12 or so offices, including six in the North, despite previous parliamentary intentions to encourage more investment and job creation in the region, which is one of the poorest pasts of the country, having lost many of its heavy industry output since the 1980s.

The DBIS plans have not been warmly received in Sheffield, a city of 563,749 inhabitants in South Yorkshire, once famed for its stainless steel cutlery manufacturing, but having experienced severe decline until recently. Local MP (Member of ParliamentNick Clegg , former party leader for the Liberal Democrats, told the Mirror: “This flies directly in the face of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.”

“I want to be clear that no one ever put this to me in Government and I would not have agreed to it if they had.”

Labour’s Shadow Civil Service Minister Louise Haigh also lambasted the ruling Conservative party’s decision to close the Sheffield and other northern offices, saying that the plan “demonstrates the utter contempt the Tories have for the North.”

DBIS civil servants have allegedly already been informed of the closure, scheduled for January 2018, with the department looking to move towards a “smaller workforce and more streamlined structures”, according to the Mirror. A spokesperson for UK prime minister David Cameron said “The Business Department, like all departments, seeks to operate as efficiently as it possibly can to deliver the best quality of service to provide the right kind of guidance and advice to ministers.

“This is part of their process of becoming leaner and more efficient.”

The DBIS plans to close its regional offices and focus on fortifying operations at its central HQ in London, where most government departments are situated. Currently the department oversees twelve other regional centres in the towns and cities of Billingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Darlington, Guildford, Gateshead, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Watford – all of which are likely to go with much job losses or relocations.

The DBS will possibly replace them with six ‘business centres’ and some staff will be offered the chance to relocate to them. Each of the new business centres will be connected to a particular business activity, for example higher education, but there will not be one in Sheffield, a huge blow to the city’s economy and business community.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “Sheffield needs jobs and London’s overheating. This move makes no sense and it exposes George Osborne’s empty rhetoric about the Northern Powerhouse once again.

“I’ve pressed Ministers to move public sector jobs out of London, as Labour did, and I’ll be challenging this decision at every opportunity.

“Well paid civil service jobs provide opportunities for local people. They enable graduates of our two universities to stay in the city.

“Their spending in the local economy creates more jobs. And we need more of the country’s top decision makers to experience life in the regions, not see everything through the distorted experience of London.”

Speaking to Sheffield-based civil servants this morning, the DBIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly said: “Today’s announcement is part of implementing our BIS 2020 strategic plans to modernise the way we work, reduce operating costs and deliver a simpler, smaller department that is more flexible and responsive to stakeholders and businesses.

“Our operating model needs to be designed in a way that works for this smaller workforce with more streamlined structures.”

“The decision to close Sheffield by 2018 has not been taken lightly. The unions are being consulted and will be involved throughout the process.

“It is my top priority that all our staff are fully briefed and consulted on the process. We will provide comprehensive support to all those facing a potential change or loss of job.

“In relation to the new business centres, we will be working closely with our Partner Bodies over the coming months to develop firm plans for their office locations.”

The DBIS is a relatively new government department, created in 2009  by the merger of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). It is headed by Conservative MP Sajid Javid who is also the president of the Board of Trade. The department is responsible for many aspects of business matters, law and education, along with the promotion of trades, scientific research and skills. The DBIS even has remit for business aspects concerning outer space and the postal services. Most deicisions on important policy areas are undertaken at DBIS HQ in Westminster, London.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/topic/Department-for-Business-Innovation-and-Skills/133294340042912?source=whfrt&position=1&trqid=6245539918854066441
“‘Northern Powerhouse’ department to close Sheffield office and move 247 jobs to London” – Ben Glaze & Mikey Smith, Mirror/Mirror Online/MGN Limited (28 January 2016) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/northern-powerhouse-department-close-sheffield-7265022
“Sheffield” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield
“Department for Business, Innovation and Skills” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_for_Business,_Innovation_and_Skills
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

BRIGHTON SEARCH ENGINE WORKSHOP: SEO by the seaside

Brighton, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via journalism.co.uk

If you have ever been curious of the benefits and uses of search engine optimisation (and enjoy nibbling the occasional pizza slice along the way) then a special workshop being held by journalism news site and trainer journalism.co.uk alongside lecturer Adam Tinworth may help give you a taster.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the technique of using selected keywords and tags to help make your article, website or blog more visible in search results in places like Google and Bing. While some blogging sites like WordPress provide SEO as standard, for many other providers, you are left on your own to figure out how to maximise your presence on search results and get a foot in on that coveted first page.

The vast majority of traffic to news sites and blogs still arrives via search engines, therefore maintaining good knowledge of the principles of SEO is extremely important for anyone with an online presence, whether writing news or running a business.

Google is by far the most popular vehicle for searches and has recently undergone some mammoth changes,  with the Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates shifting the search landscape beyond recognition. This has meant journalists and other having to adapt and move with the shift. The SEO knowledge of years gone by is now actually harmful to websites’ position in search results as Google now places emphasis on ‘high quality’ content and fresh information rather than simply keywords, to close the door on keyword spammers and link farms. Sadly many web publishers are still stuck behind in the times, suing models from 2008 that are doing them more harm than good.

To combat this problem, journalism.co.uk have launched a intensive and informative three-hour course at their offices in Brighton, where lecturer and visiting City University Journalism department professor Adam Tinworth will explain and guide attendees through the current principles of SEO, as well as techniques on improving the SEO value of already published content and sites. Prof. Tinworth has experience in digital journalism, blogging, training and publishing strategy. He has worked as a journalist for 20 years, and now as a consultant, has worked with several big names in media, including the Financial Times and the Telegraph, as well as smaller publishers and businesses. He has also been a blogger for a decade, writing at One Man & His Blog.

The workshop is ideal for media professionals such as employed journalists, freelancers, media students and others working in PR, marketing and communications. It will be held in an informal way in a relaxed setting. You will get free complimentary pizza as well as tea and coffee to keep your mind sharp, as well as opportunities to meet fellow professionals.

What will the course cover?

  • How to write for search
  • How to write great SEO headlines (that aren’t dull)
  • How to identify, analyse and use keywords – without overusing them
  • How to help search engines understand the meaning of your page
  • The role of linking in good SEO
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • How to keep up with SEO changes

Tutor(s): Adam Tinworth
Starts: 18:00 1 February 2016
Finishes: 21:00 1 February 2016
Location: Shaftesbury Court, 95 Ditchling Road, Brighton BN1 4ST
Price: £80 (inc. VAT)

You can book a place on the journalism.co.uk Brighton SEO workshop by visiting the third article in the ‘Sources’ below and clicking the small dark pink button marked ‘Book Now’ when you reach the journalism.co.uk site.

SOURCES:
HEM Journalism Portal, Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal
Journalism.co.uk, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/journalismnews
“SEO essentials” – journalism.co.uk – Courses/Mousetrap Media Ltd https://www.journalism.co.uk/vocational-skills-study/seo-essentials/s43/a562965/?utm_content=bufferceaa6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Adam Tinworth, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/adders
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

CHARLES MANSON: California state governor rejects parole bid by killer’s follower

Sacramento, UNITED STATES
VIJAY SHAH via Fox News and Ace Breaking News

The leader of the California state government has rejected a bid for parole by a jailed follower of the Seventies cult leader and murderer Charles Manson, the U.S.’s Fox News service reports today.

The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, threw out the parole application for the follower more than forty-six years after Manson and his cult wrecked havoc in southern California, bringing terror to its well-heeled neighbourhoods, a crime spree that still is recounted today.

The bid applicant, a Bruce Davis, was originally jailed for the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea, which occurred in 1969. Manson’s cultists were most notorious for the bloody murder of actress Sharon Tate and six others, before they were apprehended and jailed by local police.

The governor ruled that Davis, now aged 73, still poses a threat to society and a danger to public safety and will remain behind bars. Gov. Brown has already blocked two previous parole applications by Davis, and an earlier bid for jail release was annulled by previous state governor and former film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The killer is currently detained at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, in California’s south, where he is serving a life sentence for the slayings of Hinman and Shea. In addition to the murders, he was also sentenced for ‘conspiracy to commit murder and robbery’, according to Fox.

Since he was put behind bars, Davis has become a devout Christian and studied at the jail’s school, earning himself a doctorate in religious philosophy and is now a prison minister carrying out devotional service to his fellow inmates at the Colony.

His attorney, Michael Beckman, said that California’s Board of Parole Hearings has fulfilled all legal processes in recommending that his client be made eligible for parole. However, Los Angeles County prosecutors opposed the parole bid on the grounds of the sadistic nature of the murders of the two entertainers, alongside the intention of Charles Manson, Davis’ one time leader, to spark a race war between white and black Americans which would benefit his cult.

Bruce Davis was born in Monroe, Louisiana state in October 1942, the youngest of two children. He was a school dropout who moved west to California after becoming interested in the new hippy subculture that was taking shape in the 1960s. He met Charles Manson and his band of followers in 1967, where he made a niche for himself handling stolen credit cards and churning out fake identification for the Manson ‘family’. In 1970, after the murders of Hinman and Shea, Davis was ordered by Manson to turn himself in and was then duly sentenced for the two murders and as a criminal accessory.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
#AceBreakingNews, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AceBreakingNews
“California gov rejects Manson follower’s parole bid” – Associated Press via Fox News – U.S. Home – California/FOX News Network, LLC. (23 January 2016) http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/01/23/california-gov-rejects-manson-followers-parole-bid.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
“Bruce Davis” – CieloDrive.com http://www.cielodrive.com/bruce-davis.php
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

 

SPACEX: Private space exploration firm to test fire rocket on US West Coast

Hawthorne, UNITED STATES
VIJAY SHAH via STEPHANIE LANG, WILLIAM HICKS and TechCrunch

Private space travel company SpaceX is to test-launch a rocket carrying its Jason-3 satellite from an air base in California, USA, technology website TechCrunch reported yesterday.

The launch will be scheduled at precisely 10:42 AM Pacific Standard Time (7:42 PM London time) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, located 9.2 miles north-west of the small town of Lompoc. The launch will give SpaceX, one of a fleet of new privately owned space travel concerns, a chance to test out the capabilities of its Falcon 9 rocket. Engineers will attempt to land the Falcon on a floating ‘drone ship’ somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, it was reported.

Falcon rocket, Space Exploration Technologies,...

Falcon rocket, Space Exploration Technologies, (SpaceX) (See talk page for GFDL permission notes and SpaceX contact information) Note: this was the cover shot for a spring, 2004 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So far, the Falcon programme has been a successful one for the firm, who made a previous test launch in December 2015 and landed their rocket on a launchpad at Cape Canaveral in Florida state, the iconic homeland of space exploration veterans NASA. That test launch was lauded by the space travel community as a step towards greater diversity in space travel as well as a stage in the development of reusable rockets.

The previous Friday, SpaceX carried out a ‘static fire test’ on the recovered engines from the rocket launched in December. The company’s chief executive officer, Elon Musk, reported on Twitter that the data from the static test ‘looked good’, with the only minor problem being that one of the rocket’s outer engines had ‘thrust fluctuations’, beleived to be because it has swallowed surrounding debris from the rocket or outside it during the launch.

In today’s launch, the Falcon 9 will attempt to land on a drone ship floating on the ocean. This will be SpaceX’s third attempt at this notoriously difficult experiment, with the previous two tries frustrated by the instability of the rocket, the size of the pad and the movement of the ocean causing the ship to move about at its location. Succeeding today will mean SpaceX’s rockets will be considered safer and easier to use, potentially opening up more business for the firm from space tourists and other exploration partners.

The first attempt, made in January 2015, also failed because the booster ran out of hydraulic fluid required to direct its descent. The second attempt, made in April 2015, was closer but ultimately failed when a control valve stopped responding to commands seconds before touchdown, according to TechCrunch.

SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann, at a press conference held this past Friday, justified the reason for this latest experiment and his company ‘switching things up’. He said that he company was unable to receive environmental clearance to land the rocket at Vandenburg so opted to try again with the floating drone ship. He also said that the choice to use the ship was not a reflection of the Falcon 9’s capabilities and that a landing on dry soil was no problem at all. Sadly, unlike previous launches, SpaceX will not be able to provide streamed footage of today’s event due to the difficulties in using a good internet connection far out at sea.

Sunday will mark the last launch of the company’s Falcon 9 v1.1 generation of boosters. SpaceX now has an upgraded version of the rocket with increased thrust capabilities which was used in the successful December flight from Florida.

On board the Falcon 9 will be the $180 million Jason-3 satellite, developed by space agencies NOAA and NASA. The satellite will eventually be launched by SpaceX to enable observations of our planet’s sea levels and detect any changes possibly attributable to global warming.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 with an ambition of revoultionising space travel and producing rockets that will one day enable people to dwell on other worlds. It designs, manufactures and launches rockets, of which the Falcon model has been its most well known version. The company, which has 3,000 employees enjoys a close partnership with the U.S. national space agency NASA.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
“Mentioned@DrStephanieLang” – Dr. Stephanie Lang, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DrStephanieLang/lists/mentioned-drstephanielang
william d. hicks, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/wdhicks
Office Products Today, paper.li (17 January 2016) http://paper.li/wdhicks/1310444340
“SpaceX Prepares For Another Rocket Landing On West Coast” – Emily Calandrelli, TechCrunch/AOL Inc. (16 January 2016) http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/16/spacex-prepares-for-another-rocket-landing-on-west-coast/
“COMPANY” – SpaceX/Space Exploration Technologies Corp. http://www.spacex.com/about
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:SpaceX falcon in warehouse.jpg” – SpaceX & Duk, Wikimedia Commons (14 July 2005) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SpaceX_falcon_in_warehouse.jpg

EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS: Berlin considers tightening border controls

Berlin, GERMANY
VIJAY SHAH via EXPANSIÓN

The government of Germany, which has recently welcomed in hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing poverty and the wars in Iraq and Syria, has now voiced the need for European Union member states to strengthen their borders to cope with the ‘waves of refugees’, the Spanish newspaper Expansión has reported.

The measure to enact limits was tabled by the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in an interview published in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung today (16 January 2016). In the interview, Schäuble said it was a priority for member states to collectively seek a solution to the refugee crisis and also spoke in favour of allocating resources and EU budgets, if necessary, to secure the security of external borders. Several EU member states, most notably Greece, Italy and those in the Balkans, have received at their ports and roads several thousand displaced people and are struggling to manage the inflow.

(c) C. Michelides/Wikimedia Commons

“The solution of these problems must not fail for lack of resources,” said Schäuble , who suggested that the money needed for the border reinforcement plan could be gathered via taxation within the union, for example through a levy on petrol, if the European Union and member state budgets are unable to provide enough funds themselves.

“Then we would have the means to address the refugee crisis in Europe. Why not make an agreement at European level if it is so urgent? That is a task” he added.

Schäuble also expected some opposition to his plans and said that even if there are countries not willing to help foot the bill, Germany would not fail to do so itself and would form a ‘coalition of the willing’ of EU member nations prepared to cough up funds for his border reinforcement plan. The finance minister also emphasised the need to protect Europe’s external borders in order to protect the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone, which allows people easy access to travel between different states within the EU.

“Not everyone who wants to can come to Europe. (The plan) must be achieved based on control and cooperation with neighbouring states. But the time to do it is finite,” he said. Schäuble also insisted that the refugee crisis can only be solved at the ‘European level’ otherwise it will not be only be Germany that is affected but those EU states at the forefront of the current humanitarian crisis, such as Austria, Hungary and the Balkans members.

Finance ministers from the EU member states have recently signed on a €3 billion package to be made available to Turkey to provide assistance and facilities to refugees bound for Europe to accommodate them in its territory, hwowver many EU observers say that this will only have partial impact on resolving the refugee crisis.

Schäuble stated that he was convinced that Germany has not reached the limit of capacities for resources to aid refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, but that he felt there was a ‘malfunction’ in the German federal system. The finance minister added “We will have to devote considerably more resources, but will not achieve control problems in the “countries of origin” of refugees,…”

He went on to applaud the hospitality of his home country and other EU nations in welcoming and settling refugees, but said that there was a limit to how much the EU could take in, in terms of population and finance, and that the crisis could harm the efficiency of member states.

Schäuble’s comments in the Süddeutsche Zeitung interview are at odds with the official policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has made considerable efforts to make her country a welcoming place for refugees. Recent events since the refugee crisis began, such as a wave of sexual assaults in Cologne over the New Year period and a spate of attacks on asylum centres by neo-Nazi and far-right extremists have made many German policymakers feel uncomfortable with that official policy, while other EU states, including Great Britain have put in place strict quotas on how many refugees they are prepared to accept.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Eddy yquemas, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/eddyquemas
“Berlín subraya la necesidad de reforzar las fronteras de la UE para hacer frente a la oleada de refugiados” – EFE, Expansión – Economía – Política/Unidad Editorial Información Económica S.L. (16 January 2016) http://www.expansion.com/economia/politica/2016/01/16/569a20aeca4741674b8b4642.html
IMAGE CREDITS:
CC Search https://search.creativecommons.org/
“File:Flüchtinge 9999-Michelides.jpg” – Christian Michelides, Wikimedia Commons (24 October 2015) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fl%C3%BCchtinge_9999-Michelides.jpg

 

EXPRESS COURIERS: Warning about alleged card-cloning delivery scam

 gb
London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH and ALIA HELLZ BACHELL

A Facebook user has put out a warning on the social media site about an alleged card-cloning scam being perpetrated in the London area using the delivery of parcels to people’s addresses as a cover, the Half-Eaten Mind exclusively reports.

The user, Chris Gladman, first shared the warning on the 6th December, 2015 and it is now going viral. In his letter, Gladman reports the experience of a victim of the scam who received a phone call from an individual purporting to be from a delivery company named “Express Couriers”. The scammer asked the victim if they were going to be present at their home to sign for a package in their name and told them that the package would arrive in an hour.

In the incident, which was said to have occurred on the Wednesday preceding Gladman’s letter, a uniformed delivery man arrived at the victim’s house within the hour with a package said to contain flowers and a bottle of wine, which confused the victim as there was no special occasion and they were not expecting any such deliveries.

The victim inquired as to the sender’s identity, but the delivery worker claimed to not know who sent the gifts and that they were only delivering the parcel. The delivery worker did however claim that a card would be sent separately, and the victim also is said to have discovered a consignment invoice along with the gifts. Gladman reports that the card never in fact came.

The delivery worker then went on to tell the victim that the gift would be charged to them at a fee of £3.50 as it had contained alcohol and they needed to confirm that the package was not being delivered to a minor, and to prevent the package from being left on the property where it could be stolen.

The victim offered to pay in cash, but the delivery person insisted that all payments be made by credit or debit card for legal and safety reasons. The victim, satisfied with the explanation, is said to have then got her husband, who was now on the scene, to pay the fee with his card. The delivery worker, who claimed his name was John, then produced a card payment device with a ‘small screen and keypad’. The victim’s husband entered his PIN and collected a receipt of payment for the mysterious parcel. The delivery driver then left the premises after wishing them good day.

A few days later, Gladman said that the couple found that £4,000 in total had been stolen from the husband’s account from several ATMs, and he surmises that the card payment machine was in fact a cloning device that skimmed off the data stored on the victim’s husband’s card, and combined with the entered PIN, was used by the fraudsters to steal money from the couple.

The couple reported the incident to their bank and to the local police, who are said to have confirmed that similar scams by Express Couriers were already known to them.

At the end of the letter, Gladman warns others to be vigilant about receiving strange parcels from delivery companies they have never heard of. He said “Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction!”

There has been no official statement from the police or other agencies regarding such a scam in the London area, but people are advised as a matter of course to always be aware and careful of unknown visitors to their home.

SOURCES:
Chris Gladman
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta

 

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