OPEC PRODUCTION CUTS: Oil producers likely to continue curbs on production

Doha – VIJAY SHAH via Qatar National Bank and Investing.com

OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), a network of fourteen crude oil producing nations may be likely to continue maintaining its curb on production output for the foreseeable future according to commodity analysts at the Qatar National Bank, as reported by Investing.com today.

Record low oil prices, natural disasters and a rapidly shifting political landscape have given a bullish feel for the oil market. An oversupply of oil on the international market forced OPEC members to agree to limit their outputs in order to prevent a sudden decline in price earlier this year, with a provisional deadline of March 31, 2018, however the Qatari bank’s specialists say it is very likely that OPEC will continue with the production cut further into the new year.

 

The OPEC decision has also been influenced by higher output from non-OPEC affiliated countries. Non-OPEC output is expected to increase further in 2018, and it is predicted that OPEC will continue the curb till at least the end of next year.

In late September, oil prices reached a high of USD $59 per barrel, as the oil industry recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey wrought upon oilfields in the Gulf Region of the US, and the likelihood of fresh sanction being imposed upon leading oil producer Iran by the Trump administration, who oppose closer links with the country due to its controversial nuclear programme.

Additionally, two OPEC members, Russia and Saudi Arabia had recently engaged in high-level talks aimed at keeping the extension of cuts in place for a long time, with Saudi unilaterally offering to cut its national output by 0.3 million barrels per day, which is over and above the cut it agreed with fellow members. Meanwhile, oil producers outside OPEC have increased their production by 0.7 million barrels per day, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting a non-OPEC increase of 1.5 mbpd in 2018. Libya and Nigeria, though members of OPEC, are excluded from the cuts agreement and have in fact increased their oil exports, while OPEC members have been reported to be struggling to meet compliance rates.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Dukascopy Forex (EN)‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/FXS_Forex_EN

“OPEC Likely To Extend Cuts Due To Higher Output From Non-OPEC” – Online News powered by Dukascopy/Dukascopy (15 October 2017) https://www.dukascopy.com/news/?languages=en&selectedId=5080556400065759342

“OPEC Likely To Extend Cuts Due To Higher Output From Non-OPEC” – Qatar National Bank, Investing.com/Fusion Media Limited (15 October 2017) https://www.investing.com/analysis/opec-likely-to-extend-cuts-due-to-higher-output-from-nonopec-200218787

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:OPEC-building-02.jpg” – Priwo, Wikimedia Commons (24 January 2010) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OPEC-building-02.jpg

 

Advertisements

AN ATM STICKUP: Two methods used to fleece cash machines

Philipsburg – VIJAY SHAH via TecNovedosos

Earlier this year, specialists working at Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab announced at a conference held in the Dutch Caribbean territory of Sint-Maarten that bank robbers have found two new, and quite ingenious ways to target ATMs and relieve them of their cash deposits. The IT experts made a presentation in front of delegates at the Computer Security Summit Summit, held on the 4th of April, 2017, where they warned that thieves were upping their game in their attacks on automated bank tellers and gone were the days when all it took was a rope, a heavy-duty vehicle and a small amount of explosives to break into an ATM.

 

According to a report published in Spanish language online magazine tecnovedosos.com, sophisticated robbers now have two tactics at their disposal, cases of which have already been reported by banks in Russia and Europe. In many of these cases, the robberies only took a matter of seconds.

The first tactic reported by security specialists involves a small hole being drilled into the ATM keypad without triggering the machine’s automatic security sensors. A hacker then uses special equipment to directly access the onboard computer. The hacker then decodes the machine’s electronic signals, essentially forcing the machine to electronically hand over all its cash. The ATM is emptied of its cash reserves by the robbers. This tactic exploits a vulnerability in a certain model of ATM, manufactured by a single company, though which company it was was not mentioned by the Kaspersky Lab researchers.

The second tactic involves a more elaborate and far-reaching approach targeting the bank itself. Malicious cybercriminals target the bank’s IT systems with a powerful virus that targets the part of the network that manages the ATMs. Once the virus is entrenched, it is remotely activated by the criminals using the bank’s own systems. A command is sent out by the virus to the ATMs to release their cash reserves. The robber needs then only to pay a visit to the compromised ATM and withdraw all the money, a procedure that takes only a few minutes and will not arouse the suspicions of bank security staff, and also cuts out the risk associated with traditional bank robberies involving ‘stick-ups’, in the eyes of criminals.

The ATMs are compromised by robbers quite easily and once the heist is complete, the hackers wipe out the virus to cover their tracks. The virus, known as ATMitch, has been reported by banks hacked into in Russia and neighbouring Kazakhstan.

In the UK, no such cases have yet been reported involving these tactics. Most ATMs are zeroued in on by less technologically savvy robbers who resort to blowing up cash machines or ripping them out of walls. In the past few years, some fraudsters have adopted a more scientific approach, involving attaching special skimming devices to the card reader slots of ATMs, which masquerade as part of the machine and catch people’s card details and PINs, which the robbers gather from the device and then empty the victims’ accounts. Others have been caught attaching pinhole cameras which watch people enter their PINs. ATM users are advised to always shield their PINs when using cash machines, and to be wary of people standing over them or observing them using the keypad.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Tecnología GM 🔹‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/TecnologiaGM

“Descubren dos ingeniosas tácticas para sacarle el dinero a los cajeros automáticos” – tecnovedosos.com/TecNovedosos (5 April 2017) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/metodos-para-robar-cajeros-automaticos/

IMAGE CREDITS:

“Free photo: Scam, Atm, Security, Bank, Money – Free Image on Pixabay – 2048851” – mrganso, Pixabay (4 February 2017) https://pixabay.com/en/scam-atm-security-bank-money-2048851/

“🇸🇽 Sint Maarten on Twitter Twemoji 2.0” – Emojipedia/Emojipedia Pty Ltd https://emojipedia.org/twitter/twemoji-2.0/flag-for-sint-maarten/

AIR MAURITIUS CRISIS: Fifty pilots from India drafted in to man ailing airline

Port Louis – VIJAY SHAH and ABHI RAMSAHAYE via LeDéfi Media Group

A team of fifty pilots from India are being sent to the island of Mauritius to help solve a staff shortage that has brought the island’s national air carrier to its knees, reports local French-language news agency LeDéfi Media Group.

The island’s national and most significant airline, Air Mauritius is currently undergoing a crisis caused by many of its pilots refusing to report for duty, for reasons unknown. Several flights by Air Mauritius have already been cancelled since last Thursday, a serious problem for Mauritius, a popular holiday hotspot and for which tourism is a vital component of its economy.

 

The Mauritian government, frustrated with the inactivity of some of Air Mauritius’ aviators, has struck a deal with the government of India, an important regional ally, to supply the fifty pilots from Asia, who Le Défi said are now ready and waiting to take orders and man Air Mauritius’ planes. The Indian contingent are currently on standby to take over controls should more Mauritian pilots refuse to enter the cockpit.

Mauritius’ prime minister Pravind Jugnauth condemned the unofficial strike by Air Mauritius’ flight crew, claiming they were betraying the country. The PM said at an inauguration of playing fields in Résidences Briqueterie, Sainte-Croix: I find it unacceptable that people can act against the interests of Mauritius,”

“There will certainly be repercussions, but they (the airline) have my support,”

The airline’s board of directors have already terminated the employment contracts of three pilots this past Friday. The dismissals were followed by a press statement from the board, in whixch it said  it had “taken note of the detailed report presented by management” whose initial conclusions “confirm a premeditated and concerted action”.

The Air Mauritius debacle mirrors a similar situation in Europe, when the Anglo-Irish economy airline Ryanair was forced to cancel hundred of flights after senior management messed up pilot working hour rotas following a change in statutory holiday periods. Also in the UK, another air carrier, Monarch, went into administration with the loss of 1,900 jobs after losing £100 million of profits due to terrorism and the impact of Brexit on the travel economy.

SOURCES: 

Defimedia.info, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/www.defimedia.info/

“AIR MAURITIUS : 50 PILOTES INDIENS PRÊTS À PRENDRE LES COMMANDES” – Abhi Ramsahaye, LeDéfi Media Group (8 October 2017) http://www.defimedia.info/air-mauritius-50-pilotes-indiens-prets-prendre-les-commandes

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Air Mauritius A330-200 3B-NBM HKG 2012-7-16.png” – Sergey Kustov, Wikimedia Commons (16 July 2012) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Air_Mauritius_A330-200_3B-NBM_HKG_2012-7-16.png

AFGHANISTAN ROADSIDE BOMB: Official states 2 dead in terror attacks

Herat – VIJAY SHAH via Associated Press and Fox News

Two people are confirmed dead after a number of bombs exploded in roads in the Herat province of Afghanistan, according to statements by an Afghan official and reported in Fox News via the Associated Press agency today. Another bomb was also detonated at a market several miles from Kabul, the capital, as well today.

 

One of the victims is believed to have been a local police officer, killed by the blasts in the western part of Herat. Gelani Farhad, a spokesperson for the provincial government, said that one bomb triggered by a moving police vehicle in the Adraskan district, also injured another police officer. Farhad also stated that a second device in Shindand district blew up a motorcycle, killing one ordinary citizen and injuring another.

In Kapisa province, close to the Afghan capital Kabul and the US military encampment in Bagram, a bomb attached to a bicycle exploded at a bazaar, injuring nine shoppers, all civilians. Two young children were among the casualties, one of them critically, according to Qais Qaderi, a spokesperson for that province’s governor.

No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the blasts in Herat and Kapisa provinces. However the Taliban, who governed Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were overthrown by an US allied invasion after the September 11 attacks in the United States, have long maintained a lethal campaign of stationary and suicide bomb attacks against both US/NATO and Afghan forces as well as civilians. Al Qaeda, Daesh and various warlords and militant groups are also highly active in Afghanistan.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Chris 🇺🇸‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Chris_1791

“Afghan official: 2 people killed by roadside bombs” – Associated Press via FOX News/FOX News Network, LLC (30 September 2017) http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/09/30/afghan-official-2-people-killed-by-roadside-bombs.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Car Passing on Highway in Herat.jpg” – koldo hormaza, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (13 September 2005) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Car_Passing_on_Highway_in_Herat.jpg

UBER: Disruptive taxi app firm stripped of licence by London’s TfL

London – VIJAY SHAH via SARAH BUTLER, GWYN TOPHAM and The Guardian

San Francisco-based taxi app company Uber has had its application to renew its public carriage licence turned down by Transport for London (TfL) after its business practices and safety record were called into question by critics, the Guardian newspaper reported today.

The company, founded by Travis Kalanick in 2010, operates in 400 cities around the world and is well known for its cheap prices, its large pool of contracted drivers and its ease of use. But the company has come under fire in London its ‘lack of corporate responsibility’, and its disruptive effect on the city’s indigenous ‘black cab’ licensed minicab trade. Uber has been accused of not properly vetting its drivers’ criminal records and for not doing enough to investigate alleged sexual assaults by contracted taxi drivers.

The move by TfL has created a massive shock in London, with many customers and drivers of Uber condemning the decision not to renew the firm’s licence, which enables it to operate on the city’s streets. Black cab drivers and motoring safety groups however, have expressed support for the decision, blaming Uber for increasing traffic and stealing trade from established cab firms.

 

TfL is said to have rejected Uber’s licence renewal on the basis that it is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator, according to the Guardian newspaper. The current Uber licence will expire on the 30th of September and the company’s UK arm plans to launch an appeal against TfL’s decision.  Uber works with 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users, called ‘riders’ in London alone.

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi in a message to the app’s staff issued yesterday said: “The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation,” he wrote. “It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours.

“It’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in. That doesn’t mean abandoning our principles – we will vigorously appeal TfL’s decision – but rather building trust through our actions and our behaviour. In doing so, we will show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.”

TfL was supported by London’s city Mayor, Sadiq Khan, employment rights campaigners and a federation of black cab firms. Uber has in the past been slated for not giving its drivers full employment status and not paying them a living wage, according to its critics. Uber’s customers and drivers have expressed dismay, along with Trade Minister  Greg Hands.

TfL said it had rejected the company’s application to renew its licence because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks. TfL has also accused Uber of employing special cloaking software to make it difficult for authorities to access the app and records for such purposes as law enforcement.

Khan said he fully supported TfL’s decision, saying all companies needed to “play by the rules”.

He said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.

“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.”

But Hands, who is also minister for London, said: “At the flick of a pen Sadiq Khan is threatening to put 40,000 people out of work and leave 3.5 million users of Uber stranded.

“Uber must address safety concerns and it is important there is a level playing field across the private hire market.

“But a blanket ban will cause massive inconvenience to millions of Londoners, all while showing that the Mayor of London is closed to business and innovation.”

Sam Gyimah, a Conservative justice minister and MP (Member of Parliament) for the East Surrey political constituency, said it was “possible to have effective regulation of Uber without penalising the consumers who benefit from more choice and lower prices”.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents London’s black cab drivers, said the mayor had made the right decision.

“Since it first came on to our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets,” he said.

Uber said in a statement the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.

“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” the company added.

Uber’s maverick business model have caused it to get in hot water in numerous world cities. There were protests against the app in places as far apart as Rio de Janeiro and Paris. Last year, its founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick was forced to step down after allegations of sexual harassment at the company’s headquarters and a fiery exchange with one of his company’s drivers, caught on camera. Many observers say that the decision by TfL could deal a fatal blow to Uber.

SOURCES:

Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/

“Uber stripped of London licence due to lack of corporate responsibility” – Sarah Butler and Gwyn Topham, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (23 September 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/22/uber-licence-transport-for-london-tfl

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Uber app” – freestocks.org, Flickr (12 January 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/freestocks/23707913564

 

ALEX JONES: Infowars founder has boiling coffee thrown in face

Seattle – VIJAY SHAH via ANDREW GRIFFIN and The Independent

Notorious alternative news writer and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, founder of the Infowars website, was assailed by an objector who threw a cup of boiling hot coffee in his face while filming a video in the streets of Seattle, the British newspaper The Independent reported recently.

Jones, a far-right leaning journalist and a firm supporter of U.S. president Donald Trump was recording a video concerning the recent terror atrocity in Barcelona, when the passer-by objected to him and hurled the drink at him, while challenging him to a fight, the Independent reports.

 

As Jones began shooting, one man makes an obscene gesture at him. Jones then follows the man down the street, berating him for being non-intellectual, and labelling him a “dumbass and a coward”. The two parties also trade obscenities and insults as Jones blocks the man’s path and challenges him. At this point, another man shouts out to the Infowars founder that he is ‘trash’. This angered Jones, who then challenges the passer-by to repeat what he said and tell him “intellectually who you are”.

Jones furthers insults the man, calling him a “literal slave of the system” as they square off. The man who is seen carrying a full cup of coffee, then proceeds to remove the lid, before flinging its contents into Jones’ face, and then carries on his journey. At this point Jones speaks directly to camera, saying he was’ proud’ that the incident happened and that the assailant was in league with jihadists. The video was later uploaded to the conspiracy theorist’s personal YouTube channel.

A radio host and filmmaker, Jones who has been widely criticised for his far-right, anti-government and racist views. He recently claimed the white supremacists behind the Charlottesville rally were ‘Jewish actors’. In the past, he suggested the Sandy Hook school massacre was staged, that the 1995 Oklahoma City FBI bombing was set up up by the US federal government, and that a yogurt factory in Idaho state which employed refugees was behind a sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis infections. In the last U.S. presidential election, Alex Jones came out heavily in favour of Trump, who was said to have personally thanked Jones after his victory in the polls.

He owns two conspiracy theory sites, Infowars and Prison Planet. Infowars, which claims to be the home of the number one Internet news show globally, has been slated for promulgating ‘fake news’.

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has cup of coffee thrown in his face on street while filming video” – Andrew Griffin, The Independent (18 August 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/alex-jones-coffee-video-infowars-prison-planet-seattle-footage-spain-attacks-barcelona-a7901101.html?cmpid=facebook-post

“Alex Jones (radio host)” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Jones_(radio_host)

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Neil Fallon of The Rock Band [Clutch] on Alex Jones Tv 2_4-Digitized Feudalism!” – Alex Jones, Flickr (23 January 2010) https://www.flickr.com/photos/thealexjonesshow/4297411467

INFANT ENCEPHALITIS: New outbreak reported in Indian city

Gorakhpur – VIJAY SHAH via PRABHASH DUTTA and India Today

The latest stage in a series of infant encephalitis outbreaks has claimed the lives of around sixty children in the Indian city of Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh state, India Today news magazine reported this Saturday. The city, which lies 200 kilometres north-west of India’s capital New Delhi has been the scene of yearly outbreaks of both Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome since 1978, a period of nearly forty years.

Official figures claim that so far, around 25,000 children have succumbed to both conditions, which is spread by mosquitoes and causes inflammation of the brain and can leave survivors mentally and physically disabled, since the first outbreak in 1978. Unofficially the death toll since then has been claimed to be double that, at 50,000. The unofficial tally includes those children who never made it to hospital and were not officially recorded by doctors. Lack of medical facilities, poor nutrition and hygiene and close contact in crowded family environments in Gorakhpur and other parts of Uttar Pradesh has seen regular encephalitis outbreaks impossible to control.

 

Government records suggest that since September 2016, 224 children had died of encephalitis at just one hospital, BRD Medical College hospital, where already sixty children died just this year. This is the only hospital within a 300-kilometre radius that has the facilities to treat encephalitis victims, some of which come to the hospital from as far away as Nepal. Most of the victims were below the ages of eight and ten. Including all age ranges, Gorakhpur has lost 114 residents to the lethal diseases this year alone..

Government support of medical facilities and initiatives to combat the outbreak, of which Gorakhpur is the epicentre, have been minimal most of the time. In 2007, a government initiative was launched to save people live’s using drugs imported from China. While successful in many other parts of India, it failed to halt the march of encephalitis in the struggling eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh.

Recently, the Yoga Adityanath administration that governs the northern state launched a massive anti-encephalitis drive, vaccinating babies against catching the illness, but it will be years before results become conclusive, and the yearly sceptre of death is lifted from Gorakhpur’s innocent children.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

annapurnapande, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/ManyaPande

Abhijit Majumder, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/abhijitmajumder

“Gorakhpur has a history of children’s deaths, 25,000 kids have lost lives to encephalitis” – Prabhash K. Dutta, indiatoday.in/Living Media India Limited. (12 August 2017) http://m.indiatoday.in/lite/story/gorakhpur-encephalitis-deaths-brd-medical-college-hospital/1/1024551.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“How is Japanese Encephalitis transmitted?” – Sanofi Pasteur, Flickr (22 February 2013) https://www.flickr.com/photos/sanofi-pasteur/8497288143

OUTLASTING THE ENERGIZER BUNNY: US researcher creates stronger batteries with cheap materials

Houston – VIJAY SHAH via noticiasdelaciencia.com and AgroAlimentando

Batteries are one of the most important elements of our technologically driven society. We rely on them to energise everything from children’s toys and torches, to cars and lorries, yet often they can be the bane of our lives too. Batteries can have their drawbacks, such as catching on fire, running out too quickly, leaking, and performing poorly in wintry weather.

Recently, researchers led by Dr. Yan Yao at the US’ University of Houston have discovered that manufacturing batteries from a new and inexpensive class of materials may help solve the problem of troublesome lithium ion batteries and the like.

 

Yao and team used quinones, a type of chemical organic compound derived from petrochemicals which are easy to obtain and cheap. These recyclable materials were converted into a stable anode compound, which can be used in the manufacture of water-rechargeable batteries. Water-chargeable batteries contain water-based electrolytes that carry current easily, but unlike conventional batteries, do not corrode. Until recently, these kinds of batteries were only really good in the laboratory environment, as their short shelf life made them impractical for situations where replacing the battery regularly is inconvenient, such as in heavy machinery. Despite their short lifespans, water-rechargeable batteries, also known as aqueous-rechargeable batteries are much safer and are more robust.

The main problem with previous models of water-rechargeable batteries has been their anodes, one of three parts in a battery, that is negative when the battery is discharging, and then switches to a positive charge when the battery is being charged up. The anodes in these previous models were intrinsically structurally and chemically unstable, which means that the battery was only efficient for a relatively short period of time.

Yan Yao and the researchers used quinones, which cost as little as $2 (£1.54) per kilogram. They discovered that anodes made from quinones were effective in both acid and alkali batteries as well as newer water-based models using metallic ions. This diversity of usage means that Yao’s technology could be applied to any battery setting for any technology, including for devices not yet invented.

The quinones also help batteries work at a wide range of temperatures, which gives Yao’s batteries an advantage even over other existing aqueous rechargeable battery technology, which still underperforms in cold conditions.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alejandro Shammah‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/aleshammah

“Baterías con vida más larga gracias a una clase de materiales baratos” – noticiasdelaciencia.com via Agroalimentando – AgroA http://agroalimentando.com/nota.php?id_nota=7753&utm_content=buffer2de86&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Duracell battery AA type” – Anton Fomkin, Flickr (19 November 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/antonfomkin/3046002213

 

HIV ORPHANS: Beauty contest winner sparks controversy after meeting children wearing protective gloves

Johannesburg – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS BAYNES and The Independent

A winner of the Miss South Africa beauty pageant has sparked controversy after visiting a home for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS while wearing protective gloves, the Independent newspaper of Britain reported today.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters visited a soup kitchen in the major city of Johannesburg to meet with the orphans. She was seen wearing gloves, which have led observers to accuse her of being racist. She was handing out hot meals to the orphans as part of the Winter Soup Drive charity event at the Ikageng community centre in Johannesburg, organised by the city’s Maslow Hotel. The Miss South Africa, aged 22 and of mixed heritage, however insisted the gloves were worn for hygienic reasons as she was working with food. On Twitter, Nel-Peters showed herself sitting down on steps with some of the Ikageng orphans, eating soup and bread rolls with them.

 

The picture shows Nel-Peters wearing what appears to be white latex surgical gloves as she eats a roll. It sparked a backlash from other Twitter users who claimed Nel-Peters was being racist or that she was afraid of being ‘contaminated’ by the children, many of whom had lost parents to HIV/AIDS or suffered from the virus themselves. South Africa has one of the world’s highest numbers of infected people. The 2007 UNAIDS report estimated that 5,700,000 South Africans had HIV/AIDS, or just under 12% of South Africa’s population of 48 million.

One Twitter user wrote: “I want to know why she would put on latex gloves to touch black children.” Another said: “I really can’t believe ‘our’ Miss SA is wearing latex so that she can touch these kids!” A third suggested she wore gloves “to protect herself from black kids” because she feared they would “contaminate her”. The backlash soon grew into a Twitter hashtag competition, #MissSAChallenge, which went viral this past Thursday, where users began posting pictures of themselves wearing white latex gloves, making fun of the beauty queen’s decision.

Some posted photos of themselves wearing gloves to type at a desk, make a drink, and read a book.

The Ikageng centre has spoken out against the challenge. Its programme director, Carol Dyanti, said All volunteers, including our staff members, wore gloves during the food preparation. It was mandatory.

“It was such successful day and I am sorry that the focus is now on the glovs (sic) rather than the positive impact it had.”

Nel-Peters also spoke out against the controversy, stating in the Independent story via an uploaded video on Twitter: “We were handing out food to young kids and that was the only intention with wearing the gloves.

“It was purely to be as hygienic as possible. I really feel like my intention were really misunderstood but I would like to apologise if I offended anyone.”

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who was born in Sedgefield in the Western Cape province in 1995, is a model who was crowned Miss South Africa this year and will go on to represent the country at the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants this year. Latex gloves are often worn by people working in catering and hospitality, as well as in the medical field, for reasons of hygiene and safety.

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Miss South Africa sparks uproar by wearing gloves to meet orphans with HIV” – Chris Baynes, The Independent (8 July 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/miss-south-africa-wears-gloves-to-meet-hiv-orphans-uproar-demi-leigh-nel-peters-a7829581.html?cmpid=facebook-post

CLOSING DOWN THE SLAMMERS: Netherlands shuttering prisons

The Hague – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS WELLER, Business Insider and Independent

While many countries are experiencing a boom in their prison populations leading to overcrowded cells and jails, and in the worse cases, lethal riots, the Netherlands is witnessing the opposite. The country has such well behaved citizens that prisons are being shut down, according to the United Kingdom’s Independent newspaper.

 

 

In 2013, Dutch correctional authorities closed down thirteen jails, with plans for some to be converted into temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. Another five prisons are expected to be gone by the end of this year, according to internal documents seen by the newspaper De Telegraaf.

While the prison closures are reassuring for the Dutch people, knowing that theirs is a safe society, they will also cost 2,000 jobs with another 700 being transferred to other roles within the country’s law enforcement sector. The prison closures come in the wake of a trend of declining crime rates since 2004, the Telegraph states. There were so many jail cells lying unused in the Netherlands that authorities imported 240 Norwegian prisoners to keep correctional facilities viable.

As well as the measured decline in criminal activities, the Netherlands takes a liberal approach to criminal punishment, choosing to focus on prisoner rehabilitation instead of detainment. Electronic tagging programmes and a relaxed attitude to drug use have also contributed to the shrinking number of the detained. Out of a total population of 17 million, the Netherlands only has around 11,600 prisoners, which works out to 69 incarcerations per 100,000 people.

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Dutch prisons are closing because the country is so safe” – Chris Weller, Business Insider via The Independent (31 May 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/dutch-prisons-are-closing-because-the-country-is-so-safe-a7765521.html?cmpid=facebook-post

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Prison Bound” – Thomas Hawk, Flickr (28 March 2013) https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/10490113913