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

WANNACRY ATTACK: NHS, major organisations left reeling by co-ordinated hack

 

Winnipeg – VIJAY SHAH via Winnipeg Free Press and ReportCA.net

Several of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service trusts, as well as numerous large companies across the globe are still recovering from a large-scale ‘unprecedented’ ransomware cyber attack which occurred this weekend, ReportCA.net wrote yesterday.

The ‘cyberextortion’ attack, which involved hackers accessing computers via phishing emails, and locking systems and encrypting company data, also affected numerous firms engaged in the manufacturing, finance and transport sectors. Government agencies were also caught up in the debacle. Technicians at the NHS, which offers subsidised healthcare in the U.K., scrambled to limit the spread of the ransomware, which caused problems with accessing patient data and hospital appointments, among other things. Many companies ordered their employees to disconnect their workstations from the Internet and to avoid opening emails from unfamiliar sources.

Such was the scale of this weekend’s mass attack, Microsoft was moved into changing its cybersecurity policy, making free of charge updates and patches for computers running older packages such as Windows XP, which many small and medium enterprises still rely on, due to the expense of system upgrades or lack of technical knowledge and ICT skills.

 

 

 

Apart from the NHS, Spain’s Telefonica and Iberdrola also reported computers being targeted. The German national railway Deutsche Ban was another victim. ReportCA.net published a photo taken by an eyewitness at Chemnitz rail station, showing a display board for train times. The screen was partly obscured by a red and white pop-up with a padlock logo, a sight reported by other victims of the attack. The hackers locked out users and demanded payment in bitcoin currency to release encrypted data. Other victims included the Russian Interior Ministry, the country’s mobile phone operators MTS and MegaFon, French car maker Renault, and football clubs in Europe. One long-established club, IF Odd, said Saturday that its online ticketing service was crippled by the ransomware.

The British home secretary Amber Rudd said that one in five of her country’s 248 NHS trusts, which manage hospitals and patient services above general practitioner level, had been hit. Thousands of patient appointments and operations, including for serious conditions, were cancelled, as medical staff were frozen out of their databases and systems. According to Rudd, 48 trusts were affected, but quick reaction times by their ICT departments meant that as of yesterday, only six were still reporting issues. The National Cyber Security Centre also stepped in to mitigate the impact of the attack.

Cybersecurity officials urged both individuals and companies to ensure they regularly update their anti-virus and security systems, enact security updates if they are Windows users and to back-up data on a separate server or in the cloud.

The source of the attack is as yet unknown, although Russian and Chinese hackers have targeted companies and governmental agencies in the West in past years. Two cybersecurity firms, Avast and Kaspersky Lab, have said that the ransomware attacked PCs in 70 countries, with Russia the most affected. There have been reports that the hackers used the WannaCry ransomware program, said to have been based on spying technology utilised by America’s NSA (National Security Agency). More than 36,000 infections were detected by yesterday. It is reported that the hackers behind ‘WannaCry’ stole the hacking tools from the NSA, which created the tool to exploit a loophole in Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Ori Eisen, founder of Trusona cybersecurity firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, warned that the WannaCry attack is just the beginning and another more advanced attack could have serious and potentially lethal implications. Speaking with the Associated Press news agency, Eisen said: This is child”s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” he asked.

“Today, it happened to 10,000 computers,” Eisen said. “There”s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.”

Intranational policing agency Europol described the attack as at “an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits.”

The onslaught of WannaCry was successfully halted after a 22-year-old British cybersecurity researcher, known only by his or her tag ‘MalwareTech’ accidently stumbled across a ‘kill switch’ that disabled the ransomware. By entering a nonsensical domain name, MalwareTech was able to stop the malware spreading further. He or she purchased the domain name for around £9, yet this quick thinking decision saved companies millions in potential damage control. The kill switch only worked for those not affected however, and many organisations who were already hit were forced to pay the ransom demand or call up emergency data stocks.

SOURCES:

HEM Newsbreakers, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-newsbreakers

Report 24 Canada, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Report24CA

“Unprecedented global “ransomware” attack seeks cash for data” – Winnipeg Free Press via ReportCA.net (13 May 2017) https://reportca.net/2017/05/unprecedented-global-ransomware-attack-seeks-cash-for-data/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Wana Decrypt0r screenshot.png” – WannaCry via SecureList, Wikimedia Commons (12 May 2017) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wana_Decrypt0r_screenshot.png

 

FRANCE ELECTIONS: Last runoff between Macron and Le Pen begins, hackers cause havoc

Paris – VIJAY SHAH via JON HENLEY and The Guardian

The last stage of the French presidential elections has begun in earnest, with the European country’s voters choosing between centre-leaning former economist Emmanuel Macron and leader of the far-right nationalist party Front National, Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports.

Akin to the recent U.S. presidential elections where Russian hackers were accused of interfering with the system to guarantee a win for current president Donald Trump, the French voting rally has been marred by recent reports of a ‘massive online dump’ of campaign data by unknown parties and attributed to Macron’s new political movement.

 

Ten of thousands of stolen emails and documents, some claimed to be fake, were put in the public domain. Fearful of the likely impact on the outcome of the election, the French government has made it a criminal offence for the data to be published. The Senate also declared an electioneering blackout lasting until the close of polls today at 8 pm local time.

Macron’s election team, the En Marche! movement, condemned the hack, saying that it was clearly an attempt at democratic destabilisation, like that seen during the last presidential campaign in the US,”

The bitter and divisive at times runoffs are a litmus test for the future direction of politics not only in France, but also in Europe, particularly as politics in the developed world increasingly swings towards the far-right. Far-right candidates were recently just about kept out of the presidential palace in Austria, and are increasingly grabbing a greater share of the vote in the U.K. and Netherlands. The two forerunners in the French elections are also polar opposites. The Guardian writes: Macron, a 39-year-old former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and upbeat. Le Pen is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and possibly leave the euro and the EU.”

The last polls, published on Friday, suggest that Emmanuel Macron has a lead over Marine Le Pen of around 22-23 percentage points, buoyed in part by a recent controversial televised debate, where Le Pen was said to have spent more time laying into her rival than promoting her party’s policies to the country’s electorate.

“The commission calls on everyone present on internet sites and social networks – primarily the media, but also all citizens – to show responsibility and not pass on this content so as not to distort the sincerity of the ballot,” the national election commission said on Saturday.

Most French media decided not to break the news of the hack, whose origin was not mentioned by the Guardian. France’s leading broadsheet, Le Monde, declared it would not publish any of the 9 gigabytes of leaked data, due to both its volume and the risk of influencing the election’s outcome.

“If these documents contain revelations, Le Monde will of course publish them after having investigated them, respecting our journalistic and ethical rules, and without allowing ourselves to be exploited by the publishing calendar of anonymous actors,” the paper said.

The data was dumped onto popular sharing service Pastebin under a profile named EMLEAKS. The targeted political movement, Macron’s En Marche! (On the March!) were not perturbed by the public release of the data, saying that most of the emails were from day-to-day operations, and that some files were false, put in with the dump to ‘sow doubt and disinformation’.

France’s vote will be run in stages, with residents of the country’s overseas departments and territories being the first to mark their ballot papers. Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a small dependency off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland island, will be the first to cast their votes. French people in the diaspora will also take priority in voting, before Metropolitan France’s 47 million voters will begin visiting around 70,000 polling stations today.

SOURCES:

Google News https://news.google.co.uk/?ar=1494148359

“French election: voting begins as France decides between Macron and Le Pen” – Jon Henley, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (7 May 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/07/voting-begins-in-final-round-of-french-presidential-election

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:French presidential election P1200051.jpg” – David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons (14 April 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:French_presidential_election_P1200051.jpg

UNITED AIRLINES: Airline cremates world record size rabbit without owner’s permission

Chicago – VIJAY SHAH via ASHITHA NAGESH, GEORGIA DIEBELIUS and Metro

The American air carrier United Airlines, which has suffered a massive PR blow recently after a doctor was assaulted and dragged off one of its planes, faces yet more controversy after it emerged the airline cremated a deceased giant rabbit without informing the pet’s owner, according to UK tabloid paper Metro today.

Ten-month old Flemish Giant rabbit Simon, the son of current world record holder for biggest rabbit, 4ft 4in (1.32m) Darius and measuring at 3ft (91cm) himself, was found frozen to death in the cargo hold at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. He was travelling from Heathrow Airport, near London, UK to a new home in Chicago.

 

Picture posed by another giant rabbit.

 

It was reported that airport ground staff at O’Hare has placed Simon in a freezer instead of a suitable pet carrier, resulting in his death. Simon had remained entirely trapped in the freezer, which was set at a temperature of around 0-2 degrees Celsius for the entire 16-hour duration of the flight. His former owner, rabbit breeder Annette Edwards, demanded that a post-mortem be held on her pet, but came to discover that Simon’s body was sent for cremation without her being told. The cremation took place this past Friday.

Edwards told The Sun newspaper: “I had been asking United over and over again for his body so that I can have him examined here in Britain but they never got back to me,

‘All I want to know is how he died. He was fit as a fiddle when he left my house, and then 24 hours later he’s dead”

Simon was said to have been travelling to the home of an unnamed celebrity, based in Kanton in Ohio state who had taken on the responsibility of being his owner, and the celebrity was reported to be upset at Simon’s passing.

At the time, United Airlines claimed that the rabbit was still alive upon arrival at Chicago, and that he was mistakenly placed in a freezer at holding on the airport premises. A United staff member told The Sun: “The rabbit arrived fine but there was some sort of mistake and he was locked inside a freezer overnight.

Everyone thought he was just having a nap or something. Nobody realised it needed to be taken out.’

‘We know from the inventory that that the rabbit was alive when it reached the airport. So it happened in the warehouse. It has all been kept very hush hush but none of us know who froze the rabbit.”

A United spokesman countered the allegations, saying at the time of the incident: “That assertion (that Simon froze to death on the flight) is completely false. Simon was cared for at the PetSafe kennel facility which is kept at room temperature (on average 70°F (21°C)).

‘He arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport in apparent good condition at 10:25 am (local time).

‘He was seen by a representative of the kennel facility moving about within his crate about 11:00am. Shortly thereafter, a kennel representative noticed Simon was motionless and determined that he passed away “

SOURCES:

Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

“United Airlines ‘cremated Simon the giant rabbit without the owner’s consent’” – Ashitha Nagesh, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (1 May 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/01/united-airlines-cremated-simon-the-giant-rabbit-without-the-owners-consent-6607998/

“Giant rabbit died in care of United Airlines ‘after being put in the freezer’” – Georgia Diebelius, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (29 April 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/29/giant-rabbit-died-in-care-of-united-airlines-after-being-put-in-the-freezer-6604933/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Colby the Flemish Giant” – Rhiannon Boyle, Flickr (4 October 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/anomieus/2912690917

WRESTLEMANIA 33: Ultimate wrestling extravaganza this Sunday

Orlando, UNITED STATES
VIJAY SHAH and SUNNY ATWAL with AARON CARR, PHIL HAIGH via Penn News and Metro

Fans of sports entertainment brand WWE are in for a treat this Sunday as the wrestling highlight of the year, WrestleMania 33, happens this Sunday. This will be a once-in-a-year chance to see some of the world’s greatest wrestlers face off against each other in the ‘squared circle’.

In its third decade of existence, WrestleMania will take place at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, United States, the second time this venue has hosted the event since 2008. Around 70,000+ fans are expected to fill up the stadium for the highlight of the wrestling calendar. The matches will also be broadcast on the sports entertainment firm’s own WWE Network as well as sports channels across the globe.

 

 

Featuring a healthy selection of big names from the locker rooms of the bitterly competitive RAW and SmackDown brands, thirteen matches are scheduled, including title matches for the Universal Championship (RAW) and SmackDown’s WWE Championship. Goldberg will defend the Universal Championship against the seemingly unstoppable and brutal Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt will defend the WWE Championship against the famed ‘Legend Killer’, Randy Orton. Already, critics and observers have commended the line-up for the matches, and numerous rumours and predictions are doing the rounds all over the Web.

The following thirteen matches are scheduled to take place around WrestleMania this weekend, with ‘(c)’ indicating the current title holder with their belt on the line:

  1. 2017 André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Battle royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy)
  2. Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries (Singles match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
  3. Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
  4. Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) (Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship)
  5. The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns (Singles match)
  6. Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (Non-sanctioned match)
  7. Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles (Singles match)
  8. Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (Fatal 4-Way elimination match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship)
  9. Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens (Singles match for the WWE United States Championship)
  10. John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse (Mixed tag team match)
  11. Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin (Singles match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship)
  12. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus (Triple threat ladder match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
  13. Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella (with James Ellsworth) vs. Naomi (Six-pack challenge for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

Many of the matches are the culmination of storylines in the WWE shows, where wrestlers frequently challenge each other, not only for belts and bragging rights, but also for the hearts and minds of their legions of fans.

The event, often known among fans as the ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ and the ‘Show of Shows’ will take place on Sunday, 2nd April 2017, but will be broadcasting early morning the next day in the United Kingdom due to time differences. British subscribers to the WWE Network can catch the match live, and television viewers can view WrestleMania on Sky Sports Box Office, channels 491 and 492, with the pay-per-view broadcast costing £19.95.

This past Friday, as the build-up to WrestleMania 33 has already reached boiling point, long-time WWE veteran Kurt Angle hosted the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Angle joins Diamond Dallas Page, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Beth Phoenix, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Theodore “Teddy” Long in the 2017 class.

SOURCES:
“WrestleMania 33” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33
“WrestleMania 2017: How to watch WWE’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony” – Aaron Carr, Penn Live/PA Media Group (31 March 2017) http://www.pennlive.com/sports/index.ssf/2017/03/wrestlemania_2017_how_to_watch.html
“When is WrestleMania 33? Date, UK time, TV details and full card of matches for 2017 spectacular” – Phil Haigh, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (20 March 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/20/when-is-wrestlemania-33-date-uk-time-tv-details-and-full-card-of-matches-for-2017-spectacular-6522578/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Wrestlemania XXVII Stage.jpg” – KinkESizemore, Wikimedia Commons (3 April 2011) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wrestlemania_XXVII_Stage.jpg This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

STADIUM STAMPEDE: 17 killed in crush at Angolan football stadium

Uíge, ANGOLA
VIJAY SHAH via BBC News

The BBC reported yesterday that 17 people have been killed after a stampede at a football stadium in the town of Uíge in Angola, according to local officials.

Hundreds of injuries, of which five people were seriously injured, from the crush have also been reported, after fans rushed the stadium entrance after they were prevented from entering. Many of the deaths resulted from people falling to the ground or being trapped, then suffocated, according to a medic on the scene.

 

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

 

The stadium, in the north of Angola was hosting a match between Santa Rita de Cassia, the home team and visiting side Recreativo do Libolo. The match was so sought after that the venue quickly filled to its 8,000 seat capacity, when more fans began to show up at the gates demanding entry. They were prevented from entering the stadium as it was full. As people began to storm the gates, fatalities started mounting.

Ernesto Luis, the general director of Uíge’s main hospital, told the Reuters news agency that “Some people had to walk on top of other people. There were 76 casualties, of whom 17 died,”

Recreativo do Libolo released a statement regarding the incident on their website, stating that it was “a tragedy without precedent in the history of Angolan football”.

One eyewitness, named by the BBC as Domingos Vika, reported that the stadium’s entrance was already overcrowded, when more fans began ‘pouring in’ sparking the crush.

“When they gave the opportunity for everyone to come in, we were all packed at the gate,” said Mr Vika, who left the venue with a broken hand.

Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ordered an investigation into the incident, local media have reported.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Bitcoin Sportsbook, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SportsbookBTC
“Angola stadium stampede in Uige kills 17” – BBC News – World – Africa (10 February 2017) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-38939723
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Fans of the Angolan national football team in Cologne.jpg” – Raimond Spekking, Wikimedia Commons (11 June 2006) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fans_of_the_Angolan_national_football_team_in_Cologne.jpg © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

MARRIAGE AND A VEGETABLE: Husband loses wedding ring; finds it around carrot

Bad Münstereifel, GERMANY
VIJAY SHAH

 

 

The website Gemstars reports today the story of a man in Germany who lost his wedding ring, only to find it in a place he never expected to discover it in.

The 82-year-old, a keen gardener, was said to have been in his yard in the small town of Bad Münstereifel a few years ago, when he found to his horror that his wedding band had slipped from his finger and gone missing. Fearful for any possible impact losing the jewellery would have on his marriage, he searched everywhere for it, but to no avail. He eventually gave up the search, and assumed his ring was gone for good.

Three years later, the man pulled up some carrots he had been growing for his kitchen. One of the carrots was found to have something shiny and golden wrapped around it, in the manner of a corset, causing the carrot to be deformed. It was the exact same wedding ring the gardener lost all those years ago. Though his wife had passed away some time after he lost the ring, she told him that one day he would find it again. Six months after her death, he struck gold, rediscovering a lost memento of his many happy years of marriage.

 

SOURCES:
The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
Londoners, Wind Smoke, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/windsmoke_uk/lists/londoners
WWF, The Tweeted Times http://tweetedtimes.com/WWF
“82-Year-Old Man Loses Wedding Ring, Finds it In Carrot From His Garden” – Gemstars http://gemmstars.com/06e9f0033df9
“Möhre bringt verschollenen Ehering zurück” – Kristina Schlömer, WDR 1/WDR (4 November 2016) http://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/rheinland/ehering-trifft-moehrchen-100.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Wedding rings.jpg” –  Jeff Belmonte, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (20 May 2005) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wedding_rings.jpg

ONLINE TRANSLATION STUDY: English-language websites becoming more popular for foreign language speakers

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via the Open Business Council

A recent survey by an online translation company has discovered that English-language websites are becoming more and more frequented by speakers of continental European languages, particularly French and German, the Open Business Council reported this past Thursday.

One Hour Translation, an online translation agency which self-describes as the world’s largest in this sector, and which provides translation services to global e-commerce companies, conducted a research study of 4,000 e-commerce translation projects during late November 2016. The projects stretched from a period beginning in 2015, and up until November this year. The agency’s research discovered that the first language of choice for translation of Anglophone sites was French, with German coming in at second place.

 

 

Several international tongues were examined in the study. The analysis ranked target languages according to the rate of translation projects opened for them, against the total annual number of translation projects for English-language e-commerce websites.

In 2016, translations from English to French ranked first, with 13.5% of the total relevant projects, followed closely by German, with a rate of 13.4%. Unexpectedly, Dutch was placed at third, with 11.3% of the projects. The languages that ranked 4th to 10th in 2016 were, respectively, Italian (10%), Korean (9.8%), Japanese and Spanish (both 9.3%), Polish (8.5%), Norwegian (7.8%) and Swedish (7.1%).

French and German also topped the 2015 ranking, with 19% and 17% respectively. However, in 2015, Spanish was ranked third (15%), Dutch fourth (12%) and Italian fifth (9%). Ranks number 6 to 10 were Swedish (8%), Korean (7%), Norwegian (6%), Polish (5%) and Japanese (2%), respectively.

One Hour Translation’s chief marketing officer and co-founder Yaron Kaufman commented on the study results “…the fact that the French and German markets top the priorities of global e-commerce players immediately below the English-speaking markets is not surprising, since Germany and France are the strongest economies in Continental Europe. French and German are also spoken in other strong economies such as Canada, Switzerland and Austria. Dutch came third as a target language in 2016, compared to number 4 in 2015, and this strengthening demonstrates the resilience of the economy and purchasing power of the Netherlands compared to other European countries.”

Kaufman added: “Another notable fact is the sharp rise in the ranking of Japanese, which rose from number 10 in 2015 to number 6 in 2016. This development demonstrates that e-commerce players are also targeting the significant purchasing power of consumers in Japan.”

English is the most dominant language on the web, with more than half of sites written in that language. While English is widely used on the net due to its founding and dominance by Anglophone countries such as the U.S., other language communities like Chinese and French are also strong internet users. 

 

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
intelligentHQ.com, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/intelligentHQ
“English Language E-commerce Websites Target French German Dutch Markets” – Open Business Council (15 December 2016) http://www.openbusinesscouncil.org/2016/12/english-language-e-commerce-websites-target-french-german-dutch-markets/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:WMF Fundraiser 2011 Translation Project-1.jpg” – Victorgrigas, Wikimedia Commons (29 December 2011) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WMF_Fundraiser_2011_Translation_Project-1.jpg

MAURITIUS COMMERCIAL BANK: Major island bank voted best six years running

Port Louis, MAURITIUS
VIJAY SHAH via Le Defi

The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), one of the largest banking firms operating on the Indian Ocean island, has been declared ‘2016 Bank of the Year – Mauritius’ for the sixth year in a row, French-language Le Defi Media Group reported this past Friday.

The bank, one of the island’s few indigenously operated financial institutions has won the coveted title six times in the past eight years. A feature of the Mauritian high street with its distinctive red and white livery and stylised red sailboat logo, MCB received its latest award from The Banker, a banking magazine covering retail finance, technology and investments globally, and part of the prominent London based Financial Times group, who also publish the highly regarded Financial Times newspaper here in London.

 

 

Luke McCreevy, representing The Banker cited MCB’s record of offering local excellence in the island’s lucrative banking sector. He said “The jury found that the MCB is the Mauritian bank that grew the most during the last twelve months. This growth is reflected not only in the excellent financial results achieved but also by the range of initiatives taken by the MCB during this period,”

Antony Withers, MCB chief executive said “This award inspires us to do even better in 2017, and already we intend to offer our clients even more services, more effectively,” 

MCB, headquartered in the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, also maintains branches in the Seychelles, Maldives and in Madagascar. It is the oldest bank on the island, founded in 1838, as well as also having the distinction of being one of the oldest retail finance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. After a slow and rocky start, the bank began to massively expand in the post-World War II years and now maintains forty branches and 150 cash machines in Mauritius alone.

 

SOURCES:
Arzina Ghannoo.
“LA MCB ÉLUE BANK OF THE YEAR POUR LA 6E FOIS” – Le Défi Quotidien/Le Defi Media Group (9 December 2016) http://defimedia.info/la-mcb-elue-bank-year-pour-la-6e-fois
“Mauritius Commercial Bank” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritius_Commercial_Bank
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:MCB-Logo.png” – MCB Webmedia and Mauritius Commercial Bank, Wikimedia Commons (25 July 2013) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MCB-Logo.png

CHINA MINING ACCIDENTS: Two reported last week

Beijing, CHINA
VIJAY SHAH via Reuters and the Jerusalem Post

 

 

At least two mining accidents have been reported in China in the past week, causing the deaths of 38 miners in total, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported via Chinese state-owned media and the international Reuters news agency today.

As a rapidly industrialising country with a wealth of natural resources, the People’s Republic has seen hundreds of mines established to explore for coal, precious metals and other materials, but many mines are unlicensed and the country has a poor safety record generally, with fatal accidents a regular occurrence.

In the past five days, two fatal accidents have been reported. The first occurred in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, where an explosion at a privately owned coal mine killed 21 people, the national news agency Xinhua stated. The incident, which took place in the city of Qitaihe this past Tuesday, trapping 22 miners underground. There is believed to be one survivor and rescue work is still in process.

The second disaster occurred just today, when another coal mine exploded in the Inner Mongolia province on China’s northern border with Mongolia, killing 17. An undisclosed number of mine workers are also trapped, and rescue teams have reached the remote region to try and pull out survivors, according to Xinhua.

 

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Chris #MAGA, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Chris_1791
“Chinese mine disasters kill at least 38” – Reuters via Jerusalem Post – Breaking News/Jpost Inc. (3 December 2016) http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Chinese-mine-disasters-kill-at-least-38-474322
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Coal mine in Inner Mongolia 002.jpg” – Herry Lawford via Zolo, Wikimedia Commons (13 August 2005) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coal_mine_in_Inner_Mongolia_002.jpg