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

 

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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

MANOR PARK SURGERY: Failing Newham medical centre shuttered by CQC

London – VIJAY SHAH via ALEX SHAW and Newham Recorder

A poorly performing doctor’s surgery in the London Borough of Newham’s Manor Park area, east London, was ordered to close down after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ruled it as inadequate, reported local newspaper Newham Recorder.

The Manor Park Medical Centre, in Romford Road, was responsible for 1,300 local patients. It’s closure came after it failed three inspection reports in a row, the last one carried out in July 2017, the Newham Recorder stated. The CQC, which ensures standards of medical facilities in the UK, was scathing in its appraisal of the Manor Park Medical Centre, rating it as ‘inadequate’ in five key areas. A notice was pinned to the surgery’s house-like varnished wooden door announcing its closure, and offering a map and address of an alternative medical facility in nearby Church Road. The notice was issued by the Newham NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

The Medical Centre, headed by Dr Surendra Kumar Dhariwal, appealed against the closure decision, but the CQC and a court at a first-tier tribunal had the upper hand. The centre’s registration was terminated this past Monday, which meant the practice no longer is open to patients.

“I was very concerned about patient care at Dr Surendra Kumar Dhariwal’s practice and the lack of response or improvement we have witnessed since previous inspections,” said Prof Ursula Gallagher, CQC deputy chief inspector of GP practices.

The regulator was “left with no option” but to close the practice “in the interests of patients,” she added.

The Medical Centre had been running into trouble since November 2016, and later inspections revealed no improvement in the situation. CQC inspectors were shocked by the poor levels of staff appraisal and training, unclear staffing arrangements and there were noticeable gaps in background checking of new staff.

The inspectors also raised concerns about the physical state of the centre and its medicine stocks. The Newham Recorder stated that the premises were covered in dust and some pharmaceutical items were also dusty or expired.

A significant amount of medicines and equipment were not fit for use and there were no effective systems in place to address this,” read the report.

It stated there was “no evidence” of the duty of candour, the legal duty of health centres to inform and apologise to patients if mistakes in their care have led to harm.

Dr Dhaliwal was not available for comment at the time of the Recorder’s report, but previously he claimed that improvements were made to the Manor Park Medical Centre after the earlier inspections and it was a “really good practice”. He had been a member of medical staff at the centre for fifty years. The CQC said that the failings at the centre posed a great risk of harm to its patients. It is not known if or when the centre may reopen.

SOURCES:

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

“Three strikes and out for Manor Park GP surgery” – Alex Shaw, Newham Recorder/Archant (6 October 2017) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/health/three-strikes-and-out-for-manor-park-gp-surgery-1-5225987

IMAGE CREDIT:

Google Maps https://maps.google.co.uk/

STRATFORD CENTRE: Six people hurt in fight and acid attack near shopping mall

London – VIJAY SHAH via ALIA ROPUN, ALAN MCGUINNESS, IAN FRANCIS and Sky News

Six men were reported injured after a ‘noxious substance’ was thrown in a street fight near the Stratford Centre shopping arcade in Stratford, east London yesterday at around 8 pm, Sky News said today.

The incident occurred near to a Subway restaurant on the Broadway, close to Stratford’s bus station and the Westfield Stratford City retail complex. Three of the individuals needed hospital treatment after having a chemical thrown on them during the mêlée between two separate groups of males, Sky News reported. A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

 

Shoppers saw one man in agony as friends called for help by shouting “it is an acid attack, his skin is burning”. People rushed to the scene with water to ease the man’s chemical burns, according to the broadcaster.

One eyewitness, an assistant manager of a local Burger King restaurant who only gave his name as Hossen, told Sky News that he saw a victim and another male believed to be the victim’s friend, run into his restaurant and then to its washroom, desperate to wash off the corrosive chemical. Hossen said “There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them”

The area where the fight took place was quickly cordoned off and treatment offered to the victims. Police, paramedics and fire crews all attended within 10 minutes. Paul Gibson, an assistant director of operations with the London Ambulance Service, said: “We treated six patients in total  and took three to London hospitals”.

Stratford administratively falls under the London Borough of Newham, and the borough’s police chief superintendent, Ade Adelekan, said: “I would like to be very clear concerning this incident.

“What initially may have been perceived as a number of random attacks has, on closer inspection, been found to be one incident involving two groups of males”.

Sky News reports that none of the men suffered serious harm in the street fight.

Attacks on people by assailants with chemicals such as sulphuric acid, bleach and drain cleaner were once associated with honour attacks in places like South Asia, but have become increasingly common in London, due to the ease of buying and carrying around dangerous chemicals, and the punishment for such attacks is less severe than assaults with knives or guns.

In June, 21-year-old student and model Resham Khan was travelling in Newham’s Beckton area with her cousin, Jameel Mukhtar, when an assailant flung acid in their faces while they were waiting at traffic lights. Even as far as back as 2011, a mother had acid splashed at her while walking her two children home from school in Upton Park. Latest figures published by the Evening Standard suggest a quarter of all acid attacks in London this year have occurred within Newham’s boundaries.

SOURCES:

Alia Ropun.

upday for Samsung UK http://www.upday.com/en/

“Six hurt in ‘acid attack’ at Stratford Centre in London” – Alan McGuinness and Ian Francis, Sky News/Sky UK (24 September 2017) http://news.sky.com/story/six-hurt-after-being-sprayed-with-noxious-substance-at-westfield-in-stratford-11050889

“Acid attack on school-run mother in Newham” – BBC News/BBC (4 May 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13282439

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Stratford Centre, Stratford” – N. Chadwick, geograph (20 January 2009) http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1128397

 

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

 

EU FLAG PROMS: ‘Brexiteers’ angered by Royal Proms pro-EU flag distribution

London – VIJAY SHAH via JEFF FARRELL and The Independent

As the United Kingdom heads for its possible withdrawal from the European Union in two years’ time, supporters of EU withdrawal, informally known as Brexiteers, have hit out at a pro-EU campaign group who distributed EU flags to visitors at a music festival, The Independent reports.

The campaign group, EU Flag Proms Team, a previously unknown collective which favours UK remaining part of the European Union, had planned to distribute EU flags and banners outside the Royal Albert Hall in London, which plays host to a televised classical music festival, the Proms, which is specially promoted by the national public service broadcaster BBC. 

 

During the final day of the festival, known as the Last Night, EU Flag Proms team members planned to give out the 10,000 blue and yellow flags free to concertgoers to support EU closeness, while wearing t-shirts with the slogan “thank EU for the music EU”. EU Flag Proms explained the unusual stunt was to highlight how music is a universal language” that transcends borders.

It is a tradition among audiences at the Proms to wave national flags when national anthems are played, so for example the Union Flag (Union Jack) is waved when the song “Rule Britannia” is performed. As many classical composers featured at the Proms are from mainland Europe, it was hoped that the Proms’ visitors would be more supportive of Europe as a whole. The BBC’s own symphony orchestra featured music by the late composers Jean Sibelius and Richard Wagner, from Finland and Germany respectively.

A spokesman for EU Flags Proms Team told The Telegraph paper: “During the Age of Enlightenment Mozart, Handel and Bach all lived and worked for part of their lives in London.

“Presumably under the Brexit dark ages, they would not be welcome. What an appalling backward step for our country.

“We hope that the EU flags will remind the audience, the musicians and those watching from all over the world that music is a universal language that unites people, breaking down barriers and promoting communication, understanding, and peace.”

Leading supporters of Brexit, however have condemned EU Flag Proms, claiming that music can also be a signifier of national identity. Vociferous and controversial Brexit supporter, Nigel Farage, former leader of the right-wing nationalist UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), said to the Independent that he hoped Brexiteers would stage a similar counter-campaign distributing UK flags to Proms visitors. He said, referring to EU Flag Proms explanation for their campaign: “As for this airy fairy ‘music crosses all borders’ nonsense, music is also an important part of national symbolism in every part of the world.”

Farage said he planned to contact a former UKIP donor, Aaron Banks to possibly bankroll the counter-campaign, but due to the donor being abroad, the UKIP Union Flag giveaway did not take place for the Proms this year.

EU Flags Proms Team last year staged a similar Brexit protest outside the Royal Albert Hall, and handed out 2,500 EU flags to members of the public who turned up for Last Night of the Proms 2016.

British politicians are currently in negotiations with the European Union over the terms of withdrawal from the Union, which the UK was one of the first members of since it joined in 1973. The UK Brexit negotiation team has been slammed at home for heading into the talks unprepared and the EU has also been criticised for demanding a £50 billion ‘divorce settlement’ from the UK, for various projects and commitments made during the UK’s membership of the union. The United Kingdom plans to withdraw completely in 2019 after the two-year notice period after it triggered the Article 50 clause this year. There have been calls for a second referendum, either on the terms of Brexit or the withdrawal itself.

SOURCES:

Sarah Harness.

We Are The 48% – #StopBrexit, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586336064998120/

“Brexiteers furious over thousands of EU flags handed out at Last Night of the Proms” – Jeff Farrell, The Telegraph (9 September 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-flags-brexit-last-night-proms-bbc-royal-albert-hall-london-a7938206.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Flagging Support” – Dave Kellam, Flickr (24 February 2007) https://www.flickr.com/photos/davekellam/414918350

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