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01.12.2015
Mixed Martial Arts is trying to shrug off its image as an ultraviolent, inhuman and even degrading sport in France, where it is banned for pros but loved by amateurs.
Combining elements from boxing, judo, karate and wrestling, MMA is allowed across Europe except in France and Norway. It is played barefoot and without a helmet, while hands are protected only with fingerless gloves. Despite the ban, the discipline has proved irresistible to tens of thousands of amateurs in France. At age 24, he became one of the only French professionals to compete in the premier Ultimate Fighting Championship in the United States, having trained in his home country but able only to compete abroad. The rules, which are internationally standardized, do allow contestants to be hit, even in the head, when they are on the mat. A player can win through a knockout blow, submission - locking the opponent in one of many types of holds - or a referee's decision. The octagonal "cage" in which the fighting is held is designed to protect contestants - and spectators - when they are thrown. Matthieu Quidu, a sports professor at Lyon's Ecole Normale Superieure, a prestigious university, has begun attracting more and more enthusiasts to his MMA class. But the results, published in The Lancet Psychiatry peer-reviewed medical journal, were encouraging enough to merit further trials, he said. All of the subjects had tried at least two standard drug treatments without success, and most had also undergone psychotherapy.
Clinical depression is a debilitating disease that affects tens of millions of people worldwide. Antidepressants and talk therapy don't work for about one in five patients, highlighting the need for alternate treatments. Psilocybin stimulates receptors for serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that affects mood.
In the experiment, Carhart-Harris and colleagues gave two doses of psilocybin, a week apart, to six men and six women suffering moderate to severe depression.
They all reported mild nervousness as the drug took hold within 30 to 60 minutes, but there were no serious side-effects.
Each session lasted six hours - with "peaking" occurring half way through - and was monitored by two psychiatrists. After three months, seven of the patients continued to show improvement, and five were still in remission. These results "are promising but not completely compelling," commented Philip Cowen, a clinical scientist and professor at the University of Oxford. Given the small number of subjects and lack of a control group, "it is impossible to attribute clinical efficacy to the drug," said Jonathan Flint, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford. Kenya's authorities tore down a badly built residential block in a poor Nairobi district on Tuesday, one of more than 250 shoddy buildings that could now face demolition after a six-story structure collapsed this month killing 51 people. Nearby, residents of another condemned block in Mathare scrambled to wrap up utensils and other items in bed sheets and stuffed plastic bags with clothes as workers ripped out door and window frames to prepare for machinery to destroy the structure.
The Kenyan authorities have identified 258 buildings considered structurally at risk and which could be pulled down, leaving thousands of people to find new homes in a city already struggling to keep pace with its growing population. Kenyan authorities are stepping up evictions of poorly built buildings after a six-storey block in Huruma district - which lies next to Mathare - collapsed on April 29 after days of rain. Officials said it had been condemned before it crumbled and said it was not clear why it had not been pulled down. The death toll of 51 people could have been more if some residents had not seen cracks and fled shortly before it fell. Yet knocking down dangerous buildings also adds to the housing shortage in Nairobi, which is estimated to have a population of more than 4 million, almost double 15 years ago. Keeping pace with housing for a growing population is a challenge afflicting cities across Africa, where millions of people every year are leaving the fields and pouring into cities to find jobs, spawning spontaneous and ill-planned new suburbs. In Nigeria's sprawling commercial hub, Lagos, a church hostel collapse in 2014 crushed 115 people.
In Cairo, builders often pile new floors onto existing structures with little planning or reinforcement of foundations, making collapses a fairly frequent event. Of the 10 million people added to Africa's urban population each year, about two thirds end up in slums, according to UN Habitat, which held a meeting in March in Nigeria about ways to improve living conditions in Africa's slums.
A man stands in a dilapidated building slated for demolition in the Mathare neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.
Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria's remarks in an interview on Tuesday are the strongest yet in an increasingly public fight with the world's biggest drugmaker that could set a precedent for middle-income countries grappling to contain rising prices for complex drugs. Memos leaked last week to a nonprofit group, written from the Colombian Embassy in Washington, describe intense lobbying pressure on Colombia, a staunch US ally, from the pharmaceutical industry and its allies in the US Congress. In one memo, the embassy warns that breaking Novartis' patent for the leukemia drug Gleevec could hurt US support for Colombia's bid to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade zone and even jeopardize $450 million in US assistance for a peace deal with leftist rebels.
Gaviria, an economist by training, said the pressure shows the forceful steps that the pharmaceutical industry is willing to take to protect its commercial interests. Government health programs in many countries are being squeezed by high prices for newly launched drugs and by annual price hikes of 10 percent or more for medicines long on the market, and they are increasingly pushing back by demanding big discounts or setting price caps on ultraexpensive drugs. Novartis has rejected Gaviria's proposal to reduce the price for Gleevec to 140 pesos (5 US cents) per milligram. In an April 20 letter, Novartis' local affiliate said that it doesn't consider it convenient to initiate negotiations over prices and that the decision to override patents should be taken only in exceptional circumstances and not used as a bargaining tool.
Same sex marriage is currently permitted in Mexico City, as well as in several states including Coahuila, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Sonora.
Mexico's Supreme Court said last year that laws restricting marriage to a man and woman were unconstitutional and a Supreme Court judge urged states to legalize gay marriage.
However, many state legislatures have not changed their statutes to comply, meaning couples must file legal challenges case by case to get married.
The president's office asked Congress to change Mexico's constitution to guarantee adults the right to marry without restrictions based on gender, sexual preference, or other reasons. Both the presidency and Pena Nieto's Twitter avatars were overlaid with the rainbow flag of gay pride to mark the international day against homophobia and transphobia. Grappling with deadly drug cartel violence, Pena Nieto last month sent a proposal to Congress to permit the use and importation of marijuana-based medicines.
Growing and selling marijuana is illegal in Mexico but is the mainstay business of violent drug gangs. A couple kiss as they celebrate International Day Against Homophobia in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Tuesday, when same sex marriage was proposed for all of Mexico.
A joint US-Australian military research team is running a series of 10 trials at the world's largest land testing range, Woomera in South Australia, and at Norway's Andoya Rocket Range. Scientists have said hypersonic technology could cut traveling time from Sydney to London to as little as two hours for the 17,000-kilometer flight.
Scientists involved in the program - called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation - are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7, said Michael Smart of the University of Queensland.
He added that the scramjet was a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, making it lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets. The experimental rocket in the trial on Wednesday reached an altitude of 278 kilometers and a target speed of Mach 7.5, Australia's defense department said.
Each test builds on previous ones, with the latest used to measure heat on the outside of a vehicle in hypersonic flight, Smart said.
The next test, scheduled for 2017, would involve the scramjet engine separating from the rocket booster and flying on its own, he added. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 29 allegations were reported in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, seven in the UN mission in Congo, and two in the mission in Haiti.
The United Nations has been in the spotlight for months over allegations of child rape and other sexual abuses by its peacekeepers, especially those based in Central African Republic and Congo. The UN reported on March 31 that 108 girls and women had come forward with sexual abuse accusations against international peacekeepers in Kemo prefecture in Central African Republic, dating from 2013 through 2015.
Dujarric said Tuesday there was no update on that investigation which is being conducted by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The UN has 105,000 peacekeepers deployed in 16 hot spots around the world as well as political missions in a host of countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Dujarric said 35 of the allegations reported this year involve UN military personnel - including 11 from Congo, six from the neighboring Republic of Congo, three from Morocco and three from South Africa - and four allegations involve UN police. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended that UN peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse and exploitation be court martialed in the countries where the alleged incidents take place - and Dujarric said South Africa has announced that it will court martial a soldier in Congo where he is serving, which would be a first. The US Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow families of victims of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia's government for damages, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto.
The White House has repeatedly stated that Obama, who visited the kingdom in April in a bid to soothe strained ties, opposes the law because it would essentially waive the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
In February Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the 20th hijacker, told US lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to al-Qaida in the 1990s. The New York Times reported last month that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told lawmakers in Washington that the kingdom would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the US to avoid having them frozen by federal courts. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, has expressed hesitation about bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. The two Democratic presidential candidates, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, have expressed support for the bill. Advertising is beginning to emerge as makers of goods try to pitch products to a rising group of consumers and a wealthy class of citizens. From whitening toothpaste made from natural ingredients to sea-cucumber snacks that claim to fight cancer and tuberculosis, more goods are being sold in colorful ways to the growing wealthy class in the country. Ads are small and subtly placed, and do not yet compete with the colorful posters that line the streets of the capital and praise the government or ruling Workers' Party.
The rudimentary advertisements are usually printed in color on A4 or A3-sized laminated paper, placed loosely on shop countertops or enlarged and stuck on shop interior walls. It's a far cry from anything resembling the kind of advertising industry depicted on the hit TV show, Mad Men. For many years, the only notable ads in the country were related to inter-Korean projects from neighbor the Republic of Korea, during a time of better relations. Large billboards for Pyonghwa Cars, a joint venture between the two countries, have stood at several intersections in Pyongyang for years. Advertising space at soccer games was offered to local companies for the first time last year, with boards at Asian Cup matches going for up to $40,000 for several games.
Protests were to take place across Venezuela on Wednesday against President Nicolas Maduro in the first challenge to sweeping powers he has decreed for police and soldiers under a state of emergency.
The opposition-led marches in Caracas and other cities were to demand that authorities validate a recall referendum seeking Maduro's ouster.
On Tuesday he said the referendum was "not viable" and a petition it was based on with 1.8 million signatures was riddled with "fraud".
The 60-day state of emergency was imposed from Monday to tackle what Maduro said were threats to security, as well as food and energy shortages. It notably suspends many constitutional protections by opening the way to expropriations and almost any action deemed necessary to maintain public order. Individuals, companies and nongovernmental organizations in Venezuela with links to foreign groups are also to be put under scrutiny and risk having their finances frozen, according to the decree.
Maduro has accused the United States of having "imperial" designs on Venezuela, and said that a US AWACS surveillance plane had twice violated his country's airspace last week. Despite his decree, there have so far been no signs of increased military presence on the streets. The "Unique Pink", weighing 15.38 carats and mounted on a ring, sold to an unnamed Asian private collector bidding by telephone, the auction house said. It was the star lot at the saleroom's semiannual auction in Geneva, with a pre-sale estimate of $28 million-$38 million.
Overall, the Sotheby's sale netted $175.2 million, "setting a new world record for any jewelry auction", Sotheby's said in a statement. The director of UN humanitarian operations warned on Tuesday that 7.6 million people in conflict-torn Yemen face severe food shortages and are "one step" from famine. A quake, which occurred in the same zone where a magnitude-7.8 magnitude tremor killed hundreds of people last month, caused electricity blackout in some coastal areas. Hillary Clinton has filed financial documents showing that in 2015 she earned more than $5 million in royalties from her book Hard Choices and about $1.5 million in speaking fees before she launched her presidential campaign. A relative said Nigerian soldiers have found the first of 219 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from a boarding school in Chibok town more than two years ago. The Zika virus, an infectious disease linked to severe birth defects in babies, may spread into Europe as the weather gets warmer, although the risk is low, health officials said on Wednesday. Two Kiribati fishermen lost at sea for days were found on Wednesday just six minutes into a search that targeted a massive patch of ocean, rescue officials said.
Harwati forces a smile as she guides visitors around a bubbling mud volcano in Indonesia, pausing as they snap selfies on the bleak wasteland she once called home.
These disaster tourists are a lifeline for the single mother who lost everything when the earth beneath a paddyfield near her village opened up without warning 10 years ago, sending pungent, steaming mud bursting out, unabated.
The mudflow buried villages, factories, shops, and even a major highway in the Sidoarjo district of Java island. Today Harwati and many others scrape a meager living from the curious visitors who flock to see rooftops and debris poking above the bubbling mud lake. Visitors pose next to faceless statues lying semi-submerged in the mud, a silent reminder of the human toll of this disaster. As victims prepare to mark 10 years since the start of the disaster, the mud geysers show no signs of stopping: The equivalent of 10 Olympic swimming pools of mud and water still spurt out daily. An area roughly equivalent to 650 football fields is now buried beneath up to 40 meters of sludge. Intrigue has surrounded the cause of the mudflow ever since it first gushed out in the densely-populated farming area on May 29, 2006. Mud volcanoes - which don't spew out lava or hot ash but instead water and clay - occur globally but Sidoarjo's is believed to be the biggest in the world. Debate about what caused the strange phenomenon has only fueled fascination, and protracted the fight for compensation. Independent studies alternate blame between oil and gas company PT Lapindo Brantas, which was drilling in the area at the time, and an earthquake that struck two days earlier about 260 kilometers away. Lapindo - part of a business empire controlled by Indonesia's powerful Bakrie family - was eventually ordered to compensate victims, but payments took years, triggering angry protests.
The government finally intervened last year and loaned Lapindo the funds to expedite the remaining payments. Lapindo Brantas says on its website that after investigations, "it was determined that no correlation could be proven between the drilling activities and the mud eruption".
The Sidoarjo Mudflow Handling Agency, a government-backed task force, said more than 3,300 households - or 95 percent of those affected - had now received payments. The 45-year-old Han had been shortlisted for the prize for fiction in translation to English along with Italian writer Elena Ferrante, Angola's Jose Eduardo Agualusa, Chinese author Yan Lianke, Turkey's Orhan Pamuk and Austrian Robert Seethaler.
The novel was translated by Deborah Smith, a 28-year-old Briton who only began learning Korean when she was 21. Han and Smith will split the $72,000 prize equally, according to the Booker Foundation, which administers the prize as well as the original Man Booker Prize for works in English and published in the United Kingdom, a prestigious award that typically leads to a surge in sales for its winner.
In The Vegetarian, after struggling with gruesome recurring nightmares, Yeong-hye, a dutiful wife, rebels against societal norms, forsaking meat and stirring concern among her family that she is mentally ill. Han, who was born in the South Korean city of Gwangju, teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.
The Man Booker International Prize was previously awarded every two years for an author's overall contribution to global fiction, but beginning with this year's prize it is awarded annually for a single work of fiction translated into English and published in the United Kingdom. Winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for fiction Han Kang poses for the media with her book The Vegetarian following the award ceremony in London, on Monday.
They call themselves the Muhammasheen, which translates to "the marginalized," a dark-skinned ethnic group that for centuries has been consigned to the bottom of Yemen's social scale, faced with discrimination and racism, shunned by others. In a country where belonging to a tribe is vital to guaranteeing protection, status and livelihood, their community - which some estimates say numbers nearly 3 million people - is without a tribe and ignored by the government.
As a result, they have been hit particularly hard in Yemen's civil war that is pitting the government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, against Shiite rebels known as Houthis and forces loyal to Yemen's ousted president.
Their neighborhoods have been pounded both by coalition airstrikes and Houthi shelling, shattering their makeshift homes cobbled together from sheets of metal, cardboard and blankets. Walid Abdullah, a 20-year-old member of the Marginalized, said his home district in Taiz, al-Jahmaliya, was hit early on in the war by shelling. Now he is in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and he says his family is spread around multiple slums in the city. An estimated 9,000 people have been killed in the past year of fighting in Yemen, and more than 2.4 million have been driven from their homes. One advocacy group, the Yemeni Organization Against Discrimination, said it has documented more than 300 killed, including 68 children and 56 women.
Other theories suggest they were African peoples who were among the first to inhabit coastal cities in Yemen. Official government statistics have put their population at around 500,000, but Marginalized activists say they number around 3 million. A family from a community referred to as the 'Muhammasheen' or 'the Marginalized', and that fled the city of Taiz because of ongoing civil war, sit inside their home in a slum area of Sanaa, Yemen.
The treasures were found last month by divers Ran Feinstein and Ofer Raanan when they came across an ancient shipwreck near the port of Caesarea. Standing next to his diving buddy, Raanan recounted the moment the pair realized they had discovered something special.
The Israel Antiquities Authority sent its divers to investigate and recover the precious Roman-era cargo, which includes bronze statues, lamps, jars, animal-shaped objects, anchors and thousands of coins with images of Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius. Some of the objects date to the fourth century, while others are from the first and second centuries, said Jacob Sharvit, director of marine archaeology at the IAA.


After possibly encountering a storm, sailors dropped the anchors to try to save the ship, Sharvit said, but all their attempts failed; the ship drifted and all its cargo plunged into the water at Caesarea and remained there for 1,700 years.
The port at Caesarea was commissioned by Herod the Great in the first century BC and became an important economic artery in the Mediterranean Sea until it sank for unknown reasons soon after its completion. Starting in the 1960s, Israeli archaeologists brought the sunken port back to life, along with Caesarea's aboveground wonders, including a crusader church and Roman theater. An Israel Antiquities Authority employee holds a part of a statue that according to the authority was recovered from a merchant ship that dates back 1,600 years, in the ancient harbor in the Caesarea National Park, on Monday. The government, which is in election mode with polls on July 2, had planned to introduce the levy on foreign travelers who are often young and work in agriculture and hospitality as a vital source of seasonal labor. It would have meant that from July 1 they paid 32.5 cents for every dollar they earned, boosting government coffers by an estimated Aus$540 million ($396 million) over the next three years. Currently, like other workers, they do not start paying tax until their annual income exceeds Aus$18,200.
Farmers and tourism operators fear backpackers will shun Australia as a travel destination if the tax comes into force in favor of places such as New Zealand and Canada. Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer said the tax would be suspended for six months pending a ministerial review.
Some 600,000 backpackers visit Australia every year and farmers, in particular, rely on them at harvest time. The National Farmers' Federation welcomed a pushing back of the tax and called for a permanent solution.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief James Pearson said the idea of a backpacker tax should be abandoned altogether. Concerns about the vaquita's fate rose on Friday when scientists warned that only 60 of the sea creatures were left and could vanish by 2022 even though the navy has been patrolling their habitat. In reaction, the World Wildlife Fund called for a full fishing ban in the vaquita's northwestern Mexico refuge. The porpoise's population had already fallen to fewer than 100 in 2014, down from 200 in 2012, according to scientists at the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita.
The vaquita's fate has been linked to another critically endangered sea creature, the totoaba, a fish that has been illegally caught for its swim bladder, which is dried and sold on the black market.
President Enrique Pena Nieto imposed a two-year ban on gillnets in April 2015 and increased the vaquita protection area tenfold to 13,000 square kilometers. The government is compensating fishermen to the tune of $70 million over two years for giving up gillnets while new methods are sought. But Omar Vidal, Mexico director of the World Wildlife Fund, said the measures have been "insufficient" and that fishermen have "camouflaged" gillnets with other legal nets. Antonio Rodriguez Pena, president of the fishing cooperative of the port of San Felipe, said his group would lodge a complaint before the United Nations if a fishing ban were to be imposed. A dead 'vaquita marina' porpoise after having been caught by fishermen in nets set for another type of fish.
Some 8,000 workers at oil camps north of the fire-ravaged Canadian city of Fort McMurray were ordered to evacuate late on Monday as authorities continued the battle to bring wildfires under control. The mandatory evacuation zone was extended to 50 kilometers north of the city, whose 80,000 residents have been out of their homes for more than two weeks. Suncor, one of the major operators working on Canada's oil sands, issued a news release late on Monday confirming it had "started a staged and orderly shutdown of our base plant operations" and that personnel were being transported to work camps further north. The workers had been trying to restart oil production at the facilities after they were halted by the fires and by the need to house a flood of people from Fort McMurray seeking safety.
The fire destroyed more than 2,400 structures in Fort McMurray, although firefighters managed to save essential infrastructure in the oil sands capital, including the hospital, water treatment plant and the airport. Crews continued to battle hot spots on the edge of Fort McMurray on Monday while the first still raged out of control deeper in the forest.
On Monday, officials warned the air quality in the Fort McMurray area was dangerously poor.
Notley said the air quality health index is normally one to 10, with 10 being the worst, but the reading on Monday morning was at 38.
Temer took over from President Dilma Rousseff last week after the Senate voted to open an impeachment trial on charges that she illegally manipulated the budget. The 75-year-old center-right leader has vowed to reverse Rousseff's left course in an attempt to haul Brazil back from its deepest recession in decades. Though a cabinet - which will be reduced from a bloated 32 ministries to 23 - has already been named, there was a delay to the nomination in the key post of central bank head. In a television interview late on Sunday, Temer vowed to unite Brazil after months of increasingly divisive debate over the impeachment of Rousseff, who accuses Temer of leading a coup.
But just a few days into the presidential post, the interim leader finds himself under steady attack from the left.
Jeering and pot-banging could be heard in parts of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during his television interview, a form of protest that used to dog Rousseff to the point where she began avoiding broadcast appearances. Street protests also took place on Sunday in several cities, including the capital Brasilia and the financial center Sao Paulo. Activists occupied offices of the education and culture ministries, which are being merged under Temer's plan.
Though the scale of opposition demonstrations is so far modest, Rousseff's fight against impeachment in the Senate trial, which could take as long as six months, means that Temer is having trouble settling in.
Interim president Michel Temer told the International Olympic Committee that Brazil's change of government has not interrupted preparations for the Rio 2016 Games, new Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani said on Monday. Temer spoke to IOC President Thomas Bach by telephone and assured him the Games will take place as planned, Picciani said after a meeting with Temer, who replaced suspended President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday. The Defense Ministry will deploy 38,000 troops for security during the Olympics to back 47,000 police and civil defense personnel in Rio de Janeiro. Political turmoil, the risk of crime and an outbreak of the Zika virus have threatened to keep visitors away from the games that start on Aug 5.
Senior envoys from world and regional powers met on Tuesday in an attempt to overcome stubborn divisions among Syrian factions that have led to the rise of Islamic State group extremists and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since violence turned to war five years ago.
The talks include US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, as well as foreign ministers and other senior officials from more than 20 countries and organizations. The current effort to end the five-year Syria conflict was largely spearheaded by Kerry and Lavrov, backed by major global and regional powers that formed the International Syria Support Group. A truce brokered by the US and Russia sharply reduced violence in March, but has since been steadily eroding. The Geneva talks foundered after the Western-backed and Saudi-backed opposition suspended formal participation in the indirect talks with Assad's envoys. And jihadist groups the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front, not party to the cease-fire or peace talks, still hold vast swathes of the country and carry out attacks.
Fighting has also broken out between al-Nusra and other Islamist factions that chose to take part in the peace process, killing more than 300 fighters in recent weeks.
The Syrian war erupted in early 2011 after Assad's forces launched a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, and has since claimed more than 270,000 lives.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) chats with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as they attend talks on Syria on Tuesday in Vienna.
The ISS has now traveled 4.2 billion km, "or about the distance of 10 round trips to Mars", NASA said.
Williams is currently on board the station with fellow NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra, Britain's Tim Peake and Russians Yury Malenchenko, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka.
The first crew to inhabit the station - US astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko - arrived in 2000, since when it has been continually occupied. From two modules, it has grown to 15 modules, occupying a space the size of a soccer pitch and represents around $100 billion in investment. With a spoon and spatula in hand, Zaid, 23, an Iraqi refugee, lifts the lid on a large pot filled with goulash and potatoes as he begins his shift. From 6:30 pm to 8 pm, he is employed by the city of Berlin to dish out dinner to 152 other Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and Moldovan refugees in a sports hall, which has been turned into an emergency shelter for the newcomers. Zaid is one of thousands of refugees who have taken on tasks ranging from repairing bicycles to pruning plants to cleaning sidewalks for pay of just over 1 euro ($1.10) an hour. The so-called "one-euro jobs" have been touted as a springboard for the newcomers into Germany's job market, but experts remain sceptical about their effectiveness. At the sports gym, Zaid tries to explain to the sceptical faces crowded in front of him what went into the beef stew that he described as "so German".
For the work that includes setting the table, cutting bread, serving food and then cleaning up, he is paid 1.05 euros an hour. Restricted to working no more than 20 hours a week, Zaid gets a monthly income of 84 euros at best, a small extra on top of the 143 euros he receives as pocket money while he waits for the official decision on his asylum application. His monthly intake may be a tiny fraction of an average German wage, but Zaid takes on his job with a big smile.
Conceived a decade ago with the aim of nudging the long-term unemployed back to work, it is now being used to help integrate a record influx of refugees, which topped 1.1 million last year. The city of Berlin currently employs 3,925 refugees who are lodged in 75 centers, and wants to widen the offer to associations that offer public service such as charities helping the homeless or rehabilitative shelters for alcoholics. Labor Minister Andrea Nahles has promised to create 100,000 such posts for refugees, describing them as a "trampoline" into the job market.
Nevertheless, Bachmann noted that the 1-euro jobs had not proven particularly successful in their original task of getting the long-term unemployed back to work.
Moscow's Aragvi restaurant, once the legendary haunt of KGB spies and cosmonauts, has reopened with its Soviet-era grandeur restored. The high-end eatery on the main Tverskaya street, which opened in 1938 at the height of Stalin's purges, has relaunched under the same name after a $20 million restoration. The restaurant opened on the initiative of Stalin's security chief Lavrenty Beria for the use of officials from his NKVD agency, the Soviet secret service later renamed the KGB. It grew popular with other officials and later in the 1960s under Nikita Khrushchev and lured a more bohemian crowd of artists and actors.
Aragvi was immortalized in Soviet literature and featured in films, although its sky-high prices made it accessible only to a tiny elite. Diners had to pay a tenth of the average monthly wage for the privilege of eating alongside artists, cosmonauts, filmmakers and chess champions.
In 1943, poet Sergei Mikhalkov was in the restaurant when he came up with the idea of writing the lyrics for the new Soviet national anthem, praising Stalin for inspiring "great deeds".
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the state-owned restaurant was privatized and changed hands several times, but it rapidly lost its cachet and finally closed down in 2003. Its new owners, Tashir Group and Gor Nakhapetyan, have spent more than $20 million restoring the restaurant, saying they want to revive a Soviet legend. The restaurant is named after a Georgian river, and is located inside a former hotel where Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov once stayed. It was a hangout for KGB officers who used it as a spot to recruit agents and its dining rooms were wired up with hidden microphones. Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Monday to introduce executions by hanging as part of a ruthless law-and-order crackdown that would also include ordering military snipers to kill suspected criminals. In back-to-back news conferences since his landslide victory in May 9 elections, the tough-talking mayor of southern Davao city said security forces would be given "shoot-to-kill" orders and that citizens would learn to fear the law. Duterte also vowed to roll out Davao law-and-order measures on a nationwide basis, including a 2 am curfew on drinking in public places and a ban on children walking on the streets alone late at night. Duterte said a central part of his war on crime would be to bring back the death penalty, which was abolished in 2006 under then-president Gloria Arroyo. Duterte said he would ask Congress to reintroduce capital punishment for a wide range of crimes, including drug trafficking, rape, murder, robbery and kidnapping-for-ransom.
He said he preferred death by hanging to a firing squad because he did not want to waste bullets, and because he believed snapping the spine with a noose was more humane. The centerpiece of Duterte's stunningly successful election campaign was a pledge to end crime within three to six months of being elected.
Duterte vowed during the campaign to kill tens of thousands criminals, outraging his critics but hypnotizing tens of millions of Filipinos fed up with rampant crime and graft. He said on one occasion that 100,000 people would die, and so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish would grow fat from feeding on them.
In an initial news conference late on Sunday, Duterte said his "shoot-to-kill" orders would be given for those involved in organized criminals or who resisted arrest. On his ban on children walking alone late at night, Duterte warned the parents of repeat offenders would be arrested and thrown into jail for "abandonment". The current president, Benigno Aquino, warned repeatedly during the election campaign that Duterte was a dictator in the making and would bring terror to the nation.
The collection has "some of the most iconic rarities in Hawaiian philately," said Charles Shreve, director of Robert A.Siegel Auction Galleries.
It contains 10 examples of very rare Hawaiian Missionary stamps issued in 1851 - some unused, some cancelled and on original envelopes, some containing letters. A 13-cent unused Missionary in near mint condition is expected to bring $50,000 to $75,000. The Missionaries, used primarily by missionary settlers, were Hawaii's first postage stamps. They were Hawaii's only postage stamps until the Kamehameha III issue, named for the king, in 1853. Gross said in an interview that one of his favorite covers, or envelopes, in the sale is addressed to a New Bedford, Massachusetts, company. The cover also has five 5-cent provisional surcharge stamps-handwritten on the 13-cent denomination due to a shortage of 5-cent stamps in 1857. The sale also has letters without postage stamps, used before the issuance of Missionary Stamps. One letter, written by a missionary to someone in Danbury, Connecticut, sheds light on the life of Pacific Island missionaries.
There's actually nothing in the national monument designation or even the city's landmark law to prevent New York's most famous gay bar from someday becoming a coffee shop, a frozen yogurt joint or anything else. The tavern was the site of a 1969 uprising that is widely viewed as the start of the modern-day gay rights movement.
The space was occupied for years by other businesses, including a bagel shop and a Chinese restaurant, before it reopened as a bar in the 1990s. Co-owner Stacy Lentz said she and her partners bought the bar "to preserve history and make sure it wasn't made into a Starbucks." She said she is thrilled by the national monument discussions. The management company that owns the building did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The monument would be located in public spaces and possibly a small triangle of land across from the tavern.
President Barack Obama is expected to move quickly to greenlight the monument, two people familiar with the administration's plans told The Associated Press. Nadler said the spot is worth recognizing because it would "tell the story of the United States," as do park sites in Seneca Falls, New York, dedicated to the women's rights movement, and Selma, Alabama, named for the civil rights movement.
The Stonewall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark.
Originally built as stables in the 1840s, adjoining buildings at 51 Christopher Street still have the brick-and-stucco facade that greeted bar-goers the night of the June 28, 1969, protests. What began as a police raid escalated into days of street demonstrations that triggered an activist movement and prompted gay New Yorkers to stop hiding their identities and speak out publicly.
Patrons at the Stonewall are ecstatic the area will be recognized with a national monument. The ministry said it will fine Nissan Korea Co 330 million won ($28,000) and recall 814 Qashqai vehicles sold since November. Hong Dong-kon, a director at the ministry, said the SUV's emission reduction device stopped operating when the engine's temperature reaches 35 C, about 30 minutes after the engine began to work.
In what proved to be a very reflective conversation, Education Dive got his thoughts on his legacy, his regrets, and the current issues plaguing the Chicago school system.
ARNE DUNCAN: No bill is perfect, but we are very pleased with how that bill turned out in terms of our values. Historically, in terms of reaction to No Child Left Behind—this is an unintended consequence, but it happens — many states dumbed down standards. And now, in the law of the nation, you have to have high standards.
I always thought that there was too much focus on just a single test score in No Child Left Behind. There will be states with imperfections, it shouldn’t hurt teachers to be challenged.
You’ve said that some of the reforms you spearheaded need 10-15 years to play out and show results, so is that legacy of reform compatible with ESSA?
The fact that so many states have adopted higher standards is going to be a game changer over time, not overnight. One quick example: We put a huge spotlight on reducing these dropout factories, where basically the majority of kids were failing. Duncan, seen here at Fern Creek High School in Louisville, KY, visited many of the nation’s schools on bus tours during his tenure.
Is there anything you regret not being able to focus on more during your time leading the Department of Education?
The second regret is that I desperately wanted to provide financial aid and college scholarships to DREAMERs, undocumented students. These are all things having to do with Congress, to sort of go back to your original question: That we need Congress to partner with us on early childhood education.
What do you think large urban districts can do beyond legislative efforts to address and curb both gun violence, but also the school-to-prison pipeline?
Where schools are challenging that and doing more restorative justice and peer juries — and more counselors and emotional and psychological support — you see, again, primarily young men of color doing better. Many districts have actually had very substantial reductions in suspensions and expulsions.
To see someone probably going to jail, who is in a position of leadership and a position of trust, because they abused that trust, it’s just the kids who lose when that happens.


I’m actually pretty hopeful here, thanks not to what we did at the Department of Education, but because of what the FCC did. Some states, like New York and California, have seen dramatically different responses to Common Core. Folks can tweak, and they move around the edges, but now you have in the law of the land a requirement for states to have high standards. And how your implement it is legally important, giving different abilities to implement well. As much as some charter models have seen great success, there have been a plethora of high-profile charter scandals nationwide — particularly in Ohio. The power of the idea behind charters was to have increased autonomy, being free from bureaucracy, to be creative, to have some vision and do things independently. You leave the session feeling serene and calm," the 35-year-old said after sparring with Adams Soulaimana, a hunk of a guy standing 1.93 meters tall and weighing 120 kilos, a professional dancer by profession. It requires strategy (and) adaptability, which are important qualities in professional life," said Quidu, a researcher in sports sociology. If owners failed to comply, the government would carry out the demolition and bill them, he added. A new agency set up to prevent further collapses shows the scale of the problem of bad construction, urging residents not to build on roads, power cables, pipelines and waterways.
Kenyan authorities announced plans to demolish hundreds of buildings that are in bad shape or poorly constructed. The memos followed meetings between Colombian diplomats and officials from the Office of the US Trade Representative and a Republican staffer on the Senate Finance Committee whose chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, has close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. He noted Colombia's healthcare system guarantees patients' access to all approved drugs and the budget is straining after years of price rises. That is less than half the current regulated price but still well above what generic versions cost before they were banned when, after a decade of litigation, a Colombian court in 2012 awarded Novartis an exclusive patent on one of two forms of the drug. He also proposed raising the amount that marijuana users can legally carry to 28 grams from 5 grams.
Pena Nieto has not said where consumers would be able to obtain the marijuana they would be allowed to carry.
One allegation each was made in the UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali and the disputed Abeyi border region between Sudan and South Sudan as well as in the UN political missions in Libya and overseeing the Middle East peace process. There have been similar allegations against the French force known as Sangaris, which operates independently in Central African Republic. The US-based advocacy group AIDS-Free World that first reported the allegations in Kemo prefecture said UN investigators had documented 41 additional cases by April 4. They had said they might sell up to $750 billion in US securities and other assets in retaliation if it became law.
And the president of the United States continues to harbor serious concerns that this legislation would make the United States vulnerable in other court systems around the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. But no official Saudi complicity in the al-Qaida attacks has been proven, and the kingdom has never been formally implicated. A Caracas march last week, before the emergency decree, was halted in its tracks by riot police firing tear gas. It's the highest price ever paid for a fancy vivid pink diamond," David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry division, told reporters. John Ging said there has been "a shocking fall off" in support over the last few months for the millions of Yemenis who need food, clean water and basic healthcare.
The 11-page document shows that most of her personal wealth is held in a fund and a separate JP Morgan Custody Account, both valued at $5 million to $25 million.
YaKubu Nkeki said his niece Amina Ali Nkeki was found wandering in the forest close to the border with Cameroon on Tuesday. In its first assessment of the threat Zika poses to the region, the World Health Organization said the overall risk was small to moderate. Search coordinator Mike Roberts described it as a "fantastic" outcome after a military plane located the men 480 kilometers from Nauru, the nearest land, five days after they went missing.
Thirteen people died when an underground gas pipeline in the disaster zone exploded, while thousands were left homeless.
There are two main theories on what triggered it - drilling for natural resources or an earthquake. The area was declared a disaster zone and sealed off, with warning signs dotting the perimeter. Busloads of tourists arrive at weekends, and DVDs dramatizing the disaster are hugely popular souvenirs.
I really wanted to see how big the mud was, because I had heard many houses were buried," said Andri, a tourist from Surabaya. They live in shantytowns on the outskirts of cities, are often refused schooling and work menial jobs like shoe-shining or street cleaning or turn to begging. Some tell of fleeing from strikes by one side, only to be hit again by another of the many factions and combatants in the conflict.
We have nothing," Houssna Mohammed said, choking back tears as she stood at the charred remains of her shack in a slum in the western city of Taiz.
The death toll among the Marginalized is difficult to verify because few pay attention to them. Popular tradition has it that they are the descendants of Ethiopian soldiers who invaded Yemen in the 6th Century.
He said they left the first sculpture on the seabed when they found it, but then when they discovered a second, they realized it was something special and brought it to the surface.
Some scientists believe it is located on a geological fault line; other theories point to a tsunami.
The vaquita, a shy 1.5-meter-long cetacean with dark rings around the eyes, is said to be the victim of bycatch. The World Wildlife Fund warned on Tuesday that the fish, the world's smallest porpoise, was close to extinction.
A diplomat familiar with the talks said participants were scheduled to agree on a document focusing on trying to firm up a shaky cease-fire and improving efforts to deliver humanitarian aid. They were convened after discussions meant to reduce differences between rival factions sputtered to a halt last month in Geneva amid a flare-up in fighting. But going into the talks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier repeated the position held by the West and the Saudi-backed opposition that a peace agreement should outline steps leading to the end of his rule. The Vienna conference was called after UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura appealed last month to Washington and Moscow to directly intervene in putting the Syria dialogue back on track.
Gross is offering 77 items on May 29 during the World Stamp Show at New York's Javits Center. They were issued in 2-, 5-and 13-cent denominations and printed on very thin paper called pelure that Gross likened to toilet paper.
Visually it's just stunning," said Gross, a Wall Street money manager who lives in Newport Beach, California.
It's regarded as the most outstanding US and Hawaiian multiple-rate franking cover outside the Missionary issue, according to the catalog. The work will exert "a great influence for good, or for evil" upon the indigenous population.
In Stonewall's current incarnation, under new owners since 2006, half the original space occupied by the bar is now a nail salon.
Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who's been pushing for the national monument designation for years, says nothing would force the Stonewall to remain a bar. It was designated a New York City landmark last year, the first time a site had received the designation because of its significance to LGBT history. Jonathan Early called the Stonewall "the heart of the LGBT movement." And as he passed by the bar last week, Jesse Furman said, "It really says something. It also plans to file a complaint with prosecutors against the head of Nissan's South Korean operation.
The Qashqai was the only vehicle that turned it off at 35 degrees," Hong said in a news conference. To give a couple of examples: For the first time ever, the bill incorporates early childhood education.
That’s a huge breakthrough that will hopefully help to challenge the past, where it was too easy for politicians to reduce standards. It comes out of 1955: the focus on equity, the focus on achievement gaps, the focus on dropout rates and dropout factories. Now we’re moving to graduation rates, to long-term outcomes, to giving more flexibility there.
They’re not guaranteed successes, but they start to put the nation in a spot — maybe in the ballpark.
And despite the billion dollars for early childhood ed, there is still tremendous unmet need around the country. And we were really hopeful that immigration reform would happen and that would be a part of it. We need Congress to partner with us, to give our department permission to provide financial aid to undocumented students.
Just to be very clear, for me, the school-to-prison pipeline is basically what you’re doing for young boys of color. And [they’re] becoming community leaders and helping to contribute to building a positive culture in their schools. With the ongoing bribery scandal involving recent CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the other issues facing the district, what are your thoughts on the state of Chicago’s schools? And if Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked, would you return to your previous role as CEO? Hopefully, they’ll find somebody who can stay with it for the long haul and who can build continuity. With the Future Ready Schools and Connected 2.0 initiatives, as well as the FCC’s E-rate program, is enough being done to bridge the tech gap?
I’ve said this a lot publicly, but school districts just basically need to stop buying textbooks and start buying digital devices.
We need to start thinking about how we use the scarce resources and in a more strategic way going forward. Should there have been a more uniform, steady rollout plan to keep it from going off the rails in some states?
This came out of governors back in the ’90s talking about the need for states to have higher standards. The media likes to focus on the noise, and there is legitimate debate and pushback from the far left and the far right. What should be done to rein in bad actors in that sphere and mitigate any interests that might play a negative role? The goal is to have more high-performing schools of every form and fashion, including charters.
In 2009, the government declared a public health emergency after spending on sophisticated drugs had risen tenfold in just a few years. The United Nations appealed for $1.8 billion to help more than 13 million Yemenis this year was just 16 percent funded, he said. The former quake on April 16 killed at least 660 people and injured more than 4,000 others.
It is highest in areas where Aedes mosquitoes thrive, in particular on the island of Madeira and the northeastern coast of the Black Sea. She said her home was burned down in March when a mortar hit her neighbor and the fire was blown to her shack. He demanded anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the statement before its release.
When the emission reduction device stopped working, the Nissan vehicle's level of emissions was about the same or slightly higher than that of diesel cars of Volkswagen, which was fined for cheating on emissions tests. King Jr., is left with a limited amount of time and less influence to make his mark, though Duncan gave him a few words of wisdom on doing so.
Those values that we think are so important, that we fought hard and tried to do it through policy and through our waivers, those things all now are in the law. To explain it better, you have to work with students, but it’s hard to make an argument that to lower standards somehow helps kids long-term.
There’s a shot if people are smart and hold themselves accountable for student learning. The United States ranks something like 28th relative to other nations that provide access to high-quality pre-K. We all need to be working together to provide opportunity for children, particularly those in Chicago where there simply isn’t enough. There’s a huge increase in the number of schools that actually have access to high-speed broadband. Most textbooks are pretty much obsolete by the time they show up in the classroom, and all this stuff is expensive and there’s never enough money. In places like Morrisville, NC, they’ve done an amazing job with the same resources, using technology, closing gaps. There’s nothing about a name that tells you anything about quality, about what are the kids actually learning there. It’s so important for those who are authorizing charters, whether they are states or districts or universities, not to let a thousand flowers bloom, but to have very high quality where you have good authorization and accountability.
How can we help them meet those needs and equip them with the skills to handle their situation? And sadly, not surprisingly, suspensions and expulsions are disproportionately happening to young boys of color. You had two people for 14 years, and now you’ve had five or six over the past seven years.
Then good charters will and can grow and prosper, and bad charters who do not improve can be closed down. It’s controversial sometimes. But who can say that a thousand dropout factories is OK, and that no one cares if that number goes up? Like tens of thousands of additional schools now have the infrastructure to really accelerate the learning curve. But thinking in the long-term, there’s nothing more important we can do for kids than to challenge them to be actually college-ready, not only to graduate high school. There’s a real opportunity to take the next step, and my goal always had to be get better, faster.
They are young leaders who have worked hard, and then we slam shut the door of opportunity right after they leave high school. We just totally cut off our nose to spite our face and condemn these talented, committed, smart young people. That was a huge battle, and we would not have gotten it in without having (Sen.) Patty Murray (D-WA) be so strong.
That's a huge breakthrough that will hopefully help to challenge the past, where it was too easy for politicians to reduce standards.
By definition, if we're talking about three- and four-year-olds, we're not going to see graduation rates for another 11-12 years. The United States ranks something like 28th relative to other nations that provide access to high-quality pre-K. And we were really hopeful that immigration reform would happen and that would be a part of it. We just totally cut off our nose to spite our face and condemn these talented, committed, smart young people.
To really try to understand what is going on in the child's life, be it at school, in their community, or at home.
How can we help them meet those needs and equip them with the skills to handle their situation? Just to be very clear, for me, the school-to-prison pipeline is basically what you're doing for young boys of color. Hopefully, they'll find somebody who can stay with it for the long haul and who can build continuity. With the Future Ready Schools and Connected 2.0 initiatives, as well as the FCC's E-rate program, is enough being done to bridge the tech gap? There's a huge increase in the number of schools that actually have access to high-speed broadband. Like tens of thousands of additional schools now have the infrastructure to really accelerate the learning curve. I've said this a lot publicly, but school districts just basically need to stop buying textbooks and start buying digital devices.
Most textbooks are pretty much obsolete by the time they show up in the classroom, and all this stuff is expensive and there's never enough money. The fact is, in a short amount of time, with our incentives and tremendous leadership and courage from states, we had an absolute breakthrough. But thinking in the long-term, there's nothing more important we can do for kids than to challenge them to be actually college-ready, not only to graduate high school.
There's nothing magical about the name, whether it's a charter school or traditional neighborhood school or a magnet school.
There's nothing about a name that tells you anything about quality, about what are the kids actually learning there. I've been to amazing charter schools that are literally changing kids' life chances, but I've also gone to the National Charter School Convention and told them that they've got to stop protecting bad charters and close them down.



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