More Than 300 Reindeer Killed By Lightning?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Oslo, Norway  – More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by lightning in southern Norway, Norwegian officials said Monday, in the largest such incident known to date.
The 323 reindeer, including 70 young, were found on Friday by a gamekeeper on the Hardangervidda plateau, a national park where Europe’s largest herd of some 10,000 wild reindeer roam freely.
Television footage showed the animals’ dead bodies lying close together on the ground. 
“There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning,” an official from the Norwegian Environment Agency, Kjartan Knutsen, told AFP. 
Reindeer are social creatures and usually move in packs.
  • “It’s unusual. We’ve never seen anything like this on this scale,” Knutsen said.
  • Norwegian authorities have yet to decide what to do with the animals.
  • “We’re going to decide soon whether to let nature run its own course or whether we will do something,” he said.
Of the 323 reindeer killed, five had to be put down due to their injuries.
There are some 25,000 wild tundra reindeer in Norway, located in the southern mountain ranges, according to experts.

Source: – AFP
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Myanmar Quake Damages At Least 185 Bagan Pagodas

Friday, August 26, 2016
YANGON, Myanmar—A powerful earthquake shook Myanmar on Wednesday, killing at least three people and damaging more than 100 ancient Buddhist pagodas in the former capital of Bagan, a major tourist site.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.8 quake was centered about 15 miles west of Chauk, a town south of Bagan.
It struck quite far below the earth’s surface at a depth of about 52 miles, the agency said. Deep quakes usually cause less surface damage. 
At least 185 brick pagodas in Bagan were damaged, the state newspaper reported.
  • Bagan, also known as Pagan, has more than 2,200 structures, including pagodas and temples constructed from the 10th to the 14th centuries. Many are in disrepair while others have been restored in recent years, aided by the United Nations cultural agency Unesco.
  • The vast site is Myanmar’s premier tourist attraction, featuring a panoramic view of temples stretching to the horizon flanked by the Irrawaddy River.
  • Dr. Myo Thant, general secretary of the Myanmar Earthquake Committee, said other areas apparently weren’t badly affected.

Police officer Htay Win in Pakokku, 45 miles from the epicenter, said one person there had been killed and one injured. 
“The person was killed by falling bricks from a building,” he said.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement reported two other deaths in nearby Thitapwe village. 
Vincent Panzani, a staff member in Pakokku for the aid agency Save the Children, said several of his colleagues from the area described the earthquake as the strongest they had experienced.
  • “We felt quite heavy shaking for about 10 seconds and started to evacuate the building when there was another strong tremor,” he said in comments sent by email.
  • “Most of the reports of damage have been to the pagodas in the area with dozens impacted,” he said. 
  • “There have also been reports of damage to smaller, more basic buildings including a collapsed wall and a destroyed roof.”
  • Worried residents of Yangon, the country’s main city, rushed out of tall buildings, and objects toppled from tables and from Buddhist shrines in homes. However, there were no reports of serious damage in the city.

The quake was felt in a half-dozen states in neighboring India, where people dashed out of offices and homes in several places.
It also caused buildings to sway in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. 
There were no immediate reports of damage in either country.
The last major quake in the area, which is often affected by smaller tremors, occurred in April about 180 miles farther north and measured magnitude 6.9. 
It caused no reported casualties and only minor damage.

Source: AP
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Earthquake Hits Central Italy, At Least 38 Dead

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
A strong earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, collapsing homes on top of residents as they slept. At least 38 people were reported dead in several hard-hit towns where rescue crews raced to dig out survivors from the rubble.
"Everything is destroyed, there is no town anymore," said Sabrina Fantauzzi, who spoke to CBC News from Illica, one of the towns hit by the quake.
She was sleeping at home when the magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time. 
She managed to escape her house with her children.
"I've been very lucky," she said through tears.
There were 60 reported aftershocks in the hours following the initial quake, the strongest measuring 5.5, the Italian seismic office said.
The epicentre was at Norcia, about 170 kilometres northeast of Rome, and the quake had a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers.
"Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life," said Accumoli mayor Stefano Petrucci. 
He said more than 2,500 people in the town have been displaced.
  • "Three quarters of the town is not there anymore," Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi said. "The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. 
  • There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there."
  • He said rescue teams are trying to reach all 69 hamlets around his central Italian town and that so far 17 deaths have been confirmed in Amatrice alone.
  • The hospital in Amatrice was badly damaged by the quake, with patients moved into the streets.

The centre of Amatrice was devastated, with entire palazzos razed. Dazed residents huddled in the public square as the aftershocks continued.
"The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me," marvelled resident Maria Gianni. 
"I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn't hit luckily, just slightly injured my leg."

More on CBC

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Philippines' Duterte Threatens To Quit U.N. Forming A New Global Organization?

Monday, August 22, 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte railed against the United Nations on Sunday after it called for an end to the wave of killings unleashed by his war on drugs, saying he might leave the organization and invite China and others to form a new one.
Two U.N. human rights experts last week urged Manila to stop the extra-judicial executions and killings that have escalated since Duterte won the presidency on a promise to wipe out drugs. 
About 900 suspected drug traffickers have been killed since he came to power after winning the election on May 9.
Duterte on Friday denied that the government was responsible and in a middle-of-the-night news conference in his home town, Davao, said the deaths were not the work of the police and invited U.N. experts to investigate themselves. 
  • The news conference was broadcast by local media and the full version was posted on Facebook by GMA news. 
  • "I will prove to the world that you are a very stupid expert," he said, urging them to count not just the number of drug-related deaths but also the innocent lives lost to drugs. 
  • He then launched an attack on the United Nations and its members - including by inference Manila's traditionally close ally, Washington - saying, it could not fulfill its own mandate but was "worrying about the bones of criminals piling up". 
  • "I do not want to insult you. But maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations," he said. 
  • "Why do you have to listen to this stupid?" Criticizing the U.N. for not doing enough to address hunger and terrorism and for not being able to do anything about Syria and Iraq and allowing big powers to bomb villages and kill innocent civilians, he said he would invite China and African nations to form another global organization.
"You now, United Nations, if you can say one bad thing about me, I can give you 10 (about you). I tell you, you are an inutile.
Because if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killing." 
Asked about the possible consequences of his comments, he said: "What is ... repercussions? I don't give a shit to them." 
He said the United Nations should have acted according to protocol by sending someone such as a rapporteur to talk to him. 
"You do not just go out and give a shitting statement against a country," he said. 

Source: Reuters
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New York City Is Best City For Catching Pokémon At ‘Pokétels’

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New York City dominates the list of hotels with access to the most Pokéstops and Pokégyms within or near the property, taking nine of the 10 spots.
The top-rated ‘Pokétel’ in the US is The Towers at Lotte New York Palace, which features 11 Pokéstops and Pokégyms within 500 feet (152 m) and another 231 within a 1.25 mile (2 km) radius.
The travel industry has been quick to recognize the opportunities presented by the geo-location-based mobile game that gets players off their couches and out exploring in the real world. 
Users must capture Pokémon characters which are hidden amongst city landmarks, monuments, and public spaces.
Of the 500 millennials polled in a survey, 79 percent said they plan to play Pokémon Go on their next vacation.

  • Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) also said they would consider visiting a new destination because of the game. 
  • The majority of respondents agreed they’d take free Wifi over free breakfast if they had to choose, and expressed a booking preference for hotels that are Pokéstops. 

On an international scale, Paris is home to the most Pokétels, taking six of the top 10 spots. 
Hotels with Pokéstops and Pokégyms closer to the property held more weight in the overall score.
About one in four respondents said they could easily see themselves devoting up to three hours playing the game on their next vacation, and covering 2.5 miles (4 km.
Here are the top Pokétels in the US, as defined by the number of Pokéstops and Pokégyms within 500 feet:

1. The Towers at Lotte New York Palace, New York
2. Apartment 804, New York
3. The St. Regis New York
4. The Broome NYC, New York
5. The Peninsula New York
6. Baccarat Hotel and Residences, New York
7. Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel
8. The Library Hotel, New York City
9. Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
10. The NoMad Hotel, New York

Source: AFP
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Swiss Private Bank Falcon Blocked From New Singapore Business

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SINGAPORE - Swiss private bank Falcon has been blocked from taking on new business in Singapore by the local central bank and financial regulator, Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft said on Wednesday, citing information it had obtained.
Falcon is one of the banks under investigation by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for a possible breach of anti-money laundering rules in handling transactions linked to scandal-hit Malaysian state fund 1MDB.
Falcon, which is owned by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund IPIC, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment, while MAS declined to comment on the report.
Falcon has previously said it is cooperating with Singapore's investigators.
  • "As a matter of policy, MAS does not comment on its supervisory dealings with specific financial institutions," a Monetary Authority of Singapore spokeswoman said in a statement.
  • Swiss financial watchdog FINMA also declined to comment on the case.
  • The Finanz und Wirtschaft report did not say if any other banks were being blocked from doing new business in Singapore.
  • A spokesman said FINMA was working in close collaboration with MAS and other supervisory authorities on 1MDB probes and had opened enforcement proceedings against five banks, one of which was against Swiss bank BSI.
  • Singapore in May ordered BSI's operations in the city-state to be closed, while Switzerland began criminal proceedings against the private bank in the biggest international crackdown on financial entities dealing with 1MDB.

BSI in June appealed against a decision by FINMA that it breached money laundering rules through its business relationships and transactions linked to 1MDB.
In July Singapore's authorities said they had seized assets worth S$240 million ($177 million) in an investigation into 1MDB-related fund flows and possible money laundering, in a probe which has found "deficiencies" at several major banks in the city state.

Source: Reuters, CNBC , Dubai Chronicle
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Duterte Finally Orders Burial Of Ferdinand Marcos

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
MANILA, Philippines -  President Rodrigo Duterte has broken with his predecessors and finally ordered the burial of Ferdinand Marcos, the infamous former Philippine president who died 27 years ago, in a cemetery reserved for war heroes and eminent individuals.
 Duterte said burying Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery) would heal political divisions and honor Marcos as a World War II veteran.
  • The interment has been provisionally scheduled for Sept. 18, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.
  • The disgraced former president is accused of plundering billions in public funds and grave abuses of human rights.
  • "We are a divided nation," Duterte said on Sunday, arguing that the former dictator is "qualified" for an honorable burial. "The family has that right to bury their father or husband because he was president of the Republic of the Philippines, and he was a soldier at one time".

The Marcos family has kept the former president unburied until its long-standing request that he be laid to rest in the Heroes' Cemetery is granted. Duterte's predecessors all refused permission due to opposition from his surviving victims during the martial law years.

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20 Million Toilets Built In Indian Villages Within Two Years

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
NEW DELHI,India -  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday his government had built more than 20 million toilets and brought electricity to thousands of villages as he delivered an Independence Day report card.
From the ramparts of Delhi’s 17th-century Red Fort, Modi vowed that his administration was on track to meet its pledge of providing power and toilets to every household across the world’s second most populous nation.
Modi drew praise in his first August 15 speech in 2014 as he tackled often taboo issues such as sexual violence and a lack of toilets, promising to build one for every household within four years.
“Today I can say that in such short time, more than 20 million toilets have been built in India’s villages and more than 70,000 are free of open defecation,” Modi said to loud applause.
  • Open defecation has long been a major health and sanitation problem in India, where almost 594 million people  nearly half the population  defecate in the open, according to UNICEF. 
Modi has stressed the need to clean up India since storming to power in 2014 and has repeatedly urged every household to have a toilet to end the spread of disease and illnesses such as diarrhoea.
Last year’s speech saw Modi set a 1,000-day deadline for every village in India to get electricity, urging state governments responsible for power to ensure every community is finally linked to the national grid.
“We’re nearing 70 years of independence and these poor villages were forced to live in the 18th century all this while, but we promised to make the impossible possible,” Modi said.
“Today I am proud to say that even though we haven’t even completed half of those 1,000 days yet, we have already brought electricity to 10,000 of those 18,000 villages.”
Government figures released last year showed more than 300 million people in India the world’s fastest-growing major economy still had no access to electricity. Per-capita electricity consumption is barely one third of the global average.

Source: AFP
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More Than 180 Civilians Killed In 2 Days Across Syria?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in both Syrian government and rebel attacks across the war-torn country in recent days, according to local activist groups.
More than 180 civilians have been killed across Syria since Friday, including 22 children and 23 women, the Local Coordination Committees, a grassroots network of activists, said on Sunday. 
Scores killed across Syria in Russian backed air strikes.
At least 90 people were killed on Friday, while a further 83 civilian deaths were recorded by Saturday night, with most of them occurring in the Aleppo province.
"Even with the deadly standards of this war, these death tolls are staggering," Al Jazeera's Reza Sayah, reporting from Gaziantep on the Turkish side of the Syria-Turkey border, said.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which records daily developments in Syria, also released figures on Sunday detailing the killing of at least 327 civilians, including 76 children and 41 women, in Aleppo over the last 15 days.
More than 100 of the 327 were reportedly killed in bombing by government warplanes, while 126 were killed in attacks by opposition fighters on government-held areas in Aleppo. 
In the suburbs of the city, another 94 were killed by Syrian regime bombardments, according to the SOHR. 

Source: Al Jazeera...More...
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