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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:37 pm 
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Italy moves to fine Ryanair over flight chaos
4 December 2017

ROME (AFP) - Italy's competition watchdog on Monday initiated non-compliance proceedings against Ryanair that could see the airline fined up to five million euros ($6 million)over its recent waves of cancellations.

The procedure was launched after Ryanair ignored an order to update its website and standard emails to ensure Italian customers were made fully aware of their rights to re-booking, re-routing and compensation in the case of flights being cancelled, the Antitrust regulator said in a statement. The company challenged the order, which required the changes to be made within ten days, but its appeal was rejected by a tribunal last month.

Ryanair has cancelled more than 20,000 flights scheduled between October and March as a result of staff shortages triggered by pilots and cabin crew leaving the company or being required to take holidays before the year end. More than 700,000 people have seen their travel plans ruined and the airline has been slammed by consumer groups and regulators for its handling of the crisis, particularly in relation to the rights of customers whose flights are cancelled.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority reprimanded Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary in September for wrongly claiming that the airline was not obliged to re-route cancelled passengers on other airlines.

The company, Europe's biggest airline by passenger numbers, said Monday that it carried 9.3 million travellers last month, up six percent on November 2016. That was its slowest rate of growth in three years but the company is sticking by its pre-crisis profit forecast despite the cancellations.

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:42 pm 
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Trump endorses accused child molester Moore for Senate
December 4, 2017

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump on Monday issued his most explicit endorsement to date of embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women including one who was 14-years-old at the time.

Trump had previously characterized the allegations, first reported by The Washington Post, as "very troubling" before changing tack and warning voters in Moore's home state of Alabama that a victory for his Democratic rival Doug Jones "would be a disaster!"

On Monday, he cited Democrats' opposition to his legislative agenda, including tax cuts, as reasons for his support. "Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama," he tweeted. "We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!" He added: "Look at your 401-k's since Election. Highest Stock Market EVER! Jobs are roaring back!" he added, referring to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.

Moore, a 70-year-old Christian conservative with a history of controversy stemming from his tenure on Alabama's supreme court, had been a strong favorite to win the rightwing state's special election on December 12 before the allegations broke. Most of the allegations about Moore relate to when he was a prosecutor in his mid-30s and sought to pursue relationships with teens, according to the reports.

One of the women, Leigh Corfman, now 53, said that when she was 14 Moore took her into his house in the woods near Gadsden, Alabama, removed her shirt and pants, and fondled her over her bra and underpants. Moore has denied the allegations and said they are politically motivated. The race, which is being held to replace Jeff Sessions, who was named US attorney general, has national repercussions because Republicans hold only a slim 52-to-48 majority in the senate.

Allegations of sexual harassment have plagued both of America's main political parties in recent weeks. Democrat John Conyers, a celebrated civil rights leader who is the longest-serving member of Congress, announced he was stepping down from a leadership position last month as he battles harassment claims from members of his staff.

Trump himself has been accused of misconduct by several women, ranging from groping to unwanted advances and kissing, though these did not prevent his election last year.

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:00 pm 
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India to phase out 'petcoke' imports after AP investigation
By ASHOK SHARMA
6 December 2017

NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's government says it plans to phase out imports of a dirty fuel known as petroleum coke, or "petcoke," after an Associated Press investigation found U.S. oil refineries are exporting vast quantities of the product to India.

But when it comes to domestic use, the Indian government seems to be going in a different direction. The government this week argued in court that restrictions on petcoke around polluted New Delhi should be eased for certain low-impact industries. The move has infuriated environmentalists. The AP investigation found the U.S. sold about 20 times more petcoke to India last year than it did six years earlier after U.S. refineries struggled to sell the product at home. In 2016, the U.S. sent more than 8 million metric tons of petcoke to India, enough to fill the Empire State Building eight times over.

Petcoke is a bottom-of-the-barrel leftover from the refining of Canadian tar sands crude and other heavy oils. It's cheaper and burns hotter than coal. But laboratory tests on imported petcoke used near New Delhi found it contained 17 times more sulfur than the limit set for coal.

A day after the AP investigation was published, Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the government was formulating a policy to end imports. "We are planning to implement a system to stop imports and use home-produced petcoke for non-polluting sectors, such as cement production," Pradhan said on Saturday, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. He said fuel-hungry India consumes about 25 million metric tons of petcoke each year, nearly half of which is imported.

On Monday, the environment ministry argued in an affidavit against a ban on the use of petcoke and furnace oil in New Delhi and the surrounding states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. The Supreme Court imposed the ban on the three states in October after environmentalist M.C. Mehta filed a petition. The fuels were already banned in the capital.

The ministry said it wanted certain industries such as cement manufacturing to be able to use a small amount of petcoke for about a year until they could come up with alternatives. But Mehta on Wednesday said petcoke has a big impact. "There is an environmental emergency with New Delhi as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Pollution levels go up by 50 percent if you are burning petcoke," he said. "Is this government a custodian of people's life and health or is it there to benefit some industrialists?"

Mehta said the government typically only takes action on the environment when forced by the Supreme Court, which in India takes an unusually proactive approach to environmental issues.

Polash Mukherjee, an environmentalist with the Center For Science and Environment, said the ban was important for ensuring clean air until industries move to cleaner fuels or install emission control measures.

New Delhi has been choking from air pollution in recent weeks. The air quality typically deteriorates at this time of year because the winds die down, people build street fires to keep warm and farmers burn fields of old crops. The pollution has gotten so bad it has even interrupted India's favorite sport of cricket. This week the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team wore pollution masks and the bowlers complained they were short of breath. Some players vomited. Play was stopped several times on Sunday as match officials debated whether to continue, eventually deciding they would. The Supreme Court will hear the government's oral arguments on easing the petcoke ban next week.

In a separate case in October, the Supreme Court imposed a token fine on the environment ministry for not setting industrial emission standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in New Delhi and the surrounding states. The ministry has promised to comply with the court order by the end of the year. Mehta, the environmentalist, said that whatever action India takes, the U.S. should impose its own measures by banning exports of petcoke.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:03 pm 
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Delta flight makes emergency bathroom stop in Montana
December 6, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- A Delta flight from New York City to Seattle had to make a stop in Billings after the plane's toilets stopped working and passengers couldn't hold it any longer.

The Billings Gazette reports that the direct flight diverted hundreds of miles south on Saturday to make the emergency bathroom stop. Delta says that upon landing in Billings, the plane had to taxi to a cargo area because a gate was not available. Delta says ground crews rolled a stairway to the airplane so passengers could "disembark to find relief of built-up pressures."

A flight from New York City to Seattle can take about six hours.

Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:45 pm 
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Global warming outpacing current forecasts: study
by Marlowe HOOD
6 December 2017

PARIS (AFP) - The United Nations' forecast for global warming is about 15 percent too low, which means that end-of-century temperatures could be 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than currently predicted, according to a study released Wednesday.

This sobering verdict renders the already daunting challenge of capping global warming at "well under" 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- the cornerstone goal of the 196-nation Paris Agreement -- all the more difficult, the authors say. "Our results suggest that achieving any given global temperature stabilisation target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions than previously calculated," they wrote.

A half-degree increase on the thermometer could translate into devastating consequences. With only a single degree Celsius of global warming so far, the planet has already seen a crescendo of deadly droughts, heatwaves and superstorms engorged by rising seas.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provides the scientific foundation for global climate policy, projects an increase in the earth's average surface temperature of about 4.5 Celsius by 2100 if carbon pollution continues unabated. But there is a very large range of uncertainty -- 3.2 to 5.9 degrees Celsius -- around that figure, reflecting different assumptions and methods in the dozens of climate models the IPCC takes into account.

"The primary goal of our study was to narrow this range of uncertainty, and to assess whether the upper or lower end is more likely," lead author Patrick Brown, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University in California, told AFP. By factoring in decades of satellite observations which track how much sunlight gets bounced back into space, the study showed that the more alarming projections are clearly aligned with that data and the warming that has been measured so far. "Our findings eliminate the lower end of this range," Brown said. "The most likely warming is about 0.5 C greater than what the raw model results suggest."

One scientist not involved in the research described it as a "step-change advance" in the understanding of how hot our planet is likely to become. "We are now more certain about the future climate," said William Collins, a professor of meteorology at the University of Reading.
"But the bad news is that it will be warmer than we thought."

The study, published in the journal Nature, not only narrows the temperature, but reduces the degree of uncertainty as well. "If emissions follow a commonly used 'business as usual' scenario, there is a 93 percent chance that global warming will exceed four degrees Celsius by century's end," said co-author Ken Caldeira, also from Stanford. Up to now, there was barely more than a coin-toss certainty that the earth would breach the 4 C barrier by 2100 under that scenario.

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:49 am 
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What new president? Rural Zimbabweans missed Mugabe drama
By Farai Mutsaka
15 December 2017

LUPANE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Good luck convincing some of Zimbabwe's far-flung residents that they have a new president despite last month's dramatic ouster of Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power.

"Don't be silly, no one has that kind of power to remove Mugabe. He will die in office, that one," said Sokuluhle Dube, selling cooked goat meat at a cattle auction far from the capital, Harare. "I don't think you are a journalist, maybe you are a spy," the 76-year-old told the Associated Press as her friends nodded in agreement.

As new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa tries to revive a shattered economy, the changes his government hopes to hurry along are bumping up against a rural lifestyle where news travels by word of mouth — and clearly not all news has arrived.

In this district disconnected from phone lines, many people are only remotely aware of the momentous events leading to Mugabe's resignation, including the military's takeover, the hundreds of thousands marching in the capital and the impeachment proceedings that finally led the 93-year-old president to step down. Instead, the local buzz was about the cattle auction in Lupane's Gomoza village, where hundreds gathered to buy and sell. In the fair-like atmosphere, others bargained over items ranging from bicycles to sorghum beer as music blared from loudspeakers.

Mugabe, gone? Many have known no other president. "It's true. I heard someone talk about it the other day," one younger villager said, amid the skeptics. But he showed little concern. "How does it help us? They always do their things in Harare. Look around us, does it seem like they ever cared about us?"

The work of recovering from years of mismanagement, a severe cash shortage and unemployment so severe that millions have left the country is an even more towering challenge in Zimbabwe's agricultural regions, where infrastructure is often shaky or absent. In Gomoza, one store advertises mobile phone money transactions that are impossible because there is no mobile phone coverage. Fixed telephone lines are down, and signals for local television and radio are nonexistent. The dusty road to the village is dominated by donkeys drawing carts, the main mode of transport.

The scene resembles many parts of Zimbabwe that have been left behind by years of underdevelopment and often rely on international aid organizations to get by. "People here make a living from livestock. They sell cattle, goats and chickens. Business is improving because of support from the Food and Agricultural Organization, which initiated training for villagers," said Nyovane Ndlovu, chairman of the auction floor. One bull at the auction fetched $610, which had to be paid in cash. There is no infrastructure to pay any other way, said Lucia Mwanyisa, a community manager for the livestock project.

Still, the place hummed with small-scale activity, with little interest in the country's recent turn in the international spotlight. "What change? Maybe for you in the cities," said Ishmael Mguni, who danced to music pouring from battery-operated speakers. No other power was available.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:21 am 
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In Haiti, tough talk but little action on rampant corruption
by Amelie BARON
7 January 2018

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - The rampant corruption that plagues Haiti is denounced roundly in official speeches, but despite probes implicating former ministers, legal action has yet to take place to end a practice that has become a habit.

Whether it's a Transparency International ranking on corruption or a Forbes one on the business climate, Haiti stubbornly stays at the bottom of the list year after year. Determined to buck the trend, President Jovenel Moise has pledged to clean up politics. "Corruption in all its forms plagues and atrophies the economy. It has severely weakened the country's political foundation and social fabric. Corruption is a crime against development," the Haitian leader told the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The anti-corruption campaign could have been launched in November, after a parliamentary report found that more than a dozen ex-ministers who served from 2010 to 2016 were involved in "widespread fraud." The 600-page report detailed possible irregularities and potentially illegal activities in the management of the Petrocaribe oil alliance fund. The loan program, linked to the purchase of Venezuelan oil, was launched by Hugo Chavez for nearly 20 Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Since Haiti joined the program in 2009, Petrocaribe has raised concerns about potential misuse because, unlike other international aid, the funds are dispensed at the governments' discretion without submitting to Venezuelan conditions. "We know there's bad management because more than $2 billion were spent and you don't see that translate in the country's growth," said economist Kesner Pharel.

Analyses of Petrocaribe have been swiftly swept under the carpet. A report on the management of the funds in mid-2016 accused numerous politicians, but no legal action was taken against them and the accused did not publicly seek to rebuild their tarnished image. Today, while the government enjoys the backing of a broad majority in the senate, no official debate has yet begun there to discuss a potential second report.

Pharel said the parliament's refusal to discuss the commission's corruption report hints at "possible collusion." "You don't want to attack the person in power because you wouldn't want to be attacked when you get there too. It's awful to develop a culture like this."

Corruption is so deeply embedded in senior politicians that "there are even sayings that reflect this tendency, like 'whoever fleeces the government is not a thief,'" senate president Youri Latortue recognized, with a hint of sadness in his voice. "Once they reach their post, politicians think they can get rich and once they finish their mandate or the government ends its term, they head to Miami, New York or stay comfortably here without any worries," Latortue added.

With a legal system that advances at a snail's pace, Haiti is struggling to emerge from the vicious cycle of impunity. And judges and lawyers themselves are widely suspected of practicing law to the advantage of the highest bidder. The apathy of a majority of the population toward the waste of already-meager public resources also does not encourage a legal crackdown.

Tens of thousands of people in the neighboring Dominican Republic -- which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti -- marched this summer against the Odebrecht scandal, in which a Brazilian construction group paid bribes to secure public works contracts. But only a few thousand took to the streets to protest against corruption in Port-au-Prince on December 5. "The people have not yet been educated either about the impact of corruption on citizens, and that needs to change," said Magguie Rigaud, who was among the protesters. "Unfortunately, for many people, it's become normal to steal when you work for the government. A minister without a beautiful car is considered unclean. Some who worked honestly live in poverty. All of these years of corruption makes for a big lack of role models."

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:00 pm 
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Priest gets 8 months in prison for embezzling $500,000
January 4, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The rector of a retirement home for Roman Catholic priests who was convicted of embezzling a half-million dollars has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison.

Authorities say Monsignor William Dombrow spent the stolen funds on casino visits, expensive dinners and concerts. At his sentencing Wednesday, Dombrow acknowledged committing a "serious crime" and said he would accept the judge's decision. Dombrow's attorney says the priest was sometimes accompanied on those outings by residents of Villa St. Joseph. The Philadelphia Archdiocese runs the facility in Darby to house aging priests and treat those accused of sexual abuse. In addition to his prison term, Dombrow was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to repay the embezzled funds.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:57 am 
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Fake medicines flourish in Africa despite killing thousands
by Christophe KOFFI
17 January 2018

ABIDJAN (AFP) - There's nothing covert about Roxy -- a huge market in Abidjan selling counterfeit medicine, the scourge of Africa and the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually on the world's poorest continent.

Located in the bustling Adjame quarter of Ivory Coast's main city and commercial hub, the haven for fake medicine has been targeted time and again by authorities and stockpiles burnt. But it resurfaces every time. "The police hassle us but they themselves buy these medicines," said Mariam, one of the many mainly illiterate vendors who hawk everything from painkillers and antibiotics to anti-malaria and anti-retroviral treatments. "When we are harassed we always come to an arrangement with them to resume our activities," she said.

Fatima, another hawker, said: "Many people come here with their prescriptions to buy medicine, even the owners of private clincs." She said there was a "syndicate" controlling the sector that held regular meetings to fix prices and supply levels.

Fake medicines bring about some 100,000 deaths a year in the continent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The illicit sector has a turnover of at least 10 percent of the world pharmaceutical business, meaning that it earns tens of billions of dollars a year, the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum estimates, adding that the figure has nearly tripled in five years. "To sell fake medicines, you need a clientele. The ailing poor are more numerous in Africa than anywhere in the world," said Marc Gentilini, an expert on infectious and tropical diseases and a former head of the French Red Cross. Gentilini said some meningitis vaccines sent a few years ago after an outbreak in arid Niger were fake. The disease kills thousands every year in the arid west African nation.

The WHO estimates that one out of 10 medicines in the world is fake but the figure can be as high as seven out of 10 in certain countries, especially in Africa. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or bad copies.

Interpol in August announced the seizure of 420 tonnes of counterfeit medicine in West Africa in a massive operation that involved about 1,000 police, customs and health officials in seven countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. Geoffroy Bessaud, the head of anti-counterfeit coordination at French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, said fake medicines were biggest illicit business in the world. "This phenomenon is spreading: it's financial attractiveness draws criminal organisations of all sizes," he said. "An investment of $1,000 can bring returns of up to $500,000 while for the same kind of investment in the heroin trade or in counterfeit money the amount will be around $20,000."

Ivorian authorities in May burnt 40 tonnes of fake medicines in Adjame, the biggest street market of fake medicines in West Africa which accounts for 30 percent of medicine sales in Ivory Coast. Offenders remain largely unpunished worldwide and are mainly targeted for breaching intellectual property rights instead of being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the Paris-based International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicine says.

Experts have called for a global fight against the scourge. Sanofi said it had in 2016 helped dismantle 27 clandestine laboratories, including 22 in China and the rest in Indonesia, Ukraine and Poland.

In countries where medical expenses -- from drugs to hospitalisation -- are not even partly reimbursed by the state, the relatively cheap price of street medication trumps the risk factor for many. The outstanding exception on the continent in fighting the illicit drug trade is South Africa, which has a strictly-enforced licencing system.

Source: AFP

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
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Greek firefighters join public outcry at ‘woeful’ response to lethal wildfires
By Helena Smith
28 July 2018

Fury over the Greek government’s handling of forest fires that saw scores of people burn to death barely 15 miles from Athens has escalated.

As the death toll rose to 88, firefighters joined the public outcry with an excoriating indictment of the rescue operation. Authorities had not only been woefully ill prepared to deal with the wind-driven wildfire, but had failed to apologise for the tragedy, said Dimitris Stathopoulos, who heads the 12,500-strong Federation of Firefighters. “The government might be saying there were no grave operational mistakes, but what it isn’t saying is that there were thousands of small mistakes,” he told the Observer. “All those mistakes make the big mistake and that is why we had such an unprecedented number of deaths.”

The fire brigade recommended the evacuation of the area but had not been listened to, he said. Moreover, the meteorological service had failed to predict winds of up to 124km/h. This resulted in firefighting aircraft being grounded. “They simply couldn’t take off in such winds. If the meteorological service had raised the danger level and issued a warning, the planes could have gone to a different airport,” he insisted. “And because they weren’t foreseen our resources were scattered.”

The leftist-led government has been left reeling from the disaster. In what has become one of the worst natural disasters in living memory, many victims were children and rescue crews are still combing the land and sea for missing people.

From the outset authorities appear to have underestimated the scale and speed of the fires along the Attica coast. When the blazes had already obliterated the seaside resort of Mati, where the death toll was highest, prime minister Alexis Tsipras appeared ill-informed of the magnitude of the calamity, telling Greeks after a meeting at the emergency services operational command centre: “Our fellow citizens are in danger … some are trapped on the beaches. We should all be vigilant. This is an extremely difficult situation for Attica and the country.”

On Friday the leader assumed political responsibility for the tragedy but stopped short of satisfying calls for the resignation of Nikos Toskas, the civil protection minister and other officials. Addressing his cabinet he repeated Toskas’s assertion that evidence seemed to point to arson. But on Saturday the fire service’s arson crime unit rejected that theory, claiming it had very likely been sparked by someone burning wood in the area of Daou Penteli, where the wildfire is now known to have started. The Greek daily Kathimerini said the culprit’s identity was already known.

“Greek governments have traditionally found it convenient to blame profiteers, arsonists, terrorists, and even foreign agents,” Tsipras’s former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, averred. “With such incendiary claims … officials avoid having to admit their lack of preparedness and their failure to adopt and enforce appropriate laws and safety regulations.”

As the fallout intensified, two deputy mayors in Marathon, the area worst hit by the fires, resigned, saying their conscience did not allow them to remain in their posts.

Echoing Varoufakis’s argument that austerity inflicted on Greece had also played a role in the inability of authorities to respond effectively to the disaster, Stathopoulos admitted that budget cuts had rendered at least 30% of the service’s fire engines useless. The debt-stricken country has applied the tough measures in return for bailout loans to keep bankruptcy at bay.

“About 15% of our fleet of 1,750 trucks are off the roads because they have chronic problems and are old,” he said. “Another 15% are in need of spare parts which we can’t afford. As firefighters we take an oath to protect people and their properties. We know when to recommend that areas be evacuated, but for some reason our recommendation was not heard. This is a huge tragedy for our country and apologies are owed.”

Source: The Observer UK

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:14 am 
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Trump administration lifts ban on pesticides linked to declining bee numbers
August 3, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted.

Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the two-year-old ban, said on Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges. “Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species,” said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife.

Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there.

The rollback, spelled out in a US Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops – such as soybeans and corn – engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides. That policy also had barred the use on wildlife refuges of neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, in conjunction with GMO crops. Neonics are a class of insecticides tied by research to declining populations of wild bees and other pollinating insects around the world.

Rather than continuing to impose a blanket ban on GMO crops and neonics on refuges, Fish and Wildlife Service deputy director Greg Sheehan said decisions about their use would be made on a case-by-case basis. Sheehan said the move was needed to ensure adequate forage for migratory birds, including ducks and geese favored and hunted by sportsmen on many of the nation’s refuges. US interior secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, has made expansion of hunting on public lands a priority for his agency. Sheehan wrote that genetically modified organisms have helped “maximize production, and that neonicotinoids might be needed “to fulfill needed farming practices”.

It marked the latest in a series of Obama-era environmental restrictions to be reversed under Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to roll back government regulations. In a 2014 Obama administration memo announcing plans to phase in the ban, Jim Kurth, head of the refuge system, wrote that seeds treated with neonics give rise to plants whose tissues contained compounds that could harm “non-target” species. He also said, “refuges throughout the country successfully meet wildlife management objectives without” GMOs or neonics.

Thursday’s memo named more than 50 national wildlife refuges across the country where the revised policy now applies. The entire system consists of 560 refuge units encompassing roughly 150 million acres nationwide.

Source: Reuters via Guardian UK

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 Post subject: Re: Failure - continued
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:13 am 
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US homeless fundraiser: GoFundMe campaign 'based on a lie'
By Georgina Rannard
November 15, 2018

The US protagonists in a viral fundraising campaign for a homeless man have been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy.

Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico raised more than $400,000 (£313,000) for homeless ex-marine Johnny Bobbitt. But in August, Mr Bobbitt launched legal action against the couple, claiming he did not get his fair share. Now, prosecutors in New Jersey say Mr Bobbitt was complicit in the alleged plot. All three face the same charges. A lawyer for Mr D'Amico, 39 and Ms McClure, 28, declined to comment, according to US media.

At Thursday's press conference, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said the story "that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was". "The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," he added.

The prosecutors believe the campaign was concocted a month before it was launched. The campaign text had said that Mr Bobbitt had used "his last $20" to help Ms McClure when her car broke down in 2017.

Mr Bobbitt remains in custody, and the couple were released pending a court date on 24 December. The three face potential sentences of five to 10 years for the second-degree crimes.

Mr Bobbitt and the couple first came to prominence in November 2017 when Ms McClure launched a crowdfunding GoFundMe campaign, which, they said, was to re-pay the debt of a homeless man who came to her aid at the side of a road. A photograph of Ms McClure and Mr Bobbitt, a veteran and drug addict who had lived on the streets for several years, standing on the side of the road, fronted the fundraising campaign. More than 14,000 people donated, many inspired by the story's details, such as Mr Bobbitt instructing Ms McClure to lock her car doors before he returned with a can of petrol.

Officials said on Thursday they believe the photo was staged after the three met previously when Ms McClure and Mr D'Amico visited a casino near an underpass where Mr Bobbitt spent time. The relationship between the three soured in August when Mr Bobbitt brought legal action against the couple, alleging they were using the funds as their personal "piggy bank" to fund an extravagant lifestyle. After exceeding their original fundraising goal of $10,000, they bought clothing and a new camper van for Mr Bobbitt, but later reportedly asked him to remove it from outside their property. Ms McClure and Mr D'Amico told their online supporters the money would go to two financial trusts for Mr Bobbitt, as well as a lawyer and a financial adviser to help him manage all the money. "Every dollar he ever touched was used for drugs," Mr D'Amico told NBC in a nationally televised interview in August.

Investigators claimed the three originally made up the story to make people feel bad and compel donors to contribute to a cause. Net proceeds for Ms McClure and Mr D'Amico amounted to more than $367,000 (£287,000) and were spent on a car, holidays, high-end handbags and casino gambling, Mr Coffina said. The prosecutor said that Mr Bobbitt received about $75,000 (£58,000).

In thousands of text messages read by police, the couple had discussed financial woes, inability to pay bills and debts, and Mr D'Amico said he hoped to raise more money by pursuing a book deal about the story. Expressing sympathy for Mr Bobbitt's homelessness, the prosecutor nonetheless accused the veteran of being "fully complicit" in the campaign, promoting it in several media appearances and appearing in the original photograph.

Mr Bobbitt posted a similar story on Facebook in 2012 about helping a woman who had run out of petrol, officials say, but that "full responsibility" should be ascribed to all three. In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the crowdfunding site Go Fund Me confirmed donors who contributed to the campaign would receive a refund.

Source: BBC

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