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Former UN chief and Nobel peace laureate Kofi Annan died Saturday at the age of 80, prompting a barrage of tributes and condolences from around the world for the "diplomatic rock star". The Ghanaian national, who lived in Switzerland, was a career diplomat who projected quiet charisma and was widely credited for raising the world body's profile in global politics during his two terms as UN chief from 1997 to 2006. The first secretary general from sub-Saharan Africa, Annan led the UN through the divisive years of the Iraq war and was later accused of corruption in the oil-for-food scandal, one of the most trying times of his tenure.
Rescuers in helicopters and boats fought through renewed torrential rain Saturday to reach stranded villages in India's Kerala state as the toll from the worst monsoon floods in a century rose above 320 dead. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the crisis as "devastating" after visiting Kerala. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced late Friday that the monsoon death toll had dramatically risen to 324.
The Holy fire was raging through southern California’s Cleveland national forest, and his family had already complied with a mandatory evacuation order, but Daniel Perez decided to take the risk anyway. At lunchtime on Thursday 9 August, Perez convinced public officials to allow him to return to his evacuated neighborhood for one last thing: to turn on his home security cameras, connect them to the internet, and point them in the direction of the oncoming flames. As internet-connected home security cameras grow in popularity and climate-change fueled natural disasters continue to ravage communities around the globe, a new phenomenon has emerged: witnessing your worst nightmare, remotely.
A bakery in California has found itself at the centre of an international storm after it welcomed the president of Taiwan with a cup of coffee and a goody bag. The result was a major diplomatic incident as Chinese customers launched a boycott of the 85C Bakery Cafe, which rapidly disappeared from online ordering platforms on the Chinese mainland. The episode highlight's Beijing's sensitivity over an island that considers itself a sovereign state, but has never declared formal independence. The Taiwanese-owned chain apologised and distanced itself from the views of Tsai Ing-wen, the pro-independence leader of the island, after she dropped in on Wednesday en route to visiting allies in South America. Excited staff gave her a gift bag and took selfies, as images were uploaded to Facebook by part of her delegation. A woman looks at her mobile phone at a 85C Bakery Cafe in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province Credit: AFP They have since been removed but it was too late to prevent the diplomatic fallout. Beijing - which has been working to isolate countries that recognise Taiwan - warned it would oppose any businesses that support Taiwanese independence. A company official in Taipei, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that it had been removed from several online platforms, telling the AFP news agency: "We have noticed the situation and we hope it won't be permanent." 85C began in Taiwan but has since expanded to earn more than 60 percent of its revenue in China. Losing its presence on food delivery apps would be devastating. At a glance | The One China policy China views the island as part of its own territory, and has escalated a campaign to isolate Taiwan internationally since Ms Tsai came to power in 2016. A growing number of international companies including airlines and hotels have been bending to pressure from Beijing to refer to Taiwan as part of China. The election of Donald Trump has added to Chinese unease as he showed little regard for the fine lines and grey areas of the "one China policy". Taiwan's state-aligned Central News Agency on Thursday quoted a top official with China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Long Mingbiao, as saying in Beijing that any company that expects to invest and "make money" in China must adhere to its policies. 85C's problems began after Tsai stopped off at a Los Angeles branch of the cafe this week during an American visit in which she became the first Taiwanese leader in 15 years to give a public speech on American soil, something Beijing staunchly opposes. Internet users in China lashed out with boycott threats and calls for the coffee chain to quit the Chinese market.
The 3M Co. has agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle allegations it knowingly sold defective combat ear plugs to the U.S. military without disclosing defects that limited the effectiveness of the hearing protection devices, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. A settlement frees 3M from the inconvenience of a long investigation and litigation, it said. The 3M payment settles allegations that 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies Inc., knew the ear plugs it sold the military were too short for proper insertion into the users' ears and could loosen and not perform effectively in some people, the Justice Department said.
It may seem like an alarmist local news story to declare your breakfast could kill you, but a new independent study claims that some of your favorite cereals could contain unsafe levels of a chemical used in a popular weed killer. The report, from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), was published online Wednesday and outlines the levels of the chemical glyphosate they found in various breakfast cereals and snacks. Glyphosate is the major ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp and one at the center of an ongoing tug-of-war. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ruled the chemical is "probably carcinogenic to humans," and the state of California has categorized it as a chemical linked to cancer. Meanwhile, in late 2017, the EPA concluded an assessment that declared "glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. And its with that intersection in mind that one has to look upon the new EWG report — which wasn't peer reviewed by independent scientists — with quite a bit of scrutiny. EWG versus the EPA For the study, the EWG tested dozens of samples, looking for levels of glyphosate that were above 160 pars per billion (ppb)/0.16 mg, which the organization considers the upper range of safe levels of the chemical for children to be exposed to. You can see their full results here but a few items stand out: Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal had readings of 620 ppb/0.62 mg and 780 ppb/0.78 mg. Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal had readings of 470 ppb/0.47 mg, 490 ppb/0.49 mg, and 530 ppb/0.53 mg. Quaker Old Fashioned Oats had readings of 390 ppb/0.39 mg, 1100 ppb/1.1 mg, and 1300 ppb/1.3 mg. Those numbers seem not so great — if you use the EWG's threshold. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets a much higher bar for how much glyphosate is safe for a person. According to a 1993 EPA report, the safe exposure level could be as high as 2 mg a day, well above any of the rates that the EWG uncovered in their studies. For what it's worth, The Guardian recently published a report showing that the FDA has been investigating the use of glyphosate for years but has yet to issue any public findings. The ongoing research into glyphosate is important because It's a hugely popular pesticide, with hundreds of millions of gallons being used on U.S. crops each year. And, per The Guardian's report, "the FDA has had trouble finding any food that does not carry traces of the pesticide." Not that eating pesticides is a great thing, but the large discrepancies between the EPA numbers and the EWG numbers can be confusing for consumers trying to determine how much, exactly, is still safe. "Finding glyphosate in food is residue," Kaitlin Stack Whitney, an environmental studies scholar, said in an interview. "Residue limits are a subset of exposure limits as eating pesticides residue is one route of potential exposure." "So finding non-zero amounts isn't unexpected; it's's planned for and limited under current law," Stack Whitney, who also worked as a staff biologist for the EPA, added. There's also the issue of "spray drift," as Stack Whitney notes, pointing to EWG finding traces of the chemical on products labeled organic likely due to some of the pesticide drifting to those organic crops on the wind. "The current pesticide review process struggles to account for this because agencies can't know what anyone and everyone's neighbors may grow and which chemicals they may apply," she said. "So whether residues are from direct application or drift is critical to understanding how to address if you think the amount is unsafe." A question of methodology For Lori Hoepner, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, it's about methodology. She notes that "it's hard enough to have consensus among scientists when you're talking about using the same methods." "So to go from something that would determine the limit of exposure, and try to extend that information to telling consumers about what it means to find glyphosate in their food, I think it can be perceived as something of a stretch," Hoepner said. Noting that she's familiar with the EWG's work and has vouched for them as a good resource for consumers, Hoepner still expressed some reservations about they way they presented their work for this study. "It always concerns me when science is presented in a way that is not peer-reviewed, doesn't have the oversight of additional researchers who can validate or question the method." Stack Whitney echoed Hoepner's sentiment: "[The EWG] study is like a white paper or other reports from think tanks, well researched and written but not peer reviewed. It would be useful to review their actual data and methods but those aren't available." Hoepner also wanted to see more about how they took their samples. "What was their method? Was it randomized? Was it all from one box? How many different boxes were used? Where did they buy them?" Hoepner said. Noting the wide ranges in some of the results, Hoepner says, "that definitely creates a question mark in my mind for validity." The corporations defend their products As for the companies identified in the study, they're standing by the quality of their products. A statement sent via email from the Quaker brand maintained the brand's stance they're products are perfectly safe and included a passage that denied the use of glyphosate in the making of their products. A spokesperson for General Mills, producers of Cheerios, echoed this sentiment in a statement. Corporate behemoth Monsanto, which produces RoundUp, has been under fire lately for the chemical, including a recent California verdict that ordered the company to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who claimed his constant and prolonged exposure to the chemical was to blame for him developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the wake of the EWG's report, Monsanto posted a rebuttal on their website accusing the EWG of "publicizing misleading information." Additionally, in an email exchange, a spokesperson for Monsanto highlighted this portion: Additionally, Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge told the New York Times in response to EWG study, “[The EWG] have an agenda. They are fear mongering. They distort science.” For consumers, there's no right or wrong answer at the moment. While buying different brands may seem like an option, the prevalence of the pesticides used makes it nearly impossible to completely avoid. The opposing sets of data can only sow more confusion and consumers are left to decide who they trust more: groups like the EWG, government agencies like the EPA, or corporations. WATCH: Here's how long fruits and vegetables are stored before you buy them at the store
The New York Times report said another possibility under consideration is that SpaceX would help bankroll the Tesla privatisation and would take an ownership stake in the carmaker, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk is the CEO and controlling shareholder of the rocket company. Tesla and SpaceX did not respond when Reuters requested comment on the matter.
Italian toll-road group Atlantia has called special board meetings next week to discuss the deadly collapse of a bridge it operates in Genoa, a source said on Friday. Autostrade per l'Italia, the Atlantia unit that manages the stretch of motorway in northern Italy where the bridge is located, is expected to hold a board meeting on Tuesday while the Benetton-backed parent company will hold its own meeting on Wednesday, the source said. A series of technical and legal issues will be presented to Atlantia and Autostrade board members next week, according to the source .
A young Yazidi woman who fled to Germany but returned home to northern Iraq says she cannot escape her Islamic State group captor who held her as a sex slave for three months. Ashwaq Haji, 19, says she ran into the man in a German supermarket in February. Traumatised by the encounter, she returned to Iraq the following month.
The finding came two days after a Taos County judge received death threats and Islamophobic abuse for granting bail to the five defendants, who are all black and Muslim. Authorities unearthed the boy's body at the compound on Aug. 6, three days after they raided the ramshackle home near Amalia, New Mexico, where they found 11 children in "filthy conditions" with no food or clean water. Marie Legrand Miller, an attorney for one of the defendants, said she feared for her client's safety after threats of violence, "Islamophobia" and "overt racism" directed at judge Sarah Backus after her decision to grant bail.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. security officials issued scathing rebukes to President Donald Trump on Thursday, admonishing him for yanking a top former spy chief's security clearance in what they cast as an act of political vengeance. Trump said he'd had to do "something" about the "rigged" federal probe of Russian election interference.
A Chinese passenger jet slid off the runway as it landed at Manila airport in torrential rain forcing dozens of flight cancellations on Friday, as engineers struggled to remove the stricken aircraft. The Xiamen Airlines plane, carrying 157 passengers and eight crew, landed on its second attempt before skidding onto the grass and ripping off its left engine late Thursday evening, airport general manager Ed Monreal said. All on board were safely evacuated from the aircraft with no serious injuries.
By Felipe Iturrieta and Aislinn Laing SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Four planes were forced to make emergency landings in Chile and Peru on Thursday due to bomb threats issued to the Chilean Civil Aviation Authority, it said in a statement. Two of the planes were operated by LATAM Airlines and two by Sky, a low-cost Chilean airline, the aviation authority said. The planes were undergoing checks of passengers, baggage, and their cabins and holds by police and airport security, it said. (Reporting by Aislinn Laing and Felipe Iturrieta, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
In a long statement that broke the Vatican's silence over a damning U.S. grand jury report that has shaken the American Church, spokesman Greg Burke said the Holy See was taking the report "with great seriousness". The grand jury on Tuesday released the findings of the largest-ever investigation of sex abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church, finding that 301 priests in the state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.
The body of a woman, believed to be the spouse of Christopher Watts, 33, has been recovered, authorities said. Watts was taken into custody late on Wednesday for the suspected murder of his wife Shanann Watts, 34, and of the couple's children. "This is absolutely the worst possible outcome that any of us could imagine," John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said at a news briefing about the incident in Frederick, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Denver.
Venezuelans are concerned over the safety of a "twin" viaduct of the collapsed Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy, after a fire on the concrete structure caused a major blackout. Designed by Italian structural engineer Riccardo Morandi, it predates by five years his 1967 bridge in Genoa that collapsed this week causing the death of 39 people.
The Vatican has expressed "shame and sorrow" in its first response to a groundbreaking US Grand Jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report accuses over 300 "predator" priests throughout Pennsylvania of abusing nearly 1,000 children — and the Church of conducting a systematic cover-up. "We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands," the grand jury noted in its lengthy report.
Rights groups Thursday condemned a suicide blast inside a school that killed dozens of students in Kabul a day earlier, as outrage over the attack grew while tearful families buried loved ones in the war-weary Afghan capital. The attack was just one of the most shocking in a blood-soaked week across Afghanistan that has left security forces and civilians reeling. Two gunmen attacked an intelligence training centre in Kabul Thursday, firing on security forces for several hours before they were killed, police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said, adding that there were no other casualties.
The United States will be "a good ally" to the Philippines in responding to territorial conflicts in the South China Sea, a US defence official said Thursday. Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, gave the assurance as tensions rise over China's aggressive stance towards its claims to most of the strategic waterway. Speaking to reporters at the US embassy in Manila, Schriver was asked if the United States, which is bound to the Philippines by a mutual defence treaty, would help the country if China invaded the main Filipino-occupied island in the South China Sea.
The organiser of a white supremacist march in Washington DC at the weekend has been left red-faced, after a video emerged showing him being scolded by his father during an interview in his family home. Jason Kessler, 34, organised last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of counter protester Heather Heyer. He organised an anniversary march in DC this weekend, which was attended by a few dozen people, and dwarfed by a huge counter-protest. In a clip circulated on Tuesday, originally filmed in June, he was recording an hour-long livestream with the alt-Right Patrick Little discussing Jews, when his father barged in furiously told him off, mid-interview. “Hey! You get out of my room!” yelled Eric Kessler, Jason Kessler’s father. Mr Little, 33, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for a Senate seat in California, chuckles at the interruption of his neo-Nazi conspiracy theories concerning Jews, castration and slavery. He asks: “You got a drunk roommate there?” Jason Kessler, escorted by police during his August 12 rally outside the White House Credit: AFP Looking sheepish, Mr Kessler tried to explain the situation to his friend, saying: “I have somebody who supports Israeli, uh... orthodox… We are kind of at crosshairs on that right now.” His father presses on, yelling at Mr Kessler: “I want this to stop in my room, Jason. This is my room.” Mr Little can be heard sniggering as Mr Kessler excuses himself and walks off-screen. “You’re not living with an Orthodox Jew are you?” Mr Little asks. Mr Kessler tries to explain the rift in his house, saying: “My family watches the History Channel and it’s all this propaganda – ‘the Nazis’ and ‘the Jews’." He goes on to complain his father is “cucked” — an insult often used by the alt-Right — because he watches “constant anti-German propaganda” on the History Channel. When he wants to express his views on Jews, he retreats to his father’s bedroom, he explained. “And I’m stuck in this situation where, with all these lawsuits, I need to stay with my family.” Counterprotesters in Washington DC on August 12 Credit: AFP Mr Little nods, explaining that he is planning on renting out the houseboat on which he lives to pay for his expenses. Eric Kessler told The Washington Post earlier this year that his family was “dismayed across the board about this situation. We’ve never identified with racial politics.” He added that despite living in the same house he had very little interaction with his son since he learned of his radical views, shortly before last year’s rally. Jason Kessler, however, told the paper that he has been treated unfairly. “I’ve been turned into an avatar of hate,” he said.