Off the Wires

In Brazil, high security Uber for the safest trips

August 10th, 2016  |  Source: Springwise.com

Bluclub is a new car service featuring armored vehicles and drivers trained in defensive driving.

Though on-demand rideshare services are undoubtedly convenient, the peer-to-peer model of businesses like Uber can be prone to crime. Last year, according to the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the company had failed to notice the criminal record of 25 drivers it background-checked and hired in the two cities. We have seen the car service that only employs female drivers and will serve only women (including trans women) and children under 13. Now, from Brazil,Bluclub is an on-demand car service that puts the safety of its passengers first.

Recently launched in Beta, all of the vehicles used by Bluclub are armored for utmost security. All drivers employed by the startup have also taken defensive driving courses, ensuring that passengers are protected. Users pay for ride packages in advance, and the rate starts at around 11 miles for BRL 90 (USD 27), or USD 2.45 per mile. This puts the service a little above Uber rates in NYC (USD 1.75 per mile).

Intersted riders in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo can now apply for access via Bluclub’s site. We have already seen a community-funded rideshare nonprofit in Austin, what other niche rideshare services could offer functions neglected by the giants?

Website: www.bluclub.com.br
Contact: www.facebook.com/bluclubbr


Climate warming blamed for vanishing fish in African lake

August 9th, 2016  |  Source: AFP

Fish are becoming more scarce in Africa's oldest and deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika, because of climate warming, not just overfishing, US researchers said this week.

The study on Lake Tanganyika, which covers parts of Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, relied on sediment samples drilled from the lake bed and going back 1,500 years to analyze the changing biodiversity.

Researchers found that the lake has been warming since the 1800s, leading to a decline in lake algae which fish feed on, and decreasing numbers of fish.

Large-scale commercial fishing began on Lake Tanganyika in the 1950s, and some have raised concern that overfishing may be threatening the lake's fish.

The lake provides 60 percent of the animal protein to feed people in the region, and yields some 200,000 tons of fish annually.

"Some people say the problem for the Lake Tanganyika fishery is 'too many fishing boats,' but our work shows the decline in fish has been going on since the 19th century," said lead author Andrew Cohen, a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona.

"We can see this decline in the numbers of fossil fish going down in parallel with the rise in water temperature."

Overfishing is still partly to blame for the reduction in catch, Cohen acknowledged.

But the warming of the lake predates that, and has reduced the suitable habitat for fish and molluscs by 38 percent since 1946, said the study in the August 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lake Tanganyika is known for diverse species, many of which are unique to the lake, with hundreds of species found nowhere else, Cohen said.

As it warms, large parts of the freshwater lake's floor are losing oxygen and killing off bottom-dwellers such as snails.

"We know this warming is going on in other lakes," Cohen said.

"It has important implications for food and for ecosystems changing rapidly."


Climate warming blamed for vanishing fish in African lake

August 9th, 2016  |  Source: AFP

Fish are becoming more scarce in Africa's oldest and deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika, because of climate warming, not just overfishing, US researchers said this week.

The study on Lake Tanganyika, which covers parts of Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, relied on sediment samples drilled from the lake bed and going back 1,500 years to analyze the changing biodiversity.

Researchers found that the lake has been warming since the 1800s, leading to a decline in lake algae which fish feed on, and decreasing numbers of fish.

Large-scale commercial fishing began on Lake Tanganyika in the 1950s, and some have raised concern that overfishing may be threatening the lake's fish.

The lake provides 60 percent of the animal protein to feed people in the region, and yields some 200,000 tons of fish annually.

"Some people say the problem for the Lake Tanganyika fishery is 'too many fishing boats,' but our work shows the decline in fish has been going on since the 19th century," said lead author Andrew Cohen, a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona.

"We can see this decline in the numbers of fossil fish going down in parallel with the rise in water temperature."

Overfishing is still partly to blame for the reduction in catch, Cohen acknowledged.

But the warming of the lake predates that, and has reduced the suitable habitat for fish and molluscs by 38 percent since 1946, said the study in the August 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lake Tanganyika is known for diverse species, many of which are unique to the lake, with hundreds of species found nowhere else, Cohen said.

As it warms, large parts of the freshwater lake's floor are losing oxygen and killing off bottom-dwellers such as snails.

"We know this warming is going on in other lakes," Cohen said.

"It has important implications for food and for ecosystems changing rapidly."


Wealthy Republicans campaign for Clinton

August 4th, 2016  |  Source: r

Groups of wealthy Republicans unhappy with Donald Trump have been privately courting prominent peers to join them in backing Democrat Hillary Clinton's U.S. presidential bid, several people involved in the effort told Reuters.

They say they are seeking money and endorsements from other Republicans disillusioned by Trump, their party's candidate for the Nov. 8 presidential election. Some have received encouragement from Clinton and members of her campaign staff.

"I made the decision that I wouldn't be able to look at my grandkids if I voted for Trump," said Dan Webb, a former federal prosecutor and a self-described "Republican for decades" working to win over prominent Republican business people in Chicago.

Trump, a New York developer making his first run at public office, has made traditional Republican donors uneasy with inflammatory statements about women, Mexicans, Muslims and war veterans, among others.

Big-name Wall Street donors can make a difference for Clinton. They could inject big money into a campaign. They might influence moderate Republicans to switch sides. Their support of Clinton challenges Trump's assertion that his business successes make him a better candidate for president.

With the political conventions barely over, the Republican effort to fundraise for Clinton is at an early stage. Some of the groups have yet to receive contributions because they must still file paperwork under campaign finance rules.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment for this story. Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said business leaders are supporting Clinton because of her economic plan and because Trump "cannot be trusted to lead our economy."

WARY OF TRUMP

Groups formed to support Clinton include Republicans for Her 2016, run by Republican lobbyist Craig Snyder; a grassroots organization called R4C16, led by John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes, officials in former President George W. Bush's administration; and the Republican Women for Hillary group co-led by Jennifer Pierotti Lim, an official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The first two groups are acting independently of Clinton's own effort. The third is acting in concert with her campaign.

"We wanted to go out there and be the voice for Republicans who were feeling wary about Trump and weird about publicly endorsing Hillary," said Pierotti Lim, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention at the Clinton team's invitation.

Webb, a partner at law firm Winston & Strawn, said he began his outreach after being approached by billionaire investor J.B. Pritzker and longtime Clinton associate Lanny Davis. Pritzker and Davis could not be reached for comment.

On Wednesday, billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman said he would work to get Clinton elected because of comments by Trump he found "shockingly unacceptable." Although Klarman, who is the president and chief executive of The Baupost Group, is a registered independent, a review of filings shows his political giving has largely benefited Republicans over the years, including some of Trump's rivals in the state-by-state nominating contests this year.

Jim Cicconi, a former Reagan and George H.W. White House staff member and lifelong Republican, said he went public with his decision to support Clinton "to encourage others in my situation to do the same thing."

"I feel like I need to do something more than quietly pulling the lever," he said. "I'm willing to assist the campaign in any way that they want me to help."

WHITMAN, BLOOMBERG BACK CLINTON

Spearheading in part the Clinton effort to woo Republicans on Wall Street is Democratic strategist Leslie Dach, a former Walmart executive and aide to Bill Clinton, sources close to the Clinton campaign said.

People familiar with the Clinton drive say the Democratic nominee herself has spoken to Republican business leaders, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chief Executive Meg Whitman, who endorsed Clinton on Tuesday.

Clinton deputies courted former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ahead of a rousing speech he gave at last month's Democratic National Convention that urged Wall Street to support her.

Whether Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire media mogul and an erstwhile Republican, will play a role in courting other Republican business leaders has yet to be determined, a source close to the discussions said.

While some major donors are hesitant to back Trump, the candidate over the last month has pulled in millions of dollars in small-money donations to boost total contributions to more than $80 million for Trump's campaign and the Republican Party, nearly matching Clinton's $90 million haul during the same period.


China's 'mosquito factory' aims to wipe out Zika, other disease

August 2nd, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

Every week, scientists in southern China release 3 million bacteria-infected mosquitoes on a 3 km (two-mile) long island in a bid to wipe out diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and Zika.

The scientists inject mosquito eggs with wolbachia bacteria in a laboratory, then release infected male mosquitoes on the island on the outskirts of the city of Guangzhou.

The bacteria, which occurs naturally in about 28 percent of wild mosquitoes, causes infected males to sterilize the females they mate with.

"The aim is trying to suppress the mosquito density below the threshold which can cause disease transmission," said Zhiyong Xi, who is director of the Sun Yat-sen University Centre of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases and pioneered the idea.

"There are hot spots," Xi said. "This technology can be used at the beginning to target the hot spots ... it will dramatically reduce disease transmission."

Mosquito-borne diseases are responsible for more than one million deaths worldwide every year and Zika has become a concern for athletes at this year's Olympic Games, which open in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

Some athletes, including the top four ranked male golfers, have declined to take part.

An outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil last year has spread through the Americas and beyond, with China confirming its first case in February.

U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.

The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.


Islamic State calls on members to carry out jihad in Russia

August 1st, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

Islamic State called on its group members to carry out jihad in Russia in a nine-minute YouTube video on Sunday.

"Listen Putin, we will come to Russia and will kill you at your homes ... Oh Brothers, carry out jihad and kill and fight them," a masked man driving a car in the desert yelled while wagging his finger in the last couple of minutes of the video.

The video with subtitles showed footage of armed men attacking armored vehicles and tents and collecting arms in the desert. "Breaking into a barrack of the Rejectionist military on the international road south Akashat," read one subtitle.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the video but the link to the footage was published on a Telegram messaging account used by the militant group.

It was not immediately clear why Russia would be a target, but Russia and the U.S. are talking about boosting military and intelligence cooperation against Islamic State and al Qaeda in Syria.

Islamic State has called on its supporters to take action with any available weapons targeting countries it has been fighting.

There has been a string of deadly attacks claimed by Islamic state in Europe over the past weeks. Last week, assailants loyal to Islamic State forced an elderly Catholic priest in France to his knees before slitting his throat. Since the mass killing in Nice, southern France on July 14, there have been four incidents in Germany, including the most recent suicide bombing at a concert in Ansbach.


Russia, Syria Pledge 'Humanitarian Corridors' Out Of Rebel-Held Parts Of Aleppo

July 29th, 2016  |  Source: NPR

Russian and Syria have said they are opening humanitarian corridors out of besieged, rebel-held areas in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. But NPR has reached civilians in the embattled city who turned back for fear of the ongoing shelling.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in televised remarks Thursday that "Russia and the Syrian government will open humanitarian corridors and offer a way out for opposition fighters wanting to lay down their arms," The Associated Press reported. Shoigu said there would be three corridors for civilian use and another for fighters seeking amnesty.

Forces loyal to the Syrian government seized the last road into rebel-held areas of Aleppo 11 days ago, effectively rendering them completely isolated, as The Two-Way has reported.

And as NPR's Alison Meuse tells our Newscast unit, it's still unclear whether the new "humanitarian corridors" will actually offer any respite to the besieged residents. She spoke with one resident, and has this report:

"Aleppo resident Baraa al-Halabi says he woke up to an offer on state TV. The regime listed four escape routes for people trapped on the rebel side. Halabi says via Internet call he joined a group of families headed to one of the designated corridors. But when they arrived, regime forces fired a fresh round of artillery. No one was hurt and it wasn't clear if the shelling was targeting those fleeing, but they were too afraid to continue. They're among 300,000 people the U.N. says are now cut off from aid in Aleppo."

Aleppo is divided between rebel forces and troops loyal to the government. The rebel-held areas are in the east of the city.

Alison adds that the supposed offer of amnesty has been met with some skepticism. As she reports, "opposition activists say that can mean a ticket to jail, or conscription into pro-regime paramilitary groups."

As The Two-Way reported, activists have been sounding the alarm about a possible humanitarian crisis in the besieged area. It's just one area of Syria where aid is blocked — multiple parties have used siege tactics as a weapon of war over the course of the conflict, which is now in its sixth year.

On the diplomatic front, the U.S. is attempting to work with Russia to push forward with peace negotiations. But there are big questions about how to get there. NPR's David Welna has explained:

"The negotiation would be to end Syria's brutal civil war and set up a transitional government. To get there, Kerry would have the U.S. share intelligence with Russia to target airstrikes against an al-Qaida affiliate called The Nusra Front. In exchange, Russia would prevail on its ally, the regime of Bashar al-Assad, to stop bombing moderate rebel groups and civilians."

Today, Shoigu said that "Moscow is sending a top general and experts to Geneva at the request of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the Aleppo crisis," the AP reported.


U.S. concerned over Israel's settlement activity

July 28th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

The United States is deeply concerned about Israel's reported plans to build an additional 323 units in settlements in East Jerusalem on top of previously announced 770 units in the settlement of Gilo, the U.S. State Department said.

Such action by Israel "continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Wednesday.


Turkey detains more journalists in clampdown on cleric's followers

July 27th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

Turkey ordered another 47 journalists detained on Wednesday, part of a large-scale crackdown on suspected supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of masterminding a failed military coup.

Turkey has suspended, detained or placed under investigation more than 60,000 soldiers, judges, teachers, journalists and others suspected of ties to Gulen's movement since the July 15-16 coup, which was staged by a faction within the military.

Turkey's army General Staff on Wednesday put the number of soldiers belonging to the Gulen network who took part in the coup attempt at 8,651, roughly about 1.5 percent of the armed forces, broadcaster NTV reported.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup.

Turkey's capital markets board said on Tuesday it had revoked the license of the head of research at brokerage AK Investment and called for him to face charges over a report he wrote to investors analyzing the July 15 coup.

Western governments and human rights groups, while condemning the abortive coup in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured, have expressed alarm over the extent of the crackdown, suggesting President Tayyip Erdogan may be using it to stifle dissent and tighten his grip on power.

The detention of journalists ordered on Wednesday involved columnists and other staff of the now defunct Zaman newspaper, a government official said. Authorities in March shut down Zaman, widely seen as the Gulen movement's flagship media organization.

"The prosecutors aren't interested in what individual columnists wrote or said," said the official, who requested anonymity. "At this point, the reasoning is that prominent employees of Zaman are likely to have intimate knowledge of the Gulen network and as such could benefit the investigation."

However, the list includes journalists, such as Sahin Alpay, known for their leftist activism who do not share the religious world view of the Gulenist movement. This has fueled concerns that the investigation may be turning into a witch-hunt of the president's political opponents.

On Monday, media reported that arrest warrants had been issued for 42 other journalists, 16 of whom have so far been taken into custody.


Trump: 'I alone' can fix dark, violent, weak America

July 22nd, 2016  |  Source: The Guardian

Donald Trump stoked the fears of an angry Republican convention on Thursday as he declared himself the law and order candidate in an acceptance speech that took a sharply authoritarian turn.

Promising supporters that “safety will be restored” once he becomes president, Trump sought to harness concern over terrorism and domestic crime to challenge Hillary Clinton on territory that has long proven a reliable rallying cry for parties of the right.

“In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate,” he claimed, encouraging and directing loud chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” like the conductor of an orchestra.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country,” he added.

The four-day convention in Cleveland has seen repeated cries of “lock her up” when Clinton’s name is mentioned, but Trump waved these chants aside as if granting mercy with his hands and urged instead: “Let’s defeat her in November.”

The 75-minute speech pushed familiar buttons. “Illegal immigrants are roaming free to threaten innocent citizens,” Trump told the booing crowd, which responded by chanting “build the wall”.

Another theme of the week in Cleveland has been loud cheers whenever speakers replace the “black lives matter” slogan with “blue lives matter” to signify sympathy for police over African American shooting victims and Trump received a standing ovation when he declared: “An attack on law enforcement is an attack on all Americans”.

The interruption of a protester 23 minutes in prompted Trump to ad-lib: “How great are our police?” as the cries of a woman being removed could still be heard dimly in the distance.




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