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Showing posts from September, 2017

Rich would benefit most from Trump tax cut plan: policy group

The wealthiest Americans would benefit the most from President Donald Trump’s proposed tax cuts while many upper middle-income people would face higher taxes, independent experts said on Friday in the first detailed analysis of the plan.
A U.S. Senate panel took Trump’s proposal, announced on Wednesday, a step forward by unveiling a budget plan for the coming fiscal year that acknowledges lost revenues from tax cuts, while Trump pressed ahead with selling the plan to the public.
A report from the non-profit Washington-based Tax Policy Center found that in 2018, about 12 percent of taxpayers would face a tax increase of roughly $1,800 on average.
That includes more than a third of taxpayers making between about $150,000 and $300,000, mainly because most itemized deductions would be repealed including for state and local taxes, it said.
Its analysis showed that the Republican tax proposal would fuel the growing federal deficit, providing $5.99 trillion in tax cuts while reducing federal rev…

Iranian, Iraqi government forces to hold joint border drills - Iran TV

Iranian and Iraqi central government forces are to hold joint military exercises near their borders, Iran’s state television reported on Saturday, as part of Tehran’s effort to support Baghdad after the Kurdish independence referendum.

State television quoted a military spokesman as saying the decision to hold the war games was taken at a meeting of Iranian military commanders which also “agreed on measures to establish border security and receive Iraqi forces that are to be stationed at border posts”.

EU declines to rank rival bids for agencies leaving Britain over Brexit

The European Commission has shied away from ranking which cities should host Europe’s drugs regulator and banking authority after Brexit, saying the decision is up to the 27 member states which will remain.
The EU executive said its assessment, published on Saturday, was wholly based on the information provided by governments in their bidding war to host the two agencies, which will be forced to relocate from Britain when it leaves the bloc.
“It (the assessment) respects the member states’ decision that the criteria should be unweighted and does not provide a ranking or shortlist of any kind,” the Commission said in a statement.
Nineteen member states have bid to host the European Medical Agency (EMA) and eight want the European Banking Authority (EBA).
The final say on where to move the agencies rests with EU leaders who will try to reach a deal at their next summit in three weeks’ time, with a final decisions a month later.
Candidate cities will be appraised based on their ability to hav…

U.N. agrees international experts to probe Yemen war crimes

The United Nations agreed on Friday to establish a group of eminent experts to examine all human rights violations commmitted in Yemen’s war and to identify those responsible.
In a last-minute compromise hammered out between Western powers and Arab countries, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted by consensus without a vote a resolution which the Yemen delegation said it accepted.
“A credible international investigation is necessary in order to comprehensively, transparently, independently and impartially establish facts and circumstances surrounding violations with a view to put an end to the cycle of impunity in Yemen,” the Dutch delegate told the forum on behalf of a core group of Western states.

Pyongyang shown no interest in talks: State Department

North Korea has shown no interest in pursuing talks on its nuclear and missile programs, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the United States was communicating directly with Pyongyang.

“North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Syrian army, allies seize more of Jordanian frontier: report

The Syrian army and its allies seized control of nine positions at Syria’s border with Jordan, expanding their control at the southern frontier, a military news outlet run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Saturday.
The captured border positions were located to the southeast of Damascus, the report said, adding that militants had been killed and wounded during the attack. 
It did not identify the insurgents, or say when the positions had been captured.
Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi‘ite group, is fighting in support of the Syrian government, which is making rapid territorial gains against insurgents in southern and eastern Syria.

U.S. directly communicating with North Korea, seeks dialogue

The United States said on Saturday it was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs but Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.
The disclosure by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a trip to China represented the first time he has spoken to such an extent about U.S. outreach to North Korea over its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.
“We are probing so stay tuned,” Tillerson told a group of reporters in Beijing.
“We ask: ‘Would you like to talk?’ 
We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. 
We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout.”
He said that communication was happening directly and cited two or three U.S. channels open to Pyongyang.
“We can talk to them. We do talk to them,” he said, without elaborating about which Americans were involved in those contacts or how frequent or substantive they were.
The goal of any initial dialogue would be simple: finding out directly from North Korea what it wants to discuss.

Puerto Rico oversight board asks Washington for more aid for island

Members of the board in charge of resolving Puerto Rico’s debt crisis met this week with Trump administration officials and members of the U.S. Congress to ask for more financial assistance for the hurricane-struck island, the panel said on Saturday.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that filed for the biggest-ever U.S. local government bankruptcy in May, was devastated when Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean island 11 days ago, wiping out power, water and communications systems.
The Financial Oversight and Management Board, named in August to resolve the island’s debt and economic crisis, said in a statement that Puerto Rico needs money to address the immediate humanitarian crisis as well as rebuild its destroyed infrastructure.
In the meetings this week in Washington, board members asked for caps on individual aid programs to be lifted and local government cost-sharing requirements to be waived.
“Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria,” Jose Carrion, the board’s chairman, said…

UK economy cools in three months to September but outlook better: CBI

Growth across Britain’s private sector cooled slightly in the three months to September, an industry survey showed on Sunday, although companies were mostly upbeat about their prospects for the next three months.
The Confederation of British Industry’s monthly indicator of output for manufacturers, retailers and services companies slipped to +11, down from +14 for the three months to August.
“Growth in the economy has held steady through the summer, although at a slightly slower pace than expected by many firms,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.
The expansion eased in factories and fizzled out in business and professional services firms, the CBI said. 
Distribution was the only sector to experience faster growth, following a strong performance from retailers.
Despite the mixed readings, overall output expectations for the next three months edged up to +18, up two points from August.
The CBI survey is unlikely to sway Bank of England rate-setters who have said interest rates are l…

Catalans prepare to defy Madrid in banned independence vote

Tens of thousands of Catalans are expected to defy Spanish authorities and attempt to vote in a banned independence referendum on Sunday, raising fears of unrest in the wealthy northeastern region.
The referendum, declared illegal by Spain’s central government, has thrown the country into its worst constitutional crisis in decades and raised fears of street violence as a test of will between Madrid and Barcelona plays out.
In a sign of how the planned vote has polarized the country, thousands of pro-unity demonstrators gathered in Spain’s major cities, including Barcelona, to express their fierce opposition to Catalonia’s attempt to break away.
In the region itself, hundreds of supporters of the referendum spent the day with their children playing football, board games and ping pong in schools, traditionally used as voting stations in Spain, to keep them open until voting starts at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Sunday.
The government said just a small percentage of schools were occupied, however, …

Canada has spent $110,000 to avoid paying $6,000 for indigenous teen's orthodontics

Days after Justin Trudeau told the United Nations that his government was working hard to improve the quality of life for indigenous peoples in Canada, it has emerged that his government spent more than C$110,000 ($88,000) in legal fees to avoid spending C$6,000 on orthodontics for a First Nations teenager suffering from chronic pain.
The figures, released through the Access to Information Act, were made public by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday. 
They relate to a continuing court battle that has pitted the federal government against Josey Willier, a teenager from Sucker Creek First Nation, who for two years complained of chronic headaches and jaw pain stemming from an impacted tooth and a severe overbite.
In 2014, two orthodontists warned that without braces, Willier would eventually need invasive jaw surgery. 
One noted that Willier’s condition would probably worsen and could leave her with difficulties in eating and speaking.
For help in paying the C$6,000 treatment, the…

Tear gas fired as anti-G7 protesters clash with police in Turin, Italy

Hundreds of activists have descended on the northern Italian city of Turin to protest against the G7 ministerial meetings which have been held in a cordoned-off area. 
Police have deployed tear gas to prevent demonstrators from entering the closed area, Italian media reports.
People came from Pisa, Bologna and other Italian cities to protest while the G7 ministerial meetings were being held at the local UNESCO World Heritage site, the Palace of Venaria Reale, Italy's Repubblica newspaper reported Saturday.
Police officers allowed demonstrators to reach an area some one mile away from the palace, but would not let the protest go any further and blocked all streets leading to the meeting venue, according to the newspaper.
Clashes broke out between protesters trying to reach the site and officers holding the police line. 
Firecrackers were reportedly thrown at the officers, with police responding with tear gas to stop demonstrators from getting any closer to the G7 site.
A police helicopte…

Kurdistan Government Views Suspension of Flights by Iraq as Blockade

The Kurdistan Regional Government reacts the Iraq's suspension of all international flights to and from Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports.
The Kurdistan Regional Government considered the decision of the Iraqi authorities to suspend flights to the autonomous region as a "collective punishment" and a blockade, according to a statement published on the government's website on Saturday.
On Friday evening, all international flights to and from Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports were suspended by the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA). 
The decision to ground flights followed the refusal of the Kurdistan government to transfer control of Kurdistan regional border posts and airports to the Iraqi central government after a referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan's independence, held earlier this week.
"The closure of the Kurdistan Region airports is a collective punishment and a blockade against the entire population of Kurdistan. 
It demonstrates the continued legal and humanitari…

Physicists Make First Ever Intercontinental Conference Via Quantum Satellite

The international community might have a chance to fully protect conversations against hacking or wiretapping as new breakthrough communication technology might soon be in use.
Previously it was reported that two physicists from China and Austria conducted the first intercontinental video conference using quantum technology.
This conference is an important step toward ensuring the security and confidentiality of conversations and negotiations and protecting them from possible hacking or wiretapping.
"Private and secure communications are fundamental human needs," a Chinese Academy's statement reads. 
"In particular, with the exponential growth of internet use and e-commerce, it is of paramount importance to establish a secure network with global protection of data.
Earlier, long-distance conversations using quantum technology were limited due to technical reasons. 
But now this problem can be resolved, with the new technology being potentially of great demand in the gover…

Catalonian Referendum: 'Losing Barcelona Could Be a Big Problem for Spain'

On Sunday, Catalonia is expected to hold a referendum. Radio Sputnik discussed Catalonia's upcoming referendum on independence from Spain with Dr. Oriol Bartomeus, a professor of political science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
This referendum “is a last step of a long run, which started in 2010 when the most important Catalan law that was made together with the Catalan Parliament and Spanish Parliament just passed through the Supreme Court and it was cut by the judge and that created the feeling of anger in Catalonia because it gave them a sense that Spain doesn’t care about what Catalonia wants,” Bartomeus said.
He said that this feeling has been growing in the hearts of Catalonians since then.
According to the poll, released by the National newspaper, if the Spanish government were to boycott the referendum, 83 percent of voters would cast their ballots for independence, with turnout reaching 62 percent. 
Therefore, the total number of voters who would say "yes&qu…

Facebook May Introduce 'Facial Recognition' Amid Testing New Features

The social media giant, Facebook, is planning to test new features and partner up with news organizations.
Following the iPhone’s introduction of a facial recognition feature on their newest phones, Facebook is aiming to introduce this futuristic tool too.
However, this feature will be available on devices that were previously used to sign in on the social network. 
According to Facebook, it will enhance security and along with two-factor authentications will help confirm a user’s identity.
In some cases, when restoring an account, Facebook will also ask to identify photos of friends on the social network.
It is still unknown when Facebook plans to introduce this feature for its users. 
As TechCrunch reported, at this stage the company plans to find out how useful this feature is and how safe is it from hackers.
Facebook is also about to start its news subscriptions, which will allow readers to subscribe to news organizations directly through Facebook.
Prominent news outlets that will report…

Puerto Rico Mayor Criticizes Trump for Mediocre Disaster Response

US President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for his response to an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico in the wake of Category 4 Hurricane Maria, which knocked out electricity to over one million people.
On Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that 42 percent of the population is without drinkable water and over 10,000 people are living in 161 shelters.
The mayor of Puerto Rico's largest city, San Juan, criticized Trump on Saturday, after begging for additional federal assistance, and contrasted the administration's response with that of Goya, an American foods producer, which donated 200,000 pounds of food.
"We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy," Carmen Yulín Cruz said Friday at a news conference.
"This is what we got last night: four pallets of water, three pallets of meals and 12 pallets of infant food — which I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking of…