Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Indiana Girl Scout shot on cookie outing recovering; sales surge

(Reuters) – The shooting this week of a 9-year-old Indianapolis girl who was on her way to deliver Girl Scout cookies has generated strong cookie sales for her troop as she recovers from her injury, a scout official said on Thursday.

Sinai Miller was walking to the nearby clubhouse of her family’s apartment complex on Tuesday to pick up cookies for delivery when she was struck in the leg by a stray bullet, said Sergeant Kendale Adams of the Indianapolis Police Department.

The gunfire, from a nearby vehicle, did not target Miller, and no one else was wounded, Adams said. Police are looking for suspects, he said.

Miller was treated at a hospital and returned home on Tuesday night, he said.

Girl Scouts of Central Indiana created a Web page called Cookies for Sinai to help her meet her sales goal. The response has been overwhelming, the organization’s chief executive officer, Deborah Hearn Smith, said in a statement on Thursday.

“While we are more focused on Sinai’s well-being, we are thrilled to report that the proceeds from the troop’s current sale will pay for a fun and educational trip for the girls,” Smith said in an email.

The cookies sell for $4 per box. The organization declined to say how many cookie orders the website had generated, citing the Miller family’s privacy.

Smith said communities must be made safer for all children.

“We cannot complete our mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place when they are afraid to play in their own neighborhoods,” she said in a statement on Facebook on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

I'm a technology disaster, pope confesses

Pope Francis smiles as he talks to a camera linked with Argentina as he leads a meeting for the 4th World Congress of Educational Scholas Occurrentes in the Synod hall at the Vatican February 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis smiles as he talks to a camera linked with Argentina as he leads a meeting for the 4th World Congress of Educational Scholas Occurrentes in the Synod hall at the Vatican February 5, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi


(Reuters) – Pope Francis, who has called the internet a “gift from God,” confessed via Webcam to an inquisitive girl on Thursday that he is a disaster with technology and does not know how to use a computer.

Alicia, from Spain, who took part in a worldwide Google Hangout for children with special needs, asked the pope if he liked to take pictures and download them on his computer.

“I have to tell you the truth. I am a disaster with machines,” he said. Francis used the Spanish word “tronco”, or tree trunk, which is colloquially used for someone who is very clumsy, or a disaster at something.

“I am not able to use computers,” the 78-year-old Argentine pope said, laughing. “What an embarrassment, right?”

Last year Francis said in a message on communications that the internet was a “gift from God” that could help unite people but he also has warned families to shut off their smart phones and talk more to each other.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

Norway, one of world's richest nations, drops plan to ban begging

(Reuters) – Norway’s government dropped a plan to ban begging on Thursday after opposition parties and rights campaigners said it would criminalize anyone offering help to the poorest people in one of the world’s richest nations.

The opposition Centre Party dropped its previous support of the proposed law, leaving the minority right-wing government — which has linked begging to rising crime rates — without a majority to get it through parliament.

The legislation would have banned both begging and “cooperation” with beggars, with fines or up to a year in jail, in an attempt to outlaw gangs suspected of organizing trips for homeless people from nations including Romania.

But the Centre Party said the clause outlawing cooperation could threaten simple acts of charity.

“It cannot be a crime to give clothes, food and shelter,” Marit Arnstad, head of the party’s parliamentary group, told the NTB news agency. She said the party would now not support any national ban on begging, no matter how it was phrased.

Rights campaigners have also described the law as draconian and against Nordic traditions of tolerance.

Deputy Justice Minister Vidar Brein-Karlsen told Reuters the proposed law had now been dropped. “Everyone knows begging creates debate, and we can only note that the Centre Party has changed their standpoint,” he said in a statement.

The Centre Party has often cooperated with the two-party coalition in cracking down on crime.

Last year the three linked begging to an increase in crime, saying in a joint statement that there had been an “explosion” in pick pocketing in Oslo to match the number of cases in Berlin, which has seven times the population.

Norway, rich from oil and gas, has a sovereign wealth fund worth $860 billion, or $170,000 for each of Norway’s 5 million population. Last year, the government passed a law allowing local municipalities to outlaw begging in public places.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

UNICEF says 300,000 displaced by Malawi floods, double previous estimate

A deserted shop is seen in flood waters in Chikwawa district, in southern Malawi, January 13, 2015. REUTERS/World Food Programme /Handout via Reuters

A deserted shop is seen in flood waters in Chikwawa district, in southern Malawi, January 13, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/World Food Programme /Handout via Reuters


NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Malawi, almost twice as many as previously estimated, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

Floods triggered by weeks of heavy rains have affected more than 1 million people, killed 276 and injured more than 600, according to new figures released by the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) unit.

“With these new numbers…we need to take stock of our response to ensure all children and families have access to emergency services and supplies,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s country representative in Malawi.

“We are carefully monitoring how displaced children are faring, as we know after one month in crowded camps, disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition can occur.”

UNICEF said its staff are on high alert for water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and malaria and said displacement camps are providing about 56,000 women and children with essential healthcare services.

Heavy rains began in Malawi earlier this month, leading rivers to burst their banks and creating flash floods.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest and most densely populated countries, and about 85 percent of its 17.5 million population are farmers living in rural areas.

Rain is still falling in the flooded areas, preventing many of those displaced from returning to their homes.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Tim Pearce)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

Amsterdam aims to give prostitutes shared ownership in brothels

(Reuters) – Amsterdam is looking for an investor to buy five buildings where sex workers can work collectively in their own prostitution business, a spokesman for the city’s mayor says.

Currently, prostitutes in the city work individually, renting the windows where they stand on view for prospective customers from the brothel owners.

But this system leaves women vulnerable to pimps. City authorities hope the sex workers will be safer if they can work together in a building rented and run by a business they own. HVO-Querido, a foundation that teaches sex workers business skills, will help them run their enterprise.

“We’re looking for a third party, a social entrepreneur, to buy these buildings and let them to the prostitutes,” said spokesman Jasper Karman, adding the city might consider letting buildings itself if no investor could be found.

“Sex workers have told us they want this,” he said. “And it would provide a decent revenue for a third party.”

The five buildings, in the heart of the prostitution zone, would offer 19 work spaces for about 50 prostitutes.

The red light district attracts floods of tourists, but many in the city object to the sex work image.

In recent years, the city has been buying up brothels and turning them into shops.

But critics say reducing the number of windows for rent has driven up prices, forcing sex workers onto the street or into private flats where they are more vulnerable.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

Slovak conservatives seek to bar gay marriage in referendum

(Reuters) – Social conservatives in Slovakia aim to block gay couples from gaining more rights in a referendum on Saturday that pits the country’s mainly liberal city dwellers against those in the more traditional countryside.

The campaign is part of a conservative pushback in eastern Europe against what they see as overly liberal policies spreading eastwards in the two decades since the European Union expanded to include former Communist states.

More than 400,000 Slovaks, nearly 10 percent of the central European country’s electorate, have signed a petition demanding a national vote. It is a rare show of political engagement in a country where people often shun public affairs – a mere 13 percent voted in the European Parliament election last year.

The vote will not change the legal status quo on same-sex unions but rather could cement opposition to any changes. Gay unions of any sort are not legal in Slovakia; two attempts to push them through parliament failed in the past.  

Last year, parliament inserted the definition of traditional marriage into the constitution.

The group behind the referendum, Aliancia pre rodinu (Alliance for the Family), says the traditional family is under threat and points to an increasing number of countries including neighboring Austria and the Czech Republic that allow various forms of same-sex unions, or child adoption by gay couples.

“In many countries you feel that people are walking away from the family, they do not consider it to be an important value,” said Anton Chromik, an attorney who has taken time off from his practice to help lead the movement.

“Slovaks want to say that for them it is the most important thing in their life.”

The referendum poses three questions: whether marriage can only be a union of a man and a woman, whether same-sex couples should be banned from adoptions, and whether children can skip classes involving education on sex and euthanasia.

CATHOLIC CHURCH BACKS “YES” CAMPAIGN

Croatia held a similar referendum in 2013 while in neighboring Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has championed traditional family values.

The “yes” campaign has a powerful backer: the local Catholic Church, which has actively campaigned for the referendum.

Sixty-two percent of Slovaks say they are Catholics, although less than 40 percent of those attend mass regularly.

This makes the country one of the most religious in Europe on the surface, yet it does not seem to fundamentally affect the way people live. Statistics show that the percentage of children born out of wedlock is only slightly lower than in neighboring Czech Republic, which is one of the least devout nations in Europe, and the number of births per woman are even lower.

Opponents are telling Slovaks to stay at home on referendum day, which would bring turnout below 50 percent needed to make the result valid, even if the vast majority of those who vote will endorse all the questions as expected.

Politicians, apart from the opposition Christian Democrats who fully endorse the referendum, have largely refrained from taking a strong stance. Leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico has said he would take part but not how he would vote.

Low turnout would please gays, especially in many Slovak towns outside the capital where their lives can be difficult.

“People still live in hiding. The minority is invisible outside Bratislava,” said Martin Macko of gay rights group Inakost. “Those who have education often move to the Czech Republic or Austria.”

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

At least nine killed when TransAsia plane crashes into Taiwan river

Rescuers pull a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane which crash landed in a river in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang


(Reuters) – At least nine people were killed and dozens were unaccounted for after a Taiwanese TransAsia Airways plane with 58 passengers and crew on board crash-landed in a Taipei river on Wednesday, officials and domestic media said.

Dramatic pictures taken by a motorist and posted on Twitter showed the plane cartwheeling over a motorway close to the airport soon after the turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft took off.

Television footage showed passengers wearing life jackets wading and swimming clear of the river.

Emergency rescue officials in inflatable boats crowded around the partially submerged fuselage, lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board.

The civilian aeronautic authority said soon after the crash that two people had been killed. Taiwanese television later reported the death toll had risen to nine.

The aeronautics authority reported 16 people had been rescued, meaning as many as 33 people were still missing.

Other Taiwanese government authorities said the plane was carrying 58 passengers and crew, including 31 tourists from mainland China.

The weather appeared to be clear when the plane took off. Television pictures also showed some damage to a bridge next to the river, with small pieces of the aircraft scattered along the road.

The crash-landing is the latest in a string of mishaps to hit Asian carriers in the past 12 months. An AirAsia jet bound for Singapore crashed soon after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board.

Also last year, a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared and one of its sister planes was downed over Ukraine with a combined loss of 539 lives.

TransAsia is Taiwan’s third-largest carrier. One of its ATR 72-500 planes crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island last year, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.

The plane involved in Wednesday’s mishap was among the first of the ATR 72-600s, the latest variant of the turboprop aircraft, that TransAsia received in 2014.

They are among an order of eight placed by TransAsia in 2012. The aircraft have 72 seats each. The planes are mainly used to connect Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to the island’s smaller cities.

The airline also operates Airbus A320 and A330 planes on domestic and international services.

ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italy’s Finmeccanica services.

(This story was refiled to correct typographical error in paragraph 2)

(Additional reporting by Siva Govindasamy in SINGAPORE; Editing by Paul Tait and Ed Davies)


Source: Newsjyoti World

Seven dead as commuter train hits car near New York City

A car sits crushed into the front of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro North Railroad commuter train near the town of Valhalla, New York, February 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar


(Reuters) – A crowded New York commuter train struck a car near suburban White Plains during Tuesday evening’s rush hour, sparking an explosion and a fire that killed seven people, officials said.

Six passengers on the train died, as well as the driver of the car, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference after visiting what he said was a devastating scene.

“This is a truly ugly and brutal sight. The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the (rail) car, it’s a devastatingly ugly situation to see,” he told reporters.

“It’s actually amazing that not more people were hurt on that train,” Cuomo said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, known as MTA, said there were at least 12 serious injuries on the train after it hit a Jeep Cherokee that was stuck on the tracks at 6:30 p.m.

The MTA said 400 passengers from the eight-car train were taken to a rock-climbing gym for shelter. The average number of people on the train is 650, the MTA said.

Reuters witnesses said emergency workers were seen carrying someone off the train on a stretcher at 9:45 p.m. as dozens of fire and police vehicles flooded the area with lights.

Media reports said the driver of the car got out briefly to try to push it off the tracks, then got back into the car before it was hit by the train.

The train left Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan at 5:44 p.m. and was headed north to Wassaic in southeast New York state.

The MTA said parts of the train line would remain closed on Wednesday morning. It was arranging for shuttle buses to fill the gap and warned of crowds and delays for thousands of commuters.

(Additional reporting by Mike Segar in Mount Pleasant, David Gaffen in New York, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago and Peter Cooney in Washington and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Eric Walsh and Ken Wills)


Source: Newsjyoti World

Jordan executes two Iraqi militants in response to pilot's death

Relatives of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh hold pictures of him as they join students during a rally calling for his release, at Jordan University in Amman February 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed


(Reuters) – Jordan executed by hanging on Wednesday a jailed Iraqi woman militant hours after Islamic State fighters released a video appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive in a cage, a security source and state television said.

The militants had demanded the release of the woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, in exchange for a Japanese hostage who was later killed.

Responding to the killing of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, the Jordanian authorities also executed another senior al Qaeda prisoner sentenced to death for plots to wage attacks against the pro-Western kingdom in the last decade.

Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people. It was the worst Islamist suicide attack in Jordan’s history.

Ziyad Karboli, an Iraqi al Qaeda operative, who was convicted in 2008 for killing a Jordanian, was also executed at dawn, said the security source, who declined to be identified.

Islamic State had demanded her release in exchange for the life of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. However, Goto, a veteran war reporter, was later beheaded by the group, with images of his death released in a video last Saturday.

But the kingdom had insisted that they would only release the woman, whose tribal Iraqi relatives were close aides of the slain Jordanian leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi whom Islamic State hold in high esteem as their mentor, as part of a deal to release the pilot.

Jordan said on Tuesday after it confirmed the death of the pilot that he had been killed a month earlier to counter domestic criticism that it could have done more to engage Islamic State in a deal that could have saved his life.

Jordan, which has been mounting air raids in Syria as part of the U.S.-led alliance against Islamic State insurgents, said it would deliver a “strong, earth-shaking and decisive” response to the killing of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh.

The fate of Kasaesbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the country’s Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and some Jordanians have criticized King Abdullah for embroiling them in the U.S.-led war they say was waged to serve the West’s interests against Muslims.

Some also felt it could provoke a militant backlash.

Several politicians and lawmakers have called on the government to pull out of the coalition. The authorities said his death would not weaken resolve to fight militant Islamist groups.

The king cut short a visit to the United States to return home following word of Kasaesbeh’s death. In a televised statement, he said the pilot’s killing was an act of “cowardly terror” by a deviant group that had no relation to Islam.

The Jordanian pilot is the first from the coalition known to have been captured by Islamic State.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)


Source: Newsjyoti World

Oil slips after four-day rally on demand concerns, high stocks


A worker prepares to fill a car at a gas station close to Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes


A worker prepares to fill a car at a gas station close to Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, January 12, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes


(Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Wednesday as renewed concerns over global demand and high stock levels halted a rally that pushed up prices by about 19 percent over the past four sessions.

The recent rebound was driven by hopes that prices may have hit a bottom after a seven-month rout slashed oil futures by nearly 60 percent and prompted major energy firms to cut spending on new production. But weak data from key consumer China has rekindled demand concerns, dragging on oil prices.

“A steady stream of news regarding falling capital expenditure from the industry and a drop in U.S. oil rigs in operation appears to be the spark,” ANZ analysts said. “While sentiment appears to have shifted, volatility will remain high.”

Brent crude was 50 cents lower at $57.41 a barrel by 0336 GMT (10.36 p.m. EST), after gaining almost 6 percent on Tuesday and off a near six-year low of $45.19 reached in mid-January.

U.S. crude was down 95 cents at $52.10 a barrel. The contract settled up 7 percent in the previous session, after trading at as high as $54.24 earlier in the day – more than $10 above than a near six-year low of $43.58 reached last week.

Estimates by industry group American Petroleum Institute that U.S. crude stockpiles rose more than 6 million barrels last week also helped drive prices lower on Wednesday. [API/S]

Oil major BP and top Chinese offshore energy producer CNOOC Ltd said on Tuesday they would deepen capital investment cuts this year to adapt to lower oil prices.

The outlook for oil demand has also been muddied by recent data showing China’s services sector grew at the slowest pace in six months in January.

However, some say lower oil prices will spur economic growth, which will boost demand for commodities including oil.

“Low oil prices and cheap money will lead to stronger global economic growth and much stronger oil demand than conventional wisdom would suggest,” PIRA Energy said in an email.

It forecasts global oil demand to grow by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2015, but warns the current supply surplus will overwhelm demand for the next six months.

A U.S. refinery strike at nine plants with about 10 percent of the country’s refining capacity was set to go into its fourth day, after Royal Dutch Shell Plc failed to agree with union leaders over a new wage contract for refinery workers.

(Editing by Joseph Radford)


Source: Newsjyoti World