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Trump and Silicon Valley elite seek to smooth over frictions | Reuters

By Dustin Volz and David Shepardson
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Silicon Valley executives have a chance to smooth over frictions when they meet at his Manhattan tower on Wednesday for talks, after both sides made no secret of their disdain for each other during the presidential campaign.Sources said the meeting may skirt the numerous disagreements with Trump — who has accused tech companies of being overvalued — in favor of a focus on shared priorities.”If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation, and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology community will be stronger and more competitive than ever,” Oracle Chief Executive Safra Catz, who will attend the meeting, said in a statement.The tech luminaries, including Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) Tim Cook, Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) Sheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors Inc’s (TSLA.O) Elon Musk, will get a chance to promote their priorities like strong encryption and liability protections from content shared by their users.The meeting is billed as an introductory session, said four sources briefed on the talks, all of whom requested anonymity to discuss a private meeting.Other expected participants include Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) Jeff Bezos, Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Satya Nadella, and Ginni Rometty from IBM (IBM.N), sources said.The CEOs of Airbnb and Uber were invited but are not attending. Uber’s Travis Kalanick will instead be traveling in India all week, according to a person familiar with his plans.

‘SOME HESITATION’
Trump clashed with Silicon Valley on several issues during the campaign, including immigration, government surveillance and encryption, and his surprise victory last month alarmed many companies that feared he might follow through on his pledges. He has said that many tech companies are overvalued by investors.”You look at some of these tech stocks that are so, so weak as a concept and a company and they’re selling for so much money,” he told Reuters in an interview in May.Those concerns have not been assuaged in recent weeks as Trump has threatened to upset trade relationships with China, a key market for U.S. tech companies, and appoint officials who favor expanded surveillance programs.

“For some of the companies, there was some hesitation about whether to attend” because of sharp political and personal differences with Trump, one tech industry source said.Nearly 600 employees of technology companies pledged in an open letter on Tuesday to refuse to help Trump’s administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations.Silicon Valley enjoyed a warm rapport with President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Schmidt was photographed on election night at Clinton headquarters wearing a staff badge, and Musk said in interviews before the election that Trump’s character reflected poorly on the United States.

Despite those tensions, Trump named Musk to a business advisory council that will give private-sector input to Trump after he takes office on Jan. 20. Uber’s Kalanick was also appointed to the council.From the employees of the 10 largest Fortune 500 tech companies, Trump raised just $179,400 from 982 campaign donors who contributed more than $200. Clinton raised $4.4 million from the employees of the same companies, with more than 20,400 donations, a Reuters review of contribution data found. Trump publicly bashed the industry during the campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC. Last week, the two Republicans on the panel urged a quick reversal of many Obama policies and one, Commissioner Ajit Pai, said he believed that net neutrality’s “days are numbered.” (Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan, Grant Smith, Heather Somerville, Steve Holland and Jim Finkle; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alistair Bell)

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First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 21:26 IST

Cairo church bombing kills 25, raises fears among Christians | Reuters

By Ahmed Mohammed Hassan and Ali Abdelaty
| CAIRO

CAIRO A bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49, many of them women and children attending Sunday mass, in the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in years.The attack comes as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi fights battles on several fronts. His economic reforms have angered the poor, a bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has seen thousands jailed, whilst an insurgency rages in Northern Sinai, led by the Egyptian branch of Islamic State. The militant group has also carried out deadly attacks in Cairo and has urged its supporters to launch attacks around the world in recent weeks as it goes on the defensive in its Iraqi and Syrian strongholds.There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but exiled Brotherhood officials and home-grown militant groups condemned the attack. Islamic State supporters celebrated on social media. “God bless the person who did this blessed act,” wrote one supporter on Telegram.The explosion took place in chapel, which adjoins St Mark’s, Cairo’s main cathedral and the seat of Coptic Pope Tawadros II, where security is normally tight.At the Vatican, Pope Francis condemned what he called the latest in a series of “brutal terrorist attacks” and said he was praying for the dead and wounded.The chapel’s floor was covered in debris from shattered windows, its wooden pews blasted apart, its pillars blackened. Here and there lay abandoned shoes and sticky patches of blood. “As soon as the priest called us to prepare for prayer, the explosion happened,” Emad Shoukry, who was inside when the blast took place, told Reuters.”The explosion shook the place… The dust covered the hall and I was looking for the door, although I couldn’t see anything… I managed to leave in the middle of screams and there were a lot of people thrown on the ground.”

Security sources told Reuters at least six children were among the dead, with the blast detonating on the side of the church normally used by women. They said the explosion was caused by a device containing at least 12 kg (26 pounds) of TNT. Police and armoured vehicles rushed to the area, as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the compound demanding revenge for the attack that took place on a Muslim holiday marking the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday and weeks before Christmas. Scuffles broke out with police. A woman sitting near the cathedral in traditional long robes shouted “kill them, kill the terrorists, what are you waiting for?…. Why are you leaving them to bomb our homes?”

“EGYPTIAN BLOOD IS CHEAP”
Though Egypt’s Coptic Christians have traditionally been supporters of the government, angry crowds turned their ire against Sisi, saying his government had failed to protect them.”As long as Egyptian blood is cheap, down, down with any president…” they chanted. Others chanted “the people demand the fall of the regime”, the rallying cry of the 2011 uprising that helped end Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.Sisi’s office condemned what it described as a terrorist attack, declaring three days of mourning and promising justice. Al-Azhar, Egypt’s main Islamic centre of learning, also denounced the attacks. Orthodox Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, are the Middle East’s biggest Christian community.

Copts face regular attack by Muslim neighbours, who burn their homes and churches in poor rural areas, usually in anger over an inter-faith romance or the construction of church. The last major attack on a church took place as worshippers left a new year’s service in Alexandria weeks before the start of the 2011 uprising. At least 21 people were killed.Egypt’s Christian community has felt increasingly insecure since Islamic State spread through Iraq and Syria in 2014, ruthlessly targeting religious minorities. In 2015, 21 Egyptian Christians working in Libya were killed by Islamic State.The attack came two days after six police were killed in two bomb attacks, one of them claimed by Hasm, a recently-emerged group the government says is linked to the Brotherhood, which has been banned under Sisi as a terrorist organisation.The Brotherhood says it is peaceful. Several exiled Brotherhood officials condemned the bombing, as did Hasm and Liwaa’ al-Thawra, another local militant group. Coptic Pope Tawadros II cut short a visit to Greece after learning of the attack. Church officials said they would not allow the bombing to create sectarian differences. But Christians, convinced attacks on them are not seriously investigated, say this time they want justice. “Where was the security? There were five or six security cars stationed outside so where were they 12 kg of TNT was carried inside?” said Mena Samir, 25, standing at the church’s metal gate. “They keep telling us national unity, the crescent with the cross… This time we will not shut up.” (Additional reporting by Arwa Gaballa, Amr Abdallah, Mohamed Abdel Ghany and Amina Ismail, and Philip Pullella in Rome; Writing by Amina Ismail and Lin Noueihed; Editing by Ros Russell and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 23:02 IST

Russian doping conspiracy benefited over 1,000 competitors | Reuters

By Mitch Phillips
| LONDON

LONDON More than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive doping tests as Moscow ‘hijacked international sport’, an independent WADA report said on Friday. The second and final part of the report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren provided exhaustive evidence of an elaborate state-sponsored doping scheme operated by Russia’s Sports Ministry.It included switching and changing samples by opening “tamper-proof” bottles – using a method devised by the Russian secret service – and numerous other methods to bypass and cover up drugs tests.”We are now able to confirm a cover-up that dates back until at least 2011 that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy,” McLaren told a news conference on Friday. “It was a cover-up of an unprecedented scale and this report shows the evidence that increases the number of athletes involved, as well as the scope of the conspiracy. “We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes and medal winners, who had their positive results automatically falsified.”Over 1,000 athletes competing in Summer, Winter and Paralympic sport can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive tests.”WADA president Craig Reedie called the findings “alarming” and said the report would be of immediate value to sporting bodies responsible for punishing doping cases.But Russia showed no sign of accepting the report’s conclusions.The Sports Ministry said it would study the WADA report and cooperate fully with anti-doping bodies, but “denies that any government programmes exists to support doping in sport”.”UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS”

Athletics chief Dmitry Shlyakhtin declined to comment directly on the report because he said he had not seen it. He conceded that Russian athletics’ problems “did not start yesterday”, but said it had now fulfilled all the demands made of it.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday extended provisional sanctions against Russian sport over the scandal, and an international ban on its track and field athletes remains in force pending a reform of its anti-doping programme.Yelena Isinbayeva, double Olympic pole vault champion and newly-elected head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency supervisory board, said shortly before the report was released: “It is well known to us that many foreign athletes have a history of doping but compete at an international level with no problems.”If we want to clean up world sport, let’s start … we don’t need to concentrate on just one country.”Dmitry Svishchev, a member of parliament and president of Russia’s Curling Federation, said: “We haven’t heard anything new. Unfounded accusations against us all. If you are Russian, they accuse you of all sins.”McLaren accepted that there could be widespread doping elsewhere, though not on the same level as in Russia, the sole focus of his investigation.

McLaren pointed out that Russia had won 24 gold, 26 silver and 32 bronze medals at London 2012 and no Russian athlete had tested positive.”Yet the Russian team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which will probably never be fully established,” he said.”For years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field.” Forensic investigations by his team detailed how a bank of clean urine samples was kept in a Moscow laboratory, where salt and coffee were added to try to fool officials testing “B samples” in supposedly tamper-proof bottles. DNA MISMATCHES

The report included evidence of DNA mismatches, where a tampered B sample did not match the DNA of previous specimens, and of samples that contained a mixture of male and female urine. It added that analysis of the samples from four Russians who won gold in Sochi had shown salt readings that were physiologically impossible, while there was evidence that the samples of 12 Russian Sochi medallists had been tampered with.More than 1,100 items of evidence contained in the report have now been made available to the public at the website here, including details and pictures of how microscopes were used to detect the tiny scratch marks made when opening the “tamper-proof” sample bottles.Friday’s report provided extensive evidence to support the original July report, which said Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping tests ahead of the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.The IOC declined to impose a blanket ban on Russia competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, letting international sports federations decide which athletes should be allowed to compete. Only athletics and weightlifting banned the entire Russian teams.The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) did ban Russia completely from its Rio games, however, and said on Friday the full findings of the report were “unprecedented and astonishing” and “strike right at the heart of the integrity and ethics of sport”.McLaren accepted that Russian authorities had taken many steps since his first report, removing several officials who had been involved in the cover-up, setting up a new anti-doping commission and proposing a “gold standard” doping control regime.However, when asked about the comments of Svishchev and Isinbayeva, he said: “The findings are not challengeable … my impression is that there is a certain embedded cultural aspect to what has been going on, so there probably does need to be cultural change.”That doesn’t mean change won’t occur, but it might take longer than a few months or a year.” (Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 21:05 IST

British lawmakers back PM May’s Brexit timetable | Reuters

By Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan
| LONDON

LONDON British lawmakers backed Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit timetable on Wednesday after she headed off a rebellion in her Conservative Party over a lack of insight into the government’s strategy to leave the European Union.May has come under pressure from lawmakers, businesses and investors to set out at least a broad picture of how she sees Britain’s future relationship with the EU. She says giving too much away could weaken Britain’s hand in the country’s most important negotiations since World War Two. After a sometimes rowdy session in parliament, lawmakers voted by 448 to 75 to support a motion calling on the government to offer up its Brexit plan, but also backed the government’s timetable to trigger the divorce procedure by the end of March.During the six-hour debate, the opposition Labour Party pressed its motion for a plan setting out the government’s negotiating stance in its talks with the bloc, before Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty is invoked to start the exit process.But by agreeing to the government’s demand for parliament to endorse May’s timetable for Article 50, Labour lawmakers were accused of falling into a trap — allowing ministers to begin the divorce without consultation.

Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer denied the vote was on Article 50. It was a vote, he said, to force the government to offer a plan with “enough detail and clarity to end the circus of uncertainty” over Britain’s future ties to the EU’s single market of 500 million consumers.”Asking for a plan setting out the objectives is not to seek to undermine the UK’s negotiating hand nor is it to seek a running commentary, but it is in fact to have clarity, scrutiny and accountability,” he said.

He said that if the government failed to provide a sufficiently detailed plan, Labour would challenge it again, he said, adding that the party aimed to head off a “hard Brexit”.The answer from government was clear — it was offering information when it could and it would produce a plan. What was not clear was what would be included in that plan.”I will make as much information as possible available without prejudicing our negotiating position,” said David Davis, May’s Brexit minister.

May hopes to stick to her timetable but faces obstacles after a court ruled that the government needs parliament’s assent to invoke Article 50. The government is challenging that ruling in the Supreme Court. A lawyer at the court said that even if parliament did vote in favour of the March deadline, that would make no difference to his case that parliament, not ministers, had the power to authorise triggering Brexit talks. [nL5N1E237L] (editing by Angus MacSwan)

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First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 23:41 IST

Trump’s dilemma: slower job growth or rising rates and inflation? | Reuters

By Howard Schneider
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON A drop in the U.S. unemployment rate last month to a 9-year low signals the risk of a collision between President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to goose the economy and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tap the brakes with higher interest rates.Since Trump’s election, officials at the U.S. central bank have cautiously introduced the possibility that his spending and tax cut plans could prompt a faster pace of rate increases than the two hikes currently foreseen in 2017.An increase is already expected when the Fed meets in two weeks. Fresh economic projections, the first since the election, will also be issued and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a news conference when the meeting concludes on Dec. 14.With November’s decline, the jobless rate is now already below the most optimistic projections from Fed policymakers for where it would stand at year end.If it keeps moving lower, Trump’s spending and tax cut plans may be adding fuel to a tank that’s already brimming. Possible new trade or immigration restrictions could make markets even tighter, and switch the Fed from worrying about the risk of deflation to fighting price rises before they get out of hand.”There is much more than the Trump election driving the … rally that started the day after the election,” Bank of the West chief economist Scott Anderson wrote. “We are seeing signs of a synchronized rebound in the global economy.”

When Fed policymakers issued their last projections in September, the lowest level predicted for the unemployment rate at the end of the year was 4.7 percent. In November, it fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.6 percent.The decline was partly due to a drop in the labor force participation rate, which officials have expected to begin falling again because of an aging population with more retirees. In general, the lower the unemployment rate, the slower the pace of job growth the economy can sustain without pushing up wages and prices too quickly.Policymakers insist they still have time to move rates higher to keep price increases under control. Several officials feel it may even help fix some of the damage from the 2007-2009 recession if inflation moved above the Fed’s 2 percent target for a while. That might, for example, allow steady wage increases to restore some of the ground lost by workers.

However, in recent months even ostensibly dovish officials, like Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, have cautioned that steady rate hikes might be needed to avoid the need for even faster increases that could trigger a recession. “I view a small step up in interest rates as appropriate, not because I want to curtail the expansion, but because I believe it will help prolong the expansion,” Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said on Wednesday..Trump’s victory gives that debate more urgency. His plans for a big infrastructure spending package, tax cuts and tighter controls on immigration could test the limits of what the economy can absorb before overheating.

For a year now, Fed officials have said they expect job growth to slow as the economy nears full employment. It hasn’t happened, meaning Trump will take office at what may be a tough point of inflection: either job creation slows or inflation jumps.Jed Kolko, chief economist at the Indeed job site, said the current pace of job growth and low unemployment rate “sets a baseline for the Trump administration.””Recent wage gains and unemployment declines make this a tough economy to improve on,” he said. (Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Andrea Ricci)

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First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 23:34 IST

In India’s ‘Dollar City’, exploited garment workers are silent – filmmaker | Reuters

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A fish tank with expensive Arowana fish is prominently displayed in many factories making hosiery in the Indian textile hub of Tirupur – the owners believe it will bring them wealth. But any prosperity is limited to factory owners. Few profits trickle down to the tens of thousands of workers they employ, says filmmaker P.R. Amudhan, who has made a documentary that chronicles the plight of those at the bottom of a global supply chain.The name of his film, “Dollar City”, refers to Tirupur city, which is home to an expanding garment industry, one of the pillars of India’s economy – and the foreign exchange it generates through exports.”It is the owners who are receiving, enjoying and consuming the dollars that come into this city, which produces garments for brands across the world,” Amudhan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”The worker earns very little in the city that is often referred to as dollar city. And today, there is complicit silence on the issue, even the super exploited worker is not complaining.”The film has been screened 50 times across India since its release on May 1, to audiences that include manufacturers, workers and policymakers – sparking a debate on what some unions fear is the acceptance of exploitative conditions in the sector.”The documentary has revealed the enormous power wielded by the garment industry, the abominable conditions in which factory workers live and work in Tirupur,” Sujatha Mody, president of Garment and Fashion Workers Union, wrote in a blog after watching a screening with workers in Chennai.

Other viewers were shocked by the urban squalor and poverty in Tirupur.India is one of the world’s largest textile and garment manufacturers serving the international and increasingly, domestic market. Many of the workers employed in the $40-billion-a-year industry are trapped in debt bondage, face abuse or are forced to work long hours in poor conditions, campaigners say.

Traditionally, the dyeing units, spinning mills and apparel factories have drawn on cheap labour from villages across the state of Tamil Nadu to cater to the demand from Western high street shops.”Tirupur is a massive attraction for young workers because the city promises a better future,” said Amudhan.”But if they want to be part of it, they have to follow the script. There is no room for questions or protest, not even when the better future does not materialise.” The documentary, which also explores the government’s complacency in implementing labour laws, featured uncomplaining, muted voices of workers from Tirupur.

“None of the garment workers interviewed in the film spoke of their difficulties,” Mody said. But at screenings in Chennai, New Delhi and Hyderabad, this silence was questioned.”I view it as a collective crime, where everyone is equally responsible, even the worker,” Amudhan said.”It has the workers’ consent, the unions are lethargic, the government is complacent and aspirational manufacturers are busy chasing profits.” (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:16 IST

Netflix allows subscribers to binge-watch shows offline | Reuters

Netflix allows subscribers to binge-watch shows offline | Reuters

Nov 30, 2016 20:21 IST

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Video streaming pioneer Netflix Inc said its subscribers would now be able to download popular shows such as “Orange is The New Black” and “Narcos” on their mobile devices at no extra cost.”While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their ‘Stranger Things’ binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited,” Eddy Wu, director of product innovation, wrote in a blog post.Netflix, whose other popular original shows include “House of Cards” and “The Crown”, has expanded into almost all countries, with China being a notable exception.

The new feature is included in all plans and available for phones and tablets on Alphabet Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS platforms, the company said.More content will be available for offline viewing later, Netflix said.

The company’s shares rose 2 percent to $119.97 in early trading on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:21 IST

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Plane with Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team crashes in Colombia, 75 dead | Reuters

By Fredy Builes and Paolo Whitaker
| LA UNION, Colombia/ CHAPECO, Brazil

LA UNION, Colombia/ CHAPECO, Brazil A charter plane carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its history crashed in the Colombian mountains after an electrical fault, killing 75 people on board, authorities said on Tuesday.Colombia’s worst air disaster in two decades came as the team from Brazil’s top soccer league flew to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League. The plane, en route from Bolivia where the team had a stopover, went down about 10:15 p.m. on Monday night with 72 passengers and a crew of nine on board. It had reported electrical problems and declared an emergency minutes earlier as it neared its destination, Medellin airport officials said.At the crash scene near the town of La Union in wooded highlands outside Medellin, dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage of the BAe 146. The plane was shattered against a mountainside with the tail end virtually disintegrated. Rain hampered dozens of rescuers as they combed the muddy and forested area.Colombia’s civil aviation head, Alfredo Bocanegra, said there were 75 confirmed fatalities, with six injured survivors. They were listed as three players, a journalist and two members of the flight crew. Two of the six were in grave condition.It was the first time Chapecoense, a small club from the southern Brazilian town of Chapeco, had reached the final of a major South American club competition.Brazilian news organizations said 21 journalists had been on board the plane to cover the match.Global soccer was stunned, matches were cancelled around South America, and Brazil declared three days of mourning.”I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families,” President Michel Temer said.Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted his condolences. “Solidarity with the families of the victims and Brazil,” he said.

Colombia’s civil aviation authority named the survivors as players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Hélio Neto; journalist Rafael Valmorbida; air stewardess Ximena Suarez and flight technician Erwin Tumiri.Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last signal from flight 2933 was received when it was at 15,500 feet (4,724 m), about 30 km (18.64 miles) from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2133 m).The BAe 146 was produced by a company that is now part of the UK’s BAE Systems The team flew Brazilian airline Gol to Santa Cruz in Bolivia and then took a flight from there to Medellin on the plane run by a Bolivian-based, Venezuelan-owned company called LaMia. GLOBAL SOCCER WORLD SHAKEN
The crash evoked memories of a series of soccer air disasters in the 20th century, including the Munich crash in 1958 that killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, journalists and travelling officials.

World governing body FIFA said on Twitter its “thoughts were with the victims, their families, fans of Chapecoense and media organisations in Brazil on this tragic day.”Chapecoense qualified for the biggest game in its history after overcoming the Argentine club San Lorenzo in the semi-final on away goals following a 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires and 0-0 draw at home.They were underdogs for the match against a club going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July.Chapecoense was the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue in 2015, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million), according to a list by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.The club has built its success on a frugal spending policy that eschewed big money signings and concentrated on blending young talent and experienced journeymen.”They were the hope of our city,” said Jean Panegalli, 17, a student in Chapeco. “They played for love of the shirt and not for money. They played with the commitment that only those who have lived here know.

“They were ferocious.”Several hundred dejected fans gathered around the team’s Conda stadium in Chapeco, many of them wearing Chapecoense’s green strip. At least one young fan burst into tears”It is still hard to believe what has happened to the Chapecoense team just when it was on the rise,” said Agenor Danieli, a 64-year-old pensioner in the agricultural town of around 200,000 people in Santa Catarina state.”We are in crisis. The town has come to a stop. Companies are giving people the day off so they can come here to the stadium. We need to pray. It still doesn’t feel real.” Chapecoense’s best-known player was Cleber Santana, a midfielder whose best years were spent in Spain with Atletico Madrid and Mallorca. Coach Caio Junior also was experienced, having managed at some of Brazil’s biggest clubs, Botafogo, Flamengo and Palmeiras among them.The crash prompted an outpouring of solidarity and grief on social media from the soccer community, with Brazilian top flight teams Flamengo and Santos tweeting messages of support.Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas tweeted: “My condolences for the plane accident that carried @ChapecoenseReal. Tough moment for football. Good luck and stay strong!”The South American football federation suspended all games and other activities following the crash.It was Colombia’s worst air accident since more than 160 people on an American Airlines plane died in 1995 in a mountainous zone near Cali.($1=3.40 reais) (Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb and Andrew Cawthorne; Additional reporting by Helen Murphy, Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Andrew Downie, Anthony Boadle and Dan Flynn in Brazil, Girish Gupta in Caracas; Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Kieran Murray)

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First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 21:05 IST

Samsung Elec says reviewing shift to holding company structure | Reuters

Samsung Elec says reviewing shift to holding company structure | Reuters

Nov 29, 2016 05:19 IST

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SEOUL Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) said on Tuesday it is reviewing options for its optimal corporate structure including the possibility of establishing a holding company amid growing calls for improved transparency and governance. Samsung, in a statement, said it is also considering the potential benefits of listing its shares on other overseas markets and hired advisers for a thorough review.

“The review does not indicate the management or the board’s intention one way or another,” the company said, adding the review process would take at least six months.

(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 05:19 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Nov 26th, 2016

ENG 78 4 38.0

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NZ vs PAK | Nov 25th, 2016

PAK 83 0 41.2

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Sri Lanka snatch thrilling victory over wasteful Windies | Reuters

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No special favours for Britain, EU lawmakers tell Brexit chief | Reuters

By Alissa de Carbonnel
| STRASBOURG

STRASBOURG European Parliament leaders told London’s Brexit negotiator on Tuesday that Britain should expect to be shut out of cooperation in areas it values once it leaves the European Union.David Davis met Guy Verhofstadt, the EU legislature’s lead Brexit negotiator, and Manfred Weber, a conservative ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who leads the biggest bloc in the parliamentThe European Parliament must approve Britain’s divorce deal.The meetings were part of preparations before British Prime Minister Theresa May triggers negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaty, which she has pledged to do by March. They focused on procedure, but there were hints of clashes to come.Weber voiced impatience with a lack of clarity from May on what she will ask for.In notably harsh terms, he said a suggestion from Davis that Britain remain in or closely tied to the EU’s single market while rejecting free immigration by Europeans or the oversight of EU courts was not workable.”Brexit means Brexit,” he said in Strasbourg, echoing May’s famously opaque definition of what her government will ask for following the June referendum vote to leave the Union.”I see a British government that keeps saying where it wants to cooperate closely and not how it wants to leave the European Union,” he told reporters after meeting Davis.

He said Davis voiced an interest in maintaining economic ties and also close cooperation in areas such as justice and criminal affairs.”So I must stress again: Brexit means Brexit, that means leaving the European Union, that means cutting off relations … and not cherry picking, not special relationships,” Weber said.Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and champion of much closer EU integration, again insisted that Britain could not enjoy the three freedoms of movement for goods, services and capital without the fourth, freedom of labour.He also insisted that the Brexit deal be wrapped up before the next EU legislative elections in May 2019.

UNDERSTANDING PROCESS
Davis, asked if he wanted single market membership, said: “What we are after is that which is in the interest of the Union and in the interest of the United Kingdom: trading interests, business, manufacturing and services and the aim is to make it as open as possible … That’s the clear overarching aim.”He said he found Verhofstadt “a very nice man”. In September, when asked about the Belgian’s appointment, he remarked to a British lawmaker “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

“It is important to … first get to know each other, meet each other, get to trust each other and secondly to understand the structures,” he told Reuters after the meetings, a day after talks in Brussels with Michel Barnier, who will lead the overall negotiations run by the executive European Commission.Despite general efforts to maintain politeness on both sides, there were reminders in Strasbourg of the anger many European politicians feel toward Britain’s Brexit campaigners.Weber lashed out at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for having told Turkey he would help it join the EU after he had used the prospect of Turkish accession to urge British voters to leave the bloc to avoid immigration by Turks.”It’s unbelievable, it’s a provocation and it’s arrogant,” he said.Verhofstadt derided both fellow European Parliament lawmaker and Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who suggested on Tuesday that May name Farage her U.S. envoy.”One clown in Washington is more than enough,” Verhofstadt told the chamber. (Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 23:38 IST

McDonald’s investor renews push for antibiotic reduction in all meat | Reuters

By Lisa Baertlein

A McDonald’s Corp shareholder is redoubling efforts to convince the fast-food chain to stop all of its global restaurants from serving the meat of animals raised with antibiotics that are vital for fighting human infections.More than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for livestock use. Scientists have warned that the routine use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent illness in healthy farms animals contributes to the rise of dangerous, antibiotic-resistant “superbug” infections, which kill at least 23,000 Americans each year and pose a significant threat to global health.The Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, is asking directors at McDonald’s to prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics in its global poultry supply chain. McDonald’s already has adopted that policy for the chicken served in its U.S. restaurants. The group is also asking the fast-food chain to set global targets and timelines for switching to pork and beef raised without the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics.

Just over 20 percent of McDonald’s shareholders voted in favor of a similar proposal at this year’s annual meeting.The sisters aim to have shareholders vote on the new proposal at McDonald’s 2017 annual meeting.

McDonald’s told Reuters it continues “to engage with key experts, including some who serve as advisors to the World Health Organization (WHO), to advance progress across the industry.” The company said its current policy “provides guidance to our suppliers in parts of the world where the industry does not yet have systems in place that would allow them to verify compliance throughout the supply chain.”

The sisters are part of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which along with ShareAction, Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative and As You Sow, also are targeting companies such as Sanderson Farms and Yum Brands Inc with similar campaigns aimed at preserving the efficacy of antibiotics. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 21:42 IST

Google CEO to meet with EU antitrust chief on Friday | Reuters

Google CEO to meet with EU antitrust chief on Friday | Reuters

Updated: Nov 17, 2016 01:10 IST

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By Foo Yun Chee and Julia Love

The chief executive of Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and the European Union’s antitrust chief will meet on Friday, following the U.S. technology group’s formal rejection this month of a spate of charges, including blocking rivals in online search advertising.Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will meet in Brussels with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Guenther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, as the final stop in a short tour of the continent, spokespeople for Google and the EU confirmed. Last week, Google General Counsel Kent Walker argued that the company’s Android operating system helps competition, rebutting charges that the firm uses the platform to crush rivals. The Mountain View, Calif., company also rejected charges that it unfairly promoted its shopping service and blocked rivals in online search advertising.

EU regulators are expected to rule next year on those issues, potentially ordering Google to change its business practices and levying huge fines. The case has hung over Google since the European Commission opened its investigation six years ago, following complaints from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and other rivals. The Android case poses a keen risk to Google as the operating system has yielded about $22 billion in profit for the company since its release in 2008, an Oracle Corp lawyer told a U.S. court in January.

Pichai last met with Vestager and Oettinger in February, shortly after he was named chief executive of Google.

During a visit to London earlier this week, Pichai announced an expansion of Google’s presence in the city, saying he was optimistic about Britain’s future as a tech hub, despite the uncertainty caused by the nation’s vote to leave the European Union in June. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Julia Love; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 01:10 IST

Jaguar Land Rover says half of its new cars will have electric option by 2020 | Reuters

Jaguar Land Rover says half of its new cars will have electric option by 2020 | Reuters

Updated: Nov 17, 2016 00:52 IST

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LONDON Half of all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be available in an electric version by the end of the decade, Britain’s biggest carmaker said on Wednesday, after showcasing its first electric car this week. The automaker, owned by India’s Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), unveiled the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE Concept SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The model is due to hit the streets by 2018, in a sign of how car manufacturers are seeking to tap growing demand for more environmentally-friendly vehicles. “We are shaping the future, developing our own approach to autonomy, connectivity and electrification to offer our customers more choice,” said Chief Executive Ralf Speth.

Last year, Jaguar Land Rover said it would double the size of its powertrain engineering centre in central England to support the development of more low-emission vehicles, the fastest growing market for new cars in Britain.

Speth told Reuters in September that it would make sense for the firm to build both electric batteries and vehicles in Britain. The company said cleaner diesel and petrol engines and plug-in hybrid vehicles were also part of its plans.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Potter)

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First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 00:52 IST

RBI chief sees no disruption with phasing out of high value banknotes | Reuters

RBI chief sees no disruption with phasing out of high value banknotes | Reuters

Updated: Nov 8, 2016 22:06 IST

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Iraqi villagers celebrate freedom from Islamic State, but still haunted by terror | Reuters

By Michael Georgy
| FADILIYA, Iraq

FADILIYA, Iraq When Kurdish fighters cleared Islamic State from the northern Iraqi village of Fadiliya, some residents celebrated by passing around cigarettes – an act that would have earned them a public whipping under the group’s reign of terror.Peshmerga forces took the village on Thursday as they advanced towards Mosul, Islamic State’s last main stronghold in Iraq which lies about four km (2.5 miles) away.As the fighters moved through the streets and greeted villagers, there was no longer any sign of the jihadists, alive or dead. Their fear easing, local people began speaking openly for the first time about their two years under Islamic State occupation.”If you are caught smoking you get whipped with a water hose 50 times in public,” said Othman Mahmoud, as his friend handed around a pack of cigarettes with a smile.A teenager joined the gathering, describing a code imposed with ferocity on every aspect of personal life, right down to facial hair.”If you are caught growing sideburns you get whipped 25 times,” he said. “There were so many things we could not do.”Young men in their 20s all had beards of similar length to meet the demands of the group which captured Fadiliya during a lightning sweep of northern Iraq in 2014.One of them had complied with the beard rules, but was still punished after getting into a harmless argument with a friend while playing soccer. He was publicly whipped on the dirt pitch.The short distance away in Mosul, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi walked into a mosque two years ago to declare a caliphate and himself as the leader of the world’s Muslims.

Now Iraqi and Kurdish forces are recapturing territory as part of the offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State, which is known by its opponents in Arabic as Daesh. The battle for Iraq’s second city is expected to be the biggest since a U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.Several residents and a peshmerga commander said it took only about 50 militants to control Fadiliya, whose population once numbered 5,000 before many villagers fled, so pervasive was fear of the group.HIDDEN CELLPHONE
After 10 days of pressing the jihadists, Kurdish forces took full control after firing mortar rounds at their positions on Thursday. Residents had hung up white flags on their homes, hoping to avoid being targeted by airstrikes.

Children joyfully ran through the streets singing songs and chanting “peshmerga”, “peshmerga”, “peshmerga”. One peshmerga fighter named Ahmed arrived at his home to see his loved ones for the first time in two years.His sister stood in the doorway and wept and screamed while looking up to the sky. “Daesh ruined our lives. Look what they have done to us,” she said.Ahmed’s brother-in-law described how the family had taken risks to make contact with him every 25 days. Possession of a cellphone was punishable by torture, or worse, he said.

“We kept the cellphone hidden and only used it to call him. But we hid in a room and whispered,” said the brother-in-law, Wasim Abdullah. “Islamic State had a habit of climbing over people’s walls at night for surprise inspections of homes.”The jihadists appeared to have melted away. “Some of them escaped through tunnels,” said a peshmerga commander.But there were plenty of reminders of what they had done – cars that had been blown up, demolished buildings, bullet holes. “They kill. They kill,” said a 12-year-old girl named Nour.Villagers said they had not seen any public executions or beheadings – Islamic State’s favourite method of spreading fear.They noted, however, that people were often taken to Mosul for the maximum punishment, and word always got back to Fadiliya so that threatening notes that Islamic State distributed would keep everyone on edge.As more and more people came out of their homes to taste freedom that had been unthinkable for so long, Khalid Abdel Hafiz tried to hold back tears as he recalled a knock on his door one week ago. The militants took away his 19-year-old son Ihsan along with 14 other young men.”They just showed up and said ‘we have security orders from high up’,” he said. “I have no information about Ihsan. I am resigned to the fact I will never see him again.” (editing by David Stamp)

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Twitter plans to cut about 300 jobs: Bloomberg | Reuters

Twitter plans to cut about 300 jobs: Bloomberg | Reuters

Updated: Oct 25, 2016 06:06 IST

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Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) may cut 8 percent of its workforce or about 300 people, Bloomberg said on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. The job cuts could be announced before the company reports third-quarter earnings on Thursday, and the number of jobs affected could change, Bloomberg said. bloom.bg/2dErHcFThe company could not be reached immediately for comment. Last year, Twitter announced plans to lay off up to 336 employees, or about 8 percent of its workforce, a week after Jack Dorsey, its co-founder who had been serving as interim chief executive, took over as permanent CEO.

Twitter, which last month hired bankers to field acquisition offers, faces an uncertain future after Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N), the last of the companies believed to be interested in buying the company, said it would not make a bid.With a market cap of about $12.76 billion and losses running at about $400 million a year, Twitter was likely judged too expensive by prospective buyers.

The company said in September it would lay off some employees and halt engineering work at one of its development centers in India’s technology hub Bengaluru.Twitter on Monday said it rescheduled the release of its third-quarter earnings to before the market open on Thursday to avoid conflicting with earnings announcements by other internet companies. It had originally planned to release results after the market close.

The company had 3,860 employees globally as of June. (Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

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Microsoft adjusted revenue, profit beat Street; shares hit record level | Reuters

Microsoft adjusted revenue, profit beat Street; shares hit record level | Reuters

Updated: Oct 20, 2016 21:10 IST

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Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) reported adjusted revenue and profit that blew past analysts’ estimates on Thursday, as soaring sales from its cloud business pushed the technology giant’s shares to an all-time high.Microsoft’s shares rose 5.8 percent to $60.59 in after-hours trading.The Redmond, Washington-based company said revenue from its flagship cloud product Azure, which businesses can use to host their websites, apps or data, rose 116 percent.”There’s a huge runway for them to show growth,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director of Global Equities Research, noting the market for cloud services will be controlled almost entirely by Microsoft and larger rival Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).Revenue from Microsoft’s overall “Intelligent Cloud” business, which sells computer services and storage to corporate customers, rose 8.3 percent to $6.38 billion.This beat analysts’ average estimate of $6.27 billion, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross said, “Microsoft is uniquely positioned for the hybrid cloud world… because they can move (from the) data centre all the way up into the public cloud with Azure.”Under Chief Executive Satya Nadella, Microsoft has been focusing on cloud services and mobile applications as growth slows in its traditional software business.Nadella orchestrated Microsoft’s biggest-ever deal, reaching an agreement in June to buy LinkedIn Corp (LNKD.N) for $26.2 billion.

Worldwide PC shipments fell 3.9 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to research firm IDC, although that was much less than the 7.1 percent it had previously estimated.Revenue in the unit that includes Windows software and the company’s struggling mobile business fell 1.8 percent to $9.29 billion.

Net income fell to $4.69 billion, or 60 cents per share, from $4.90 billion, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier. (bit.ly/2eW79l4)Excluding items, Microsoft earned 76 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of 68 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.On an adjusted basis, Microsoft reported revenue of $22.33 billion, above the average estimate of $21.71 billion. (Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru and Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Don Sebastian, Bernard Orr)

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Fire in private hospital in eastern India kills 14 | Reuters

Fire in private hospital in eastern India kills 14 | Reuters

Updated: Oct 18, 2016 01:12 IST

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By Jatindra Dash
| BHUBANESHWAR

BHUBANESHWAR At least 14 people died on Monday when a fire broke out at a private hospital in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, officials said.The fire erupted inside the dialysis ward of the SUM hospital’s critical-care unit in the state capital Bhubaneswar, public health officials said.Ambulances ferried more than 120 patients to other facilities for treatment, officials said while firemen brought the flames under control.

Some patients were still in critical condition.”We are trying our best to save lives,” said Arti Ahuja, principal secretary of Odisha’s health and family welfare department.

He confirmed the death toll of 14 though local news channels said more than 20 people had died.Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the tragedy “mind-numbing” and directed the federal health minister to facilitate transfer of those injured to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a group of government hospitals.

“Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire,” Modi said on Twitter. (Writing by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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Bolt sets last race in Jamaica for June | Reuters

Bolt sets last race in Jamaica for June | Reuters

Updated: Oct 14, 2016 22:58 IST

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KINGSTON, Jamaica Jamaica’s Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt will run his last race on home soil at June’s Racers Grand Prix before retiring from competition two months later, he said on Friday.The 30-year-old, who won the 100 metres at this year’s Racers Grand Prix, has already said he plans to retire from the sport after the Aug. 5-13 world championships in London having won nine Olympic gold medals.“The Racers Grand Prix will be my last race in Jamaica people, it will be the last time I run in Jamaica,” Bolt told Television Jamaica’s “Smile Jamaica” morning magazine programme.The Racers Grand Prix will be held on June 10.

The Jamaican, who drew down the curtain on his Olympic career in August by securing a sweep of the sprint titles for a third successive Games, will resume training next month.

Bolt has wild card entries for both the 100 and 200 metres at the worlds but remains undecided on whether he will run one or both events, saying only it will be his last competition.”Yes I am definitely going to retire after the world championships in London, that will be my last one,” said Bolt.

(Editing by Ed Osmond and Frank Pingue)

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Syria’s Assad says taking Aleppo from rebels key to pushing ‘terrorists’ back to Turkey | Reuters

By Jack Stubbs and Ellen Francis
| MOSCOW/BEIRUT

MOSCOW/BEIRUT Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said on Friday that the Syrian army’s capture of Aleppo, which has come under renewed bombardment in an effort to seize its rebel-held sector, would be “a very important springboard” to pushing “terrorists” back to Turkey.Rescue workers said that Syria’s military backed by Russian warplanes had killed more than 150 people in eastern Aleppo this week, in support of its offensive against the city.Rising casualties in Aleppo, where many buildings have been reduced to rubble or are lacking roofs or walls, have prompted an international outcry and a renewed diplomatic push, with talks between the United States and Russia planned for Saturday.”You have to keep cleaning this area and to push the terrorists to Turkey, to go back to where they come from or to kill them. There’s no other option,” Assad said in an interview with Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.”Aleppo is going to be a very important springboard to do this move,” added Assad.As the air strikes and shelling of the city’s east intensified after a brief period of relative calm, Syria’s government approved a United Nations plan to allow aid convoys into the most besieged areas of Syria, with the exception of Aleppo. Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year, has killed 300,000 people and left millions homeless while dragging in regional and global powers as well as inspiring jihadist attacks abroad.Assad is backed by the Russian air force, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and an array of Shi’ite militias from Arab neighbours, while Sunni rebels seeking to oust him are backed by Turkey, the United States and Gulf monarchies.Assad also told the newspaper that the country’s civil war had become a conflict between Russia and the West.”What we’ve been seeing recently during the last few weeks, and maybe few months, is something like more than Cold War,” Assad said. “I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not something that has existed recently, because I don’t think that the West and especially the United States has stopped their Cold War, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.”Assad added that Turkey’s actions in Syria constituted an “invasion, against international law, against the morals, against the sovereignty of Syria.” ‘MAY AMOUNT TO WAR CRIMES’

As air strikes killed 13 people on Thursday in the rebel-held Aleppo districts of al-Kalaseh, Bustan al-Qasr and al-Sakhour, according to a civil defence official, European Union foreign ministers drafted a statement accusing Syria and its allies of violence that “may amount to war crimes.””Since the beginning of the offensive by the (Syrian) regime and its allies, the intensity and scale of aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate,” a draft of their statement seen by Reuters said.Syrian and Russian governments say they target only militants.To the south, hundreds of insurgents and their families have left two rebel-held towns on the northern outskirts of Damascus, residents and fighters said, under a deal with the government which is pushing its opponents to rebel areas further from the capital.The evacuation happened after the army gave community leaders in Qudsiya and Al-Hama – which had enjoyed relative calm under local truces – an ultimatum to get several hundred fighters out of their towns or face a wide-scale assault.”They gave us little option: Leave or all hell breaks loose,” said Yousef al Hasnawi, a resident on the local rebel council.The Damascus government says such amnesties are a “workable model to bring security and peace,” but its opponents say forcing Sunni Muslim fighters and their families from their hometowns could create new demographic frontiers and worsen sectarian tensions.

OBAMA TO REVIEW OPTIONS
U.S. President Barack Obama and his senior foreign policy advisers are expected to meet on Friday to consider military and other options in Syria, U.S. officials told Reuters.Some officials argue the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State.U.S. officials said they considered it unlikely that Obama would order U.S. air strikes on Syrian government targets, and stressed that he may not make any decisions at the planned meeting of his National Security Council.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Switzerland on Saturday to resume their effort to find a diplomatic solution along with counterparts from some Middle Eastern countries.

Moscow called on Thursday on states in the region not to supply portable anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian rebel groups, warning that any unfriendly actions against Russian forces would draw an appropriate response. ‘IT’S GOING ON NOW’
Air strikes against rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo had tapered off over the weekend after the Syrian army announced it would reduce raids for what it described as humanitarian reasons, but they have intensified since Tuesday.”The bombing started at 2 a.m. and it’s going on until now,” Ibrahim Abu Laith, an official at the civil defence rescue organisation in Aleppo, told Reuters from the city.Rescue workers said 154 people had been killed in recent days. Reuters could not independently verify the death toll.Aleppo has been divided between government- and rebel-controlled areas for years. More than 250,000 people are believed to be trapped in eastern Aleppo – the anti-Assad rebels’ most important urban stronghold – facing shortages of food, fuel and medicine.In Geneva, the United Nations said Damascus had partially approved its aid plan for October, giving the green light for convoys to 25 of 29 besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria, which are also deprived of some vital supplies.But the Syrian government did not give approval for either eastern Aleppo or three districts near Damascus, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, the United Nations’ deputy special envoy to Syria, said on Thursday, describing the situation as “dire.” In a government-held area of western Aleppo, at least four children were killed and 10 wounded on Thursday when shells landed near a school, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Syrian state news agency SANA said the school in the al-Suleimaniya area had been targeted in what it described as a terrorist attack. (Additional reporting by Tom Perry in Beirut, Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman, Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay in Washington, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Kylie MacLellan in London, Jack Stubbs in Moscow, Gabriela Baczynska in Luxembourg and Maha El Dahan in Abu Dhabi; writing by Angus McDowall in Beirut and Peter Cooney; editing by Peter Millership, David Stamp and G Crosse)

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U.S. optimistic climate deal will cut HFC gases | Reuters

U.S. optimistic climate deal will cut HFC gases | Reuters

Updated: Oct 13, 2016 01:32 IST

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WASHINGTON Senior State Department officials said on Wednesday they were “optimistic” that a deal on cutting greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosols can be struck during meetings in Rwanda this week.”We are optimistic about reaching an agreement,” a senior State Department official said as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left to join negotiations in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.About 150 nations are meeting in Kigali from Oct. 10-14 to try to agree a phase down of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases. A quick reduction of HFCs could be a big contribution to slow climate change, avoiding perhaps 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) of a projected rise in average temperatures by 2100, scientists say.An HFC accord would be the third big step this month to curb global warming after the 2015 Paris Agreement and comes less than a month before the U.S. presidential election.

India, in particular, has been under pressure to agree to speed up its plans for cutting HFC’s. It wants a peak in poor nations’ rising emissions only in 2031 to give industries time to adapt.The United States believes that India would negotiate in good faith during the Kigali talks, the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said Indian President Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama had committed in June to achieving a successful outcome of the Kigali talks.The HFC talks are part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which succeeded in cutting the use of chlorofluorocarbons to help protect the ozone layer, which shields the planet from ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Euro 2016: Germany cruise into last eight with 3-0 Slovakia win | Reuters

LILLE, France Germany thumped Slovakia 3-0 with goals from Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler to cruise into the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Sunday and confirm their status as tournament favourites with a sparkling performance.

Central defender Boateng, who had been passed fit after an injury, connected perfectly with a clearance in the eighth minute to volley home from 25 metres for his first international goal as the world champions took control from the start.

The Germans, who next face either holders Spain or Italy, saw Mesut Ozil’s weak 13th minute penalty saved but Gomez made no mistake two minutes from halftime when he tapped home a perfect cut back from the marauding Julian Draxler.

Draxler, coming into the starting lineup for the lacklustre Mario Goetze, was then left with far too much space at the far post to volley in their third just past the hour as the Germans kept a fourth straight clean sheet at the finals.

Comfortable with either foot, the winger utilised his speed and intelligence to good effect, helping his side pin the Slovaks in their own half for much of the opening period.

DEFLECTED VOLLEY

Boateng opened the scoring with a deflected volley following a corner and ran to celebrate with team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt, who helped him recover from a muscle injury sustained in their last group game with Northern Ireland.

Ozil’s weak penalty, well saved by Matus Kozacik, was one of the few blemishes in an otherwise superb Germany performance.

Slovakia may have got the better of the Germans in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly but, apart from a few forays forward, they were all at sea.

Five minutes before halftime Juraj Kucka forced a flying save from Germany captain Manuel Neuer as he sent Peter Pekarik’s cross toward the top corner.

Germany hit back immediately, Draxler turning Kucka inside out before squaring for Gomez to stab the ball home from close range to make it 2-0.

Slovakia were marginally better in the second half but when the excellent Draxler hooked a volley into the top corner in the 63rd minute there was no way back.

Draxler and Boateng were replaced by Lukas Podolski and Benedikt Hoewedes nine minutes later as the game took on the air of a friendly with Germany’s place in the last eight against Spain or Italy already booked.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris)

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Brexit decision piles pressure on Tata British steelworks | Reuters

LONDON Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant has moved a step closer to closure following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but buyers remain interested, industry sources said on Friday.

Liberty House, management buy-out vehicle Excalibur Steel Limited and up to five other entities entered bids for Tata Steel’s British operations, which employ around 11,000 people.

But the sources said the combination of a possible merger between Tata and Germany’s Thyssenkrupp’s and uncertainty following Britain’s referendum vote raised the chances Tata would close its biggest British plant.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one industry source said a German merger, repeatedly reported in the German press, would make Port Talbot “vulnerable straight away”.

“The second thing is we’ve had a Brexit and the prime minister is going to step down,” he said, adding that put another “question mark over Tata’s future involvement here.”

Industrial sources have already said the logical step would be to focus on Tata’s other European operations, which have managed a profit despite difficult conditions.

That concern is greater following Brexit, the sources said, and raised the risk Tata would close the Welsh plant.

“Would they want to sell their assets to someone else as opposed to supplying the UK market from their own European operations?” one source asked.

Thyssenkrupp’s works council chief on Friday said he was not aware of any agreement in principle to merge its European business with Tata.

A Tata Steel spokesman in Britain declined to comment on what he said was speculation.

In a statement from India on Friday, Tata said access to markets and a skilled workforce would remain important considerations for its businesses in Britain.

“Each company continuously reviews its strategy and operations in the light of developments, and will continue to do so,” the spokesman said.

Tata has 19 independent companies in Britain, including luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover and steel plants.

Both the auto sector and the construction industry, which the steel industry supplies, are highly vulnerable to the economic fallout of market volatility and a drop in the pound’s value, analysts say.

Tata’s shares fell 6.4 percent on Friday and Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, fell nearly 8 percent.

Gareth Stace, director of industry body UK Steel, said the Brexit decision would be a major shock that argued for all major projects to use British steel.

“The decision to leave the European Union will send shockwaves across the UK’s steel industry. Our sector is well versed in having challenges thrust upon it, but it’s clear that this is like no other,” Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel, said.

Britain is among the countries that have delayed reforms put forward in Brussels to strengthen EU trade defenses and help the steel industry.

Eurosceptic media have blamed Brussels for preventing London from taking greater steps to protect the industry while the opposition Labour Party called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to save the plants.

Neath Port Talbot, home to Tata’s biggest steelworks, supported Brexit by 57 per cent, more than the nation as a whole.

Analysts say any government would be expected to do everything possible to avoid the closure of a plant the size of Port Talbot. A rule of thumb is that for every one job in the steel industry, four further jobs are created in related industries.

(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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Britain’s Leave campaign struggles to persuade ethnic minorities on Brexit | Reuters

LONDON At a limestone North London temple under the image of the Hindu god Krishna, a British Asian minister is striving to persuade ethnic minorities to support leaving the European Union with a message of ‘fair’ immigration and stronger ties to the Commonwealth.

Despite polls showing Black and Asian Britons are more pro-EU than the rest of the population, prominent Brexit campaigner Priti Patel has led the charge to win over the fastest growing section of the electorate ahead of Thursday’s referendum.

Leave campaigners have used worries about migration from the EU to tell millions of voters whose families hail from former British colonies that a Brexit could make it easier for people to come to Britain from places where their family roots lie.

Whilst there is free movement for EU citizens, some British Asians are particularly unhappy at visa rules that apply to non-EU migrants, making it difficult to bring over relatives for social functions or staff for restaurants.

“This is about having an immigration policy that brings fairness back and takes discrimination off our Commonwealth countries and off communities like the Indian community, the Pakistani community,” Patel told Reuters, as a dozen praying women in colourful traditional dress chanted at the temple.

There is no official definition of an ethnic minority but 14 percent of people in England and Wales identified themselves as non-white in the 2011 census, and nearly 20 percent said they were not white British, a sizeable group that could sway the outcome of a vote which polls show is too close to call.

But the murder of British lawmaker Jo Cox, who had backed refugee causes, has raised concerns about the tone of the debate on immigration and could make some minority voters think twice about backing the Brexit campaign, experts and voters said.

A poster bearing the message: “Breaking Point: The EU has failed us all” against a drop of a long line of refugees, unveiled by the leader of the anti-EU UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, also damaged support among minorities.

At the East London Mosque, one of the largest Muslim places of worship in Europe, one voter said she had been leaning “70 percent” towards backing Brexit until Cox’s murder, which helped tip her in favour of continued membership.

“It made me think that if she is someone who is saying that we should stay in, someone of her character then that’s the right decision to go with,” said 33-year-old Zinia Khan, who works in the voluntary sector.

“You’ve got people like Nigel Farage with that poster and then you’re thinking: What are they going to change? How are they going to make things more difficult for people from black and ethnic minorities… and you feel safer if you’re in.”

Farage, who apologised for any offence caused but not for the content of the poster, has repeatedly denied accusations that UKIP is racist. “It was the truth,” he said on Wednesday.

“NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION”

Black and Asian voters tend to back the pro-EU opposition Labour Party, and the little available polling data and previous voting habits suggest the Brexit campaign has faced a difficult battle to win over minority support.

Whilst polls show Britons evenly split on the eve of the vote, four surveys which provided a breakdown by ethnicity showed that half or more of minorities want to remain in the EU compared to between a quarter and a third who back Brexit.

Only around 20 percent back Brexit according to the most recent nationwide findings from the British Election Study (BES) conducted between April 14 and May 4, similar to the 28 percent who supported an exit in a May 2015 Survation poll.

A YouGov poll taken this month in London, the most diverse part of Britain, showed 52 percent of non-white Londoners backed EU membership, compared to 46 percent of white respondents.

Maria Sobolewska, a specialist in ethnic minority public opinion at Manchester University, said while many minorities backed tougher rules on immigration, they did not trust some of the leading campaign figures such as Farage.

“They don’t like the messengers,” she told Reuters.

“They do have to worry about what it means to hand these people a win and whether it would lead to more isolationist policies but they certainly think: these people are not friendly to minorities.”

While many minority voters share concerns felt by some white Britons about the impact of immigration on the National Health Service (NHS) and housing, polling shows they are less worried about the cultural impact.

“What we know in election studies is that the main difference on issue preferences, which are very similar – jobs, the economy, the NHS – is that immigration ranks lower,” said Sunder Katwala, director of non-partisan think-tank British Future, which focuses on migration and identity.

Demographic factors could also help explain higher support for EU membership among ethnic minority communities which the Brexit campaign could find difficult to overcome.

Britain’s black and ethnic minorities are younger on average than the white British population, with younger voters among the most pro-EU regardless of background.

There are also distinct differences between Britain’s ethnic communities, many of whom hail from disparate Commonwealth nations in Africa and Asia, according to both the British Election Study and the Survation poll.

Only 42 percent of Bangladeshi Britons want to stay in the EU compared with 63 percent of those from a black African background and 65 percent of Chinese voters, according to BES.

British Indians, the country’s biggest ethnic minority group numbering some 1.4 million people, are marginally more pro-European than the wider population but half said they would either back Brexit or had yet to make up their minds.

“I think the Asian community is divided in the sense that they haven’t got enough information,” said Conservative Councillor Manji Kara, outside the Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir temple near Wembley Stadium during Patel’s visit.

A supporter of Brexit, he said his scientist son wanted to stay in the EU and that many others in the Asian community were leaning to remaining in the EU without all the facts.

“Quite a few of the people think they should vote for ‘In’ without actually realising what’s in it for them if they stay in or what are the benefits of getting out,” Kara said.

(Editing by Paul Taylor)

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Germany beat Northern Ireland 1-0 to win group | Reuters

PARIS Germany’s Mario Gomez scored in the first half to secure a 1-0 win over a stubborn Northern Ireland side and a place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 as Group C winners on Tuesday.

The world champions dominated the game at Parc des Princes and had created several chances when Gomez, starting his first match in the tournament, earned the points with a deflected effort from inside the box on the half-hour.

Germany advance from the section with seven points from three games and a better goal difference than Poland, who beat already-eliminated Ukraine 1-0 to qualify in second place.

Northern Ireland, making their first appearance at a European Championship, finished third on three points and may still reach the knockout stage as one the four best third-placed teams although their fate is out of their hands.

(Reporting by Patrick Vignal; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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