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Squashed between Arabia and Eurasia – why the ground shakes so often in Iran

Earthquakes are very common in Iran and Iraq. That's where the Eurasian and Arabian Tectonic plates meet and where the Zagros mountain range developed – the location of the latest quake. The epicenter of the earthquake on November 12, 2017 was in the middle of the Zagros Mountains in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, near the Iraqi town of Halabja. It reached a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale. Shaped by forces of nature The mountain range reaches from the border with Turkey all the way down to the strait of Hormus. It grew because the Arabian Plate submerges under the Iranian Plate at a speed of 3.5 centimeters per year. The Iranian Plate is also considered a "micro plate," because it is actually a part of the larger Eurasian plate, albeit somewhat separated. Between the Eurasian and Arab Plates it is practically squeezed - like in a vice. That's why the mountain range keeps rising. Read more: - Mexico City honors earthquake victims in Day of the Dead parade - UNESCO mulls endangered status for historic Vienna, Nepal valley - China says North Korea earthquake a 'suspected explosion' The Zagros emerged along with the main high mountain ranges of the northern hemisphere - the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Caucasus and Himalayas. Also, plate tectonics at the same time resulted in islands such as Sumatra and Java. This process started about 100 million years ago, reaching a highpoint in speed of growth around 20 million years ago. Today, the mountains continue to grow, albeit much slower. First big quake in Kermanshah No comparable earthquakes have been recorded in the immediate area of the current epicenter in Kermanshah province. While there are examples of historical quakes in the larger region of Iran and Iraq, none have occurred in that specific part of the mountain range. More often, the earth shook in the northern regions of Iran - close to the Caucasus. That's were an earth quake near Tabriz in 2012 reached a magnitude of 6.4. Also, along the Caspian Sea, earthquakes are more common. Near the cities of Rudbar and Rasht, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 took more than 40,000 human lives in 1990. It was one of the heaviest quakes Iran has ever experienced. The epicenter was roughly 400 kilometers north of the current quake. In the border region with Turkmenistan, the border is also shaking often, as was the case repeatedly near town of Shar-e Qumis. On the Iraqi side, several severe earthquakes have been recorded, including one in 871, in the town of Wasit with about 20.000 victims, and another in 1007 in Baghdad. Both towns are about 250 kilometers away from the latest quake, and neither is located in the mountains. Seismographs are recording the magnitude of earth quakes. Those above 6.0 are very serious. Vast endangered area The area in which earthquakes can take place in the Zagros mountain range is huge. In 2003, an earthquake with magnitude 6.6 devastated the city of Bam - more than 800 kilometers south of the latest quake. In 2006, there was a tremor of magnitude 5.8 directly at the strait of Hormus, and in 2010 another one far in the south - in the province of Kerman. "What is special about Iran is that the seismic belt in the collision zone extends to a very vast area," seismologist Torsten Dahm from the German Research Center for Geosciences, GFZ Potsdam, told Deutsche Welle. The area where earthquakes can strike is more than 1600 kilometers long and 400 kilometers wide. "It is not one single sharp plate boundary, but there are numerous fracture zones," Dahm explains. "That's what makes Iran different from the subduction zones." Subduction zones are plate boundaries where huge oceanic plates submerge under the continental plates, deep under the earth's mantle - like around the Pacific Ring of Fire. That's where earth quakes are often even stronger - sometimes with magnitudes exceeding 9.0 on the Richter scale. But that does not mean, however, that the seismic danger for people living in Iran is any less grave. After all, there is an important difference between these geologic formations: "At the Iranian collision zone, the tectonic plates push into each other in more shallow layers. Therefore, there are earthquakes in small depth of only 15 to 30 Kilometers," Dahm says. In the Pacific, however, quakes can emerge in depths of several hundred kilometers. "And, for example, an earthquake in a small depth will cause considerably more damage than another earthquake of the same magnitude in a greater depth," the seismology professor says. The bottom line for Iran remains; the seismic danger is high throughout the country.

Earthquakes are very common in Iran and Iraq. That’s where the Eurasian and Arabian Tectonic plates meet and where the Zagros mountain range developed – the location of the latest quake. The epicenter of the earthquake on November 12, 2017 was in the middle of the Zagros Mountains in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, near the Iraqi town of ... Read More »

PESCO: EU paves way to defense union

The majority of EU nations have committed to a joint defense cooperation, focusing on military operations and investments. Europe is looking to cement unity, especially since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Defense and foreign ministers from 23 European Union countries signed up to a plan to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which will allow countries to cooperate more closely on security operations and building up military capability. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a "historic moment in European defense." "This is the beginning of a common work - 23 member states engaging both on capabilities and on operational steps, that's something big," Mogherini said. The decision to launch PESCO indicates Europe's move towards self-sufficiency in defense matters instead of relying solely on NATO. The EU, however, also stressed that PESCO is complimentary to NATO, in which 22 of the EU's 28 countries are members. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the launch, saying that he saw it as an opportunity to "strengthen the European pillar within NATO." Stoltenberg had previously urged European nations to increase their defense budget. "I'm a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO," Stoltenberg said. Who is involved? Under the scheme, EU member states will be able to develop greater military capabilities, invest in joint projects and increase the readiness of their troops. Participation in PESCO is voluntary for all of the EU's 28 member states 23 countries have signed up to the plan Ireland, Portugal and Malta are still undecided whether or not to join Denmark, which has a special opt-out status, is not expected to participate The United Kingdom, which is scheduled to leave the EU in 2019, is not part of PESCO either but can still choose to take part in certain aspects even after Brexit - if that participation is of benefit to the entire EU. Those who didn't sign initially can still join at a later date and countries not living up to their expected commitments could be kicked out of the group. With the notification signed, a final decision to launch the defense cooperation framework is expected in December. The reaction from Germany German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said it was important for Europe to stand on its own feet when it comes to security and defense - "especially after the election of the US President," referring to President Donald Trump's dismissive attitude towards NATO. "If there is a crisis in our neighborhood, we have to be able to act," she said. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel meanwhile also lauded the agreement as "a great step toward self-sufficiency and strengthening the European Union's security and defense policy – really a milestone in European development." Gabriel said that working together under the framework of PESCO was "more economical than if everyone does the same. I think that European cooperation on defense questions will rather contribute to saving money - we have about 50 percent of the United States' defense spending in Europe, but only 15 percent of the efficiency."

The majority of EU nations have committed to a joint defense cooperation, focusing on military operations and investments. Europe is looking to cement unity, especially since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Defense and foreign ministers from 23 European Union countries signed up to a plan to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which will allow countries to cooperate ... Read More »

North Korean soldier shot trying to defect to South

A North Korean soldier was shot and wounded as he made it to a South Korean controlled border post. It was a rare defection at the only point where soldiers from the two sides stand just meters from each other. A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Monday by bolting across the border truce village of Panmunjom, the only place along the heavily-militarized Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where the two sides stand face-to-face. The North Korean soldier was shot and wounded by his own side before reaching the section controlled by South Korea. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital. There was no exchange of gunfire between the two sides, but South Korea said its forces were put on alert. North Korean soldiers occasionally try to defect across the heavily-fortified DMZ, but it is rare for defections at Panmunjom. Read more: - North Korea: From war to nuclear weapons - North Korean defector pushes for diplomacy in US testimony - What is China's role in the North Korean crisis? Cold War relic Unlike the rest of the DMZ, the border post at Panmunjom has no mines or barbed wire and is only separated by a low concrete barrier. Soldiers from each side stand only a few meters (yards) away from each other. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said that soldiers at the border post are often chosen for their loyalty to avoid defections. More than 30,000 North Koreans have fled the hermit country since it was split 1948. Most attempts to flee are made through China before defectors go to South Korea. Separately on Monday, South Korean police arrested a 58-year-old American man from Louisiana in a restricted zone apparently trying to reach North Korea. Yonhap reported the American man wanted to cross to the North for "political purposes." He is being investigated by the army, intelligence services and police.

A North Korean soldier was shot and wounded as he made it to a South Korean controlled border post. It was a rare defection at the only point where soldiers from the two sides stand just meters from each other. A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Monday by bolting across the border truce village of Panmunjom, the ... Read More »

Britain must avoid ‘fatal’ hard Brexit, European business leaders warn

برطانیہ کے یورپی یونین سے اخراج کے نگران وزیر ڈیوڈ ڈیوس نے کہا ہے کہ لندن میں ملکی حکومت برٹش پارلیمان کو یہ موقع دے گی کہ وہ بریگزٹ کے حتمی معاہدے پر ووٹنگ کر سکے۔ انہوں نے پیر کی شام پارلیمنٹ سے خطاب میں کہا کہ عوامی نمائندوں کو یہ موقع ملے گا کہ وہ بریگزٹ کے حتمی معاہدے پر بحث کرتے ہوئے اس کا تنقیدی جائزہ لے سکیں اور اس پر رائے شماری بھی ہو سکے۔ لندن حکومت کا یہ اقدام حکمران قدامت پسند پارٹی کے بریگزٹ کے حوالے سے باغی ارکان کو بظاہر کچھ رعایت دینے کی کوشش ہے۔

Theresa May has met European business leaders, who warned that a ‘no deal Brexit’ would be catastrophic. Fifteen business groups were in London to seek reassurance over the future of UK-EU trade. A hard Brexit would be “fatal” for industry, a group of leading European business representatives have warned Theresa May during talks in London on Monday. They urged the ... Read More »

Germany football coach Joachim Löw: ‘My role is to be a visionary’

Germany are aiming to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup since 1938. In an exclusive interview with DW, Germany coach Joachim Löw reveals how he plans to achieve that and how he views his role. DW: We would like to start with the future. Joachim Löw: The future? Then I need to go because I am not a fortune teller. Maybe we could dream a little and philosophize, perhaps a bit about how to become world champions again. But I have some bad news for you: the chances are, you might not be the 2018 world champions. Only one team has defended their title and that was almost a century ago. Maybe you could explain something: What is so hard about defending a World Cup title? To play at the highest level requires tremendous effort, concentration and above all, never giving up. If you are successful, then it is only human that you are sometimes a bit saturated. You might also lose that hunger which means that others who are more ambitious will knock you off your pedestal. Therefore, the hardest task is to always play at this high level without falling off. What can you do to ensure everyone plays their best? What is your task now? My task is to pay attention to particular situations, inform myself where football is going and of the latest developments. We want to always be trendsetters somehow. We want to be a little bit ahead of other teams. That's why we look into the future. We are also kind of visionaries and sometimes consider totally crazy things, even when they seem a little absurd. But we want to try them once. By the same token we want to keep the pressure consistently high and to establish a certain competition because, in the end, that is what accounts for the extra percentage points. Let's compare the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to this upcoming one. What are the big differences? The temperatures are maybe a little different. It was very warm in Brazil and the kickoff times were also different. We often played at midday in Brazil. We were not as focused from the start because of the heat. No European teams had ever won a title on South American soil up to that point. The entire focus was on Brazil and everyone kind of wanted Brazil to reach the final. We were played a little bit as favorites. In Russia we are maybe the favorite at this tournament — there is no avoiding it. World champions, Confed Cup winners, we played a good qualification. The pressure is always there and I believe it will be even higher in Russia. Can you plan success? To some extent. Without planning there will be no success. In the end, there are maybe some situations where luck and outside influences play a role. But you can get pretty far with a plan, with a clear goal and with consistency. What exactly do you demand from your team, not just the squad? What do you demand so that the whole project in 2018 succeeds and you become world champions once more? It can be expressed in one sentence, even if it may be corny or banal: everyone has to focus 100 percent on his task. What is the head coach? Are you a craftsman? Are you an artist? Are you sometimes also a father? The role of a coach is varied. We have many tasks. To be a visionary that always looks a little bit towards the future: How should the team develop? How should it play at a tournament? Of course you also have to be the contact person for the players, where social competence also plays a role. I am kind of someone who should lead the team and therefore need a certain relationship with my players. On the other hand I am the public relations worker that needs to represent the team and the sport to the outside world. Multilayered and multifaceted. Thank God I have a good team that supports me in every respect. Joachim Löw replaced Jürgen Klinsmann as Germany's coach following the 2006 World Cup. He led Germany to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the first time they won the title since the country reunified in 1990. Germany also won the Confederations Cup in Russia in July of this year and reached the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the final of the 2008 European Championship and the semifinals of the 2012 and 2016 Euros. Löw has also coached at club level in Germany, Turkey and Austria.

Germany are aiming to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup since 1938. In an exclusive interview with DW, Germany coach Joachim Löw reveals how he plans to achieve that and how he views his role. DW: We would like to start with the future. Joachim Löw: The future? Then I need to go because I am ... Read More »

Pacific Rim states agree on ‘core elements’ of TPP trade deal, without US

Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries have reached an agreement on the "core elements" of the TPP trade pact, even with the US staying out of the deal. At the same time, Canada warned there was more work ahead. The representatives of the 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Mexico, have agreed to push ahead toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The decision comes after days of tense negotiations on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. In a joint statement early on Saturday, the trade ministers said they were "pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements" of the major trade deal, which aimed to slash tariffs across the Pacific region. The basic agreement would maintain "the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants," they said. The statement marks an important breakthrough for the deal, which was on the brink of collapsing after President Donald Trump announced the United States would be leaving the pact earlier this year. While the US championed the TPP under former President Barack Obama, Trump said such deals are unfair to his country. Trump restated his criticism at the leaders' summit in Vietnam on Friday. "We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," he said. 'Some work to be done' Canada, however, voiced its reservations during the latest talks, insisting on environmental and labor protection. Late on Thursday, Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters that a basic deal was achieved, but this was quickly disputed by Canada's representative Francois-Philippe Champagne. While Champagne backed the joint statement on Saturday, he also warned that Canada will "not be rushed" into a potentially bad deal. "We are pleased that progress is being made towards a possible agreement, but there is still some work to be done. Our priority is to ensure that it is the right deal for Canadian workers and businesses," he said. A press conference was scheduled later on Saturday.

Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries have reached an agreement on the “core elements” of the TPP trade pact, even with the US staying out of the deal. At the same time, Canada warned there was more work ahead. The representatives of the 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Mexico, have agreed to push ahead toward ... Read More »

Germany’s EU bill to rise by 16 percent post-Brexit: report

Germany will need to pay an extra €3.8 billion into the EU's coffers once Britain leaves the bloc. A new report, which is likely to rile German taxpayers, suggests France and Italy will face much lower budget hikes. Germany is being threatened with significantly higher contributions to the European Union's budget when Britain completes its departure from the bloc in 2019. The Funke-Mediengruppe newspapers on Friday cited a report by the European Parliament, suggesting that the Berlin government would suddenly be on the hook for an extra €3.8 billion ($4.2 billion), a rise of 16 percent. In 2016, Germany's net contribution — minus EU monies returned to fund projects in the country — amounted to €15.6 billion. By comparison, France would face an additional €1.2 billion per annum bill on top of its €5-6-billion net contribution, and Italy would pay an extra €1 billion. "Brexit does not just increase the financial burden for the EU-27, but also changes the distribution of that burden," the newspaper group cited the report as saying. Read more: 50 London banks in talks for post-Brexit move Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden currently benefit from reduced payments due to Britain's EU membership, it said. Britain is currently the second largest net contributor to the EU after Germany; its departure is expected to leave a €10.2-billion hole in the EU's finances. EU austerity needed? The EU study says discussions are underway about whether cuts should be made to the EU budget or whether new revenue sources can be opened up, including taxes. The budget gap revelations come as British negotiators meet with their EU counterparts in Brussels for the sixth round on Brexit talks, in an attempt to settle the country's financial obligations to the bloc. The EU has set a figure of €60 billion, while British officials have, to date, offered just €23 billion. On Thursday, the Financial Times cited an anonymous EU diplomat as saying that the UK government had been given a three week deadline to improve its offer. At stake is Britain's future trade deal with the EU, which Brussels has refused to discuss until the financial settlement has been finalized. Meanwhile, Germany's largest industry group BDI said on Friday that it would be impossible to reach a comprehensive deal on future economic relations between the EU and Britain within the two-year deadline. In doing so, it added its voice to growing calls for a transitional arrangement where Britain remains in the EU's single market and customs union for a longer period. Read more: Brexit: Why people are increasingly talking about the 'Norway model' The group last month told German firms in the UK to prepare for the possibility of a so-called hard Brexit, where Britain quits the bloc without a trade deal. BDI Managing Director Joachim Lang is due to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Monday. Despite talking up the possibilities of a transitional arrangement in recent months, Britain on Friday said it planned to enshrine its EU leaving date, March 29, 2019 into the Brexit law, which is currently being studied by parliament.

Germany will need to pay an extra €3.8 billion into the EU’s coffers once Britain leaves the bloc. A new report, which is likely to rile German taxpayers, suggests France and Italy will face much lower budget hikes. Germany is being threatened with significantly higher contributions to the European Union’s budget when Britain completes its departure from the bloc in ... Read More »

Ukrainian oligarch, wanted by Kyiv, seeks refuge in Germany

He's a parliamentarian, a top equestrian and a socialite. But Ukraine's judiciary says he is also a crook, accusing Oleksandr Onyshchenko of illegal enrichment. Now it appears he's making a life for himself in Germany. Germany's Emsland region is often called the "Wild West of Lower Saxony." Ancient forests and moors exist alongside expansive fields here. Neat houses of regionally typical dark brown and red brick harmoniously blend into the landscape. Wherever one looks, one sees horses at pasture. "Yeah, people are crazy for horses here," chuckles a man out for an afternoon walk with his dog outside the small village of Herzlake in the Emsland district. "Many cannot spend enough on their horses," adds the fifty-something man, "just look at the cars that are parked at the horse club every evening." Have you ever seen Oleksandr Onyshchenko's Mercedes Maybach S-500, I ask? The Ukrainian oligarch maintains a riding stable here in Herzlake, and the Maybach is one of the many luxury automobiles listed on Onyshchenko's company ledgers. No, the man says, one reads about the wealthy Ukrainian in the local newspaper but he never shows himself in public. Glamorous riding stables and celebrity galas It was, of course, horses that originally led the Ukrainian multimillionaire to the countryside of Lower Saxony. Several yeas ago, Onyshchenko bought a well-equipped, 89-hectare (220 acre) riding stable in Herzlake, a one-hour drive from the next large city. Equestrian sport is the Ukrainian's greatest passion. Over the years he has purchased several dozen top horses across Europe, many of which are worth more than a million euros ($1.17 million). The Ukrainian national equestrian team even trained here at his estate, Gut Einhaus. Onyshchenko hired trainers from Brazil, Hungary and Germany as part of the project, all of whom were given Ukrainian passports and paid handsomely to boot. Onyshchenko was proud to be seen with the team at international riding competitions. But in his home country he is less known as a rider or parliamentarian than he is as a dazzling, headline-grabbing figure in the country's tabloid press. There he is known for organizing beauty contests and celebrity galas. Media reports claim that film stars at his parties regularly received massive checks for attending. Criminal proceedings in Ukraine But then came the shock: In 2016, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) issued a warrant for his arrest. NABU accused him of having illegally enriched himself. The body claimed that for years, Onyshchenko had used shell companies to conduct sham business deals with the state-run energy company UkrGasVydobuvannya, deals which cost the state more than 100 million euros. According to NABU, gas extracted in Ukraine was sold at low prices to Onyshchenko's companies, which in turn resold the gas at inflated market prices. Meanwhile, eight of those companies' managers are behind bars. Onyshchenko himself could face up to 12 years in prison in Ukraine. The businessman vehemently denies the accusations. He claims that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is using the criminal proceedings as a means to thwart him politically. But many Ukrainians are skeptical: NABU enjoys an unusual amount of public support. The independent anti-corruption investigative body was founded in 2015, under pressure from the EU and against the wishes of the president, to root out widespread corruption in the country's political system. A year on the run Onyshchenko left the country just in time to avoid arrest, under the cloak of parliamentary immunity. Once abroad, he quickly became an adversary of the president, speaking of the corruption that afflicts the halls of power in Kyiv. He openly told Ukrainian media outlets about his role in purchasing votes in Ukraine's parliament, which he claims to have done on orders from Poroshenko. For some time Onyshchenko claimed to be in London, saying that he was applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. Most of the horses in Herzlake were sold off and workers at his estate fired. At the same time, as DW reported in December, his lawyers were taking steps to counter any possible arrest warrants in Germany. In February of this year, the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz voiced doubt about the legality of Germany extraditing Onyshchenko to Ukraine. Judges in Koblenz found that the Ukrainian arrest warrant was unclear about how exactly the accused would have been able to misappropriate funds from a state-run company when he was not an official at said company. One month later, the Koblenz court announced that there was no warrant for Onyshchenko's arrest in Germany. Ukrainian officials did not respond to DW enquiries as to whether there had been any contact with German officials on the matter. Interpol has also confirmed that there is no international warrant outstanding, thus it would seem that Onyshchenko can consider himself a free man. He has once again begun purchasing horses and participating in international equestrian tournaments. Nevertheless, Ukraine's public prosecutor's office has said that it will continue to fight for Onyshchenko's extradition, should it ascertain just where he is. The Ukrainian businessman declined to speak with DW, as did his lawyers. Onyshchenko's activities in the horse world, however, led DW to Herzlake. Support from the mayor Once in Herzlake, a short discussion with Hans Boesken, the community's mayor, cleared up the issue of just where the Ukrainian is. Boesken told us of a meeting that took place a few months back. Onyshchenko, says the mayor, invited him out to his Herzlake estate. There he explained his side of the story to the mayor, and assured him that the issue of criminal proceedings in Ukraine was strictly political in nature. Onyshchenko told him that he saw his future in Herzlake, and that he would like to register the property as his residence. Moreover, the Ukrainian informed the mayor of his intent to apply for German citizenship and asked Boesken to write him a letter of recommendation. Apparently the mayor did not hesitate. "We in the community have a positive opinion of a businessman who wants to, and can do good things here. What we don't want is for the riding stables, an exemplary estate in Germany, to be broken up because of the events of the past," as Boesken told DW. Meanwhile, Onyshchenko has applied for German citizenship. And the mayor has asked authorities to assist in speeding up the process. Onyshchenko, says the mayor, is a valuable asset to his community. Big promises for the tiny community The Ukrainian has promised support for the local riding club, as well as vowing to organize a top-quality international horse jumping competition there next year. He says that he wants to see the world's equestrian elite in the Emsland. Mayor Hans Boesken is utterly euphoric when describing the possibilities: "When newspapers, and radio and television stations tell the world that a top-notch riding tournament, like the one Mr. Onyshchenko wants to organize, is taking place here in Herzlake, a tiny community that hardly anyone knows, it will be an enormous boon for the community." The mayor is absolutely certain that Onyshchenko will soon get his German passport. He says, "At first I was a bit skeptical that it would happen quickly but the information I have now is very positive." The fact that Onyshchenko is still a parliamentarian in Ukraine, says the mayor, is not an issue; nor he adds, are the ongoing Ukrainian criminal proceedings. Local residents do not seem to have any problems with Onyshchenko either. "As long as he hasn't broken any laws here," says the man with the dog. He says there is nothing wrong with the Ukrainian wanting to settle in Herzlake, although he is thoroughly unimpressed with the promise of organizing an international equestrian tournament. "We little people won't profit from it at all," he says with a shrug. "The rich prefer to entertain themselves in closed company."

He’s a parliamentarian, a top equestrian and a socialite. But Ukraine’s judiciary says he is also a crook, accusing Oleksandr Onyshchenko of illegal enrichment. Now it appears he’s making a life for himself in Germany. Germany’s Emsland region is often called the “Wild West of Lower Saxony.” Ancient forests and moors exist alongside expansive fields here. Neat houses of regionally ... Read More »

US Marine drill instructor sentenced for abusing Muslim recruits

A military jury has sentenced a US Marine Corps drill instructor to 10 years in prison over his treatment of new recruits and abuse directed toward Muslims. One of the recruits killed himself during training. Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Felix was found guilty of extreme hazing of over a dozen Muslim recruits, and a military jury sentenced him to 10 years in prison on Friday. Felix, 34, was found guilty of targeting other recruits as well, ordering them to choke each other, punching them, kicking them, and walking over them with other drill instructors. He also ordered them to drink chocolate milk and then forced them to train until they vomited. "He wasn't making Marines. He was breaking Marines," prosecutor Lt. Col. John Norman told the eight-member jury earlier this week. Felix, an Iraq War veteran, was deployed at the Marine boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina. According to the prosecutors, the drill instructor was particularly abusive toward Muslim recruits. Read more: German soldiers sue over dismissal for 'sadistic sexual' practices and hazing Inside the clothes dryer Witnesses said he taunted the Muslims as "terrorists" or "ISIS," suggesting they were members of the jihadi "Islamic State" group. He also ordered Lance Corporal Ameer Bourmeche to simulate chopping off the head of a fellow Marine while saying "Allahu Akhbar." At one point, he told Bourmeche to enter an industrial-sized clothes dryer and turned the machine on, asking the recruit "Are you still Muslim?" After Bourmeche reaffirmed his faith, he was forced to enter the machine again, after which he once again confirmed he was a Muslim. He was then sent for another tumble inside the machine that is designed to emit intense heat. After a third spin, Bourmeche said, he feared for his life and renounced his religion. Rekan Hawez, a native of Iraqi Kurdistan, was also ordered to climb into the dryer, although the machine was never turned on. Read more: US Marines questioned over corpse desecration Recruit's family sues Marine Corps Accusations against Felix and several other instructors came to light after Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Pakistani-American, jumped to his death during training in March 2016. Witnesses said Felix slapped Siddiqui and called him a terrorist, and that the recruit endured days of hazing before jumping over a third-story railing. In October, Siddiqui's family sued the Marine Corps for $100 million (€86 million), saying he was driven by an unnamed superior through a door and onto a balcony where he fell to the ground below. While Felix was found guilty of abusing his recruits, he was never charged with causing Siddiqui's death. The judge did not allow testimony about a possible link between Felix's actions and the recruit's suicide. Read more: Pentagon vows justice over nude photo-sharing scandal The 10-year prison term is three years longer than the sentence demanded by the prosecutors. The case will now go into an automatic appeal procedure, set for rulings that involve lengthy prison sentences and dishonorable discharges.

A military jury has sentenced a US Marine Corps drill instructor to 10 years in prison over his treatment of new recruits and abuse directed toward Muslims. One of the recruits killed himself during training. Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Felix was found guilty of extreme hazing of over a dozen Muslim recruits, and a military jury sentenced him to 10 years ... Read More »

China’s ‘Singles Day’ online shopping spree brings in billions

Chinese consumers have opened their virtual purses wide in the world's biggest e-commerce binge. The amount spent tops the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US. Chinese shoppers on Saturday spent billions of dollars in an annual online commercial extravaganza that was once meant as a celebration for lonely hearts. The 24-hour shopping festival, which starts at midnight, has broken its own record every year since being launched in 2009, with last year's sales mark of $17.8 billion (€15.26 billion) already exceeded by midday, according to the organizer, e-commerce giant Alibaba. That amount in 2016 surpassed the 2015 total by 32 percent. The event, now indulged in by all consumers whether with or without a better half, takes pride of place in the calendar of manufacturers and retailers in the country, making up a significant share of annual orders for many businesses. With more than half of China's 1.3 billion people being smartphone users, it is no surprise that more than 90 percent of orders were made by mobile, most of them on taobao.com, Alibaba's main e-commerce platform. Just five minutes after midnight, Alipay, Alibaba's online payment system, was already processing 256,000 transactions per second, double the highest rate recorded last year. The volume of sales means that delivery people will be kept busy over the next six days carrying an estimated 1.5 billion parcels to their new owners. But some of their work this year will be taken over by robots, as China pushes ahead with its policy of increasingly automating menial tasks. Huge waste production Not all are enthusiastic about the massive consumer orgy, however, with environmentalists accusing Alibaba of promoting a culture of over-consumption that creates mountains of waste. Greenpeace said "Singles Day" deliveries last year resulted in 130,000 metric tons (143,000 short tons) of packaging waste in what it called a "disaster for the environment." It says such online shopping festivals are, in fact, more carbon-intensive than "brick-and-mortar shopping." Such objections are, however, not likely to hold Alibaba back from its push toward expanding "Singles Day" onto the global market. The success of the event has also been a boon to many once-struggling Chinese towns and villages that are now dubbed "Taobao villages" after refocusing their local economies around manufacturing for online buyers.

Chinese consumers have opened their virtual purses wide in the world’s biggest e-commerce binge. The amount spent tops the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US. Chinese shoppers on Saturday spent billions of dollars in an annual online commercial extravaganza that was once meant as a celebration for lonely hearts. The 24-hour shopping festival, which starts ... Read More »

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