September 26, 2020

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Sydney siege: Three dead after commandos storm cafe

From BBC

Two people died, along with an Islamist gunman, after commandos stormed a cafe in Sydney, Australia, to bring to an end a 16-hour siege.

The gunman, identified as an Iranian refugee, had taken dozens of hostages.

Four people were injured, including a policeman hit by shotgun pellets.

Central Sydney was put in lockdown when the gunman seized the hostages early on Monday, forcing some of them to hold up a black Islamic banner at the window of the Lindt cafe.

The Lindt Chocolat Cafe is located in Martin Place, a busy shopping area in Sydney’s financial district.
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Tony Abbott: “The perpetrator…had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability”

The gunman was named as Man Haron Monis. He received political asylum in Australia in 1996 and was on bail facing a number of charges.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the “horrific incident” at the cafe had been “tragic beyond words” and there were “lessons to be learned” from this “brush with terrorism”.

“These events do demonstrate that even a country as free, as open and as generous as ours is vulnerable to acts of politically motivated violence but they also demonstrate that… we are ready to respond,” he told reporters.

Flags are to fly at half-mast across New South Wales to honour the victims.

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Hundreds feared missing after boat sinks in Lake Tanganyika


DAKAR (Reuters) – More than two hundred people were feared missing after a boat sank in Democratic Republic of Congo’s waters on Lake Tanganyika on Thursday night, a senior Tanzanian official said on Sunday.

Amid what it said were conflicting reports of the death toll, the Congolese government said in a statement read on national television on Sunday that it had sent a mission led by Transport Minister Kalumba Mwana Ngongo to the scene of the accident, some 90 km (55 miles) south of the town of Kalemie.

U.N. radio in Congo, Radio Okapi, said on Friday that at least 26 people had died and authorities had rescued 221 people after the boat sank in the vast lake.

Radio Okapi said it was not clear how many people were traveling in the boat, which was carrying passengers between Katanga and South Kivu provinces in eastern Congo. However, local officials were quoted as saying on Sunday that more than 100 people had died.

Tanzanian authorities said the vessel had been carrying some 500 people.

“It was carrying about 500 people and about 230 people have been rescued so far,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdulrahman Kaniki told Reuters by telephone, attributing the information to the head of the Tanzanian marine police.

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Vodafone extends 4G roaming destinations [to Cayman Islands]



Vodafone UK customers will be able to take advantage of ultrafast 4G roaming in 40 countries with the addition of 17 destinations in time for Christmas and the New Year.

Antigua & Barbuda, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka and Thailand have joined the existing 23 destinations announced earlier in the year meaning that Vodafone customers will be able to use ultrafast 4G services and devices in more overseas than any other UK mobile provider. Fiji and Kuwait are expected to come on line before Christmas bringing the total to 40 destinations.

Pay monthly Vodafone 4G customers travelling to any 4G destination in Vodafone’s Europe Zone can take their UK minutes, texts and data bundle with them for just £3 a day with Vodafone EuroTraveller. Customers travelling to a 4G destination within Vodafone’s WorldTraveller Zone can take their UK minutes, texts and data bundle with them for just £5 a day*.

All Vodafone Red price plans come with UK unlimited calls and texts, so customers using Vodafone EuroTraveller or Vodafone WorldTraveller are able to call or text home, without worrying about unexpected bills. There’s no charge for receiving calls or texts on both services and customers will only pay for the days they use their mobile abroad.

Cindy Rose, Vodafone UK’s Head of Consumer, said: “Around four million people head overseas during the festive period so today’s news is perfect for those wanting to upload photos or videos of their celebrations to their social media sites or check maps online whilst on the move.”

Vodafone EuroTraveller and Vodafone WorldTraveller are available to pay monthly and small business plans customers, whether on 4G or not. For further information visit


Trinidad police searching for killers of three members of a family

From Jamaica Observer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Police were on Saturday searching for the killers of three members of a family who were shot dead Friday night in Valencia, south of Port of Spain.

Police said that the bodies of Eric Reyes, 33, and his common-law-wife Tamika Bathemelow, 23 were found in their home after a relative informed them of having heard gunshots around 9:30 pm (local time). They were shot in the head.

The body of another family member, 29-year-old Keron Reyes, was also found and he too had a bullet wound to the back of the head, the police added.

No motive has yet been established for the killings and the police are asking the public with any information to come forward.

So far this year, 389 people have been murdered in Trinidad compared with 376 for the same period in 2013

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Senator calls for investigation into why airfares increase while costs sink

By Chris Morran From Consumerist

Oil prices are down, airlines are profitable, but ticket prices aren’t going down and some carriers are still adding fuel surcharges. Thus, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has called for a federal investigation into why we’re all paying so dang much for air travel.

Schumer has asked both Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation to investigate why airfares continue to increase at a time when the costs of operating an airline are down and when the airlines are making record amounts of money from add-on charges.

Fuel costs account for nearly half of an airline’s costs, and even though the price of oil has sunk significantly since June, consumers are not seeing any trickle-down in the form of lower airfares, claims Schumer.

While one could argue that there is a lag effect between the drop in oil prices and any change in airfares, the Senator points out that airlines have historically used increases in oil prices to explain immediate hikes in ticket prices.

“The industry often raises prices in a flash when oil prices spike, yet they appear not to be adjusting for the historic decline in the cost of fuel,” he explains. “ticket prices should not shoot up like a rocket and come down like a feather.”

Schumer is also asking regulators to look into the impact that the recent mergers — United/Continental, US Airways/American, Delta/Northwest, Southwest/AirTran, just to name a few — that have significantly reduced competition in the industry while also making the surviving companies more efficient and profitable.

“At a time when the cost of fuel is plummeting and profits are rising, it is curious and confounding that ticket prices are sky-high and defying economic gravity,” said Schumer. “With so little competition, will the consumer never get a break?”

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s lawsuit against Obama’s immigration order will head to court Dec. 22

From Fox News Latino

There’s a date for a court showdown between Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the White House.

Dec. 22 is the date that U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell has set for a hearing in Washington D.C. on a request from the Maricopa County sheriff – who has a national reputation for his tough views on undocumented immigrants — to block President Barack Obama’s executive action granting some 5 million immigrants who are here illegally a three-year reprieve from deportation.

The president’s executive order came after what he described as frustration over Congress’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Arpaio’s lawsuit, which was filed on the same day, Nov. 20, that Obama announced his executive action, argues that the president’s unilateral move is unconstitutional, according to published reports.

The president’s plan extends deportation relief and, by extension, work permits, to millions of undocumented immigrants, mostly those who have been in the country more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

Obama also reordered law enforcement priorities and expanded an existing deportation deferral program for immigrants brought illegally as kids.

Arpaio’s lawsuit echoes the view of many opponents of Obama’s executive action that the president cannot unilaterally give a relief from deportation to an entire class of people. More than two dozen states, led by Texas, are suing the Obama administration on the same grounds.

“Defendant Obama and the other defendants are not engaging in individualized adjudication of illegal aliens one by one so as to involve prosecutorial discretion,” their lawsuit says. “These programs are wholesale legislating, not retail adjudication.”

White House lawyers, however, say that the executive order falls within the powers of the president and that previous presidents also have given immigrants relief through unilateral action.

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Qunar Cayman Islands given “Buy” Rating at Deutsche Bank (QUNR)

December 15th, 2014 – By Justin Garson From Sleek Money

Qunar Cayman Islands logoQunar Cayman Islands (NASDAQ:QUNR)‘s stock had its “buy” rating reissued by investment analysts at Deutsche Bank in a note issued to investors on Monday.

Shares of Qunar Cayman Islands (NASDAQ:QUNR) traded down 0.37% during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $26.88. The stock had a trading volume of 585,078 shares. Qunar Cayman Islands has a one year low of $21.00 and a one year high of $36.73. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $26. and its 200-day moving average is $27.12. The company’s market cap is $3.196 billion.

Qunar Cayman Islands (NASDAQ:QUNR) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Monday, December 1st. The company reported ($0.78) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of ($0.38) by $0.40. The company had revenue of $81.60 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $77.67 million. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 107.6% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts expect that Qunar Cayman Islands will post $-1.16 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at Aegis reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Qunar Cayman Islands in a research note on Tuesday, December 2nd. Separately, analysts at HSBC initiated coverage on shares of Qunar Cayman Islands in a research note on Friday, November 21st. They set a “neutral” rating and a $29.00 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at Citigroup Inc. initiated coverage on shares of Qunar Cayman Islands in a research note on Tuesday, October 21st. They set a “buy” rating and a $30.00 price target on the stock. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $32.00.

Qunar Cayman Islands Limited is a search-based commerce platform for the travel industry in China. The Company’s customers include travel service providers (NASDAQ:QUNR) and display advertisers.

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Caribbean Film Festival to hit London

Posted by Shanelle Weir From PanamericanWorld

During the leading up to Christmas London’s movie buffs will be able to experience some more exotic scenes as a Caribbean film festival opens across several of the capital’s venues.

Film Caribbean UK, a three-day event that starts on December 15 at Stratford’s Picturehouse Cinema in east London, is set to feature a number of UK and European premieres of productions from Jamaica, Antigua, St Maarten and Barbados.

Organisers said the range of films to be screened include action, drama, comedy and supernatural “thrills”.

Three of the headlining films are youth comedy Payday, crime-drama Consumed, and supernatural thriller The Skin.

Screenings at the various cinemas are to be followed by question and answer sessions with directors, writers, actors and production crew, according to the festival’s organisers.

Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema and Notting Hill’s Picturehouse Gate Cinema are also hosting the headline films.

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US Coast Guard to probe fatal St. Lucia cruise ship fire

Rest of cruise canceled

From Click Orlando

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -The U.S. Coast Guard says it will help investigate a cruise ship fire that killed one crew member and two contractors in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

Officials said Friday they are sending four marine safety professionals to help with the probe by the Marshall Islands, where the ship is registered. Officials with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board also are helping.

The fire began Thursday in the engine room of the Oceania Insignia while it was docked at St. Lucia. The ship was on a 10-day cruise through the Caribbean and was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Wednesday.

The 656 passengers aboard the Insignia were evacuated safely and the remainder of the cruise was cancelled. Passengers were flown back to Miami late Thursday and Friday.

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See also iNews Cayman story “Three Dead in Cruise Ship Fire [St Lucia dock]” at:


This Caribbean resort’s solar milestone

From Caribbean Journal

After a year of generating its own solar power, the Westin Dawn Beach Resort in St Maarten has reached a milestone: it’s now generated a gigawatt hour of energy.

That is enough to generate annual power for 92 households in America, conserving more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

The resort completed its solar away earlier in February 2014, after completing its the first phase of the solar array in June 2013.

“The capital investment not only makes an impact on environmental sustainability, but our resort has become even more attractive to groups seeking an energy efficient location,” said Dan Szydlowski, regional director of sales at the resort. “With the addition of the Smardt Chiller, we save a minimum of 30-35 percent in energy costs.”

The 317- room property now produces six to eight hours of its own power during peak times, according to the resort.

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Kingsley cops a big one!

From Jamaica Observer

SOooooooo, not surprised really that the Caribbean Travel Awards deemed it fit to affix the title Concierge of the Year to Kingsley Blake of Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica.

The inimitable Blake, who has been the concierge at the cashmere-chic Round Hill since 1974, makes each guest feel super-special. Indeed, according to Caribbean Journal which launched its inaugural Caribbean Travel Awards, honouring the best in travel and tourism across the region. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a former guest who didn’t have wonderful things to say about him… Blake is a quintessential hotel concierge, concerned with one overarching philosophy: making guests happy. It’s an art he’s honed over a marvellous four-decade career, and one he continues to practise today”.

SO would like to applaud, and lustily, too, our beloved Kingsley. Yet another reason to vacay at The Round.

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pauses its deep sea exploration plans

iNews B virgin-oceanic-gabriel-bouys-afp-gettyBy Jon Fingas From engadget

IMAGE: Virgin Oceanic in 2011

If you were hoping to see Virgin Oceanic visit the deepest parts of Earth’s oceans, you’ll have to put those dreams on hold. The company has confirmed that it’s at least temporarily dropping plans to make five dives using its DeepFlight Challenger craft. Virgin isn’t saying just what prompted the decision, but founder Sir Richard Branson alluded to a cancellation in August. He stressed the importance of “knowing when to change tack” and that Virgin Oceanic was “widening its focus” to work on more accessible ocean exploration. In short, DeepFlight wasn’t panning out.

Safety is likely the main concern. DeepFlight stopped backing the project after Virgin announced that it would attempt five dives, since Challenger was only meant to survive one. It didn’t want to be attached to expeditions that could easily go wrong, and tests showed that the glass cockpit would crack at depths of around 38,000 feet — not good if you’re diving into to the Marianas Trench. A spokesperson says there’s “no doubt” that Virgin Oceanic will eventually return to the deep seas, although that’s more of an expectation than a guarantee. Virgin likely isn’t eager to take unnecessary risks in light of its tragic SpaceShipTwo accident, so it may not consider deep ocean excursions until (and unless) it can promise that the crew will come back.

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This is what it’s like driving Tesla’s incredible new Model S P85D

iNews B Tesla carBy Brad Reed FromBGR

Even people who don’t normally go crazy for cars seem to love Tesla and the company generated even more hype this past fall when it unveiled the all-wheel-drive versions of its highly acclaimed Model S line. Business Insider talked with Kevin Babineau, a contractor from Southern California who bought a Tesla Model S P85D this past fall and who says that the car more than lives up to the hype.

“The speed, first of all, it’s so fast — you’re not used to experiencing that kind of speed,” explains Babineau, whom Business Insider says has also owned both a Ferrari and a Roadster in the past. “The first thing you do is smile and start laughing. The gentleman that was with me that came to pick it up with me, we were just laughing! The emotions that come out of that kind of speed, in that short a distance, your body’s not used to it. And it’s pulling so many G’s, it’s exciting — it’s roller coaster stuff. It’s fascinating, absolutely fascinating. And it does this to everyone I’ve had in the car, everyone just starts smiling or laughing. It’s pretty cool.”

That’s about as ringing an endorsement as we can think of. To read more about Babineau’s experiences with the P85D, check out the full article at Business Insider by clicking the link: BUSINESS INSIDER

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Parents of four-year-old say son got a Nazi-themed ring in toy vending machine

By Ashlee Kieler From Consumerist

A Tulsa mother says her four-year-old son received a Nazi-themed ring from a vending machine at a local dollar store.

A Tulsa mother says her four-year-old son received a Nazi-themed ring from a vending machine at a local dollar store.

You just never know what might pop out of the small plastic bubble toy vending machines found at the front of many stores and restaurants. You could get a cute colorful dinosaur or a Nazi-themed plastic ring. The latter was reportedly the prize for a four-year-old at a Tulsa Family Dollar store earlier this week.

KOKI-TV reports the boy received a gold plastic ring adorned with an eagle sitting atop a small swastika after putting 25-cents into a toy vending machine at a local dollar store.

A quick search of the ring’s imprint shows that it appears to be reflective of the Nazi party’s official symbol, which also features an eagle grasping a wreath of laurels atop a swastika.

“We actually bought four things, and three of them were little dinosaurs or something,” the mother says. “And on the fourth one, it so happened this fell out.”

She tells the TV station that she always gives her son a quarter for the vending machine when the family goes shopping, but that she’s considering changing that practice.

“It was made just like the other rings they’ve got in there,” the mother says. “You can bend it up and shove it in here. So it was made for a vending machine. I just don’t understand why.”

The woman says she went to other Family Dollar stores in surrounding areas, but did not find the Nazi-thmeded ring in any other machines.

When KOKI visited the same Family Dollar location to find out how the ring ended up in the children’s toy machine, it found 10 to 15 additional rings waiting for purchase.

Officials with Family Dollar say they don’t maintain or stock the vending machine, but that they’d had issues with the third-party vendor in the past.

KOKI called a number located on the machine and the man who answered said the items inside the machine will be examined and removed in the next few days.

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Gas station owners aren’t passing their savings on to consumers

By Laura Northrup From Consumerist

You may have noticed prices gradually falling at your neighborhood gas station over the last few months, what you may not know is that the price of oil has been falling even faster than that. Why aren’t station owners passing the savings on to drivers? They’re in a generally low-margin business, and we’re all still buying gas anyway.

Gas costs about a dollar less nationwide right now than it did a year ago, which is putting more money in consumers’ pockets for other things, and making drivers more cheerful in general. The problem is, while that’s a nice decrease, oil prices are down about 40% since earlier this year. The price that we pay for gasoline hasn’t kept up with that. During that same period, investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates that gas stations’ profit margins are 18.5% higher than they were at the same time last year.

Oil prices worldwide have been falling because oil production is up.

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Jim Rogers: Global currency war ‘certainly happening’

By Dan Weil From Newsmax

You can add star investor Jim Rogers to the list of those who see a currency war raging around the world.

Many central banks outside of the Federal Reserve, including the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank, are engaged in major easing programs to boost their economies and depress their currencies.

“Whether it’s an intentional war or an accidental war or side effect, I don’t know, but it’s certainly happening,” Rogers told Wall St. Daily. “Just look around, you see that nearly every currency in the world is down a lot against the U.S. dollar, except the Chinese renminbi.”

The dollar hit a seven-year high against the yen and a two-year high against the euro last week.

“I don’t know if somebody sat around and plotted, ‘Let’s have a currency war,'” Rogers explained. “They just said, ‘What we need to do is print a lot of money,’ without realizing it’s going to cause currency fluctuations.”

That’s pushing investors into dollars, including Rogers, despite the fact that he has “no confidence in the U.S. dollar long term.”

When it comes to stocks, with major U.S. indices hitting record highs as recently as last Friday and many foreign markets far from their all-time peaks, Rogers prefers markets overseas.

The dollar’s strength could represent a problem, says Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz.

“The problem is that exchange-rate shifts now represent the only mechanism for reconciliation, and the divide between certain market valuations and their fundamentals has become so large that prices are vulnerable to bouts of volatility,” he writes on Project Syndicate.

“As it becomes increasingly difficult for currency markets to perform the role of orderly reconcilers, friction may arise among countries.”

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Mutual Funds haven’t performed this crappily since 1997

By Sam Ro From Business Insider

Some mutual funds try to track their benchmarks. Others try to beat their benchmarks.

Unfortunately, most mutual funds have historically lagged their benchmarks.

According to Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin, 2014 has been a particularly challenging year for large-cap equity mutual fund managers.

“Market swings and shifting volatility regimes have compounded the performance difficulty for fund managers this year,” Kostin wrote on Friday. “Only 12% of large-cap core mutual funds have outperformed the S&P 500 YTD, the lowest share since 1997. Following the 7% S&P 500 sell-off in October, the index rallied sharply by 11% during the course of two months to new record highs, before the past week’s turbulence.”

This only adds to the case for choosing passively managed index funds over actively managed funds.

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HBO receives 15 Golden Globe nominations, the most of any television network this year

Cinemax received one Golden Globe nomination

Miami, FL – December 11, 2014 – HBO received 15 Golden Globe nominations, the most of any television network this year for the 14th year in a row, and Cinemax received 1 Golden Globe nomination, for the upcoming 72nd annual , which were announced today and will be presented Jan. 11 in Los Angeles.

Nominations this year include:

  • 4 nominations for “True Detective,” including Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, 2 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Michelle Monaghan).
  • 3 nominations for “The Normal Heart,” including Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Mark Ruffalo) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Matt Bomer).
  • 3 nominations for “Olive Kitteridge,” including Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Frances McDormand) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Bill Murray).
  • 2 nominations for “Girls,” including Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical (Lena Dunham).
  • 1 nomination for “Game of Thrones”: Best Television Series – Drama.
  • 1 nomination for “Silicon Valley”: Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical.
  • 1 nomination for “Veep”: Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
  • 1 nomination for “The Knick”: Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Clive Owen).


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