Prince Adds Newest Stop To Spontaneous ‘Piano & A Microphone’ Tour

first_imgR&B superstar Prince will continue his solo musical conquest next Thursday, April 7th, when he makes back-to-back appearances at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA for a Piano & A Microphone performance. The Purple One has been performing solo at venues nationwide, announcing shows one-at-a-time to increase anticipation. He’ll be performing two shows, one at 7 pm and the other at 10 pm.The newest stop will be the first after Prince’s exciting performance in Toronto last Friday, March 25th, where he performed a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” among many staples from his prolific career. Who knows what Prince will have in store for Atlanta?!Tickets will go on sale tomorrow, March 30th at noon PM Eastern, and can be found via the venue’s website. All ticket holders will also receive a copy of Prince’s new album, HITNRUN – Phase II. You can see the setlist from his most recent show, below:Edit this setlist | More Prince setlistslast_img read more

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Can Bikes Save the World?

first_imgBeene, a 16-year-old girl Zambian girl, wanted nothing more than to go to school.But there was one problem: As in much of rural Africa, public transportation was non-existent, which meant she had to walk five miles one way. The effort was taking a toll on her body. In particular, she had developed severe pain in her legs that made the journey nearly impossible. That meant staying home more often than not, which meant missing out on a vital education. She would have given anything for a school bus.In 2011 she got something that was arguably even better: a sturdy new bike from World Bicycle Relief, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to delivering bikes free of charge to needy people in developing countries. This simple, low-tech form of transportation changed Beene’s life. For the first time, she could attend classes five days a week. She even had energy left over to play sports, do her homework, care for her nieces and nephews, and help out with household chores. Her dreams of becoming a nurse, which once seemed so distant, are now closer to reality than ever. And when she’s not riding to school, others in her family use the bike to transport fish to sell in surrounding villages or take children to a clinic eight miles away.Around the world, from Washington D.C. to European capitals to rural Africa, the humble bicycle is having a moment. Slowly, quietly, it is transforming how people exercise, commute, shop, and recreate. By taking a leisurely ride on back streets that once were only a blur through the tempered glass of motorized steel cocoons, cyclists are getting to know their local communities more intimately, and their cardiovascular systems are thanking them. So are local businesses, because bikers are more likely than drivers to stop and buy a latte or some other impulse item. Because of these and myriad other benefits of cycling, municipalities big and small are trying to make their communities more bike-friendly. At the same time, visions of two-wheeled utopias are, in many cases, running ahead of less-than-optimal facts on the ground.Take World Bicycle Relief. Founded in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, the group seeks to provide cheap transportation in places where roads are nothing but a pipe dream. Its bikes are built to spec in Asia and assembled in Africa by trained local staff. Last year the group delivered more than 47,000 of them to recipients in 13 countries across Africa and Southeast Asia, up from about 29,000 in 2012 and 6,000 in 2005.“The bicycle turns out to be a particularly good way to get around where there aren’t other options,” says Charles Coustan, the group’s executive director and a Maryland native. For example, when the tsunami destroyed every scrap of infrastructure, World Bicycle Relief bikes—steel-framed and rugged, designed to take the worst that decimated roads can dish out, and fitted with components that can be replaced locally—helped families reconnect, get to medical clinics, and eventually move back into their homes. “The number of places and ways that bicycles can provide basic transportation has been amazing,” he says.One of the things bikes do best in developing countries is facilitate school attendance. For example, a recent study showed a 28 percent increase in Zambian girls’ attendance rates and a 50 percent increase in academic performance after they received bikes from World Bicycle Relief. “In places where there’s no electricity and running water, the amount of daylight dictates the amount of work you can get done during the day,” Coustan points out. “If it takes two hours to walk to school but only half an hour to bike, that hour-and-a-half savings each way has a dramatic impact.” Factor in easier, faster access to medical care and better economic opportunities, and it’s hard to imagine a less costly, more effective way to improve the lives of tens of thousands of people.Of course, while distributing 47,000 bikes is quite an accomplishment, it’s a pittance compared to the millions of people around the world who need one. Although World Bicycle Relief is looking to impact more countries, the challenges can be nearly intractable: supply chains, transportation issues, regulatory red tape. But Coustan remains staunchly upbeat. “Our growth has been strong, the bikes have been very well received, and we’ve built strong partnerships with NGOs on the ground,” he says. “We’re very optimistic that the bikes will continue to have an impact as good, basic, reliable transportation.”Not only are bikes transforming lives in developing nations, but they’re also starting to have a remarkable—if somewhat different—impact in the United States and other industrialized countries. In particular, they have the potential to free us, at least in part, from the tyranny of the automobile. Ask any working adult what he or she hates most about life, and commuting will probably top the list, or nearly so. Sitting in traffic is not just a mind-numbing chore that alternately prompts fits of rage and “what the heck am I doing with my life” angst; it also imposes a staggering cost in terms of lost fuel and productivity. One 2007 study found that U.S. traffic jams wasted $87.2 billion, 2.8 billion gallons of gas, and 4.2 billion hours. That’s about $750, three weeks’ worth of fuel, and almost a full work week for every U.S. traveler. Thought you got two weeks of vacation every year? Turns out you only get one.Enter bike commuting, a trend that’s sweeping urban areas around the country and appears to have jumped from the fad stage to something that could inspire a true paradigm shift not just in how we get to work, but in how we play. To date, more than 40 municipalities have implemented some kind of bike sharing program, and just about every decent-sized urban area that doesn’t have one is thinking hard about it.A prime example is the Washington D.C. area’s Capital Bikeshare program. When it started in 2008, it became the first program of its kind in North America and currently is the nation’s second-largest after New York City’s. Owned jointly by the District, Montgomery County, Arlington County, and the city of Alexandria, it offers more than 2,500 bikes at more than 300 stations. Simply walk up to a station and rent a bike for 24 hours for $7, or (by far the more popular option) pay a $75 annual membership fee and use one anytime you want.Chris Eatough, program manager for Bike Arlington, a Capital Bikeshare partner, says bike sharing is integral to a broader transportation strategy that city planners hope will coax people out of their cars. “This is just part of a growing movement, especially for urban areas, to incorporate more transportation options other than driving everywhere,” he says. “Buses, light rail, and car sharing are part of that, but also a lot of cities are trying to get more people on bikes because it’s convenient, cheap, and fun.”Cheap is relative, of course. More cyclists means building more bike lanes and trails, which in turn requires a rethink of typical car-centric urban planning. And then there’s the infrastructure needed for the program itself; the tab for each Capital Bikeshare bike comes to about $1,200, and each solar-powered, internet-connected station costs between $30,000 and $50,000. The local government sponsors also have to outsource maintenance, membership services, bike transport, and the like. The total system cost comes to about $10 million. That might seem steep, but it’s far less expensive and requires much less lead time than, say, building a light rail system or adding dedicated express bus lanes to existing roads.Not only is the program relatively easy on municipal coffers, but it seems to be working as an alternative mode of urban transport. According to Eatough, surveys show that 13 percent of the approximately 6 million trips taken with Capital Bikeshare bikes since the program’s inception have replaced trips by automobile. That amounts to about 780,000 fewer cars clogging the streets, with a proportionate reduction in parking requirements and carbon dioxide emissions. By any reasonable measure, the investment should be a no-brainer for other cities looking to follow D.C.’s example. “It’s transforming the way people get around,” Eatough says. “It’s also a way to lower the cost of getting started in the sport because you don’t have to buy, maintain, and store a bike. The program is going a long way toward making cycling much more normal, something everyone can do.”Bike sharing also fits nicely into the country’s accelerating urbanization trend. “People don’t necessarily want to live in the suburbs and drive into their jobs—they want to live in the cities where things are happening,” Eatough says. “The end goal is not to get everyone on a bike share bike, but to offer really robust transportation options that don’t involve a car. It’s about making our cities nicer places to be.”Dani Simons, director of marketing for New York City Bikeshare, is equally enthusiastic. That program started just last year with 6,000 bikes and 330 stations, and already it boasts 98,000 annual members that have collectively ridden more than one million miles. For New York, it’s not so much about getting people to drive less, because relatively few city residents have cars. Rather, it’s about improving public health and connecting neighborhoods that previously had no public transportation links. “Bike sharing is just a great, sustainable transportation option,” she says. “We have the density that’s needed to really make the program a success.”Of course, no bike sharing program will work unless lots of people find a reason to start riding. For Annapolis, Md. resident Lili Afkhami, motivation took the form of a pizza. Sitting in her college dorm room back in 2006, Afkhami—who weighed 270 pounds at the time—decided to order up some Dominos. The cheese-drench disk of deliciousness finally arrived in its aromatic cardboard box, and she swore she’d only have part of it and save the rest for tomorrow. Next thing she knew, the whole pie was gone. “It was an ‘aha’ moment for me,” she says. “I realized this was not the life I wanted to live.”But how to escape the trap of overeating, deteriorating health, no exercise, and more overeating? For Afkhami, that vicious cycle was finally defeated by, among other things, cycling. She discovered a passion for a sport that helped her lose 100 pounds and led to an interest in other physical activities that reinforced her health gains.“When I first started going to the gym, I couldn’t do anything for more than five minutes at a time, but I kept going back because I realized I didn’t want to live that sedentary lifestyle,” she says. “Cycling really changed my entire outlook on life. When you’re unhealthy and overweight, you really miss out on a lot, but you don’t realize how much until you’re healthy.”How healthy? These days you’ll find Afkhami biking 50-75 miles on a weekend, along with swimming, running, and competing in triathlons on a regular basis. She also just bought a folding bike for her 10-mile commute.“Cycling has been just one part of my journey to fitness,” she says. “A weekend for me used to be simply lounging around. Now I have so many more opportunities to experience life and be around people who are like-minded and active. It’s about doing small things that add up to big life changes.”Afkhami is the development officer for the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington-based group that lobbies for bike-friendly legislation (see sidebar) and works with communities, universities, and businesses. Among other things, the group helps cities decide where to build bike lanes, certifies cycling instructors who teach around the country, and helps companies implement policies that encourage bike commuting. The League also participated in the National Bike Summit in March, where more than 700 people met to discuss best practices and hobnob with members of Congress.Communications Director Carolyn Szczepanski said legislators have embraced, at least rhetorically, the message that biking is a relatively cheap, easy path to urban renewal. “It enhances the quality of life in a community when you have people out talking to each other and smiling at each other,” she says. “When you’re exclusively car-centric, that vibrancy isn’t there.” She also noted that lots of city streets in the U.S. could stand to go on a “road diet”, i.e. reduce excess lane width to accommodate bike lanes with minimal disruption to traffic flow and surrounding buildings. The resulting economic benefits of such measures can dwarf the costs. For example, one recent study conducted by Advocacy Advance, a partnership of the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, found that the nation’s 60 million annual recreational bicyclists spend nearly $47 billion on meals, transportation, lodging, gifts, and entertainment. The economic ripple effects of all biking-related activities could be as large as $133 billion, supporting 1.1 million jobs and generating $17.7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.Add to all this the much lower costs of owning and operating a bike compared to a car, along with the obvious health benefits of peddling over driving, and you might wonder why it’s taken so long for us as a nation to jump in the saddle. The answer is complicated, but it surely includes the usual suspects: inertia, laziness, and political gridlock. People are set in their ways, and driving is a hard habit to break—especially when alternatives involve physical effort. As for Congress, partisan bickering has reached such heights of absurdity that a resolution declaring kittens to be adorable might get only 49 votes in the Senate. But Szczepanski rightly points to signs of progress as well, including the fact that one in five Americans now lives in a bike-friendly town. “Larger cities understand that the millennial generation is driving less and looking for more bikeable and walkable communities,” she says. “The bikeshare movement has been absolutely transformative, and people are really starting to see biking as a transportation option. Americans recognize that we have an epidemic of obesity and sedentary diseases, and a lot of people are taking action. Biking is such a great way to take care of so many of these problems, and it’s accessible to all ages.”last_img read more

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Who Placed a Pipe Bomb in a Popular Swimming Hole?

first_imgMost of us don’t expect to find a bomb at our favorite swimming hole or fishing spot. Recently, however, North Carolina authorities were alerted to a makeshift pipe bomb in the Pigeon River.A man called 911 around 1:00pm on Saturday, June 30, after noticing a pipe bomb in a local swimming hole near Sunburst Campground along Lake Logan Road in Haywood County, N.C. (Listen to the audio recording of the 911 call below. The caller’s name has been redacted.)Audio Playerhttps://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Redacted-Sunburst-explosive.wav00:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Blue Ridge Outdoors talked to Lindsay Renger, Public Information Officer at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department, and Lieutenant Joe Silberman, member of the Asheville Police Department Hazardous Device Team (HDT), for more information.Though responding authorities weren’t initially certain exactly how dangerous the bomb could be, the HDT wasted no time in evacuating the campground and recreation area prior to investigating the device. Fortunately, there are no homes or residents live in the area, and the swimming hole isn’t particularly close to any major roads, public areas, or structures. The closest overpass and other portions of nearby roads were completely blocked off during the operation.The bomb itself appeared to be unprofessionally assembled, made from a metal pipe not quite a foot long and about two inches in diameter. According to Lt. Silberman, it had been submerged in the river for some time, but he can’t pinpoint the device’s age or origin.  He said the capabilities of most explosives and propellants aren’t necessarily mitigated by water, and that black powder can be soaked for years and still detonated when dried out completely. Possibly, someone had disposed of the improvised device in the river out of fear, assuming the water would render it useless. Silberman said most people assume incorrectly that anything underwater will eventually disappear, similar to attitudes concerning ordinary garbage or pollution.Once the area had been completely cleared, the HDT used a specialized remote controlled bomb-disposing robot to counter-charge the pipe bomb from a safe distance. Essentially, they introduced a small amount of explosive, which breached the outer layer of the bomb, causing it to detonate under supervision. While the explosion was just as large as it might have been if the bomb were detonated accidentally, Silberman said this method was safer than attempting to dismantle or remove the device. After the detonation, the squad donned light armor and conducted a thorough post-explosion investigation of the area. No one was hurt, and the area was declared safe that evening by 6:00pm. Potential leads concerning the bomb’s origin have since been exhausted, and the case is now officially closed.Lt. Silberman said that no two improvised explosive devices look the same, and if outdoor enthusiasts ever find something that looks particularly suspicious or out of place, they should leave the area immediately and inform local authorities.  “Don’t leave it, don’t touch it, don’t try to set it off, just leave,” he says.  “Whoever found this one did the right thing.”A transcript of the 911 call appears below. Contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department if you have any tips or information.Haywood County Police Department 911 call(edited slightly for clarity; caller’s name has been redacted for privacy)Operator (male): “Haywood County 911; where is your emergency?”Caller (male): “It’s up at Sunburst, just past the swimmin’ hole.”O: “Ok, what’s going on?”C: “I’ve found an explosive device.”O: “You found an explosive device?”C: “Homemade explosive device.  I was doing some metal detecting and I picked up about 77 on my scale.  So I reached down and I moved some rocks, and lo and behold, there it was.  Now I took it up out of the water and laid it near the big boulder – there’s some people down there, they know about it, when you guys show up, they’ll point it out and show you where it’s at.”O: “What exactly does [it look like]?”C: “It’s a cast pipe, got a cast body … it’s got black tape wrapped around it, it’s got a green fuse connected to the top … it has not been lit, it’s got a wire connected to it.  I can’t tell … I believe it’s a fuse.”O: “Alright, I’ve got them on the way to you, I’ll tell them to look for you.  Do the best you can, I know you can’t make ‘em, but try to encourage [the people there] to move away from that thing as best you can.”C: “Alright, it’s just past the campground.”O: “Alright, we’ve got them on the way.”C: “Alright, thank you.”last_img read more

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The South faces an urgent threat to its clean water

first_imgIf you’re reading Blue Ridge Outdoors, then you’re already familiar with our region’s breathtaking natural beauty and unparalleled outdoor recreation. Few things are more fun than whitewater rafting on the Chattooga or paddling the French Broad. Yet, these rivers are so much more than relaxing diversions. Our rivers sustain life for everyone in the South. For instance, the James River supports one-third of Virginia’s population.Photo: GettyImagesThat’s why an expected proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to gut the longstanding Clean Water Act is so concerning. There’s no denying that we live in polarizing times, but clean water has never been controversial before.Photo: GettyImagesThe Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 during a period that some might say was filled with more political strife than what we’re experiencing now. Riots rocked America’s cities. Assassinations stunned the nation. A president was on his way to resigning in disgrace. But amidst all that turmoil, spurred by an American public outraged by polluted water and air, Congress enacted this landmark environmental legislation with strong bipartisan support.Photo: Justin MitchellSince then, the Clean Water Act has protected America’s families, businesses, and communities by preventing unchecked and unlimited pollution. Prior to the act’s passage, the French Broad was known as a heavily polluted river. Now, its banks are lined with breweries, outfitters, and other industries. This didn’t happen by accident. The Clean Water Act helped make the French Broad enjoyable and its shores inhabitable. There’s a similar story about most of the rivers in the South.Photo: GettyImagesYet the law’s unprecedented success hasn’t deterred the EPA from trying to roll back protections for 50 to 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles and up to 90 percent of our wetlands to protect big polluters instead of our communities and families. These are waterways that feed drinking water sources for tens of millions of Americans.Photo: Amy BenoitThe Clean Water Act is one of the most enduringly popular pieces of legislation in recent history, and it’s supported by broad swaths of the American public on both sides of the aisle. Word of these threats to its future should galvanize the same type of public outrage that prompted the Clean Water Act’s passage in 1972 in the first place.Photo: Coosa RiverkeeperIt took a concerted effort by Americans united by their distress over the state of this nation’s waters to convince Congress to act. That same effort is required now to save the water protections we all depend on.Americans should educate themselves about the EPA’s proposal and rise up to voice their opposition. Clean water is under attack by polluting industries, compliant politicians, and complicit regulators. The American public needs to make clear who their government works for.Head to ProtectSouthernWaters.org to sign our petition and take action to protect clean water today.last_img read more

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CFPB orders debt collection firms to pay $18M in penalties, $61M in refunds

first_img 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The nation’s two largest debt buyers and collectors must refund millions of dollars to consumers and overhaul their practices under actions taken by CFPB Wednesday.Encore Capital Group and Portfolio Recovery Associates allegedly bought debts that were possibly inaccurate, lacked documentation or were unenforceable, yet they collected payments from consumers by pressuring them with false statements and lawsuits using robo-signed court documents.Encore must pay up to $42 million in consumer refunds and a $10 million penalty, and it must stop collecting on more than $125 million worth of debts. Portfolio Recovery Associates must pay $19 million in refunds and an $8 million penalty, plus stop collecting on more than $3 million worth of debts. Both companies must also overhaul their practices and stop reselling debt to third parties. continue reading »last_img read more

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Set the tone for risk

first_img continue reading » 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr How we see the future determines our tolerance for risk and desire for growth. If we envision a future of economic turbulence, we might be inclined to limit risk and growth for higher capital ratios.But if we envision a future that’s dynamic, highly competitive, and demanding of greater investments in technology and human resources, we might decide we need growth to achieve scale to generate the earnings required to support rising investment and costs.You can spot a risk-averse culture a mile away. These are credit unions that consistently underperform when compared to peers, or ignore growth opportunities in their market.These credit unions are consistently behind the technological times because they’re holding onto capital levels that were pre-determined years ago. They have management teams that hold back and fail to be relevant in their markets. These teams focus more on what could go wrong instead of what could go right.last_img read more

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Islip Man Convicted of Teen Friend’s Murder

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 23-year-old man was convicted Monday of beating to death and burying alive his 18-year-old friend in their hometown of Islip on the fourth anniversary of the murder.A Suffolk County jury found Thomas Liming guilty of second-degree murder following a seven-week-long trial. The jury rejected the defense’s argument that Liming acted in self defense when he killed Kyle Underhill.“The victim suffered a brutal death,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. “He was struck in the head at least 19 times, according to the medical examiner’s office. He was choked, two sticks were rammed down his throat and then he was left to die in the muck of a swamp while he was still alive.”Underhill’s body was found in a swamp in a wooded area on Brook Street two days after the murder on Nov. 16, 2011.Judge Mark Cohen will sentence Liming on Dec. 14. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison.last_img read more

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£48m Aberdeen buy

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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Transmission won’t stop unless 80 percent of Jakartans stay at home: Epidemiologists

first_imgJakarta, Indonesia’s capital and its COVID-19 epicenter, needs greater popular effort and targeted local containment to stop contagion, experts have said.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has extended the city’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) until June 4 in an effort to completely stop transmission after studies found that the COVID-19 reproductive ratio in the capital had been dropping since restriction policies were applied in mid-March. The ratio refers to the expected number of people one person with the disease will directly infect in a population susceptible to the disease.A study by researchers from the University of Indonesia’s School of Public Health found that the reproductive ratio in Jakarta had decreased from 4 in mid-March to 1.11 on May 17. “The coronavirus will not go away. But if we can reduce the ratio to less than one, it will spread much slower. We must make greater efforts to achieve that,” said Pandu Riono, a UI epidemiologist who was involved in the study, on Wednesday.Roughly a month before PSBB was enacted on April 10, the city administration closed down schools and public facilities and called on people to stay at home.The restriction policies caused nearly 60 percent of Jakarta’s residents to stay at home, according to the UI team, which analyzed data from Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, which tracks changes in the travel behavior of Android users.New cases, however, began rising again during Ramadan as people spent more time outside their homes during the afternoon and evening, the study found. “[COVID-19 transmission] will not stop unless at least 80 percent of the population stays at home,” Pandu said.He found that people’s mobility in certain regions, including in densely populated areas in Petamburan in Central Jakarta and Sunter Agung in North Jakarta, was higher than that of others. Petamburan and North Sunter are the two subdistricts with the most cases in the capital.“The Jakarta administration needs to focus on regions [with poor compliance with the stay-at-home instructions] in the days ahead,” Pandu said.Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta extends PSBB until June 4 as Jokowi seeks to ease restrictionsThe findings concur with a separate study by the Tarumanegara University Center for Metropolitan Studies, which mapped the spatial patterns of the spread of the disease.“We suggest the administration use an emergency response. Areas with the highest number of cases should have different handling procedures,” said Suryono Herlambang, one of the researchers.As of Thursday, Jakarta had reported 6,301 confirmed cases. Sunter Agung had recorded the highest number of cases at 142, followed by Petamburan with 126 cases and West Pademangan in North Jakarta with 117 cases. The other regions of Jakarta have recorded less than 100 cases each.At least 30 confirmed cases in Sunter Agung were linked to members of Islamic missionary movement Jamaat Tabligh who stopped in Al-Muttaqien Mosque in Sunter Agung, North Jakarta, Health Agency head Yudi Dimyati said.A spike of cases also occurred in Sunter Agung’s densely populated community unit (RW) 01, located about 500 meters away from the mosque.To prevent new transmissions, local authorities have isolated the mosque and reduced access to RW 01, Sunter Agung subdistrict head Danang Wijanarko said.In Petamburan, subdistrict head Setiyanto said no new clusters had been recorded after a cluster of 72 infections was found in the dormitories of the Bethel Indonesia School of Theology.As the virus has begun to infect residents of the city’s most densely populated areas, the Jakarta health agency has been conducting rapid antibody tests over the past few weeks to head off new infection clusters.Read also: COVID-19 creeps into Jakarta’s kampungsThe agency’s public health department head Fify Mulyani said it had performed rapid tests on 110,090 people and had collected swabs from 4,135 people who provisionally tested positive for the virus to conduct the more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.Anies, meanwhile, was aware that there were many people violating PSBB, even after he issued a decree on May 11 that permitted sanctioning violators of PSBB or of the social distancing policy imposed in the capital. The decree stipulates punishments ranging from community service to fines.By Wednesday, the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) had recorded 8,436 PSBB violators – both individuals and businesses. Of the number, 446 businesses were forced to cease operations, 1,564 individuals were ordered to perform community service and 327 individuals and businesses were fined. The combined total of fines has reached nearly Rp 300 million (US$20,378).Anies said the 14 days after the PSBB extension would be a defining moment for the capital in the effort to reduce cases. He urged all Jakartans to avoid going outside their homes, even during the upcoming Idul Fitri holiday, expected to fall on Sunday.“We’ve progressed much in the last two months, but this isn’t over yet. We will not ease [PSBB],” he said. “For those who are not yet staying at home, please join our cause.”Topics :last_img read more

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Ramping up fight, Trump brandishes sanctions over ICC war crimes probe

first_imgTopics : “I have a message to many close allies around the world — your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fought terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside of us.”The court responded by stating that its president O-Gon Kwon “rejects measures taken against ICC,” calling them “unprecedented” and saying they “undermine our common endeavor to fight impunity and to ensure accountability for mass atrocities.”US Attorney General Bill Barr alleged, without giving detail, that Russia and other adversaries of the United States have been “manipulating” the court.Using Trump’s “America First” language, Barr said the administration was trying to bring accountability to a global body. President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized sanctions against any official at the International Criminal Court who investigates US troops, ramping up pressure to stop its case into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.In an executive order, Trump said the United States would block US property and assets of anyone from The Hague-based tribunal involved in probing or prosecuting US troops.”We cannot — we will not — stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement to reporters. ‘Contempt’ for rule of law European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell voiced “serious concern” and said the court “must be respected and supported by all nations.”Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said he was “very disturbed” by the US move, and said The Netherlands supported the court on its soil.”The ICC is crucial in the fight against impunity and upholding international rule of law,” Blok wrote on Twitter.Human Rights Watch said Trump’s order “demonstrates contempt for the global rule of law.” “This assault on the ICC is an effort to block victims of serious crimes whether in Afghanistan, Israel or Palestine from seeing justice,” said the group’s Washington director, Andrea Prasow.But the move was hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of Trump’s closest allies, who has been angered by the ICC’s moves — strongly opposed by Washington — to probe alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories.In a reference to Israeli settlements, Netanyahu accused the court of fabricating accusations that Jews living in their historical homeland constitutes a war crime.”This is ridiculous. Shame on them,” Netanyahu told reporters.Trump has been tearing down global institutions he sees as hindering his administration’s interests, recently ordering a pullout from the World Health Organization over its coronavirus response.center_img “This institution has become, in practice, little more than a political tool employed by unaccountable international elites,” he said. Long-running US angerThe Trump administration has been livid over the International Criminal Court’s investigation into atrocities in Afghanistan, America’s longest-running war.The administration last year revoked the US visa of the court’s chief prosecutor, Gambian-born Fatou Bensouda, to demand that she end the Afghanistan probe.But judges in March said the investigation could go ahead, overturning an initial rejection of Bensouda’s request.Under Trump’s order on Thursday, visa restrictions will be expanded to any court official involved in investigations into US forces.The United States argues that it has its own procedures in place to investigate accusations against troops.”We are committed to uncovering, and if possible holding people accountable, for their wrongdoing — any wrongdoing,” Barr said.Trump, however, used his executive powers last year to clear three military members over war crimes, including in Afghanistan.Among them was Eddie Gallagher, who had been convicted by a military tribunal of stabbing to death with a hunting knife a prisoner of war from the Islamic State group in Iraq.Gallagher had become a cause celebre among US conservatives, although Trump’s action troubled some in the US military.Founded in 2002, the International Criminal Court immediately ran into opposition from Washington, where the then administration of George W. Bush encouraged countries to shun it.Former president Barack Obama took a more cooperative approach with the court, but the United States remained outside of it.last_img read more

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