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Member since: Fri Jul 1, 2016, 02:42 PM
Number of posts: 585

Journal Archives

Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada says she's one of the lucky women who escaped

(CNN)The Saudi teenager who fled her family and was granted asylum in Canada said Tuesday that she was fortunate to have escaped. But many other young women in Saudi Arabia like her are not able to get away and take control of their lives, Rahaf Mohammed, 18, said at a press conference Tuesday.

"I am one of the lucky ones. I know there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape, or who could not do anything to change their reality," she said. "I was not treated respectfully by my family, and I was not allowed to be myself and who I want to be," she added. "As you know, in Saudi Arabia, this is the case for all Saudi women except for those fortunate enough to have understanding parents. They can't be independent, and they need approval from their male guardian. Any woman who thinks of escaping or escaped will be at risk of persecution."

Mohammed is one of a number of Saudi women who have fled the country and its laws restricting women's rights. Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws govern many aspects of women's lives, and they may not marry, divorce, get a job, have elective surgery or travel without permission of their male guardians. On Tuesday, Mohammed spoke about her ordeal in Arabic, and a staffer from COSTI Immigrant Services delivered the English translation. She said she wanted to carve her own path in life.

"I want to be independent, travel, make my own decisions on education, a career, or who and when I should marry. I had no say in any of this. Today, I can proudly say that I am capable of making all of those decisions," she said.


California PG&E bankruptcy looms, CEO to exit as fire costs dwarf cash

PG&E Corp. said it will file for bankruptcy in California after the cost of wildfires left it with potential liabilities of $30 billion or more, gutting its share price and prompting the departure of its chief executive officer. The San Francisco-based company said it intends to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code on or about Jan. 29 after giving the required 15-day notice to employees, according to a filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday. On Sunday, the company started searching for a new leader after Geisha Williams, 57, resigned as chief executive officer. General counsel John Simon will take the helm in the meantime. The departure of Williams, who took over as CEO in March 2017, follows a catastrophic three months for PG&E.

The company has seen two-thirds of its market value wiped out since the deadliest wildfire in California's history, called the Camp Fire, began in November. Its debt has been downgraded to junk, and state regulators have called for a management shakeup. Investigators are probing whether the power giant's equipment ignited that fire, along with blazes in 2017 that devastated Northern California's wine country. More than 100 people died in the fires. The costs "could exceed $30 billion," according to the company's filing.

That would dwarf the $1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of Friday. The board concluded a Chapter 11 reorganization "is ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E's financial stability," according to the filing. Shares of PG&E fell 47 percent to $9.28 at 12:38 p.m. in New York, the most intraday since January 2001. The company's most active bonds fell more than 4 percent to 84.25 cents on the dollar. The bonds are the most actively traded this morning across all ratings, according to Trace.

The company's deepening financial crisis has forced California regulators and policy makers to consider a bailout package. The utility said bankruptcy was the best way forward for employees and those who are claiming losses from wildfires that may have been caused by its power lines. California's new governor, Gavin Newsom, said in a statement Monday that his administration has been in constant contact wiPG&E, labor unions and regulators. "Everyone's immediate focus is, rightfully, on ensuring Californians have continuous, reliable and safe electric and gas service," he said.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie to divorce after 25 years of marriage

Source: USA Today

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos says that he and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing after 25 years of marriage. "We want to make people aware of a development in our lives," the couple said in a post on Bezos' Twitter account Wednesday. "As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends."

The carefully worded announcement suggests a cordial divorce and one that is unlikely to disrupt or affect Amazon, currently the world's most valuable company, at $810 billion just ahead of Microsoft ($789 billion), according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It's unclear whether the couple had a prenuptial agreement. But that is unlikely, says Stuart Slotnick, chairman of the matrimonial department of law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in New York City.

"People get prenuptial agreements when they have assets to protect," Slotnick said. "In this case, they had no real assets vis à vis Amazon because when they got married Amazon did not exist."

That doesn't mean the separating couple have not come to an arrangement, he says. In fact, the statement issued by them both "devoid of emotion," Slotnick said, likely suggests "they might already have an agreement … (and) be done essentially." Whatever the agreement, it's unlikely to disrupt Amazon's operations, as that would be counterproductive to an amicable separation, he said. "There would be no reason that the company would be affected by this divorce," Slotnick said.

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2019/01/09/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-wife-mackenzie-divorce-after-25-years/2523544002/

The impact homelessness and the opioid crisis are having on San Francisco streets

San Francisco (CNN)Outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown San Francisco, a woman urinates on the sidewalk and smokes a crack pipe. Inside her purse are about a dozen used heroin needles. She shoots heroin up to 10 times per day, she says.
About 50 yards away, a man injects another woman in the neck with a needle. She puts her thumb in her mouth and blows on it to make her vein more visible. Her right arm is caked with dried blood.

This San Francisco neighborhood is home to the headquarters of Uber, Twitter and Salesforce. But stroll around here, and you're also likely to find used drug paraphernalia, trash, and human excrement on the sidewalks, and people lying in various states of consciousness. Public drug usage and homelessness are not new problems for the city of San Francisco. But residents say the situation has gotten worse in recent years. As of October, 7,500 complaints about discarded needles have been made this year, compared with 6,363 last year. In 2015, the number was less than 3,000.


Adam Mesnick, a restaurateur who lives and works in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, started posting daily photos and videos of people using drugs in public, urinating near his restaurant, or lying passed out on the sidewalk.
Over the past five or six years, Mesnick says, visible homelessness and drug use on the streets have seemed to spread from areas of San Francisco where they were once concentrated, like the Tenderloin.

"It's like third world squalor," Mesnick said. "I'm a small business (owner) trying to exist, and basically surrounded by decay that continues to get worse and worse and worse." Others fear that the situation will impact tourism. "If we can't find a solution to this problem," said Joe D'Alessandro, CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, "it will tarnish the city's brand."


With no bathrooms open, Yosemite visitors have created a health hazard by pooping on roads

Source: sfgate

Yosemite has closed several popular areas due to a rather disgusting public-health reason: There's human feces and urine on the roads.

Visitors to Yosemite National Park have taken to depositing their waste on the side of the park's busy roads, as the park's restrooms and visitor centers remain closed due to the partial federal government shutdown.

The park itself has remained open since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, but without trash collection and a private place on-site to pass waste, roads have become blocked in more ways than one, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors," National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz said in an email to the Times.

Read more: https://www.sfgate.com/outdoors/article/yosemite-bathrooms-open-gov-shutdown-park-closed-13500390.php

Anti-Macron demonstrators set ablaze Paris and shroud in thick smoke iconic Eiffel Tower

Source: express

What has been dubbed the “seventh act” of the yellow vest protesters ended in violence, plunging the French capital into chaos once again. Shocking pictures show the iconic tower shrouded in smoke and vehicles engulfed in flames, with firefighter battling the blaze to put it off. Hundreds of yellow vest demonstrators, who have been named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists must have in their car, marched through the streets of France’s major cities for the seventh time yesterday since the anti-Macron movement started in mid-November.

The turnout was noticeably lower than at previous marches but Paris, Marseille and Rouen became theatres of destruction and clashes between the riot police and citizens. Police used water cannon and tear gas against the crowd and arrested dozens of people. They conducted searches on many of those wearing the now iconic yellow vests.

But yellow vests kept re-grouping after every clash. Several hundred people in Paris marched outside the offices of broadcasters France Televisions and BFM TV shouting “fake news” and accusing journalists of being “collaborators” of the French Government. And across the country, people wearing yellow vests called for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The ongoing protests, which started on November 17, are the result of discontent across France over the rising cost of living. They were triggered by a fuel tax hike, set to take place in January 2019. But despite Mr Macron now caving in and cancelling the fuel tax increase, protesters keep gathering to push for a new leader at the Elysee.

Read more: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1065154/french-riots-yellow-vest-protest-eiffel-tower-pictures-emmanuel-macron-news

Russian coal-mining town 'paints snow white to hide evidence of pollution'

Russian authorities reportedly slapped white paint onto snow to hide evidence of pollution in a coal-mining town in Siberia. Footage shared by Russian media shows a woman whose hands become coated in what appears to be paint after she brushes against a bank of snow in Mysky, Kemerovo.

“You can see the stains... it even sticks,” she says, according to The Moscow Times. Local media reported white snow was in short supply around the town due to the number of polluting coal mines in the region. On Wednesday, a town official apologised to residents for the incident.

“I will refrain from assessing the professional qualities of the workers, because it is quite obvious,” Dmitry Ivanov said in a statement. “I gave the command to immediately clean ... the paint and put it in order,” he added.

“I apologise to the townspeople to whom this incident spoiled the New Year mood.”


Why are gas prices still so high in California?

It finally dropped to 2.99 at Valero here in the Central Valley...which isn't really helping much either even though it's already winter. I don't get it, it's less than $2 in other states.

Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message criticised online for featuring gold piano


There’s been an online backlash to the Queen’s Christmas message this year after viewers took offence at her gold piano. The Queen was filmed sitting at a desk in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace when she delivered her speech, which included personal reflections on her long life and a wish for peace.

But it was the presence of a gold piano in the background that sparked accusations of hypocrisy and that she was out of touch. Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire said the Queen had killed satire by “lecturing the nation to pull together” while sitting in front of a golden piano in a palace she was charging taxpayers to renovate.

Scottish National Party politician James Dornan also pilloried her message suggesting a singalong on the gold piano might cheer up those hungry and sleeping on the streets. The way the Queen funds her activities, what she personally owns and what is owned by the public, is complex.

Taxpayers fund her activities including a planned renovation of Buckingham Palace (which is not her personal property) through the Sovereign Grant, which is funded from profits generated by the huge commercial property business owned by the reigning monarch but only while she is Queen. In 2017/18, the Crown Estate generated a profit of £329.4 million ($A588 million) and this money was given to the UK Treasury, the BBC reported.

A portion of this money, about £47.4 million ($A84 million), was provided as a grant to the Queen to fund her duties and maintenance of the royal palaces. The gold piano is part of the Royal Collection, an art collection made up of more than one million objects owned by the British royal family. The Queen owns some of the objects as a private individual but others are owned in the right of the Crown.


British police release suspects, say there might never have been a drone at Gatwick Airport

Source: Business Insider

There might not have been a drone at Gatwick Airport in the first place, British police said, after the country's second-largest airport closed for 36 hours last week over reports of drone activity on the runway.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said on Sunday there was "always a possibility that there may not have been any genuine drone activity in the first place," because police relied on human witnesses to the sighting, The Guardian and The Times of London reported.

Tingley's comments came as police released a local man and woman who had been arrested on suspicion of "criminal drone activity," and offered a £50,000 ($63,300) reward to anyone with significant information about the drone.

Tingley added that police have "no available footage" of drone activity around the airport, which is just outside London. It puts into doubt a video, published last week by MailOnline, of what the news site said was one of the drones hovering over Gatwick during the shutdown.

Read more: https://www..com/gatwick-airport-drone-may-not-have-caused-shutdown-uk-police-2018-12
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