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Showing posts from March, 2016

Autonomous drone makes first urban delivery in Nevada town

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An autonomous drone brought bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit to an uninhabited house in the small town of Hawthorne in western Nevada.
 1 of 2 The drone is operated by the Australian drone-maker Flirtey.Flirtey alreadymade a successful delivery of medical supplies to a rural clinic last July in Virginia. The Nevada delivery is the first in an urban setting. The CEO of Flirtey, Matthew Sweeney said that in the future the company plans to do deliveries over an urban-populated area in the type of environment that people live on a daily basis. Amazon and others are also working on technology to enable urban delivers but regulations are slowing development. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claims that the number of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, is expected to increase four fold over the next four years to reach 2.7 million. Drone sightings in the U.S. are increasing and more drone traffic is causing serious risks to both private and co…

Erik Prince, ex-Blackwater head, had dealings in Libya

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The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Erick Prince over evidence he used Frontier Services Group, of which he is chair, to sell defense services in Libya. He is also suspected of being involved in a money-laundering deal using the Bank of China.
Erik Princeis perhaps best known as founder and former head of Blackwater Inc., a government services and security company. He was CEO until 2009. Blackwater was sold in 2010. He is currently head of Frontier Resource Group, and chair of Frontier Services Group based in Hong Kong. He lives in Dubai and also Virginia, From 1997 until 2010 Blackwater won $2 billion in government security contracts. From 2001 to 2010 the CIA awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and affiliates. It was the largest of the U.S. State Departments' three private security companies and provided 987 guards for embassies and bases abroad. In September of 2007, a convoy of Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians and seriously woun…

UK and Jordanian special forces working together in Libya

The Guardian reports that British special forces (SAS) have been deployed in Libya alongside Jordanian special forces since the beginning of this year.
The Guardianclaim is based on a leaked memo in which U.S. lawmakers were briefed by Jordan's King Abdullah on plans for Jordan's own special forces to operate in Libya alongside those of the UK. The meeting was in the week of January 11. The memo said that the king met with congressional leaders including John McCain, Bob Corker, and Paul Ryan speaker of the House of Representatives. The king remarked that the Jordanian forces could be useful for the U.S. in that Jordanian slang is quite similar to Libyan slang. The UK Ministry of Defence did not comment on the operations of the UK special forces and none of the high-ranking US senators contacted would grant an interview. One senate source did admit that the U.S. legislators met with the king in January but did not comment on what was discussed. Jordan is a key ally of the U.S.…

Much of present chaos in Libya can be traced to UN sidelining HoR and GNC in signing Skhirat LPA

Much of the responsibility for the present chaos in Libya can be traced back to the actions of the UN, the UN Security Council and the many countries who strongly support the UN-brokered Libya Political Agreement (LPA).
The hubris, arrogance, and bad faith of the actions of the former Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon and his successor, Special Representative to the Secretary-General Martin Kobler, are astonishing but everyone applauds them and their efforts. The Libya Dialogue was a UN-brokered attempt to have the two main rival governments, the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli along with other stakeholders come to a political agreement which would result in peace and a unity government that both parliaments would accept. The two rival governments would voluntarily hand over power to the unity government. The aim was to have a government that will request foreign military intervention to fight against the Islamic …

Study shows moderate drinking fails to produce any net health benefits

A review of 87 long term studies on alcohol and mortality, involving nearly four million people and 367,000 deaths, concludes that health benefits from moderate consumption are probably overstated.
Tim Stockwell of the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia has taken another look at published studies on alcohol and mortality on nearly four million people, including more than 367,000 deaths:"We should drink alcohol for pleasure. But if you think it's for your health, you're deluding yourself." The new review is in the March issue of the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs. The review notes that there is a problem in classifying abstainers. If these include former drinkers who quit especially if it was a result of worsening health, moderate drinkers health and life expectancy look better. The review concludes that one should be skeptical of the net benefits of moderate drinking of alcohol to health even though some studies s…

GNA facing problems as it attempts to move to Tripoli

March 23--The UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) has still not moved to Tripoli due to continuing problems with security arrangements. The Tripoli-based General National Council (GNC) opposes the move and refuses to relinquish power.
The Prime Minister of the GNC,Khalifa Al-Ghwell, was outspoken in his criticism of the role of Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) who has been urging that the GNA relocate to Tripoli from Tunis. He said that Kobler behaved more like a destructive godfather than the head of the United Nations Support Mission In Libya (UNSMIL). Kobler was to meet with officials of the GNC today but the meeting was postponed until next Monday according to Ali Abu Zabouk the Foreign Minister of the GNC. Even then, he can only come if he does not meet with any other parties during his visit. The Libya Heraldreported: UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler was prevented from flying to Tripoli today by the "government" there d…

Propaganda and rumors abound as Tripoli situation is unclear

March 22 --The Libya Observer, which supports the Tripoli-based General National Congress, notes that the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has so far failed to enter Tripoli as it claims it will do.
The Observer also claims that some activists are spreading rumors designed to influence public opinion and gain support for the GNA. A recent rumor was that the Grand Mufit Sheikh Sadiq Al-Gharyani is now a strong supporter of the Serraj GNA government and that he asked both the GNC and revolutionary fighters to allow it in to Tripoli. The Mufti has so far been strongly opposed to the GNA. The rumourquickly spread on Twitter:  Libya Al Hurra ‏@LibyaAlHurraTV 33m33 minutes ago Libya Al Hurra Retweeted francesco strazzari #Libya: Widely panned Italian news report saying Gharyiani and Belhaj to clear the road for the GNA in #Tripoli.Belhaj is a prominent Islamist. At one time he was rendered to Gadaffi's Libya by the CIA. He is an opponent of the GNA. It is quite unlikely that…

Canadian-Libyan on trial in UAE has terror charges dropped against him

At a court hearing on Monday March 21 in Abu Dhabi UAE, Salim Alaradi, a Canadian-Libyan businessman, unexpectedly had terrorism charges against him replaced with lesser charges.

Alaradi was arrestedin 2014.He claimshe was tortured during interrogation. The original charges had to do with alleged links he had to the February 17th Brigade and the Libya Dawn. The latter is now the main militia group supporting the General National Council (GNC) in Tripoli the rival government to the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk. The UAE is a strong supporter of the HoR and Khalifa Haftar commander in chief of the Libyan National Army of the HoR. Alaradi was one of 10 men of Libyan ancestry who were arrested August and September of 2014. The arrests were probably related to the conflict between the HoR and GNC. Alaradi did business with groups associated with the GNC. However the events took place between 2011 and 2013. This was before the anti-terrorism laws under which Alaradi was charged h…

City of Misrata split on supporting UN-brokered Government of National Accord

- Support among western Libya militias is divided but with many supporting the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). The municipal council of Misrata has also expressed support for the GNA and approves its intention to move to Tripoli.
The Libya Herald, a news source that often opposes the General National Council (GNC) government, based in Tripoli, claims that according to local officials, support for the GNA is strong and continuing to grow in Misrata. On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators in Misrata called on GNC head Khalifa Gwel, to resign and hand over power to Serraj, prime minister-designate of the GNA The Misratan Council of Elders rejected the municipal council's position. The council is headed by Ibrahim ben Ghashir, a close friend of Misratan militia commander Salah Badi, a strong opponent of the GNA. Badi and the council support the GNC and its associated Libya Dawn militia which rejects the GNA. They support the Libya-Libya dialogue that involves negotiat…

Libya's Constitutional Drafting Assembly holding meetings in Oman

The Libyan Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDA) has already held two meetings in the city of Salalah, Oman. The most recent meeting concentrated on efforts to end the boycott of the CDA by members from the Tebu and Tuareg tribes.
The two Tebu and two Tuareg memberswalked out of the CDA last August after complaining that the Committee refused to take into account rights of Libyan minorities. However, they attended the most recent meeting. The Special Representative of the Secretary General, Martin Kobler, also attended the meeting. No one attended from Oman as officials did not want to interfere in Libyan affairs. Koblertweeted:“Listening to Tebu and Twareg @CDALibya. Protection of rights is absolute must. Constitution must satisfy all.” Kobler said he was also encouraged by the spirit of compromise among those at the meeting. Kobler saidthat the mission of the UN in Libya is not to intervene in the political issues but to support by providing technical advice. Kobler thought the me…

Khalifa Haftar's forces claimed to have been responsible for some kidnappings and torture in eastern Libya

General Khalifa Haftar's forces are claimed to be behind some kidnappings and torture in eastern Libya. Haftar is commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR).
TheLibya Observer,a source often favorable to the rival General National Congress (GNC), reports that rescued prisoner Othman Bu Khattabia, an elder from the Obidat tribe, claimed: "They mistreated me and beaten me up, I was psychologically destroyed...They are militias from the so-called the General Command in Al-Marij and the so-called Haftar..All the abducted citizens in Tobruk are in so-called Haftar's prisons, the so-called army prisons." Khattabia was abducted from central Tobruk two weeks ago by an armed group loyal to Haftar. Khattabia opposes Haftar's Operation Dignity launched in May of 2014 to rid Libya of all Islamists, including those associated with the GNA and allied militias.The ongoing operation to a consid…

Rival Libyan governments both reject UN-brokered Government of National Accord

The internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli agree on one important issue — they both reject the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA).
The HoR government of PM Abdullah Al-Thinni said that untll the HoR gives a vote of confidence in the GNA it remains in office. He warned that any attempt to impose the GNA on Libya without the formal vote of confidence risks aggravating the already-chaotic political and economic situation while provoking further splits in the country. Al Thinni is a bit behind the times, since the GNA has in effect accepted a statement allegedly signed by a majority of the HoR as equivalent to a vote of confidence. The GNA declares it is now the sole legitimate government in Libya and is moving to Tripoli to start operating there. The threat of divisions was evident at a demonstration in Benghazi in Kish Square. The demonstrators demanded that the HoR reject the GNA of…

Domino's to launch robot pizza delivery service in New Zealand

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Adding to other innovations using new technology, Domino's Pizza is launching a new robotic delivery service using DRU or Domino's Robotic Unit built in Australia with the help of Marathon Robotics.
Pizza places have long used new technology to help pizza delivery by using apps such as Kinect. This allowshungry x-Box gamers to order and build a pizza through "hand motions or voice commands" to build their pizzas. However, Domino's added a voice ordering tool for its mobile app. The voice assistant is named Dom.Dom is able to recognize natural speech patterns. You can tell it you want to order a pizza and it will ask what kind: "Domino's says that the service "delivers a human-like, conversational customer service experience," that should speed up the ordering process compared to dealing with an actual human." Now Domino's has gone a giant step further by possibly eliminating the pizza delivery person as well. The DRU was developed by Do…

Critics claim state of Georgia Religious Liberty Bill is discriminatory

The Georgia State legislature has passed what is called the Religious Liberty Bill on Wednesday. Critics claim the bill is discriminatory against same-sex couples.
The bill still needs to be signed byNathan Deal, the Republican Governor. He claims he will not sign the bill if it allows discrimination although his office declined comment on the bill on Wednesday. Last year, in Indiana and Arkansas, similar types of bill brought strong criticism that forced many legislators to retreat from the provisions. Some corporate officials and companies have criticized similar bills. In Arizona, after such criticism, a similar bill was vetoed by the Republican Governor Jan Brewer in 2014. Corporate executives also spoke out against an Indiana bill last year that the group thought would allow business owners to refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious grounds. The willingness of corporate executives and corporations to speak out on the issue may be partly because a majority of Americans now s…

Diverse sources are critical of Kurdish declaration of autonomy in Syria

The Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria have voted to seek autonomy. The vote was to unite three Kurdish-controlled provinces into a federal system. The move could complicate UN-backed peace talks, in which Kurds are not included.
The Kurds in Syria have had an autonomous area in northern Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The vote has brought criticism from diverse sources including the Assad regime, Turkey, and the United States. US State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, said: "We don't support self-ruled, semi-autonomous zones inside Syria. We just don't. What we want to see is a unified, whole Syria that has in place a government that is not led by (President) Bashar al-Assad that is responsive to the Syrian people. Whole, unified, nonsectarian Syria, that's the goal."While the U.S. has given strong support to the Kurdish PYD party they nevertheless hope for a unified Syria. Turkey considers the PYD terrorists and is angry at American s…