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Yemen children are dying at a rate of 130 a day while Saudi-led blockade continues

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An estimated 130 children or more are dying every day in war-torn Yemen from extreme hunger and disease, according to ​Save the Children, an international aid group
The charity said a continuing blockade by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels aligned with the country's former president was likely to further increase the death rate. It said more than 50,000 children are believed to have died in 2017.
Now United Nations sanctions monitors have told the Security Council in a confidential report the coalition is threatening the peace, security and stability of the country by blocking humanitarian aid. 
The UN has appealed for the blockade to be lifted, saying it could spark the largest famine the world has seen in decades. Some seven million people are on the brink of famine and nearly 900,000 have been infected with cholera.
"Saudi Arabia-led coalition restrictions to the delivery of humanitarian assistance fall under resolution 2216 (2015) as an obstruction to the delivery of humanitarian assistance," the UN monitors wrote in the executive summary of their report.
The independent monitors also called on the coalition to provide evidence backing Riyadh's claim that Iran was supplying missiles to the Houthi rebels, warning that a failure to do so would violate a February 2017 council resolution. 
That resolution, adopted by the UN Security Council in April 2015 shortly after the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen, states that obstructing aid access and delivery is an act that threatens the peace, security and stability of the country. 
The UN monitors also questioned the coalition claims that Iran was supplying missiles to the Houthis.
In a November 7 letter to the Security Council, Saudi UN ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi said Riyadh had examined the debris of missiles fired by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia on July 22 and November 4 and confirmed "the role of the Iranian regime in manufacturing these missiles." 
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said Iran's supply of rockets to militias in Yemen was an act of "direct military aggression" that could be an act of war.
The UN monitors said they had "seen no evidence to support claims of SRBM (short-range ballistic missiles) having been transferred to the Houthi-Saleh alliance from external sources." 
The Houthis are allied with forces loyal to Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh was ousted by the Saudis in March 2015.
The monitors said the coalition reported in public briefings and statements that the July 22 missile was a Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile made and supplied by Iran. 
"The supporting evidence provided in these briefings is far below that required to attribute this attack to a Qiam-1 SRBM," the monitors wrote, adding that the coalition had not yet said what type of missile was fired on November 4.
The United Nations said in August that Yemen needed $US2.3 billion in humanitarian aid this year. The warring parties are among the greatest aid donors, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both giving significant sums. 

The United States is also a major donor, as well as a primary supplier of arms to the members of the Saudi-led coalition. Although the US is not directly involved in the conflict, it has provided military support to the Saudi-led coalition, and Yemenis have often found the remnants of American-made munitions in the ruins left by deadly airstrikes.

Our Plastic Is Polluting Marine Life Found 36,000 Ft Below Ocean Surface - Team captured 90 specimens from bottom of 6 trenches. Every single one had ingested plastics. In some cases “the fibers could actually be seen in the stomach contents as they were being removed.”

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We’ve already reported that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic scattered across our oceans. They’ve already reached the North Pole, something that can occur thanks to the nature of ocean water currents. However, scientists have also made another worrying discovery. 
Researchers from the Newcastle University have now discovered plastic in the deepest part of the ocean; the Mariana Trench.  
It’s not just accumulating on the ocean floor either, it’s also inside crustaceans that live there. This despite the fact that the Mariana Trench is 10,970 metres deep. The study reported that five other deep-ocean trenches also show that the crustaceans there have microplastics in their guts.
“Litter discarded into the oceans will ultimately end up washed back ashore or sinking to the deep-sea,” marine ecologist and leader of the study Alan Jamieson said. “There are no other options.” The research itself was funded by Sky Ocean Rescue, a campaign by European broadcaster Sky to combat ocean pollution. In February, Jamieson and his team reported that these deep trenches are being polluted by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). PCBs are toxic chemicals used in many industries that have been banned since 1979 while PBDEs, which are used as flame retardants, have been banned because they might adversely affect the reproductive, immune and nervous systems.  
Jamieson and his team used deep sea nets and cameras to capture 90 specimens from the bottom of the six trenches surveyed. Every single one of those had ingested the plastics, to the point that in some cases “the fibers could actually be seen in the stomach contents as they were being removed.”
Deep-sea creatures like these survive by eating tiny food fragments that drift down into the trenches. When tiny pieces of plastic also float down, they end up being ingested as well.
“These observations are the deepest possible record of microplastic occurrence and ingestion,” Jamieson said, “indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.”

1,100 Chinese Officials Punished for Damaging Environment

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More than 1,000 officials have been held responsible and punished in China for environmental damage, as China steps up efforts to fight pollution through deterrent means.
Chinese environmental authorities on Friday announced 1,140 officials of eight provincial-level regions have been punished, following investigations by central inspectors in 2016.
The move shows the country is seriously strengthening its law-enforcement muscle as it manages the environment, Chinese experts said.
Those punished include 130 department-level officials. Four of the cases were transferred to the judiciary, after central authorities conducted month-long on-site environmental inspections in eight regions from July to August 2016, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said Thursday in a statement on its website.
Inspectors found and transferred 100 cases related to environmental damage to local governments, demanding further investigation, Liu Changgen, deputy director of the national environmental inspection office was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency on Thursday.
Forty-six local Party committee members and 299 local government officials were held accountable for environmental damage, according to the MPE statement.
The ministry’s inspectors looked into a broad range of potentially damaging activities to water, forests and tourist sites, according to the MPE statement.
“This shows the country’s unprecedented determination to protect the environment,” Wang Gengchen, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Atmospheric Physics Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday.
This is not empty talk and demands that environmental regulators at all levels along with government officials and business owners be mindful of environment protection, he said.
“It sends a strong signal that if you allow environmental damage to occur, you will be punished, even if you have retired or been transferred to other departments or regions,” Wang added. Green pursuit The MEP statement came after Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 11 said that China will speed up ecological conservation, pursue green, low-carbon and sustainable development, and implement the strictest possible system for environmental protection.   “By 2035, there will be a fundamental improvement in the environment; the goal of building a ‘Beautiful China’ will be basically attained,” Xi said, delivering a keynote speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Vietnam, Xinhua reported.
Among the 1,140 people, nine were investigated for criminal offenses, while 178 officials were punished within the Party discipline, read the statement. Others will be punished by administrative means including being publicly named, admonished and publically apologizing.
“The punishment will not end with disciplinary action. Further laws will be developed with stronger criminal penalties,” Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Anti-gay lawmaker resigns after getting caught with a man in his office

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A vocally anti-LGBTQ lawmaker has resigned his position after being caught having sex with another man. Wesley Goodman, a Republican Ohio state representative serving his first term, resigned earlier this week after it came to light that he’d engaged in “inappropriate behavior” of a sexual nature with another man earlier this autumn.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger confirmed the incident in a statement: “I met with him later in the day where he acknowledged and confirmed the allegations. “It became clear that his resignation was the most important course of action for him, his family, the constituents of the 87th House District and this institution.”
Goodman seemed to also confirm the incident, saying in another statement: “We all bring our own struggles and our own trials into public life,” he said in a statement. “That has been true for me, and I sincerely regret that my actions and choices have kept me from serving my constituents and our state in a way that reflects the best ideals of public service. For those whom I have let down, I’m sorry.”
According to the Washington Post, Goodman’s website — which has since been taken down — highlighted his conservative Christian credentials and ethos. He emphasized his commitment to “the fight for conservative principles like balanced budget, lower taxes, repealing Obamacare, life, and religious liberty.” Goodman is married to a woman, Bethany, and has, according to The Independent, frequently endorsed “natural [i.e., heterosexual] marriage” as the only valid marital option. According to Goodman’s Twitter, which has since been made private, he describes himself as “Christian. American. Conservative. Republican. Husband to @Beth1027.”
Another Washington Post story suggests this is not the first time Republican lawmakers have been made aware of Goodman’s private sexual behavior, and that not all of his behavior has been consensual in nature. According to documents and correspondence obtained by the Post, Tony Perkins — of the conservative Christian Family Research Council — had privately urged Goodman to drop out of the Ohio state representative race following reports that he had fondled an 18-year-old at a campaign fundraiser, alongside other similar incidents.
“Trust me,” Perkins wrote then, “this will not be ignored nor swept aside.”

Humans are reportedly being sold as slaves for $400 each on the front line of the migrant crisis

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Humans are being bought and sold at modern-day slave auctions in Libya, according to an investigation by CNN.
The news channel found evidence of two separate auctions, held after dark at undisclosed locations in the war-ravaged country, which has become the epicentre of the ongoing migrant crisis.
Footage showed men, the majority from Niger, being auctioned off by local slavers for 600 Libyan dinar each — roughly equivalent to $400 or £300.
Reporters at CNN were given mobile phone footage showing one group of men being sold at an indoor auction, which they said they were able to independently verify. 
Later they travelled to Tripoli, Libya, and were directed to an auction which they managed to film in person.
Reporter Nima Elbagir said she saw 12 men sold off in a matter of minutes by a man dressed in camouflage gear, who referred to them as "merchandise."
He reportedly said: "Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig. What am I bid, what am I bid?"
According to the news channel, the victims of the slave trade were migrants from elsewhere in Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean with the help of people smugglers, and migrate to Europe illegally. 
However, increasing efforts by European and Libyan officials to stop the crossings means that increasing numbers of men are getting stuck in Libya with nowhere to go, CNN said.
When they run out of money to pay the traffickers, they are taken as slaves and sold for farm work. At a migrant camp on the Libyan coast, several men told CNN they have been enslaved as well, and were beaten and abused during the process.

Former Oklahoma state senator has agreed to plead guilty to a child sex trafficking offense

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Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey has agreed to plead guilty to a child sex trafficking offense for offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual "stuff" last March.
In exchange for his guilty plea, U.S. prosecutors have agreed to drop three child pornography counts against him.
His jury trial had been set to begin Dec. 5 in Oklahoma City federal court. He is now scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 30 instead.
By making a deal, Shortey, 35, hopes to avoid being locked up for most of the rest of his life. Still, he will be required to serve at least a 10-year prison term, the mandatory minimum time for child sex trafficking.
The maximum time for the offense is life in prison. U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti will decide the punishment at a sentencing next year.
"It is in my best interest and in the best interest of my family," Shortey wrote on plea paperwork signed Monday. He remains married to his high school sweetheart, his defense attorney said. They have four daughters.
The defense attorney, Ed Blau, negotiated the plea agreement for Shortey after reviewing the evidence and applicable case law.
"Mr. Shortey feels this is a necessary step in putting this painful and humiliating ordeal behind him, for both himself, his family and for the state of Oklahoma," the attorney said Friday.
Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, was first elected in 2010 and was known for his offbeat legislative proposals that at times attracted national attention. He resigned March 22.
Shortey — who once planned to be a missionary — was investigated first by Moore police and then the FBI after being found with the teenager at the Super 8 in Moore about 1 a.m. March 9.
The teenager's girlfriend had followed them to the hotel after seeing Shortey pick him up. She then alerted the teenager's father who called police.
Police reported Shortey and the victim had carried on a conversation about sex using the messaging app Kik before going to the hotel. Their conversation had turned graphic when the teenager wrote, "I need money for spring break," according to police.
Shortey had replied, "I don't really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in 'sexual' stuff?" The teenager then wrote, "Yes," according to police.
Officers reported finding an open box of condoms in Shortey's backpack and a bottle of lotion in the teenager's backpack.
The victim "confirmed that he and Shortey intended to have sexual contact and that they had agreed Shortey would pay him for the contact," an FBI agent reported in a court affidavit. Both beds were described as unmade.
The two had met a year before through a Craigslist ad.
The investigation of Shortey uncovered evidence he had led a secret life. The FBI reported he used fake names to post Craigslist ads seeking sex with young males and on an email account to send and receive pornography.
"Shortey used those pseudonyms almost exclusively for illicit and illegal sexual interests or encounters, several of which included communications and exchanges of pornography with underage males, and/or the sharing of child pornography," the FBI agent wrote in the court affidavit.
A federal grand jury indicted Shortey in September.
He was accused in the child sex trafficking count of knowingly recruiting the underage male to engage in a commercial sex act.
He was accused in one of the child pornography counts of persuading that teenager to send him an inappropriate photo in 2016. He was accused in the other child pornography counts of emailing sexually explicit videos to two individuals in October 2013.
The plea agreement calls for federal prosecutors to ask the judge at sentencing to dismiss the child pornography counts. Also, according to the deal, Shortey "will not be further prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Oklahoma for any crimes related to his transportation, possession or production of child pornography or child sex trafficking during the period from October 2013 through March 9, 2017."
Shortey had also faced a child prostitution charge in Cleveland County District Court. That felony case was dismissed after he was indicted in federal court.

U.S. Marine driving 2-ton military truck with triple the legal blood alcohol limit, crashes and kills elderly man in Okinawa, Japan.

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An Okinawa-based Marine’s blood-alcohol content was triple Japan’s legal limit Sunday when his vehicle collided with a minitruck, killing its Japanese driver, police say.
The Marine was “lightly injured” in the 5:30 a.m. crash at a Naha intersection, said Okinawa policeman Kazuhiko Miyagi, who confirmed the results of the servicemember’s Breathalyzer test to The Associated Press.
In Japan, driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.03 percent can result in an automatic DUI offense.
The victim was a 61-year-old man who was making a turn when his vehicle was hit by the Marine's truck, which was coming in the opposite direction, Japanese media reports said. A witness told police that a military truck had run a red light and hit the minitruck as it was attempting to make a right turn.
The drivers’ names have not been released.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, said a statement issued Sunday evening by Marine Corps Installations Pacific at Camp Foster.
"I would like to convey my deepest regret and sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Okinawan man who died as a result of this accident," Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of Marine Forces Japan and III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in the statement. "We are still gathering facts and working with the Japanese authorities who are investigating the accident and its causes.”
Nicholson added that the Marine Corps holds servicemembers to the “highest standards of conduct,” and that it would cooperate with investigators “to the fullest extent.”
“You have my promise that I will rigorously work to determine the cause of the incident, and take every possible step to keep this from happening again," he said.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested Sunday that officials with U.S. Forces Japan and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo strengthen discipline among servicemembers and take steps to prevent future incidents. 
U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty responded by apologizing and expressing his condolences “to the victim killed in this tragic incident as well as his family,” a MOFA statement said.
Hagerty added that the U.S. side would cooperate with the investigation and move to prevent future incidents, the statement said.
The fatal collision could ignite further opposition to the U.S. military presence on Okinawa, where a string of alcohol-fueled incidents last year inspired protests and efforts to combat the problem.
Tens of thousands of people turned out in summer 2016 for demonstrations sparked by incidents involving U.S. forces, including the alcohol-fueled rape of a Japanese woman by a sailor and a crash involving an intoxicated Navy petty officer driving the wrong way down a highway that injured three people.
In December, leaders from each service branch on the island signed a proclamation urging military commanders and civilian supervisors to promote awareness of why people drive impaired, support programs and policies to reduce the problem, and promote healthier and safer activities.
Of the approximately 100,000 U.S. servicemembers, family members and Defense Department civilian workers living in Japan, about half are stationed on Okinawa.

Filthy London bakery is fined $290k after using a filthy racquet to mash potatoes

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A filthy bakery has been fined more than $290,000 for mashing potatoes - with a tennis racquet.
Doce Bakers and Sweet Mahal, which shared the same premises, had an ongoing pest problem and filthy floors and equipment, said the Daily Mail.
Despite Enfield Council officers visiting the business in Edmonton, north London, last January, they found hygiene standards had fallen even lower when they visited in July. 
Sweet Mahal company director Rana Ahmed and Doce Bakers director Nizakat Ali have now been fined $296,350 at Highbury Magistrates Court.
The shops were jointly used to manufacture desserts, sweets, bakery goods and samosas.
Enfield Council's cabinet member for environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said: "Enfield Council has a duty to protect our residents and we won't hesitate to act wherever and whenever necessary to protect them against any risk to their health.
"We take a dim view of any food outlets whose premises aren't kept in a hygienic state for the manufacture of food.
"Our residents have the right to expect the food they buy to be safe to eat."