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U.S.: Venezuela Vice President Is Drug Trafficker

On Monday, U.S. authorities said the Venezuela Vice President is an international drug trafficker. At the same time, the U.S. placed a number of sanctions against him. The Office of Foreign Assets Control or OFAC of the U.S. Department of Treasury said that Tareck El Aissami has had a significant role in narcotics trafficking, said the agency’s news release. The action by the OFAC culminated an investigation of a number of years that targeted narcotics traffickers within Venezuela and demonstrated that influence and power cannot protect those... 
 

Free Soda Refills Banned in France

In 2004, vending machines were banned from schools in France. Then in 2011, the government limited the servings of French fries at schools to once per week. In 2012, France imposed its soda tax. The government on Friday took another step saying that restaurants could not offer any free refills for sugary drinks including soda. The latest regulation is the most recent attempt by the government to tackle what it calls a relentless increase in the national rate of obesity. Fast food establishments, usually multinational chains, will be targeted under... 
 

Mexicans Outraged At Hike in Price of Gas to Start 2017

Motorists in Mexico were shocked when they saw the prices of gasoline on New Year’s Day. Pump prices soared by over 20% in some areas of the country on January 1, sparking panic buying, protests in the streets and a call by a prominent lawmaker to hold a peaceful revolution. One trucking company employee said that if the gasoline prices continue to increase the cost of everything else will go up as well. One protester said paying taxes for gas is understandable, but where are all the services from the government in return such as filling potholes... 
 

Four Large World Capitals Planning to Ban Diesel

Cityscapes filled with smog are a common scene across the globe. This is a problem that for decades, some large cities have battled and four mayors late last week announced they are taking drastic action. The mayors of Athens, Madrid, Mexico City and Paris have all said they want to ban all diesel vehicles from their city roadways by 2025. This pledge, made at the 2016 C40 Mayor Summit held last week in Mexico City is part of an effort around the world by city leaders to battle issues related to climate change. This proactive approach is being driven... 
 

Indian Banks Report Millions of Debit Cards Were Compromised

A number of major banks in India have taken safety measures amidst fears the security of over 3.2 million debit cards were compromised. A number of the banks affected have asked customers to change their security codes. They are blocking as well as replacing the cards in additional to requesting code changes. The breach is believed to have been made by malware places in an ATM network. Some customers have vigorously complained that large amount of money were debited from their accounts. In all, there is believed to be over 700 million debit cards... 
 

Car Sales in China Rise Sharply During September

Tax breaks by the government along with dealer discounts were what fueled a jump of 29% in car sales for China during September. The increase was the largest since January of 2013. Domestic and foreign automakers shipped over 2.27 million vehicles including sedans, minivans and crossovers to dealers in September, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Wednesday. In September of 2015, 1.75 million vehicles were shipped. Thus far, in 2017, China’s sales of new cars have reached 16.75 million, an increase of 15% from the same period... 
 

CEO at Backpage.com Charged in California with Pimping

The CEO of Backpage.com the online, classified portal and two of the controlling shareholders of the company have been charged this week with pimping, which is a felony in California. Authorities allege the online site operators were running what they called an “online brothel.” Carl Ferrer, the Backpage CEO, operates the site from Amsterdam and Dallas. He was arrested upon arriving on a flight in Houston from the Netherlands. Ken Paxton the Attorney General of Texas and Kamala Harris the Attorney General of California said that a joint investigation... 
 

Revival by France Fuels Common Currency Zone

An unexpected French revival of its economy might have been a big help to the eurozone in avoiding more slowdown during the three-month period ending at the start of September, showed surveys from purchasing managers at service providers and manufacturers in the common currency zone. However, Germany, the largest economy, continued to slow down which showed there was little sign of an acceleration in the anemic recovery that would be necessary for the European Central Bank to reach its target for inflation over the upcoming years. Nevertheless,... 
 

U.S. Olympic Members Have Medical Data Stolen by Hackers

On Tuesday, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that hackers from Russia had broken into its computer database stealing the medical data of different Olympic stars that included Simone Biles the U.S. gold medalist gymnast and Venus Williams the veteran tennis star. The cyber criminals known as Fancy Bear and Tsar Team publicly released part of the data they stole and have threatened to leak additional data. The group is also thought to be behind the hack this past June of the Democratic National Committee, which released sensitive strategy of... 
 

Oil Prices Jump as Russia and Saudi Arabia Decide to Work Together

Russia and Saudi Arabia signed a new agreement that has a goal of stabilizing the worldwide oil market, according to TASS the news agency in Russia that is state-owned. The two countries pledged to set up a group, along with other types of measures with the goal of supporting an oil market that has been hit hard but a huge collapse in prices since 2014. On Monday, the prices of oil increased by 3%. The new agreement was first announced at the G20 summit being held in China. It should help to set an agenda for a meeting that is being called informal,... 
 

Nigeria Falls into Recession as Price of Oil Shrinks the Economy

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has officially entered a recession for only the first time in over 20 years as its statistics office made an announcement of more contraction during the just ended second quarter of 2016. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics or NBS said that the gross domestic product had shrunk 2.06% following a shrinkage of more than 0.35% during the first three months of 2016. The NBS said that the non-oil sector dropped due to weak currency and lower oil prices pulled down that sector. Lower crude oil prices, the mainstay of... 
 

Famous and Beloved Mexican Singer Juan Gabriel Dies

Superstar singer and songwriter Juan Gabriel from Mexico, who was a Latin music world icon, died on Sunday in his Santa Monica, California home aged 66, said his publicist. Gabriel was the top selling artist and singer songwriter in Mexico. His ballads relating to love and heartbreak as well as his mariachi tunes were highly popular across all of Latin America, Spain and with people who spoke Spanish in the U.S. He made thousands of fans tear up when they would sing along as he crooned song after song about love as well as heartbreak. His biggest... 
 

Bitcoins With $72 Million Value Stolen from Bitfinex Exchange

Close to 120,000 units of Bitcoin, the digital currency worth nearly $72 million was stolen from Bitfinex an exchange platform in Hong Kong. This rattled the global community of bitcoin in the second largest ever security breach of that type of exchange. Bitfinex is the largest exchange in the world that is dollar based for bitcoin. It is known for possessing deep liquidity in the digital currency community for the U.S. dollar and bitcoin currency pair. Zane Tacket, the Bitfinex Community and Product Development Director said on Wednesday that the... 
 

Didi Acquires Uber China, Will Maintain Uber Brand

Didi Chuxing based in China and Uber have each confirmed that Didi agreed to purchase Uber’s business Uber China based in China as a pathway to get the two on-demand transportations companies that are unprofitable turned around to make money. This deal was heavily speculated earlier on Monday in China. The two businesses will keep their own brands, app as well as business operations, with just the backrooms being merged. Didi announced that it would integrate the technological and managerial experience and expertise of each team. The explanation... 
 

McDonald’s Stops Sales of Big Mac in Venezuela

The Golden Arches are no longer offering their classic Big Mac sandwich in the South American country of Venezuela. This is just one more sign in a series, of the deepening economic crisis that is plaguing Venezuela. McDonald’s announced it would suspend its Big Mac sales due to not being able to source one of the key components of the burger. Arcos Dorados, the largest franchisee in the world for McDonald’s said on Thursday that it could not find a supplier for the middle bun on the Big Mac that is used to separate the two beef patties. While... 
 

Abortion Requests Rise in Latin America Due to Zika Fears

In countries across Latin America, where abortion is either very restricted if not illegal, pregnant women have started to seek abortion at substantially higher rates, shows a new study. This development comes following an alert in November about the Zika virus that the Pan American Health Organization issued. The alert spoke of a potential for Zika to cause complications in unborn children that included severe abnormalities of the brain such as microcephaly, as well as hearing and eye defects. Some governments issued health warnings, including... 
 

Colombia Puts Cocaine Capital Stigma Behind It, Economy Expands

Colombia’s days of narcos, drugs and warfare have faded. Once the battleground of Pablo Escobar for his drug war, Colombia is shedding its cocaine capital image countering it with a growing economy, closer ties to the U.S. and taking steps to bring to an end its decade’s old civil war. The country is hosting the 2016 World Economic Forum for all of Latin America. Current Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday said that the end of the country’s armed conflict would help contribute to economic progress across the region. Santos is... 
 

Disney Shanghai Theme Park Opens for Business

Walt Disney Co finally opened its first theme park located in China prompting thousands of enthusiasts gathered to see Mickey Mouse and friends to rush through the gates and storm the tallest castle, ride Roaring Rapids or visit Treasure Cove. The largest Disney overseas investment reached $5.5 billion to open the doors of this park, betting on the middle class in China and the booming market for domestic tourism. Disney, based in the U.S., is hoping to offset an otherwise sluggish business in international theme parks that are better known as being... 
 

Tourists Afraid to Visit Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia

The world has become a much scarier place and a number of countries are frightening off tourists. Travelers around the globe numbering in the millions are canceling their dream trips to place such as the pyramids in Egypt, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the coast of Tunisia due to heightened concerns over terrorism. In Egypt, the vital tourism industry is in dire straits after multiple disasters in the aviation industry and a number of years of political unrest following the Arab Spring of 2011. Annual numbers of visitors peaked in 2010 at 14... 
 

How Americans and Others Are Buying Less Expensive Drugs

A growing number of Americans are traveling to India to buy prescription drugs at huge discounts. Dozens of medicines that are life saving are sold much less expensive in India, which has attracted a number of sick foreigners who have not had access to them or cannot afford to buy them in their homeland. It is not easy however. Foreigners have to navigate the healthcare system of India, loads of paperwork and at times a language barrier. However, for many, the only option available to them is a trip to India. One such foreigner is from Alaska. The... 
 

Strike Looms as Labor Dispute in France Heats Up

Francois Hollande the President of France insists that the controversial reform in labor will not be scratched as a strike looms for railways. He told a local newspaper in Paris that the text of the reform assures the best performances for all businesses and it offers employees new rights. Protesters did not agree as last week they clashed with police during marches opposed to the bill, which makes both the hiring and firing process easier. There are a number of concerns that the Euro 2016 tournament, which is being hosted next week by France, might... 
 

Venezuela Sugar Supply is Nearly Gone

Venezuela is running low on sugar. Amidst a humanitarian and political struggle, the state run producers of sugar in Venezuela announced earlier during the week they temporarily stopped production because of lacking raw sugar. Coca-Cola FEMSA, the biggest worldwide bottler of Coke, lifted a big red flag late this week. To manufacture Coca-Cola in Venezuela, the FEMSA group needed industrial, refined sugar made by the government entity Venezuelan Agricultural Corporation in Sugar. FEMSA, which is owned partly by Coca-Cola, said it would continue... 
 

Apple Setting Up India Based Development Center for Maps

Continuing his attempt to woo customers as well as developers in India, Tim Cook the Apple CEO said on Thursday that the company would open a development center in Hyderabad in the southern part of India for its Maps product. Earlier this week, Apple announced it would be setting up in early 2017 a facility in the city of Bangalore that would focus on helping the developers to improve design, quality as well as performance of apps on the platform iOS. Cook is visiting India for the first time. The company has seen growth year on year of more than... 
 

U.S. Offers Technology to Turkey to Block ISIS at Border

The United States has accelerated its efforts to help the government of Turkey to clamp down its border with Syria, said senior officials from the U.S. For only the first time, technology is being offered to Ankara to help the government secure its borders. The two countries have discussed for months ways to seal the final piece of border left unsecured, a 60-mile long stretch of land that has been a thruway for fighters with the Islamic State, war materials and goods on the black market. ISIS controls Syria’s side of the border in that area,... 
 

Iran Sanctions Have Been Lifted, Oil Shakeup to Follow

The end of the economic sanctions placed against Iran might shakeup the oil markets. On Saturday, the European Union and the United States lifted the sanctions against Tehran restoring the access of Iran to world markets. Iran has prepared itself for the sanctions being lifted for a number of months and could return in quick fashion to the top ranks in global oil productions. Prices of crude had plunged for a number of months dropping to under $30 per barrel and a surge of new oil exported by Iran would likely see crude prices fall even lower. Analysts... 
 

Study: Being A Female is More Expensive Than Being Male

Women pay thousands of dollars more than men over their lifetimes to purchase similar products, according to a recent study of prices between genders for goods across New York City. This has revealed widespread pricing disparities that are gender based. The study compared close to 800 products with versions that were clearly male as well as female from over 90 brands sold in stores and online. The Department of Consumer Affairs in New York City, which carried out this study into the pricing between genders, found that the women’s version of these... 
 

Oil Reaches Low of 11 Years, Elections in Spain Hits Assets

Brent crude extended its slide Monday to the lowest level in over 11 years while investors sold Spanish stocks and bonds after the general election was inconclusive that could set up a possible stalemate for weeks in the political arena. The Ibex share index in Spain fell to a low of three months but stocks overall in Europe moved up, following suit from the gains across Asia and higher stock futures for the U.S. Spanish stocks as well as bonds recovered some earlier losses, but remained down during Monday’s midday. Oil recovered some, having... 
 

Economy in India Grows Faster than That of China

The economic growth of India picked up during the quarter from July through September outpacing that of China on the improving demand domestically and activity in manufacturing, which could help persuade the central bank of the country to keep its interest rates the same at its meeting on Tuesday. It is expected that the Reserve Bank of India will keep its interest rates the same after a 50 basis point drop that was sharper than had been expected at its most recent meeting, as it attempts to control the rises in prices ahead of a tighter inflation... 
 

Women Beginning to Match Drinking Habits of Men

Women in the U.S. are catching up with men as far as using and abusing alcohol shows a new report from the government. The researchers looked at data from between 2002 and 2012 and found that the alcohol consumption reported in the previous 30 days increased amongst women from close to 45% to over 48%, while it dropped amongst men from just over 57% from more than 60%. Men still drink more alcohol. However, the difference between the two sexes is shrinking, added researchers. The researchers also found that the average number of days drinking over... 
 

Cheap Gas Has Fueled Travel Day for Thanksgiving Holiday

An expanded version of the annual travel saga for Americans on Thanksgiving has started with low gas prices and high levels of fear over terrorism. AAA the motoring organization estimates that 46.9 million Americans will drive a car, ride plane, train or bus a minimum of 50 miles from their home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That would equal an increase of over 300,000 people over 2014 and the most since 2007. Amongst the reasons for the increase are the improved economy and the least expensive gasoline for this period since 2008. Anyone... 
 

State Department in U.S. Issues Worldwide Travel Warning

The State Department of the U.S. has issued a worldwide travel warning. This type of warning is a very rare and comes following the Paris terrorist attacks and due to an increased threat of terrorist attacks. While there is not any specific treat within the U.S., the state department warned that people should now be much more vigilant after the recent attacks in France, Denmark, Mali, Turkey and Nigeria. In a message that was posted on its Internet site, the U.S. State Department said that current information indicates that the Islamic State, Boko... 
 

Central Bank of Russia Maintains Rates on Weak Growth

The central bank of Russia maintained its lending rate the same on Friday, for the second consecutive time stressing the risks of inflation above the worries over a stagnant economy. This decision leaves the benchmark rate at the bank, its one-week repo rate, unchanged at 11%. Russia is facing difficult policy dilemmas as it grapples simultaneously with inflation that is at more than 15% and a domestic economy that is ready to slump over 4% in 2015 with just meager prospects of recovery on the horizon. Low prices of oil and sanctions by the West... 
 

Mexico Pacific Coast Bracing for Strongest Hurricane on Record

Thousands of people are evacuating the Pacific coast of Mexico Friday as Hurricane Patricia, the strongest ever recorded hurricane in the Western Hemisphere is bearing down on Puerto Vallarta the popular tourist region packing 200 mph sustained winds. The National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted the hurricane would make catastrophic landfall as a category 5 storm later on Friday. The storm was described by the hurricane center as the most powerful record in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic. The center warned about overpowering winds, torrential... 
 

Phubbing Could Hurt Personal Relationships

A recent study published online by researchers this week found that phubbing or phone snubbing with a cell phones could be damaging to romantic relationships and could make people more depressed. The research team conducted two individual surveys of over 450 adults in the U.S. When a person believes their partner has phubbed them, it created conflict and led to lower levels of relationship satisfaction, said the authors of the study and ultimately to higher depression levels as a consequence. The study has shown that 46.3% reported they had been... 
 

Google to Offer Wi-Fi Free at India Train Stations

Google announced today that it would provide public high speed Wi-Fi in 400 of India’s train stations. This news was released as Narendra Modi the Prime Minister visits Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California to champion his new Digital India Initiative wrote the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai. In a collaborated effort with Indian Railways, which is the operator of one of the largest railway networks in the world and RailTel the Internet service RailWire through its fiber network. The Access and Energy team at Google is aiming to bring... 
 

Flu Vaccines Should Be More Effective This Winter

As the annual flu season approaches, federal officials said on Thursday that the new flu vaccines available for North America this season should be a good match to the influenza strains that are in the U.S. The new lots of flu shots and mists include protection versus viral strain A/Switzerland/9715293/2013. That H3N2 flu caused the most illnesses during the flu season last year, but it emerged too late to be included in the vaccines made for the U.S. Due to that, the overall effectiveness of the flu vaccines in 2014 was just 23%. That means people... 
 

China Releases Details of New State Reform

China has unveiled details on Sunday of restructuring its huge state business sector, including some privatization, as new data pointed to a cooling in the second largest world economy. The guidelines that were issued jointly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the cabinet of China known as the State Council included plans of cleaning up and integrating some state companies, said Xinhua the official news agency. More details elaborating on the reform were not released. Reform of the underperforming enterprises that are state owned... 
 

Foreign Automakers Worried over Economy in China Slowing

Peugeot, Volkswagen and BMW all reported a slowdown in sales in their recent earnings reports, while Ford singled out the economy in China as a big risk. Sales of passenger vehicles fell close to 7% during July reaching their lowest level of the past 17 months, as production tumbled by 12%, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Weak sales were reflective of the slowdown in growth in the economy said industry analysts with little sign there will be improvement over the short term. Volkswagen the largest... 
 

Cubans Surprised by Speech from John Kerry

Some Cubans who saw it did not believe it – a Secretary of State of the U.S. lecturing their Communist government about human rights and democracy on state run television. As the flag of the U.S. was raised at its newly opened embassy in Havana for just the first time in the past 54 years, John Kerry called for Cuba to have genuine democracy and his speech was broadcast throughout the entire island nation from start to finish with accurate translation into Spanish so all would understand. Kerry said that Cubans should have the freedom to choose... 
 

Greece Could Ask for as Much as 24 Billion Euros

Greece might seek up to as much as 24 billion euros for its first tranche of new bailout aid from its international lenders during August to help prop hits banks up and repay its debts that are coming due at the European Central Bank, said a newspaper in Greece that is pro-government in its early editions on Sunday. Athens is currently in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission to secure as much as 86 billion euros for its bailout. This will be the country’s third bailout in the past five years. Avgi newspaper,... 
 

Greece on Brink of Economic Collapse Voters Ready to Decide

The deeply divided nation of Greece is preparing for Sunday’s referendum vote to decide whether they accept more difficult austerity cuts from Europe or not accept the cuts and possibly lose membership in the common currency euro zone. In what appeared to be a stable Europe only a few years ago, the European Union faces security issues. An unprecedented crisis with migrants, a war in the Ukraine and growing threats from Islamic militants have threatened the alliance of 28 nations, as economic populism and nationalism surge across many capitals. While... 
 

Six-Year Old Boy Who Was Unvaccinated Dies of Diphtheria

Since the advent of vaccines, many lives have been saved, but some parents still refuse to immunize their children for a number of reason ranging from concerns of risks involved in receiving the shot to their religious beliefs. The consequence of that decision has proven fatal for a boy from Olot, Spain who was just six years of age. He died from diphtheria, which was the first case of that disease in Spain since 1987. The child was admitted at the end of May to the pediatric intensive care unit, at a hospital in Spain and died on Saturday. He had... 
 

Russia and Greece Reach New Gas Deal

Greece could not reach a debt deal with its creditors, so it went to Russia. Greece has signed a controversial deal with Russia involving gas. The country still can stave off financial collapse with a meeting on Monday with leader of Europe, but Greece wanted others to see it has other options as well. On Friday, officials agreed to construct a pipeline that would bring Russian gas into Greece and through to other parts of western Europe, reported the state media in Russia. Alexander Novak the energy minister in Russia said the new deal took the... 
 

Flesh Eating Bacteria in Florida Kills Two

Health Department officials in Florida have reported that bacteria described as flesh-eating and named Vibrio vulnificus has infected a number of people and killed two this year. Florida beachgoers have been warned that the bacterium, which lives in warm ocean water, infects people through ingesting contaminated food or water, injury or an open wound. According the office of the Center for Disease Control, this outbreak is said to be seasonal with cases occurring more often from May to October People also can be infected with the bacteria by eating... 
 

Saudi Arabia Claims to Have Shot Down Missile from Yemen

The state news agency in Saudi Arabia said the military there shot down a Scud missile that had been fired into the kingdom by Houthi rebels in Yemen who attacked a number of points in the southern region of Saudi Arabia. Two patriot missiles were able to intercept the Scud over Khamis Mushait a city in southern Saudi, said the news agency. The city is where the largest Saudi Arabia air base in the southern part of the country is located and is used regularly by the country’s fighter jets when launching airstrikes inside Yemen. Saudi said dozens... 
 

Muslim Chaplain Says She Was Discriminated Against on United

A request to receive a can of Diet Coke unopened on a United Airlines flight has left a Muslim chaplain in tears. Ahmad, who is 31, is a chaplain and the director of a Northwestern University interfaith engagement. She had been traveling on Friday to Washington from Chicago for a conference to promote dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli youth. During the flight, she wore a hijab or headscarf. For reasons of hygiene, she requested a can of soda that was unopened. The United flight attendant told Ahmad she could not give her any unopened can... 
 

Herpes Used to Fight Melanoma

A genetically engineered type of herpes virus that is also harmless has shown promise in slowing melanoma progress, said a report by researchers. The new form of treatment works by killing the cancer cells and triggering the body’s immune system to attack the tumors, said researchers. The scientists said the study of 435 patients around the globe was the first phase 3 clinical trial that showed viral immunotherapy – using a virus that is harmless to spur on a response by the immune system against cancer – could benefit patients with cancer. The... 
 

Hackers of Photobucket Face U.S. Charges

Two men who allegedly developed an app that enabled criminals to harvest data that was personal from users of Photobucket, the photo sharing site, have been arrested in the United States. An indictment against two hackers includes a claim they conspired to commit fraud. The app the hackers designed allowed users to access accounts that were password protected giving them access to photos that were private. It is unknown as to the number of members of Photobucket were affected by this breach. The app, whose name is an obscene pun on the Photobucket... 
 

Smartphones Being Used As Microscopes

Scientists have turned the smartphone into a microscope as well as other tools in the medical field that could help to fight diseases in some of the most remote areas on the globe. The most recent work came from researchers at U.C. Berkley who used a video microscope run by a smartphone to target a big challenge in areas of Central Africa where devastating infections are being caused by miniscule parasitic worms. The study, which is just a small pilot one, is in Cameroon and showed how the smartphone could measure in just minutes certain types of... 
 

Five Months Following Infection Ebola Can Spread Through Sex

Health officials believe that survivors of Ebola can spread the deadly disease during unprotected sex up to twice as long as originally thought. Scientists had thought that the deadly Ebola virus was able to remain in semen for up to three months. However, a recent West Africa case suggests that infection through unprotected sex could happen over five months later. Based upon that case, health officials have now started to tell male survivors of Ebola to avoid having unprotected sex for an indefinite period. Previously they advised the survivors... 
 
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