CELEB HOUNDS_Entertainment Music NONE

Annual Swedish music festival on hiatus because of sexual assaults

One of Sweden’s largest annual music festivals announced that it is cancelling next year’s event due multiple sexual assaults at the last two events. The Bravalla Festival, which ran last week from Wednesday to Saturday in Norrköping and featured The Killers as well as Swedish DJ Alesso, DJ duo The Chainsmokers, and other international acts, is postponing the festival until concert organizers and local authorities can ensure that future concert goers will all be safe.

“Words cannot describe how incredibly sad we are about this, and we most seriously regret and condemn this,” said a press release on the festival’s website on Saturday. “This is not f-ing okay. We do not accept this at our festival.”

This year’s festival witnessed one case of rape during a performance by Swedish artist Hakan Hellstrom, as well as 11 cases of groping and sexual assault. This follows five reported rapes and 12 sexual assaults at Bravalla Festival 2016.

The event organizers are under pressure from some of the artists over the problem also. Mumford and Sons performed at Bravalla last year but posted on Facebook afterward that they would not perform there again until “we’ve had assurances from the police and organizers that they’re doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual assault.”

Sweden is grappling with rising frequency of reported sexual assault in general. The We Are STHLM youth festival reported last year that girls at its events had been victims of groping for two years running. And statistics indicate higher incidence of sexual assault in recent years nationwide than in years past, although experts debate whether there really is more crime or if there are just more victims coming forward to report it.

Business NONE TECH TECH_Technology

A third of Americans still buy and rent video

The video store isn’t ancient history just yet. In an annual survey by the research firm NPD Group, one-third of U.S. respondents said that they still rent or buy movies on DVD in addition to streaming movies on-screen.

The survey, part of NPD Group’s annual Entertainment Trends in America report, interviewed more than 7,000 U.S. consumers about their entertainment choices in August 2017. Americans watched an extra hour of TV and movies per week this August compared to August last year, the survey found. And they watched more on DVD: In last year’s survey, only 26% said that they had rented or bought movies.

Many respondents said that they use streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, but they turn to renting or buying for certain films. The reasons why included some films not yet being available on streaming, or because the users wanted to own the movie on DVD for sentimental reasons.

DVDs of family films were especially popular, respondents indicated, explaining that their children like to watch the films over and over again. Some also said that picture quality on the DVDs was better than what they could get on a streaming service.

“When it comes to entertainment, few consumers limit themselves to one single option,” said  Graham Gee, NPD’s president of video entertainment, in a statement. “Going out to the movies, watching cable TV, and viewing DVDs at home are still very popular activities, even as subscriptions to streaming services rise.”

Netflix DVD rentals accounted for many of the DVD rentals, with around 3.5 million customers who pay extra to rent DVDs by mail. But some local video stores still survive, as well as around a dozen Blockbuster stores.

NONE NWT_Energy TSC_Global Politics

Access to water cut off as battle for Mosul wages on

The battle for Mosul has cut off access to running water for thousands of citizens.

The city of Mosul has been under ISIS control for over two years and is now being retaken by the federal government of Iraq. Islamic State soldiers have been surrounded in their battle against Popular Mobilization militia, Sunni Arab tribes, and the Iraqi federal government for the ISIS stronghold city. Earlier in the month, Popular Mobilization Shi’ite militia announced that they had overtaken the last western route out of Mosul, essentially trapping ISIS soldiers inside.

It is now being reported by the United Nations and CNN that over half a million people in the Iraqi city are now without access to running water. According to the United Nations, one of the three main water pipelines in Mosul was struck as Iraqi federal troops battled with Islamic State soldiers in the eastern half of the city. The affected pipeline is in a portion of the city still inhabited by ISIS fighters and so cannot be accessed to be repaired according to UNICEF.

According to witnesses inside of Mosul, the story that a pipeline break has occurred is not the worst news in the city. There are now allegations that ISIS has also played a part in the water shortage. According to many, Islamic State soldiers are intentionally cutting off water supplies to multiple neighborhoods that are close to conflict zones. News about the ISIS affected water shortage came from Mosul City Council official, Zuhair Hazem al-Jabouri, who monitors and supervises the water and energy services for the city.


Red Cross pilfered millions of ebola aid dollars

Red Cross staff stole almost $6 million from their organization’s efforts against ebola, the organization acknowledged in a statement Friday. An internal investigation uncovered evidence that fraud was the cause of the disappearance of millions of Red Cross dollars in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and other locales where Red Cross staff were fighting the 2014 epidemic that killed more than 11,000 Africans.

Red Cross staff probably colluded with local bank officials to move funds out of the Red Cross’s coffers, the Red Cross said in a statement. It added that it is “outraged” at the losses and would waive immunity from prosecution for any culpable staff as it is “committed to holding all those involved in any form of fraud to account, and to reclaiming all misappropriated, diverted, or otherwise illegally taken funds.”

The investigation determined that more than $2.1 million disappeared from Red Cross efforts in Sierra Leone and that Guinea efforts lost $1 million for fake and inflated customs bills. This follows an earlier investigation’s discovery that inflation of payrolls and the prices of relief goods bled Liberia’s relief operations of around $2.6 million.

The Red Cross gave out tens of millions of dollars in cash to affiliate organizations on the ground during the outbreak, which ran from March 2014 until early 2016. These large sums of money moving through largely untested channels created opportunities for fraud, according to sources

Sources added that corruption is a common problem in the wake of humanitarian disasters. Unscrupulous officials or aid workers occasionally find ways to dip into relief funds or to steal supplies and sell them at marked-up prices on the black market. Nigeria’s president recently sacked a civil servant on charges that he had inflated the value of humanitarian aid programs.



Human immune system won’t hold up well when traveling in deep space

A human voyage to Mars could happen, but only if we can overcome the limitations of our own immune systems, according to research published this month in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The authors, a team of scientists from Russia and Canada, found that extended stays in space do heavy damage to our bodies’ defenses against infectious disease.
The scientists analyzed blood samples of 18 Russian cosmonauts who had stayed on the International Space Station for six months and found that their immune systems were so compromised afterward that even a common cold would be debilitating to them. The researchers attributed the immune-system damages to microgravity.
“The results showed that in weightlessness, the immune system acts like it does when the body is infected because the human body doesn’t know what to do and tries to turn on all possible defense systems,” said Evgeny Nikolaev, study co-author and professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.
Irina Larina, lead author and a molecular-physics researcher at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, said that researchers will need to further explore how microgravity impacts the human body and find ways to mitigate it. Human travelers will need “new measures of disorder prevention” to keep their health intact on long flights, she said.
The findings add to the already-lengthy list of dangerous health effects that space travel has on the human body. Researchers have found that U.S. astronauts who traveled on lunar missions were five times more likely to die from heart disease than men who had never left Earth. Other studies observed higher-than-average rates of muscle and bone-density loss, hearing impairments, respiratory ailments, and other conditions among astronauts who have spent more than a few days in space.

Business NONE NWT_Energy TECH TECH_Technology

China ramps up battery production

The world’s electric-vehicle market could be awash in new Chinese batteries after Chinese companies complete a planned expansion of lithium-ion battery manufacturing to more than 120 gigawatt-hours of battery power a year by 2021, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report. Bloomberg states that this would be enough to power 1.5 million Tesla Model S cars or 13.7 million Toyota Prius hybrids.

This production ramp-up will push China’s share of global lithium-ion battery production to 65%, up from 55% today. The United States, by comparison, produces only 10% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries.

The lithium-ion battery is a widely popular battery of choice for home electronics, aerospace applications, and cars. It creates an electric charge using a positive metal oxide, a negative carbon electrode, and an electrolyte conductor.

The market is on a fast growth trajectory and is expected to continue growing as electric vehicles become more common on the world’s roadways and as power companies establish new battery-storage facilities to receive and store electric power from solar and wind-energy installations.

China’s new factory plans coincide with Tesla’s recently announced goal of building four new lithium-ion battery factories by the end of 2017. One of these will be based in Nevada and will be the largest lithium-ion battery factory on Earth. It will roll out 35 gigawatt-hours’ worth of batteries a year—it will still be dwarfed by China’s new factory output.

Tesla first announced the “gigafactory,” as it calls the Nevada site, around three years ago. And when it did, it inspired new completion, said Simon Moores, managing director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
“The Gigafactory announced three years ago sparked a global battery arms race,” said Moores. “China is making a big push.”

HEALTH NONE NWT_Environment TSC_Global Politics

Forest fire in Spain forces more than 1500 people to evacuate homes and camp grounds

Firefighter units amassed in the Andalucia region of southern Spain this weekend to contain out-of-control fires. The fire forced more than 1,500 local campers and residents to flee before making its way into the Doñana national park, a national wildlife reserve and UNESCO Heritage Site that shelters many endangered animal species, including the Spanish imperial eagle and Iberian lynx.

Witnesses first reported the blaze Saturday night near the Andalucian town of Huelva. By Sunday morning, emergency responders had arrived in 11 airplanes, 10 helicopters, and dozens of land vehicles. Emergency services had designated the blaze a level 1—or maximum-level threat.

José Fiscal, environment minister for the Andalucía regional government, told reporters on Sunday that the fire was likely the result of arson. But Andalucia residents remain on alert due to an ongoing heat wave and a regionwide drought, which both make the whole region more susceptible to fire outbreaks. Windy conditions are also fueling the fire and making it difficult to get it fully under control, according to Antonio Sanz, government delegate in Andalucía.

Some of the evacuated residents have returned to their properties. But emergency services said that around 750 people are taking temporary shelter in sports centers.

Firefighters are now focusing their efforts on the wildlife reserve, Jose Gregorio Fiscal Lopez from the regional Andalusian authority in charge of the environment told Spanish national television. There is no word yet on the extent of damage to the park or loss of wildlife.

The fires come approximately a week after of widespread forest fires in Portugal that killed 64 people and led the Portuguese government to declare a national three-day period of mourning.


Business NONE TECH TECH_Technology

Computerization could eliminate more than half of retail jobs, analysts conclude

Amazon’s continuous expansion as brick-and-mortar malls across the country close their doors for good marks an ongoing trend that is not about to reverse course any time soon, according to analysts in both government and the private sector. Reports indicate that as many as half of human retail jobs will disappear in coming years as more and more shoppers either buy online while more brick-and-mortar stores turn over much of their daily work responsibilities to computers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates in a May 2017 report that 7.5 million retail jobs are at risk because of automation. The entire retailer workforce is approximately 16 million, so this equates to one out of every two retail jobs.

Workforce-management software may also thin the workforce. These software programs help managers track workflows and determine when business is up or down and fill staff positions accordingly. They can shed staff as soon as business slows rather than keep them on the clock without a guaranteed return on the investment.

Retail employees stand a better chance of staying employed if they learn how to serve online customers, suggest analysts at the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute. They find that those retail workers who only know how to provide customer service in-person will be likely to lose their positions to automated kiosks, offsite customer call centers, and remote warehouses that receive orders online.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s data supports these assertions. Its Quarterly E-Commerce Report released in the fourth quarter of 2016 noted that online sales accounted for more than 9% of all retail sales in the United States, and that e-commerce grew 14.3% from fourth-quarter 2015 while total retail sales grew only 4.1%.


Money Mayweather believes Ronda Rousey can make a comeback

Floyd Money Mayweather delivered words of encouragement to MMA fighter, Ronda Rousey.

Rousey and Mayweather have traded verbal jabs before with Rousey making allusions to Mayweather being accused of domestic abuse and Mayweather dismissing her bank account, which is smaller than his. After Rousey lost to Amanda Nunes during Ultimate Fighting Championship 207 in late December, many thought Rousey might retire from fighting. She had suffered two bad losses where she could not last the entire bout. Many in the sport believe that she no longer has the passion for mixed martial arts. Floyd Mayweather, however, believes she can make a comeback.

“I want Ronda Rousey to hold your head up, stay focused, keep believing. A true champion can bounce back, you’ll be okay. I think her losing had a lot to do with time off, she maybe should have competed against another female MMA fighter that wasn’t as active as the female that she faced. The female that she faced was rugged and tough. Ronda Rousey has a lot left. I don’t want her to think it’s the end of the world. She’s hearing it from the best. She’ll be okay. Ronda Rousey hold your head up. She’s still a true champion in our eyes. You made women’s MMA huge. Stay focused, go back to the drawing board and do what you gotta do. 2017 is a whole new year. That was last year, that was 2016 if I’m not mistaken. Now it’s 2017, so you’re undefeated this year. Come back, champ.”



Craig Sager dies at 65

Turner Sports broadcaster, Craig Sager, died on Thursday of cancer at age 65.

“Craig Sager was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than three decades and he has been a true inspiration to all of us, ” read a statement from Turner president, David Levy. “There will never be another Craig Sager. His incredible talent, tireless work ethic and commitment to his craft took him all over the world covering sports. While he will be remembered fondly for his colorful attire and the TNT sideline interviews he conducted with NBA coaches and players, it’s the determination, grace and will to live he displayed during his battle with cancer that will be his lasting impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig’s wife, Stacy, and the entire Sager family during this difficult time. We will forever be Sager Strong.”

Sager, who was known for his colorful suits, endured for a career that spanned over 40 years. Players, coaches, analysts and television producers alike had a deep respect and affinity for the sideline reporter who was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia in 2014. That respect bled over into a Sager Strong movement, which raised money for cancer research, selling articles of clothing with the distinct style of Sager stitched into each piece. After his diagnosis, Sager missed parts of the 2014 and 2015 NBA seasons. In honor of his father, Craig Sager Jr., took over for his dad to conduct a sideline interview with San Antonio Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich, who had, for years, taken a playfully acerbic attitude towards Sager.