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Texas governor calls for more armed teachers and guards in schools after Santa Fe shooting

Arming teachers, dispatching more security guards to campuses and seizing firearms from the mentally ill were among the gun proposals Texas governor Greg Abbott released in response to a school shooting.

After a gunman shot and killed ten people at a high school in Santa Fe, the Republican governor vowed swift action to bolster school safety and prevent future massacres.

“When an active shooter situation arises, the difference between life and death can be a matter of seconds”, Mr Abbott said. “Trained security personnel can make all the difference”.

The proposals unveiled by Mr Abbott echo the set of laws Republican-controlled Florida enacted earlier this year after a shooting in Parkland left 17 dead.

Their overarching focus was on fortifying school security rather than on new gun restrictions, reflecting Texas’s conservative political bent and deeply entrenched gun culture.

Embracing a controversial idea that has drawn support from Donald Trump and the National Rifle association, the plan calls for training more teachers to participate in a “school marshal” programme that allows them to carry guns on campus. Mr Abbott said students and parents repeatedly expressed support for the idea during a series of roundtables after the shooting.

“As one Santa Fe student said at one of the roundtables, and I quote: ‘Arming teachers, and not knowing who is armed, that is what we need’”, Mr Abbot said.

The governor’s proposal advocated boosting the presence of law enforcement personnel on campuses and recruiting more former police officers and military veterans to serve as school safety officers. It sought to mandate more work around existing school safety initiatives and to expand tools like behavioural assessment programmes that can identify problem students and “fusiuon centres” allowing law enforcement to monitor social media.

Two of the report’s proposals concerned the right to possess firearms.

It advocated expanding a 48-hour reporting period for legal actions, like protective orders, that affect gun ownership rights. It also encouraged legislators to consider allowing law enforcement, family members and teachers to petition to strip guns from people who propose a threat – an idea adopted by Florida and other states.

British man held on death row in Ethiopia for four years released

A British national held on death row in Ethiopia for four years has been released.

Ethiopia-born Andargachew Tsege, also known as Andy, was accused by the Ethiopian authorities of being a terrorist and was tried with others in his absence in 2009 before being sentenced to death.

The father-of-three, who fled Ethiopia in the 1970s and sought asylum in the UK in 1979, had been a prominent critic of the country’s ruling party.

In June 2014 Mr Tsege, who is in his 60s, was kidnapped in Yemen and rendered to the African country, where he has since been held in prison.

The Foreign Secretary said: “I am pleased Andargachew Tsege is now able to reunite with his loved ones after being separated from them for so long.

“His case has been a priority for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and our staff have worked tirelessly to support him and his family throughout his detention.”

He added: “Recent moves by the Ethiopian government send a positive signal that they remain serious about following through with promised reforms to increase political space.

“Our dedicated staff continue to work hard behind the scenes on all consular cases around the world.”


Petro: What is Venezuela’s new bitcoin alternative and why is it so controversial?

Venezuela has developed a brand new cryptocurrency, called petro.

The government of the crisis-hit country says it was created in order to help overcome financial sanctions imposed by the US and the EU.

However, petro is considered to be illegal by opposition leaders in Venezuela, and there are also concerns that anyone who buys into it could quickly lose their investment.

The Venezuelan government is officially launching the pre-sale of the cryptocurrency today.

Each petro token will be backed by one barrel of oil, it says.

The entire circulation of 100 million petro tokens will be available in its initial coin offering (ICO), with the government expecting the cryptocurrency’s launch to raise $6bn.

“Petro is born and we are going to have a total success for the welfare of Venezuela,” said President Nicolas Maduro, teleSUR reports.

“The largest and most important companies and blockchain in the world are with Venezuela, we are going to sign agreements.”

Venezuela says it expects to attracts investors from Qatar, Turkey, the US and Europe.

It initially won’t be available in to purchase in exchange for the Venezuelan bolivar – which has plummeted in value – but this could become an option in the future.

The Venezuelan government says petro holders will be able to exchange it for goods and services, similar to bitcoin. However, many people consider bitcoin to be more of an asset than a currency, because it can be much harder to spend than traditional money.

“The most important contribution of petro to the cryptoassets’ market and the new digital economy will be the support offered by a sovereign state,” reads the website for petro.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela guarantees that it will receive petro as a form of payment for national taxes, fees, contributions and public services, taking as a reference the previous day’s Venezuelan oil basket price with a discount. This will ensure that the buyer always has a return value adjusted to the value of his investment.

However, Venezuela’s opposition-led parliament considers petro’s IPO to be “a forward sale of Venezuelan oil,” and “tailor-made for corruption”.

There are also fears that the creation of petro is little more than a desperate bid to raise money, and that it will quickly lose much of its value, leaving investors out of pocket.

That fear is what led to China banning ICOs last year, in order to stop people from falling prey to financial scams, at a time when mainstream interest in digital currencies was skyrocketing.

“During the last 4 years Venezuela has experienced the biggest financial crisis in its history, a situation that has resulted in a devaluation of its national currency, the bolivar,” the petro website says.

“The petro will be the foundation of a policy to promote development, infrastructure and training of young people in electronic mining, coding, cryptography, network security and economics 4.0, that will enable the exploitation of Venezuela and other developing countries’ most valuable assets in a new world of transparent, deconcentrated and manipulation-free markets, all thanks to technology.”

We’ve teamed up with cryptocurrency trading platform eToro. Click here to get the latest Bitcoin rates and start trading. Remember that returns are not guaranteed, so you could get back less than you invested.

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Philip Roth death: Tributes pour in for ‘truly great American writer’

The writing world has begun mourning the loss of award-winning satirist Philip Roth, the famed author of American Pastoral, who has died aged 85.

One notable name to pay tribute was David Simon, creator of The Wire, who has been working on a TV adaptation of Roth’s provocative novel The Plot Against America.

“Improbably, I had the honour of meeting Philip Roth just a few months ago to discuss an adaptation of Plot Against America,” Simon wrote on Twitter. “At 85, he was more precise and insightful, more intellectually adept and downright witty than most any person of any age. What a marvellous, rigorous mind.”

Former Monty Python member Eric Idle called Roth an “amazing novelist”, while author David Baddiel said of Roth on Twitter: “The last of those who David Foster Wallace called the Great Male Narcissists – Bellow, Updike, Mailer and him – to go. He was properly funny. Not high literature funny. Laugh out loud, stand-up funny. And all the other stuff he could do, but funny is the thing.”

Michael Green, the screenwriter behind Logan and Blade Runner 2049, tweeted: “We all wanted to be Philip Roth. None of us came close.”

Roth’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said the author died in a New York City hospital of congestive heart failure. He published over 25 books and was a fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of Portnoy’s Complaint to the elegiac lyricism of American Pastoral.

Iran condemns US threat to impose ‘strongest sanctions in history’

Iranian politicians have reacted with anger to a promise from newly appointed US secretary of state Mike Pompeo to impose “the strongest sanctions in history’ on the Islamic Republic following the US’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said on Monday Mr Pompeo’s background as a former CIA chief made him an untenable choice to make decisions which “affect Iran and the world”.

The remarks carried on Iranian state media were quickly followed by tweets from Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif, who said US diplomacy was a “sham”.

The US was “regressing to old habits”, he added, “imprisoned by delusions [and] failed policies.”

The condemnation comes in the wake of a speech from Mr Pompeo in Washington DC in which he said the US would impose “unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime”. 


Any new rapprochement would mean Iran would have to withdraw its forces in Syria and its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, he added.

US president Donald Trump announced earlier this month the US would withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) brokered under Barack Obama, calling the nuclear accord a “rotten deal”.

The JCPOA, agreed between Iran and the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, lifted crippling international sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its nuclear energy programme and any nuclear weapons ambitions.

The US has already re-imposed old sanctions on Iran’s central bank. Mr Pompeo did not outline what further action will look like.

The unilateral action from the Trump administration has been widely criticised by European diplomats.

After Mr Pompeo’s speech on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also rebuked the US, warning there is “no alternative” to the 2015 accord. 

The other five parties to the JCPOA have agreed to honour it, although European businesses may now find themselves running afoul of US sanctions rules if they continue to explore financial opportunities with Iran – one of the world’s biggest oil producers.

Majority of voters think Brexit will hit UK economy immediately, poll finds

A majority of voters think Brexit will harm the UK economy in the coming years, a new poll has found.

The survey, carried out by BMG exclusively for The Independent, found 52 per cent of people think the economy will weaken in the next five years as Britain leaves the EU, compared to just 26 per cent who think it will grow stronger.

Almost one in four voters (24 per cent) believe the economy will get “significantly weaker” as a result of Brexit, while only 7 per cent think it will grow “significantly stronger”.

The poll was released shortly after a leaked Government assessment found some regions of the UK could see their economies shrink by as much as 16 per cent if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

The North East will be hit especially hard, followed by the West Midlands, North West, and Northern Ireland.

Analysis seen by The Independent suggested the total cost of a no-deal Brexit would be up to £252bn over 15 years if Britain crashes out of the EU without a trade deal, while securing a free trade agreement would reduce output by £131bn.

Even the least costly option of remaining in the single market and customs union would mean £52bn in lost economic growth, according to an analysis of the Government’s own assessment by the anti-Brexit group Best for Britain.

Despite fears of a short-term hit, close to half of voters are confident that the positive impact of Brexit will emerge further down the line.

According to the BMG poll, 44 per cent think leaving the EU will strengthen the UK economy in at least ten years’ time, compared to 36 per cent who believe the impact will continue to be negative.

The survey also reveals widespread confusion about the Government’s Brexit strategy.

74 per cent of respondents said Theresa May’s plans were “unclear”, compared to just 17 per cent who said they were clear.

The lack of clarity applies to a number of key areas of Brexit talks, the poll found. 82 per cent of respondents said the Government’s plans for the Northern Ireland land border were unclear, while 75 per cent said the same was true of ministers’ intentions on immigration. 74 per cent said they were unclear on the Government’s trade strategy.

The finding appears to undermine ministers’ claims that they have a “clear plan for Brexit” and supports EU leaders who say the UK must clarify its intentions in relation to a number of key issues.

Speaking last week, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said: “I don’t understand some of the positions of the UK…I am surprised by these disagreements. The positions of the EU are very logical.”

Preliminary talks are already underway ahead of the second round of formal Brexit negotiations, which are due to begin next month.

Best for Britain chief campaigning for second referendum compares Brexit to appeasement of Nazi Germany

Brexit has been compared to the appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s by a leading supporter of the Remain campaign.

Lord Malloch-Brown, the former foreign office minister who heads the Best for Britain group, made the comments after billionaire George Soros announced a campaign for a second Brexit referendum.

Mr Soros, who is reported to have given about £500,000 to the group set up by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller last year, said action was needed as withdrawal from the European Union was “immensely damaging” for the UK.

Lord Malloch-Brown said Britain needed to stay close to the EU because appeasement, which was a 1930s government policy of pursuing agreement with Nazi Germany in the hope of avoiding war, showed how badly things could go wrong when the UK tried to isolate itself from the continent.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Britain’s history as an island nation adjacent to mainland Europe is when we try to, sort of, pull away from Europe’s problems and close ourselves off to them; they have a horrible habit of infecting us anyway.

“Appeasement in the 1930s, you name it. For centuries Britain has ignored events on continental Europe at its peril.”

He said Mr Soros’s reputation as the “man who broke the Bank of England” in 1992, when the financier bet against sterling on the money markets, was an “unrelated issue” to the anti-Brexit campaign.

“He broke the Bank of England as a financier because the British pound was overextended. It wasn’t credible. He broke the pound, not the Bank of England, I should say.

“He is someone who has devoted decades to an extraordinary global philanthropy which has fought for democracy and open values.”

Best for Britain, which campaigns to keep the UK open to EU membership, is expected to publish its manifesto calling for a second referendum on 8 June.

Announcing the campaign in Paris, Mr Soros, 87, said: “Brexit is an immensely damaging process, harmful to both sides.

“Divorce will be a long process, probably taking more than five years. Five years is an eternity in politics, especially in revolutionary times like the present.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the British people to decide what they want to do. It would be better, however, if they came to a decision sooner rather than later. That’s the goal of an initiative called the Best for Britain, which I support.

“Best for Britain fought for, and helped to win, a meaningful parliamentary vote which includes the option of not leaving at all. This would be good for Britain but would also render Europe a great service by rescinding Brexit and not creating a hard-to-fill hole in the European budget.

“But the British public must express its support by a convincing margin in order to be taken seriously by Europe. That’s what Best for Britain is aiming for by engaging the electorate. It will publish its manifesto in the next few days.”

He said he feared the EU could be heading towards another major financial crisis triggered by austerity and populist political parties intent on tearing the bloc apart.

“The EU is in an existential crisis. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” he said.

However, Mr Soros said he was convinced it was the ideal time for the EU to reform itself and prepare the ground for the UK staying inside the bloc.

“The economic case for remaining a member of the EU is strong, but it will take time for it to sink in,” he added.

“During that time the EU needs to transform itself into an association that countries like Britain would want to join, in order to strengthen the political case.

“Such a Europe would differ from the current arrangements in two key respects. First, it would clearly distinguish between the European Union and the eurozone.

“Second, it would recognise that the euro has many unresolved problems and they must not be allowed to destroy the European Union.”

Theresa May is committed to leaving the EU’s single market and customs union after Brexit, which will officially take place on 29 March next year.

However, a transition period is currently set to last until 31 December 2020.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Silicon Valley relationship experts reveal their three best pieces of advice for couples

Last November, I got married.

In the months leading up to the wedding, I was mostly consumed with floral arrangements, invitation fontsband shoes that wouldn’t cause me to trip down the aisle. Now that those details are behind me, I’m on a new quest: Searching for the best marriage advice I can find.

To that end, I recently interviewed a series of relationship experts who are married to each other. I asked them about the strategies they not only preach, but also practice behind closed doors.

Two of my interviewees were Peter Pearson, PhD and Ellyn Bader, PhD, who run the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California, and work with many entrepreneur couples in Silicon Valley. Pearson and Bader have seen it all, and they’ve come up with creative strategies to help resolve conflict, both in their clients’ marriages and in their own.

1. Before you do any big project, decide which of 3 decision-making strategies you’ll use

Bader shared a technique she and Pearson teach many of the couples they see: Decide in advance of a big undertaking (like a home renovation) which of three decision-making strategies you’re going to use.

a) unilateral

b) equilateral

c) 51/49%

Unilateral means one partner gets to make the decision and the partners don’t have to agree. Equilateral means each partner has an equal say, and they’re “willing to hash it out and stay with it until they both agree.”

51/49% is the most interesting, and often the most effective, Bader said. The partner with 51% of the say gets to make the final decision, but the partner with 49% trusts that the 51% partner will take into account what they want.

In the example of home renovations — which, by the way, can be a huge source of relationship conflict — it makes sense for the 51% partner to do more of the work. For example, they might be the one to choose the sinks and the colour palette.

“They can solicit input, but they don’t have to get into the conflictual discussions,” Bader said. “It makes things go a whole lot easier smoother and it supports that kind of interdependency of ‘Okay, I’m going to trust you and rely on you and let you carry the load for this project.'”

2. Know the ‘why’ in your relationship

Pearson and Bader have different feelings about clutter: Pearson doesn’t mind it; Bader can’t stand it.

The only way to reach an agreement about the level of clutter that’s acceptable in the house, Pearson said, is to figure out and keep in mind the “why.”

“Why would I be interested in putting forth the effort of less clutter? Why would Ellyn be interested in relaxing her standards a bit?” Pearson said. “We need a bigger picture.”

In the case of any disagreement, the question that both partners should be asking themselves is, “How does changing this dynamic, this problem, improving this area fit into a bigger picture of what we want to create in our marriage?”

The “why” varies from couple to couple, Pearson said. It’s about what you want to create more of as a twosome, whether that’s peace, happiness, or personal fulfillment.

3. Listen to your partner with curiosity

Pearson admitted this tip can be hard to implement — even for people who are trained in the science of relationships (ahem).

Let’s go back to the clutter example. Instead of lashing out and asking Pearson, “Why are you such a slob?” Bader might say, “It seems to me you have a pretty relaxed standard around clutter,” and then ask a question like, “In your family of origin, how did they deal with clutter?”

“That requires a lot of emotional restraint, a lot of emotional editing, a lot of putting your ego out of the way,” Pearson said. But the end result is that, instead of getting into a major blow-out, you actually have a productive conversatio

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2018. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

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Plastic single-use coffee cups banned in Scottish government offices

Single-use coffee cups will be banned in Scottish government buildings to reduce the harmful impact of plastic pollution.

Hot drinks will be served in reusable ceramic mugs in cafes and canteens at offices including St Andrew’s House and Victoria Quay in Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Atlantic Quay. Staff have also been encouraged to bring in their own mugs for takeaways.

The government said the move would prevent 450,000 plastic cups from being thrown away each year.

Scotland’s environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham, said: ”The Scottish government is determined to lead by example when it comes to tackling the scourge of plastic littering our countryside and polluting our seas.

“By removing single-use coffee cups from our main buildings, we will prevent 450,000 cups from being thrown away every year. That’s enough cups to cover the distance between Edinburgh and Dundee.

“We support the EU’s vision to reduce single-use plastics as far as possible and ensure any single-use plastics are easily recyclable by 2030.

“We are currently considering what other single-use items can be reduced and removed from Scottish Government buildings later this year.”

The government has appointed an expert panel to look into further options on disposable cups and plastic straws in Scotland.  The panel is being led by electoral commissioner Dame Sue Bruce, with representatives from retail, the waste and chemical industries, the public sector and academia.

It follows The Independent‘s Cut the Cup Waste campaign, which has been calling for action from businesses and government to work towards better solutions to cut disposable coffee cup waste.

The Scottish government ban comes after parliamentary authorities in London announced a plan to introduce a latte levy on takeaway coffee cups, followed by a complete ban on plastic water bottles from the summer of 2018.

It is hoped the action will rid parliament of more than 750,000 disposable coffee cups and 125,000 plastic bottles from its annual waste and “virtually eliminate plastics” from the building by 2019.

World Cup 2018: Jordan Pickford ready to step up and help end England’s penalty shootout pain

Jordan Pickford is ready to be England’s penalty hero in Russia and is just as prepared to try his luck from 12 yards as he is to make a match-winning save.

Three Lions goalkeepers do not just carry the hopes of the nation with them when they land at a tournament, they also find themselves at the centre of the country’s preoccupation with spot-kicks.

The English fascination with – and fear of – penalties dates back 28 years and includes six agonising defeats from seven shootouts.

Their solitary victory came at Euro 96, when David Seaman saved from Miguel Angel Nadal, but Everton’s number one is admirably laid back about the prospect of improving on that sorry record.

And while his main job would be keeping the ball out of the net, he will happily volunteer to strike one at this summer’s World Cup.

“If I need to step up, I’ll take one. I’ve got no issue with that,” said the 24-year-old at St George’s Park.

“Taking the (winning) penalty or saving one, I’ll be happy either way. I’ve never taken one in a shootout but I’m always practising in training.”

Back in 2004 England were knocked out when Portugal keeper Ricardo blocked Darius Vassell’s effort and then converted his own.

And Pickford’s suggestion that he would like to follow suit is more than just idle hubris.

During the Under-17 World Cup in 2011, Pickford was primed to take his shot against Argentina when manager John Peacock switched him with team-mate Max Clayton.

“I was down as third to take one but the manager changed it so I dropped to seventh,” he recalled, before swiftly noting Clayton “smashed it over the bar”.

Pickford revealed Gareth Southgate’s penalty preparations are already well under way, perhaps no surprise given he was personally guilty of a memorable miss against Germany in 1996.

England have already had mock shootouts, with players walking from the halfway line to recreate the matchday process.

Ultimately, though, there is no foolproof formula and in its absence, Pickford’s confidence might be a valuable weapon.

“Behind the scenes we’re doing a lot of work to get preparation for how we’d want to go about it,” he said.

“There are a lot of good penalty takers here and we’ve been practising the last couple of days…it’s been hard to save them.

“It’s pot luck sometimes isn’t it? It’s about how the taker’s looking at it, body language, where his shoulders or arms are…and sometimes you’ve just got to pick a side, wait and attack it.

“If you get there you get there and if you don’t, get the next one.

“If you save a couple you can be a hero but there’s no pressure on you. I’ve saved a few penalties, I’m good at them.”

Pickford is thought to be in a straight battle with Jack Butland to start in Russia, backed up by the uncapped Nick Pope, and will be hoping to get the nod against Nigeria on Saturday in England’s penultimate warm-up.

“None of us know yet,” he admitted.

“We work hard on the training pitch. Me, Popey and Butland. We are all working hard and pushing each other, so it is all competition.”

Pickford gave short shrift to questions over his diet, an issue which came up during his time under David Moyes at Sunderland but one he insists was never a major concern.

“I was always eating healthy, I wasn’t going to McDonald’s every week like the gaffer, Moyes, said at the time,” he explained.

He does confess to favouring a pizza after a job well done and is hoping to enjoy a slice or more this summer.

“A nice pizza after three points isn’t a bad way to have it,” he said. “And we’d be having more than a pizza if we win the final.”

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