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Monthly Archives: April 2016

Arianna Huffington: from bedroom to boardroom with the Uber woman | Observer profile

Last week, the media operator and Huffington Post co-founder joined the board of the taxi giant. So how will the huge online news site reconcile this apparent conflict of interests?

For a busy woman, Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, is a surprisingly committed champion of sleep. Not only has she developed a pre-bed ritual that features a candlelit bath with Epsom salts, writing in a diary what shes grateful for in life, and changing into a silk nightgown, she has also written a new book on the subject, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.

But into this perfectly sleepy world of expensive soundproof windows, organic cotton sheets and pillows containing soporific hops has come the kind of problem that could cause a less becalmed woman to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.

For Huffington finds herself in a thorny position of conflict. Last week, Uber, the global taxi giant, announced that she had joined its board of directors. For a woman who lectures against too much work, that may be a little tricky, but thats not the problem.

Whats troubling is that Uber is a company that, by nature of its aggressive market strategy, attracts a certain amount of negative news coverage. The question now is will that find its way on to the Huffington Post site, given that this self-styled guru of the bedroom has planted one foot in the multibillion dollar-rated Ubers boardroom?

Early last month, one of the Huffington Posts reporters alerted her colleagues to a story in the New York Times about an Uber driver who took a nap while his passenger took over and became the subject of a high-speed police chase. But the reporter received a note from a senior editor informing her that they wouldnt be linking to the story because Huffington Post was partnering with Uber on our drowsy driving campaign.

As part of the campaign, Uber customers stood the chance of sharing a cab with Huffington while she conducted a sleep tutorial, a prospect that perhaps not all of us would find relaxing. And in any case, what better way to bring attention to the perils of drowsy driving than the story of a drowsy driver who hands the wheel to a fare, who happens not to have a driving licence and proceeds to accelerate to 86mph, while he catches up on some shut-eye? But the story didnt run.

The Huffington Post subsequently issued a press release insisting that the editorial decision had nothing to do with Huffingtons Uber appointment and that, indeed, she was entirely ignorant of the affair. Perhaps she was, yet the situation highlights the complications that come with the mutual back-scratching set-up of many corporate boardrooms, particularly when media figures are involved.

Even in the most benign circumstances, a conflict of interest is bound to occur at some point. And whatever accusations have been made against Uber, they have seldom, if ever, involved the description benign. As the Washington Post put it, the episode should end any fanciful thinking that somehow a news organisation can cover the news with a conflicted boss.

The safest policy, of course, would be for senior media figures to avoid boardrooms altogether, unless reporting on corruption and poor corporate governance. But safety first has not been the approach that has led Huffington to earn the title as the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus.

Born Ariadne-Anna Stassinopolos in Athens, she moved to the UK as a 16-year-old and studied economics at Cambridge, where she became the first foreign and only third female president of the Cambridge Union. A gifted networker, she befriended people such as John Selwyn Gummer and David Mellor and even entertained the prime minister, Edward Heath.

This was the early 1970s, when feminism was first being adopted by a generation of aggrieved young women. But not Stassinopolos. In 1973, she wrote The Female Woman, her riposte to Germaine Greers The Female Eunuch and an attack on the womens liberation movement, which, she argued, would transform only the lives of women with strong lesbian tendencies.

Her life had been transformed two years earlier by meeting the journalist and broadcaster Bernard Levin on the BBC TV classical music quiz Face the Music. She was 21. At 43, he was twice her age but, as wits noted, half her height. She fell in love and he became her cultural mentor, overseeing her writing. But nine years later, with Levin refusing to have children, she broke off the relationship and moved to New York, leaving behind the parochial concerns of little England and set about becoming an Upper East Side socialite.

It was one of many striking transformations that have shaped Huffingtons life. In the years since, shes undergone more iterations than the iPhone. In 1985, she met the Texan billionaire Michael Huffington, whom she married the following year. They had two children and moved to California for his political career. But they divorced in 1997, and a year later he disclosed that he was bisexual.

It was during the 90s and her marriage to Huffington that she first made a national impact in the US, particularly during her Republican husbands unsuccessful bid to join the US Senate. At that stage of her life, she was an unambiguous rightwinger. In a revealing profile, the New Yorker referred to her as a Republican Spice Girl and an endearingly ditzy right-wing gal-about-town. In 1998, she set up her first website, resignation.com, which called on Bill Clinton to stand down as president following the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But by then her transformation was already underway. She had quit the Republican party in 1996, recognising, she later said, that government needed to be more active.

Her next venture was Arianna Online, which grew out of her syndicated newspaper columns. Then in 2005, with Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti, and the conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, she set up the Huffington Post.

The site became a platform for thousands of bloggers, none of whom was paid. In 2011, the website was sued by the political activist Jonathan Tasini on behalf of these uncompensated bloggers. The suit was eventually dismissed, and the bloggers received nothing. However, Huffington has certainly prospered.

That same year, she sold the website to AOL for $315m. She has never been troubled by the disparity between her wealth and the non-payment of many Huffington Post contributors. As she told this newspaper two years ago: Nobody made these people blog. They blog because it has a value to them. They want the distribution. They want to be heard. Dont we all, though some of us wouldnt be offended by a little payment too. Notwithstanding her reluctance to redistribute the Huffington Posts profits to its contributors, Huffingtons politics are said to have moved steadily leftwards since the end of her marriage, though it may be more accurate to say that the Republican party has moved steadily rightwards. She voiced her disillusionment in Pigs at the Trough, the ninth of her 15 books, which took aim at George W Bush.

Nowadays, with her wealth and social position firmly established, she proposes a more holistic approach to life. A recent book, Thrive, laid claim to a Third Metric. It argued that the first two metrics money and power were not enough in life, for a person also needed to create a life of wellbeing, wisdom and wonder. Shes always had a spiritual side, going back to her Levin period, when they both flirted with the Bhagwan Rajneesh. But her more recent commitment to yoga and mindfulness came after she fell over several years ago and cracked a cheekbone as a consequence of overwork and lack of sleep.

Ironically, the criticism Thrive received echoed her own of womens liberation: just as she suggested it only worked for lesbians, many felt it was a book whose insights were only really relevant to millionaire businesswomen.Perhaps her new book will have a more universal appeal. After all, even those of us who lack soundproof windows and hop-infused pillows still appreciate a good nights kip. And one tip from Huffingtons life for a restful night is not to suffer regret. She never looks back, she says. Nor does she look forward. She just tries to be here, now, whether thats in the boardroom, in the bedroom or, depending on your luck or lack of it, next to you in the passenger seat of an Uber cab.


Born Ariadne-Anna Stassinopolos in Athens, 15 July 1950, to a journalist, Konstantinos, and his wife, Elli, who devoted herself to realising her daughters dream to study at Cambridge University.

Best of Times Building the Huffington Postinto one of the worlds most successful online news aggregators. It was sold to AOL in 2011 for $315m.

Worst of times When she was 36 her longed-for first child was still-born five months into her pregnancy. I had never known a pain like this, she later wrote.

What she says Everything that happened in my life from my children to being here with you now, happened because a man wouldnt marry me, a reference to her relationship with the late Bernard Levin.

What others say The most ruthless, unscrupulous, and ambitious person Id met in 30 years in national politics. Ed Rollins, her ex-husbands former political agent.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/may/01/arianna-huffington-uber-directors-huffington-post

How to choose great wine at a hotel bar no matter where you’re traveling

The economics of hotel bars don’t lend themselves to many thoughtful selections but there are ways maximize your drinking pleasure.

If you’ve ever spent time traveling or entertaining friends and family who have traveled to your city or town you’ve probably spent time in a hotel bar or restaurant. And, if you’ve spent time in a hotel bar, you’ve probably noticed the wine sucks: the red gives you headaches or makes your cheeks flush immediately; the white has a subtle aroma of battery acid or is sweet enough that it ought to be kept away from children.

Sadly, the economics of hotel bars don’t lend themselves to many thoughtful selections: they’re often purchased in bulk by the corporate overlords (of either the hotel chain or the chain restaurant sited at the hotel); management is rarely concerned about customer loyalty based on their wine selections; and hotel bars are catering to either a clientele concerned about price point or not concerned with wine at all.

If the hotel at which youre drinking has crappy wine in a place such as New York City or San Francisco, it probably doesn’t matter: walk outside, throw a pebble, and youll undoubtedly find another place to drink. But if your hotel is the only option in walking distance like, say, an airport hotel along a rather desolate stretch of highway access road or your drinking companions refuse to explore, there are some tips to maximize your drinking pleasure in a field of almost assuredly mediocre options.

1. Drink by the bottle rather than the glass. Not only is this generally more economical in groups, but usually there are more and better options by the bottle than there are by the glass. And, in many states, the law allows restaurants to re-cork bottles for diners to take with them it reduces drunk driving by reducing the financial incentive to finish the bottle so, even if you’re not going to finish the bottle, it might still be worth taking it to go.

2. Be creative in your selection. I know, you always drink the pinot noir. Bar managers know that, too: they’ll tend to stock the wines most likely to get ordered, and usually at the lowest price point. It’s to your benefit to branch out, even a little: order the zinfandel instead of the cabernet sauvignon, or the sauvignon blanc instead of a chardonnay.

3. Ask for a taste. Nobody wants to be that picky wine drinker, but dont set yourself to drink something you hate: the bartender doesn’t want to discard a full glass that you wont drink, and you dont want to drink something you wont like. Be polite, remember that you tasted a couple when you tip (ie, put down nothing less than 20% and notch it up for each moment you get picky) and pick a couple things you think might be drinkable rather than asking for a taste of everything on the menu.

4. Be prepared to drink a beer or nothing at all. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. If youre stuck in a hotel with nothing on the menu but a bunch of one-year-old, corporate-made schlock, tonights sobriety might well be better than tomorrows terrible wine-infused hangover. (But if you don’t drink it, perhaps find one of those comment cards and leave a nice note about why you didn’t spend your money perhaps the person who comes in after you will find the selections differ.)

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/29/how-to-pick-wine-hotel-bar

Obama did avert financial catastrophe. But his economic legacy is mediocre | Michael Paarlberg

Telling us it could have been worse is not a very compelling legacy

Its hardly surprising for an outgoing president to be preoccupied with his legacy, or to gripe about low approval ratings. Its more surprising for a president to blame them on his lack of communication skills, especially when that president is Obama.

Obama has been on a legacy-building press tour lately, most recently talking up his economic record in an interview with the New York Times. His main regret, reminiscent of the classic job interview cop-out my biggest flaw is that Im just too hard of a worker! is that he failed to tell voters what a great job he did in managing the recovery: If we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter, then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.

Obama has been called a lot of things aloof, imperious, over-intellectual, secret Muslim but poor communicator is not one of them. No president has been a better orator, or more media-savvy, since the Great Communicator himself. Obama and Reagan, in fact, share a politically remarkable but economically dubious accomplishment, winning reelection with unemployment over 7%, a feat otherwise unmatched since FDR. Both presidents understood that economic voting is more a matter of how you feel than how youre doing, and even voters who are out of work can rally to your side if theyre convinced things are getting better, that despite everything, its Morning in America.

But the opposite is true as well. Voters who are better off in absolute terms can turn on you if they feel worse off relative to others, or to where they feel they should be at this point, now 8 years past the financial collapse. Sociologists talk about the J-curve; political scientists talk about revolutions of rising expectations. The lesson is that people who do better tend to demand more, and punish politicians who fail to deliver. Obama may feel its unfair, but its a healthy thing for democracies not to settle.

And when you think in relative rather than absolute terms, theres a lot of legitimacy to that discontent, more than Obama is willing to admit. The chief accomplishment Obama has been touting is job growth: somewhere between 9.3 and 13.6m new jobs over two terms, depending how you measure it, with unemployment falling from 10% at the height of the recession to 5% today.

Donald Trump has disputed these numbers, saying he heard real unemployment to be as high as 42%. But even the Labor Departments broadest unemployment measures, the U-5 and U-6 rates taking into account discouraged workers, those who have given up looking for work are around 6 and 10%, respectively, and have been declining as well.

But job growth isnt everything. Job quality matters a lot, and wage figures paint a less rosy picture. Real median hourly wages have risen as well, but barely: just 7% over the past 7 years. One can see this in where job growth is happening. Those jobs projected by the Labor Department to grow the most over the next decade are concentrated in low wage service industries: personal care aides (median income, $20,980), fast food workers ($18,910), retail salespeople ($21,780), customer service reps ($31,720). A greater share of jobs today are part-time than before the recession.

Then theres the question of how well those gains have been distributed. Over half of all income growth between 2009 and 2014 went to the top 1% of all income earners, who saw their incomes rise 27%, while the bottom 99% got a raise of 4%, according to Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. Median household incomes have only recovered to what they were in 1996, meaning for the vast majority of Americans, the recovery has been one in name only.

As a president who arrived at the White House in the midst of the worst economic crisis in generations, Obama deserves credit for staving off catastrophe. As one who leaves seeking a legacy, he might look for a more compelling one than it could have been worse.

Theres good reason for presidents not to pin their legacies on jobs: Obamas average job growth rate of 1.1% may not match that of Clinton (2.5%) or Reagan (2.1%), but all three pale in comparison to Jimmy Carter (3.1%) and Lyndon Johnson (3.9%): both enormously successful job creators, and both one-term presidents.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/28/barack-obama-presidential-legacy-economy

New Horizons team proposes new world to explore

(CNN)Remember how big a deal the Pluto flyby was? We may get an encore.

The New Horizons team has recently submitted a proposal to extend its mission, titled Kuiper Belt Extended Mission.
    The extension will give the space probe a chance to continue onward to explore the depths of the Kuiper belt, a rocky region that scientists believe is filled with thousands of small, icy objects like comets and asteroids.
    This is the same spacecraft that captured the first closeup of Pluto, cruising 7,700 miles over Pluto’s surface, during the space agency’s historic flyby in July 2015.
    The initial flyby helped NASA capture images that have provided a wealth of information for scientists, such as discoveries about Pluto’s water ice, floating mountains and potential ice volcanoes. So far about half the data collected during the Pluto flyby has been transmitted back to Earth by the spacecraft, said Michael Buckley, a spokesperson for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
    The extended mission will give scientists an opportunity to study 2014 MU69, a small world inside the Kuiper belt, which lies about a billion miles away from Pluto. MU69 was identified by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014 during a search for possible targets the New Horizons team could explore after it flew past Pluto. The target was proposed to NASA in August 2015 as a potential object to explore, but the team had to formally apply for a mission extension this year.
    “It’s about 1,000 times more massive than comet 67P that Rosetta is orbiting, but about 500,000 times less massive than Pluto,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, wrote in a blog post. That means this small world is really small.
    Exploring 2014 MU69 will give scientists a better idea of the celestial wonders that lie in our solar system.
    “We didn’t know much about our solar system decades ago, and now we’re learning that it is filled with small worlds and other objects,” Buckley said.
    The next flyby may also give scientists a more intimate view of MU69 than it got with Pluto.
    “The planned flyby will approach MU69 to about 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers), which is about four times closer than we flew past Pluto,” Stern said.
    During the the MU69 flyby, scientists hope to search for the world’s moons, a possible atmosphere and any other data. It’s estimated the New Horizons spacecraft will reach its next destination in three years, a short stint considering it took more than nine years to get to Pluto.
    The space probe was designed to go beyond Pluto, and is equipped with enough fuel and outfitted with a communication system so it can stay in touch with scientists on Earth.
    “If I do say so myself, the flyby of MU69 would be a landmark event, shattering all distance records for deep-space exploration, and yielding an impressive scientific bounty,” Stern added.
    If approved, the proposed extended mission will last until 2021, also giving the New Horizons team a chance to explore elements such as gas and dust floating around the Kuiper belt.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/27/tech/new-horizons-extended-mission-irpt/index.html

    How Women Deal With Their Periods In Space

    By: Sara G. Miller
    Published: 04/25/2016 11:09 AM EDT on LiveScience

    Women here on Earth may think of their periods as monthly inconveniences, but consider what it’s like for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

    Up there, maintaining personal hygiene in general is not easy, as limited water is available for washing. The added challenges of changing hygiene products in microgravity only make things even more difficult.

    Then there’s the issue of plumbing: The water recycling system onboard the ISS — used for reclaiming water from urine — wasn’t designed with the possibility in mind that there would be menstrual blood in the mix.  [7 Everyday Things that Happen Strangely In Space]

    Indeed, there are several reasons why an astronaut might want to opt out of getting her period in space. But what’s the best way to go about it? For a short mission, an astronaut may simply choose to time her cycle around her stint in space by using birth control pills, but for longer missions, skipping periods entirely may be preferred, said a new review of the subject, published today (April 21) in the journal npj Microgravity.

    Skipping periods (also known as “menstrual suppression”) is becoming more common among women in general and is gaining acceptance by more and more doctors, said the review authors, Dr. Varsha Jain, a visiting researcher at the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences in London, and Dr. Virginia Wotring, an assistant professor at the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

    Currently, there are several options for women who choose to skip their periods, but whether these options will fare as well during long spaceflights as they do here on Earth is the question, according to the review.

    “With more women going into space, we need to ensure they have the most up-to-date information” on the options available to them, Jain said in a statement.

    So what’s an astronaut to do?

    One of the most common ways for a woman to skip her period is by taking the pill, which uses a combination of estrogen and progesterone to suppress the menstrual cycle. While the authors of the review note that this method works well (in fact, it’s long been used in spaceflight, they write) some questions do arise.

    For example, taking hormones may affect bone density. While such slight losses in bone density are generally not a concern here on Earth, during spaceflight, where bone-density loss is accelerated, this would be more problematic, the authors said. [Birth Control Quiz: Test Your Contraception Knowledge]

    And of course, taking the pill each day requires, well, a pill for each day. As audiences learned watching the movie “The Martian,” every extra bit of weight counts on a spaceflight. The review’s authors estimate that a three-year mission would require about 1,100 pills, plus their packaging. The authors also note that the stability of these drugs over such a long time in space has not been tested.

    So rather than the pill, long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, may be an astronaut’s best option, the authors wrote. These contraceptives include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and under-the-skin implants.

    Neither option has been shown to affect bone density in studies on Earth. In addition, a single IUD or under-the-skin implant would eliminate the extra bulk and stability issues of the pill, the authors wrote. And neither option would be expected to interfere with an astronaut’s ability to perform her tasks on the mission, the researchers wrote.

    On a more squeamish note, the authors point out that there are no reports in the medical literature studying whether the devices could shift around in the body as a result of the strong gravitational forces that an astronaut experiences during launch or landing.

    Currently, two types of IUDs are available. One type, which releases small amounts of hormones into the body over time to suppress a woman’s menstrual cycle, is the preferred option for spaceflight. The other available IUD prevents pregnancy by releasing copper ions, but it does not suppress a woman’s period.

    Subdermal implants work in a similar way as the hormonal IUD; they release small amounts of hormones over time. Unlike IUDs, however, which are inserted into the uterus, the subdermal implant is inserted just beneath a woman’s skin, typically in the upper arm. The implant doesn’t usually interfere with a woman’s clothing on Earth, and it’s unlikely that the method would cause problems in specific spacesuits, the review said.

    Because both options take time to effectively suppress a woman’s period, the authors said that an astronaut who chooses a LARC should have it inserted at least 1.5 to 2 years before her mission.

    Follow Sara G. Miller on Twitter @SaraGMiller. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

    Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/26/how-women-deal-with-their-periods-in-space_n_9777428.html

    Mexican cartel team used elaborate tactics to hunt murdered rival in Texas

    Gulf cartel men stalked Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa for two years, searching across southern US and deploying tracking devices to find him, court was told

    A surveillance team working for a revenge-fuelled Mexican drug cartel boss hunted a Texas-based rival in a sophisticated tracking operation and enabled his murder, a court was told on Tuesday.

    Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa was the personal attorney of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the former head of the Gulf cartel. Guerrero Chapa was shot dead on the evening of 22 May 2013, as he shopped with his wife in a smart open-air precinct near Dallas-Fort Worth international airport.

    It was the swift and bloody climax to a painstaking search for the Mexican citizen, who lived with his family in a mansion bought under an alias in the wealthy enclave of Southlake. The hunt began in 2011, assistant US attorney Joshua Burgess said in a federal courtroom in downtown Fort Worth during opening statements in the trial of two men accused of involvement in the killing.

    Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, a personal lawyer for Gulf cartel boss Osiel Cardenas. Photograph: Handout

    Three relatives looked for Guerrero Chapa in the south Texas borderlands, then the Dallas region, Burgess said. When they failed to locate him, the pursuit moved to south Florida, where the victims brother lived, and they tried to rent a house in his gated community to get close to him.

    Ultimately, the prosecution contends, the trackers returned to the Dallas area and found Guerrero Chapas sister-in-law. They attached a GPS tracking device to her car and located the attorney when she made several trips to his home. Then they planted devices on his vehicles and hid a game camera in his front yard that was spray-painted to blend in with its surroundings. They worked in concert as hunting guides. Their prey was Mr Chapa, Burgess said.

    Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda and his cousin, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, a legal US resident, are charged with interstate stalking resulting in death and conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Cepeda-Cortes is also accused of attempting to destroy evidence. They pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

    Burgess said that Ledezma-Cepedas son, Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, will testify for the prosecution. He has pleaded guilty to a stalking charge. All three were arrested in September 2014 Ledezma-Cepeda and his son had tried to enter the US by crossing a border bridge in the Rio Grande Valley.

    As Guerrero Chapas wife stowed a bag in the back of their Range Rover, a white Toyota Sequoia SUV drove up behind them and a masked man got out and walked to the passenger side of the vehicle, firing multiple shots through a closed window with a 9mm handgun.

    Their target was hit in his back and left side as he twisted his body and tried to escape by crawling to the rear of the car. The Sequoia swiftly drove off, and the shooter and driver are thought to be still at large.

    The trial is taking place amid tight security at the courthouse in downtown Fort Worth. Ledezma-Cepeda occasionally rubbed his forehead during proceedings on Tuesday. He and Cepeda-Cortes were impassive as the jury was played cellphone video footage of the immediate aftermath of the shooting, taken by a shopper, which included a view of the bullet-ridden vehicle and Guerrero Chapas wife screaming, though she was unhurt.

    Burgess said that Ledezma-Cepeda was parked on the other side of a pond from where the murder took place, affording him a direct view of the shooting; his son was in a coffee shop.

    Defence lawyers claimed in pre-trial court documents that Guerrero Chapa became the de facto leader of the Gulf cartel after Cardenas Guillens arrest in 2003. He was extradited to the US in 2007 and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in 2010. He is expected to testify for the defence during this trial. Guerrero Chapa lived legally in the US and was an informant for American authorities.

    Wes Ball, one of Ledezma-Cepedas attorneys, told jurors that a Mexico-based man known as El Gato (The Cat), a high-ranking member of a different cartel, held Guerrero Chapa responsible for the death of his father and wanted payback. Ball said that Los Zetas, the former paramilitary wing of the Gulf cartel, were also angry with the victim because of his cooperation with US law enforcement.

    Ball described his client, a former police officer in Monterrey, Mexico, as a private investigator whose typical line of work was following cheating spouses. But El Gato called him to a meeting in an auto repair shop and ordered him to track Guerrero Chapa, Ball said, adding: This is not a job offer with a right of refusal Mr Ledezma did what he was told and he had no choice.

    Robert Rogers, representing Cepeda-Cortes, portrayed the defendant as an unwitting participant: a man with reasonable computer skills who lived a quiet life in south Texas and simply wanted to help out his cousin, without realising the consequences.

    Cepeda-Cortes was enticed by the offer of free trips to Miami and Dallas, Rogers said, and in 2012, in the heart of this conspiracy, even travelled to Los Angeles to be on a Hispanic equivalent of the television show Americas Got Talent. Once he saw that Guerrero Chapa was dead, Rogers said, his client tried to wipe digital footprints of his activities out of fear.

    The trial is expected to last about four weeks.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/26/mexico-drug-gulf-cartel-revenge-murder-texas-hunt-juan-jesus-guerrero-chapa

    Tiger Woods submits entry for US Open after nine months out injured

    The 40-year-old Tiger Woods, who won the last of his 14 major titles in 2008, has registered for the US Open at Oakmont in June

    Tiger Woods has formally entered the US Open as he nears a return to competitive action. The 40-year-old, who won the last of his 14 major titles in 2008, has not played since August after undergoing three back operations in the space of 19 months.

    But on Monday night the United States Golf Association confirmed that Woods intends to take part at the 2016 US Open, which begins at Oakmont on 16 June.

    A USGA spokesman said: He has entered the championship, just like all the exempt players who have that status for the US Open. The deadline for entries to the US Open is this coming Wednesday at 5pm Eastern Time.

    “I don’t have the information as to when he entered, but I can confirm he has entered the US Open as have all the other players who hold fully exempt status.”

    The former world No. 1 has reportedly been holding lengthy practice sessions and was recently caught on camera hitting shots during a clinic at a junior event.

    Woods also registered for the 2014 US Open despite having recently had back surgery but later opted not to play.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/apr/25/tiger-woods-us-open-submits-entry

    Barack Obama issues Brexit trade warning

    US presidents statement comes as Nigel Farage says Brexit campaign needs a fresh start and Theresa May asked to block Marine Le Pen visit.

    Barack Obama has warned Britains voters that it could take up to a decade to strike a trade deal with the United States from outside the European Union.

    At the end of a three-day visit during which he celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday with a lunch at Windsor Castle, Obama said it was wrong for Brexit campaigners to suggest it would be straightforward to agree a new trade relationship if Britain left the EU.

    It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we’re actually able to get something done, he told the BBC, adding that the first priority for the US would be to complete ongoing talks on a trade deal with the EU.

    Obama defended his right to express an opinion, saying: “I don’t anticipate that anything I’ve said will change the position of those who are leading the campaigns in one direction or the other, but for ordinary voters I thought it would be relevant to hear what the president of the United States, who loves the British people and cares deeply about this relationship, has to say.”

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/24/leave-campaign-obama-trade-warning-eu-referendum

    Harsh Criminal Justice Policies Hurt The Economy, White House Says

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Longer prison sentences for non-violent criminals and crowded prisons are hurting the American economy more than they are helping it, economists in U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration said in a report released on Saturday.

    The prison population in the United States is 4.5 times larger than it was in 1980, primarily driven by longer sentences and higher conviction rates for nearly all offenses, according to the Council’s report.

    Economists are “of one mind” that packed prisons, excessively long sentences, and insufficient reentry programs “are counter-productive to our economy as a whole in addition to hurting the people involved,” Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters in a call on Friday.

    On Monday, administration officials, economists, business leaders, and scholars will discuss the Council’s findings at an event hosted by the White House, the American Enterprise Institute think tank, and New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

    The United States can reap greater economic benefit through investments in police, prisoner education, and job opportunities for ex-prisoners than it can from putting additional funding toward prisons, the Council’s report said.

    The Council’s report was based on a review of existing economics research, and does not estimate the indirect costs borne by the U.S. economy as a result of its current criminal justice policies.

    Later this year, the Brennan Center will unveil a study quantifying how much the U.S. criminal justice system costs Americans in terms of employment, wages, and gross domestic product, said the center’s director of justice programs, Inimai Chettiar.

    Previous administrations have not brought the same focus to how criminal justice policies affect the U.S. workforce, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who led the Congressional Budget Office from 2003-05 and is now president of the American Action Forum think tank.

    Since the recession of the late 2000s, “every aspect of the workforce has been scrutinized more closely, and this sort of popped out,” he told Reuters.

    (Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Sandra Maler)

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/23/criminal-justice-policies-mass-incarceration-economy_n_9765832.html

    Barack Obama’s visit to the UK in pictures

    The US president and the first lady have lunch with the Queen at Windsor Castle, before Barack Obama heads to Downing Street to meet with David Cameron. They will have dinner later on Friday at Kensington Palace with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2016/apr/22/barack-obama-uk-visit-duchess-cambridge-david-cameron-in-pictures



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