Monthly Archives: October 2013

Have your Facebook friends turned into giraffes?

If you are seeing many giraffes in your Facebook feed, your friends are clearly not good at riddles. The answer depends whether the user is a giraffe or not.

Here’s why?

A new riddle has stormed the social networking site where users who fail to answer it correctly have to replace their profile picture with a picture of a giraffe for three days.

The riddle is a part of a game set up by an Australian travel blogger Andrew Strugnell titled the Great Giraffe Challenge

The Great Giraffe Challenge

The riddle is:

“3:00 am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors. It’s your parents and they are there for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?”

giraffe

The answer

There are two correct answers. They are:

  1. Open your eyes
  2. Open the door
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Saudi women defy driving ban

On 26th October, women of Saudi Arabia drove on the streets to defy the driving ban. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The punishment is 10 lashes.

The law

There is no written ban on women driving. However, women must obtain a locally issued license to drive. These licenses are not issued to women. Therefore, this effectively prevents women from driving

The defiance

More than 16,000 signatures were obtained on the campaign website to change the law. Later in the day, the website was hacked.

The women to drive movement

The women to drive movement is a campaign started by Saudi Arabian women who are trying to enforce the right to drive motor vehicles on public roads in Saudi Arabia.

The protest began in 1990, when women in Riyadh drove their cars in protest. They were imprisoned for a day, their passports were confiscated and some of them lost their jobs.

In 2007, Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Uyyouni of the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia appealed to King Abdullah with a petition of 1,100 signatures. On International Women’s Day, al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video online. The following week she was arrested after she posted a video of Manal al-Sharif driving.

Several other protests have taken place in Saudi Arabia since then. The movement has garnered support from the international community as well.

Video that went viral

Saudi Arabia based comedian Hisham Fageeh posted a video that went viral over the internet to bring more attention towards the plight of women. The video got over 450,000 views on YouTube. The song titled No Woman, No Drive is his rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.

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Filed under International, Law

Storm warning for England and Wales

The Met Office has issued an amber alert of high winds in southern Wales, southern England, the Midlands, the East, London and the South East on Sunday night into Monday morning.

The warning

An amber alert means ‘be prepared’. People have been warned about the likelihood of falling trees, damaged to homes and buildings and winds up to 80 mph leading to power outages by bringing down power lines. These winds could be stronger along the coasts.

Steve Willington, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “We are talking about a storm which doesn’t yet exist, so there remains some uncertainty about its possible timing, track and strength. However, several forecasts models currently suggest we will see a significant storm with exceptionally strong winds impacting parts of England and Wales.”

Forecaster claim that this storm could be as strong as the great storm of 1987 and the Burns Day storm in 1990.

“This is a developing situation and we’d advise people to stay up to date with our forecasts and warnings over the weekend, and be prepared to change their plans if necessary,” adds Willington.

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The Storm

A low pressure system will deepen to the South West of the UK before moving across the country.

The storm is currently brewing over the Atlantic. Due to this storm, heavy rain is expected in some parts of the country.

The storm is expected to develop in the western Atlantic on Saturday. Two storms currently over the Gulf of Mexico and the North American Great Lakes are expected to move out to sea and merge.

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Swiss banks end secrecy

It is a well-known truth that many wealthy individuals stash their extra cash in Swiss banks to evade tax. The latest development is not going to benefit many countries that can obtain a list of high net worth individuals who have accounts in Swiss banks

The Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters

Switzerland became the 58th country in the world to sign the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

The Swiss Federal Council approved the treaty on October 9. This major step means that Switzerland will be breaking its own time-tested laws on banking secrecy.

The Multilateral Convention provides for all forms of mutual assistance in the form of exchange on request, spontaneous tax examinations abroad, simultaneous tax examinations and assistance in tax collection, while protecting taxpayers’ rights.

Banking secrecy

Banking secrecy became entrenched in the Swiss law in 1934. For over 300 years, Swiss banks had a code of secrecy that forbids the disclosure of banking and account holders without their consent. The exceptions are drug trafficking, organised crime and insider trading. Thus Switzerland earned the reputation of being the world’s biggest tax haven for funds, which ensured confidentiality.

Swiss banks were under tremendous international pressure to cooperative with authorities to share information on accounts in Swiss banks. Several whistleblowers’ had exposed details of money laundering and tax evasion.

Switzerland’s Ambassador to the OECD Stefan Flückiger said: “Switzerland has been committed to complying with international standards in tax matters since March 2009. The signing of the Convention confirms Switzerland’s commitment to the global fight against tax fraud and tax evasion with a view to safeguarding the integrity and reputation of the country’s financial centre.”

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Filed under Finance, International

Malala wins Anna Politkovskaya Award

Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai wins the RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) Anna Politkovskaya Award for women human rights defenders from war and conflict.

The Award

Malala defied the strict ban imposed by the TalibanMalala Yousafzai on girls attending school. She was only 15-years-old when she was shot in the head by the Taliban on 9th October, 2012 for campaigning for education for girls.

“I am extremely proud to have been chosen to receive an award, which bears Anna’s name and hope that I may be as brave as she was. I greatly admire Anna’s dedication to truth, to equality, and to humanity,” said Malala Yousafzai.

The Anna Politjovskaya Award is being presented by 104-year-old British humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton in London on 4th October. Malala and Sir Nicholas are the oldest and youngest persons ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

Other honours

Following her attack, Malala was flown in to Birmingham for treatment and made a remarkable recovery in March 2013.

Malala is one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2013 by the Time magazine. She is the first Pakistani girl to be nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize.

She is also the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, the Simone de Beauvior Prize and has been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award and Harvard University’s humanitarian of the year.

This year, on her birthday, 12th July, Malala spoke to the UN to call for worldwide access to education.

The Malala Fund

Following the outpouring of support that Malala received throughout her ordeal, she set up an international fund, the Malala Fund, which is dedicated to help promote education for girls throughout the world.

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Filed under Education, International, UK

Jail term for Laloo Prasad Yadav

Indian MP, former Minister of Railway and Chief Minister of Bihar has been awarded a sentence of five year imprisonment and Rs. 25,00,000 (approx. £25,000) fine for his involvement in the Fodder Scam

The Fodder Scam

The Fodder Scam was a corruption scandal that involved the embezzlement of state funds to buy food for cattle. The corruption scheme involved fabrication of a herd of fictitious livestock for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry medicines were supposedly procured. Rs. 944 crore (approx. £94m) was siphoned off from the animal husbandry department.

The scandal came to light in 1996.

The verdict

Seventeen years after the scandal broke, a special court in Ranchi delivered the verdict on 3rd October. This judgement is a landmark step in tackling rampant corruption among politicians in India. Laloo Prasad Yadav will lose his MP seat due to this conviction.

During the trial, 56 people were accused. Out of them, seven died during the course of the trial.

Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and Janata Dal – United (JDU) MP Jagdish Sharma have been sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Appeal

Yadav’s counsel will appeal against the judgement in the Jharkhand High Court on 17th October. For now, he is prisoner no. 3312 at Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi.

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Filed under India, Law, Politics