Category Archives: World

British soldier dies in Iraq

An investigation has been launched into the death which was not the result of enemy activity.

A British soldier has died in an incident at an air base in Iraq.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the death of Captain Dean Sprouting was not the result of enemy activity.

An investigation has been launched into the incident at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on January 31.

Captain Sprouting of the Adjutant General’s Corps at the air base was serving with Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Lt Col Rob Hedderwick, Commanding Officer of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “It is hard to do justice to a man such as Dean Sprouting with simple words.

“In no time at all he had become an indispensable part of the battalion, not only for his professional expertise but also for his compassionate manner and camaraderie.

“His intelligence and sharp wit was apparent from the outset; there was an ever-present twinkle in his eye and he would gladly admit that his youth had been full of adventure.

“Dean was simply one of those people whose infectious humour and enthusiasm drew others to him. His professional knowledge was second to none and his sage advice already something I had come to rely on.

“His loss is keenly felt by us all and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children whom I know he cherished more than anything else in this world. I am hugely proud and thankful to have known him. He was a very good man.”

The father of two, of Denny, Stirlingshire, joined the army in 1989 and had served in places including Northern Yugoslavia, Cyprus and Kosovo, Sudan, Angola and Germany.

An investigation has been launched to establish the circumstances of the incident.

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said: “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

“An investigation is under way to establish the detail but it is not a result of enemy activity.”

Queen bees: Do women hinder the progress of other women?

“Women leaders are role models and mentors to other women and girls.”

That was the claim made in a recent Deloitte study looking at the number of women in leadership roles around the world.

But what if the opposite was true?

Instead of acting as mentors could successful female bosses be pulling up the ladder behind them because they perceive other women as a threat?

This is the theory known as queen bee syndrome.

First defined by psychologists at the University of Michigan in 1973, queen bee syndrome describes a woman in a position of authority in a male-dominated environment who treats subordinates more critically if they are female.

Dame Prof Sally Davies, England’s first female chief medical officer, used the term in 2014 when describing her own experiences in the health sector.

“I saw it particularly in medicine – queen bees preening and enjoying being the only woman,” she said.

Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female prime minister, has been described as a queen bee for not promoting or furthering the careers of women in her cabinet.

In recent decades, there has been substantial increase in the number of women in work. But when it comes to rising to the top, women remain under-represented at board level.

Deloitte’s study looked at 7,000 companies in 44 countries and found women made up just 15% of corporate boards around the world.

In the UK progress is being made, albeit slowly. The number of FTSE 100 companies where women make up 33% of their boards increased from 19% to 28% in the past year.

So is queen bee behaviour hindering women’s progress?

Opinion on the subject is divided.

Evolution

One recent study in the US argues the phenomenon does exist.

Prof Joyce Benenson, a psychologist based at Emmanuel College in the US, carried out an experiment in which volunteers were asked to split money with a fictitious same-sex partner.

The leader could keep as much or as little money as he or she wanted.

Prof Benenson found that the high status men were consistently more willing to reward their lower status colleagues than the high status women.

She says the findings are indicative of queen bee behaviour and that “women have a really hard time competing with other women”.

So why were the women less generous to other women?

Prof Benenson puts it down to evolution, saying women are not used to forming tight same-sex groups in the way that men are.

This goes back to a time, she says, when females had to compete for mates and for resources for their children.

Prof Benenson acknowledges that her research has been controversial.

When asked about the reaction from the academic community, she says: “Completely negative.

“It’s hard for me but I try to be objective. I would like women to do better.”

‘I’m not like the other women’

While Prof Benenson believes women have evolved to behave in certain ways, other academics argue that queen bee behaviour – where it does exist – is actually a product of discrimination perpetuated by men.

Naomi Ellemers, a professor from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, has been researching gender inequality in the workplace for 20 years.

She says queen bee syndrome is an unhelpful label because the term suggests women are the problem.

“It’s not a case of women hindering other women and men can’t do anything about it,” she says.

Prof Ellemers says queen bee behaviour is a response to sexism, where some women try to distance themselves from other women.

Male and female Dutch police officers patrolling a train stationImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionQueen bee behaviour was observed in some policewomen in the Netherlands

In 2011, Prof Ellemers and her colleagues carried out a study asking Dutch policewomen to recall specific experiences of being discriminated against.

They found that being reminded of gender discrimination prompted participants to downplay the sexism they had experienced.

It also triggered queen bee behaviour among policewomen who identified weakly with other women at work.

“They are being taught to be successful in the organisation you need to adopt male characteristics,” Prof Ellemers says.

“They cope with gender bias by demonstrating they are different from other women.”

These women use phrases such as: “I’m not like the other women, I’m much more ambitious.”

Prof Ellemers calls this “self-group distancing” – a response that is also found among other groups that are under-represented at work – and argues queen bee syndrome is a product of gender stereotyping.

Brenda Trenowden, head of financial institutions Europe at ANZ bank and the global chair of the 30% Club, a campaign seeking to increase the representation of women on boards around the world, dismisses queen bee syndrome entirely.

“It’s a big red herring,” she says.

‘Women dressed like the men’

Male-dominated companies, she says, need to recognise the leadership traits that women can bring, such as collaboration and empathy.

The culture is changing but slowly, according to Ms Trenowden.

She says: “15 or 20 years ago woman dressed like the men. I wore a woman’s navy business suit, a white blouse and a red scarf because you needed to fit into the landscape.

“Women now wear dresses and bright colours; they’ve realised they don’t need to be like men anymore.”

Businessmen and women meeting in conference roomImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionResearch suggests it’s harder for more than one woman to enter senior management

In 2015, researchers at Columbia Business School and the University of Maryland’s business school carried out a study of America’s 1,500 biggest companies.

They wanted to know why women were under-represented in the top tiers of management.

They discovered when a woman had been appointed as a chief executive, other women were more likely to be promoted to senior positions.

But when a company was headed by a man, it was much harder for more than one woman to make it into senior management.

The research found that the probability of a second woman becoming a senior manager fell by 51% when the chief executive was male.

The study argued an “implicit quota” was to blame.

It found that male-dominated leadership teams felt pressure to increase women’s representation and would make an effort to have a small number of women in top management.

Losing its sting

Queen bee syndrome is a controversial subject.

The theory seeks to establish a cause and effect relationship between perceived female behaviour traits and the lack of representation at the top of management.

In doing so it makes sweeping generalisations about the way all women behave.

This is a very difficult link to prove. It also ignores the role that men may play.

The very existence of the term is perhaps one of many examples of sexism at work.

As Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, observed last year: “Women aren’t any meaner to women than men are to one another. Women are just expected to be nicer”.

Most research suggests that since the concept first gained traction in the 1970s, queen bee syndrome has lost its sting.

Presentational grey line

Iraqi man living with wife in Ireland challenges deportation

EU national says she will not go to Iraq with her husband for security reasons if he leaves

The High Court heard the man claimed it would be ‘unduly harsh and unlawful’ if he is returned to Iraq and alleges the deportation is invalid.

 

An Iraqi man who has been married to an EU national woman for the past seven years told the High Court Wednesday their lives would be devastated if the State deported him.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton heard that the man’s wife had made it clear that in the event of her husband’s deportation, she had no intention of following him to Iraq because of security reasons.

In November last the Minister for Justice and Equality issued a deportation order against the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, over an issue concerning the validity of his passport. He has resided in Ireland based on his marriage.

Barrister Paul O’Shea, who appeared with Brian Burns, of Burns, Kelly Corrigan solicitors, told the court the husband was challenging the deportation order on grounds that his proposed removal from the State amounted to a disproportionate interference in the couple’s rights.

Mr O’Shea said the man claimed it would be “unduly harsh and unlawful” if he is returned to Iraq and alleges the deportation is invalid.

The man claimed his deportation amounted to a breach of his family rights and his right to free movement under EU law and rights he derived as the EU national’s spouse. He was granted, on an ex parte basis, a temporary injunction restraining his proposed removal from the State and leave to challenge and seek the quashing of the Minister’s order.

Mr O’Shea told Judge Haughton that the man came to Ireland 10 years ago. His application for asylum failed but he had been but he had been granted residency following his marriage to his EU national wife. They had lived together in Dublin since their marriage.

He said the man’s wife was working but they were of limited means. If deported to Iraq, the husband would find it difficult to fund his return to Ireland. The couple wanted to remain in Ireland.

Mr O’Shea said it was also his client’s case that the deportation order against him is invalid because there was no deadline for leaving the State specified in the order requiring him to leave Ireland.

Judge Haughton said he was satisfied the applicant had raised issues that should be tried before the High Court and the court was happy to grant the temporary injunction as well as permission to bring a challenge against the deportation order.

He said the court noted that the man had been married for some years and the couple enjoyed a “very close relationship.” The matter was made returnable to a date later this month.

Is Donald Trump lurking in your art collection?

Have you ever spotted someone who looks like Donald Trump in a work of art? A new high-tech search facility has detected celebrity lookalikes in photographic images drawn from the collection of the Witt Library, part of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. The ingenious device was conceived by Pholio, a digital photo-album platform that “uses artificial intelligence to search millions of images and recognise patterns instantly”, a statement says. Cher, Taylor Swift and the actor Patrick Stewart all pop up in the pictures, while President Trump looks like a Hogarthian scamp in his.

Lorenzo Quinn’s possible showstopper for collector Steve Cohen

Our spies tell us that the Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn is working on a large-scale piece for the US hedge fund magnate and collector Steve Cohen which is due to be installed in Connecticut next year. The work is under wraps for now but Quinn thinks big; his latest showstopper entitled Dangerous Game, which was unveiled in Miami’s Wynwood district earlier this month, stands 26 feet high (a nuclear warhead is held aloft by a supersized hand). It matches up to the sculptor’s humongous piece Support installed earlier this year in Venice’s Grand Canal, comprising a giant pair of white resin hands that prop up the walls of the Ca’Sagredo Hotel. We’re assuming that Cohen’s commission will also be a whopper.

On Trump’s plate: Congress, midterm elections, North Korea

President Donald Trump has returned from an end-of year holiday to face fresh legislative challenges, midterm elections and threats abroad.

The president began the second year of his presidency with confrontational tweets targeting Iran and Pakistan. He slammed Islamabad on Monday for “lies & deceit,” saying the country had played U.S. leaders for “fools,” by not doing enough to control militants.

Pakistani officials, including Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, responded on Twitter that the country would make clear “the difference between facts and fiction.”

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a future threat. To that, Trump only said: “We’ll see.”

The president is hoping for more legislative achievements after his pre-Christmas success on taxes. He plans to host Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Camp David next weekend to map out the 2018 legislative agenda.

Republicans are eager to make progress before attention shifts to the midterm elections. The GOP wants to hold House and Senate majorities in 2018, but must contend with Trump’s historic unpopularity and some recent Democratic wins.

The president concluded 2017 with his first major legislative achievement — a law to cut taxes, beginning this year, for corporations and individuals at an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion added to the national debt over 10 years. The tax overhaul also will end the requirement, in 2019, that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine. That’s a key component of the Obama-era health law that that Republicans have been unable to repeal; other features of the law remain intact.

The White House has said Trump will come forward with his long-awaited infrastructure plan in January. Trump has also said he wants to overhaul welfare and recently predicted Democrats and Republicans will “eventually come together” to develop a new health care plan.

Ryan has talked about overhauling Medicaid and Medicare and other safety-net programs, but McConnell has signaled an unwillingness to go that route unless there’s Democratic support for any changes. Republicans will have just a 51-49 Senate majority — well shy of the 60 votes needed to pass most bills — giving leverage to Democrats.

Congress also has to deal with a backlog from 2017. It must agree on a spending bill by Jan. 19 to avert a partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers also have unfinished business on additional aid to for hurricane victims, lifting the debt ceiling, extending a children’s health insurance program and extending protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump has said he wants money for a border wall in exchange for protecting those immigrants.

Trump spent his last day in Florida as he spent most other days — visiting his golf course and tweeting.

On Pakistan, he said: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

It was not immediately clear why the president decided to comment on Pakistan. The U.S. has long accused Islamabad of allowing militants to operate relatively freely in Pakistan’s border regions to carry out operations in neighboring Afghanistan. In August, the United States said it would hold up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.

On Iran, Trump kept up his drumbeat in support of widespread anti-government protests there. He tweeted Monday that Iran is “failing at every level” and it is “TIME FOR CHANGE.”

While some Iranians have shared Trump’s tweets, many distrust him as he’s refused to re-certify the nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country and because his travel bans have blocked Iranians from getting U.S. visas.

Warm hearts, subzero temps: Couple gets engaged on mountain

Extreme cold didn’t get in the way of a heartwarming proposal on an icy mountainside.

Josh Darnell, 31, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, dropped to his knee and popped the question after climbing to a scenic spot Thursday on Tuckerman’s Ravine, on the southeastern side of Mount Washington. That same day it hit minus 34 (-37 Celsius) on the mountain’s summit, which is more than 6,200 feet (1889.76 meters) high.

There’s a happy ending: Rachel Raske, 27, of Lowell, Massachusetts, said yes.

Darnell’s father, Doug, tagged along to record the event with his camera. He said the wind was blowing so hard that it knocked him on his back when he got out of the car.

Raske was stunned by the proposal.

“After about 10 minutes of her crying, I said you’d better stop crying or your eyes are going to freeze up,” Doug Darnell recalled on Saturday.

The Darnells had hiked Tuckerman’s Ravine previously and the younger Darnell decided he was going to propose to his girlfriend next to a waterfall.

The younger Darnell secretly sought permission from Raske’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage prior to making the trek.

“She had no clue,” said Raske’s father, Charlie. “We all knew she was getting engaged — everyone except for her.”

Trump’s Initial Outreach to North Korea Backfired

The Associated Press reported early Saturday that in the first month of U.S. President Donald Trump’s term in office, he sent “an American scholar” to meet with North Korean officials and to relay a message.

The message was that the new administration was appreciative of a nearly four-month freeze of the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests – and thought it “might just offer a ray of hope,” the news agency said in its account.

However, the AP reported North Korean officials said the lack of testing wasn’t a sign of conciliation and insisted Kim Jong Un would order tests whenever he wanted. Two days later, the North launched a new medium-range missile, ushering in a year of escalating tensions.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported late Friday that “Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea.” Reuters attributed the information to two senior Western European security sources.

Russia is a member of the United Nations Security Council. The sale of oil and oil products to North Korea would be a breach of U.N. sanctions

One security source told Reuters “Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions.”

Another security source told the news agency, “There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state, but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans.”

Reuters said both sources “cited naval intelligence and satellite imagery of the vessels operating out of Russian Far Eastern ports on the Pacific.”

Denials from China

The new reports come as China has denied facilitating oil shipments to North Korea in violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, one day after Trump accused Beijing of doing so.

“China has been completely and strictly implementing Security Council resolutions and fulfilling our international obligations,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday at a media briefing. “We will never allow Chinese citizens and enterprises to engage in activities that violate Security Council resolutions.”

Despite China’s insistence the sanctions are being enforced, doubts persist in the U.S., South Korea and Japan that loopholes continue to exist. And China’s repeated denials did not preclude Trump from tweeting Thursday he was “very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea.”

The U.N. Security Council last week imposed new sanctions designed to limit North Korea access to oil in response to the country’s recent long-range missile test. In November, it test-launched its latest intercontinental ballistic missile, which many U.S. experts have warned would be capable of striking anywhere on U.S. soil. The sanctions seek to bar 90-percent of refined oil exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and limit crude oil exports at 4 million barrels annually.

The Lighthouse Winmore, chartered by Taiwanese company Billions Bunker Group Corp., is seen at sea off South Korea's Yeosu port, Dec. 29, 2017. South Korea briefly seized and inspected a Hong Kong-registered ship in November for transferring oil products to North Korea.

The Lighthouse Winmore, chartered by Taiwanese company Billions Bunker Group Corp., is seen at sea off South Korea’s Yeosu port, Dec. 29, 2017. South Korea briefly seized and inspected a Hong Kong-registered ship in November for transferring oil products to North Korea.

Ship seized

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said earlier Friday the country had seized a Hong Kong-flagged ship that transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in international waters despite the sanctions.

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported South Korean officials said the Lighthouse Winmore vessel transferred “600 tons of refined petroleum” to a North Korean ship on October 19 and that the ship was seized on November 24 after it sailed into South Korea’s Yeosu Port.

Yonhap reported the vessel was chartered by the Billions Bunker Group, a Taiwanese company. The ship’s “claimed destination” was reportedly Taiwan, but the ship instead “transferred oil to a North Korean ship, Sam Jong 2, and three other non-North Korean vessels in international waters in the East China Sea.”

Yonhap said South Korea informed the U.S. about its “detection of the illegal transaction” involving the Lighthouse Winmore, which is reportedly on the list of ships the U.S. has proposed blacklisting for prohibited trade with North Korea.

Hua, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said authorities investigated a report that an unnamed Chinese ship transferred oil to a North Korean vessel at sea on October 19 and determined it was erroneous. Hua also said she did not have any information about the Hong Kong-flagged vessel.

Satellite images

In November, the U.S. Treasury Department disclosed satellite images that displayed what it said was a North Korean ship receiving oil from an unidentified vessel on October 19. It was not immediately clear if the Lighthouse Winmore was involved in the transaction.

The photos received broader public scrutiny this week when the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reprinted them along with the report that suspected Chinese ships transferred oil to North Korean vessels about 30 times since October.

In an interview with the New York Times Thursday, Trump linked his trade policy with China to its cooperation in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis.

“If they’re helping North Korea, I can look at trade a little bit differently, at least for a period of time. And that’s what I’ve been doing. But when oil is going in, I’m not happy about that.”

During a briefing Friday with reporters at the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was asked if the U.S. Navy could begin seizing ships suspected of providing oil to North Korea.

Mattis declined to speculate but said, “Obviously if a government finds that there is a ship in their port conducting trade that was forbidden under the U.N. Security Council resolution, then they have an obligation and so far we have seen nations take that obligation seriously.”

Mattis also predicted the global community will increase pressure on Pyongyang and said physical approaches are among the options under consideration.

“What form that pressure takes in terms of physical operations is something that will be determined by the cognizant governments,” he said.

China is North Korea’s primary trading partner, energy supplier and main diplomatic protector. But Beijing has expressed increasing frustration with North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. And while China supports the latest sanctions against Pyongyang, it has argued against actions that may be harmful to North Korean citizens or destabilize its government.

Cardboard Tents Given to Homeless in Belgium

A project in Brussels, Belgium, one of the most comfortable cities in Europe,  is pioneering portable cardboard tents for homeless people to sleep in. Together with backpacks, containing essentials, these were presented to officials yesterday and all be distributed homeless people.

The pitching of normal tents in Brussels is forbidden and people are moved on by the police, but these cardboard tents, known as the ORIG-AMI project, can be transported by users on their backs as they seek shelter.

The people behind the project hope that their tents will allow the homeless somewhere safe to sleep that will be tolerated by police.

The cardboard was donated by a cardboard factory and the finished product assembled by a workshop at the Lantin prison.

Many shelters in the Belgian capital are already fully occupied by winter time and some homeless people do not want to go into shelters where they may be separated from their pets.

Homelessness is a problem that can become invisible to authorities, despite the constant presence of people sleeping on the streets. This move will help some to find shelter where none seems available.

The 10 Most Dangerous U.S Cities

At a community meeting in a Lutheran church earlier this year, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing got an earful about his city’s distressingly high crime rate. The heckling started with members of his own police force.

“What are you doing to stop the blight, the drugs, the murder, the killing?” demanded Marcus Cumming, a police officer, at the neighborhood gathering reported by the Detroit Free Press.

What could the mayor say? The best crime news out of Detroit these days is that the rate of violent crimes – murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – fell 10% last year to 2,137 per 100,000 residents. That’s still more than five times the national average and more than enough to make Detroit America’s Most Dangerous City for the fourth year in a row.

To construct the list, we ranked U.S. cities with a population over 200,000 according to their violent crime rate as reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports database. These preliminary 2011 statistics come with more caveats than the black-box warning on a dangerous chemotherapy agent, and the FBI says they shouldn’t be used to compare one city with another. Differences in police reporting standards, urban borders and economics can make it tricky to compare densely populated Detroit, say, with sprawling Houston. We used cities instead of larger metropolitan statistical areas, which gave the disadvantage to older cities with tighter boundaries.

But consistency also means something, and the Top 10 cities on this list all display a lot of consistency both in their stubborn crime rates and their ranking on individual crimes like murder and rape. No. 2 St. Louis, for example, ranks fourth nationwide in murders, fifth in robberies and third in violent assaults. Detroit has lost more than 200,000 residents since 2001, yet it racked up 344 murders last year, compared with 395 a decade ago. The Motor City’s murder rate is second only to New Orleans among cities over 200,000 population (Flint, Mich. narrowly beats Detroit among all cities, with a murder rate of 52 per 100,000). Higher rates of other violent crimes put it at the top of the list.

Academic crime specialists also agree the statistics shouldn’t be used to compare cities, said John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute who also teaches criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. The local police department may slack off on reporting certain crimes, he said, “and suddenly the place got a whole lot safer.” Yet the statistics don’t lie when it comes to cities like Detroit and Flint, he added.

“The big takeaway is cities tend to stay where they are,” Roman said. “They tend not to move up and down in the rankings a lot over time.”

Full List: America’s Most Dangerous Cities

Detroit police acknowledge their city is a dangerous place — especially if you are a young gang member. Most homicides are “between known perpetrator and known victims,” said Inspector Charles Wilson, a spokesman for the 2,500-officer police force. “These aren’t random acts of violence. Instead of resolving conflict in a humane manner they resort to guns.”