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Latest purported photo of ?Nessie? appears to be seals

The Sun (UK) tabloid is well known for paying for exclusive photographs to publish with sensational stories about celebrities, ghosts and monsters. The latest is a new photo of Loch Ness which, if really taken in the Loch, shows three playful seals near shore. Normally, we don?t link to tabloids like the Sun but this pic is interesting and tells a story in it?s own right, one that is a bit more complicated than ?It?s Nessie!? Here is the photograph so we can examine what it actually may be. Credit: Ian Bremner As you can see, the shallow water in the foreground looks to be shoreline so the creature(s) are not that far away. Let?s zoom in on the head. This is a very good match to a seal. Here is a grey seal in comparison. The image may not be clear enough to determine what type of seal though experts may be able to based on the shape of the head. The photographer, Ian Bremner, says he didn?t notice the object(s) in the picture until later. He says he took it ?between the villages of Dores and Inverfarigaig? but there is no discerning features to be able to tell. Hmm? It seems very strange he did not notice this object since it?s in focus. Bremner also invoked the avowal of prior skepticism, saying he was skeptical, until now. That is a common attempt to bolster credibility and sound rational. Though this clearly looks like a row of seals, and the article DOES note this, Bremner is not willing to accept that so easily: ?I suppose it could be seals ? but I?m not so sure. The more I think about it, the more I think it could be Nessie.? I don?t wonder why? Could Nessie be a seal or a group of seals? It?s plausible. Researcher Dick Raynor has documented seals in the Loch before. He filmed one in 1999. Another had been photographed and documented in 1984-5 and several reports exist prior to that. But Raynor thinks this particular photo is suspicious: ?We don?t have shallows showing brown beyond blue areas. The left hand bit does resemble a seal.? Well, I?m calling seal(s) on this one but the question remains if it was doctored or really taken in Loch Ness. Evidence does not currently support the latter. Nessie itself is a legend, it is not one animal but collection of reports from many people that popular culture has crafted into a great story. Reports of Nessie have certainly been misinterpretations of seals, birds, fish, logs, other swimming animals, waves and wakes, etc., but not a new species or living plesiosaur. This picture is certainly not convincing of anything other than guaranteed publicity for the Sun. Too bad. more computer news more gadgets on the...

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Blair Witch: Into the Woods, This Time With Drones

You might not believe me, but the original The Blair Witch Project, when it came out in 1999, was one of the scariest movies I had ever seen. The found footage, the fake website, and the anonymity of the actors, meant that millions of audience members mistook it for a documentary. The movie was real, man. But even with that, I?d argue the scariest thing about the original Blair Witch is how it meticulously stripped away the protective illusion that we were all safe. In the last year of the twentieth-century we weren?t at war, the internet was making the world smaller in what seemed to be a good way, and the economy was humming. It felt like the world had been, sort of, solved. Three student filmmakers wander into a forest?what did they have to worry about? One of the deepest terrors of The Blair Watch Project was the realization that the savvy and ironic remove of Heather, Josh, and Mike was what doomed them. They thought they had nothing to worry about, because none of us did. We were very wrong. Now, when you watch the original film, we?re onto the trick?the film is less existential terror and more three idiots yelling each other?s names for 80 minutes, unable to hold a camera straight. Theoretically, a Blair Witch sequel?one in which a whole new generation of cocky kids who think their GPS and drone cameras will save them in the forest?makes a certain amount of sense. We might feel a lot less safe than we used to, but the idea of being lost in the woods, which provides so many of the original?s scares, is almost a forgotten concept in an age of smartphones and Google Maps. For a while, Blair Witch, from director Adam Wingard (You?re Next, The Guest), looks like it?s headed in that direction, a reinvention that stays thematically true to the shocks of the first film. But then you realize that it doesn?t have much to add to the Blair Witch mythology, and is mostly here to provide generic genre shocks. It takes place in a forest, references the old legend, and has some handheld cameras, but Blair Witch this isn?t. James, the premise goes, is the younger brother of Heather, and he been haunted by his sister?s disappearance. He heads back out to the Burkittsville woods after a new tape is discovered by some local Blair Witch ?experts.? (It?s a little upsetting, as a person who remembers watching The Blair Witch Project in the theater like it was yesterday, to learn that someone who was four years old when the original came out looks like this now. Time comes for us all.) He of course has a friend who wants to make her student documentary about his journey, which is why there are cameras everywhere, though now they?re all GoPros and drones and contained in the same device with which you balance your checkbook and watch your pornography. The movie updates the uninitiated us on the Blair Witch curse and provides some new details, including a bit about exactly why those creepy wooden amulets that keep showing up in the night look like that, but on the whole, once these kids set up camp in the forest, it?s the same movie. They?re...

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Bulgarian President Plevneliev: Battle for UN Secretary-General post ?unpredictable?

Bulgaria?s battle for the post of United Nations Secretary-General is extremely difficult and currently unpredictable, President Rossen Plevneliev said in New York at a meeting with the Bulgarian community. Plevneliev is in New York for the opening session of the UN General Assembly, which he is due to address on September 22, four days before the UN Security Council holds its fifth ?straw poll? on the candidates to head the world body. He was speaking close to a week after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that, in spite of media reports, Irina Bokova remained Bulgaria?s candidate. However, Borissov said, if Bokova did not win one of the top two places in the straw poll on September 26, his government would reconsider the question. Within Bulgaria and elsewhere in Europe, there is significant backing for replacing Bokova with Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian vice-president of the European Commission, or possibly nominating Georgieva, in the name of countries other than Bulgaria, as an alternative candidate. Bokova has done poorly in the first four straw polls, gaining at best a joint third position. In the most recent vote, she placed fifth. Plevneliev told the Bulgarian community in New York that Bulgaria had a ?worthy candidate? and was supporting that candidate in this race. On September 16, in an interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, Plevneliev ? asked about the Bulgarian candidacy for the UN job ? said that it was up to the Bulgarian government to decide on the candidate. ?The Bulgarian government has said very clearly who the candidate is, and the entire Bulgarian candidate is standing behind (that candidate) and working for (the candidate),? Plevneliev said. He said that Bokova was the Bulgarian candidate. ?The government has its candidate, and I am working with that candidate. As head of state, I will work to the very last second with the Bulgarian candidate for the UN,? Plevneliev said. (Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak) Comments comments Click here for the article...

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EU indecision on UN Secretary General choice plays to Russia?s advantage

The race to replace Ban Ki-moon as United Nations Secretary-General in 2017 is an awful muddle, yet it may still culminate in victory for a well-qualified European.  The current frontrunner is former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, but European Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva seems poised to make a last-minute entry into the race later this month. Both would be credible winners.  But the contest has cast a harsh light on the EU?s lack of diplomatic cohesion.  The choice of Secretary-General is no trivial matter for Europeans.  From Mali to Syria, UN peacekeepers, mediators and aid officials are struggling to manage conflicts and refugee flows on the EU?s southern flank. But while the Security Council is supposed to start a decisive round of polls to home in on the final choice for the next Secretary-General in early October, EU members remain divided over whom to support. This is playing to the advantage of Russia which, like the other permanent members of the Security Council, holds the power to veto any candidate.  Moscow has demonstrated an impressive capacity to manipulate UN rules to get its way over the Syrian crisis since 2011, as I noted in an ECFR paper last year, and it is playing a similarly sharp game over the Secretary-Generalship.  The race may climax with President Vladimir Putin making the final choice between Guterres and Georgieva ? or blocking both and forcing the Security Council to hunt for a compromise candidate. This situation arises from two quirks of UN tradition.  One is a convention that the post of Secretary-General rotates between different regions.  The second is that ?Eastern Europe?, an area consisting of former members of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, is still treated as a distinct region in UN diplomacy a quarter century after the end of the Cold War.  No Eastern European has ever been Secretary-General.  As the end of Ban?s tenure came into view, a host of politicians and diplomats from the region floated their candidacies, making it difficult for a single European champion to emerge early on. To continue reading, please visit the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations. (Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas) Comments comments About the Author Richard Gowan is an associate fellow at ECFR, concentrating on United Nations affairs. He is based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, where he works on peacekeeping and multilateral security institutions. He is the associate director of the center?s Managing Global Order programme. Before joining New York University in 2005, he worked as Europe Programme Officer at the Foreign Policy Centre in London. Between 2005 and 2006, he coordinated the development of the first Annual Review of Global Peace Operations, the most comprehensive public domain source of data and analysis on the subject of peace operations. He has acted as a consultant to the UN Secretariat and the UK Department for International Development, he writes frequently for E!Sharp, The Globalist, and other international affairs magazines, and he has broadcast widely on channels such as CNN and BBC. Click here to bid online...

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Iran’s Investment Programme Upstream, Downstream

September 19th, 2016 3:05pm Posted In: Natural Gas News, LNG, Featured Articles, Iran, External Analysts, Exploration & Production, Import/Export, Ministries, Regulation, Asia, Natural Gas News Asia Iran?s oil industry is 108 years-old but it is only this summer celebrating its 50th anniversary. Despite that it accounts for 70% of the country?s primary energy. Iran produces nearly 735mn m3 of gas/day from 23 gas fields and many more oilfields, most of which needs processing, for example to extract sulphur. The latest statistics put Iran?s annual processed gas production at 190bn m3/yr, or 520mn m3/d. Iran has 50 independent gas fields, of which 23 are brownfield. The largest, South Pars, it shares with Qatar and accounts for half of both Iran?s gas reserves half its output. South Pars holds 14 trillion m3 of gas. Since 2008, Iran has added 1.5 trillion m3 of gas to its reserves and has extracted 1.8 trillion m3 to date. There are no new statistics about the details of Iran?s gas reserves, but brownfield reserve and location are as shown in Table 1. Dalga Khatinoglu, Pooya Nematollahi You can read the full article in Issue 3 of Natural Gas World Magazine. Out Wednesday September 21. Subscribe today.  You can now also follow Natural Gas World directly on your phone or tablet via Google Newsstand and Flipboard. Click  or       Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  Additional News more breaking...

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EC Looks at Engie’s Lux Tax Deals

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of the GDF Suez group (now Engie), it said September 19. The competition directorate is concerned that several tax rulings issued by Luxembourg may have given GDF Suez an unfair advantage over other companies, in breach of EU state aid rules. Some of the rulings are as much as a decade old but only in the last few years have all member states agreed to open up these confidential agreements for review by the EC. These are bearing fruit, such as the discovery of the generous tax treatment that US Apple received at the hands of Ireland, worth some ?13bn ($14.5bn). The rulings concern loans that can be converted into equity and bear zero interest for the lender. One convertible loan was granted in 2009 by LNG Luxembourg (lender) to GDF Suez LNG Supply (borrower); the other in 2011 by Electrabel Invest Luxembourg (lender) to GDF Suez Treasury Management (borrower). How the EC sees it (Source: EC) The EC will assess in particular whether Luxembourg tax authorities selectively derogated from provisions of national tax law in tax rulings issued to GDF Suez but not other companies. “They appear to treat the same financial transaction between companies of GDF Suez in an inconsistent way, both as debt and as equity. The Commission considers at this stage that the treatment endorsed in the tax rulings resulted in tax benefits in favour of GDF Suez, which are not available to other companies subject to the same national taxation rules in Luxembourg,” it said. “A single company cannot have the best of two worlds for one and the same transaction. Therefore, we will look carefully at tax rulings issued by Luxembourg to GDF Suez. They seem to contradict national taxation rules and allow GDF Suez to pay less tax than other companies.”  A spokeswoman told NGW that it could not say how much money was involved in this case. Engie did not comment at time of press. William Powell  seller >> Link to...

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Plovdiv District Court dismisses chief architect over ?Tobacco Town? demolition bid

The District Court in Bulgaria?s second city Plovdiv upheld on September 19 an application by the Regional Prosecutor?s Office to remove from office Chief Architect Roumen Roussev, who is facing criminal charges in connection with the attempted demolition of a former tobacco warehouse in Plovdiv?s historic ?Tobacco Town? precinct. The court agreed that if Roussev remained in office, he could obstruct the invetigation and influence witnesses. Roussev, along with the representative of the owners of the building in Plovdiv?s Odrin Street, face a series of criminal charges in connection with the March 2016 allegedly illegal attempt at demolishing the warehouse, a monument of culture dating back to the early 20th century when Plovdiv had a key role in the Balkan tobacco trade. The Plovdiv Regional Prosecutor?s Office announced the court application on September 16, saying that it was being brought in the light of evidence gathered during pre-trial proceedings. This evidence related to, among other things, the building permit for the Odrin Street property and an ongoing investigation into corruption regarding the issuing of building permits and changing of building plans. The pre-trial investigation was continuing, the Prosecutor?s Office said. The court agreed that there was objective evidence that the accused, if left in office, could have a direct and indirect impact on witnesses employed in the same office and creat obstacles to the collection of the necessary documentary evidence held by the municipal administration. The ruling is not final and is subject to appeal in the Plovdiv Appeal Court. Plovdiv chief architect Roumen Roussev. Photo: podtepeto.com Counsel for Roussev said that the decision would be taken on appeal. He expressed astonishment that the application for Roussev?s removal was lodged in September rather than in March, and how it was that only now there was an argument that Roussev could influence staff and obstruct the investigation, although so far there had been no such danger. Roussev?s lawyer said that Roussev had co-operated fully and voluntarily with the investigation. As a person and as a professional, Roussev had put no pressure on staff regarding the investigation, he said. The March 2016 attempted demolition caused public outrage in Plovdiv and throughout Bulgaria. The demolition machines were stopped by Plovdiv residents who obstructed them and then by police acting on official orders. Culture Minister Vezdhi Rashidov has issued an order for the owners to reconstruct the damaged building. Public outrage about the fate of ?Tobacco Town?, one of the assets that the city pointed to in its successful application to be named European Capital of Culture 2019, flared again when, in August, three other ?Tobacco Town? warehouses were gutted in a huge fire. A homeless man has been arrested and face charges of arson in connection with the August fires. He denies wrongdoing. (Main photo, of the Odrin Street warehouse that was the subject of the attempted demolition in March, as seen in August: Clive Leviev-Sawyer) Comments comments more computer news more gadgets on the...

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The Myth of the ?Race Card?

Two essential quotes come up often among the black women in my professional cohort. The first is one that we attribute to Zora Neale Hurston: ?If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.? The other is from Audre Lorde?s The Cancer Journals: ?Your silence will not protect you.? We trade these quotes to nudge one another toward self-advocacy in situations when speaking up for ourselves might be difficult?such as in work or social settings where we are in a minority as women of color and our experiences of sexism or racism may be minimized or disbelieved, if we are vocal about them. Even with Hurston or Lorde to embolden us, lodging a public complaint as a black woman can still be a vulnerable undertaking?especially when we?re asked to justify why we?re offended or to explain how we can be so sure that the offense we felt had discriminatory underpinnings. So I wasn?t surprised that when singer Solange Knowles live-tweeted about an incident she described as racist at a Kraftwerk concert last week, commenters inundated her Twitter account with allegations that her description of events was racist. ?Let me tell you about why black girls / women are so angry,? Knowles began, and recounted being told by four older white women behind her, ?You need to sit down,? as she danced with her family. When she didn?t oblige, ?They proceeded to throw something at my back.? She ended her account with, ?But in this moment, I?m just going to share my experience? So that maybe someone will understand, why many of us don?t feel safe in white spaces. We don?t ?bring the drama….? Fix yourself.? Knowles later posted an essay, ?And Do You Belong? I Do,? on her website that explores the insidious nature of confrontations with white people, in which the tone of voice they?re using feels as contentious?or more so?than the words they?re using, and how difficult it is to parse their actions and racial motivations: You don?t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought. Many times the tone just simply says, ?I do not feel you belong here.? Knowles?s critics were myriad. Some suggested Knowles avoid predominantly white environments, while others lobbed racist insults. Honestly, Truly …..(again) pic.twitter.com/1yxAvf6NJq ? solange knowles (@solangeknowles) September 10, 2016 Many others accused her of ?playing the race card,? implying that they remained unconvinced of racist intent in the Kraftwerk incident. The term ?race card? is always evoked as an accusation, implying that black people are playing a game when we mention race in conversation. As the metaphor goes, the race card is a supposed trump card that?s used to shut down a conversation, to win some sort of rhetorical victory. But when you?re black in America, race is not just one card in a hand that can be played or not; it?s an integral part of our identity, as inextricable as our nationality, if not more so. So when a white person antagonizes us, we cannot ignore the fact of our skin color or the way our country has treated people of that skin color since...

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Global Energy Investment Falls 8%

September 20th, 2016 4:45am Posted In: Natural Gas News, Featured Articles, Security of Supply, Carbon, Supply/Demand, Investments, Natural Gas News Africa, Natural Gas News Europe, Africa, Europe, Asia, Natural Gas News Asia Set up to monitor oil markets following the 1970s? oil crisis, the IEA now is the emissions watch-dog. Global energy investment in 2015 amounted to $1.83 trillion, down 8% (in real terms) from 2014, according to a survey published September 14 by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report said that the drop mainly came from the upstream oil and gas segment. It also said that “After three years during which the US was the largest destination for investment in energy supply, China retook the top position in 2015, largely owing to the record level of electricity sector investment in China and the decline of US oil and gas investment.? However, “the rebalancing and slowdown of the Chinese economy, which are curbing the country?s energy needs, are having a major impact on energy investment globally, largely as a result of lower demand growth for oil, gas and coal.”  The top five spenders in 2015 were China with $315bn, USA with $280bn, falling $75bn from 2014, EU with $140bn, Russia with $85bn and India with $65bn. Welcoming the report, the head of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, Gordon Ballard, said: “In the oil and gas sector, huge investment will be necessary in the next decades, to explore and produce the new resources needed to meet the energy demand that a growing world population will likely generate.  Charles Ellinas You can read the full article in Issue 3 of Natural Gas World Magazine. Out Wednesday September 21. Subscribe today.  You can now also follow Natural Gas World directly on your phone or tablet via Google Newsstand and Flipboard. Click  or       Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  all new messages News on the...

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Shop Till You Drop

For a small but fervid subset of Americans, weekends are devoted to preparing for the end of weekends. Whether it?s canning vegetables, stocking the bunker, or drilling the kids in target practice, survivalists maintain a constant state of readiness for whatever doomsday scenario?zombie attack, electromagnetic pulse, coordinated FEMA takeover?they believe will bring about the end of the world as we know it. It?s a pastime that rewards obsessives: Every detail, no matter how small, could wind up being a matter of life and death. ?You can readjust the cans on your shelf, count the cans on your shelf,? says Richard Mitchell, a sociologist who has been studying survivalist subcultures since the 1980s. ?Counting is very popular. Everybody loves to count.? From the start, survivalism has been infused, either implicitly or explicitly, with a criticism of modern society. The movement?s first wave was sparked in the early 1970s by the Arab oil embargo and the growing fear of nuclear war. Since then, survivalism has been fueled by everything from avian flu and the Y2K computer bug to September 11 and climate change. The shared belief is that civilization faces imminent collapse; the shared goal is to survive the chaos and be in the best position to recover. It?s a story of doom, but also of hope: Survivalists, in the end, are the heroes who emerge to rebuild our shattered world. ?Survivalism confronts modernity and finds trouble,? Mitchell writes in his study Dancing at Armageddon, ?but trouble with possibilities.? Now, however, survivalism itself is being exploited by the very forces it seeks to escape. In recent years, a growing number of companies have rushed to capitalize on the deep-seated fears that drive survivalists, hoping to cash in on the end of the world. Anxiety, after all, is one of the most fundamental drivers of commerce?and who?s more anxious than someone who is convinced that doomsday is near? Survivalism?s push into the mainstream picked up steam in 2012, when the National Geographic Channel premiered Doomsday Preppers, a reality show centered on Americans preparing for what?s known as a shtf (shit-hits-the-fan) scenario. Preppers quickly became the most-watched show in the channel?s history, and spawned popular spin-offs like Doomsday Bunkers (think home-renovation show, but with armored blast doors instead of open-plan kitchens). The shows were part of a wave of entertainment that took a decidedly apocalyptic turn, from movies like The Road and World War Z to television shows like The Walking Dead and The Last Man on Earth, which depicts the lighter side of what survivalists call TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It). ?Preppers,? as National Geographic dubbed them, are more of a market than a movement. If being a survivalist is about acquiring skills, whether it?s starting a fire without matches or defending yourself against marauding enemies, then being a prepper is about accumulating stuff. Ambient, insatiable anxiety makes preppers ideal consumers; they?re always scrambling to achieve a better state of preparedness. A growing number of companies have rushed to capitalize on the deep-seated fears that drive survivalists. Mass marketers have taken notice. Prepper-centric shows don?t just feature survival gear?they directly profit from it. Doomsday Preppers, for example, is sponsored by Wise Food Storage, a purveyor of freeze-dried meats and other ?emergency foods.? On the show?s web site,...

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