Trump Organisation claims 150m Turnberry investment – BBC News

Image copyright Reuters

The amount of investment in Donald Trump’s Turnberry golf resort has shot up to about 150m, his representatives have told BBC Scotland.

After buying the Ayrshire resort in 2014, the US presidential hopeful vowed to spend 200m on renovating it.

Accounts filed last week with Companies House revealed that his organisation had invested just 18m by the end of 2015.

But on Friday, his representatives said that figure had now risen to 150m.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Trump Organisation said: “The accounts submitted to Companies House reflect the financial year from 2015 and the first phase of the renovation, which included the clubhouse, the Wee Links pitch and putt and selected function spaces within the hotel.

“To date, the total expenditure equals around 150m, with the large majority of the work taking place through the year of 2016.”

The spokesman said work had included “transforming” the Ailsa golf course, introducing a grand ballroom, refurbishing the 103-bedroom Turnberry hotel and adding a two-bedroom luxury suite and halfway house to the Turnberry Lighthouse.

He added: “Construction is currently taking place on Trump Turnberry’s second course, following consultation with golf architect Martin Ebert, with further, extensive, renovation planned for The Spa at Turnberry and the Villas at Trump Turnberry.”

Image copyright PA

Meanwhile, representatives of Mr Trump have blamed “exhaustive red tape” and planning system “obstacles” for hampering progress in developing his Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire.

The Trump Organisation had envisaged about 6,000 construction jobs and 2,000 operational posts over the long-term, multi-phased development at Menie, which Mr Trump opened in July 2012 after a lengthy battle with local people and environmentalists. Mr Trump also attempted to block plans for an offshore wind farm near his course.

Company accounts up to the end of 2015 showed only 95 people were employed on average last year.

‘Extremely difficult’

Sarah Malone, from Trump International Golf Links, told BBC Scotland that in addition to “core staff”, the company provided work for more than 50 caddies and supported “countless businesses and service providers locally and nationally”.

She said: “To date over 500 people have been engaged in the first phase of construction and development, and we continue to retain a leading team of regional and national consultants including planners, engineers, architects, designers and environmental experts on the creation of future phases.

“I should highlight that had it not been for the exhaustive red tape and obstacles presented through the planning system, the pace of our project would have been accelerated.”

Ms Malone said it was “nothing short of ridiculous” that it had taken 40 planning applications, 24 planning hearings, a full public inquiry and parliamentary hearing just to build phase one.

She also said the company had also been forced to “waste valuable resources, money and time” on fighting the location of an offshore wind farm near the property.

“The system has not supported big investment, it has made it extremely difficult,” she added.

Donald Trump’s two Scottish golf courses together lost about 9.5m last year.

Trump Turnberry made a loss of almost 8.4m, while Menie lost nearly 1.1m.

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-37655823

Coventry photographer Masterji, 94, has first exhibition – BBC News

Image copyright Maganbhai Patel
Image caption The photographs capture the people who had recently made Coventry their home

A photographer who has captured South Asian immigrants settling in the UK since the 1950s is having his first exhibition – at the age of 94.

Maganbhai Patel arrived in Coventry from India in 1951 and spent many years taking photographs of his community.

The former headteacher’s pictures became so popular he decided to open a studio at his home in 1969.

His vast array of images was uncovered last year when his daughter showed them to a local exhibition group.

Image copyright Maganbhai Patel
Image caption People would don their finest clothes for photographs which would be sent back to their families in India
Image copyright Maganbhai Patel
Image caption Young and old would pose for Mr Patel in his home studio

Seventy of them will form the exhibition, which is being held as part of Coventry’s bid to be City of Culture 2021.

Tarla Patel, 40, said: “My father’s photographs capture a time when Coventry was changing and developing, and people had many hopes and dreams about what they wanted to do.”

Known as Masterji as a mark of respect because of his teaching past, Mr Patel spent many years working at the town’s General Electric Company before taking up his passion full-time.

“He had a box brownie camera in India, and when he came to England he also studied photography at night school,” Ms Patel said.

“People would ask him to take their wedding photos, but because he became very well known he started his own business.

Image copyright Maganbhai Patel
Image caption One of his subjects was Parvanna, a Coventry-based South Asian band

He set up Master’s Art Studio at the front of his home, and over the years his wife, two sons and two daughters became keen photographers. One son, Ravindra Patel, runs the family business today.

His subjects range from families posing in their best clothes for photographs to send back to India to identity photographs.

Image copyright Maganbhai Patel
Image caption Masterji has also taken many self portraits, including this side profile
Image copyright Maganbhai Patel
Image caption Master’s Art Studio is now run by Mr Patel’s son Ravindra, pictured here as a boy with a toy tank

Mr Patel said he was “very grateful, very proud” that his photographs were to be shown after all this time.

“There was no Indian photographer, I was the first,” he said. “They come to me and make friendships (sic). And the people I make happy, you know, they like me.”

Curator Jason Tilley, of Photo Archive Miners, said: “The work of Masterji is of huge significance not just for Coventry but the UK because it’s a window into the lives of people as they arrived here and the image they wanted to send home.

“Many of the pictures were taken as portraits or for their official documentation so you see a very formal image.

“In other photos, you see a more laid-back style and also some of the difficulties they faced so it really documents a very important part of the city’s history and its cultural diversity.”

It is hoped some of the subjects in the images will come forward as a result of the exhibition.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-37656057

Deutsche Bank May Need to Shrink U.S. Activities, Welt Says

Deutsche Bank AG may be forced to shrink its U.S. activities as part of a deal to settle litigation over residential mortgage-backed securities with the Department of Justice, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the discussions.

Radical changes to the business model are typical requirements in settlement arrangements with the U.S. government, Die Welt cited the person as saying. Deutsche Bank must clarify one or two things before an agreement can be struck, the person said, according to the report. Germanys largest bank will probably give up part of its U.S. investment banking business, the newspaper cited unidentified people in the banking industry as saying.

Deutsche Bank spokesman Armin Niedermeier declined to comment on the report when contacted by Bloomberg on Saturday.

The shares closed at 12.24 euros on Friday, up 2.04 percent on the day. The company has lost about 46 percent of its market value this year, making it the fourth-worst performer on the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index, which slipped 22 percent.

A U.S. pullback is among options that were discussed by the supervisory board and would be more likely than a sale of the asset-management business, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter. Renee Calabro, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank in New York, declined to comment on the Sueddeutsche Zeitung report.

Deutsche Bank had 10,842 employees in North America at the end of 2015, about 10 percent of the 101,104 it employs worldwide. Under Chief Executive Officer John Cryans restructuring plans announced last year, the lender is seeking to eliminate 9,000 jobs, including 4,000 positions in its home market.

Cryan has struggled to restore investor confidence as mounting legal expenses raised concern about the lenders financial strength. A sell-off in the shares accelerated last month, when the U.S. Justice Department requested $14 billion to settle a probe tied to residential mortgage-backed securities.

The CEO responded by saying he expects U.S. authorities to scale back their initial demand and that he doesnt plan to raise capital as he focuses on restructuring the bank. To help lower costs and boost profitability, Cryan has suspended dividends, cut risky assets and scrapped bonus awards.

In a message to divisional chief operating officers on Wednesday, Deutsche Bank said hiring will be put on hold with immediate effect, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The hiring freeze affects all divisions excluding some control functions such as compliance, the people have said.

Deutsche Bank, which houses Europes largest investment bank, is also holding information talks with securities firms to explore options including raising capital should mounting legal bills require it, people familiar with the matter have said. The lender would also revisit selling its Deutsche Postbank consumer unit or parts or all of its asset-management division, they said.

The lender is scheduled to release third-quarter earnings on Oct. 27.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-15/deutsche-bank-may-be-forced-to-shrink-u-s-activities-welt-says

Deutsche Bank Reported to Mull Partial U.S. Retreat to Cut Costs

Deutsche Bank AG, Germanys biggest bank, is considering options such as scaling back U.S. operations as part of a wider overhaul to lower costs, according to several media reports.

A U.S. pullback was already discussed by the supervisory board and would be more likely than a sale of the asset-management business, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, citing an undisclosed person familiar with the matter. No decision has been taken, according to the German newspaper. Deutsche Bank doesnt plan a full U.S. retreat, according to Reuters. Renee Calabro, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank in New York, declined to comment.

Chief Executive Officer John Cryan is under pressure to lower cost further as mounting legal expenses threaten to undermine profitability. While a sell-off in the shares accelerated last month, when the U.S. Justice Department requested $14 billion to settle a probe tied to residential mortgage-backed securities, Cryan has said he doesnt plan to raise capital and expects U.S. authorities to scale back their initial demand.

The shares closed at 12.24 euros on Friday, up 2.04 percent on the day. The company has lost about 46 percent of its market value this year, making it the fourth-worst performer on the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index, which slipped 22 percent.

A report by Germanys Die Welt am Sonntag that Deutsche Bank may be forced to shrink its U.S. activities as part of a deal with the Department of Justice was disputed by one person briefed on the matter. The person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private, said the lender is reviewing its U.S. operations and capital requirements but no decision is imminent.

Deutsche Bank had 10,842 employees in North America at the end of 2015, about 10 percent of the 101,104 it employs worldwide. Under Cryans restructuring plans announced last year, the lender is seeking to eliminate 9,000 jobs, including 4,000 positions in its home market.

Deutsche Bank spokesman Armin Niedermeier declined to comment on the report by Die Welt am Sonntag when contacted by Bloomberg on Saturday.

As part of his overhaul, Cryan has cut risky assets, suspended dividends and scrapped bonus awards. The CEO has already said that the lender may fail to be profitable this year and that he may have to deepen cost cuts.

In a message to divisional chief operating officers on Wednesday, Deutsche Bank said hiring will be put on hold with immediate effect, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The hiring freeze affects all divisions excluding some control functions such as compliance, the people have said.

Deutsche Bank, which houses Europes largest investment bank, is also holding informal talks with securities firms to explore options including raising capital should mounting legal bills require it, people familiar with the matter have said. The lender would also revisit selling its Deutsche Postbank consumer unit or parts or all of its asset-management division, they said.

The lender is scheduled to release third-quarter earnings on Oct. 27.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-15/deutsche-bank-reported-to-mull-partial-u-s-retreat-to-cut-costs

Film stars discuss Hollywood’s diversity issue

LONDON The film industry’s diversity issue is not going away.

Over the past year, Hollywood sexism and issues of race representation, both on and off screen, have been a huge topic of conversation among people in the movie business.

Numerous diversity reports have been published, some fairly damning. In May, Jodie Foster spoke out about the problems faced by female directors. During the 2016 Awards season, a barrage of celebrities criticised the Academy Awards for its treatment of actors of colour.

The last two instalments of the London Film Festival have attempted to tackle these issues. Last year, the British Film Institute dubbed the festival “the year of the strong women”, while this year’s festival has placed a focus on black talent.

Mashable took to the red carpet to speak to actors, directors, screenwriters and producers about diversity in the industry, and to what extent they still think it’s an issue.

David Oyelowo, actor, Queen of Katwe.

Image: mashable

“Of course it’s an issue, and I’ve talked extensively about it. I’m kind of bored of talking about it if I’m honest. It’s now just time to do it.

“And I think, LFF having a season like they’re having right now is doing diversity; I think Disney making this film is doing diversity; and I think you look at this audience and the people here to see this film tonight that is diversity in action.”

Nicole Kidman, actor, Lion.

Image: mashable

“This is diversity in action, right now, this film. And I think that’s what it requires, just people getting out and saying, yeah we believe in these stories we can get them made, people will make them. And hopefully people will see them.

“I’ve just produced a show [Big Little Lies] that has Zo Kravtiz as the lead, it has me, it has Laura Dern, it has Reese [Witherspoon], it’s all female leads… because if you’re also talking about diversity you’re also talking about women in film.

“We just need to keep pushing the boundaries and pushing forward and saying ‘we can get this stuff made’. But it is hard. It’s like pushing rocks up a mountain at times. But we keep it in the conversation and then you come out and support the film on red carpets, at festivals, so that people go see it.

“It’s the only way to change it.”

Lupita Nyong’o, actor, Queen of Katwe.

Image: mashable

“I think the question about inclusion is one that has to be dealt with in action. And so, a film like this existing at this moment is significant, but one film cannot solve it. You know, it’s about not just a moment, but a momentum.

“It’s about who is in power, and what’s their perspective, and what films are they green-lighting in order for us to actually tackle this debate on inclusion.”

Sam Claflin, actor, Their Finest.

Image: mashable

“I think the fact you’re asking the question suggests there is still an issue, if you know what I mean? And I think that’s really sad. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked but it is something that will continually come up over the coming years. I hope it doesn’t, and I hope it just gets to the point where we don’t talk about it anymore.

“It shouldn’t be there. Especially in this day and age. We’ve come so far, but it’s still a long way to go.”

Note: Some of the above quotes have been edited for length/clarity.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/15/film-stars-discuss-diversity/

World leaders drastically reduced the threat from a growing global warming culprit

Air conditioners and power generators are displayed on a street in central Baghdad, Iraq on July 30, 2015.
Image: Khalid Mohammed/ap

After a decade of fitful talks, nearly 200 countries agreed early Saturday morning in Rwanda to the most important near-term global warming agreement ever devised.

By curtailing the rapidly growing use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years, countries may have found a way to avert the worst of the worst-case global warming scenarios.

The HFC agreement should help avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius, or 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, of global warming by the end of the century.

If you’ve never heard of HFCs, it’s probably because so far, almost all of the focus of climate negotiations has been on carbon dioxide, which we emit in far larger quantities than HFCs and which last in the air for a far longer period of time thousands of years versus just 14 years for some HFCs.

However, HFCs are far more effective at warming the planet that carbon dioxide is, which means that any reduction in HFC emissions are an important part of efforts to rein in global warming.

In addition, HFCs have become increasingly popular with emissions growing by 10 to 15 percent annually for use in air conditioners and refrigerators and as a substitute for the substances banned under the Montreal Protocol.

Surface temperature change from HFC emissions under business as usual scenario compared to Kigali Amendment pathway.

Image: Institute for Governance and sustainable development

According to a White House fact sheet on the HFC agreement, if its goals are met it would prevent more than 80 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050, which is equal to more than a decade of carbon emissions from the entire U.S. economy. The U.S. is the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world.

Because of carbon dioxide’s long atmospheric lifetime and the rapidly rising use of HFCs worldwide, scientists and activists seeking to slow global warming during the next few decades have targeted super greenhouse gases as part of a more holistic approach to the issue.

Even if we were to suddenly stop emitting carbon dioxide from power plants, the transportation sector, deforestation and other sources, the lag time due to the carbon dioxidealready built up in the air would mean the planet will continue to warm for at least decades, if not centuries.

The HFC agreement buys the planet more time by removing a near-term accelerant of global warming, with the hope that significant progress is made in cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the next decade or two under the Paris Climate Agreement, which goes into effect in November.

The HFC deal may also make it easier to constrain global warming to a lower severity, closer to the globally agreed target of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the preindustrial average. Without the HFC deal, soaring emissions of super greenhouse gases could have undermined the effects of carbon emissions cuts.

The legally-binding HFC agreement may help most in areas like the Arctic, where warming is already leading to widespread environmental shifts as sea ice cover plummets to record lows.

A freeze and then phase out

Under the Kigali Amendment, countries agreed to phase out the use of HFCs that are used in air conditioners and refrigerators beginning in 2019. The agreement takes the form of an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that was originally negotiated in 1988 to protect the planet’s stratospheric ozone layer.

The HFC agreement calls for developed countries, such as the U.S. and European Union, to move more swiftly in cutting their use of HFCs and to provide technical support to developing nations to ensure they have cleaner alternatives.

The HFC agreement buys the planet more time by removing a near-term accelerant of global warming

The agreement marks the third milestone in international climate change diplomacy in just the past month. In late September, the Paris Climate Agreement reached its required participation threshold in order to enter into force in 2016. This is several years earlier than originally expected and unusually fast for a global United Nations agreement.

In addition, the aviation industry, a rapidly rising source of global warming pollution, agreed to a greenhouse gas emissions reduction scheme on Oct. 6.

The calving front of Sermeq Kujatdleq glacier seen from a NOAA aircraft in May, 2016.

Image: John Sonntag/NASA/Rex Shutterstock/AP

Regarding the HFC agreement, President Barack Obama in a statement Saturday, called the new deal “an ambitious and far-reaching solution to this looming crisis.”

Under the HFC agreement, more than 100 developing countries, including China, will freeze their HFC emissions in 2024 and begin reducing them soon thereafter. Some countries, including India and Pakistan, negotiated more time to continue using HFCs, securing another four years before they need to act.

India and many other countries had previously opposed adding HFCs to the Montreal Protocol, but political pressure at home and abroad gradually moved countries to support the new deal.

World leaders and environmental groups are praising the amendment as a landmark step in addressing global warming.

Global average temperature anomalies averaged over period of 2011-2015.

Image: nasa giss

This is the biggest step we can take in the year after the Paris agreement, and is equal to stopping the entire worlds fossil-fuel CO2 emissions for more than two years,” said David Doniger, the climate and clean air program director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, in a statement.

“While we have seen many significant successes under President Obamas leadership in fighting climate change, this day will unquestionably be remembered as one of the most important in our effort to save the one planet we have,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/15/hfc-agreement-huge-step-forward/

When no school could take him, this Syrian refugee boy had to start working

Hammoudi, a 14-year-old Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, works as a mechanic’s assistant because no local school could take him.
Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

Editor’s note: Corinna Robbins is the multimedia projects manager at Mercy Corps.

Hammoudi’s deep brown eyes were the first thing I noticed when I met him in his family’s tent in Lebanon.

They stare out from a boyish face, freckled and apple-cheeked. At 14, Hammoudi is a quiet and serious kid, and his penetrating gaze immediately gives you the sense that he has seen a lot too much for someone so young.

The second thing I noticed was Hammoudi’s hands. Sitting on the floor of his tent, his fingers interlaced in his lap, I spotted the telltale dirt and grease in his cuticles that I recognize from my own father, who also worked with machinery and equipment when I was growing up.

Barely a teen, Hammoudi has working man’s hands.

Hammoudi’s hands tell the story of how he spends his days: not learning in a school, but working in a garage.

Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

He and his family fled their home in the suburbs of Aleppo four years ago after Syria’s war came too close.

“Hammoudi and [his older brother] Mustafa actually witnessed the shellings,” said Hamida, Hammoudi’s mother. “There was a shell that dropped right next to our house, so they saw that. They knew, this was a war and we have to leave because it is not safe anymore.”

So the family, including Hammoudi’s parents and three siblings, went to Lebanon and now lives in an informal settlement. The family has left behind the airstrikes and danger of Syria, but they also had to give up many things they didnt want to lose including any semblance of a normal childhood for Hammoudi.

Education out of reach

Hammoudi dreams of being an engineer, but has been out of school for more than three years. “I’m forgetting how to read and write and it is very, very annoying,” he said.

Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

More than half of school-aged Syrians in Lebanon are out of school. Hammoudi is, too. When his family first arrived in Lebanon, they found the same problem as so many Syrians: No local school could take him.

It’s a priority for Hammoudi’s dad, Abdelbasset, that Hammoudi and his siblings continue their education. In Syria, Abdelbasset had been a taxi driver. He had to drop out of school in ninth grade, and he was determined his own children would have the opportunities he had been denied.

“When I was in school, my dream was to become a very smart engineer.”

So the family searched extensively, and eventually enrolled Hammoudi in boarding school. He had been a good student in Syria, finishing the fourth grade before the family fled the war. Math and Arabic were his favorite subjects.

“When I was in school, my dream was to become a very smart engineer,” he told me. “I like to build a lot of cool-looking stuff.”

Just 10 years old at the time, Hammoudi missed being away from his family. Worse, the tuition rapidly ate through the family’s savings over the course of the year.

Abdelbasset got a job selling strawberries on the side of the road every day for the three months of berry season. It was a little income, but not enough.

Eventually, he told me, he had to make some difficult decisions: “Do I pay rent or put my children in school or feed my family?”

In the end, it was no choice at all. Unable to pay tuition, he withdrew Hammoudi from school.

“I didn’t want to leave school when they told me I had to because I didn’t want to stop learning,” Hammoudi said. “And I didnt want to leave my friends because I had some really great friends there.”

Learning a trade

Hammoudi works six days a week as an assistant to a mechanic. On his day off, he works with his father, selling produce on the side of the highway.

Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

With no good school options for Hammoudi, Abdelbasset and Hamida did something they never wanted to do: They found a job for their young son in a mechanic’s garage. He works as an assistant to the mechanic six days per week. Each week he makes $30, which he gives to his parents.

The money is helpful for the family, which, like most Syrian refugees, lives in grinding poverty. But Hamida insisted it’s not the main reason for sending Hammoudi to work.

“He’s actually learning something and working and investing his time in something and not just playing around,” she said. “When he grows up, he will be able to have a craft and open his own business, hopefully.”

“I am a bit too young to work and studying would be better for me. But this is how it is right now.”

As a mother, I recognize the pain that comes with doing the best you can, but knowing it’s not enough. When your child suffers, you feel the pain doubly.

“Of course I am very angry,” Hamida said. “I feel guilty because Hammoudi should be in school and he shouldnt be working. And education is definitely much better than work at this age.”

At the garage, Hammoudi mops the floor, hands the mechanic the tools he needs, and watches closely all the time. He said he wants to do more.

“The mechanic tells me all about the car parts, but I can not work on them. I’m just basically listening and the mechanic asks me to come and watch, but I don’t really work on fixing stuff. I am a bit too young to work and studying would be better for me,” Hammoudi said, echoing his mothers thoughts. “But this is how it is right now.”

Helping families cope with challenges

Hammoudi’s parents say they feel guilt and anger that their children aren’t in school. The biggest reason they want him to work is so he learns a skill that he can use in the future.

Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

In the midst of this crisis that leaves too many refugees with too few options, Mercy Corps is focused on helping families to become strong, independent and able to shape a future for themselves and their children of their choosing.

Hamida joined a Mercy Corps women’s group that gives her skills to cope with the stress she and her children endure.

Hammoudi joined an art therapy program that helps kids like him process the challenges they face as refugees.

“I was able to draw, which I love. I crafted my own home out of cardboard and things in nature,” he said.

Through our art therapy program, he also created a stop-motion animation video about his experience working at such a young age, and the frustrations he feels about not being able to go to school. The program relieves some of his feelings of isolation.

“When I participate in these activities, it feels like I am not a stranger anymore. Like I’m not strange to people my age. I’m like them. It is a very good feeling that I am not that different,” he said.

“When Hammoudi was telling us about these sessions, he was actually doing what he loves,” Abdelbasset said. “All the family was very happy that Hammoudi was happy and was benefiting. At least he’s become a bit more at ease.”

The day I visited, his parents saw Hammoudi’s video for the first time. In it, he shares the story of his journey from Syria and his experience in Lebanon. His story, together with his art, reveal a boy wrestling with an awful dilemma: Is it time give up his dreams?

It brought Hamida to tears.

“I really, really loved the video because it depicts the story of our family,” she said.

“I’m forgetting how to read and write”

Syrian enrollment in Lebanese schools is growing, thanks to a recognition of the crisis posed by an uneducated generation. Still, there are barriers. The U.N. reports less than half of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon go to school.

Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

In the last year, many Lebanese schools have opened a second shift so that Syrian children can enroll in the evenings. As a result, more Syrian refugees have access to education in Lebanon than before.

But there are still significant barriers. Many families are uncomfortable with their kids out at night, fearing for their safety as they walk home from school. Most don’t live close enough to walk, and transportation costs are high.

Hammoudi had an opportunity to enroll at an education center for some remedial schooling recently, but his family couldn’t afford to get him there. So for now at least, he continues his informal apprenticeship with the mechanic.

“I have a feeling that I’m never going back to school.”

“The hardest thing right now is that I’m not in school,” Hammoudi said. “I’m forgetting how to read and write and it is very, very annoying. And I have a feeling that I’m never going back to school.”

I visited on a Sunday, his day off from the garage. He played cards with his cousin, who also lives in the settlement, and kicked a soccer ball. But he was listless, losing interest in the games after a few minutes each. He seemed unable to relax.

In my notebook I jotted down, “This war has stolen his childhood.”

In the eyes of an American mom, Hammoudi has an unimaginable responsibility for a 14-year-old.

I asked him if he ever gets to be a kid.

He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I feel like an adult all of the time, because it is true. Because I am an adult.”

How you can help

Image: Corinna Robbins/Mercy Corps

  • Donate to Mercy Corps. Your support will ensure this generation is not lost. Help us reach Syria’s youth with the support and protection they need to survive this crisis and recover for the future.

  • Tell your friends. Share this story and spread the word about the millions of people who need us.

  • Sign our petition. Tell Congress: Support lifesaving humanitarian assistance that helps refugees and displaced people.

  • Start a campaign. You can turn knowledge into action by setting up a personal fundraising page and asking your friends and family to contribute to our efforts to help refugees fleeing crisis and conflict.

This story was first published on Mercy Corps’ website here. Mashable has republished it with permission.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/15/syrian-refugee-boy-education/

Facebook shuts down ads in Thailand as country mourns king’s death

Thai government supporters and royalists gather under a large portrait of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok.
Image: ASSOCIATED PRESS/David Guttenfelder

In an unusual show of respect for Thailand’s fallen leader, Facebook has opted to block all ads in the country for an undetermined length of time.

The social network said the move is in observance of a “cultural custom” as the nation mourns the late Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Thursday at the age of 88.

“Thailand is in a period of mourning due to the death of the King and removal of ads is a cultural custom,” a spokesperson wrote to advertisers in a blog post. “We don’t yet know the duration of the mourning period. We’ll keep you posted of any additional details as they become available.”

A funeral for Adulyadej who was the world’s longest-reigning monarch drew thousands of grieving citizens in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Friday. National media broadcasts went black as his body underwent a traditional bathing ceremony.

As part of his remembrance, many Thai citizens are wearing only dark colors this week, and several websites and television stations have gone completely black-and-white. Monochrome footage of the widely revered leader’s life has dominated the airwaves.

Google Thailand dropped its familiar rainbow letters to honor the late king.

Image: google, screenshot

The decision to temporarily drop ads seems to be a first for Facebook, which has cultivated a sizable market in the country. The platform boasts an estimated 37 million Thai users mostly on mobile who tend to post three times more frequently than the average user worldwide, according to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Perhaps as a result, Facebook ads have proven particularly successful in the country, according to a report in Thai newspaper The Nation.

Research firm Emarketer pegged the yearly Facebook ad spend in Thailand at $81.7 million, meaning that the web giant could be forgoing as much as $6.8 million per month in the blackout though that estimate is rough.

The company opened its first office in the country last fall as part of an ongoing push to beef up operations in emerging markets.

Part of that effort involves helping brands tailor ads to fit country-specific cultural norms and adjust posts for different bandwidth speeds.

A campaign for Durex condoms in Indonesia, for instance, would load separate videos depending on the viewer’s sex. Each was catered to the country’s particular attitudes toward gender roles and cultural norms.

The ability to tell a powerful story can connect people despite geographic, linguistic, technological and even cultural boundaries,” Melissa Oppenheim, who heads up the program that handles such considerations, told Mashable in an earlier interview.

In this instance, Facebook’s heightened sensitivity toward its users’ various cultures means cutting off ads altogether.

The platform’s worldwide expansion hasn’t been without controversy, however. Facebook faced criticism in India over accusations that its “free basics” service violated net neutrality, and human rights advocates argued that its “safety check” feature, which lets users notify friends and family of their situation in the event of a disaster, was heavily biased toward western countries.

The company has since worked to make the tool’s coverage more comprehensive.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/15/facebook-blocks-ads-thailand/

Western tourists’ spirits dampened by Thailand’s mourning

A Thai woman cries as she prays for Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside Siriraj Hospital where the late king was being treated in Bangkok, Thailand.
Image: Associated press/Wason Wanichakorn

Western tourists visiting Thailand in the wake of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death this Thursday seem to be a bit taken aback by the intensity of the country’s mourning.

Several vacation-goers tweeted their disappointment at the closure of nightlife venues and cancellation of “entertainment” events though most were sensitive to the glum national mood. Others advised anyone thinking of making the trip to reconsider the dates.

Perhaps the biggest blow was the shutdown of the Full Moon Party, an all-night beach bash held every full moon on the island of Koh Pha Ngan popular among international tourists.

Many of the country’s websites and TV stations have gone completely black-and-white out of respect for the fallen king. Monochrome footage of Adulyadej’s life has dominated the airwaves.

Google Thailand dropped its familiar rainbow lettering to honor the late king.

Image: google, screenshot

Facebook also announced it was blacking out all ads in the country for an undetermined length of time as part of a “cultural custom.”

A funeral for the widely revered leader drew thousands in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Friday. National media broadcasts went black as the king’s body underwent a traditional bathing ceremony.

The country has also declared a one-year mourning period.

Thai Royalists and well-wishers gather outside Siriraj Hospital to await the funeral procession of Thailands King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand.

Image: associated press/Guillaume Payen/NurPhoto/Sipa USA

Thailand’s tourism agency released a set of guidelines on Friday for travelers visiting the country. Most major attractions will remain open except the Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace.

The letter also encourages visitors to wear dark clothing if possible in solidarity with the many Thai citizens doing so to honor the late king. Restaurant and bar owners are encouraged to adjust business hours in accordance with the country’s state of grief, but they ultimately have the final say.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/15/thailand-vacationers-upset/

Could the New York Times actually benefit from a Donald Trump lawsuit?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Image: ap Photo/ Evan Vucci

Donald Trump might sue the New York Times. The Times might just want that to happen.

If Trump sues the Times over its reporting, the Republican nominee for president risks opening up his personal life to lawyers, providing access that would otherwise be private. He’d also almost certainly be the subject of a deposition, in which he, his family and many others would have to answer questions under oath about his behavior with women.

“It’s his butler. It’s the help around him generally. It’s his kids. It’s his ex wife. It’s his girlfriends if you can identify them … it’s all that stuff,” said Stuart Karle, general counsel at North Base Media and an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. “It would just be a rich vain of yuck about Donald Trump.”

It all began on Wednesday night when the newspaper published the accounts of two women who claimed to have been groped by the presidential candidate. Trump denied the claims and attacked the Times.

That could have been chalked up to just another dust up between Trump and a media outlet. He’s had plenty through his campaign, even operating an informal blacklist that included the Times and other outlets, such as the Washington Post and Politico.

Not this time. The Times, the Trump campaign feinted,had gone too far. Sources from the Trump camp told numerous reporters that a lawsuit was being drawn up. One of Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to the Times demanding a retraction. The Times fired back with the legal equivalent of “come at me, bro.”

The discovery issue

The newspaper has a good reason to be cocky. A lawsuit would mean that Trump would be subject to a legal process called “discovery,” in which lawyers for the Times are allowed to pore through the relevant histories of those involved in the case.

In this case, that would mean Trump’s sexual and romantic history. The inquisition would not necessarily stop with the women from the Times story.

“They might start talking about other women that were involved to see if there was a pattern of conduct,” said Chip Stewart, associate dean of the college of communication at Texas Christian University. “They could be asking a lot of questions that would be embarrassing to him.”

“Theres a big difference between Trump threatening to sue and actually suing and he often never follows through …”

Tim O’Brien knows this better than almost anyone. Trump sued O’Brien in 2006 over an allegation in O’Brien’s book “TrumpNation” that The Donald was worth far less than he led people to believe.

As part of that lawsuit, O’Brien’s lawyers deposed Trump as part of the discovery process. Trump was caught lying 30 times.

“Discovery can have a very, very long long arm with people in the business world. And that’s why a lot of them are careful about it and aren’t as flagrant about threatening to sue people,” O’Brien said in an interview with Mashable.

O’Brien, now the executive editor of Bloomberg Gadfly and Bloomberg View, assured reporters on Thursday that they didn’t have much to fear. In an article entitled “Don’t Fear Trump’s Lawsuits. He’ll Keep Losing,” O’Brien noted Trump will not want to open himself up to discovery.

“…theres a big difference between Trump threatening to sue and actually suing and he often never follows through with his threats anyway,” O’Brien wrote. “So exhale and keep reporting aggressively all of you scribes.”

A Reuters report found that despite many threats, Trump hasn’t sued a newspaper in 30 years.

The Times did not respond to a request for comment on the discovery process.

The legal issue

The New York Times building in New York.

Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Maybe Trump would be willing to suffer through discovery if he stood a legitimate chance of convincing a jury that the Times committed libel.

Trump, however, stands little chance.

In this case, Trump’s lawyers would need to show that the Times acted with “actual malice” meaning that not only are the claims untrue, but that the Times knew that the claims were untrue. Also, because Trump is a public figure, he would need to prove that those false claims defamed him something that the Times lawyers pointed out will be difficult to do due to Trump’s own public statements.

The paper would certainly end up having to pay some legal fees to defend itself against a theoretical Trump lawsuit, but that might end up being money well spent.

Writing on the legal blog Above the Law, Elie Mystal argued that the documents the Times would collect during the discovery process would be extremely valuable to its reporting.

Other documents, or videos, about Trumps past sexual conduct would become relevant. Trump would be deposed, under oath, about his sexual escapades. The Times would LOVE Donald Trump to sue them over this. Theyd never settle. There would be a public trial where all this stuff would come out. Theyd win a freaking Pulitzer.

Even if Trump were to sue, none of this would play out particularly quickly. Civil lawsuits tend to drag on for months or years. Trump almost certainly wouldn’t be deposed until well after the election.

That’s a prospect that wouldn’t seem to be appealing to Trump. If he wins, he’s a sitting president forced to confront allegations of sexual assault. If he loses, he’s a failed politician forced to confront allegations of sexual assault.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/15/donald-trump-new-york-times-lawsuit/