Stretching 310 metres into the sky, Dubai has officially opened the world’s highest twisted tower in the prestigious Marina district.
Costing 272 billion dollars, inside the 73-storey skyscraper each floor is rotated by 1.2 degrees to achieve the full 90 degree spiral to mimic the shape of human DNA.
More about: Architecture, Dubai United Arab Emirates, Guinness World Records
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The so-called “cannabis card” law was introduced on May 1 last year in three southern provinces. It’s aimed at transforming coffee shops into private clubs, requiring them to only sell cannabis to registered members who are Dutch residents and to stop sales to foreigners. The law has also addressed the downsides of drug tourism – traffic jams, street dealing and rowdy late-night partying. “Part of the cannabis card law has disproportionately infringed the interests of coffee shop clients, leading to financial losses during several months,” The Hague District Court reportedly ruled on Wednesday. “Clients have been scared away,” the court said referring to Dutch smokers who would have been put off from visiting coffee shops because they were required to provide their identities. The court said, the state will have to compensate a number of coffee shops in the provinces of Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland. However it upheld the ban on sales to foreigners, saying it should reduce problems of cross-border drug tourism in the southern part of the country. The Dutch association of retail cannabis traders and a number of coffee shops took the government to court in September last year to ask judges to declare the ban on cannabis sales to foreigners illegal, association spokesman Michael Veling told AFP. “Compensation is a good thing, but (in this case) it’s rather limited because traders won’t be repaid for drinks they haven’t sold and that kind of thing,” Veling added. A new, more left wing government shelved the cannabis card law in November, but said individual city authorities could still decide whether to apply the law affecting some 650 establishments across the country, according to their economic or social priorities. Amsterdam, whose coffee shops are a major tourist attraction, said it would continue to allow tourists to buy cannabis in the cafés, the Guardian reports. Although cannabis is technically illegal, the Netherlands decriminalized possession of less than five grams of the substance in 1976. … Read More
The Justice Department’s lawsuit that accuses Apple of colluding with publishers to raise e-book prices will begin this week in United States District Court. … Read More
Students at three facilities — an elementary school, a grade school and a high school — had their eyeballs scanned earlier this month as part of a ‘student safety’ pilot program being carried out by Stanley Convergent Security Solutions. “It simply takes a picture of the iris, which is unique to every individual,” Rob Davis, the school board’s senior director of support services, wrote home to parents in a letter dated May 23. “With this program, we will be able to identify when and where a student gets on the bus, when they arrive at their school location, when and what bus the student boards and disembarks in the afternoon. This is an effort to further enhance the safety of our students.” “The EyeSwipe-Nano is an ideal replacement for the card based system since your child will not have to be responsible for carrying an identification card,” Davis wrote. Parents at Daniel Jenkins Academy, Bephune Academy and the Davenport School of the Arts received the letter from the school board on May 24 informing them of the EyeSwipe-Nano program and that their child’s principal should be notified if they don’t want their son or daughter to participate. But elsewhere in the letter, the board explained that the program would begin last Monday, May 20. By the time the letter was received on Friday, iris scans had already been completed at the three area schools without a single student opting out, Angel Clark wrote for The Examiner this week. Because Memorial Day landed on May 27, parents were unable to receive confirmation from the school until this Tuesday, nearly one week after the scans began. In the letter, Davis described the scanning as a safe and noninvasive way of collecting students’ biometric data as a way of ensuring the safety of pupils in the Polk County school district. Parents are appalled that they weren’t informed of the program ahead of time, though, and are calling it an invasion of privacy. “It seems like they are mostly focused on this program, like the program was the problem. It’s not, it’s the invasion of my family’s Constitutional right to privacy that is the problem, as well as the school allowing a private company access to my child without my consent or permission,” one concerned parent wrote in a Facebook post that has since been shared hundreds of times. “This is stolen information, and we cannot retrieve it.” When the parent reached the school on Tuesday, she was told that the program was suspended. Reporter Michelle Malkin caught up with Davis on Wednesday and he apologized for the board’s actions and confirmed that the data had been destroyed. “Davis told me that ‘it is a mistake on our part’ that a notification letter to parents did not go out on May 17,” she wrote. “He blamed a secretary who had a ‘medical emergency.’” Polks planned to install EyeSwipe-Nano units on 17 local school busses starting next year. The scandal comes just months after a high school student in Texas was suspended for refusing to wear an identification card to class. … Read More
Walmart pleaded guilty to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by disposing of hazardous chemicals in garbage receptacles and sewage systems at over 4,000 retail outlets across the United States in court cases filed by the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The US Justice Department said Walmart was also found guilty of violating federal law by mixing together pesticides at a Missouri recycling facility and then reselling them in a process that violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The state of California opened an investigation into the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company in 2005 when a San Diego County Health Department inspector witnessed a Walmart employee discarding bleach down a sewer drain. In another instance, investigators said a boy was found playing in a mound of fertilizer near a Walmart garden section. The product contained ammonium sulfate, a chemical compound that causes irritation to people’s skin, eyes and respiratory tract, USA Today reported. “As one of the largest retailers in the United States, Walmart is responsible not only for the stock on its shelves but also for the significant amount of hazardous materials that result from damaged products returned by customers,” said Melinda Haag, US Attorney for the Northern District of California. “The crimes in these cases stem from Walmart’s failure to comply with the regulations designed to ensure the proper handling, storage, and disposal of those hazardous materials and waste.” Court records show the illegal dumping happened in 16 California counties between 2003 and 2005. Federal prosecutors said Walmart failed to train its employees on how to handle and dispose of hazardous waste material at its outlets. Walmart agreed to pay more than $110 million in penalties to end the decades-long investigation, the Department of Justice said. Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, suggested the retail giant’s gross violation of environmental regulations may have helped its performance against the competition. “By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Walmart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” Moreno said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also weighed in on the court case. “The FBI holds all companies, regardless of size, to the same standards,” FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the San Francisco Field Office said, in a statement released by the Department of Justice. “We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure there is a level playing field for all businesses and that everyone follows the rules.” Walmart defended itself, saying it has cleaned up its environmental standards. “Walmart has a comprehensive and industry-leading hazardous waste program,” Phyllis Harris, senior vice-president and chief compliance officer, said in a statement on Walmart’s webpage. “The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago.” This month, Walmart surprised analysts by reporting a 1.4 per cent quarterly decline in sales across the United States. According to the Walmart website, the retailer operates more than 10,800 retail units under 69 banners in 27 countries. It employs 2.2 million associates around the world — 1.4 million in the United States alone. Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which deals with the consequences of excessive corporate power in the United States. … Read More
The precise number killed in the bombings Monday is uncertain, with agency figures ranging between 58 and “more than 70,” with a further 180 wounded, according to security and medical officials cited by AFP. Kuwaiti news agency KUNI placed the figure as high as 82 dead, with another 130 injured. Approximately twelve different blasts struck markets and shopping districts in Baghdad’s Shi’ite areas. The explosions included twin bomb attacks just a few hundred meters apart in the Sadr City area of the capital, which killed 13.“A driver hit another car and left pretending to bring traffic police. Another car rushed to take him away and right after his car exploded among people who had gathered to see what was happening,” one bystander, Hassan Kadhim, told Reuters. “People were shouting for help and blood covered their faces.”Two of the blasts, instigated by vehicles fitted with explosives, went off in the vicinity of used car dealerships in the northeastern district of Habibiyah, destroying dozens of cars as Iraq’s national football team were playing Liberia in a friendly at Shaab stadium a short distance away.“Guards are here, and a car explodes here,” Fadhel Hanoun, a used car dealer told AFP, voicing anger at the loss of savings tied up in unsold cars, alongside the many deaths. “This is a failed state,” he added. No one group has yet claimed responsibility for the simultaneous attacks. However, they mark the latest in a series of assaults in both Sunni and Shiite regions, prompting fears that widespread sectarian violence is once more gripping the country. A series of bombings only a week ago killed left at least 95 people dead on one single day. 76 people were killed in a string of bombings just outside Baghdad on May 17, and explosions in the capital left more than 35 dead on May 15. Across April, more than 700 people, including 595 civilians, died in Iraq “acts of terrorism,” making it the deadliest month since June 2008, the UN’s mission in the country said. The capital Baghdad has become the worst affected city. Ten years after the US declared its victory over Saddam Hussein, Iraq is still mired in violence, with tensions between Sunnis and Shiites elevated since both the 2003 US led invasion of the country, and subsequent withdrawal of US troops in 2011. “Americans have to take the blame for that because of the system they imposed in Iraq, giving independence to Kurds in the North, who of course were allies with them against Saddam Hussein, and then they are suggesting they would split the Shia alliance in the rest of Iraq and that opened up a Pandora’s box, which really is almost impossible to stop now. But this is not going to stop sectarian violence,” political analyst Chris Bambery told RT earlier this month. Since US withdrawal, the Iraqi army and police force have faced severe difficulties in preventing an increase in insurgency and sectarian tensions. Majority Shiites dominate the power centers in post-Saddam Iraq, amid Sunni complaints that some laws unfairly target them as a group and that they are treated as second-class citizens. … Read More
Grant Acord, 17, was arrested late Thursday at his Albany home and taken to a juvenile jail. He is suspected of manufacturing and possessing explosive devices, which he stored in a secret compartment under the floor of his bedroom, according to authorities.He will also be charged with attempted aggravated murder in an adult court, Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said Saturday.”The charge of attempted aggravated murder requires that we prove that a substantial step was taken toward the completion of the crime,” the attorney said. “In this case, we would be relying upon evidence of plan. Diagrams, checklists, a plan to use explosive devices and firearms to carry out a plan specifically modeled after the Columbine shootings.”Haroldson said the police found pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, napalm bombs and explosives made from drain cleaner. He would not say when the alleged attack was planned to take place, but said that police had found a timeline.He said that Acord chose the West Albany High School, where he was a student, because it was a “target-rich environment,” and that the suspect did not appear to have targeted any specific person at the school.The attorney said he was not aware of any problems Acord may have had, but that further investigation was needed.”In any case that you have a young person that in essence plans to take a video game approach to killing people at school, you have to take a close look at the mental health issues,” Haroldson said. “And the process will certainly provide for that once he’s represented by counsel.”Albany Police Department said they had been altered to the case by a tip. No explosives were found during a search of the school, the statement said. Charges against Acord will be formally filed Tuesday morning, since Monday is Memorial Day, a national holiday in the US.The Columbine High School shooting in April 1999 was one of worst mass killings at a US school. It involved a firebomb that diverted firefighters and emergency personnel, a botched attempt to bomb a cafeteria, and a number of pipe bombs used during the shooting. The two perpetrators killed 12 students and one teacher before committing suicide. … Read More