There Is a Free Lunch, After All. It’s at the Office.

Everyone who works at Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Burlington, Vt., is entitled to three free pints of ice cream for each day of work. At the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, employees are treated daily to an elaborate buffet with appropriately white-shoe fare like prime rib, crab cakes and housemade beignets.

And at the offices of the Perkins Eastman architecture firm, with locations on three continents, staff members can enjoy all manner of free snacks — just as long as they are orange, the color of the company’s logo. In New York, that means a lot of Cheetos, Goldfish and Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Free food has been a formidable presence in the American workplace since the 1990s, when Bloomberg and tech start-ups like Google began to put out snacks in hopes of making employees happier or healthier, more productive and less likely to stray far from the task at hand.

But today, the practice is almost obligatory, as businesses go to extraordinary lengths to provide food without charge, or at a sharp discount. The offerings have grown in size, scope and specificity — some tailored to a company’s mission, others unwittingly reflective of it and still others that seem oddly random.

The dating app Hinge uses edible perks strategically: Employees in its New York office get $200 a month to spend on dates, which often involve food. The company’s founder, Justin McLeod, said his favorite use of the benefit was a cat-themed date that one employee planned.

“They started at a cat cafe,” he recalled. “They went to Katz’s and got Reubens, they went to the grocery store and tried to find cat-themed food, and then tried to make cat-shaped stuff on a plate while watching ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’”

Hinge also gives away nutritious snacks like yogurt and nuts, because Mr. McLeod, 34, sees his company as the health-food version of online dating, providing more information about each potential date than rival apps where users swipe quickly though photos. “With the fast-food approach, the whole experience feels good in the moment, but not so good in the end,” he said.

There are workplaces where the food gifts have a competitive feel. Zappos, the online shoe retailer, holds periodic eating contests in its main plaza in Las Vegas. More than 300 employees show up to cheer.

Big Ass Fans, a fan producer in Lexington, Ky., has a beer refrigerator that is unlocked only if the day’s sales goals have been met. “We’ll walk through other departments, and they will ask: ‘How close are we? Are we going to hit it?’” said John Nunnelley, 29, who works in sales.

Fidelity, the financial services company, also dangles food as an incentive. The items aren’t free, but can come with a significant price break, determined by its perceived healthfulness. A grilled Buffalo chicken wrap might be half the price of the breaded and fried version.

A spokeswoman said the strategy has been successful: Nearly two-thirds of the food items purchased every month are what the company deems healthy, a 140 percent increase since the program was introduced in 2012.

Many food businesses offer employees only their own products. Rachel Driori, 36, the founder of the subscription food-delivery company Daily Harvest, said that filling the office refrigerators with free Daily Harvest smoothies and soups is a convenient way to gauge the popularity of new items.

“We just launched a kelp pad thai, and yesterday we didn’t have enough for everybody,” Ms. Driori said. “It was anarchy.”

At Ben & Jerry’s, in addition to three daily pints of ice cream, employees have an on-site gym to work off what they have come to call the “Ben 10.”

Are they bothered that the only choice for satisfying afternoon hunger pangs is a high-calorie dessert, rather than something more nutritious? “Not really,” said Sean Slattery, 28, a social and digital insight analyst who gained those 10 pounds in his first few months at the company. “I wouldn’t really expect that.”

The ice cream is available to anyone who wants it, in an unlocked refrigerator governed by the honor system. Still, some workers resist the three-pint temptation. “Only the newbies take them every day,” said Laura Peterson, a public relations manager. “You soon learn to space it out a bit.”

Not every company’s offerings are as goal-oriented. Thrillist, an internet guide to food, travel and entertainment, supplies unlimited cinnamon-raisin bread to workers in its New York office — simply because it was put out once, about five years ago, and proved immensely popular. Six toasters are on standby, so no one has to compete for a warm snack.

The media company Slate is well-known for the sheer glut of junk foods served in its Brooklyn office; among the most popular are Pop-Tarts and Slim Jims. There is fruit in the pantry, but it “will stay and rot,” said Jayson De Leon, 27, a senior producer of Slate’s podcasts. “It’s such a sad depiction of our diets in the office: the apple rotting.”

Still, he added: “I like a Pop-Tart. I like a Slim Jim. Something salty and something sugary. An apple is not going to help me get through this.” There’s even a special emoji on the company Slack channel that is sent out when the office manager restocks the pantry.

Box, a file-hosting platform, serves locally made snacks, like It’s It ice cream sandwiches in its headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., and beer from the popular Jester King Brewery in its Austin office. (Notably missing from the Austin branch is the cult favorite sparkling water Topo Chico, despite repeated employee requests, said Michelle Mattern, 33, a senior implementations consultant.)

Airbnb has what it calls a “simple station” in its San Francisco headquarters with plain, unseasoned meats, grains and vegetables. The company would not explain the starkness of the food, but a spokesman for LinkedIn, which has a similar station in its Sunnyvale, Calif., office, said it appealed to the many people with dietary restrictions.

LinkedIn, which doesn’t charge for food even in its cafeterias, also provides several halal-meat options to cater to Muslim employees at its campus in Sunnyvale, Calif. For Eid al-Adha last summer, one cafeteria served a Middle Eastern spread.

“It’s one of the reasons I have been at LinkedIn for four years,” said Omar Al-Ghwairi, 34, a senior technical services manager.

The prime rib and beignets at the American Enterprise Institute may seem inevitable for a research group that extols the rewards of a free market, but there also less fancy choices like deli meats and eggs. “I wouldn’t call it elaborate,” a company spokeswoman said. “I would call it everyday food.”

Rosemary Newsome, 22, a development intern, is thrilled with the spread. “I do kind of joke that now that I have this, I can’t go back to anything less,” she said.

Some company food policies have drawn mixed reviews. In July, a media uproar ensued after the shared-workspace company WeWork announced that it would no longer serve meat at its offices and events, and wouldn’t let employees expense meals that included red meat, poultry or pork.

A similar policy proved untenable at Google; after the company tried to establish meatless Mondays at its cafeterias in 2010, employees rebelled by tossing out silverware and holding protest barbecues.

Amazon, which prides itself on its culture of frugality, doesn’t offer any free food in its Seattle home base. But a spokeswoman said the reason the company has refrained is its desire to encourage workers to patronize local food businesses. The company says it will follow a similar policy at the new campus it plans to build in Long Island City, Queens.

At the companies that do give freebies, there are countless challenges for the people charged with producing them. Tilak Gurung, 49, who was a chef at Dropbox’s San Francisco headquarters from 2012 to 2017, said he wasn’t allowed to repeat the same menu twice.

Mr. Gurung also lamented having to participate in corporate culture. “You have to write your own reviews about your weaknesses — the manager writes about me and submits it,” he said. “But I am a cook! I have to cook!” He eventually left to start a restaurant, Tilak, in the city.

Corporate kitchens also have to deal with “skyrocketing” dietary restrictions and highly critical consumers, said Amelia Ekus, 29, a manager for New York and New Jersey at the corporate food supplier Guckenheimer, and formerly a general manager of the cafeteria in Twitter’s New York offices.

“With restaurants, people vote with their wallets,” she said. But when the office cafeteria is the only food option, “if they don’t like what you do, they will tell you every day how they think you should get better.”

Still, Ms. Ekus added, she understands why companies are going all in on food: Compared with other benefits, it’s a small investment, “and the return on the investment is huge,” she said. “You reduce turnover because you have happier employees. It’s how you stay competitive for a certain sector of companies.”

The designer Brunello Cucinelli doesn’t understand all the fuss. He has been feeding his employees in Italy for a nominal fee (currently 3.20 euros) since he founded his label in 1978.

At the company’s hilltop headquarters in the ancient hamlet of Solomeo, Italy, the roughly 1,000 employees enjoy a multicourse lunch that might include pasta with tomatoes and basil, and bread topped with fresh mozzarella. They sit at long tables in a high-ceilinged courtyard with sweeping vistas of the city.

By taking time for a midday meal, “you can better focus your thoughts and your life,” Mr. Cucinelli said. “It makes people more productive.”

He recently visited the cafeteria at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. “It was a very nice experience,” he said, from the design of the wooden tables to the freshness of the sushi.

But there was one big difference from his lunches in Italy: Most of the employees were on their phones.



Follow NYT Food on Twitter and NYT Cooking on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Get regular updates from NYT Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.

Source: Read Full Article

Head of Brazil environmental protection agency resigns

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The head of Brazil’s environmental protection agency Ibama resigned on Monday after far-right President Jair Bolsonaro criticized the amount of money the unit spends to rent vehicles in his latest attack on the agency.

Suely de Araujo had been leading the agency since 2016. An Ibama spokeswoman said she resigned after Bolsonaro suggested on Twitter there were irregularities in Ibama’s budget, which included 28.7 million reais ($7.73 million) for rental vehicles this year. Bolsonaro has routinely attacked Ibama, which is tasked with policing the Amazon rainforest to stop deforestation and illegal mining.

Source: Read Full Article

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun: Saudi teen granted Thailand stay after fleeing family

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun ran away as the family left the Arab kingdom on a holiday to Kuwait, claiming that they had subjected her to beatings, threats and locked her in a room for six months for cutting her hair.

Thai immigration officials stopped her as she made her way to Australia on Sunday and she barricaded herself in a hotel room at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok for fear her family would kill her if she was sent back home.

Following a meeting with UN refugee agency workers from UNHCR, the 18-year-old has been told she is allowed to stay in Thailand “under their care” and will not be sent anywhere against her wishes.

She has since tweeted that her father, senior Saudi government official Mohammed Alqunun, has arrived in Bangkok.

Mr Alqunun is hoping to persuade his daughter to return to the kingdom with him, but she told her more than 55,000 followers that she was “scared” and “worried” about going back home.

Thai Major General Surachate Hakparn said the teenager had indicated that she remains unwilling to go back home.

“As of now, she does not wish to go back and we will not force her,” he said on Monday.

“She won’t be sent anywhere tonight. She fled hardship. Thailand is a land of smiles.

“We will not send anyone to die. We will not do that. We will adhere to human rights under the rule of law.”

Ms Alqunun said on Twitter that her passport has been returned to her after being seized by immigration officials and that she felt “safe” under the protection of the UN workers.

That tweet has already been retweeted and shared thousands of times, with her pleas for asylum having brought international attention to the hardships facing millions of women in Saudi Arabia.

Under male guardianship laws, women must have the consent of a male relative – usually a father or husband – to travel, obtain a passport or marry.

In a similar case in 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom was stopped in the Philippines as she attempted to flee to Australia and was returned to Saudi Arabia, after which she was never heard from publicly.

Such restrictions show the limits of reforms being pushed by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, whose reputation has been tarnished following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi back in October.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said Ms Alqunun faced “grave harm” if she was forced to return to her home country.

He added: “Given Saudi Arabia’s long track record of looking the other way in so-called honour violence incidents, her worry that she could be killed if returned cannot be ignored.”

Saudi diplomats are due to meet with Maj Gen Surachate on Tuesday, when he said he would explain the decision to grant her temporary accommodation.

He told reporters that it would take around five days to consider her status and another five days to arrange for onward travel should she be granted refugee status in Australia.

An Australian government spokesman said the case was “deeply concerning” and embassy representatives in Bangkok have reached out to Thai authorities and the UNHCR to “seek assurances” that she will be able to access the “refugee status determination process”.

Source: Read Full Article

Taiwanese Favorites in Chelsea

Alonso Guzman Arellano says his Taiwanese cooking is very traditional. Still this chef, who left his native Morelia, Michoacán, for New York when he was 15 (and most recently was cooking at a Chinese restaurant in New Jersey, after a stint at Vitae in Manhattan), puts a burrito spin on his parchment-thin scallion pancakes, rolling them around a filling of beef, jalapeños, onions and greens. The dish for which Mr. Arellano, 24, is best known at his compact market stall is braised beef noodle soup, a Taiwanese specialty. It comes in a deep bowl filled with slices of beef, bok choy, pickled cabbage and his hand-pulled noodles, an art that he has managed to perfect. The broth, which he says simmers for six hours, delivers depth and spice. He speaks Mandarin and has visited Taiwan. Dumplings and other soups with noodles are also on the menu.

Noodle Culture, Gansevoort Market, 353 West 14th Street, 347-989-7325, noodleculture.business.site.

Follow NYT Food on Twitter and NYT Cooking on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Get regular updates from NYT Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.

Florence Fabricant is a food and wine writer. She writes the weekly Front Burner and Off the Menu columns, as well as the Pairings column, which appears alongside the monthly wine reviews. She has also written 12 cookbooks.

Source: Read Full Article

Weekend impaired driving arrests made in Peterborough County

Peterborough County OPP charged two drivers with impaired driving over the weekend.

On Sunday around 5:15 p.m., OPP stopped a vehicle on Nathaway Drive in Selwyn Township. Police say the driver was under the influence of alcohol.

Adrian Gills, 36, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with operation while impaired with a blood alcohol concentration 80-plus.

He was released and will appear in court in Peterborough on Feb. 12.

On Friday night around 8:15 p.m., OPP conducted a RIDE check on Highway 28 in Douro-Dummer Township. They said they found the driver to be under the influence of alcohol.

Borys Volyev, 24, of Petawawa, Ont., was arrested and charged with operation while impaired-blood alcohol concentration – 80 plus

He was released and will appear in court in Peterborough on Jan. 24.


Source: Read Full Article

U.S. warship sails in disputed South China Sea as trade talks start with Beijing

Chinese and American officials began talks Monday aimed at ending a bruising tariffs battle between the world’s two biggest economies, as Beijing complained over the sighting of a U.S. warship in what it said were Chinese waters.

It was unclear if the ruckus over the warship might disrupt the working level talks being held at the Chinese Commerce Ministry. The two sides have provided scant information about the discussions.

Both sides have expressed optimism over the potential for progress in settling their tariff fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions. Yet neither has indicated its stance has changed since a Dec. 1 agreement by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to postpone further increases.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday during a routine briefing that Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels were dispatched to identify the U.S. vessel and warn it to leave the area near disputed islands in the South China Sea.

“We have made stern complaints with the U.S.,” Lu said. He said the warship, which he said was the destroyer the USS McCampbell, had violated Chinese and international law, infringed on Chinese sovereignty and undermined peace and stability.

“As for whether this move has any impact to the ongoing China-U.S. trade consultations… to properly resolve existing issues of all kinds between China and the U.S. is good for the two countries and the world,” Lu said

But he added, “The two sides both have responsibility to create necessary and good atmosphere to this end.”

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. side about the Chinese complaint.

The American side in the trade talks is being led by a deputy U.S. trade representative, Jeffrey D. Gerrish, according to the U.S. government. The delegation includes agriculture, energy, commerce, treasury and State Department officials.

The talks went ahead despite tensions over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

Trump imposed tariff increases of up to 25 per cent on $250 billion of Chinese imports over complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Beijing responded by imposing penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for U.S. companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses.

Economists say the 90-day postponement of tariff increases that had been meant to take effect Jan. 1 may be too short to settle the disputes bedeviling U.S.-Chinese relations.

But cooling economic growth in both countries is raising pressure to reach a settlement.

Chinese growth fell to a post-global crisis low of 6.5 per cent in the quarter ending in September. Auto sales tumbled 16 per cent in November over a year earlier. Weak real estate sales are forcing developers to cut prices.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 per cent in the third quarter, and unemployment is at a five-decade low. But surveys show consumer confidence is weakening because of concern that growth will slow this year.

Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain Beijing’s tactics violate its market-opening obligations.

The standoff also reflects American anxiety about China’s rise as a potential competitor in telecommunications and other technology. Trump wants Beijing to roll back initiatives intended to create homegrown Chinese leaders in robotics and artificial intelligence.

China’s leaders see such strategies as a path to greater prosperity and global influence and have tried to defuse complaints by emphasizing the country’s potential as a huge consumer market.

They’ve also promised to allow more foreign access to its auto, finance and other industries.

Beijing has tried in vain to recruit France, Germany, South Korea and other governments as allies against Trump, but they have echoed U.S. complaints about Chinese industrial policy and market barriers.

The European Union filed its own challenge in the World Trade Organization in June against Chinese rules that the 28-nation trade bloc said hamper the ability of foreign companies to protect and profit from their own technology.

For their part, Chinese officials are unhappy with U.S. curbs on exports of “dual use” technology with possible military applications. They complain China’s companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though almost all deals are approved unchanged.

Some manufacturers that serve the United States have shifted production to other countries to avoid Trump’s tariffs.

Source: Read Full Article

Saudi woman who barricaded herself inside Thai airport hotel won’t be deported: officials

The head of Thailand’s immigration police said Monday that a young Saudi woman who was stopped in Bangkok as she was trying to travel to Australia for asylum to escape alleged abuse by her family will not be sent anywhere against her wishes.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun remained barricaded in an airport hotel room while sending out desperate pleas for help over social media. The 18-year-old began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait. She has been appealing for aid from the United Nations refugee agency, known as UNHCR, and anyone else who can help.

“I’m not leaving my room until I see UNHCR. I want asylum,” she said in a video posted to Twitter.

Her planned forced departure Monday morning was averted as she stayed in her room, with furniture piled up against the door, photos she posted online showed.

Al-Qunun’s plight mirrors that of other Saudi women who in recent years have turned to social media to amplify their calls for help while trying to flee abusive families. Her Twitter account has attracted tens of thousands of followers in less than 48 hours and her story has grabbed the attention of foreign governments and the U.N. refugee agency.

Her pleas for asylum have also brought international attention to the obstacles women face in Saudi Arabia under male guardianship laws, which require that women, regardless of their age, have the consent of a male relative — usually a father or husband — to travel, obtain a passport or marry.

It also shows the limits of reforms being pushed by Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman as he struggles to repair damage to his reputation after the grisly killing three months ago of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul.

On Twitter, al-Qunun wrote of being in “real danger” if forced to return to her family in Saudi Arabia, and has claimed in media interviews that she could be killed. She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam and is fearful of her father’s retaliation.

Al-Qunun told Human Rights Watch that she was fleeing beatings and death threats from her male relatives who forced her to remain in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

A Thai court declined to issue an injunction against her being sent back to her parents in Kuwait, from where she began her journey. A family trip to Kuwait apparently allowed her to evade Saudi Arabia’s restrictions on travel.

The immigration police chief, Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, said at a news conference at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where al-Qunun is staying, that he would meet with U.N. refugee officials to discuss allowing them to see her later Monday.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, a Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her country and family, speaks in a room in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan.6, 2019, in this still image taken from a video posted to Twitter.

Surachate also said if Thai authorities decide not to send her back to Saudi Arabia, they would have to provide their reasons to Saudi authorities in order not to not affect the countries’ relations.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it was following al-Qunun’s case and “trying to seek access from the Thai authorities” to meet with her to assess her need for international protection.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thailand should give al-Qunun back her passport and let her continue her journey to Australia.

“She has a valid Australian visa,” he said. “The key thing is she should not be sent back to Saudi Arabia, she should not be sent back into harm’s way.”

Some opposition figures in Australia were urging the government to support al-Qunun’s efforts.

“I implore the government to do everything they can to help bring this young woman to Australia to give her the opportunity for freedom,” said Australian Sen. Sarah Hanson Young.

For runaway Saudi women, fleeing can be a matter of life and death, and they are almost always doing so to escape male relatives.

In 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom triggered a firestorm online when she was stopped en route to Australia, where she planned to seek asylum. She was forced to return to Saudi Arabia and was not publicly heard from again, according to activists tracking her whereabouts.

Despite efforts by the Saudi government to curtail the scope of male guardianship laws, women who attempt to flee their families in Saudi Arabia have few good options inside the kingdom. They are often either pressured to reconcile with their families, are sent to shelters where their movement is restricted or face arrest for disobeying their legal guardian.

The AP reached al-Qunun by telephone Sunday night in her hotel room and she spoke briefly, saying that she was tricked into giving up her passport upon arrival in Bangkok.

“Someone told me he would help me get a visa for Thailand, so I can go inside,” she said. “After that, he took my passport. After one hour, he came with five or four people and told me my family wants me. And they knew I had run away and should go back to Saudi Arabia.”

In various statements she’s made, she has identified the man who took her passport as a Kuwait Airways employee or a Saudi Embassy official. She said Saudi and Thai officials then told her she would be returned to Kuwait on Monday, where her father and brother are awaiting her.

While the Saudi Embassy in Thailand denies Saudi authorities are involved in attempts to stop Alqunun from traveling to Australia, the kingdom has in the past forcibly returned citizens home.

Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the crown prince who had fled Saudi Arabia and was living abroad, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in a plot the kingdom said was aimed at forcing his return to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s charge d’affaires in Bangkok, Abdullah al-Shuaibi, was quoted in Saudi media as saying that Alqunun was stopped by Thai authorities because she did not appear to have a return ticket, a hotel reservation or itinerary to show she was a tourist. He said the Saudi Embassy has no authority to stop anyone at the airport and that such a decision would rest with Thai officials.

“She was stopped by airport authorities because she violated Thai laws,” he was quoted as saying in Sabq, a state-aligned Saudi news website. “The embassy is only monitoring the situation.”

A Saudi activist familiar with other cases of females who have run away said the women are often young, inexperienced and unprepared for the obstacles and risks involved in seeking asylum when they attempt to flee.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion, the activist said there have been instances where Saudi women runaways were stopped by authorities in Hong Kong or the Philippines en route to Australia or New Zealand. In some cases, Saudi authorities have been involved in forcing women to return to their families. In other cases, local authorities suspected the women of seeking asylum and deported them.

Source: Read Full Article

Spain rescues 549 migrants from Mediterranean Sea

Its craft intercepted six small smuggling boats carrying 350 migrants on Saturday in waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Another 199 migrants were pulled from five different boats on Sunday, including two small inflatable boats.

Four children were being carried on one of the tiny recreational boats while the other was packed with 10 adults.

Estimates by the United Nations refugee agency say 2,262 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean in 2018 and the EU’s border agency said 57,000 migrants reached Spain last year – double the figure for 2017.

The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that Italy, Malta and other EU nations have been refusing to let aid boats full of rescued migrants dock at their ports.

Pope Francis has appealed to European leaders to show “concrete solidarity” to 49 migrants stranded aboard two rescue vessels since December.

Speaking in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, he highlighted the plight of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea who have been waiting for days for permission for a safe port to let them disembark.

Italy’s populist government has refused to let private aid vessels disembark migrants rescued from human traffickers’ boats that are not seaworthy in Italian ports.

Malta has also refused migrants permission to leave their vessels but has allowed two boats to enter its waters for fresh supplies.

The Pope said: “Forty-nine migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two NGO ships have been onboard for several days now, waiting to be able to disembark.

“I address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some concrete solidarity with respect to these people.”

The European Commission also urged EU member states to admit them earlier this week as concern grows over their plight.

Some of the migrants have been stranded at sea for more than two weeks.

Source: Read Full Article

China graft watchdog investigating science official

BEIJING (Reuters) – China placed a senior official of the country’s Association for Science and Technology under investigation for suspected graft, state media Xinhua reported Sunday.

Xinhua said Chen Gang, executive secretary of the China Association for Science and Technology, was being probed by the ruling Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog on suspicion of breaking the law and violating discipline.

It gave no other details and it was not possible to reach Chen for comment.

CAST is China’s largest non-government association of technological and scientific professionals. Chen served as deputy mayor of Beijing between 2007 and 2017.

President Xi Jinping has waged a wider war against corruption since he came to power six years ago.

Source: Read Full Article

UK health minister: Hopefully chances of winning Brexit vote have improved

LONDON (Reuters) – British health minister Matthew Hancock said on Sunday that he hoped the probability of getting the government’s Brexit deal approved by parliament have improved over the Christmas break.

“I certainly hope that the chances of the deal going through have improved. I think if people have gone back to their constituencies, as I have, and talked to normal people then they will have found an overwhelming sense of ‘please can we just get on with it’,” he told Sky News.

Source: Read Full Article