Saturday, 14 September 2019

Gold toilet stolen in Blenheim Palace burglary


Gold toilet by Maurizio CattelanImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe fully-functioning solid gold toilet went on show at the palace earlier this week
An 18-carat solid gold toilet has been stolen in a burglary overnight at Blenheim Palace.
A gang broke into the Oxfordshire palace at about 04:50 BST and stole the artwork, Thames Valley Police said.
The working toilet - entitled America, which visitors had been invited to use - has not been found but a 66-year-old man has been arrested.
The burglary caused "significant damage and flooding" because the toilet was plumbed into the building, police said.
It was part of an exhibition by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan that opened on Thursday.
The 18th Century stately home is a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It is currently closed while investigations continue.
Speaking last month, Edward Spencer-Churchill - half-brother of the current Duke of Marlborough - said he was relaxed about security for the artwork.
"It's not going to be the easiest thing to nick," he said.
North Steps at Blenheim PalaceImage copyrightJOHN LAWRENCE
Image captionBlenheim Palace is currently closed to the public while police investigate
Visitors to the exhibition were free to use the palace's throne for its intended purpose, with a three-minute time limit to avoid queues. 
Det Insp Jess Milne, said: "The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace.
"We believe a group of offenders used at least two vehicles during the offence.
"The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice."
In a tweet, Blenheim Palace said it would remain shut for the rest of the day, but would reopen on Sunday.
Palace chief executive Dominic Hare said they were "saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt". 
The gold toilet was famously offered to US President Donald Trump in 2017.
The arrested man is in police custody.

Saudi Arabia oil facilities ablaze after drone strikes


Media captionAbqaiq is the site of Aramco's largest oil processing plant
Drone attacks have set alight two major oil facilities run by the state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia, state media say.
Footage showed a huge blaze at Abqaiq, site of Aramco's largest oil processing plant, while a second drone attack started fires in the Khurais oilfield.
The fires are now under control at both facilities, state media said.
A spokesman for the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen said it had deployed 10 drones in the attacks.
The military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, told al-Masirah TV, which is owned by the Houthi movement and is based in Beirut, that further attacks could be expected in the future.
He said Saturday's attack was one of the biggest operations the Houthi forces had undertaken inside Saudi Arabia and was carried out in "co-operation with the honourable people inside the kingdom".
Saudi officials have not yet commented on who they think is behind the attacks.
"At 04:00 (01:00 GMT), the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones," the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
"The two fires have been controlled."
Map
There have been no details on the damage but Agence France-Presse quoted interior ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki as saying there were no casualties.
Abqaiq is about 60km (37 miles) south-west of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, while Khurais, some 200km further south-west, has the country's second largest oilfield.
Saudi security forces foiled an attempt by al-Qaeda to attack the Abqaiq facility with suicide bombers in 2006.

An attack method open to all

Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent
This latest attack underlines the strategic threat posed by the Houthis to Saudi Arabia's oil installations.
The growing sophistication of the Houthis' drone operations is bound to renew the debate as to where this capability comes from. Have the Houthis simply weaponised commercial civilian drones or have they had significant assistance from Iran?
The Trump administration is likely to point the finger squarely at Tehran, but experts vary in the extent to which they think Iran is facilitating the drone campaign.
The Saudi Air Force has been pummelling targets in Yemen for years. Now the Houthis have a capable, if much more limited, ability to strike back. It shows that the era of armed drone operations being restricted to a handful of major nations is now over.
Drone technology - albeit of varying degrees of sophistication - is available to all; from the US to China, Israel and Iran... and from the Houthis to Hezbolllah.

Markets await news from key facilities

Analysis by BBC business correspondent Katie Prescott
Aramco ranks as the world's largest oil business and these facilities are significant. 
The Khurais oilfield produces about 1% of the world's oil and Abqaiq is the company's largest facility - with the capacity to process 7% of the global supply. Even a brief or partial disruption could affect the company, given their size.
But whether this will have an impact on the oil price come Monday will depend on just how extensive the damage is. Markets now have the weekend to digest information from Aramco and assess the long-term impact.
According to Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects, any reaction on Monday morning is likely to be muted, as markets are less worried about supply than demand at the moment, due to slower global economic growth and the ongoing trade war between the US and China.
As Aramco is preparing for its much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO), it will be mindful that it needs to have communicated clearly with the market about what has happened.
The IPO is part of a reform package led by King Salman's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to reduce the economy's reliance on oil.

Who are the Houthis?

The Iran-aligned Houthi rebel movement has been fighting the Yemeni government and a Saudi-led coalition.
Yemen has been at war since 2015, when President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. Saudi Arabia backs President Hadi, and has led a coalition of regional countries against the rebels.
The coalition launches air strikes almost every day, while the Houthis often fire missiles into Saudi Arabia.
Mr Sarea, the Houthi group's military spokesman, told al-Masirah that operations against Saudi targets would "only grow wider and will be more painful than before, so long as their aggression and blockade continues".
Saudi-led coalition air strike on Dhamar in Yemen, 1 SeptImage copyrightEPA
Image captionSaudi-led coalition air strikes regularly target Houthis in Yemen
Houthi fighters were blamed for drone attacks on the Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility last month and on other oil facilities in May.
There have been other sources of tension in the region, often stemming from the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Saudi Arabia and the US both blamed Iran for attacks in the Gulf on two oil tankers in June and July, allegations Tehran denied.
In May, four tankers, two of them Saudi-flagged, were damaged by explosions within the UAE's territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman.
Saudi Arabia and then US National Security Adviser John Bolton blamed Iran. Tehran said the accusations were "ridiculous".
Tension in the vital shipping lanes worsened when Iran shot down a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz in June, leading a month later to the Pentagon announcing the deployment of US troops to Saudi Arabia.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Survey: 1 in 5 Americans Can't Name a Branch of Government



the us capitol building is shown
(AP)
By    |   Friday, 13 September 2019 11:34 AM
About one-in-five Americans cannot name a single one of the three branches of government, according to an annual survey from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.
The center released its annual Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey on Thursday, and found that about 2 in 5 American adults accurately named the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.
  • 39 percent named all three branches
  • 14 percent named two branches
  • 25 percent named one branch
  • 22 percent couldn’t name any branch
  • 1 percent refused to answer
The center notes that the percentage of people who could name all three branches “is the highest in five years, statistically the same as the prior high of 38 percent in 2013 and 2011 and a substantial increase over last year, when 32 percent could do the same.”
According to the center, the survey also found that people who took civics classes in high school, or were regular consumers of news, were more likely to know the answers to the survey questions.
“While this marks an improvement, the overall results remain dismal,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the center’s director, in a statement. “A quarter of U.S. adults can name only one of the three branches of government and more than a fifth can’t name any. The resilience of our system of government is best protected by an informed citizenry. And civics education and attention to news increase that likelihood.”
The center surveyed 1,104 adults in the U.S. between Aug. 16-27 by phone, with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.


Read Newsmax: Survey: 1 in 5 Americans Can't Name a Branch of Government | Newsmax.com
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Gold toilet stolen in Blenheim Palace burglary

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