All posts by Louisa Twum-Baah

Twitter considers paid membership option

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A mock-up of what the enhanced version of Twitter may look like for paid members

A mock-up of what the enhanced version of Twitter may look like for paid members

Twitter is considering adding a paid membership option for businesses and power users.

The micro-blogging service, which has struggled to grow its user base in recent years, is carrying out surveys to “assess interest” in the idea.

Paying members would get access to an enhanced version of Tweetdeck, Twitter’s souped-up interface that offers more functionality than

The company has not made any indication it is considering charging regular users of the service.

But a premium membership scheme could offer Twitter a new revenue stream at a time when users are increasingly turning to other networks such as Snapchat.

Twitter’s active user base has plateaued – and advertising revenues, currently the firms only meaningful income stream, are in decline. Twitter’s struggles come despite the online advertising market growing considerably in the past year.

‘More valuable’

Twitter has surveyed a small selection of its users about the idea.

In a statement, the company said: “We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people’s Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we’re exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals.”

In an email to selected users, the company described how the new tool would work.

“This premium tool set will provide valuable viewing, posting, and signaling tools like alerts, trends and activity analysis, advanced analytics, and composing and posting tools all in one customizable dashboard,” the note said.

“It will be designed to make it easier than ever to keep up with multiple interests, grow your audience, and see even more great content and information in real-time.”

If it goes ahead with premium accounts, Twitter will be competing with more established players like SocialFlow and HootSuite – companies that have offered enhanced ways to use Twitter for many years.

Why it has taken the company this long to roll out its own initiative is not clear. In 2009, co-founder Biz Stone said the firm had hired a product manager to develop premium features, but these never materialised – and Mr Stone left the company in 2011.

Source: BBC

Ladies, you’ve been wearing your underwear wrong all along

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Experts believe that your underwear preferences could be affecting your health.

Octavia Cannon, a board-certified OBGYN, told Seventeen why women might be putting their health at risk with their underwear choices.

Instead of giving women a long lecture, however, Cannon kept it brief by outlining these six simple rules for picking out underwear.

1. Avoid thongs
Even though saucy lingerie can help turn up the heat in the bedroom, wearing a thong could be detrimental to your health.

Cannon explained the stringed undies can cause bacteria, including E. Coli, to spread from the anus to the vagina.

She revealed: “Think about where the string slides when you sit down in a thong.”

If you’re not willing to part with the skimpy panties anytime soon, take them off at night to give your body a breather.

2. Pink cotton undies
Cotton is a more breathable material than silk or other lacy undies.

Cannon believes that choosing the airy option can stop grossness festering in your underwear and prevent infection.

3. Always change your underwear after exercising
The post-gym shower won’t do much for your hygiene unless you bring along a fresh pair of panties.

Cannon revealed that your sweaty fitness gear is often a place that harbors infection.

She explained: “Yeast and bacteria love a warm, moist, dark environment.”


Live longer and be happy every day with these simple steps

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Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too.

Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.

And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!

Experts have come up with a list of ten steps you can follow to boost your happiness, including being generous to others. The advice was produced by Vanessa King, author of 10 Keys To Happier Living and the campaign group Action For Happiness

Experts have come up with a list of ten steps you can follow to boost your happiness, including being generous to others. The advice was produced by Vanessa King, author of 10 Keys To Happier Living and the campaign group Action For Happiness


Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.

Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth.

Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.

Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth


Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health.

It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day.

We can also boost our wellbeing by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!


Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice.

Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships.

It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.

Being mindful means noticing things around you rather than thinking only about the past and the future

Being mindful means noticing things around you rather than thinking only about the past and the future


Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged.

 It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications.

We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

Taking part in hobbies provides a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience

Taking part in hobbies provides a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience


Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable.

 If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress.

Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

Having achievable aims in the future provides a sense of direction and provides satisfaction when we achieve them

Having achievable aims in the future provides a sense of direction and provides satisfaction when we achieve them


All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being.

We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens.

In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

How we respond to stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives has a major impact on our wellbeing


Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time.

Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources.

So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.

It helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation - the glass half full rather than the glass half empty

It helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty


No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy.

Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.

Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life


People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do.

They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference.

The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.

The ways in which we find meaning vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves


Flight ban on laptops ‘sparked by IS threat’

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Map of affected countries

The UK ban applies to direct inbound flights from six countries; the US ban lists eight countries

An aircraft cabin ban on large electronic devices was prompted by intelligence suggesting a terror threat to US-bound flights, says US media.

The US and UK have announced new carry-on restrictions banning laptops on certain passenger flights.

The so-called Islamic State group (IS) has been working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics, US sources tell ABC.

The tip-off was judged by the US to be “substantiated” and “credible”.

Inbound flights on nine airlines operating out of 10 airports in eight countries are subject to the US Department of Homeland Security ban.

Phones and medical devices are not affected.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is hosting a two-day meeting of ministers and senior officials from 68 nations to discuss the threat from IS.

The Washington talks will be the first full meeting of the coalition since December 2014.

The BBC’s Barbara Plett-Usher looks ahead to the Washington meeting:

This will be a chance for the Trump administration to put its stamp on the global battle against the Islamic State group. And for the reticent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to put his stamp on a foreign policy issue that the president has identified as a priority.

The State Department says the meeting aims to accelerate efforts to defeat IS in its remaining strongholds: the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa.

On the campaign trail Mr Trump claimed to have a secret plan to obliterate the group. But his Pentagon has largely stuck with Barack Obama’s strategy of supporting local ground forces, albeit with increased US military participation as the assault on Raqqa nears. Coalition members will also discuss how to stabilize and govern the cities after the conflict; and they’re looking to see if Washington remains committed to a longer term effort to secure the region.

What do we know of the threat?

Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News there was “a new aviation threat”.

“We know that our adversaries, terrorist groups in the United States and outside the United States, seek to bring down a US-bound airliner. That’s one of their highest value targets. And we’re doing everything we can right now to prevent that from happening.”

Latop user on a flight

Another member of that committee, Republican Peter King, told the New York Times he was forewarned about the ban.

“It was based on intelligence reports that are fairly recent. Intelligence of something possibly planned.”

The restriction is based, we are told, on “evaluated intelligence”, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner writes.

That means that US intelligence has either intercepted discussion of a possible extremist plot or has been passed word of one by a human informant.

Which airlines are affected?

The nine airlines covered by the US ban are Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The British ban, announced hours after the American measure, is similar but applies to different airlines, including British Airways and EasyJet.

It covers direct passenger flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The 10 airports affected by the US ban are:

Airports affected by electronics ban
  1. Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  2. Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  3. Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  4. Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  5. King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  6. King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  7. Kuwait International Airport
  8. Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  9. Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
  10. Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
Devices subject to cabin baggage ban

The airlines included in the US decision have been given a deadline of 07:00 GMT on Saturday to impose the ban, officials said, adding that the restriction had no end date.

However, an Emirates spokeswoman told Reuters news agency the airline understood that the US directive would come into effect on 25 March and remain valid until 14 October 2017.

Source: BBC

5 common meds that could be killing your sex drive

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Contrary to popular belief, your sex drive doesn’t just go south once you hit the big 4-0. If you’re losing your libido in your 40s, 50s, or even 60s, your medicine cabinet—not age—may be to blame, says NYC reproductive endocrinologist Jaime Knopman, MD, co-founder of Truly, MD. Here’s a look at 5 common offenders.

The most popular antidepressant options—medications like citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft)—are part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs help fight depression by raising levels of a feel-good brain hormone, serotonin. But they can also have the effect of lowering libido levels and making it harder for you to orgasm, explains Knopman.

While you may be tempted to ditch your meds entirely, it’s not usually a good idea: Depression itself is another known libido squasher, says Knopman (here are 7 things that happen when you stop taking antidepressants). But you may want to talk to your doctor about trying an antidepressant that’s not an SSRI, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) or vilazodone (Viibryd). If you’d rather not switch up your mood meds, try hitting the gym before you hit the sheets. Women who exercise before enjoying some nooky report higher sex drive and better orgasms than those who stay sedentary, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Depression Anxiety (Prevention’s Fit in 10 DVD offers super-effective, 10-minute workouts that are perfect for squeezing in before you hit the sheets).


Birth control pills
Many women go on the Pill during perimenopause to help relieve symptoms such as hot flashes and headaches. But about a third of those taking oral contraceptives report problems with sexual functioning, including trouble orgasming, decreased desire, and pain during sex, according to a 2010 German study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. (Sex shouldn’t be painful. Here’s what can help, from Prevention Premium.) Oral contraceptives “increase levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which drops the amount of testosterone that’s circulating freely in your bloodstream,” explains Knopman.

You could try a patch or vaginal ring instead; since these bypass your liver, you’re less likely to experience sexual side effects, says Knopman. Or you could try another pill, preferably one with levonorgestrel in it (like Levora), a form of progestin that acts like testosterone. (And be sure to always use plenty of lube during sex. Our pick: silky smooth and long-lasting Almost Naked Personal Lubricant from the Prevention shop.)


If you lose that loving feeling during seasonal allergy season, you may assume it’s simply because of your sneezing and stuffed-up nose. But the truth is that OTC or prescription antihistamines might be the real culprit. These meds dry you out everywhere, including your vagina, says Knopman. They also make you feel sleepy, so you’re less likely to be in the mood for sex. The solution is actually surprisingly easy: Just take these meds in the AM when you wake up (instead of at bedtime), and if you need a second daily dose wait until after you’ve gotten busy to take it.


Anti-seizure meds
Anticonvulsants like phenytoin (Dilantin) or carbamazepine (Tegretol) are great treatments for epilepsy, but not so great for your love life. They increase levels of a hormone called prolactin—your body also pumps it out when you’re nursing to stimulate milk production—which in turn reduces sex drive. These meds also appear to lower levels of another hormone called DHEA, which impacts libido, too.

If you think your seizure medications are really causing a problem in the bedroom, ask your doctor if it’s safe to switch. Valproate (Depacon) has one of the lowest risks for sexual side effects, since it doesn’t effect prolactin or DHEA levels, according to a review published in the journal Pharmacy Times.


Prescription pain meds
Almost 10% of women age 45 to 64 take an opioid pain medication like hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), or oxycodone hydrochloride (Percocet) for over six months, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Besides carrying a threat for drug addiction and overdose (read more about the nation’s opioid problem from Prevention Premium), these meds can derail your libido by lowering testosterone levels, explains Knopman. Your best bet is to avoid using them, period. If you need relief for long-term pain, talk to your doctor about other options such as physical therapy, non-opioid medications, or even surgery.


Electronics banned on some US flights from Middle East

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A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer reads the X-ray of a laptop computer at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The new directive is expected to affect airlines from 13 countries

The US has announced a ban on large electronic devices from cabin baggage on passenger flights from eight Muslim majority countries.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said extremists were seeking “innovative methods” to bring down jets.

Bombs could be hidden in laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games, it said.

The measure will affect nine airlines operating out of 10 airports.

Large electronic devices will only be allowed on board in checked baggage. Phones are exempt from the new rules.

The nine airlines affected are:

  • Royal Jordanian
  • Egypt Air
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Qatar Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways

US officials said the airlines had been given 96 hours, beginning at 07:00 GMT on Tuesday, to ban devices bigger than a mobile phone or smartphone from cabins. They said the ban had no end date.

The airports affected are:

  • Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International Airport
  • Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates

AFP news agency said passengers on some 50 flights a day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa would be required to follow the new rules.

In a statement, the DHS said: “The US government is concerned about terrorists’ ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years, as evidenced by the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt; the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia; and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul.

“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

Pre-checking sign at airport in New York

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called members of Congress over the weekend to explain the security issues behind the ban, congressional aides said.

The restrictions are said to have been under consideration for several weeks.

A matter of trust – James Cook, BBC North America correspondent

In February 2016 an aircraft operated by the Dubai-based carrier Daallo was damaged by an explosion shortly after take-off from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Investigators said a passenger who was sucked out of the plane had been carrying a laptop bomb. The pilot managed to land and the alleged bomber was the only fatality. Had the device gone off at cruising altitude, the plane would almost certainly have been destroyed.

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, claimed that it was behind the attack. The possibility of further such attacks is apparently what is now concerning American spies.

But, as ever with matters of intelligence, officials are reluctant to go into detail about exactly why the ban is being proposed.

That means travellers are being asked to trust the US government when it says that this inconvenience is vital for their own safety. At present, trust is a commodity which is in very short supply.

Source: BBC


Russia denies Yahoo hack involvement

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Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied the charges

The Kremlin has denied allegations by US authorities that the FSB intelligence agency was involved in a huge data breach affecting Yahoo.

Two FSB officers were accused of conspiring with two alleged criminal hackers in a Department of Justice indictment announced on Wednesday.

The charges are believed to be the first that the US has filed against Russian government officials.

Yahoo’s 2014 breach affected 500 million user accounts.

“As we have said repeatedly, there can be absolutely no question of any official involvement by any Russian agency, including the FSB [intelligence agency], in any illegal actions in cyberspace,” said spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

US officials have alleged that two FSB officers, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, colluded with Karim Baratov and Alexsey Belan, who has been on the FBI’s most wanted list for more than three years.

Besides orchestrating the breach, the indictment alleged that Yahoo accounts accessed without authorisation were used to launch a spam campaign.

Source: BBC

Check out these shocking uses of banana peels

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Bananas are probably one of the most common fruits found across the world, and many people enjoy eating a banana for breakfast.

Eating a banana is good for your health, as this fruit is a superfood that has components that can help fight many diseases.

Most of us eat a banana and throw away the peel. But the peel is very beneficial and should be included in your beauty regimen.

Banana peels are full of antioxidants, antifungal, antibacterial and enzymatic properties that can be put to good use. Plus, they are high in vitamins B6, B12, magnesium and potassium.

All these nutrients make the peel a must-have item in your beauty routine.

Here are 10 amazing and interesting beauty uses for banana peels.

1. Whitens Teeth

If you want pearly whites, do not throw away the banana peels.

The peels contain citric acid, which can help reduce the yellow stains on your teeth and make them white like little pearls.

banana peel whitens teeth

Plus, the peels have plaque-busting and astringent salicylic acid that will not wear down your tooth enamel and even supports healthy teeth.

Use this simple trick whenever you need to whiten your teeth:

  1. Rub the soft inside of a fresh piece of banana peel on your teeth for a few minutes.
  2. When you’re done, brush your teeth with toothpaste to remove the residue.
  3. Do this once a day for a couple of weeks to remove the stains.

2. Dissolves Warts

Banana peels have strong antioxidants as well as various enzymes that can help get rid of warts safely. They even help fight off the virus that caused the wart.

banana peel dissolves warts

  1. Cut a piece of banana peel slightly larger than the size of your wart.
  2. Place the inside of the peel against the affected area.
  3. Secure it with tape or a bandage.
  4. Leave it on overnight.
  5. Remove the peel the next morning.
  6. Repeat daily for a few weeks or until you get rid of the wart.

You can also use banana peels in the same way to get rid of corns.

3. Cures Acne

Banana peels are excellent for treating pimples and acne.

The peel works as a natural exfoliating agent to remove toxins from the skin pores, which in turn treats and reduces the risk of acne. Its antioxidant power also helps fight germs that cause acne.

banana peel cures acne

Plus, the anti-inflammatory properties in the peel help calm inflamed skin.

  • Wash your skin with cool water, then pat dry with a clean towel. Massage the affected skin area with the inside of a banana peel for 5 minutes. Wait 20 minutes for the skin to absorb the nutrients, then rinse off with cool water. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Alternatively, spread some turmeric powder on the inside of the banana peel. Use it to gently rub the affected skin area for 5 minutes and let the mixture sit on your skin for 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water, then pat dry. Repeat twice daily.

4. Reduces Blemishes

Banana peels are good for treating blemishes as well. The vitamins A, B, C and E benefit your skin and help treat blemishes. Plus, the peels are rich in antioxidants that help reduce dark spots and blemishes.

banana peel reduces blemishes

  1. Gently rub the white fiber of a piece of banana peel on your skin for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Let the remaining fiber sit on your skin for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Reapply 2 or 3 times a day until the blemishes fade away.

5. Soothes Mosquito Bites

Mosquito and other bug bites cause a lot of itchiness and discomfort. You can treat these symptoms with banana peels, which help draw fluid out of the bite.

banana peel soothes mosquito bites

Plus, the polysaccharides in the peel seep into skin cells to halt swelling and inflammation within minutes.

  1. Massage the inside of a banana peel on the affected area for 5 minutes.
  2. Wait 15 minutes, then rinse off the area with cool water.
  3. Repeat as needed.

6. Removes Skin Tags

You can also use banana peels to get rid of ugly skin tags. They contain enzymes that help dissolve the skin tags.

banana peel removes skin tags

  1. Cut out a piece of a banana peel to cover your skin tag properly.
  2. Place the white portion of the peel on your skin tag and secure it with a tape.
  3. Leave it on overnight.
  4. Remove the tape and banana peel and rinse your skin the next morning.
  5. Do this daily until your skin tag drops off.

7. Removes Splinters

Banana peels are also very effective in removing splinters. The enzymes in the peel help soften the skin to aid in easy plucking of the splinter. They also help heal the wound.

banana peel removes splinters

  1. Cut a small piece of fresh banana peel.
  2. Put it over the splinter with the inside part against the skin.
  3. Secure it with a bandage or some gauze tape.
  4. Leave it overnight.
  5. The next morning, remove the splinter with a pair of tweezers.

8. Diminishes Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Banana peels can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The peel helps tighten and tone the skin. It also has lutein, an antioxidant that delays aging signs.

Plus, it gives your skin some added shine and plumpness!

  1. Rub the inside of a banana peel over your face and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  3. Do this once daily.

9. Treats Psoriasis

Psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that triggers vigorous itching and dry patches on different parts of the body, can also be treated with banana peels.

banana peel treats psoriasis

The peel is chock-full of antioxidants, including lutein, which may help protect the skin against sun damage. The fatty acids in it also help keep the skin hydrated to reduce symptoms like dryness and itchiness.

  • Massage the inside of a banana peel over the affected skin. Leave it for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with cool water. Repeat twice daily.
  • Alternatively, spread olive oil on the inside of the peel and generously rub it on the affected area. Repeat several times daily until you get positive results.

10. Soothes Puffy Eyes

You can use fresh banana peels to relieve tired and puffy eyes. It is the potassium in the banana peels that helps do away with under-eye bags and puffiness. Also, its moisturizing nature helps reduce under-eye darkness.

  1. Collect the white fiber on the inside of a banana peel by scraping a spoon along the surface.
  2. Mix the fiber with 1 to 2 tablespoons of pure aloe vera gel to form a smooth paste.
  3. Gently apply the paste around the eyes.
  4. Wait 15 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.
  5. Repeat as needed.

Source: Top10remedies

Somalia ship hijack: Pirates release vessel without ransom

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hijacked vessel

It was not immediately clear if the hijackers were fishermen or professional pirate


Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker have released it without condition, according to officials.

The announcement came hours after the pirates and naval forces exchanged gunfire over a boat believed to be carrying supplies to the hijackers.

The tanker, which was en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was seized on Monday with eight Sri Lankan crew members on board.

It is the first hijack off Somalia’s coast since 2012.

Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the Puntland maritime police force, said: “There has been discussion going on after the gunfight this afternoon… We took our forces back and thus the pirates went away.”

A pirate confirmed the release was made without a ransom payment, according to Reuters.

However, John Steed, a former British army officer who has spent years negotiating the release of piracy hostages in Somalia, told the AFP news agency they had been made an offer they could not refuse.

Mr Hassan earlier said that “pirates” on board the tanker had opened fire on Thursday after authorities tried to intercept a boat believed to be carrying essential supplies, such as food.

Four people were wounded in the exchange of fire on Thursday, the BBC has learned.

The Puntland authorities deployed local forces in the area in an attempt to assist rescue efforts for the hostages on board the vessel, the district commissioner said.

The vessel was carrying oil and was owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite conflicting reports over the flag it was sailing under, he added.

The EU Naval Force patrols off the coast of Mogadishu to thwart any potential pirate attacks in the region, 5 September 2013

The EU anti-piracy naval force pictured off the coast of Mogadishu in 2013

On Wednesday, the European Union anti-piracy naval force, which is helping to tackle piracy in the region, said the hijackers had been demanding a ransom.

Authorities were then still trying to determine whether the gunmen, who have not given any details about the size of the ransom, were organised pirates or fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels, as they had claimed to be.

The EU force earlier made contact with the ship’s master, who said his vessel and crew were being held captive anchored off the coast of north-east Somalia. The ship’s tracking system has reportedly been switched off.

Map of Somalia

Piracy off the coast of Somalia, usually for ransom, has reduced significantly in recent years, in part because of extensive international military patrols as well as support for local fishing communities.

At the height of the crisis in 2011, there were 237 attacks and the annual cost of piracy was estimated to be up to $8bn (£7bn).

However, some smaller fishing vessels have recently been seized in the area.

In 2015, Somali officials warned that piracy could return unless the international community helped create jobs and security ashore, as well as combating illegal fishing at sea.

Some Somali fishermen turned to piracy after their livelihoods were destroyed by illegal fishing from foreign trawlers, which benefited from the lack of a functioning coastguard in the country following years of conflict.

Source: BBC

Trump travel ban: US judge blocks new executive order

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Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban on March 11, 2017 in Washington

The proposed travel ban has drawn protests across the US

A Federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, hours before it was due to begin at midnight on Thursday.

US District Judge Derrick Watson cited “questionable evidence” in the government’s argument that the ban was a matter of national security.

President Trump described the ruling as “unprecedented judicial overreach”.

The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.

Mr Trump insists the move is to stop terrorists from entering the US but critics say it is discriminatory.

An earlier version of the order, issued in late January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.

Speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday evening, Mr Trump said the ruling in Hawaii made the US “look weak”. He said he would take the case “as far as it needs to go” including to the Supreme Court, adding: “We’re going to win.”

Hawaii is one of several US states trying to stop the ban.

Lawyers had argued that the ban would violate the US constitution by discriminating against people on the grounds of their national origin.

The state also said the ban would harm tourism and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers.

Grey line

Back to the drawing board: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Donald Trump’s first travel ban was suspended because it likely violated the due process rights of individuals with valid residency papers and visas. The battle over whether it imposed an unconstitutional religious test on certain immigrants was put off until another day. That day has arrived.

In its decision, the federal court in Hawaii used Mr Trump’s own words – and the words of his advisers – against him. The text of the executive order, Judge Derrick Watson held, could not be separated from the context of the recent presidential campaign, “Muslim ban” rhetoric and all. An order that discriminates against some Muslims, he continued, is just as legally deficient as one that discriminates against them all.

Now it’s back to the drawing board for the Trump administration or – perhaps an even gloomier prospect – back to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, which ruled against the president on the original ban just last month.

After Mr Trump’s previous adverse legal ruling, he angrily tweeted “We’ll see you in court.” Although it took a new travel order to get there, it turns out he was right.

Grey line

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is attending a court hearing in Seattle in his efforts to block the travel ban, described the ruling as “fantastic news”.

“It’s very exciting. At this point it’s a team effort – multiple lawsuits and multiple states,” he said.

A court hearing was also taking place in Maryland where lawyers told a Federal judge the travel ban still discriminated against Muslims.

After the ruling in Hawaii, the legal battle is now expected to move to the federal appeals circuit.

President Donald Trump holds a rally at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, March 15, 2017

President Trump told a rally in Nashville that he would fight the court ruling

Under the revised order, citizens of six countries on the original 27 January order – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – would once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban.

Iraq was removed from the list because its government boosted visa screening and data sharing, White House officials said.

The revised order also lifts an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees and says Green Card holders (legal permanent residents of the US) from the named countries will not be affected.

But more than half a dozen US states have joined lawsuits in an attempt to block it.

In his presidential campaign, Mr Trump vowed “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the US, and to implement a process of “extreme vetting” in order to prevent violent extremists from entering the US.

Source: BBC