Jordan demands proof from Isis that captured pilot is alive

Jordan has demanded proof from Islamic State (Isis) that its captured pilot is still alive before it goes ahead with a possible exchange for a convicted terrorist.

Isis had given Jordanian authorities until sunset on Thursday (approximately 2.30pm GMT) to hand over the failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi in return for a second hostage, the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto – a deal that Isis said would keep alive Muath al-Kasasbeh, whose fighter jet was shot down over eastern Syria in December.

An urgent meeting of ministers called on Thursday afternoon led to a government statement demanding proof of life before releasing Rishawi, who has been on death row since 2006.

Goto’s wife released a statement on Thursday calling for the jihadist group to free her husband, who travelled to the Isis stronghold of Raqqa last October, reportedly to search for a second Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, who was killed by his captors last week.

“I fear that this is the last chance for my husband, and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh,” said Rinko Goto.

“I beg the Jordanian and Japanese governments to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.”

Earlier, the jihadists released an audio message in which Goto said Rishawi should be taken to the Turkish border by sunset Iraqi time on Thursday. Isis warned that Kasasbeh would be killed immediately if Rishawi did not appear by the deadline. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said analysis of the message suggested it had been issued by Isis.

The message appeared after the expiry of a previous 24-hour deadline for Rishawi’s release. Isis had threatened to kill both hostages unless Jordan freed Rishawi, who was sentenced to death for her involvement in a 2005 terrorist attack that killed 60 people.

Although Thursday’s message appeared to confirm that Goto was still alive, concern grew in Japan after Jordan and Isis stopped mentioning him as part of a possible prisoner swap. Having initially accepted Isis’s demand to release Rishawi, Jordanian officials backtracked, saying they had been unable to confirm that Kasasbeh was still alive.

Jordanian information minister Nasser Judeh says the government is yet to receive proof of life

The Jordanian foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, tweeted early on Thursday that Jordan had requested assurances that the 26-year-old pilot was safe but had received no response from Isis.

The government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said Jordan was ready to release Rishawi as long as Kasasbeh was spared, but added that she would be held until the pilot was freed. “It’s not true she has been released,” he told Reuters in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “Her release is tied to freeing our pilot.”

Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, said there had been no major developments in efforts to secure Goto’s release. “There are lots of pieces of information swirling around, so we need to scrutinise them all very carefully,” Kishida told reporters in Tokyo.

Rishawi, 44, was sentenced to death after being convicted for her part in an al-Qaida attack on a string of hotels in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people. The attack was a seminal moment in the arc of Isis – it led directly to one of its biggest setbacks, the killing of the then head of the Islamic State of Iraq, an earlier incarnation of the terror group that now controls much of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Rishawi was captured after one of three explosions in central Amman on 9 November 2005, which were ordered by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Her husband, Ali Hussein al-Shamari, detonated his bomb in the Radisson SAS hotel but Rishawi’s bomb was faulty.

Riled Jordanian intelligence officials then launched a concerted effort to find Zarqawi, who was nearing the peak of his powers in Iraq, where a Sunni insurgency he was driving had taken hold. Zarqawi’s hideout was found seven months later after a source cultivated by the Jordanians pinpointed his location. He was killed by a bomb dropped from a US air force jet in June 2006 in the town of Hibhib, 40 miles north of Baghdad.

Rishawi was moved from her prison cell hours after Abe condemned as “despicable” the release of Tuesday’s video purporting to show Goto, accompanied by a warning that he and Kasasbeh had hours to live unless Rishawi was released.

Goto says in the clip: “She [Rishawi] has been a prisoner for a decade and I’ve only been a prisoner for a few months. Her for me, a straight exchange.”

Three days earlier Goto was heard in another audio clip announcing that Yukawa had been beheaded, after Japan refused to pay a ransom of US$200m by the end of a 72-hour deadline.

The proposed prisoner swap with Isis will horrify some governments but it is a more effective strategy than stonewalling the terror group. Isis had previously demanded cash ransoms for all foreign hostages it had seized since late 2012. The decision to instead demand a prisoner swap for Goto is being seen by some close to the organisation as a symbolic attempt to retrieve something from the Amman attack, which is widely considered among senior members to have been a serious mistake.

International Business Leader Joins Pets Best Board of Directors

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Dennis Steadman, newest member of the Pets Best Board of Directors

Dennis Steadman, the newest member of the Pets Best Board of Directors

Dennis’ extensive background in the veterinary industry will serve as an asset to Pets Best’s efforts to help pet owners afford veterinary care and essential pet medication

Boise, Idaho (PRWEB) January 28, 2015

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC, a leading U.S. pet health insurance agency, announced today that Dennis Steadman, a recognized business leader across the U.S. and abroad, has joined the agency’s Board of Directors.

Steadman offers more than 35 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur and serving in executive roles with prominent multi-national companies, including a successful veterinary pharmaceutical company he built from the ground up.

Prior to joining Pets Best board, Steadman served as president, CEO and director of Velcera, Inc., an animal health company he developed from concept into a thriving business that was eventually acquired for $160 million. In addition, Steadman served as a senior executive with Merial and Merck, both international developers, manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceuticals.

He has also worked as a consultant for numerous Fortune 500 companies and founded Valorum Associates, a company providing strategic and organizational advisory services. He is currently chairman of the board at Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on animal health therapeutics.

“Dennis’ extensive background in the veterinary industry will serve as an asset to Pets Best’s efforts to help pet owners afford veterinary care and essential pet medication,” said Greg McDonald, CEO of Pets Best. “We look forward to working alongside him as we continue to serve as a trusted partner for pet owners across the nation.”

Steadman has achieved numerous accomplishments throughout his career, including the creation of a successful venture-backed start-up, as well as forming and implementing innovative veterinary pharmaceutical distribution models in both America and Japan that have been in use for decades. He also designed and executed the successful merger and integration of two multinational veterinary pharmaceutical companies in North America.

“Pets Best strives to recruit the most talented and experienced professionals for its board of directors to ensure we provide the highest quality of service for pet owners,” said Dr. Jack Stephens, founder and director of Pets Best. “Dennis’ business acumen and notable reputation in the animal health industry make him a valuable addition to the board.”

Pets Best is a nationwide pet insurance agency for dogs and cats, selling insurance plans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The company has introduced a variety of pet insurance plans covering a wide range of accidents and illnesses for dogs and cats, including a Feline Illness Plan covering the diagnosis and treatment of feline illnesses, and a Cancer Only Plan covering the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In 2013, the company expanded its BestBenefit accident and illness plans to cover hereditary and congenital conditions. Pets Best offers reimbursement options ranging from 70 to 100 percent.

About Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC

Dr. Jack L. Stephens, founder and director of Pets Best, founded pet insurance in the U.S. in 1981 with a mission to end euthanasia when pet owners couldn’t afford veterinary treatment. Dr. Stephens went on to present the first U.S. pet insurance policy to famous television dog Lassie. Pets Best provides coverage for dogs and cats. Dr. Stephens leads the Pets Best team with his passion for quality pet care and his expert veterinary knowledge. He is always available to answer questions regarding veterinary medicine, pet health and pet insurance. The Pets Best team is a group of pet lovers who strive to deliver quality customer service and value. Visit http://www.petsbest.com for more information.

Pet insurance coverage offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company. Independence American Insurance Company is a member of The IHC Group, an organization of insurance carriers and marketing and administrative affiliates that has been providing life, health, disability, medical stop-loss and specialty insurance solutions to groups and individuals for over 30 years. For information on The IHC Group, visit: http://www.ihcgroup.com. Additional insurance services administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC are underwritten by Prime Insurance Company. Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products.

Pets Best is a proud member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).

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Housewife drama! Joanna Krupa is suing Brandi Glanville








© MICHAEL SIMON/StarTraks
Housewife drama! Joanna Krupa is suing Brandi Glanville

The “Real Housewives” are dealing with some real legal drama!

According to a letter obtained by Life Style Magazine, “Real Housewives of Miami” star Joanna Krupa is suing “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Brandi Glanville for slander, libel and defamation of character, following a TV appearance wherein Brandi alleged that Joanna slept with a married man.

The incident in question occurred on 2013 episode of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live.” There, Brandi made her allegation and made another unsavory allegation about Joanna that isn’t exactly fit for print.

Joanna, for the record, has denied all the claims, telling Life Style, that Brandi “doesn’t even know me.” Joanna’s husband, Romain Zago, will also join the lawsuit against Brandi.

The two “Housewives” stars have been at odds since that infamous TV episode, with Joanna even wearing a “Team Rimes” shirt, making reference to LeAnn Rimes, who Brandi’s ex, Eddie Cibrian, left her for.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras unveils cabinet of mavericks and visionaries

Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has lined up a formidable coterie of academics, human rights advocates, mavericks and visionaries to participate in Europe’s first anti-austerity government.

Displaying few signs of backing down from pledges to dismantle punitive belt-tightening measures at the heart of the debt-choked country’s international rescue programme, the leftwing radical put together a 40-strong cabinet clearly aimed at challenging Athens’s creditors.

In a taste of what lies ahead, Yanis Varoufakis, the flamboyant new finance minister, said on his way to the government’s swearing-in ceremony that negotiations would not continue with the hated troika of officials representing foreign lenders.

“They have already begun but not with the troika,” said Varoufakis, an economist who has disseminated his anti-orthodox views through blogs and tweets almost daily since the debt crisis exploded in Athens in late 2009 – something he promised on Tuesday to continue to do. “The time to put up or shut up has, I have been told, arrived,” he wrote on his blog. “My plan is to defy such advice.”

Tsipras’s Syriza party, which emerged as the winner of snap polls on Sunday, has been adamant that it will deal only with governments, and not the technocrats that represent the EU, ECB and IMF. Varoufakis is to represent Greece at eurozone meetings.

Setting its stamp on the new era, the cabinet took the oath of office in two separate ceremonies, with some sworn in during a religious service but most breaking with tradition to conduct their investiture before the president, Karolos Papoulias.

Tsipras, an avowed atheist, was sworn in by Papoulias on Monday. At 40 he is Athens’s youngest postwar prime minister.

After falling two seats short of attaining a 151-seat majority in Greece’s 300-seat parliament, Syriza was forced into a coalition with the populist rightwing Independent Greeks party.

The junior partner is openly Eurosceptic and withering of the way international creditors have turned Greece into an “occupied zone, a debt colony”. Its leader, Panos Kammenos, who has declared that Europe is governed by “German neo-Nazis”, assumes the helm of the defence ministry.

Tsipras acted on pledges to pare back government with the establishment of 10 ministries and four super-ministries amalgamating different portfolios, starkly illuminating the failure of previous Greek governments to act on promises to reform ministry structures.

Giorgos Stathakis, a political economics professor, took over the development portfolio, a super-ministry that includes oversight of tourism, transport and shipping, the country’s biggest industries.

Panaghiotis Kouroublis, who is blind, was made health minister, becoming the first Greek politician with a disability to hold public office.

Euclid Tsakalotos, a British-trained economist who rose out of the anti-globalisation movement, became deputy minister in charge of international economic relations.

Panaghiotis Lafazanis, a Marxist who heads Syriza’s far-left faction, was put in charge of the super-ministry incorporating energy, industry and environmental affairs. He has openly opposed any concessions being made with Greece’s creditors when stalled negotiations over completing the country’s current bailout programme resume.

Syriza says its priorities will be to cancel austerity and renegotiate the country’s “unsustainable” €320bn (£238bn)debt load. With time now of the essence – Athens’s rescue funds expire at the end of February – reaction ranged from trepidation to applause. Greek markets endured a second day of turmoil on Tuesday, with bank shares diving and investors fearing that the anti-bailout government might be set on a collision course with creditors.

The government’s plan to negotiate a new debt deal has already run into resistance from its eurozone peers, which fear that allowing Athens to write off some of its obligations would encourage other troubled countries such as Spain and Ireland to seek similar relief.

Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, on Tuesday dismissed assertions that Greece’s plight was due to the savage austerity measures imposed by Europe over the past five years in return for €240bn in bailout funds.

“The people of Greece are suffering more than people elsewhere in Europe,” he said. “Not because of demands from Brussels or the ECB, but because of the failure of Greek political elites over decades.” The pressure on the Tsipras government to honour the terms of the bailout deals struck by the previous two Greek governments – terms the new prime minister in Athens has threatened to repudiate – was quite correct, Schäuble declared.

“The demands on Greece are in line with the ECB’s mandate. They are fully legitimate.” He said European solidarity with countries in economic and financial distress was no substitute for those countries having to decide how to act themselves. “Solidarity cannot replace necessary decisions by member states.”

Deploying a tactic he commonly uses when opposing a policy switch, Schäuble warned that any shift would require a renegotiation of EU treaties. “I witness a growing call from a number of member states to stick to the legal framework that is in place now,” he said. “Changing the rule book would require a huge struggle to get the people on board in Germany, but also in other member states.”

Observers welcomed the Syriza-led government’s administrative reforms and its decision to appoint a minister whose writ will be to crack down on widespread tax evasion and corruption in the upper echelons of society. “It sends clear messages of the new government’s appetite to deal with corruption and … problems of the Greek state,” said George Kyris, a lecturer at Birmingham University.

But many also fear that the government is headed for confrontation with the bodies that have kept the insolvent Greek economy afloat. “It includes neo-Stalinists and anti-orthodox economists with little idea how to deal with Europe,” said Prof Dimitirs Keridis, a political scientist at Panteion University, Athens. “I am afraid that it presages confrontation, but perhaps that is what Tsipras wants.”

The radicals have dismissed criticism that they will not be up to the task of governance. Speaking to the Guardian recently, Tsakalotos said there would never be a good time for the leftists to assume power in a political world that had moved increasingly to the right.

“We would always face market pressure and opposition,” said the Oxford-educated academic, who will be responsible for attracting badly needed foreign investment. “Any difficulty that we might face should make us work harder, plan more thoroughly, become more decisive.”

Assets stripped

To the victor the spoils? Not in Athens, where the new prime minister arrived at his official residence on Monday night to discover that computers, paperwork and even the toiletries had been removed by the outgoing administration.

Shortly after he was sworn in, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras found himself inside the Maximos Mansion without some basic necessities. “They took everything,” he said. “I was looking for an hour to find soap.”

Traditionally, a defeated Greek prime minister will wait until their successor has been anointed to wish them well. But Antonis Samaras was in such a rush to go that he even failed to leave the Wi-Fi password.

“We sit in the dark. We have no internet, no email, no way to communicate with each other,” one staffer told Germany’s Der Spiegel.It took until Tuesday evening for Tsipras to get his hands on the official prime ministerial Twitter account. In his first tweet, he repeated the oath he took 24 hours earlier, pledging to uphold the constitution and always serve the interests of the Greek people.

— Graeme Wearden (@graemewearden)
January 27, 2015

I’m *sure* this chap isn’t the Greek prime minister any more http://t.co/uRWWUkfpSH (photo taken 6pm GMT Tuesday) pic.twitter.com/WQiQiwxuhK

But on Tuesday night, the new administration was struggling to put its mark on the system; 48 hours after the polls closed, an official Greek government website still showed Samaras as prime minister.

Graeme Wearden

Pets Best Celebrates 10 Years of Protecting Dogs and Cats

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Pets Best celebrates 10 years of protecting dogs and cats.

During the past 10 years, Pets Best has firmly established itself as a true innovator in the U.S. pet insurance industry

Boise, Idaho (PRWEB) January 27, 2015

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC, a leading U.S. pet insurance agency, announced today that 2015 marks the agency’s 10th anniversary. Pets Best was co-founded in Boise, Idaho, in 2005 by Dr. Jack Stephens, a veterinarian and pet insurance industry veteran, and Greg McDonald, a seasoned property and casualty insurance executive. Dr. Stephens had previously launched the pet insurance industry in North America in 1981.

The first pet insured on a Pets Best plan was Dr. Stephens’ 1.5-pound teacup Chihuahua, Torrey. In the 10 years since, Pets Best has sold more than 157,000 pet insurance policies. Pets Best offers pet insurance plans for dogs and cats in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

“During the past 10 years, Pets Best has firmly established itself as a true innovator in the U.S. pet insurance industry,” Dr. Stephens said. “Before I founded the nation’s first successful pet insurance company in 1981, approximately 50 companies had already attempted to enter the market. In recent decades, many pet insurance agencies have come and gone, but Pets Best continues to serve as a trusted leader in the industry.”

The team at Pets Best is comprised of pet owners and pet lovers, many of whom have veterinary backgrounds and are involved with animal rescue efforts. The company’s mission is to end economic euthanasia by helping to ensure pet owners are financially prepared when their pets need unexpected veterinary care. Economic euthanasia often occurs when pet owners are unable to afford costly veterinary care for their pets.

The following timeline documents the major milestones that led to Pets Best celebrating 10 successful years in business:

  • 1981 – Dr. Stephens launches first successful pet insurance company in North America.
  • 1982 – Dr. Stephens presents the nation’s first pet insurance policy to television icon Lassie at a press conference in Los Angeles with Mayor Tom Bradley.
  • 2005 – Dr. Stephens co-founds Pets Best with McDonald. The first pet insured is Dr. Stephens’ teacup Chihuahua, Torrey.
  • 2005 – Pets Best offers the first flat rate reimbursement on the veterinary bill, as opposed to reimbursing on a benefit schedule or using Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) language which were the traditional methods used by pet insurance agencies.
  • 2006 – Pets Best puts its entire pet insurance policy on its website for full transparency to customers and potential customers.
  • 2008 – Pets Best Japan launches, utilizing the technology, business processes and brand established by Pets Best.
  • 2008 – Dr. Stephens co-founds the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, which is dedicated to educating and promoting the values and benefits of pet health insurance.
  • 2010 – Pets Best launches direct deposit for claims, making Pets Best the first pet insurance agency to offer a complete electronic claim filing and payment processing system.
  • 2012 – Pets Best becomes the first pet insurance agency to develop and provide specialized pet insurance plans offered in addition to comprehensive accident and illness coverage plans. The three specialized plans – Accident Only, Cancer Only and Feline Illness – provide pet owners with budget-friendly options for specific coverage.
  • 2012 – As a result of increasing sales, Pets Best moves to a larger office to accommodate its growing number of employees.
  • 2013 – Pets Best launches pre-authorization for claim payments.
  • 2013 – Pets Best expands its BestBenefit accident and illness plans to include full coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions.
  • 2013 and 2014 – Pets Best is named one of the Best Places to Work in Idaho by the Idaho Business Review and POPULUS for two consecutive years.
  • 2014 – Dr. Stephens releases his memoir “A Different Kind of Veterinarian,” documenting the challenges of starting the pet insurance industry, his struggles to keep the industry alive and the fight for his own life when he was given six months to live following a cancer diagnosis.
  • 2014 – Dr. Stephens teams up with Lassie once again to present pet insurance policies to a newly adopted dog and cat at the Best Friends Animal Shelter in Los Angeles.

Pets Best will celebrate its 10th anniversary all year long, with a special focus in September 2015 to highlight the pet insurance agency’s official launch month.

About Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC

Dr. Jack L. Stephens, founder and director of Pets Best, founded pet insurance in the U.S. in 1981 with a mission to end euthanasia when pet owners couldn’t afford veterinary treatment. Dr. Stephens went on to present the first U.S. pet insurance policy to famous television dog Lassie. Pets Best provides coverage for dogs and cats. Dr. Stephens leads the Pets Best team with his passion for quality pet care and his expert veterinary knowledge. He is always available to answer questions regarding veterinary medicine, pet health and pet insurance. The Pets Best team is a group of pet lovers who strive to deliver quality customer service and value. Visit http://www.petsbest.com for more information.

Pet insurance coverage offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company. Independence American Insurance Company is a member of The IHC Group, an organization of insurance carriers and marketing and administrative affiliates that has been providing life, health, disability, medical stop-loss and specialty insurance solutions to groups and individuals for over 30 years. For information on The IHC Group, visit: http://www.ihcgroup.com. Additional insurance services administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC are underwritten by Prime Insurance Company. Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products.

Pets Best is a proud member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).

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Khloe Kardashian Accused Of Having Leaky Butt Implants, Larger Lips, And Bigger Breasts

Khloe Kardashian’s looks have been a very hot topic recently. The reality show star stands accused of having multiple body parts that look plumper than they used to, and one report claims that she underwent an enhancement that backfired spectacularly. So has Khloe used numerous cosmetic procedures to change her look?

Life Style recently insinuated that Khloe Kardashian got a boob job. The tabloid asked readers to carefully inspect a busty Instagram photo of the Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons star, and it wrote that Khloe appears “to be a little a little bigger in the, er, chest department” in the photo below.

In life, if you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on Jan 20, 2015 at 8:34pm PST

Life Style points out that Kardashian “is yet to be accused of getting breast implants,” and the tabloid doesn’t go one step further by making this claim itself. The lack of chatter about Khloe’s chest could be because her breasts appear to a similar size in past photos. Khloe shared the equally-busty Instagram below last February.

Too much fun!!!

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:35pm PST

It’s probably safe to give the side-eye to the insinuation that Khloe Kardashian recently got breast implants, but there’s evidence that Khloe has resorted to using a cosmetic procedure to plump up a different body part: her suspiciously puffy pout.

Us Magazine points out that Khloe’s lips look almost as large as sister Kylie Jenner’s in the above photo. Kylie credits lip liner for her plumped-up look, but Khloe might be doing something different to enhance her lips. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the reality show star was spotted visiting a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgery center last December. Kardashian was photographed trying to hide the results of her visit by covering up the bottom half of her face.

The wildest claim about Khloe Kardashian’s adventures in altering her body comes courtesy of OK! Magazine. According to Jezebel, OK! recently claimed that Khloe is in crisis mode because her she has butt implants that have started to leak. For quite some time, there have been rumors that Khloe used plastic surgery to sculpt a backside that looks more like that of sister Kim. However, Khloe claims that her bigger backside is simply the result of hitting the gym.

OK! Magazine’s claim about leaky butt implants seems even more dubious based on what board certified plastic surgeon Dennis Dass, M.D. says about them. According to the doctor’s website, gluteal implants aren’t like breast implants — they’re made from solid silicone. This means that they can’t leak or rupture like breast implants can.

Khloe might not have leaky butt implants or breast implants, but she’s not against plastic surgery. During an interview for the February 2014 issue of Cosmopolitan, she shared her views on going under the knife.

“I’m proud for losing weight when I wanted to and I’ve never resorted to surgery. I’m not against it — one day I probably will but it would be on my terms. I won’t be bullied into it by social media or anyone else. I love my body and always have done.”

What do you think of the rumors about Khloe Kardashian’s body?

[Image credit: Mike Rosenthal/Mane Addicts]