Politics Internet Services Comments A petition to revoke Article 50, the clause triggering the UK’s exit from the EU, went viral on Thursday, causing Parliament’s petitions site to display a notice saying it was “down for maintenance.”The petitions site was unavailable for several short periods of time after gaining traction overnight on Wednesday. “We know that the Petitions site is experiencing problems due to the number of people using the site,” said a House of Commons spokesman. “This is a mixture of people signing petitions and refreshing the site to see changes to the number of signatures. We are working to get the problems fixed as soon as possible.”At the time of writing, the petition to stop Brexit had over 827,000 signatures. According to Parliament’s own rules, a petition will be considered for debate when it reaches 100,000 signatures and the government has three days to respond.A notice on Parliament’s petitions site. Screenshot/Katie Collins “The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is ‘the will of the people’,” the petition reads. “We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now, for remaining in the EU. A People’s Vote may not happen — so vote now.”The number of signatures picked up steam following a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday evening, in which she claimed that the Brexit crisis was not her fault, but rather the fault of politicians who refused to vote for the deal she had negotiated with the EU.As it stands, the UK will either leave the EU on March 29 with May’s deal (which has been voted down three times in Parliament), leave the EU on March 29 with no deal at all (a prospect rejected by a separate vote in Parliament), or it can revoke Article 50 and choose not to leave at all. The Prime Minister is in Brussels on Thursday to ask all 27 EU member states for an extension in the hope that it will buy her more time to pass her deal and get it ratified to ensure a smooth transition.Spokespeople from the Prime Minister’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment. Share your voice 4 Tags
Gold prices are likely to fall below $1,000 per troy ounce next year in view due to the strengthening of the US dollar and further interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve in 2016, suggest analysts.”As the US dollar strengthens and interest rates in the US go higher, I think gold is going to lose some of its shine. We see prices heading towards the $1,000-per-ounce mark or even lower than that in 2016,” said Vasun Menon, vice-president of Wealth Management at OCBC Bank.Another analyst is equally convinced about the yellow metal’s fall.Gold was trading at $1,073 on early Thursday, 24 December, after having plunged to a six-year low of $1,049 on 17 December, a day after the US Federal Reserve announced its decision to raise interest rate by 25 basis points, according to a Channel News Asia report.”We are fairly constructive on the US dollar given that the rate cycle in the US is quite the opposite of the rate cycle in the rest of the world. That’s going to put downward pressure on gold prices and a break below $1,000 is potentially in store,” said Seamus Donoghue, CEO of Allocated Bullion Solutions.With China, the world’s largest consumer of gold, projected to grow at 6.3% in 2016 as against 6.8% this year, the low-demand-induced fall in gold prices is also seen as another factor by analysts.Buying on account of falling prices by India, the second-largest consumer of the precious metal, may not be enough to compensate the twin effects of the strengthening US dollar and weakening Chinese economy.If gold falls below $1,000 and settles around $985 by the end of 2016, as expected by Phillip Futures, the metal would have touched a new low since 2009, said the Channel News Asia report.Gold demand in India during the quarter ended September 2015 was 268.1 tonnes, up 12.55% from 238.2 tonne in the corresponding period last year, according to the World Gold Council. China’s gold demand in the third quarter ended September 2015 was 239.9 tonnes, lower than India. China’s five-year average was 242.3 tonnes, as against India’s average of 228.2 tonnes.India’s gold imports declined 36.48% to $3.53 billion last month, as against $5.57 billion in November 2014.Gold closed at Rs 26,149 per 10 gm in Delhi on Thursday, up 1.45% from Rs 25,775.40 on Wednesday.
By day Ralph Cooper is a television producer. By night he is politically incorrect comedian. (Photo by Mark F. Gray)On a night of intense Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey in D.C. there’s a packed house inside RFD – an Irish soccer pub and sports bar – around the corner from Verizon Center in Chinatown. As Nicklas Backstrom scores the Washington Capitals first playoff goal in what their fans hope will be a championship run a loud crescendo erupts in the main room followed by bellows of laughter from the back.Comedian Ralph Cooper has just taken the microphone for the beginning of “Awesome Thursdays,” the weekly open mic forum for aspiring stand up philosophers to share unique takes on life. Anything goes during those five minutes of funny time and no subjects are off limits. In this environment, heckling is encouraged.“We’ve turned more hecklers into comedians that anybody in the business,” Cooper told the AFRO with a devilish grin. “I don’t have a problem with the audience making their feelings known but they better be ready for the folks on stage to send it right back.”“Awesome Thursdays” has become a ground breaking stage for aspiring comedians in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The stage is a social convergence of humor that crosses all demographic lines. Whether a Black college student, a middle age White businessmen, or a Fox News producer who travels from New York to perform, if you are funny – or think you have the gift to make people laugh – Cooper’s platform for self-expression has become a breakout spot for new talent. Every performer who emails Cooper is scheduled and the only rule is that no performer can take the stage in consecutive weeks.Randy Syfax left the showcase and appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC last year. Brandon Brody, the final host of BET’s “106 & Park,” cut his comedic chops during “Awesome Thursdays” hosting another program for the network called “The XPeriment.” Cooper himself recently opened for Kevin Hart’s taping of his Comedy Central special that is scheduled to air this fall.“Part of the fun of this thing is watching people work hard, get better, and capitalize on their break,” said Cooper.Cooper, a 1998 graduate of Morehouse College, is living the best of both worlds. By day he lives a Bruce Wayne life as a guest producer at CCTV America where he helps shape impressions of American news for Chinese audiences worldwide. On Thursday nights he transforms into comedic version of Batman. By the time his elevator doors open in the lobby of network’s Massachusetts Ave studios he has transformed into the DMV’s crusader for politically incorrect humor. He wants comics who take risks and don’t give in to conservative audiences.“I’ve visited [upscale] rooms and [low class] rooms and have had a problem with them all,” said Cooper. “I don’t like comics who are scared to take risks. I don’t care if you talking about religion, gay marriage, politics or whatever if it’s funny say and it make people laugh”.“Where would we be if the legends of the game had been worried about political correctness,” he adds. “There would be no Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Paul Mooney or George Carlin. They pushed the envelope and took chances and that’s what I want to give comics a chance to do”.From baby boomers to millennials the acts that debut on the “Awesome Thursday” stages don’t leave any stone unturned. They push the limits on all aspects of life in brutally raw unwavering fashion to resounding laughs giving the audience a temporary respite from the harsh realities of daily life.“Comedy is my diversion,” said Cooper.