Facebook closes WhatsApp buy

Facebook has completed its $US19 billion ($A20.

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56 billion) buy of mobile messaging application WhatsApp, appointing one of the startup’s co-founders to the social network’s board as part of the deal.

“We are looking forward to connecting even more people around the world, and continuing to create value for the people who use WhatsApp,” Facebook said in a statement on Monday.

Along with joining the Facebook board of directors, Jan Koum will remain chief of WhatsApp.

Koum’s salary will be a dollar a year, according to a filing Monday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The symbolic annual pay mirrors that of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton will remain with the company under terms of the acquisition, which promises “inducement grants” of millions of shares of stock that will incrementally vest during the coming four years for Koum and Acton if they remain with the company, according to Facebook.

European Union regulators on Friday cleared the buyout of the WhatsApp mobile messaging service by Facebook, despite opposition by telecom companies afraid of the growing power of US technology giants.

In a statement explaining its approval of the deal, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Facebook and WhatsApp were “not close competitors” and that consumers would continue to have a “wide array of choices”.

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, announced the buyout of the WhatsApp messenger service, used by 600 million people, in February and US authorities approved the deal in April.

Mexican army disarms police in Iguala

Mexico’s federal forces have taken over security in a southern city where 43 students disappeared and disarmed the entire municipal police force after gang-linked officers shot at the aspiring teachers.

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Monte Alejandro Rubido Garcia, the national security commissioner, said the Iguala police officers will be sent to a military base to undergo evaluations while investigators check whether their guns were used in any crimes.

The federal police’s new paramilitary-like gendarmerie took over public safety in the city while the army will guard Iguala’s entrances in the violence-plagued southern state of Guerrero, he said.

Rubido said federal authorities will “shine light on the criminal events in the Iguala area” as well as contribute to the search for the missing students.

The move came after the weekend discovery of a mass grave containing 28 unidentified bodies outside Iguala, where the students were last seen more than a week ago.

Authorities say it will take at least two weeks to get the results of DNA tests to identify the corpses found about 200 kilometres south of Mexico City.

Some were in pieces after being set on fire in a bed of branches.

Witnesses say several students, who are from a teacher training college known as a hotbed of radical protests, were whisked away in police vehicles on the night of September 26 after officers shot at buses the youngsters had commandeered to return home.

Prosecutors say the Guerreros Unidos drug gang participated in the night of violence that left six people dead, 25 wounded and 43 missing.

Two gang hitmen linked to Iguala’s municipal police force have confessed to killing 17 of the 43 students in the same Pueblo Viejo district where the clandestine grave was found, authorities say.

But authorities say they are treating all 43 as missing until the identities of the bodies are confirmed.

The federal takeover came after President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to punish those responsible for the mass disappearance.

Twin Peaks set to return to screen 25 years on

Warm up the coffee and break out the cherry pie: “Twin Peaks,” the Golden Globe-winning cult 1990s television series from David Lynch, is making a comeback.

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“Dear Twitter friends… it is happening again,” Lynch tweeted on Monday with a trailer showing dead heroine Laura Palmer, the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign, the Showtime logo and the date 2016.

Dear Twitter Friends… it is happening again. 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/r0l9rhK4eB #damngoodcoffee

— David Lynch (@DAVID_LYNCH) October 6, 2014

Showtime announced in a statement that the series — the tale of a small-town murder in quirky Twin Peaks, and the even quirkier FBI agent investigating it — will return as a limited series in 2016, 25 years after the show’s last airing.

   

Series creators Lynch and Mark Frost are on board to write and produce all nine episodes, set in the present, and the show will offer “long-awaited answers for the series’ passionate fan base,” Showtime said.

   

Lynch — an Oscar nominee whose feature films include “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive” — will direct all nine episodes, it added.

   

“The mysterious and special world of Twin Peaks is pulling us back,” Lynch and Frost — who set TV blogs ablaze with cryptic tweets about the project on Friday — said in the statement.

   

“We’re very excited. May the forest be with you.”

   

No cast information was provided. Original cast members include Kyle MacLachlan (as FBI Agent Dale Cooper), Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn Boyle and Joan Chen.

   

Before the new episodes air, Showtime will rebroadcast the original two seasons of the show, which were first shown on ABC in 1990 and 1991, generating fan buzz due to the show’s offbeat style.

   

The series also led to a feature film, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.”

Cannabis oil gives Aussie dad appetite to fight terminal cancer

Four years ago, the Barraba resident was as fit as a bull.

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But at the beginning of 2012, his heath took a downward turn.

Plagued by rapid weight loss, exhaustion and gastric issues, the 39-year-old was urged to get a blood test. The prognosis was bad – he had cancer.

A colonoscopy also revealed a tumour had breached the wall of his colon, and metastasised to his lymph nodes.  

After going through three bouts of failed chemotherapy and various surgeries, doctors told Leahy there was nothing they could do, with some even saying he had days to live.

On top of that, the prescribed opiates he was taking for pain were impacting on his nervous system.

The father-of-two told Insight he’s never been much of a hippy herbal, but was open to trying new alternative medicines, including the use of cannabis oil.

Three times a day, Leahy mixes one or two drops of cannabis oil with either olive or coconut oil, and swallows it washed down with water.  

The former Canberra public-servant-turned-publican says it has really helped with managing the pain and has even allowed him to work again.  

“It’s certainly reduced the nausea. It’s made it a lot easier for me to cope with the chemo, with the chemotherapy on a day-to-day basis. That combination has allowed me to go back to work part-time and do some work, whereas earlier this year I wasn’t able to work at all. And a great deal of appetite,” he said.  

“We came to cannabis oil because we had gone through what is a living hell trying to get him help.”

Standing at 6″4′, Leahy weighed 120 kg when he was diagnosed, then he dropped down to 80 kg.

He credits the oil for helping push his weight up to about 90kg.   

“Managing your weight and weight loss when you’re going through the treatment, the journey for cancer, it becomes problematic, it becomes difficult and it’s helped a great deal.”

Leahy says a three month supply of the product can cost anywhere between $450 and $1000, although he’s heard of some people being quoted as high as $9000.  

His wife, Rechelle, said that while using the oil in conjunction with the chemo has delayed the progression of his disease, this is not nearly as important as seeing her husband getting to spend some quality time with their young sons James, 5 and Hamish, 3.

“We came to the cannabis oil because we had gone through what is a living hell trying to get him help and I think the reason we’re passionate about this is we don’t necessarily have the time to wait for someone to say let’s keep trialling this, ” Rechelle says.

“We have pumped him full of drugs and chemotherapy that has stripped away his life and I have done that in the trust of doctors and that is what frustrates the absolute living heck out of us in this particular issue,” she said.

As a country hotelier, Leahy says he’s dealt with people who are suffering from the long term effects of substance abuse and have seen the serious harm it causes.

However as someone who has benefited from cannabis oil, Leahy fully supports the legalisation of marijuana as a controlled pharmaceutical drug.

Rechelle adds: “In my mind, if you can divorce opium poppies being grown in Tasmania for opiates that I fed him to keep his pain under control, but you can’t then say that we can improve marijuana or cannabis to be grown appropriately … we don’t understand why we’re going to doctors at all anymore because that is where the frustration lies for all of us who are carers and advocates for patients.”

“With the correct legislation behind it which we are absolutely for, that’s what we’re supporting.”

Allistair and Rechelle Leahy are guests on Insight’s Marijuana show. Tune in 8.30pm on SBS ONE.

Phelps banned from swimming for six months

Michael Phelps, the 18-time Olympic swim champion arrested last week for drink driving, has been banned for six months by USA Swimming and dropped from the 2015 World Championships.

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The punishments came six days after Phelps was apprehended by police in his hometown of Baltimore and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, excessive speed and crossing the centre line while driving inside a tunnel.

On Sunday, Phelps said on Twitter that he would be taking a break from swimming and “take some time away to attend a program” for treatment of unspecified personal issues.

In announcing sanctions against the Olympic superstar, USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said Phelps’ actions required “significant consequences.”

“Michael has publicly acknowledged the impact of his decisions, his accountability especially due to his stature in the sport and the steps necessary for self-improvement,” Wielgus said.

“We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”

The discipline meted out, which includes forfeiture of Phelps’ funding from the federation for six months, is based on USA Swimming rules that prohibit conduct “detrimental to the image or reputation” of USA Swimming or the sport.

Phelps will still be allowed to train with his club, but cannot compete in USA Swimming-sanctioned competitions through March 6, 2015.

According to the federation, Phelps has agreed that he will not represent the United States at the World Championships next August in Russia.

The worlds were expected to provide a key measure of whether Phelps’ comeback had him on course to challenge for more Olympic gold at Rio in 2016.

The 29-year-old retired after the 2012 London Olympics with a record 22 Olympic medals, but launched a comeback earlier this year.

He won three gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships in late August in Australia to cement his place on the world championship team.

Phelps said in his statement on social media on Sunday that he was entering a program “that will provide the help I need to better understand myself.”

He gave no further details of the issues he expected to deal with.

Police say a breathalyser administered after Phelps’ arrest measured his blood alcohol level at .14, almost twice the legal limit of .08 in Maryland.

Phelps’ trial is scheduled for November 19.

Ten years ago, Phelps pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in rural Maryland. He was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and fined $250 for what he later described as an “isolated incident.”

He was under the microscope again in 2009 – after his glittering eight-gold haul at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – when a photograph of him apparently smoking a marijuana pipe was published in a British tabloid and went viral.

USA Swimming banned him for three months over that incident.