RIL outsmarts US sends fuel to Venezuela from India EU

first_imgNew Delhi/ Mexico City/ Washington DC: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is selling fuels to Venezuela from India and Europe to sidestep sanctions that bar US-based companies from dealing with state-run PDVSA, according to trading sources and Refinitiv Eikon data, reported Reuters website. Reliance had been supplying alkylate, diluent naphtha and other fuel to Venezuela through its US-based subsidiary before Washington DC imposed sanctions in late January aimed at curbing the Opec member’s oil exports and ousting Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to India which is the world’s third-biggest oil consumer. At least three vessels chartered by the Indian conglomerate supplied refined products to Venezuela in recent weeks, and another vessel carrying gasoil is expected to set sail to the South American nation as well, according to the sources and data, Reuters added in its report. A Reliance spokesman wrote to Reuters in an email: “Reliance is and will remain in compliance with the sanctions and shall work with the concerned authorities.” He added that “the volume of products supplied to and crude oil imported from Venezuela have not increased.” PDVSA’s second-largest customer in India is Nayara Energy, partially owned by Russian energy firm Rosneft, one of PDVSA’s primary allies. Reliance has significant exposure to the financial system of the USA, where it operates subsidiaries linked to its oil and telecom businesses, among others. The Indian market is crucial for Venezuela’s economy because it has historically been the second-largest cash-paying customer for the Opec country’s crude, behind the United States. Meanwhile, a top US official has said that India has been co-operating with the US on the Venezuelan sanctions and it is the “understanding” of the Trump administration that private Indian companies have stopped importing oil from the Latin American country. The US official’s comment came as Washington ramps up actions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, which is battling to hold onto power in the face of heavy domestic and international pressure. The senior Trump administration official said: “My understanding is that Indian private companies, who were importing Venezuelan oil, have stopped”. These companies, which also have interest in the US, are unlikely to ignore the US sanctions, he told reporters. Responding to a question on India’s response to the US efforts against the “authoritarian regime” in Venezuela, the official said that India has been co-operative with the US. “The Indians have been cooperative in communicating to the private companies,” he said, adding that the issue has been part of India-US discussion. “We value our relationship with India and the strategic partnership,” the official said, adding that it is natural that Venezuela, which is very important right now, would be raised in its discussions with India. Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a meet with visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, said that he hoped India will not be the “economic lifeline” to the “authoritarian” regime of Maduro by purchasing oil from the Latin American country.last_img read more

New Zealand official calls Facebook morally bankrupt

CANBERRA, Australia — New Zealand’s official privacy watchdog has described Facebook as “morally bankrupt” and suggested his country follow neighbouring Australia’s lead by making laws that could jail executives over streamed violence such as the Christchurch mosque shootings.Privacy Commissioner John Edwards comments on Twitter on Monday follow previous criticisms of Facebook’s response to a gunman using the platform to livestream some of the slaughter of 50 worshippers.Facebook said in a statement it was “deeply committed” to strengthening policies, improving technology and “working with experts to keep Facebook safe.”Edwards told Radio NZ governments need to come together and “force the platforms to find a solution” to the livestreaming of atrocities.Australia last week passed laws that include prison terms for executives for failing to quickly remove “abhorrent violent material.”The Associated Press read more

Nimal communicates MS stand to Mahinda

Sirisena had informed his position to the SLFP top brass yesterday and that decision was to be communicated to Rajapaksa today. Sources said that Sirisena had eventually agreed to give nominations to Rajapaksa from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) or SLFP but not the Prime Minister post. Opposition leader and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) member Nimal Siripala de Silva was to formally communicate to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa the stand taken by President Maithripala Sirisena on giving nominations to Rajapaksa for the Parliament election.Well informed sources told the Colombo Gazette that Nimal Siripala de Silva was to meet Rajapaksa this morning to communicate Sirisena’s  stand. The President is the chairman of the UPFA and head of the SLFP. (Colombo Gazette)

US Senator backs Annans UN reform agenda

Addressing an event in the Security Council, Richard G. Lugar, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that panel is “united in its belief that an effective United Nations is a vital component to addressing the trans-national problems confronting each of its Member States.”He urged 10 reforms which largely mirror proposals put forward by the Secretary-General, and lauded the UN leader for “his vocal advocacy for a constructive reform agenda.”Mr. Lugar acknowledged that many of the proposed reforms have already been initiated, including the funding of an Ethics Office, the establishment of a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation by UN personnel, the strengthening of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and the creation of a whistleblower protection policy. Echoing the Secretary-General, he urged replacing the discredited Human Rights Commission with a more effective Human Rights Council, now under discussion in the General Assembly. The US Senator also called attention to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, pointing in particular to the devastation that would be wrought should nuclear arms fall into the hands of terrorists. “We must perfect a worldwide system of accountability for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons,” he said. “If a nation lacks the means to participate in this effort, the international community must provide financial and technical assistance.”Mr. Lugar pointed out that the US and the Russian Federation have been closely cooperating on the nuclear arms issue – an initiative that just a quarter century ago would have seemed impossible. “Similarly, from the vantage point of today, few observers would predict that the international community would eventually participate in dismantlement operations in North Korea or, perhaps, Iran,” he said. “The future is not clear in these states, but if a peaceful outcome is to be secured and weapons of mass destruction are to be eliminated, we should not rule out such extraordinary outcomes.”He called for a decisive response to nations that are violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or other international arms agreements, and warned that if Iran does not comply with UN resolutions and arms agreements, “the Security Council must apply strict and enforceable sanctions.”Concerning climate change, he called for the US – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouses gases – to take the lead role in reducing them. “I have advocated that the United States must be open to multi-lateral forums that attempt to achieve global solutions to the problem of greenhouse gases,” he said, calling for Washington to head talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. He also voiced hope that “the UN and the Security Council will elevate the importance placed on dialogues about energy.” In the discussion that followed, numerous participants commented on Mr. Lugar’s proposals and ways of strengthening the UN to meet the challenges ahead. read more

Côte dIvoire Annan says parties must consolidate peace gains ahead of polls

“The consolidation of the fragile gains achieved since the beginning of the year will need the sustained political will and efforts of all Ivorian parties,” he writes, calling on the country’s people to “renounce and condemn exclusion and incitement to hatred and violence.”The Secretary-General notes that the Ivorian parties have worked to move the peace process forward, and says now more than ever the country is close to resolving key issues, especially the identification of the population, the disarmament of combatants and militias, and the restoration of State authority in the northern and western parts of the country. But to take the country out of crisis, Mr. Annan says “sustained, focused and unambiguous efforts to expedite countrywide identification and disarmament are urgently required.” These, coupled with the restoration of State authority in the northern and western parts of the country, are indispensable to the holding of elections. While calling on Ivorian political, military and militia leaders to carry out the road map, a plan put forward by the UN-authorized International Working Group (IWG) mandated to monitor progress in the Ivorian peace process.“The international community needs to remain united in exercising pressure on all parties to deliver on their commitments, and the Security Council should not hesitate to impose targeted measures against any individual obstructing the peace process or inciting to hatred and violence,” Mr. Annan says.Yesterday, Council President Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France read a statement on behalf of the members threatening to impose sanctions, already authorized by a 2004 resolution, on anyone who blocked progress by inciting hatred, violating human rights or the arms embargo, or obstructing the work of the UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI), the French forces which support it, the High Representative for the elections, and other international facilitators.As of 6 July, the troop strength of UNOCI stood at 6,896 military personnel, out of an authorized strength of 8,115 personnel, according to the report. “The shortfall is due to the delayed deployment of the Ghanaian military aviation unit, currently scheduled for July, and of the 1,025 additional military personnel” approved under a recent Security Council resolution.These reinforcements, as well as the military personnel who will be deployed during the troop rotation process, are expected to receive basic training and specific equipment for crowd control. This will further enhance the capability of the military units to defend UNOCI installations and personnel, and complement the formed police units’ operations requiring the use of non-lethal force. But even with the recent authorized reinforcements, “the numbers still fall short of the troop level needed to adequately support the implementation of the road map for the peace process, as indicated in my previous reports to the Council,” the Secretary-General states, adding that he may request for additional reinforcements based on the security demands on the ground. read more

Returning from Balkans UN official urges greater efforts in countering illicit drugs

“UNODC is building a coherent response to drugs, crime and terrorism which views them as global phenomena needing global solutions. To achieve this, we are introducing integrated programmes that deliver effective assistance,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, after a two-day mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he met with local law enforcement officials. “As we continue with this strategy we will use our core strengths in analysis, technical assistance and helping to build capacities to support the Member States who confront these challenges,” he added. UNODC’s work in the Balkans is coordinated by its Regional Programme for South-eastern Europe, launched by Mr. Fedotov in May 2012 at the request of the Governments in the region, in an effort to counter the growing threat posed by opiates trafficked from Afghanistan to lucrative markets in western Europe via the so-called Balkan route. According to the UN agency’s estimates, around 60 tons of heroin, worth around $13 billion, moves along the Balkan route from the opium fields of Afghanistan to destinations in west and central Europe. In 2011, authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina – which is a transit point for illicit drugs – reported seizures of 10.2 kilograms of heroin, 444 kilograms of marijuana, and almost 10 kilograms of amphetamines. In addition to providing technical assistance and capacity building in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNODC also furnishes training for experts in the use of quality standards as well as releasing surveys on corruption in the region. “Our goal in South-eastern Europe is to work closely with Member States to counter transnational organized crime, corruption, money laundering, terrorism and drug abuse,” Mr. Fedotov stated before departing Sarajevo. “I am very glad that Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be such a strong partner for UNODC in all these areas.” read more

Kyle Lowry Could Make Toronto An NBA Finals Dark Horse

By just about any measure, the last three seasons have been the best time to root for the Toronto Raptors in their 20-year history. The Vince Carter era was thrilling but brief, and Chris Bosh’s dinos never quite realized their potential. Since 2013-14, however, the Raptors’ winning percentage has hovered around 60 percent, and their efficiency differential has been roughly 3.5 points per 100 possessions — numbers that those previous runs only approached in spurts.For all that success, however, Toronto has had trouble making any kind of dent come playoff time. As my ESPN colleague Zach Lowe wrote about Tuesday, each of the team’s past two postseasons ended with a first-round exit, and although the Raptors were upset both times — implying they had the talent to potentially go further — 49-win teams don’t typically vie for NBA championships anyway.1There are rare exceptions, but even conditional on making it past the first round of the playoffs, only 13 percent of teams that won 48 to 50 games in a season went on to the NBA Finals. If this season’s version of the club is basically the same, expecting different results would be irrational.These Raptors, however, have a secret weapon that their predecessors lacked: skinny Kyle Lowry.Technically speaking, this is Lowry’s fourth season with Toronto; he even logged the second-most minutes of any Raptor during the failed playoff runs of 2014 and 2015. But that version of Lowry was — how can we say it? — less svelte, and far less productive. By Box Plus/Minus (BPM), Lowry’s 2014-15 season was the worst he’d had in four years. This season, though, Lowry profiles like a top-five player according to the advanced metrics. And his sudden improvement could finally give Toronto the star power necessary to truly compete for a championship.Lowry’s evolving gameBefore this season, Lowry appeared to be on an evolutionary arc many players go through, trading a higher usage rate for less efficient scoring. In his rise as one of the game’s best guards, he’d once ranked in at least the 70th percentile of NBA players in both true shooting percentage and usage. That isn’t an easy thing to do. But last season, Lowry seemed to have surpassed the workload at which he could maintain a reasonable level of efficiency — a situation exacerbated by the banged-up state he found himself in as the season progressed. As a result, his offensive numbers dipped: He settled for more midrange shots and drew fewer fouls; he ran the pick-and-roll less often (and less efficiently); and over the course of the season, he struggled with his jump shot in a way he hadn’t for years.Although Lowry was pretty clearly not being himself, the Raptors won the Atlantic Division and locked up the No. 4 seed in the East. But the team was also unceremoniously swept by Washington, a series in which Lowry kept a high usage but saw his efficiency completely collapse. This seemed like a bad sign.Perhaps even more troubling, it was getting harder to find evidence that Lowry — a player with a good two-way reputation — was still among the league’s best defensive guards. Going into last season, he’d ranked up around the 80th percentile of NBA guards in defensive BPM over his career — a ranking corroborated by play-by-play plus/minus metrics and tracking data from Synergy Sports Technology — numbers underpinned by smart, bruising pick-and-roll defense. But in 2014-15, Lowry’s defensive indicators offered mixed messages. Although he still gave the Raptors’ defense a boost while on the floor, the team was also significantly worse defensively than it had been the previous season, and Lowry often looked slow, clunky and, at times, indifferent when trying to fight through ball screens. So this season should be encouraging for Raptors fans, at least by this metric. But after years of watching Chris Paul-led teams underachieve in the playoffs, it’s fair to ask whether this algorithm oversells the title chances for a point guard-driven squad. And as it happens, controlling for the entire skill set of a team’s best player, we found a slight tendency for teams led by players with a lot of value tied up in passing to perform worse in the postseason than we’d expect from their BPM. This could be due to any number of causes — from defenses keying in on passing patterns in a long playoff series to the way a playmaker’s value is only maximized when complemented by other skills (or perhaps it’s just random noise) — but it’s one (albeit minor) reason to consider lowering expectations for Lowry.Except that this season, Lowry’s game has been extremely well-rounded — he ranks in at least the 78th percentile of all NBA players in scoring efficiency, possession usage, assist rate and defensive BPM. Historically, teams whose best players excel in the first and last of those categories tend to exceed expectations in the playoffs at a rate far greater than any penalty that’s levied against passers.Of course, all of this presumes that Lowry’s overhauled game is legit. He’s currently 29 years old, an age at which NBA players are typically already on the downside of their careers, not metamorphosing into championship-caliber stars. Also, there was little in Lowry’s preseason CARMELO projection (our statistical crystal ball for NBA careers) to suggest an imminent breakout, aside from the late-blooming presence of Steve Nash on the fringe of his comparables list. An optimistic look at his strongest CARMELO comps suggested that he might pull a Rod Strickland and stay productive into his mid-30s; a less rosy one saw the possibility of flaming out far sooner, like Michael Adams and Derek Harper. So it’s entirely possible that Lowry will regress toward his previous career norms in the season’s second half.But given the particulars of Lowry’s skill set, and the ways in which he’s corrected his deficiencies of a season ago, it’s also very possible that if his caloric intake doesn’t regress, neither will his output.The question of whether Lowry’s teammates are good enough to support a championship run is still very much open. And even if they are, Lowry may have timed his improvement poorly, elevating his play during a season with two abnormally dominant teams that are soaking up all the league’s title odds. But Lowry’s sudden upgrade to the NBA’s elite class of players gives the Raptors a superstar the likes of which they’ve never had before. At the very least, they now possess a crucial element that was missing from the team’s recent string of good-but-not-good-enough campaigns. The new, slimmed-down version of Lowry has been quicker afoot and more focused in his pursuit of ballhandlers around and through screens, forcing more turnovers and fouling less as a result.2015-16: It’s likely no coincidence that Toronto’s opponents are scoring at a rate of nearly 4 fewer points per 100 possessions with Lowry on the court than they did a season ago. In fact, Lowry’s rehabilitation has been so complete that the Raptors now rank among the league’s top 10 teams at both ends of the floor and he has risen to full-blown MVP candidate status.You’re only as good as your best playerIt’s no secret that there’s a distinct relationship between a team’s championship probability and the quality of its best player, but it takes a truly exceptional player to make a run at a title. In the past, Lowry hasn’t been good enough to move that needle, but this season’s version is inching into the territory where small individual improvements can drastically upgrade a team’s chances of winning a championship.We’d expect a team being led by Lowry at his previous career-high BPM of +5.9 to win the title about 5 percent of the time; at this season’s +7.2 mark, those odds are doubled, to 10 percent. (Not even Carter in his prime led Toronto with a BPM so high.) Add in a decent supporting cast — and it’s debatable as to whether Toronto has one of those, particularly with DeMarre Carroll on ice, but let’s entertain the notion anyway — and suddenly the idea of a championship parade down Bay Street doesn’t seem quite so pie-in-the-sky. This season, Lowry has made course corrections at both ends of the floor. Although his usage continues to grow, his scoring efficiency has bounced back, in part because of smarter shot selection. He’s once again devoting fewer shots to the midrange, allowing his rates of taking threes and drawing fouls to return to their historical norms, and he’s been faster and more aggressive in the transition game as well. On defense, you can really see the effects of Lowry’s offseason weight loss. Last season, Lowry frequently failed when trying to use his strength to fight through screens (both on the ball and off), ceded too many easy buckets on pick-and-rolls and was generally slow to recover when he guessed wrong or his gambles didn’t pay off.2014-15: read more

Otiesha committed to stand trial in High Court

Otis ‘Otiesha’ PearsonSix months after the Child Care and Protection Agency completed its investigations into allegations that popular transgender, Otis “Otiesha” Pearson has been sexually involved with an under-aged boy, the accused was committed to stand trial at the Demerara High Court.The order was handed down by Magistrate Fabayo Azore following a paper committal earlier today at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.The charge against Pearson stated that on December 24, 2017, at Station Street, Kitty he caused the 14-year-old boy to perform a sexual act; that is to say, penetrate his anus. He remains on $300,000 bail.The transgender was arrested on March 6, 2018. “We received the file from the Child Care and Protection Agency and we are now investigating the matter officially”, Police “A” Division Commander, Leslie James had told this publication.The Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA) back in February closed its investigation into the alleged misconduct by Pearson.According to CC&PA’s Director, Ann Green, the Agency has gathered statements from a number of persons, including the young man in the middle of the controversy, and as such, it is expected to move ahead with the case.The public became enraged when Pearson was heard in an interview reporting that “he has a little boy for every day of the week”. However, after he was bashed on social media, the transgender personality quickly defended himself, explaining that the term “little boys” was taken out of context.He attempted to cover up his alleged transgressions by stating that the term is actually referring to persons above the legal age of consent and is also used when referring to his colleagues.The statement quickly became a serious matter when a photo of Pearson hugging a young man was leaked on social media site Facebook. Many users of the site were of the opinion that the young man was underage; the age of consent in Guyana being 16.Investigations revealed that the boy was indeed below the age of 16 and was being bullied after the photos were leaked. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related“Otiesha” charged with child rape, granted $300,000 bailJune 1, 2018In “Court”Police arrest “Otiesha” as probe into pedophilia accusations heightensMarch 6, 2018In “Crime”Charges likely for Otiesha on Monday – Police PRMarch 11, 2018In “Crime” read more

Addressable modules for mine conveyor protection switches

first_imgLinked to safety switches, these new Thermo Fisher Scientific addressable modules rapidly and efficiently help users identify alarms. They can connect to conveyor protection switches to safeguard equipment and protect the personnel who operate conveyor machinery. The rapid response and efficiency of the modules saves machinery users’ time when trying to locate an alarmed switch.“This is just one more example of how Thermo Fisher Scientific continues to improve workplace productivity while also making the working environment safer,” said Paula Frisk, Product Manager, Marketing for Thermo Fisher Scientific.The addressable modules are incorporated into safety cable pull switches and belt misalignment switches, traditionally mounted along the sides of conveyors. If a switch enters an alarm position, the addressable module sends a signal back to a programmable logic controller (PLC) indicating where an incident has occurred.The conveyor protection switches, equipped with addressable modules, are wired to a master module that can handle up to 128 different identification (ID) addresses. The master module control is capable of sending ID address information to the PLC using Modbus-RTU, Allen Bradley, Siemens and Schneider protocols, allowing users to easily identify where the incident occurred. Using a quick-connect handheld device, the switch operator is also able to program each switch with an ID number of choice.Thermo Fisher Scientific integrates addressable modules into its Thermo Scientific Ramsey Belt Misalignment Switches and Thermo Scientific Ramsey Safety Cable Pull Switches, providing competitively priced, easy-to-use solutions. The switches can also improve the performance of conveyor belt scale systems and weight belt feeders when integrated, and they’re shipped ready for installation and programming.last_img read more

Poll How do you feel about religious symbols in hospitals

first_img Image: Shutterstock I like them (5402) A GOVERNMENT REPORT has suggested that religious-run hospitals in receipt of State funding should remove religious symbols if a patient requests it. The report recommends that: “Voluntary organisations in receipt of state funding should be cognisant of the impact of décor on patients/service users and strive to ensure that their personal preferences in this regard are met to the greatest extent possible.”Speaking to Newstalk today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the report was not about  anyone “removing cribs or crucifixes or statues of Our Lady”.He said it was instead about realising that some members of the public are not religious.So this evening we’re asking: How do you feel about religious symbols in hospitals? Poll Results: 173 Comments Not sure (153) Thursday 28 Feb 2019, 9:29 PM By Rónán Duffy Share626 Tweet Email2 Image: Shutterstock Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article I don’t mind either way (5470) 51,414 Views I don’t like them (4106) Poll: How do you feel about religious symbols in hospitals? A new report has suggested that they be removed if a patient requests it. I like themI don’t like themI don’t mind either wayNot sureVote Short URL Feb 28th 2019, 9:29 PM last_img read more

Kyritsis takes on Kokoda

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Steve Kyritsis, Vietnam veteran and tireless chronicler of Greek Australian duty and sacrifice in war, is about to undertake a new challenge; walking in the footsteps of the Diggers who fought along the Kokoda Track in World War II. Kyritsis will fly to Papua New Guinea and begin the arduous 94 km trek on 30 June. Steve’s preparations, like the man himself, have been thorough. “I get up at 20 to 6 every morning and do an hour’s walk, and I’ve been training, doing longer walks at the weekends for three months now. I think I’m in pretty good shape,” he told Neos Kosmos. The former infantryman with the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, who went to Vietnam when he was 21-years-old, says that mental preparation for the trek is as important as the physical. “There’ll be a lot of obstacles, but knowing how our Diggers did it back in 1942, facing so much opposition, I think it should be possible to do it, if not comfortably, it should be relatively straightforward.” The Kokoda campaign consisted of a series of desperate battles fought by Australian forces between July and November 1942 to prevent the Japanese from occupying Port Moresby. The fighting took place along a rough jungle track that wound through the Owen Stanley mountain range in New Guinea. After having to retreat in the first phase of the campaign, around 2000 Australian troops were finally able to push back the Japanese to New Guinea’s northern coast, despite being outnumbered. The Kokoda Trail fighting was some of the most desperate and vicious encountered by Australian troops in the Second World War. Victory on the Trail ensured that Allied bases in northern Australia, vital in the eventual counter-offensive against the Japanese, would not be threatened by air attack. At the time many believed that if the Japanese took Port Moresby they would invade Australia shortly after. At least 625 Australians were killed along the Kokoda Trail in second half of 1942 and over 1,600 were wounded. Casualties due to sickness exceeded 4,000. During his 10 day trek, Steve will be walking in the footsteps of a number of soldiers of Greek descent who fought along the Trail – many of whom are mentioned in his most recent book, Greek Australians in the Australian Armed Forces WWI and WWII. “There were at least 193 Greek Australians who served in New Guinea in WWII, and a number of those served in the Kokoda campaign,” says Steve, who will use his own journey along the Trail as part of his research into those men’s connections to the Kokoda legend. In October 1942 near Eora Creek on the Track, two brothers of the Manusa family from NSW – Guy and Perry, who served in the 2/1st Battalion – were killed in action within days of each other. Victorian Jack Manol (1921-1985), a private in the inexperienced but immensely courageous 39th Militia Battalion, faced the full force of the first Japanese attack. Manol became part of Kokoda folklore, having been immortalised in a 1942 photograph of Diggers, ankle deep in mud, climbing one of the track’s steep jungle paths. Australian troops were helped during the campaign by local people who became known as the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’. The ‘Angels’ were responsible for ferrying tons of supplies to the frontline and carrying wounded soldiers back to field hospitals. Kyritsis’ Kokoda journey is the result of meeting military historian David Howell, who works at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance where Steve is a guide. Howell organises regular treks along the Trail with his company Kokoda Historical. Though a new generation of ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ will be assisting some members of the trekking group that Kyritsis is walking with, Steve will be carrying his own pack weighing 15 kilograms. Asked if his experience in Vietnam would stand him in good stead for Kokoda, with a chuckle Steve said: “That was a long time ago, but overall the body’s still OK and the survival instinct is still there, but you have to prepare, your mind has to be ready. “I thought even at my age, my mid-sixties, I should give it a go. It’s an inspiring story.”last_img read more

Morning Press Hockinson heroes police kill bank robbery suspect River Maiden loses

first_imgSun? Rain? Who knows? Check out our local weather coverage.Here are some of the stories that grabbed our readers’ attention this week.Hockinson girls, janitor hailed as lifesaversHOCKINSON — Makena Nelson never thought of herself as the type of student who could jump up and scream in front of the entire second grade. But she found herself doing just that when a friend choked on his lunch.Makena, 8, and Kaylin Oliver, 7, second-graders at Hockinson Heights Elementary School, were eating lunch in the cafeteria on May 5. Their friend tried to eat a large potato chip, but it went down his throat at a bad angle, and he started choking. He put his two hands up to his neck, and his face quickly turned red.“He was gasping for air and nobody else even noticed,” Kaylin said.Second-graders alerted adults to choking friend; Marine Corps vet performed Heimlich maneuverBank robbery suspect killed in shootout with Vancouver policeThe robbery of a Vancouver credit union ended in the suspect’s death Tuesday after he traded gunfire with police.A man reportedly wearing a ski mask and holding a rifle entered the  iQ Credit Union at 15705 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd. about 2:20 p.m., Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said. The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of cash in a white vehicle, then drove to a nearby parking lot. There, he switched vehicles and drove away in a blue vehicle.Man attempted to rob iQ Credit Union in east VancouverRelated story: Robbery suspect shot by police ID’d as Centralia manReport: Rental rates rising out of reachAs rents continue to rise in Clark County, so does the wage needed to afford one. A full-time worker needs to earn $18.19 hourly to afford a studio apartment, $20.25 for a one-bedroom or $23.88 for a two-bedroom, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach Report.last_img read more

Child dies after being struck by SUV in Fallbrook

first_img FALLBROOK (KUSI) – An 8-year-old girl was struck in a Fallbrook parking lot Friday evening and died while being taken to a hospital.At around 6:30 p.m. Friday, a woman driving a Toyota Rav4 tried to make a right turn into a parking lot on Heald Lane, a dead end off Fallbrook Street, while the 8-year-old and two family members were walking on the sidewalk across the parking lot entrance, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Latulippe.The Toyota driver apparently did not see any of the three, and struck the child while making the turn.Emergency personnel treated the 8-year-old at the scene and took her to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, but she succumbed to her injuries on the way to the hospital, Latulippe said.The driver remained at the scene while officers investigated.Alcohol and drugs were not considered to be factors in the crash, Latulippe said. Posted: August 4, 2018 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter KUSI Newsroom, KUSI Newsroom August 4, 2018 Child dies after being struck by SUV in Fallbrooklast_img read more

What are the latest trends in default investment strategies

first_imgCase study: Cancer Research UK diversifies its default fund If you read nothing else, read this…The pension freedoms and auto-enrolment have impacted default funds.Default investment funds should offer employees choice and future-proofing in order to be effective saving tools.Employer communication is vital to ensure staff are aware of their options and what the default fund entails. Default funds are investments that employees’ pension savings are placed into if they choose not to make a decision themselves about where they wish to invest. But following the recent shifts in the pensions market, such as the introduction of the new pension flexibilities and auto-enrolment, default investment strategies are also going through changes. Opportunity for changeThe pension freedoms, which came into effect in April 2015, have been seen as an opportunity for employers to re-evaluate their default investment strategies. In addition, pensions auto-enrolment, and from this year re-enrolment, has also highlighted the importance of reviewing a default fund. According to Jo Sharples, investment principal at Aon Hewitt, the freedoms have given employers the opportunity to review their provision and offer more choice. “Default funds used to revolve around annuity purchase, but now a mix of drawdowns might be best, just to keep the flexible options open.”The changes to the pensions market have affected how employees view their retirement funds. Jenny Holt, head of investment solutions at Standard Life, says: “[Employees] still want to take tax-free cash and annuitisation just isn’t as popular as it used to be.”For instance, only a quarter (25%) of employees would use most or all of their pension pot to buy an annuity when they retire, according to research by pensions consultancy Hymans Robertson, published in April. The option of income drawdown may become more appealing, but employees will need appropriate information and guidance to decide on the best course of action for their retirement funds.Holt believes that preparing for the future, with regards to both savers’ pensions and the pensions market, is really important for a default investment strategy. “Flexibility and future proofing are so important, because things can change and you need to be able to adapt,” she says.Choice in default investmentsDefault funds have historically made use of a lifestyling strategy so that when the employee is approaching retirement, normally about 10 years prior, their investments are gradually moved from riskier assets such as equities, towards safer assets such as cash. This lessens the risk of a sudden drop in the fund’s value just before retirement, and reassures savers that their pension pot will be around the amount that they have saved.However, strategies are now changing given the new pension flexibilities. Simon Chinnery, head of UK defined contribution at JP Morgan Asset Management, believes that the default fund market is fairly distorted as people are taking cash for different reasons, and staff are typically in the default fund because they do not really want to engage with investment. “It is likely in the near future that people will want or need to work longer, and a cash-based default fund is potentially a lousy place to be with less return than other paths,” he says. “Default funds should always target a minimum income replacement for staff, and we need to move away from those out-dated lifestyle funds.” Default investment strategies are being shaped according to employees’ options through the pension freedoms. Martin Thompson, director of Premier Companies UK, says: “Most defaults used to centre around annuity purchase, but now multi-asset funds with a low volatility threshold are likely to become more popular because they embrace the options of the pension freedoms. Employees’ options target annuities, drawdown or cash.”Chinnery adds: “Consultants are looking at slicing and dicing workforces to create different defaults focused on cash, annuities and drawdown. But it can be dangerous to make those kind of assumptions about a workforce and its needs.”Employer communication is vitalBecause employees who go into their scheme’s default investment fund may have little interest in, or knowledge of, investments, employers’ communication needs to be both clear and concise. Christopher Stiles, principal associate at law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham and Co, says: “The vast majority of savers don’t get involved with pensions investments, and as [employers need] to have a default fund with auto-enrolment, employees generally don’t have to engage with investment.“Employers, trustees and providers need to communicate the default clearly. This requires knowing [the] membership, and making sure the communication is concise and not full of jargon, and actually explains what the default fund entails.”The latest trends in default investment strategies have been influenced by the latest changes to the pensions market, so employers need to ensure their staff are fully aware of their options for retirement.Viewpoint: Pension schemes must meet new freedomscenter_img Since the government pension reforms in April, many pension providers have been reviewing their default funds. They have looked at whether their products will continue to meet the needs of their investors, and whether they are providing what people are looking for in the new environment.In particular, plans have looked carefully at their defaults’ composition to ensure that they meet the new challenges such as changes in income, reduced volatility because of less variable returns from investments such as stocks, the ability to switch into other instruments at a reasonable cost and also the changing retirement demographic. All these elements are being considered to allow for the investment strategy of a plan, or ‘glide path’, to potentially change.To ensure their products are fit for purpose, many providers have been reviewing their default allocations. Up until now, very little has changed because many plans are still reviewing their options. However, given time, the Defined Contribution Investment Forum (DCIF) expects that these new strategies should become more widely used.While the overall defaults will continue to remain fairly static, we expect that with the new pension freedoms, more options will be offered to scheme members. This will ensure that pension plans are able to meet the challenges of members wanting to drawdown cash to fund other requirements or to purchase annuities, and also the ongoing management of post-retirement in drawdown requirements.Rob Barrett is vice chair of the Defined Contribution Investment Forum (DCIF) Cancer Research UK (CRUK) replaced its equity-based default investment fund with a more diversified, less traditional option following the introduction of April’s pension flexibilities. Since then, of CRUK’s 800 staff, and those who left its defined benefit (DB) pension scheme when this was closed to future accrual on 31 March 2015, 90% have gone into the default option for the charity’s group personal pension plan (GPP).James Dolan, pensions manager at Cancer Research UK, says: “We wanted to make our staff more aware of the changes to pensions and the value of the pension scheme and other benefits we offer, which is why we updated our internal pensions website and pushed people towards it with email communications.”The charity held awareness shows for staff to highlight the most significant points of the organisation’s forthcoming pensions changes in October 2014, which it will do again around the same time this year. It also hosted the shows in January, March and June this year in different stores around the country. The shows are a chance for staff to ask questions to the internal pensions team and to be shown where to get more information.CRUK has a younger workforce in its London head office, and therefore adapted communication around its new default fund and the pension freedoms to suit this demographic. Its initial roadshows focused on older staff in the charity’s retail stores, whereas communications for head office staff were more focused on what auto-enrolment means and why staff should contribute more into a pension.Dolan adds: “Default funds are part of the wider issue of pensions, so it’s important for people to understand where their money is being invested and the risks around it.”last_img read more

Rohingya widows camp barred to men

first_imgThis photograph taken on 26 January, 2018 shows women inside the `widow`s camp` offering prayers at the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh`s Ukhia district. Photo: AFPIt is known as “widows’ camp” — a sanctuary off limits to men inside Bangladesh’s congested refugee settlements, where Rohingya women and children traumatised by violence find rare moments of peace.The cluster of orange tarpaulins strung across bamboo offers a safe haven for dozens of widows and young children left fending for themselves after fleeing into Bangladesh in an exodus of nearly 690,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.They escaped atrocities likened by the UN to “ethnic cleansing” but their husbands did not, leaving them to compete for food, shelter and survival in a border zone teeming with close to one million refugees.Among them is Swaleha Begum, who crossed alone after her husband of just three months was killed in an army-led crackdown on their village.At just 18 she oversees the women-only encampment separated from other refugee tents in a crowded and dusty valley.The sense of ownership and pride in their basic refuge is strong among the 60-odd widows, who maintain their own bathrooms, run prayer sessions and share responsibility for scores of children and orphans.”Those who have husbands can make their own accommodation using bamboo and tarpaulins,” Swaleha told AFP.”We got this by the grace of god,” she added, gesturing at the simple tents lined with thin sleeping mats and cooking utensils.One of her primary tasks is ensuring men — even teenage boys — venture nowhere near their shelters, where the inhabitants are comfortable enough to eschew the veil worn by most Rohingya Muslim women in public areas.- ‘Sisters’ in the camp -Aid workers say women and girls are most at threat from predators and human traffickers lurking in the poorly supervised camps.This risk is compounded when Rohingya women — uncomfortable at sharing toilets with men — venture far away for privacy in the forest after dark.The International Organization for Migration has documented cases of refugee women being lured away from the camps with promises of marriage or jobs that end instead in forced labour or sex work.More than half the Rohingya refugees who escaped the bloodshed in Myanmar’s westernmost Rakhine state are women and children, the UN Women agency said.They made it out alive but not without scars.The UN Women agency says almost every woman and girl in the sprawling Balukhali camp is a victim of unimaginable violence — a survivor of rape, or witness to the sexual assault, murder or burning alive of their family and friends.Mabiya Khatun, who said her husband and two sons were butchered as their village was razed by soldiers, cherished the solidarity among her “sisters” in the widows’ camp.”I like it here. I find it very peaceful. We get to live a life of respect here, a dignified life,” she told AFP.The mood shifts at talk of returning to their homeland.Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to a two-year timetable for repatriating some 750,000 refugees to Rakhine on a voluntary basis, but the process has stalled.Despite the safety in Bangladesh, and the horrors inflicted against their people in Myanmar, some Rohingya living in the widows’ camp yearn for the lives they left behind.Kushida Begum, a 30-year-old refugee whose husband and children were killed in Rakhine, said no amount of relative comfort in Bangladesh could ever replace her ancestral lands.”I was born there. So was my mother, father and grandparents. We only came here because of the torture and killing and arson,” Kushida said.”If we get justice for what happened, we want to go back.”But others are looking forward to rebuilding a new life in Bangladesh surrounded by the only people who can understand their pain.”I won’t go back. I don’t have anything to go back to — no home, no husband, no children, nothing,” said Mabiya, who gave her age as 50.”At least I have something like a family here.”last_img

UPDATE Harvey Will Reach Texas Coast by Early Friday Houston Prepares For

first_imgThere is the potential for a major rainfall event from late Friday through Tuesday in Texas. For Houston, the heaviest rains would not probably begin before Saturday.We do not know how much Harvey will intensify, but there are no indications it will become a strong hurricane right now.The forecast remains uncertain because Harvey has yet to form a well defined center of circulation, and its motion is likely to stall this weekend.While we know nothing definitive, residents should be prepared for flooding conditions this weekend and into next week. Houston is bracing for potential strong winds and heavy rainfall by the end of this week.The National Hurricane Center has issued tropical storm watches for Galveston and the Galveston Bay areas and hurricane watches for areas Southeast of Houston. The main concern at this point remains heavy rains and flooding, according to Space City Weather.The National Weather Service updated its forecast on Wednesday afternoon and estimated that the  winds from what is still tropical storm Harvey will  likely  reach the coast of Texas by early Friday. National Weather ServiceUpdated model for tropical storm Harvey trajectory on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 23rd, 2017.“Right now it’s a tropical depression but it is still forming, still organizing and it could en up being a tropical storm or could be like a level 1 hurricane, and we would be on the rain side”, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a Facebook live interview with Houston Public Media on Wednesday. “We are going to get a lot of rain, there’s no question about that, the question is just how much.”Turner explained that the other concern with Harvey is that it may linger over the weekend, starting Friday until possibly Monday, so “we are expecting a lot of rain… and a lot of rain all over.” The mayor stressed that “certainly there will be street flooding… and some structural flooding as well, depending on the amount of rain.” He also recommended that Houstonians start preparing now and get the basics. He also asked drivers to minimize risks and to avoid high water areas. Turner explained the city’s preparedness plan in the interview.  While a lot is still up in the air,  forecaster Eric Gerber with Space City Weather says Harvey could come ashore as a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane. Right now, Gerber expects landfall between Corpus Christi and Matagorda Bay. Here’s a summary of what Space City Weather considers that Houstonians need to know as of Wednesday morning: Areas well inland are also at risk, this includes the Houston metro area.— NWS (@NWS) August 23, 2017 Tropical storm and hurricane watches have been posted. Be sure to know the difference! #houwx #glswx #txwx— NWS Houston (@NWSHouston) August 23, 2017center_img NOAAImage of potential impact of tropical storm Harvey on Texas coast.Meteorologist Nikki Hathaway, with the National Weather Service, says a lot is still uncertain– but rainfall could get pretty high: “These models can flip flop very quickly. So there’s a lot of uncertainty. All of the other ingredients are there. With the percentages being so high, I think the preparedness level will be pretty darn up there.”Rainfall amounts are looking to be 4 to 8 inches- but Hathaway says that could even double, up to 16 inches or more in isolated areas.ATTENTION residents of TX and LA: extremely heavy rain and dangerous flooding is possible Fri-Mon due to a tropical system #txwx #lawx— NWS (@NWS) August 23, 2017At a City Council meeting early on Wednesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reminded the public that Harvey is expected to hit Texas coast on Friday and urged to use “common sense”.  Prepare now for #Harvey hitting Houston region. Storm updates & preparation info Follow @HoustonOEM & @AlertHouston— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 23, 2017 Share NOAAStellite image of tropical storm Harvey on Aug. 23rd, 2017.last_img read more

Costa Ricas latest hearing with world court set for this month

first_imgNo related posts. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo announced at the Casa Presidencial Tuesday afternoon that the International Court of Justice has agreed to hear their latest complaints against Nicaragua this month.After Costa Rica alleged in September that Nicaragua violated the precautionary measures handed down by the world court by dredging two new canals in the disputed territory of Isla Portillos, the Chinchilla administration has sought additional measures from the world court.“If the international [court] system is to continue with credibility, we need to discuss temporary measures,” that hold offending countries accountable, Chinchilla said Tuesday.Castillo said that The Hague would hear oral arguments from Costa Rica from Oct. 14-17.The foreign minister added that Costa Rica would soon present a draft to the court with its recommendations for how to strengthen the world court’s precautionary measures.During her address to the United Nations General Assembly last week, President Laura Chinchilla argued for greater accountability and consequences when countries violate precautionary measures from the court.The Costa Rican leader has characterized Nicaragua’s behavior as a “flagrant” violation of international norms in its perceived invasion of Tico territory to dredge the San Juan River in the Isla Portillos wetlands, alongside Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s suggestion of “repatriating” the northwestern Costa Rican province of Guanacaste earlier this summer. Chinchilla said that Costa Rican intelligence agents continue to monitor the presence of supposedly Nicaraguan military members in the contested border zone.  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Youth protest arrest of Muslim cleric in Kenya

first_imgMOMBASA, Kenya (AP) – An official says police have fired tear gas to disperse stone throwing youths who are protesting the alleged arrest of a Muslim cleric in Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa.Coastal region police chief Aggrey Adoli denied that police arrested Sheik Ramadhan Juma, who preached at the Masjid Musa Mosque.Mombasa police chief Kipkemboi Rop said police fired tear gas as Muslim youth blocked the road outside the mosque following Friday prayers. Kenya Red Cross reported running battles between police and youth Thursday night near the mosque after the alleged arrest. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ali Bashir, a resident, says he saw police put Juma into a car.Two of Juma’s colleagues, who also preached at the Masjid Musa Mosque, were gunned down in separate attacks at the same spot in just over a year.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories center_img Parents, stop beating yourself up Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more