Storm warning Cyclone Vayu likely to return and hit Kutch next week

first_imgNew Delhi: Cyclone Vayu will change its path again and is likely to hit Kutch on June 17-18, an official of the ministry of earth sciences said on Friday. The very severe cyclonic storm will also reduce in intensity and turn into a severe cyclonic storm by Saturday morning, a senior India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said. “The system is moving nearly westwards affecting Porbandar, Devbhoomi Dwarka districts with wind speed of 50-60 kilometres per hour gusting to 70 kilometres per hour and Gir Somnath and Junagarh districts with wind speed of 30-40 kilometres per hour gusting to 50 kilometres per hour. The wind speed over these districts is very likely to decrease gradually,” the Cyclone Warning Division said in its bulletin at 5.30 pm. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France “The system is very likely to move nearly westwards during next 48 hours and recurve northeastwards thereafter,” it added. “Cyclone Vayu will again recurve. It is likely to hit the Kutch coast on June 17-18,” ministry of earth sciences secretary M Rajeevan told news agency PTI. By June 16, Vayu is likely to become a cyclonic storm with an expected wind speed of 80-90 kilometres per hour, he said. The intensity of the cyclone is likely to reduce and it may hit the coast as a cyclonic storm or a deep depression, Rajeevan added. Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics Prize He said the Gujarat government has been alerted about the possible recurvature of the cyclonic storm. Cyclone Vayu was to hit the Gujarat coast on Thursday, but it changed course on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. It skirted the Gujarat coast, affecting Gir, Somnath, Diu, Junagarh and Porbandar. After it changed its course on Thursday, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said that the teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), that were brought in to provide aide for possible damage, will remain stationed along the coastline for another 48 hours. As a precautionary measure, the state government has evacuated over two lakh people living along the coast. Meanwhile, there was no let up in heatwave in northern and eastern India due to deficient pre-monsoon showers and conditions look to remain the same till the weekend when rain is likely in some parts. The mercury crossed the 45-degree mark at some places in Delhi, which is the only 100% rain-deficient state in the country.(With inputs from Hindustan Times)last_img read more


first_imgAdvertisement Facebook .WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY? WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE?The most challenging thing has been all the waiting! There is a lot of waiting in this industry.The most rewarding experience I’ve had is having the opportunity to have a character in a movie and be able to bring him to life.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE OF CHARACTER TO PLAY?I like to play a nice, happy, energetic boy because that’s what I am! It makes getting into character easier. But I also like having characters that challenge me or teach me something new.WHAT MARKET DO YOU CURRENTLY WORK IN? ARE THERE OTHER AREAS YOU WOULD LIKE TO WORK?I’ve been lucky to be cast in a bunch of short films and commercials. I would love to be part of a TV series because I haven’t had that opportunity before!WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE NEW TRYING TO MAKE IT IN THE ACTING INDUSTRY?Always be positive and never doubt yourself. Just keep smiling and show them what you can do!WHAT FUELS YOUR PASSION?Having the opportunity to explore new characters and try out another person’s life.WHAT IS SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS?That I love origami!IF YOU WERE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU DO THINGS EXACTLY THE SAME? DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS? SUCCESSES THAT MAKE YOU PROUD?Sometimes I wish I could do some auditions from the past differently. But I’m proud of all my roles in films and commercials!WHO ARE YOU REPRESENTED BY?City Talent Management in Vancouver. My agent is amazing!WHERE HAVE YOU DONE TRAINING?I’ve been lucky to train with some amazing studios and coaches in Vancouver.SOCIAL MEDIA:INSTAGRAM: such a young age, Jaden is very talented and well grounded. We look forward to seeing what Jaden will do in the future.CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL INTERVIEWS IN OUR ASPIRING TALENT SERIESIf you are an aspiring talent and would like to be featured in our Aspiring Talent SeriesContact Darlene via email at morrisonmediasocial@gmail.comOpen to all (e.g. Actors, Models, Singers, Dancers, Producers, Directors, etc.) As part of our aspiring talent series, we had the opportunity to catch up with Jaden Oehr who is an 8-year-old actor in Vancouver, Canada. Jaden has done some National commercials as well as some film.WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, DID YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTOR, OR DID IT FALL INTO PLACE THROUGH OTHER ACTIVITIES?When I was in preschool, I participated in a class play of “Snow White” where I played the Huntsman, but they made the character a Knight because I was really into knights at the time. I took the role really seriously and memorized the entire 10-page script. That actually helped when we performed the play because some of my friends forgot their lines and I was able to help them out. It was a really fun experience and from that point on, I asked my parents if I could do more acting.WHO INSPIRED YOU TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAM TO PURSUE ACTING?My cousin* who is a film and theatre actor. Ever since I saw him on TV, I wanted to be on TV too. I’ve been to all of his theatre performances and cheered him on. He recently played the title role in a school theatre production of Peter Pan and he did awesome. Twitter Advertisement Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisementlast_img read more

JLEC to list on the Casablanca Stock Exchange

first_imgRabat – Jorf Lasfar Energy Company (JLEC), TAQA’s wholly owned Moroccan subsidiary, has received approval to list on the Casablanca Stock Exchange. JLEC, which operates Morocco’s largest power complex, is authorised by the Conseil Déontologique des Valeurs Mobilières (CDVM) to create a total of 2,234,638 new shares, offered at a price of MAD 447.5 with a nominal value of MAD 100. These shares represent 9.47% of JLEC and will be floated on the exchange. In addition to that, 4.74% were offered and fully subscribed through private placement to key Moroccan institutional investors prior to the initial public offering. TAQA will retain a 85.79% of JLEC.Abdelmajid Iraqui Houssaini, Chief Executive Officer of Jorf Lasfar Energy Company, said: “JLEC is the leading energy operator in Morocco and we feel that this new step will allow us to anchor our business in the Moroccan economy by opening up our capital to institutional investors.” Jorf Lasfar supplied 38 per cent of the Kingdom’s electricity in 2012, and the expansion is vital to enabling national economic growth and job creation. TAQA is also developing alternative energy projects for Morocco, including wind power.last_img read more

Japan Renews its Nonrecognition of SelfProclaimed SADR at Opening of TICADVII

Rabat – Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono has reiterated his country’s official position of non-recognition of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).On August 28, at the opening of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on Development in Africa (TICAD VII),  Kono said, in front of an audience of African leaders, that the “the presence at the TICAD-VII of any entity that Japan does not recognize as a State does not in any way affect the position of the country regarding the status of this entity.”The statement reaffirms Japan’s position on the Western Sahara conflict and its support for Morocco’s territorial integrity. Japan’s position also shows its commitment to the UN-led political process as the the only  party to have the legitimate rights to find a mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict. Kono echoed his country’s repeated position in favor of Morocco’s cause. On August 27, on the eve of the official opening of the symposium, Kono said that the presence of the delegation from the separatist group does not affect his country’s position on the self-proclaimed entity.The Japanese government also reaffirmed that it has no  intention to change its stance regarding SADR.On August 25 chief of the MENA division of the Japanese foreign affairs ministry, Katsuhiko Takahashi said that  Japan will does not and will not recognize “Western Sahara as a state. This is Japan’s constant and immutable position and we have no intention of changing it.”Maghreb Arab press reported that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended the opening session of the TICAD symposium.Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita is also attending the  three-day event along with minister delegate for African Cooperation, Mohcine Jazouli, and Morocco’s ambassador to Japan, Rachad Bouhlal. read more

Dairy giant Saputo says it will refuse to buy milk from farmers

MONTREAL — Canada’s largest diary processor, Montreal-based Saputo, is hoping to spur the adoption of global animal welfare standards by refusing to buy milk from farmers that don’t treat their animals humanely.The change is part of a new animal welfare policy the company released Monday, nearly a year after it became entangled in a controversy when an undercover video was made public showing cows being punched, kicked and beaten with pipes at one of its suppliers.“It raised a lot of comments and questions and concerns especially here at Saputo about what our policy is and if it is robust enough,” CEO Lino Saputo Jr. said in an interview.Chilliwack Cattle fired eight employees after animal rights group Mercy for Animals released a video that showed young men beating the cows.Saputo (TSX:SAP), one of the world’s largest dairy processors, says it wants all farmers and employees to sign yearly codes of conduct and third-party auditors to review the practices of farmers. The company said it is also working with universities to improve education on animal welfare.Although federal law only allows processors to refuse to accept milk over “quality issues” including health concerns, Saputo said it will not accept milk from sites where animals have been mistreated, as it did for two days last summer when a video surfaced depicting animal abuse at an operation in Chilliwack, B.C.“If we have any evidence of animal cruelty, whether it’s mistreatment or neglect that’s causing pain or injury or suffering to any of the cattle on the farms, we will stop taking milk from that farm,” Saputo Jr. said.Saputo refuses to buy milk from B.C. farm where video showed cattle being kicked, punched and beaten with pipesUndercover investigation reveals horrific cruelty at B.C. dairy farm, SPCA recommending chargesDelivery of milk could be permanently ended if farmers refuse to improve animal practices as verified by third-party inspectors, he added.Mercy for Animals praised Saputo for its new policy, which also commits to eliminating the practice of cutting or docking the cow’s tail, administering pain control when dehorning cattle and reducing stress on cows through low-energy animal handling methods.“Given that Saputo is the largest dairy processor in this country, I think it sends an incredibly strong message to all dairy farmers that any form of cruelty will not be tolerated,” executive director Krista Osborne said from Vancouver.She said she expects other large Canadian dairy producers to follow suit and join three of the world’s largest dairy companies — Nestle, Leprino Foods and Great Lakes Cheese — which have recently announced similar animal welfare requirements.But Osborne said there are some remaining questions, such as when the new policy will be implemented, whether the auditors will be independent, and whether the inspections will be random.“This is an excellent step forward. We are heartened by it but it by no means is complete at this point.”Saputo Jr. also said he’d like to see stiffer penalties against people who commit cruelty to farm animals.“We’d like the standards and the practices to have some bite to it and some consequences for those that are going to contravene those practices.” read more

Recommendations from report on prison riot to be implemented

The report of the three-member committee appointed to probe the Welikada Prison riot which occurred on November 09 in 2012 was handed over to the Prime Minister in 2015.The 2012 Welikada prison riot left 27 dead and many more injured. (Colombo Gazette) He said this in response to a question raised by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in Parliament today. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed Parliament today that the recomendations in the Welikada prison riot report will be implemented. The Prime Minister said that Prisons Reforms Minister D.M. Swaminathan has been instructed to implement the recommendations.

Security Council calls on Congolese parties to completely renounce violence

In a statement to the press, Security Council President Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation said the members of the 15-nation body had been briefed on the situation in the DRC and expressed their deep concern over the latest developments in the eastern part of the country, particularly in the Kivus.”They strongly condemned the recent escalation of fighting in the region, in particular the offensives by the RCD-Goma, which constitutes a serious violation of the ceasefire and poses a threat to the political process in the DRC,” Ambassador Lavrov said. He added that the Council urged all the Congolese parties to overcome their differences peacefully and establish a transitional national government without further delay.Calling on all the parties in the eastern DRC for an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities and complete withdrawal to the previously agreed positions, the Council members also urged the Congolese parties, including the DRC Government, to refrain from any new deployments or other provocative actions.Ambassador Lavrov said Council members called on all the parties to commit fully to the political process and to renounce completely and decisively the military path. With that in mind, they urged all parties concerned to comply fully with the Lusaka agreement, the Kampala and Harare disengagement plans, the Pretoria and Luanda accords and the Acte d’Engagement for the cessation of hostilities in the eastern and northeastern DRC signed in Bujumbura on 19 June.”Members of the Council urged all governments in the region to exercise a positive influence on the Congolese parties in support of the peace process,” he said.Also expressing their deep concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region, Council members strongly condemned human rights violations and reaffirmed that such acts would not remain unpunished. Ambassador Lavrov said they also reiterated their call on the parties to provide safe and unimpeded access for international humanitarian assistance.The Council also condemned the recent abduction of two UN military observers, welcomed their release and demanded that all the parties abide fully by their obligation to provide full and unhindered access to the UN peacekeeping mission to allow it to carry out its mandate.Meanwhile in the DRC, the official deadline for the withdrawal of Congolese Union of Patriots troops from war-torn Bunia ended yesterday at noon local time, with the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) reporting that the withdrawal was in progress.Bunia has now been declared an “arms-free town” and it has become illegal to carry weapons of any type. The international emergency force deployed in the town had earlier issued an ultimatum banning all “visible armed presence” in Bunia, and following the expiration of yesterday’s deadline for gunmen to leave, the force will confiscate weapons carried in the streets.In Kinshasa, the 68 representatives of the political opposition to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue are scheduled to meet under the auspices of the International Committee for Support to the Transition and in the presence of the Follow-Up Commission.The meeting will try to designate members from the committee who will form a part of the transition government. Their failure to take a decision on representatives has been one of the stumbling blocks for the formation of the transition government. read more

Sneaky Stats That Could Decide The Super Bowl

Source: EdjFootball 2013SEA43.71DEN27.02+16.7 Philadelphia59.474.082.0 1992DAL40.61BUF10.69+30.0 Both teams are seldom in troubleThe average Game Winning Chance of each Super Bowl team at the end of the first through third quarters Game winning chance 2004NE32.83PHI20.47+12.5 1991WAS52.41BUF21.13+31.3 2011NYG6.014NE25.33-19.3 PostseasonNew England58.869.558.1 TotalNew England70.177.276.5 1987WAS5.311DEN17.54-12.2 2003NE31.23CAR1.216+30.0 SplitTeamQ1Q2Q3 Seemingly everyone has a Super Bowl take or prediction these days — the football media is afforded 14 days to scrutinize two teams and dissect every facet of their matchup. But that doesn’t mean every useful bit of information has been presented on the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. We dug into the databases of ESPN’s Stats & Information Group and Football Outsiders to find a few obscure statistical areas to highlight that could help predict Sunday’s showdown.Stat No. 1: Weighted DVOAThe key efficiency metric used at Football Outsiders is Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, or DVOA for short (explained here). For the season, the Eagles ranked fifth in DVOA (23.5 percent) and actually edged out the sixth-ranked Patriots (22.6 percent). However, when looking at weighted DVOA, which places less importance on early-season games — the ones when the Patriots couldn’t get off the field and Carson Wentz was launching his breakout campaign — things become much different. The Patriots finished No. 1 in weighted DVOA (33.6 percent) and were 10 percentage points higher than the No. 7 Eagles (23.6 percent).It makes sense for the Patriots to rank No. 1 in weighted DVOA. Four of their five lowest games by DVOA came in the first five weeks of the season. Their only loss in their last 14 outings was the Week 14 game in Miami. It also makes sense that the Eagles held steady between the two stats: Philadelphia had five games with negative DVOA in 2017, and four of them were the last four games of the regular season.It has taken some time to adjust from Wentz to Nick Foles at quarterback, but Foles and the Eagles were stellar in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota. That game is not reflected in the 23.6 percent weighted DVOA for the Eagles, but as Neil Paine recently wrote, a dominant performance in the conference title round has not been predictive of success in the Super Bowl.Since 1986 (as far back as the data currently goes), teams with at least a 5 percentage point edge in weighted DVOA are 15-8 in the Super Bowl. That sounds good for New England, but consider that the two biggest upsets by weighted DVOA were the Patriots’ losses to the Giants in Super Bowls XLII (the Pats had a 39.9-point advantage) and XLVI (a 19.3-point edge). 2008PIT30.1%2ARI-11.5%22+41.7 2016NE33.01ATL19.94+13.1 1997DEN23.46GB36.61-13.2 Stat No. 2: Defensive DVOAFor the season, the Patriots rank 31st in defensive DVOA, and that could ultimately be their undoing this week. Our study of Super Bowl winners has shown that no team since at least 1986 has won a Super Bowl with a defense ranked lower than 25th in this metric. Atlanta came really close a year ago, but the 26th-ranked defense eventually wore down against the Patriots in the Falcons’ 28-3 collapse in Super Bowl LI. The 2011 Patriots also came close with the 30th-ranked defense, but Eli Manning led the Giants down the field for another game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI. Teams don’t require great balance to win a Super Bowl, but having the No. 1 offense and No. 31 defense like the 2017 Patriots makes them the most unbalanced Super Bowl team in more than 30 years. 2001NE15.49STL21.94-6.5 2000BAL23.35NYG14.110+9.2 1986NYG23.84DEN11.310+12.5 Philadelphia69.670.472.0 This year, New England has a weighted DVOA of 33.6 percent, and Philadelphia is at 23.6 percent.Source: Football Outsiders Regular seasonNew England71.5%78.2%78.8% The biggest mismatches heading into a Super BowlSuper Bowls with the biggest discrepancy in weighted DVOA since 1986 1996GB34.31NE13.49+20.9 1993DAL28.02BUF-2.919+30.9 1989SF42.91DEN18.84+24.1 DVOADVOA 2012BAL8.311SF23.85-15.5 2015DEN16.36CAR30.93-14.6 2007NYG2.617NE42.51-39.9 YearWinnerWEIRankLoserWEIRankDIFF. 1999STL28.21TEN19.45+8.8 Philadelphia68.470.873.1 1994SF39.51SD7.78+31.8 The main reason for the Patriots’ mediocre start to the season was the defense. New England actually allowed more than 400 yards of offense in each of the first six games but has done that just once in the past 12 games, including the playoffs, and has conceded more than 20 points just twice.The improvement in defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s unit has been real, but the Patriots still rank only 22nd in weighted defensive DVOA because they continue to allow a lot of successful plays. The 2017 Patriots have one of the most statistically unique defenses that we have ever studied. They are 32nd in yards per drive allowed but still rank sixth in points per drive allowed. No other defense since the latest league expansion in 2002 has ranked in the top 10 in points per drive allowed while ranking 26th or lower in yards per drive allowed. The Patriots were able to accomplish this with an extreme bend-but-don’t-break style of play. While part of this reflects New England’s red-zone defense that ranks second in points allowed per red-zone appearance, it’s also a matter of real estate. The Patriots’ opponents have the worst starting field position in the league thanks to New England’s strong special teams and ball security on offense — so there are more yards for offenses to gain against this unit. Still, the defense has managed to keep scoring down and is even doing this with just one takeaway in the past six games.You also can say that the Patriots have had some good fortune on defense this year. Opposing kickers missed nine field goals against the Patriots for a success rate of 71.0 percent, the second lowest against any team in 2017. New England has also controversially benefited from a few touchdowns overturned by replay — against the Jets (Austin Seferian-Jenkins), Steelers (Jesse James) and Bills (Kelvin Benjamin).Lest we forget, the Eagles finished 2017 ranked fourth in offensive points per drive. Foles threw four touchdowns against the Giants and just shredded a superior Minnesota defense in the NFC Championship Game for 352 yards and three touchdowns. If head coach Doug Pederson can devise another good offensive game plan, the Eagles could be poised for another big night of scoring against a suspect defense.Stat No. 3: Under PressureThese were two of the best offenses at handling pass pressure all season long, though Wentz hid a lot of Philadelphia’s protection problems with his mobility. Foles is not nearly the same threat in that regard, and he’s also not playing as well as Brady has been under pressure, which we highlighted a few weeks back.Using a scatter plot from ESPN Stats & Info, we looked at how teams fared under pressure by comparing their Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) to their average air yards per pass attempt (how far the ball traveled relative to the line of scrimmage). Not only were the Patriots and Eagles among the top three offenses in QBR, but they were also among the five most vertical offenses when pressured, both averaging just shy of 10 air yards per attempt. Brady in particular has really taken to throwing deep with defenders bearing down on him. Since 2015, Brady leads all quarterbacks by averaging 10.28 air yards per pass attempt while pressured, according to ESPN Stats & Info. In 2017, Brady has clearly been leaning toward the left portion of the field on passes thrown more than 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He has thrown for 723 yards on 52 deep passes outside the left numbers, as opposed to 407 yards on 25 deep passes outside the right numbers.New England wide receiver Brandin Cooks leads the NFL (including the playoffs) with 381 receiving yards on passes to the deep left this season. He could be in for a big night against a Philadelphia defense that fared better in DVOA on passes thrown to the deep right (-10.8 percent) than the deep left (6.5 percent).Stat No. 4: The Predictable Game Script?In their previous seven Super Bowls, the Patriots have never scored in the first quarter. Every game was decided by 1 to 6 points, and either Brady or Eli Manning led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. This season, the Patriots and Eagles led the league in net points per drive, with 1.04 and 0.79 points respectively, and both are accustomed to playing with the lead, though the Patriots needed late game-winning touchdowns to topple the Steelers (in Week 15) and Jaguars in crucial matchups.We turned to EdjFootball, part of the EdjSports analytics site, for its Game Winning Chance probability data to see which team had the higher average win probability through each of the first three quarters of their 2017 games. 2010GB25.14PIT38.42-13.3 1995DAL30.83PIT24.75+6.1 Including the playoffs, the Patriots hold a slight edge over the Eagles in each quarter, boasting an average Game Winning Chance of 76.5 percent to start their fourth quarters compared with 73.1 percent for the Eagles. However, the Patriots have had a rougher go of things in the playoffs; they held just a 16.2 percent Game Winning Chance to start the fourth quarter against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship. Of course, it sure felt like the Patriots would come back from that deficit more than 16 times given 100 chances, but that’s just because we’ve seen this play out so often.No matter how well the Eagles start this game, we know the Patriots have the ability to come back. To make matters worse, Philadelphia’s worst defensive quarter this season was the fourth quarter, in which its DVOA fell to 14th after ranking in the top five in each of the first three quarters. While the Eagles have some experience at holding big leads, they weren’t doing so against an experienced New England team with Brady and Belichick. The Eagles have to be able to exploit the holes in New England’s defense to put a big number on the scoreboard and keep Brady off the field as much as possible. read more

QMASTOR wins inaugural IT solution award at Australian bulk handling awards

first_imgAn independent judging panel comprising several of Australia’s leading experts in the bulk handling industries made the selection, representing private enterprise, academia and government. The judges included: Professor Mark Jones, Director, Key Centre for Bulk Solids & Particulate Technologies, the University of Newcastle; Assoc Professor Peter Wypych, Chair, Australian Society for Bulk Solids Handling; John Planner, Director, Introspec Consulting; Neil Kinder, Managing Director, Kinder & Co; Mike Anderson, Managing Director, Nu-Con Australia; Ivan Price, Managing Director, Kockums Bulk Systems; and Charles Macdonald, Editor, Australian Bulk Handling Review acting as moderator. QMASTOR’s General Manager Steve Maxwell who received the award said: “It is truly an honour for QMASTOR to be selected as the overall category winner, in an Australian mining and bulk commodity software market that is renowned globally for its excellence in technology innovation. It is a credit to our dedicated team whom continue to develop and deliver world class solutions that add real value to our mining and bulk commodity clients. QMASTOR’s approach to collaborate with clients to deliver pragmatic solutions is a key factor in the company’s growing success. QMASTOR looks forward to further collaboration and innovative product development to add to our current portfolio of bulk commodity software solutions that includes: Pit to – export mining supply chain management, Pit to – domestic mining supply chain management, Port to – import supply chain management, – advanced 3D stockpile modelling and iFuse – mining system integration, that are rapidly moving towards industry standard status.” QMASTOR systems currently manage over 300 Mt/y of bulk commodity movements per annum in coal, iron ore, nickel, bauxite and copper/gold. QMASTOR, an Australian supplier of bulk materials management information systems, was recently announced as the recipient of The IT Solution Award for its Pit to system. These awards pay tribute to industry champions across a range of fields including: Innovative Technology; Environmentally Responsible Projects; Dust Control; OH&S; IT Solutions; Conveying and Transport Technology. The IT Solution Award, which was sponsored by Lloyds List DCN, represents excellence for a system, software, or information technology application with specific relevance to bulk handling, bulk materials scheduling or the supply chain.last_img read more

Cork judge agrees child rapist can be named

first_imgA JUDGE IN Cork agreed yesterday that a man who has been jailed for four years for raping a 12-year-old girl at a funfair in 1989 can be named publicly.51-year-old Gerard Williams from Churchfield in Cork was convicted of raping the girl in a caravan at the funfair which is owned by his family. He was sentenced to four years in the retrial after a previous jury could not reach a verdict.In her victim impact statement, the woman, now in her 30s, said she had been “very confused and scared” at the time.“It is only now that I am older and I have kids of my own that I realise I was just a little girl who was very innocent at the time. I hadn’t got a clue of what he was doing – I thought he was stabbing me at first and I was very afraid,” she said.At the sentencing earlier this month, the woman was not asked if she wanted the man to be named and so his details could not be made public. She returned to court with State barrister Tim O’Leary yesterday morning to tell a judge that she would be happy for him to be named publicly and the judge agreed.The woman said in her victim impact statement that she did not regret coming forward and thanked a local garda for her continued support. “I do not forgive Ger Williams for what he has done to me,” she also said. “I don’t know if I will in the future.”Read: Judge rules couple accused of sex slavery can be named>last_img read more

Barrister tells Jobstown jury their political views have to be left outside

first_imgBarrister tells Jobstown jury their political views “have to be left outside the jury room” Closing speeches were given today. Jun 20th 2017, 7:01 PM Short URL Tuesday 20 Jun 2017, 7:01 PM Image: Leah Farrell Paul Murphy. Share58 Tweet Email center_img THE JURY IN the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, who is accused of falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton, has been told their verdict will “fix the limits of our freedom to hold our elected leaders to account”.The submission was made by defence barrister Sean Guerin SC on day 33 of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial today where closing speeches got underway.Paul Murphy (34) and five other men have pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on 15 November, 2014.The charges against a seventh accused, Ken Purcell (50), of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght, were dropped last week.The two women were attending a graduation ceremony at An Cosán adult education centre when demonstrations broke out around them. The jury has heard they were detained in vehicles for three hours.Entitled to viewsIn his closing speech, prosecution barrister Sean Gillane SC, told the jury that the essential question in the case was “not political” and that their political views should have no bearing on the case.“You’re entitled to those views but those views have to be left outside the jury room,” he said.Outlining the nature of the charges against the accused men, he said that when you seek to restrain the liberty of a person, the restraint has to be “total”.“It’s not good enough for me to establish some class of obstruction or inconvenience,” he said. Violence does not need to be a factor, he added.Outlining the case against each of the men, he said they worked together with a “shared intention” that day to totally restrict the liberty of Joan Burton and Karen O’Connell, who were “trapped” in the cars.He said Paul Murphy was one of those who surrounded both cars carrying Burton and that he gestured at others to do so.Gillane said there was no doubt about the right to peaceful protest, which he said was “embedded in the Constitution” but he said there were “obvious limitations” to that right.“I can protest about water (charges) or anything else but I can’t do it in your kitchen,” he said.He rejected the proposition that what happened to Burton and O’Connell was inevitable because people were angry about water meters or water charges.“There’s nothing inevitable about it,” he said. “Adults must be responsible for their actions. Being angry about something doesn’t change that…“What we require of people is that they control that anger instead of indulging it. If you indulge it, you’re responsible for it.”He said “political context or motivation” simply doesn’t allow for the restraint of the liberty of other people.He said Ireland has a Constitution, which includes the right to protest, but which also includes the right to be free.We don’t allow a judge, gardaí, the army, the “men in white coats” to restrict other people’s liberty, he said.“We don’t allow any of those organs of the State to do that to other people. Why would we allow Paul Murphy to do it? Or Michael Murphy or Scott Masterson or any of the accused?”Democracy Source: Leah FarrellGillane said Paul Murphy was instrumental in holding a vote on Fortunestown Road that day, in which he was heard asking the crowd whether to “keep her here or let her go”.“He was absolutely instrumental in that process about what was to be done with another human being,” Gillane said, adding Paul Murphy also told the crowd the outcome didn’t matter and he would do whatever was decided.“I suggest it’s not democracy or anything like it. It’s a betrayal of democracy, an inversion of democracy.”He referred to an interview Paul Murphy later gave to RTÉ in which he said “we detained her”. “Paul Murphy was involved in restraining her (Joan Burton) and he well knew it,” Gillane said.He said the appropriate verdict for the jury to return was one of guilty on each of the charges on the indictment.Closing speechIn his closing speech, Sean Guerin SC, representing Paul Murphy, said his client was the most recognisable person present on the day but that at no stage did anyone witness him engaging in violent or abusive behaviour, or encouraging anyone to engage in violent behaviour.He said his client was instead seen “advocating or encouraging the passage of Ms Burton from Jobstown, albeit a delayed passage”.He said Paul Murphy participated in an event that was at times “chaotic and disorganised because it was spontaneous” and which was “marred at times” by the violent behaviour of others “to whom he lent no support and gave no encouragement”.“Their protest was a political one,” he said.He said gardaí were concerned about violent disorder from the beginning, when they decided that Burton and O’Connell should be brought to the first car.It was this “fear of violence” which could only be the basis of any charge of false imprisonment, he said, adding Paul Murphy was not charged with violent disorder.“That was the cause of their being kept in the vehicle and not the peaceful acts of protest engaged in by Paul Murphy,” he said.In relation to the vote on Fortunestown Road, Guerin said that Paul Murphy had no moral obligation to address the crowd, but that he did so at the request of the senior officer on the scene.By addressing the vote, Paul Murphy showed “political leadership and responsibility”, Guerin said. “It is the essence of democracy,” he said.It was “craven and discreditable” of the prosecution to then criticise Paul Murphy for doing so, he added.Gardaí taking the standGuerin said that gardaí did not find the video clip of the vote, which was posted on Facebook, although he said he was not criticising them for that failure.He said “one guard after another” then took the stand and alleged Paul Murphy had said the “sinister and frightening” suggestion that Burton be kept there for the night. “That did not come from Paul Murphy,” Guerin said.He said the footage showed another woman who was never charged say Joan Burton should be kept there, Guerin said. And he queried how it was that gardaí who were present at the scene missed this.Guerin said Paul Murphy was entitled to expect the political authorities of this State to be capable of recording events of importance. Instead, he said the garda accounts of the vote on Fortunestown Road were “inaccurate, incomplete or misleading”.He said the woman who said Joan Burton should be kept at the scene was never charged, while Paul Murphy, who advocated to move Burton out of the area – “albeit with some inconvenience” – was now facing a charge punishable with a sentence of life imprisonment.“In what disordered view of the world does that make any sense at all?” Guerin said.He said: “What has happened in this case is that the authorities have sought to use the acts of violence or threats of violence of other people to discredit him, to discredit his political associates, to discredit the (community) he leads and discredit the people he represents.”He said Paul Murphy was not being prosecuted for what he did or said, nor for what others said or did.“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he is here being prosecuted instead for what he believes and for who he represents,” he said.He referred to Daniel O’Connell being charged with conspiracy in 1844 and said it showed that “violence unrelated to a political complaint can be used to discredit politicians with a political message that is inconvenient to the establishment”.“It is his freedom that is at stake in this case,” he said. “It’s his rights that are in jeopardy.”jobstowGuerin said the case affects all of us and “on behalf of other citizens”, he urged the jury to quickly return a unanimous vote of not guilty.“By your verdict, you will not only decide (Paul) Murphy’s future, you will fix the limits of our freedom to hold our elected leaders to account,” he said.“This is not just a legal issue. You’re being asked to fix the limits of our political rights.”The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.Paul Murphy (34) of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon (39) of Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy (53) of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green; Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght and Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght have all denied the charges.Comments are closed as this case is before the courts.Read: Charges dropped against one of the seven Jobstown defendants> By Isabel Hayes No Comments Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article 11,180 Views Paul Murphy. Image: Leah Farrelllast_img read more

Tornado warning for Melbourne

first_imgPeople in Melbourne have been warned to brace for possible tornadoes as a thunderstorm with damaging winds and large hailstones rolls across the city.Funnel clouds, which may turn into a tornado, have been reported over Melbourne Airport, Cragieburn and St Albans although the airport says it is business as usual for now.The Bureau of Meteorology radar is tracking the storm as it moves in a south-easterly direction towards the city.Punters at the annual Oaks Day races at Flemington will need to hold on to their hats, with the storm due to cross over them shortly after 2.30pm.The storm is forecast to affect Altona, Footscray and waters off Sandringham and Williamstown by 2.35pm.Melbourne has been drenched in heavy rain for most of the day.Earlier, Metro Trains issued an alert to passengers to avoid the Elizabeth Street entrance to the station which had flooded in a deluge.There was also flash flooding in regional Victoria, with the wettest November day on record for Murrayville in the Mallee, where 82 millimetres of rain fell in an hour.The severe thunderstorm warning is in place for Central, Northern Country, North Central, North East, the Mallee, South West, West, South Gippsland and Wimmera forecast districts, the BoM says.People in fire affected areas were warned to be alert for potential landslides and debris across roads, with rainfall run-off likely to contain soil, ash, trees and rocks.Storms from the same weather system hit hard across parts of South Australia, cutting power to hundreds of homes and causing flash flooding.Source: AAP Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Death Metal Music Inspires Joy Not Violence Study Finds

first_imgStay on target 11 Ways the Wu-Tang Clan Shaped Geek CultureSpotify’s Rise to Power Dramatized in TV Mini-Series Death metal band Bloodbath’s song about cannibalism “Eaten” features lyrics such as “I’ve had one desire since I was born; to see my body ripped and torn,” but a study found that neither the song — nor the grisly lyrics of other songs of the death metal genre inspire violence.The study was part of a decades-long investigation by Macquarie University in Australia on the emotional effects of music and it revealed that  death metal fans are not “desensitized” to violent imagery.“[Death metal] fans are nice people,” Prof Bill Thompson told the BBC. “They’re not going to go out and hurt someone.”To test people’s sensitivity to violence, the research team conducted a classic psychological experiment that probes people’s subconscious responses. They recruited 32 fans and 48 non-fans to listen to death metal or to pop whilst looking at “pretty unpleasant images.”Lead researcher Yanan Sun told the BBC the aim of the experiment was to measure how much participants’ brains noticed violent scenes, and to compare how their sensitivity was affected by the musical accompaniment.To test the impact of different types of music, they also used a track they deemed to be the opposite of “Eaten” — which happened to be “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.Australian researchers have found no evidence that death metal desensitises fans to violence. The researchers compared how #metal fans and non-fans reacted to violent images to the tune of Swedish death metal or ‘Happy’ by @Pharrell Williams #openscience— The Royal Society (@royalsociety) March 13, 2019Thompson and Sun found that fans showed the very same bias towards processing the violent images as those who were not fans of the music.“If fans of violent music were desensitized to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn’t show this same bias,” said Thompson, whose study is published in the Royal Society journal Open Science.While there may be research linking violent video games to aggression, Thompson believes music may be different.“The dominant emotional response to this music is joy and empowerment,”  he told BBC. “And I think that to listen to this music and to transform it into an empowering, beautiful experience — that’s an amazing thing.”More on Social Media Sites Can Predict Behavior Even If You Don’t Use Them‘Good Guys’ in Superhero Movies Are More Violent Than Villains, Study SaysStudy Backs Up Schools That Confiscate Electronicslast_img read more

AI is getting more in touch with your emotions

first_imgThe EmoNet research study demonstrates how AI can measure emotional significance. ALFRED PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIB/Getty Images Artificial intelligence might one day start communicating our emotions better than we do. EmoNet, neural network model developed by researchers at the University of Colorado and Duke University, was accurately able to classify images into 11 different emotion categories. A neural network is a computer model that learns to map input signals to an output of interest by learning a series of filters, according to Philip Kragel, one of the researchers on the study. For example, a network trained to detect bananas would learn features unique to them, such as shape and color. EmoNet was developed using a database consisting of 2,185 videos that resembled 27 distinct emotion categories, which ranged from anxiety and interest to even sadness and surprise. While the model was able to differentiate images that related to “craving,” “sexual desire” and “horror” at high confidence intervals, it wasn’t as strong in detecting “confusion,” “awe” and “surprise” which were considered more abstract emotions. The neural network used color, spatial power spectra as well as the presence of objects and faces in the images to categorize them. The findings were published in the journal Science Advances last week. The study might provide value to researchers who were previously dependent on participants self-reporting their emotions. Now instead of only relying on subjective responses, scientists can focus on patterns within the visual cortex using AI to better understand a subject’s feelings. Different patterns will “decode” different emotional experiences. “When it comes to measuring emotions, we’re typically still limited only to asking people how they feel,” said Tor Wagner, one of the researchers on the study. “Our work can help move us towards direct measures of emotion-related brain processes.”In addition to new ways to measure emotions, the research team adds that AI could help eliminate labels when it comes to mental health. “Moving away from subjective labels such as ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ towards brain processes could lead to new targets for therapeutics, treatments, and interventions,” said Kragel. Decoding human emotions is just one of the latest examples of how researchers are exploring AI. Last month, a team of UN researchers trained an open-source language model to write fake, but convincing, UN speeches. And a recent study by MIT suggested that neural networks could be used to make the perfect pizza.  Share your voice 1 Artificial intelligence (AI) Comment 5:27center_img Now playing: Watch this: The promise of AI Tech Industry Tagslast_img read more

DC Drug Court Gives Graduates New Lease On Life

first_imgEllis Caudle is not ashamed to admit that he used and sold drugs on and off for most of his life—until he entered the District of Columbia Superior Court Drug Intervention Program last year. Caudle, 58, graduated from the program on Sept. 20, and the Maryland man is hopeful his story of redemption inspires others to kick their own issues with substance abuse.D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine spoke to graduates of the District’s Superior Court Drug Intervention Program. (AFRO Photo/Lenore Adkins)“We’re all human, we’re not perfect people,” Caudle told the AFRO after the graduation ceremony. “The only perfect one is up there in heaven.” Caudle was one of five graduates from the in-house treatment program, commonly known as “drug court” and now in its 27th year of operation. The program is overseen by the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, in association with the Superior Court for non-violent drug offenders. Attendees spend at least 24 weeks undergoing drug treatment and are periodically drug tested—those who graduate have been drug-free for 90 days, said Paul Cummings, the program’s coordinator. People who finish the program’s misdemeanor track get their cases dismissed, Cummings said. Those who complete the program on the felony track have a chance of receiving probation, he added. Drug courts offer a proven track record of success, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Nationally, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain arrest-free for at least two or more years, according to the association. Drug courts’ net cost savings range from $3,000 to $13,000 for every client. Those savings come from reduced prison costs, fewer revolving-door arrests and trials, and reduced victimization. There are more than 2,700 drug courts operating nationwide, with at least one in every state and U.S. territory, serving approximately 135,000 people a year. In D.C., 67 people graduated from the program in 2017, and 57 people in 2016.  While graduations from the D.C. drug court take place every month, the ceremony held on Sept. 20 occurred during National Recovery Month, which the drug court recognized with a barbecue at North Michigan Park Recreation Center in Northeast D.C. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine spoke to the graduates about his own family members who have battled addiction. Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham also attended the ceremony.Racine asked the graduates to call his office if there’s anything they need—the office, he said, will serve as informal assistants to help the graduates get any assistance they require. He also called on the “fab five” graduates to use their wisdom and potential to help others suffering from addiction. “You all are the living embodiment of what we all here, hope we have in us, and that is the ability for when the chips are down to really turn it around,” Racine said. Caudle said he opted for drug court after he was arrested with the intent to sell drugs. He said he had been periodically using and selling cocaine and heroin since he was 16 to cope with stress and to make extra money when work slowed down. “Sometimes the Devil can get in your head and you make the wrong decision,” he told the AFRO. Racine’s words inspired him though, and he said he plans to reach back and help others suffering from substance abuse. Caudle wants people to know there’s help and support out there, whether it’s drug court or group meetings. He added that he hopes to go back to school for computer training. “It just doesn’t stop here, I do have a plan and some things I’d like to keep doing,” Caudle said.last_img read more

Hyundai escooter charges when mounted to your car

first_imgHyundai has dropped a few more eggs in the last-mile electric mobility basket, today unveiling a redesigned prototype scooter to propel folks over the final leg of their journey. The electric two-wheeler packs more than enough range to complete short hops between urban destinations, and can even draw power from the owner’s car to stay topped up and ready to roll.Hyundai’s newly unveiled scooter actually builds on an earlier prototype unveiled at CES in 2017. In the time since, its engineers have shifted from a front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive in the interests of safety, and also added suspension to the front end to smooth out the ride.Powered by a 10.5-Ah onboard lithium battery, the scooter can reach a top speed of 20 km/h (12.4 mph) and travel 20 km on each charge. Conveniently, it is also designed to mount to Hyundai and Kia vehicles, where it can be charged using electricity produced as the car drives. AllMedX AllMedX Find out about dolutegravir for HIV treatment on AllMedX Yes No I consent to the use of Google Analytics and related cookies across the TrendMD network (widget, website, blog). Learn more We recommend AllMedX HIV treatment as prevention: Get the latest evidence on Google Analytics settings AllMedX Review the data for rapid HIV testing on HIV antiretroviral therapy research updates: Get the latest on Dolutegravir/lamivudine prescribing information is on Read the details. Hyundai’s scooter features a tri-folding design and a total weight of 7.7 kg (16.9 lb)Hyundai Source: Hyundai Should the owner need to transport it by foot, however, the scooter does feature a tri-folding design and a total weight of 7.7 kg (16.9 lb), so it can also be carted around under an arm if need be. Other features include front and rear lights and a digital display for tracking battery levels and speed, while Hyundai says it is also developing a regenerative braking system that could increase the range by seven percent.The scooter remains a developmental prototype for now with no word of a commercial version just yet, but you can see the latest iteration do its thing in the video below. Does HIV antiretroviral therapy cause weight gain? Review the clinical studies on Privacy policy AllMedX Powered by Last mile mobility for the future, Hyundai·Kia ‘Vehicle-mounted electric scooter’ revealedlast_img read more

Illing Road businesses without electricity

first_imgBusinesses in Illing Road have been without electricity since 6pm Thursday evening (November 10).Frustrated business owners say they have to face this problem time and time again, and that it costs them money to invest in a generator and buy petrol to run their shops. Those selling perishable items are at risk of losing stock, while those who do not have generators are forced to close until the electricity is back on again.Electricians have been out since 2am this morning.The cause of the power outage has been identified, but workers are still digging a trench and attempting to fix the problem.Municipal electricians hope to have power restored by this afternoon.It has been over 12 hours since the lights went off.This story will be updated. DID YOU KNOW?Click on the words highlighted in red to read more on this and related topics.If you are reading this on your cellphone and there are telephone numbers provided in the text, you can call these simply by clicking on them.To receive news links via WhatsApp.For the latest news, visit our webpage or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Join us there! WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite last_img read more

PEARs PHP Extension and Application Repository web server disabled due to a

first_imgLast week, the researchers at PEAR ( PHP Extension and Application Repository) reported a security breach on PEAR’s web server, They found that the go-pear.phar was breached. Following this, the PEAR website itself has been disabled until a known clean site can be rebuilt. The community tweeted that “a more detailed announcement will be on the PEAR Blog once it’s back online”. According to researchers, the users who have downloaded the go-pear.phar in the past six months should get a new copy of the same release version from GitHub (pear/pearweb_phars) and compare file hashes. If the hashes are different, this indicates that the user may have the infected file. The community is in the process of rebuilding the site; however, they are not sure of the ETA yet. To stay updated, keep a close watch on PEAR’s twitter account. Read Next Symfony leaves PHP-FIG, the framework interoperability group Internal memo reveals NASA suffered a data breach compromising employees social security numbers Justice Department’s indictment report claims Chinese hackers breached business  and government networklast_img read more

Panel warns of Central Americas increasing dependence on Petrocaribe

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – As Costa Rica debates thepros and cons of joining the Venezuelan oil financing program Petrocaribe, energy experts meeting in Washington warned that countries already addicted to Petrocaribe’s cheap oil could face catastrophe if the Venezuelan economy under President Nicolás Maduro implodes.Most of Petrocaribe’s 17 members are Caribbean island nations, but the roster also includes three Central American countries: Belize, El Salvador and Nicaragua. A fourth, Guatemala, joined in July 2008 but pulled out last November after complaining that Venezuela had changed the terms of the deal, making its oil exports less attractive.In addition, Honduras was invited this February to rejoin Petrocaribe after having been suspended by Venezuela in 2009. Prior to that suspension – which followed the overthrow of then-President Manuel Zelaya – Honduras was receiving 20,000 barrels of oil daily to fuel its electricity power generation plants. Thanks to Petrocaribe, the Zelaya government bought that oil on a deferred basis, paying 60 percent within 90 days and the remaining 40 percent over a 25-year period, at an interest rate of only 1 percent.Yet Petrocaribe’s largesse cannot continue forever, suggested Jason Marczak, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.“What happens to the 17 countries who are members of this program if Caracas pulls back the generous credit subsidies it gives members to help them import its crude oil products?” Marczak asked. “This is a not-so-distant possibility given Venezuela’s economic situation and slowing oil production, but it’s one Caracas would certainly like to avoid. This has all the makings of an energy crisis brewing off our shores.”On July 16, the Washington-based think tank released a 24-page study, “Uncertain Energy: The Caribbean’s Gamble With Venezuela.” To mark the occasion, it hosted a panel discussion featuring three experts: David Goldwyn, the study’s author and a former U.S. State Department coordinator of international energy affairs, Jorge Piñón, who heads the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas-Austin, and Jed Bailey, managing partner at Boston-based Energy Narrative.“It’s almost 10 years since Venezuela announced the Petrocaribe program,” Goldwyn said. “Petrocaribe sells oil and products at market benchmarks, but also provides financing for governments, giving them long terms and low down payments so the countries can take that oil and use the proceeds of those sales either to invest or save, or more likely, to use for budget support. It’s a credit financing program at its core, and for Venezuela, it’s been an enormous political success.”However, for Petrocaribe members themselves, the results have been “decidedly more mixed,” Goldwyn told his audience, which included the ambassadors of Nicaragua, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.“Buying crude oil and products on cheap credit has given these countries an enormous debt burden, in some cases 10 to 20 percent of their GDP,” he said. Even more ominously, he said, “Petrocaribe has delayed the migration away from fuel oil and diesel for power generation to cleaner fuels. And the problem with using a high-cost fuel oil is that it makes the cost of electricity extremely high. The average throughout the Caribbean is 33 cents per kilowatt-hour, while the U.S. average is a dime. That’s part of the reason why Caribbean economies are not competitive.”Yet it’s difficult for these countries to kick the habit.“Whether they want to or not, Petrocaribe countries may not have a choice,” Goldwyn warned. “With oil production declining and Venezuela unable to import diapers, toilet paper and basic staples, it’s hard to justify selling oil literally for beans. The risk of a complete cutoff is actually quite low, but the impact on these economies could be catastrophic.” A PDVSA gasoline station on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesInterestingly, although the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Nicaragua comprise only three of Petrocaribe’s 13 active member states, in 2012 they accounted for just over 80,000 barrels per day of the 121,000 that Petrocaribe exported. The D.R. and Jamaica both operate oil refineries that without huge injections of capital from state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) would have closed long ago.Piñón, a Cuban-born energy expert who has followed the scheme since its inception, said the challenge for PDVSA today is purely cash flow.“PDVSA has converted itself into a politicized institution of the state, and that’s what makes the whole situation critical,” he said, noting that Venezuela’s state oil monopoly hasn’t published financial reports for years. “The Achilles’ heel of Venezuela today is cash flow. The crude oil basket price is below $100 a barrel, and they’ve been stuck at 2.7 million barrels a day since 2005.”At present, Venezuela exports 45,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Petrocaribe countries, and an additional 76,000 bpd of refined products like gasoline. Venezuela also exports 85,000 bpd of crude and 6,000 bpd of refined products to Cuba through a separate Convenio Integral de Cooperación Cuba-Venezuela (CIC). Jorge Piñón is director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas-Austin. Piñón was one of several speakers at a July 16, 2014 conference on Petrocaribe sponsored by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. Larry Luxner/The Tico Times“Petrocaribe is an extremely generous program in that it offers financing at better terms than the IMF or the World Bank,” conceded Goldwyn. “So it’s really hard for these countries to give that up. It’s a political problem for governments in power to volunteer a significant hole in their budgets without knowing how they’re going to fill that hole.”It also obligates smaller Caribbean and Central American countries to back Venezuela politically, even when they otherwise might not have. In March, for example, the Organization of American States passed a declaration supporting the Maduro government’s efforts to end Venezuela’s political stalemate, and only the United States, Canada and Panama dared to oppose the resolution.“When you look at the cash flow situation they’ve gotten themselves in, I just don’t see the political value it has given Venezuela,” Piñón said. “Maybe in some regional forums like the OAS they’ve gotten support, but at the end of the day, I ask myself whether these countries received major diplomatic and political benefits out of it.”What really concerns Piñón, he said, is what happens in the short term.“There is going to be a 911 call when there’s a change of policy in Caracas,” he warned. “Literally, the lights could go out in some of these countries.”To guard against that, all three panelists argued that the U.S. needs to come up with a strategy to wean Petrocaribe members off cheap oil and get them to increase consumption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and renewable energy sources.“We believe the Caribbean countries should follow the trend of Mexico, in reforming the electricity sector, and to convert from fuel oil to natural gas. If Caribbean economies can make this conversion, they can lower their carbon footprints, lower the cost of electricity and make their economies more competitive,” said Goldwyn. A massive offshore drilling platform operates in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesPro-region, not anti-VenezuelanThe Inter-American Development Bank recently hired Bailey’s firm to prepare two pre-feasibility studies – one for the Caribbean and one for Central America – on reducing the region’s dependency on imported crude. The answer, he said, is to finance the conversion of existing power plants to burn LNG instead of fuel oil.“We believe gas could be brought in at a cost of $10-14 per million BTU – depending on the size of the market and where it’s being sourced from – compared to $17-20 for fuel oil and $20-25 for diesel,” he said. “There’s a strong potential to reduce costs if you can convert power plants to burn natural gas, and negotiate favorable terms.”Bailey said 45 to 50 percent of the fuel oil in the Caribbean and Central America is burned for power generation, making it relatively easy to convert to LNG because the main fuel buyer is a central entity, such as a utility, rather than thousands of consumers.Goldwyn said the Obama administration’s Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, (CESI) launched with great fanfare last month by Vice President Joe Biden, doesn’t even mention the words “natural gas.”“We have to come up with a much more robust package than CESI has so far,” he complained. “The irony is that actually reducing Petrocaribe would be a win-win for both Venezuela and the region. This is an issue the United States really needs to care about, but it’s incumbent on us to show that our Caribbean policy is more pro-Caribbean than anti-Venezuelan.”Recommended: How one island powered itself with a volcano Facebook Comments Related posts:China, Venezuela discuss energy, social development deals Let the gas prices climb, but give us electric cars Cheap gas might not be the best thing for Costa Rica, says President Solís Former Colombian, Bolivian leaders warn of looming humanitarian crisis in Venezuelalast_img read more

Costa Ricas Supreme Court strikes down decree on IVF legalization orders lawmakers

first_imgThe fight to legalize in vitro fertilization in Costa Rica faces yet another setback after a high court struck down a recent decree by the administration of President Luis Guillermo Solís to legalize the procedure.Ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to legalize IVF in the country, Solís – who faced legislative roadblocks on the issue – last September signed an executive decree to regulate IVF in Costa Rica, opening the possibility for people to pursue the fertility treatment here for the first time in 15 years.But the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, on Wednesday struck down that decree, saying a law to legalize and regulate IVF must be passed by the Legislative Assembly in order to be constitutional. The legal challenge to Solís’ decree was filed by evangelical lawmakers supported by conservative religious groups in the country.The Sala IV also ordered lawmakers to abide by the international human rights court order to authorize IVF.“The Costa Rican state has an obligation to comply with the Inter-American Court’s ruling” of November 2012, Sala IV justices stated.Several bills to regulate IVF have languished in the Assembly, blocked by conservative Christian lawmakers who claim the reproductive procedure violates a constitutional right to life. A block of four evangelical lawmakers – of a total of 57 legislators in the Assembly – have repeatedly resorted to obstructionist tactics to prevent any of those bills from moving forward.The country’s failure to legalize IVF violates the rights of an estimated 15,000 Costa Ricans who could benefit from IVF, according to Boris Molina, an attorney who represents several couples who filed a formal complaint before the Washington, D.C.-based human rights court.Some of those plaintiffs last September expressed skepticism over the Solís administration’s decree. Plaintiff Andrea Biachi told The Tico Times at the time, “I really applaud the decision to do something, but I’m really not confident that it’s been worded in a way the Constitutional Chamber [of the Supreme Court] won’t reject, as they have with everything else dealing with [IVF] since 2000.”It was the same court – the Sala IV – that banned IVF in 2000, making Costa Rica the only country in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the fertility procedure.Following Wednesday’s ruling, President Solís issued a brief statement saying that while he respected the Sala IV’s jurisdiction, he strongly disagreed with its decision.“In my position as head of state, I have the obligation to utilize legal mechanisms at my disposal to guarantee the human rights of all Costa Ricans,” Solís said in a news conference.Watch President Solís’ news conference on the ruling (in Spanish): Related posts:Human rights court backs Costa Rica’s decree on legalizing IVF Costa Rican president presents draft decree to legalize in vitro fertilization Human rights court admits new IVF complaint against Costa Rica Costa Rica to regulate IVF after long row Facebook Commentslast_img read more