EU trying to undermine Lankas sovereignty President Sirisena

first_imgColombo: President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday accused the European Union of challenging Sri Lanka’s sovereignty by threatening with tariffs if capital punishment is re-introduced in the country after 43 years. Last week, President Sirisena signed the death warrants to hang four drug convicts, ending a four-decade-long moratorium on the capital punishment in the country. Addressing the National Drug Prevention Day event here, Sirisena underlined the importance of his campaign to combat the drug related crimes in the island nation. Also Read – Turkey preparations for Syria offensive ‘completed’The President said that the 28-member European Union bloc has threatened to withdraw the EU GSP Plus trade concession if Sri Lanka implements the death penalty. “This is a threat on our sovereignty,” Sirisena said referring to the EU comments that Sri Lanka’s GSP+ trade facility which was restored after 2015 when Sirisena became the president could be under threat if Sri Lanka hanged people. “I openly say that what the EU is saying is a threat, They should not issue threats to independent countries. They can not interfere in our sovereignty,” Sirisena said. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi JinpingSirisena’s decision has come in spite of Sri Lanka supporting the UN moratorium on the death penalty. He said he had signed four death warrants on drug convicts who are currently in jail condemned to death. Their sentences have been commuted to life terms as all Sri Lankan presidents since 1978 refused to sign death warrants. He did not announce a date for the hanging to take place. Sirisena also slammed the Government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Opposition for opposing implementing the death penalty on serious offenders of illegal drug trafficking. He said that countries like the US and China implement the death penalty. The last hanging in Sri Lanka took place in June 1976 when Siripala alias Maru Sira, a noted criminal was hanged for murder. The country’s last hangman quit in 2014 without ever having to execute anyone, citing stress after seeing the gallows for the first time. Another hired last year never turned up for work. Justice Ministry in March said there were over 450 prisoners in Sri Lankan jails, including five women. Out of that at least 48 are drug convicts. While 30 of them had appealed against their death sentence, 18 of them could be hanged, officials said. Sirisena has said that he would sign the death warrants only for drug convicts. The EU’s GSP+ facility which gave Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU preferred tax status was suspended in 2008 when Sri Lanka’s human rights record came to be questioned under Sirisena’s predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime. After Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa as the then Opposition’s common challenger the GSP+ facility came to be restored as a goodwill measure towards the new government.last_img read more

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Man fit to stand trial in girls death at BC high school

first_imgVANCOUVER — A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has ruled that a man accused of killing a 13-year-old girl in an Abbotsford high school is fit to stand trial.Gabriel Klein will remain at a psychiatric hospital for the duration of the trial instead of going to a pre-trial centre.Klein is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in a November 2016 stabbing attack that killed the girl and wounded another.Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes declared him unfit to stand trial last April because he suffers from schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions.The B.C. Review Board ruled Jan. 15 that he was fit to stand trial and Holmes agreed with requests from the Crown and defence on Thursday that she also declare him fit.Court heard that Klein is taking a new medication that has made it easier for him to understand court proceedings and communicate.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Cuban visit will not take place says UN expert on torture as

9 June 2010The United Nations independent expert on torture said today he was deeply disappointed that he will not be able to visit Cuba to carry out a fact-finding mission this year because the country’s authorities declined to consent to any of the dates he had proposed for the mission. “I regret that in spite of its clear invitation, the Government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources,” said Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, whose mandate expires on 30 October.The Cuban Government issued an invitation to the Special Rapporteur in February 2009 to conduct a fact-finding mission to the country before the end of this year. However, despite several attempts by Mr. Nowak to propose mutually acceptable dates, no agreement was reached with the Government.His visit would have been the first mission to Cuba by an independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to specifically monitor torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Mr. Nowak serves in that role in an unpaid capacity. read more

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Strong dollar weak global economy blamed for record trade deficit

Strong dollar, weak global economy blamed for record trade deficit AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 11, 2012 2:14 pm MDT OTTAWA – Canada’s trade performance hit a new low in July, establishing a record deficit of $2.3 billion as both exports and imports tumbled in the face of a weak global economy.Making matters worse, Statistics Canada revised June’s deficit to $1.93 billion, even deeper than the $1.81 billion deficit originally reported last month.Scotiabank’s economists noted that the strong loonie — which rose to a 13-month high Tuesday — likely played a role. The drop in exports was most pronounced in the American market, where they fell by 5.5 per cent to their lowest level since October 2010.“This is about as bad as it gets for Canadian exporters — at least so far,” said Derek Holt, Scotiabank’s vice-president of economics.Overall, exports fell 3.4 per cent to $37.7 billion and imports declined 2.2 per cent to $40.1 billion. By volume of shipments, exports declined by two per cent and imports by 1.2 per cent, signalling that trade was again a drag on the economy at the start of the third quarter.Holt said the performance further calls into question the Bank of Canada’s continued hawkish stand on monetary policy — it signalled in its latest announcement that rates were likely to rise in the future — since any hike in interest rates at this point would likely lift the Canadian dollar higher and slow exports further.In a statement, Trade Minister Ed Fast highlighted the importance of trade to Canada’s economy, noting that one in five jobs are tied to exporting activities.“That is why we continue to open new markets to increase Canadian exports as part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history,” Fast said.Canada and the European Union are currently negotiating towards a free-trade agreement, which the Harper government has said it would like to reach by the end of this year.There are also negotiations at various stages with Japan and a group of countries known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.Trade agreements may be no substitute for sound global economic conditions, however.In a noon speech in St. John’s, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada’s economic fundamentals remain strong, but the country is still somewhat at the mercy of international events.“While we are not currently facing the depths of the downturn of a few years ago, the global economy remains stubbornly fragile. Any potential offshore setbacks could generate serious adverse impacts on Canada,” he said in notes of the address released in Ottawa.After a rebound year in 2011 and a good start to 2012, Canada has now posted four consecutive negative months of trade numbers, each progressively worse than the last. July’s deficit edges out September 2010 for the worst on record in nominal terms.Peter Hall of Export Development Canada said there was something different about the latest setback, however. In the previous months, there was always some special circumstance analysts could point to, but not in July.“This is a broad-based drop. It doesn’t matter whether you are going to machinery and equipment, or autos, or energy or the agriculture side for that matter, they are all down this month,” he said.“This is the blowback from the summer setback in the global economy. It started with the collapse of the Greek election and panic mode essentially set in … and what that did was suppress consumer spending and business investment.”Hall said he was somewhat encouraged that U.S. consumer spending picked up in July, which is traditionally a strong indicator for Canadian exports.Exports of energy products declined 8.5 per cent as crude petroleum shipments fell 9.6 per cent. Machinery and equipment fell 5.5 per cent, exports by 5.3 per cent, and agricultural and fishing products by 3.2 per cent.Canada’s trade surplus with the United States decreased to $2.1 billion in July from $3 billion in June, the smallest surplus since October 2010.Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 2.4 per cent to $14.7 billion in July while exports rose 1.2 per cent to $10.3 billion leaving the trade deficit at $4.4 billion, down from $4.9 billion in June. read more

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Metro boosts Q2 profits despite intensifying competition in Ontario

Metro boosts Q2 profits despite intensifying competition in Ontario by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Apr 24, 2013 9:19 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email MONTREAL – Grocery chain Metro says intensifying competition in Ontario is hampering its ability to grow sales as retailers use promotions to lure customers.The national food retailer said about 40 new stores have been opened by various players in the past six months, primarily in the Toronto area.About half of the additions are new Walmart supercentres while the rest are from existing retailers and ethnic banners.“The promotional activity is pretty intense as new stores open and people try to protect share as much as they can,” CEO Eric La Fleche said Wednesday after Metro reported its second-quarter results.The Montreal-based company (TSX:MRU) earned $366.8 million or $3.77 per share for the period ended March 16. It included a $266.4-million after-tax gain from selling about 10 million shares of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (TSX:ATD.B).Excluding the gain and discontinued operations, it earned $100.5 million or $1.02 per share, up 8.5 per cent from $96.3 million or 94 cents per share a year earlier.The results were penny short of analyst estimates.Revenue was down 2.6 per cent year-over-year, dropping nearly $70 million to $2.513 billion.The decrease was due a shift in the important week before Christmas to the first quarter, the closure of a few unprofitable stores in Ontario and lost sales at the company’s pharmaceutical division due to difficulties with bringing in a new warehouse management system.Same-store sales for stores open at least a year were down about one per cent, but were flat excluding the Christmas week impact.In an environment of intense competition and stable prices, La Fleche said it’s difficult to boost revenues. The company is trying to spur traffic through its loyalty program and improved fresh food offering.“Consumers remain very value-conscious, fickle and they shop around that’s for sure,” he told analysts.Like other domestic retailers, Metro now faces a major new U.S. rival. Target began its expansion into Canada in March starting with a gradual rollout of stores in Ontario, already a battleground for the grocery industry.Target is best known for its clothing and general merchandise but, like Walmart, it also sells grocery products. That part of the Target business is being done in partnership with Sobeys Inc., a Nova Scotia-based rival of Metro.La Fleche said the impact from Target is limited so far. Some neighbouring stores have benefited from increased traffic, while others have seen grocery sales decrease.Increased competition is less pronounced in Quebec, where Walmart added two new large stores in January, raising the number of super centres to 16.Metro and its partners recently opened Ontario’s first Adonis store in Mississauga. Another opening is planned east of Toronto by year-end.La Fleche said Ottawa could also be a market for the Mediterranean-style format.Irene Nattel of RBC Capital Markets said Metro delivered a second consecutive quarter of “solid” results.“Metro’s solid second-quarter results despite intense competition reinforce management’s ability to drive both its offering and cost base to deliver for investors,” she wrote in a research note.Despite intensifying competition, she said the company is sticking to its game plan and is well-positioned to deliver nine to 10 per cent EPS growth for the fiscal year.Metro said it will use some proceeds from the sale of half its investment in Couche-Tard stock to buy back up to one million of its own shares.The retailer said it plans to repurchase and cancel the shares in private agreements with “an arm’s-length, third-party seller.” at prices to be negotiated. At recent market prices, the buyback could cost the company more than $60 million.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Metro’s shares gained 14 cents to trade at $66.23 Wednesday afternoon.A share buyback has been anticipated since Metro sold about half of its investment in the convenience store operator for $479 million. Most of the proceeds have been used to repay debt while the company determines how to deploy the rest.Metro said its next dividend payment in June will be 25 cents per share, the same as the March payout but up 16.3 per cent from a year earlier.Metro is Quebec’s leading grocery chain with nearly 34 per cent market share. It has more than 65,000 employees in Quebec and Ontario, with more than 600 food stores under several banners including Metro, Metro Plus, GP, Super C and Food Basics, as well as over 250 drugstores under the Brunet, Brunet Plus, Clini Plus, The Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners. read more

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UN spotlights plight of refugees as number of globally displaced hits 18year

‹ › For her part, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), stressed that the international community has a responsibility to advocate on behalf of displaced people everywhere, and added that the situation in Syria is particularly worrying due to its scale.“Every woman, man and child who has left behind homes, family, jobs, education and lives in search of security and safety deserve our attention and, most importantly, our assistance,” she said.“For over two years, the world has witnessed millions of Syrians fleeing their homes, escaping from violence in search of a safe haven […] The needs of conflict-affected Syrians are huge, almost too big to comprehend,” she said, adding that WFP hopes to reach 7 million displaced persons inside and outside Syria.To mark the Day, UNHCR has organized events across the world in conjunction with its partners. These include film screenings, panel discussions, food bazaars, light shows, cultural performances, concerts and sport contests, among other events.In Australia, UNHCR’s office announced the 12 winners of its World Refugee Day Art Contest, which asked participants to examine the theme “1 Family torn apart by war is too many.” In Japan, student designers held a fashion show of UN blue-themed costumes from 20 refugee-producing and hosting countries, and in the Republic of Korea, a “Friends of UNHCR” initiative kicked off with about 20 parliamentarians committed to working together for refugee protection.Refugee film festivals also opened in Hong Kong and Thailand to give the public a glimpse into the lives and experiences of refugees. In the Philippines, pedicab drivers – many of them refugees – wore World Refugee Day T-shirts to raise awareness of displacement issues in the region.In Syria, UNHCR and its partners are organizing arts, sports and social activities for refugees and host communities in areas like Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. In neighboring Iraq, Syrian refugees in and around the northern city of Erbil were set to perform traditional Kurdish songs for an audience at the famous Citadel while refugees in the southern city of Basra will be treated to mobile theatre.African countries also took part in the Day’s commemoration. In Kenya, UNHCR hosted the African premiere of “A Hijacking,” a film about piracy off the coast of Somalia that reflects how a lack of alternatives can drive displaced youth to take drastic measures. In Tanzania, a photo exhibition showcases the works of Congolese refugees and local children.In addition, United States-based refugee marathon runner Guor Marial is leading a five kilometre run in his native South Sudan, where he recently returned with the help of UNHCR after 20 years. In 1 minute a family can lose everything… In 1 minute a child can lose her parents… “There are now more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people – the highest level in nearly 20 years. Last year alone, someone was forced to abandon their home every four seconds,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for World Refugee Day, observed annually on 20 June.The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released yesterday its Global Trends report, which showed that at the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement, compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011. The report also pointed to the conflict in Syria as a major factor for the spike in displacement and noted that nearly half of all refuges are below the age of 18.Yet, Mr. Ban stressed that figures give “only a glimpse of this enormous human tragedy.” Indeed, he said, every day, conflict tears apart the lives of thousands of families. “They may be forced to leave loved ones behind or become separated in the chaos of war.”The UN chief noted that forced displacement affects not just those fleeing conflict but also has a significant economic, social and sometime political impact on host countries. Currently 81 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries and more than half of refugees come from just five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.“Finding durable solutions for the displaced will require more solidarity and burden-sharing by the international community,” Mr. Ban said. “On World Refugee Day, I call on the international community to intensify efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, and to help achieve peace and security so that families can be reunited and refugees can return home.”World Refugee Day was established by the UN General Assembly in late 2000 and this year focuses on families.UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres drew special attention to the situation faced by families in Syria, where some 1.6 million people have been displaced since the crisis started over two years ago.“In all the years I have worked on behalf of refugees, this is the most worrying I have ever witnessed. The needs of these people are overwhelming; their anguish is unbearable,” said Mr. Guterres, who is currently in Jordan with UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meeting with Syrian refugees.Mr. Guterres said he feared “that an entire nation is being left to self-destruct as it empties itself of its people,” and was worried that “with no clear political resolution in sight, this civil war is in real danger of sliding into a regional conflict.” … but you can help a family find shelter In 1 minute a home can be destroyed… … but you can help them regain hope … but you can help her find comfort read more

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Rohingyas could face further violence if they return to Myanmar UN adviser

“Rohingya Muslims have been killed, tortured, raped, burnt alive and humiliated, solely because of who they are,” said Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, following his visit to Bangladesh, where almost 700,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar had arrived in the space of just six months.His visit from 7 to 13 March was to assess the situation of the Rohingya population who have crossed the border since the most recent violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in October 2016 and August 2017.He visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar, where survivors told horrifying stories of what they endured.“All the information I have received indicates that the intent of the perpetrators was to cleanse northern Rakhine state of their existence, possibly even to destroy the Rohingya as such, which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide,” Mr. Dieng said.The scorched earth campaign carried out by the Myanmar security forces since August 2017 against the Rohingya population was predictable and preventable. But the international community has buried its head in the sand.“The scorched earth campaign carried out by the Myanmar security forces since August 2017 against the Rohingya population was predictable and preventable,” he stressed, noting that “the international community has buried its head in the sand” and failed to save the Rohingya from losing their lives, dignity and homes despite his numerous warnings of the risk of atrocity crimes.Underscoring the need for the root causes of the problem to be addressed, Mr. Dieng said that “the Rohingya has been sealed since the day they were born” and that they must be given the opportunity that every human being should be afforded in life: to enjoy their fundamental human rights in freedom and safety.He also said there must be accountability for the crimes that have been committed and the Rohingya must receive protection and support as refugees while in Bangladesh.Mr. Dieng said that the majority of the Rohingya want to return to Myanmar, but only when they can do so in safety, dignity and with access to their basic rights.“So far, the Myanmar authorities have shown no genuine efforts to allow this,” he said, noting that the international community also has a responsibility to protect this population from the risk of further atrocity crimes.“Under the present conditions, returning to Myanmar will put the Rohingya population at risk of further crimes,” Mr. Dieng warned, stressing that, however, accepting the current status quo would be a victory for those who planned the attacks.“We must not accept either of these scenarios,” he concluded. read more

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I didnt want to be known as the person who broke something

first_img Share14 Tweet Email4 ‘I didn’t want to be known as the person who broke something on the Hubble telescope’ A former Nasa astronaut talks to us about his time in space, and the goal of humans reaching Mars. Hoffman repairing the Hubble Source: NasaDR JEFFREY HOFFMAN has clocked up more than 1,200 hours and 21.5 million miles in space.Selected by Nasa in January 1978, Hoffman made five flights as a space shuttle astronaut, including the first mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993. He’s currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).Hoffman will soon be in Ireland to teach at the International Space University’s 30th Space Studies Program (SSP17), which is happening at Cork Institute of Technology from 26 June to 25 August.He recently spoke to TheJournal.ie about his time in space and thoughts on humans eventually reaching Mars.On his fourth spaceflight, Hoffman (72) was one of four astronauts who helped repair the Hubble telescope.After Hubble’s deployment in 1990, scientists realised the telescope’s primary mirror had a flaw called spherical aberration. The outer edge of the mirror was ground too flat by a depth of 2.2 microns (roughly equal to one-fiftieth the thickness of a human hair), Nasa explains. Source: 20th Century Fox/YouTubeHe’s a fan of Apollo 13 too – which also worked with Nasa. He describes the movie as “very, very realistic”, saying: “They did an incredibly good job.”One film which was a bit wide of the mark was Gravity. In Hoffman’s words, it was “visually quite stunning but nothing to do with what actually happens in space”.At the end of the day, he believes any film that gets people “interested in and more excited about space” is a good thing.More information on the International Space University progamme happening in Cork this summer can be read here. Note: Dr Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, was expected to attend the launch on 27 June, but had to cancel due to medical advice.  Contains reporting from © AFP 2017Read: Nasa scientists to spend eight months in Hawaiian dome for ‘Mars simulation’Read: In major announcement, Nasa confirms seven Earth-like planets have been discovered Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article 10 Comments 17,387 Views Saturday 17 Jun 2017, 10:00 PM Source: NasaThis resulted in images that were fuzzy because some of the light from the objects being studied was being scattered. As part of the maintenance mission, new instruments were installed to correct this flaw.Hoffman tells us it’s difficult for people who weren’t alive at the time to comprehend how vital this mission was.“The mission was absolutely critical, it’s hard for people who weren’t alive at the time to comprehend that, like my students – they weren’t born when the Hubble was put into space.It was an incredible disaster for Nasa and the astronomy community.Given the critical nature of the mission, only people who had already done spacewalks could be involved.“I had [done spacewalks] and I guess I had done a good job so I was chosen,” Hoffman recalls, adding that getting to put his hands on the telescope was “the thrill of a lifetime”.When asked if he was nervous beforehand, he says: “I guess you have to have the right type of mentality [to be an astronaut]. I don’t tend to get nervous about things.” Source: International Space University/YouTubeHe does, however, admit he and his colleagues were “scared we were going to mess up”.I didn’t want to be known as the person who broke something on the Hubble that wasn’t already broken.Hoffman notes that astronauts have “limited ability to move”, given the heavy spacesuits and big backpacks.“We had to get right inside the telescope. You don’t want to bump into anything, there are a lot of very delicate optics.”Luckily, it all went to plan.The red planetMuch of the recent commentary about space is centred on humans reaching Mars.Back in March, US President Donald Trump signed legislation that said manned missions to deep space, including to the red planet, would be Nasa’s main goal in the decades to come.According to the text of the legislation — adopted by a rare unanimous vote in the Senate and House of Representatives — Nasa will work towards the goal of “a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s”.Nasa “shall continue the development of the fully integrated Space Launch System, including an upper stage needed to go beyond low-Earth orbit, in order to safely enable human space exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond over the course of the next century”, the text states.Getting to Mars is also the goal of Mars One and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.Sending people to live on the red planet, which lies about 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) away from Earth, will take a huge amount of money and technological advances.Hoffman describes getting humans to Mars as the “end goal”, telling us “we can’t really imagine getting much further” with current technology.He’s definitely not a fan of Mars One (the consortium has hit a number of snags), calling it “bogus”.They don’t have a prayer … I don’t take them seriously, but I take SpaceX very seriously.center_img Jun 17th 2017, 10:00 PM Hoffman says Musk’s plan to land a capsule on the surface of Mars by 2020 would be “a great step forward if it happens”, noting Nasa’s interest in the project.He says one tonne is the current maximum weight that can land on Mars, while Musk wants to land a seven-tonne capsule on the planet’s surface.“They might be able to get there. If they do, more power to them.”Hoffman says companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are “willing and able to take more risks than Nasa is allowed to as it’s a government organisation”.He wants to see more public-private cooperation in terms of space exploration, saying this could help progress deep space exploration.Moxie Hoffman’s currently working on Moxie – an experiment that will go to Mars on the 2020 Rover. The goal is to produce oxygen on the planet for the first time, using local resources.The red planet has a very thin atmosphere – about 1% of the density of Earth’s atmosphere – it’s about 95% carbon dioxide.The plan is to use electricity to split the carbon dioxide molecules and get the oxygen out.If successful, this would be a significant development. Hoffman says bringing oxygen from Earth to Mars is “very expensive” so Nasa is exploring alternative ways to produce oxygen there.It we make oxygen up there, we’d basically be living off the land – as explorers have done since time immemorial. “Everyone understands how oxygen works – we need it to breathe. What people don’t realise is the majority of oxygen required for the Mars mission is for the rocket.”Hoffman says tens of tonnes of oxygen would be needed just to get a rocket to Mars, before any humans potentially on board needed it.Lunar exploration Getting humans to Mars is likely over a decade away and Hoffman believes more exploration on the Moon is needed in the meantime.“It’ll be a long time before we actually get people on the surface of Mars, we need to get back to exploring on the surface of another planetary body.“We’re lucky, the Moon is only a few days away. It’s not as easy as getting back from the (international) space station, but still a lot easier than Mars … If you’re on the way to Mars and there’s a problem you can’t turn back, you’re committed for a couple of years. It’s a much riskier proposition.” Hoffman in his astronaut days Source: NasaWhile the US has moved away from lunar exploration, other countries are still pursuing this and Hoffman would like to see international cooperation in this area.He wants Nasa to start a lunar exploration initiative that would see the organisation work with other countries like it does on the International Space Station.He thinks more lunar exploration could give insights that would help us get to Mars quicker.No Apollo budget Nasa currently has an annual budget of just over $19 billion (about €17 billion).Hoffman says the budget isn’t comparable to what was being spent on space exploration during the Apollo era of the 1960s and 70s (taking into account inflation), when investment was spurred on by the Cold War.He says “money was no object” then, but Nasa is “doing what it can with the budget it has” now.‘Pale blue dot’Many people will be familiar with the Pale Blue Dot image taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe from about six billion kilometers away. It shows how tiny Earth is in the great vastness of the universe and inspired Carl Sagan’s famous speech.Hoffman says seeing the Earth from space in real life, as astronauts do, is obviously more impactful than just looking at an image.“You get the sense of the earth as a planet, out there in the vastness of space.” Pale Blue Dot Source: WikipediaHe explains that, given the hostility of most of the universe, “earth’s ability to support life is somewhat more precious” to astronauts.On a sunny day (on earth) you could be in your backyard and look up at the big blue sky and it seems like it goes on forever … Being in space makes you appreciate the finiteness of the planet. Hoffman notes that our atmosphere is “a very, very thin tiny blue line”, explaining: “If you had model of the Earth the size of a football, the atmosphere would be like the equivalent of a human hair.”Climate change Hoffman says a lot of astronauts have more of an interest in ecology and protecting the Earth’s environment when they return from space.“They have much more of a sense that the planet is really pretty special.”So what does he think of Donald Trump withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change?“The majority of people in the US disagree with him – at state level, I live in Massachusetts, we’re going to continue with all of the things that we were going to do regardless.”Hoffman says Trump’s decision was “short-sighted”, adding: “It’s embarrassing what is going on in Washington right now, but that’s another story … I don’t want to minimise what he’s doing, but he clearly does not have the support of the majority of people.”The Martian Space is often explored in film, but not every attempt is realistic. Some, however, were pretty on the money.Hoffman says: “The Martian did a very good job, they worked with Nasa to make it as realistic as possible.” http://jrnl.ie/3445115 Short URL By Órla Ryanlast_img read more

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Troika will not resume Greek review

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos agreed on Wednesday that the government should make changes to its property tax bill in a bid to overcome opposition from their MPs but faced the prospect of the return of the troika, planned for next week, being put off indefinitely.Samaras and Venizelos met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss complaints about the property tax legislation but also to prepare for the return of Greece’s lenders to check on the progress of the outstanding reforms that have to be completed for Athens to receive its next bailout tranche of 1 billion euros.However, it emerged that troika inspectors will not be back on Athens on November 4, as had previously been planned. There is no set date yet for the troika return, Kathimerini understands. Persistent disagreements between the Greek authorities and the country’s creditors over the fiscal gap in the 2014 budget, as well as continuing delays in the implementation of the prior actions for the disbursement of the October sub-tranche, which was approved “in principle” in July, mean that the review mission will remain on hold for the time being.Brussels sources told Kathimerini’s correspondent Nikos Chrysoloras that the review will resume “once sufficient information has been received from the Greek authorities to allow the troika to hold meaningful discussions.” EU officials still hope that Greece will comply with the troika’s demands in the coming days.With regard to the property tax, Venizelos and Samaras agreed that changes should be made without affecting the goal of collecting 2.9 billion euros in revenues next year. The bill caused a stir among coalition deputies because it increases taxation on farmers and imposes levies on a variety of buildings, including sheep pens, greenhouses and barns.“We will continue to make improvements, not just because of pressure from MPs but because we are fully aware of the difficulties society faces,” said Venizelos following his meeting with the prime minister.Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras met on Wednesday afternoon with 24 New Democracy MPs to discuss the proposed property tax after the lawmakers made their objections known in writing. A second meeting between the conservative lawmakers and the Finance Ministry officials was taking place on Wednesday night. There were reportedly more than 70 deputies involved in the second meeting. The fact that these talks had been arranged without PASOK being notified irked the Socialist party, which sought a separate meeting with Stournaras.Source: Kathimerinilast_img read more

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MAGNETIC MEDIA SPONSORS CONCH FESTIVAL

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:conch blowing, conch festival, conch knocking, dudley stokes, erica hammond, magnetic media, mijito contest, royal turks and caicos police force, wwe diva Conch Festival invites Delano Williams to taste in Conch-etition; Gramps Morgan in pre-show concert Nearly 100 Haitian migrants caught by TCI Police Marine division Culture & Heritage Policy/Plan Survey Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 24 Nov 2014 – News Break is a Magnetic Media production… proud sponsors of the 2014 installment of the Turks and Caicos Conch Festival. It’s a no bottle zone at this year’s Conch Festival reminded members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force which is providing security to the event in Blue Hills this weekend. There are expected to be a few celebrity appearances including the TCIs own mascot, Henry the Conch. From abroad: Erica Hammond, a former WWE Diva and a mystery judge. The Conch Festival this year also welcomes a founder of the Jamaican Bobsled team, Dudley ‘Tal’ Stokes with a number of competitions including the Mojito Contest, the Conch Knocking event and Conch Blowing challenge. It is an all afternoon cultural festivity with the competing restaurants set up from noon… Hemingway’s is the 2013 winner and will be there to defend the title… there is also the return of the Home Kitchen cook off. This is the 11th year for the Conch Festival.last_img read more

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50 to increase pay by more than 2 in 2018

first_imgHalf (50%) of employer respondents are planning to increase pay for their employees by more than 2% in the next year, according to research by business organisation British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and online recruitment firm Indeed.The survey of 1,020 organisations also found that 32% will provide pay increases of between 2% and 5% for their staff, compared to 12% that will increase employee pay in accordance with consumer price inflation.The research also found:6% of respondents will increase their employees’ pay by more than 5% in the next year, whereas 18% that will offer pay increases of between 1% and 2%.2% of respondents expect to have to decrease employees’ salaries.37% of respondents will respond to national living wage increases over the next three years by raising the prices of their products and services. Meanwhile, 23% will take lower margins and profits, 16% will increase investment in automation and 16% will recruit more staff on flexible contracts, such as self-employed contractors.Jane Gratton, head of business environment and skills policy at the BCC, said: “This is good news for employees who have felt the squeeze in their pay packets in recent months. People and skills are the most important asset for businesses, and so employers will want to pay a great wage that motivates and retains their team. But, the cost of wage increases has to be offset in some way, for example by greater productivity, lower costs or higher prices.”Tara Sinclair, senior fellow and economist at Indeed, added: “It would be understandable if [employees] had felt a little out of pocket so far this year as wage growth in the UK remained stubbornly low. Record employment has also added pressure on employers who must compete in a tight labour market and do so usually by offering bumper pay packets.“These figures suggest brighter times are ahead for [employees], who after seeing their wage growth barely exceed inflation could receive a meaningful pay rise. Couple these findings with the recent public sector pay hikes and it appears organisations are feeling more confident despite continued uncertainty. The question now is will they raise wages enough to continue to outpace price rises?”last_img read more

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Middlesex Partnerships For Youth To Host Annual Safety Summit On Sept 24

first_imgWAKEFIELD, MA — Middlesex Partnerships for Youth Executive Director Margie Daniels is pleased to announce that public safety and community leaders from throughout the region will come together at the organization’s annual Safety Summit on Monday, September 24, from 8:45am to 2:30pm, at Reading Memorial High School (62 Oakland Road, Reading).The organization’s 23rd annual summit, Security and Emergency Preparedness: An All Hazards Training for Schools, will focus on prevention of a wide variety of safety hazards that threaten schools and their students, faculty and staff.Law enforcement, public safety, education and community leaders will address current trends related to safety for schools and communities. The featured presenters will offer concrete options and lay the groundwork for guidelines that municipalities, school districts and community organizations can use to develop safety protocols.Middlesex Partnerships for Youth is a non-profit organization, founded in 1988, which fosters safe and supportive learning environments by providing prevention and intervention resources and training to school districts and communities, primarily in Middlesex County.Through the efforts of MPY, educators, parents, and students regularly engage in collaborative training with law enforcement, social services and community- based organizations as well as share cutting edge information and resources. Such interactions provide the foundation for creating solution-based multi-disciplinary approaches to promoting health and safety for youth in Eastern Massachusetts. Training topics include, but are not limited to, youth mental health, trauma, bullying, cyber, substance abuse and teen dating relationships.(NOTE: The above press release is from John Guilfoil Public Relations.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedMiddlesex DA Marian Ryan Hosts Superintendents’ and Chiefs’ BreakfastIn “Government”Middlesex District Attorney Hosts 21st Annual School Safety SummitIn “Government”Attorney General Awards Middlesex Sheriff’s Office A Healthy Summer Youth Jobs GrantIn “Police Log”last_img read more

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Wilmington Tewksbury SEPACs To Hold Basic Rights In Special Education Workshop On

first_imgTEWKSBURY, MA — The Wilmington SEPAC and Tewksbury SEPAC are holding a Basic Rights in Special Education Workshop on Thursday, October 18, from 6pm to 8pm, at Tewksbury Memorial High School (320 Pleasant Street, Tewksbury).Attendees will receive an introduction to the complex special education laws and procedures.  Topics include: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Massachusetts Laws; Evaluations and Referrals; The Team Meeting; Individual Education Program (IEP) and 504 Plans; Effective Progress; Transition; Review of Important Timelines; and Strategies for Success.All families are welcome.  No RSVP is necessary.  If you have a question, email tewksburysepac@gmail.com.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedWilmington SEPAC To Hold IEP Workshop For Parents On November 29In “Education”Wilmington SEPAC To Hold Workshop On Google Tools For Special Education On March 27In “Education”NEIGHBOR NEWS: What’s Making Headlines In Tewksbury?In “Community”last_img read more

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Google Duplex is boring now And thats probably good

first_imgGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled a version of Duplex that was tamer than last year’s.  James Martin/CNET From the very moment Google pushed play on a mundane recording of a guy booking a dinner reservation last year, the search giant became embroiled in an intense debate over the ethics of artificial intelligence.The unremarkable nature of the recording was what made it so unnerving. The guy wasn’t a guy at all. It was Google Duplex, a chatbot that uses AI software to mimic human speech with startling accuracy. The audience at Google’s I/O developer conference freaked out over the verbal tics — “uh” and “um” — that the software used and the natural way it pronounced certain words. Duplex had the potential to stir controversy again if Google unveiled another big chatbot development during this year’s conference keynote on Tuesday. Instead, the company offered a subdued, though impressive, update.That’s probably for the best.  Share your voice 34 Photos 3:03 Tags 3 Google Duplex expands beyond phone calls and can book… “The way we think about Duplex, in broad strokes, it’s a model of technology that allows us to automate tasks,” Manuel Bronstein, vice president of product for the Assistant, said in an interview ahead of the announcement. “It just happens to be that the first task that we showed to automate was making a phone call to a restaurant.”That’s kind of a dull way to talk about something that just a year ago evoked serious sci-fi lore. But for Google, that’s a win. The company has drawn blowback for its AI operations, including a March backlash over its artificial intelligence ethics board. Google disbanded the board after only a week.google-io-2019-0276“Duplex on the web” automates booking of rental cars and movie tickets. James Martin/CNET The company is also still reeling from its contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, a defense department initiative that uses AI to improve the analysis of drone footage. The effort caused an uproar among Google employees.A handful of workers resigned, and more than 4,000 workers reportedly signed a petition addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding that he cancel the project. Google eventually said it wouldn’t renew the Maven contract or pursue similar contracts, though it would still work with the military. Pichai wound up publishing an entire AI ethics memo that stated the company wouldn’t develop the technology for use in weapons.After those dustups, it behooved Google to lie low this year and turn down the creepy AI. And the company certainly learned its lesson last year, Scott Huffman, head of engineering for the Google Assistant, told me earlier this year. “The strength of the reaction surprised me,” he said, referring to Duplex’s debut. “It made it clear to us how important those societal questions are going forward.”center_img Android 10 beta’s best new tricks from Google I/O 2019 Comments Mobile Software The new feature is called “Duplex on the web” and it’s basically autofill on steroids. While the original Duplex was for restaurant reservations and hair appointments, the new version automates booking rental cars and buying movie tickets. It zips through forms on the mobile web, automatically entering information that Google knows about you from your calendar, Gmail inbox and Chrome autofill. Some people might still find it unsettling that Google knows so much personal information about you. But the Duplex upgrade provoked nowhere near the response Google got for last year’s human-sounding robot and its ability to fool the people it was talking to. Compared with that spectacle, this version is downright boring. And boring is pretty good for booking a midsize sedan for your trip to wine country. “The strength of the reaction surprised me. It made it clear to us how important those societal questions are going forward.” Scott Huffman, head of engineering for Google Assistant Now playing: Watch this: Google Alphabet Inc.last_img read more

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Bangladesh condemns attack on Indian troops

first_imgActivists of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) burn a symbolic effigy of Pakistan and shout slogans against Thursday`s attack on a paramilitary convoy in Kashmir, in Hyderabad, India, on 15 February. Photo: AP/UNBBangladesh has strongly condemned the dastardly terrorist attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwana District of Jammu and Kashmir, reports UNB.Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, in a message addressed to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi said, “On behalf of the people and the government of Bangladesh, and on my own behalf, let me convey our heartfelt condolences for the loss of lives of more than 37 CRPE troops……”State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam, who is now in Geneva, tweeted the message that was sent from Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi.“We stand by the people and the government of India. We offer our condolences to the members of the families who lost their dear ones. Our thoughts and prayers are for speedy recovery of those who got injured,” reads the message.Bangladesh, according to the message, remains steadfast in its commitment against terrorism of all forms and manifestations and maintains a zero tolerance policy against all kinds of terrorist activities.“Bangladesh would continue to work and cooperate with international community including India to eradicate menace of terrorism,” the message reads.The message, dated 14 February, was sent through Indian Ministry of External Affairs.On Thursday, suicide bombers carried out attacks on a paramilitary convoy in Kashmir leaving at least 45 people dead.last_img
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What Kim Kardashian Liking Anime Means For Geek Culture

first_img While we’re not really on board with claims of “breaking the Internet,” Kim Kardashian West has a knack for getting people’s attention. Most recently, this came on Twitter when in a response to somebody’s comment about her “pink hair and funky fits” she announced that she was “obsessed with anime.”I am obsessed with anime. That was legit my inspo https://t.co/l3wVdwGyeN— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 28, 2018This comes hot on the heels of a bunch of Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan’s old anime-centric tweets being dug up – the dude is really into Naruto and Bleach, among others.this is where I get all my ANIME @AnimeAvenue that new naruto shippuuden just dropped..yea I’m into anime I love this shit!— Michael B. Jordan (@michaelb4jordan) March 25, 2011 wow… i‘m looking forward to see all those fake anime and manga fans treating it as a fashion trend as they did with marvel and dc.. smh — Kevin Pantellaro (@PantellaroKevin) February 28, 2018 The reaction from fandom has been… not great. While Jordan’s love of anime has been met with some light mockery (compounded by the fact that dude still lives in the same house as his parents), Kardashian is getting it a lot harder.Ok Kim name 5 animes you’ve watched— Jarred (@JarredYnwa) February 28, 2018 Kim Kardashian is like the girl who used to bully you in school for liking anime and then says shit like this because it’s now popular. https://t.co/OnEBVPmXUt— Noodle (@SailorSlob) February 28, 2018This pushback against mainstream celebrities being into anime illustrates one of the greatest weaknesses of the geek community – our tendency to be exclusive in a negative way. The implication that Kardashian is a “fake geek girl” who can’t name five anime series that she watches is a classic example of something that’s been happening for years, as self-declared gatekeepers of a fandom struggle to come to terms with its expanding popularity.We’ve seen it happen with comic books, as ranting YouTube men bluster about unqualified “diversity hires” even as Marvel movies soar to the top of the box office. We’ve seen it happen with video games as female streamers get excoriated by anonymous commenters who aren’t satisfied with their skills or cleavage. It’s not surprising that anime would have the same idiotic backlash brewing.But why shouldn’t Kim K. like anime? She grew up with it, just like we all did. Sailor Moon hit American screens in 1995. Just because she’s rich doesn’t mean she got different cartoons on TV as a kid. She’s a globetrotter deeply plugged into world cultural trends. It would be more surprising at this point if she didn’t know what it was. Just because you don’t like her – and there are plenty of valid reasons not to – is no excuse to assume that she’s ignorant.One of the most frustrating holdovers in geek culture is the myth of scarcity. In the pre-digital days, getting ahold of anime often meant ordering it through the mail, often subtitled by fans from grainy VHS dubs. Finding back issues of comics meant digging through longboxes hoping to strike gold. And video games didn’t steam themselves right to your PC. Physical media was limited, and if somebody else got it it often meant you didn’t.That scarcity is gone. Media can be duplicated infinitely in the digital era, and it’s only a matter of time before even the most obscure anime series hits a streaming service or a torrent. The only limit to fandom now is enthusiasm – if you like something enough, you can find it. And plenty of people are.Husband Kanye West has also expressed his love for Japanese cartoons, once tweeting that Akira was one of his two favorite movies (the other was There Will Be Blood). The list of rappers who don’t like anime is probably longer than those who do. Jaden Smith voiced the lead character on Netflix’s Neo Yokio and Lil Yachty sampled Cowboy Bebop. The cool kids like anime, and have for quite some time. Anime has been pop culture for decades. This great piece by Gita Jackson at Kotaku on Dragon Ball‘s resonance in the Black community is another example.Fans of a cultural product naturally assume that other fans are like them – that they share the same ideas, opinions and background. But anime is way beyond that now. It’s a truly global phenomenon that’s mutated and evolved, and the audience has come with it.Geek’s editor-in-chief, Sheilah Villari sent me an interview she conducted with LeSean Thomas, the producer on shows like The Legend of Korra and The Boondocks. Here he talked about how “When it becomes bigger than their secret, then they feel like they have to be defensive, because they feel like they’re losing it… Meanwhile, nobody in Japan gives a f*ck about any of this stuff; they’re like ‘whatever, Frozen is anime.”Anime is for everyone, no matter how deep you’re into it. Maybe Kim’s only seen Sailor Moon, or maybe she’s maxed out her Crunchyroll bandwidth. It shouldn’t matter either way.A rising tide lifts all butts… I mean boats. Increased public attention to anime means more people will watch it, which will inspire studios to make more of it. If you’re a real fan, that’s the outcome you should want anyways. The creators of anime series didn’t ask you to decide who can enjoy them and who can’t. They want their work to be seen by everybody from the weebiest otaku to the beefiest jock. And if a Kardashian inspires some fan in the midwest to stream a cartoon she’s never watched before, that’s a win.Now if Kim says she likes dubs over subs, we might have a problem.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.center_img ‘Cannon Busters’ Is The Black Anime We’ve Been Waiting…Casio G-SHOCK Unveils ‘Akira’-Inspired ‘Neo Tokyo̵… Stay on targetlast_img read more

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Zynga to Face Lawsuit Alleging Fraud Tied to IPO

first_imgMarch 26, 2015 Zynga Inc must face a lawsuit accusing the online gaming company known for “FarmVille” of defrauding shareholders about its prospects before and after its December 2011 initial public offering.Ruling 13 months after dismissing an earlier version of the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco on Wednesday said shareholders could pursue claims that Zynga concealed declining user activity, masked how changes in a Facebook Inc platform for its games would affect demand, and inflated its 2012 revenue forecast.The lawsuit was based in part on at least a half-dozen confidential witnesses, and White said their testimony supported the claim that Zynga management intended to commit fraud.”Plaintiff alleges that the officers at Zynga obsessively tracked bookings and game-operating metrics on an ongoing, real-time basis, with regular updates on the activity and purchases by every user of every Zynga game,” White wrote. “Confidential witnesses all corroborate that the updates on game users and spending data was readily accessible to Zynga’s management.”White rejected a claim over Zynga’s alleged product launch delays, saying it was mere “business puffery” for the company to call its game pipeline “strong,” “robust” and “very healthy.”Shareholders claimed that Zynga concealed its weaknesses to allow insiders to sell $593 million worth of stock before a post-IPO lockup was to expire, and to avoid a roughly 75 percent drop in its share price over the next four months.Kelly Pakula Kunz, a Zynga spokeswoman, on Thursday said the San Francisco-based company had no comment on White’s decision.Lawyers for shareholders led by an individual, David Fee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Zynga priced its IPO on Dec. 15, 2011 at $10 per share.The price peaked 2-1/2 months later at $15.91, but slid below $3 on July 26, 2012 after Zynga posted weak earnings and cut its outlook.Zynga’s share price has been below $5 for more than a year, amid a failure to develop games as popular as “FarmVille,” and the rise of mobile gaming rivals such as Dublin-based King Digital Entertainment Plc, maker of “Candy Crush Saga.”In morning trading, Zynga shares were down 4 cents at $2.73.The case is In re: Zynga Inc Securities Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 12-04007.(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York) 2 min read This story originally appeared on Reuters Hear from Polar Explorers, ultra marathoners, authors, artists and a range of other unique personalities to better understand the traits that make excellence possible. How Success Happens Listen Nowlast_img read more

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Financial Tech Startups Compete for US Immigrant Market

first_img This story originally appeared on Reuters Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global For two decades, Noe Sanchez sent money from California to his father in Mexico City through storefront outlets of traditional remittance firms such as Western Union.Now he grabs his smartphone and uses Remitly, one of several new competing mobile apps promoting cheap and quick international transfers. Sanchez quickly got over his initial unease of sending money through an unfamiliar company.”If it goes badly, I’ll cancel it and try another,” said Sanchez, a 44-year-old Mexican technical support professional in Oakland.Founded in 2011 and backed by Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’s venture capital arm, Remitly is among a vanguard of financial technology, or fintech, companies targeting what they view as an underserved immigrant market — traditionally disregarded as high-risk and low-margin.The upstart firms — along with expanding digital and mobile options from Western Union Co. and MoneyGram International Inc. — are helping immigrants deepen their roots in the United States at a time when incendiary anti-immigration rhetoric dominates national politics.Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump recently attacked remittances from illegal immigrants as a form of “welfare” for Mexicans. Trump threatened to impound such money transfers unless Mexico agreed to pay up to $10 billion for his proposed wall on the southern U.S. border.Many emerging companies in the fast-growing fintech sector, by contrast, view financial services for immigrants as an untapped source of revenue. They include remittance apps, such as Remitly, TransferWise and Xoom — an early player bought last year by PayPal Holdings Inc. for $890 million — along with companies such as Lendup and Oportun, which lend to high-risk borrowers.”We’re part of a community of companies that is helping [immigrant] customers understand the landscape of financial services” in the U.S., said Raul Vazquez, chief executive of Oportun.Global cash flowIt remains unclear whether Trump’s campaign attacks represent a real threat to the remittance industry. He proposes regulating remittance firms through U.S. anti-terrorism laws that now apply to banks and other financial institutions.The plan has been criticized in part because of the difficulty in differentiating between the transfers of legal and illegal immigrants.”Good luck with that,” U.S. President Barack Obama quipped, reacting to Trump’s proposal at a recent news conference.Trump’s campaign did not respond to request for comment from Reuters.Many financial technology companies expect a continuing boom in cross-border transfers and other financial services for U.S. immigrants. According to the World Bank, remittances to Mexico totaled nearly $25 billion in 2015, their highest level since 2008. Globally, nearly $600 billion is transferred each year. The World Bank reported that 700 million people opened bank accounts globally between 2011 and 2014 — making them more likely to use financial technology — and about 2 billion more people remained unbanked, representing huge growth potential.Immigrant communities increasingly access financial services through phones. Thirteen percent of Latinos in the U.S. are dependent on smartphones as their only source of Internet access, compared to just 4 percent of white people, according to a 2015 Pew study.Those trends play into the strategy of remittance apps like Remitly and Xoom. Many other financial tech firms are private and not required to share financial results, but some claim fast growth in customers or revenue when releasing selective data.Remitly said it transferred five times the amount of money in the first quarter of 2016 as it did in the same period a year earlier. The company said it recently surpassed $1 billion in annual transfers.Western Union, a $9.36-billion public company, acknowledged new threats in its 2015 annual report. “We are seeing increased competition from, and increased market acceptance of, electronic, mobile, and Internet-based money transfer services,” the company told investors. In a statement to Reuters, the company said the transfer industry is teeming with new players and that competition had contributed to falling prices. Western Union’s digital money transfer sales reached about $300 million in 2015, and the company expects online and mobile transfers to be a “major driver of overall remittance market growth,” it said.Arjan Schutte, the CEO of fintech investor Core Innovation Capital, said he’d seen more than 100 different business plans for companies wanting to disrupt Western Union or Moneygram, but that’s “not nearly enough relative to the market opportunity.” Economies of scaleSmaller financial technology companies can be flexible in crafting creative solutions to serve customers on the margins, said Lisa McFarland, an executive vice president at Ingo Money, which charges between 1 and 4 percent to deposit paychecks through a mobile app.McFarland previously worked at Visa Inc. setting up prepaid products for the immigrant market. She said more established financial companies have long struggled to serve lower-income markets because of high development costs and low profit margins.”The problems have to be solved, in many cases, in unique ways,” she said. “That’s what opens the door to technology players.”Oportun and Lendup, for instance, use their own underwriting formulas rather than traditional credit scores to underwrite risky borrowers, and they offer declining interest rates over time for those who pay reliably.The alternative online lending sector as a whole has faced new scrutiny in recent months in the wake of scandals at industry leader Lending Club. But Lendup says its customer base of half a million borrowers is growing at 15 percent per month. The company says it can charge less than traditional payday lenders because of its underwriting software and because it saves money by not opening physical branches.”If the work is lower margin, technology has a real opportunity to allow you to reach that profitability,” said Leslie Payne, who runs public affairs at Lendup. “Once you reach scale, the economics can work out.”(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Brian Thevenot) 5 min read May 24, 2016 Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Register Now »last_img read more

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Vivaldi 26 is out featuring abusive advertisement blocking

first_imgVivaldi 2.6 is out featuring abusive advertisement blocking by Martin Brinkmann on June 20, 2019 in Internet – 9 commentsVivaldi Technologies released a new version of the company’s Vivaldi web browser on June 20, 2019. The new Vivaldi 2.6 version introduces a native content blocking mechanism and includes new customization options.Vivaldi 2.6 is available already via the browser’s automatic update functionality. Just select Vivaldi Menu > Help > Check for Updates to run a check for updates. The browser should pick up the new version automatically and install it on the system.The new Vivaldi release is available as a direct download on the official company website as well. You can check the installed version by selecting Vivaldi Menu > Help > About Vivaldi.Vivaldi 2.6: What is newThe big new feature in Vivaldi 2.6 is support for ad-blocking on abusive sites. The feature is enabled by default; it uses Google’s blocklist to determine whether to block advertisement on sites but hosts it on its own server for improved privacy as Vivaldi installations will retrieve the Vivaldi-hosted version when updates are available and not the version hosted by Google.Abusive experiences that result in blocked advertisement include misleading behavior, site history manipulations, fake messages, auto-redirects, and others.Vivaldi users may disable the feature under Settings > Privacy > Content Blocking, e.g. when they run a full content blocker already in the browser.The blocklist takes care of some of the worst experiences related to advertisement on the Internet. It needs to be noted, however, that it won’t block all advertisement encountered on the Internet.Check out our initial coverage of abusive ad blocking in Vivaldi here.User Profile improvementsVivaldi introduced support for user profiles in version 2.4 of the browser released in March 2019. Vivaldi 2.6 improves the feature in several ways. It is now possible to create multiple user profiles in a single Vivaldi installation directly.Vivaldi users who don’t sign in to a Vivaldi account get options to update avatars, add and delete profiles in the popup, and to edit the avatar in the popup.Other improvements in Vivaldi 2.6Vivaldi 2.6 features other improvements that improve the browser in one way or another. Here is a short list of what is new:Performance improvements — Users who work with a lot of tabs should notice performance improvements in the new release.Saved Passwords filter — Settings > Privacy and filter features an option to filter by account name or website.Unread Tabs — The Window Panel displays the number of unread tabs (opened in background) as a badge.Find in Page — You may use Ctrl-Enter to open any link that the on-page search finds.Search favicon in search field — The favicon of the selected search engine is displayed now in the search field for easier identification.Razer Chroma headphone devices support added — Razer Chroma support was introduced in Vivaldi 2.5. SummaryArticle NameVivaldi 2.6 is out featuring abusive advertisement blockingDescriptionVivaldi Technologies released a new version of the company’s Vivaldi web browser on June 20, 2019. The new Vivaldi 2.6 version introduces a native content blocking mechanism.Author Martin BrinkmannPublisher Ghacks Technology NewsLogo Advertisementlast_img read more

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Fandom takes TA to new social media heights

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Less than five months after achieving its two million milestone, Tourism Australia has announced an extra million Likes, now sharing with up to three million fans worldwide on Facebook. Pinning the success to word of mouth and advocacy, the Group’s managing director Andrew McEvoy said the Page played a “significant role” in its global marketing push and would continue to be utilised in the next phase of its There’s nothing like Australia campaign.“We are in the business of telling the world about Australia’s incredible tourism experiences but the beauty of social media is that it allows our fans to share their stories about what makes Australia a unique destination to visit in a compelling and authentic way,” Mr McEvoy said.Tourism Australia executive general manager consumer marketing Nick Baker added that the three million plus fans gave the company a “huge potential reach” to showcase Australia and its products. “A key part of our success so far has been to understand what our audience cares about and create social media activity around that,” Mr Baker said. “What we are finding is that the best way to get Australia’s message out there is to encourage them to get their networks involved in telling their story.  “We will continue to evolve our strategy to provide our fans with relevant content that they can be part of and build upon with us.”last_img read more

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