Satara: With the NCP witnessing desertions by a number of leaders recently, party chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday extended his “best wishes” to them and said he has experience of tackling such situation. Pawar also said local MLA Shivendrasinh Bhosale resigning and embracing the ruling BJP would have no bearing on the NCP’s Assembly poll prospects in Satara district. He exuded confidence that the NCP would retain the seat. The opposition parties in Maharashtra, particularly the NCP, witnessed its MLAs and key leaders joining the BJP and Shiv Sena last month. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ These include three NCP legislators- Bhosale, Sandeep Naik and Vaibhav Pichad- who joined the BJP along with the party’s state women wing president Chitra Wagh. Besides, its Mumbai unit president Sachin Ahir and Shahapur MLA Pandurang Barora joined the Shiv Sena last month. “My best wishes to those in the party who have other ideas (of desertion) on their minds. Such situations arise in politics sometimes and I have the experience of dealing with it,” Pawar told reporters here. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K The former Union minister said he was not concerned about the NCP’s prospects in Satara in the Assembly polls, due in September-October, after Bhosale’s decision to jump the ship. “I have received three applications (from candidates seeking the party’s poll tickets) from Satara Assembly segment. So, I am not concerned about (falling short of) candidates. The party will definitely retain the seat,” the NCP patriarch said. Pawar also said the Satara MLA had confided in him that the latter would not join the BJP. Bhosale had also sought a meeting with Satara MP and his cousin Udayanraje Bhosale, Pawar added. Shivendrasinh Bhosale and Udayanraje Bhosale are said to be sharing strained relationship. “He (Shivendrasinh Bhosale) wanted a meeting with the Satara MP. We decided we will discuss the issue after the (on-going) Parliament session is over. But he took the decision (of quitting the party) even before we could hold discussion,” Pawar said. The veteran leader also said he is clueless about how many more NCP men from Satara will quit the party. But in the same breath, Pawar added those who follow the ideology of late Deputy Prime Minister and first Maharashtra Chief Minister Yashwantrao Chavan, a Congress stalwart who hailed from Satara, will not make such a move. Noting the NCP MLAs, who switched allegiance to the BJP-Shiv Sena, contended that they were unable to carry out public works while being on the opposition benches, Pawar said it showed the ruling parties were functioning with “vendetta”.
By Nada AfaRabat – Cinema 7ème art will host its monthly “Humans rights Cinema Thursday,” on Thursday March 31st. The event is organized on the last Thursday of each month by Association of Mediterranean’s Meetings of Culture and Human rights (ARMCDH).As an organization, ARMCDH was created in 2010 and its mission has been to promote the culture of human rights through cinematographic works. ARMCDH also organizes many other events, such as “Children’s Morning,” as well as a multitude of Master Classes in the city of Rabat. This Thursday, in honor of Women’s day, an Iranian documentary, Ayat Najafi’s “No land’s song,” will be screened at the cinema. The documentary takes place in Iran and tells the story of Sara Najafi.Since the 1979 revolution in Iran, women have been prohibited from singing in public. Sara, a young Iranian music composer, in spite of strict laws and social Iranian norms, decides to organize a concert for female Iranian soloist singers.Sara and her friends put up a real fight to make the event happen, and go as far as inviting French female singers to participate and support their concert.What started as the organizing of a concert, turned out to be a rebellious act of liberty and emancipation, and above all, an opportunity to build a bridge between two different cultures through the art of music.The film traces this journey and gives an accurate account of the women’s fight to tear down walls of social repression and raise their voices for the world to hear.The documentary screening will be followed by a debate to discuss the cinematographic work.Cinema 7ème art and ARMCDH extend an invitation to Rabat’s cinema lovers to attend the screening of this thought provoking film this Thursday at 6:30pm.To encourage a larger audience, the ticket price has been lowered to MAD 10.
Rabat – The United States Department of State will restart the registration period for the 2019 Diversity Visa, after it was marred by technical issues. The new registration period opens for electronic entries on October 18, 2017 at 6 p.m. GMT, and closes on November 22, 2017 at 6 p.m. GMT. The official website of the US Department of State issued a communique today informing applicants, that due to technical issues, all entries made prior to October 18, 2017 are not valid and have been excluded from the system. The electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website was down for maintenance since October 10.With the issue now resolved, the department explained that applicants may submit one new entry without being disqualified for submitting multiple entries, but individuals who submit more than one entry during the new registration period will be disqualified. “Applicants can access the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) at the official E-DV website, during the registration period. All other eligibility requirements remain the same,” explained the department.Beginning May 15, 2018, DV-2019 entrants will be able to use their unique confirmation number provided at registration to check the online Entrant Status Check at the official website to see if their entry was selected. Entrant Status Check will inform successful entrants how to apply for DVs for themselves and their eligible family members. The department also will confirm visa interview appointments through the Entrant Status Check.
CALGARY – The recent rout in oil prices will likely be top of mind for investors as Canada’s top oilpatch players release their third-quarter results over the next few weeks.The steep drop in the key U.S. benchmark crude — to about US$80 a barrel from around US$95 just a month ago — won’t be evident in companies’ financial reports for the quarter ended Sept. 30.But analysts and investors will be paying keen attention to the mood of top brass on quarterly conference calls and looking for signals about how oil market volatility may affect future plans, said Lanny Pendill, an analyst with Edward Jones in St. Louis, Mo. Right now, oil and gas producers are hammering out their budgets for 2015.“As a whole, we’re probably at the price point where I think many of the companies are going to approach the budget season with a little more caution,” he said.“Just the tone and the overall impression that they leave with us … I think will be key. So we will certainly be focusing on the go-forward comments more than anything.”Projects under construction in northern Alberta should be in good shape, but prospects are less certain for some that haven’t yet received a final board approval, said Pendill. In recent months, Canadian units of France’s Total and Norway’s Statoil have opted not to proceed with their Joslyn and Corner oil sands projects, respectively.Cenovus Energy Inc., one of Canada’s top oil sands producers, will be reporting on Thursday. That company has developed a reputation as being one of the lowest-cost producers in the industry, and Pendill expects it to continue to thrive in the current oil price environment. Supply costs for its projects range between US$35 and US$65 a barrel, meaning even its most pricey projects can generate a decent profit.Cenovus extracts bitumen using steam-assisted gravity drainage, or SAGD, technology. Steam is pumped underground through a well, where it softens the tarry bitumen enough that it can be drawn to the surface through a second pipe.Steam-driven, or in-situ, projects are generally much more cost effective than the more traditional surface mining operations. Since most of the remaining oilsands resource in northern Alberta is too deep to be mined, most future projects will employ in-situ techniques.Husky Energy Inc., also on deck to report Thursday, is close to starting the first phase of its Sunrise SAGD project, part of a partnership with BP. The company has signalled that costs would be higher than its most recent estimate of C$2.7 billion, but hasn’t yet said by how much.Oilsands producers learned some hard lessons during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, said Pendill. The oilpatch saw a spate of high-profile project deferrals as crude prices cratered to levels that were at times less than half of what they are today.Those companies have since done a better job managing their debt. They’ve also become reluctant to undertake multibillion-dollar megaprojects. Instead, companies like Cenovus and Suncor Energy Inc. are building SAGD projects in bite-sized increments, essentially copying and pasting the design with each new phase. Miners, like Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Suncor, are boosting output through “debottlenecking” — squeezing more crude out of existing projects by tweaking equipment, rather than building something new from scratch.Oil sands projects, many operated by deep-pocketed multinational giants, are planned with a time horizon of 50 years or more in mind, said Sonny Mottahed, CEO and managing partner at Black Spruce Merchant Capital in Calgary.The industry pays attention to the long-term supply-demand trends in oil prices, not the reactions of traders on any given day, he said.“Generally speaking, I don’t think that there’s anybody out there that believes that there is a true fundamental reason for the sell-off in the commodity,” he said.It’s a gloomier story for smaller firms elsewhere in the oil patch, said Mottahed. Lower prices are going to hit cash flow, which is bad news for companies that need to recycle capital back into their business quickly in order to keep drilling.Oil sands producers have been cushioned from the crude price plunge on a couple of fronts. Currency fluctuations have been to the benefit of Canada’s oilpatch, as the loonie has weakened against the U.S. dollar. And the price gap between heavy and light oil has narrowed as more Canadian heavy crude has been able to find its way to market by pipeline, rail and even tanker, Scotiabank commodity market specialist Patricia Mohr noted in a report last week.While U.S. light oil production surges from shale deposits in Texas and North Dakota, the country’s imports of heavier crudes continues to climb, Mohr wrote in her latest Commodity Price Index. Canada has supplied 43% of U.S. heavy crude imports so far in 2014 and further gains are likely to the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2015.Canadian Press
“The President informed me that Syria supports Security Council resolution 1701 and will assist the United Nations in its implementation,” Mr. Annan said at a press conference following the discussions in Damascus, the latest stop of his diplomatic effort to bolster support for the resolution that ended the month-long fighting.“While stating Syria’s objection to the presence of foreign troops along the Syrian-Lebanese borders, the President committed to me that Syria shall take all necessary measures to implement in full paragraph 15 of resolution 1701. That is the paragraph that deals with arms embargo and rearmament.”These measures include increasing the number of Syrian border guards, and setting up possible joint border patrols with Lebanese police and also joint control points, Mr. Annan said, adding also that the Syrian President had invited Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to meet to discuss normalizing relations between the two countries.“On the question of disarmament of all militias in Lebanon, the President assured me that he accepts and supports the decisions of the Lebanese National Dialogue related to disarmament of militias,” the Secretary-General said.“I encouraged a meeting between President Assad and Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon to allow them to discuss issues of mutual interest and improve their relations. The President gave his consent and said that he is ready to meet Prime Minister Siniora any time and that’s a standing invitation.”Mr. Annan also discussed humanitarian issues with the Syrian leader, including the Israeli blockade of Lebanon, which he has consistently said must be lifted, and also the release of Israeli soldiers held by Hizbollah and in Gaza, as well as the release of Lebanese prisoners.From Syria, the Secretary-General flew to Qatar and tomorrow he will travel to Iran for talks with the Foreign Minister and then on Sunday discussions with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The staggering number of civilian casualties in one month points to the urgent need for all to ensure that civilians are protected,” said Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov. The UN says that June was the deadliest month in the country since 2007.In a statement from the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMI), which he heads, Mr. Mladenov urged officials to start forming a new Government which could unite the country, after today’s first session of the Council or Representatives ended without a quorum: “As large parts of the country remain under the control of ISIL and armed groups, it is imperative that national leaders work together to foil attempts to destroy the social fabric of Iraqi society,” he said.The Special Representative expressed regret that Iraq’s newly elected Council had been unable to reach an agreement on naming a new Speaker today. Acting speaker Mahdi al-Hafidh ended the proceedings after most of the 328-member legislature did not return from a short break, according to media reports.MonthCivilian CasualtiesInjuredJune 201415311763May 20146031108April 20146101311March 20144841104February 20145641179January 20146181052December 20136611201November 20135651186October 20138521793September 20138871957August 20137161936July 20139282109June 20136851610May 20139632191April 20135951481March 2013229853February 2013418704January 2013319960December 2012230655November 20124451306Please note that all figures remain estimates until full investigation and analysis has been carried out.“Politicians in Iraq need to realize that it is no longer business as usual,” Mr. Mladenov said, stressing that any failure to observe the deadlines set by the Constitution will be detrimental to the country’s integrity.“I call upon all political leaders to set aside their differences and, in a spirit of compromise, elect a Speaker during the next session, due to be held on 8 July,” he underscored. Speaking to the press last week, Mr. Mladenov underscored that while a military plan is needed to stop the advance of the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS), Iraq requires a solution also based on political and social processes that will address the concerns of all communities.The fighting has internally displaced an estimated one million people who join one million people already seeking refuge in Iraq as a result of the Syrian conflict and previous conflicts. The bulk of them have fled to the autonomous Kurdish region, where UN agencies are overstretching resources to provide support. The Government of Saudi Arabia meanwhile donated today $500 million towards the humanitarian effort. In thanking the leadership of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Mr. Ban said the “timely funding” would enable the UN and its partners to assist “millions of Iraqi men, women and children whose lives were torn apart by the conflict.”The deepening crisis is also increasing the violence in the country. More than 2,417 Iraqis were killed last month and another 2,287 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence, according to the UNAMI human rights team. The figure does not include the Anbar province, where UN human rights teams are not on the ground and cannot independently verify the numbers. But according to official figures, 244 civilians were reportedly killed in the province during the past month, and 588 civilians injured.“The last time such a high number of civilians had been killed in a single month was in 2007,” Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, said in Geneva. She reiterated the UN Office’s calls that all parties of the conflict respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and called on the Iraqi authorities to hold accountable those responsible for any violations. In addition to the civilians, at least 886 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, and 524 were injured. Anbar excluded, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 1,090 civilian casualties, followed by Ninewa, a northern province bordering Syria, and Salahadin, which borders Ninewa and Baghdad.
“The violence and destruction is relentless, exacting a terrible toll on women and girls, men and boys,” Ms. Kang said following a five-day visit to Jordan and Turkey, where she met with Syrian refugee families. “Parties to the conflict show little regard for the basic norms of warfare,” she added.More than four million Syrians have fled across borders in search of safety, while over 6.5 million others who are internally displaced have had to struggle to survive under extremely dire conditions.Ms. Kang expressed concern over the fate of refugees stranded at the border between Jordan and Syria, but conveyed the hope that a swift solution can be found as winter approaches, through the close collaboration forged between the Jordanian Government and the United Nations.According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), she also visited the town of Bab al Salama to see first-hand cross-border relief operations. While there, she head reports on the recent spike in airstrikes and ground fighting near the northern border, which has impacted communities across northern Syria, forcing them to flee, many for the third or fourth time.Airstrikes are taking place where civilian infrastructure has already been severely damaged. In particular, health facilities have been routinely hit by aerial bombing, OCHA stated. “There have been repeated devastating attacks on health facilities, and countless health workers have been killed or injured along with their patients. Alleviating human suffering – the core of humanity – is at stake,” said Ms. Kang.“The recent Vienna talks and the follow-up represent an opportunity for a new chapter in Syria. I urge all parties to the conflict to stop the war and secure peace for families who yearn to return home and rebuild their live,” she stressed.She expressed appreciation for the generosity and hospitality of the Turkish and Jordanian authorities and their people, who refer to Syrian refugees as their brothers and sisters, while urging them to keep the borders open for families fleeing the conflict.
Tomorrow morning in Japan, Sony is anticipated to finally unveil the next generation of PSP, an announcement that will almost definitely reveal to public scrutiny the specs of the upcoming PSP2. As for the XPERIA Play, Sony Ericsson‘s so-called PlayStation Phone, it likely won’t be officially announced until next month’s Mobile World Congress. Too bad for Sony, then, that Engadget somehow managed to get their hands on one, and has just posted an in-depth preview.The XPERIA Play is a Gingerbead-based Android phone with a 4-inch multitouch LCD running at 854 x 480 and a slide-out physical control pad modeled after Sony’s familiar Dual Shock controllers. Inside the XPERIA Play is a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 chipset married to an Adreno 205GPU. An HSPA phone, the Xperia Play contains a 1500mAh battery, and also boasts both front- and back-facing cameras, with the latter pulling in five megapixel stills, although not 720p video, at least for now.Design-wise, the Xperia Play is looking a lot more polished than it did in early prototype leaks, and Engadget says it’s a well-constructed, attractive and speedy Android phone, but there’s still a lot of questions about exactly how much of a PlayStation Phone the Xperia Play will end up being. The big question mark right now is whether or not it will run PSP software, or if the PlayStation Pocket app preloaded on the Play is just an alternative app store for Android games that can take advantage of the Xperia Play’s control pad. Judging solely by the fact that Sony Ericsson is not going with the far snappier name of PlayStation Phone for this device, my guess is the latter.Read more at Engadget
My experience of picking up the movies that I love on Blu-ray has been a hit and miss affair. Some of them are just the DVD versions burnt on to a Blu-ray disc as far as I can tell, because the HD quality just isn’t there. Others, however, have clearly had some work done to bring them up to spec. Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws looks to be one of those movies.Universal Studios is celebrating its 100th Anniversary, and to help mark the occasion they have gone back to the original Jaws 35mm film in order to digitally remaster it. The finished product is a crisp 1080p picture and the addition of 7.1 surround sound–something no one watching the movie has ever experienced before.Spielberg describes it as bringing a classic movie back to life, and making it, “more vivid than even we remember them at the cinema.” And it seems we have digital technology to thank for making such a restoration possible.The original film negative for Jaws was in a pretty poor state. There were marks, scratches, color differences, and degradation. The scratches were removed using a wet gate scan, which involves placing the negative in a liquid that makes the scratches invisible while a digital scan is captured.After that, it was a case of going through each frame of the film and using digital tools to fix all the remaining faults. That means removing dirt, fixing color inconsistencies, and manipulating the pixels wherever possible to cover up any damage or mistakes that are present. Depending on the damage, a single frame can take several hours to fix.Just as impressive as the visual restoration are the sounds effects and music. Universal had to take the original mono tracks recorded using an analog system, and convert them into a 7.1 surround sound digital version. The result is again, better than the original or Spielberg could have ever imagined was possible back in 1975.The whole process takes a long time, requires expert editors to handle the work, and expensive tools and servers to deal with the digital data. But this is Jaws, a classic piece of work and one that should be restored beyond its original quality if at all possible. Looking at the restored clips in the video above, I’m pretty sure they nailed it. Jaws will be available to buy on Blu-ray (and DVD) from August 14 with over 4 hours of bonus content included on the disc.
For chef Iakovos Apergis, it was the influence from his grandparents that inspired him to become a cook; his grandfather was a baker.Born in Canada in 1974, Iakovos migrated with his family to Greece the year after. A few years after finishing his schooling, and after earning his degree in cookery, and working in a range of kitchens, he became a member of the Academy of Chefs of Greece. His mother’s experience as a hospital patient inspired him to think of his connection with food as an experience beyond just cooking it: commenting on the food that she received as a patient in hospital, she decribed it as cold and tasteless, not something a sick woman needed.His mother, who passed away in 2003, was a patient at Piraeus at Tzaneio (Piraeus General Hospital) and that, serendipitously, is where he finds himself working now as head chef, after relatives suggested that he apply. Iakovos is starting to create change with hospital food because, as he says, food can be, and should be, a positive experience, when it can. “In a place like the hospital it is very important to [lift a person’s spirits]!” he said. His work landed him a spot at last year’s TEDxChalkida, the Greek offshoot of TEDTalks, in which he also revealed his charity work with Smile of a Child in Athens’ Peristeri; his establishment of other social ventures, and how he came to redefine hospital food (“because people have the right to eat good food”). So now, he creates meals imaginatively “well-cooked and delicious, as in gourmet restaurants” and always according to the nutritional guidelines of each patient’s condition. “I hope I make patients feel more human in the hospital and feel the warmth of their home,” he said. Many patients have said nice things about his cooking or congratulated him – and the most popular food: the fish burgers. “I hope that good hospital food stops being news and for us all to be able to better ourselves and realise that food at a hospital is not charity but a responsibility towards the patient,” he said. “Let’s stop trying to seem human but actually be human and this can only be done with actions and when we give to our fellow human beings, [that’s when] we ultimately give to ourselves!” See Iakovos’ TEDxChalkida here: Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram
Blade Runner is one of the seminal science fiction films of all time. Given its influence on pop culture and real-world science, it is no surprise that the movie has amassed an extremely devoted fan base over the years. One such fan took his love of Ridley Scott’s classic to a whole other level by recreating one of the film’s famous set pieces in VR.Using the Unity engine, software engineer Quentin Lengele recreated the interior of replicant detector Rick Deckard’s apartment in VR. Anyone who has seen Blade Runner will instantly recognize all of the minute details contained within this virtual set. We not only get to see what each room of the apartment looks like, but we’re even treated to a bit of the futuristic Los Angeles landscape that’s visible from the balcony. This is truly remarkable work.“Blade Runner 9732” has been in development for a few years now. As you can see in the video, this is build 694. According to the video’s description, this version includes fine tuned particle systems, city mod & texturing enhancement, new police spinner animation & textures, better Global Fog settings, and fine tuned lens flares (among other things).According to Engadget, Lengele only had access to a first-generation Oculus Rift developer kit for this recreation. Deckard’s VR apartment already looks stunning when running on this relatively old VR tech, so one can imagine what Lengele would be able to produce with an updated version of the Oculus Rift.One thing to note is that there will be an official Blade Runner VR experience that will coincide with the release of the Blade Runner 2049 film. It will be interesting to compare that VR experience to this fan-made one. Let’s just hope that Disney doesn’t decide to kill Lengele’s project before it is completed as it is obviously a huge labor of love. Stay on target Rutger Hauer, ‘Blade Runner’ Actor, Dies at 752019 in Sci-Fi: What Movies, Games, and TV Told Us Will Happen This Year
Wow, it’s hard to believe that we’ve already been through so many Humble Indie Bundles, but number 20 is here with seven rock-solid independent games. All of these titles are available DRM-free, and paying at least $1 will net you Steam codes too.Humble Indie Bundle 20 Regardless of how much you’re willing to pay, you’ll get fun titles from David Wehle, Impact Gameworks, and Krillbite Studio. There’s lots of variety here, so most people will find something to enjoy.Pay what you wantThe First TreeTangledeepAmong the Sleep – Enhanced EditionBONUS: Among the Sleep – Enhanced Edition SoundtrackBONUS: Tangledeep Soundtrack (Steam key only, $1 minimum)If you’re willing to spend more than most, you’ll also get great games like the dating sim Dream Daddy and the wildly frustrating and amusing Getting Over It from the maker of QWOP.Beat the averageGetting Over It with Bennett FoddyTooth and TailDream Daddy: A Dad Dating SimulatorBONUS: Tooth and Tail Soundtrack Jump up to the top tier, and you’ll also get a copy of Overgrowth. This neat action game from Wolfire Games puts you in control of an incredibly agile and powerful ninja rabbit.Spend at least $10OvergrowthBONUS: Overgrowth SoundtrackBy default, some of your purchase will help out Extra Life / Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. But if you have a different charity in mind, you can swap that out with any participating non-profit.Sale Ends: March 19th, 2019 at 11:00AM PTNote: Terms and conditions apply. See the Humble site for more information.For more great Humble deals, go to TechBargains.
Smoking materials sparked the fire that heavily damaged a Camas home Friday afternoon.Firefighters responded to the home, at 535 N.W. Elm Street, to find a working fire. The occupant wasn’t home.Deputy Clark County Fire Marshal Dan Young said smoking materials caught a mattress on fire in the basement.Young had no estimate for the amount of damage done, but said fire crept into the building’s walls, and that there was heavy smoke damage.The home had no working smoke detectors, he said. “Luckily, a neighbor saw it and called 911.”
The American Soybean Association (ASA) testified today before the House Committee on Agriculture on normalizing trade and travel between the U.S. and Cuba. ASA strongly supports HR 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which would eliminate financing and travel restrictions affecting trade with Cuba, and is consistent with the Administration’s goal to double exports in the next five years.”U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba have cost U.S. farmers and businesses billions of dollars in exports to the Cuban market,” said ASA Board member Scott Fritz, a soybean producer from Winamac, Ind. “In a time of economic downturn, we can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch our competitors continue to supply a market where we have a natural advantage.”HR 4645 would eliminate the need to go through banks in other countries to conduct agricultural trades and the accompanying fees those banks charge. The bill would also require agricultural exports to Cuba to meet the same payment requirements as exports to other countries, which means payment would be required when the title of the shipment changes hands, not in advance. Finally, the bill would allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, reducing the bureaucratic red tape currently required for individuals to travel to Cuba to facilitate new agriculture sales.In 2008, there were more than $134 million worth of soy products exported to Cuba. If current policies that require third country banks, cash advance payments and limits on travel were lifted, these exports would be expected to increase.”If the travel ban is eliminated, the number of U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba annually would increase to between 500,000 and 1 million,” Fritz said. “This growth in travel to Cuba would bring in more hard currency, enabling the Cuban state-trading agency to buy more U.S. agricultural products. Ending the travel ban would also benefit the U.S. economy by creating much-needed American jobs in the tourism and airline industries.”ASA opposes restrictions on exports of U.S. agricultural commodities for national security or foreign policy reasons that are not supported by all other major world producers and exporters. ASA also supports the country’s eligibility for use industry-generated national checkoff funds, USDA Foreign Market Development funds, or USDA Market Access Program allocations for market research and promotion activities in Cuba.ASA’s complete testimony is available here.
(WSVN) – The Cheesecake Factory is celebrating their 40th birthday with thousands of slices of free cheesecake.Starting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the popular restaurant chain will give away 40,000 free slices of their namesake dessert in celebration of their 40th anniversary.The event is one day only.To take advantage of the deal, the company says customers just have to place a delivery order through the app DoorDash, and use code FREESLICE at checkout.In addition, people will also get free delivery until Dec. 11 – no promotional code needed.The deal allows for one slice per order, so get ready to share!Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
SHILLONG: The Meghalaya High Court has directed that the state Additional Chief Secretary incharge of political department will head a panel formed to examine a CBI report on the 2009 education job scam as the incumbent chief secretary P S Thangkhiew has been named an accused in it. The court has also granted six months’ extension to the committee for taking a final decision on the CBI report. Also Read – National Herald case: Officer bearers of Congress were cheats, Subramanian Swamy tells court Advertise With Us The high court order was passed on Friday by the division bench of Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice H S Thangkhiew while disposing of an application filed by the state government for the extension of time by six months. “It is directed that the committee to examine the CBI report shall be under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary incharge Political Department instead of Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya as nominated earlier,” the bench said in its judgment. Also Read – Dehydrated elephant being given treatment Advertise With Us The extension of six months’ time sought for compliance with directions of the court is granted with the specific stipulation that it is the last opportunity and the order be strictly complied with before the expiry of the extended period, it said. The high court had in a 2017 order handed over the investigation into the education job scam to the CBI and directed it to submit its report within six months to bring to book the persons responsible for the scam. Advertise With Us The CBI report had pointed out that the majority of candidates were appointed in an irregular manner by changing their original marks on account of experience, education, qualification in the score-sheets by applying a white fluid (correction ink). While the education department had selected 350 candidates, 255 other names were included in the list on the recommendation of politicians. The CBI report had also named five cabinet ministers, the then speaker and six legislators in the Congress-led coalition government besides other politicians for tampering with the score-sheets of the candidates applying for the post of assistant teachers in 2010. Chief Secretary P S Thangkhiew was named as an accused in the report.
Prothom Alo file photoStrict enforcement of traffic rules and behavioural change of pedestrians and transport workers as well as proper planning and political commitment are essential to have a disciplined traffic system in this chaotic city of Dhaka, said experts.They said though it looks a herculean task to restore discipline in the city streets, it is possible to do so through a vigorous media campaign and enforcing traffic rules alongside gearing up the decentralisation process.Many countries in the world have turned their unlivable cities livable through innovative ideas and forcing people to abide by rules, the experts said.Professor Moazzem Hossain of Civil Engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) said eight components — policy, planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, enforcement and finally monitoring — will have to be ensured to bring discipline in the traffic system.Moazzem, also Director of BUET Accident Research Institute (ARI), said it needs to monitor whether the seven other components are functioning properly.Without adequate manpower, management, leadership, engineering, funding and planning, it is not possible to bring discipline in the streets changing the whole system, he said, adding: “It needs to implement all the eight components and for this, it requires organisational setup, manpower, political commitment and funding support.”Besides, a footway network system will have to be developed alongside automating the traffic signal network, the road safety expert said.Professor Moazzem underscored the need for bringing a radical change in the bus operation module.”Buses are plying the city streets under around 250 companies which are absurd. Globally, buses run under a single state-owned agency,” he said, adding that if all the buses run under a single company in the capital, the situation may improve.Ashish Kumar Dey, general secretary of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR), said many, including bikers, auto-rickshaw and tempo drivers, young political party activists and a major portion of pedestrians, do not follow traffic rules properly.”It’s a major obstacle to controlling the overall traffic management and reducing road crashes,” he said.A continued awareness campaign and strict enforcement of traffic rules can bring discipline in the streets, Ashis said.Alongside strict enforcement of law and taking action against errant transport workers and pedestrians, a worker-friendly road transport policy will have to be ensured to bring down the number of road accidents and end anarchy in the sector, he added.The NCPSRR leader said transport workers’ lifestyle should be enhanced.”If their wages and other facilities are not increased, a sense of dissatisfaction and hopelessness prevails among them and many drivers become desperate to earn more, leading to repeated road accidents,” he said.He also alleged that some influential labour leaders and political party leaders protect many drivers and helpers when they are sued by law enforcers, terming it another reason behind drivers being desperate on roads.Shahidul Islam, general secretary of Dhaka Taxi-Taxi Car-Auto-rickshaw Drivers’ Union, said drivers are yet to receive any training and motivation from any quarter.”It would have surely helped reduce road crashes, had drivers been trained and motivated.”A CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver has to give its owner Tk 1,600-1,700 as a daily deposit against the government-fixed Tk 600 while bus drivers run their vehicles on a target basis, he said, adding this makes the drivers reluctant to obey the traffic rules as they have to increase the number of trips to earn more.”If the government ensures that owners are not charging more, the tendency of violating traffic rules among drivers will come down sharply,” he said.Shahidul also said although there is a prime minister’s directive not to run buses on contractual basis, it is yet to be implemented.Meanwhile, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) observed a month-long traffic safety awareness campaign in September following widespread student protests triggered by the death of two college students on a city street in August.During the campaign that ended on 30 September, around 172,000 cases were filed and around Tk 140 million were realised as fine for traffic rules violation.On the last day of the campaign, DMP commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said despite the sincerity of traffic police to bring discipline in the streets, their attempts are not yielding results due to people’s tendency to violate traffic rules.”Though it’s not possible to change habits and behaviour in just one month, we’re hopeful that people will gradually abide by traffic rules,” he said.”It cannot be expected that hundreds of years of practice or irregularity will change overnight. But we hope everyone will be respectful to the law,” he said, urging the city dwellers to cooperate with the police to enforce traffic rules.
SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Following Maryland’s recent efforts as the first state to enact a law that protects consumers from generic prescription drug price-gouging, local leaders and health care advocates on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of the legislation and urged Marylanders to share their personal stories about drug affordability.The law went into effect Oct. 1 and restricts manufacturers of generic and off-patent prescription drugs from price gouging, or the “excessive and not justified” increase in the cost of a drug, according to a state analysis.In July, the Association for Accessible Medicines, the trade association that represents America’s manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines, filed a lawsuit against Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Dennis Schrader, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health, charging that the law was unconstitutional. The association said in July that the law was only protecting high-priced brand name drug companies and punishing lower cost generic alternatives.In September, a judge rejected portions of the association’s argument and allowed the law to take effect. The association in a statement has said it plans to appeal. “As a caregiver, prescription drugs are a big part of my life,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in a press release. Baker on Tuesday explained how the law has personally affected him and his family. His wife was diagnosed with early onset dementia and the cost of her medication had shot up from $100 during his earlier pharmacy visits to $300 in recent visits. “You think about the fact that I have some of the best insurance as county executive. … I have resources, but what happens to somebody that comes in and can’t afford to pay $300?” Baker said.Generic medications account for 88 percent of drugs dispensed nationally, and 22 percent of generics studied by the Government Accountability Office experienced an “extraordinary price increase” of 100 percent or greater between 2010 and 2015, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General. “I take care of patients, not laws,” Dr. Stephen Rockower, past president of MedChi said Tuesday. “My job is to make sure that patients get better, which means patients taking their medicine, and I can’t do my job when they can’t afford their medicine.”EpiPens and Naloxone are medications that officials have raised concerns about recently — citing prices that rose sharply from October 2013 to April 2014. Prices of EpiPens had a 508 percent increase in price. Naloxone, a medication used to treat opioid overdose — an especially important medication amid the nation’s opioid crisis — increased in price by 553 percent, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General. “It’s outrageous that companies can jack up prices like this,” Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “This law is a life-saver and we’re confident that the attorney general will continue to succeed in court with this legislation.”Maryland joined 44 other states on Tuesday in an antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry. They asked a federal court for permission to file a new complaint to increase the number of generic drug manufacturer defendants from six to 16, and drugs at issue from two to 15.“We have to go after it,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Capital News Service. “We’ll see the drug companies collapse and take it to trial.”Supporters of the legislation urged consumers on Tuesday to submit their stories to www.healthcareforall.com/hearmystory, a new webpage created for the public to share how escalating drug prices have hurt them or their families. “As legislators, one of the ways we were able to fight was to hear the stories of individuals and repeat them in court by talking to people who could not afford the medicine that they needed,” said state Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery). “We need your help to make sure that the legislation works.
Sure, there are girls all around the world just swooning over the idea of a handsome prince marrying a commoner, as Prince William did Friday when he made Kate Middleton his bride. But besides these fawning teens with photos of the prince strewn about their walls, there is a completely different group of people who are equally excited about the Royal Wedding.It seems the gaming community has added a little bit of Will and Kate into their games as well. From zombies to scavenger hunts, we bring you five Royal Wedding-themed games to get you ready for the big day.1. Class 3 OutbreakWhat gamer doesn’t love zombies? Class 3 Outbreak, a web game that uses Google Maps data to put your actual location into the game, lets you see what would actually happen to your area’s population if a clan of zombies actually attacked. In honor of the Royal Wedding, Class 3 Outbreak has added a “Wills & Kate” map. The game has an eerie soundtrack of the wedding march mixed in with some pretty gruesome zombie groans. The creators, Jay Weston and Saxon Druce of Binary Space congratulate the couple and hope the special day goes “somewhat better than the virtual representation.”2. The Sims 3So you can’t actually play this Sims version of the Royal Wedding, but the video (posted below) is pretty entertaining. If the wedding today actually showed Will and Kate making out on the floor of the Westminster Abbey, Harry showing up shirtless and possibly intoxicated, and the Queen and Prince Charles getting down on the dance floor, maybe we would be more inclined to wake up at 5 a.m. to watch the real thing. Instead, we have this delightful video from the Sims, which was created using Sims 3 and expansion packs.3. Royal Wedding at Miniclip.comThe browser-based game is free, and honestly, a little mind-numbing. The Royal Wedding game has you playing as Will and Kate doing mindless tasks like finding William’s labrador, or finding Kate’s cellphone. It’s more of a scavenger hunt type of puzzle game, but it’s pretty fun if you have some time to kill while all the news sites are down and you’re trying to watch the coverage of the event. The artwork is actually very well done and the attention to detail is not to go unnoticed. The game is actually pretty tricky, so don’t dismiss it just yet.4. FarmvilleOver the past few days, every one’s favorite social network farming game, Farmville, has released various items in conjunction with the Royal Wedding. Although they’re not marketed as “Royal Wedding Corgie,” or “Royal Wedding Dress,” the new items are all part of Farmville’s new Enchanted Love theme in the game, which, to our knowledge started on Monday. New items include Giant Wedding Trees, the Royal Guard Duck, the Royal Horse, the Royal Palace, a Giant Ribbon Flower, a Ribbon Flower Tree, a Welsh Corgi, a Knight Steed, a Romantic Cottage, a Wedding Dress, and a Black Tuxedo. These all go for various amounts of Farm Cash, and most items are available for only a limited time.5. Lucent HeartLucent Heart, the Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) adventure game from Gamania, is based off of the zodiac and Greek mythology and influences the good guys as they battle the bad to get control over the land of Arcadia. Each player’s actions are based on their daily horoscope, and along with Cupid match-making, some players even plan an in-game wedding with all their friends (in the game, of course) will attend. And to celebrate the Royal Wedding, Lucent Heart is hosting its own version.Gamania UK product manager Niall Callaghan told Gamasutra that honestly, it’s not the real William and Kate in the game, but the characters look a lot like the real prince and princess-to-be. Watch the trailer here.Photo via GelaSkins
Kolkata: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has detected a huge duty evasion by a company here in the import of e-rickshaws worth around Rs 150 crore and arrested two promoters of the firm, according to an official statement issued today. The Kolkata-based firm has imported ‘Electric-Three-Wheeled Vehicles (E-Rickshaws)’ commonly known as ‘Toto’ in completely knocked down (CKD) condition, by “grossly misdeclaring” goods as ‘spare parts of electric tricycle’, it said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life The importer paid 10 per cent customs duty leviable on such parts, whereas, they had actually been importing electric tricycles in CKD condition, with pre-assembled transmission mechanism, which attract the much higher rate of 30 per cent customs duty, the statement said. Their omission and commission have resulted in short-payment of customs duty to the extent of Rs 19 crore on the import of e-rickshaws in the last four years valued at approximately Rs 150 crore, it said. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed “Therefore, taking into consideration the present as well as the past imports made by the said importer, by resorting to such gross misdeclaration, the short-payment of duty comes to the extent of Rs 19 crores,” the statement said. The importer actually imported complete e-rickshaws (Toto) in completely knocked down (CKD) condition, which were split over a number of consignments, it said. As the individual consignment did not contain all parts of an e-rickshaw, they claimed benefit of exemption by declaring such goods as parts and spares of electrical tricycle, the DRI said. “When collectively considered, it is seen that sets of E-rickshaws were imported in CKD condition, but the importer by deliberately misclassifying the same as parts/spares of electrical tricycle, paid customs duty only at the rate of 10 per cent, resulting in evasion of huge amount of customs duty,” it said. DRI officials searched the premises known to be the ‘factory’ of the firm at Sankrail industrial park at Mouza Bhagabatipur in Howrah. “During a search of the factory premises, it was found that in the entire facility, they had only a few machines and tools. One machine was tightening bolts and drilling, one for laser printing and another machine for embossing plate,” the statement said, adding, it was found that the premises was basically meant for warehousing imported goods. The two directors of the company, who were the main persons behind the whole scam of evasion of customs duty, have accepted their involvement in the fraud and they have been arrested, the DRI said. “Detection by DRI of this modus operandi of import of misdeclared E-rickshaws will not only boost the ‘Make in India’ campaign of the government by discouraging such fraudulent imports by unscrupulous traders but will also provide a level playing field to the domestic manufacturer vis-a-vis imported e-rickshaws,” it said.