Jet Lag

first_imgWhen the owner of a private airline calls his pilots “terrorists,” something is seriously amiss. But that is exactly what Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal did in September. On the third day of a mass sick leave by his pilots, Goyal lost his cool. “They are behaving like terrorists,” he said. “They cannot hold the country, passengers and the airline hostage. We won’t tolerate such blackmail.” Jet’s tug-of-war with its pilots is just the latest among several difficult situations it has faced in recent months, and is symptomatic of pains being felt across India’s civil aviation industry, according to Wharton management professor Saikat Chaudhuri. “All (carriers) are in trouble,” he says, noting that Indian airlines are “disproportionately disadvantaged” by high state tariffs on aviation turbine fuel (ATF), and many operate unsustainable routes while responding to severe competition with steep price discounts.“The recession has made all that worse,” Chaudhuri adds. Kingfisher Airlines, for example, has the highest outstanding dues to airports and oil companies, compelling it to provide bigger guarantees. “Every week we hear the problems of some airline or the other highlighted.”Trouble has been brewing at Jet Airways for some time now. In October 2008, huge protests ensued when 800 cabin crew and ground staff were fired overnight. (An additional 1,000 were told they would be next to go.) Employees learned of their dismissal when their morning pickup didn’t arrive at their homes. With politicians breathing down his neck, Goyal made a PR event out of it. In a late-evening news conference, he announced that all terminated employees would be taken back. “They are like my family. I cannot see them unhappy,” he said. “I could not see tears in the eyes of my employees. I could not sleep when I saw what had happened.”No tears were shed for Goyal this year, however, as he grappled with pilots over several issues, including pay and perks, alleged preferential treatment for expatriate pilots and job security. But the immediate bone of contention was the formation of a pilots’ union — the National Aviators Guild — in June. Jet had fired for an unspecified breach of discipline two pilots who had joined the union; management said it did not have to provide a reason for their termination. More dismissals followed.On Sept. 8, 420 pilots called in sick. Over the next four days the number grew daily, to 539, about half of Jet’s approximately 1,000 pilots. The protest took its toll: From Sept. 8 to Sept. 12, Jet had to cancel 71% of its flights, including 85% of its domestic flights and 40% of its international flights.On Sept. 13, an accord was reached, though little seems to have been achieved. “It’s time to get back to work,” Goyal told his staff. “It is now time to look to do what we know best — fly.”An Industry in ‘Survival Mode’What’s new is the dramatic change in the environment. It’s been a bad year for airlines globally. The International Air Transport Association had forecast a loss of $9 billion in 2009. On Sept. 15, it revised the number to $11 billion. The estimate for 2008 has been increased from $10.4 billion to $16.8 billion. “Expect more casualties,” says the association’s director general and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani. “The world is changing. The industry is in survival mode.” The industry’s fortunes have been especially bad in India. The country accounts for just 2% of the global market, but its losses are expected to top $2 billion. “The past one year has (presented) serious challenges for the aviation sector,” says Susnato Sen, practice head (infrastructure) for the Tata Strategic Management Group (TSMG). “The sector was faced with a double whammy of high fuel prices and a considerable drop in traffic due to the economic slowdown. While there seem to be indications of a recovery in the economy, the woes of the aviation sector are far from over.”Chaudhuri calls the current situation “a reality check” following the boom years when passengers were willing to pay higher fares, and low-cost airlines could coexist with full-service carriers. “The industry is behaving as if India were a fully developed country,” he says. “Anything that grows too fast there will (have) problems. But sustainability would not have been an issue if it were not for the recession.”Consider Jet’s finances. According to a report by Enam Securities, in the April-June quarter, the first of the fiscal year, Jet had operating revenue of $470 million, down 19% from the same period last year. (These do not include the numbers for its low-cost subsidiary, JetLite.) In the international segment, the company has given nine aircraft on wet lease (providing the aircraft and crew) to foreign airlines. The $47 million lease figure “was the key driver for cash profits.” The overall outlook, however, is bleak. Enam projects a consolidated loss after tax of $176 million in 2009-10 and $78 million in 2010-11 (including JetLite, which has turned profitable). In 2008-09, Jet lost $456 million.Kingfisher isn’t doing any better. In the April-June quarter, it lost $48 million, its 10th straight quarterly loss. Oil marketing company Bharat Petroleum has filed a petition in Karnataka High Court in an attempt to recover more than $60 million. The airline owes more than twice that amount to other government-owned oil marketing companies.Air India, which has been merged with domestic carrier Indian Airlines, is in equally bad shape. Salaries have been paid behind schedule and the organization’s many unions are becoming restless. Losses last year topped $1 billion, which is why it has approached the government for a $1 billion rescue package.Many Sources of WoeThe global slowdown’s impact on India is only one reason for airline industry’s troubles. The high price of aviation turbine fuel is another. It accounts for about 40% of Indian carriers’ operating costs, compared with 25% to 30% for carriers globally. Part of the reason for the disparity is the high sales tax imposed by state governments. “The aviation sector has been hit hard by the fluctuation in the fuel price and the current economic slowdown,” says Udgirkar of PwC. “In India, this sector is viewed as servicing the higher economic strata and so, unlike other infrastructure sectors, it has not got government support by way of tax reductions or other sops.”A slump in demand is another factor. In 2006, passenger volume grew by 46.4%. Growth slowed to 32.5% in 2007, and in 2008, volume retreated by 4.7%. Indian carriers had ordered numerous new aircraft in the days of galloping growth. Now they have been left with overcapacity and a pipeline of aircraft deliveries they don’t know what to do with.Most people blame the global slump and bad planning. But G.R. Gopinath, chairman and managing director of Deccan Cargo & Logistics and the man who started the low cost carrier (LCC) movement in India with Air Deccan (later sold to Kingfisher), sees it differently. One of the reasons passenger load factors have come down, he says, is that a year ago the airlines got together and fixed fares. “If it had happened in another country, they would have been punished for cartelization. But instead of the government taking action, consumers punished the airlines by not flying and occupancy rates have tumbled since then.”“Airlines are themselves partially responsible for the crisis they are in today as they have failed to build a sustainable aviation model suitable for the country,” he adds.Competitive Rates? According to Jitender Bhargava, executive director of Air India, LCCs have made the entire business uneconomical. “They set prices that defied all logic. They were below breakeven. For instance, in 1998, a ticket to New York cost $800. In 2009, it has gone up by $60, though fuel prices have risen six-fold.”A clear case exists for the government to reduce fuel tariffs to “give the airlines breathing room,” says Chaudhuri. The airlines, too, need to focus on controlling costs, especially pilots’ salaries, and rationalizing routes by operating low-cost flights in sectors and times of the day wherever it makes sense, he adds. For example, it doesn’t make sense to offer low fares on morning and evening flights between the major metros “because you will have business executives traveling,” but airlines could lower fares for afternoon flights or smaller routes.Some airlines are already offering distinctly different full-service and low-cost flights, Chaudhuri notes. Examples of the latter are JetLite, Jet Konnect, Kingfisher Red and Air India Express. That trend is visible among international airlines, too, with some offering a “premium economy” class, he adds. Air France, British Airways and KLM have always had a premium economy class one notch below business class; Qantas added one recently and Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa are considering the same, he says. These premium economy offerings target business travelers who are willing to travel economy class, especially given the recent recession.“The industry as a whole needs to sit back and think about the pricing strategy,” Udgirkar says. “Competitive rates are fine in order to attract volumes, but they should not result in losses. The airlines need to avoid the very unhealthy practice of a price war. The low-cost airlines which attracted an entirely new set of customers have not been able to control their costs and have been unable to sustain their price competitiveness. Worldwide, the low-cost airlines have many avenues to control costs. For example, they either have separate airports or non-peak charges at the regular airports. This is not the case in India.” Adds Sen of TSMG: “The LCC model in India has never really taken off. It is more an LFC (low-fare carrier) model.”Excess capacity and mismatched cost and revenues also plague the industry, Sen says. Based on robust growth in recent years, most airlines had major aircraft acquisition plans. With so many aircraft scheduled to be delivered in the next seven to 10 years, the industry faces serious overcapacity. Airlines are trying to postpone deliveries.Additionally, the airline industry has a high and largely fixed cost structure. Cut-throat competition has resulted in falling average ticket prices, with increases difficult because customers in India are highly price-sensitive. This has resulted in a misalignment of operating costs and revenues. Most of the airlines have failed even to recover operating expenses, let alone capital expenditures.Another issue, Sen notes, is the slow pace of infrastructure development. “Airport development has not been aligned to growth in air traffic. Here in India, while we have had phenomenal growth of airlines, airports continue to grow at a much slower pace. This has resulted in acute congestion at airports, especially in metro airports. This in turn has resulted in increased operating costs.”What next? “Crisis is part of the aviation industry’s genetic profile. And still it survives, more or less intact,” says the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation Outlook 2009. “But today, the industry is at a crucial turning point…. The industry has been historically unable to deliver returns to cover even the cost of capital. Government protection and subsidies are going…. Airlines will in the future need to generate revenues consistent with, and behave like, companies in other commercial industries.” The report goes on to warn that “substantial staff cuts are inevitable and some industrial turbulence (is) likely.”Revenue will not be quick to rebound, but the industry has little choice but to focus on a combination of cheaper fuel, route rationalizations across sectors and timings, and cost controls. “It will take a couple of years for the yields to come back,” Chaudhuri predicts. Related Itemslast_img read more

India have a lot of problems that need to be solved: Harbhajan Singh

first_imgFormer India spinner Harbhajan Singh questioned Indian management’s move to play Krunal Pandya instead of Yuzvendra Chahal in the first T20I against Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane.Harbhajan felt his former Mumbai Indians teammate Krunal Pandya is not the sort of bowler that India can afford for all four overs in a T20I because he doesn’t spin the ball and bowls “really, really fast”.”That [team combination] is something that they have to look at. Whenever Kuldeep [Yadav] and [Yuzvendra] Chahal have bowled together, they have taken wickets, put pressure on the opposition and they have been quite successful as a pair. That is where the Indian cricket team have to think about what is the combination going forward.”We might not see Krunal Pandya batting at 6 and bowling his four overs. He is more of a bowler who bowls a few overs here and there but in Australia, you need someone else to bowl those four overs because he doesn’t spin the ball and bowls it really, really fast,” Harbhajan told India Today.India vs Australia, 1st T20I: MATCH REPORT | HIGHLIGHTS | SCORECARDHarbhajan said that India might opt for Chahal in the next match and he might as well take Krunal’s place in the team.”I think we will get to see Chahal in the next game and it could be in place of Krunal.”Harbhajan also backed Ambati Rayudu to find a place in the Indian T20I line-up as a specialist No.4 batsman. Rayudu has more or less settled as the No.4 batsman in One-Day Internationals but he has not been included in the T20I-scheme of things.advertisementAlso on Wednesday in Brisbane, KL Rahul was sent in at No.3 by captain Virat Kohli but he failed to make the best of the opportunity and got out for just 13 runs off 12 deliveries.”We were talking about KL Rahul and using him as a proper batsman at number four but there is Ambati Rayudu who will be playing the World Cup. Going forward, the more number of matches he will play the better for Team India.”There are a lot of problems that need to be solved before we get into the World Cup, the spin department especially. We need Chahal, if not this game then we will need him in the next game.”Read – Shikhar Dhawan feels poor fielding cost India in narrow loss to AustraliaEven Sunil Gavaskar and Michael Clarke were against Kohli’s decision of stepping back and sending Rahul at No.3 in Brisbane. Gavaskar felt that in the first match of the tour, such experiments were not needed.”I don’t think Kohli should have batted at No.4. In the first match of the tour, you want to bat on the position you generally bat on. It is only when you have won a series, you take such chances,” Gavaskar said in the post-match show of the match.”Virat Kohli is that batsman who can come in, take a few balls and bat till the end and win you games. I would want to see him bat up the order at No.3. He can even open but not go down the order,” Clarke said agreeing with Gavaskar.Also read – Shikhar Dhawan breaks Virat Kohli’s record for most T20I runs in a yearHarbhajan also had a thing or two to say about Rishabh Pant, his dismissal and the way he went about his innings.Pant’s blitzy 20 off 15 deliveries and Dinesh Karthik’s 30 off 13 had got India back in the game after Shikhar Dhawan got out for 76. However, Pant went out of the way to sky a shot and gave an easy catch to Jason Behrendorff, pegging India back.Also read – Virat Kohli wants India to ‘learn from mistakes’ after heartbreaking Gabba defeatEven Kohli said that Pant’s wicket was the turning point of their innings.”Rishabh is too good a player and he needs to hit it straight and in his own areas, other than trying and doing something different, which is not his game. Play the reverse sweep against the fast bowlers, where the ball is wet and the fast bowlers are finding it hard to get it to land where they want it to. He should have played proper cricketing shot, he would have got much more runs than what he scored. His problem is, he is not backing his game and playing some different kind of game that is not suiting him and is not solving Team India’s problem.advertisement”I would talk to Rishabh Pant and tell him about playing his own game and if in that process he gets out, you will not feel bad about it. Playing something that is not your game is hurting not only Pant but also hurting India’s results,” Harbhajan said.The second T20 will be played in Melbourne on Friday.last_img read more

BRISBANE METROPOLITAN TOUCH ASSOCIATION SUPER SIX STATUS

first_imgTFA Chief Executive Officer Mr. Colm Maguire was full of praise for BMTA’s efforts towards attainment of “Super Six” status.“BMTA were one of the first affiliates to complete an ASET agreement and have been extremely proactive in accessing and adopting products, services, and ideals that underpin the ASET program. The Australian Sports Commission endorses the ASET Program as best practice method for sports delivery, and the tailored support that TFA has been able to offer BMTA has ensured positive outcomes for all, particularly affiliated members, ” Mr. Maguire said. BMTA General Manager Matt Hall is extremely proud of the recognition BMTA has received with the “Super Six” status.“It’s fantastic to see Touch Football progressing to incorporate best practice business policies and practices and to know that we are working with the sport to achieve positive and productive outcomes is another indicator of the growth we are having.” Mr. Hall said. The official presentation of the “Super Six” Award to BMTA will occur at 7.15pm at the BMTA Clubhouse at the Whites Hill Complex. Planning AusTouch Interaction/Compliance Junior Pathways/Senior Pathwayscenter_img Sporting Pulse Refereeing Infrastructure Opening night of the PowerAde Isotonic South East Queensland Touch League (SEQTL) will coincide with a presentation of the “Super Six” Award to the Brisbane Metropolitan Touch Association (BMTA) by Touch Football Queensland Branch Manager, Mr. Jeremy Sorensen.BMTA is the first of a number of affiliates around Queensland who will be granted “Super Six” status in the near future. The “Super Six” status acknowledges excellence in the delivery of services to members and allows eligibility for the Touch Football Australia (TFA) Grant Scheme and the Affiliate of the Year Award.The “Super Six” status is linked to the strategic outcomes of TFA via the benchmarking ASET program that requires affiliates to complete a Needs Analysis and then a Service Agreement to work in unison with TFA to deliver outcomes to their members across thirteen different streams.To be eligible for Super Six status, affiliates must demonstrate that they meet the Super Six Criteria below:last_img read more

PM Holness at G20 Leaders’ Summit

first_imgThe Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of JamaicaG20 Leaders’ Summit, Buenos Aires, Argentina30th November – 1st December 2018__________________________________________________________________Session II: Climate Change ResilienceMr. President,The small island states of the Caribbean whose case I plead at this summit do not have the luxury of engaging in a philosophical debate on Climate Change. We are on the front lines. Every year without fail one or more of our our islands will be hit by weather events of greater frequency and intensity which can wipe out entire economies several times over in a few hours, as was the case last year.Small Island developing states must support the strengthening of a global system that secures a commitment to the 1.5 degree target, and the commitment to finance its achievement.I recently accepted the UN Secretary General’s invitation to Co-Chair the initiative on climate financing, jointly with my French colleague President Macron. I very much hope that we can count on all Leaders around this table to demonstrate their will to meet the longstanding commitment to mobilize the AGREED US$100 billion per annum by 2020 -while we seek as well to harness private sector investments towards the goal of building resilient infrastructure.While the international community works towards a consensus on the approach to the existential global threat of Climate Change, vulnerable states must act in their own behalf to adapt and build their own resilience. We have a duty to be fiscally responsible, energy smart, and embracive of technology and innovation in this regard. Jamaica holds it self out as a small island state that has embraced fiscal responsibility and energy diversity. With the help of our development partners from the IMF, IDB, and the world bank we have reduced our national debt from 147% of GDP in 2013, to be just under 100% now. With the support of the US We have diversified our energy sector away from heavy fuel oils. However, despite our efforts and ownership of the problem, these gains could be easily reversed with the direct hit of a single hurricane.It is for that reason that Jamaica has a simple, principle-oriented proposition: Countries that demonstrate fiscal credibility, and develop a track record of fiscal responsibility, but yet remain vulnerable to the fiscal impact of natural disasters, should be eligible for international cooperation and assistance in the acquisition of ex ante financial insulation for the cost of emergency response to natural disaster. Furthermore, GDP should not remain the sole determinant of graduation, where vulnerability so clearly impacts on small islands’ economic resilience. This aligns our commitment to promoting fiscal responsibility, Debt sustainability and climate resilience.We must move from Climate Talk, to Climate Action.last_img read more

Gallery Seoul Spirit Joins Teekays Centaurus Team

first_imgBermuda-based shipping company Teekay Corporation added another Suezmax tanker, the Seoul Spirit, to its fleet on September 13, 2016.The company said it took over the technical management of the vessel at the Gibraltar Anchorage, adding that the Seoul Spirit will join the company’s “Centaurus” team.Featuring a length of 274 meters and a width of 48 meters, the tanker was built in 2005 by South Korea’s shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).The 160,000 dwt Suezmax was bought in August 2015 from US-based Principal Maritime as part of a batch of twelve tankers purchased by Teekay for a price of USD 662 million.Teekay Tankers currently owns a fleet of 47 vessels, including product tankers, Aframaxes, Suezmaxes and VLCC tankers, according to data provided by VesselsValue.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more

Open to flexibility Rahul Gandhi on AAP alliance

first_imgNEW DELH: Just as possibilities of a Congress-AAP alliance looked more and more unlikely, Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the first time on Tuesday shed clarity on whether a tie-up was possible in the next few days. “There is no confusion on this, the situation is clear. We have constructed alliances and are constructing alliances, and are open to flexibility”. Interestingly, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had told reporters just on Monday that Rahul Gandhi said ‘no’ to an alliance with AAP. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderDespite Gandhi saying that the situation is clear, the two sides remain as far apart as ever when it comes to joining hands. Gandhi had a meeting with the two warring sides in Congress — the pro-alliance lobby led by PC Chacko and the anti-alliance lobby led by Sheila Dixit. While Dixit remained silent after the meeting, Chacko simply indicated that options were open. Earlier, Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit met party president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday triggering fresh speculations on the party’s possible alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe meeting, which last for around 20 minutes was also attended by All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Delhi PC Chacko. Dikshit, who has been opposing an alliance with the AAP, had said on Sunday that the decision on tie-up for Lok Sabha polls will be declared in a few days. The decision from Rahul Gandhi on an alliance is expected “anytime” now, sources said. The Congress is learnt to have discussed a 3:3:1 (three seats for both Congress and AAP and one mutually accepted candidate) or a 4:3 (four seats for AAP and three for Congress) formula in Delhi. This, though, remains unacceptable to AAP. The AAP, sources said, is slowly veering to the position that an alliance with the Congress just in Delhi is not worth the price. AAP is clearly indicating that it wants space beyond Delhi. AAP sources indicate that the party is willing to give 2 seats in Delhi, if Congress is also willing to give 2 in Haryana, and may consider giving 3 seats in Delhi, if Congress adds 3 seats in Punjab.last_img read more

Four dead in Kenyan bus blast

first_imgNAIROBI- At least four people were killed Saturday evening and 36 injured in an explosion on a minibus in Kenyan capital Nairobi.“A group of assailants threw a grenade into a bus with 32 seats,” the interior ministry said on its Twitter account.Police said the 36 injured were admitted to nearby hospitals with multiple injuries following the incident. The death toll is expected to rise due to the nature of injuries.No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.last_img

The Latest American cuts revenue estimate due to Max

DALLAS — The Latest on the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jets after two fatal crashes (all times local):9:44 a.m.American Airlines is cutting a key revenue estimate partly because of cancelled flights due to the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max jets.American said Tuesday that it cancelled 1,200 flights during the quarter that ended March 31 because regulators grounded its 24 Max planes.Over the weekend, the airline removed the plane from its schedule through June 5 — six weeks longer than before — underlining that airlines think the Max will be parked longer than previously expected after deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.American says revenue for each seat flown one mile will be flat to up 1 per cent, down from its initial forecast of flat to up 2 per cent.It also blames the government shutdown and 940 cancellations due to work on other Boeing planes.The Associated Press read more

Chad UN agency offers assistance after floods strike southeast

About 70,000 Chadians are homeless because of the floods, which follow torrential rains over the past two months, according to Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).As many as 150,000 people are classified as affected by the floods, including thousands of refugees living in the region, Mr. Mahecic told journalists in Geneva.Two refugee camps in the southeast, Yarounga and Moula, have been particularly hard hit, with recently cultivated crops and fields wiped out. Many shelters and latrines have also collapsed.Mr. Mahecic said the start of the school year, scheduled for 1 October, may have to be delayed because the refugees have temporarily occupied the schools until they can find new shelter.UNHCR has identified two sites to relocate about 4,000 refugees in the camps, but distributing food and other relief items is proving difficult because the roads are in such poor condition.The agency has provided about 15,000 people across the region with basic survival kits that comprise blankets, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and bed mats.It is also raising awareness about the importance of basic hygiene practices in the wake of the floods. The collapse of so many latrines means waste may resurface, raising the risk of disease outbreaks.At least 41 Chadians have died in a nationwide cholera outbreak, and malaria is also seen as a potential threat in the region. 17 September 2010The United Nations refugee agency sounded the alarm today about the situation facing thousands of residents of southern and south-eastern Chad, where the heaviest rains in 40 years have destroyed homes and infrastructure, wiped out cropland and cut off access to towns and communities. read more

Efforts of UNled global antimalaria partnership save a million lives in a

13 September 2011Global malaria deaths have dropped by about 38 per cent over the past decade, saving the lives of more than one million people, mostly children, through the efforts of a United Nations-led global partnership that put emphasis on prevention and treatment, particularly the use of insecticide-treated nets, according to a report unveiled today. Some 43 countries, 11 of them in Africa, have seen malaria cases or deaths drop by 50 or more, according to the report by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) entitled “A Decade of Partnership and Results.”With approximately $5 billion mobilized in a decade, coverage has risen across all interventions to prevent and treat malaria, especially the insecticide-treated nets used to prevent people from being bitten by the mosquitoes infected with the malaria-causing parasite.Enough nets have been distributed to cover nearly 80 per cent of the population at risk in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the RBM report.At a news conference to launch the report at UN Headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned that more remains to be done.“Although the successes of recent years are remarkable, they need to be sustained and expanded, to prevent the disease from resurging. That is why our future goals are even more ambitious – near-zero deaths by 2015 and the elimination of malaria in 10 additional countries.“The international community needs to go beyond business as usual, and all sectors of society will have a role to play – governments, international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), researchers and health professionals, businesses and philanthropies, celebrities and ordinary individuals,” said Mr. Ban.According to the report, it is expected that all countries in the UN World Health Organization’s (WHO) European Region will have eliminated malaria by 2015.Roughly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that killed almost 800,000 people in 2009, primarily young children and pregnant women. Over 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where the disease also costs the continent an estimated $12 billion annually in lost productivity.Awa-Marie Coll-Seck, the Executive Director of RBM, stressed that fighting malaria is crucial to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight social development targets that aim to slash hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, a host of diseases and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.“The return on investment in malaria control and elimination is high,” Ms. Coll-Seck told the news conference. “Malaria control is one of the greatest health interventions and accelerates progress [towards] several UN Millennium Development Goals.”She also cautioned that while the achievement in rolling back malaria has been remarkable, it remains fragile.“We cannot afford to let the gains we have made to slip away. We need to sustain the universal coverage where we have [had] success and increase availability and access of diagnostics and treatments, particularly in high burden endemic countries,” Ms. Coll-Seck said, adding that it is critical that financial commitments be maintained and funding gaps be closed.Geeta Rao Gupta, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), also underlined the need to consolidate and sustain the successes in the fight against malaria.“We must continue to integrate malaria interventions with maternal and child health interventions, distributing bed nets at routine maternal and child health contact points,” she said.International funding for malaria has seen a more than 15-fold increase since 2003, jumping from $100 million to $1.5 billion annually in 2010.Malaria prevention and treatment benefited from the development of new, more effective drugs, rapid diagnostic tests and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, all of which did not exist 10 years ago. Other products to combat the disease are under research or development, including a possible vaccine, according to RBM. read more

Central Bank urges public to be vigilant when using ATMs

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Lanka Clear (Pvt) Limited and licensed banks have initiated several measures, in addition to measures that are already in place, to mitigate such situations and enhance the security of customer funds while ensuring the safety of the banking system.Efforts of banks, payment card issuers, acquirers and regulators need to be supported and recognized by customers in order to safeguard any payment system.In order to strengthen the security of ATM transactions, customers are required to use EMV enabled payment cards. Payment cards provide customers the convenience of withdrawing cash through ATM network and transacting through merchants worldwide. However, there is a possibility that ATM and card reading machines can be abused by criminals in order to steal customer funds from their accounts. The EMV enabled cards carry an electronic chip which is visible at the front of the card. If the card used by a customer is not EMV enabled, a request can be made from the relevant bank to issue an EMV enabled card. (Colombo Gazette) To mitigate such incidents, international payment card security standards and best practices have been adopted in Sri Lanka’s ATM and payment card network, such as issuance of cards with increased security which have an electronic chip (EMV) and provide for SMS alerts for all electronic transactions.Few incidents of fund withdrawals using fraudulent payment cards were reported in the recent past. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has urged customers to exercise due care and vigilance when using payment cards and Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in order to ensure the safety of ATM transactions.The Central Bank said that any unidentified or unauthorized transactions and lost or misplaced cards should be notified to the relevant bank, immediately. read more

UN refugee agency begins repatriation of Sudanese in Central African Republic

Refugees from Sudan have begun returning home from the Central African Republic (CAR) thanks to a new agreement signed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Governments of the two countries, the agency announced today.The accord, endorsed yesterday in Bangui, paved the way for the voluntary repatriation of some 16,000 Sudanese refugees currently residing in the land-locked nation. The new agreement is one in a series signed between UNHCR and African countries hosting Sudanese refugees. These pacts follow on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January, 2005, which ended 21 years of civil war in Sudan.The first flight of refugees was scheduled to take off this morning, bringing an initial group of Sudanese. The first phase of the operation will be conducted by air, and is expected to bring back 5,000 refugees by April, with the organized return of the remaining refugees expected to be completed by the end of this year. Most Sudanese arrived in the country around 1990, and settled in the area of Mboki, where an estimated 12,000 live today despite severe humanitarian problems. Throughout this time, UNHCR has cared for the refugees, including by providing primary and secondary education, and a functioning hospital. “The CAR is today faced by a humanitarian crisis, bound to turn into a humanitarian disaster unless significant international funding is received,” said Maurizio Giuliano, a UN spokesman in the impoverished country.Despite its own severe difficulties, war-torn CAR currently gives refuge to over 28,000 refugees from a dozen nationalities. Jean-Marie Fakhouri, UNHCR Director of Special Operations for the Sudan and Chad, thanked the CAR Government and people “for having generously welcomed Sudanese refugees over more than 15 years.”“The hospitality extended to these people by Central Africans despite all their difficulties, has been truly touching. This teaches us that, even when resources are scarce, human beings are capable of great solidarity and generosity.” read more

DPINGO Environmental challenges – a forceful argument for global citizenship

While global citizenship means many things to many people, discussions at the sixty-sixth United Nations/Non-Governmental Organizations Conference maintained that cultivating empathy, a scientific appreciation for the natural world and responsibility towards future generations must be at the core of education for global citizenship.During a roundtable discussion entitled ‘Global Citizens as Stewards of the Planet: Energy, Environment and Climate Change,’ Alexander Leicht, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) section chief of Education for Sustainable Development, saw challenges posed against the environment as a strong argument for global citizenship. “Political agreements, technological solutions or fiscal incentives are not enough. We need a change of mindsets and actions that only education can bring about,” he said from the dais. In today’s era of global pollution, natural resource depletion and threats to biodiversity, societies are reassessing the value placed on the natural environment and exploring how formal and informal education, training and grassroots advocacy can strengthen humankind’s capacities to exist on the planet. Mr. Leicht underscored the importance of understanding the scientific facts of climate change and the economic processes that bring it about. He urged all to “participate in societal and political processes that address climate change, and take steps in the local environment to mitigate it.” While global education has, for years, been taught in schools under the social sciences, the voices and teachings of indigenous cultures are helping to identify the values and skill sets necessary for sustainable production and consumption to protect all life. According to Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, indigenous peoples can impart vital knowledge on protecting the environment. She considered Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, as the most important of the 17 SDGs , because it serves as the basis for all the others. “Indigenous peoples have used their knowledge to keep their communities healthy. They have been properly managing natural resources for centuries with ideologies that have been developed over generations,” Ms. Ibrahim pointed out. She explained that the rules defined by indigenous populations can help. “People must respect Mother Nature first. They must respect the water, respect the trees, respect the animals.” Indigenous teachings affirm reverence for all relations, the kinship of all life. “Our elders and we have been observing changes in the planet for a long time – sadly of our own making. We noticed that the glaciers in the Andes were disappearing and that animals in the north were moving to the south because of the changing weather,” said Leonzo Barreno, a Guatemalan Mayan, who moderated the discussion. Mr. Barreno expressed gratitude that the UN is leading the combat against climate change. “Now people around the world can see nature as part of themselves. When we indigenous used to say ‘Mother Earth’ or ‘Father Sun’ people would laugh, but for us it was real. This is why so many indigenous people around the world would defend the land with their lives. There was no disconnection between us and the earth, between us and the animals, between us and the lakes and the rivers.” Youth Ambassador for Native Children’s Survival Ta’Kaiya Blaney shared a similar perspective. “Having a deep connection of belonging and a kinship with both each other and the land is a founding principle of indigenous ideology,” she said. “This concept is severely lacking in our current society and there are many untold indigenous stories that are crucial in changing the narrative, which can change the mainstream perspective of the truth of this world.” Ms. Blaney also asserted that indigenous peoples had a valuable part to play in combating climate change, since the majority of corporate industrial operations – most likely to contribute to climate change – were on indigenous territory. read more

Pac12 South champ Utah looks to extend win streak over BYU

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah had to travel a rocky road to finally claim the school’s first Pac-12 South title.The No. 18 Utes navigated a tough conference schedule and survived season-ending injuries to quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss. Still, Utah did not stumble before the finish line in November like in past seasons.Now the reward is a chance to play for a Pac-12 championship on Nov. 30 against either Washington or Washington State.“Our guys never backed down from anything,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “They just kept fighting and kept swinging. It’s great to see them write this chapter of Utah football history, because that’s what it is. The first South Division championship and these guys are the ones that did it.”An immediate challenge for the Utes is surviving an upset bid from in-state rival BYU on Saturday night. The Holy War will be played as the regular-season finale for both teams for the first time since 2010, their final season together in the Mountain West Conference.Both teams have travelled in opposite directions as the season has progressed.Utah (8-3) bounced back from a 2-2 start on the strength of a stifling defence and an improved offence.The Utes lead the Pac-12 in rushing offence (201.7 yards per game) and red zone offence (.905). They generate 30.5 points and 423.6 yards per game.Utah tops the nation in red zone defence (.594). The Utes also lead the Pac-12 in several other categories, including total defence (312.1 yards per game), rushing defence (95.5 yards per game) and turnovers forced (18).Utah has fielded tough teams that were in the divisional title mix before. This Utah team has had more staying power than those predecessors.“I don’t know exactly what’s different,” punter Mitch Wishnowsky said. “There was just a lot of belief. Everyone knew what we could do this season.”BYU (6-5) has fallen off the map since a 3-1 start propelled the Cougars into the Top 25. They needed back-to-back wins over Massachusetts and New Mexico State to get bowl-eligible.The offence has experienced growing pains since freshman Zack Wilson took over as starting quarterback midway through the season. Wilson has shown flashes of game-changing potential, but has also struggled with holding the ball too long and taking drive-killing sacks.As a team, BYU has struggled with slow starts. The Cougars have been outscored 31-14 in the first quarter over their last three games.“We are always working constantly to try and get the perfect game and it will be a good opportunity to start fast and finish strong,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “I think it will be a good time for us to play a complete game and maybe our best game of the year.”Other things to note ahead of the meeting between BYU and Utah:TARGETING QUESTIONS: Whittingham did not mince words over his displeasure with the way Pac-12 officiating crews are handling targeting penalties after Utah linebacker Chase Hansen was ejected from the first quarter of the Utes’ 30-7 win over Colorado for a targeting penalty. The call stirred up controversy because Hansen appeared to make a clean tackle when he dropped Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez in the backfield.“Targeting really seems to be an arbitrary call and capricious and random,” Whittingham said. “It was very frustrating and it’s so impactful. It takes one of our best, if not our best, defender off the field.”DOWN TO THE WIRE: Close finishes have turned the Holy War into an exciting rivalry. Seventeen of the last 20 games between Utah and BYU have been decided by seven or fewer points. The Utes’ 54-10 rout of the Cougars in 2011 is the last time either team won by a double-digit margin.TURNOVER TROUBLES: Coughing up the ball is a problem on both sides when BYU and Utah face off. Over the past three games between the two rivals, the Cougars have totalled 11 turnovers while the Utes have totalled eight.DEEP THREAT: Redshirt freshman Jaylen Dixon is emerging as an outside receiver who can get behind defences that Utah lacked earlier in the season. Dixon has tallied 161 yards and a touchdown on five receptions in his last two games. He leads the Utes with 27.4 yards per catch.RUNNING BY COMMITTEE: Injuries have forced BYU to dig deep into the depth chart in the backfield. The Cougars have six different players who have rushed for at least 100 yards this season — a group that includes a wide receiver and a converted linebacker. Redshirt freshman Lopini Katoa leads the way with 427 yards and eight touchdowns on 77 carries.___More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25John Coon, The Associated Press read more

May slams sickening terror attack on London mosque as suspect named

first_img 68,528 Views By Paul Hosford Short URL http://jrnl.ie/3451275 Image: Yui Mok Jun 19th 2017, 7:15 PM Monday 19 Jun 2017, 7:15 PM Share835 Tweet Email Image: Yui Mok Updated 7.15pmA MAN HAS been arrested after a suspected terror attack in London that saw a van crash into pedestrians outside a mosque.The van crashed into a footpath where an elderly man had collapsed. He later died, though it is unclear if he was killed in the attack.British media have named the suspect in today’s mosque attack as 47-year-old Darren Osborne, a father of four who was living in Cardiff, Wales.Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace said authorities were aware of rising far-right activity but were not aware of the suspect prior to the attack near a north London mosque.“What I can say on this case is this individual, so far as we know at the moment, was not known to us, but we are aware of a rise in the far right,” said Wallace.Earlier today, British Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “sickening”.May this afternoon met with religious leaders at the Finsbury Park mosque. She promised extra police resources to protect places of worship.Counter-terrorism police are investigating the incident, which occurred after 12.20am this morning.Police were called to the incident on Seven Sisters Road in the Finsbury Park area of the city. They have confirmed that the attack is being treated as terrorism.One man was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers are in the process of informing next of kin.Another eight people were injured and taken to three area hospitals. At least two are being treated for “very serious” injuries.The driver of the van – a white man aged 48 – was found detained by members of the public at the scene and then arrested by police in connection with the incident.He has been taken to hospital as a precaution, and will be taken into custody once discharged. He will also be subject of a mental health assessment.A number of armed police units are on the scene.RamadanMuslim leaders said worshippers were specifically targeted after leaving prayers near Finsbury Park mosque in north London shortly after midnight and linked the incident to a recent rise in anti-Muslim hate crime.Witness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP the van “drove at people” and some of the victims were carried for several metres along the road.London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was a “horrific terrorist attack,” calling it “deliberate” and aimed at “innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan”.It comes after two deadly Islamist attacks this year that used vehicles to ram pedestrians — one earlier this month in the London Bridge area and a March attack in which a man drove a car into crowds on Westminster Bridge.SickeningIn a statement this afternoon, Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “sickening”.“It was an attack that once again targeted the ordinary and the innocent going about their daily lives – this time British Muslims as they left a mosque having broken their fast and prayed together at this sacred time of year.Today we come together – as we have done before – to condemn this act and to state once again that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed.“Today’s attack falls at a difficult time in the life of this city, following on from the attack on London Bridge two weeks ago – and of course the unimaginable tragedy of Grenfell Tower last week, on which I will chair another meeting of Ministers and officials later today.But what we have seen throughout – whether in the heroism of the ordinary citizens who fought off the attackers at London Bridge; the unbreakable resolve of the residents in Kensington; or this morning the spirit of the community that apprehended this attacker – is that this is an extraordinary city of extraordinary people.“It is home to a multitude of communities that together make London one of the greatest cities on earth.“Diverse, welcoming, vibrant, compassionate, confident and determined never to give in to hate.“These are the values that define this city.“These are the values that define this country.“These are the values that this government will uphold.“These are the values that will prevail.”May said that she had chaired a meeting of the British government’s emergency committee Cobra earlier today.With reporting from APComments have been closed for legal reasons. May slams ‘sickening’ terror attack on London mosque as suspect named A man has been arrested. 142 Comments Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

Portraits unveiled at book launch

first_imgGreek Australian journalist Vivienne Morris launched her bilingual book, Portraits of Hellenes in Antipodes, in Melbourne on Sunday. The novel is a series of portraits of first and second generation Greek Australians, aiming to represent the presence of Hellenes in the Antipodes in “its true essence and dimension,” the author says.The novel is a series of portraits of first and second generation Greek Australians, aiming to represent the presence of Hellenes in the Antipodes in “its true essence and dimension,” the author says. Ms Morris said it was her realisation that first generation Greek immigrants were diminishing that prompted her to write this book and relay the individual stories, struggles and triumphs of Greek migrants. Born in Lesvos, where she completed her secondary schooling, Ms Morris migrated to Australia in the 1960s and continued her studies at the University of Melbourne, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Classical studies and Modern Greek. Among her achievements Ms Morris is a founding member of the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI), a founder and former executive director of the Australian Hellenic Centre of Education (Open University), and a former Cultural director of the Greek Festival of Melbourne. Ms Morris is a recipient of the Hellenic Award for her contribution to Journalism and in 2007 she received the Victorian Government Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs (in journalism). ‘Portraits of Hellenes in Antipodes’ was launched on Sunday November 14 in East Melbourne. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Superfund success means its OK to play over polluted water feds say

first_imgFederal environmental regulators are keeping a close eye on plans to develop a new complex of sports fields in Hazel Dell.However, officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week that they don’t expect the ballfield development to affect a contaminated plume of groundwater deep below the surface. Health risks would be negligible for players and spectators who gather on the future ballfields along 78th Street, they said.“The plume is 50 to 90 feet below the ground surface,” said Judy Smith, a community outreach coordinator with the EPA in Portland. “The vapors were monitored in the area in the mid-’90s, when the concentrations were at their highest. Vapor intrusion wasn’t a problem then.”Smith noted that the EPA generally encourages redevelopment of former Superfund sites.In the case of the Boomsnub/Airco cleanup site, a pump-and-treat system has been humming day and night for almost a decade. The system of 24 extraction wells, with 10,000 feet of underground pipe, send 160 gallons per minute through an automated treatment plant on the former Boomsnub chrome-plating facility in east Hazel Dell.The contaminated plume, which once reached nearly a mile west to 30th Street, has receded steadily.“It’s an amazing groundwater cleanup success story from our perspective,” Smith said. “The size of the plume and the contamination in the groundwater is orders of magnitude less.”Some neighbors remain concerned about the county’s plan to develop sports fields on the 20-acre site.“To us, this is an experiment and an accident waiting to happen,” said Naomi Davis, who bought a house near the site with her husband, Jack, in 2007.last_img read more

ACC bans foreign trip of 7 bankers

first_imgLogo of Anti Corruption Commission. File photoThe Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has imposed a ban on the foreign travel of seven officials of The Farmers Bank Ltd over approving Tk 40 million loan against fake documents and depositing the money into former chief justice SK Sinha’s account, reports UNB.ACC public relations officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya on Wednesday told UNB that a notice was sent to superintendent of police (Immigration) of special branch of police in this regard.The officials are former managing director and chief executive officer AKM Shameem, first vice-president Swapan Kumar Roy, senior executive vice-president Gazi Salauddin, vice-president M Lutful Haque, assistant vice-president Shafiuddin Askaree Ahmed, former SVP Ziauddin and executive officer Umme Salma Sultana.Meanwhile, six of the seven officials were quizzed on Wednesday in this connection.Earlier on 6 May, ACC grilled two businessmen named — Md Shahjahan and Niranjan Chadra Saha — for allegedly taking Tk 40 million in loan from The Farmers Bank Ltd using fake documents and depositing the money in the bank account of a VVIP.last_img read more

Minecrafts Notch working on new game called Scrolls

first_imgWhen Minecraft first appeared for download no one could have foreseen how popular it was going to be. The one man developing it, Markus “Notch” Persson, certainly didn’t, but now he could sit back and relax watching the money roll in from his block world sandbox.But like all talented game designers, he’s not going to work on the same project forever and gets itchy feet, so it doesn’t come as a great surprise that the first details of his next game have appeared on the web. That game is called Scrolls and it couldn’t be more different from Minecraft.Unlike Minecraft this next game is not being created by a single person. It’s a team effort consisting of two people, the other person being Jakob Porser who is listed as lead designer on the new project.Scrolls is at its core an interactive collectible card game that has spent the last five years being created as an idea that could be turned into a game by the duo. It takes elements of both battle card games and board games to form a new strategy game with an emphasis on tactical gameplay.What both Notch and Porser want is an ever-changing strategy battle that allows you to compete against another opponent using a range of battle templates. They also want it to scale to allow for tournaments to take place and leagues to form around it. If nothing else it sounds as challenging and audacious as Minecraft did on paper.The game is in the very early stages of development at the moment with only concept art available to view. We can assume that this will be a digital card game, and there’s sure to be online gameplay elements. What game ships without them these days? And as Scrolls requires opponents it suggests that online will be a core prerequisite if the game is ever to work.Read more at the Scrolls website, via Eurogamer.netlast_img read more