New Delhi: State-owned power producer NTPC is expected to generate higher operating profits in the current fiscal, says a report. “It expects NTPC Ltd (BBB-/Stable) to generate higher operating profits in the financial year ending March 2020 (FY20), partly driven by improvement in availability factors across most of its power projects, resulting in lower under-recoveries,” Fitch Ratings in the report said. The better availability will be based on higher coal procurement from the group’s new captive mines, imports and Coal India Ltd. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documents”An accident at the 1,550 MW Unchahar power project and the shutdown of the 705 MW Badarpur power project in FY19 resulted in under-recoveries, the difference between fixed costs and capacity payments of Rs 4.7 billion,” Fitch said. The company reported total under-recoveries of Rs 8 billion (around Rs 54,822 crore) in FY19, down from Rs 14.4 billion (around Rs 98,679 crore) in FY18. The annual under-recoveries were due to a few projects recording lower availability than the benchmark. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefHowever, the portfolio-level average plant availability rates in FY 2018-19 were 87 per cent for NTPC’s coal-based plants and 92 per cent for the company’s gas-based plants, it said. Fitch expects NTPC’s working capital pressures to continue because of delays in payments from the company’s counter-parties, which include financially and operationally weak state-owned distribution companies, and advances to Indian rail operators to manage coal transport. The company recorded late payment charges of Rs 13 billion in last financial year, mainly due to overdue receivables from its counter-parties. The company entered into agreement with Indian Railways to extend Rs 100 billion in 2018. NTPC has increased its standalone installed capacity to 47,325 MW in FY19 from 46,100 MW a year earlier. Its commercial capacity increased to 45,725 MW from 44,500 MW. The commercial capacity addition of 1,930 MW (1,225 MW net of the decommissioned 705 MW Badarpur power project) in FY19 was lower than the Fitch’s estimate of about 3.8 GW, likely because of project delays. The agency expects NTPC to commercialise about 4.6 GW of capacity in FY20 on a standalone basis. “We expect FY20 standalone capex to remain high, at around Rs 200 billion in line with management’s guidance, which will lead to negative free cash flow.” it added.
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APTN National NewsThe father of a young girl who recently took her life is urging parents to make sure they hug their children every day.The teen was laid to rest Sunday in a northern Manitoba community that has been rocked by a rash of suicides.APTN’s Dennis Ward has this story.
Rabat – The US Central Intelligence Agency has issued new “World Factbook” figures on global military expenditures.Morocco was ranked 26th in the ratio of military spending to GDP because it spent 3.28 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the military in 2016, just behind the US at 3.29 percent.Morocco’s GDP in 2016 was $103.35 billion, according to Statista.com. Algeria remains the top spender compared to GDP in Africa and the fifth in the world. Morocco’s eastern neighbor spent 6.55 percent of its GDP on the military in 2016. Oman topped the list globally, spending 13.73 percent of its GDP on the military, while South Sudan spent 10.93 percent.Several countries in the Middle East spend a significant portion of their GDP on the military. Saudi Arabia ranked third globally at 9.85 percent, while the UAE came sixth with 5.66 percent.Kuwait and Lebanon ranked 9th and 10th.Tunisia was ranked 40th at 2.32 percent and Egypt came 63rd at 1.67 percent.Read Also: Ambassador to Morocco: Morocco Made no Request for Russian S-400 Missiles SystemsIn recent years, Morocco has been determined to upgrade its military by acquiring new military equipment from its biggest supplier: the US.Morocco has allocated MAD 35.1 billion for its military in 2019. The budget has slightly increased (2.3 percent) from the 2018 military budget of MAD 34.3 billion. The government seeks to reinforce its ability to protect national sovereignty and to defend the territorial integrity and stability of the country.The Global Firepower (GFP) index ranked Morocco 55th among 136 countries in the 2018 military strength ranking.The GFP report said that “the Moroccan military uses a mix of old and new equipment while having several hundred thousand active and reserve personnel on call.”This week, the House of Representatives passed Law 44.18, reintroducing mandatory military service for young people aged 19 to 25. Starting in September 2019, the delegate minister of the National Defense Administration, Abdelatif Loudiyi, expects that 10,000 new conscripts will join the military each year.The military has budgeted MAD 500 million to pay for the mandatory military service.GFP also stated Morocco owns 284 aircraft, including 56 fighters, 56 attack planes, and 130 helicopters. Algeria has 528, including 97 fighters, 107 attack planes, 280 helicopters, and 46 attack helicopters.Despite recent purchases and Morocco’s strategy to upgrade its military, Morocco country spends less on its defense that Algeria, which spends $10.57 billion annually.
24 June 2009The global economic crisis that has forced cutbacks in Government spending also threatens efforts to mount an effective response to HIV and AIDS, according to the head of the United Nations agency coordinating the fight against the epidemic. “This crisis is a direct threat to progress in health and development and to our fragile gains in the AIDS response,” Michel Sidibé told the governing board of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) yesterday.In a wide-ranging “>address to the board, his first as the agency’s Executive Director, Mr. Sidibé noted that almost $14 billion was spent on AIDS last year. While calling for full funding to reach universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, he said the world can no longer afford to keep AIDS in isolation.“We must reposition UNAIDS in a crowded global health landscape. We must ensure that our future leaders stay focused on AIDS – not fatigued by it,” he stated.The challenge in the midst of the current crisis, said Mr. Sidibé, is not only how UNAIDS can do more with less, but how it can leverage existing resources and partnerships to produce more measurable results. Presenting his vision for future action at the agency, the Executive Director, who took up his post six months ago, committed UNAIDS to act on three fronts: to increase results and their impact, to optimize and expand partnerships, and to transform UNAIDS into a more efficient and effective organization.In this regard, he highlighted the new Outcome Framework, which commits UNAIDS to stand by people living with HIV and to enhance progress to ensure that people receive treatment. A key objective of the plan is to “break the trajectory of the epidemic” by putting the focus back on HIV prevention, which Mr. Sidibé said has been “systematically underinvested.”In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Dr. Paul De Lay and Ms. Jan Beagle as the Deputy Executive Directors of UNAIDS. Dr. De Lay will be responsible for overseeing the agency’s programmatic aspects and Ms. Beagle for management and external relations.
8 May 2010The United Nations labour agency warned in a new study that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour are waning and called for a “re-energized” global campaign to end the scourge. The Global Report on Child Labour, released today, assessed progress made so far and highlighted the challenges that remain if the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by the target date of 2016 is to be achieved.It noted a “slowing down of the global pace of reduction” – with the number of child labourers worldwide declining from 222 million to 215 million, or 3 per cent, from 2004 to 2008.“Progress is uneven: neither fast enough nor comprehensive enough to reach the goals that we have set,” said Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).“New and large-scale efforts are needed. The situation calls for a re-energized campaign against child labour. We must scale up action and move into a higher gear.”The quadrennial report comes ahead of The Hague Global Child Labour Conference, to be held from 10 to 11 May in the Netherlands, which will consider lessons learned in the fight against the worst forms of child labour, as well as a “road map” providing concrete steps towards achieving the 2016 target.The report also expressed concern that the global economic crisis could “further brake” progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.“The economic downturn cannot become an excuse for diminished ambition and inaction. Instead it offers the opportunity to implement the policy measures that work for people, for recovery and for sustainable development,” said Mr. Somavia.The report, which breaks down data by age, gender and region, showed that Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean continue to reduce child labour, while sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed an increase. Africa also has the highest incidence of children working, with one in four children engaged in child labour.The scale of the problem in Africa is among the key remaining challenges in tackling child labour, according to Constance Thomas, Director of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).Other challenges include a much-needed breakthrough in agriculture, where most child labourers work, and the need to address often hidden forms of child labour.“Most child labour is rooted in poverty. The way to tackle the problem is clear. We must ensure that all children have the chance of going to school, we need social protection systems that support vulnerable families – particularly at times of crisis – and we need to ensure that adults have a chance of decent work. These measures, combined with effective enforcement of laws that protect children, provide the way forward,” said Ms. Thomas.
The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka today broke its silence over a New York Times report published recently which revealed that China had funded former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election campaign in 2015.The Embassy said in a statement that it had noticed the New York Times’ article published on June 25, as well as the clarifications and responses by various parties from Sri Lanka, criticizing it full of political prejudice and completely inconsistent with the fact. “It is encouraging that all sectors of the Sri Lankan society highly appreciate China’s tremendous support and selfless assistance for ending the civil war and post-war reconstruction in the Island nation,” the Embassy added. The Embassy stress that China has always been pursuing a friendly policy toward Sri Lanka, firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. The Embassy said that despite any interference from a third party, China would like to work together with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and concentrate unwaveringly on our fixed goals, continuously promote the pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives following the “golden rule” of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits”, to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples.The New York Times had revealed that at least $7.6 million was dispensed from the account of China Harbor Engineering Company which is involved in the Hambantota port, to affiliates of Rajapaksa’s campaign. Documents seen by The New York Times had revealed that with 10 days to go before the 2015 polls opened, around $3.7 million was distributed in checks: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totaling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, his official residence.Most of the payments were from a subaccount controlled by China Harbor, named “HPDP Phase 2,” shorthand for Hambantota Port Development Project. (Colombo Gazette)
“The Secretary-General is encouraged by the cessation of hostilities in Côte d’Ivoire,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement. “He urges the parties to do everything possible to consolidate this important step through dialogue and national reconciliation.”According to the statement, the UN will continue to back the sustained efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help the Ivoirian people achieve peace, tolerance and prosperity in their country.”The Secretary-General calls on other international partners to remain attentive to the needs of Côte d’Ivoire in this difficult period,” the spokesman said.
At a ceremony Thursday which was attended by senior Liberian officials, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, Alan Doss, hailed the restoration of the Soul Clinic Police Community Depot restored after being destroyed by the war. Mr. Doss also assured residents of the community, located in the Paynesville suburb, that the UN is committed to working to restore the effectiveness of the Liberian National Police. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has to date trained over 1,800 Liberian officers and several hundred others are undergoing training. Mr. Doss the UN aims to properly train and equip 3,500 and deploy them throughout the country by next year. “To do that, we need infrastructure, and this Soul Clinic Police sub-station is part of a bigger programme funded by our Quick Impact Projects to construct police stations all over the country,” he said. UNMIL has already committed to constructing 10 police stations in six counties, of which three had been completed, and that another 12 police stations in nine counties were under consideration for funding during the next few months. Mr. Doss hoped that the Paynesville community “will not just see this as a building that the UN has put up and LNP occupies, but see this as a community center in which they have a great investment, and which they have a responsibility to help maintain and to help function properly.” Also on Thursday, Mr. Doss turned over the Paynesville Community Town Hall, which contains magistrate courts and was also renovated by UNMIL.
During a special Assembly session that saw the adoption of a resolution on ‘Strengthening emergency relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in response to the devastating effects of the earthquake’, Mr. Ban expressed condolences to everyone who lost a family, friend or loved one during the massive 7.8 magnitude quake that struck Nepal on 25 April, killing more than 8,200. Another powerful temblor shook the country this past Tuesday, killing dozens more and dealing another blow to Nepal’s severely crippled infrastructure. Through their consensus resolution, Member States requested the Secretary-General and the wider UN system to continue to assist Nepal in ensuring effective coordination of the national and international relief, and reconstruction efforts. Under the terms of the text, the 193-member body also emphasized the importance of linking relief with rehabilitation and development from very early on, of building resilience and “building back better.”“Emergency relief is never enough,” said Mr. Ban as he took to the podium before Member States adopted the resolution. “People must also be able to sustain their livelihoods. Efforts to stimulate small and medium enterprises will have long-reaching benefits. Nepal has been torn apart, years of development gains destroyed. Basic social services, in particular healthcare and education, have been interrupted. Tourism and communication have all suffered highly,” he added. The Nepal Earthquake Flash Appeal launched by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stands at $423 million to support people through immediate lifesaving aid operations. But the appeal is currently only 14 per cent funded, Mr. Ban pointed out. “Three weeks since the earthquake, humanitarian operations are intensifying and relief goods are entering the country more quickly. Humanitarian agencies are relying on the local communities and are using every means possible to reach communities that are cut off from transformation networks,” he emphasized. Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless and countless more without food, water, and healthcare. Some of the hard-hit villages are in the toughest to reach areas. Since the quake hit, more than a million people have been reached with food. Emergency health teams are present across the country. “Humanitarian aid is making a difference but we need to do more with the monsoon season starting in June more than half a million people must have emergency shelter before the heavy rain starts,” Mr. Ban said. Making sure aid is delivered is especially critical now as monsoon season approaches. It is also currently planting season and next year’s harvest will be severely affected unless farmers can plant their seeds now. But some areas of Nepal has lost all their water and sanitation facilities. “I cannot stress enough the importance of getting aid and clean water supplies to everyone in need over the next few weeks,” Mr. Ban said, pointing out that discussions between the Nepalese Government, European Union, development banks and United Nations are already underway. Echoing that sentiment, acting Vice-President of the General Assembly, Kaha Imnadze, speaking on behalf of General Assembly President Sam Kutesa stressed that access to health care, sanitation and hygiene services are critical priorities that must be addressed.“As we have learned from similar natural disasters, increases in mortality, morbidity and outbreaks of communicable diseases can be prevented through access to basic health care and clean water,” he added. “Beyond the needs of urban centres, people displaced from rural villages need to be able to return to their homes before the start of the planting season. Failing to enable people to return to their respective villages to plant crops could have severe consequences for the country’s food security,” Mr. Imnadze emphasized. In coordinating relief efforts, it is important to bear in mind there is only a “small window of opportunity” to assist affected communities.“With the monsoon season set to start in June, it is of utmost important that a comprehensive relief effort is launched as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he added.
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Stefan Luitz of Germany holds a slim lead after the first run of a World Cup giant slalom Sunday as he tries to end the winning streak of Austrian standout Marcel Hirscher.Luitz finished in a time of 1 minute, 15.57 seconds on a bitterly cold day to take a 0.15-second advantage over Hirscher into the final run. Hirscher has won five straight World Cup GS races dating to last season. He’s made the top-three in 15 straight World Cup giant slalom events.Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway sits in third place. He trails Luitz by 0.17 seconds.Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, struggled to find the speediest line on a GS course where he’s won five World Cup races. He’s 1.45 seconds back and in 13th place.Pat Graham, The Associated Press
AS THE PRICE of bitcoin hovers around the €670 mark, the number of things you can use it for grows. Now you can add cars to the list as the first one was recently purchased using the digital currency.The Lamborghini Newport Beach dealership, based in California, announced that one of its cars, a Tesla Model S Performance, was purchased using bitcoin last week.The electric car, which is only available in the US, cost €74,914 ($103,000), or 91.4 bitcoins during the time of purchase.The marketing director for the dealership, Cedric Davy, told CNN that the man had contacted them asking if he could use bitcoin to buy the car. Once that happened, it was a matter of figuring out how to convert it and complete the sale.While the value of bitcoin dropped after the sale was made, the payment processor Bitpay ensured that the price was locked for both the buyer and the dealership.It’s the first time the dealership has accepted bitcoin and it’s now accepting it for future purchases.The number of ways in which you can spend bitcoin continues to increase. One university in Cyprus is allowing students to pay for their tuition fees using bitcoin while Virgin Galactic customers can use the digital currency to pay for a commercial flight to space.Read: Man searching for binned €4.8m told there’s ‘no chance’ of finding it >Read: China now the biggest market for Bitcoin trading >
EVERY YEAR, SOME people explode into the national and international conciousness.Some by design, some by accident and others are thrust there by circumstance.Some have enriched lives, such as inspirational teenager Donal Walsh.Others, however made their names through cruelty or evil, such as the Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon.Whether they were taking over the charts, taking over the reins as leader of a religion or simply by being born, here are some people who we hadn’t heard about last year, but are name dropping over Christmas dinner.
Short URL 17 Comments Sunday 11 Jun 2017, 7:00 AM By AFP Share Tweet Email1 Jun 11th 2017, 7:00 AM ‘An industry built on human misery’ – in an uncertain world people smugglers are making billions The waves of desperate people slipping across international borders every year has created a massive moneymaking opportunity for unscrupulous human traffickers. http://jrnl.ie/3431698 8,251 Views Young men on board a dinghy having been rescued from the Mediterranean by the SOS Méditerranée in March Source: SIPA USA/PA ImagesWAVES OF DESPERATE people are slipping across international borders every year and smugglers are making billions from an industry built on human misery.The secretive nature of this dark and deadly trade means experts can provide only an educated estimate of the profits it generates for the criminals involved.But the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) best assessment is that it’s worth a staggering $US10 billion (€8.9 billion) a year.“It could even be more,” says Frank Laczko, the director of the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre in Berlin.Laczko is a global leader in migration research and despairs about what the world still doesn’t know: how many people are engaged in smuggling, how many people are smuggled each year, and how many migrants are dying during their journeys.The several thousand deaths the IOM documents each year is presumed to be just a fraction of the true figure.The desperation driving the tradeSmugglers’ customers are all trying to escape something: the war in Syria; political oppression and arbitrary detention in Iran; religious persecution in Myanmar; the Taliban in Afghanistan; and, most commonly of all, difficult lives in poor and poverty-stricken countries.With the aid of smugglers they embark on dangerous and often deadly journeys that range in cost from a few hundred dollars, to many thousands. A young migrant looks out to sea following his rescue in the Mediterranean in February of this year Source: SIPA USA/PA ImagesAfrican migrants fleeing violence and hunger make perilous desert crossings on foot to reach lawless Libya, where they wait to cross the Mediterranean on decrepit boats that have carried thousands upon thousands before them to their deaths.Asylum seekers from war-ravaged Syria hand what money they have left to smugglers who escort them to the Turkish border, despite the high likelihood that they’ll be caught, and possibly shot at, by increasingly vigilant Turkish guards.Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who’ve already fled violence and persecution in Myanmar, wait in squalid camps in Bangladesh for the next chance to pay a smuggler to reach India, Nepal or Pakistan.Central Americans determined to flee violence and poverty in their homelands are still paying smugglers to slip from Mexico into the United States, albeit in far fewer numbers after a concerted crackdown by the US Border Patrol.The smugglersInvestigators say smugglers are typically part of loosely-organised networks that have a vast geographic reach and players responsible for very specific tasks.They are recruiters who scout for customers. They are forgers who specialise in fake passports and birth certificates.They are inn-keepers who house the smuggled during their clandestine journeys. They are drivers and guides who escort migrants to the borders they will cross.They are corrupt border officers who take a share of the profit to let people in.But like any booming industry, the smuggling trade is evolving and with vast profits to be had, there is evidence pointing to the growing role of transnational, organised crime groups in some regions, including from Mexico to the United States.The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says groups that were once active only on specific routes, or in specific regions, are expanding into new markets.“Some have merged or formed cooperative relationships, expanding their geographical reach and range of criminal activities. For some crime groups, migrants are viewed simply as one of many commodities to be smuggled along with drugs and firearms for instance,” it says.Observers also point to the escalating brutality of smugglers.Earlier this year, the UN’s children’s program, Unicef, said women and children fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa were being routinely beaten, raped and starved in unofficial detention centres in Libya, controlled by militia involved in the smuggling trade.Unicef said the centres were essentially prisons, where people were held to ransom, and coerced into prostitution and other work, with young girls even forced to have contraceptive injections so they would not fall pregnant.Are destination countries feeding the beast?The response of many countries facing an influx of people, who arrive with or without the help of smugglers, has been to dramatically ramp up their border protection efforts.But experts warn policy-makers that such responses are actually fuelling, not fighting, the smuggling trade. The harder it is for desperate people to move, the more likely it is that they will need the help of smugglers to get where they’re going. A slum shelter of human trafficking victims to the Middle East in Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 May 2017 Source: SIPA USA/PA ImagesAmnesty International’s Secretary-General Salil Shetty is a savage critic of the hardline approaches taken by countries such as Australia, which uses its navy to turn smuggling vessels back at sea, and sends those caught onboard to immigration detention centres in other countries.Shetty says Australia and other countries that have sought to emulate its response are not only violating international refugee and human rights conventions, but they are feeding the very industry they claim to be weakening.“No matter how high the walls or how well armed the coastguards, people who have nothing to lose will find a way to escape unbearable situations even if it means risking their lives in dangerous journeys,” Shetty says.Demetrios Papademetriou, of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, agrees and says the smuggling industry is growing on the back of demand driven by border protection policies.“Strengthened border controls mean that more and more people are relying on facilitators,” he says.Mass movementThe UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, says wars and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any time since records began. In its latest report, issued last year, it said there were 65.3 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2015 – up from 59.5 million a year earlier.Most – almost 41 million – remain within the borders or confines of their birth countries, but the rest have moved. Data is too scattered and incomplete to paint an accurate picture of how many people are smuggled across international borders for profit each year.But the IOM says there is evidence that smugglers facilitate the movement of “huge numbers” of people. More than 400 refugees from sub-Saharan Africa landed in Salerno, Italy, April 2017 Source: Michele AmorusoEuropol, for example, estimates that 90% of migrants that cross Europe’s borders unlawfully do so with the help of smugglers. The figure for Chinese migrants heading to Canada is said to be similar. And about 80% of the up to three million people living illegally in both Malaysia and Thailand paid traffickers and other criminals to get there.Deadly journeysIn 2016, a record 7,870 people died on their migration journeys.They included 5,100 men, women and children who perished in the Mediterranean Sea – the world’s deadliest migration route – up from about 3,800 in 2015.So far this year, the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project says more than 2,100 people have died or vanished during migration. The Mediterranean crossing, linking the African continent with Europe, has accounted for more than 1,500 of those cases.But the true human toll of the smuggling trade is certainly higher. No-one knows how many Africans have perished crossing the Sahara trying to reach Libya, a busy staging point for boat journeys to Europe.Big profits, low riskThe people-smuggling trade is a marketplace for high-profit, low-risk crime.In key smuggling corridors, payments are often made via the Hawala system, an informal way of transferring money based on verbal assurance and carried out by a huge network of brokers, mainly located in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.Put simply, it’s a way to transfer of money without actually moving it, and this verbal honour system leaves no paper-trail for law enforcement authorities to follow.But cash is used too, with Europol and other agencies pointing to large cross-border cash deliveries. Smuggling profits re-enter the legitimate economy via money-laundering schemes such as real estate investment. Piles of used life jackets used by migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the main ports of entry on the smuggling routes into Europe Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesInvestigators must also contend with uncooperative migrants, who refuse to provide intelligence about who they paid even when they’ve faced abuse during their journeys, in part because they might need their smugglers if they want to help relatives move in the future.As regional cooperation and intelligence-sharing ramps up, more smuggling kingpins are being caught. But historically, those who’ve been prosecuted for smuggling have typically been middle-men and low-level players including boat crews and truck drivers.If closing borders isn’t the answer, what is?In May, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi issued a press statement that contained some jaw-dropping statistics. Over the course of a single weekend, on 6 and 7 May, more than 6,000 people crossed the Mediterranean to reach Italy. About 70 of them died.Grandi has previously railed against efforts by governments to lock down pathways used by migrants, saying closed borders are no solution to a humanitarian problem.Some observers say what happened in the Mediterranean on that weekend in May proves Grandi’s point.Thousands made the crossing from northern Africa to Europe over those two days despite the European Union’s anti-smuggling naval mission, Operation Sophia, launched to fight smuggling in the Mediterranean and stop migrants from drowning.In February, the operation’s chief Manlio Scopigno said its mandate was to identify, capture and immobilise ships carrying illegal immigrants, “not to save lives at sea”.But in truth Operation Sophia has had more success saving lives, than fighting the smuggling trade.Since it’s launch a little over a year and a half ago, Operation Sophia has captured 101 smugglers and traffickers, neutralised 387 boats and rescued more than 33,000 migrants at sea. Refugees sleeping in a disused swimming pool on Lesbos, February 2017 Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesBut Scopigno had another jaw dropping figure to share, estimating that the 33,000 lives saved accounted for just 13% of those who tried to cross the Mediterranean in the same period.Where to next?Migration experts are in universal agreement that the global community has poorly planned for and managed the inevitable mass movement of people in a world plagued by more frequent and longer lasting conflicts, oppression in all its forms, and vast economic disparity.National leaders appear to agree, with UN member states deciding at the UN General Assembly last year to pursue new global compacts to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, save lives, share responsibility for large movements of people, and attempt to end the protracted wait for resettlement that so many refugees face.Those negotiations are due to start in early 2018 and Laczko, from the IOM, says it will be a “difficult discussion”. But he’s heartened nonetheless: “At least they are starting to have this discussion.”Grandi, the high commissioner for refugees, used last year’s vote at the UN General Assembly to remind the world that there must be a shared solution to a shared problem.“No one government can address large-scale movements of refugees on its own. International cooperation is the only way forward.”© – AFP, 2017Read: Explainer: Who is Reality Winner, and why has she been charged with leaking US secrets?Read: Children among 120 passengers on board missing Myanmar military plane Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article
Drivers and consumers are the big winners from the government’s response to the Victorian Taxi Inquiry, but old license holders won’t be happy. The Victorian government has approved most of the 139 recommendations Professor Allan Fels made 18 months ago, designed to “move toward effective self-regulation and to improve the quality of taxi and hire car services for consumers”. The most contentious proposal that was met with months of lobbying from licence owners has remained in part. Licences will now be reduced to $22,000 yearly at the consumer price index minus 0.5 per cent for metropolitan taxi services. Those who hold Greater Melbourne Taxi Licence Release licences will not have to pay the yearly licence fee for 12 years. A new Taxi Services Commission will monitor who receives a new licence and how many they will allocate. The new measures are designed to open up the taxi field to more investors, thereby putting more taxis on the road while creating more competition and therefore better service to customers. Licence holders who bought their licences recently for close to $500,000 will see their investment de-valued if the commission chooses to flood the market with lots of licences. The government upped the recommended licence fee by just $2,000 to “provide some additional assistance to current licence holders”. Taxi Industry Stakeholders Victoria (TISV) spokesperson and owner of Taxilink Harry Katsiabanis says their lobbying fell on deaf ears. “We were screaming for reform, but we wanted the right reform that would make a sustainable industry,” he told Neos Kosmos. He is now concerned with the new commission’s role in licence approvals. “My biggest concern is that the government will release an unlimited amount of licenses and will review it later once they think the market has stagnated,” he says. “Once you dilute that market size by more taxis, at the end of the day it just means less revenue per car.” Time will tell if the commission will be of real use to the industry. Starting on July 1 this year, the commission will be headed by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Graeme Samuel and will act in many ways to reduce red tape and regulate an industry that’s been left untouched for years. Not-for-profit taxi insurance company Taxicare thinks increasing competition isn’t going to make services better. “The fact that more taxis will be on the road doesn’t necessarily mean that drivers will be better qualified or the public be served any better,” CEO George Karayianidis says. The reforms have aimed to better educate drivers and promote better standards. Drivers now will be better renumerated, with either a 55 per cent take each fare or a specific hourly payment plan based on a new minimum wage sum. A new independent and comprehensive exam for new taxi drivers will aim to give an industry standard knowledge base while promoting good behaviour. Credit card fees have also halved, with the government reducing the 10 per cent fee to five in a bid to make fares cheaper. The disabled will benefit greatly from new driver training and subsidies for wheelchair accessible taxis (WAT). More incentives will be given to licence holders who convert their cars to WATs, while a central booking service just for WATs will help people with a disability get better, quicker service. Shared rides, discounted fares and set-route services will also make their mark in the coming months, while discussions with Melbourne Airport will look to provide better services to customers and drivers looking for specific fares. Country taxis are big winners too, with cheaper fares and flexible services making it through the recommendations. Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder says “the demand for services in regional areas far outweighs the supply of taxis and hire cars”. Country taxis will be better integrated to coincide with public and community transport, and taxi-bus services and share rides will be vital for cheaper fares. Country taxis will be exempt from the yellow taxi rule and will be able to carry advertising on their vehicles. The Victorian Government Response to the Taxi Industry Inquiry is available to download at www.taxi.vic.gov.au Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The Financial Police drew up charges against a 72-year-old woman accused of illegally claiming a widow’s pension from the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) for 24 consecutive years. According to the charges against her, the woman had entered into a second marriage without informing IKA, as she was obliged to do, and continued receiving her pension as a widow, setting the state social insurance fund back by an estimated 181,000 euros.The case has been sent to a Rodopi First-Instance Court public prosecutor.Source: Kathimerini
Nobel Prize-winner Odysseus Elytis once said that “if you deconstruct Greece, you will, in the end, see an olive tree, a grapevine and a boat remain”, given that Greece has long purported to be a nation of seafarers.Despite this fact, however, little seems to be widely known about the actual facts relating to Hellenic shipping. While it is often said that the Greek shipping fleet is the largest in the world, do we know that this is really true? For a country of just 11 million people – meaning 0.15 per cent of the world’s population – how have they managed to control approximately 16 per cent of global cargo tonnage?And not only that, but despite the economic depression Greece is experiencing today, its shipping industry is still in a leading position on the global stage and going from strength to strength. Industry specialist and academic George Vrakas will address these questions and more during his lecture at the Greek Centre on Thursday 8 September.A graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy of Aspropyrgos Greece, he has an MBA specialising in international supply chain management and applied economics from Victoria University.George VrakasHis 22 years of industry expertise covers a variety of positions, ranging from travelling around the world on Lyras and Latsis oil tankers as a navigation officer (Captain Class C), as a procurement and operations manager for ANL Container Line in Melbourne procuring vessel chartering, port services, road and rail transport, to now working for Patrick Ports and Terminals at The National Operations Centre in Melbourne, ensuring the delivery of best practice contract and relationship management levels of service.He is also the author of industry-themed blog www.georgevrakas.com and has had articles published in various industry publications.George Vrakas’ lecture will take place on Thursday 8 September at the Greek Centre, mezzanine level, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC at 7.00 pm. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram
Un kiwi blanc extrêmement rare survit à une opération de chirurgieLe seul spécimen au monde de kiwi blanc est sorti indemne d’une opération chirurgicale destinée à retirer des cailloux de son gosier, a annoncé le National Wildlife Center de Nouvelle-Zélande. A sa naissance en mai dernier, Manukura avait créé la surprise générale au Centre national Pukaha en Nouvelle-Zélande. Extrêmement rare, ce petit kiwi femelle est né totalement blanc et est ainsi devenu le seul spécimen au monde de son genre. Mais il y a environ 10 jours, les gardes-forestiers du Centre ont remarqué que l’oisillon âgé de 6 mois ne s’alimentait plus et qu’il marchait d’une drôle de manière. Inquiets, ils ont alors alerté les vétérinaires du zoo de Wellington qui ont fait passer des radios à Manukura. Des examens qui ont permis d’établir le diagnostic : deux cailloux de taille assez importante se trouvaient dans l’oesophage de l’animal. À lire aussiUne nouvelle forme de vitamine E dans le kiwiOr, si l’un des deux s’est avéré assez petit pour passer par les voies naturelles, l’autre était bien trop gros et aurait pu causer de réels dommages aux intestins, ne laissant aucune autre option que l’opération. Les spécialistes ont ainsi décidé de faire appel à un urologue de l’hôpital de Wellington qui a utilisé un laser pour casser le caillou et pouvoir récupérer les morceaux à l’aide d’un endoscope. Une opération qui a duré une heure et demie et a causé une petite frayeur à l’équipe de médecins lorsque le coeur de Manukura s’est soudainement ralenti à un moment de l’intervention. Mais le kiwi a survécu et récupère aujourd’hui isolé des autres animaux. En vérité, les kiwis comme d’autres oiseaux, avalent de temps en temps des cailloux qui, une fois dans l’estomac, facilitent le processus de digestion. Néanmoins, il semblerait que Manukura y soit allé un peu fort avec des pierres bien plus grosses que ce que son organisme ne pouvait supporter. Le 2 novembre 2011 à 16:44 • Maxime Lambert
Employees work at their desks inside IT company Tech Mahindra office building in Noida in the outskirts of New Delhi March 18, 2013. [Representational Image]Reuters fileLack of skilled digital talent could threaten up to 2 lakh jobs per year in the IT sector, aqccording to the latest Economic Survey. The report also suggested the government to address issues related to infrastructure in smaller cities and towns.”The job cuts in IT sector will be between 1.75 lakh and 2 lakh annually for next three years due to under-preparedness in adapting to newer technologies,” the survey quoted executive search firm Head Hunters India as saying, Deccan Herald reported.It added that the growth in digital technologies like cloud-based services is taking place at a faster rate due to which companies would have to learn those new technologies and undergo reskilling training.Automation puts 69 per cent jobs in India, 77 per cent jobs in China and 85 per cent jobs in Ethiopia at risk, according to a report released by the World Bank.However, the survey is not as cynical as an earlier McKinsey report, which had stated that almost half the workforce in IT firms would become “irrelevant” in the next 3-4 years. The report had added that the big challenge ahead for the IT industry would be to reskill 50-60 percent of the workforce as there would be considerable shift in technologies.The Economic Survey, which has been authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, said that some of the obstacles in developing digital skill talent in tier II and III cities included under-developed infrastructure. The survey also called for the easing of restrictions on startups to enable better kill development.Several firms in India have set up programs to reskill not just their existing employees but also freshers. Nasscom said that IT companies have added about 1.7 lakh jobs in the 2016-17 period. They are expected to hire about 1.5 lakh employees this year.The top five IT companies hired around 50,000 people in the same period, the survey quoted Nasscom as saying. It had also stated earlier that the world was moving towards automation and digital services and employees will have to “re-skill or perish.”Where and how does an IT professional reskill? Re-skilling seems to be the only way. [Representational Image]ReutersReskilling IT professionals through online courses seems to be the solution. IT giant Infosys, which is believed to be hiring freshers through campus placements, is helping its employees get acquainted with the industry and its current trends through online courses.The freshers are asked to pick a paid online course on Udacity, an online education provider, as part of their re-skilling programme. After the completion of the course, they are sent for training to Infosys’ Mysore facility.The top five Indian IT firms — TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Technologies and Tech Mahindra — are known to take up re-skilling exercises on a regular basis.”The need to retrain the workforce is further amplified with the automation of the old work procesess. Hence, companies need new skills. In addition to different technical skills digital also requires employees to acquire new soft skills. All this is being addressed by investing in training in design thinking and agile development methodologies,” Peter Bendor-Samuel, founder and chief executive officer of Everest Group, a global outsourcing advisory, told Business Standard.”If you are not skilling yourself, you are obsolete. You are running a race that is not there,” said Y Shekar, co-promoter, Skillablers Technologies Private Limited.Online education providers are also specifically designing courses to re-skill IT professionals. For instance, online training company Simplilearn is offering scholarships called “Bounce Back,” which lets the IT employees take up online courses and programmes to keep up with the current trends and the latest technology.
Story Links Singles competition1. Kenya Jones (GT) def. Sena Suswam (LOU) 6-0, 7-52. Nikolina Jovic (LOU) vs. Nami Otsuka (GT) 6-4, 2-6, 4-5, unfinished3. Aleksandra Mally (LOU) vs. Valeriya Deminova (GT) 6-4, 1-6, 4-3, unfinished4. Raven Neely (LOU) vs. Victoria Flores (GT) 3-6, 6-3, 4-2, unfinished5. Gia Cohen (GT) def. Chloe Hamlin (LOU) 7-5, 6-7, 6-06. Nadia Gizdova (GT) def. Diana Wong (LOU) 6-3, 6-3 Photo Gallery Tennis Match ResultsGeorgia Tech vs Louisville3/10/2018 at Louisville, Ky.(Bass Rudd Tennis Center) Doubles competition1. Valeriya Deminova/Victoria Flores (GT) def. Sena Suswam/Dina Chaika (LOU) 7-62. Raven Neely/Diana Wong (LOU) def. Nami Otsuka/Gia Cohen (GT) 6-43. Kenya Jones/Nadia Gizdova (GT) def. Aleksandra Mally/Nikolina Jovic (LOU) 6-2 Box Score The University of Louisville women’s tennis team fell 4-0 to Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center.The Cardinals (10-7, 2-5) pushed the Yellow Jackets to three sets on four courts. Georgia Tech (6-6, 3-2) claimed the doubles point with two down-to-the-wire finishes. Junior Raven Neely and sophomore Diana Wong won 6-4, turning all eyes to court one.Senior Sena Suswam and freshman Dina Chaika pushed Georgia Tech’s Valeriya Deminova and Victoria Flores to a tie break, but the Jackets won 7-6 (4-0).Head coach Mark Beckham said the doubles point determined how the rest of the match was played.”If we get that, it creates scoreboard pressure. Then the players on Georgia Tech are playing slightly different in singles,” Beckham said.Suswam faced No. 11-ranked Kenya Jones in singles, almost pushing of the nation’s top players to a third set before falling 6-0, 7-5.Neely and redshirt senior Aleksandra Mally weren’t able to finish their matches, but were both up late in the third set. Neely has a team-best 13 singles wins this season.Freshman Chloe Hamlin nearly secured her ninth win of the season. The Tennessee native fell 7-5 in the first set and battled back to win 7-6 (4-0) in the second set before dropping the third 6-0.Louisville’s road doesn’t get any easier as they welcome No. 3 Duke on Friday, March 22 and No. 19 Wake Forest on Sunday, March 24. Beckham noted the talent of both teams, but remained focused in house.”I want to see us play our level. When we do that, I don’t have any issues,” Beckham said. Georgia Tech 4, Louisville 0 Match Notes:Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,6,5) Print Friendly Version
Stay on target If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you also have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new Zelda is a massive, phenomenal game that you can and should play for dozens of hours. But eventually, you’re going to want to play something new on your Nintendo console/handheld hybrid. Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda is a new column highlighting cool, smaller Switch games to check out once you’ve saved Hyrule.Old Man’s Journey isn’t about cementing yourself as one of the best English actors of your generation, landing juicy roles in films in Sid and Nancy, Dracula, The Dark Knight, and Darkest Hour. That’s Gary Oldman’s Journey, and it’s still just in planning stages. Old Man’s Journey is a cozy little puzzle game from Broken Rules about taking a nice, reflective walk. And after impressing us on mobile last year, it’s now available on Nintendo Switch.Old Man’s Journey’s mobile roots are pretty obvious. You can move a cursor around with analog sticks, but the experience is clearly designed around a touch screen. Your goal is to move the Old Man to the end of each of the 15 bite-sized stages that make up the one or two-hour campaign. But because he’s so old, jumping is out of the question. So like fellow anti-platformer Captain Toad, Old Man’s Journey is about manipulating the environment itself to help out the hero.AdChoices广告A typical puzzle involves physically dragging different parallax layers of the environment closer to each other. Once they form an interconnected path, the old man can then move forward. This can really mess with your perspective. A structure you thought was far in the background is suddenly only a few footsteps away in the flattened 2D plane. And there are later clever varied puzzles that test your knowledge of how the environmental manipulation works as you herd sheep, chase waterfalls, or guide a train.But Old Man’s Journey isn’t interested in warping your brain like, say, Gorogoa. It doesn’t want you to get exhausted. It just wants you and this old man to go for a nice and easy walk, or the video game equivalent of a nice and easy walk. Each stage is a gorgeous, relaxing, pastel vista painting like something from a European children’s book. The animations as you tug on the environment are soft and warm and gentle. The Old Man himself looks like Santa in a black V-neck on holiday.That isn’t to say the game is shallow. The outer pleasantness contrasts nicely with the wordless hints we get of the Old Man’s melancholy backstory at the end of each stage. It’s real “opening ten minutes of Pixar’s Up” type stuff. You don’t make a game with “Old Man” in the title without touching on mortality.Still, Old Man’s Journey isn’t the game for you if you want overwhelming gameplay or thematic depth. It’s an enjoyable and relaxing arthouse casual game, and that’s perfectly fine. There are times when that’s absolutely all a busy person, old or old at heart, can handle.Buy it now!Buy Nintendo labo Variety Kit.Buy Nintendo Labo Robot Kit.Nintendo SwitchProtect Your Nintendo Switch With These Awesome CasesLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Controller Patent Teases SNES Games on SwitchPlay These Nintendo Switch Games Before ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield&…