Ai Weiwei on the need for humanity in the worlds refugee crisis

first_imgTORONTO – Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says Canada holds a very important role in welcoming refugees as other countries close their borders.The outspoken artist was in Toronto to accept the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship and promote a documentary that showcases the plight of displaced people around the world.Ai praised Canada for having a “very open attitude” in its refugee record, and bemoaned a global far-right movement that has demonized immigrants.The prolific and provocative artist is known for large-scale installations that deal with freedom of expression, human rights and technology.He’s lived much of his life in exile. His political criticism of the Chinese government resulted in his detainment for 81 days and the loss of his passport for two years.Ai bemoaned the U.S. administration’s plans to cap refugee admissions to 45,000 in the coming year, but says it reflects a broader antagonism in the West that must be confronted.The anti-immigrant stance trumpeted by U.S. president Donald Trump is an unfortunate product of our democracy, says Ai.“He is a true product of the West, of democracy,” Ai said Thursday as he met with several reporters, taking the time to post tweets and Instagram on his smartphone between chats.“We have to admit that. By admitting that then we see what is the potential danger.”Ai says the U.S. has a particular responsibility to offer safe haven to those fleeing war, hunger and persecution.“For the U.S., such a powerful nation and as a kind of leader in the democratic world, to set up this kind of bad, bad example, to limit even less than half of the previous administration promised, which is not a big number even, that means they are withdrawing their responsibility,” said Ai, who’s upcoming film “Human Flow” reveals harrowing tales from various refugee camps around the world.“I think all those far-right movements really show the nations which lack in the confidence and lack understanding of what humanity is about. To just simply push people away and to refuse to accept people who are in danger … is such a shame.“We can see very bad cases in the past of what happened and we better learn something from our past.”last_img read more

LeAnn Rimes Teams Up With Save the Children This Holiday Season

first_imgGrammy Award-winning artist LeAnn Rimes is spreading the joy this holiday season to children in need.Rimes is kicking off her holiday Christmas tour and teaming up with Save the Children to support the agency’s child sponsorship program.“Save the Children is a wonderful organization that gives children hope for a better future,” said Rimes, who sponsors a child in Haiti through Save the Children. “I couldn’t think of a more appropriate partner for this holiday tour or a better time to ask my fans, who are always the most generous and kind people out there, to give a little to those who truly need it this holiday season and throughout the year.”Rimes will embark on a 10-city holiday concert tour on Friday, Dec. 5. Starting out in Rutland, Vt., she will perform fan favorites and songs from her newly released ONE Christmas: Chapter 1 holiday album, which is available on digital platforms and in retail stores across the country. For a full list of tour dates and locations, go here.Fans will have a chance to add the gift of child sponsorship to their shopping list for friends and family at any one of the Save the Children booths at the holiday concert venues. For $1 a day, child sponsorship makes a lasting change in a child’s life through nutrition, health, education and more.“Child sponsorship helps children living in poverty in the United States and around the world, not only during the holidays but all year round, and we are grateful that LeAnn Rimes is sharing the message with her fans,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. “Child sponsorship lifts communities from poverty by giving children a healthy start and an opportunity to learn that every child deserves.”Prior to taking her show on the road, Rimes will premiere her new holiday songs on NBC’s TODAY show on Dec. 2, and at NBC’s 82nd annual “Christmas in Rockefeller Plaza” live-broadcast tree-lighting concert in New York City on Dec. 3 (8-9 p.m. ET). Check local listings.last_img read more

HOW FEISTS 1234 TURNED INTO A SESAME STREET BLOCKBUSTER

first_img Twitter Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook “Sesame Street” turned Feist’s song “1234” into a memorable counting lesson.CreditCreditSesame Workshopcenter_img Advertisement One of the most popular “Sesame Street” songs is “1,2,3,4,” a take-off on Feist’s 2007 indie hit. With a Muppet cast that includes Elmo, Rosita, some penguins and vacation-ready chickens, it’s the appearance that the Canadian singer-songwriter gets recognized for the most, she said. The “Sesame” version of the song, released in 2008, has over 240 million YouTube views; the original has about 13 million.Whenever she’s traveling, a breathless parent will stop her for a photo. They say, “Do you mind, my 3-year-old has watched it 7,000 times,” Feist said. “And I say yes, but I always joke: You notice me because you’re a grown-up — the 3-year-olds are really only interested in the puppets. And without fail, the kids are just sort of looking at me like, who is this weird lady in the airport?” Login/Register With:last_img read more

Responsibility to protect principle must cover all who need it Ban says

“This is a critical moment in the life of the Responsibility to Protect. In the six short years since its endorsement by the World Summit, this doctrine has gone from crawling to walking to running.“Our job is to keep it moving and on track as we move from words to deeds,” Mr Ban said in remarks at a ministerial round table on the subject held on the margins of the annual general debate of the General Assembly. “Let us do our utmost to ensure that this umbrella of protection covers all who need it,” he added.Agreed at a summit of world leaders in 2005 and sometimes known as ‘R2P’, the principle of the responsibility to protect holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met. Mr. Ban noted that the principle “has arrived,” as can be seen the international community’s collective actions in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, as well as in its diplomatic efforts. “Our challenge now is to keep all [UN] Charter-based options open, and all of our collective tools sharp,” he told participants. “We need to strengthen ties with our regional, sub-regional and civil society partners. “We need to share information and assessments about States under stress. Effective prevention requires early, active and sustained engagement. “We also need to look at our development, capacity-building and peace-building programmes through the lens of atrocity prevention to be sure they are healing fissures within societies, not deepening them,” said the Secretary-General.He added that it is a sign of progress that the debates now are about how, not whether, to implement the responsibility to protect. “No government questions the principle. Tactics, however, will – and should – be the subject of continuing scrutiny.” 23 September 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to ensure that the principle of ‘responsibility to protect’ – safeguarding populations from genocide and war crimes – becomes a reality for all the peoples of the world that need it. read more

Norsat International shareholders vote to approve Hytera Communications deal

VANCOUVER — Norsat International Inc. (TSX:NII) says its securityholders have voted to approve a controversial takeover of the company by Chinese company Hytera Communications Co. Ltd.The Canadian satellite communications firm says its securityholders voted 72.53 per cent in favour of the offer of US$11.50 per share.The deal has been the focus of a debate over national security risks and the federal government’s willingness to approve a Chinese takeover of a Canadian technology company.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada consulted the U.S., a major Norsat customer, before concluding that Hytera’s takeover doesn’t pose any national security concerns.Norsat says the deal is still subject to approval by the B.C. Supreme Court as well as other regulatory approvals and certain other closing conditions.U.S. investment fund Privet Fund Management LLC, a major Norsat shareholder, had made a rival bid for the company and voted against deal. read more

Sri Lanka to get 15 billion IMF loan to avert balance of

Sri Lanka will receive a loan of one and a half billion US dollars from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to boost foreign exchange reserves and avert a balance of payments problem, a Government minister said on Monday, according to the Reuters news agency.Sri Lanka’s finances are under scrutiny after ratings agency Fitch last week downgraded its sovereign rating by a notch, to “B+”, spurred by a ballooning fiscal deficit, rising foreign debt and sluggish growth prospects. The loan conditions, such as revising taxes to increase the government revenue, have yet to be finalised, however, he added.Talks with the IMF are due to begin this month, but could drag on, as both sides have to agree on the conditions tied to the assistance programme. Last week, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said an IMF programme by which the government commits itself to taking steps to fix its finances would help lure back investors. The government was originally looking for a loan of $2 billion from the global lender, said junior finance minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena. “We continue to believe that negotiations will be slowed by the government’s unwillingness to accept unpopular IMF conditionalities,” Sasha Riser-Kositsky, Eurasia Group’s South Asia analyst, said in a note.There would be no flexibility on reducing the fiscal deficit, said a source at the global lender who has knowledge of Sri Lanka’s loan discussions, but who declined to be identified in the absence of authorisation to speak to the media.Sri Lanka’s reserves have fallen by a third, to $6.3 billion by January, from their October 2014 peak, mainly because of outflows of $1.3 billion in government bonds since January 2015. “But now we will get about $1.5 billion in a number of disbursements,” Abeywardena told Reuters. “This is to boost foreign exchange reserves.” “What we are trying to do is to get minimum cover from the IMF,” he said. “It is important for investor confidence.”The IMF gave Sri Lanka a $2.6-billion bailout package in 2009, when it faced a balance-of-payments crisis soon after the end of a 26-year war.The IMF has long urged the government to cut the fiscal deficit, estimated to have shot up to 7.2 percent of GDP last year, as well as add tax payers and spruce up the tax system. Central bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran told Reuters last week an IMF loan could help drive down the cost of borrowing for the government to between 6 percent and 7 percent from 8.5 percent, as investors would interpret it as a vote of confidence in the $79-billion economy.The island nation’s total outstanding debt rose 12 percent to 8.27 trillion rupees in the first nine months of 2015, while foreign debt increased around 5 percent to 3.27 trillion.The government has promised farmers tax cuts and subsidies, to help consolidate its position since taking office last year. read more

UN says Afghan refugees repatriated from Pakistan pass 25 million mark

This means that in total more than 3.7 million Afghans have returned from Pakistan and Iran since 2002, when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began its current repatriation programmes after the fall of the Taliban regime, making it the largest repatriation operation in the world.“This unprecedented number of people returning to their homeland is a testament to the desire of Afghan refugees to participate in the rebuilding of their country,” High Commissioner António Guterres said in Geneva. So far this year alone, the total number of Afghans returning from Pakistan with UNHCR assistance surpassed 200,000. In Iran, UNHCR has helped nearly 800,000 Afghans to repatriate since 2002, with another 400,000 leaving on their own. Under the repatriation programme, each returning Afghan receives a cash grant for transport assistance ranging from $3 to $34 per person, depending on the destination. They are also provided with a cash grant of $12 in place of food and non-food items distributed previously.Meanwhile the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that the second major phase of Afghanistan’s child soldier demobilization and reintegration campaign got underway in the west of the country this week, with an expected 3,500 children likely to benefit from the initiative in the coming three months.The nationwide programme, which relies heavily upon the support of local communities and is backed by UNICEF, began in February 2004 and has so far assisted just over 4,000 former child soldiers in a country that has been torn by more than 25 years of war and civil strife. Adding another tool to UN efforts to help rehabilitate the country, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has produced 10,000 board games in both Dari and Pashtu to teach disadvantaged children about key events in the peace process, such as the new constitution and elections, as well as highlighting environmental issues, health, and education. Called The Road to Peace, the game is being distributed by UNAMA’s Office of Communication and Public Information (OCPI) primarily to 10-14 year olds affected by the war, including former child soldiers, underprivileged children and refugee families. read more

UN responds to destruction displacement in wake of Nepal earthquake

The figures, released by the Nepalese Government Ministry of Home Affairs’ National Emergency Operation Center, and included in the latest situation report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today are the latest available and are expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue and the total number of people affected by the disaster is determined.“Time is of the essence for the search and rescue operations,” said Under-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, “The actions of the Government of Nepal and local communities themselves have already saved many lives. Teams from India, Pakistan, China and Israel have started work, and more are on their way from the US, the UK, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union and elsewhere.”The situation report says that 35 of the 75 districts in Nepal are reported to be affected by the earthquake, with the most affected districts being Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Ramechhap.Ms. Amos said UN agencies were working with humanitarian partners in Nepal, supporting the Government and other partners. The World Food Programme (WFP) was providing food items, The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was sending tents and healthcare supplies and the World Health Organization (WHO) had distributed medical supplies to cover the immediate needs of 40,000 people.She added that a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team was on the ground helping to coordinate response effort, adding that the Organization would continue supporting the people of Nepal in the weeks and months ahead. People affected by the earthquake are in need of food, water, emergency shelter and healthcare, with many having slept in the open in makeshift tents for two nights.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the earthquake, as well as nearly 60 aftershocks that followed, caused “vast devastation across much of the country,” adding that at least 940,000 children live in areas severely affected by the quake and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistanceIn a report on the agency’s website, UNICEF stressed the heightened vulnerability of children when access to safe water and sanitation was limited and said children may have become separated from their families.The report said staff and supplies were mobilizing to meet urgent humanitarian needs, with a focus on water and sanitation, nutrition, education and child protection. Two cargo flights, with a combined 120 tonnes of humanitarian supplies including medical and hospital supplies, tents and blankets, were being readied for urgent airlift to Kathmandu.Martin Sajdik, the President of the Economic and Social Council, expressed his sadness at the loss of life and sent his condolences to all those affected by the disaster.“The full scope of the disaster is not yet known but we all know that its cost goes well beyond the damage to property and has immense economic and social impact on Nepali society,” he said. “As a “least developed country”, Nepal can ill afford these setbacks on its path to sustainable development.”He stressed that the tragedy in Nepal underlined the need to make disaster risk reduction a critical component of the post-2015 development agenda and to improve mitigation efforts to minimize the impact of such disasters.“The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted recently at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, stressed that: ‘It is urgent and critical to anticipate, plan for and reduce disaster risk in order to more effectively protect persons, communities and countries,’” he said.He said priorities were assessing the damage, delivering urgently humanitarian assistance and ensuring that development gains are not lost, and he called on the international community as a whole to come to Nepal’s aid and focus on long-term recovery. read more

UN blue helmets and Malian forces targeted in cowardly terrorist attacks

Early this morning, a vehicle belonging to the peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) struck an improvised explosive device or mine about 30 kilometres south of Tessalit in the Kidal region, according to a news release issued by the mission. Two peacekeepers and one civilian were seriously injured; the vehicle, part of an escort of a logistics convoy, was damaged. Also today, unidentified armed men targeted positions of the Malian Armed Forces and the National Guard at Gourma Rharous, located about 120 kilometres east of Timbuktu, according to the mission. MINUSMA deployed its attack helicopters to the site in support of the Malian Forces and facilitated the medical evacuation of the wounded by air. “There is hardly a day when reports of abominable acts of terrorism committed by the enemies of peace and the enemies of this country and its people are not received,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MINUSMA, calling the attacks “cowardly.” “Their real target is the failure of the peace process and their goal is to impose the reign of violence and chaos,” he said, adding that the UN remains more committed than ever to support the Malian authorities and the country’s defense and security forces. Mr. Annadif also stressed the need for all Malian parties to redouble their efforts to advance the peace process. read more

In a time of rising xenophobia more important than ever to ratify

The adoption of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, marked a crucial step towards the development of international human rights and international criminal law as we know it today: it was the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the General Assembly, and signified the international community’s ‘never again’ commitment, after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.Secretary-General António Guterres was clear about the importance of the historic convention: “In the aftermath of the Holocaust and Second World War, the world came together and adopted a convention to prevent genocide and punish those who commit this heinous crime,” he said.“Seventy years later, the prevention of genocide remains a cardinal task for our time. That is why I launched an appeal for every country to ratify the Genocide Convention. I urge the 45 remaining States to do so without delay.”Of those yet to ratify the convention, 20 are from Africa, 18 from Asia and 7 from the Americas: the Secretary-General’s appeal states that ratification would demonstrate a commitment to the most fundamental principles of the United Nations, and provide the basis for action by States to prevent genocide.The International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime was established in 2015, on the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Genocide, on 9 December 1948, and 10 years after the historic UN World Summit, which saw the international community take a unified stance on a range of crucial issues, including the acceptance of collective responsibility to protect civilians against genocide and other crimes against humanity.The adoption of the Genocide Convention marked a crucial step towards the development of international human rights and international criminal law as we know it today: it was the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and signified the international community’s ‘never again’ commitment, after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.“In the aftermath of the Holocaust and Second World War, the world came together and adopted a convention to prevent genocide and punish those who commit this heinous crime,” said the Secretary-General. “Seventy years later, the prevention of genocide remains a cardinal task for our time. That is why I launched an appeal for every country to ratify the Genocide Convention. I urge the 45 remaining States to do so without delay.”Of those yet to ratify the convention, 20 are from Africa, 18 from Asia and 7 from the Americas: the Secretary-General’s appeal states that ratification would demonstrate a commitment to the most fundamental principles of the United Nations, and provide the basis for action by States to prevent genocide.The International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime was established in 2015, on the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Genocide, on 9 December 1948, and 10 years after the historic UN World Summit, which saw the international community take a unified stance on a range of crucial issues, including the acceptance of collective responsibility to protect civilians against genocide and other crimes against humanity. read more

China is already blocking Google

first_imgGoogle+ has only been available for about a day, and the user-base is so small that most people using the service probably already know one another. That hasn’t stopped the Chinese Government from blocking what they perceive to be another threat to state-managed media. The government has already squashed access to Google+, even though it’s invitation-only and there’s no indication any of their citizens were even using it.China already blocks most outside social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and FourSquare. Still, the move comes quickly, even for the Chinese government, which is known to not waste time when it comes to blocking media that it can’t control.All of this takes place at a time where the Chinese government is very sensitive to Google and its market maneuvers, and Google has been tiptoeing around the Chinese government while trying to do business in the country.Google recently applied for a mapping and surveying license in order to expand Google Maps in China. The license is normally a routine matter, but it raised eyebrows internationally because the Chinese government could use the opportunity to punish Google for calling China out publicly over a recent string of Gmail hacks.Google announced that its security audits had determined that the culprits behind a series of Gmail attacks and breaches of accounts belonging to pro-democracy activists, US politicians and officials, and other users had originated from China. China responded by denying the claims, saying that Google was being used as a “political tool” to support the interests of the west.In front of this tenuous backdrop, Google is moving forward and launching new services. Google+ will likely not be available in China anytime soon, but it may eventually be a moot point: a Chinese firm will reproduce the service for a Chinese audience eventually anyway.Read more at TechCrunchlast_img read more

Ukraine conflict 35 killed in worst fighting since 2015

first_imgUkraine conflict: 35 killed in worst fighting since 2015 US president Donald Trump was to hold his first talks with Ukraine’s leader today. File photo of Poroshenko (left). Source: Sean DaveyAvdiivka remained without electricity on Saturday and with only sporadic power supplies to heat homes against freezing temperatures and limited supplies of water.The giant plant provides electricity for much of the region and has been the target of previous deadly rebel attacks.Plant spokesman Dmytro Murashko told AFP that work brigades tried and failed again Saturday for the second day running to repair broken power lines after shelling halted their earlier efforts.Friday was one of the bloodiest days with nine civilians killed — two of them inside the town.The call to withdraw heavy weapons was made under the coordination of mediators from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).It provides for the “withdrawal by 5 February 2017 into permanent storage sites of all weapons regulated by Minsk agreements to the distances defined in them and beyond the respective lines.”Broken peace dealThe Minsk deal was signed in February 2015 and defined a step-by-step solution to one of Europe’s bloodiest conflicts since the 1990s Balkans wars.It has since been repeatedly broken – prompting Wednesday’s meeting of negotiators to call for the warring sides to ensure “strict adherence to (a) full and comprehensive cessation of fire”.The 33-month conflict began shortly after Ukraine ousted its Russian-backed leader in February 2014.Moscow responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014 before allegedly plotting the eastern insurgency to keep Ukraine under its thumb.Washington’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday condemned Russia’s “aggressive actions” in Ukraine – a surprising attack given Trump’s supportive stance towards Putin.Russia denies any responsibility for the conflict and blames the United States for igniting three months of massive street protests that turned Ukraine toward the West.- © AFP 2017Read: US State Department reverses visa ban after judge halted Trump’s orderRead: Louvre reopens 24 hours after machete attack Local residents speak with OSCE monitors in Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine, yesterday. 58 Comments 10,703 Views US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump was to hold his first talks with Ukraine’s leader today as a surge in fighting killed dozens and refocused global attention on bloodshed in the EU’s backyard.The phone conversation comes with the death toll at 35 following a week of clashes between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed insurgents in a level of violence unseen in the eastern Ukraine war zone since 2015.The separatist militias underscored the intensity of the fighting in saying that the Ukrainian army had opened fire against their positions nearly 15,000 times in the past week.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will try to use the call to win assurances of Washington’s continued diplomatic and non-lethal military support that came under former president Barack Obama’s administration.It also follows Trump’s phone conversation with Putin on 28 January that both sides described as constructive.The rebels along with Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday signed up to calls for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the flashpoint town of Avdiivka by tomorrow.But the demand for the shooting to stop has not halted the violence and so far there is little sign of the big guns being pulled back around the Kiev-held industrial town of 25,000 at the centre of the fighting. Ukrainian servicemen give food to local residents at the humanitarian aid center in Avdiivka. Source: AP/Press Association ImagesPower plant outOvernight and early Saturday in Avdiivka passed with relative calm compared with previous days.But the Ukrainian army said one of its soldiers had been killed in the area.Kiev military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said the separatists “had pulled their tanks up to” Avdiivka this afternoon in apparent preparation for another battle.A rebel military commander was also killed in a car bombing in what appeared to have been an internal dispute over power and unrelated to the ongoing violence.Most residents of this blue-collar town work in a major coke plant that has been heavily damaged by the shelling. By AFP Feb 4th 2017, 5:35 PM Short URL Saturday 4 Feb 2017, 5:35 PM Local residents speak with OSCE monitors in Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine, yesterday. Image: AP/Press Association Images https://jrnl.ie/3223101 Image: AP/Press Association Images Share Tweet Email Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

Geek Deals Roundup 60 Air Fryer Dell 512GB SSD Laptop for 580

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$289).Luminwiz MR16 3000K Warm White LED Bulbs (6-Pack) for $16.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: NBGZ462Y – List price: $21.99).Sweetylife Memory Foam Knee Pillow for Back Pain for $12.65 at Amazon (Coupon code: Y6N7OH6T – List price: $24.80).Today Only: Remington HC4250 Shortcut Pro Self-Haircut Kit for $29.99 at Amazon (List price: $59.99).FrenchMay 3.7-Quart 1500W Air Fryer with Touchscreen Control for $59.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: PEIKFNGD – List price: $99.99).LEGO NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket Model (1969 Pieces) for $119.95 at Amazon.For more great deals go to TechBargains.last_img read more

ASA Intensifies Push for Immediate Approval of Soy Traits in Europe

first_imgASA ramped up its call for approval of three outstanding soybean traits by the European Union this week, saying that the tools are a critical part of the industry’s ongoing quest to meet sustainability and consumer demand goals, and that continued delays pose serious issues both for farmers and industry.In a letter to European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis Tuesday, ASA expressed deep concern with the EU’s delayed authorization of three new soybean traits: Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant RR2Xtend and Vistive Gold high oleic traits, as well as Bayer CropScience’s isoxaflutole-resistant Balance Bean trait. All three traits received positive opinions from the European Food Safety Authority in May and June of last year, and have awaited approval for five months following an Appeals Committee ruling in January.“The Commission’s lack of action in providing final authorization for these soy events has already caused unnecessary uncertainty, disruption and cost in the agricultural supply chain. Immediate authorization by the European Commission is needed to avoid substantial additional unnecessary costs and possible disruption to the essential supply of feedstocks needed by the EU’s livestock, poultry and feed industries, which are more than 70 percent dependent on imports of vegetable protein,” the letter stated.ASA also cited repeated assurances over the course of several months from EU officials that approval of the three traits was imminent as providing a false sense of security for farmers looking to utilize the traits to meet sustainability goals and comply with the food industry’s ongoing move away from trans fats in the American marketplace.“As the threat of resistant weeds continues to move across soybean country, and the specter of increased input costs coupled with a down farm economy looms over so many soybean farmers, we need more options in the marketplace. We are not benefited by new products that are stuck in a malfunctioning approvals pipeline,” said ASA President Richard Wilkins, a farmer from Greenwood, Del. “Add to that the ability of high-oleic soy to help answer the growing market for cooking oils free of trans fats, and you see the real value in these three traits.“The European Commission must abide by the timelines set out in in its own regulations, as well as its obligations under the World Trade Organization, and give these traits the approvals that it has said are forthcoming,” Wilkins added.A full copy of the letter is available here.last_img read more

Loud argument results in marijuana bust

first_imgCalled to a Sifton home for a 3:30 a.m. for a domestic disturbance, police officers returned at 10 with a search warrant and confiscated $210,000 worth of marijuana.Approximately 140 plants in all stages of production were removed from the home at 13907 N.E. 89th Circle, according to a news release from the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force.The incident began with a middle-of-the-night call of two residents arguing. While on the scene, sheriff’s deputies noticed that part of the 1,100-square-foot ranch house with an attached garage had been converted to a marijuana growing operation.After the search warrant was obtained and the plants were seized deputies arrested a suspect, John C. Melick, 47, on suspicion of manufacturing marijuana.last_img read more

US taxi firms offer to settle employeestatus disputes

first_imgSeveral cases concerning employee status have taken place in the US as drivers for two taxi platforms dispute their classification as independent contractors in favour of being classed as employees and receiving the benefits that this affords.Lyft has proposed a revised settlement agreement for the Cotter v Lyft class action case, which includes more than 163,000 drivers in California. The settlement offer includes a $27 million (£18.7 million) payment to drivers.Under the agreement, drivers would continue to operate as independent contractors. The settlement only applies to Lyft drivers based in California, but the organisation plans to make terms of service and product changes nationwide if the new agreement is approved.Uber has been the subject of similar class action lawsuits, making a settlement offer relating to the O’Connor et al. v Uber Technologies case in California and Yucesoy v Uber Technologies in Massachusetts. The taxi organisation has agreed to a settlement that will pay plaintiffs $84 million (£58 million). It will also continue to classify drivers as independent contractors under the agreement.last_img read more

Army Commission Nears End of FactFinding Mission

first_imgAfter visiting posts around the nation, meeting every geographic combatant command, and hearing from governors and adjutants general, the National Commission on the Future of the Army has gathered much of the information it needs to assess the proper size and force mix for the Army’s three components.Recently the commission spent two days at the Institute for Defense Analyses conducting its own analytical review with analysts from the commission, the Army and outside experts, Chairman Carter Ham told Defense News.“The focus of the review was on the size, the balance across components, the deployment and mobilization ratios,” Ham said.The commission evaluated the Army’s operational plans against a variety of options for organizing the service’s components. “We did include both [continental US] and [outside of the continental US] scenarios and various sequencing to try to get at, inside, to the stresses that were on the force, on the Army, at various force levels and various capability mixes and various other factors … such as deployment length, mobilization to dwell periods and the like,” Ham said.The review, he said, will provide the analytical foundation for the commission’s findings and recommendations, which are due Feb.1, 2016.The analysis also looked at the Army’s controversial plan to shift the National Guard’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the regular Army to illuminate how alternatives to the proposal would affect the operational requirements of combatant commands.The two-day exercise made it clear that there is “no magic solution,” the retired Army general told Defense News.“There is no ‘Boy, if we just turn this dial a little bit, all of this stuff gets better,’” Ham said. “These are very, very complex, intertwined matters that if you make even a slight adjustment, whether it’s [boots on the ground] to dwell [time at home], whether it’s mobilization rates or componency, those changes have broad-ranging consequences to the ability of the Army to accomplish these missions.” Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

IIHS and Mobileye want to know if ADAS makes us better drivers

first_img 2020 Lotus Evora GT first drive: A reminder to drive Intel Mobileye’s autonomous cars in Jerusalem Originally published March 20. Update, March 21: Clarifies Mobileye’s relationship to the study and adds a response from IIHS. Share your voice 2020 Toyota Tacoma first drive: Small tweaks make this midsize truck even better Auto Tech Car Games and Apps Car Culture One of the things that we find ourselves wondering is whether the proliferation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is benefiting us as drivers or making us too reliant on the electronic warnings and interventions that the systems provide. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) wondered the same thing, so it created a study using Mobileye’s 6 Series aftermarket ADAS suite to look into the question. The study consisted of two phases, and 21 IIHS employees took part, according to a blog post by Mobileye earlier this month. The first part of the study involved each participant driving as usual with the Mobileye system running in a “stealth mode” that would log alerts but not actually give them to the driver. This phase lasted four weeks and was meant to establish a baseline of driving habits. The second phase — aka the “Treatment Phase” — lasted eight weeks and as before the study participants were asked to drive normally with the Mobileye system installed on their personal vehicles, only this time the Mobileye system alerted the drivers to unsafe situations. After the eight weeks of driving were done and all of the data analyzed, IIHS and Mobileye determined that having the alerts did make the participants safer drivers. Throughout the treatment period, there was a decline of 30 to 70 percent in the number of driver alerts provided by the Mobileye system. “We already know some of the crash avoidance technology built into new vehicles is making a difference,” said Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications for IIHS. “These results show that aftermarket add-on tech can also be beneficial. Parents may be interested in the technologies to give them extra peace of mind when handing down a vehicle to a new teen driver.” Obviously, the sample size of the study (PDF) leaves something to be desired, and we’d love to see a more expansive look at this by IIHS, but it is an indication that ADAS systems benefit us in more ways than just slamming on the brakes for us when we’re not paying attention. 1 26 Photos Comment 2019 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty review: Driving a dually on the daily Tags More From Roadshowlast_img read more

Historic boat finds new berth in Kenai

first_imgThere’s a new piece of history outside the Kenai Historical Society’s office, in the Old Town section of Kenai. It casts back to a time in the state’s commercial fishing industry before small boats had engines, electronics or hydraulics, when everything was done by hand.A Bristol Bay double-ender fishing boat is on display at the Kenai Historical Society’s office, across the parking lot from the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. (Photo by Jenny Neyman, KBBI – Homer)For visitors, the 28-foot wooden fishing boat is a rare glimpse at a unique piece of commercial fishing history in Alaska. For Brian Johansen, it’s a visceral tie to his father and the start of his 57-year career on the water.“In 1956, I was 9 years old when I started fishing on this boat,” Johansen said.The boat belonged to his dad, Alex “Ike” Johansen. Ike was born in Kenai in 1919 and spent his life as a commercial fisherman, fishing set nets, fish traps and drift boats.He bought this boat, the Georgia J — named after his wife, Brian’s mother — from the Libby, McNeil, Libby cannery in Kenai in 1956. It’s a Bristol Bay double-ender, so named because of its distinctive design that helped fishermen haul nets by hand.“See, this is not a square stern. Most boats you see nowadays are square stern. Because pulling by hand, with a double-ender like this, these boats would cut the water better,” Johansen said.The double-ender, and a batch of others like it, was built in the Seattle area in the winter of 1931 to 1932. They were company boats used by Libby, primarily in Bristol Bay.“The tender would tow these boats in a long string together out to the fishing grounds. They had no engine, they had a mast for their sail, a wooden tiller, and a long set of oars,” Johansen said.Libby eventually brought the boats to Cook Inlet and outfitted them with gasoline, Chris Craft engines. Ike Johansen requested to buy the boat he was fishing for Libby, No. 112, in 1955. He renamed it after his wife, removed the sailing equipment and made other modifications over the years.Brian Johansen fished on the Georgia J with his dad, Alex Johansen, starting when he was 9 years old. The boat is a double-ender, with a stern (seen here) that’s point like a bow. (Photo by Jenny Neyman, KBBI – Homer)One of the improvements Brian Johansen best remembers is his dad adding a transmission so the nets could be hauled by hydraulics. The nets in those days were linen, with cedar corks, and heavy.“In ’57 or ’58. But I know we pulled by hand for a couple years, there. But he put that on so I didn’t have to work so hard,” Johansen said.It was yellow when Ike bought the boat. He repainted it white with red trim. Or, rather, Brian did.“I had the honor of painting it every spring. Also, I had to cork the seams of these planks,” Johansen said.He pantomimed taking long strips of cotton, twisting them and tapping them into the seams between planks on the hull with a corking iron and mallet.“A seam for every one of these planks, see. And he’d inspect them and make sure the cotton was good, and if not, we’d pull it out and put in new,” Johansen said.Once recorked, they’d run fresh water into the hull with a hose. The cotton would expand and seal the hull watertight.It was a seaworthy boat, Brian said, especially with his dad at the helm.“We had no navigational equipment, no electronics — no such thing back then. All we had was a chart and a compass. That was it. And in the fog, you could have got yourself in trouble, but we never did. My father was a good seaman and he knew his business on the water,” Johansen said.There was one time, though, that Brian questioned his dad’s judgment.Fishing periods were 24 hours. One of those open periods almost sunk them, even thought it was flat, calm water.“A solid wall of fish hit that net. And I had told Dad. I told him, ‘Don’t you think we better start picking this gear?’ He said, ‘Naw, let it soak another 15 minutes.’ And that was a big mistake,” Johansen said.They were towing three shackles of gear, each net stretching 300 feet.“The whole net sunk. It was on the bottom of the inlet, and we’re pulling by hand because that transmission broke down,” Johansen said.They had to pull the 900 feet of heavy net, full of fish, by hand. Over and over again.“We had over 4,000 fish in a 24-hour period, with this boat. It was tough. We pulled all day and all night,” Johansen said.Johansen shows the plans for his dad’s old boat, built in the winter of 1931-1932 in the Seattle area. (Photo by Jenny Neyman, KBBI – Homer)Brian fished with his dad about 10 years, until he left for the Navy when he was 19. His dad sold the Georgia J around then, to some schoolteachers in Kenai. They sold it not long after that, and the family hadn’t seen bow nor stern of the Georgia J for decades.David Hutchings, of Soldotna, saw the boat on a trailer along the side of the Sterling Highway several years ago and bought it for display in his yard on Sport Lake. He researched the history of the boat and saw that it had been registered to Ike Johansen. Hutchings and Brian Johansen had known each other as kids, so he contacted his old friend last year to tell him he had his dad’s old boat. They started talking to the Kenai Historical Society about displaying the boat in town.June Harris, historical society president, was eager for the opportunity. Peak Oilfield Services donated a day of labor June 19 to move the boat to its final mooring place. It now sits on the lawn beside the Kenai Historical Society’s office cabin across the parking lot from the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.“We’re just thrilled to have it. It’s another piece of history,” Harris said.Johansen and Hutchings will restore the boat over the summer.“It needs a little work. Some of the planks are sprung out here. I don’t know how bad that will be to get them set back in place. I’m amazed, though, I mean there’s some damage done there, but most of the hull still looks pretty good, pretty solid,” Johansen said.Johansen’s dad died in 1993. Even though Ike won’t be around in person to oversee the restoration of the Georgia J, Brian plans to do the work to his dad’s exacting standards. He said Ike will still be watching.“Oh, he’s probably smiling down right now,” Johansen said.The Kenai Historical Society is planning a dedication ceremony this fall.last_img read more

One Bangladeshi gunned down another picked up by BSF

first_imgA Bangladeshi youth was gunned down by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) members at Dongaon border in Haripur upazila early Monday.The deceased was Sumon, 22, son of Shafirul Islam, a resident of Dangipara village.Samiun Nabi, commanding officer of BGB-50 Battalion, said that the BSF members from Basatpur camp opened fire on a group of cattle traders when they went to border pillar No. 357, leaving Sumon dead on the spot.The BSF members also picked up another youth Masud Rana, 20, son of Enadul.BGB protested the incident and urged the BSF force to hold a flag meeting, said the BGB official adding that the flag meeting is likely to be held around 12:00pm.last_img read more