Enforcing a ban will not end the menace of stubble burning, say researchers

first_imgOnly educating farmers about the monetary costs of burning stubble can address the environmental crisis triggered every year in Punjab, says a team of Swiss and Indian researchers who interviewed 600 farmers over two years. Burning stubble, the rice chaff left over after harvesting, is linked to winter air-pollution in the State as well as down-wind DelhiAccording to the team, the government’s efforts — earmarking funds for specialised farming equipment (for straw management) or enforcing the state-led ban on the practice — are unlikely to solve the problem.Farmer cooperative groups — a key link between government and farmers — ought to be playing a more active role in educating farmers, say key authors associated with the study. Watch | Farmers continue to burn stubble despite ban Cheap solution“The main message is that farmers are not to blame (for the pollution crisis),” says Max Friedrich, a post-doctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). “There are deeper causes beyond economic incentives or awareness about the health consequences of burning at play.”On average, about 20 million tonnes of straw are generated in Punjab, and they barely have two to three weeks to dispose them of and prepare the fields for the next crop. Hence the popularity of deploying stubble-burning as a quick and cheap solution.For about a decade now, the Delhi and the Centre have held this practice responsible for the abysmal air quality in the capital in winter.In 2013, the National Green Tribunal issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh asking them to ban such stubble burning. The environment ministers of these States as well as top officials at the Centre declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble, which has been estimated to contribute anywhere from 7% to 78% of the particulate matter-emission load in Delhi during winter.The Centre has spent about ₹600 crore in subsidising farm equipment via village cooperatives to enable farmers to access them and avoid stubble burning. In 2018, Punjab had disbursed about 8,000 farm implements to individual farmers and set up 4,795 custom hiring centres, from where such machinery could be leased. The cost of hiring these machines was about ₹5,000 an acre, as The Hindu has previously reported.Mixed resultsHowever, the success of these efforts has been mixed, even though stubble-fires in 2018 were fewer than in 2017 and 2016, according to satellite maps by independent researchers.In their interviews, the researchers found that farmers who had bigger landholdings were more likely to burn straw; those who used combine harvesters (for cutting the straw) as opposed to manual labourers were more likely to engage in burning; and those who burnt or didn’t burn were equally aware of the steps and procedures required to abstain from burning, said Dr. Friedrich. On average, the input costs of farmers who burned straw were about ₹40,000 per acre and those who didn’t about ₹25,000 per acre but the incomes of those who burned and those who didn’t were closer — about ₹60,000 and ₹50,000 respectively.“There needs to be greater participation by village cooperatives in being able to impose social norms that would dissuade burners,” said Banalata Sen, an independent public health professional, associated with the study, coordinated by Ranas Mosler (affiliated to Eawag), the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), Hyderabad and Kethi Virasat Mission (KVM), Jaitu, India.center_img Farmers continue to burn stubble despite banVolume 90%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard ShortcutsPlay/PauseSPACEIncrease Volume↑Decrease Volume↓Seek Forward→Seek Backward←Captions On/OffcFullscreen/Exit FullscreenfMute/UnmutemSeek %0-9Live00:0001:1501:15  last_img read more

Sports Ministry removes para-sports coach Satyanarayana from Dronacharya awards list

first_imgThe Sports Ministry has dropped para-sports coach Satyanarayana from the list of this year’s Dronacharya awardees due to a criminal case pending against him, but made no changes to the names recommended for the Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards.The decision means that tennis player Rohan Bopanna and weightlifter Sanjita Chanu have not been added to the list of Arjuna awardees.”Yes, we have chucked off the name of Satyanarayana since he has a case pending against him,” a Sports Ministry official told PTI, referring to a defamation case against the coach.Satyanarayana has coached Mariyappan Thangavelu, who won a gold in Rio Paralympics and who is one among those recommended for the Arjuna Award this year.It has been learnt that several people had raised objections when Satyanarayana’s name was recommended for Dronacharya Award.”We have kept all other names,” added the official.The mails were sent out to the award winners last night after Sports Minister Vijay Goel cleared the file.The selection panel appointed by the Ministry had recommended 17 names, including two para-athletes, for Arjuna Awards and nominated former hockey player Sardar Singh and Rio Paralympics gold medallist Devendra Jhajharia for Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honour in the country.Thus, the ministry has chosen to maintain the sanctity of its panel, headed by Justice (retd) C K Thakkar, even as there is a precedence of names being added to the list by the sports minister.Goel had the discretion to add names to the list but he chose to approve the recommendations of the panel.advertisementThere was a request from his own BJP colleague and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to add the name of Deepa Malik for Khel Ratna, but the ministry stuck to the recommendations of the panel.There was a debate if Rohan Bopanna, whose nomination by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) reached ministry late, should be added to the list considering that his achievements were comparatively bigger than Saketh Myneni who was recommended for this year’s Arjuna Award.The tennis fraternity is glad that Myneni, who won a gold and silver at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, has got the honour but strongly felt that Bopanna should have been there ahead of any other tennis player.Bopanna had become the country’s only fourth tennis player to win a Grand Slam when he clinched the French Open mixed doubles title with Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski.He had finished fourth at the 2016 Olympics and there were a few in the ministry who felt that if Dipa Karmakar can be given Khel Ratna for a fourth place finish in the Rio Games, Bopanna could also have been considered for the honour.A few others, though, felt that a mixed doubles could not be compared with Karmakar’s solo show in gymnastics. Their logic was that 24-year-old Karmakar has actually changed the profile of the sport of gymnastics in India with her superlative show.Some say that not playing Incheon Asian Games has cost Bopanna dear since his preference to play in an ATP World Tour event has not been received well in the ministry.AITA did not send his nomination, assuming that he does not fit in the criteria since he has not won medals at any multi-sporting event while representing the country, robbing him of a chance to get the award.But Bopanna is also to be blamed since he did not need to depend on AITA for his nomination. He had the option of sending his application to the ministry directly but perhaps it did not strike him that he could get it.It’s only after he won the French Open he got into the act and sent his application and even had a meeting with the Sports Minister.Goel had never promised Bopanna the award but it was widely perceived that his meeting with the minister has sealed the deal.A Grand Slam title is considered equal to a gold in World Championships and it should make him eligible next year.The Indian Weightlifting Federation had also requested to add Chanu’s name in the Arjuna list, saying that she meets the criteria and has 45 points, courtesy gold medals at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Championships, plus a bronze at the Asian Championships.However, a member of the selection committee told PTI, “Points was not the sole criteria. If points were the only criteria, then neither S S P Chawrasia nor Cheteshwar Pujara nor Harmanpreet Kaur would have got it.”The achievements were looked at in a holistic perspective. Sanjita has not done anything after the CWG. She did not make even the World Championships.”advertisementlast_img read more

ESPN Predicts The Big Ten’s 5 Best Teams In 2019

first_imgJim Harbaugh and James Franklin shakes hands after game.STATE COLLEGE, PA – NOVEMBER 21: James Franklin head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions congratulates Jim Harbaugh head coach of the Michigan Wolverines after the game at Beaver Stadium on November 21, 2015 in State College, Pennsylvania. The Wolverines won 28-16. (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)There’s over six months remaining until the 2019 college football season kicks off, but predictions are already ramping up. Plenty of change has come to the Big Ten Conference, which could seriously alter the balance of power.On Thursday, ESPN released its early preseason rankings via the Football Power Index (FPI). With the advanced metric, we got a quick preview of the Big Ten as well – and the results are interesting to say the least.Per ESPN’s FPI, Michigan is slated to be the top team in the conference, coming in at No. 5. But the Buckeyes might be a little bit peeved at who comes ranked next in the conference.The second-highest rated team is not the Ohio State Buckeyes, but the Penn State Nittany Lions.Penn State was ranked No. 12, while Ohio State was ranked No. 13.The two factors that appear to have played the biggest role in putting Penn State ahead of Ohio State is the Nittany Lions’ apparent superiority in the offensive, defensive, and special teams rankings.The next two Big Ten teams in ESPN’s top 25 are the Michigan State Spartans at No. 14 and the Wisconsin Badgers at No. 23.The Spartans actually have the third-ranked defense in college football, but the team’s 55th-ranked offense appears to have hurt their score.last_img read more

Dwyane Wade Has A Message For LeBron James, Gabrielle Union

first_imgA closeup of Dwyane Wade attending an NFL game.MIAMI, FL – OCTOBER 14: Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat attends the game between the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears at Hard Rock Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)Nebraska hosts No. 5 Ohio State in one of the night’s primetime matchups. The game pits two of the NBA’s most famous friends—LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (via his wife Gabrielle Union)—against one another.James is a longtime Ohio State fan, famously growing up in nearby Akron. Union is a Nebraska native, and a huge Huskers fan.All morning, she and LeBron have been trading barbs ahead of the game. The two now have a “Taco Tuesday” bet riding on it, and Union even trolled LeBron a bit on this morning’s episode of College GameDay, picking Akron over UMass in what she called “the only win LeBron will get today.”Dwyane Wade is famously one of LeBron’s best friends, but he’s adopted the Huskers as his college football team. He also hates to see his wife and friend feuding like this. Can we all just get along https://t.co/0HkMZKtFjL— DWade (@DwyaneWade) September 28, 2019Nebraska should have a fired up crowd, with one of the most passionate fan bases in all of college football. Even so, the Huskers are big underdogs.Ohio State has looked like one of the most dynamic teams in the country once again, and enters tonight’s game as a 17-point favorite. Nebraska is 3-1, but hasn’t looked super sharp out of the gate this year.Big Ten West trips have been perilous for the Buckeyes in recent years, though. We’ve seen Iowa and Purdue score blowout wins over Urban Meyer-led clubs in 2017 and 2018 respectively. A similar win for the Huskers would go a long way towards proving that Scott Frost has his alma mater back to competing in big time football.last_img read more

Trekking: Hit the highway with the High Camp Teardrop Trailer

first_img The 2020 Living Vehicle Is a Swanky Luxury Apartment on Wheels Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.There are few things as iconic and welcoming as a classic, teardrop trailer. The thought alone conjures up images seeped in nostalgia and comfort, ones that seem to revel in a design that hasn’t vastly changed since the camper’s initial introduction in the late 1930s. And while we can’t deny the relentless allure of perching a tent beneath the night sky, we also can’t resist the minimalist aesthetic and no-frills functionality afforded by the High Camp Teardrop Trailer ($15,895).Related: The Trekking Summer 2014 Outdoor Gear GuideWith the Teardrop Trailer, owner and builder Dennis Caron set out to improve upon the design of classic camper models after making a cross-country excursion with his wife in the mid-’90s. He had qualms regarding the galley layout of other models, so he set out to redesign his own, complete with automotive-style gas struts and three-burner cooktop. The outside of the trailer is more Airstream-esque than anything else, but the aluminum design and the beautiful birch interior help envelop the camper with a sense of streamlined minimalism. The galley features a slide-out, stainless-steel Coleman cooler and the aforementioned stove, not to mention plenty of storage compartments for stowing your equipment and LED lighting to illuminate the space as you cook.However, there’s more to the Teardrop Trailer’s design than just the kitchen. Brushed-nickel reading lights conveniently shed light upon the sleeping quarters — which houses a queen-size mattress and a multi-speed ventilation fan for increasing airflow — while the headboard provides even more storage space. Optional accessories, such as a custom iPad mount and water heater, push functionality even further. It’s all built within an eight-week span, too, utilizing local welders, millers, and Caron’s own handiwork. Now, you just need a place to go and the right vehicle to haul it. Check out High Camp Trailers online for more information, to place an order, or to peruse the company’s broad swath of custom accessories. The Secret to this Featherweight 298-Pound Teardrop Trailer Is Chicken Feathers Editors’ Recommendations Taxa Outdoors’ Rugged Mantis Travel Trailer Just Got Even Better Airstream Brings Back 2 of Its Most Popular and Affordable Travel Trailers The Opus OP15′ Is a Tricked-Out, Off-Road-Ready Travel Trailer last_img read more

Six New LNG Carriers Become Part of BP Shippings Fleet

first_imgBP Shipping, the maritime arm of UK-based oil major BP, has added six new LNG vessels to its fleet.On April 23, the company said that British Partner, British Achiever, British Contributor, British Listener, British Mentor and British Sponsor all joined its fleet. Ordered in 2014, the 173,400 cbm LNG tankers were built for BP at South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).“It’s been a busy few years in BP Shipping and after approximately 4.6 – 5 million hours worked on our USD 1.3 billion ship build project, we are the proud operators of six new state-of-the-art LNG vessels,” the company added.Each of the new vessels is fitted with two, next-generation M-type, electronically-controlled, gas-injection (ME-GI) propulsion systems and a proprietary full reliquefaction system (FRS) designed by DSME. 4.6-5 million hours worked $1.3 billion invested 20% less CO2 emissions when compared to industry benchmarks Introducing 6 new state-of-the-art LNG vessels – the 1st BP Shipping LNG carriers accredited under our Advancing Low Carbon programme https://t.co/94BYCNqptH pic.twitter.com/kgPClA7qOB— BP (@BP_plc) April 25, 2019In October 2017, BP joined forces with KMarin and ICBC Leasing on the fleet expansion plan. The two firms invested over USD 1 billion in the six tankers.At the time, the company said that the units would be employed on a 20-year liquefaction contract with the Freeport LNG facility in Texas, as well as other international LNG projects in BP’s global portfolio.The vessels can carry a cargo of LNG equivalent in volume to 69 Olympic sized swimming pools and they deliver the low carbon energy to customers with 20% less CO2 emissions when compared to industry benchmarks, according to BP Shipping.The company explained that fuel consumption is a major contributor to running costs and, with the latest fleet additions, it expects to save around USD 2 million per ship per year.last_img read more

University grapples with sexualassault allegations against football players

first_imgANTIGONISH, N.S. – The bucolic university campus is set in a small Nova Scotia town: A cluster of steeples, ivy-covered brick and stone buildings and manicured sports fields.St. Francis Xavier University, an undergraduate-focused school with Antigonish County’s rolling hills as a backdrop, is a tight-knit community with small class sizes, a familial atmosphere and a strong spirit.It also has a reputation as a party school, with rowdy weekends and a binge-drinking culture — one that is under scrutiny after allegations of sexual assault surfaced last week.Two varsity football players have been charged with sexual assault. Both have been released with conditions and are set to appear in provincial court in January, police said.The allegations first came to light after an 18-year-old woman reported an alleged sexual assault to Antigonish RCMP on Wednesday, Nov. 22.She said the incident took place over the previous weekend.During their investigation, another victim — a 19-year-old woman — came forward and alleged that one of the accused had also sexually assaulted her, RCMP said.She said the assaults happened on two separate occasions on campus, once in September and again in November, police said.RCMP said Jonah Williams, 19, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault, while Tyler Ball, 18, was charged with one count of sexual assault. Both men played defensive back for the X-Men varsity football team, but their online profiles have since been removed.The university administration has responded by imposing immediate interim measures against the two students while an internal investigation is conducted.“One of the accused has been denied access to campus. The other has been granted restricted access to campus, only permitted to attend classes,” Andrew Beckett, head of student services and vice-president of finance and administration, said an emailed statement. “It is important to note that arrangements are being made to allow continuation of course work remotely.”He added that all student privileges have been revoked, including participating in varsity athletics.The allegations against the young men have not been tested in court. But the charges have rekindled a wider conversation about sexual assault allegations and universities.Although St. F.X. recently introduced new consent and sexual violence training, as well as a victim-centric sexual assault policy, such allegations underscore the need for greater awareness about sexual assault on campus, the student union president said.“We can always do more,” said Annie Sirois. “But the fact that people are reporting these incidents is indicative that these education programs are working.”Sirois rejected the notion that St. F.X. has an out-of-control party culture.“It’s a really social atmosphere. We definitely have fun but we work hard,” she said. “Most first-years live in residence and there is a really strong sense of community … you’re kind of indoctrinated into this family.”One of the accused was also reportedly a house president of a student residence, a leadership position among the student body.“You can be really popular and a really amazing athlete and have great grades and still be a perpetrator of sexualized violence,” said Heather Blackburn, manager of the sexual assault nurse examiner program at the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre.It’s not until recently that society has inherently believed the victims of sexualized violence, Blackburn said.“We are at a watershed moment now in North America,” she said.Blackburn stressed that sexual education during orientation week at the Antigonish university has improved by “leaps and bounds.” But she said awareness about consent and what constitutes sexualized violence needs to start earlier.“If the first conversation they have about consent is at university, it may be too late,” she said. “Evidence suggests that one-off conversations tend to not change attitudes and behaviour.”While the small university campus in a rural area has its benefits, she said it can also make it hard for victims to come forward and report crimes.“We know that sexualized violence tends to go unreported or under reported … especially in rural Nova Scotia.”– By Brett Bundale in Halifaxlast_img read more

Global Icons Unite For 8th Annual Robert F Kennedy Center Spring Auction

first_imgThe Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has launched its 8th Annual Spring Auction with support from more than 100 of the world’s most recognizable figures spanning business, entertainment, sports, and politics.Tim Cook, Sally Field, Diana Nyad, Blake Shelton, and Chef Morimoto are just a few of iconic figures hitting the online auction block to benefit the RFK Center. The auction, powered by global charity auction site Charitybuzz, is open to bidders internationally from April 23 through May 13 at www.Charitybuzz.com/RFK.“Whether we’re opening health clinics in the Gulf Coast or building schools in indigenous Mexico, fighting for access to justice in Egypt or labor rights in Upstate New York, the RFK Center’s annual auctions make all of our work possible,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center. “Each year, it’s a delight to see stars from the worlds of business, media, entertainment, and sports join together with generous auction bidders to help us carry forward Robert Kennedy’s dream of a more just, peaceful, and compassionate world.”Last year’s coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook was incredibly successful, raising more than $610,000 to support the RFK Center. Cook is continuing his commitment to support human rights by offering the opportunity to have lunch with him at Apple for a winning bidder and guest. Bidding for the 2014 experience is starting at $10,000.Other coveted auction experiences include a set visit to Scandal or Grey’s Anatomy, the chance to have lunch with Allison Williams of the HBO show Girls, and coffee with Academy Award winner Sally Field.Additional auction highlights include:• Lunch with Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner • Go behind the scenes at Facebook when you visit the Silicon Valley Campus and meet top executives• Visit the Set of Blue Bloods in NYC and meet available cast members• Meet Blake Shelton with two tickets to his Ten Times Crazier Tour• Meet Michael Kors backstage at his September fashion show, including a $5,000 shopping spree• Sushi making class and sake tasting for six with Chef Morimoto in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago or Napa• Walk-on role in an upcoming Farrelly Brothers movie• Lunch and laughs with Richard Saul Wurman, Founder of the TED Conference• Meet Ted Danson on the set of CSI in LA• Lunch with Dr. Ben Bernanke, Former United States Federal Reserve Chairman • Have Coffee with World Champion Swimmer Diana Nyad• Meet Bryan Cranston with two tickets to Broadway’s All The Way• Meet Conan O’Brien with four tickets to CONAN in LA• Go behind the scenes at Nightly News with Brian WilliamsPlus experiences with Anderson Cooper, Arianna Huffington, Jenna Bush Hager, Tim McGraw, Regis Philbin, Henry Schleiff and more.To date, the RFK Center’s annual auctions at Charitybuzz have raised more than $5 million for the Center’s human rights work.“We’re thrilled to partner with the RFK Center for the eighth consecutive Spring Auction, as the Center has been a key partnership since I started Charitybuzz in 2005,” said Coppy Holzman, CEO and Founder of Charitybuzz. “It’s an incredible honor to know we’re raising funds for such a worthy cause, while bringing bidders and philanthropists around the world access to some of the most coveted celebrity, business and entertainment experiences.”last_img read more

Rabat urges Tehran to respect Moroccan sovereignty to resume diplomatic relations

first_imgRabat – Rabat urges Tehran to respect Moroccan sovereignty in order to resume diplomatic relations.In response to Iran‘s request to resume diplomatic relations between the two countries, Morocco called on Iran to respect Morocco’s sovereignty and refrain from intervening in its internal affairs again.Minister of Foreign Affairs Salah Eddine Mezouar received a phone call from the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Javad Zarif in order to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Moroccan Foreign Minister highlighted the reasons that led to the severance of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Rabat in 2009, while Zarif confirmed Iran’s keenness to resume relations with Morocco.The Iranian News Agency MAHR reported Wednesday that the assistant of the Iranian minister stated that Zarif and Mezouar agreed on the need to resume diplomatic relations between Morocco and Iran, adding that the embassies of the two countries would open soon.Edited by Jessica Rohan© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

UN atomic agency a sounding board for countries considering going nuclear

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) fans out across the globe to not only ensure that nations are adhering to international pacts on security and other issues, but also to help them decide whether or not to make the leap to nuclear power.At the start of the five-yearly review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which kicked off last week, the agency’s head, Yukiya Amano, told more than 100 nations taking part at the event in New York that dozens of countries are considering introducing nuclear power to generate electricity.He noted that “it is expected that between 10 and 25 new countries will bring their first nuclear power plants online by 2030,” joining the 30 nations already on the nuclear bandwagon.Nearly three dozen plants are currently under construction, half of which are in Asia, mainly China.The financial and economic crises have not dampened interest in nuclear energy, Hans-Holger Rogner, who heads the IAEA’s Planning and Economic Studies Section, told the UN News Centre.The lead time for a nuclear power plant is at least ten years, and the Agency expects the capacity of nuclear energy to grow in the coming decades as global demand for electricity continues to increase.The right to peacefully use nuclear technology is one of the three pillars of the NPT, which entered into force in 1970.When asked for assistance by Member States, the IAEA helps them to assess their energy options and weigh all the factors – including the volatility of fossil fuel and uncertainties of climate change – before making the decision to install nuclear power plants. It is vital to make nations understand “what you’re getting yourself into,” given that “nuclear is a 100-plus-year commitment,” Mr. Rogner said.If countries decide to proceed with introducing a nuclear component to their energy system, then the IAEA helps them to ensure that it has the right capacity, human resources, waste disposal plans and adherence to international conventions, among others.“We really guide them through this,” Mr. Rogner said, underscoring that the IAEA’s role in this process is not a policing one. “We simply try to tell them, look – here is best practice.”He emphasized that it is essential that any nuclear planning involve as many groups as possible, an area in which he believes the industry still has some distance to travel. Transparency is vital from the get-go, he said, citing the example of some countries which carried out the search for potential nuclear power plants under the guise of looking for oil drilling sites.The official said that the IAEA discourages countries from taking the so-called “DAD” – decide, announce and defend – approach. “Rather, have everyone involved from Day One,” he said.For example, instead of having a technocrat from another country try to reassure a frightened fisherman who works downstream from a potential nuclear power plant, the best encouragement would come from a fellow fisherman working close to an already-operational site in a peer-to-peer exchange.“They trust other fishermen ten times more than they would ever trust Holger Rogner,” he said, chuckling. 11 May 2010The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) fans out across the globe to not only ensure that nations are adhering to international pacts on security and other issues, but also to help them decide whether or not to make the leap to nuclear power. read more

Nortel bankruptcy trial starts to wrap up in Toronto and Delaware

TORONTO — Competing groups of creditors at the Nortel bankruptcy trial are focusing on the legal interpretation of a 10-year-old agreement to determine how to divide billions of dollars in proceeds from the sale of Nortel’s patents and intellectual property.In total, the trial is expected to determine how $7.3 billion of remaining Nortel assets are allocated among the various legal entities that are undergoing court-supervised windups in several jurisdictions.That total includes about $4.5 billion from the sale of patents and other intellectual property owned by the Nortel companies that sought creditor protection in January 2009.A key question for the courts to decide is: which of the Nortel companies owned the patents and IP.In a cross-border court hearing Monday, lawyers focused on a 2004 agreement between the company’s Canadian parent and several of its subsidiaries in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries where the company had operations.“There are three competing characterizations of the relative interests in the most important asset affecting allocations,” said lawyer Benjamin Zarnett of Goodmans LLP, who represents the monitor Ernst & Young.U.S. judge approves ‘milestone’ settlement in Nortel Networks bankruptcyNortel Networks reaches settlement in overseas claimsThe Canadian position is that Nortel Networks Ltd., the Canadian parent, owned the patents and intellectual property and just licensed rights to the subsidiaries under a master research and development agreement, or MRDAThat position is being supported by the monitor and the Canadian creditors, including former employees and pensioners, and opposed by U.S. bondholders who say the agreement effectively transferred beneficial ownership to the subsidiaries.The U.S. bondholders argue that much of the money from patent sale should be allocated to Nortel Networks Inc., the U.S. business, based on a different reading of the MRDA.“The irony here is that the Canadian interests rely on the contract to deny shared ownership. But the contract itself recognizes shared ownership,” said Bill McGuire, one of the lawyers for the U.S. position.McGuire said that all participants in the agreement — the parent company and the relevant subsidiaries — shared beneficial ownership of Nortel Networks Technology Corp., an entity that held the intellectual property.“In fact . . . the parties amended the MRDA five times over four years and every single time they kept those critical words about the participants’ ownership of NN Technology.”The European creditors, which include British pensioners, also assert they have a claim from the patent auctions to reflect the research and development costs borne by Nortel’s U.K. subsidiary.The decision rests with two judges who are presiding over the closing arguments Monday and Tuesday by video link: Justice Frank Newbould of Ontario Superior Court in Toronto and Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.Mark Zigler, a lawyer for the Canadian creditors, said that they aren’t seeking all the money from the patents — just a fair and equitable division to all the creditors.“Because no matter what happens, they will suffer some loss,” Zigler said.A spokesman for the Canadian Nortel employees and pensioners says its members could get just 11% of their benefits under the U.S. approach to dividing the patent money, compared with about 60% under the Canadian approach and, even more, about 70%, under a third approach proposed by the U.K. creditors.Since the claims against Nortel are bigger than the money available to distribute, their hopes for recovering some of their retirement and health benefits hinge on how much money is allocated to the Canadian parent.Nortel shareholders are unlikely to get anything for their stock, which has been delisted.At its height, Nortel was the most valuable company on the Toronto Stock Exchange and employed more than 90,000 people around the world. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2009 in North America and Europe, shedding thousands of jobs after it was hurt by changing market conditions, economic upheaval and an accounting scandal that sent its stock price plunging.The Canadian Press read more

UN labour agency reports alarming number of children doing exploitive work

Ten years after launching a worldwide campaign against child labour, the International Labour Organization (ILO) today issued a landmark global study showing that an alarming number of children are trapped in the worst forms of this abusive practice.”Despite the increasing commitment by governments and their partners to tackle child labour worldwide, it remains a problem on a massive scale,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “While there has been significant progress towards the effective abolition of child labour, the international community still faces a major uphill struggle against this stubbornly pervasive form of work that takes a tragic toll on millions of children around the world.””A Future Without Child Labour,” the ILO’s most comprehensive study on the subject, found that 246 million children – or one in every six aged 5 to 17 – are working, while one in every eight – some 179 million children aged 5 to 17 – is still exposed to the worst forms of exploitive jobs which endanger their physical, mental or moral well-being. Some 8.4 million children are caught in slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, forced labour, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and other illicit activities, according to the report.”The important thing that we’ve done in this report is to move from denial to awareness,” Mr. Somavia told a press briefing in New York. He stressed the need to ensure that parents are at work and children are at school. “If parents don’t have a job, access to employment, the possibility for income, inevitably there is going to be pressure on children,” he observed, calling for communities to establish “child-labour-free zones.”Based on its research, the ILO is calling for the approximately 111 million children currently doing hazardous jobs to be “immediately withdrawn from this work.” It is also recommending “urgent and immediate protection” for the additional 59 million youths aged 15 to 17, who must also be withdrawn from such work.The release of the report was timed to coincide with the General Assembly’s three-day special session on children, which is set to open on Wednesday. The study will also be discussed at an ILO meeting on 12 June in Geneva, when the agency plans to launch an International Day Against Child Labour aimed at stopping the practice. read more

MTY Group signs agreement to open franchised Sushi Shops in Kuwait

by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 10, 2013 4:17 pm MDT MTY Group signs agreement to open franchised Sushi Shops in Kuwait AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email MONTREAL – Quick service restaurant operator MTY Food Group Inc. is continuing to grow its presence in the Middle East, with the opening of its Sushi Shops in Kuwait.The Montreal-based company said its wholly-owned subsidiary MTY Tiki Ming Enterprises will open the first few locations in the coming months and see what kind of reception they receive before expanding.In 2006, MTY (TSX:MTY) acquired 42 franchised and five corporate Sushi Shop stores.“Signing of this new area development agreement demonstrates our goal to continue to develop our brands internationally,” chairman and chief executive Stanley Ma said in a statement Wednesday.Glen Michael of Laurentian Bank Securities said MTY has been recently active with these types of master franchise agreements in the Middle East.It signed an agreement in January to expand Mr. Sub and Jugo Juice in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A month later it signed a deal to expand La Cremiere in Saudi Arabia.“The Middle East is definitely a focal point for the company’s international expansion strategy, and I would expect MTY to continue seeking such master development type deals in that region for its brands,” he wrote in an email.MTY recently announced it plans to buy the group of companies that operate Extreme Pita, PurBlendz and Mucho Burrito restaurant chains in a $45-million deal that will give it a foothold in the U.S. market.In April, it inked a deal for the SushiGo chain of fast food restaurants for $1.05 million in cash.It operates more than 2,220 quick service restaurants, including those under the banners Yogen Fruz, Country Style, Mr. Sub and Au Vieux Duluth Express. Nearly 100 locations are outside of Canada.MTY isn’t the first Canadian food chain to expand in the Middle East. Tim Hortons (TSX:TH) opened its first restaurant in Oman late last year, the 20th location to open in the region since the iconic Canadian chain signed a master licence agreement with the Apparel Group.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, MTY shares closed up eight cents at $28.75 on Wednesday. read more

Absence of credible political solution causing severe consequences in Middle East UN

“As we have seen with the recent devastation in the Gaza Strip and rising tensions and violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, it is becoming increasingly difficult to contain the situation,” said Mr. Ban at a United Nations high-level meeting on the situation in the Middle East. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting, convened by Norway, is taking place against the backdrop of an “extremely challenging and volatile situation on the ground,” said the UN chief. Joining the Secretary General were Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of the State of Palestine, Foreign Minister Børge Brende of Norway, United States Secretary of State John Kerry, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi of Israel. Mr. Ban said he hoped today’s deliberation would help ensure support for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) state-building and development objectives, while strengthening Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation. Peace talks between Israel and the PA were suspended in April.“Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence,” said the Secretary-General.The UN estimates last summer’s wave of violence killed 2,101 Palestinians and 67 Israelis, in addition to forcing 475,000 Palestinians to seek refuge at UN facilities inside Gaza. At the meeting today, Mr. Ban reiterated his call that the closure of Gaza must end while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Gaza must now be opened up for reconstruction and recovery to address the unprecedented destruction. The open-ended ceasefire for Gaza, brokered under Egyptian auspices, could serve as a prelude to a political process as the only way of achieving durable peace. “It is time for sustainable, transformational change in the Gaza Strip. Gaza and the West Bank must be brought back under the effective authority of one legitimate Palestinian Government that adheres to the PLO commitments,” said Mr. Ban.Nevertheless, there are some real challenges ahead for the Government of National Consensus in this regard which may require support and the United Nations stands ready to support efforts to address the structural factors of conflict between Israel and Gaza. “The current situation in Gaza is dire, with many people still displaced, unprecedented damage to social and economic infrastructure, and critical shortages of water and energy,” Mr. Ban said, welcoming the agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and UN on the secure entry of construction materials into Gaza.“The cycle of building and destroying must end. It is time for sustainable, transformational change in the Gaza Strip,” said Mr. Ban. The planned reconstruction conference co-sponsored by Egypt and Norway, to be held on 12 October in Cairo is an opportunity to pay special attention to the development of the West Bank, fiscal sustainability for the PA and economic viability for Palestine, he added. Such positive measures are mutually reinforcing, would result in tangible benefits on the ground and foster badly needed trust. But all of these efforts must be put into a credible political framework, Mr. Ban said.Both sides must restore prospects for a two-state solution by returning to meaningful negotiations towards a final status agreement that fulfills the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians. That includes an end to the occupation that began in 1967, for Israel to live within secure and recognized borders, and for an independent State of Palestine living alongside Israel in peace and prosperity.Established in October 1993, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee is a 15-member committee that seeks to promote dialogue between donors, the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel. The body is chaired by Norway and co-sponsored by the European Union and United States. read more

Consensus And Discord in Predicting the 2014 MLB Season

On Tuesday, I put together a probabilistic breakdown of each MLB team’s prospects for the 2014 season according to the voting results of ESPN’s MLB Forecast panel. The panel, a group of over 140 baseball experts, was polled on how those experts thought each team would perform.With the voting data, we can also examine which teams caused the panel to agree (and disagree) most.I calculated the standard deviation of the individual voters’ win predictions for each team; this is basically a measure for how much agreement there was about a club. The teams with the biggest standard deviations had the widest distribution of predicted wins, meaning the Forecast panel’s opinions differed the most about how they would perform this season. The clubs with the lowest standard deviations were the teams about whom the panel agreed the most.Here are all of the teams, ordered from most divisive to least divisive: Looking at the list, a clear pattern emerges: Voters agreed the least about bottom-feeding teams and the most about good ones. The standard deviation of predicted wins was quite a bit larger for below-.500 teams from 2013 than above-.500 teams. But why?In terms of predicted change from last season, the panel was pretty even about how much improvement or decline it parceled out to teams:The standard deviation of predicted change from last season was practically identical between the above-.500 teams and below-.500 teams. This suggests that the culprit for the wide range of predictions for bad clubs could lie in last year’s records, which were unusual.Fifteen teams finished above .500 in 2013, bunched between 85 and 97 wins. Meanwhile, the spread of wins for the other 15 teams ranged from 51 (the Houston Astros) to 81 (the Arizona Diamondbacks).Perhaps voters had more trouble agreeing on predicted wins for the bottom half of the league because that half in 2013 had a strange distribution of wins. read more

Solved the mystery of the missing pip on Radio 4s Today programme

first_imgHe answered a query from a Daily Telegraph… However, the BBC has confirmed that the elongated final note really does go astray – but only for those listening on DAB radios. For technical reasons, broadcasts are sometimes muted for a second, and often this happens on the stroke of 8am. If you have tuned in to the Today programme on Radio 4, you might have thought you were imagining the fact that there are five pips instead of six. The mystery of the missing pip was solved by Paul Grimsdell, a BBC engineer at Broadcasting House. For nigh on a century, the BBC radio pips have been a reassuring sound for listeners. But recently there has been a sinister development: the disappearance of the final pip.last_img read more

BBC unveils cast of new Les Miserables series with pledge to take

first_img“In Valjean, we see the terrifying anger and resentment against society but also the tenderness that is hidden deep in his complex psyche. And in Javert, the ferocious dedication to duty that takes him from obsession to madness.”Dominic West said of his character: “Jean Valjean is one of the great characters in world literature. His epic journey of redemption is one of the extraordinary roles an actor can take on, and I can’t wait to get stuck in to bringing Andrew’s brilliant adaptation to the screen.”David Oyelowo said: “To play an iconic role like Javert is any actor’s dream, but to play it as written by Andrew Davies goes beyond my wildest dreams.” Scripts ready for their new starsCredit:BBC Hugh Jackman in the film version of Les Mis Davies, the writer behind BBC adaptations of War and Peace and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, has previously railed against musical versions of Les Misérables, calling it a “shoddy farrago”.This version, the BBC said, would “go back to the original novel and delve deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, revelling in Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest.“With a striking intensity and relevance to us today, the novel is testimony to the struggles of France’s underclass and how far they must go to survive.”Davies said: “This is such an intense and gut-wrenching story and I am delighted that this esteemed ensemble of actors will be bringing it to life – led by Dominic West and David Oyelowo in the iconic roles of Jean Valjean and his nemesis Javert. The stage show of Les MiserablesCredit:Deen van Meer Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Les Miserables scripts Hugh Jackman in the film version of Les Miscenter_img The inkeeper's wife, played here in the film by Helena Bonham Carter, will be played by Olivia Colman  Lily Collins, the actress daughter of musician Phil Collins, said: “I’m so thrilled to be playing Fantine. She is a legendary character whose tragic story feels as relevant to tell today as when Les Misérables was first published.“Andrew’s wonderful dramatisation opens up the character in fresh ways that I’ve never seen before in previous adaptations.“And with this amazing cast coming together it really feels like it could be something very special indeed.” The series, which will be told in six episodes of one-hour each, will begin filming in February in Belgium and Northern France. The casting, striking in its diversity in comparison with numerous Les Misérables productions featuring white actors in each of the leading roles, follows the BBC’s commitment to ensuring more black and minority ethnic actors are seen on screen: 15 per cent representation by 2020. The stage show of Les Miserables It is cemented in the minds of a generation as an all-singing, all-dancing tale of bread theft, love and revolution.But the BBC is to take Les Misérables back to the “vibrant” story of Victor Hugo’s original novel as it retells Les Miserables, complete with diverse casting.The cast of the forthcoming Andrew Davies adaptation will be led by Dominic West as Jean Valjean, and David Oyelowo as the obsessed, villainous policeman Javert.Oyelowo, best-known for his star turns in Selma and the BBC’s Spooks, said playing the “iconic” role “goes beyond my wildest dreams”.The cast also includes Lily Collins as Fantine, Adeel Akhtar and Olivia Colman as innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, and Erin Kellyman as Eponine. The inkeeper’s wife, played here in the film by Helena Bonham Carter, will be played by Olivia Colmanlast_img read more

Annual health check

first_imgIf you own a business, why not use the data you’ve collected all year to give your business a health-check? I suggest you start with your costs; some business owners will have the fancy accounting software that gives year-on-year comparisons for certain items and others will have simple spread sheets. But whatever you use, have a look at the items that have blown-out and find a reason for the size of the cost. Away from the largest items, it’s often the week-to-week costs that pile up and the end of year is a good time to bring them under control: mobile phones, taxi accounts, electricity, stationery, vehicle fleets and petrol/diesel bills. They all count and if you can’t find a way to reduce them, get an expert adviser to help out. Once you’ve identified your reducible costs, focus on your revenues: some of your biggest earners for the year may have cost you money. If you don’t have the skills to analyse whether you are making money, get an accountant or consultant to measure them. And while testing your revenues, look also at your end-of-year receivables file: the largest clients are not always the most profitable, and a large cheque does not mean you made money on the transaction. Again, a good adviser will test your receivables book for average days and tell you what to do about the delinquents who are costing you money. Also, use this time to have a look at what debt is costing you. Many small business people are slack when it comes to their costs of capital, and if you allow your firm to pay too much for overdrafts, company credit cards and loans, you are simply leaking money. Some of the worst cases I see are from vehicle and equipment leases, especially when the business has taken vendor finance. I urge business owners to use the end of financial year to get an accountant or finance broker to test their debt facilities and make sure they are paying the right amount. The end of the year is a good time to ensure you have a proper spread of business insurances. Business insurance is also complex and the best way to make sure you have all the inclusions and are not caught in the exclusions, is to use an insurance broker. A good way to waste money is to be under-insured. Finally, what about you? Is the business yielding what you expected? It’s your risk capital in this venture and you must be paid; so grab an expert adviser, and put it to the test. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Alcatel A5 Smartphone Lights Up Your Life

first_imgAlcatel on Monday kicked off Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress with three new smartphones.Most notable is the LED-covered A5—a uniquely interactive experience that serves as a personalized light show.The 5.2-inch handset illuminates different colors and patterns to alert you to incoming calls, messages, social media alerts, and alarms. Users can also create different LED cover motifs—one for each day of the week if you’re so inclined. The A5 even jams out to your favorite tunes and plays along to preloaded games.Don’t judge a smartphone by its rear cover, though. The Android Marshmallow-based Alcatel A5 features a 1,280-by-720 HD display, octa-core 1.5GHz CPU, 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front shooter, 2,800mAh battery, and 32GB of storage, 3GB RAM, and support for a MicroSD card.Alcatel/TCL CommunicationPlus, owners can choose five favorite apps to launch with your fingerprint: Use your thumb to open Facebook, your pointer for Instagram, the middle finger to initiate WhatsApp, the ring finger for Spotify, and the pinky for fast access to the camera—even from the lock screen.The new phone is “ideal for people who value having fun and letting their personality shine,” Alcatel Portfolio Management Director William Dowie said in a statement.Alcatel/TCL CommunicationAlcatel, a subsidiary of TCL Communication, also introduced the A3 smartphone: 5-inch 1,280-by-720 HD screen, octa-core 1.25GHz CPU, 13-megapixel rear shooter, 5-megapixel front camera, 16GB storage, 1.5GH RAM (plus room for up to 32GB additional cache), 2,460mAh battery.Alcatel/TCL CommunicationDon’t get it confused with the new U5, a “snappy smartphone” featuring a 5-inch screen (854-by-480 resolution), quad-core 1.1GHz CPU, 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front cameras, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, and a 2,050mAh battery.“At Alcatel, we know that a smartphone is not a luxury but a necessity in our modern, hyper-connected world,” Dowie said.Individual release dates and pricing were not revealed.For more Mobile World Congress coverage, check out our pals at PCMag.last_img read more