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Philadelphia To Host The 2017 NFL Draft

first_imgHuge news on the football front — Philadelphia is going to host the 2017 NFL Draft next April along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.Fast FactsThe 2017 NFL Draft will be held in Philadelphia in April 27-29, 2017The event will be held on the Benjamin Franklin ParkwayThere will be a massive, free “Draft Town” Fan Festival as part of the three-day eventTens of thousands of fans are expected to attend the festivities over three daysThe NFL will come to town next spring and conduct the 2017 NFL Draft live from the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There, they’ll host not only the 2017 NFL Draft but also the huge NFL Draft Town Fan Festival from April 27 to 29. Philadelphia is the second city to host the event after the draft’s 51-year run in New York City – Chicago hosted the event in 2015 and 2016. More than 200,000 fans are expected to participate in the festivities over three days, and this event will make a huge impact on the local economy — upwards of $86 million.So get excited – next spring will be the time to cheer on some of the NFL’s newest members while taking part in a slew of football-centric fun.Stay tuned for more on this awesome announcement. 2017 NFL Draft When:April 27-29, 2017 Where:Eakins Oval, Philadelphia Cost:TBD nfl.comlast_img read more

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Thirty thousand square kilometers of land lost to oil and gas development

first_img B. W. ALLRED ET AL., SCIENCE Industry has drilled more than 2 million wells since 1900. The displaced productivity of well sites amid croplands (red) is higher than those in rangelands (green). All across North America, patches of land are being taken over by the rigs, roads, and storage facilities of thousands of oil and gas drilling operations. Now, for the first time, a study tallies up the land area they consume: 30,000 square kilometers—an area equivalent to three Yellowstone National Parks.“For all intents and purposes, these are parking lots,” says Brady Allred, an ecologist at the University of Montana, Missoula, who led the study, published online today in Science. “The question is: How long are they going to stay this way?”The authors acknowledge that there are benefits from the operations—namely, energy—and also that the lost land is a small fraction of North America’s total area. But they say the well sites are rarely remediated and replanted, and so the cumulative impact could begin to take its toll through the degradation of animal habitats and the loss of plants, which sop up carbon dioxide.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The study is a mash-up of two types of data. Allred paid tens of thousands of dollars to private sources and state regulators to get the location of well sites. The researchers found that, since 1900, more than 2 million wells have been drilled, and most of that has happened in two spurts—one beginning in the mid-1970s with the OPEC oil embargo, and the other beginning in 2000 with the advent of directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and other techniques that make it easier to extract oil and gas from tight rock formations. In the last decade, they found, industry has been sinking more than 50,000 wells a year. “Whenever we tell people there are 50,000 wells being drilled per year, they think we’re crazy,” says co-author Steven Running, a University of Montana ecologist. “Nobody has any idea of the magnitude of this.”center_img The researchers combined the well locations with satellite imagery to arrive at estimates of the plant productivity lost when the dirt and gravel of a graded site replaces cropland or rangeland. The amount of lost biomass in croplands alone is equivalent to 120 million bushels of wheat, or 13% of what the United States exported in 2013, the team reports. And the collective toll of drilling from 2000 to 2012 means that the landscape has lost the ability to soak up 4.5 teragrams of carbon per year. That number pales in comparison to the 1000 teragrams of carbon per year taken up across the entire study area in croplands and rangelands, Allred acknowledges. But Running points out that the impact of drilling extends beyond the numbers, especially for animals such as sagebrush grouse or mule deer. “They get a sense of the human presence,” he says. “There’s a substantial disruption that’s more than just the well pad itself.”Some researchers say the landscape impacts of oil and gas drilling are far from unique. Jeremy Weber, a natural resource economist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, says the situation is not so different from farmers selling land to developers for housing tracts. “I would see it as equivalent to suburban sprawl—gobbling up farmland and turning it into housing developments.”And Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for Energy In Depth, an outreach organization in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the oil industry, points out in a statement that renewable energy sources also take up space. “Any type of energy development, whether it’s a natural gas well or a wind farm, is going to have some kind of ecological footprint,” she says. With the directional drilling that is now in vogue, the size of well operations can shrink, too, she adds. “Companies are now drilling multiple wells on a single well pad, and these are wells that can stretch miles underground, greatly reducing the surface land footprint.”Allred would like to see more stringent standards for remediation of well sites after drilling is completed. That is already happening in some regions. In Pennsylvania, for instance, regulators require that drillers set aside and save topsoil, return the drill site to its original contours, and reseed it.In the meantime, he’s just glad he can finally affix a number to the collective area associated with oil and gas development in the heartland. “We all use energy and there are tradeoffs,” he says. “But we need to quantify these tradeoffs.”last_img read more

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Commercial balloons in the stratosphere could monitor hurricanes and scan for solar storms

first_img Most of these projects will require longer flights than World View has achieved so far. Whereas NASA’s record duration is 55 days for its largest and highest-flying balloons, and the Google Loon project has managed to loft their smaller balloons for more than 180 days at lower altitudes, World View has yet to fly for longer than half a day. This week’s flight will carry upgraded solar panels that can store enough power during the day to operate the balloon at night. Should it succeed, the company doesn’t see any major obstacles to multiweek missions. They also need to follow in the footsteps of NASA and build larger balloons, able to lift hundreds or thousands of kilograms.Only World View and Raven Aerostar have designed steerable balloons, but other companies also fly scientific experiments. Near Space Corporation has been offering high-altitude flights for government, academic, and commercial customers since 1996. A Spanish startup founded in 2009, Zero 2 Infinity, has taken educational payloads for Israeli high school students to 31 kilometers, and it ultimately hopes to provide tourist flights to the edge of space.NASA welcomes the new commercial players, with some reservations. “We’re excited but also concerned,” says engineer Deborah Fairbrother, the balloon program’s chief officer on Wallops Island in Virginia. “We’ve got some very stringent NASA requirements for our safety, and public safety, and we just want to make sure they’re doing it safely.” World View coordinates all launches with the Federal Aviation Administration to avoid endangering air traffic. And the company says that when punctured, a balloon descends slowly, with plenty of time to release the payload on a steerable parachute. But even veteran programs like NASA’s routinely run into snafus. At the agency’s most recent launch in April, its balloon began to leak and lose altitude just 3 days into its mission.Yet Howard, one of the company’s most devout evangelists, is confident the kinks can be worked out. After learning about World View, he drove a 4500-kilogram storm-chasing radar to the company’s headquarters last September to see whether it could be flown. The company isn’t quite up to the job—yet. But Howard predicts that in time the sky will be dotted with balloons.”I don’t doubt that in a very few years, on a clear summer night one will be able to see several stratospheric balloons overhead reflecting moonlight against a background of stars,” he says. MacCallum’s father was a gamma ray astronomer who did balloon-borne experiments, so he quickly realized the value of this potential customer base. In 2015, the company flew its first scientific payload for an external paying customer, testing a video and tracking system that researchers at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman will use to record the total solar eclipse in August. That flight also carried a small radiation-hardened computer that MSU students were testing, along with an ozone gas sensor for the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.World View has since carried other experiments, including a gamma ray detector and a remote-sensing system. The company says that dozens of customers are now waiting for a flight. “We’re seeing expanding interest in something we didn’t even think existed a few years ago,” MacCallum says.So far, the company’s steerable balloons, which measure about 30 meters across, can’t carry more than 50 kilograms. But they offer a key advantage over NASA’s much larger “superpressure” balloons. The NASA balloons, which swell into a peculiar pumpkin shape more than 100 meters across in the upper atmosphere, are designed to stay at a constant altitude by resisting day-night temperature swings that inflate and deflate the balloon. That means they can remain aloft for months, but it also means they are beholden to the prevailing winds and drift across continents.World View and Raven Aerostar want to take advantage of the stratosphere’s tiered winds, which blow in different directions at different altitudes, to steer a balloon—or keep it in one spot. Using energy from solar panels to pump air into or out of a separate compartment, the balloons can raise and lower their density and therefore their altitude. By analyzing patterns of prevailing winds recorded in weather databases, the companies have sent balloons in almost any direction or even along figure-eight trajectories to hover over large swaths of Earth like a geostationary satellite (hence the name World View has given its balloons—Stratollites, for stratospheric satellites).”That’s opening up a new frontier for balloons,” says Scott Wickersham, general manager of Raven. For decades, Raven has manufactured balloons for NASA as well as for commercial customers including Google, whose Project Loon has been using steerable balloons to test expanding internet access to underserved regions.Stationary high-altitude balloons could carry cameras to monitor flash floods and forest fires or scanning lasers to remotely sense soil moisture and vegetation growth. Many researchers also see them as an ideal platform for radars that would probe the winds and clouds below. Geostationary satellites, which orbit 36,000 kilometers above Earth, are too distant for radar studies; they are limited to passively detecting microwaves and other radiation from the clouds and ground. Lower-altitude satellites and aircraft zip overhead quickly, meaning they can only take infrequent snapshots. And ground-based radars can’t see past mountains or over the curve of Earth.Jonathan Gourley, a hydrologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says radars aboard stationary balloons could look down into the most violent thunderstorms, known as supercells, clocking their updrafts and downdrafts, which affect hailstone size, thunderstorm longevity, and perhaps even their potential to produce tornadoes. “If we can observe these in detail—which can only really be accomplished from a quasi-geostationary platform in the stratosphere like a balloon—I think it’ll make great advancements in our theory and modeling of thunderstorms,” he says.Floating above a hurricane, a balloon-borne radar could measure the storm’s eye-wall circulation and wind intensity to aid forecasts of its next move. It could also scan calmer air to track populations of migrating birds, bats, and insects, says meteorologist Kenneth Howard, Gourley’s collaborator at NOAA. Howard and Gourley have spoken to World View about their ideas and are asking NASA and NOAA for funding for test flights and instrument development.Other World View customers want to turn their instruments heavenward. Along with colleagues, solar physicist Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, has created the SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP), a solar observatory that uses a gyroscope to stabilize itself and remain pointed at the sun while swinging below a balloon. DeForest and his team flew SSIPP under a World View Stratollite last September. Ultimately, Howard says, a flotilla of stationary balloons around the world could monitor the sun 24 hours a day, watching for solar flares and other energetic bursts that send radiation and particles toward Earth, where they can interfere with satellites or even the electric grid on the ground.Steerable balloons also offer a way to perform experiments within the clouds. Atmospheric scientist John Dykema of Harvard University wants to do a small-scale test of a radical technique for fighting climate change: spraying aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight and cool the planet. Dykema and his collaborators plan to create a kilometer-long swath of reflective ice crystals in the frigid upper atmosphere by releasing water vapor behind a future World View balloon. For about 6 hours, the balloon will measure conditions within and outside this artificial cloud. Follow-up missions will study whether the ice affects abundances of ozone, which blocks dangerous ultraviolet light, and measure the crystals’ impact on incoming sunlight and outgoing radiation. A February launch of a World View balloon carried a Ball Aerospace camera (left) into the stratosphere, where it took images (right) of the ground from a stable position more than 23 kilometers up. Into thin air Stratospheric balloons are a low-cost way to get above 99% of the atmosphere: nearly as good as space. NASA uses large balloons that drift at constant altitudes for months. Upstart commercial companies like World View Enterprises use smaller balloons that can stay in one place by surfing stratospheric winds. By Adam MannJun. 22, 2017 , 2:00 PM K. SUTLIFF/SCIENCE Commercial balloons in the stratosphere could monitor hurricanes and scan for solar storms (LEFT TO RIGHT) WORLD VIEW ENTERPRISES; BALL AEROSPACE The layers of polyethylene, as thin as plastic sandwich bags, sit neatly folded in a wooden box at the headquarters of World View Enterprises in Tucson, Arizona. It seems the stuff of shower curtains, not spaceflight. But once inflated with helium, the plastic envelope will swell into a teardrop-shaped balloon spanning the length of a blue whale, able to soar more than 30 kilometers up into the stratosphere. There, above 99% of the atmosphere, it will offer sweeping panoramas of Earth or clear views into space.If all goes to plan, this week, World View workers will unfurl the balloon in the chilly, predawn air, laying it carefully on a protective tarp at a desert site about 40 kilometers south of Tucson. As the sun rises, a helium truck will fill it with the gas of 44,000 party balloons. Once engorged, the balloon will take flight for 4 to 7 days, dangling a gondola with World View’s own weather instruments and—get this—a Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich paid for by the fast-food chain.Despite the marketing stunt, the launch is significant: World View has completed more than 50 short flights to date, and this will be the company’s first multiday mission. It aims to demonstrate the promise of a new way to carry scientific instruments to the edge of space, aboard what Taber MacCallum, the company’s chief technology officer, calls “an entirely new kind of vehicle.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Scientific ballooning isn’t new. NASA has been in the business since 1982, when it assumed control of the National Scientific Ballooning Facility. The $38 million office flies about 10 to 15 balloons per year, lofting scientific payloads for a fraction of the cost of a satellite launch. But they tend to be one-off experiments with wayward paths that drift in the winds. In contrast, World View and Raven Aerostar, a company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that also offers research balloon flights, intend to steer their balloons, keeping them in stable positions that could boost a number of earth science applications. They hope to undercut NASA, whose balloon missions cost several million dollars, with flights for just a few hundred thousand dollars. Just as SpaceX and Blue Origin are privatizing access to low-Earth orbit, so, too, are these balloon companies trying to commercialize the stratosphere.”You want to put a telescope up? You want to do atmospheric monitoring? You want to study the sun? You want to look down on the oceans or land?” asks planetary scientist Alan Stern, World View’s chief scientist. “Across these and a whole series of other research fields there are just immense applications.”MacCallum is known for out-there projects. In the early 1990s, he and his future wife, World View CEO Jayne Poynter, holed up in Biosphere 2, a massive, sealed ecosystem in the Arizona desert that inspired their first venture, Paragon Space Development Corporation, which builds life support systems for space exploration. In 2012, the two of them created World View along with Stern, a former NASA science administrator and principal investigator of the New Horizons mission that flew past Pluto. Its first project was to design the balloon that lifted Alan Eustace, a Google executive, to an altitude of 41 kilometers for his 2014 record-shattering free-fall jump.After that, they thought World View would mostly be about bringing rich thrill-seekers to the edge of space. But then the calls started coming in. As the company began test flights for human-rated gondolas, researchers started asking whether they could piggyback small instruments. “We were like, ‘Doesn’t NASA do this for you?’” MacCallum recalls. “And they said, ‘Yeah, but NASA takes years and it’s too expensive; could you guys fly this one?’”last_img read more

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SPORT-TENNIS-CHINA 2 LAST

first_imgIt was an afternoon which underlined the gulf that has It was an afternoon which underlined the gulf that has opened up between Djokovic and Nadal, once his close rival but now down to eighth in the world and a shadow of his fearsome best. Nadal is using the years final events as practice for next season, after a forgettable 2015 in which he didnt progress beyond the quarter-finals of any of the Grand Slams. As for Wu, 24, it completed a journey after he was a ball boy for the Spanish great at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, and later progressed to become his practice partner. “As for the ATP Finals (Tennis Masters Cup), I served as the ball boy for Rafa. So right now I played Rafa. Its not a small deal,” he said. AFP AH PMlast_img read more

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Junior Wimbledon champion Sumit Nagal to be supported by JSW

first_imgMumbai, Oct 7 (PTI) JSW Sports has decided to extend its support to Wimbledon boys doubles champion, Sumit Nagal, under its Sports Excellence Programme. The 18-year-old rising tennis player, who won the boys doubles title with Vietnamese partner Nam Hoang Ly in July, is the first tennis player to be supported under the SEP, which currently backs 39 athletes over five disciplines – athletics, judo, wrestling, boxing and swimming – said a media release today. Nagal became only the sixth Indian to win a Junior Grand Slam title when he bagged the doubles crown with partner Nam Hoang. Earlier in January, Nagal had reached the third round of the Australian Open Junior event before making it to the second round of the French Open Junior. Nagal has been steadily raking in titles, having won four ITF USD 10,000 Futures titles – three of them in singles at Hyderabad, Chennai and Madurai, besides also capturing the doubles title in Madurai last week. Ranked 52nd in the ITF Juniors, he currently trains in Germany and is coached by Argentine, Mariano Delfino. A thankful Nagal said that the backing he has received came at a very crucial time in his young career. “This support ensures that I can completely focus on my tennis. All that I need to think about now is how to be a better player on the court,” he said. “Sumit is one of the most exciting names in Indian tennis. His win at the Wimbledon Juniors has demonstrated that he has it in him to succeed at the international level. We are confident that with our support, Sumit will develop in a comprehensive manner and continue to succeed on the international stage,” said Parth Jindal, Director, JSW Sports. Discovered by multiple Grand Slam doubles titlist Mahesh Bhupathi, the player had spent his formative years training at Bhupathis academy in Bangalore. “Sumit is a very exciting player and someone who is very hungry to succeed on the big stage. He is very sincere and I am sure that JSWs support will motivate him towards aiming for bigger honours,” said Bhupathi. PTI SSR ARS KHS KHSadvertisementlast_img read more

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Which players are Spurs going for in the January transfer window?

first_imgAdvertisementTottenham Hotspur will be going to spend some money in the upcoming winter transfer window after spending nothing in this summer. The club management of Tottenham Hotspur believe in retaining their star players instead of buying new talents in every season. That’s why the agenda of the club in this summer was the contract extension of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. The other agenda was to invest the money to form a new home stadium by this season.After securing a long term future of their star players Tottenham Hotspur will now wish buy some new players in this winter transfer window. The contract of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele are going to expire at the end of this season. So, Spurs will surely go to buy their alternatives in this winter transfer window. Jack Grealish was their prime target in the summer transfer window. According to the sources, the club management of Spurs will wish to complete this signing in this winter. The club management are also interested to buy the former Chelsea defender Nathan Ake in this transfer window as according to the them, he will the long term replacement in the centre back position for Tottenham Hotspur. The club management need to sign one more homegrown player too as now they are one player short of the required number of players. Advertisementlast_img read more

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Malaysia mulls scrapping Formula One race amid falling ticket sales, viewership

first_imgMalaysia is considering halting the annual Formula One Grand Prix race after its contract ends in 2018 due to declining ticket sales and TV viewership.The government and race organisers are expected to meet on Thursday to decide whether the country should continue to host the race, state news agency Bernama reported on Monday.In a series of posts on his official Twitter account, the sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the costs of holding the race were too high, while the returns were limited. “When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal. First in Asia outside Japan. Now so many venues. No first mover advantage. Not a novelty.” (Lewis Hamilton wins US Grand Prix to stay in F1 title chase)”F1 ticket sales declining, TV viewership down. Foreign visitors down b/c (because) can choose Singapore, China, Middle East. Returns are not as big,” he said.State oil and gas firm Petronas are the title sponsors for the F1 race in Kuala Lumpur. The company has been hit hard in recent times by the tumble in oil prices. (Nico Rosberg fastest in practice at US Grand Prix)The chief executive of the Sepang International Circuit (SIP), where the races are held, said ticket sales for the race had dropped since 2014 and initial reports showed this year’s TV viewership in Malaysia were the lowest in history.Razlan Razali told state news agency Bernama that although the venue had a ‘watertight agreement’ with license holders until 2018, a “temporary withdrawal from F1 could be beneficial for the country to take a break”.advertisementThe Malaysian Grand Prix was last held earlier this month, when Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo claimed his maiden win of the season. (Lewis Hamilton tops hot and fiery practice in Malaysia)The event was marred by controversy after nine Australians were arrested at the circuit for stripping down to swim wear printed with the Malaysian flag, angering locals who called the act a sign of disrespect.last_img read more

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Bedlam Could Feature Two Best Offenses In Big 12

first_imgMike Yurcich is going to dine on honey-glazed ham and heaps of turkey on Thursday and feel delight in his belly and joy in his heart after looking at these numbers. His much-discussed offense has once again risen in our weekly points per drive peek, and now he might end up with the second-best offense in the league behind OU.PPD (Offense)screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-22-59-amThe Cowboys have overtaken Baylor and have Tech in their sights (Tech has Baylor this week so it’s possible they could drop before Bedlam happens). OU is probably out of reach, but this is a renaissance for a Poke O that was pronounced all but dead early in the season.“It’s kind of fun to watch those games now,” said Mike Gundy after beating TCU on Saturday. “In this league we see so many of the other, and it was real chess match going on in the 1st half with all four staffs going against each other – offense/defense, offense/defense … and I enjoyed it. I thought we made great adjustments at the half. It’s just nice to watch a game played like that.”Yes it is. Especially when OSU is rolling along like it is. National update: OSU is No. 17 in the nation in PPD on offense. Down from No. 16 last week.PPD (Defense)screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-22-54-amOh, Texas Tech. OH, TEXAS TECH! Even Kansas and Iowa State have made themselves respectable. And how about West Virginia taking innumerable blows from OU and still remaining under 2.0 PPD on defense. Oklahoma State is inching towards that 2.0 mark as well from the other direction. For reference, the Pokes gave up 1.29 PPD on defense in probably their best defensive year in history.Oklahoma State Offensescreen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-22-40-amAnd now our weekly look at where OSU’s offense has been after each Big 12 game. The growth continues. The ground game is back. Yurcich is rolling. OU gave up over nine yards per play to West Virginia on Saturday. Bring on Bedlam.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img read more

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Why Centre’s Talent Portal is revolutionary?

first_imgU17 World Cup PM Modi’s Sports Talent Search Portal launch a golden feather in AIFF’s cap Ashwin Muralidharan Last updated 2 years ago 17:05 8/28/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Overseas Scouting Programme - AIFF U17 World Cup India The Sports Ministry’s decision to launch a nation wide talent search portal was inspired from AIFF’s scouting programme and it could be revolutionary One of the highlights from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio address, Mann Ki Baat, on Sunday was the announcement of a National Talent Search Portal (NTSP), intended to provide talented kids with a platform from where they can get the required exposure. The PM also went on to speak about the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup which will be hosted by India in October but the launch of the portal was the point which reverberated around the sporting fraternity.What the portal aims to do is provide a platform where young, talented kids can upload their videos and bio-data. Then the Sports Ministry will shortlist them and call them up to the nearest Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre for selection trials so that the talented ones are provided funding and training, along with a stipend.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina This commendable move from the Union Ministry was inspired from the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Overseas Scouting Programme (OSP) which was implemented by the National Director of Scouts, Abhishek Yadav. Overseas Scouting Programme - AIFFIn fact, the OSP, Yadav’s brainchild, saw a portal being setup (scouting.the-aiff.com) for talented youngsters of Indian origin residing abroad to upload their videos and possibly get selected to play for the Indian team which is preparing for the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The move bore fruits as coach Luis Norton de Matos was impressed by two such teenagers who registered on the portal and promptly integrated them into the Under-17 team. One was defender Namit Deshpande, who was based in the USA, and the other was goalkeeper Sunny Dhaliwal who denounced his Canadian passport in order to play for India. Union Minister for Sports & Youth Affairs, Vijay Goel, Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Director General Injeti Srinivas were present when the OSP was launched and were left impressed by the concept and the success of the program. So much so that, we now have the National Talent Search Portal thrown open in front of us as part of the Khelo India initiative of the Govt. “The World Cup is all about involving every Indian, not just in India but across the world. The idea is to provide an opportunity,” said Abhishek Yadav to Goal. “If you have the talent, we would give you a chance to play for the national team.”I am very pleased that the initiative which was approved by the AIFF and helped us get at least two players into the Under-17 World Cup squad has caught the attention of the Sports Ministry. So much so that our honourable Prime Minister has launched the National Talent Search Portal.”Sunny Dhaliwal India U-17 Abhishek Yadav Luis Norton de MatosIt is indeed a revolutionary move for the country’s aspiring sportspersons as far as the scouting and youth setup in various sports are concerned. The country produces very few sporting talents despite being one of the most populous countries in the world. The scouting pool is quite small, which limits the options for scouts and coaches to identify and nurture the best talents. This is where the NTSP will be a game changer. The interest in various sports in India is increasing at an exponential rate, including football (thanks in part to the popularity of the Indian Super League). With more and more youngsters taking up sports as a viable career option, NTSP offers kids a direct shot at being recognised and cherry-picked by the top coaches in the country. In the absence of such a system, the aspiring players would have had to negotiate various levels of the domestic sports structure in order to have a chance of being watched by a national level scout or coach. One would have to go through sub-district teams, districts, zonal and state level teams before getting a chance to feature on the national stage. While there are players who make it through, factors like favouritism and nepotism are present which might see deserving candidates being spurned. With the advent of the NTSP, talented youngsters have a direct platform from which to broadcast their talent to the nation and get noticed. This is advantageous not just for the aspiring footballers, but also for the authorities who do not have to reach out to every nook and cranny of the country to spot tomorrow’s big stars. They will have the prospects coming to them instead. For any sports, grassroots development is a huge priority and rightly so. Spotting the right talent is extremely crucial to grassroots development, as is the infrastructure. NTSP will give talent spotting in India a different dimension, as it will help kids from far-flung locations in the country or small towns and villages, who might not have the resources or facilities to come up through the domestic system, a chance to showcase their talents. If we cast our minds back to 2012 when Wim Koevermans was the national coach of India, he and technical director Robert Baan were invited to a conference of FICCI (Federation Of India Chamber Of Commerce & Industry) in Delhi. They were there to speak about the scouting programme to be implemented in the country. One of the attendees, Sanjiv Paul, who was the then Vice-President of Corporate Services at Tata Steel, asked them how will a talented kid reach out to them if they were unable to do so? Was there a phone number or website where a kid could send their CV too?”We will find them for sure”, was the answer given. Years later, the AIFF has a proper answer to the question in the form of the National Talent Search Portal and Abhishek Yadav and his team deserve the accolades for sparking the idea behind it.last_img read more

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Manchester City can’t win anything with just academy kids, says Pep Guardiola

first_imgShare on Facebook Tottenham’s tonking and the future of the game – Football Weekly Extra Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City could not compete for silverware and league titles if his side were filled with players coming through from the club’s academy. The City manager defended the conspicuous lack of talent emerging to become regular first-team starters.Players such as Phil Foden have yet to hold down a regular place in the Premier League and despite the opening of the City academy in December 2014 the club still buy in big-name players rather than pushing forward the youngsters they have nurtured themselves. Chelsea, albeit because of a transfer embargo, are now doing the latter with some success. Reuse this content The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. news Manchester City Share on Twitter Pep Guardiola Guardiola said: “Against Everton we were lucky, Ederson saved two or three clear chances. We are not built specifically for [defending] and we have to learn better. But in general I’m so satisfied. Not just this season – we concede few goals, chances. And for a team with this incredible amount of talented players – [though] not defensively talented players – the way they fight for each other allows us to concede few chances.” Topics Share via Email The Observer Listen Share on LinkedIn Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest Guardiola said: “This team needs to win titles and prizes and the process for the young players needs time and the best way is step by step. But the demand from the club [is] not winning the Champions League but being there every time, in all competitions and for that needs the [senior] players we have.“When they are talented, they will play. But at the same time, we have to compete every day to fight with the best in England and Europe. For that we need the David Silvas, Kevin De Bruynes, Sergio Agüeros and Fernandinhos. But if the basis of the team is young, it is not possible.”The homegrown Foden is highly rated by the manager but the 19-year-old has made just three appearances this season, starting only the EFL Cup win at Preston in September, and may not be in the XI for the visit of Wolves on Sunday. Guardiola was asked if the midfielder is content to be patient. “I didn’t speak with him so I don’t know. Hopefully,” he said, before brushing aside concerns that other young players will be put off signing if they see the pathway to first-team football being blocked.Raheem Sterling was signed at 20 and has consistently played under Guardiola. “I don’t see the age. If the player wants to come, they will, if they don’t, they will not. Everyone knows exactly what my opinion of Phil Foden is. He will play a lot this season and the next seasons.”Since John Stones was injured almost three weeks ago, joining Aymeric Laporte on the sidelines, Guardiola has been forced to play Fernandinho, a midfielder, alongside Nicolás Otamendi at centre-back, or pair the teenagers Eric García and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, as he did at Preston, yet City have conceded once in winning their past five games.last_img read more

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Punch Bowl Social: Food, Drinks and Fun All in One Venue

first_imgDowntown Portland isn’t known for its must-see destinations. Other than a few great restaurants, it’s not on anyone’s go-to list when visiting the city. You’re more likely to meet other tourists than quirky locals at many of the area watering holes. But that all changed this July with the opening of Punch Bowl Social at the Pioneer Place mall. Locals head here for shenanigans seven days a week.A dining and entertainment concept imported from Denver, Punch Bowl is a behemoth of a space, incorporating nearly the entire third floor of one section of the mall. Mall employees and area workers now have a place to hang after work that isn’t a dive bar or an overpriced hotel chain.The concept is simple: serve hearty fare and classic drinks amid everyone’s favorite American pastimes. You can choose to bowl in one of two sections, or try your hand at shuffleboard, ping pong, Ms. PacMan, marbles or foosball. Sprinkle in a little karaoke and you’ve got yourself a winning concept. The 24,000-square-foot Denver location became a huge hit as soon as it opened in early 2013, thanks to a strong word-of-mouth and an egalitarian flavor. The same attitude drives the Portland location, although a few kinks need to be ironed out: the staff is sometimes lost or discombobulated, drinks are hit or miss (the coconut capirinha was particularly off-putting) and some of the food items don’t work in Portland (I am looking at you Pacific Northwest Chowder).Bowling for fun at Punch Bowl Social.But other things do work. The games are entertaining and harken back to your childhood. The two karaoke rooms are usually empty on a weeknight so it’s easy to sing to your heart’s content—the staff doesn’t frown upon solo singers like myself taking a turn at the mike. And the venue’s signature punches pack a flavor punch.The venue’s tagline is: “Imagine Paul Bunyon meets Don Draper.” Well, that isn’t quite the feeling one gets when you walk in the door, but you’ll definitely leave with a smile on your face and some good libations in your belly. Kick Back in Style with the Best Soccer Jerseys to Sport Right Now Want to Get Dirty in the Name of Wine? Here’s How to Help with This Year’s Harvest The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now Brandi Chastain Wants to Get People Talking About Women’s Sports and Keep the Conversation Going Forever Editors’ Recommendations How to Properly Polish Your Own Shoeslast_img read more

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Shipping Needs to Improve Risk Exposure Management

first_imgzoom Effective management of risk within the shipping industry has improved slightly over the past 12 months, a survey by shipping adviser Moore Stephens showed.However, shipping “still needs to up its game” in terms of managing its exposure to risk, which is increasing and changing in nature, not least in terms of the threat posed by cyber security.Respondents to the survey rated the extent to which enterprise and business risk management is contributing to the success of their organisation at an average 6.8 out of a possible score of 10, compared to 6.6 last time. Charterers returned the highest rating (8.8) in this regard, followed by owners (6.9) and ship managers (6.8). Brokers returned the lowest rating at 6.3. Geographically, Europe (7.0) was ahead of Asia (6.6), but it was the Middle East which returned the highest figure, at 7.8.Overall, respondents rated the extent to which enterprise and business risk was being managed effectively by their organisations at 7.1 out of 10, up from the rating of 7 recorded last time and indeed in the inaugural survey in August 2015. Charterers (8.8) expressed the highest level of confidence in this regard, followed by owners (7.3) and managers (6.9). In the previous survey, charterers recorded the lowest rating (6.5) of the main respondent types.Demand trends were deemed by the greatest number of respondents to pose the highest level of risk, closely followed by competition and the cost and availability of finance. Demand trends were thought to pose the highest level of risk for owners, charterers and brokers, while for managers it was competition that topped the list.Geographically, demand trends were the number one concern in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, while respondents in Latin America and North America identified competition as posing the highest level of risk.Moore Stephens informed that respondents to the survey felt that the level of risk posed by most of the factors which impacted their business would remain largely unchanged over the next 12 months, with the exception of ballast water management legislation, cyber security, geopolitics, operating costs and other changes to laws and regulations, which were all perceived to have the potential for increased risk.“Embedding proper and effective risk management controls into daily operating procedures is a huge challenge for companies in the shipping sector, where high risk levels are an accepted and fundamental part of the industry,” Michael Simms, Partner, said.“This is particularly the case, as is now, when the industry is ultra-competitive and grappling with an imbalance in tonnage supply and demand, and when wider global economic conditions remain extremely tough,” Simms added.last_img read more

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NIA search operation in Madurai for IS sympathisers

first_imgChennai: A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team carried out searches in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai on Sunday following information about suspected IS supporters, officials said. The NIA officials searched three premises in Madurai on suspicion that the residents there have contacts with the global terror outfit via social media. The search in Madurai, 470 km from here, follows the search operations carried out by the agency in Coimbatore a few days back, and the arrest of two people on June 12 and 14. On June 12, the NIA had conducted searches at seven locations in Coimbatore and seized incriminating material including books and documents from the houses and work places of six accused persons. The anti-terror agency had registered a case on May 30 against the six, who were allegedly propagating ideology of the IS/Daesh on social media with the intention of recruiting vulnerable youth into the organisation for for carrying out terrorist attacks in south India, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The NIA also said some of the accused persons and their associates were in touch with Zahran Hashim – the mastermind of the Easter day bombings in Sri Lanka that killed around 250 people – and his associates over social media, with the intention of furthering the objectives of the IS in India. The NIA questioned the accused regarding the incriminating materials recovered during searches and the content of their social media accounts and based on the facts revealed of their pro-IS activities, Shiek Hidayathullah Y. was arrested on June 14. Scrutiny of documents seized from his house revealed that he was associated with proscribed terrorist organization, the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) as well. On June 12, the NIA had arrested Mohammed Azarudeen, a social media friend of Hashim.last_img read more

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Coffee producer installs first water purifier on First Nation near Ottawa

first_imgTodd LamirandeAPTN NewsThe owner of an Ontario coffee company is using proceeds from his sales to install water purification systems in First Nation communities.As three systems were recently installed in homes on the Pikwakanagan First Nation, Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow of the Birch Bark Coffee Company says it’s “a very exciting day for me.”tlamirande@aptn.ca@ToddLamirandelast_img

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UN relief agencies report slow improvement in Iraq but situation still precarious

A new corridor for food supplies was opened, more doctors were returning to hospitals, water supply had improved and the electricity was back on in scattered areas of Baghdad.This was a very positive sign, although most of the city remained in darkness, and this continued to affect hospitals, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told the daily briefing in Amman, Jordan, on UN humanitarian activities.“The news we’re getting from our staff in Baghdad today is marginally more reassuring,” spokesman Geoffrey Keele said. “Our officers tell us that the condition of the health and other vital public services is no longer deteriorating, and that the situation is starting to stabilize. But things have stabilized at a very low level that still leaves the most vulnerable section of Iraqi society – its children – at great risk. Many needs remain to be met.”He said UNICEF staff were approached today by Education Ministry officials seeking help in restarting the country’s education system, and the agency hoped to get a positive response from coalition authorities soon. But, he warned, despite these improvements, a return to normal life in Iraq remained a long way off.The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI) also said the humanitarian situation was slowly improving but remained precarious. In Baghdad, the lack of security continued to impede activities by UN agencies, spokesman David Wimhurst said. Water was now being supplied to most parts of the city, but the sanitation situation remains extremely critical and threatened public health, he added.The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that health assessments in Baghdad, Tikrit and Mosul showed the situation was improving, but still tense. The WHO Baghdad office was operational, with staff working in temporary premises with communications and computer equipment since the previous office was completely damaged and looted, spokesperson Fadela Chaib said. WHO had recovered two of its looted vehicles and would continue to work to recover other vehicles around the city.The World Food Programme (WFP) announced the opening of a new food corridor into Iraq, its fourth, with the departure of 20 trucks from Damascus, Syria, for Mosul with 1,000 tons of wheat flour, enough for more than 110,000 people for a month. The WFP shipped food into Iraq from Jordan and Iran over the weekend and has been operating a corridor into northern Iraq from Turkey for almost three weeks. read more

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Malnutrition jeopardizes Asias tremendous economic potential – UN

“Malnutrition will be a millstone around the neck of the countries in their progress toward economic prosperity,” World Food Programme (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu told the opening session of a regional conference on maternal and child malnutrition in New Delhi. “It is vital for everyone to play their part in making sure women and children, particularly adolescent girls, get proper nourishment,” she added, noting that Asia’s catastrophic malnutrition levels are the single greatest barrier to the evolution of a modern, knowledge-based work force that can manage the economic powerhouse it has the promise to become. WFP and the Indian Government are co-hosting the three-day conference – the Regional Ministerial Consultation on Maternal and Child Nutrition in Asian Countries – which focuses on food and nutrition as a top priority in poverty-reduction strategies. Ms. Sisulu explained that a mother weakened by iron and vitamin A deficiency cannot give her children the upbringing needed to complete their education and achieve their full social and economic potential. As the primary caregiver of the family, a mother needs essential micronutrients in order to do her job well. It is also crucial for infants and young children to get good nutrition at this vital stage of their development, she said, pointing out that malnutrition in early childhood undermines children’s physical stature and cognitive abilities and impedes their performance in school. Undernourished adolescent girls bear underweight babies, who then continue the insidious cycle of malnutrition into the next generation. “Adolescent girls are the vital link in the chain to the future of Asia,” she declared. Noting that fortified foods can be made available at affordable prices for the poor, like Indiamix, the low-cost blended infant food pioneered in India by WFP, she urged countries with a nutrition crisis to increase the fortification of staple foodstuffs lacking micronutrients, so that the poor get the necessary vitamins and minerals. According to UN statistics, more than 500 million Asians do not get enough food to meet daily needs for nutritional well-being. Micronutrient deficiencies are especially serious: babies are born mentally retarded as a result of iodine deficiency, children go blind and die of vitamin A deficiency, and enormous numbers of women and children are sapped by iron deficiency anaemia. At the same time, World Bank studies show that productivity losses due to various types of malnutrition in low-income Asian countries constitute about two to three percent of the Gross National Product (and eight per cent in Bangladesh). read more

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UN emergency teams on ground in earthquakestricken Iranian region

“Our priority at this stage is to find out what the needs are on the ground, particularly regarding women and children,” said UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative Kari Egge, who was travelling in the area at the time and went immediately to the site, where she saw a whole village completely wiped out.”Here in the village of Dohan all the houses have been completely destroyed. It is cold and rainy so supplies such as shelter, food, water and blankets are essential,” she added.A World Health Organization (WHO) field team is also in Zarand, the main town in the area, while technical staff are providing support for disease surveillance teams.The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been informed that weather conditions in the region are difficult, with heavy snowfall resulting in a number of road blockages.UNICEF is working very closely with the Iranian Red Crescent Society and the Iranian authorities to assess the emergency response. The Red Crescent has already sent supplies of tents, blankets and food, and temporary accommodation is being provided for those in need in Zarand. The Iranian authorities have made no official request for assistance from international organizations.The agency’s team – comprising an emergency coordinator, a child protection officer, a water and sanitation officer and a health officer – made their way to the stricken area from Bam, scene of an earthquake 14 months ago which killed more than 30,000 people.According to reports, more than 30,000 people are affected and at least three villages have been more than 90 per cent destroyed. read more

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Notley promising some spending in Alberta budget despite revenue squeeze

by Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 24, 2015 1:45 pm MDT Last Updated Sep 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Notley promising some spending in Alberta budget despite revenue squeeze CALGARY – Premier Rachel Notley says the Alberta government will maintain public-sector services and not lay off workers despite a drop in revenue triggered by plunging resource revenues.Notley gave some hints about the NDP’s first provincial budget next month in a speech Thursday at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention.“We’re going to stabilize public services and correct some mistakes the previous government made in managing finances like a $1.1- billion cut to health care and deep cuts to our schools and post-secondary institutions,” she told delegates.A budget was introduced, but never passed, by former premier Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservative before it was defeated by Notley and the NDP in May.Finance Minister Joe Ceci has been touring the province to gather input for his budget. He has warned that challenges lie ahead as it will be the first full fiscal year with oil at drastically reduced prices.Ceci has already said that Alberta is on track for a record $5.9-billion deficit this year as the oil crunch hits families and businesses.“It makes no sense to respond to layoffs and job losses in the economy by making things worse by more layoffs and more job losses,” Notley said.“I would suggest this is a basic disagreement with both of the province’s conservative parties. They continue to make their case, which is about immediately laying off thousands of public servants, including teachers and nurses.”The current economic situation actually means the time is right for a “significant reinvestment in infrastructure, the premier said.“We are looking carefully for useful, well-thought-out, shovel-ready initiatives that make sense to greenlight this fall in the light of economic circumstances. Then there will be an additional sum we will be investing in our province’s infrastructure over the course of a five-year capital plan.”Notley wouldn’t discuss whether there will be any tax increases in the Oct. 26 budget, but did say she believes Albertans are willing to pay for health care and education.She couldn’t commit to balancing the Alberta budget by 2018 as promised during the provincial election campaign.“I would like to take my platform … and drop it down and say this is what we’re going to do in the next four years. But things change, circumstances change, and we’re grappling with that right now.”Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter read more

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CAR UN envoy urges Security Council to bolster security consider sanctions against

Margaret Vogt, Special Representative for the Secretary-General presented the UN chief’s latest report to the Council, in which he describes the situation in CAR as “horrifying and intolerable.” The report also urges the international community to “send a strong message to Séléka leaders that there is no impunity for murder, looting, and unconstitutional changes of Government.” Members of the rebel group are also accused of rape, maiming, recruitment of children and forced marriages constitute serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.Ms. Vogt, which is also head of the Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), said it was critical that the Council “unequivocally” pronounces itself on the need for these abuses to be stopped now and for perpetrators to be individually held accountable. “We believe that the time is ripe for the Council to consider the imposition of individual sanctions against the architects and perpetrators of these gross violations,” Ms. Vogt said. “We do not want a desperate people to be left with no choice but to take the law into their own hands.”The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay and Secretary-General Ban have also expressed their concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the country. In addition, Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – an independent international body that is not part of the UN and tries those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – has issued a warning that the ICC is closely scrutinizing the crimes committed against civilians in the country. Fighting flared up in CAR in December 2012 when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. The fighters took control of major towns and were advancing on the capital, Bangui – home to 1.5 million out of the country’s population of 4.5 million, before agreeing to start peace talks under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).A peace agreement was reached on 11 January in Libreville, Gabon, resulting in a ceasefire agreement and creating a Government of national unity in which opposition figures were given key posts, but the rebels again seized Bangui in March forcing President François Bozizé to flee.In her briefing based on Mr. Ban’s report, Ms. Vogt called for additional forces in CAR to “contain the current state of anarchy” and which would force rebels to conform to the security framework signed in January as part of the Libreville Agreement. It includes stipulations that all security forces be cantoned/regrouped, disarmed, demobilized and screened for absorption into a reformed security force.In his report, Mr. Ban noted that ECCAS has agreed to raise the troop levels on the group from 700 to 2,000, and urged the international community to support the effort.Mr. Ban downplayed the possibility of a UN peacekeeping force being deployed to the country, noting that while preliminary discussions have been held with Government authorities, “there are many questions to be answered.”In addition to the insecurity, the humanitarian situation in CAR is reaching “horrific proportions,” Mr. Ban said, especially in the medical areas, access to food, basic needs and services and the high risk of famine, if the current situation persists.Since the Séléka’s December offensive, 1.2 million people have been cut off from essential services and human rights violations have been widespread. More than 200,000 people have been displaced and more than 49,000 people have fled the country due to the violence, Ms. Vogt said. She added that as Mr. Ban underlines, the State capacity and infrastructure in the CAR was already at a rudimentary state before the rebellion, while health services were at an emergency level similar to situation seen in countries that have been in conflict for a long time. “Now even these facilities have all but disappeared,” she noted. According to figures cited from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), more than 80,000 people – including 57,000 children under five years of age – are estimated to be at risk of severe food insecurity during the upcoming lean season from now to September. The numbers are likely to go up as food prices rise and as farming continues to be disrupted, Ms. Vogt noted, which could eventually lead to an acute food and nutritional insecurity.The annual humanitarian appeal for the CAR, totalling $129 million, is 29 per cent funded as of 10 May, Ms. Vogt said. At least $42 million additionally will be required to respond to the new needs triggered by the crisis. read more

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At UN world leaders agree to scale up actions against poverty set

During a special event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), countries adopted an outcome document which acknowledges the progress made since the eight global targets were set in 2000, while also committing to do more to tackle many remaining challenges and accelerate progress.Countries also agreed to hold a high-level summit in September 2015 to adopt a new set of goals that will balance the three elements of sustainable development: providing economic transformation and opportunity to lift people out of poverty, advancing social justice and protecting the environment. The President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, who convened the event, stressed that fulfilling existing commitments must be a priority for Member States, as the new development agenda will build on the MDGs. “As we prepare to begin work on the post-2015 development agenda, the international community is embarking on a process with the potential for global transformation. We are working towards a framework that will address pressing global problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss, conflicts, population demographics, inequality and job insecurity,” he said. “This new agenda must not only tackle the unfinished business of the MDGs, it must go further – leading to a great overhaul in how we approach the planet and its people. On many levels, for many people, the new agenda’s composition will be a matter of survival.”At today’s event, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented to countries his report ‘A Life of Dignity for All,’ which outlines his vision for bold action to achieve the MDGs and for a new and responsive sustainable development framework that meets the needs of both people and planet.Mr. Ban said the post-2015 framework “must be bold in ambition yet simple in design, supported by a new partnership for development.” “It needs to be rights-based, with particular emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups. And it must protect the planet’s resources, emphasize sustainable consumption and production and support action to address climate change,” he said.In addition to Mr. Ban’s report, governments, civil society and the private sector have all contributed recommendations for the future development agenda. More than one million people also voiced their concerns through the UN My World survey, and UN and partners engaged in almost 100 national and thematic consultations worldwide so citizens could contribute their ideas and perspectives to world leaders.On Monday, the high-level event, ‘MDG Success: Accelerating Action and Partnering for Impact,’ showcased further commitments from countries, the private sector and civil society organizations. The day-long meeting generated some $2.5 billion in pledged funds towards boosting MDG achievement.Today, the European Union and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced they would step up efforts to reduce hunger in six countries before 2015 through agricultural development activities worth nearly €60 million.“So close to the deadline, when there is still so much to do, this good investment in agriculture will enable FAO to increase its efforts to eradicate hunger and do even more to help countries halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015,” said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.Some two million people will be reached through the joint initiative in Burundi, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Haiti, Madagascar, and Mozambique.Agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, the MDGs set specific goals on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a global partnership for development.The targets that have already been met include halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and providing more than 2 billion people with access to improved sources of drinking water. Countries have also made great strides on health targets, and are within close reach of achieving them by 2015 deadline. These include reducing the mortality rates from malaria and tuberculosis and stopping HIV infections. read more