Researchers push for action as Newfoundland seabirds vanish Its shameful

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first_imgST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The small nocturnal birds known as Leach’s storm petrels are a telling symbol of ocean health. But they’ve vanished in the millions since offshore oil production started 20 years ago in the North Atlantic east of St. John’s, N.L., and no one’s sure why.Seabird specialist Bill Montevecchi of Memorial University of Newfoundland says it’s high time potential links were studied. He’s among researchers who say regulators have failed to require independent, scientific analysis of a drastic decline within the world’s largest colony at Baccalieu Island.It’s down about 40 per cent, or more than three million birds.“We know these birds are attracted to the flares, we know they’re attracted to the platforms,” Montevecchi said of the four major offshore oil sites operating within a short flight.“What are we doing to monitor them? Nothing of any consequence. It’s shameful. It’s appalling that we would be in this circumstance.”Biologist Gail Fraser of York University agreed there’s a glaring lack of consistent scientific data that could help analyze the role of artificial light at Hibernia, Terra Nova, White Rose and now the Hebron site about 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s.The federal-provincial regulator doesn’t require all operators to assess how often the birds are hurt or killed when they get stranded, collide with equipment, or fly into burning flares, she said in an interview.“It has been an ongoing issue for decades and the operators are not systematically collecting data that can provide us with an idea of how serious the impact of artificial lighting can be.”The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) should require all sites to use light deflectors and allow independent observers on production platforms, Fraser said.“Seabirds play an important function in the ocean’s ecosystems and they’re under threat by a wide variety of human activities. Offshore oil is one of those activities, and the operators are obligated to understand what the impacts are on those seabirds.”The board said in a written statement that it does regular environmental audits offshore. It also requires operators to minimize lights where possible to deter seabirds, and to check with the board before use of flares so migration patterns are considered.“Drilling rigs have personnel on board who monitor weather and sightings of seabirds and other marine mammals,” the statement said. And while the board would not object to third-party observers on offshore vessels or installations, “full-time observers of industrial operations are typically deployed only when there is evidence of pervasive and flagrant disregard for the regulatory system and/or persistently poor operating practices.”It’s a curious stance, Fraser said.“The fishing industry has observers,” she noted.Different treatment of offshore oil operators suggests “failed regulatory governance,” says a paper Fraser co-authored that will appear next year in “Ocean Yearbook,” an annual peer-reviewed journal on marine oversight.“I think there is failed regulatory governance because the C-NLOPB is in charge of both promoting offshore oil and regulating it,” she explained.“People who are on those rigs have a priority to extract oil safely …. Their priority is not to understand the environmental impacts.”The regulator has ignored Environment Canada requests in 2005 and 2010 for systematic seabird monitoring programs, Fraser says in the paper.“This problem is now urgent given ongoing declines in seabird species, particularly species most at risk from artificial light.”Sabina Wilhelm, a biologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the department works with oil companies to ease those risks.“But, really, there is a huge need to do research because we really don’t have a means right now to quantify any mortality that is associated with flaring and what its impact is on the storm petrel population,” she said in an interview. “That’s just an unknown for us.”Wilhelm said the birds spend winters off southern and western Africa along with Brazil, where they may also be affected by oil and gas development. They are also hunted in huge numbers by gulls and tend to have high mercury content, she added.“We are really trying to figure out what’s going on,” Wilhelm said of the population decline.Montevecchi said there’s no time to waste.“They just don’t want people who aren’t working for them to be making observations. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not their ocean.“It’s our ocean, and that’s the reason there should be independent observers out there.”Follow @suebailey on Twitter.last_img read more

French Cirque du Soleil performer dies after falling at Florida show

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first_imgA 38-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer died after falling during a Saturday evening performance in Tampa, Fla., the Canadian entertainment company announced Sunday. In 2013, acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after falling more than 30 metres during a show in Las Vegas. Advertisement He was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries. Advertisement The company’s president described Arnaud as an experienced aerialist who was well-loved by his peers. The Montreal-based entertainment group said that French aerialist Yann Arnaud fell to the stage while performing an aerial straps number during a performance of the company’s VOLTA show. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment “Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him.” Advertisement While accidents are rare, it’s not the first time that a Cirque du Soleil artist has died during a show. “In a case like this, the human element trumps the financial aspect. We have to give priority to employees.” “I explained to them that the show wouldn’t restart until the whole team feels able to start back,” he said, adding that psychologists had been sent to the site. Reached by phone, Lamarre said the group was offering support to its employees, many of whom are devastated by Arnaud’s death. Cirque du Soleil cancelled its two Sunday performances and has said it is working with investigators. Login/Register With: “The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” Daniel Lamarre said in a statement. Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Respiratory disease rates in Nunavut known for years why has so little

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first_imgKent Driscoll APTN National NewsA study recently confirmed what most living in the North already knew.Infants in Nunavut and Nunavik suffer from the worst rates of respiratory disease in the world.The reason? Well, the same information has been published for years.APTN went to ask Nunavut’s health department if they’ve known what the problem is for so long, why has so little changed.last_img

A MoroccanDutch Dies in Scoresettling Incident in Spain

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Ziani is reportedly linked to Mocro Maffia, a criminal network in the Netherlands and has been notorious for his involvement in a ‘cocaine war’ in Utrecht.The 33-year-old victim, who was eating in a restaurant with a foreign couple, was fired upon by a masked man who shot him 9 times in the head and upper body and fled the scene in a white van. The victim died later at the hospital, according to Dutch E-newspaper Telegraaf.The Dutch newspaper linked the killing of Ziani to a Moroccan-Dutch criminal, Redouane Taghi, who is also one of the leaders of the criminal network. He is also accused for being responsible for most of the killings that happened in the Netherlands in recent years. Read also: Netherlands Refuses to Extradite Drug Lord Said Chaou to MoroccoTaghi has been the subject of a continental search warrant. He is one of the most wanted criminals in the Netherlands. Dutch authorities placed a € 25,000 for any tips leading to his arrest. He is the main suspect in the murder of Ziani .The victim, father of three children, was part of a rival criminal organization that was on a continental manhunt for Taghi.At the beginning of October, Police in Marbella arrested Ziani for carrying weapons and explosives and placing home-made bombs in a trash bin. Few weeks later, he was released on bail.Redouane and Café La Créme shootingThe murder of Hamza Ziani is similar to the one that took place at Café La Créme in Marrakech.Redouane is suspected of giving the order for the shooting that occurred on November 2017.On November 2, two masked individuals were looking for the cafe owner for stealing €27 million from their criminal network leader. They fired on a 26-year old medical student instead.Authorities arrested the two Dutch individuals along with Taghi’s two brothers who are believed to have helped the two men responsible for the Marrakech shooting. read more

Interim report on shootings in Kosovo cites Romanians attached to UN police

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17 April 2007An interim report into violent clashes in Kosovo two months ago in which two protesters died and two were injured has found “substantial basis” on which to conclude that Romanian gunners linked to a United Nations specialized police unit were responsible, a spokesperson for the world body said today. In his report to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which has run the Albanian-majority Serbian province since 1999, International Prosecutor Robert Dean also says that the Mission, the UN and Romania’s Government may also want to consider compensation for the victims and their families, the spokesperson added.“The interim report states that there is a substantial basis on which to conclude that Romanian gunners attached to the Romanian Formed Police Unit were indeed responsible for the four woundings – two of which were fatal,” spokesperson Michelle Montas told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.“But there is not enough evidence right now pointing to which specific Romanian gunners were responsible for firing the wounding shots, and the evidence does not show at this time that the entire group of Romanian gunners acted unlawfully.” The report adds however that that there is a reasonable suspicion that three of the shootings constitute crimes under Kosovo law.“In light of the above, the report says that the UN Mission, the UN, and the Government of Romania may consider initiating appropriate procedures for compensation for the surviving family members of those fatally shot and for those seriously wounded,” Ms. Montas said, stressing however that the investigation is continuing and the report is interim in nature.UNMIK has repeatedly stated its commitment to ensuring a full and impartial investigation into the deaths, which occurred on 10 February in the capital Pristina when police used rubber bullets against pro-independence demonstrators. The protest followed the unveiling of UN proposals for the future status of the province. read more

Nigers continuing crisis imperils democracy SecretaryGeneral warns

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2 July 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced deep concern about Niger’s continuing political and constitutional crisis, warning that it threatens to destabilize the country and undermine recent progress towards democratic governance and the rule of law. The recent decisions taken by the Niger Government “have made it extremely difficult for the country’s democratic institutions and the Constitutional Court to play their roles as guarantors of the rule of law,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.Media reports say President Mamadou Tandja has dissolved the country’s Parliament and its Constitutional Court in a row over his plans to hold a referendum – scheduled for next month – to change Niger’s constitution so he can run for a third term in office.The statement from Mr. Ban’s office urged restraint on both sides and political dialogue to resolve the crisis, and he also offered his good offices to work with regional partners – especially the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – to find a solution. read more

UN calls for action against diseases caused by tobacco pollution and lack

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Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, addressing a forum entitled The Human and Economic Case to Urgently Address Non-communicable Diseases, said the UN and partners would join in a campaign to “promote exercise, reduce excessive consumption of alcohol and cut the use of tobacco products.”Speaking before a group of experts preparing for September’s UN high level meeting summit on non-communicable diseases – which account for nearly two thirds of global deaths each year – Ms. Migiro said “changing individual habits is essential. After all, people can decide for themselves whether they smoke or drink too much, or whether they fail to get exercise or over-eat.” But, Ms. Migiro said, governments and private corporations also have a role. “Governments can take decisions that reward and encourage healthy habits. Equally, they can raise the financial cost of unhealthy habits. Governments can also strengthen health care for people with NCDs. They can fund research. “The private sector can make sure that while they pursue profits, they also protect health. Companies can adjust the formulas of their foods to include better ingredients and ban those that are known to be harmful, like transfats. “Companies can also act responsibly when marketing products to children. And all of us can take measures to keep harmful chemicals out of our environment.”Two thirds of all new cases of NCDs can be prevented by addressing the four main risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol consumption, the Deputy Secretary-General said.Ms. Migiro said NCDs are wrongly labelled as “diseases of affluence” – affecting people with enough money to buy rich foods, alcoholic drinks, and tobacco products, and to not have to work very much. “Certainly this describes some cases, but not the vast majority,” she said. “Poor countries suffer 80 per cent of the NCD death toll. Poor mothers who lack good nutrition in pregnancy are more likely to give birth to babies vulnerable to NCDs later in life.”Smoking rates are highest among men in lower-middle-income countries. Those countries also suffer two thirds of all cancer deaths. Africa has the highest rate of people living with raised blood pressure, she said.According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO) 36.1 million people died in 2008 from conditions such as heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes. Nearly 80 per cent of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. 20 June 2011A top UN official today called on governments, private companies and individuals to join in the battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs), those that are linked to tobacco, pollution, food and lack of exercise. read more

One year after terror attacks on US UN aviation agency predicts air

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By 2004, passenger traffic should see “robust growth,” and, if consumer confidence is maintained, global increases can be expected to proceed at a rate of 5 per cent each year, the Montreal-based agency said, attributing this trend largely to overall improvements in the world economy.The 11 September attacks last year triggered a steep traffic decline amid sharply rising costs. Preliminary ICAO estimates show the world’s scheduled airlines collectively lost some $12 billion. The effects of these losses reverberated across other industries, including trade, tourism and international business.Over the past year, the world aviation community has initiated a wide range of safety and security measures. Through ICAO, States have adopted new measures, such as improved security around the cockpit area, including reinforced cockpit doors. In addition, the agency has launched a Plan of Action for Strengthening Aviation Security which features new security audits for all ICAO contracting States.Agency President Assad Kotaite hailed the new measures for restoring consumer confidence, but cautioned that the industry warranted continued attention. “Global air transport is a driver of economic development, a catalyst for business and tourism, and a vehicle for social and cultural development worldwide,” he said. “We must provide a climate in which the industry can assure its ongoing vitality while providing the citizens of the world with the safest and most efficient civil aviation system possible.” read more

Talisman says Kurdistan oil discovery giant may seek jointventure partner

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by Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 13, 2013 5:22 pm MDT Talisman says Kurdistan oil discovery ‘giant,’ may seek joint-venture partner AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email CALGARY – Talisman Energy Inc. said Wednesday it has no intention of ditching its potentially “giant” oil discovery in the Iraqi region of Kurdistan as it pares other high-risk exploration projects from its portfolio.Some observers have pressed Talisman (TSX:TLM) to shed Kurdistan, but CEO Hal Kvisle said the company will take its time to explore its options, one of which could be bringing on new partners to help develop the resource.“This is a tremendously exciting discovery and I’m really looking forward to the results of the two wells that we’ve got planned for the rest of this year,” said Kvisle, who has held the CEO role for five months.Talisman and Calgary-based junior WesternZagros Resources Ltd. (TSXV:WZR) each own 40 per cent of the Kurdamir block, with the Kurdistan Regional Government holding the rest.In November, Talisman announced it had found a “significant accumulation of light oil” in its Kurdamir-2 well and that more tests were planned.Talisman also holds 60 per cent in the adjacent Topkhana block. The KRG owns the other 40 per cent.There could be anywhere between a few hundred million and several billion barrels of crude recoverable.“The range is really that wide,” said Kvisle. “Until we do more drilling and get a better sense for what exactly is in the rocks on the different parts of these big structures, we really don’t know.”Talisman’s experience in dealing with regulators in the semi-autonomous region have been good, but operating there does have its challenges, Kvisle said.“The terrain that we work in is rugged and the regions are remote and if you suddenly decide you need a particular piece of equipment, it’s usually not available the way it would be in Alberta.”Moving and setting up a drilling rig in Alberta takes a few days, whereas in Kurdistan it might take weeks. Figuring out the best way to get oil out of the country via pipeline is also a challenge.In addition to safety concerns inherent to the oil and gas business, there are additional risks in Kurdistan “which involve guns and things like that,” said Kvisle.“We have to be very careful,” he said. “We’ve got people running that operation that understand this kind of stuff really well and I think we’re able to run a safe operation, notwithstanding the part of the world that we’re in.”While global exploration spending has traditionally made up 20 per cent of Talisman’s capital spending, it’s at just over 10 per cent now.The company is pulling out of Poland and Peru and is reducing its exposure to the U.K. North Sea. Its position in Colombia is a “good keeper,” Kvisle said, and offshore Norway still has a lot of value despite major headaches getting its Yme project there on stream.Active sales processes are underway to whittle down Talisman’s North American unconventional natural gas business, but there are no details yet on where those assets are or who the buyer might be.Earlier Wednesday, Talisman said it recorded net income of US$367 million, or 37 cents per share, during the last three months of 2012, the first full quarter under Kvisle’s leadership.That’s a reversal of the $117 million, or 11 cents per share, it lost in the same quarter of 2011.The improvement was mainly due to $862 million in gains from asset sales. During the quarter, Talisman completed a $1.5-billion joint-venture with Sinopec that gives the Chinese company a 49 per cent stake in its North Sea operations.Without those one-time items, Talisman would have posted a $107-million loss from operations, or 10 cents per share, compared with a $114-million profit from operations or 11 cents per share in the year-earlier period.Revenue was down substantially as well, dropping to $1.6 billion in the quarter from $2.1 billion a year earlier.Analysts had been looking for US$1.9 billion in revenue and an operating profit of $148 million, or 10 cents per share, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.Talisman shares closed up two per cent to $12.82 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Lanny Pendill, an analyst at Edward Jones, said he was surprised by the stock jump.“I guess people are pleased that the (joint venture) with Sinopec was finally completed, because the quarter was a lousy quarter as a whole,” he said.An 11 per cent drop in production does not bode well for a company looking to get its operations back on track, he said. Higher operating costs and depreciation charges were also unpleasant surprises.The closing of the Sinopec joint venture was one bright spot.“If you think about it, the North Sea has kind of been the company’s problem child. It’s what’s caused most of the production volatility,” said Pendill.Lessening Talisman’s exposure to this region is a good thing, while at the same time Sinopec’s investment may help improve reliability and stabilize production rates.“You’ve basically taken the weakest part of their business and put it in a position to where, hopefully, it can get healthier and at least quit being the Achilles heel,” said Pendill.Kvisle, the retired CEO of pipeline giant TransCanada Corp., took the helm of the troubled international oil and gas producer in September.A month later, company announced four strategic priorities: reducing investment to live within cash flow, investing in a smaller number of high-value projects, building a competitive position in all core regions and improving operations.Talisman has set a 2013 capital budget of about $3 billion, a 25 per cent drop from 2012.At an investor conference last month, Talisman said it was aiming to cut general and administrative costs by 20 per cent over the year. Some jobs will be cut throughout the year as Talisman exits or reduces its presence in certain regions and retiring employees are not replaced.The company will also take a hard look at travel, real estate and other costs. read more

Pitchers Wont Throw Strikes So Batters Are Getting Better At Hitting Bad

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The trend here is striking. As pitchers started throwing outside the zone more and more — again, the really big decline in strike-throwing started around 2009 — hitters not only started swinging at more pitches outside the zone, they also started getting much better at making contact on those wayward pitches. Add it all up, and you see that instead of making contact on just 10 percent of all balls thrown outside the strike zone, as they did back in 2002, hitters made contact on nearly 20 percent of such pitches in 2016.3Note that this isn’t the same as the “contact rate” listed at FanGraphs, which only looks at balls that the batter took a swing at. This figure looks at all pitches outside the zone, which will include, for example, some pitches that were essentially unhittable or thrown as part of an intentional walk. That’s double the rate! That’s unbelievable!Let’s step back for a second, because this is a pretty counterintuitive finding. Batters are striking out more often, but they haven’t gotten any worse at their core task: hitting the ball. They’re also not getting as many good pitches to hit as they used to, but they’re about as good as they ever were at making contact on balls inside the strike zone, and far better than they used to be at making contact on balls outside the zone. Normally that should add up to swinging and missing less often, not more often. But because more of the balls they’re swinging at are outside the zone, and those balls are fundamentally harder to hit, the effect on overall contact is just about level. It’s a classic Simpson’s Paradox.So if MLB hitters suddenly started channeling their inner Vladimir Guerrero, making better contact on bad pitches, why are they still suffering so many strikeouts? We don’t really know for sure, and there’s a lot more digging to be done before anything can be said conclusively. For one thing, it’s not entirely clear which came first: pitchers throwing more outside the zone or hitters swinging at those pitches. I tested whether one month’s zone rate predicted the next month’s swing rate and vice versa, but I found almost no case for either.4The r-squared was less than 0.03 in both directions. This suggests that the complex interactions between batters and pitchers are happening on a much smaller scale than a month, and that they deserve more granular research.But here’s one possible (as-yet-untested) hypothesis for the big-picture story: Sometime in the late 2000s, pitchers began throwing more breaking pitches outside of the zone — hence the decline in zone percentage.5We know that fastball usage has dropped over the period in consideration, and given the trend in zone rate noted above, it’s not ridiculous to guess that some portion of that drop came from pitches outside the zone. At the same time — possibly out of necessity — hitters became increasingly willing to swing at pitches outside the zone, even finding some reasonable success doing it. But pitchers had another weapon: The fastball on the corner of the strike zone. Perhaps the adjustment that hitters made in order to hit breaking stuff outside the zone also made them vulnerable to hard stuff inside it — for which they were not mechanically prepared — and they started getting called out on strikes by the boatload.Again, that’s only a theory. But the fact is that batters are striking out more on called strikes in the zone even as they’re getting better at hitting pitches outside of it. So the next time you see a hitter preparing for a breaking ball out of the zone, remember: It’s not the pitches you swing at that get you. It’s the ones you don’t. You see the stories everywhere. “Baseball teams are striking out more than ever,” blared an NBC Sports headline back in April. In 2015, The Hardball Times wrote a story entitled “The Strikeout Ascendant.” And the year before that, friend of the program Ben Lindbergh hosted a “rising strikeout rate symposium” on his popular podcast, Effectively Wild. Clearly, the baseball world is well aware that strikeout rates are up — way up.What’s less well-known, but equally true, is this: Baseball’s recent rise in strikeout rates has little to do with how good batters are at making contact. That’s a bit counterintuitive, I know, because strikeout rates have increased (up nearly 26 percent since 20021That’s the first year for which we have plate-discipline statistics, so that’s as far back as we can look using the data mentioned throughout this article.), and when you think of a strikeout, you usually imagine a batter taking a mighty hack and missing. And indeed, swinging strikes are up as a percentage of all pitches.But keep in mind that this isn’t only about the batters — pitchers also have a big say in the matter.And in 2009, pretty much all of a sudden, they started throwing way fewer pitches in the strike zone, as measured by Fangraphs’ zone percentage statistic.2It’s worth noting that Pitchf/x’s version of the same statistic, which uses a slightly different methodology, shows roughly the same trend, but with a different start date and a shallower slope. From 2002 (the earliest year for which we have data) through 2008, pitchers put the ball through the zone about 52 percent of the time, year in and year out. In fact, over the seven seasons from 2002 to 2008, the league-wide rate of pitches in the zone never dropped below 50.5 percent or rose above 54.2 percent. When it came to tossing strikes, MLB hurlers were a model of consistency.But during the 2009 season, pitchers threw balls in the zone just 48.3 percent of the time. In 2010, that number kept falling — to 45.4 percent! — and by 2011, the league-wide rate of pitches in the zone was just 44.6 percent. In just three years, about one out of every nine pitches that had previously been thrown in the zone started missing its mark. (Since then, MLB’s zone rate has basically leveled off: Last year, it was exactly the same — 44.6 percent — as it was in 2011.)But despite that drastic change, batters haven’t really changed how they react to pitches inside the zone. Batters still swing at basically the same proportion of pitches in the zone as they did in 2002, and they still make contact with those pitches at essentially the same rate.Instead, the big changes have come outside the zone. read more

ESB says electricity restored after power cuts affect parts of south Dublin

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first_imgESB Networks tweeted to say its crews were working hard and hoped to have power restored in time for the 6.1 news…But they did even better than that as they tweeted a short time ago to say that power has been restored in the affected areas:Meanwhile, the outages in Dublin 4 didn’t appear to affect the FAI Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium where Sligo secured a dramatic victory over Drogheda.First published 4.50pm As it happened: Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers, FAI Cup final This map from the ESB Networks website shows a cluster of power cuts in the south Dublin area.Updated 5.44pm THE ESB HAS said that power has been resorted to parts of south Dublin affected by outages earlier today.Parts of Dublin 2 and Dublin 4 were affected by electricity outages with users taking to Twitter:last_img read more

Spain has ghost estates too and jobless families are starting to squat

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first_imgUNABLE TO PAY her mortgage, Manoli Herrera turned over her flat to the bank and moved into one of six abandoned buildings occupied by other jobless families in Sanlucar de Barrameda, a seaside town on Spain´s southern coast.“I did not want my two children to experience the violence of an eviction. They have already gone through so much,” she said as her children played in the courtyard of the occupied building.Twenty struggling families, many with children, moved into the building on 30 June.Several days later another 60 families moved into five nearby buildings.The six new buildings belong to a real estate developer that went bankrupt and disappeared.A message written on a white bedsheet that hangs from the courtyard of one of the occupied reads: “Everyone has the right to a home. Fighting for a home.”The occupied buildings have been dubbed “The Courtyards of Dignity”. The name was inspired by the high-profile occupation of another building in May 2012 by about 20 families aided by anti-poverty activists in Seville, about 100km away that was called “Utopia Courtyard”.The authorities evicted those families from that building in April.Herrera, 39, said she lost her job in 2009 when the company she worked for went bankrupt.With her husband also out of work, the couple eventually stopped paying their mortgage.After missing three monthly mortgage payments the bank told the couple they had two options: turn over the home to the lender, or be evicted and be liable for the €86,000 they still owed.They are part of a surge in the number of indebted Spanish families that have lost their homes since a decade-long property bubble burst in 2008, throwing millions of people out of work.While evictions have soared, the collapse of the property bubble has left an estimated 700,000 empty new homes scattered across Spain – which are often the target of squatters.“The ‘courtyards’ are a reflection of the social situation. They highlight the problem of the housing emergency that exists which the authorities try to hide,” said Francisco Cuevas of the CNT union who regularly brings food for the residents of “The Courtyards of Dignity”. Abandoned estate near the city of Zamora. Source: Flickr/SBA73‘It was unbearable’ Sanlucar de Barrameda, a town of whitewashed houses that is now home to around 65,000 people, boasts nearby beaches that are a popular tourist draw. But few holidaymakers are aware of the occupation of the buildings in the city and the residents struggling to make ends meet.Families in the six buildings rely on food donations and share whatever they have.“United we are stronger. What we want are solutions for everyone. Not in drips and drabs,” said Juan Jose Munoz, a spokesman for the squats.Before moving into the occupied buildings, Jenifer Garcia Vidal, 22, and her husband Esteban and two children, aged four and five, lived with her parents.“We were nine people in two rooms, it was unbearable,” she said as he held her daughter in her arms.The occupation of the buildings is a thorn in the side of local authorities.“We can never support kicking down a door” to illegally enter an empty building, said the town’s Socialist mayor, Victor Mora.The left-wing regional government of Andalucia, where the town is located, in April 2013 passed a decree that allowed it to expropriate properties from which people are about to be evicted for up to three years to allow them to continue to live there.But the measure was blocked by the conservative national government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.Last week, the government of Andalucia announced it had reached a deal with a bank to turn 20 empty flats in the lender’s hands into social housing.But “this is a drop of water in the ocean,” said Munoz.© – AFP 2014Read: Property investors still love us – but there could be competition from Spain >Read: “Long live the king!”: Spain says hello to its new head of state >last_img read more

Enzo Amore photo removed from WWE production truck WWE Network makes a

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first_img Now Playing Up Next January 27, 2018 at 4:44 pm Google+ Pinterest Big Cass WhatsApp Enzo Amore Videos Articles Facebook Twitter The truck actually looks better now Comments are closed. Now Playing Up Next Joan Jett Set To Perform Ronda Rouseys Entrance At WrestleMania 35 Jimmy De Santa Now Playing Up Next J™ 9/7 NXT Live Results: Gainesville, Florida (Kushida vs. Roderick Strong, Matt Riddle in action) Thanks,I corrected it. 9/5 NXT Live Results: Lakeland, Florida (Fatal 4-Way Elimination Tag Team main event) Cameron Huff I guess they’ll need to make a new banner for their trucks. Steven Herreracenter_img Now Playing Up Next Rousey: First UFC Fight More Important Than Wrestlemania Videos Articles January 28, 2018 at 5:50 am Enzo Amore photo removed from WWE production truckThe image of Enzo Amore has been removed from one of WWE’s production trucks.Twitter user @Its0nlyRachel tweeted out a photo of Amore’s image being removed from a production truck that was used at last night’s NXT live event in Toms River, New Jersey.As reported on this past week, Amore was released by WWE this past Tuesday and issued a legal statement later that night denying all sexual assault allegations against him.A WWE truck at #NXTTomsRiver seems to be missing something. Bada-boom realist ghost in the room. pic.twitter.com/TfPD8OPN76— Rachereen Dream. (@Its0nlyRachel) January 27, 2018WWE Network makes a new offerWWE has started extending a new offer to fans that have since canceled a subscription to the WWE Network to get them back for a three month subscription.According to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the new offer is for $1.99 total that gets them access to the network for three months, including WrestleMania 34.Outside of the low cost of the offer, what makes it noteworthy is that by doing this, WWE is able to include any new subscriptions off this offer with the number of active subscribers that is revealed every year the next day after WrestleMania.Recommended videosPowered by AnyClipWWE Wrestler Enzo Amore Kicked Off FlightVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteDuration 0:32/Current Time 0:01Loaded: 100.00%0:01Remaining Time -0:31 FullscreenUp NextThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Replay the list Cameron Huff Now Playing Up Next unknown Adam Martin RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR January 27, 2018 at 5:28 pm Benoit* Ronda Rousey On WWE: I Love This Job, But I Dont Need It January 27, 2018 at 5:31 pm 9/6 NXT Live Results: Tampa, Florida (Matt Riddle in action, Kushida teams with Jordan Myles) Ronda Rousey Highlighting WWEs Problems January 27, 2018 at 4:19 pm That sick pedophile f***! So,now they’re gonna Chis Beniot his ass? Can’t say I blame them 100% as he should’ve told them he was under investigation since October,but WWE should’ve waited till the verdict. January 31, 2018 at 8:43 pm 6 COMMENTS WWE Wrestler Enzo Amore Kicked Off Flightlast_img read more

Asian streaming service Viu looks to grow with more original content

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first_img Tags Viu’s latest show, No Sleep No FOMO, features a pan-Asia cast of celebs completing challenges in unknown destinations.  Viu You may not’ve heard of Viu, a Hong Kong-based video streaming service, but it’s already used by 30 million people.That’s a far cry from Netflix’s 137 million, but Viu’s reach is smaller. It’s focused in 17 markets, including South Africa and the company tells me it’s gained 14 million new users just last year alone.Relying primarily on subtitled licensed Korean content, such as dramas and entertainment variety shows, Viu also has Hong Kong content and some of its own originals. But now it’s hoping a new show, No Sleep No FOMO, featuring a pan-regional cast, will catch on.The show is a travelogue, dropping celebrities into unexpected locations around the world, including Switzerland. They’re given 60 hours to complete 60 missions without sleep. The program will feature Singapore-based host Paul Foster and Korean singer and variety star Kim Jong Kook, as well as a slew of celebs from the region.Social media will also play a big part, letting viewers use hashtags to influence the show and create what Viu calls “co-segments.” “Instead of casting a single regional celebrity, we also selected different celebrities and social media stars who can connect with audiences digitally and socially in various segments and countries,” said Janice Lee, managing director of PCCW Media, which operates Viu. “They together account for a remarkable fan base of more than 12 million social media followers apart from Viu’s own 30 million user base.”Lee added that the company plans to focus on social engagement as a way to connect with its “Viu-ers.”nsnf-ep04-01-jpgThe No Sleep No FOMO cast doing a Korean heart sign. Viu Korean programming will still play a big part — Viu partners with Korea’s top five broadcasters: KBS, MBC, SBS, CJ ENM and JTBC. But the company is also teaming with Samsung to get its content to certain markets in Asia, a move similar to marketing efforts by Netflix and Amazon, which involve dedicated buttons on LG remotes.Whether the strategy pays off remains to be seen, but more and more streaming services are pushing into delivering more original content.”We are seeing this an opportunity for us to create more original content as well as localizing pan-regional popular content to offer more relevant content to our viewers,” said Lee.”The growth in both our user base as well as in our revenues from ad-supported and subscription tiers strengthens our belief that we’re on the right track.” 0 Share your voicecenter_img Post a comment TV and Movieslast_img read more

25 killed in Himachal Pradesh rain

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first_imgShimla: At least 25 people were killed and nine others injured in rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, officials said. Eight people died in Shimla, two each in Kullu, Sirmaur, Solan and Chamba and one each in Una and Lahaul-Spiti districts, they added. Landslides hit a spot near the RTO office here, leaving three persons dead. One person sustained injuries in the incident, police said. In Narkand area of Shimla district, two Nepalese died and three were injured after when a tree fell on their house. Also Read – One arrested for firing outside Satna college in Madhya Pradesh Advertise With Us In another incident, a labourer was killed and six injured as the wall of a house collapsed in the Lower Cemetery area following heavy rainfall early Sunday, police said. In Chamba district, two persons were killed in a house collapse. The incident took place at Lona in Mehla subdivision at 3.30 am, killing a 70-year-old man and a 7-year-old child, Chamba SP Monica Bhutunguru said. Also Read – Abrogation Of Article 370 Carried Out In Inhuman Way: Urmila Matondkar Advertise With Us In Kullu, a man was washed away in Sujwad Nullah when locals were trying to rescue him. All educational institutes to be closed today: Govt As heavy rains lashed Shimla on the intervening night of August 17 and 18, the administration ordered closure of educational institutes. In an order issued on Sunday, the administration said the schools, colleges, universities and Anganwari centres will remain shut on Monday in view of the inclement weather as several roads have been closed due to landslides. Advertise With Us “In view of heavy rains and blockages and damages caused to roads, it has become necessary to order closure of all educational institutes,” the order signed by District Magistrate Amit Kashyap said. Train services from Shimla hit by landslides Train services between Shimla and Kalka were disrupted on Sunday after multiple landslides blocked the rail route in Himachal Pradesh, a rail official said. Landslides occurred at four-five places on the Shimla-Kalka track following heavy rains in the region, he added. A Shimla-bound train from Kalka had started at 3 am but had to be terminated midway at Dharampur Railway Station at 5 am due to landslides, he added. Subsequently it was decided not to run any train till the clearance of the track, he added. Train services on the Shimla-Kalka route are likely to resume on Monday after the track is cleared. Tons river flowing above the danger level At least 18 people were missing after a flood in the Tons River washed away around 20 houses in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district on Sunday. The Tons River has been flowing above the danger level in Uttarkashi following heavy rainfall in the past few days. The water breached local markets recently, prompting the administration to issue an alert. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat directed the Uttarkashi District Magistrate and Disaster Management Secretary to carry out rescue and evacuation operations and provide relief material to the affected people, news agency ANI reported.last_img read more

Chidambarams arrest daylight murder of democracy

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first_imgNew Delhi: A day after former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was arrested, the Congress party in a press conference held here on Thursday called it a ‘broad daylight murder of democracy’. Defending Chidambaram, Congress media chief Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that the arrest was a result of ‘vindictive politics’ by a ‘desperate government’ and accused the ED and the CBI of pleasing their ‘political masters’. Also Read – BJP launches anti-AAP campaign to save Delhi Advertise With Us Surjewala further alleged, the arrest of Chidambaram is a ploy to divert the attention of the people from the deepening economic crisis in the country. Surjewala said that Chidambaram has already been raided four times in connection with the case and “appeared in response to over 20 summons”. Calling the charges levelled against Chidambaram as false and fabricated, the Congress said, “After over 5 years of futile investigation, for an alleged offence that took place in 2008, the authorities are unable to come out with any clear or precise allegation or a compelling case against Chidambaram. This leads to only one unmistakable conclusion – “false charges are being heaped upon senior political rivals to silence anyone and everyone in the country.” Also Read – In his first after abrogation of Art 370, Army chief to visit Srinagar today Advertise With Us Though the agencies believe they have a strong case against Chidambaram and need to question him to establish the money trail, Congress called the move “vindictive, selective and malicious”. In a shocking move, the Congress media chief didn’t spare the media as well calling a section of them as “propaganda machinery”.last_img read more

Chowkidar disappears from PM Modis Twitter handle after stunning LS election win

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first_imgThe other BJP leaders who carried the prefix included Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, JP Nadda, Smriti Irani, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal and Arun Jaitley.PM Modi had launched the ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ Twitter campaign in March with other BJP leaders following suit. They had tweeted, “As Chowkidars of our nation, we are committed to creating a clean economy by using cashless financial transactions. The menace of corruption and black money has adversely affected us for decades. Time to eliminate these for a better future.”The campaign was launched as retaliation for Rahul Gandhi’s taunts in his campaign speeches where he had said, “Chowkidar chor hai (watchman is a thief)”. He was referring to PM Modi.In one of his campaigns, Rahul Gandhi had said, “Five years ago, chowkidar said he wanted to fight corruption. He said he wanted to make it a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’. Today, the slogan of ‘Acche Din Aayenge’ has changed to ‘Chowkidar chor hai’.” Twitter/ANIAs Narendra Modi’s famous ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ campaign comes to an end with him retaining his crown, the Prime Minister has removed the prefix ‘chowkidar’ from his Twitter handle.After he removed the campaign tag, PM Modi tweeted, “Now, the time has come to take the Chowkidar Spirit to the next level. Keep this spirit alive at every moment and continue working for India’s progress. The word ‘Chowkidar’ goes from my Twitter name but it remains an integral part of me. Urging you all to do the same too!”last_img read more

Microsoft employees prepare for massive layoffs likely to begin on Thursday

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first_imgThe Microsoft logo is seen on an electronic billboard on an office building in New York City, July 28, 2015. The global launch of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system will take place on July 29.ReutersAmerican multinational technology company Microsoft has been garnering quite some attention in the last few days, thanks to the massive layoffs that it has reportedly been gearing up for. While the job cuts have been predicted for quite some time, it is now being said that Microsoft’s corporate rejig is likely to begin on Thursday, July 6.Conference rooms have reportedly been booked and numerous employees have been asked to meet their managers for about 15-minute discussions, according to details on anonymous chat app Blind, which was shared with Business Insider. While the exact number of job cuts is not known yet, many employees believe that they will not be laid off but will instead be asked to move to another department.”Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners,” a Microsoft spokesperson had earlier told AFP without commenting on the reported rejig. But the much-talked-about job cut is likely to affect the sales and marketing staff the most.The exact intention behind the rejig is yet to be known, but GeekWire is said to have got hold of a document, which it indicated were excerpts from the Microsoft memo, and it says that this is a part of the company’s plans to help its customers with “digital transformations.”As the market is witnessing various changes at a rapid pace, Microsoft plans to increase its focus on cloud computing and business services instead of just software. “From large multinationals to small and medium businesses to non-profits all over the world, organizations are using Microsoft’s cloud platforms to power their digital transformation,” Chief Executive Satya Nadella had earlier said.Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of worldwide commercial business, has said that the reorganisation is designed to “align the right resources for the right customer at the right time,” reported the Verge. Microsoft has just built a special version of Windows 10 for Chinese government officials.Creative CommonsHowever, Microsoft is yet to make an official comment on the reported layoffs.Meanwhile, this is not the first time that the company is making such massive changes to its strategy. It has announced quite a few job cuts in the last few years, the most talked about being 18,000 positions removed in 2014. The tech giant laid off 7,800 employees in 2015, and 4,700 in 2016.last_img read more

Dilip Ghosh seen in car with police sticker

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first_imgKolkata: State BJP president Dilip Ghosh allegedly travelled in a car with ‘police’ sticker pasted on its windshield on Sunday at Durgapur. Later, a local resident identified as Akhil Shee lodged a complaint against Ghosh, narrating the incident on Monday at Durgapur police station, requesting necessary action.On Sunday, BJP organised rallies across the state, calling them ‘Sankalpa Yatras’. As per their plan, BJP supporters gathered at the Rajiv Gandhi Maidan in Durgapur. Local BJP leadership was preparing to start the rally which was supposed to be led by the party’s West Burdwan district president Lakshman Ghorui. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseBut just before the rally was about to commence, police asked the BJP leaders to stop as the rally had no permission. As Ghorui and the others refused to follow the order, they were arrested. After some time, Ghosh arrived at the spot in a car. He was seen sitting in the front seat. A ‘police’ sticker was pasted on the driver’s side, while in front of Ghosh a logo of BJP was seen on the windshield. West Burdwan Trinamool leaders have alleged that Ghosh used the sticker for extortion purposes. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataGhosh claimed that his security personnel, who are policemen, use the car which is why the sticker was on the car. Though the BJP leader is allegedly not taking the issue seriously, no one other than police personnel can use a car with ‘police’ sticker pasted anywhere on the car. Interestingly, the vehicle in question bearing registration number WB 08B 6307, belongs to one Roshmi Doll Chakraborty and is registered with the Regional Transport Authority, Salt Lake, as per the database of Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.last_img read more

Havana After Dark plus Mexico DR for Virgin Voyages debut season

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first_img Travelweek Group Posted by ‘Havana After Dark’ plus Mexico, D.R. for Virgin Voyages’ debut season Tags: Openings & Renovations, Virgin Voyages Friday, February 1, 2019 center_img Share MIAMI — Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady, setting sail from Miami to the Caribbean in 2020, will offer four and five-night ‘Havana After Dark’ itineraries with overnight stays in Havana.The 2,770-passenger ship will also offer five-night ‘Mayan Sol’ sailings to Costa Maya and five-night ‘Dominican Daze’ itineraries to Puerto Plata.Virgin says passengers will also have more time to explore in each destination, with extended port hours and an overnight stay or a late-night sail away on all voyages.Virgin also says news about an additional destination for all sailings will soon be released.“Our research with Sailors unearthed their desire to go to places that allow for a variety of experiences,” said Diana Block Garcia, Vice President of Itinerary & Destination for Virgin Voyages. “Our destinations offer a combination of opportunities for exploration and relaxation, to complement our Virgin Voyages experience.”The inaugural season opens for bookings on Feb. 5 for pre-sale deposit holders, and Feb. 14 for the general public.The cruise line also has new details about its staterooms. Designed for function and mobility, they will feature flexible furnishings for increased socializing opportunities, upgraded bathroom experiences and tech-forward, ‘clever cabin’ touches.More news:  Kory Sterling is TL Network Canada’s new Sales Manager CanadaVirgin has already teased its dining options and luxe-focused RockStar Suites.For the cabins, “We wanted … a place people actually wanted to hang out in,” says Jamie Douglas, Senior Product Design Manager, Virgin Voyages. “The cabin feels like a reflection of modern city living. A design that works harder with what are normally constricted spaces.”To counter what it calls the boxiness of traditional sea cabins, an exclusive patent pending cabin layout was born in partnership with Pearson Lloyd Design of London. The layout uses intelligent architecture to optimize space with an angled wall. Though hardly detectable, the angled wall “vastly alters” the room, says Virgin.Another innovation is the Seabed, the first-ever transformational cabin bed at sea, specially engineered and handcrafted by German-based, Walter Knoll designers.SeaBed in Day ModeSustainability was another consideration. PIR presence detectors with eco modes were added, where air-conditioning, lighting and curtain settings auto-adjust for energy conservation when a passenger steps out of the cabin. If there’s a phone charging in the room, power still stay on for the phone but switch off for everything else. All of the technology can be controlled on the in-room tablet.SeaBed in Night ModeSome 93% of the cabins have sea views, and 86% have sea terraces with outdoor hammocks for lounging beneath the stars. That includes an XL Sea Terrace option for more added room and terrace space.Terrace at NightThere’s also a variety of Insider Cabins with solo options for more personal travel, as well as loft-style, bunk bed lined Social Insider cabins for groups.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaVirgin says most of Scarlet Lady’s standard cabins will have transitional Seabeds, sustainably sourced, hand-woven hammocks, sensory mood lighting, in-room entertainment with 43”+ 4K flat-screen HDTVs, minibars, ‘glam areas’, flexible wardrobes and premium products in upgraded bathrooms with rainshowers. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more