Technical elements of Iran deal put the brakes on nuclear breakout

first_imgA once-secret nuclear facility deep under a mountain near Iran’s holy city of Qom is slated to become one of the world’s most unusual international research centers. A plutonium-producing reactor will be reengineered and downsized. And enough enriched uranium to make several atomic bombs will be removed or diluted. These and other technical elements of the action plan on Iran’s nuclear program announced yesterday seek a delicate balance: preventing Iran from building an atomic arsenal while allowing it to retain significant nuclear R&D.A final agreement, in which Iran will dismantle parts of its nuclear program and accept international inspections in return for the lifting of international sanctions, isn’t due until the end of June. But the technical fixes announced yesterday have raised hopes that negotiators will be able to reach a final agreement. “It’s great that they persevered, with all the opposition,” says Frank von Hippel, a physicist and arms control expert at Princeton University.The goal of the United States and its negotiating partners is to slow Iran’s “breakout time”—the timescale of a crash effort to porduce enough weapons-grade fissle material for one bomb—from an estimated 2 to 3 months to at least a year. One major bone of contention has been the Arak heavy water reactor. Iranian officials say the chief aim of the 40-megawatt fission reactor, under construction in the central province of Markazi, is to make radioisotopes for medicine. But simply running the reactor on its natural uranium fuel would yield about 10 kilograms of plutonium a year, enough for one or two atomic bombs. To greatly reduce the amount of plutonium generated in Arak’s spent fuel, von Hippel and others had proposed changing the fuel to low-enriched uranium (LEU), which would greatly curtail plutonium production.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(*)But to von Hippel’s surprise, Iran has, in principle, agreed to an even more stringent alteration. LEU fuel is more compact than natural uranium fuel and would thus take up less space in the core. Iran has said it will downsize the calandria—the vessel in which a core resides—making it harder to later reconfigure the reactor to switch back to natural uranium fuel and produce more plutonium. Von Hippel says the fuel swap alone would lengthen the breakout time Iran would need to build a plutonium bomb to more than 1 year. Iran’s commitment to a smaller calandria would “go well beyond that,” von Hippel says.Several other facets of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are aimed at extending Iran’s breakout time for a uranium-based bomb. For starters, Iran has agreed to reduce the number of installed centrifuges for enriching uranium from about 19,000 to 6104—all of which would be Iran’s first-generation IR-1 centrifuge rather than a more advanced model. It will also reduce its LEU stockpile from 10,000 kilograms down to 300 kilograms. Iran would have two basic options for achieving that reduction: exporting the excess LEU or blending it with depleted uranium, which, compared with natural uranium, has less of the fissile isotope uranium-235. The most logical solution, experts say, would be to send the 9700 kilograms of LEU to Russia for conversion into fuel rods for Iran’s Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor, in operation since 2011.One intriguing wrinkle of JCPOA is a plan to create what U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz calls an “international physics center” at the Fordow nuclear site. This secret facility for uranium enrichment came to light in 2009, 2 years after Iran started building it. The plan calls for largely gutting Fordow: removing about two-thirds of its centrifuges and other infrastructure. The remaining centrifuges will not be used to enrich uranium. Both the centrifuges and the remaining space would be open to foreign researchers. The proposal “is a great idea to get [Iran] into the international research community,” says Siegfried Hecker, a plutonium specialist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory.Iran had insisted from the outset that it would close none of its nuclear facilities. Converting one of its most controversial sites to a civilian R&D center “is clearly a face-saving gesture,” says physicist James Acton, a nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. “It’s not clear what sort of research will be done at Fordow,” says Pierce Corden, a disarmament expert and visiting scholar at AAAS (publisher of ScienceInsider). Von Hippel speculates that the remaining centrifuges there could be used to make purer preparations of mercury isotopes for fluorescent lighting, for example, or for enriching molybdenum-98, which could then be irradiated with neurtons to produce molybdenum-99, a radioisotope used in medicine. “It is likely not going to do much for basic physics,” Hecker says. “But isotope work would be great.”Others are skeptical. “It is very speculative at this stage,” says Yousaf Butt, senior scientific adviser to the British American Security Information Council in Washington, D.C. “I sincerely doubt American and Iranian nuclear scientists will be working together anywhere anytime soon.”Nuclear negotiators have set a 30 June deadline to hammer out a final agreement. Until then, Acton says, it’s worth bearing in mind that “we don’t have a deal yet.”Corrections and clarifications, 4/6/2015, 10:30am: Errors regarding the amount of enriched urnaium affected by the agreement, and the role of molybdenum-99,  have been corrected. Details regarding operations of the Arak reactor have been clarified.last_img read more

After heated campaigns, stage set for tough contests in Maharashtra

first_imgThe electioneering in the run-up to Monday’s Assembly elections has put the spotlight on several seats in Maharashtra which remained in the news for the tough fights, intense campaign and interesting political combinations. Alok Deshpande takes a look at some such contests VidarbhaWani An Assembly segment at the border of Chandrapur and Yavatmal district has turned into Vidarbha’s most high-profile battle with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray holding rallies here.With coal reserves in Chandrapur reaching its limit, Wani is the next big thing for the miners of coal and limestone. The area is known for its good soil used in construction industry for manufacture of cement. In addition, with prohibition in Chandrapur, the entire liquor industry has shifted to Wani with increased inflow of people. The political parties have given tickets to their heavyweights in a bid to control the constituency.2014 result – Sanjivreddy Bodkurwar (BJP)2019 fight – Sanjivreddy Bodkurwar (BJP) vs Wamanrao Kasawar (Congress) vs Raju Umbarkar (MNS)Savner In adjoining Nagpur city, BJP is concentrating on Savner unlike other cities in Vidarbha. Party president Amit Shah, senior minister Nitin Gadkari, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several ministers have held rallies in Savner in a bid to defeat sitting Congress MLA Sunil Kedar, a party heavyweight who has become an eyesore for the BJP.Mr. Kedar, a firebrand Congress MLA from Vidarbha is fighting a spirited battle by countering BJP machinery almost single-handed. Apart from Hardik Patel, no other Congress leader from outside has held rallies here. Savner was the only one of the 12 Assembly seats in Nagpur district which the BJP could not win in 2014.2014 result – Sunil Kedar (Congress)2019 fight – Sunil Kedar (Congress) vs Rajeev Potdar (BJP)Badnera Independent MLA Ravi Rana from Badnera is known to have close relations with Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, irrespective of their parties. The husband of Amravati MP Navneet Kaur Rana, who contested the election as an opposition candidate but extended support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after being elected, is seeking his third term in office and faces a tough battle against Shiv Sena’s Priti Band, wife of late Sanjay Band.Sources said the BJP was planning to field Tushar Bhartiya from this seat but Mr. Rana’s contacts in Delhi derailed the plan and the seat went to the Sena. With all parties silently supporting Ms. Band, the initially easy-looking election has turned difficult for Mr. Rana.2014 result – Ravi Rana (Ind)2019 fight – Ravi Rana (Ind) vs Preeti Band (Sena) Sakoli Former BJP MP-turned-Congress leader Nana Patole is taking on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ blue eyed boy and State minister Dr. Parinay Fuke in Bhandara’s Sakoli. The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first rally in Maharashtra here, shows the BJP’s seriousness in winning this seat.Mr. Patole left the BJP criticising Mr. Modi’s authoritarian mode of functioning and unsuccessfully contested from Nagpur Lok Sabha seat against Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.2014 result – Rajesh Kashiwar (BJP)2019 fight – Parinay Fuke (BJP) vs Nana Patole (Cong)MarathawadaParli Traditional rivals, the Munde cousins are at war yet again, this time with much more intensity and rage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah held rallies in Parli to campaign for sitting MLA and minister Pankaja Munde. Her opponent from NCP and Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde is leaving no stone unturned to register his first victory in Assembly elections. The emotional outburst of both leaders a day before elections after Mr. Munde’s allegedly objectionable statement against his lady opponent followed by a notice from the State women’s commission has taken this year’s election to different level altogether.2014 result – Pankaja Munde (BJP)2019 fight – Pankaja Munde (BJP) Vs Dhananjay Munde (NCP)Ausa Chief Minister’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Abhimanyu Pawar is taking on the Congress veteran and sitting MLA Basavaraj Patil. Mr. Modi and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi campaigned for their respective candidates making it a prestige issue for both the parties. This has also put CM’s prestige on stake as he negotiated this seat for his OSD from Shiv Sena.Interestingly, the list of candidates sees two more Basavraj Patils and one more Abhimanyu Pawar contesting as independents which is likely to confuse the voters.2014 result – Basavaraj Patil (Cong)2019 fights – Basavaraj Patil (Cong) vs Abhimanyu Pawar (BJP)Western MaharashtraKothrud BJP’s second rank minister Chandrakant Patil shifted from Kolhapur to Pune to contest from one of the safest seats for the party. Denying a ticket to the party’s sitting MLA Medha Kulkarni led to an uproar from the Brahmin community, who were subsequently pacified.All opposition parties have extended support to MNS candidate Kishor Shinde for whom party president Raj Thackeray campaigned extensively.2014 result – Medha Kulkarni (BJP)2019 fight – Chandrakant Patil (BJP) vs Kishor Shinde (MNS)Karjat-Jamkhed The third generation of NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s family, his grandnephew Rohit Pawar will be making his electoral debut from possibly one of the toughest seats for the party, held by the BJP for over five terms. He will take on BJP minister Ram Shinde.Both parties have run an extensive and tiring campaign in a seemingly underdeveloped and polarised seat where NCP is promising development while BJP is asking voters to not vote for an outsider.2014 result – Ram Shinde (BJP)2019 fight – Ram Shinde (BJP) vs Rohit Pawar (NCP)Mumbai + KonkanWorli For the first time, a member of the Thackeray family and son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray Aaditya will be contesting an election. Worli is Sena’s safest seat in the city and party believes that the young leader will be made deputy Chief Minister after BJP-Sena government is formed.Mr. Thackeray is facing NCP’s Suresh Mane, one of the most respected Dalit ideologue in the State. Both candidates have avoided making personal allegations, however Saturday night’s seizure of ₹ 4 crore from Worli has raised eyebrows.2014 result – Sunil Shinde (Sena)2019 fight – Aaditya Thackeray (Sena) vs Suresh Mane (NCP)Kankavli Despite having an alliance across the State, the BJP and Sena are officially fighting against each other in this seat after the latter refused to support archrival and former Sena leader Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh who is contesting as BJP candidate. The Ranes have quit the Congress to join the BJP, however Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has clarified that he can never support them.Sena’s Satish Sawant is the party candidate against Mr. Rane and Mr. Thackeray himself campaigned against the BJP, exactly a day after CM’s rally bitterly criticised the Ranes.2014 result – Nitesh Rane (Cong)2019 fight – Nitesh Rane (BJP) vs Satish Sawant (Sena)North MaharashtraMuktainagarThe seat came in for discussion after senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, facing graft charges, was denied a ticket by the party and he initially filed the nomination as an independent. After denying him, the party has given the ticket to his daughter Rohini Khadse bringing some solace to Khadses.With none of the opposition parties in fray, independent Chandrakant Patil is however giving a tough fight to Mr. Khadse.2014 result – Eknath Khadse (BJP)2019 fight – Rohini Khadse (BJP) vs Chandrakant Patil (Ind)Akkalkuwa In this Scheduled Tribe reserved seat, Congress MLA and legislative party leader K.C. Padvi is seeking re-election. The seat has been the party’s stronghold for years and it has not lost the seat in more than five terms. Sena’s Aamshya Padavi will take on the Congress leader.2014 result – K C Padavi (Cong)2019 fight – K C Padavi (Cong) vs Aamshya Padavi (Sena) Vs Kailas Vesave (AAP)last_img read more

IPL 2019: BCCI eyes Rs 20 crore from gate money during playoffs

first_imgThe Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking to pocket Rs 20 crore from gate money during the playoff games in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League. While the gate money during the group stage goes to the various franchises, the money collected from the last four games in the IPL goes to the board.The BCCI in its budget for the 2019 edition of the cash-rich league has calculated a Rs 2 crore rise from the gate money than what they had collected in the 2018 edition as per documents accessed by IANS. In the 2018, the amount calculated as gate money was Rs 18 crore.The final of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on May 12 after the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) failed to secure permission to open stands I, J and K. But quality performance from Chennai Super Kings has seen the board keep Qualifier 1 in Chennai as BCCI doesn’t want fans to be robbed a chance to watch a knockout game.While Chennai will now host Qualifier 1 on May 7, Vizag will host the Eliminator and Qualifier 2.The playoffs are generally hosted at the home grounds of the defending champions and runners-up team, however, certain challenges saw the BCCI remove this year’s final from Chennai to Hyderabad.Hyderabad was expected to host the Eliminator and Qualifier 2, but due to local elections scheduled on May 6, 10 and 14, that will not be possible as the police will not be in a position to provide the required security and permissions.advertisementVizag was kept as back-up for the playoff games and will now host the Eliminator on May 8 and Qualifier 2 on May 10.Speaking after the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) meeting with Team IPL, chief Vinod Rai had spoken about the need to shift the final as the gate sales of the playoff games is BCCI’s prerogative.”We had to shift the matches from Chennai to Hyderabad after TNCA intimated us that they have not procured the requisite permission to open the three stands I, J and K. Since the gate sales of the knock-out matches is BCCI’s prerogative, we had to take a call,” he had said.But quality performance from Chennai Super Kings has seen them sit on top of the points table and the board felt that it would be unfair on the team if they removed Qualifier 1 also from Chennai citing the closure of the three stands which can seat around 12,000 spectators.Also Read | Hardik Pandya’s confidence level didn’t dip even during rough phase: Rohit SharmaAlso Read | Team India like a fortress, outside opinions don’t matter: Rohit Sharma to India TodayAlso See:last_img read more

Poll Question: Which past OSU Team Does This Year Remind You Of?

first_imgI’ve been having some offline conversations with folks about what in the world this team is. I was at my in-laws’ house last weekend, and my wife’s uncle asked me, “are we any good?”I had no answer.This was my answer:¯\_(ツ)_/¯So I thought I would pose the question to you. OSU actually has a better record through five games than it did in 2013 and 2014. It was 4-1 through five games in both of those seasons.Those years ended very differently though. In 2013, OSU nearly (should have) won the Big 12 title and played in the Cotton Bowl. Last year, it barely made it to a bowl game.Which team is this year’s squad more closely aligned with?[poll id=”17″]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

Former 4-Star QB Announces Transfer

first_imgGeneral view of the opening play between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl.PASADENA, CA – NOVEMBER 22: General view of the opening play between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on November 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)A former four-star quarterback has decided to transfer away from his program. UCLA quarterback Devon Modster announced on Friday that he plans to leave the Bruins.Modster started two games for the Bruins in 2017, but has yet to see the field this year. He’s stuck behind Wilton Speight and true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson on the depth chart and wasn’t likely to see any playing time this season, barring injury.Modster took to Twitter to make the announcement.“I’d like to thank Coach Kelly and the strength coaches for allowing me to continue to play the game I love, BUT I’ve decided to leave UCLA and pursue other opportunities,” Modster said on Twitter.Excited for a new chapter❗️ pic.twitter.com/YLiTN3ilqP— Dèvøñ Mödśtēr (@DModster) September 21, 2018Modster is a former four-star recruit from the 2016 class. He was the No. 13 pro-style quarterback from that class and committed to UCLA when Jim Mora was the coach.It’s a tough decision, but Modster likely didn’t have a place in Chip Kelly’s offense.last_img read more

These Beasts of Weights are Guaranteed to Take Your Lifting to the Next Level

first_img Runners, Say Goodbye to Chafing with Path Projects Running Shorts Portion Control: The Best Meal Prep Containers on the Market How to Shave With a Straight Razor 14 Scandinavian Clothing Brands You Need to Know Why Your Desk Chair Matters and the 9 Best Ones to Boost Your Productivity Editors’ Recommendations We get it – that New Year’s resolution to get fit isn’t all its cracked up to be. Plus, the monotony of gym visits and dieting can get old quick.While we can’t do anything about the quality of your local fitness stop, the gurus at Onnit have created these gorgeous Primal Bigfoot Kettlebells to spice things up.These literal beasts of weights come in five different sizes: The smallest being the “Howler” at 18 lbs., “Chimp” – 36 lbs., Orangutan – 54 lbs., “Gorilla” – 72 lbs. and the most mammoth of the lineup – the “”Bigfoot” at 90.2 lbs.Each is a solid block of chip-resistant iron that’s perfectly balanced to take your weightlifting to the next level. The designers also enlarged the handles on each one for a better grip.These weights are so good-looking, we’d even be okay presenting them as standalone pieces in our homes.And we’re not alone. Several athletes from Super Bowl Champion AJ Hawk to snowboarder Adam Dowell have also endorsed the lineup.Onnit has even developed original workouts designed for these. Over on their YouTube channel, they have a number of routines to make the most out of each weight tier.The weights start at $43 for the Chimp and go up to $215 for the Bigfoot. You can buy them here.last_img read more

Canadian Bianca stuns Serena to win maiden Grand Slam

first_imgNew York: Teenager Bianca Andreescu stunned 23-time major champion Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 to become Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion here in the US Open finals. Williams was denied a record-equalling 24th Slam title as the 19-year-old Andreescu on Saturday became the youngest Grand Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 US Open. While it was the fourth successive defeat in the finals for Willams, Andreescu tied Monica Seles, who lifted the 1990 Roland Garros trophy in her fourth major, for the record as the fastest player to grab a first Slam crown in the Open era. The morning showed the day as Williams by conceded her opening service game with successive double faults at Arthur Ashe Stadium.Andreescu did not let the gifts go in vain as she capitalised on them and took the first set as Williams handed her the first with another double fault. In the second set, Andreescu, who had failed to reach the main draw at Flushing Meadows in the previous two years, surged 2-0 ahead.last_img read more

Marrakech du Rire 2018 Breaks Ticket Sale Records

Rabat – “Marrakech du Rire 2018” is headed for record-breaking success. The 8th Annual International Humor Festival, “Marrakech du Rire,” will kick off June 20 and run until June 24. With several well-known comedians participating in the event, laughter is guaranteed to fill the ochre city throughout the weekend.According to the festival’s press release, the box office for “Marrakech du Rire 2018,” which opened March 13, has already sold more than 7,000 tickets. Additional tickets can be purchased from various websites.   Scheduled for five days, the festival will feature the presence of talented comedians, such as D’Jal, Abdelkader Secteur, Eric Antoine, and Amou Tati.The festival will also include Cameronian, Congolese, Senegalese, Gabonese and Ivorian humorists at the Gala Afrika. In addition, the Gala Arabophone will gather the most popular comedians from Morocco, broadcasted live from the Jemaa El Fna square.Presented at the Royal Theater, the Coliseum, the Institut Français, Jemaa El Fna square and the legendary Palais Badii, “Marrakech du Rire 2018” promises to be a colorful event.The comedy festival was founded by Jamel Debbouze in 2011. Each year, several French and Arabic speaking comedians perform before large audiences in the city of Marrakech,attracting around 90,000 festival-goers annually and reaching 70 million viewers worldwide. read more

US notes steps Maithripala said he will take

Ambassador Samantha Power was speaking at a press conference at the UN on the December program of work for the UN Security Council. The United States (US) says it has taken note of the steps President Maithripala Sirisena said he will take to reduce the powers of the Executive President.Ambassador Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the US Mission to the United Nations, said that it was so completely striking to hear from the President a series of steps that he’s seeking to take to restore the checks and balances that had existed. “I was just in Sri Lanka, in addition to visiting India, and it was so completely striking to hear from the Sri Lankan President a series of steps that he’s seeking to take to shrink his power and to actually restore the checks and balances that had existed. And it was very countercultural, given what is happening in parts of Africa,” she said. For the month of December, the United States is serving as President of the Security Council, a position that rotates every month among the members of the Security Council. The United States will be responsible for setting the agenda for the month, organizing meetings, managing the distribution of information to Council members, issuing statements, and communicating the Council’s actions to the public. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Sri Lankan man and son in Pakistan to be deported home

A Sri Lankan man and his son stranded in Pakistan after being mistaken as Pakistanis by Iran, are t be deported to Sri Lanka soon.Mistakenly identified by the Iranian police as Pakistanis, Abdul Majeed Zaheer and his son were sent on a bus to Pakistan last July and landed up at the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust. They have been living in the organisation’s shelter home since then, the Express Tribune in Pakistan reported. But this month, a sessions court directed the home department to clear the two and deport them within the next 15 days. On May 16, the special branch’s foreigner registration officer wrote to the home department to issue the deportation orders. “I hope that the process is completed soon so that I can go home,” said the lean-framed Zaheer, as he sat in the social activist’s office while his son, five-year-old Ashiff wandered about. “I had gone to Tehran from Sri Lanka with my son and wife in 2013. Despite the fact that the visa ended in two months, I continued to stay there so I could find a job.” Zaheer’s wife found work as a cook in an embassy, while he would do odd jobs to keep the house running. But in 2015, tragedy struck. Zaheer’s wife left him and he was caught by the police when he and his son had gone picnicking near the border. “They asked for my passport but I didn’t show it to them because my visa was expired. So they thought that I was a Pakistani and sent me off on a bus with other men who had entered Iran illegally.” According to Zaheer, there were a lot of Pakistanis living near the border. While in the bus on the way from Mand to Quetta, a local suggested he contact Burney for help. According to Burney, a petition was filed by the organisation for his deportation and very recently he had gotten permission to leave but there had been no help from the Sri Lankan embassy.Zaheer, who hails from Trincomalee, a port city in Sri Lanka, helps Burney by driving him and members of the organisation to work in the city and knows the way to Sea View and even Mubarak Village. “I like the food here but I haven’t gotten used to the chapati,” he said. Zaheer, 35, who is in touch with his mother and siblings, plans to start his own business along with his brother back home.As Burney is waiting for the deportation orders to make arrangements for Zaheer’s ticket back home, Zaheer says he is leaving with good memories. “I got too much here. Everyone was very nice.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

Annan praises US human rights record after country loses seat on UN

“The Secretary-General believes that the United States made a major contribution to the work of the United Nations in the field of human rights,” spokesman Fred Eckhard said. “The United States has played a leading role over the years in drafting landmark documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and has been a key member of the Commission.”Mr. Annan’s comments followed the US failure yesterday in Geneva to be re-elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights. This is the first time since the Commission’s inception in 1947 that the US has not been a member.

Centrica Qatar Petroleum to buy most of Suncors conventional Canadian assets

Centrica, Qatar Petroleum to buy most of Suncor’s conventional Canadian assets by Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press Posted Apr 15, 2013 4:11 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email CALGARY – Suncor Energy Inc. is selling the bulk of its Western Canadian natural gas business to a British-Qatari partnership for $1 billion, but will hang on to its undeveloped shale lands in the Montney region of B.C. for now.The deal with Britain’s Centrica PLC and Qatar Petroleum International includes conventional properties throughout Alberta, northeastern British Columbia and southern Saskatchewan.The sale shows Suncor’s “commitment to capital discipline,” CEO Steve Williams said in a release Monday.“We will continuously review and refine our portfolio of assets to ensure we are investing in projects that deliver profitable growth and strong returns for our shareholders.”The transaction is subject to regulatory approval — including from the Competition Bureau and Investment Canada — and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013.Production from the business is estimated to be about 42,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day this year. Suncor will adjust its guidance accordingly once the deal closes.Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said the company will direct the money from the sale toward three priorities: investing in its base business, pursuing profitable growth projects and returning cash to shareholders through dividends or share buybacks.Suncor has sold billions in assets in Canada, the U.S. and around the world since it merged with Petro-Canada in 2009, as it focuses most of its attention on its core oilsands business.Last month, Suncor said it was cancelling its troubled Voyageur oilsands upgrader because market conditions rendered it economically challenged. The company took a $1.5-billion writedown on Voyageur during the fourth quarter of 2012.Suncor shares (TSX:SU) fell $1.32 or 4.6 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday to close at $27.50. The drop came as the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped to a four-year low below US$89.The sale announced Monday excludes Suncor’s undeveloped shale gas properties in the Montney region of northeastern B.C. and unconventional oil assets in Wilson Creek, Alta.At least two other major Canadian energy firms — Talisman Energy Inc. (TSX:TLM) and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) — have said recently they’re looking to do deals for their Montney holdings.Seetal said it’s too soon to say what Suncor could do with its Montney land.“We are evaluating a number of options for the development of those assets. We feel there could be great potential in these lands and we need to prove up the potential first.”Under the deal announced Monday, Centrica will own 60 per cent of the newly acquired business and operate it, with its Qatari partner owning the rest.Centrica is no stranger to Suncor. In 2010, a subsidiary bought the Wildcat Hills property northwest of Calgary from Suncor for $375 million.Centrica owns the Direct Energy business that operates in all 10 Canadian provinces and most of the United States.Besides selling natural gas and electricity to homes, Direct Energy provides residential and business services, provides gas storage and transportation and produces energy through its upstream operations.Once the deal with Suncor closes, Centrica will be able to meet 60 per cent of the unregulated daily gas needs of its North American customers.“In today’s competitive energy environment this acquisition represents an ideal strategic fit for Centrica’s existing upstream portfolio and skill sets,” said Wes Morningstar, a Centrica senior vice-president in Calgary.“Growing our upstream gas operations is an important step to ensuring the company is a solid long-term partner to millions of residential and business customers across North America.”Nasser Al-Jaidah, chief executive of Qatar Petroleum International, said “this investment in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin is a significant step in the development of QPI’s global upstream business.”It’s the first deal under a memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties in December 2011. read more

The Magic Of Nick Foles Is Real Maybe

gfoster (Geoff Foster, sports editor): The wild-card weekend — the best weekend — is in the books, and it would be hard to argue that it wasn’t great. Three of four road teams won. With the exception of the Colts wiping out the Texans, every game was within a touchdown. Let’s start with the most recent result: Nick Foles and the Eagles taking down the vaunted Bears defense in Soldier Field. This one was nuts — I’m not sure where to begin. Is this Eagles team under Foles doing it again? Do they need to order new dog masks?Salfino (Michael Salfino, contributor): I guess we have to ask seriously if Foles Magic is real.neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): Foles has won four consecutive playoff starts as an underdog. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, that’s tied for the third most ever. No. 2 is Jim Plunkett with five; No. 1 is Eli Manning with seven.Is Foles the Eagles’ Eli???? gfoster: The big thing about this next Dallas game: I still don’t know what has happened to the Rams. They couldn’t have less buzz entering the playoffs — and that’s a team that was looking virtually unbeatable at the halfway point. Or maybe it’s all some elaborate Sean McVay ruse?joshua.hermsmeyer: I have a theory!gfoster: Cooper Kupp injury?Salfino: The story for the Rams now is that their play-action game has collapsed. Is it teams ignoring the run threat? Todd Gurley being banged up/out? Kupp? Something is amiss. They are down, like, 4 yards per play-action pass since Week 9.This is definitely going to be a home game for Dallas. The Rams will run silent counts in this game, I’m serious.joshua.hermsmeyer: I think the Rams’ success is very scheme-dependent, and sometimes play-callers hold on to their best counters and keep them off the tape if they know they will make the playoffs. Basically, they want to save their good plays for when it counts. The past few games were completely different in terms of personnel usage (two tight ends vs. three wide receivers) than the rest of the season when they were so successful.Salfino: This is a good point. It’s like how teams that know going for 2 makes sense don’t do it because they want to save their highest-ranked goal-line plays for touchdowns.gfoster: Ah, yes — the old theory on Belichick. That he is hiding his playoff scheme when toiling in the regular season.neil: I do wonder how much of that is real and how much we map onto legitimate (or even random) struggles as a way of explaining them.Salfino: Belichick was always getting the top seeds though anyway. He didn’t hide it against the Jets in 2010. 🙂neil: ^^^Thisgfoster: Neil is so anti-Sean McVay love.joshua.hermsmeyer: That is admittedly a huge danger, Neil. But I always like a good theory!Salfino: Yes, Neil’s point is good. The simplest reason is that they’re trying but teams have adjusted.neil: I think I feel the need to counter the football media’s obsession with Young Genius Play-Callers (TM).Salfino: McVay is a generational talent.joshua.hermsmeyer: lolgfoster: Lastly, let’s talk about the Colts and, specifically, Frank Reich’s awesome beard. And more specifically, how much fun will this game be against the Chiefs? Feels like a 60-, 70-point affair.neil: Are Frank Reich and Adam Vinatieri having a graybeard contest? Who gets to Santa Claus-level first?Salfino: Reich looks like he conceives his gameplans in a cabin in the woods by candlelight.Marlon Mack is sending a message to Le’Veon Bell, I guess, that the Colts are fine at RB.joshua.hermsmeyer: Vegas really seems to like the Colts. K.C. is just a 5.5-point favorite, which strikes me as very strange. I may place a wager.neil: Are they skittish about Andy Reid?gfoster: The Colts are definitely the public favorite right now. Kinda the opposite of the Rams.neil: Memories of this?joshua.hermsmeyer: Overweighting defense, IMO.Salfino: I agree that this line is too low. The Colts, like Dallas, have an underrated defense. Darius Leonard is so phenomenal. He could be defensive player of the year he’s so good. But that spread is narrative-driven given the Chiefs’ playoff woes, I believe. It should be, like, 8.neil: Might also be recency-based. Our own Elo only has K.C. -4.5. Salfino: Josh and I agree that offense mostly dictates outcomes. And the Chiefs get a break by playing a team that has not seen their offense, vs. getting San Diego.Indy is super hot, and Elo likes that.neil: Right.And K.C. has only won three of its past six — after winning nine of its first 10.gfoster: It’s strength vs. strength. The Colts’ protection for Andrew Luck is incredible, and the Chiefs get at the quarterback more than anyone — or are those sack numbers more a reflection of teams always passing against K.C. because they are always losing?Salfino: But the Colts also lost to the Jets, let’s not forget. They own that too.If the Chiefs are hoping to win the game by getting to Luck, they are in serious trouble. They have to win this game by scoring 35 points.joshua.hermsmeyer: I’ve looked at it, and it certainly seems based on the data that protection or lack thereof is more a function of the offensive line, so you’d expect Luck to have time in this one.gfoster: The Colts draft trade was an A+. They get those Jets second-round picks, and they got Quenton Nelson, who seems to have single-handedly turned this offensive line around. With the cap space, there’s no doubt that they are going to be good for a while. (Assuming Luck stays healthy.)Salfino: Eric Ebron is only a factor near the goal line. Mack is good but sort of one-dimensional, kind of Carson-like. T.Y. Hilton is great, but you should be able to take out one guy. Kansas City cannot give up big plays to Hilton and must force those journeyman receivers to beat them.neil: Certainly it seems very unlikely that the Colts will be able to replicate their winning formula vs. Houston, which was, “Get out to an early lead with Luck passing, then sit on it and run the ball in the second half.” You can’t do that to the Chiefs.joshua.hermsmeyer: lol, noSalfino: The Colts also had the advantage of Deshaun Watson just having an awful throwing game. He was flagging easy passes all day.Also, Houston is a one-man band, and DeAndre Hopkins had a shoulder issue but also was shut down in their prior matchup.gfoster: All right, let’s wrap it with our NFC/AFC championship predictions. I’ll start: Chargers vs. Chiefs and Saints vs. Cowboys.I’m not ready to believe the Rams rope-a-dope theory. And I’m not ready to believe that these Patriots are any good.joshua.hermsmeyer: I see no world where the Cowboys are in the championship.gfoster: FAIRSalfino: The Chargers seem clearly better than the Patriots. I hope they don’t go back to L.A. this week and instead practice somewhere on the East Coast. I can’t buy Dallas. If the Cowboys beat the Rams, we better put the McVay narrative in rewrite. I say Chargers-Chiefs and Rams-Saints in the championship games.joshua.hermsmeyer: I’m with Mike, which means I’m probably wrong.😛Salfino: 🙂neil: New England vs. K.C. (I know the Pats will eventually lose a home playoff game, but I don’t think it comes this weekend.)Saints vs. Rams is the NFC title game shootout we need.(So I’m picking chalk! Now watch the Eagles beat New Orleans and keep the underdog streak rolling.)Salfino: We are all completely discounting Foles’s dark magic.gfoster: The dream of the All-L.A. Super Bowl is alive! Note: Literally no one is dreaming of this, even in L.A.Salfino: If the Colts beat the Chiefs and the Chargers win, the AFC championship is going to be in front of 30,000 screaming Colts fans.Check out our latest NFL predictions. joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): Whew. And the Eagles lost the turnover battle soundly as well. I think we must conclude magic.Salfino: He did have 10 points through 59 minutes. Foles comping to Eli is funny since I guess he could conceivably replace Eli.gfoster: The Eagles were the sloppy, mistake-filled team of the two yesterday. Some of that can be chalked up to the Bears defense; rookie Roquan Smith made a great play on one of Foles’s two interceptions. But the Philly defense was also struggling to stop Mitchell Trubisky in the second half, which means Drew Brees will tear that pass defense apart, right?Salfino: If you had told me that Trubisky would throw for 300 yards and Chicago would get two picks and not have a turnover, I would have guaranteed victory even more stridently than I did here last week.neil: (Which was pretty stridently.)Salfino: 🙂joshua.hermsmeyer: If Eagles rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox continues to try to jump every route, then Brees will destroy him. I have to think he’ll be much less aggressive after getting completely torched by Allen Robinson though.Salfino: You have a 41-point prior matchup now, too, with the Eagles obviously on the short end. But that was with that bum Carson Wentz.Rex Ryan is saying right now that Wentz has to get traded.neil: The other thing was that the Eagles’ running game continued to struggle. They were second to last in the NFL in yards per carry during the season and averaged 1.8 yesterday. Even in today’s NFL, with the running game taking on less importance, those numbers seem like they will haunt Philly eventually. (Of course, the two mega-run-heavy playoff teams are now out, so maybe it won’t matter!)gfoster: I wonder why the Eagles have given up on Josh Adams. He felt like the player who sparked this turnaround, in addition to Foles. They give Darren Sproles two goal-line carries when they were on the 1?Salfino: Sproles oddly has been a very effective goal-line runner: 8-for-12 goal-line converting in his career. League average is a little under 50 percent. I was shocked that the Eagles run defense held up. I thought the Bears would control the game on the ground even with Jordan Howard.In Philly’s last meeting with New Orleans, the Saints got 174 yards from Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram on 29 carries. Plus Brees had mad efficiency.joshua.hermsmeyer: Chicago was better statistically on offense in every category except for third-down conversions and red-zone efficiency. If the Bears had used Tarik Cohen more, I think they would have won pretty easily.Salfino: Cohen getting just one carry and five targets is a joke. I think this was Matt Nagy’s biggest mistake by far. The loyalty all year to Howard given his production is mysterious.neil: Josh, it was that kind of cruel game for the Bears — those categories are really important to Ws and Ls but are also the most heavily influenced by variance. Oh, and also special teams — the post-and-crossbar special from Cody Parkey was impressive.gfoster: It was blocked! Let’s leave Parkey alone.joshua.hermsmeyer: Absolutely. It was positive Eagles variance Foles Magik. Incredible.Salfino: People breaking down that kick at the pixel level is pretty funny. I guess it was blocked? Can’t we just ask the Eagle?neil: Only Treyvon Hester knows for sure.gfoster: He said he blocked it. That’s what started the Zapruder film-level analysis in the first place.joshua.hermsmeyer: I saw a pic of his hand in the locker room, so.Salfino: I note that on that last Philadelphia drive, the Bears were not getting there with four pass-rushers and didn’t try to get there with more.gfoster: In the first game Sunday, we saw the demise of Baltimore’s run-heavy offense. The crowd was chanting for Joe Flacco at one point. If you are chanting for Joe Flacco in the playoffs, you don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.neil: (Unless the season is 2012 — and only 2012.)gfoster: Did John Harbaugh make the right call?neil: Well, what was funny to me was that right when they started calling for Flacco was when Lamar Jackson’s passing started picking up.Salfino: Has a QB who is unproven ever deserved to be benched more in a game of that magnitude than Jackson? Even with the closeout, his QBR for the game was under 10.neil: He literally didn’t complete a pass between 1:07 p.m. ET and 3:06 p.m. ET Sunday.joshua.hermsmeyer: Yes. Putting Flacco in the game appeals to our basest football instincts, but there is nothing about Jackson’s game that suggests he can’t make deep throws against zone out of structure. His issue is throwing on time and on target from the pocket. A mad scramble at the end of the game in catch-up mode is actually pretty well-suited to his game.Salfino: I did not think the Chargers would do anything exotic with their defense, and they played a 4-4-3, but the back seven was almost always all defensive backs, including three safeties. It seems so obvious now: Get fast guys on the field and slower linebackers off the field against Jackson. But I didn’t think of going small against a running game.Watching Flacco is hardly appealing. I would have benched Jackson to start the second half but would have had extremely low confidence that it would have worked. I had zero confidence then that Jackson would work.gfoster: The Chargers had a great scheme. And that scheme only works when you have guys like Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram up front, allowing you to play all those fast defensive backs to track down Jackson.joshua.hermsmeyer: Not only track down Jackson — but stop the run! I thought it was glorious and something we will see more of from NFL teams in the future.Salfino: Bosa and Ingram were so disciplined and effective all game. The personnel trick will get a lot of publicity, but the real story I think was how those ends played.neil: One thing that also contributed to Baltimore’s offensive struggle was a topic near and dear to your hearts, guys: play-action.Jackson averaged 1.0 yards per attempt on play-action Sunday; in Week 16 vs. the Chargers, he averaged 12.8.Salfino: The Ravens use play-action to set up the run, I think. They play backwards.joshua.hermsmeyer: At one point, the Ravens’ net passing yards were -2, so I believe it.Salfino: They had running holes in the prior matchup that were so gigantic. How has no other team ever thought of this? Now that’s the blueprint. So the Ravens have an offseason to counter.gfoster: Los Angeles now plays Tom Brady, who is essentially the opposite of Lamar Jackson in every way. The Chargers with Philip Rivers at starting quarterback are 0-7 versus the Patriots when Brady plays. Even considering New England’s dominance in this period, that’s hard to believe.neil: Pats also haven’t lost a home game since Oct. 1, 2017.They haven’t lost a home playoff game since Jan. 20, 2013.Salfino: I thought Rivers looked bad and has mostly looked bad down the stretch of the season. His only Rivers-like game since Dec. 2 was against the Chiefs. Two Ravens games hurts obviously, though. He seemed like he was throwing a weighted football yesterday. A 10-pound ball to 300-pound Antonio Gates.joshua.hermsmeyer: Vegas has the Chargers as 4.5-point dogs on the road, and I think that’s a good reflection of reality. I think the Chargers have a very good shot of knocking the Patriots out — especially if they can scheme up counters to Gronk in his dotage and Julian Edelman. Then it will just be about not letting guys like White and Patterson gash you.Salfino: Are these really the Patriots though? What is their defining strength? Where are they even above average? Avoiding sacks, I guess.neil: This has definitely been kind of a “down” year by Pats standards. Yet they still ranked fifth in offensive Defense-adjusted Value Over Average and eighth overall, according to Football Outsiders. And two of the teams ahead of them in total DVOA are gone from the playoffs already. (Granted, one of the teams ahead of them is the Chargers.)Salfino: Man, if Cordarrelle Patterson is a major guy you have to worry about, you’re in pretty good shape defensively.The Patriots make all their spares on offense. No strikes though.joshua.hermsmeyer: It just seems like such a Bill Belichick move to create a special gameplan for him in the playoffs.Salfino: Nothing is easy now for New England.gfoster: Let’s talk about the Saturday games. Who would have thought halfway through this season that we would have TWO NFC East teams in the divisional round? I don’t know what to make of this Cowboys’ team.Salfino: Dallas had a big assist from Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. I turn it over to Josh. 🙂neil: Oh, boy.joshua.hermsmeyer: Someone had to win that game is all I can say.Salfino: Schotty dusted off the Mark Sanchez Rookie Playoff Gameplan for Russell Wilson, who’s a Hall of Famer. It was weird.neil: I loved the Seahawks’ single-minded devotion to not using Russell Wilson.joshua.hermsmeyer: Going run-run-pass on their first series of the game was breathtaking in its devotion to establishing the run.neil: That one sequence where it was like:Shotgun run for 3Shotgun run for 0Shotgun run for 222-yard bomb downfieldShotgun run for 3Shotgun run for 2Salfino: Dallas controlled the game, but you really felt that the play-calling by the Seahawks was controlling Seattle.The low-percentage passing was a story for that game, too. It’s like Schottenheimer hasn’t figured out that the rules have opened up the intermediate middle of the field. That’s the attack zone now.joshua.hermsmeyer: When Seattle finally did get a long run from Rashaad Penny, they ran him on a sweep to the wide side of the field immediately after even though he was gassed from the previous run. They lost 7 yards.Salfino: Seattle made, like, eight plays on offense the entire game.Negative runs are a Penny special though. To be fair.joshua.hermsmeyer: If you have no feel for passing, you better have a feel for the run game, is all I’m saying.Salfino: Chris Carson had nothing all day, for sure. And he’s been good-to-great.gfoster: I give credit to the Dallas defense though — bad play-calling by Seattle aside. We watched this team completely bottle up the Saints a few weeks ago. They are not given enough credit.Salfino: Seattle’s defense had its problems, too. Allowing Dak Prescott to convert that QB draw play at the end of the game was insane. You have to be looking for that in that spot given the clock. And you let him convert a third-and-14 draw where the field goal there is absolutely meaningless because you were down your kicker anyway.I agree that the Dallas D is very underrated.joshua.hermsmeyer: I don’t think Dallas’s defense is going to help them much moving forward. It hasn’t helped anyone else: read more

Champagne makers lament as Brits turn to English sparkling wine

first_imgDespite the dip in sales to Britain, French champagne exports globally hit a record of of more than £2.4 billion last year Martin Jones, also a partner at UHY Hacker Young, added: “The French should be worried. If one of the positives from Brexit is being able to negotiate our own trade deals, we see a potential for growth in English sparkling wines, with more exports to the US and the Far East.”However, despite the dip in sales to Britain, French champagne exports globally hit a record of of more than £2.4 billion last year, with the US spending more than any other country and Britain in second place. By volume, the UK remains the largest export market for champagne, according to the Comité Champagne.Richard Halstead of the Wine Intelligence consultancy said: “English sparkling wines are still a small part of the market, but they are carving a niche among consumers who might choose them over one of the cheaper champagnes. The biggest fall in champagne sales is for those under £20. Sales of the more expensive champagnes are actually going up.”Mr Halstead said an estimated 3.5 to four million bottles of English sparkling wines were sold in Britain last year, up from about three million bottles in 2016 and equivalent to more than 10 per cent of UK champagne sales, which amounted to about 30 million bottles. Wine made in the UK is now stocked in most major supermarketsCredit:Geoff Pugh / Telegraph Fuller’s English house fizz is priced at about £40 compared to more than £50 for its champagnes. English sparkling wines are made with the same grapes and in the same way as champagne, and are grown on similar soil. Champagne is a protected appellation, which means that only wine produced in France’s Champagne region can be called champagne.James Simmonds of UHY Hacker Young, which tracks market trends, said: “The soaring popularity of English sparkling wine in recent years means it is now stocked in most major supermarkets. It’s also a regular fixture on the wine lists at top restaurants, which was unheard of not long ago. English brands are now competing with the best from around the world. There is also a growing sentiment amongst consumers to buy British wines where possible.”Mr Simmonds argued that exchange rates were a factor. “The weaker pound since Brexit has undoubtedly provided a boost to the domestic industry as the price of imported proseccos, champagnes and cavas starts to bite.” French champagne producers are lamenting a fall in sales to the UK as increasing numbers of Britons discover the delights of English sparkling wine.The Comité Champagne trade association attributed the decrease to the weaker pound following the Brexit referendum. The British market “continues to be adversely affected by the Brexit effect, with a fall of 5.7 per cent by value and a more marked decrease of 11 per cent by volume,” it said in a statement outlining its export results for 2017.But industry experts said other factors were more important as domestic bubblies start to oust champagnes in many restaurants and pubs and cheaper Italian prosecco is increasingly popular with partygoers.Neil Bruce, head of wine at the pub group Fuller’s, which has replaced its French house champagne with English sparkling wine in its 200 managed pubs, said: “We’re selling more English fizz than we did French champagne. Sales are up by about 50 per cent. Pound for pound, a good English sparkling wine will definitely outperform a cheaper French house champagne. Customers get superb taste and quality and value for money.”According to Mr Bruce, the decrease in UK champagne sales “has absolutely nothing to do with Brexit. Volume is down partly because champagne producers have raised their prices because of strong demand from Russia, China and to some extent the US. The other big factor is the popularity of prosecco. There may be a slight currency element, but it’s nothing compared to the price increases by the champagne houses.”center_img Wine made in the UK is now stocked in most major supermarkets Despite the dip in sales to Britain, French champagne exports globally hit a record of of more than £2.4 billion last yearCredit:Andrew Matthews/PA Wire Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

How lawmakers beat the clock and wound up with a budget and

first_imgWith two hours to midnight and the statutory end of the regular session of the 2019 Legislature, the odds seemed better than even that lawmakers would miss that deadline and need a special session of hours or days to finish their work.A $52.4 billion general operating budget had been negotiated, couldn’t be amended and had the support to pass the Democratic-controlled chambers if it could come to a vote.Democrats were also confident they had the votes to pass some new or revised taxes to come up with the extra revenue to keep that budget in the black for the next four years.But House Democrats and Senate Democrats couldn’t agree on one of the other controversial issues, how to revise property tax levy laws that had been changed just two years earlier as part of a massive revision of the way the state and local school districts share the cost of public education.Property tax laws and school funding formulas are complicated, and there was no simple fix that would help all 295 school districts in the state equally. If a deal on all of those items hadn’t been reached in 104 days and 22 hours of a 105-day session, the prospects of reaching a deal and getting the political machinery up and running in the next two hours seemed dubious.last_img read more

Miami teen cyclist shot in ankle

first_imgMIAMI (WSVN) – Police are investigating after, they said, a teenage boy was shot in the ankle while riding his bicycle in a residential neighborhood in Miami, Sunday afternoon.According to Miami Police, the 14-year-old victim was struck while bicycling near Northwest 69th Terrace and 14th Avenue.7News cameras captured crime scene investigators placing evidence markers and searching for clues.The teen told detectives he doesn’t know where the gunfire came from.If you have any information on this shooting, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img

This car vending machine lets you pay for the vehicle with a

first_img Meet the car vending machine that accepts contactless payments Your emails: Five ways car dealers make money Car Industry Now playing: Watch this: 0 Post a comment 2019 Ford F-150 review: Popular pickup keeps on truckin’ 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire first ride: Harley’s electric future is bright Share your voice More From Roadshow Tags 2020 Toyota 4Runner first drive: Same as it ever was — mostly 2:16 Enlarge ImageWhat a time to be alive. Auto Trader Car vending machines aren’t a new idea, but for some, it might be something a relief. No dealership, no salesman and no haggling. Auto Trader has a different twist on the idea.The company’s first car vending machine is now operational in in London, England, and it will let potential buyers use their phones to buy the car. The company underscored the ability to bypass haggling with the vending machine that uses contactless technology to pay for the car with just one’s phone. The finer details, such as financing and insurance, were’t discussed, but cars sold by way of the vending machine will cost no more than £21,000. I doubt many people have the equivalent of $25,400 sitting on their credit cards for use with Apple Pay or a similar service.As for where the cars come from, they’re still from dealerships, but Auto Trader prenegotiates the price and then plops them in the vending machine. For example, the first vending machine houses a Renault Zoe with a pre-agreed price of £16,000, or about $19,000 at current exchange rates. The car comes from a local dealer that Auto Trader said agreed to the final sale price with the company. The final cost also reflects the Auto Trader prices the website publishes online.When it’s time to buy and finalize the deal, there’s a custom point-of-sale system and a unique mechanical door to unleash the car when finished. Despite how easy the company makes it sound, a recent study suggested younger buyers actually want dealerships involved.In fact, Generation Z and millennials were more likely to visit more dealers during their car-shopping process. The average Gen Z or young millennial shopper visited 3.8 dealerships. Further, 83% said they wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, and 89% said the test is the most influential part of the process.Noting the preference of the youngest generation, it doesn’t seem like dealers are going anywhere. Yet, for the tech-savvy and trendsetters, there’s a vending machine in London calling your name. 7 Photoslast_img read more

Campaign Profile For Joe Miller 2010 Looms Large

first_imgHere’s the story Joe Miller likes to tell about healthcare, that he told at his campaign launch in April: When he was in first grade, he injured his lip in a bad fall.Download Audio“And (I) hit my face flat on the floor. And we didn’t have health care, so of course I didn’t go to the doctor,” he said.It healed badly. He lived with the disfigurement for six years, but he saved his money to pay for surgery.“I got a bus ticket, made an appointment, found a doctor, paid I think $200 or $300 and had them cut the scar tissue,” he said.It’s a story of self-reliance and free enterprise, well suited to a Tea-Party candidate who rails against “Obamacare,” who says we must slash federal spending and entitlements to avoid national bankruptcy.There’s another healthcare story he doesn’t talk about: After Miller moved to Alaska and had kids of his own, his family signed up for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor. Asked repeatedly how he feels about that period in his family’s history, he turned the question into one of federal mandates. He says each state should decide whether to provide assistance.“It’s a decision that the people of the state should make. Not one that the federal government should make,” he said. “I think it’s an upside down world when we think the ruling classes in Washington, D.C. should be making all these calls and decisions for us.”This is as close as he would come to discussing his own experience on Medicaid: “My family’s been in situations where we have been in need, and as a consequence of it our objective is not to leave other people in need. The objective is to make sure we don’t end up hitched up to a federal government that completely tubes the entire country.”The Medicaid episode is just one of a string of unflattering revelations that came out of the 2010 contest. His campaign website lists some of them under the label “myths.” The 2008 incident where he used his co-workers’ computers at the Fairbanks North Star Borough to skew an online political poll? The campaign says he had a “lapse in judgment” and was briefly dishonest before coming clean. The time during the last campaign that his bodyguards handcuffed a reporter? The guards weren’t paid campaign staff, Miller’s website explains, and anyway one of them turned out to be an FBI informant working for the other side.As for the farm subsidies he accepted in the ‘90s, Miller says it was only about $100 a month. He says he’s not sure he could have refused them since they were in place when he acquired the Kansas farmland.“I think that that provides me with a better position probably than many other people to comment on why those programs are bad,” he said. “You’ve got a government that is basically directing a farmer to grow a certain crop, or else they’re penalized. Wouldn’t it be better for the farmers to determine, based upon the market, what’s best for them to grow?”Miller beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 primary, only to lose to her in the general when she mounted a write-in campaign. He is clearly bitter toward Republicans who helped Murkowski win.He says he was done in by the Republican establishment and a multi-million dollar smear campaign against him. Miller says his worst mistake of 2010 was letting establishment-wing Republicans work on his campaign after the primary.“One of the biggest lessons was to keep the loyal folk around you, and to recognize that when you’re an anti-establishment reform candidate, you’re going to have enemies from all sorts of unexpected places,” he said.Miller points out he’s the only non-millionaire in the race. He grew up in Kansas, the son of an independent church pastor and says his family got by despite limited means.“My mom, for example — how many of you remember Toughskins, from Sears?” he asked the crowd at his campaign launch in Wasilla. “You know why as a kid you bought Toughskins? Because if you wore out the knee Sears would give you a new pair.”He’s a West Point grad who was awarded a bronze star for commanding a tank platoon in the first Gulf War. He earned a Yale law degree and, in addition to working as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, also served as a magistrate, both state and federal. After Yale, he got a master’s degree in Economics from UAF. He and his wife Kathleen have eight children and a grandchild.While 2010 left him with big negatives, he also emerged with a good chunk of campaign cash, more than $800,000 at the end of that year. After spending about half to wind down expenses, he transferred the remainder to the current campaign.Another benefit that grew from his 2010 race is a cadre of loyalists. His campaign launch in Wasilla was crowded with eager supporters. Christopher Kurka, executive director of Alaska Right to Life, was there with his family. Alaska Right to Life later endorsed Miller, even though his Republican opponents say they, too, oppose abortion. Kurka says his group considered a double endorsement but concluded that Miller’s commitment was more reliable because he has never supported candidates on the other side of the issue.“Joe’s pro-life rhetoric is rooted in the core of who he is,” Kurka says.Anchorage Political blogger Amanda Coyne says Miller appears more confident and fluent than he did in 2010. She ticks off his assets as a candidate.“He has command of the issues, no. 1. He’s got a clear vision, no. 2. He’s incredibly articulate and his message appeals to the Tea party base in the state,” she said, “and the Tea Party base is very devoted and very committed to their candidates.”But Coyne says there’s not much he can do to convince Alaskans to disregard what they learned about him four years ago.“To try to get over the 2010 negatives would demand almost a personality transplant and he’s not going to do that, he has no intention of doing that — from what I’ve seen at least — and I don’t think he can do that,” Coyne said.Polls suggest Miller is trailing Republicans Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell. If he loses on Aug. 19, would he run as a third-party candidate? Miller won’t say.“Because to (answer) would be making basically a vicarious promise to both of my opponents who have already demonstrated a lack of trust in that area,” he said. “They both, of course supported Murkowski in 2010, against the Republican nominee.”As Miller sees it, Sullivan and Treadwell didn’t respect his win in that primary, so they don’t deserve his pledge to concede if he loses in this primary.last_img read more

Bodies of 2 trawler capsize victims found

first_imgThe bodies of two workers, who along with 18 others went missing after a sand-laden trawler capsized in the Meghna River on Tuesday, were recovered Sunday on the 6th day of the rescue operation, reports UNB.The identities of the deceased could not be known yet.Mostofa Mohsin, assistant director (Diving) of Fire Service and Civil Defence, said they recovered one of the bodies from Munshiganj Launch Ghat around 9am while the other one from Shatnal area in Chandpur district around 12 pm.”We are not sure whether the bodies are of the missing workers of the capsized trawler,” he added.Two rescue teams started their operations around 8am Sunday and have been trying to trace the trawler through side scan sound wave.Besides, divers of Bangladesh Navy, Fire Service, BIWTC, Coast Guard and River police are also trying to locate the trawler.Earlier on Friday, a case was filed accusing three people in connection with the incident.The trawler, carrying 34 workers from Cumilla, sank in the river at Charjhapta in Sadar upazila around 3am on Tuesday after it collided with an oil-laden tanker while heading towards Fatulla in Narayanganj.Although 14 workers managed to swim ashore, the rest went missing. All the workers hail from Pabna and Sirajganj districts.last_img read more

KMDA forms Advisory Committee to monitor health of bridges

first_imgKolkata: Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) on Wednesday constituted an Advisory Committee for monitoring the health of the bridges in the city. The move comes in the wake of the Majerhat Bridge mishap on September 4.It may be mentioned that the state government has already prepared a list of 15 bridges, which need structural health audit on a priority basis. The list includes Dhakuria Bridge connecting Golpark with Dhakuria, Bijon Setu connecting Gariahat with Kasba, Aurobindo Setu connecting Gouribari with Ultadanga, Chetla Bridge connecting Kalighat with Chetla, Kalighat Bridge connecting Kalighat with Gopalnagar, Durgapur Bridge connecting New Alipore with Chetla, Ultadanga Flyover connecting EM Bypass with VIP Road, Sukanta Setu connecting Jadavpur with Santoshpur, Bankim Setu connecting Howrah Maidan with Howrah Station, Chingrighata Flyover connecting EM Bypass with Salt Lake, Sealdah Flyover, Bridge Number 4 on Park Circus rail line, Jibanananda Setu near Jadavpur police station and the arch type bridge at Karunamoyee in Tollygunge. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAccording to sources in KMDA, the advisory committee will have Amitava Ghosal, a distinguished civil engineer and a member of the Technical Advisory Group for a number of new railway projects, Professor Sriman Bhattacharya or Professor Nirjhar Dhong or both from the Civil Engineering department of IIT Kharagpur, Asish Kumar Sen, chief engineer of KMDA, Bhaskar Sengupta, chief engineer (Roads and Bridges) KMDA and Samiran Sen, independent consultant and fellow of the Institute of Engineers. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedThe committee will recommend the names of the agencies who will carry out structural health audits with immediate basis for a number of bridges and structures, which are in bad condition. “It will assist the authorities in interpreting the reports of the agencies and arrive at a final action plan and also suggest monitoring activities and finalise the terms of reference for the studies to be carried out, including tests to be performed. It will further recommend instrumentation that may be feasible for immediate monitoring of the bridges,” a KMDA source said.last_img read more