Procurement files went missing – Commissioner alleges

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Procurement files went missing – Commissioner alleges

first_imgGECOM audit…DCEO says he is not aware of thisAs the probe intensifies into the nearly $100 million procurement of defective radios by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which is mired in allegations, reports have now surfaced that several procurement files have allegedly disappeared.State auditors earlier this month began perusing the books of GECOM after the Audit Office of Guyana reportedly noticed some discrepancies in the purchase of 50 obsolete VHF radios by the Commission prior to the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections, for a whopping $100 million, way above the average market price.Speaking at a Thursday morning news conference at Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown, Robeson Benn, one of the three People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Commissioners on GECOM said that he was informed that several procurement files were missing.dr steve surujbally“I have been informed that 20 files relating to procurement information went missing from GECOM last week. That is the information I have; I don’t know the veracity of it. But these are the things you are hearing from people who ought to know,” Benn told reporters.Continued efforts to contact GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally proved futile, as calls to his mobile are answered by a female who kept saying “he is in the clinic”. However, Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Vishnu Persaud said he was not aware of any files missing from the Commission.Benn also alleged that there were significant questions regarding the procurement of ballot papers for the 2016 Local Government Elections and numerous requests for an investigation have been refused by the Commission’s Chairman.“Both sides of the Commission (Government and Opposition) are aware of these issues, both sides have raised issues, questions on these matters and concerns about these matters before,” he stated.Evidence tamperingMeanwhile, Bibi Shaddick, another PPP/C Commissioner at GECOM, said she was concerned that despite being on annual leave, the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, who is also the accounting officer of the Commission, was frequenting his office at a time when a probe into alleged financial irregularities was taking place.This could lead to suspicions of evidence tampering and, as such, the Commissioners requested that there be a “lock down” on all files and documentation relating to procurement so as to avoid any tampering; however, the CEO has refused “point-blank”.Shaddick said that should the probe go beyond the CEO’s vacation, she would be proposing that he be sent on administrative leave.It is important to note that during a series of forensic audits initiated by the Government at a number of State agencies, the accounting officers were either sent on annual or administrative leave to facilitate the probes.Worst-run organisationCommissioner Benn believes that the corruption at the electoral body is deep-rooted, with key players at many levels of the organisation. He went on to describe the management of the organisation as “a national disgrace”.“GECOM is indeed the worst-run organisation I have associated with and the rot starts at the top and that is where the problem is and I don’t think if there is proper investigations conducted, there will be any room to hide for those who are involved in the various procurements and the ongoing allowance at various levels of that commission of runnings,” Benn stated, adding that not every manager at the organisation was involved.Moving forwardIn moving forward, the PPP/C Commissioner stated, there needed to be some house cleaning and some heads must roll, the first being Dr Surujbally.“I don’t think that the Chairman has any locus standi at GECOM and [as such] I think he should go now.”“We have to clean it up, to pare it and to make it work and function in the interest of the people of the country. GECOM cannot be relied on to carry out its function if the perceived level of corruption is allowed to continue into the organisation,” Benn declared.GECOM earlier this month was caught in a web of corruption allegations surrounding the purchase of the radios from Mobile Authority, a company owned by a Water Street, Georgetown businessman, while sidelining Barrett Communications, the manufacturer of the said radio sets. Barrett subsequently distanced itself from the radio sets and highlighted that it had ceased production of that particular equipment since 2009, six years before they were purchased by GECOM.Subsequently, reports surfaced that the Commission doled out close to $100 million to M-Tech Business Solutions, another company owned by the same Water Street businessman, this time for the supply of toners used for photocopiers and printers, office furniture and equipment, photo paper and scanners, printing accessories, and even Duracell batteries.Additionally, the Commission is accused of purchasing a whopping $14 million in nippers from another relative of the same businessman.GECOM officials, including the Chairman and CEO, have refused to comment on the allegations.Dr Surujbally, when contacted by Guyana Times on Monday, stated that he preferred to await the findings of State auditors.“We are awaiting the result of the audit; let the auditors tell us that has happened or that has not happened. Let us be clear on a matter. I cannot pronounce on a matter that is still being investigated,” he said.He also distanced himself from the allegations of corruption, making it clear he was not responsible for the financial affairs of the Commission, but rather the CEO.“In 2015, when we had the elections, the accounting officer is the Chief Elections Officer,” Dr Surujbally highlighted.In March 2014, Lowenfield was appointed CEO and continued to serve in that capacity.last_img read more

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Questioning the Sanity of Big Science and Big Media

first_imgScientists arrogate to themselves the authority to diagnose insanity, but they and their friends in the mainstream media believe some pretty nutty things.Observers of Big Science (the institutions and journals) and Big Media (their lapdog publicists) learn two things real fast: (1) They hate Donald Trump, who is real, and (2) They love space aliens, who are not. Go figure.In Thursday’s presidential press conference (Feb 16), Trump told reporters that he knew they were going to twist everything he said. Sure enough, they did. From his point of view, it’s not surprising he went from calling CNN “fake news” to “very fake news.” From the reporters’ point of view, Trump is an enemy to be destroyed. Guess whose side Big Science is on? Some headlines today leave no doubt.Big Science: Trump, the Evil WackoEnsuring scientific integrity in the Age of Trump (Science Magazine). If you expect this post by seven members of the “Union of Concerned Scientists” will be fair and balanced, you don’t know Big Science. “Early indications that the Administration plans to distort or disregard science and evidence, coupled with the chaos and confusion occurring within federal agencies, now imperil the effectiveness of our government.” That’s just the second sentence. It goes downhill from there. Now guess who the good leader is, in their opinion. “Both the John McCain and Obama campaigns in 2008 committed in writing to restore scientific integrity to federal policy-making.” (Note to readers: McCain lost, Trump won, but McCain has been a constant critic of Trump. Another note: “scientific integrity” is Big Science code for giving Big Science everything it wants, paid for by taxpayers. Anything else is called “anti-science.”)The America I believe in (Hilal A. Lashuel in Science Magazine). This is a crybaby piece by a Yemenese-born Swiss Muslim, who is also a US citizen. He was inconvenienced by Trump’s temporary hold on immigrant travel to the United States from seven terror-prone countries, including Yemen. Actually, Lashuel made the decision not to try to travel to a conference, but he plays up the “ban” word for best effect to make Trump look anti-Muslim. Like most leftists, he fails to mention that the majority of Muslim nations were unaffected, and that the seven countries restricted by Trump’s executive order had previously been fingered by the Obama administration as failed states supporting terrorism, whose citizens should be restricted from immigrating to the US. But that point wouldn’t fit the leftist/globalist/open-borders narrative now, would it? Readers will look in vain for any scientist glad that Trump was taking action to protect US citizens.European science bodies ‘concerned’ about Trump (Phys.org). Why are 46 European science societies concerned about Trump? They think his views are not based on scientific facts. “The authors cited the new US president’s attempts to ban travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and threats to stop government scientists from talking to the press or publishing findings without permission.” Actually, those claims were answered by Trump’s team: it wasn’t a ‘ban’ on Muslim countries (most Muslim countries were still allowed), but only on seven failed states that could not guarantee their people were not involved in terrorism. That’s a position both Obama and Clinton stated previously. Secondly, there was no order “to stop government scientists from talking to the press or publishing findings without permission.” That is certifiable fake news. The temporary order only applied to the EPA (which works for the President) after a sub-agency “retweeted a pair of posts to its 315,000 followers that seemed to be a swipe at Trump on his initial day in office” (Breitbart News). And it was temporary: “We’re just trying to get a handle on everything and make sure what goes out reflects the priorities of the new administration.” One would think scientists would know how to evaluate evidence before jumping to conclusions. This article provided no balance or fact-checking.Should Psychiatrists’ Weigh in on Trump’s Mental Health? (Catherine Caruso at Live Science). So deep runs the hatred of Trump among scientific institutions, they are not beyond calling him crazy. Despite the American Psychiatric Association’s “self-imposed ethics rule forbidding psychiatrists from offering professional opinions about public figures they have not personally evaluated,” Caruso writes, a group of 35 New York psychiatrists and social workers “believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.” So by their own guidelines, they admit they have no evidence. Fortunately, Caruso mentions some others who don’t agree with this tactic. But is this response better? “Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy.” Attack on democracy? [See ‘Begging the Question’ in the Baloney Detector.]Update 2/19/17: Dr. Allen Frances comes to Trump’s aid in New Scientist, saying that trying to impeach the president on medical grounds is a “terrible idea.” He strongly opposes the 24,000 psych’s who have signed a letter calling him mentally ill and unfit for office, because “armchair diagnosis cheapens its currency.” Already, “psychiatric diagnosis is already done far too casually and inaccurately in medical and mental health practice,” he says, so opponents need to use political tools, “not misapplied psychological ones.” It’s not clear if Trump, his cabinet or his supporters will fully appreciate his defense, though. Dr. Frances calls Trump “flawed” and a “world class narcissist” who represents a “present threat to peace, the global climate, rational thought and science” – and not just Trump. “Those next in line,” referring to Mike Pence, “support the same dangerous, science-denying irrationality.” One wonders who is living in the glass house here.Big Science: Space Aliens, Our Invisible FriendsAn old preacher, to illustrate the point that the problem might be one’s own fault, told a funny story about a practical joker who smeared Limburger cheese in the beard of a sleeping bum. When the bum got up and started walking around, he saw a pretty lady and said to himself, “She smells bad.” He sniffed a rose and thought it smelled terrible. After a few minutes, he exclaimed, “What’s going on? The whole world smells awful!” We have just seen institutional scientists calling Donald Trump crazy. Let’s consider the sanity of the accusers, who seem to have an insatiable fascination with invisible beings for which there is absolutely no evidence at all.For starters, we consider a report by planetary scientists who reported finding a smattering of organic compounds on the dwarf planet Ceres. What does it mean? The authors on Science Magazine say, “The combined presence on Ceres of ammonia-bearing hydrated minerals, water ice, carbonates, salts, and organic material indicates a very complex chemical environment, suggesting favorable environments to prebiotic chemistry.” No life was found, in other words; just some unidentified carbon compounds like methane, ethylene, epsom salt and other poisons – not particularly surprising, since these are often found in meteorites, too. Here’s how the suggestion of “prebiotic” chemistry echoed in Big Science Media:Life’s Building Blocks Found on Dwarf Planet Ceres (Mike Wall on Space.com). “The dwarf planet Ceres keeps looking better and better as a possible home for alien life.”Dawn spacecraft data suggest organic materials are native to the dwarf planet (Southwest Research Institute). “This discovery of a locally high concentration of organics is intriguing, with broad implications for the astrobiology community,” says one SwRI researcher. “….With this new finding Dawn has shown that Ceres contains key ingredients for life.”Dwarf planet Ceres hosts home-grown organic material (Chelsea Whyte on New Scientist). Whyte is mildly cautious, but ends with this quote by a hopeful astrobiologist from the European Space Agency: “A couple of decades ago, when talking about life in the solar system, we were focused on Mars. And now, we are more and more looking at other locations, like Saturn’s moon Titan and the subsurfaces of places like [Jupiter’s moon] Europa,” Küppers says. “And now also Ceres in the asteroid belt.” Note: over the decades, there has been no evidence of life on Mars, Titan, or Europa.Dwarf planet Ceres and the ingredients of life (Michael Küppers in Science Magazine). That same ESA astrobiologist was given an open mike in America’s leading science journal to state that salt, carbon and ammonia on this little world “opens the possibility that primitive life could have developed on Ceres itself.”Organic molecules found on giant asteroid Ceres – why that’s a such a huge deal (Monica Grady at The Conversation). Are you getting the picture that Big Science and Big Media have a nutty fascination with alien life? Grady, a professor of planetary sciences at The Open University, is no exception. With such a paucity of evidence— nowhere near the requirements for life (e.g., outside the Habitable Zone, no liquid water, insufficient heat, no genetic information, etc.)—she speculates recklessly like the other reporters above. But then, she goes beyond the others into spiritual revelry. Overcome with euphoria, she enters a trance with an extinct goddess:The combination of hot water and organic material is extremely exciting. Once you have an environment conducive to the production of organic materials – especially one that also contains the nitrogen-bearing clay minerals which are known to catalyse other reactions – it may not be a step too far to posit that Ceres had (and maybe still has) all the ingredients essential for formation of the chemicals that, on Earth, eventually led to the origin of life.Ernutet is the Egyptian goddess of fertility or nourishment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if finding organic molecules in a crater named after her was the first indication of a non-terrestrial cradle of life?This is certifiably unscientific, if not downright insane. There is no evidence for any life beyond Earth, after searching for over half a century. But even if no life is ever found on Ceres, that wouldn’t stop Big Science’s obsessive-compulsive, manic-depressive, paranoid delusion that life must be everywhere. In their dreams, our invisible friends beckon us to join them in a galactic utopia.Prebiotic evolution: Hairpins help each other out (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich). “Life is thought to have emerged from a process of chemical evolution in which nucleic acid sequences could be selectively replicated.” Is thought? By whom? Dear reader, did you think that? Are these scientists suffering from psychological projection, attributing their own psychosis onto ordinary people? We know better. We watched Illustra’s film Origin.This Is Why Sending Messages to Aliens Might Be a Good Idea (Nancy Atkinson at Space.com). Nancy gives SETI advocate a soapbox for his idea of METI – messaging extra-terrestrial intelligence. Vakoch figures that since the space aliens already know we’re here from our inadvertent TV and radio leakage, we might as well try to be friendly. Maybe our invisible friends will be nice to us. This isn’t crazy; it’s scientific, he reasons, because we can sanctify the decision to communicate through that tried-and-true process, peer review (see 2/13/17).Does Dark Matter Harbor Life? (Nautilus). As an illustration of the extremes to which true believers in space aliens will go, look at Lisa Randall arguing that “dark life could in principle be present—even right under our noses.” Note to readers: dark matter has never been detected (e.g., Nature), and no astronomer even knows what it is.Universes that spawn ‘cosmic brains’ should go on the scrapheap (Anil Ananthaswamy at New Scientist). A logical outcome of multiverse theory (increasingly popular among secular cosmologists as a way out of the fine-tuning in our universe that suggests intelligent design) is that we are not people at all. We are actually naked brains floating in space. That’s because it’s easier for chance to spawn brains complete with false perceptions and memories (called Boltzmann brains) than real people that have to arrive through a long process of evolution. If that sounds nutty, it is – so nutty, in fact, that secular cosmologists who are aware of the problem, like Sean Carroll of Caltech, are trying to squirm out of it with highly speculative concepts like ‘cognitive instability.’ His critics think that such fancy notions are unnecessary.While tossing out unnecessary things, let’s put these on the list: dark matter, multiverses, space aliens and media bias.Does anyone think these guys are not totally wacko? What is mental illness if not being out of touch with reality? These echo-chamber troglodytes really need to get out more. Maybe take up coal mining in West Virginia, or work as a cowboy on a ranch, like Teddy Roosevelt did to clear his head after a series of personal crises. Watching people with this level of credulity call conservatives mentally ill or evil should encourage those of us with our common sense intact. The credibility of an accusation is not higher than its source. If people this nutty label you ‘anti-science,’ you have nothing to fear.Recommended resource: Spike Psarris’s 3rd DVD on “What You Are Not Being Told About Astronomy: Our Created Universe” has a clear explanation and cogent refutation of multiverse theory and Boltzmann brains. (Visited 71 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Building for Reduced Flood Risk

first_imgExpand capacity with natural systemsAvoid building in flood zones. Flood zones are expanding — often faster than revisions to zoning regulations, meaning that simply following the law relative to the siting of buildings may not be enough. Instead of designing to 100-year floods, consider designing to 500-year floods, seeking civil engineering or surveyor assistance as needed.Expand stormwater management capacity and rely on natural systems. More intense storms will strain the capacity of standard stormwater management infrastructure in some areas. Provide larger stormwater conveyance and detention basins, and try to rely on natural features, constructed wetlands, and other ecologically based systems to manage stormwater. “Restore the ecological services of the landscape,” says Watson. Global weirding could bring more floods …As we think about our built environment in light of these events, we have to consider the reality of climate change. Some people prefer to refer to “global warming” as “global weirding,” because our climate is a complex system, and all kinds of odd storms and weather patterns may erupt. It won’t just be a linear ride of slightly higher-than-average temperatures.As water temperatures rise in the South Atlantic, tropical storm systems will pick up more energy, resulting in higher-magnitude hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard. Elsewhere, changing precipitation patterns are expected to deliver more rainfall in intense storms that could result in river flooding. … While development makes our landscapes less absorptiveTo complicate matters, development has made our landscapes less able to absorb rainfall, says architect Don Watson, who is writing a book on “design for resilience.” Watson says, “We’ve taken away all the absorptive capacity of our landscapes.” Adapting to climate change will require making our buildings more resilient to storms and flooding. In the longer term, we need to prepare for rising sea levels and restoring the ability of our land to absorb water.While it may be cold (and wet) comfort to owners and residents in damaged buildings, here are some tips for adapting to increased flooding, adapted from “Design for Adaptation: Living in a Climate-Changing World,” an Environmental Building News article by Alex Wilson and Andrea Ward.  A lot can change in two hours. At 8 a.m. Sunday, I walked the length of our half-mile driveway here in southern Vermont, checking the culverts and water bars, all fortified and cleared the day before. All good. The brook next to our driveway was raging, but staying within its banks. The Green River was doing the same across the town road.At 10 a.m., I got a call from my neighbor that my other neighbor’s house was flooding and they’d had to get out. Going back down the driveway with the hope of helping them, I found that the brook had grown to 10 times its usual width, filling the valley that this tranquil little brook usually meanders through. The Green River had done the same, covering the road and making it impossible to get anywhere. Friends who had been excited about rafting the swollen rivers canceled their plans after watching whole trees float by, and hearing boulders roll through the river.The flooding crested before the neighbor’s home was seriously damaged, but the road is badly washed out. For everyone affected by flooding in the Northeast connected to Hurricane Irene, my heart goes out to you. As I’ve been pulling together with my neighbors to adapt to these events, I’ve been wishing the best for everyone else in doing the same. As you know, it will be a long-term effort here.center_img Design to survive extreme windsDesign buildings to survive extreme winds. Examples of specific measures that impart good wind resistance to a building include:installing impact-resistant windows (compliant with Miami-Dade Protocols PA 201, PA 202, and PA 203) or exterior shutters;installing outward-opening doors that are less likely to be pushed inward in intense wind;designing walls to resist uplift using hurricane strapping and other metal fasteners that provide a continuous load path from foundation to roof;anchoring walls properly to foundations or frost walls;designing walls to resist shear and lateral forces using engineered wall bracing or shear panels for frame walls and proper use of re-bar for masonry walls;designing roof geometries (such as hip roofs) that are less prone to wind damage than gable roofs; installing continuous roof underlayment;properly installing high-strength roof sheathing (such as 5â„8″ plywood) that will resist uplift; andspecifying roofing that has been tested to ASTM standards for wind resistance.Raise buildings off the ground. In flood-prone areas — even where flooding is only remotely possible — raise buildings or living spaces above ground level to minimize damage in the event of flooding. With any type of pier foundation, use great care to ensure that energy performance and airtightness are not compromised; raised floors are notoriously difficult to insulate and seal. Specify materials and components to survive floodingSpecify materials that can survive flooding. Especially in locations where flooding or hurricane damage is likely, use materials that can get wet and then dry out with minimal damage. Such materials include preservative-treated sills and wood framing, fiberglass-faced rather than paper-faced drywall, and tile or resilient flooring rather than carpeting.Install specialized components to protect buildings from flooding or allow flooding with minimal damage. Breakaway wall panels on pier foundations in flood-prone areas can allow floodwaters to pass under a house without destroying it. Flood vents (permanent openings in foundation walls) allow floodwaters to escape. Specialized flood barriers, including removable barriers for entrances, can keep rising floodwaters out in certain situations.Elevate mechanical and electrical equipment. To minimize damage — and danger — from flooding, elevate mechanical equipment, electrical panels, and other equipment above a reasonably expected flood level. Even if the whole building can’t be elevated to such a level, it may be cost-effective to elevate just the equipment.Please share below your flood survival stories and thoughts on adapting to global weirding!Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions.last_img read more

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Cohesive national volleybelles return from Japan

first_imgPH Women’s National Volleyball team. Photo by Bong LozadaThe Philippine national women’s volleyball team, the most sought-after squad these days, has finally developed chemistry after 17 days of training in Japan.Arriving in the country Wednesday, head coach Francis Vicente said he was impressed with how the players developed camaraderie despite coming from different teams and leagues.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo DILG, PNP back suspension of classes during SEA Games Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress They will fly to Kuala Lumpur Aug. 18 for the Southeast Asian Games to reboot the country’s campaign in the regional game where the Filipinos used to lord it over.Reyes said that in Okayama and Osaka, they had managed to forget who they were back home. “We are just one team, no superstars, no big names.”The players also napped together on the same court they practice drills, helping them know each other very well.Completing the squad are Kim Fajardo, Aiza Pontillas, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maika Ortiz, Denden Lazaro, Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili, Ces Molina and Gen Casugod.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “This is a collection of superstars that is now working as one team,” said Vicente. “This is a good start because they will be playing together for the next three years.”The Nationals, training particularly to develop speed, blocking and floor coverage that Japanese clubs are known for, also came home with victories in friendlies against Kobe Shinwa, Kansai University and Osaka Superiors.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsBut more importantly, Vicente said he was delighted to watch superstars Mika Reyes, Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Aby Maraño and Jovelyn Gonzaga working seamlessly on plays.They will see action in the Asian Seniors Championships in Biñan, Laguna, on Aug. 9 to 17, hoping to at least make the quarterfinals which would ensure a spot in the Asian Cup next year. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ LATEST STORIES Chot uncovers Gilas gems in Jones Cup Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant View commentslast_img read more

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Orissa: Maoists free kidnapped Malkagiri collector

first_imgJunior engineer Pabitra Majhi after his release The hostage crisis in Orissa ended on Thursday evening with the Maoists freeing Malkangiri collector R.V. Krishna, one of the mediators, Dandapani Mohanty, has said. Krishna, who had been abducted on February 16 along with junior engineer Pabitra Majhi, was released after nine days of captivity. Majhi, 22, was freed on Wednesday.Chitrakonda Tahsildar D. Gopalakrishna said Krishna was released by Maoists on Thursday evening and was on his way to his home in Malkangiri, which is about 90 km from the spot where the official was freed.The 30-year-old IIT graduate-turned IAS officer was released before a “people’s court” by his abductors in a forested area in Jantapai close to the area where he was abducted along with Majhi, eyewitnesses said.TV footage showed Krishna in a check shirt and a blue pant sitting on a boulder with folded hands appearing to be in good health listening as an unidentified man spoke about the problems faced by villagers. Malkangiri is about 650 km from the state capital. Krishna, who sported an occasional smile, was also seen eating out with his hand from a plate. Inspector in-charge of Chitrakonda Rajesh Chhatria said Krishna was released at Jantapai area.Meanwhile, social activist Swami Agnivesh, whose participation in the process was sought by the Maoists, said the collector had been handed over to the media before 6 PM. Meanwhile, Krishna’s father Rambabu said, “We have seen Krishna’s visuals.”Though Majhi was set free on Wednesday, the abductors had put forward new demands for the release of the 2005 batch IAS officer. They had demanded immediate release of five senior Maoist leaders apart from Ganti Prasadam, who has been granted bail by Orissa High Court.advertisementPrasadam was taken to Koraput on Thursday morning for his release on bail by the sub-divisional judicial magistrate there, but the process is likely to take more time.last_img read more

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SSA Touch comes to a close

first_imgThe 2008 School Sport Australia Combined Touch Tournament has come to a close with all impressed with the Tasmanian hospitality on offer.Tournament Director, Maree Tomlin, did a wonderful job with all impressed with the set-up and organisation of one of the most enjoyable Touch tournaments on the calendar.Although great hosts off the field, Tasmania also had good results on it as well with the Tasmanian 15’s Girls winning their Plate Final in a drop-off against Western Australia. With some of the players not actually experiencing a drop-off before, the youngest player of the Tassie line-up, Maddison Smith, scored when players were down to three apiece much to the delight of coach, Tim Elliott. The form of some of the developing states was also pleasing. In the 15’s Boys, both ACT and WA were competitive in their semi-finals against QLD and NSW.Players from different states swapped uniforms and pins as the tournament concluded. Many players made great speeches while South Australia closed the tournament and hoped that many would join them when Adelaide hosts the School Sport Australia Combined Touch Tournament in 2009.Touch Football Australia would like to congratulate on participants on their achievements and would like to thank Touch Football Tasmania and School Sport Australia for putting on another successful tournament. Full details are below:15’s Boys Finishing Positions:1st – Queensland2nd – New South Wales3rd – Western Australia4th – ACT5th – Northern Territory (Plate Winners)6th – Victoria7th – Tasmania8th – South AustraliaPlayer Awards:* Player of the Series – Kade Bonner (Queensland)* Player of the Final – Brad Pendal (Queensland)* Encouragement Award – Brendon Donnelly (Northern Territory) Finals Referees:* Rick Borg* Matt Lavery* Dean McMillan15’s Girls Finishing Positions:1st – New South Wales2nd – Queensland3rd – ACT4th – Northern Territory5th – Tasmania (Plate Winners)6th – Western Australia7th – South AustraliaPlayer Awards:* Player of the Series – Kimberley Resch (New South Wales)* Player of the Final – Jenna Hitch (New South Wales)* Encouragement Award – Rebecca Beath (ACT)Finals Referees:* Rick Borg* Bri Berry* Michelle Traynor12’s Boys Finishing Positions:1st – Queensland2nd – New South Wales3rd – Northern Territory4th – ACT5th – South Australia6th – Tasmania12’s Girls Finishing Positions:1st – Queensland2nd – New South Wales3rd – South Australia4th – ACT (Equal)4th – Northern Territory (Equal)6th – Tasmania For further information, visit the School Sport Australia Touch website – http://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=14-4282-0-62519-0last_img read more

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Retired TD Bank CEO Ed Clark to head up agency that will

first_imgTORONTO – Ontario has called in its top business guru to head the agency that will handle the complicated task of selling and distributing recreational marijuana once pot is legalized this summer.Former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, who has served as Premier Kathleen Wynne’s business adviser since 2015, was nominated Thursday by Finance Minister Charles Sousa to chair the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s board of directors.Clark, who also is working on the province’s bid to land the new Amazon headquarters, will oversee the agency as it creates a subsidiary that will run stand-alone stores to sell legal weed.Clark described himself as a “conservative on the cannabis file” and said safety is top of mind for him.“I think we have to be quite careful,” he said. “I think it’s good to get the drug out of the hands of drug dealers. I think having people buy what is a drug, that hasn’t been tested … and buy it from bad guys, is not a good thing. We’re not here to promote marijuana. We’re here to make sure that we cut the drug dealers out of marijuana trade.”The LCBO subsidiary must put in place good quality control measures that provide consumers with a safe product, he said.“We have to make sure that we have a system, as we do with the LCBO, that we’re not selling to people that shouldn’t be buying this,” he said.Clark noted that in his 2015 review of Ontario’s assets he recommended maintaining public ownership of the LCBO and expanding access to wine and beer, two ideas the Liberal government has accepted.“I like the LCBO but it doesn’t mean there isn’t more that it can do,” he said. “I’m a retailer at heart. It will be fun to try to say, OK, how can we serve the consumer better?”The process is likely to be fraught with challenges from municipal pushback to concerns about lack of supply, but Sousa said Clark’s experience makes him the ideal person for the job.“He’s a retailer by his nature,” Sousa said. “But he’s also a policy mind. He’s successful. He has the ability to deal very effectively with leaders around the world and we’ve engaged him to do just that on our behalf.”Clark’s appointment as LCBO chairman was discussed by Ontario’s cabinet Thursday morning and will now be finalized after a review by a committee at Queen’s Park.The province announced last fall that it plans to create a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario that will run the legal weed stores. The agency itself will oversee the planning process to establish its retail locations.The province plans to set up approximately 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020 with the first wave of 40 stores opening this summer.Clark has handled a number of difficult files for Ontario’s Liberal government in recent years, leading a controversial government asset review in 2014 which recommended the partial selloff of Hydro One. In 2015, Clark advised the province on the restructuring of U.S. Steel Canada in Hamilton. In 2016, he conducted a review of the province’s digital health records system.For his work, Clark has taken a salary of one dollar per year, something that Sousa joked won’t change.“As you know he’s been advising and providing some support for the government on a number files and he has been getting his dollar,” Sousa said. “I don’t intend to give him a raise.”Ontario NDP finance critic John Vanthof panned Clark’s hiring saying it sends the signal that the LCBO could be privatized. He urged the premier to cancel Clark’s nomination to the board.“By appointing Clark to the top post at the LCBO, Wynne is sending strong signals that she won’t stop with the selloff of Hydro One,” Vanthof said in a statement. “Ontarians overwhelmingly opposed that short-sighted move, but Wynne went ahead with her plan anyway, and Ontario families are literally paying the price.”Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas also called on Wynne to rescind Clark’s appointment.“Ed Clark has always put profits before people,” Thomas said in a statement. “Giving him the keys to the LCBO will be a huge boon for Bay Street, but it’s going to cause real harm on Main Street.”Sousa denied Clark’s hiring signals a move to privatize the Crown corporation. Clark himself recommended hanging onto the LCBO in his review of government assets, he said.“There is no intent on selling LCBO,” he said. “It’s a very efficient, very productive, well-run organization. It’s valuation is tremendous.”Meanwhile, the provincial government announced Thursday it was accepting public comment on a number of possible further regulations of legal cannabis.The proposals, which would add further detail to provincial pot laws passed in the fall, were posted on a government website. The proposed rules include clarifying where cannabis can be used with exemptions for hotel rooms and vehicles like boats which are used as primary residences. The regulations would also allow pot to be consumed in private residences which are also workplaces.The regulatory changes also appear to open the door to permitting licensed and regulated cannabis consumption lounges and venues.last_img read more

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Court rejects plea seeking to bar Thakur from contesting poll

first_imgMumbai: A special NIA court here on Wednesday rejected the application filed by the father of one of the victims of the 2008 Malegaon blast case seeking to bar BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the Lok Sabha election. Malegaon blast accused Thakur, who is currently out on bail, is contesting the Lok Sabha poll from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on the BJP’s ticket. Nisar Sayyad, who lost his son in the blast, moved the court last week, urging it to bar Thakur from contesting the election after the BJP fielded her from Bhopal, where she is locked in a battle with Congress veteran Digvijay Singh. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details He also mentioned in his plea that a petition seeking cancellation of her bail was pending before the Supreme Court. Rejecting his application, Special judge for National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases V S Padalkar said lawyers were well aware that this was not the proper forum (for the plea). “This court has not granted bail…wrong forum has been chosen,” he said. Thakur’s lawyer J P Mishra submitted before the court on Wednesday that she was fighting the election for the “cause of ideology and for the “sake of the nation”. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “She is contesting the election to condemn people who say there is Hindu terrorism,” Mishra said. Sayyad, in his application, said Thakur got bail on health grounds. If she is “healthy enough to fight elections in the crippling summers heat”, then she has misled the court, the complainant alleged. Responding to it, Mishra said, “Thakur has not misled the court. After the court’s order (on bail), she underwent an operation and was unable to walk in 2016. Her condition has improved now, but she has not fully recovered.” The lawyer said Thakur is contesting the poll, attending meetings and campaigning, but a doctor is always present with her where she goes. He also submitted that Thakur did not get bail only on medical grounds, but also on merit. Six people were killed and over 100 injured in a bomb blast at Malegaon, a communally sensitive textile town in north Maharashtra’s Nashik district, on September 29, 2008. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Thakur and others in the case, alleging they were part of a Hindu extremist group which carried out the blast. The NIA later gave Thakur a clean chit, but the court did not discharge Thakur. It dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), but she is still facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code sections.last_img read more

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Fowler slams totally unacceptable Salah diving debate

first_imgLiverpool legend Robbie Fowler has risen to Mohamed Salah’s defence over the “hostile” diving debate and suggested he’s being singled out as a foreign player.Due to his apparent willingness to fall to the ground too easily in a challenge, Salah has faced plenty of backlash over the last few weeks.Unlike fellow Reds legend John Aldridge, however, Fowler reckons Salah is within his rights to go down to the ground when touched.“I was never one for diving — if I had a chance to get a shot off, I’d always take it,” Fowler wrote in the Daily Mirror.“Yet, I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief at the criticism aimed at Mohamed Salah in recent weeks for what people have been particularly eager to call cheating.“It’s been sustained and hostile, and I’m wondering why.“Why it’s been much worse than that aimed at Harry Kane this season, for instance, or in the past say Michael Owen or David ­Beckham (and I’m not singling them out!).“We have to be very careful as football fans. We need to stop and think about whether Salah is being targeted for where he comes from and who he is.“It seems like stereotyping, and­ possibly because he’s an overseas player.“If that is the case, it’s totally ­unacceptable.Harry Maguire, Manchester UnitedLiverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.He added: “Yes, there have been times when Salah has gone over a bit ­theatrically, ­sometimes he may have gone down a bit easily.“Two things. One, who doesn’t now? Two, he’s ­almost always been kicked.“In fact, he has been kicked mercilessly for 18 months. And if he doesn’t go down in a way which lets the ref see he’s been kicked, then will he get the decision? No chance.“Watching the Arsenal-Manchester United game on Friday, Paul Pogba went through early, got hacked from behind, but didn’t go down and then lost the ball. No free-kick.“Soon after, goes through again, gets pulled back slightly. What does he do? Of course, he goes down, because otherwise, he knows if he tries to get a shot off and fails, he gets nothing again. It is not as simple as people are making out.“If Salah was this massive cheat people seem to be trying to portray him as, why was the penalty he ­converted against Newcastle at the end of December the first awarded for Liverpool at Anfield in 18 months?“In that time, he’s scored almost 50 league goals, and not one until this past Boxing Day was a penalty in a home game.”Fowler is a former striker, who scored 183 goals in 369 games across two separate spells for Liverpool.The 43-year-old won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in his time at Anfield and is considered a “god” among the supporters.last_img read more

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The Matrix remembered at 20 Keanu classic or cyberpunk snooze

first_img Tags Share your voice Sadly, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were pretty disappointing. They pushed the original’s philosophy to the point of pretension, the effects weighed down the action, and Neo’s rise to near-divinity made him hard to relate to. Things took an even more mediocre turn with tie-in game Enter the Matrix. The 2005 game Path of Neo was a better effort, but I just never bothered with the online multiplayer Matrix Online. However, last year I watched the one that started it all for the first time since I was a teenager and I’m pleased to report that it’s lost none of its glorious sci-fi luster. I haven’t had the strength to revisit the rest of them, and probably won’t, but the original will always be a classic. — Sean Keane (London) An amazing one-off 499_fishburneLaurence Fishburne making shades and leather coats cool. Getty Images Whoa. What I remember most about The Matrix, aside from being blown away, was my wife’s reaction. She walked out of the theater absolutely giddy, saying to anyone within earshot, “That was the best movie I’ve ever seen!” It was just such a charming, honest response. We all felt that way, but she simply couldn’t resist saying it out loud. And she doesn’t usually care for action movies. Now, the less said about the plodding, pointless sequels, the better. In my reality they don’t exist. The Matrix was an amazing one-off, a movie that holds up remarkably well 20 years later. I recently watched it with my teenage son, and of course he loved it as well. “Did they ever make any sequels?” he asked at the end. “Sorry, bud,” I replied. “They never did.” #parentingwin — Rick Broida (Detroit)  The Matrix generation The Matrix Reloaded Premiere - Black CarpetNever mind the sequels, Keanu. L. Cohen This came out in June of 1999 in the UK and I went to see it with all my friends. We were 18, we’d just finished school forever, we were off to university or off around the world, it was nearly the year 2000 — and The Matrix summed all this up for us. This sense that everything was about to change and we were going from our coddled, safe little worlds into the big adult universe. Plus we were all huge fans of John Woo and anime, and seeing those influences reflected in a huge Hollywood movie was unreal. It felt like our generation was taking over the world. — Nick Hide (New York) Existential crises I had my first real existential crisis while watching The Matrix. At 14, I’d gone to the local cinema with my dad to see an action movie that had been filmed in Sydney. Sydney! In Australia! My grandparents lived there! Instead, about a third of the way through, I began doubting my existence and wondering whether I’d always lived in the Matrix, giving in to the crushing weight of solipsism that only a nerdy teenager in the suburbs truly understands. I remember I went to the bathroom midway through and stayed in my cubicle for about 15 minutes touching the walls like a baby boomer trying acid for the first time.  I returned to the cinema, a shell of a person, and fielded questions from my confused dad, who was pretty stoked to see a cool action movie, thank you very much, and thought I was massively overreacting. He was right.  That same year I discovered reality-bending flicks Being John Malkovich and The Truman Show which, combined with having to prepare for the year eight school disco, made for a troubling time of self-reflection. I realized I’d taken the red pill (at a time when that didn’t have the connotations of being an angry men’s-right activist) and I couldn’t turn back… — Claire Reilly (Sydney) Should we walk out? Carrie Anne Moss Stars In The Matrix 1999 Warner Bros And Village Roadshow FilmThe Matrix redefined movies, drawing on anime and martial arts action. Getty Images I saw The Matrix with a group of friends back when I was in college. We had no idea what it was about; all we’d seen were a few vague trailers. After 10 minutes, we were all looking at each other wondering if we should just walk out. What was this thing? An office movie about very green lights? We decided to stick it out.  Then I saw the Bullet Time effects. I thought, “This will be the perfect movie to own on DVD. You can slow it down and even reverse the whole thing with full clarity.” DVDs were finally becoming more affordable and looking at still images on a VHS tape wasn’t great.  By the time we walked out of the theater, we were acting like grade-schoolers messing around with fake kung fu while quoting the movie. These days, there are so many different trailers for films and they’re all very easily accessible. But back then, you caught the trailer before a movie or on TV. Maybe you’d download it from Apple’s Trailer site, but that required time and hard drive space. The Matrix was great. It’s too bad they never made any sequels. — Iyaz Akhtar (New York) Landing hard   2018 New York Comic Con - Day 4Twenty years later, fans like this cosplayer at New York Comic-Con are still inspired by The Matrix. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images I don’t have a good reason why I’ve never seen the Matrix. When it came out, I was 10, and I guess I never pushed to see it in the theater. What I do remember from the time, though, was my classmates re-enacting the famous Bullet Time scene on the playground, pretending to be Neo and inevitably losing balance and landing hard on their backs. Maybe that’s why I’ve never gotten around to watching it in the 20 intervening years — so much of the Matrix ended up so widely referenced in pop culture I felt like I knew it. I’ll get to it. Eventually. — Erin Carson (Louisville) Seminal texts Believe it or not, I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw The Matrix. I’m not sure I even saw it at the movies. But I did see it many, many times after 1999, because that was the year I began a Media Studies degree — and Media Studies teachers looove The Matrix. At least three different lecturers showed us the Wachowskis’ postmodern sci-fi flick in my first year alone, all of them giddy that Neo owns a copy of seminal cultural studies text Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. My teachers were delighted to illustrate concepts like postmodernism and hyperreality with a movie we had actually heard of. And yes, the effects were pretty awesome. — Richard Trenholm (London)  The Phantom Menace was better Hugo Weaving In 'The Matrix'Hugo Weaving is the bad guy in The Matrix. Archive Photos/Getty Images I must have been 17 when The Matrix came out. I think I was in my first year at university. I saw it at Showcase Cinemas in Coatbridge, Scotland, with my brother and all of our friends.  It seems strange in hindsight but I was such a hard-core Star Wars nerd at that point in my life that I got really frustrated at how good The Matrix was. “This is going to steal the shine of The Phantom Menace,” I thought. And I can’t believe I am typing these strange words once formulated in my broken brain. I even remember reading a line in a review that amounted to, “George Lucas has no chance of competing with this” and screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” into the ether like Luke Skywalker.  So I enjoyed The Matrix, like any normal person. But at the same time I resented it. It was everywhere I went — that was the worst part. People bought those stupid leather coats. Every house party had the soundtrack blaring. My brother bought the movie on DVD and watched it — no joke — over 100 times.  Then The Phantom Menace came out. I was so desperate to like it I convinced myself it wasn’t bad. It seems insane in hindsight but I told myself (and others) it was better than The Matrix.  Look, it was a weird time for me. — Mark Serrels (Sydney)  Made-up moves I’m (only slightly) ashamed to say I’ve never seen The Matrix, so all the references go right over my head. I used to do tae kwon do when I was a kid, and there was this one time I was fighting someone and a few people in my class shouted, “Do The Matrix!” and I had no idea what they meant. I just made up a bunch of moves and hoped it would slide.  It’s one of those movies on my “I should watch this” list, but we all know that’ll probably never happen. — Abrar Al-Heeti (San Francisco) Red pill or blue pill?I don’t remember when, where or how I watched The Matrix for the first time. I was 7 when it came out, so all I have is a vague memory of a scene where Morpheus offers Neo a red pill and a blue pill and references Alice in Wonderland. I’ll support anything that references Alice in Wonderland. You remember the scene: “After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: All I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” — Jennifer Bisset (Sydney)  What are your memories of The Matrix? When did you first see the movie? Was it your last VHS or your first DVD? Did you immediately get yourself a Nokia 8110 and learn kung fu? Or could you never understand what the fuss was about? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter. Aug 31 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors Comments TV and Movies reading • The Matrix remembered at 20: Keanu classic or cyberpunk snooze? Apple 16 Aug 31 • Best places to sell your used electronics in 2019 The Matrix changed things. In 1999, this cyberpunk action movie exploded into theaters heralding a new millennium, a new era for filmmaking and a time when bending over backwards and flailing your arms while making whooshing noises was the coolest thing ever. Twenty years have passed since The Matrix opened in the US on March 31, 1999. (It debuted on April 8 in Australia and on June 11 in the UK.) Computer-generated imagery (CGI) was revolutionizing special effects, video tapes were giving way to DVDs and mobile phones were fast becoming a must-have. The Matrix captured all that. It’s a movie everyone remembers — even if they haven’t seen it. Two decades on, we asked sci-fi fans among the global CNET crew to share their memories of the Wachowskis’ Oscar-winning, franchise-starting original. In your playground, college dorm or family home, was The Matrix a groundbreaking instant classic or a pretentious cyberpunk snooze? A whole new universe  Keanu Reeves ushered in a new era in the 1999 movie The Matrix. Ronald Siemoneit/Getty Images I was in Mexico City when The Matrix came out, and Trinity had me at the first frame of that kick we experienced in 360 degrees. It was my last year of high school and I was contemplating a degree in cinematography, so this movie opened my mind to a whole new visual effects universe. I remember spending long hours chatting with my friends about the camera angles and stunts and eagerly considering if we would take the blue or red pill. Morpheus’ “bring it on” hand gesture became part of our slang and I’ll never look at a spoon the same way. I have seen The Matrix several times over the years and it remains one of my favorite movies because it still touches on relevant themes, the effects hold up amazingly well after 20 years, and the costumes are as cool as ever. — Tania González (San Francisco) Bullet timing Carrie-Anne Moss In 'The Matrix'Carrie-Ann Moss answers the call. Archive Photos/Getty Images “You think that’s air you’re breathing now?” I first entered The Matrix when it was in theaters in 1999, and my unsuspecting 12-year-old mind was blown — the combination of philosophical elements and Bullet Time slo-mo effects made it stand out from every other cinematic experience I’d had. It was the first DVD I bought too, so I watched the government lobby shootout and the subway fight between Neo and Agent Smith over and over (to the point where they kinda lost their impact), in addition to getting stuck in the special features and seeing how it all came together. As the 2003 sequels grew closer, my friends and I got really caught up in the hype. The Animatrix animated short film anthology gave us a delicious helping of backstory and acted as a gateway drug for anime. See All Now playing: Watch this: Apple 1:32 Aug 31 • iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which iPhone should you buy? Aug 31 • Your phone screen is gross. Here’s how to clean it 2019 movies to geek out over • The Matrix remembered 77 Photoslast_img read more

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