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Astronomer: Shutdown Could Waste a Year’s Worth of Work

first_imgMore than a year’s worth of expensive data used to trace the shape of the Milky Way galaxy could become worthless as a result of today’s closure of U.S.-based radio telescopes because of the government shutdown.“Holy cow, this is really bad,” radio astronomer Mark Reid said when informed by ScienceInsider that the telescopes were going offline. “If they don’t operate the telescopes, it could mean a year’s worth of data becomes useless.” And it would be a costly loss, he adds, estimating that the data cost $500,000 to collect.Reid is a U.S. government employee who works for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like hundreds of thousands of other federal workers, he’s been at home since the shutdown began on Tuesday. Meanwhile, he’s been trying to use some of his time off productively, thinking about his collaborative work with an international team on measuring and mapping the great spiral arms of the Milky Way.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(*)Twice a year, Reid and his colleagues use the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)—a string of 10 sensitive radio telescopes stretching 8600 kilometers from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands and New England—to help make measurements from Earth to massive gas clouds surrounding about 50 newborn stars in the galaxy. The VLBA measurements, made in the spring and fall, allow the team to calculate distances to the stars and construct a map of the galaxy. The map’s accuracy, however, depends on comparing three sets of VLBA measurements taken over 18 months.Today’s shutdown of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a National Science Foundation-funded organization that runs the radio telescopes, threatens that accuracy. “If you miss one of these observations, you basically have to start over the next season,” Reid says.About one-half of this year’s data has already been collected, but the team had been expecting to use the VLBA to measure the distance to 25 other stars this month. “The VLBA is really the only array we can use,” so if they can’t take the data this month, the team won’t be able to compare the data with the past two cycles.All is not lost if the U.S. Congress can agree on a way to fund the government by the middle of October. It will take several days to get the telescopes up and running,  NRAO officials say. Then, astronomers may be able reschedule some of their planned VLBA measurements, Reid says, but with some loss of accuracy because Earth will have passed an optimal point in its orbit around the sun.Reid says he’s stunned by the development. “I thought NRAO was safe” because it was not a government agency, he says. “I never even thought about this, but there’s nothing I can do about it either.”You can see our complete shutdown coverage here.last_img read more

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Kushwaha ends fast unto death in Bihar

first_imgThe Rashtriya Lok Samata Party president and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha ended his fast unto death in support of his demand for free land to open two Central schools in the State after five days on Saturday. “I ended my fast.. but my protest will continue,” Mr. Kushwaha said soon after mahagathbandhan leaders reached him at the Patna Medical College and Hospital and offered him juice to end his fast. Senior mahagathbandhan leaders like Sharad Yadav, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Tejashwi Yadav and Mukesh Sahni said they would take forward the protest against the State government. Mr. Kushwaha had begun his fast on November 26 demanding five acres to open the two Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) sanctioned for Bihar by the Central government.However, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said that the State government could not provide the land for free.last_img read more

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J.P. Dutta to cast eight heroes in his next war film ‘Tiger Hills’

first_imgClick here to EnlargeKenannakin’s 1962 war film The Longest Day had 13 heroes. Back home, Border director J.P. Dutta seems to have come close.For his next war film Tiger Hills – a post-Kargil spiel – Dutta has roped in not one, not three, but eight heroes to fortify the cast.Sunil Shetty, Ajay,Click here to EnlargeKenannakin’s 1962 war film The Longest Day had 13 heroes. Back home, Border director J.P. Dutta seems to have come close.For his next war film Tiger Hills – a post-Kargil spiel – Dutta has roped in not one, not three, but eight heroes to fortify the cast.Sunil Shetty, Ajay Devgan, Arbaaz Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna willstar. There’seven talk of a ninth – Shah Rukh Khan.Dutta has reportedly asked his heroes to sport crew cuts and is believed to have said, “Border was a trailer. This will be bigger.”Question: Will Tiger Hills boast nine heroines and 18 songs too?last_img read more

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Malaika Arora spotted with Arjun Kapoor: All you need to know about their rumoured affair

first_imgShe is separated, and he is single. That’s enough to set tongues wagging. If their closeness has raised eyebrows, their friendship has been questioned. Arjun Kapoor and Malaika Arora’s proximity has been under the radar for some time now. In fact, their closeness has been attributed as one of the reasons behind Malaika and Arbaaz Khan’s split. But that’s just a rumour, or at least Arbaaz and Malaika say so.When after 18 years of marriage, once-upon-a-time happy couple Malaika and Arbaaz decided to call it quits, their fans were in for a shock. And it was then the name of Arjun made way to the juicy columns of tabloids. More than often, Arjun’s name was taken in the same breath as that of Malaika-Arbaaz’s separation.  Soon enough, the rumours of an affair between the two started doing the rounds. In fact, buzz has it that Boney Kapoor had asked Arjun to stay away from Malaika for some time because he didn’t want his son to rub Salman Khan the wrong way. The Ki and Ka did pay heed to his dad’s advice and stayed away from Malaika for some time. But the actor soon decided to throw caution to wind when he was spotted outside Malaika’s house at wee hours of the night last year. After her separation with Arbaaz, Malaika has been living in Tuscany Heights with their son Arhaan. While Arjun’s team had apparently vehemently denied the rumour, the reports of them rekindling their romance spread like wildfire.advertisementMalaika later cleared the air and in an interview to DNA said, “Arjun is a very good friend of mine. But people give a very different meaning to it, which isn’t true.”In fact, in an official statement Malaika and Arbaaz said, “We are not separated because of a third random person, like there were stories of a friendship between a businessman and Malaika.”But that did not lead to the rumours dying down. While the two decided to keep a low profile, they kept on meeting at various events on and off. However, it’s been a while since the two were spotted together.But it all changed this weekend when Arjun and Malaika were seen under the same roof. The rumoured lovebirds attended a party in Mumbai on Saturday.While Malaika looked stunning in a white shirt and blue top, Arjun sported a casual look. However, the two carefully avoided being photographed together.(Photos: Yogen Shah) ALSO READ: Has Arjun Kapoor’s father asked him to stay away from Malaika Arora? ALSO READ: Did Malaika Arora-Arjun Kapoor pretend to ignore each other on seeing Sohail Khan? ALSO WATCH: Ranbir-Katrina to Brangelina, the celebrity splits of 2016last_img read more

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Meizu M5 with 32GB storage, 3070mAh battery launched in India at Rs 10,499

first_imgMeizu M5 launched in India today at a price tag of Rs 10,499. The smartphone is made available exclusively on Tatacliq.com. To recall, Meizu M5 was originally launched in China back in October last year at 700 CNY which is roughly around Rs 7,000. This indicates that the device is announced at a much higher price tag in India.Meizu M5 in India costs almost Rs 3,500 more than that of the model launched back in China. To recall again, the smartphone was announced in two variants initially — one with the 2GB RAM/16GB memory and 3GB RAM/32GB storage. In India, only the 3GB RAM/32GB memory variant is made available.Also Read: iPhone 7 sells for Rs 39,999, Google Pixel for Rs 43,000 in crazy deals at FlipkartThe Chinese smartphone maker has exclusively tied up with Tatacliq.com to sell the Meizu M5. “This strategic tie-up between Meizu and Tatacliq.com is being seen as a significant move by the company to explore a completely new market segment in India,” says Meizu. In terms of specifications, Meizu M5 sports a 5.2-inch screen with the 720p and 2.5D glass protection. The smartphone comes with a fully-laminated HD display, IPS technology, and integrated blue light filter which has the ability to automatically adjust blue light emission to reduce eye strain, highlight Meizu.Meizu M5 32GB variant is powered by an octa-core processor with the Mali-T860 GPU and is equipped with fingerprint identification and fingerprint payment options as mTouch 2.1 and mBack home button. With these features onboard, Meizu M5 is dedicated to offer a safe and swift user experience to customers.advertisementAlso Read: HTC U11 price revealed ahead of tomorrow’s launch, to go on sale on May 19Furthermore, M5 comes with a powerful battery of 3070mAh providing a long standby time. The device also offers an improved battery optimization with Flyme operating system, and also ensures that the battery lasts even longer. Moving ahead to the optics, M5 comes equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera which comes equipped with a large f/2.0 aperture. Meizu M5 helps users capture clear pictures under low light situations and also comes with a premium dual-tone flash which delivers an accurate white balance capability. The smartphone is launched in India in two colour variants — blue and gold.last_img read more

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Kante ruled out of France clash

first_imgN’Golo Kanté Kante ruled out of France’s final World Cup qualifier with thigh injury Joe Wright Last updated 2 years ago 18:44 10/8/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) ngolo kante - cropped Getty Images France France v Belarus Crystal Palace v Chelsea Chelsea Premier League WC Qualification Europe Didier Deschamps is unsure over the extent of the Chelsea midfielder’s injury but ruled him out of Tuesday’s game against Belarus N’Golo Kante will miss France’s final World Cup qualifier against Belarus on Tuesday after sustaining a thigh injury.The Chelsea midfielder was forced off in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 win in Bulgaria with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.Italy 11/2 to beat Albania 2-0 Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. Head coach Didier Deschamps is unsure of the severity of the injury but will certainly not risk him at Stade de France.”No, I can’t count on him for the next game,” he told a news conference. “When you go out with a muscular issue… it’s something behind his thigh.”France went ahead with just three minutes gone through Blaise Matuidi but struggled to assert their dominance after Kante’s departure and Deschamps felt the balance in the side was damaged when the 26-year-old limped off.”N’Golo had a crucial part to play, obviously,” he said. “After N’Golo’s injury, Adrien Rabiot came on in the same role, maybe not with the same quality as N’Golo.”N’Golo’s injury perhaps disturbed us. It’s not something against Adrien, but just the fact that we found ourselves short of strikers after N’Golo came off.”The news is a concern for Chelsea ahead of a packed run of fixtures throughout October.The Premier League champions travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday before resuming their Champions League campaign with a home game against Roma next week.Antonio Conte’s side then play three more matches in the space of a week, against Watford and Bournemouth in the league and Everton in the EFL Cup.Striker Alvaro Morata is also nursing a hamstring injury and midfielder Danny Drinkwater has yet to make his first appearance since signing from Leicester City due to a calf problem.last_img read more

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Premier League endgame: the data behind a historic title race

first_imgTopics Share on Messenger This has been Liverpool’s most successful Premier League campaign, but it could easily not have been. According to expected points — a metric that estimates how many points a team should have earned from each game — Jürgen Klopp’s men have collected 12.6 more points than was expected from them, more than any other team this season. Datablog As if football fans needed any more drama this week, Liverpool and Manchester City will battle it out for Premier League glory on Sunday. It will be the ninth time the title has been decided on the season’s final day since the Premier League’s inception in 1992-93. City were involved in the closest finish to date in 2012, claiming their first title after two stoppage-time goals meant they pipped Manchester United on goal difference. United’s 89 points, would have been enough to secure the title in 14 other seasons.Further history will be made on Sunday: never before has a team recorded 90 points or more in the Premier League and not been crowned champions. It’s more common elsewhere in Europe – Barcelona and Real Madrid have finished second in La Liga with at least 90 points a combined seven times since 1993, and Napoli finished behind Juventus last season despite reaching 91 points. Liverpool’s sensational comeback against Barcelona in the Champions League this week showed how strong they have been at Anfield this season. A win against Wolves will extend their home unbeaten streak in the league to 40 games. Only Chelsea have a longer streak – 86 games between 2004 and 2008. City, though, have been even better. They will finish this season with the most points at home. Share on WhatsApp Liverpool Share on Twitter Liverpool and City have been embroiled in a thrilling race for most of the season, one that will remind fans on Merseyside of the last time they came this close to winning the title. With just three games left in the 2013-14 season, Liverpool held a five-point lead at the top of the table. But a Steven Gerrard slip against Chelsea and then a three-goal collapse against Crystal Palace allowed City to beat them at the last.Liverpool were reeled in this season during a six-game stretch between January and March, in which Jürgen Klopp’s side dropped eight points. That came after a 2-1 defeat by City in the first game of the new year, Liverpool’s only loss of the season. A win would have given them a 10-point lead at the top.center_img Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share via Email Manchester City features Premier League Share on Pinterest Reuse this contentlast_img read more

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‘Conte leaves you dead after training!’

first_imgChelsea ‘Conte leaves you dead after training!’ – Chelsea boss’ drill sergeant discipline revealed by Chiellini Dejan Kalinic Last updated 1 year ago 15:24 2/8/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(6) Antonio Conte Chelsea Getty Chelsea Antonio Conte Juventus Premier League Serie A The Juve defender, a former player for the manager, says players are exhausted after each practice session with the Italian Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini revealed players were left “dead” after training sessions under Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte.Conte is under fire at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea sitting fourth in the Premier League after back-to-back losses.The 48-year-old spent three seasons at Juve – winning the Serie A in each of those campaigns – and coached Chiellini during his time at the helm of Italy. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Chiellini, a 96-time international, revealed just how demanding Conte was, including in training.”It is not only in the match with Conte. It is all day, every training session. He is like a police sergeant,” he told the Daily Mail .”We felt something very special in his atmosphere, for three years with him at Juventus and two years in the national team.”When you finish training, you are dead. Not tired – dead.”However, the 33-year-old explained that the players are willing to go through it all because of the enormous belief they have in Conte’s process. “You can do it only because you believe in what he does,” the centre-back said. “We had 40 days in France and it was like entering another world. You are 100 per cent with him.”He creates an atmosphere, everyone gives energy to each other. For sure he is one of the very best.”Conte’s Chelsea are back in action against West Brom on Monday.last_img read more

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Rail ticket scam After nabbing touts now role of insiders under scanner

first_imgNew Delhi: After launching its biggest crackdown on railway ticket agents and touts, the Special Intelligence Branch of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is now probing the role of insiders involved in the racket which runs into several crores. The RPF has sought details from the commercial department of the railways about the real-time data of e-tickets. However, the crucial data is yet to be shared with the investigating agency. Sources said that once the data relating to the booking of e-tickets and payment channels of various ticket agents across the country are made available, a clearer picture of the nationwide ‘Tatkal’ ticket racket will emerge. When asked about the involvement of insiders, or lower staff in the racket, the Director General RPF, Arun Kumar, said: “It’s a matter of investigation. I cannot share any details at this stage.” Sources said Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has appreciated RPF’s investigation, called Operation Thunder, into the ticket fraud. The Minister has given the go-ahead to initiate action if any insider is involved in the racket. The RPF rounded up more than 405 touts from raids conducted in 205 cities and towns relating to the booking of Tatkal Seva and e-ticketing. During the course of investigation, it was discovered that most of the ticket agents and touts use specific software to fraudulently book e-tickets under Tatkal Seva. The tickets are later sold to passengers at high rates. The RPF and its intelligence branch were gathering evidence related to ticket frauds for the past few months. Sources in the RPF said a software, ‘ANMS/Red Mirchi’, has been seized from Kota, Rajasthan, which was being used to hack into the Tatkal facility offered by the IRCTC, which is now being rectified. According to an official of the RPF, 387 user IDs under which these tickets were booked frequently have been blacklisted and the tickets have been deactivated. RPF has also instructed all zonal railways to continue such raids in their areas to mount pressure on the touts.last_img read more

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SONG OF THE SUMMER 9 CANADIAN CONTENDERS FOR THE SEASONS TOP TUNE

first_img Login/Register With: Advertisement For people in northern countries such as Canada, summer is extra special, our reward for getting through the long, dark winter months.That’s why we throw ourselves into its fleeting months with abandon. We crowd patios, head out on road trips, shed layers of clothing, fill parks and beaches, and take the art of cottaging to a whole new level.And, of course, music is essential to all of it. Facebook Shawn Mendes? Carly Rae Jepson? Justin Bieber? Lights? Whose song will be crowned ‘song of the summer’ for 2019? (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images) Every year, one song emerges from the pack to claim the title of song of the summer. In 2012, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” wore the crown, so it’s no surprise that two tracks from her recent album, Dedicated, made this year’s list, alongside recent hits from Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Lights and others.Below, find our picks for this year’s top Canadian contenders.Which Canadian song is soundtracking your summer? Let us know at @CBCMusic.‘Julien,’ Carly Rae JepsenThe opening moments of Carly Rae Jepsen’s last album, Emotion, are seared into my memory. That bright burst of saxophone on “Run Away With Me” will forever remind me of summer 2015, when I shouted the words to that song at the top of my lungs at every given opportunity. In some ways, Jepsen has gifted us another memorable introduction on her latest release, Dedicated.The album opens with “Julien” and its squelching synth sounds are subtler than its predecessor, but it fits perfectly with the “chill disco” vision she originally had for this album. Whereas “Run Away With Me” was a euphoric declaration of love, “Julien” is about being hung up on a past fling as Jepsen confesses, “Another bad dream where you were running away/ I’m forever haunted by our time.” Sure, it sounds like a bummer, but it also has an incredible way of unearthing butterflies buried deep in the crevices of your heart. This song makes the act of pining feel blissful instead of painful. Whoever your Julien is, Jepsen’s new song spins an old thorn into a blooming fantasy that you can spend all summer getting lost in.— Melody Lau‘If I Can’t Have You,’ Shawn MendesWasting no time, this song hits you with the chorus right off the bat, as if to say, “You may as well learn it now; you know you’ll be singing it all summer.”center_img Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

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Notley says Kenney rail cancellation plan forgoes jobs leaves oil in ground

CALGARY, Alta. — Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the United Conservative Party’s budget plan will leave oil in the ground, limit job creation and cost the province $2.2 billion in royalties.Notley says UCP Leader Jason Kenney needs to account for lost revenue in his budget platform, since he would cancel the government’s plan to get more oil to market by leasing rail cars.Kenney has said the $3.7-billion lease deal doesn’t make financial sense.Notley will get a chance to put her concerns to Kenney directly in the leaders’ debate Thursday.Her campaign team has confirmed she will join three other party leaders in the televised forum.Voters go to the polls on April 16.Notley commented on Kenney’s budget plan Monday while in Calgary on Monday as the election campaign nears its midpoint.Notley told reporters the rail lease deal will move an additional 120,000 barrels a day.“Not only will this investment make a $2.2-billion profit for Albertans, it will help get people back to work,” she said.“It will help us get our production up so we can bring curtailment to an end sooner, and it will do so of course without affecting (rail) shipments of our agricultural goods.”Since the start of the year, Notley’s government has also mandated production cuts in oil for large producers to reduce a widening gap in prices that threatened layoffs or similar drastic industry countermeasures.The Canadian Press read more

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Senior UN official laments lack of progress in IsraeliPalestinian peace process

20 December 2011The realization of a two-State solution for Israelis and Palestinians has not advanced, with violent incidents erupting at a worrying rate over the past month, a senior United Nations official warned today. “As the year draws to a close, the situation on the ground is deteriorating and the path towards peace remains dangerously uncertain,” Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council during a monthly briefing on the situation in the Middle East.“We must not allow these negative dynamics to prevail – too much is at stake. Our challenge remains to assist the parties to overcome them,” he said, citing the need to de-escalate the situation, return to direct talks with serious proposals on borders and security, and to stop provocations.Direct talks stalled in late September last year after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.“The realization of the two-State solution has not advanced, eroding hopes and underscoring the urgent need for both sides to engage without further delay into serious substantive negotiations to resolve all permanent status issues,” said Mr. Fernandez-Taranco.The past month witnessed a series of developments that are cause for “continued serious concern,” he said, noting the announcement of several new settlement constructions, the demolition of 57 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, an increase in settler violence, and over 300 Israeli military operations in the West Bank.Gaza and southern Israel again witnessed “a dangerous deterioration” in the security situation, he added. During the reporting period, 45 projectiles were fired from Gaza into Israel, while the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted nine incursions and 13 air strikes.“We condemn in the strongest terms any indiscriminate firing of projectiles towards civilian areas and call on Israel to show maximum restraint,” Mr. Fernandez-Taranco stated.He added that efforts to help the parties resume direct talks continue, including recent meetings by the envoys of the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States – and Tony Blair with the parties. The envoys called on the parties to create a conducive environment for restarting talks, and urged both to refrain from provocative actions. “We continue to believe that de-escalation is necessary to facilitate the resumption of direct meaningful engagement between both sides,” said Mr. Fernandez-Taranco.He added that it is encouraging that, at their last meetings with the envoys, both the Israelis and the Palestinians, showed willingness to consider reciprocal actions that may help to reduce tensions. read more

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US to submit resolution backing Sri Lanka

The report by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council during its 30th session in Geneva next month. Biswal said that during her visit to Sri Lanka she had discussed the matter with the TNA and impressed on the need to work with the new government to address the issues.Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said that the international community will continue to keep the spotlight on Sri Lanka, no matter what happens in Geneva.He said the US recognizes the efforts being taken by the Sri Lankan Government to address the human rights issue and will not set a deadline to see results. However, he said that at the same time there are some immediate issues which the Government can address including returning land and releasing political prisoners. Biswal who just concluded a visit to Sri Lanka said that the resolution will be consensual and will be drafted following discussions with the Sri Lankan government once the contents of the report is known. The United States today said that it will be submitting a resolution in support of Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva even as the Council looks to discuss a highly critical report on alleged war crimes committed in the country.US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia, Nisha Biswal told reporters today that the matter had already been discussed with the international community as there is a need to give the new Sri Lankan government time to address the human rights concerns. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been calling for an international independent investigation on alleged war crimes said to have been committed during the final stages of the war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military.The US had supported such calls earlier but Biswal said that the new Government has shown promise of addressing the concerns through a domestic mechanism. He also said that in the past, the failure to meet commitments on the human rights issue had undermined confidence in a domestic process.While the new Government is expected to face a challenge to secure confidence in the domestic process, Malinowski said the US will not judge based on promises but on results. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Easwaran Rutnam read more

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