X-rays From Other Galaxies Could Emanate From Particles of Dark Matter

first_imgX-rays of a specific wavelength emanating from the hearts of nearby galaxies and galaxy clusters could be signs of particles of dark matter decaying in space, two independent teams of astronomers report. If that interpretation is correct, then dark matter could consist of strange particles called sterile neutrinos that weigh about 1/100 as much as an electron. However, some other researches are skeptical.For decades, astronomers and astrophysicists have thought that some sort of mysterious dark matter must provide the gravity that keeps individual galaxies from falling apart. In fact, the current standard model of cosmology indicates that a typical galaxy forms within a vast clump, or halo, of dark matter whose gravity keeps the stars from flying out into space. However, scientists do not know what dark matter is, as they have never detected it by any means other than sensing its gravity.Now, two teams report possible signs of dark matter particles revealing themselves in another way—by very, very slowly decaying into normal photons. Both groups relied on data from one of the most successful space observatories, the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton), which launched in December 1999 and is still taking data. Esra Bulbul, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues discovered x-rays of a specific energy—3.5 kiloelectron volts (keV)—shining from 73 galaxy clusters, including the Perseus cluster. The Harvard group also used data from NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory launched by NASA in July 1999, as it reports in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.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(*)Working independently, Alexey Boyarsky, a theoretical physicist at the Leiden Observatory of Leiden University in the Netherlands, and colleagues focused on the Andromeda galaxy and on the Perseus galaxy cluster, where they found such x-rays as well, as they report in a paper submitted to Physical Review Letters.X-rays of that energy do not correspond to any known x-ray “line” that could come from the ordinary excitation of atoms, the researchers say. “We could not match it with anything that would come from a thermal plasma,” says Maxim Markevitch of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a member of Bulbul’s group.Those unexplained x-rays could come from dark matter particles. In the 1990s, some theorists speculated that dark matter could consist of some kind “sterile neutrino,” a particle akin to the three types of neutrino that can be generated in the collisions of ordinary particles. (The sterile neutrino would be sterile because it could not be produced that way, but only when an ordinary neutrino morphs into a sterile one.) According to theorists, this sterile neutrino would have a mass in the keV range and would decay into an x-ray photon in the keV range and a normal neutrino. So the espied x-rays would have to emanate from sterile neutrinos weighing about 7 keV. Researchers had looked for radiation from galaxies before, but “its detection became only possible because the XMM had accumulated sufficient exposure time,” Boyarsky explains.One object both groups looked at is the Perseus cluster. The Leiden group focused on the outside, and the Harvard group focused on the center. The fact that the results were in accordance was encouraging. “The decay rates of the sterile neutrinos are consistent, and that was a striking finding, because … we were using completely different data sets,” Markevitch says. Both research groups, however, stress that it is too early to conclude that what they have seen is a glimpse of dark matter. One reason for caution is the low energy resolution of the XMM and Chandra detectors, which are charge-coupled devices (CCDs) a bit like the ones in digital cameras. “Because this line is so faint, and with this resolution the line is broadened so much that it appears like a 1% bump above the continuum,” Markevitch says. “We will have to wait for confirmation from other satellites,” he says.Kevork Abazajian, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the work, says the results are important. “I think it is a ‘smoking gun,’ but it has to be confirmed; at this point it cannot be explained by an astrophysical process,” Abazajian says.But not everyone is so sanguine. “Is this signal due to exotic physics like dark matter or conventional physics like astrophysical sources? It is too soon to tell,” says John Beacom, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, Columbus. Beacom also notes that many theorists favor schemes in which dark matter consists of much heavier weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. If evidence of WIMPs were to be found, it would weaken the case for keV-scale sterile neutrinos, he says.  Ultimately, the result may be tested by a new satellite. The Astro-H mission, a project by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will be equipped with calorimeters with 20 times better energy resolution than CCDs. With its superior resolution, it should be able to tell an astrophysical source from a dark matter signal, Boyarsky says. Astro-H should launch in 2015.last_img read more

Wanted to become Sachin Tendulkar but figured I had to create my own identity: Virender Sehwag

first_imgWhen Virender Sehwag stormed into the international scene almost 20 years ago, fans were awestruck with his uncanny resemblance to Sachin Tendulkar.The Nawab of Najafgargh, as Sehwag came to be known, had a stance similar to Tendulkar and some of his shots would make the Master Blaster proud.However, Sehwag soon carved his own neeche and in a career spanning the better part of two decades, he established several records. He became the first Indian to score a Test triple hundred and is the only Indian to score a second.Sehwag retired with 38 international hundreds and is widely regarded as one of the most destructive opening batsmen in the history of cricket.The 38-year-old Sehwag now serves as Kings XI Punjab’s Director of Cricket Operations and he has taken it upon himself to strengthen the mindset of the young batsmen in the team. KXIP are currently fifth in the IPL points table but there have been some awe-inspiring performances from their batsmen.Besides the usual suspects like Hashim Amla and Glenn Maxwell, young Indian Manan Vohra has impressed with his brute power. But Sehwag knows the dangers of a young batsman being surrounded by powerhouses of world cricket.Is there a danger that Vohra would want to bat like Sehwag or Maxwell? What does Viru tell him then?”I tell them only one thing. For example, Manan Vohra can bat like Manan Vohra only, not like Virender Sehwag or Glenn Maxwell.”A youngster needs to know his strengths and weakness; then it becomes easier to bat or bowl. I also wanted to become Sachin Tendulkar, but I quickly realised that I can’t be.advertisement”I couldn’t perform like him or play shots like him. I figured that I have to create my own identity and so I have to play like Virender Sehwag.”I tell them that you can learn from other players, but you can’t copy from them or be them. You can (only) be you,” Sehwag said.Vohra, 23, is one of KXIP’s brightest sparks. By Sehwag’s own admission, the team depends a lot on its overseas players but the young Indian talent has stood out with some sterling performances. The tear 2014 was a breakthrough one for him, when he scored 324 runs in eight matches.This year, Vohra has been in good touch too. His 95 against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad nearly got them across the line from a desperate situation.With Sehwag in their ranks, KXIP’s young recruits would be assured of quick wit and strong mindsets by the time they are ready to graduate to the next level.last_img read more

Lenovo K8 Note review: Two steps forward, one step back

first_imgThe K8 Note is a very exciting smartphone — it is not only Lenovo Mobile’s first big launch in India in quite a long time, it is also the first phone from the company’s stable to ditch the slow and heavy Vibe UI in favour of stock Android.Along with the pure build of Android, the smartphone comes with relatively top-of-the-line internals, a premium all-metal design, a dual-camera setup at the rear and some nifty features like Dolby ATMOS and splash resistance. All that for just Rs 12,999. On paper that sound pretty enticing.But does the K8 Note have what it takes to stand tall against some seriously heavyweight competition like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Moto G5 Plus and the Nokia 6? On paper, Lenovo has checked all the right boxes but does that translate to a superlative user experience? Are the dual cameras worth it or just a gimmick? Let’s find out.Classy, albeit a bit generic designThe Lenovo K8 note is crafted entirely out of series 5000 aluminum and looks quite sleek and premium, especially in the sublime Venom Black colour, which comes with a matte finish at the back. Unlike in the Moto G5 Plus and many other handsets in this price range, there is no trace of plastic to be found on the K8 Note.While the design will not win any awards for originality and looks a tad generic from certain angles, it is quite elegant and classy. There are no gaudy finishes to be found here — everything is very tastefully done.  What might put some people off though is the fact that the smartphone is a bit too wide, which along with the substantial top and bottom bezels make it a bit cumbersome to use with one hand.advertisementThe all-glass front is covered by 2.5D Gorilla Glass which enhances the in-hand feel and also protects against nicks and scratches. At the rear, the overall look is very clean with a subtle Lenovo logo in the lower half of the back panel and a vertically mounted dual camera setup and fingerprint sensor at the top.The smartphone comes with three separate slots for your microSD card and two SIM cards — no Hybrid SIM funny business going on here. The K8 Note also comes with a dedicated Music Key on the right edge which can be used to control music playback as well as reconfigured to turn on the flashlight or open any third party application.The Lenovo K8 note is crafted entirely out of aluminum and looks quite sleek and premium, especially in the sublime Venom Black colourWhile brownie points must be given to Lenovo for not going the Samsung way and making the key locked to a specific function (Bixby button), the implementation of the Music Key is a bit lacking. Currently, the key does absolutely nothing at all on a single press. You have to long press it to play/pause (which can also be reconfigured ), double click it to skip a track and triple click it to go to the previous track. The ideal implementation would have been — single press to play/pause and leave long press as a customisable function. This is something obviously done with software so chances are that Lenovo may fix it in future, depending on user feedback.All in all, in a day and age of smartphones sporting loud and over the top designs in a bid to stand out from the crowd, the K8 Note looks suave and classy, especially in the Venom Black color.Adequate display for the priceThe Lenovo K8 Note comes with a 5.5-inch fullHD IPS LCD display, which is fairly decent for the price. The colours are nice and punchy, viewing angles are on point and it’s nice to see Lenovo not skimp out and equip the K8 Note with a 720p panel.Even though Lenovo claims the display has 450 Nits of brightness, I found the maximum brightness lacking. As a result, the sunlight legibility of the display too is not that great. During indoor use, however, the screen is fairly good.As the K8 Note is a multimedia focused smartphone, it comes with a few tricks up its sleeve like Dolby ATMOS (available only with wired headphones) and Theatre MAX 2.0. While Dolby ATMOS does provide a nice surround sound effect, audio purists may find it a tad artificial and synthetic. Theatre MAX 2.0 is actually pretty cool — it basically splits the screen into two halves and makes it look like you are watching content on a large theatre like screen (when viewed through a VR headset).advertisementFast stock Android but with some bugsThe most talked about feature of the Lenovo K8 Note is the fact that the smartphone runs a near stock build of Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box. After years of equipping their smartphones with a heavily skinned and bloat-ridden version of Android in the form of Vibe UI, this is a refreshing and much needed change from Lenovo.In day to day use, the K8 Note feels like someone has crammed Motorola’s software inside a Lenovo smartphone, which is not that surprising given the fact that Lenovo and Moto brands are owned by same company. Apart from Moto’s suite of applications and their trademark gestures like karate chop to turn on the flashlight, the software on the K8 Note is exactly the same as that you will find on a current generation Motorola smartphone. Even Moto’s custom icons and their trademark clock widget are present on the K8 Note.Stock Android does make a difference in day to day to use. Paired with the fairly powerful internals, the smartphone is zippy and strums along nicely without any major lags and slowdowns. It is surely  an improvement over Vibe UI and a step in the right direction for Lenovo.However, I did witness some bugs and app crashes throughout my 8-plus days of usage. Bugs included the Wi-Fi getting disconnected arbitrarily, the settings pane freezing up and so on.Also, in a move very uncharacteristic of stock Android — Lenovo has bundled an app called Protect which keeps on sending annoying notifications that cannot be dismissed. Lenovo’s own Help app also commits that same sin. These small, but significant, niggles take away from the soul of stock Android which is supposed to be a irritation and bloat-free free affair.Whether the K8 Note will receive Android updates in a timely manner is a question that can only be answered with time. The previous record of Lenovo has not been great on this account. But this time Lenovo is making some commitment to provide better updates. A Lenovo representative did tell me that the K8 Note will be updated to Android O but the proof of the pudding will be in eating it. Lenovo does claim that the move to a common software platform (stock Android) will help them provide better support and efficient updates. So hopefully the K8 Note will buck the trend and receive updates on time.Quite fast, a little hotThe K8 Note is powered by the deca-core Helio X23 processor paired with 3/4GB of RAM and the Mali T880 GPU. The smartphone comes with 32/64 GB of internal storage which can be expanded via a microSD card (of up to128GB). On paper, the smartphone comes off as a specification monster. A 10-core processor for Rs 12,999?Well, reality is a bit more complicated than that. The smartphone is quite fast — make no bones about that. The K8 Note is not a slow or sluggish phone by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is not faster or better in any way than other handsets running on technically “slower” Snapdragon 625 chipsets out there.advertisementWhile the primary 13MP camera is above average and produces images with fair amount of detail and dynamic range, the secondary 5MP sensor is sub-standardThe K8 Note performs quite well in day to day tasks like web browsing, using social media apps, taking occasional pictures and so on but does not blitz through them like its benchmark numbers suggest — there is the occasional lag or stutter that peeps in every now and then. When pushed, the smartphone performs admirably enough, though some minor lag is evident. Where the K8 Note disappoints is when it come to heat dissipation — it heats even with moderate use.Gaming performance is great though. The device handles intensive titles like Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5 fairly well without any frame rate drops to speak of. As expected, casual games like Subway Surfers and Candy Crush Saga are handled with aplomb.Average battery lifePowering the K8 Note is a 4,000mAh battery, which the company claims is good for one full day of intensive use. I got quite inconsistent results from the K8 Note in terms of battery life. There were days when the smartphone died on me before I even reached home from work (between 7pm- 8pm). On the other hand, there were days when the smartphone lasted me till the night ( 12-1 AM). Whatever the case, one thing is for sure, you will not get more than one day of use out of the Lenovo K8 Note, even with moderate use.This is decent battery life, but nothing more. In other words, it will be prudent to charge the phone at least once more in evening when you get time. In old days, this would have been good enough battery life. But nowadays we have phones that easily offer more than a day’s battery life. Sadly, the K8 Note is not one of them.Good primary camera, bad portraitsThe K8 Note is the first smartphone from Lenovo to come with a dual camera setup at the back. There is a 13MP primary Pure Cel sensor mated to a secondary 5MP sensor. Both have an aperture of f/2.0 and allow for the capture of images with depth of field effects.While the primary camera is above average and produces images with fair amount of detail and dynamic range in well-lit scenarios, the secondary sensor is sub-standard. In the ‘Depth Enabled’ mode, the camera really struggles to capture focus and the bokeh effect and the resultant images looks artificial and slightly tacked on.There is a lot of blurring and loss of detail around the edges of the subject whilst taking a bokeh shot, especially in the highest f/1.2 setting. At lower settings, the bokeh effect looks decent, but not spectacular. Now, some of this blurring and focus issues are natural because when a very wide aperture (such as F1.2 or F1.4) is used these issues crop up even in proper high-end DSLR cameras. But given the fact that this phone is meant for regular users, who may not be aware of how apertures work, Lenovo should have got the software right. XPreviousNextIt is also possible that in future updates Lenovo will fix this. May be they can remove the F1.2 portrait mode setting, so that users don’t use it and expect to get razor sharp images. Or maybe they can fine tune the software in some other way. But currently the portrait mode is somewhat unusable.The primary camera is a much better proposition. It produces good images in well lit scenarios. The shots have natural colors, good, dynamic range and are well exposed. In low-light, while the images are not as good as the Moto G5 Plus, they are quite respectable and not muddy. Noise is also controlled.Unlike the dual camera implementation found on smartphones such as the Honor 6X, where the secondary camera helps capture better low light shots, the secondary sensor on the K8 Note provides no benefit in the daily ‘Normal’ mode.On the front, there is a 13MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 which produces decent shots in well lit scenarios with natural colours and good detail but struggles in low light. The front sensor also has a single-LED flash which Lenovo calls ‘Party Flash’ which should help attract selfie fans.Should you buy the K8 Note?The Lenovo K8 Note is a step in the right direction for Lenovo. Ditching Vibe UI for stock Android was the best thing the company could have done. The K8 Note is a device which is built well, looks great, is fairly fast, comes with stock Android and has a pretty decent primary rear camera.However, the bugs, heating, imperfect portrait mode and average battery life let it down somewhat. The mid-range is a very cut throat segment which has a lot of competition. With the K8 Note, Lenovo has done enough to earn a place in this high-stakes arena. But to stand on the top of the heap, the company will have to do more.If fast performance, stock Android and great build quality are your thing, the K8 Note will make for an attractive proposition. Also, the Rs 12,999 variant offers good value for money. That is the variant you should buy. However, if are considering the Rs 13,999 model, the Moto G5 Plus offers quite a better overall experience for just a little more money.Lenovo K8 Note7.5/10Good stuffDesign, build qualityGood primary cameraZippy stock AndroidBad stuffSecond camera not usefulAverage battery lifeSome heating, software bugslast_img read more

Imran Tahir knows how to bowl in every condition: Rahul Chahar admires CSK spinner

first_imgAs a child, Rahul Chahar idolized legendary Australian leg spinner Shane Warne but now the Mumbai Indians wrist spinner admires Chennai Super Kings’ Imran Tahir and consults the wily South African bowler for help when the need arises.”When I was a kid, I would follow (Shane) Warne. Now, it’s Imran Tahir. He brings in variation and, no matter how the wicket or the conditions are, he generates turn. He knows how to bowl in every condition,” said Chahar, who has picked up 10 wickets in the IPL so far, on the eve of MI’s final league match against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.Chahar, whose first cousin Deepak plays for reigning champions Chennai Super Kings, said he seeks advice from Tahir whenever he had a problem in his bowling.”I have his contact number. Whenever I have a problem, I call him up and he guides me. He always helps me. When I went to England with the India U-19 team (in 2017), I did not know how to deliver in those conditions. It is difficult to grip the ball there, and he told me to put some sand and tackle the situation,” recalled Chahar, seen as a future India prospect.Chahar also recalled how former India pacer Zaheer Khan, MI’s director of cricket operations, guided him when he faces difficulties.”After the first three matches, there was some problem with my delivery. Zaheer Sir got me to the nets and told me how to get the right turn on the ball,” said Chahar.advertisementIt was on his cousin Deepak’s advice that he took up leg-spin bowling, Chahar said.”I did not have so much talent or strength to be a fast bowler. ‘Bhaiya’ (brother) only suggested that I start to bowl leg spin,” said Chahar when asked how he took to wrist spin while Deepak was a pace bowler.Chahar said playing for Mumbai Indians was his dream and representing the three-time IPL champions was like playing for India.”When I was a kid, my dream was to play for Mumbai Indians. When I debuted for Mumbai Indians for the first time, it was a great feeling — something that you get while donning the India jersey as well,” he said.Off-spinner Jayant Yadav, who was also present at the media conference, said that he was not presently eyeing a spot in the Indian Test team after having played in the longest form of the game against England in 2016 here where he also scored a hundred.He went out of the team after picking up an injury and has not regained his spot.”Injuries happen and you don’t have any control over it as a player. I think it’s more about the process – how you have got there in the first place and taking every tournament and every season as it comes,” he said.Left-arm spinner Anukul Roy, who was also present, pointed out his progress in the MI ranks from a reserve player last year to make his debut this season.”This year I made my debut after being in the team last year (without playing a game). This year, following my debut I learned a lot and got experience,” said Roy, who plays for Jharkhand in the domestic circuit and was the joint highest wicket-taker in the 2018 U-19 World Cup won by India.Also Read | Deepak and Rahul Chahar: Brothers separated by fate, united by one dreamAlso Read | IPL 2019: Started learning from Shane Warne when I was 8, says Rahul Chaharlast_img read more

IPL 2019: Time away from the game is helping me now, says World Cup-bound Hardik Pandya

first_img graphs commentary IPL 2019: Time away from the game is helping me now, says World Cup-bound Hardik PandyaHardik Pandya, who was suspended by the BCCI over controversial comments during his appearance in a TV show, has roared back to form in IPL 2019 with some consistent performances with the bat for Mumbai Indians.  advertisement view more view lesscenter_img No data available! scorecard Rasesh Mandani MumbaiApril 16, 2019UPDATED: April 16, 2019 09:47 IST IPL 2019: Hardik Pandya’s late cameo helped MI beat RCB by 5 wickets on Monday ( Courtesy by BCCI)HIGHLIGHTSHardik Pandya smashed a 16-ball 37 not out to help MI beat RCB on MondayHardik Pandya said it’s important for him to maintain form in the lead up to his maiden World Cup appearanceHardik Pandya was named in India’s 15-man squad for the World Cup announced on MondayHardik Pandya’s 21 runs of Pawan Negi’s 19th over for Mumbai Indians to overcome a tricky chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League 2019 match on Monday was yet another instance of the all rounder’s unmatched ability to finish games. This was the fifth instance in this IPL that Hardik’s ability to up the ante in a short burst proved decisive.Pandya’s ability to switch gears at will towards the end overs is going to be crucial for India at the 2019 World Cup. The Mumbai Indians all-rounder was named in the 15-man squad announced on Monday in Mumbai. Add his bowling ability and genuine all-round skills, Hardik becomes a crucial match-winning resource in India’s World Cup team.Important to keep hitting the ball well in the lead up to World Cup: HardikApproaching his first World Cup, Hardik wants to keep it ticking. “It’s pretty important to keep hitting the ball well because the World Cup is a big stage. This is the first time I will be playing. I was out of the game for some time and it was important to keep hitting,” he spoke in Mumbai after the win against RCB.Playing down his success ratio of finding and clearing the boundary in pressure situations, Hardik says that’s precisely his role. “I have been doing this for the past four years now. That’s my role for any team that I play for. I practice the same thing in nets. It’s all about handling situations and if you are smart enough then more often, you will get the result that you desire,” he said.advertisementTime away gave some time for my body and game: HardikA brief period of suspension and the criticism that followed could have easily bogged down another player. Not Hardik. The in-form all-rounder has come back strong from the Koffee With Karan controversy that cast doubts on his international cricket future.Asked about learning lessons from the enforced break, Hardik replied dismissively, “Nothing it’s ok. Everyone has a setback and I got to improve.”A more considered and remorseful stance would have earned him some brownie points but that’s not his personality.”It gave some time for my body and game. And the time I was out is helping me right now. I am in good mind space and everything is coming right,” he added.This will be his first brush with a 50-over World Cup but Hardik has played long enough at the highest level and was part of a World T20 at home and Champions Trophy in England, two years back. It’s with those lessons from the good and bad from India’s Champions trophy campaign that Hardik is looking to improve.”Learnings are a lot. It’s (Champions trophy) in the past and as a cricketer I have changed. But the conditions (in World Cup) we will have to see because the last time people told me that it will be swinging and it will be cold and I realised, I hadn’t played on such flat wickets before. So it depends on the conditions and situations that we play in. If it’s the same as it was last time in Champions trophy, it will be a help,” he said.Hardik said he wanted to continue what he has been doing for this long in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup. Simply put, he doesn’t want to complicate things.”Cricket is the same whether it’s the World Cup or IPL. I have always followed my basics and that’s what has got success for me and I will keep backing myself that way,” he said.Also Read | RCB didn’t bowl well in the Powerplay: Hardik Pandya after MI winAlso Read | MI vs RCB Highlights, IPL 2019: Mumbai crush Bangalore by 5 wicketsAlso See:For sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byAkshay Ramesh Tags :Follow Hardik PandyaFollow Mumbai IndiansFollow IPL 2019Follow Pawan NegiFollow Koffee With KaranFollow 2019 World CupFollow Royal Challengers Bangalorelast_img read more

9 of 20 Shipping Majors Will Disappear by End of 2018

first_imgzoom The CEO of Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s fifth-largest container shipping company, expects consolidation in the sector to continue this year, further reducing the number of largest shipping firms as they merge their businesses.Talking to the reporters in Hamburg on Wednesday, Rolf Habben Jansen said that the consolidation drive will result in nine of the former 20 largest shipping companies from five years ago to disappear by the end of 2018, Reuters reports.Hapag-Lloyd, fresh from completing the integration of its business with UAE-based liner shipping company United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), expects to reap a major portion of the gains from the deal this year.According to Jansen, the company could achieve 85 to 90 percent of targeted annual synergies of USD 435 million this year and 100 percent from 2019.Furthermore, the company expects its full-year earnings for 2017 to be higher than previously announced.2018 seems to be on the right track, with charter rates on the rise and lower size of the idle fleet. However, further pressure is expected from containership deliveries set to join the global fleet this year.The total boxship capacity set for delivery in 2018 is expected to reach 1.5 million TEU in 2018, according to the figures from Alphaliner. More than half of these deliveries will be made up of ULCVs ranging from 14,000 to 21,000 TEU.Hence, Hapag-Lloyd’s CEO anticipates transport demand growth to reach 4.5 percent in 2018 and more than 4 percent in 2019.Since integration with UASC provided Hapag-Lloyd with modern tonnage influx, the company has no need of ordering newbuilds and can dedicate its focus on bolstering its financial structure and cutting debt.In October 2017, the German liner company raised USD 414 million in gross proceeds from its capital increase scheme, which was agreed upon as part of the merger with UASC.Hapag-Lloyd said it would use the proceeds primarily to pay back its debts as well as for general corporate purposes.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more

Ulstein Lays Keel for Lindblad Expeditions First Polar Ship

first_imgzoom Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein has held a keel laying ceremony for Lindblad Expeditions Holdings’ first polar newbuild.The keel laying took place at the CRIST shipyard in Gdynia, Poland,  on March 17, 2018, and served as the official naming ceremony of the line’s latest addition to the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet. “We are thrilled to announce the name of our new polar ship: National Geographic Endurance, due for delivery in the first quarter of 2020,” Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, announced at the ceremony.The order, placed in November 2017, includes an option for two additional vessels to be delivered after 2020.The 126-passenger polar vessel has been designed as the ultimate expedition platform with a focus on safety and comfort, as well as incorporating innovative sustainability solutions to reduce its environmental impact, according to Ulstein.A core feature is Ulstein’s X-BOW®, a bow that provides fuel efficiency and a very high ice class for access deep into polar regions. The ship’s expanded fuel and water tanks provide for extended operations in remote areas, while the zero-speed stabilizers will ensure stability, whether at zero speed or full steam ahead, as explained by the shipbuilder. “A Polar Class 5 rating gives us the ability to operate the ship freely at any time of year in polar environments vastly expanding our polar range. This means we can explore deeper into the pack ice, or further north to the unexplored reaches of the arctic,” Lindblad added.last_img read more

Airtel Africa crosses 100 million subscribers base

first_imgNew Delhi: Africa arm of Bharti Airtel, which operates across 14 countries, on Wednesday said it has crossed the 100-million customers mark. Airtel Africa claims to be the second-largest mobile operator in Africa in terms of number of active subscribers. “Airtel Africa has crossed the 100-million subscriber mark. The positive momentum we have seen in customer acquisition further underpins our medium-term aspirations for revenue and profit growth,” Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer of Airtel Africa, said in a statement. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The growth in the Africa market mitigates the impact of challenge that the company is facing in India. From peak customer base of around 381 million in June 2017, subscriber base of Bharti Airtel has now dipped to 324 million in two years. During the same period, it gained around 20 million new customers in Africa operations. “Airtel Africa’s footprint is characterised by low but increasing mobile connectivity, with a unique user penetration at 43 per cent, highlighting the potential for growth across its footprint,” the statement said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost The company said a combination of an under-penetrated telecom market, a young addressable population and rising smartphone affordability, along with low data penetration and an underbanked population, will drive the growth opportunities for the data and mobile money segments moving forward in Africa. “Airtel Africa’s footprint is characterised by low but increasing mobile connectivity, with a unique user penetration at 43 per cent, highlighting the potential for growth across its footprint,” the statement said.last_img read more

More seniors filing for insolvency with bigger debts than young report says

OTTAWA — A new report says seniors and those approaching retirement are making up a growing proportion of those filing for insolvency in Ontario and have bigger debts compared with younger people.According to a review of 6,000 insolvency filings in 2013 and 2014, the share of debtors aged 50 and over increased to 30 per cent compared with 27 per cent in the previous two-year period.The report by bankruptcy trustee firm Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc. found seniors and pre-retirement debtors have accumulated the highest unsecured debt load among all age groups.On average, debtors 50 and older filing for insolvency had $68,677 in unsecured debt, while those over 60 had total unsecured debt of $69,031.That compared with an overall average of $56,545 in unsecured debt for those filing for insolvency.Almost one in five Ontario residents are technically insolvent, poll finds‘We’re not prepared’: Health care shockers threaten your retirement read more

Enbridge plans new diluent pipeline in northern Alberta with 1B price tag

by The Canadian Press Posted Oct 1, 2013 12:31 pm MDT Enbridge plans new diluent pipeline in northern Alberta with $1B price tag CALGARY – Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) is planning to build a new pipeline to bring diluent — used to thin-out oilsands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines — to industry players in northern Alberta.The company envisions a 200,000-barrel-per-day conduit with a price tag of $1 billion, said Vern Yu, senior vice-president of business and market development. Depending on how keen the industry is on the pipeline, it could be expanded to 300,000 barrels per day.Traditionally, oilsands producers have used pipelines dedicated to each of their projects to bring in diluent, Yu told Enbridge’s investor day in Toronto.Enbridge is now looking at an industry-wide approach with its Norlite project.“What we’ve found is that being able to offer an industry solution, we are able to offer lower tolls to our customers,” Yu said.“So we’re pretty much at the final stages of getting commercial support with a few anchor shippers to make a project go forward…We hope to finalize these commercial discussions in the next few months and be able to formally announce the project.”Enbridge is the dominant Alberta crude shipper, transporting more than one million barrels a day from the Fort McMurray, Alta., area to market hubs in Edmonton and Hardisty, Alta. along its Athabasca and Waupisoo pipelines.Projects are in the works to nearly double that capacity, and Yu said he expects Enbridge will have enough commercial support to build another pipeline to Edmonton and another one to Hardisty by latter part of this decade. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

As the loonie falls professional sports teams in Canada feel the squeeze

by Peter Henderson, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 16, 2015 2:50 pm MDT Last Updated Jul 16, 2015 at 4:10 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Professional sports teams in Canada are facing the prospect of being priced out of the competition as the Canadian dollar flirts with values not seen in more than half a decade.Canada’s NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball franchises pay their players in American dollars but collect most of their revenue in Canadian currency, so the loonie’s drop on Thursday to 77.10 cents U.S. puts a strain on their bottom line.Economist Glen Hodgson wrote a book on the business of professional sports, and he says the exchange rate is one of the biggest concerns for professional sports teams in Canada.“It’s going to cost them more and more,” he said.In the mid-1990s, when the Canadian dollar was worth less than 75 cents U.S., the country lost multiple franchises as the Quebec Nordiques, Montreal Expos and Winnipeg Jets all moved south.The reasons behind each move varied, Hodgson said, but the exchange rate was a factor and expedited each franchise’s exit.“Even if the Nordiques were selling out, they had to make $1.40 for every U.S. dollar of salary,” he said. “That added a huge cost burden to those franchises to the point where it just wasn’t sustainable.”Although the relationship between payroll and performance isn’t perfect, Hodgson said, teams have to pay their best players and attract high-value free agents if they want to remain competitive and retain the interest of fans.Professional teams in big cities with broad support such as the Toronto Raptors or the Montreal Canadiens will be able to weather the storm, Hodgson said, but those in smaller markets such as the Ottawa Senators or the resurrected Winnipeg Jets could have a harder time.“The danger is if you don’t draw, you can’t pay, you can’t attract the good players,” he said. “It can become a negative feedback loop.”Richard Peddie, the former president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said the gap in exchange rates can add up to millions in losses for a team. Coaches and general managers are often paid in U.S. dollars too, he added.Still, Peddie said the poor exchange rate for the Canadian dollar won’t prevent teams from pursuing players or coaches if they really feel the additions are necessary.“The owners are not going to like what it does to the bottom line, but they want to win,” he said.Winnipeg Jets spokesman Scott Brown says that while the dollar’s slide hurts the team’s business, it’s not as important as it’s made out to be.“While it’s not great on the overall business as you could imagine, it’s not as bad as people might think,” he said.The team hedges itself against the risk from falling exchange rates, Brown said, although he did not elaborate. He said such measures are routine.“It’s something that we’ve done in the past and we’ve done this time,” he said. “It’s protected us in this situation.”Hodgson said while the exchange rate may be of greater concern to teams now than it was two years ago, they can survive.“Most franchises can find a way through this,” he said. “They just have to be clever.” As the loonie falls, professional sports teams in Canada feel the squeeze read more

3 Ohio State womens volleyball players recognized for outstanding play

At the end of the regular season, No. 14 Ohio State women’s volleyball team didn’t just earn an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, but three Buckeyes were also recognized for their spectacular play on the court as well. Leading their team to a 22-10 overall record, with a 13-7 record in the Big Ten, senior outside hitters Mari Hole and Emily Danks, along with junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary earned All-Big Ten honors as the league announced on Tuesday. Hole was one of the eight players that were voted unanimous All-Big Ten selections, while her teammates were awarded All-Big Ten honorable mention. For the second time in her career with OSU, Norway product Hole snagged All-Big Ten honor by being one of the best hitters in the country. She led her team with a 4.36 kills per set average in her conference that is the second best among all Big Ten student-athletes. Danks aced her way to her second All-Big Ten honorable mention honor by being one of the best in serving up aces. Against Big Ten opponents, Danks totaled 29 aces and led her team with 62 blocks. In a breakout season for the Parma, Ohio, product, Leary captured her first Big Ten honor as she finished second on her team with a 3.20 kills average against teams within her conference. She ended up with 243 kills for the year. The Buckeyes will continue their season into the 2012 NCAA Tournament, as they will face Notre Dame on Friday at Lexington, Ky. Tip-off for the game will start at 5 p.m. ET. read more

Shrunken heads at Oxford museum could disappear

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. Shrunken human heads, complete with skin and hair, were made by the Shuar and Achuar people of Ecuador and Peru up until the 1960s.The practice of preparing the heads, known as tsantsas, originally had a religious significance for a number of tribes in the Amazon rainforest.Shrinking an enemy’s head was thought to harness the spirit of the enemy and prevent the soul from avenging his death. However demand for the heads increased as they became popular with European collectors, losing some of their spiritual significance and leading to many fakes being produced.In 1999, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC repatriated the shrunken heads in its collection to Ecuador.The tsantsas are the most famous objects in the Pitt Rivers Museum’s collection, with the first question asked by visitors often being where they can find the shrunken heads.Mrs Van Broekhoven said: “There will be a period of consultation with the Shuar but for now the display will stay as it is.”She told The Art Newspaper: “If we conclude it is inappropriate to show the tsantsas, they might be taken off display. So far, we have no indication that this is the case. But all options are on the table. “In other museums Shuar representatives have indicated they were not happy about the way the heads were being represented in the museum.“Their concerns are whether there is a proper understanding of the way this elaborate leather making of human skin into a ceremonial object was done, and that it no longer is done today.”Ms Van Broekhoven said one solution might be to improve the display material explaining the significance of the heads and the part they played in the cultural and spiritual life of the Shuar and Achuar people.She added: “We are looking at research of audiences’ cross cultural understanding: when people are standing in front of this display case do they understand the significance of the shrunken heads? The display may not be communicating properly the importance of the shrunken heads.“Some of the words people use when standing in front of the display are quite shocking, such as ‘bizarre’, ‘gruesome’, barbaric, ‘freak show’, words they would not use to describe the ornate Shuar canoe hanging from the ceiling above the shrunken heads.“It may be a case of adding a message or a display in the case to help people understand more about what they are looking at.” A collection of shrunken heads which has for decades enthralled adults and children alike may be removed from an Oxford museum following complaints by an indigenous South American people.The Pitt Rivers Museum is in discussion with representatives of the Shuar people of the Amazon rainforest over the future of the shrunken heads, regarded by the tribe as having deep religious significance.Curators at the museum, where the seven human heads have been displayed since the 1940s, said talks were prompted after visitors complained the heads as a “freak show”.Officials hope to reach an agreement with the Shuar that would allow them to continue to show the heads by emphasising their cultural significance.But two scalps previously displayed in the same glass case, labelled Treatment of Dead Enemies, have already been removed and placed in storage following complaints by Native American communities who felt the display misrepresented their traditions.Laura Van Broekhoven, director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, said: “We know the collection of heads is cherished by many, but there are also many people who feel uncomfortable with it.“There are questions about whether human remains should be on display.“We are undertaking a project with Shuar representatives and the San Francisco University in Quito to see how they feel about the way their culture is being represented in the shrunken heads display. read more

Indice de masse corporelle calculezle gratuitement en thalasso les 21 et 22

first_imgIndice de masse corporelle : calculez-le gratuitement en thalasso les 21 et 22 mai prochainFrance – Les 21 et 22 mai prochain, les personnes intéressées pourront profiter d’un bilan gratuit de leur indice de masse corporelle (IMC) proposé par la Chaîne thermale du soleil.Quinze stations de la Chaîne thermale du soleil proposeront un bilan IMC gratuit lors de journées portes ouvertes les 21 et 22 mai prochain, à l’occasion de la journée européenne de l’obésité. Seront également au programme : des cours de fitness en plein air et en musique, des randonnées, des pique-niques ou des apéritifs diététiques.Des conférences auront également lieu afin de sensibiliser la population au problème de l’obésité, et lui faire part des bienfaits du thermalisme sur la santé. Les intéressés peuvent se rendre sur le site www.chainethermale.fr afin de connaître la liste des stations thermales participant à cette journée portes ouvertes.Le 29 avril 2010 à 13:02 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

Texas Awards 14M to Four Communities to Ward off BRAC

first_imgThe Texas Military Preparedness Commission last week awarded $14.1 million to four Texas communities for projects intended to bolster the standing of local installations in a future round of base closure, covering needs such as security enhancements and a new air traffic control tower.The awards stand out as state lawmakers had not allocated any funding over the past six years for its Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant program. Last week’s awards will be followed on March 31 by a new batch of grants totaling almost $16 million, the amount leftover from the Legislature’s $30 million appropriation for the fiscal 2016-2017 biennium.“[This initiative] sends a strong signal to our local military and to the Department of Defense that says Texas is serious about its military installations and increasing the military value of its installations, and this is one action that delineates that,” said Bob Murdock, director of San Antonio’s Office of Military Affairs.San Antonio received the largest award, $5 million for a project that will connect the area’s military installations to an alternative water source.Val Verde County and the city of Del Rio will receive $4.3 million to construct a security control center at Laughlin Air Force Base’s main entrance that will correct numerous security and logistical challenges.“This grant is crucial in order for Laughlin to uphold the highest level of security and protection for the over 4,000 military personnel on the base,” Rep. Will Hurd (R) said in a press release. “This award not only strengthens Laughlin and the community, it ensures that future generations of student pilots and base personnel are provided the security they need to continue training those who serve in the best Air Force anywhere on the globe,” Hurd said.Wichita Falls’ $1.75 million award also will go toward improving security at an installation’s main gate; in this case, by improving the appearance of the streetscape outside the main entrance to Sheppard AFB. Under a project with a total cost of $3.5 million, the city will acquire and demolish abandoned properties near the gate, and also build transit and welcome centers.City manager Darron Leiker credited Wichita Falls’ award to its pledge to provide at least a 50 percent local match to the state grant.The city of Houston was awarded $3.1 million to construct a new air traffic control tower at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, a project intended to bolster the installation’s ability to operate missions that protect the region from aerial attack.“With all the refineries and chemical plants around the Port of Houston, we’ve got major national security assets in the Houston area that really need to be protected,” John Martinec, chairman of the Ellington Field Task Force, told the Texas Tribune in August. Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

Norwester ruins evening Baishakh celebration

first_imgUNB File PhotoRevellers of Pahela Baishakh in the evening could not enjoy programmes in the city’s different parts due to suddenly inclement weather.A nor’wester coupled with a hailstorm swept the capital that experienced 30mm of rainfall in two hours till 6pm, UNB reports quoting the Dhaka Met office.The rain disrupted outdoor celebrations of Pahela Baishakh in most parts of the city, according to witnesses.The rain was accompanied by hailstorm in a number of areas.The celebrators who came out to enjoy had to leave the venues of programmes and many of them remained stranded at different parts of the city.In Dhaka University areas, they took shelter in in TSC, DU Central Library, Ducsu cafeteria, Arts Building and Social Science Building.Many events, including concerts, were also cancelled due to rain.Rain was also recorded in Srimangal of Moulvibazar and Mymensingh, according to the met office.It also forecast rain or thunder showers with temporary gusty or squally wind with lightning at a few places over Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions and at one or two places over Rajshahi, Rangpur, Dhaka, Khulna, Barisal and Chattogram divisions with hails at isolated places over the country in the 24 hours till 6pm on Sunday.last_img read more

59 pilgrims killed in twin Damascus bombs blast

first_imgSyrian security forces, forensics and locals gather at the scene of a twin bombing targeting Shiite pilgrims in Damascus’ Old City in one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital. Photo: AFPTwin bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims killed 59 people in Damascus on Saturday, most of them Iraqis, a monitoring group said of one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital.There have been periodic bombings in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed by and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shiite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.The explosions killed 47 pilgrims, most of them Iraqi Shiites, and 12 Syrian pro-government fighters, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.“There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” he told AFP.Syrian state television said 40 people were killed and 120 wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs”.It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some charred and peppered with shrapnel.Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs lay scattered on ground covered in blood.Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities”.“The sole aim was to kill,” he said.The Iraqi foreign ministry said around 40 of its nationals were among the dead and 120 among the wounded.A witness told AFP that the second bomb exploded as passers-by gathered at the scene of the first attack, and state television said a booby-trapped motorcycle was defused nearby.There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Frequent targetShiite shrines are a frequent target of attack for Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (IS), not only in Syria but also in neighbouring Iraq.The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned “the cowardly terrorist attack which comes in response to victories of the Syrian Arab Army” against jihadists.The Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum to the south of Damascus, Syria’s most visited Shiite pilgrimage site, has been hit by several deadly bombings during the war.Twin suicide bombings in the high-security Kafr Sousa district of the capital in January killed 10 people, eight of them soldiers.That attack was claimed by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, which said that it had targeted Russian military advisers working with the Syrian army.It was widely seen as an attempt to disrupt UN-brokered peace talks that took place the following month and which to Fateh al-Sham’s anger were supported by its former Islamist rebel ally Ahrar al-Sham.UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has called a new round of talks for March 23.Fateh al-Sham has been repeatedly bombed in its northwestern stronghold this year, not only by the Syrian army and its Russian ally but also by a US-led coalition battling IS in both Syria and Iraq.The rift over the UN-brokered talks between the rebels and the government has also seen deadly clashes between jihadists and their former Islamist rebel allies.The two groups had together seized virtually all of the northwestern province of Idlib but are now vying for territorial control.Mass graveIn Baghdad, the foreign ministry blamed the Damascus attack on “takfiri groups”, referring to Sunni extremists.The bombings could provide the impetus for increased Iraqi strikes against IS in Syria, which Baghdad has already carried out near the border.Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake Mosul—the last IS-held city in Iraq—in October.They recaptured its eastern side and now have their sights set on its more densely populated west.Iraqi paramilitary forces said Saturday they had discovered a mass grave at Badush prison near Mosul containing the remains of hundreds of people executed by IS.The jihadists reportedly killed up to 600 people after seizing Badush in 2014.In northern Syria, Raqa, the de facto IS capital, is under threat from advancing Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces as well as Syrian government troops supported by Russia.Three hundred families of foreign IS fighters have fled the city in 24 hours on boats across the Euphrates River to the south, the Observatory said Saturday.Assad said in an interview broadcast Saturday that recapturing Raqa was a “priority” for his forces.While bomb attacks are rare in Damascus, the capital has been the target of shelling by rebels who hold areas on the outskirts.The deadliest bombing around Damascus targeted the Sayyida Zeinab shrine in February 2016, costing 134 lives, in an attack claimed by IS.last_img read more

The Trump Administration Is Not Keeping Its Promises To AsylumSeekers Who Come

first_img Share Reynaldo Leal for The Texas TribuneJavier Alejandro Vindel-Rodriguez on the Brownsville Express International Bridge, where U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents deterred asylum seekers like his family from crossing the border.In the weeks since President Donald Trump’s now-rescinded family separation policy created chaos and confusion across the country, the messages from his administration and prominent Republican members of Congress have been clear: Seek asylum legally at official ports of entry, and you won’t lose your kids. There may be armed Customs and Border Protection agents standing at the halfway points of bridges — but simply wait a few days, declare to them that you are seeking asylum, and you’ll get a fair shake.A recent Department of Homeland Security news release says it’s a “myth” that the agency “separates families who entered at the ports of entry and who are seeking asylum – even though they have not broken the law.” The release also says the agency “is [not] turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry.”But there’s ample evidence to suggest otherwise. Court records and individual cases discovered by The Texas Tribune indicate that a number of asylum-seekers who came to international bridges in Texas and California were separated from their children anyway — or were not able to cross the bridge at all after encountering armed Customs and Border Protection agents on the bridge. And experts argue there’s no basis to the government’s claim that there aren’t enough resources to process asylum-seekers.On top of that, experts say a quirk of U.S. immigration law might actually put people who try to seek asylum at the official ports of entry at a disadvantage to those who cross the border in other ways — such as wading across the Rio Grande. That’s because unlike people who cross the border illegally, asylum-seekers who come to ports of entry are not eligible to be bonded out of immigration detention by a judge; instead, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have total discretion over whether they can be released.“There’s no magic to the port of entry,” said Camilo Perez-Bustillo, who works at El Paso-based advocacy group the Hope Border Institute. “This idea that that’s the legal way to go … It’s fundamentally misleading.”This week Jennifer Harbury, an immigration lawyer based in the Rio Grande Valley, told the Tribune that she saw Mexican immigration officials standing at the foot of the bridge between Reynosa, Mexico, and McAllen and stopping people before they could begin to cross.“There’s two big guys in full dress standing right in front of the turnstile,” Harbury said. “They’ll walk up to you and … they just say, papers, please?”It’s not clear whether this is a widespread practice. Harbury said the immigration officials she saw wanted migrants to prove they had entered Mexico legally. If they couldn’t, she said, “they risk getting grabbed by the Mexican immigration people and deported.”Family separation said to go “beyond its lawful reach”At a recent roundtable in Weslaco, Texas’ Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz both expressed keen interest in what was happening at America’s international bridges. Cornyn specifically asked federal officials to confirm that asylum-seekers who came to the bridges were not doing anything illegal. The following day, he tweeted: “Asylum seekers that cross at ports of entry are not prosecuted” for entering the U.S. illegally — which should mean that they would not have been separated from their children.But the Hope Border Institute has documented cases of family separation at ports of entry that go back as far as December 2016 — just after Trump’s election. At that time, a woman named Eva, who said she faced death threats despite being in a witness protection program in Honduras, had asked for asylum with her husband and son at an El Paso port of entry. According to a reportreleased by the Institute in January, she “was immediately detained and separated from her family” and remained in detention more than a year later.Last September, Maria Vandelice de Bastos and her 16-year-old disabled grandson traveled from Brazil, were separated after arriving at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico and have not seen each other since, the Tribune reported recently. In May, a Guatemalan woman identified as M.G.U. showed up at a California port of entry with her three sons — ages 2, 6 and 13 — and even though she convinced officials that she had a credible fear of returning to Guatemala, her kids were taken away about two weeks later, according to a lawsuit filed by the advocacy group Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in June.And last November, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, a Congolese woman called Ms. L. and her then-6-year-old daughter were separated at a California port of entry after seeking asylum from religious persecution.U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw criticized the practice in a recent ruling on that lawsuit. “The parent has committed no crime,” she pointed out, adding, “Ms. L. is an example of this family separation practice expanding beyond its lawful reach, and she is not alone.” She went on to order the government to reunite separated families in the coming weeks.It’s not clear why these separations are happening, since none of the parents appear to have been prosecuted for entering the U.S. illegally. In the case of Ms. L., immigration officials initially claimed that they weren’t sure that she was actually the girl’s mother, the lawsuit documents say — which is another reason the Department of Homeland Security says it might decide to separate families who seek asylum at ports of entry.But Sabraw rejected the government’s argument: “Absent a finding the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child, it is unclear why separation of Ms. L. [and her daughter] … would be necessary.”An ICE official said on Thursday that the agency does not release information on juveniles and referred a Tribune reporter to Customs and Border Protection. A CBP spokesman pointed the reporter to the news release the agency put out in June.Cornyn’s office did not respond to requests for comment. A Cruz staffer referred reporters to the comments he made at the Weslaco roundtable, in which he encouraged families to seek asylum the “right way” by going to ports of entry.A disadvantage in immigration detentionAs the Trump administration seeks to detain more and more people while their asylum cases are pending — even if they’ve never been charged with a criminal offense in the U.S. — asylum-seekers at ports of entry may actually be worse off than those who cross a different way.If people end up in immigration detention after they cross the border illegally between ports of entry — typically by crossing the Rio Grande or walking through desert — then ICE can set a bond for them (that’s the price they must pay for their release). Those detainees can challenge the bond before an immigration judge, and the judge can agree to release them with a lower bond or with no bond at all — although reports indicate it’s become harder for people to get released from immigration detention on bond.But for those who are detained after seeking asylum at a port of entry, bond is generally not an option, and an immigration judge can’t release them. Once they’re in immigration detention, they are only eligible for what’s called “parole” — temporary release from immigration detention — and that decision is up to ICE.Perez-Bustillo, of the Hope Border Institute, said that puts asylum-seekers who tried to cross the border the “right” way at a disadvantage. “When it comes to discretion of ICE … you’re totally helpless,” he said.A 2009 directive by the Obama administration gave immigration officials wide latitude to release people from detention on parole. But in 2017, the Trump administration told officials to use parole “sparingly”; a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the issue claims that parole rates have since plummeted from 90 percent to close to zero.This week, a federal judge in Washington ordered the government to review parole decisions for a number of immigrant detainees who have been in detention for months or years. The government must release those detainees if they’re moving forward with their asylum cases and if they’re not a flight risk or a danger to the community, the ruling stated. But the decision only applies to five U.S. immigration offices across the country. El Paso is one of them, but Harlingen, located in the Rio Grande Valley, is not.Meanwhile, the longer people remain in immigration detention, the harder it is for them to truly pursue an asylum case. Making phone calls can be expensive, and detainees usually don’t have internet, so finding a lawyer is nearly impossible. And even if they manage to find one, they’re still at a major disadvantage.Ruby Powers, an immigration attorney based in Houston who recently interviewed about a dozen people at the Port Isabel detention center, said she prefers to meet with asylum-seeking clients multiple times. But that’s often not a luxury she can afford for clients in detention because visiting them is so time-consuming. She said she waited two hours in the Port Isabel facility just to get access to a room for the interviews she did recently.Experts cast doubt on “come back later” strategyTrump administration officials continue encouraging asylum-seekers to go to ports of entry and insist that no one is being turned away. “We are telling these people, look, we are full today … come back later,” explained David Higgerson, a field director for CBP, during last month’s roundtable discussion in Weslaco.He added that the agency has limited capacity and resources. A CBP agent might have to make a calculation such as, “I can probably handle a family of six. I cannot handle a family of 10,” he said.But Harbury said she’s represented multiple clients who were turned away at the port of entry outright. Not long after Trump was inaugurated in early 2017, Harbury said a woman from Guatemala was told to turn back at a Texas port of entry and later reported that she was kidnapped near the foot of the bridge on the Mexican side.The cartel members who kidnapped her demanded ransom, and the woman’s family took weeks to scrape together the money, Harbury said. When the cartel released her and she turned up at a Reynosa shelter, the staff called Harbury, who said she met the woman there and physically walked her across the bridge into the U.S.Lindsay M. Harris, co-director of the Immigration and Human Rights clinic at the University of the District of Columbia’s law school, said she doesn’t buy the argument that CBP doesn’t have the capacity to process all the asylum-seekers who show up at ports of entry.“If you just look at the manpower that CBP has … it’s just not a credible articulation of what’s going on,” she said. She also pointed out that the number of asylum-seekers has not suddenly skyrocketed since Trump’s election.In the federal fiscal year before Trump was elected, which ended in September 2016, the government received around 94,000 “credible fear claims” — a key step toward making an asylum request — and 24,500 of those were presented at ports of entry. The following year that number dropped to about 78,600, with 24,400 of them presented at ports of entry.On Monday, Selma Yznaga, an associate professor at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, said she spent four hours on the Mexican side of the bridge between Matamoros and Brownsville. She said 13 asylum-seekers — three Cubans, four Hondurans and six people from African countries — were blocked from crossing the halfway point of the bridge by CBP officials.“They’re quite desperate,” she said. “It helps just to be there, to talk to them, to try to lift their spirits.”Two lawyers accompanied her, along with a humanitarian group from Matamoros, she said. The lawyers took down the asylum-seekers’ contact information so they could follow up once they were able to cross into the U.S.Yznaga said she has taken several such trips in the last two months.“The rules keep changing,” she said. At first, she felt she needed to explain to parents that they might be separated from their children. Now that Trump has signed an executive order that is supposed to have ended the practice, she now tells asylum-seekers: “Okay, today if you want to walk across, you won’t be separated from your children, but you’ll all be detained together. You may be deported after 20 days.”While Yznaga stood on the bridge that Monday afternoon, CBP agents let two unaccompanied teenagers cross. Early the next morning, she said, she was told everyone else had been allowed through.Disclosure: The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.last_img read more

Substituting two and fourwheeler with bicycles for shortdistance trips

first_imgNew Delhi: India can save a whopping Rs 1.8 trillion annually from reduced fuel costs, travel time savings as well as health benefits from reduced air pollution levels and increased physical activity if cycles replace use of two and four wheelers for short distance trips, a new study has concluded. This figure accounts for 1.6% of India’s GDP for 2015-16. The study ‘Economic Benefits of Cycling in India: An Economic, Environmental and Social Assessment has been conducted by TERI (The Energy & Resource Institute) backed by All India Cycle Manufacturers’ Association. The study for the first time tries to find empirical evidence of the economic benefits that can accrue if Indians start using bicycles for short distance trips instead of motorized vehicles. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf The study estimates that 50% substitution of two wheeler and four-wheeler trips by bicycle under the average distance of 8 km will lead to a personal fuel savings of Rs 27 billion. Also, 50% substitution of two wheeler and four-wheeler trips under the average distance of 5 km will result in annual health benefits equivalent to Rs 1435 billion on account of increased physical activity. Similarly, 50% substitution of two-wheeler and four-wheeler trips under the average distance of 8 km can result in savings worth Rs 241 billion due to reduced air pollution. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive For marginal unskilled workers who walk to work every day, a 50% substitution of walking trips above the average distance of 3.5 km can result in travel time savings worth Rs 112 billion. Also, substituting half of short-distance motorized trips by cycling can save India more than 0.35 million tonnes in fuel annually while resulting in CO2 emission reduction of around 1 million tonnes. “Rs 1.8 trillion in direct benefit savings is a huge figure — greater than India’s entire public expenditure on healthcare. This is the first time in India that an elaborate study has tried to derive empirical evidence of the economic benefits of increasing usage of cycling. Despite its many benefits, India is witnessing a very slow growth in bicycle ownership. Specifically in cities short-distance trips which can be undertaken by bicycles are now being made by cars and two-wheelers instead. We need dedicated measures to promote widespread use of bicycles including micro-financing options, reducing GST rates on cycles to 5% from the current 12% as well as construction of adequate and safe cycling infrastructure,” says Mr. Pankaj M Munjal, president of All India Cycle Manufacturers’ Association and Chairman & MD of Hero Cycles. Bicycles in India are increasingly being used by only captive users, who do not have access to any other form of mobility. In the period between 2001 and 2011, the share of bicycle-owning households has only increased by 1% in India. The corresponding share in rural areas has increased by 3.4%, whereas in urban areas it has declined by 4.1%. Rising income levels, absence of safe cycling infrastructure, and increased affordability of motorized vehicles (especially two-wheelers) are major factors that have led to a decline in the share of bicycles. “Cycling provides inherent, incredible, and indefinite benefits in the form of zero dependence on energy sources, zero pollution, and improved health. Additionally, bicycles can provide critical support to urban and rural poor for seeking livelihood, education, and so on. While all this is common knowledge, our study has tried to quantify these benefits. Apart from better and safe cycling infrastructure, we also need to dispel the notion that bicycle is a poor man’s mode of transport. Measures to reduce the use of private vehicles such as congestion and parking pricing and awareness campaigns will also help turn people away from motorized transport,” Source TERI report. It is observed that more than 50% of the people in India use non-motorized forms of transport, such as walking and cycling, to travel to work followed by two-wheelers (18%) and buses (16%). In urban and rural India, on-foot trips account for the highest share of work trips with the share being 12% higher in rural areas. In rural areas, for meeting the daily travel requirements, workers are most dependent on cycling after walking. However, in urban areas, after walking workers are most dependent on two-wheelers. Increasing motorization in urban areas has given rise to many negative externalities such as dependence on fossil fuels, GHG emissions, congestion, pollution and the associated health impacts. In many developed countries such studies have been conducted for judicious appraisal and informed decision-making and have even resulted in the creation of national cycling plans/strategies/laws and separate funds. This study in the Indian context is a step forward in that direction.last_img read more