Flood situation continues to be grim in Rajasthan

first_imgThe flood situation in Rajasthan’s Kota, Jhalawar, Bundi, Baran and Dholpur districts continued to be grim on Monday, following heavy rains in the Hadoti region and in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, as well as discharge of water from overflowing dams. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot conducted an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas.About 5,000 people stranded in low-lying areas have been shifted to safer places since Saturday by the Indian Army, civil defence and national and State disaster response teams. A Defence spokesperson said here that the flood relief columns of the Sapta Shakti Command were sent for rescue operations on being requisitioned by the administration.While the Chambal river waters have created islands in several villages, a large number of people were stranded in their houses, on the rooftops and in the temporary sheds where they took shelter after the inundation of low-lying areas. Nineteen gates of the Kota Barrage, situated 1 km upstream of the town, were opened on Sunday night to release 7.09 lakh cusecs of water, which flooded the areas on the river banks.Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla visited flood-hit areas in the Kota district and assured the people of taking steps to provide them relief. Sapta Shakti Command’s General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Lt. Gen. Alok Kler also conducted an aerial recce of the flood-affected areas and interacted with the columns engaged in relief operations.‘Under control’ Mr. Gehlot said the water flowing into south-eastern parts of the State from Madhya Pradesh had started receding and the overall situation was under control. The Chief Minister, who also took stock of the level of water flow in the Chambal river at the Sagarpada bridge in Dholpur, stressed on coordination with the Madhya Pradesh authorities to control the situation.Additional Chief Secretary P.K. Goyal, camping in Kota, was looking after the relief works. Kota Collector Muktanand Agrawal said relief centres had been set up at schools and community centres, and arrangements made to supply food and drinking water to the affected people.About 350 students were marooned in their school for two days at Rawatbhata in Chittorgarh district, after the water released from Rana Pratap Sagar Dam flooded the area; they were evacuated on Monday and taken to their homes. As the children stayed in the school for two nights, government officials and local villagers arranged food, water and medicines for them.last_img read more

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Ind vs Eng: Flower stops Monty’s net practice with Sachin

first_imgEngland cricket coach Andy Flower has asked Monty Panesar to stop giving net practice to Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, saying it was “naive” on part of the spinner to help a rival player.”He did bowl to him in the nets before Lord’s and I think that it is quite a naive thing to do,” Flower said after his team’s 196-run win over India. Although the Indian-origin Panesar is not in the English team for the series, Flower said it was still not right for him to give net sessions to a dangerous player such as Tendulkar.”I haven’t spoken to him yet but one would hope he understands that it won’t happen again,” he said.Panesar, who has played 39 Tests for England, has been bowling to Tendulkar in the nets and has stated that he was doing it in spare time to improve himself against “a wonderful batsman and person”.But Tendulkar, who was battling viral during the opening Test, didn’t seem to benefit much from the sessions as he made just 34 and 12.Despite the massive opening Test win, Flower expects India to come back hard in the remaining three matches.”India are a very fine side and they didn’t get to the world No.1 spot by being poor and by not fighting back,” said Flower.”We’ve only won one out of four matches and there is another vital one around the corner and we have to be on the top of our game to win. But we’re ready for that fight,” he added.advertisementWith inputs from PTIlast_img read more

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Considered quitting Test captaincy several times, says Alastair Cook

first_imgEngland Test skipper Alastair Cook has admitted that he came close to resigning from his post on several occasions.Cook took over from Andrew Strauss as Test skipper in 2012 and has enjoyed plenty of success during his time at the helm.But there have been tough times, too, not least England’s 5-0 whitewash defeat in Australia in 2013-14, and the 31-year-old has revealed he almost quit the post more than once.”I’ve lived on the edge for quite a number of years as captain in terms of wanting to jack it in and questions about the job,” Cook, who recently became the first England player to pass 10,000 Test runs, said.”There were times when I thought I’d go, for sure. I spoke to my wife, Alice, about packing it in. I’d rather not say exactly when but I’ve got them written down.”Most recently, Cook resolved to step down in 2015, deciding during the series against New Zealand that he would call time on the captaincy following last year’s home Ashes series against Australia.But he changed his mind after winning the opening two Tests on the way to a 3-2 Ashes series triumph.”I don’t like talking about it because you end up doubting yourself. But, yes, I was very close to going at the end of the Ashes last year. But we won two Tests in 10 days at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge and I woke up the next day and thought, this side has so much potential and I still want to be part of it,” the opening batsman said.advertisementLooking ahead, Cook would like to lead England to Ashes victory on Australian soil in 2017-18, but is well aware things could change before then.”If I feel the team is getting a bit stale, bored with me and the next generation is pushing on, then it will be time to go,” the England skipper added.last_img read more

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Manipur PSC is searching for M.Sc degree holders: Apply for Scientific Assistant posts before September 22

first_imgThe Manipur Public Service Commission (Manipur PSC)  has released an employment notification inviting interested, eligible candidates to apply for the position of Scientific Assistant.Vacancy detailsTotal posts: 12Name of the posts:Scientific AssistantEligibility criteriaEducational qualification:The candidates interested in applying for this post should have pursued MSc in relevant subject.Age limit:The age of the candidates applying for this post should not exceed 38 years. Relaxation in age will be provided as per the government norms.(Read: TISS Mumbai is hiring for various Professor, Stenographer posts: Apply before September 30) Selection procedureThe candidates will be selected on the basis of a written test and an interview. The decision of the commission as to the eligibility of a candidate for admission to the examination shall be final.Pay scale:The selected candidates will be getting a monthly salary of Rs 9,300 to Rs 34,800, along with a grade pay of Rs 4,300.How to apply:The candidates interested in these posts are required to apply at the official website: www.empsconline.gov.inImportant dates:The submission of an online application will start from September 12.The last date for the submission of  an online application is September 22.  The written exam will be conducted on October 2.  About Manipur PSC:The Manipur Public Service Commission is the constitutional body constituted for recommending candidates for recruitment into various posts under the government of Manipur (Gazetted posts).Read: Haryana State Sports Council Jobs 2016: Apply now For information on more latest government jobs, click here.last_img read more

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UEFA Champions League Final: Sergio Ramos shows ugly side before glorious celebration

first_imgReal Madrid captain Sergio Ramos showed the best and worst of his game in the Champions League final on Saturday, finishing it by holding the trophy aloft minutes after his simulation led to a red card for Juventus substitute Juan Cuadrado.Real captain Ramos had been booked in the first half and risked getting sent off for the 23rd time in his career with a wild lunge on Cuadrado in the 86th minute.When the Juventus winger came over to complain about the challenge, making the slightest of contacts with Ramos’s back, the Spaniard threw himself to the floor, earning the Colombian a second yellow card instead.While Cuadrado contemplated becoming the first substitute to get sent off in a Champions League final after earning two bookings inside 18 minutes, Ramos took centre stage in the trophy presentation, lifting the huge cup as his team celebrated becoming the first to successfully defend the title since 1990.Ramos had made his mark in his previous two finals for the right reasons, heading in the 93rd-minute equaliser in 2014 against Atletico Madrid to save Madrid’s skin and set up their 10th European triumph.He headed in the first in 2016 against Atletico and again came to his side’s rescue with a cynical challenge on Antoine Griezmann to halt a late counter-attack when the game was poised 1-1, later converting his penalty in the shootout win.last_img read more

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Torres Re-signs at Atletico Madrid for 1 More Year

first_imgMADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid says Fernando Torres has agreed to a one-year contract that will keep the 33-year-old striker at his boyhood club through June 2018.Torres joined Atletico’s youth teams at age 11 and made his first-team debut at 17. He played six seasons for the Spanish club until he left for Liverpool and Chelsea. He returned to Atletico in the winter transfer window of the 2014-15 season.He has 28 goals in the 2 1/2 seasons of his second stint with Diego Simeone’s team.Contracting Torres again was important for Atletico because the club has been banned from signing new players this summer for breaking regulations regarding underage players.TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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Rajkot Test: Bowlers rock West Indies after Kohli, Jadeja hundreds

first_imgIndia took complete control of the first Test against West Indies in Rajkot by the end of the second day. After Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja scored hundreds to help the hosts to a record 649/9 declared, West Indies were in the mat at 94/6. They still trail by 555 runs.India were off to a wonderful start on Friday. After Prithvi Shaw’s dominating debut, the onus was on Kohli and the captain did not disappoint, bringing up his 24th Test hundred. He also went past 1000 runs for the calendar year for the third straight year.India vs West Indies: HighlightsBut it was Rishabh Pant who really stole the show in the morning. He was unbeaten on 17 at stumps while Kohli was 72 not out at close of play on the first day. On Friday, Pant blazed past his captain and at one point, it looked like he would get to his hundred first.However, Pant fell for 92, eight runs short of a well-deserved hundred.Kohli eventually departed for 139 and soon after, India lost R Ashwin.And then the focus shifted to Ravindra Jadeja. The all-rounder, batting in front of his home crowd, shepherd the tail beautifully. He had come close to a hundred a couple of times in the past – a 90 against England in Mohali and an unbeaten 86 against England at The Oval.Also read – Virat Kohli overtakes Virender Sehwag with 24th Test hundred Ravindra Jadeja scored an unbeaten 100 off 132 balls (AP Photo)The anticipation kept growing as Kohli moved into the 70s. But when India lost their number nine – Umesh Yadav, Jadeja still needed 21 runs to get to the triple figure mark. Mohammed Shami, the last man in, walked out to bat and he was under a bit of pressure but survived a few testing deliveries from Devendra Bishoo. Jadeja reached his hundred with a safe single off Kraigg Braithwaite and Kohli declared soon after.advertisementIn reply to India’s highest score against them, West Indies got off to a terrible start. Mohammed Shami struck twice with the new ball, removing skipper Brathwaite and fellow opener Kieran Powell.Also read – Ravindra Jadeja entertains home crowd with maiden international hundredR Ashwin was brought into the attack after Shami walked off the field with what looked like a side strain. And the off-spinner struck immediately to remove Shai Hope with a very good delivery. Jadeja was in the thick of action again, this time in a run out that sent back Shimron Hetmyer.However, Jadeja took a little too long in effecting the run out and Hetmyer ran to make his ground. Had Jadeja not thrown the ball at the stumps in time, the batsman could have had a lucky escape. Needless to say Kohli was not amused while Ashwin looked like his heart had skipped a beat.Also read – Ravindra Jadeja takes an eternity to run-out Hetmyer. Virat Kohli not amused Mohammed Shami picked up 2/11 from his six overs (@BCCI Photo)It was a pretty spineless performance by West Indies on pitch that promised runs. India’s bowers did well – maintaining tight lines but the spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav were too hot to handle for the West Indies.Jadeja struck off his very first ball to remove Sunil Ambris while Kuldeep Yadav outfoxed Shane Dowrich to leave West Indies reeling at 74/6. Roston Chase and Keemo Paul saw West Indies through to the end of the day without further damage.It will be an uphill task for West Indies on the third day when India’s bowlers would come back fresh and eager to finish off the job quickly.last_img read more

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Nothing will stop Fifa from littering the world with mundanity

first_img Fist of fury. Photograph: Keith Turner/REX/Shutterstock Topics Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Twitter STILL WANT MORE?Find out all there is to know about Russia’s World Cup stadiums, including history lessons and the hitches along the way, in this dapper guide.Dave Challinor gets his chat on with Paul Wilson about giving up the long throw, Tranmere and taking AFC Fylde to Wigan in the FA Cup second round.Everton have put their faith in Big Sam Allardici in order to renew their, and his, lofty ambitions, writes Ed Aarons.An ex-Arsenal youngster is big in Bulgaria, and the tale of Felix Wiedwald’s borrowed cap feature in this week’s edition of Classic YouTube.Marcelo Bielsa’s short-lived catastrophe at Lille is almost over, so-say Adam White and Eric Devin in the latest Ligue 1 blog. Is Hatem Ben Arfa on his way back to the Premier League and are Liverpool set to bid £53m for Sporting Lisbon’s Gelson Martins? That and more in today’s Rumour Mill. And he’s part of an exclusive club, but was Wayne Rooney’s halfway line goal on Wednesday the best in Premier League history?Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!WHEN NOEL MET JAVIER Reuse this content Share via Email Peace, Tino style. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA features SUPPORT THE GUARDIANProducing the Guardian’s thoughtful, in-depth journalism – the stuff not normally found in this email, obviously – is expensive, but supporting us isn’t. If you value our journalism, please support us by making a one-off or recurring contribution.FIVER LETTERS“I can assure Alex Metcalfe (Wednesday’s fiver letters) that us Bury fans have never referred to the derby between Rochdale and Oldham as El Flatcapico or even the more accurate El Crapico, but then I suppose ‘them t*ssers down the road are playing each other today’ doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well” – Adrian Foster.“As a Rochdale fan of 40 years, I must take issue with Alex Metcalfe’s claim that the derby with Oldham is called El Flatcapico – admittedly I left the UK 20 years ago and now only make around one game a season (the last a miserable loss to Rotherham) and times may have moved on, but surely neither town has relocated to flat cap wearing Yorkshire in my absence? It’ll be whippets next” – Nick Livesey.“Taxpayers Stadium: The Jizznasium?” – Dylan Reynolds.“Reading the news that same sex couples attending the forthcoming World Cup, who exhibit fondness for each other by holding hands or other such gestures have been warned that they could face persecution or punishment I set to wondering what will happen should a participating football team or members thereof celebrate, say, a goal or maybe a victory, or even perhaps, the glory of winning the competition. Even the firm handshake of yesteryear could be punished never mind current trends for group hugs and occasional kisses.” – Johnny McIntyre.“How are we going to break it to the children of north London that Santi won’t make it this Christmas?” – Daniel Doody.Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also tweet The Fiver. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … Dylan Reynolds, who wins a copy of Football Manager 2018, thanks to the good people at Football Manager Towers. We’ve got plenty more to give away, so keep typing.RECOMMENDED WATCHINGThere is a pub in the middle of Brighton, 270 miles from Anfield, that is home to a community of Liverpool fans. They call it the Brighton Kop and it is expecting 3,000 Reds when Jürgen Klopp’s side visit Brighton on 2 December.THE RECAPGet the best of Big Website’s coverage sent direct to your inbox every Friday lunchtime (GMT). Has the added bonus of being on time. Sign up here.NEWS, BITS AND BOBSA group of death? The best and worst-case scenarios for England before Friday’s World Cup draw. England fans have been told to stick to just the one ice-cold pint to avoid trouble at the World Cup next summer. “I would recommend to make sure that you don’t drink a lot when you’re in Russia,” whooped tourism suit Igor Karzov.Sean Dyche toasted Burnley’s Total Football after their fourth win in five matches – but insists his team are not trying to be Barcelona. “The pride I have in the players and their professionalism is off the scale,” he roared.David Silva has scribbled his name all over a new Manchester City contract, extending his deal by one year until 2020. “I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved at City in my seven and a half seasons here and with Pep in charge, I feel we are in a great position to win trophies this season and beyond,” the Spaniard said.Oldham Athletic have appointed Paul Jewell and Paul Terry, brother of John, to their backroom staff. “I’m looking forward to it, it’s a really exciting time and it’s a good time to be here,” cooed manager Richie Wellens. And finally, Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson could be ready to do one at Cardiff City after rejecting a new deal. “He would stay and play in the Premier League – if I wanted him,” sniffed manager Neil Warnock. CYCLE OF WOESometimes, upon reading a release from Fifa, there can be no response but to sit back in awed appreciation. These guys just get football, on a different level to most of us. This is why they are the custodians of the game, and safer hands there could not be (though Gordon Banks, who will pluck a few balls in Friday’s draw, had a pretty decent pair. Of hands.)The draw will surely prove this to all of us. Held in the State Kremlin Palace, a 6,000-capacity arena, there will be 1,500 journalists and 1,400 guests, 465 volunteers, 210 performers, 30 coaches (representing all but two of the qualified nations: Australia don’t currently have one and Uruguay’s Óscar Tabárez doesn’t seem to be bothered) and 10 “football legends” including two from England, the co-host Gary Lineker and the aforementioned Banks. Meanwhile, Fifa proudly announces, 162 bins and containers will be used to separate and recycle waste.Hang on, 162 bins and containers? And this number is interesting how exactly? Sure, it’s good that they’re there – no “football legend” wants to hang around in an arena strewn with empty crisp packets and apple cores – but with statistics like this it seems nothing will stop Fifa from littering the world with mundanity.center_img Share on LinkedIn Football Share on Messenger Read more The Fiver Pinterest Pinterest Share on WhatsApp This isn’t even a one-off. At the end of the 2014 World Cup – where “specially trained volunteers” were “responsible for waste separation” – it proudly announced that “420 tonnes of recyclable waste was collected from the stadiums and additional World Cup-related facilities”. During preparations for the preliminary draw for the 2018 tournament, held in St Petersburg back in 2015, Fifa announced that “a tailor-made system of 150-200 waste bins will be used to ensure that non-recyclable waste is separated from recyclable material such as paper, plastic, glass, batteries, food waste, cardboard, cans [and] packaging materials”.It turns out that this number was not only woefully imprecise but wildly inaccurate. A subsequent release declared “recycling a success at Russia 2018 preliminary draw” and announced that “more than 300 containers were used”. “In total, 655kg of packaging made from various forms of polyethylene was sent for recycling, along with 790kg of cardboard and paper, 350kg of glass, 107kg of plastic bottles, 77kg of organic waste and 6kg of batteries,” Fifa trilled. “In addition, more than three tonnes of decorations will be reused at civic events.”The Fiver would like to make it absolutely clear that recycling is important. We do not wish to belittle it. But let’s just consider this boast for a moment. An empty plastic water bottle weighs about 19 grams. A single piece of paper weighs about 4.5 grams. So Fifa got through 5,632 non-reusable bottles and threw out 176,000 pieces of unnecessary paper, and then declared its sustainability program “a success”. The scamp.Fifa’s statistical breakdown of tomorrow’s ball-plucking concludes that “the draw to establish who the competing nations will face during the group stage” will offer “arguably the most important numbers of all”. In Fifa’s world, the idea that the most important bit of the World Cup draw is the World Cup draw is in some way “arguable”.Tomorrow’s schedule in brief, then: at 2pm local time (11am GMT/12pm CET) the 30 coaches and other members of the team delegations will attend a “team seminar” where they “will learn about the key operational aspects of next year’s showpiece event” (fascinating bin statistic ahoy), and at 6pm local time (3pm GMT/4pm CET) the draw itself will start, whereupon we will finally learn the identities of the national sides destined to take the starring roles in the ease-through-qualifying-crumble-at-the-finals drama that England seem so keen – and Fifa will appreciate this – on endlessly recycling.QUOTE OF THE DAY“Tino by miles. Tino was another league. But always in a nice way. Not that Maradona was in a bad way. But Tino was really, really, a constant search for trouble. Good trouble” – Gianfranco Zola ranks Faustino Asprilla, once placed under house arrest on charges of weapons possession and criminal damage for allegedly firing a machine gun at security forces near his farm in Colombia, ahead of Diego Maradona as his wildest ever team-mate. Russia 2018 World Cup: the complete guide to all the stadiums Facebook Twitter last_img read more

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ManuSaurabh win gold

first_imgRio de Janeiro: Teen stars Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary staged a remarkable comeback to claim the mixed 10m air pistol gold, providing a fitting finale to India’s unprecedented dominance of the medal tally in the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol stage here. Representing the other Indian team in the same event, Yashaswini Deswal and Abhishek Verma won the silver as the country picked up the maximum possible medals on the final day of the tournament. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe results ensured an unprecedented top finish for India across all four ISSF World Cup stages this year, including the lone junior world cup. India’s final tally here stood at five gold, two silver and two bronze medals for a total of nine. No other country won more than one gold medal here. World number one in women’s 10m air rifle, Apurvi Chandela, had earlier partnered Deepak Kumar to win India their fourth gold on the concluding day of the event. The pair won the top medal in the mixed air rifle event. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterAnjum Moudgil and Divyansh Singh Panwar, representing India 2, who won the previous two World Cup editions of the same event, won bronze as India continued to reach never-before-seen heights in rifle and pistol shooting. In the air pistol final, the pair of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary prevailed over Yashaswini Singh Deswal and Abhishek Verma 17-15 in a nerve-wracking contest. Manu and Saurabh, both 17, have now won each of the four ISSF Mixed Team Air Pistol world cup golds this year. They were, at various stages of the final, down 3-9, then 7-13 and then finally 9-15 before winning the next four duels straight to stage a remarkable come-from-behind win. The winning pair had earlier shot 394 out of 400 in round two of qualification, including a stunning 100 each in the final 10-shot series, to top the eight team round while Yashaswini and Abhishek, both fresh from their individual gold medal winning exploits in the competition earlier, came in second with 386. Hungary and China 1 were left fighting for the bronze, which was won by the pair of Pang Wei and Jiang Riaxin of China. Earlier, Apurvi and Deepak blew away the Chinese pair of Yang Qian and Yu Haonan 16-6 in a one-sided final. India won eight of the 11 single-shot duels between the teams, where the combined score of one pair is compared to that of the other and the higher total awarded two points. The first to 16 points wins and this is the format which will be used in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. After comfortably getting through round one of qualification, the pair of Apurvi and Deepak topped the board after 20 individual shots in round two, featuring the top eight teams from the previous round. Their total of 419.1 enabled them to get straight into the gold medal match where they found themselves against the Chinese pair who had come in second with 418.7. Anjum and Divyansh shot 418.0 to lie fourth and qualified for the bronze medal match against the Hungarian pair of Eszter Meszaros and Peter Sidi, who shot 418.6 to finish third. Anjum and Divyansh also won their bronze-medal match against the Hungarians with relative ease, chalking out a 16-10 result. India have collected a whopping 22 medals in the four ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Cup stages this year, including an awe-inspiring 16 gold medals. Their highest tally before this was eight last year. In the history of the ISSF World Cup before 2019, India had collected a total of 19 gold medals, only 11 being in the rifle and pistol disciplines while eight came from the shotgun discipline.last_img read more

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SIMU LIUS RISE FROM BAY STREET ACCOUNTANT TO MARVELS KUNG FU SUPER

first_imgAdvertisement Advertisement Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment In the big-screen Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Mandarin leads a global terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings, and its members have appeared in the Iron Man films as well as “Ant-Man.”Marvel said that character will be played by Leung, who is a veteran star in China but also new to Hollywood.WHERE HAVE I SEEN LIU BEFORE?Liu plays the athletic and charismatic son Jung in CBC-TV’s hit sitcom “Kim’s Convenience,” which is also available on Netflix in the United States.His Korean-Canadian character works at a car-rental company but harbours a rebellious past, and because of that he doesn’t get along with his father, Appa.Liu’s first major role was in the half-hour OMNI drama “Blood and Water,” a unique noir that featured an all-Chinese ensemble with dialogue in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.Back when the show premiered in November 2015, he touted the project for putting Asian talent in the spotlight.“As an Asian Canadian I find it’s really hard to find content in the media that is relatable,” said Liu, whose role included lines in both Mandarin and English.Before that, Liu logged bit parts in several TV series including “Nikita,” “Warehouse 13,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Taken.”LIU DIDN’T START OUT ACTINGLike all the big superheroes, Liu forged a secret identity, of sorts — Liu says he pursued acting for months without telling his parents.“My parents were very, very, not OK with me pursuing the arts and I feel like that’s a very common mindset for parents who are immigrants themselves and who value that kind of stability above everything else,” he said in 2015.“To throw away a career, a perfectly good career to pursue the arts seems so counter-intuitive to them, which is understandable.”Liu’s entry into show business came amid an industry-wide push for more racial diversity on the big and small screens, with successes including “Master of None” and “Fresh Off the Boat” offering exciting possibilities for marginalized performers.Still, Liu pointed to family pressures that made it difficult for him to even consider acting.“When I booked my first national commercial, the day before it was about to come out I was like, ‘Listen, you’re going to start seeing my face on television, I don’t want you to freak out but this is what I decided to do with my life.”‘LIU HAS CHAMPIONED ASIAN ROLESLiu has also produced and directed a short film, and worked as a writer on the second season of “Blood and Water.”“In order for this whole diversity thing to fly, we not only need diverse performers but we do need those writers as well,” he said back in 2015.And when the Singapore-set feature “Crazy Rich Asians” came out last summer, Liu urged his Twitter followers to join him at a weekend screening to support the romantic comedy.“It’s the first movie with an all-Asian cast in 25 years and that means something,” said Liu, who did not appear in the film but believed a strong box-office would push Hollywood to make more films with Asian talent.“I can’t overstate the importance of us showing up as a community, as a crowd.”Just as Marvel’s “Black Panther” furthered conversations about diversity in big-budget filmmaking, Liu said he believed “Crazy Rich Asians” could highlight the demand and power of Asian audiences.“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is set to hit theatres Feb. 12, 2021.By Cassandra Szklarski ~ The Canadian Press with files from Victoria Ahearn Advertisement TORONTO — Once upon a time, Simu Liu was a Toronto accountant.But he secretly dreamt of being an actor, and just a few years after leaving Bay Street, Liu is on the brink of movie stardom thanks to being cast as the first Asian superhero to lead a Marvel film.Marvel Studios announced the news to thousands of fans at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend, when Liu took the stage to introduce himself as the kung-fu master in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Facebook “This is just the craziest, craziest dream,” Liu says in video taken at the event, which also revealed roles for Hong Kong actor Tony Leung and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Awkwafina.Chatter around the cast has exploded online, with much of the focus on the relatively unknown Canadian. Marvel promises that Liu will soon become a household name, but until then, here’s a primer on Canada’s rising star.WHO IS SIMU LIU?Liu was born in northern China where he was raised by his grandparents while his parents attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., he told The Canadian Press back in 2015.His father returned to China to bring him to Canada when he was five years old: “I remember meeting my father for the first time, and then my mother after I landed at Toronto.”From there, the family bounced around the Greater Toronto Area, spending time in communities including Etobicoke and Mississauga, Ont.When he grew older, Liu says his parents pushed him to attend the Ivey School of Business at Western University, even though he really wanted to pursue the arts.After graduating, Liu got a job on Bay Street but was laid off in 2012 at age 23. He took that as an opportunity to switch gears: “That kind of spiralled into a bunch of happy accidents that allowed me to have opportunities to be an actor.”WHO IS SHANG-CHI AND WHAT ARE THE TEN RINGS?Marvel.com describes Shang-Chi as “the undisputed Master of Kung Fu.”He’s a martial arts expert and the son of a criminal mastermind but grew up unaware of his own father’s villainy, according to the comics.Shang-Chi was raised in a hidden, ancient fortress in China, where he was trained in several martial arts and became proficient in all forms of fighting — but especially kung fu and bare-handed battle.He also mastered philosophical disciplines, and could manifest a sense of calm so pronounced that he was able to dodge bullets, adds the site, an exhaustive summary of the comics source material.The Ten Rings, meanwhile, is a reference to 10 magical rings that were discovered in the wreckage of an alien spaceship by the Mandarin, a power-hungry villain who becomes an archrival to Iron Man. Images via Instagram @simuliu & Wikipedia Commons Twitterlast_img read more

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Ban Kimoon calls for restraint from Israel and Lebanon after exchange of

8 February 2007Expressing deep concern after Lebanon’s armed forces and Israeli troops exchanged fire across the Blue Line that separates the two countries, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for maximum restraint, warning that such actions violate last year’s Security Council resolution that ended the month of fighting in the region. Later in the day the Council itself echoed this concern in a press statement on Wednesday’s incident, which occurred in the area of Yaroun. The 15-member body looked forward to a tripartite meeting called for by the commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the peacekeeping operation in the area which was greatly enhanced last year by Council resolution 1701 that ended the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon.“The exchange of fire, which was initiated by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) after an IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) bulldozer crossed the technical fence in an apparent attempt to clear the area between the technical fence and the Blue Line of mines, constitutes a breach of the cessation of hostilities as laid out in Security Council resolution 1701,” a spokesperson for Mr. Ban told reporters in New York.“All such violations of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) endanger the fragile calm that prevails in southern Lebanon. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint, avoid provocative actions and display responsibility in implementing resolution 1701 (2006).” UNIFIL had deployed to the area immediately after hostilities began and was in contact with both sides urging them to cease, said spokesperson Michele Montas, adding that Mr. Ban is also calling on them to make use of the tripartite mechanism to avoid similar incidents in the future.Speaking to reporters after the Security Council heard a briefing on the incident, Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia, which this month holds the revolving presidency, said Council members reaffirmed their support for UNIFIL and also reiterated their call for the full implementation of resolution 1701.“The members of the Council expressed deep concern about this incident. They look forward to the ascertaining of all the facts by UNIFIL and to the forthcoming tripartite meeting asked for by UNIFIL Force Commander,” he said.“The members of the Council appealed to all parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety, to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action that could further escalate the situation.”The enhanced UNIFIL, which is monitoring the end of hostilities after last year’s conflict, as well as carrying out de-mining and other humanitarian work, now numbers over 12,000 although resolution 1701 allows its strength to reach a maximum of 15,000 troops, while also mandating a complete Israeli withdrawal, together with Lebanese army deployment in southern Lebanon. It is commanded by Major-General Claudio Graziano. read more

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Democracy not static but an ongoing process Bangladeshi leader tells UN

Elections were scheduled in Bangladesh in late January, but following political violence, a state of emergency was declared that month. Since then, the country has been run by a non-party caretaker Government.“We have learned that democracy is not an event, it is an ongoing process,” Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed said at the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate. “It is not just about casting votes and changing governments; it is about social justice, accountability and empowerment of the people.”Bangladesh has long been plagued by corruption which has severely undermined democracy. Corruption spawned a “winner-takes-all electoral system where the spoils of electoral victory were so great and the stakes of winning so high that the political process became hopelessly polarized, leading to a paralysis in even ordinary governance,” he noted.To allow the nation’s democratic spirit to flourish, “we must first free our politics from the clutches of corruption and violence,” he added.The challenges – political violence, poor governance and corruption – Bangladesh faces are not unique to developing countries, Mr. Ahmed pointed out, since in such nations, especially post-conflict ones, “democracy does not necessarily ensure good governance.”Therefore, the international community needs to deepen its understanding of both the problems and the efforts of the developing world to rebuild their political and social institutions. 27 September 2007The leader of Bangladesh told the General Assembly today that democracy is a “dynamic and continual” process and that the international community can learn from the South Asian nation’s efforts at consolidating stability. read more

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BC hints may use carbon offsets to counter LNG emissions

VICTORIA — Like the underground shale gas that Premier Christy Clark says will pave the way to a debt-free future, British Columbia appears caught between a rock and a hard place in balancing its hunger for a burgeoning liquefied natural gas industry and meeting its ambitious 2007 greenhouse gas pollution-reduction targets.[np_storybar title=”B.C., Alberta deal on Northern Gateway pipeline marks ‘huge breakthrough’” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2013/11/05/b-c-alberta-deal-on-northern-gateway-pipeline-marks-huge-breakthrough/”%5DThe framework agreement marks a big change for the two provinces. Barely six months ago, B.C. officially opposed the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge Inc. and being considered by regulators, worried it didn’t address its environmental concerns. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]If there is a definitive plan in place, the government isn’t laying it out yet: Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman says the Liberals’ LNG economic plan, which includes a tax structure developed with industry consultation, should be complete within the next 30 days. It won’t be introduced to the legislature until next year.Environment Minister Mary Polak says similar LNG environmental negotiations are underway, of which she indicates the options are limited and is refusing to fully elaborate.But a process of elimination indicates B.C. will rely heavily on carbon offsets to meet its environmental goals.That means even if the actual pollution dumped into the atmosphere increases, rather than declines, B.C. will still be able to say the targets have been met because of the discounts offered by requiring industry to financially support environmentally-friendly initiatives to fight global warming.Still, even if the offsets enable B.C. to claim it has met its pollution targets — targets trumpeted at the time as being among the most stringent in North America — the emissions levels Canada must report to the United Nations will tell a different story.Those numbers are reported without the discounts of offsets and they are numbers environmentalists predict will rival the emissions of neighbouring Alberta’s oil sands industry. Even without the introduction of LNG plants, environmentalists argue, B.C. is already on its way to missing its legislated targets.“There are only two ways to reduce emissions, you either actually reduce them or you find means of mitigation and many times that’s through offsets,” said Polak.“We know many B.C. companies are carbon neutral — Harbour Air for example — but it’s not because they have no emissions. It’s because they purchase offsets.”Besides offsets, the government could reach the targets by taking its foot off the pedal on its ambitious LNG development goals.That’s clearly not going to happen: Clark’s Liberal government says it wants to build the cleanest LNG industry in the world and continues to repeat election-campaign statements that B.C.’s natural gas will scrub clean China’s coal-darkened skies.In the beginning, the Liberals pledged three LNG plants: Now, the proposal is for five to seven.The government could back away from the targets committing it to cut greenhouse gas emissions 33% by 2020 — targets created under a different Liberal government, before Clark’s aggressive push towards a liquefied natural gas industry and all the extra emissions it is bound to create.The government has refused to say it will do that, but it has left the door open.A government official, on background, says the targets are just that: targets. If they aren’t met, government will simply try harder to meet them next time. Much like balanced budget legislation, the official says, there are no penalties for not meeting the goal.Environmentalists and noted climate scientists, including Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver and Simon Fraser University’s Mark Jaccard, who both consulted for the Liberals on the climate targets law in 2007, have already repeatedly said the province isn’t going to meet its pollution reduction targets.”It’s certainly our goal,“ says Coleman without committing to actually doing it.“There may be some challenges around that,” he says in an interview shortly after returning from Asia where he toured an LNG plant in Malaysia and met with executives from Petronas, the Malaysian energy company planning a $36 billion LNG investment near Prince Rupert.“We’re going to have the highest environmental standards that there are and we’re going to have the cleanest industry that there is in the world as well.”A third option to require the industry to explore other emission reduction techniques that could involve storing carbon emissions underground is appealing, but the technology is in its infancy and no one expects B.C. can rely on it in the short-term.“You could potentially require certain technologies be employed,” says Polak. “You could require certain purchase of offsets, but all of that is subject to negotiations, discussions, in much the same way as having the discussions now with taxation policy.”So that leaves offsets as the most likely way to allow British Columbia to meet or at least reach for its emission goals.The challenge is not small.A recent report by Clean Energy Canada, an affiliate of Tides Canada, warned that without B.C. government policy leadership, LNG produced in B.C. could emit more than three-times the carbon produced at other plants around the world.The B.C. government has not stated publicly what it expects its greenhouse gas emissions to be from the proposed LNG plants. But Clean Energy Canada examined a similar LNG plant under construction in Australia and concluded that B.C. LNG facilities can expect to emit about one tonne of carbon pollution for every tonne of LNG produced.People don’t like offsets in general, but it’s really the only way to say those millions of tonnes of extra emissions from running the LNG facilities can be addressedClean Energy Canada estimates that will work out to 36 million tonnes of carbon pollution for the initially-proposed three LNG plants in the Kitimat area.Prof. James Tansey is a business professor at the University of B.C. who is also the chief executive officer and founder of Vancouver-based Offsetters, a global carbon-management company that helps organizations and individuals understand, reduce and offset their climate impact.Tansey says the carbon pollution debate in B.C. is focused on legitimate concerns about increased provincial emissions.But like the government, he notes a global move towards natural gas ultimately reduces GHG emissions worldwide.Tansey says natural gas is a cleaner energy than oil and coal and has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 27%.He says he expects the government to introduce regulations that will require the natural gas companies to purchase the offsets as a cost of doing business in B.C.“The companies will have to do it,” said Tansey. “People don’t like offsets in general, but it’s really the only way to say those millions of tonnes of extra emissions from running the LNG facilities can be addressed. If you don’t do that, then they’re going to appear as a black mark on the carbon accounts of the province.”Offsets may allow B.C. to meet its targets or at least approach them while still reaping the economic benefits of LNG development.But the actual pollution numbers — without adjustments due to offsets — must be reported to provincial, federal and international climate-change monitoring agencies.Environment Canada’s national inventory submission last April to the United Nations Framework convention on climate change measured a decline of almost 6% in B.C.’s GHG emissions since 2007, when the province passed its targets law.The inventory measured B.C.’s carbon dioxide emissions at 59.1 million tonnes in 2011 — the most recent numbers — down from 62.6 million tonnes in 2007. The target for 2020 is about 20.6 million tonnes.The Environment Canada report stated Canada’s total GHG emissions for 2011 were measured at 702 million tonnes, while Alberta’s GHG emissions were 242 million tonnes.Matt Horne, a climate change expert with the Pembina Institute, said he’s certain B.C.’s LNG dreams will increase the province’s GHG emissions well beyond Environment Canada’s most current totals.“I don’t know where they are going to go with the targets,” he said.“I haven’t seen any credible projections of how the province is going to meet those targets in particular around the idea of three to five LNG plants being developed. You can’t square that circle.” read more

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North American markets close lower over worrisome news from overseas

TORONTO — North American stock markets closed lower Friday as traders reacted to worrisome economic news from overseas.The S&P/TSX composite lost 26.22 points to 15,360.55, adding to a 64-point decline Thursday.The loonie also pulled back after a six-day run-up, down 0.32 of a U.S. cent at 81.78 cents.South of the border, anxieties over possible Greek insolvency and regulatory changes in China pushed markets lower.The Dow was down 279.47 points at 17,826.30, the Nasdaq fell 75.98 points to 4,931.81 and the S&P 500 lost 23.81 points to 2,081.18.On the commodity markets, the May crude contract lost $0.97 to US$55.74 a barrel, while June gold advanced $5.10 to US$1,203.10 an ounce.The Canadian Press read more

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Coomaraswamy joins world women leaders calling for change

Signed by:Karen AbuZayd; Shamshad Akhtar; Amat Alsoswa; Valerie Amos; Zainab Bangura; Carol Bellamy; Catherine Bertini; Irina Bokova; Gina Casar; Margaret Chan; Judy Cheng-Hopkins; Helen Clark; Radhika Coomaraswamy; Ertharin Cousin; Christiana Figueres; Louise Frechette; Cristina Gallach; Rebeca Grynspan; Ameerah Haq; Noeleen Heyzer; Angela Kane; Elisabeth Lindenmayer; Susana Malcorra; Purnima Mane; Aïchatou Mindaoudou; Flavia Pansieri; Navi Pillay; Mary Robinson; Josette Sheeran; Mari Simonen; Fatiah Serour; Ann Veneman; Sahle-Work Zewde.” Our shared sense of purpose and responsibility to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment derives from our experiences. Despite decades of notable advances, a reality in which opportunities, freedoms, and rights are not defined by gender has not been universally attained. Even more concerning, we are seeing in some places that the basic rights of women are interpreted as direct and destabilizing challenges to existing power structures. That can lead to efforts to roll back hard-won rights and frameworks agreed on in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment, not least those encapsulated in the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 and Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.As women increasingly occupy meaningful spaces in local, national, and international political structures and in socio-economic, scientific and sustainable development debates, and as we engage through civil society in many campaigns, we see now, close to a quarter of a century after Beijing, more movements gaining traction which seek to halt the gains made and erode the rights won by women. The letter noted that “As women leaders in our respective fields, we have struggled locally and globally to respond to challenges ranging from the elimination of hunger to achieving peace and security, and from the provision of emergency humanitarian aid in the aftermath of natural and human-induced disasters to the promotion of human rights, including those of women, children, marginalized populations, and those living with disabilities. Our work at its best was based on the principles of sustainable development and the need to build long term resilience. It has also been underpinned by our determination to have a positive impact on the lives of those with and for whom we work, particularly the most vulnerable. We are deeply convinced that for peace to be achieved and sustained, the full participation and potential of women must be unleashed. “We join our voices as women colleagues who have worked in governments and in multilateral organizations in support of promoting humanitarian relief, advocating for human rights principles and normative policies, advancing sustainable development, and resolving some of the world’s most complex conflicts. We ourselves have leveraged multilateralism in order to drive positive change for peoples and our planet. Now we collectively call attention to the need to achieve full gender equality and empowerment of women across all ambits of society and the critical importance of multilateralism as a vehicle in support of that,” the open letter said. This regression is what fuels our collective effort now under the banner of “Women Leaders – voices for change and inclusion”. As women leaders, we call on leaders in governments, the private sector, and civil society to reinvest in policies and in legal and social frameworks that will achieve gender equality and inclusion. Ours is a call for a redoubling of current efforts which are insufficient in many places. Above all, we seek to underscore that the risk posed by politics that seek to halt and erode gender equality is a risk not only to women, but also to all of humanity because half the population is prevented from contributing to its full potential.The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on the Eradication of Discrimination Against Women, and many other global agreements, treaties, and conventions have been achieved through multilateralism and demand our collective effort in order to realize their ambitious vision. They represent the hopes and aspirations of current and future generations. Yet, these transformative agendas and agreements are increasingly and disconcertingly called into question.We attach our names to this open letter in the belief that, by bringing together our voices and leveraging our experiences, as women leaders from diverse backgrounds, we will amplify the reach and impact of our message. In the coming weeks and months, we will speak through different means and publish a series of opinion pieces and essays in publications around the world that draw on our diverse – and yet shared – experiences and perspectives as women leaders in our respective fields. It is our hope that this compilation of work will serve not only to impart insights on the importance of women as multilateral actors, but also to be a call to action to the women leaders and advocates of tomorrow. The space that we collectively occupy as women leaders in our fields across the public, private, and civil society spheres was not opened up easily and can never be taken for granted. It is the result of the sacrifices and struggles, of generations of women. Political forces today threaten to erode the progress that we have made at both the national level and through landmark global agendas. Whether those forces succeed will depend on whether the women leaders and advocates of today and tomorrow and all who stand with them recognize the urgency and peril but also the opportunity of this current moment and act accordingly. Former Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and former UN Under Secretary General and Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has joined several top women leaders calling for change and inclusion.In a joint open letter, the women leaders noted that political forces today threaten to erode the progress that they have made at both the national level and through landmark global agendas. read more

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Security Council debates proposed measures to monitor sanctions against Taliban

The proposal is contained in the report of a group of experts set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the request of the Security Council. The five-member expert group recommended creating a UN office that would employ teams to work with various border control and counter-terrorism services in the six States neighbouring Afghanistan. The office would also employ specialists in illegal arms trafficking, drugs, money laundering and counter-terrorism. Participants at today’s Council’s meeting voiced widespread agreement on the need to enforce the Council’s sanctions, which were originally imposed in October 1999 to prompt the hand-over of indicted terrorist Usama bin Laden and the closure of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. The measures, tightened last December, include an arms embargo, diplomatic sanctions and a flight ban which exempts humanitarian goods. Introducing the experts’ report, the Chairman of the Council’s sanctions committee on Afghanistan, Ambassador Alfonso Vladivieso of Colombia, stressed the importance of a quick Council response to the panel’s proposals. “We must act as soon as possible,” he stated. Noting that the experts had worked expeditiously to produce their recommendations, he said, “now it is up to us to work in a more streamlined manner” to decide on the future course of action. At the close of today’s debate, which saw the participation of some 20 speakers, the current President of the Security Council, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury of Bangladesh, said the 15-member body would “consider the recommendations contained in the report by the committee of experts for action.” read more

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CoucheTard says it is victim of tobacco war in the United States

by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 27, 2012 5:19 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Couche-Tard says it is victim of tobacco war in the United States MONTREAL – Convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard says it is caught in the middle of a war among U.S. cigarette manufacturers that is hurting its merchandise sales.Tobacco manufacturer Phillip Morris, the maker of the Marlboro brand, instituted a policy that forced retailers to reduce markups on its cigarettes in order to lower consumer prices and now its rivals have adopted similar action.“There is a domino effect. They are at war, everybody trying to gain market share and we as retailers are in the middle of the war zone, so that’s quite difficult to react to things we don’t control,” Couche-Tard CEO Alain Bouchard said Tuesday during a conference call.Couche-Tard introduced its private label Crown brand to offset some of the financial pain, but it said other items sold in its stores are the unintended casualties of the conflict.“When you lose a cigarette buyer you lose other parts of the basket. Tobacco is certainly the one we need to resolve.”Still, Bouchard said the impact on its results should dissipate in the coming months as it the one-year anniversary of the introduction of these cigarette measures approaches.The Quebec-based retail and fuel station operator missed expectations in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, even though acquisitions helped its revenues and profits to soar.It earned US$175.2 million, or 94 cents per diluted share for the period ended Oct. 14.That compared with US$113.5 million or 61 cents per share in the same quarter a year earlier, prior to a major acquisition that gave Couche-Tard its first presence in Europe. The company is already one of North America’s biggest operators of convenience stores and gas bars.Couche-Tard, which reports in U.S. dollars, said Tuesday that revenues surged to US$9.31 billion from $5.15 billion in the prior year, mainly due to acquisitions and higher fuel prices.Bouchard said recent acquisitions “contributed nicely” to its results despite the challenge of uncertain economic conditions, the competitive tobacco category in the United States and relatively high fuel prices.Adjusting for one-time items, including foreign exchange gains and acquisition costs, it earned $167.6 million or 90 cents per share, up $53.3 million from the year-ago period.However, Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) was expected to have 94 cents per share of adjusted earnings on $8.9 billion of revenues in the second quarter of its fiscal year, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.The company continued to be helped by a double-digit growth in its high-margin fresh food offering, which Bouchard said continues to be “a bright spot for us.”Merchandise sales grew by $344.6 million, with sales for stores open at least a year increasing by 0.4 per cent in both the U.S. and Canada, the lowest level in four years. Excluding tobacco sales, same-store sales in the U.S. increased by 2.7 per cent. Merchandise profits increased by 0.5 per cent in the U.S. and fell by 0.2 per cent in Canada.Martin Landry of GMP Securities said the overall results were “slightly below” expectations due in part to higher amortization and financial expenses.He said same-store sales in the U.S. were weaker than the historical average of four per cent, mainly due to the tobacco war. But even excluding tobacco, these sales were below the approximate six per cent range of recent quarters.In Europe, Couche-Tard said progress is going as planned with opportunities being identified to realize $150 million to $200 million in synergies over three years and growth following the $2.9-billion acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail.Couche-Tard wouldn’t provide numbers on how same-store sales changed in Europe but Bouchard said the company wants to take its time to make sure it makes the right changes to deliver improved results.“We need to take the appropriate time to create real value and not destroy anything. Patience is a virtue. We are very optimistic about the near future,” he told analysts.Fuel revenues increased by $2.9 billion or 81.5 per cent, due to $2.8 billion from acquisitions but high pump prices put pressure on volumes sold but generated $154 million in additional revenues.Landry said investors should be attracted by Couche-Tard’s growth prospects and geographic exposures “which are better than most of the Canadian large-cap consumer universe on the S&P/TSX, and thus could lead to a multiple expansion for the company’s valuation,” he wrote in a report.“While the Statoil Fuel & Retail acquisition adds a level of risk to an investment in Couche-Tard given the increased debt levels, in our view, the quality of the asset targeted (market leader) and the significant accretion potential could outweigh added risks. Couche-Tard’s management has had an excellent track record of creating shareholder value through acquisitions, which should reassure investors.”Canada’s largest convenience store chain is the second largest in North America. Its network is comprised of 6,172 convenience stores, 4,590 of which include motor fuel dispensing in 43 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and all Canadian provinces. It also operates 2,301 stores in Europe.The company employs 78,500 people, including more than 60,000 in North America.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Couche-Tard’s shares closed down 73 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to C$46.54 in trading Tuesday. read more

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Huge explosion at Spanish fireworks factory kills 5 people and seriously injures

Huge explosion at Spanish fireworks factory kills 5 people and seriously injures 3 by Ciaran Giles And Alan Clendenning, The Associated Press Posted Aug 31, 2015 7:37 am MDT Last Updated Aug 31, 2015 at 12:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Police officers and firefighters stand by the destroyed fireworks factory Pirotecnia Zaragozana’s building after a huge explosion in Pinseque, Spain, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. The blast at a fireworks factory in northeastern Spain killed a number of people and seriously injured tothers, police and firefighters didn’t know the cause of the blast. (AP Photo/Aranzazu Navarro) MADRID – A huge explosion Monday at a fireworks factory in northeastern Spain killed five people and seriously injured three others, police said.The blast occurred around 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) at the Pirotecnia Zaragozana factory in the small town of Pinseque, a police spokeswoman said.The blast sent a dense plume of white smoke into the sky that could be seen for kilometres (miles).The injured were taken to a hospital in the nearby regional capital of Zaragoza, she said on condition of anonymity because of police regulations preventing her from being named.Police and firefighters didn’t know the cause of the blast and were hindered trying to investigate it because fires were still raging at the site hours after the explosion and a series of smaller blasts.Spanish national television said the blasts in the aftermath of the main explosion initially hindered a search operation for missing people.By late afternoon, no more people were reported as missing, the spokeswoman said. read more

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Big deficit mounting debt but no tax hikes in Newfoundland and Labrador

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Taxpayers who helped pull Newfoundland and Labrador from a fiscal cliff got a slight break in the latest provincial budget, but debt will soar even as costs are slightly cut.The $8.1-billion spending plan released Thursday has no tax or fee hikes and trims expenses by $283 million. It forecasts a $778-million deficit, down from $1.1 billion last year.Higher-than-expected offshore oil royalties helped brighten a bleak financial picture and there were no deep public-sector job cuts as widely feared. But critics were quick to say the governing Liberals could have done more.“We still have a massive spending problem,” said Richard Alexander, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council. “We still have a fiscal crisis.“Taxpayers … have bailed out this government basically from bankruptcy.”Finance Minister Cathy Bennett said the province will be in the red for several more years before returning to surplus in 2022-23. Her budget last April — the first for the Liberals after they took office in late 2015 — was rife with tax and fee hikes on everything from books to ferry rides.It became a lightning rod for public fury as government approval ratings tanked. Bennett has acknowledged tax fatigue but said Thursday there will be more belt-tightening.“We continue to have a spending problem,” she told a news conference. “We are grateful that oil revenues continue to help us but it simply highlights the fact that we cannot afford the government services we have now with general revenue alone. We must continue to reduce spending in the years ahead.”Still, the budget includes cutting an unpopular tax on gasoline by 8.5 cents per litre as of June 1 and another four cents on Dec. 1.It also says there will be new legislation to freeze wages for public-sector managers and non-union workers. The province recently announced almost 400 management jobs will be eliminated.Bennett said she anticipates no “massive layoffs” among other public-sector staff but bargaining is underway with several union groups.Alexander said there will have to be sacrifice.“Wages in the public sector are 27 per cent higher than the rest of Atlantic Canada. There’s room for unions to make concessions on those things. If they do that, it will mean fewer job layoffs in the future.”The budget forecasts net debt will rise by almost $1 billion to $15.2 billion this fiscal year for a population of just 527,000 people.About 13 cents of every tax dollar now goes to debt servicing, Alexander said. “We’re spending more on interest for the province’s credit card than we are on education.”Bennett concedes it’s a staggering amount that, on a per capita basis, far exceeds other provinces.“We need to continue to work on lowering the cost of delivering services and lowering the cost of borrowing,” she said.Bennett spoke with the province’s main credit rating agencies prior to the budget and said she does not expect a repeat of recent downgrades that rack up interest.The governing Liberals have trimmed almost $500 million in spending since taking office, she added. Bennett said those results have come from efficiencies and not diminished government services — a claim opposition critics have challenged.The province has been financially hammered since oil prices collapsed from US$115 a barrel starting in mid-2014. Bennett had counted on an average oil price of about US$45 for the last fiscal year but prices were slightly higher.Brent crude was trading early Thursday at about US$54 a barrel.Higher prices and production put just over $962 million into provincial coffers last year, almost double what was forecast. Almost $882 million in offshore oil royalties are expected this year.Bennett has anchored this year’s budget on an average oil price of US$56 a barrel, drawing on 30 forecast reports.She has also asked Crown corporation Nalcor Energy to find savings to help lower electricity rates starting in 2020-21.It’s a measure to offset another major drain on provincial finances: the delayed $12-billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador. It’s almost double the cost forecast when the former Progressive Conservative government approved it in 2012. It’s also expected to add as much as $150 a month to an average heating bill when it comes online in about three years.The province has borrowed $4.9 billion since 2016 to get through a funding crunch caused by over-reliance on once-lucrative offshore oil earnings, Bennett said. Borrowing will be down to $400 million this year, she added.“I’m confident that the work we’re doing is getting us on the right track.”Outside the legislature, demonstrators who gathered for a tail-gate style barbecue and protest said more tax relief can’t come soon enough.“This government is putting the people in the hole,” said Andrew Young, a 66-year-old retiree. “The poor people can’t survive anymore. It’s too high, the taxes. It’s ridiculous.”Follow @suebailey on Twitter. Big deficit, mounting debt but no tax hikes in Newfoundland and Labrador budget by Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press Posted Apr 6, 2017 2:05 am MDT Last Updated Apr 7, 2017 at 7:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

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On International Day Ban honours victims of gross human rights violations

At a time when human rights violations persist around the world, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of the individual and collective right to the truth for the promotion of humanitarian law and justice, and called on the international community to recommit to helping victims and protecting those who fight to uncover facts. The International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims was created to pay tribute to human rights defender Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, a prominent Roman Catholic priest in El Salvador who was murdered on 24 March 1980 for speaking up against poverty, social injustice, repression, assassinations and torture. “Our commemorations defy the attempt by his murderers to silence his cries for justice and reinforce the importance of standing firm for fundamental freedoms,” stated Mr. Ban, adding that “this day is also dedicated to honouring the memory of all victims of gross human rights violations, and to supporting all those who promote and protect human rights.”Highlighting that informing societies on the fundamental freedoms and their potential violations is a vital safeguard against abuses recurring, the Secretary-General insisted that “every victim has the right to know the truth and how violations affect them.”The UN supports a range of efforts to uncover the facts about gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to promote justice, propose reparations and recommend reforms of abusive institutions. Over the past year, the UN has supported Commissions of Inquiry on, respectively, the Central African Republic, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as the establishment of a Truth and Dignity Commission in Tunisia.Mr. Ban noted that a Special Rapporteur, Pablo de Greiff, was appointed by the Human Rights Council in 2012 to analyze challenges faced by truth commissions around the world and propose responses to strengthen the effectiveness of those mechanisms. “On this International Day, I call for the vigorous implementation of all recommendations of commissions of inquiry and truth commissions in addressing gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law,” said the Secretary-General, urging renewed commitment from the international community “to working to help victims, their relatives and society as a whole to realize the right to truth – and to protecting those who fight to see the truth prevail.” read more

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