Over the past few days, excitement was palpable in the air in Shillong on the much-anticipated Cherry Blossom Festival. Posters and banners were put up across the town announcing its arrival and different venues were being prepared for the four-day festival beginning November 8. This was the second year and the organisers had another prefix – ‘International’ – to the festival name making it the India International Cherry Blossom Festival.All arrangements were in place: scores of stalls centred around the theme of cherry blossoms at the inauguration venue, dancers from the three major tribes of Meghalaya, Garo, Khasi and Jaintia ready to take the stage. As many as 15 different cultural events were planned. Among several events on the opening day, a story telling session was organised at the picturesque Ward’s Lake in the evening. The lake, in the heart of town, had another cluster of about 100 cherry trees, gently lit up, and hundreds of people gathered at the venue. At the inauguration at Polo Grounds, Meghalaya’s Forest and Environment Minister Clement Marak declared the Cherry Blossom festival a celebration of nature.Only, nature wasn’t co-operating. The cherry trees were not ready to come out in full bloom. Not one of the cherry trees in the cluster at Polo Grounds had blossomed.Since 2014, when experts began taking an interest in the tree, the blossoming had occurred in the first week of November. Dinabandhu Sahoo, director of the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), a Central government institute that has been working to organise the festival, said, “The rainfall pattern has been erratic this year. It rained till the last week of October. For cherry trees to blossom, a chill factor is required. There is a huge difference in the day and night temperature and it is delaying the blossoming.”No edible fruitIn countries like Japan, cherry blossoms appear in spring. The Japanese cherry blossom tree is Prunus yedoensis commonly known as Somei Yoshima. Cherry blossom in northeastern India, particularly around Shillong, is Prunus cerasoides. It is also known as Wild Himalayan Cherry and blossoms in autumn. The fruits are inedible but in perfect bloom the trees are full of pastel-hue pink and soft white blossoms.It was in Autumn of 2014 when Prof. Sahoo, during a visit to Shillong, saw cherry trees in full bloom. Even many locals are not aware that they were cherry trees.“Last year, when we had the festival in the second week of November, the blossoms had already started to fall. We decided to advance the festival this time. With no blossoms this year there are clear indications that climatic factors are affecting the life cycle of the species,” C.P. Marak, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, and Head of Forest Force, Meghalaya, told The Hindu. He said cherry trees had grown in the wild on their own. Though no enumeration has been done, the forest official put the number as low as 2000 trees in Shillong.Between May 2015 to June 2017 the State Forest department planted about 5,000 cherry trees in and around Shillong. “These include avenue plantations and along the highway passing through Shillong. In the next three to five years, these trees will be in full bloom,” Mr. Marak said.Cherry blossom spiritStudents from the Pearly Dew Higher Secondary School here tell the story about the Japanese legend of Sakura or cherry blossom tree. Natsume, a handsome boy met Sakura, a spirit who lived beside a beautiful tree that glowed by the moonlight and bloomed beautifully. They got married but soon Sakura’s time on earth came to an end. While leaving, she gave Natsume a seed, and promised to remain by his side forever. From then on, the tree was called Sakura or cherry blossom tree.At the festival, the wait for pink and soft white blossoms continued on the second day. Some residents say the trees could be in bloom in upper Shillong, near the Shillong peak. The blooms are first spotted in higher elevations and they enter town over the next few days.About eight kilometres from the town, in the 5th mile, a solitary branch of a majestic tree is in bloom and bees have already arrived. Albert Chiang, a scientist with IBSD came up with more good news. He had spotted a tree in bloom higher up in the 6th mile area. Inside the Horti Hub in 6th Mile area, beyond the pine trees, a lone cherry blossom tree was bathed in pink.Experts working on changing climate conditions in the north east underline the need for more and detailed scientific studies on plants particularly those having rich economic, cultural and aesthetic beauty. Partha Jyoti Das, head of Water Climate and Hazards Programme of Guwhati based think- tank Aranyak said some plants were more sensitive to climate change and he had come across reports of flowering of certain plants being delayed for almost a month due to climatic variations. Mr. Das said the changes in the post-monsoon period and winter rainfall had hit crops like paddy, potato, mustard and vegetables.The organisers have decided to keep the dates for the next year flexible and are also keen to take some technical help from Japan on predicting the blossoming phase.
Ranbir KapoorHe won over both the masses and the critics with his good looks and acting chops but while growing up Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor had his heart set on being a football player.He let that dream go but the 28-year-old actor is now campaigning to make sports a part of school curriculums across the country with the ‘Fit India Movement’, a campaign launched by NDTV in collaboration with Nirmal Lifestyle.”I loved football, but I did not have anybody to guide me about making it a career. If Indian children have the coaches and the facilities that are available abroad, we will be world champions,” said Kapoor who is the brand ambassador of the campaign.The actor was in Delhi to launch the first phase of the campaign called ‘Marks For Sports’ and shared the stage with ace shooter Gagan Narang, billiards champion Pankaj Advani, Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, boxing champion Vijender Singh and former cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.”It all begins at the school level and Marks for Sports is a campaign that will help discover the talent that our children have and sports teaches you so much. Other than making you fit, it teaches you discipline, motivation and team spirit,” said the actor who entered the venue on a bicycle.
Pakistan Army is under the scanner for alleged terror links once again. Brigadier Ali Khan, a serving Pakistan army officer, has been arrested by army officials for suspected links with a banned terror group. Reports say authorities detained Brigadier Khan for ties with defunct terror group Hizbul Tehrir. The report of the brigadier’s detention was confirmed by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistani media has reported. The senior army officer Brigadier Ali Khan was posted at the GHQ.For more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.
COMMENTS VIKAS_KRISHAN_2965814f August 10, 2016 Published on 2/2 COMMENT VIKAS_KRISHAN_2965814f × 1/2 Archer Atanu Das and boxer Vikas Krishan entered the pre-quarterfinals, while the men’s hockey team stood up to the challenge posed by Argentina to virtually sew up a last-eight spot on a reasonably successful day for Indian athletes in the Olympic Games here.Das first defeated Nepalese rival Jitbahadur Muktan 6—0 and then vanquished Cuba’s Adrian Andres Puentes Perez 6—4 to enter the pre-quarters where he will face a tough rival in former world no. 5 South Korean archer Lee Seung—Yun on August 12.Lee was a part of the victorious South Korean outfit that won a gold medal in the team Recurve event at the ongoing Games.What was impressive about Das was the manner in which he held his nerve during his last shot in the fifth and final set.The score was 19-18 and a ‘10-pointer’ would have ensured his place in the last-16 even before his opponent had aimed for his final strike.Das did not disappoint as he hit the ‘Bull’s Eye’ taking an unassailable lead and winning the final set 29-28.The Kolkata-based Das defeated his Cuban rival 28—26 29—26 26—27 27—28 29—28.Earlier in the day, he made short work of Muktan in three straight games with a comprehensive scoreline of 29—26 29—24 30—26, enjoying a fair lead in all three sets including a hat—trick of Perfect 10’s in the final game.HockeyIn men’s hockey, India survived a final quarter onslaught from Argentina for a nail-biting 2-1 win that enhanced their quarter-final chances.The second win in the pool stage has virtually secured India a quarterfinal berth as they rose to the second position with six points.India dominated Argentina in the first three quarters but came under tremendous pressure from the Los Leones in the final 15 minutes during which they conceded as many as five penalty corners.Trailing 0-2, the Argentines played all out hockey in the final quarter as the Indians looked out of sorts.It was a tense final quarter for the Indians after drag—flicker Gonzalo Peillat pulled one back for Argentina in the 49th minute by converting their first penalty corner with a lethal strike that beat goalkeeper PR Sreejesh all ends up.It looked as if it would turn out to be another heartbreak for the Indians, following their 1—2 loss to Germany yesterday after conceding a goal in the dying moments, as the game was mostly played in the Indian half thereafter.If not for Sreejesh, India could have suffered their second successive defeat in the Games. Sreejesh pulled off as many as five saves to deny Peillat and the Argentines.Earlier, India were the better side in the first three quarters and took the lead through Chinglensana Singh (8th minute) before fellow Manipuri player Kothajit Singh doubled the scoreline with a field strike in the 35th minute.Boxing campaignLater in the evening, former Asian Games gold-medallist Vikas Krishan (75kg) gave a perfect start to India’s boxing campaign, beating American greenhorn Charles Conwell to enter the pre—quarterfinals.The 24-year-old Vikas defeated the Olympic debutant 3-0 in his opening contest, which came alive only in the final three minutes, to make the last—16. Vikas will now face Turkey’s Onder Sipal, who got the better of Zambian Benny Muziyo in a fiercely—contested opening bout.The 18-year-old Conwell, who walked in to hostile boos from the local crowd, struggled to launch an attack on the Indian in the opening round. Vikas, on the other hand, used his right straights and uppercuts to good effect in the first three minutes.Vikas dropped his guard quite early in the bout but Conwell’s attempts at capitalising on it did not quite work out as he landed into a well—laid trap by the counter—attacking Indian.Vikas seemed more assured in the second round and concentrated on breaking down Conwell’s defence by targetting his torso.Although the judges were divided in awarding the round to the former World Championships bronze-medallist, Vikas had done enough to secure himself the handy lead going into the final round.After being seemingly clueless and fetching two cautions for bending excessively in the first two rounds, Conwell gathered himself in the final three minutes to land a couple of crisp jabs but the effort came too late in the day.The final round ended up being tied between the two boxers but Vikas emerged triumphant on the back of his strong showing in the first two rounds.Vikas said he wanted to land clear punches and impress the judges to seal the bout against Conwell in the first two rounds so as to avoid a repeat of the London Olympics.He had won against American Errol Spence in the prequarters but the decision was overturned after a protest four years ago.“When I saw the draw and got a fight against another US boxer, the London thought came to my mind. I did not want a repeat of what happened four years back. But I had my strategies clear — to beat him in the first two rounds,”Empty-handedHowever, the country continued to draw a blank medal—wise and faced reversals in the shooting range where Heena Sidhu made her exit after performing poorly in the women’s 25m pistol event where she finished a distant 20th with 576 out of 600 points.India’s lone competitor in rowing, Dattu Baban Bhokanal, finished fourth in the quarter-finals of the men’s single sculls to go out of medal reckoning Rio 2016: Faster, Higher, Stronger TH10ARCHERY_2965727f – Reuters sport TH10ARCHERY_2965727f – Reuters SHARE SHARE SHARE EMAIL
ANN ARBOR, MI – NOVEMBER 25: Urban Meyer head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Jim Harbaugh head coach of the Michigan Wolverines shake hands after the game. Ohio State won 31 to 20 on November 25, 2017 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)An Ohio State player took a shot at the entire state of Michigan following the Buckeyes’ big win over Michigan State today.Urban Meyer’s team improved to 9-1 on the season with a 26-6 win over the Spartans in East Lansing, Michigan.Ohio State is now one game away from its regular season finale against Michigan.The Buckeyes are definitely looking forward to that one.Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah posted the following photo on Instagram:“I’ve always hated this state…” he writes.Well played.Ohio State and Michigan are set to meet at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Nov. 24. We can’t wait for that one.
In an effort to improve the island’s Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) sector, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) has partnered with two entities to assist them with implementing standards and/or quality systems within their organisations. To this end, two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed on January 17, between the BSJ and the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA); and the BSJ and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, in Kingston. The initiative falls under the BSJ partnership programme, which was conceptualised in 2010 and is designed to enhance the competitiveness of MSMEs in using standards. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said the undertaking signals a demonstration of the commitment of all the parties to improving Jamaica’s ability to trade, through the implementation of standards and quality systems. He said the BSJ will invest its resources in offering technical assistance to MSMEs to train them to implement standards/quality within their organisations. “Quality management system has become a buzz terminology in the business environment as the value of systems and procedures is recognised. The success of any quality system requires the total commitment of management and the entire organisation,” he emphasised. The Minister said it has long been established that MSMEs have been major contributors to economic growth in any developing country. “As Jamaica faces serious challenges in our trade deficit with our international partners, we must strengthen the ability of these MSMEs to engage in international trade. It is therefore fundamental that there is a greater level of partnership between private and public sector entities and increased collaboration within public sector entities,” Mr. Hylton argued. Meanwhile, Executive Director, BSJ, Yvonne Hall, said creating a level of awareness regarding the importance of standards is critical in building the island’s business sector. “We are mindful of the various challenges faced by the business sector and especially the MSMEs. We have committed to embarking on a more collaborative approach to overcoming these many challenges,” she added. For his part, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, JBDC, Harold Davis, said the knowledge and application of international quality standards for MSMEs cannot be overemphasised and is paramount to the success of the sector. “Ultimately, we hope that this MoU and the work that is to ensue from (it) will improve the quality of the offerings from the sector, facilitating increased trade, both locally and internationally, and (will) lead towards a sustained, competitive and growing MSME sector,” he said. In his remarks, President of the JMA, Brian Pengelley, said both parties have ensured that the two-year agreement is practical and will deliver results. “The JMA is in the process of identifying trainers to be trained from within the industry along with staff members from the JMA, who will deliver training to over 50 manufacturers,” he said. The BSJ is a statutory body established by the Standards Act of 1968 to promote and encourage standardization in relation to commodities, processes and practices. However, over the years, its role has been expanded to include the provision of services in relation to conformity assessment (certification, inspection and testing, and calibration) and metrology. Its main activities include: facilitating the development of standards and other requirements to which particular commodities, services, practices and processes must comply; monitoring for compliance; conducting tests and calibrating instruments; certifying products and management systems; providing industrial training; and promoting research and education in standardization.
The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has paid tribute to the former Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Edward Seaga, who passed away today.Minister’s statement follows:“Some people make such a telling impact on people, communities and countries — and Edward Seaga was one of them.He was the kindest, most caring, most brilliant man I’ve ever known and I loved him dearly. It has been my greatest pleasure to learn from him and to work with him.He taught me to dine with kings and walk with beggars and to give respect to receive respect.Today on his 89th birthday, Jamaica and the world lost a great leader; and I have lost my teacher, my mentor and my friend.I give credit to Mr Seaga for much that I have achieved in my professional life.He saw great potential in me and invested his time and effort into helping me to rise and to contribute to the country that we both love.Mr Seaga loved Jamaica and our people. He understood the value of our culture and way of life in a way that few other people do. He dedicated his life to advancing Jamaica in every way; and we have become a cultural powerhouse because of Mr Seaga’s vision and service.All of us — especially those of us from West Kingston — are heartbroken today — he was ‘closer than a brother.’ But in this moment, we are also proud to have benefitted from, be associated with, and counted as family by Edward Seaga.And to us, he was and will always be family.Thank you for your service, Mr Eddie. Thank you for loving us and working so hard for each of us every day. Walk good. I will always love you.”
The Marshall Islands-flagged King Edward lost power in the Bosporus strait and was carried dangerously close to the coast by strong currents before the crew managed to anchor the 182-meter tanker, The Daily Sabah reports.The 2004-built tanker was on its way from Italy to Russia’s Black Sea Kavkaz port when it suffered suspected engine failure near Istanbul, Sunday evening.Turkey’s Maritime Safety Directorate sent tugs to tow the disabled vessel to Istanbul’s Yenikapi port. Live shipping maps suggest that the tanker has not left the port yet.World Maritime News Staff
zoom Danish shipping giant Maersk Line has decided to divert vessel calls from the Port of Algeciras due to the planned strikes by Spanish dockworkers.On February 24, Spain approved a royal decree on the port system reform which would enable ports to hire non-unionized stevedores instead of the unionized ones. Such practice would result in massive layoffs in the future.Consequently, the country’s stevedores plan to stage strikes on March 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22 and 24.According to Maersk Line, slow-downs began in all Spanish ports on February 24 and are expected to continue until the strikes start.“These actions will cause a serious impact on cargo flows in and out of Spain and more widely to our global network, especially due to the strategic importance of the port of Algeciras as a major transshipment port for cargo moving to/out of Europe, Africa and many other destinations,” Maersk Line said.The company has developed a contingency plan according to which it would reduce presence in Algeciras during the period of the industrial actions, using alternative ports in Europe and the Mediterranean.Westbound vessels deployed in Maersk Line’s Asia-Europe and Middle East services normally calling Algeciras will be diverted to other facilities in the Mediterranean.Eastbound vessels will for the time being continue to call Algeciras and eastbound transshipment connections will be made there, the company informed.
Kolkata: A motion was moved in the Assembly on Thursday unanimously by the ruling party and the opposition alike to maintain peace and harmony in the state and the country, in the face ofgrowing levels of intolerance against a particular community and the rising incidents of violence. During the discussion on the motion, several ministers of the state government and leaders of the opposition parties raised their concern in the House regarding the attack on the people belonging to the minority community. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersThey also protested against the chanting of the slogan of Lord Ram while carrying out violence across the country. The motion will eventually be passed in the Assembly before being sent to the Centre through the state government. The state government will urge the Centre to take decisive steps to check the incidents of communal attack, in which people from a particular community are affected. State Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee criticised the Centre in the Assembly for dividing people along religious lines. “The BJP has been giving tacit support to fan religious fanaticism across the country, only to gain political advantage,” he said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”There have been attempts to divide the country along religious lines. A particular community has been incited against another by a political party to receive electoral benefits. Nationalism has taken a backseat due to relentless fanaticism in the country,” Chatterjee added. He also said: “We are not concerned due to the surge of a political party. In a Parliamentary democracy one party will form the government while another will be voted out. But the way the communal tension is going up across the country is a matter of worry for all of us. I may not like a particular person or a party but the battle must be fought politically, not setting aside the spirit of nationalism. After the Lok Sabha elections, around 40 incidents of violence have taken place in the state.” Chatterjee also criticised the Left MLAs in a subtle way, saying: “You are talking about communal harmony now. Before the Lok Sabha elections, you aligned yourselves with the party that spreads communal tension.” He urged all people cutting across their political allegiance to come forward and fight for the cause. While speaking in favour of the motion, state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim said that Lord Ram is a holy name but lynching people in the name of Lord Ram cannot be acceptable. It may be mentioned here that a Madrasa teacher was allegedly assaulted by a religious organisation, after he refused to chant ‘Jay Shree Ram’.
New Delhi: It may be seen as a major embarrassment for the Congress which had opposed the government’s decision to scrap special status for Jammu and Kashmir in the Parliament as senior Congress leader and former J&K ruler Maharaja Hari Singh’s son Karan Singh on Thursday supported the Centre’s move to make J&K free from Article 370.While supporting the government over its recent J&K decisions, Singh said that he does not agree with a blanket condemnation of the government’s move and stressed that there are several positives in the government’s decision. Hailing the bifurcation of Ladakh into a union territory, Singh further said that he himself proposed bifurcation way back in 1965 when he was the head of the state. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’In a statement issued on Thursday, he said that he supports the abrogation of provisions of Article 35A as the issue of gender-discrimination needed to be addressed. The delimitation in the state will also ensure a fair division of political power between Jammu and Kashmir, Singh added. He, however, said that two main political parties of Jammu and Kashmir — the Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference — should not be termed “anti-national”. Urging the government to release the leaders of political parties to start broad-based political dialogue in the state, he said, “The efforts should be that J&K attains a full statehood as soon as possible so that its people can at least enjoy the political rights available to the rest of the country.” Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHis statement comes two days after the Congress Working Committee deplored the manner in which the government stripped J&K of its special status by scrapping provisions of Article 370, and bifurcated the state. As Karan Singh broadly backed the fresh developments in the state, of which he was the first and the last Sadr-e-Riyasat, he refrained from directly opposing or backing the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which repealed J&K’s special status. Singh recalled his father Hari Singh’s decision to sign the Instrument of Accession with India in 1947 and said, “My sole concern is the welfare of all sections of people in the state.” Notably, as soon as the decision was taken by the government to scrap Article 370 in J&K, Congress leaders like Janardan Dwivedi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Deepender Hooda, Bhubaneswar Kalita, etc. came out in support of the government stand. Hailing the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Dwivedi had said that even though it came late, a historical mistake had been corrected. “This is a matter of satisfaction for the nation. This historical mistake that happened at the time of Independence has been rectified, even though late, and is welcomed,” Dwivedi had said. Supporting the move, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had said that the state’s full integration into the Union of India was in the interest of the country. Earlier, Congress’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Bhubaneshwar Kalita had quit his membership in the Upper House of Parliament over the issue after the party asked him to issue a whip to all members for opposing the bill.
Kolkata: A moderate to heavy rainfall lashed the city and various South Bengal districts on Thursday morning resulting in inundation in some parts of the city.The drainage department officials of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) acted promptly to discharge the accumulated water in various places. Water logging occurred in some stretches of North Kolkata leading to a slow movement of traffic in the morning. Many of the office goers, who stepped out of their houses without an umbrella, had to get drenched in the rain. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaPolice and the KMC officials were out there on the city’s streets from the early morning to manage the water-logging situation. The KMC engineers acted on a war footing to release the accumulated water within minimum possible time so that the people do not face any inconveniences. Senior police officers were on the streets particularly in the important intersections managing the traffic. There were some traffic snarls in some parts of the city during the morning hours due to rain. The situation was brought to normal as the day progressed. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore on Thursday predicted that rainfall will continue in various South 24-Parganas districts, including the city in the next 48 hours. The intensity of the rainfall will however be reduced as the low pressure trough formed over Bay of Bengal moved towards Jharkhand. The low pressure trough will have a forward march towards the Western part of the country. “Though the low pressure trough moved towards western parts, the Monsoon has become active in the state which will bring some more rainfall in the state in the next two days. Various South Bengal districts particularly the costal districts may receive moderate to heavy rainfall. The city may also witness scattered rainfall,” a senior weather official said. In the past 24 hour the city received considerable amount of rainfall. Behala area received highest amount of rainfall of 85 mm in the city in the past 24 hours. The other pumping station areas like Joka received 76 mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours, Mominpur 74 mm, Dum Dum 53 mm, Patuli 51 mm, Dhapa 49 mm, New Market 48 mm. Santoshpur area in the Southern fringes of the city received 46 mm rainfall while Cossipore in the North recorded 45 mm. Ultadanga area received 25 mm of rainfall since Thursday morning. Manicktala recorded 31 mm of rainfall, Thanthania 32 mm and Ballygunj 33 mm rainfall till Thursday afternoon. East Midnapore district administration conducted surveillance in all the beach towns including Digha, Sankarpur, Mandarmani on Thursday to ensure that visitors do not go to the sea when it is turbulent. The MeT officer earlier predicted that the sea will be rough due to which fishermen were also asked to return to the sea shore.
Willow FiddlerAPTN National NewsCommunity members in Thunder Bay are asking whether officials are doing enough to keep First Nations young people safe.The question is being asked after the body of Tammy Keeash was found Sunday night.She is the fourth girl to have died while in care of the province since October.Now questions are being email@example.com
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Government of Belgium have committed $76 million to Purchase for Progress (P4P) to transform the way the UN World Food Programme (WFP) purchases food in developing countries.“The world’s poor are reeling under the impact of high food and fuel prices, and buying food assistance from developing world farmers is the right solution at the right time,” WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said.“Purchase for Progress is win-win – we help our beneficiaries who have little or no food and we help local farmers who have little or no access to markets where they can sell their crops.”Developed in partnership with the foundations, P4P will be launched in 21 pilot countries over the next five years. Innovations in WFP’s local food procurement practices, which are central to the agency’s new business model, aim to strengthen the role of smallholder and low-income farmers in agricultural markets and enable them to gain more from supplying food to WFP’s global operations. WFP, the world’s single largest purchaser of food for humanitarian operations, will explore different ways to maximize gains for small farmers while minimizing any distortion to local markets. By supporting small farmers’ ability to produce and supply food to WFP’s global operations, P4P will help them increase their incomes, which is critical in addressing hunger and poverty at their roots. “Developing new ways for WFP to purchase food locally represents a major step toward sustainable change that could eventually benefit millions of poor rural households in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has committed $66 million to fund pilot projects in 10 countries in Africa. “P4P will help large numbers of small-scale farmers to become net producers rather than net consumers, ensuring that they stand to gain rather than lose from the current climate of rising food prices,” said Howard G. Buffett, President of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which has committed $9.1 million to support pilot projects in seven countries.The Government of Belgium contributed $750,000 for the project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three other countries have not yet been funded. 24 September 2008Hundreds of thousands of small farmers, especially in Africa and Central America, are expected to benefit from a United Nations-backed initiative announced today to provide them with reliable markets for surplus crops at competitive prices, thus bolstering fragile local economies.
VANCOUVER — A Vancouver-based mining company has sold a tennis ball-sized diamond to a luxury jeweller for US$53 million, or about C$65.6 million.The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough stone is reputed to be one of the largest gem-quality diamonds ever discovered.Lucara Diamond Corp. (TSX:LUC) says the price was above the highest bid attracted at an auction in June 2016. But it was below a Southeby’s estimate of US$70 million before last year auction.It was also less than fetched by a smaller diamond, the 813-carat Constellation, that Lucara sold in May 2016 for US$63.1 million — about C$78.3 million at current exchange rates.Diamond merchant Laurence Graff says the natural beauty of the Lesedi La Rona will be respected when the rough stone is cut.“The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties,” Graff said in a joint statement issued with Lucara.
Winning in Collaboration at EC19 Michelle Burbick March 19, 2019 From our ‘Best of’ awards, to new solutions from Microsoft and AWS and a successful digital transformation for Walmart, everyone is winning at Enterprise Connect! This year’s Enterprise Connect Orlando was the greatest in so many ways!First, the Expo floor was the largest and richest collection of communications technology exhibitors that I’ve seen in 25 years. It was an amazing mix of the leading unified communications and collaboration providers and contact center vendors. Beside these major groups, there were exhibitors in all aspects of video conferencing; many with communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) offerings; so many innovative devices; loads of ways to manage these great products and solutions; and plenty of system integrators to help make it all happen. Take a quick look at the Exhibitor list. And, this show seemed to cover the most physical space of recent events, as well. It was quite an experience to “do the Expo.”Second, the general sessions were really great, and were playing to the largest audience ever at an Enterprise Connect Orlando event. Keynoters from Microsoft and Cisco advanced the scope of UC&C, while Google Cloud’s keynoter shared the company’s distinct approach to enterprise communications, Amazon Web Services (AWS) shared the company’s disruptive approach for contact centers, and — wait for it — Walmart’s keynoter, Joe Park, chief digital architect and VP for associate digital experience, provided some impressive examples of how to put communications innovations to work. You can watch all the keynotes on demand, and it’ll be worth your time, IMHO.In addition, the mainstage included several panel discussions with enterprise communications and IT leaders and three fireside chats — short 15-minute interviews with top execs from UCaaS, CPaaS, and VCaaS challengers RingCentral, Twilio, and Zoom Video Communications, respectively.Third, Eric Krapf and Beth Schultz, the Enterprise Connect program co-chairs, did a great job of organizing the program to maximize value for the attendees. Most breakouts and panels were short, sweet 45-minute sessions, and the schedule deliberately allowed attendees plenty of time to focus on the Expo floor. For convenience, the EC team brought the conference program to the Expo floor too, with 20-minute breakout and sponsored sessions occurring in two presentation rooms, one at each end of the floor. And, the breakouts all week were organized around nine topical themes, plus a one-day conference within a conference focusing on enterprise communications and collaboration in 2022, making it for attendees to prioritize based on their interests.And, of course, there were plenty of social opportunities, with food and beverages in the Expo at the end of each day along with a welcome reception party on Monday evening and an appreciation party on Wednesday evening. Overall, EC19 was a great time. The Countdown to Enterprise Connect 2020 Is On! Beth Schultz August 28, 2019 Join us March 30 to April 2 in Orlando, Fla., for our annual enterprise communications & collaboration conference and exhibition. Themes of the WeekNow, here are 10 observations about the themes that I found most evident at EC19.1. Collaboration is the new marketing tag for employee communications packaged into various forms of online team work environments that include varying media types and styles of communications. Each vendor’s vision is that employees will certainly want to have these wonderful tools so they can communicate at work like they do on Facebook at home, and so that they can always have video for real-time interaction. Vendors are applying words like “intelligent” and “cognitive” to these workspaces, though it’s not entirely clear whether the software or the employee will be more intelligent or cognitive. It does seem clear that, just as with Facebook, various forms of back-end data capture and analysis will occur in these workspaces to drive the emerging use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in software products. These ideas produce great visionary presentations but may be quite a way from reality for most enterprises.Microsoft may earn a few extra points with its recognition that not all workers (perhaps barely half of all workers based on U.S. workforce data) actually work in that type of environment. Microsoft is addressing this with frontline worker tools, such as an app built in Teams for the benefit of shift-based workers, as presented in its keynote.2. Conferencing had a buzz of its own. Dozens of vendors showed mature and impressive cloud-based conferencing services (including conferencing in the collaboration tools noted above) or sophisticated conference room technologies. The visions and value propositions are continual improvement or even transformation of ever-present and time-consuming meetings.Click below to continue for themes three to 10Tags:News & ViewsCPaaScollaborationteam workspacesconferencingtelephony5GEnterprise ConnectAI & AutomationAPIs & Embedded CommunicationsBCStrategiesCloud CommunicationsContact Center & Customer Experience12nextlast Articles You Might Like EC19: Know Before You Go Michelle Burbick March 16, 2019 Enterprise Connect starts Monday! Here are some things you won’t want to miss. 6 Trends Recapping Enterprise Connect 2019 Zeus Kerravala March 25, 2019 EC19 has come to an end, and oh what a week it was. EC19_keynote-hallway.jpg See All in Enterprise Connect » Microsoft Wins Best of Enterprise Connect Overall Award Michelle Burbick March 19, 2019 And AWS, Microsoft, Mio, Optanix, and Plantronics-Polycom win in four new breakout categories. Log in or register to post comments
Toronto Blue Jays Josh Donaldson has won the Hank Aaron Award as the American League’s top offensive player as voted by fans and members of the media.In his first year with the Blue Jays, the third baseman hit .297, he finished tied for third in the American League with 41 home runs to go along with an AL-high 123 RBI while playing in 158 of 162 games.Nicknamed ‘Bringer of Rain’, he also led the majors in runs scored with 122, was second in the AL in slugging (.568), 5th in the AL in hits (184), 9th in AL on-base percentage (.371) and 10th in AL bases on balls (73).Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper took home the honour in the National League.“I congratulate Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson on earning the 2015 Hank Aaron Awards, representing the best offensive seasons in the American and National Leagues,” Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said. “At age 22, Bryce enjoyed great success, posting numbers that put him in the company of some of our game’s all-time greats.“Josh played a pivotal role in the Blue Jays’ first playoff season in 22 years, contributing to one of the game’s best lineups. Both players honoured the enduring legacy of Hank Aaron with all-around excellence throughout the 2015 season.”
Staffan de Mistura, who led a week-long assessment mission to Nepal that returned last Thursday, said the requests were in the form of identical letters, one from the Prime Minister and the other from the Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M).“Just today we got two letters… both have agreed on a five-point platform requesting the UN to get involved in the electoral process, in the arms management – which means cantonment both of the combatants and of the army, in the monitoring of the ceasefire and human rights,” he told reporters in New York.“The good news is everybody wants the UN involved, everybody wants the UN in assisting the peace process which is potentially fragile and should not be allowed to be kept fragile,” he said, adding that the mission’s report would be presented to the Secretary-General today and it would then be up to him to decide the next step.Mr. de Mistura also highlighted that the Maoists had recently agreed to extend their ceasefire and said he was “strongly encouraged” by today’s requests, particularly the fact that both sides had asked the UN how best to proceed on the “most delicate aspect” which is arms management.
Ohio State’s Cole Gorski celebrates in mid-air at the Simmons-Harvey Quad in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Jan. 21, 2018. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State track and field team this weekend will send 51 athletes — the most it has sent this outdoor season — to the Tennessee Relays, the most competitive meet so far this season in Knoxville, Tennessee.The meet consists of several athletes who have had top-20 performances this year and several professional athletes and Olympians, including Justin Gatlin. This relay meet will feature a few added events from most normal track meets such as the 4×200-meter relay, 4×800-meter relay, sprint medley and distance medley.Senior Cole Gorski believes this could be the first meet where most of the teams put their best foot forward.“I think it could just be due to the prestige of this meet alone,” Gorski said.Over the past few weeks, Ohio State has been spread out as a team. Only distance runners went to the Raleigh Relays, while just two pole vaulters went to the April Fool’s Meet. Ohio State also competed without its distance team last week at the Jim Click Invitational. Ohio State isn’t an outlier in college track and field for doing this. Gorski said this is due to the indoor and outdoor seasons being so close together and the need to keep athletes fresh.Men’s previewGorski is coming off a memorable performance last week at the Jim Click Invitational, when he cleared 18 feet in the pole vault. “It’s been such a long time coming because I’ve seen that bar and I think it took me seven meets of seeing that bar to finally jump it and get it to stay up there,” Gorski said. “All that was kind of built up and then when I was falling. And it’s still up there I was just like I don’t know. It’s just like an explosion of joy.”Pole vault coach Richard Ebin said 18 feet is the mark of an elite college pole vaulter.Gorski will compete against seven other pole vaulters that have jumped more than 18 feet, including Jake Blankenship, a Columbus native who placed third in the 2015 USA Track and Field Championships.“You know when you’re on that stage and you’re not like the No. 1 guy, they kind of just gives you that push that you like alright,” Gorski said. “I’m going to hang with the best of them.”Gorski’s main focus heading into this meet is to ensure he can smoothly get through the technical aspect of pole vault while keeping his trail legs as straight as possible for momentum. Gorski is not the only Buckeye going up against professional-level talent. Ohio State’s 4×100-meter-relay team has already set the fifth-fastest time in school history and it will be going up against a newly formed, professional powerhouse. The American ProForm Team comes with a loaded roster. Gatlin, 60-meter dash world-record holder Christian Coleman, Team USA member Ronnie Baker and Mike Rogers, an Olympian, comprise the team. Women’s previewSenior Madison Roberts has been Ohio State’s strongest pole vaulter in school history, and she will have her worked cut out for her this weekend. She will be going up against Duke’s Madison Heath, an indoor All-American, and Rachel Baxter, a second-team All-American.Roberts has been working on her final steps in run-ups and has been trying to get on bigger poles. Freshman Anavia Battle will be facing a familiar foe in Kentucky’s Kianna Gray, who beat Battle at the UCF Black and Gold Challenge. Since then, Battle has set a faster time this season. Oliver finished second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2017 and is currently running for Nike.Ohio State and Tennessee both have had fast 4×400-meter relay teams. At the NCAA Indoor Championships, Ohio State edged Tennessee by a mere .09 seconds. Earlier this outdoor season, the two competed against each other with slower lineups and Ohio State edged out the Volunteers. The meet begins at 2:45 p.m. Friday in Tennessee.
Posters and appeals for the missing have been put up in streets around Grenfell Tower, following the devastating blazeCredit:Nick Edwards 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. Maria Jafari cannot forgive herself for leaving her father Ali behind to investigate the commotion she heard as the fire at Grenfell Tower began.By the time she realised the severity of the situation firefighters refused to let her go back into the burning building for her own safety.Now her father is among those feared killed after the blaze consumed the 23-storey tower in west London.By a miracle her sister Nadia survived the blaze after she managed to stumble out of the building.Last night Maria said: “I wish I could have saved my father. But I didn’t know. If I’d known the fire was this big I would have taken him with me. But I thought he’d be safe. I just closed the window and let him sleep.”Hers is one one of dozens of heartrending stories to emerge from this national tragedy. For the Jafari family it began when Maria noticed something was happening below their 11th floor flat in the early hours of Wednesday morning.She told The Telegraph: “I saw the shadow of the fire on the street, and police and people running. I said to my mother ‘let’s go downstairs to see what’s going on’. My father – he was sleeping; I didn’t want to disturb him.” “Ernie was staying with his mother, they were on the 16th floor,” said Ms Delson, 45, who lives near to the tower. “We’ve been to all the hospitals to look for them. Marjorie has been living in the flat almost since it was built. She moved over here from Dominica when she was a girl. She is well known in the community.”Ms Delson said that her own children were classmates at Kensington Academy with several children from Grenfell Tower. “My children have lost a lot of their friends,” she said.In the meantime more than 50,000 people have signed a petition to bring the parents of a Syrian refugee killed in the fire to the UK for his funeral.Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year old Syrian refugee, was the first confirmed victim of the blaze, while his older brother Omar – who was with him in the flat – survived after they were separated on the way out. What happened next is unclear, but it is believed Nadia was rescued by a firefighter, while her father lost consciousness in the lift or a few paces from it.“They couldn’t breath,” said Maria. “If normal people couldn’t breath, how could my father – he’s a heart patient?”Fighting against the choking smoke Nadia managed to stumble out of the building, but her father, has not been seen since.Around five or ten harrowing minutes later Maria was reunited with Nadia, as she stumbled clear of the tower, coughing and with a blackened face.She managed to splutter just seven words: “I lost my father in the lift.”Nadia was treated in hospital but has since been discharged.Maria yesterday condemned what she said was the shoddy way Grenfell Tower had been repaired and refurbished.“We are really angry. There was no fire alarm. No water. They don’t think about our safety,” she said, criticising the building’s management, KCTMO, for “buying cheap material” with which to clad the building. “Money is not important. Life is important. No one can bring the life back.”The were growing fears last night that the flames that claimed Maria’s father may have also killed as many as 15 children who attended a nursery on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower. Marjorie Vital and her son Ernie, feared dead in the Grenfell Tower fireCredit:Family poster Grenfell Creche Under Threes Centre confirmed several young children who attend the creche and live in the block were unaccounted for, but would not say how many.Nursery manager Shirley Sylvester said: “We’re completely devastated.”Ish Murray, 35, whose sister works at the nursery, said: “These are babies and three year-olds. It’s tragic.”Mimi Delson last night told how she feared her 67-year-old aunt Marjorie Vital and her cousin Ernie, 43, had also been killed in the fire. Ms Jafari shut the windows in the flat and, with her mother, descended to the ground floor in the lift which just seconds later would become a death trap.“When I went downstairs I looked up and saw the fire on the tenth floor,” she said. “I thought it’s going to go to my floor. I called my sister – I wanted to say “come out, there’s a fire”, but the phone didn’t work.“I was shouting “I’m going back to take my father out”, but they [firefighters] said ‘you can’t go back upstairs’.”Ms Jafari told the emergency crews her 82-year-old father was a heart patient and gave them the keys to her flat.In the meantime, upstairs, Mr Jafari and 27-year-old Nadia were struggling the escape the growing inferno.Shortly after Maria had left the flat, Nadia realised she had to get her father out so took him into the corridor.The elderly man was so terrified of the naked gas pipes in the stairwells he tried to escape with his daughter by using the lift, but after descending just one floor it filled with choking smoke.“They both said let’s go in the lift, it will go quickly. Because on the stairs they put the pipes for us; they were planning for our death,” said a traumatised Maria. His family said: “Mohammad was a very amazing and kind person. He gave love to everyone. He came to the UK because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family. Our whole family will miss Mohammad dearly and he will never be forgotten. To God we belong and to him we return.”Mirna Suleiman, 26, a family friend, launched the petition because of the difficulties faced by Syrians in travelling to Britain.”I’ve tried to apply for a visa for my nan in Syria – appealed and appealed and got no response,” she said.The percentage of rejected visa applications for visits from Syria has soared after the country’s devastating civil war began in 2011. The Home Office has indicated that it will allow Mr Alhajali’s family to come to the UK on compassionate grounds.