Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsThe Court of Appeal of Alberta, citing “frailties in the evidence,” overturned on Wednesday the murder conviction of a Cree woman from Nekaneet First Nation and ordered a new trial after a finding a “miscarriage of justice” occurred in her case.The three judges on the Alberta Appeal Court split on the decision, with Justice Bruce McDonald penning a dissenting opinion.The other two judges, Justice Myra Bielby and Justice J.A. Schutz, concluded in the majority ruling that recent related developments in the case against Connie Oakes, which relied almost exclusively on the testimony of the co-accused Wendy Scott who was described as an “unsavoury witness,” warranted her conviction of second degree murder be overturned and a new trial ordered.Oakes, who is from the southern Saskatchewan Cree community of Nekaneet, was serving a life sentence in the Edmonton Institution for Women with no change of parole for 14 years after a Medicine Hat, Alta., jury found her guilty in the 2011 murder of Casey Armstrong, 48. Armstrong was found dead in his bathtub with a puncture wound through the neck from a blow that nearly decapitated him.It’s expected she will now be moved to the provincial remand centre in Medicine Hat.Oakes has maintained her innocence of the murder from the moment she was first interviewed by Medicine Hat police.The judges determined that last October’s Court of Appeal ruling striking Scott’s guilty plea in and order of a new trial further weakened the testimony on which the Crown built its case against Oakes. The ruling highlighted the trial Crown’s emphasis on Scott’s guilty plea to buttress her problematic testimony during trial which was replete with contradictions and inconsistencies. Scott was assessed as having an IQ of 50.“The emphasis thus put on Ms. Scott’s apparent admission of personal responsibility as an aid in assessing credibility, an admission now set aside and thus irrelevant, was repeatedly highlighted to the jury,” said the ruling. “Given the frailties in Ms. Scott’s testimony and also the purported independent confirmatory evidence, the jury may well not have been able to get to a guilty verdict without the ‘finding of guilt’ by another judge in relation to Ms. Scott, a finding which has now been set aside in favour of retrial…The fresh evidence places the reliability of Ms. Oakes’ conviction in serious doubt.”Scott’s trial is scheduled to begin next February.Scott also swore in an affidavit that she “did not believe Connie Oakes was at Casey Armstrong’s trailer and I wanted to help her.”Wendy Scott in a Facebook photo posted in 2008.The judges also listed the litany of problems in the case built against Oakes.“No forensic evidence, evidence of motive or other evidence linked Ms. Oakes, or any other particular perpetrator, to the murder,” said the ruling, which also highlighted Medicine Hat police failed to identify a bloody boot print found in Armstrong’s bathroom. “Rather, the only evidence identifying Ms. Oakes as the murderer was the testimony of Ms. Scott, who admitted she herself was present when the murder was committed and, during cross-examination, agreed that she had earlier identified three other individuals as the murderer to the police…Ms. Scott testified that she had lied to the police when she accused each of these three other people.”Read APTN’s investigation into the Connie Oakes case hereThe rulingDownload (PDF, Unknown)One of Oakes’ lawyers Alexandra Seaman said she was “thrilled” the majority on the Appeal Court overturned the murder conviction.“The majority of the Court of Appeal was quite clear a miscarriage of justice has occurred in this case,” said Seaman.Seaman said the focus will now turn to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Medicine Hat which will again be the scene of Oakes’ retrial.No court date has yet been set to being that process, but Seaman said she will be working on getting Oakes a bail hearing and a trial date as early as possible.Casey Armstrong. Medicine Hat olice handoutThe Crown has the opportunity to take Wednesday’s decision to the Supreme Court because of the dissenting opinion.The Crown’s office issued a statement saying there would be no comment because the matter is still before the courts.Oakes was a “little disappointed” with the ruling because she was hoping for an acquittal, said her aunt Linda Oakes.“She sounded a little disappointed,” said Oakes, who spoke with Connie Oakes Wednesday morning. “She said she needed to get out because her mom is not doing good.”Linda Oakes said the family is now hoping Connie Oakes will soon get on bail.“With the new trial, how are they going to do that, they never had any evidence to begin with,” said Linda Oakes. “We were hoping she’d get out, mom is not doing so good, she needs to be out here.”Connie Oakes’ aging mother Margaret Oakes has been dealing with health issues related to diabetes.The ruling left Armstrong’s daughter, Karli Armstrong confused and saddened.“I don’t know what to think,” she said. “My heart is broken.”The ruling also suggested another woman, nicknamed Ginger, may have been involved in the killing. Scott initially accused Ginger of the murder during police interrogations before settling on Oakes. The ruling said the only supporting evidence submitted during trial on the possible identity of Armstrong’s murder came from an eye witness who saw two women, one with red hair, standing by a red car outside Armstrong’s residence.“The neighbour’s evidence more strongly supports the identification of the person earlier identified by Ms. Scott as being the killer, Ginger, as that independent witness testified that one of the two women she saw had reddish hair as did Ginger, who also owned a red car at the time,” said the ruling.APTN independently confirmed that the red car Medicine Hat police believed was used in the murder was bought with cash and crack by a drug dealer named Ginger who has red hair. APTN knows the identity of Ginger.Read APTN’s investigation into Ginger and the red car hereThe ruling also highlighted that Scott only accused Oakes of the murder after police interrogators told her they had found her DNA in the trailer and that Oakes had implicated her in the crime.“We now know both those statements were false, but suggests that Ms. Scott then named various parties as the killer to deflect attention from her own involvement,” said the ruling. “Ms. Scott’s evidence was exceedingly frail as to her implication of Ms. Oakes, and the evidence which purported to be independent and confirmatory was evidence which did not unequivocally or reliably identify her as the murderer.”In his dissent, McDonald determined Oakes’ appeal had no merit.“The subsequent overturning of Ms. Scott’s conviction, her so-called ‘recantation,’ and her disputed and implausible allegations of police impropriety do not demonstrate a miscarriage of justice,” wrote McDonald.firstname.lastname@example.org@JorgeBarrera
Panaji: BJP’s Pramod Sawant is tipped to be the new chief minister of Goa, party sources said here Monday.Parrikar, 63, who died Sunday after battling pancreatic cancer, was cremated with state honours here Monday evening. Sawant is now Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly, while the two would-be Dy CMs are Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar. As per the power-sharing arrangement reached with allies, an MLA each from two small parties backing BJP in the coastal state will be made deputy chief ministers, the sources said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’After a stalemate following a series of meetings with the allies, the BJP managed to break the deadlock, offering them their pound of flesh, by accepting the key demand for deputy CM’s posts. . “We have managed to convince the alliance partners and finalised the formula of two deputy chief ministers for the state, a senior BJP functionary said. Union minister Nitin Gadkari Monday evening had said a consensus eluded the BJP and its allies on the next Goa chief minister, adding the BJP had zeroed in on the CM candidate but the allies were yet to get on board. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThere were a series of meetings involving the Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s three MLAs each, an equal number of Independents, and BJP legislators since late Sunday night to reach a consensus on Parrikar’s successor. Gadkari had flown into the state early Monday to lead the discussion. Parrikar was heading a coalition government comprising the BJP, three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), the MGP and three independents. Congress is currently the single largest party in the state with 14 MLAs. The BJP has 12 legislators in the 40-member Assembly, whose strength now is 36 after Parrikar’s death. The strength of the House has reduced due to the demise of BJP MLA Francis D’Souza earlier this year, and Parrikar on Sunday, and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte last year. All the state Congress MLAs met Governor Mridula Sinha on Monday and staked claim to form a government in the coastal state. The MLAs, led by Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, went to Raj Bhawan and handed over a letter to Sinha, saying it was the single largest party in the Assembly and should be allowed to form the government. “We are saddened by the chief minister’s demise, but before his final rites are performed, a new government has to be formed…The governor acknowledged that the Congress is the single largest party and she said she will get back to us,” Kavlekar told reporters. Parrikar was cremated with state honours here Monday, with thousands bidding the affable politician a tearful farewell. BJP president Amit Shah, some Union ministers and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states attended the funeral at Miramar. Parrikar’s eldest son Utpal lit the funeral pyre.
B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, is among the UN officials participating in the gathering, which will also examine economic, development and humanitarian issues. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has organized the one-day conference, which aims to bring together representatives of the Yemeni Government, the UN and the broader international community to determine how they can best jointly tackle the major challenges facing Yemen, including the threat posed by terrorism. Sustained international support will be needed to ensure Yemen’s prosperity, security and stability, a UN spokesperson said today, stressing that it is hoped the conference will be the start of a long-term process of cooperation between Yemeni authorities and the country’s regional and international partners. Senior UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, have voiced concern in recent months about the humanitarian situation in the country’s northwest, where fighting between Government forces and rebels have displaced thousands of people. 26 January 2010The United Nations political chief will head a delegation from the world body taking part in tomorrow’s international high-level meeting in London on the situation in Yemen, amid rising concerns about the possible influence of Al-Qaida and other radical elements in the Arab country.
“This is a matter of survival for millions of civilians. I urge you all to spare no efforts to rid the world completely of this deadly menace,” he told a meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva in a message marking the entry into force of a new protocol to the treaty delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuaki Tanaka. Mr. Annan said he was “delighted” at the entry into force of “Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War,” adopted by 92 countries at the UN’s Geneva headquarters three years ago, which came into force yesterday after two dozen States agreed to be bound by it, and called on all countries to implement its provisions voluntarily, pending their adherence. The clause obliges parties to take “remedial measures to mark and clear, remove or destroy unexploded ordnance or abandoned explosive ordnance” as early as possible after the end of hostilities, providing as significant legal basis for efforts to protect civilians and humanitarian organizations in conflict zones.This summer’s conflict between Israel and Hizbollah underscored the problem. UN de-mining officials worry that up to 1 million pieces of unexploded ordnance were left over in southern Lebanon from the 34-day war with a density higher than in Kosovo and Iraq, especially in built-up areas, posing a constant threat to hundreds of thousands of civilians as well as humanitarian and reconstruction workers and peacekeepers.Meanwhile Cambodia and Viet Nam continue to bear the burden of such bombs 30 years after the end of war, impeding safe land cultivation and infrastructure development.“Wars do not always end with the last gunshot or the signing of a ceasefire agreement. Long after hostilities cease, the human consequences continue. People continue to be killed or injured by unexploded or abandoned explosive ordnance,” Mr. Annan said, telling States Parties they bear primary responsibility for the Protocol’s implementation.“Your success will be judged by your ability to overcome many difficult challenges,” he added. “You will have to mobilize resources, share experiences and information, and cooperate closely and effectively with others.” UN Mine Action Service Director Max Gaylard stressed that the Protocol obliged its parties to provide crucial information on the location of such explosives to humanitarian workers.“This is welcomed by all of us at the United Nations,” he said, noting that humanitarian organizations often deploy to areas affected by landmines and other explosive remnants. “We will appreciate the additional protection.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) greets some of the workers who have been helping to renovate the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York, 15 September 2014. UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeSeasoned staff, meanwhile, are revving up preparations for the big day.Their tasks can be as detailed as ensuring that the flags of all UN Member States are correctly identified and steam-ironed crisp to ordering the correct shade and number of blue hydrangeas – representing the official UN colour of light blue – for the flowers adorning each table at the official luncheon of the gathered world leaders, as well as the very careful vetting of the food menus so as not to offend any cultures.The main course usually ends up being lamb or beef, with vegetarian and vegan options. “Most men prefer meat,” according to a UN Protocol staffer.UN Protocol, which has been handling the mushrooming protocol tasks with the same number of staff of 10 even as the number of Member States climbed from the original 51 to 193 today, arranges for accreditation of guests, VIP passes, the main luncheon and a separate event – a tea – for the First Ladies, arranging the bilateral meetings of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the visiting dignitaries and escorting each and every speaker to the famed General Assembly podium at the right time. Visit by the Secretary-General to the newly renovated GA Hall, 15 September 2014. UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeFor example, he said, a decision was taken not to install a headphone audio system with two earpieces and to instead keep the “one-ear piece system” because “delegates like to have one ear tuned into the Speaker and the other to their colleagues.”The new General Assembly Hall will also have room to grow ¬for more than 193 Members – with space now for 204.“At this stage, it is anticipated that some 144 Member States will be represented at the highest level of Head of State and Government,” according to the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) responsible for the smooth running of the 69th session of the Assembly, which officially opens today.They will start arriving a week from today for the Assembly’s annual high-level segment, known as the “General Debate”, to tackle myriad crises, ranging from the deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and South Sudan, as well as the no less urgent threats such as the long-term consequences of climate change and ongoing poverty and hunger in many parts of the world. The frenzied preparations for just a single State visit have been popularized by the television series The West Wing . Now multiply that frenetic energy by 196 – the number of leaders expected to address the opening of this year’s United Nations General Assembly session – and you get an idea of the sheer amount of work being put into making sure everything goes off without a hitch.And this year, there is even more activity at UN Headquarters ahead of the high-profile arrivals on : construction workers in bright neon yellow vests are working around the clock both inside and outside the newly renovated iconic General Assembly Hall to get it ready in time.“How gorgeous is this renovated entryway to the United Nations General Assembly building” tweeted a veteran UN correspondent after getting a sneak preview of the Hall, which has the look and feel of the original structure from the 1950s but with the state of the art electronics, improved and more efficient systems for heating ventilation and air conditioning, as well as better safety and security features make the building fit for the 21st century.The seven-year renovation project has included replacing the gold-leafed background behind the iconic UN emblem that had become caked with tar and nicotine over the decades of cigarette and cigar smoke, resurrecting the original forest green carpet that had become faded and threadbare in spots, as well as restoring the leather desks and chairs to their original form and colour¬ – with the exception of removing the ashtrays and raising the desks one-and-a-half inches to make them wheelchair accessible. Michael Adlerstein, who heads the Capital Master Plan, as the $2.1-billion renovation of the 17-acre UN Headquarters complex is known, also noted that certain traditions could not be tinkered with. Work on the renovation of the UN Headquarters complex in New York continues under the Capital Master Plan (CMP). A view of the the General Assembly Hall where construction work is underway, 10 February 2014. UN Photo/Werner SchmidtThe range of items that will be discussed on the side lines of the General Assembly speech-making reflect the number of conflicts and challenges the UN and the world are facing today. They range from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Myanmar, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Central Asia, Mali, Central African Republic, and the elaboration of the so-called post-2015 development agenda, to be adopted next year as a successor framework to the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).In other meetings next week, United States President Barrack Obama will convene a Security Council summit on 24 September to draw high-level international attention and action to the growing and dangerous phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters. In addition, Secretary-General Ban has announced a major meeting on 25 September to also focus on a more robust international response to Ebola crisis in West Africa.Ensuring the smooth opening of the General Assembly session falls to the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, under the leadership of Tegegnework Gettu.“The provision by the UN Secretariat of conference services critical to the smooth functioning of the intergovernmental deliberations of the United Nations is one of the original purposes of the Organization,” Mr. Gettu said. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) tours the General Assembly Hall where construction work is taking place under the Capital Master Plan (CMP) for the renovation of the UN Headquarters complex. Renovation of the Hall is scheduled to be completed in time for the opening of the Assembly’s 69th Session in September, 9 June 2014. UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeSome 2,000 media accreditations are given out for the week’s events, and a record 4,000 delegates from 900 non-governmental organizations from more than 110 countries already attended pre-General Assembly conferences.The number of speakers underscores the breadth and universality of this annual gathering: 195 speakers are expected to address the General Assembly starting on September 23 over a period of six days on major issues of international concern, comprising all the 193 UN Member States, as well as the Observer State of the Holy See, the Observer State of Palestine and the delegation of the European Union.This year, reflecting the magnitude of issues that confront the world, the start of the General Debate has been pushed for the first time to a Wednesday instead of Tuesday, to make room for a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, and a special session of the General Assembly on Population and Development.The UN Secretary-General himself, on 23 September, will be hosting a climate change summit, an initiative directly spearheaded by him and aimed at galvanizing the political commitment at the highest political level necessary towards sealing a comprehensive global deal in 2015 to effectively and sustainably combat climate change. Work on the renovation of the UN Headquarters complex in New York continues under the Capital Master Plan (CMP). A view of the Visitors’ Lobby of the General Assembly Building, where construction work is underway, 21 January 2014This includes months of coordination meetings, preparation of a series of parliamentary documents, their translation in the United Nations’ six official languages, preparation of meeting notes for the President of the General Assembly – Sam Kahamba Kutesa of Uganda will head up the 69th session – liaison with Member States, briefings to the Assembly President and his team, briefings to Member States, and allocation of rooms, amongst many other tasks.As customary, the President of the General Assembly will opens the first plenary meeting on 16th September. Then President Kutesa will start guiding the global conversation on some 175 items, contained in the draft agenda for the 69th session, covering a wide-range of topics of global concern from development to security, and from human rights to the promotion of justice and international law.As the final preparations are reaching their peak for year’s session, veteran staff have already begun to think about and brace for next year’s General Assembly session: 2015 will be the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, and record numbers are expected to descend upon UN Headquarters in September 2015.
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NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is charging princely prices for its first games in Britain.Premium seats at London’s Olympic Stadium will cost 385 pounds ($493) for the games between the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox on June 29 and 30. The top non-premium seats near the infield cost 320 pounds ($410).Seats in the outfield corners go for 270 ($346) and 220 pounds ($282), according to a chart on Ticketmaster’s website. The ones behind the outfield fences go for 120 pounds ($154).Tickets in the second deck cost 270, 170 ($218), 145 ($186), 120, 80 ($102), 45 ($58) and 30 pounds ($38).A presale for Yankees and Red Sox season ticket holders starts Friday, and a presale for those who have pre-registered begins Monday. The general on-sale date is Dec. 6.Site of the 2012 Olympics, the publicly owned stadium in East London was extensively remodeled for the West Ham soccer club, which starting playing there in the 2016-17 season. West Ham charges 80 to 55 pounds ($70) for category A Premier League matches this season, with discounts for club members and lower prices for category B and C games.Tickets for games between New York and Boston at Yankee Stadium in April range from $550 to $45, according to the team’s website, with premium seats costing more. Boston has not yet posted individual game prices on its website.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsRonald Blum, The Associated Press
The Ohio State men’s golf team didn’t get off to the start it envisioned earlier this month in the NCAA West Regional Tournament. The Buckeyes sat in a tie for 11th place on the 13-team field after the first round of the three-round tournament. But, on day two, OSU ascended the leader board, jumping eight spots to third place and eventually earning a fourth-place finish, good enough to advance to the NCAA Championships. The team’s confidence has been high ever since. “My game feels like it’s peaking right now,” said senior Michael Cress, who finished fourth in individual scoring at the regional tournament. “Me and all of the guys, we’re all riding on a big wave of confidence.” Second-year coach Donnie Darr agreed. “They just have to play with confidence,” he said. “The light’s clicked on that, ‘Wow, we’re pretty good if we just believe in ourselves,’ so I expect big things.” The tournament will take place at the par-72, 7,407-yard Karsten Creek Golf Course, which is home to Oklahoma State’s golf team. Before coming to Columbus, Darr was an assistant coach for the Cowboys golf team at the school also known as OSU from 2006–09. “We should have a significant advantage over a lot of the teams,” Darr said. “A few of the teams have played the course before, but just my experience of being there for three years should really help us.” Senior Brad Smith agreed. “With his knowledge, I think it’s definitely going to help us once we get down there,” he said. The first three rounds of the tournament will begin today and run through Thursday. The top eight teams on the 30-team field will advance to match play, which begins June 3. The final two teams remaining will face each other June 5, with the winner being crowned the 2011 national champion. Cress said his team has what it takes to still be playing Friday. “I think we have a great chance to shock some people, do some damage in the match play,” he said. “Once you get to the match play, anything can happen.” Senior Bo Hoag said he was excited to have a shot at a national championship. “Just to have to a chance to win a national championship,” he said, “just to have that opportunity is unbelievable.” Joining Cress, Hoag and Smith as the starters in the tournament are juniors Dan Charen and Alex Redfield. “It’s great to see that these guys bought in to what I believe,” Darr said. “They worked hard; they did the right things and now they’re getting a reward for it.” Smith said the team may be getting the reward at a time when he and his teammates are playing at their full potential. “It’s really exciting,” Smith said. “We’ve had a good year and I think we’re kind of playing well at the right time. I’m really excited to see what we can do this week.” Tee times begin at 8 a.m.
The HR advice memo reads: “Feedback from managers strongly suggested that, when assessing performance, the rating ‘satisfactory’ was not effective.”The word suggests that you are adequate and reasonable, which are not pleasing words for people to hear about their own performance. It gives the impression you are ‘good but not good enough’ and can be demotivating.”This comment was raised by a number of staff, including members of Management Team. It has been proposed that the rating ‘satisfactory’ is changed to ‘good’.”Councillors are considering changing staff appraisals “to emphasise the responsibility of both the line manager, as the appraiser, and the employee, as the appraiser”.What do you think? Join the debate by leaving a comment below. Council chiefs have come under fire over plans to ban the word “satisfactory” from staff appraisals over fears it will make them feel “not good enough”.East Cambridgeshire District Council is expected to approve the controversial idea after a report claimed the word would “demotivate” its staff. It suggests that the word “good” is used instead.A report by the council’s head of Human Resources, Nicole Pema, said the proposal came after “feedback from senior colleagues”.She said they “strongly suggested” that when assessing performance the word was not effective. 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. We need things that accurately describe performance and there is a significant difference in ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’Cllr Bill Hunt In a report to the council’s Regulatory and Support Services Committee, Ms Pema said: “The word suggests that you are adequate and reasonable which are not pleasing words for people to hear about their own performance.”She claims the word gives the impression people are “good but not good enough”, which can be demotivating. She added: “It is proposed that the rating ‘satisfactory’ is changed to ‘good’.”The new rules are expected to be officially passed at a meeting of the Regulatory & Support Services Committee on Monday.The move has been criticised by some on the council, who say reports need to accurately reflect employees’ performance.Conservative councillor Bill Hunt said: “I think it’s just semantics. There is a difference between ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’. If I were to put ‘good’ on a scale, it would be a seven, and if I put ‘satisfactory’ at about five.”We need things that accurately describe performance and there is a significant difference in ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’. If these people have problems or difficulties they should just say it.”He added: “As far as I know, this is just about some disgruntled staff, but I’m no expert on this. Satisfactory is not what we want to be – good should be the bottom level for East Cambridgeshire District Council.”
Princess Charlotte and big brother Prince George arrive at Thomas’Credit:PA Princess Charlotte has become known for her spirited public appearances, appearing confident in front of the camera even as a toddler. A picture taken behind-the-scenes at their home of Kensington Palace before the school run shows the siblings with their arms around each other’s waists, posing for the family photo album.A spokesman for the palace said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to share a photograph of Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Kensington Palace this morning.” The Duke and Duchess each carried a large school backpack, one for each child, with the Princess’s decorated with a pink sequinned keyring in the shape of a unicorn head. Prince George, who is now in Year Two, chatted happily as the family walked across the playground, occasionally looking behind him to check his little sister was still there. Princess Charlotte, who usually appears the more confident of the pair, hung back a little behind her mother, rearranging her dark blue skirt. Looking smart in her new uniform, she walked on her tip toes and played with her ponytail as she was introduced to Helen Haslem, head of Thomas’s lower school. Princess Charlotte looked uncharacteristically shy for a momentCredit:PA The journey across the playground, which took less than a minute, was captured for the history books by one photographer and one television camera, carefully arranged to make sure the children felt comfortable and minimise disruption for the school. Thomas’s Battersea, which is described as a Christian school, emphases the importance of “kindness” in its pupils and works on a foundation that “praise as the greatest motivator”.Art, ballet, drama, ICT, French, music and physical education are all taught by specialist teachers from a child’s first day, in the Grade II listed building dating back to 1700.Now they have two children at the school, the Cambridges will be entitled to a sibling discount with annual fees reduced from £19,287 to £18,915. Prince George and Princess Charlotte get ready for schoolCredit:Kensington Palace Prince George starts school in 2017Credit:PA “Good morning! How are you? Did you have a nice summer?” the Duchess asked, before encouraging Charlotte to shake hands. In contrast to Prince George’s first day of school in September 2017 when his mother was suffering from severe morning sickness, both the Duke and Duchess were there to settle the Princess in to her new world. The Duchess, wearing a Michael Kors dress she was previously seen in at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding rehearsal, walked with Charlotte while the Duke accompanied George, holding hands in pairs for the short journey. Princess Charlotte looked eager to get going, as mum and dad carried the school bagsCredit:PA The Cambridge family arrive for Princess Charlotte’s first day of schoolCredit:PA She had shiny new shoes, a smart ponytail and a sequinned unicorn keyring for good luck.There was just one other thing Princess Charlotte needed for her first day of school: a big brother to show her the ropes. The Princess, who has charmed the nation with her confidence since she was old enough to show off her royal wave, appeared uncharacteristically shy as she arrived at Thomas’s school today, holding her mother’s hand tightly and hovering behind her skirt. So it was down to her older brother to lend a hand, as the Duchess of Cambridge told her daughter Prince George “will help show you the way” as they embarked on a new school year together. The Princess was “very excited” for her first day, the Duke said, as she followed six-year-old veteran schoolboy Prince George into the classrooms. The landmark morning for Princess Charlotte saw the Cambridge family out in force, with proud father the Duke driving his wife and two older children to Thomas’s, Battersea for at 8.15am start. As she visited the Lindo Wing to meet her little brother Prince Louis, she charmed onlookers by turning to wave at them from the hospital steps. During his christening, she was caught on camera cheerfully telling photographers “you’re not coming” as she walked to a tea party with her family. The Duke added: “First day! She’s very excited.”The four-year-old, who bears a striking resemblance to the Queen at the same age, will be known as Charlotte Cambridge to staff and schoolmates.As they made their way into the school building, the Duchess was heard to tell the Princess that Prince George “will help show you the way” when they were inside. Charlotte greets head of lower school Helen HaslemCredit:PA In a recent trip to a charity sailing regatta on the Isle of Wight, she left the Duchess laughing after she poked her tongue out at a waiting crowd.Prince George, who will one day be king, has often seemed more hesitant in front of the cameras.His own first day of school saw him clutching his father’s hand and looking shyly at the floor, his true excitement at starting in reception class only captured by a beaming picture taken behind-the-scenes. Sign up for our brilliant free newsletter, Your Royal Appointment, and get royal news and analysis sent straight to your inbox every Wednesday.
Microsoft would really like to get more of its Surface tablets running Windows into the hands of consumers, and is taking some pretty drastic action to make that happen. How drastic? How about offering you a few hundred dollars to trade in an iPad?If you live within the vicinity of a Microsoft Store, a new offer will see Microsoft hand you $200 on a gift card in exchange for an iPad. The qualifying Apple tablets includes the iPad 2, 3, and 4, and the $200 is actually a minimum. That’s a minimum because Microsoft is working with CExchange to handle the used products, so the value of your iPad may actually be higher, and if it is, it looks like they’ll honor that fair trade-in price.Of course, Microsoft is also suggesting you use that gift card to purchase a Surface RT or Surface Pro device, but as it’s a gift card you can use it to purchase anything in-store. In fact, if you’ve just purchased a new iPad and have an old one gathering dust that qualifies, you might as well go trade it at a Microsoft Store and spend it on a bunch of non-tablet products.If you want to take advantage of this offer, Microsoft will be accepting iPads (with power cords) until October 27. But if it proves popular and Surface tablet sales spike, I can’t see why they wouldn’t extend it in the run up to Christmas. In fact, it makes sense to do that anyway.
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram International concern is growing following the announcement of the government’s program in parliament, with worries expressed and interest withdrawn in a number of instances concerning investment and privatisation projects.The Chinese premier has asked the Greek prime minister to support his country’s plans for investing in Piraeus port, the chief executive of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold, Paul Wright, arrived in Athens on Thursday to speak to the government about the mines it controls in Halkidiki after Environment and Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis pledged to cancel the investment at Skouries, and Italy’s Terna announced its withdrawal from the bidding for the acquisition of power grid operator ADMIE.A week ago the notable absence of foreign oil companies rendered the tender for the concession of blocks for hydrocarbon surveying and utilization in western Greece a Greek-only affair, following the withdrawal of three major multinationals (Total, Shell and Repsol) and the last-minute dropout by Italy’s Enel.Beijing’s concern about a halt in the privatization process for Piraeus Port Authority was reflected in the phone conversation that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which was published on the Chinese government’s website on Thursday. Li assured Tsipras that the Cosco investment in Piraeus “has favored job creation,” adding: “I hope both sides respect their commitments. China wishes to cooperate with Greece to turn this port into a transit junction between China and Europe. We hope that the Greek government supplies the biggest legal guarantees to Chinese enterprises in Greece.”Source: Kathimerini
Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri insists he can handle the team’s trip to Belgrade for their UEFA Champions League return clash against Red Star Belgrade.The Swiss star was fined during the World Cup after he celebrated a goal against Serbia by making an eagle gesture identical to the one on the Albanian flag.Shaqiri put in an impressive display for the Reds against Red Star on Wednesday, as Jurgen Klopp’s side recorded a comfortable 4-0 victory at Anfield.However, a far more hostile reception awaits Shaqiri and the Merseyside club in the return leg next month, but the former Stoke City winger insists he is prepared.Crouch: Liverpool could beat Man United to Jadon Sancho Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Peter Crouch wouldn’t be surprised to see Jadon Sancho end up at Liverpool one day instead of his long-term pursuers Manchester United.“I had this already at the World Cup so I know I can handle this no problem,” Shaqiri said, according to FourFourTwo.“I just saw a few articles where one player said something. I don’t really care what people are saying.”“I just go there to play a football game. It is not about politics, it is about football. I worry about nothing and go to play.”Liverpool host Cardiff at Anfield on Saturday as they look to continue their challenge for the Premier League title this season
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#TurksandCaicos, September 20, 2017 – Providenciales – Shelters will be reopened says the Government as the country braces for an overnight tango with dangerous category five hurricane Maria on Thursday. A media debriefing will happen on Wednesday morning for further information on what the public needs to know about the system and the contingency plan, given the fact that the TCI’s defenses are certainly weakened since the encounter with Hurricane Irma and its 180mph winds.We expect to hear details on the shelter plans, what can happen with debris still strewn about since the last hurricane, what will happen with the prison which suffered damage and where prisoners escaped, about fuel, water, building and other supplies, an update on electricity restoration and what kind of weather conditions the TCI will experience as Maria moves through.It is also now announced the Providenciales International Airport is closed as of 8pm Wednesday, which is about 24 hours before hurricane Maria is set to arrive to these islands as a Category 4 hurricane.#MagneticMediaNews Related Items:
Alaska’s top military commander, Lieutenant General Russell Handy has been on the job here for more than a year. He’s overseeing ALCOM here at a time when the U.S relationship with Russia has grown frosty. In September, Russian military flights that were within 50 miles of the Alaskan and Canadian coast lines caused enough concern that F22s were sent from JBER to intercept them. Lt. General Handy says the Russian flights did not cross into the 12 mile international boundary zone and were not considered hostile.Download Audio
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas TribuneLt. Gov. Dan Patrick delivers a keynote address during a Texas Public Policy Foundation orientation session on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.While Democrats clamored for stricter gun regulations and Gov. Greg Abbott discussed measures to tighten school security following Friday’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick set his sights on another target: the makers of violent films and video games.Patrick spent the weekend on national television talking about what was to blame for the tragedy in southeast Texas that left 10 people dead, the latest in a spate of mass shootings across the country. It wasn’t the ready availability of guns in this country, Patrick said. Instead, the bloodshed was the result of a “violent culture where we’ve devalued life,” Patrick told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.“We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies and particularly violent video games, which now outsell movies and music,” he said. “Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of violent video games.”But many of those games are at least partially produced in Texas — including “Prey,” a first-person shooter horror game rated for mature players age 17 or older, and “Doom,” another mature-rated first-person shooter that depicts “mutilated corpses with exposed organs/viscera strewn in the environment,” according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board. And the state government has given millions of dollars in incentives to some of their creators.Patrick has supported those state-funded incentive payments to lure film, television and video game creators to Texas, but on Wednesday he said those payments should be barred from certain projects or he would withdraw his support for the incentives program.“The lieutenant governor does not support using state taxpayer dollars to make violent films or video games that are harmful to our children,” spokesman Alejandro Garcia said in an email, noting the Texas Film Commission may decide which projects get reimbursed. “If this is the direction they are going, the lieutenant governor will not support their funding requests in the future.”The Texas Film Commission, which reports to Abbott and administers the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, can dole out reimbursements to film, television and video game makers to cover some of the costs they incur locally. The program’s goal is to make Texas an attractive state for creative businesses, and it has backing from the governor, as well as film, television and video game producers.But it’s a source of heartburn for Tea Party lawmakers, who are quick to pillory the incentive payments as corporate welfare for Hollywood. State Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, who last year filed a bill that would have defunded the program, declined to comment for this story but said her previous legislation speaks for itself.Lawmakers have scaled back funding for the moving image program after it received a record-high $95 million two-year budget for 2014 and 2015. Though Abbott last year hoped lawmakers would allocate $72 million for film and video game makers, the final appropriation came to about $22 million.At the time, Patrick vowed to support the incentives program, diverging from the more conservative lawmakers of the Senate he presides over. Patrick told a gathering of the Texas Cultural Trust that he’d work to find funding for the program, according to a Texas Monthly report from February 2017, during the early days of the legislative session. “I am disappointed that we are not the film capital of the United States,” he was quoted as saying.As of January 2015, the most recent month for which data was readily available, video game companies had received $9.7 million in state incentive payments, receiving payouts for shooter games such as “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” which received $10,000; “BioShock Infinite,” which received $19,000; “Section 8,” which received $250,000; and “Loadout,” which received $1.1 million.A spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association, a video game trade group, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.In the same time period, Texas had given out about $16 million for feature films since the program began in 2008. (The governor’s office directed a Texas Tribune reporter to file an open records request for more recent data.)Mindy Raymond, a board member of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance industry group, said the vast majority of film projects that received incentive payments were not violent and that a significant number were “faith based.” She said it was up to the Texas Film Commission to decide which films and video games received funding.“I think they do a wonderful job as far as spreading the love, so to speak, of the limited funds that we do have, to various projects,” Raymond said. “I think lumping in our program with a horrific act and saying that our program shouldn’t incentivize violent film and video games … I don’t think that it’s fair necessarily to bring in our incentive program into that conversation.”After a 2016 court ruling involving the film “Machete,” the Texas Film Commission has broad authority to deny funds to projects if it finds they portray Texas in a negative way. The 2010 Robert Rodriguez film starred Danny Trejo as a former Mexican federal officer-turned-vigilante who accepts a hit contract from a corrupt Texas state senator before being used as a pawn in the senator’s hardline immigration policies. Filmed in and around Austin, the movie was theoretically eligible for a financial grant from the state’s film commission to partially reimburse costs, but the claim was denied upon a final review.The court ruled the commission could decide, after the film’s release, that it ran afoul of a state law that denies such incentives to any movie including “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.” Critics warned the ruling could lead state officials to effectively practice censorship by denying funds to projects they dislike.The Film Commission directed questions to the governor’s office. A spokeswoman for Abbott did not immediately respond to emailed questions.Not everyone thinks the lieutenant governor’s fixation on video games is justified.“We also have violent video games in other developed countries,” Stephanopoulos fired back at Patrick during the Sunday interview. So how could Patrick explain the high rate of shootings in the U.S. compared to other countries?Patrick declined to make the comparison, saying there were too many differences between the U.S. and other countries. “We cannot sit back and say it’s the gun,” he said. “It’s us as a nation.”Disclosure: The Texas Cultural Trust has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. Share
A follower robot follows a leader robot (with UC Davis logo). Using behavioral cues, the follower can make its mission more reliable and accurate. Image credit: Chueh, et al. ©2008 IEEE. Identifying perceived emotions from people’s walking style Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Robots Detect Behavioral Cues to Follow Humans (2008, August 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2008-08-robots-behavioral-cues-humans.html In experiments, the researchers tested how well a follower robot (Evolution Robotics’ Scorpion) could follow a leader robot (another Scorpion) as it zig-zagged and turned a corner of a hallway. Turning was the more difficult action to follow, since the leader robot escaped the sight of the follower robot. Without using behavioral cues, the follower robot would initiate a searching algorithm by turning and looking around. If the leader wasn’t too far away, the follower could detect it and continue following; otherwise, it would be lost and stop moving.The addition of the behavioral-cue controller significantly helped the follower robot to keep track of the leader. By detecting the leader’s subtle behaviors, the follower could anticipate when the leader was about to turn and predict its future path. Even though it lost sight of the leader, it kept close enough to its path so that it could find the leader again after the “blind” turn.Overall, the behavioral-cue model had advantages in cases where the leader robot made drastic turns that would otherwise leave the follower robot lost. But since other controllers also had advantages, the researchers suggest that a supervisory control system that coordinates multiple controllers could be useful. They also anticipate that a wide range of behavioral cues should lead to highly successful robot followers.“In the future, we hope to explore relevant behavioral cues for other robot tasks in human-robot work environments, and work on the robotics and computer science tools needed to make effective use of those cues,” Joshi said.More information: Chueh, Michael; Au Yeung, Yi Lin William; Lei, Kim-Pang Calvin; and Joshi, Sanjay S. “Following Controller for Autonomous Mobile Robots Using Behavioral Cues.” IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, Vol. 55, No. 8, August 2008.Copyright 2008 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. Robots can be ironic. Even though they might not have emotions of their own, they can still detect and respond to humans’ emotions. A recent study has shown that, by picking up on human emotional traits, as well as a variety of other conscious and unconscious behavioral cues, robots may be able to act more naturally and accurately with humans. The researchers, from the University of California, Davis, have developed a system that allows follower robots to use behavioral cues from human leaders and other robots in order to track and follow them. The ability to follow will likely be essential as robots continue to work alongside people more and more, such as in office buildings, hospitals, and airports.“As humans, we constantly incorporate other peoples’ current actions as clues (cues) as to what they may do in the future,” Sanjay Joshi of the University of California, Davis, told PhysOrg.com. “For instance, we have a ‘sixth sense’ on the highway to know that a certain car will swerve into our lane soon, based on the driver’s current driving patterns. Then, we may become more defensive in our own driving. In our work, we wanted to begin the process of allowing robots to use behavioral cues (of humans or other robots), to make the robot’s mission more reliable and accurate. In social work environments populated by numerous people and robots, these types of cues should be abundant.”In their robot-following system, the researchers integrated information provided by behavioral cues to improve the performance of robot followers along with other tracking methods, such as cameras. The system continuously estimates the future predicted position of the leader as it moves, and then directs the follower robot to the predicted position.The researchers’ aim was to reduce the amount of instructions or technical expertise required from human leaders to robots. As the authors noted, robots may be accepted if they are helpful, but can easily be rejected if they are difficult to work with. The researchers explained that behavioral cues that robots might use could include any action or signal that the leader exhibits that hints at a future action. These might be intended behaviors, such as pointing or waving. Other cues might be unconscious, such as behaviors that indicate stress or sadness, since they may indicate generally quick or slow movement patterns. Also, studies on human walking have shown that people unconsciously turn their head up to 25 degrees about 200 milliseconds before turning.
The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center expansion is expected to be completed in 2023. Rendering courtesy of Stantec. News | Radiation Oncology | July 31, 2019 Laura Dawson, M.D., FASTRO, Chosen as ASTRO President-elect The members of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) elected four new officers to ASTRO’s Board of… read more News | Brachytherapy Systems | August 14, 2019 Efficacy of Isoray’s Cesium Blu Showcased in Recent Studies August 14, 2019 — Isoray announced a trio of studies recently reported at scientific meetings and published in medica read more Following radiation, the bone marrow shows nearly complete loss of blood cells in mice (left). Mice treated with the PTP-sigma inhibitor displayed rapid recovery of blood cells (purple, right). Credit: UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center/Nature Communications News | Proton Therapy | August 06, 2019 IBA Signs Contract to Install Proton Therapy Center in Kansas IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.) recently signed a contract and received the first payment for a Proteus One solution… read more News | Radiation Therapy | August 16, 2019 Drug Accelerates Blood System’s Recovery After Radiation, Chemotherapy A drug developed by UCLA physician-scientists and chemists speeds up the regeneration of mouse and human blood stem… read more News | Radiation Therapy | August 15, 2019 First Patient Enrolled in World’s Largest Brain Cancer Clinical Trial Henry Ford Cancer Institute is first-in-the-world to enroll a glioblastoma patient in the GBM AGILE Trial (Adaptive… read more News | Patient Positioning Radiation Therapy | August 15, 2019 Mevion and C-RAD Release Integration for Improved Proton Therapy Treatment Quality Mevion Medical Systems and C-RAD announced the integration between the C-RAD Catalyst PT and the Mevion S250i proton… read more Catalyst PT image courtesy of C-RAD News | Patient Positioning Radiation Therapy | August 07, 2019 Qfix kVue One Proton Couch Top Validated by Mevion Medical Systems Qfix and Mevion Medical Systems announced that a special version of the kVue One Proton couch top is now both validated… read more News | Proton Therapy | August 08, 2019 MD Anderson to Expand Proton Therapy Center The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center unveiled plans to expand its Proton Therapy Center during a… read more News | Radiation Therapy | November 22, 2016 RAD Technology Medical Systems Secures Two International Patents Cancer Patients and Cancer Facilities Alike to Benefit From New Patented Technology Related Content Feature | August 05, 2019 | Dave Fornell, Editor Most Popular Radiology and Radiotherapy Topics in July 2019 August 5, 2019 — Here is the list of the most popular content on the Imaging Technology New (ITN) magazine website fr read more News | Radiation Therapy | August 02, 2019 Varian Showcases Cancer Care Systems and Software at AAPM 2019 Varian showcased systems and software from its cancer care portfolio, including the Identify Guidance System, at the… read more The top piece of content in July was a video interview explaining how Princess Margaret Cancer Center is using machine learning to create automated treatment plans. This was a hot topic at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) 2019 meeting in July. RAD Technology Medical Systems (RAD) is adding two new patents to its portfolio of modular building technologies for cancer treatment facilities. RAD has received patent approvals for their Temporary Radiotherapy Vault (TRV) from both the Japanese Patent Office and the European Patent Office. These new patents protect the specialized means and methods that RAD uses to construct high-energy radiation vaults. RAD was issued two similar patents by the United States Patent Office last year.”As the demand for radiotherapy continues to grow worldwide, RAD is pleased to be able to bring their patented technology to help cancer patients in Europe and Japan,” states RAD’s President, John Lefkus. “Hospitals and cancer clinics constantly need to upgrade equipment in order to take full advantage of the latest developments in cancer therapy and provide the best available form of treatment. Our TRV provides a treatment machine in a temporary facility that enables organizations to continue treating patients while modernizing their program with no interruption to patient treatments or business. The temporary facility can arrive onsite and be ready for occupancy in just weeks.”The RAD modular methodology is driven by three key values;Time: The facility solutions offered by the RAD PRO can be delivered in one third the time of traditional construction methods. By using offsite construction, we are able to provide an unprecedented approach that is efficient and flexible. This impacts patient accessibility to the latest care and gives institutions a hedge over competitors looking to enter their market. RAD can install its TRV cancer facility and perform a radiation survey with its pre-commissioned linac in just 5 days.Technology: The modular technology also provides significant value and flexibility. In traditional construction, the shielding solution is cast into the concrete structure or concrete blocks. RAD offers a shielding method that can be modified without the cost and disruption of expensive lead and high density block solutions. And the ultimate flexibility is moving the entire facility to another location at a fractional cost if demand or market conditions change.Unique Financing: One of the most distinctive values is the financing approach RADs solutions offer. The modular system transforms the financing opportunities significantly. A recoverable asset, without destructive demolition, can be treated as equipment or tangible personal property allowing operational leases or service contracts to be structured for large institutions not seeking to deploy capital or wishing to avoid further impairment of their balance sheets with additional debt.RAD continues to implement this “New Normal” in radiotherapy equipment upgrades on the international stage. Cancer centers which were previously paralyzed by the lack of an interim solution will now be free to plan their advancements to the next generation of radiotherapy devices as the technology develops, rather than skipping whole generations of advancements as is now too often the case. As stated by Kenneth Wright, RAD Technology’s Director of TRV Services, “The simple truth is that cancer centers should not be required to stop providing radiotherapy services to the community in order to improve services to the community.”Institutions in Europe are primarily state sponsored and while closing down for several months may not let the competition in, it deprives citizens of timely and perhaps lifesaving cancer treatment. RAD has been successful in the United States with the TRV technology and leasing and now looks to continue that success in Japan and Europe. For more information: www.radtechnology.com FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享
The government of Costa Rica declared Tuesday that the reduction of violence against women is “a national priority” and announced coordinated actions among several public institutions.Costa Rica has registered 304 femicides since 2008 and 15 so far in 2018 alone, according to authorities. Last week the murder of two female tourists made headlines around the world, causing tourism authorities to create their own emergency plan.“There is an attack on women, brutal aggressions against our bodies that take place with fury, like an unloading of rage,” Patricia Mora, Minister of Women’s Affairs, told journalists as she announced the actions. “We are going to work on the roots of this problem from infancy, make the courts’ response more efficient so cases are not dismissed. We will assign resources to dig up a toxic masculinity that puts women’s health in danger.” We want them alive: Costa Rica’s reckoning Facebook Comments Related posts:Making the invisible, visible: In Nicaragua, women journalists call for equality US families of Sandy Hook massacre victims sue gunmaker Peña Nieto administration wants answers after Egypt kills 8 Mexican tourists We want them alive: Costa Rica’s reckoning Mora and President Carlos Alvarado signed a decree including 40 actions to prevent and eradicate violence against women, including increasing the number of shelters for domestic violence victims, increasing local committees to respond to reports of aggression, and creating specialized offices to address the issue in the 15 highest risk cantons.The country has also registered an increase in reports of sex crimes against women and girls, with 46,754 reports between 2010-2016. Courts received 286,597 requests for protective measures from 2012-2017, 80 percent from women.“I am enormously hopeful that this work with communities, close to women, can generate satisfactory results in a very short period of time,” the minister said.
Shark diving in Fiji – Source: Aquatrek Shark diving tourism contributed a giant FJD $73 million to Fiji’s economy in 2010, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Western Australia.A study into the socio-economic value of the shark-diving industry in Fiji shows importance of sharks’ role in Fiji tourism with shark-diving operations in 2010 generating FJD $4 million for Fijian communities through salaries and local levies.The study found that one in ten tourists visiting Fiji engaged in diving activities and in particular, diving with sharks has become more popular over the past several years.Fiji dive company Aquatrek’s manager of dive operations Brandon Paige told e-Travel Blackboard that since the business started in 1999, the number of travellers booking has seen a significant increase.“When we started in 1999 we had two trips a week and averaged about four to six divers,” Mr Paige said.“Now we go out 4 times a week and average about 12 divers per trip and in fact we have just launched a second boat to take the extra demand as we were regularly turning people away.”Better known as shark specialists, Aquatrek gets divers from all over the world wanting to experience the shark dives more than just the soft coral diving. Mr Paige commented on the already visible need for shark conservation saying while the tiger shark is the most requested to sight, they are not seen as often as they used to be.“We believe it is due to long lining (fishing) and the fining of sharks as they cover the greatest range and as such swim through the long lining area every day.”Manager of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group Jill Hepp said for Fiji to declare a shark sanctuary has a significant financial incentive and would solidify its reputation as one of the top diving destinations in the world.A growing business worldwide, shark diving operations are found in at least 83 locations in 29 countries, while places such as South Africa, the United States, and Australia have typically dominated this industry, shark diving is becoming a fast growing economic driver across the Indo-Pacific. Chief executive officer of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Michael Wong said the recent study quantifies what was already known but could only guess up until now.”Living sharks add real value to our economy, so it makes sense to do everything we can to protect Fiji’s sharks, with a Fiji shark sanctuary the strongest means possible,” Mr Wong stated.The waters of the Fiji islands are home to at least 75 different shark and ray species and according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened species, 66 per cent of these species are globally threatened or near threatened. Fiji has strong measures implemented to safeguard the marine environment however there are no specific protections for sharks. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W