Furore as Nitish & Co. skip tribute to slain jawan

first_imgThe Bihar government has come in for sharp criticism as none of its Ministers were present at the Patna airport on Sunday to receive the body of Central Reserve Police Force Inspector Pintu Singh who was killed in a gun battle in Kashmir. The Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and other NDA leaders were allegedly busy with the Sankalp rally that was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Inspector Pintu Singh, 35, was killed in an encounter in Handwara area of Jammu and Kashmir on March 1. His body was brought to the Patna airport en route to his home in Bagras-Dhyanchakki village in Begusarai district. While the Ministers and leaders of the ruling BJP-JD(U) were conspicuous by their absence, State Congress president Madan Mohan Jha and Lok Janshakti Party leader Choudhary Mahboob Ali Kaiser were present at the airport to pay tributes to the slain soldier.Barely three hours later, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, along with his Cabinet Ministers, reached the airport to receive the Prime Minister who had come to address the rally.‘An insult’State BJP leader and Minister of Labour Resources Vijay Sinha reached the soldier’s home in Begusarai late on Sunday night, hours after the funeral was over. Angry family members of the jawan said the absence of State Ministers at the funeral was an “insult to the martyr”.In a video which has gone viral on social media, the Minister is seen telling the grieving family that there was a “communication gap and misunderstanding about the timing of the funeral”. He also said that because of the crowd at the Sankalp rally, he could not reach on time for the last rites. The jawan’s grieving father, Chakradhar Singh, later told journalists that the NDA leaders chose to neglect his son to attend the Patna rally.“It shows how concerned they are about the soldiers. NDA leaders were more concerned about the Sankalp rally of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. They have neglected to pay homage to a brave soldier who died for the country,” Chakradhar Singh said. His brother Sanjay Kumar Singh said, “Pintu has not received the honour he deserved from the State government. No NDA leader came to the airport… it hurts.”Later, JD(U) national vice-president and election strategist Prashant Kishor tweeted to apologise on behalf of his party. “We are sorry for the error of judgment on part of those of us who should have been there with you in this hour of grief,” tweeted Mr. Kishor. Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav slammed the ruling alliance’s disrespect to the slain soldier.last_img read more

Financial Inclusion in India

first_imgThe usual image of how creativity happens: A composer inadvertently hears a melody rising from a babbling brook, or an ad agency creative director crumples page after page of aborted ideas ripped from the typewriter until the right one lands. But creativity, some claim, can come from a far less elusive muse — from a structured process, one that opens up the ranks of the creative to a wider swath than the Steve Jobs, Jonas Salks and Franz Schuberts of the universe.On August 15, India’s Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a national mission of financial inclusion. Called the Pradhan Mantri’s Jan-Dhan Yojana — the Prime Minister’s People’s Wealth Program — it envisions bank accounts for all Indians. In its first phase, ending August 14, 2015, the target is 75 million accounts. “I wish to connect the poorest citizens of the country with the facility of bank accounts,” said Modi. “There are millions of families who have mobile phones, but no bank accounts. We have to change this. The change will commence from this point.”Earlier prime ministers had made similar grandiose announcements, with few results. Indira Gandhi started a campaign against poverty, but it never gained traction. Manmohan Singh started a campaign against unemployment, but that failed to take hold as well. The Modi government is still in its honeymoon period; people are willing to accept Jan-Dhan as a plan but not a reachable destination.On August 28, Modi formally launched the program. Banks across the country had been working overtime to make the necessary arrangements. On the first day, more than 15 million accounts were added. “It is the end of financial untouchability,” Modi noted. “It is the beginning of freedom from poverty.”It’s not just the accounts that enticed people to the camps set up by the public sector banks. Every account holder will get a RuPay debit card, launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-promoted National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI); accident insurance cover of Rs.100,000 (approximately $1,650); life insurance coverage of Rs. 30,000 for those opening accounts before January 26 (celebrated as Republic Day in India), and an overdraft facility of Rs. 5,000.“Never before in economic history have 15 million bank accounts been opened in a single day,” said Modi. “Never before have insurance companies issued 15 million accident policies in a single day. Never before has the government of India organized a program of such scale — over 77,000 locations — with the participation of so many chief ministers, union ministers, and government and bank officials.”ICICI, India’s largest private sector bank, opened only 100,000 accounts that day. “ICICI Bank has been working on a comprehensive financial inclusion plan over the past four years,” MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar told Knowledge@Wharton. “Through our network, we cover approximately 15,600 villages and have brought more than 18.5 million unbanked people into the banking fold. We aim to open 2.5 million accounts under the yojana, taking the total number of accounts under our financial inclusion program to more than 20 million.” As of September 8, major private sector banks taken together opened just 580,000 accounts.Reasons for ConcernIt remains to be seen whether the program will lead to big changes. “This is a small step and the take-up is encouraging,” says Wharton finance professor Krishna Ramaswamy. “It might lead to small and improved savings in an accountable and hopefully trustworthy way.”The skepticism comes in part due to questions about the veracity of the numbers themselves. RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has publicly warned the banks not to run after records. “We have to make sure the Jan-Dhan Yojana does not go off track,” he said at a conference on September 15. “The target is universality, not just speed and numbers.”According to H.K. Pradhan, professor of finance and economics at XLRI Jamshedpur, there are concerns of duplicate accounts from people who may have opened them “without really understanding what they were doing.” He adds that the issue will be sorted out when biometric identification is introduced. But there could be operational complications: Anybody in India can open multiple accounts, so how can there be a different rule for the currently unbanked?The second — and more important — issue is that India’s problem of financial inclusion is gargantuan. According to World Bank data, only 35% of Indians have an account with a formal financial institution. This is 42% in the case of men and 27% for women. Only 8% have debit cards and 2% credit cards. According to the government’s 2011 Census, 58.7% households utilize formal banking services.Rating agency Crisil, a Standard & Poor’s company, has a financial inclusion index called the Inclusix. The all-India Inclusix score is 40.1 (which mean that about 40% of the country has access to formal banking services). There are wide variations — from 62.2% in the southern region to 28.6% in the eastern region.The high-powered Nachiket Mor committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households, set up by the RBI, found that 60% of the rural and urban population did not have a functional bank account. “India’s financial inclusion indicators, particularly in banking, put it below the median of countries, and bank accounts are a first step to inclusion,” says Rajesh Chakrabarti, executive director of the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business.According to a report by global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, India’s continued growth can only be assured “if steps are taken to ensure that social and economic development is inclusive.” Financial inclusion has moved into public consciousness only over the past decade or so. “Financial inclusion can no longer be treated as a fringe subject,” notes Jayanta Nath Mukhopadhyaya, director of the J.D. Birla Institute (department of management). “It has to be recognized as an important part of the mainstream thinking on economic development.”The immediate challenge for banks, Pradhan says, will be acquiring the technology needed to facilitate more financial inclusion. “Moreover banks need to convert the old and dormant accounts into the new financial inclusion accounts in order to get the accident coverage and overdraft facility for the account holders.” This means that some of the work done on financial inclusion so far will have to be duplicated.“There is much more to financial inclusion” than simply opening accounts, says M.S. Sriram, visiting faculty at the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. “The state needs to put its resources to ensure that the infrastructure backbone is available — which means that there is ubiquitous presence of interoperable point of sale devices that allow people to transact without a hefty fee…. Once this architecture is available, the poor will start transacting.”Chakrabarti adds that the government “seems to be fighting the symptoms rather than the disease. The point is for the formal banking system to be present when needed and be superior in convenience and efficiency. However, the approach taken seems to be to lure people into banking through incentives and to hope that the habit sets in. The trouble is that once the sweetener goes away, day-to-day banking provides little benefit in convenience to many users at the bottom of the pyramid.”Long Road AheadThe consensus of opinion is that Jan-Dhan is a worthwhile effort, but it’s too early to say whether it will succeed. “As compared to its predecessor — the Swabhiman scheme — this program has a high possibility of success due to two major strategic improvements,” states Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO of YES Bank and president of apex chamber Assocham. “First, it mandates provision of ATM-cum-debit cards to each account holder instead of the Smartcard (for thumbprint authentication) as earlier, where the customer was solely dependent upon agents or business correspondents. ATM debit cards give 24-7 access to savings, which is critical for the below-the-poverty-line population. The quantum of savings is limited and probability of emergency requirements is high.”Kapoor says that the unbanked cannot be subject to one-size-fits-all schemes. “Among the currently excluded population, there are two broad sub-categories,” Kapoor notes. “There is (the) segment that has both need of financial services and the inclination to pay reasonable charges for them. The rapid proliferation of microfinance institutions and gold loan non-banking finance companies highlights this potential. The other segment is that of people heavily dependent on state subsidies for their livelihood. For this segment, though the other financial services may not be relevant, having a savings account to receive these subsidies without pilferage is highly desirable.”According to Sriram, the main problem in achieving meaningful financial inclusion in India is the mechanism used for carrying out transactions. “This translates into the physical outlet where the transaction could happen and the interoperability of this outlet with other possible sources of payments apart from the users’ own transactions.”The physical outlet where the transaction could happen is also a matter of debate. Kapoor has been talking about ATMs. Others are pushing for more bank branches. The new banks recently licensed are supposed to concentrate on this area. “We will prove that serving the poor is sustainable and cost effective for a bank,” C.S. Ghosh, chairman of microfinance institution Bandhan, which has been granted a bank license, told morning daily DNA.Others feel that it’s necessary to widen the scope of the business correspondents (BCs), retail agents that work with banks to provide financial services at locations other than branches and ATMs. The correspondents were created in January 2006 in response to guidelines issued by the RBI.”We currently have a presence across 499 districts in 28 states through more than 28,000 business correspondent/customer service points,” says Rishi Gupta, chief operating officer and executive director of FINO PayTech, a technology provider and business correspondent to banks. “The number of business correspondents deployed is dependent on partner banks and their mandates. Given the scale of the financial inclusion program, a larger network of business correspondent agents is imperative to reach out to the unbanked masses.”While the modalities and the project infrastructure will need fine-tuning, there is one basic fear hanging over the Jan-Dhan: Will it turn into a massive subsidy scheme with a damaging impact on the government’s finances? “The accounts can become a good way of providing directed credit, but the overdraft and insurance coverage can very well make it a giant subsidy scheme in itself,” says Chakrabarti. “It is clearly an expensive scheme with no clear plans for creating a sustained demand for inclusion.” Kapoor is more neutral. “Though the current BC-based delivery mechanism does envisage banks subsidizing the cost of opening and maintaining these accounts, these operating costs are still manageable at the banks at an aggregate level. However, if we add the cost of potential defaults due to the overdraft facility, it will become quite a burden on banks.”“The bottom line of banks will be affected if the scheme has to be kept alive through subsidies,” adds Pradhan. “It must be self-sustainable. With cash transfers under several welfare programs getting directly into the account holders, the user frequency will also increase. The RuPay card, which is interoperable across the banking system, as well as usable at merchant establishments, can open up a plethora of transaction opportunities for the unbanked, including wage payments to migrant workers. So the potential for broadening and deepening of financial services to underserved markets and regions is huge.”Chakrabarti of ISB is skeptical. “The program in itself does not look very different from the ‘No-frills account’ drive that was done years ago and (resulted in) millions of accounts opened, most of which remained dormant,” he says. Adds Sriram: “Until now, no large-scale, centrally driven program has worked. There is no reason to believe that this will work, unless there is a business case for it. Schemes result in a flurry of activity and show instantaneous results, but to sustain these, there has to be a business case.”Building a Business CaseThe government, however, has already articulated a business case, specifically that banks should profit from the float as the numbers are enormous. And the Jan-Dhan is creating the infrastructure for direct benefit transfers including subsidies, pensions and payments under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The banks will get a 2% commission on these transfers. The accident insurance will be funded by the NPCI from the revenue generated from RuPay credit card transactions. The life insurance coverage details are yet to be worked out. The Rs. 5,000 overdraft will apply to only accounts in which there have been a certain number of transactions.But there are other costs. Banks have to spend Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per account on the necessary paperwork, the cost of holding camps, and the commission paid to BCs who are authorized to open accounts in places remote from bank branches and camps. These are zero deposit accounts, so the question of a float doesn’t arise if too many people take that option.That fear has at least been partly laid to rest. In a cabinet meeting to review the progress of the scheme, it was revealed that as of September 8, 30.2 million accounts had been opened. Banks have collected deposits of Rs. 14,965 million. This works out to Rs. 495 per account. The RuPay cards have lagged, with only 3.36 million being issued.Another prong of Jan-Dhan is financial literacy. “Financial literacy has to be accorded the highest priority, which should be appropriately blended with consumer protection measures,” says Pradhan. “This is where the role of banks and other channel partners such as insurance companies is important.” Adds Mukhopadhyaya: “We have to increase financial inclusion of the poor by increasing awareness of available financial services and strengthening financial literacy. Due to inadequate financial infrastructure and illiteracy, we will have to leverage using IT.”Adds Ramaswamy: “The program is introducing the ideas of insurance and savings alternatives to a huge population — and that, in my view, will take place in India very quickly, if the take-up of mobile phone usage is a decent predictor.”The Promise of MobileThe vast penetration of mobile usage in India is also one big reason why Jan-Dhan could work. At the end of July 2014, the country had 919 million mobile connections — only China is ahead of that total. According to a State Bank of India (SBI) report, the vision is to “gradually move in a direction where every poor person is able to operate his bank account from his mobile, as mobile penetration is higher than financial services penetration.” Low-income populations benefit the most from technological innovations such as mobile payments, mobile banking and borrower identification based on fingerprinting and iris scans, reported the World Bank. “Innovations make financial services cheaper and easier to access for the poor, women and rural residents, especially those living in remote, less populated regions without brick-and-mortar bank branches,” says the Bank’s 2014 “Global Financial Development Report.”Though Jan-Dhan mandates that mobile banking be made possible through ordinary mobile phones, smartphone adoption is picking up steam in India, as well. A functional smartphone is being retailed for the relatively low price of Rs. 1,999 ($33). The largest countries for smartphone sales in 2014 will be China (283 million), India (225 million), and the U.S. (89 million), research company Mediacells predicts.Smartphones for the unbanked? Believe it or not, there may be more smartphones in the villages of India than in the cities. Sunil Sood, chief operating officer of Vodafone, says that the rejected technology of urban India trickles down to rural areas. Mobile service providers often encourage this, as their concern is the number of connections and talk time. And mobile banking transactions are already up sharply. “From June 2013 to June 2014, we have more than tripled our per month value of transactions from Rs. 3,332 million to over Rs.10,000 million – which is the first for any bank in India,” says an ICICI spokesperson.The Mor panel had suggested that every Indian would be provided with a bank account by January 2016. Two of its members — Axis Bank CEO Shikha Sharma and Bank of Baroda chairman and managing director S.S. Mundra — felt this was too ambitious. In a note attached to the report, they said that January 2018 was more realistic. Modi had initially fixed August 14, 2015, as the date of completion of the first phase of his program. Now he wants it done by January 26, 2015 — one year before the target set by Mor and three years before Sharma and Mundra. Related Itemslast_img read more

Madayag: Ateneo needs to play with more confidence

first_imgRead Next The Lady Eagles, after starting 0-2, have now strung together two straight wins with the last one coming in a four-setter against bottom-dwelling University of the East Saturday at Filoil Flying V Centre.Skipper Maddie Madayag, though, still wants to see more from her team.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“We need more confidence especially that we have a new setter and new liberos,” said Madayag in Filipino after their 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-14 win over the Lady Warriors.“It’s like we need to have more motivation when we play in the future.” Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university PLAY LIST 01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Ateneo has finally shrugged off its sluggish start to the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img View comments Ateneo’s conundrum is losing a plethora of its players with setter Jia Morado sitting out the final year of her collegiate career and libero Gizelle Tan graduating.The Lady Eagles also lost Michelle Morente, who transferred to La Salle, Kim Gequillana, and Ana Gopico.Sophomore Deanna Wong have now taken over the playmaking duties for the Lady Eagles while Dani Ravena and Jenelle Lo take turns as the team’s defensive anchor.“We just have to enjoy and focus on the game,” said Madayag who had 12 points against UE.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH AFP official booed out of forum Beermen regain top spot, rally past Aces 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s weddinglast_img read more

Delhi thump Mumbai by 10 runs to grab second spot in IPL table

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Phelps Readies For Pan Pacific

first_imgGOLD COAST, Australia — Michael Phelps got a confronting reminder of just how challenging his return to international competition may be when he was asked whether he was good enough to even reach a final at the Pan Pacific Championships this week.“Wow, you’re really setting the bar high for me!” the most decorated swimmer of all time joked in reply.Sitting beside him at a news conference, Phelps’ long-time coach Bob Bowman chipped in: “Reality check there.”The Pan Pacs start Aug. 21 and run through the weekend. It’s stage two of Phelps’ comeback from retirement — the first was qualifying for the U.S. team.Now Bowman is predicting Phelps will lower his best times in his butterfly, medley and freestyle, saying the challenge of going faster was the only reason the 18-time Olympic champion came back to the sport.Phelps qualified by finishing second in the 200-meter medley and the 100 butterfly at the U.S. nationals, and will be swimming in his first international meet since coming out of retirement four months ago with the aim of competing again at the world titles and Olympics.Only the top two swimmers from each country qualify for the finals, so Phelps is going to be under pressure from his American teammates in the morning preliminaries, and from the best swimmers from Australia, Japan, Canada, Brazil and other Pacific countries in the evening finals.He’ll start with the 100 freestyle on Aug. 22, which will feature seven Americans in the heats. He’ll also contest the 100 butterfly, the 200 medley and potentially some relays.Phelps didn’t win any of his four events at the U.S. nationals, although his times in the 200 IM and the butterfly were both among the fastest three in the world this year.He was unhappy with his freestyle, where his finish let him down. He said it was the kind of mistake an 11-year-old would make.Phelps, who won eight of his 18 Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, said he was “kind of rusty on judging the speed going into my walls,” and described his turns as “awful.”“Those were the big things that I guess I forgot how to do,” he said. “Not winning, it is what it is — I hate to lose — but I always do understand it’s not going to come back instantly.“I would rather have those instances now than farther down the road. World championships is next year … Olympics the year after that. Hopefully I’ll be able to fix the things now.”The U.S. team had a setback ahead of the competition, with Olympic and world champion Missy Franklin in doubt after hurting her back in training.Team USA spokesman Scott Leightman said Franklin had back spasms during practice Aug. 19. The 19-year-old Franklin was resting at the team hotel after medical staff controlled the spasms and issued a statement later saying she was feeling better with every hour and still hopeful of competing.Leightman said Franklin, who won both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke at the 2012 Olympics and claimed six golds at the world championships last year, would be re-evaluated before the preliminaries of the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle on Aug. 22.The Australian team is primed for a big performance at home after a winning the swimming competition at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.The competition will be held outdoors at the Gold Coast Aquatic Center, site of the 2018 Commonwealth Games swimming, and rain forecast for later in the week is giving swimmers something extra to think about.Phelps said it would be a novel experience for him. His friend and long-time rival, Ryan Lochte, said he grew up in Florida and was used to competing in rain.“You have to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. The coaches told us about the weather conditions — we’re all prepared for it,” he said.Lochte and Phelps have long dominated the 200 IM, but aren’t even seeded No. 1 at the Pan Pacs. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino has the fastest time of the year and his teammate Diaya Seto is also a contender.“It’s no longer just me and Michael. It’s definitely become a bigger event, and bigger race,” Lochte said.If Franklin is ruled out, more attention on the U.S. women’s team will center on 17-year-old Katie Ledecky, who broke the 400 freestyle world record at the nationals and now holds world marks in the 400, 800 and 1,500.“I can improve. I got some good work in after nationals. I’m really excited to see what I can do here,” Ledecky said.(JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Sports Highlights

first_imgNew Delhi, June 29 (AFP) The following are the top/expected stories at 1730 hours EXPECTED STORIES: * Report of the second T20 International between India and Ireland. * FIFA World Cup * Report of Malaysia Open Badminton STORIES ON THE WIRE: SPO-HOCK-CT-IND India need draw against Netherlands to enter Champions Trophy hockey final Breda (Netherlands), Jun 29 (PTI) India would look to eke out at least a draw against hosts Netherlands in their last round robin match here tomorrow, a result that will be enough for the eight-time Olympic champions to grab a second consecutive final spot at the Champions Trophy hockey tournament. SPO-HOCK-WOM-SQUAD Striker Rani Rampal to lead India in women’s hockey World Cup New Delhi, Jun 29 (PTI) Forward Rani Rampal was today named as the captain of India’s 18-member squad for the women’s hockey World Cup to be played in London next month. SPO-BOX-ASIAD-TEAM Shiva, Sarjubala make Asiad squad after winning trials New Delhi, June 29 (PTI) Shiva Thapa (60kg) claimed a place in the Indian boxing team for the Asian Games after winning the trials, where Sarjubala Devi clinched the 51kg spot in the women’s squad — a category that had been thrown open after M C Mary Kom pulled out of the equation due to a shoulder problem. SPO-ASIAD-SHOOT-SQUAD Narang, Jitu, Mehuli fail to make cut for Asian Games squad New Delhi, June 29 (PTI) The seasoned Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai and young Mehuli Ghosh failed to make the Indian shooting squad for the upcoming Asian Games, even as a few unheralded faces were picked for the quadrennial extravaganza, starting August 18 in Indonesia.advertisement SPO-SHOOT-CWG Fabulous beginning, says NRAI chief after British lawmaker offers support for shooting’s inclusion in 2022 CWG By Abhishek Hore New Delhi, June 29 (PTI) The Indian shooting fraternity was provided a flicker of hope by England’s Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, who said they were “exploring ways” to include the sport in the 2022 Commonwealth Games program, during a speech that combined pragmatism with optimism. SPO-BAD-IND Srikanth enters semifinals of Malaysia Open Kuala Lumpur, June 29 (PTI) Kidambi Srikanth continued his impressive run at the Malaysia Open, progressing to the semifinals of the men’s singles competition with a straight-game win over France’s Brice Leverdez in the USD 700,000 world tour super 750 tournament here today. SPO-ICC-APP To tackle corruption, ICC launches integrity app Dubai, Jun 29 (PTI) The International Cricket Council (ICC) today launched an integrity app, which will help the players deal with corrupt approaches. PTI AHAHlast_img read more

a month agoSouthampton midfielder Romeu: We must bounce back against Portsmouth

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Southampton midfielder Romeu: We must bounce back against Portsmouthby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveSouthampton midfielder Oriol Romeu says they must bounce back from defeat to Bournemouth.Two first-half goals left Saints with it all to do after the interval and despite James Ward-Prowse’s penalty in an improved second-half display, it was not enough and Callum Wilson sealed things in stoppage time.Attentions now turn to the south coast derby on Tuesday night at Portsmouth, something which Romeu is relishing.“We have a massive one now ahead and we’re all very excited about that game to get back to winning feelings and sensations and to start building something good again.“There has to be a reaction surely now. We want to prove that we’re not a team that loses and does nothing about it.“We know how important it is, we know how tough it will be also over there but we players like those matches and we’re ready for it.“We want to get that very important win for us, for the fans and also for the club.” last_img read more

Partly cloudy skies forecast

first_imgNew Delhi: It was a cool Thursday morning in the city, with the minimum temperature settling at 18.7 degrees Celsius, normal for the season. Partly cloudy skies are forecast for later part of the day with the maximum temperature settling around 39 degrees Celsius, said a MeT department official. Humidity was 69 percent at 8.30 AM, he said. The maximum and minimum temperatures were recorded at 17.6 and 36.8 degrees Celsius, respectively, on Wednesday.last_img

Joshua Farrell inquest

29 year old welder Joshua Farrell was electrocuted while working at a site at a Hamilton lime quarry in 2014.On Monday an inquest started to look into the details of his death, to see if anything could be done to prevent similar accidents.Farrell had been working for Rassaun Steel for about 2 years, and hadn’t been welding for long. For about a month, he had been complaining to his wife about the job hazards.June 25, 2014 was a hot day. Farrell was doing work for his company at the Carmeuse Lime Quarry in Dundas. Philip Wiersma testified that employees planned to take a lot of breaks. It’s a dirty, hot job, he said.They were welding a coal bin to reinforce it, and Farrell’s location was up a few staircases and awkwardly placed behind duct work. He had been having trouble, but wanted to keep trying.Then Wiersma noticed farrell was standing oddly. He went up and shook his shoulder, and knew something was wrong.Arc Welding uses a cable with what’s called a whipper-stinger on the end, where a welder attaches an electrode – a stick of metal that melts down to bond other piece of metal.Farrell was found with the electrode stuck about four centimeters into his neck. He died from the electrical current.The Ministry of Labour and the Rassaun Steel have lawyers in the courtroom, there are about 7 witnesses and this is expected to wrap up on Wednesday and then 5 jurors will try and come up with a recommendation. read more

UN envoy to kickoff Syria talks in Geneva next week

In a note to correspondents issued this morning, the UN spokesperson confirmed that Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura had invited “as many of the parties as possible” to the Geneva Consultations on Syria scheduled to begin on 4 May at UN Headquarters in Geneva and expected to last for an initial period of five to six weeks. The meetings, the noted added, would serve to facilitate discussion on the “dire situation” in Syria today and provide a forum for all parties to deliver their “candid views on where we stand vis-a-vis implementation of the Geneva Communiqué almost three years since it was adopted.” According to the UN spokesperson, the Special Envoy and the Deputy Special Envoy, Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy, will conduct closed and separate consultations with each party. read more

I wouldnt run screaming from any challenge Varadkar open to replacing Reilly

first_imgTRANSPORT MINISTER LEO Varadkar has said that he would not turn down the opportunity to become the Minister for Health, but has insisted he would “love to stay where I am”.Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s planned reshuffle next year has led some, including the Irish Examiner this morning, to suggest that Varadkar could be in line to replace James Reilly at the Department of Health.Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Varadkar said that this was “news to me anyway” saying he had not had any conversations with the Taoiseach, and adding: “But I have to say, I think James Reilly is doing a very good job there.”He said he had a lot of objectives next year that he wanted to carry out in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, but quoted Michael Collins in saying “we govern to serve not to rule.”“I am willing to serve anywhere the Taoiseach wants me,” adding that he “wouldn’t run screaming from any challenge” when quizzed about the negative reputation of the Department of Health and its alleged description as “Angola” by one former minister.‘The Gathering’On the same programme, Varadkar also praised ‘The Gathering’ after research showed it brought as many as 275,000 people to Ireland this year.The Minister said that there are 20,000 more people working in tourism now than there was two years ago and said the report by project director Jim Miley shows it did not just have economic value but that there was also a social dividend from the initiative, particularly in rural Ireland.He rejected claims from actor Gabriel Byrne that it was “a scam”, saying: “It wasn’t a shakedown but we never pretended that it wasn’t about tourism.“Tourism was key to this and it did bring in, looks like, about €170 million in revenue for an investment of €13 million. So it was a pretty good return in investment.”Varadkar also defended the government’s response to concerns raised by the political standards watchdog SIPO about it being unable to audit small units of political parties.The Minister said it “is not really for them to determine” if smaller sections of parties should be audited, saying some of these have “eight or nine members” and are “not in a position to be doing audited accounts”.Read: Reshuffle in late 2014 with junior ministers and backbenchers in line for promotionlast_img read more

13 ways in which Irish politicians are just like us when it

first_img8. They follow gas parody accountsMinister for Health Leo Varadkar a big fan of this Stewie Griffin account, as we can see. In other news, it’s 6 months till Christmas….— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (@AodhanORiordain) June 25, 2014 Greatest response ever to a Gerry Adams >15 people who prove that your worst fails can become victories > The only way 2 start the Twelfth. pic.twitter.com/3OjdMMohMW— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) July 12, 2014 Source: Leo Varadkar/TwitterWhile Mary-Lou McDonald prefers @TheTweetOfGod. Source: Mary Lou McDonald/TwitterAnd Lucinda favours Ross O’Carroll-Kelly. Source: Lucinda Creighton/Twitter9. They count down to eventsJerry Buttimer and Aodhán O’Riordáin getting excited for Christmas already. Source: Jerry Buttimer/Twitter Source: Jerry Buttimer/Twitter Source: Dr James Reilly TD/Twitter Source: Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD/Twitter WHEN IT COMES to Twitter, TDs are just like us. If you think they’re all about interacting with constituents or promoting policy, you’re dead wrong.Don’t believe us? Read on.1. They RT to winCase in point: Colm Keaveney and Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who both desperately want those vouchers and don’t care who knows it. Source: Colm Keaveney/Twitter Source: Mary Mitchell O’Connor/Twitter2. They retweet ~celebs~Here’s Shane Ross reminding us to tune into Amanda Brunker on the radio for some reason. Source: Shane Ross/Twitter3. They get nostalgicSee: closet punk Mary Lou McDonald and girl power advocate Ciara Conway. Source: Mary Lou McDonald/Twitter Source: Ciara Conway/Twitter4. They retweet topical gagsHaha, Seán Sherlock, you madzer! Source: Sean Sherlock/Twitter5. They retweet articles that justify their bad habitsMinister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan all like, “See, science says not drinking wine is actually bad for you.” Source: Charlie Flanagan/Twitter6. They reuse the same jokes and hope nobody will noticeWe saw that, Ged. Source: Gerald Nash/Twitter Source: Gerald Nash/Twitter7. They make mistakesÉamon Ó Cuív mistaking Twitter for Google not once, but twice. Source: Éamon Ó Cúiv/Twitter Source: Éamon Ó Cuív/TwitterJames Reilly: wrestling aficionado. @WWE— Sen Dr James Reilly (@DrJamesReilly) April 6, 2013 10. They follow Earth Pics, History In Pics, etc.When not working, Joe Costello has a very keen interest in tropical holiday destinations. Source: Joe Costello/Twitter Source: Joe Costello/Twitter11. They love anything relating to animalsSenator Averil Power <3 puppies. Source: Averil Power/Twitter12. They follow embarrassing accounts“Joanna Tuffy followed Sandra Bullock Web” Source: Joanna Tuffy/Twitter13. And they post photos of their mediocre-looking food Source: Gerry Adams/Twitterlast_img read more

Southampton excited to see what Danny Ings brings to the team

first_imgThe English forward joined Southampton from Liverpool after three years with The Reds; he only played 14 matchesDanny Ings joined Southampton this Thursday night, on a season-long loan from Liverpool.And comments about his new club and what is expected from him came soon.Southampton boss Mark Hughes spoke to the club’s website to say something about the new loan.“There was significant competition for Danny, with a lot of clubs keen to complete a deal for him, so we’re clearly delighted that he chose to join us,” he was reported saying by Sky Sports News.“We have admired him for some time now, not only for his ability but also his character and personality, which we feel will be an ideal fit in our dressing room,” he added.Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…“He’s obviously a local boy, who gives us another excellent option up front. He didn’t get to play as much as he would have liked at Liverpool, but he has been injury-free for some time now and has a real point to prove,” the manager commented.“It’s a great boost for us on the eve of the season to bring another quality player into the squad, and we’re excited about what he can bring to the group.”Your newest Saint! ? #saintsfc pic.twitter.com/7ClbxOeCTk— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 9, 2018last_img read more

Abbott survives leadership challenge

first_imgAbbott survives leadership challenge431 views00:00 / 00:00- 00:00:0000:00Abbott survives leadership challenge431 viewsBusinessAustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived a leadership challenge on Monday following weeks of infighting in his ruling Liberal Party. In a secret ballot party members voted down a motion toVentuno Web Player 4.50Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived a leadership challenge on Monday following weeks of infighting in his ruling Liberal Party. In a secret ballot party members voted down a motion tolast_img read more

The language of music

first_imgAgainst the backdrop of rapid urbanization and growing metro culture which has created vulnerability of the traditional artistes, the project presents a compelling vision for indigenous design, the redesign of new economies centred on innovation, well being and compassion. The project emphasise values like, How the wisdom of the past can be made accessible to people.The project presents both traditional and new instruments based on Indian sitar, Burmese saung harp, Thai xylophone, Korean kayagum, Chinese guzheng and pipa, Vietnamese dan tranh, Javanese and Balinese gamelan, chanting and others. New instruments with embedded computation demonstrate interactions through gesture, touch, pull, movement, gaze and kinesthetic action. In addition, through responsive computing, people by their position, gesture, and movements control musical events in the exhibition environment.The museum landscapes exhibition builds on a series multimedia museum works, showing intersections between traditional and modern art, design and technology, such that the results help both traditional and modern societies. The works show that the wisdom of traditional communities can positively negate the homogenising aesthetics of modern media technology.When: On till 16 January 2014Where: National Museumlast_img read more

US singing competition The Voice features first trans contestant

first_imgShare this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… GAYSTARNEWS- As she sings, her father is seen off-stage cheering her on with a smile.The show’s history with inclusionIn 2012, the show won a GLAAD Media Award for its inclusion of LGBTI talent.Last season the show also featured a drag queen contestant, Chris ‘Nedra Belle’ Weaver.On the worldwide scale, the series is also successful with diversity.Jordan Gray became the first ever out trans contestant on The Voice UK in 2016. Two years previously, Tom Atias competed on The Voice Israel. However, he didn’t come out as trans until after the season finished.Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . Angel Bonilla auditioned with a rendition of Sam Smith’s number Lay Me Down.She didn’t get her own segment on the episode, but a montage. However, the judges were impressed with her vocal chops and she ended up on Adam Levine’s team.Her segment begins around the 49 second mark.[embedded content]Her storyBonilla, 31, is from the Philippines. After she sings, she tells the judges she was born Carlos.‘As early as 5-years-old, I already knew that I am a girl, trapped in a boy’s body,’ she says during her reel. ‘Growing up in a very conservative family, it was very difficult for my father. When my dad saw me as a girl for the first time, he was puzzled. He wasn’t sure if I was his son, but he embraced me.‘I promised him I would do great things. I wanted my father to be proud of me and I’m doing this to honor him,’ she finishes through tears. US singing competition show The Voice featured its first ever transgender contestant on Monday (5 March) night’s episode.center_img Former American Idol hopeful returns as a drag queen and slays judgesBlind Date hosts first ever drag queen episode and some viewers aren’t happyDrag Race queens respond to RuPaul’s comments on trans performersRead the full article on Gaystarnews:  :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/voice-first-trans-contestant/ eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us) Contestant Angel Bonilla. | Photo: YouTube/The Voicelast_img read more

Does AI deserve to be so Overhyped

first_imgThe short answer is yes, and no. The long answer is, well, read on to find out. Several have been asking the question, including myself, wondering whether Artificial Intelligence is just another passing fad like maybe the Google Glass or nano technology. The hype for AI began over the past few years, although if you actually look back at the 60’s it seems to have started way back then. In the early 90s and all the way down to the early 2000’s, a lot of media and television shows were talking about AI quite a bit. Going 25 centuries even further back, Aristotle speaks of not just thinking machines but goes on to talk of autonomous ones in his book, Politics: for if every instrument, at command, or from a preconception of its master’s will, could accomplish its work (as the story goes of the statues of Daedalus; or what the poet tells us of the tripods of Vulcan, “that they moved of their own accord into the assembly of the gods “), the shuttle would then weave, and the lyre play of itself; nor would the architect want servants, or the [1254a] master slaves. Aristotle, Politics: A treatise on Government, Book 1, Chapter 4 This imagery of AI has managed to sink into our subconscious minds over the centuries propelling creative work, academic research and industrial revolutions toward that goal. The thought of giving machines a mind of their own, existed quite long ago, but recent advancements in technology have made it much clearer and realistic. The Rise of the Machines The year is 2018. The 4th Industrial Revolution is happening and intelligent automation has taken over. This is the point where I say no, AI is not overhyped. General Electric, for example, is a billion dollar manufacturing company that has already invested in AI. GE Digital has AI systems running through several automated systems. They even have their own IIoT platform called Predix. Similarly, in the field of healthcare, the implementation of AI is growing in leaps and bounds. The Google Deepmind project is able to process millions of medical records within minutes. Although this kind of research is in its early phase, Google is working closely with the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to implement AI and improve eye treatment. AI startups focused on healthcare and other allied areas such as genetic engineering are some of the highly invested and venture capital supported ones in recent times. Computer Vision or image recognition is one field where AI has really proven its power. Analysing datasets like iris has never been easier, paving way for more advanced use cases like automated quality checks in manufacturing units. Another interesting field is Healthcare, where AI has helped sift through tonnes of data, helping doctors diagnose illnesses quicker, manufacture more effective and responsive drugs, and in patient monitoring. The list is endless, clearly showing that AI has made its mark in several industries. Back (up) to the Future Now, if you talk about the commercial implementations of AI, they’re still quite far fetched at the moment. Take the same Computer Vision application for example. Its implementation will be a huge breakthrough in autonomous vehicles. But if researchers have managed to obtain an 80% accuracy for object recognition on roads, the battle is not close to being won! Even if they do improve, do you think driverless vehicles are ready to drive in the snow, through the rain or even storms? I remember a few years ago, Business Process Outsourcing was one industry, at least in India, that was quite fearful of the entry of AI and autonomous systems that might take over their jobs. Machines are only capable of performing 60-70% of the BPO processes in Insurance, and with changing customer requirements and simultaneously falling patience levels, these numbers are terrible! It looks like the end of Moore’s law is here, for AI I mean. Well, you can’t really expect AI to have the same exponential growth that computers did, decades ago. There are a lot of unmet expectations in several fields, which has a considerable number of people thinking that AI isn’t going to solve their problems now, and they’re right. It is probably going to take a few more years to mature, making it a thing of the future, not of the present. Is AI overhyped now? Yeah, maybe? What I think Someone once said, hype is a double-edged sword. If it’s not enough, innovation may become obscure and if it’s too much, expectations will become unreasonable. It’s true that AI has several beneficial use cases, but what about fairness of such systems? Will machines continue to think the way they’re supposed to or will they start finding their own missions that don’t involve benefits to the human race? At the same time, there’s also a question of security and data privacy. GDPR will come into effect in a few days, but what about the prevailing issues of internet security? I had an interesting discussion with a colleague yesterday. We were talking about what the impact of AI could be for us as end-customers, in a developing and young country like India. Do we really need to fear losing our jobs, will we be able to reap the benefits of AI directly or would it be an indirect impact? The answer is, probably yes, but not so soon. If we drew up the hierarchy of needs pyramid for AI, it would look something like the above. For each field to fully leverage AI, it’s going to involve several stages like collecting data, storing it effectively, exploring it, then aggregating it, optimising it with the help of algorithms and then finally achieving AI. That’s bound to take a LOT of time! Honestly speaking, a country like India lacks as much implementation of AI in several fields. The major customers of AI, apart from some industrial giants, will obviously be the government. Although, that is sure to take at least a decade or so, keeping in mind the several aspects to be accomplished first. In the meantime, buddying AI developers and engineers are scurrying to skill themselves up in the race to be in the cream of the crowd! Similarly, what about the rest of the world? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but if you ask me, AI is a really promising technology and I think we need to give it some time; allow the industries and organisations investing in it to take enough time to let it evolve and ultimately benefit us customers, one way or another. Read Next: You can now make music with AI thanks to Magenta.js Splunk leverages AI in its monitoring toolslast_img read more

OpenAI Five beats pro Dota 2 players wins 21 against the gamers

first_imgLast week, Open AI’s new algorithm that is trained to play the complex strategy game, Dota 2, beat the world champion e-sports team OG at an event in San Francisco, winning the first two matches of the ‘best-of-three’ series. The competition included a human team of five professional Dota 2 players and AI team of five OpenAI bots. Dota 2 is a complex multiplayer strategy game, where two teams of five players each, compete to destroy a large structure that is defended by the opposing team known as the “Ancient”, while also defending their own. The game consists of over 100 unique characters, deep skill trees, etc. The five Open AI bots had been trained using deep reinforcement learning techniques and had played 45000 years worth of Dota 2 gameplay in a span of 10 months. OpenAI constantly kept improving by playing itself in a virtual environment. During Dota 2, each team had to pick out of 17 heroes. In the first match, OpenAI used different aggressive tactics and human players managed to survive for more than 40 minutes. One such tactic used by the OpenAI bots involved spending the earned in-game currency to revive heroes upon death, during the start of the match. In the case of the second match, OpenAI’s performance got even better and gained an early edge against OG. Overall, it took less than 20 minutes for the AI to win against humans. The last round was won by the humans. This was the last planned public demonstration of OpenAI’s bot, however, Open AI’s research team is now working on new software that allows humans to collaborate alongside the OpenAI Five software in real time. This will allow the team to learn from its unique strategies and patterns. OpenAI is also planning to release a platform, called Arena, that would allow the public to play against OpenAI Five. The platform will be open for three days from April 18th at 9 PM Eastern time. However, this collaboration may not be made available to the public. Apart from that Sam Altman, Co-founder, and CEO, OpenAI, is focussing on a different area of research, which involves making the AI adapt to work in less perfect simulators. Also, OpenAI is working on using reinforcement learning to provide robotic hands more human-like movement, reports the Verge. “What OpenAI is trying to do is build general artificial intelligence and to share those benefits with the world and make sure it’s safe. We’re not here to beat video games, as fun as that is. We’re here to uncover secrets along the path the AGI”, said Altman. Public reaction to the news is largely positive with people congratulating OpenAI for the win: Read Next OpenAI LP, a new “capped-profit” company to accelerate AGI research and attract top AI talent OpenAI introduces Neural MMO, a multiagent game environment for reinforcement learning agents OpenA’s new versatile AI model, GPT-2 can efficiently write convincing fake news from just a few wordslast_img read more

Fire breaks out at Grand Bahia Principe Tulum

first_img Travelweek Group Fire breaks out at Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Share MAYAN RIVIERA — Guests at Grand Bahia Principe Tulum in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera were definitely feeling the heat over the weekend, not from the sun but from a large fire that broke out late Friday night.A resort employee confirmed to Global News that the area was evacuated due to the fire, and that the resort resumed normal operations on Saturday. The resort also confirmed in a release that “the situation was kept under control at all times.”No injuries were reported, while damage to the resort was “limited to material losses,” the statement said. The statement also noted that the fire started as a “result of an unfortunate short-circuit.”Popular among Canadians, Grand Bahia Principe Tulum offers 978 rooms, three pools, five restaurants and seven bars. It is located approximately 100 kilometres from Cancun. Monday, January 16, 2017 center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Tags: Mexicolast_img read more

Delicious tranquility at Hotel Blue Conga

first_imgFresh fruit. The room rate includes this beautiful arrangement with coffee and toast, and I don’t know where the fruits were picked, but there are several nice trees in the garden. If you eat meat, you’ll get some savory specimens fried up as well. For other meals, you are supposed to go out and support the local economy, or order in from places nearby.Majority owner Eric Climent said he wanted people to feel at home in a quiet place, close to Puerto Viejo, close to Playa Cocles, but apart from the world as well. There’s no television or air conditioning and not many wild parties. On an ecological note, the Blue Conga features solar hot water.Climent, who is French, bought the hotel half-built in 2007, after putting his finger on the map. “It is the truth,” he said. “It is here. Never have I been in Puerto Viejo, never in Costa Rica. It is the truth.”He confirmed his geographical premonition with a two-week visit. He and a friend were supposed to spend one week on this side and one week on the Pacific coast, but he fell in love and never went to the western shores. The Blue Conga was up and running by 2009, and the pool completed the feel in June 2012.Caretakers at Hotel Blue Conga can help arrange anything you need. They’ll rent you bicycles, snorkeling gear and laundry services. Most reservations are made online at hotelblueconga.com, where you fill out an inquiry form. I was nervous that my inquiry would vanish into space, but our caretaker, Marise, responded within an hour during one of the busiest times of the year, and arranged a room for the same evening. We managed to contact her during our bus delay, and she adjusted our arrangements so we could arrive in the middle of the night with no problems whatsoever – except for children’s confusion about the proper time to sleep.Going thereRoom prices range from about $60 to $110, depending on the size and the time of year. Hotel Blue Conga is a short taxi ride from Puerto Viejo, or a ten minute walk from downtown towards Playa Cocles: look for a sign by a small road on the right. Facebook Comments No related posts. The best way to arrive at Hotel Blue Conga is probably in the dark. We did this after an extended commute from San José to Puerto Viejo: the noon bus was full, the 2 p.m. bus was full, the 4 p.m. bus was late and we hit a road obstruction near Limón. Basically, an easy four-and-a-half-hour trip to the Caribbean shores nearly tripled, and we would have been happy to sleep on a dirty piece of gravel underneath a tarp. But our kids slept on the bus, so they were ready to party when we fell into room one at Blue Conga just after midnight.It was a clean, tiled room with painted concrete walls and some varnished log furniture, the room’s nod to the standard Tico cabin aesthetic. The little ones (3 and 6) splashed in the warm shower while we stumbled around rustling snacks, dreaming of a quiet place under a tarp.Finally we did sleep, and when I opened the window in the morning, I remembered we were not in a Motel 6 in some dusty Texas town – we were on the corner of a tropical paradise, and everything was green and blue and flowered and quiet. The quietude seemed like a trick of nature, at least compared to the night rhythms of Puerto Viejo locales like Rocking J’s, just around the corner, where you can buy condoms at the front counter and rent a hammock for $7. At Hotel Blue Conga, however, the quiet seemed like a visual feature. There are 12 rooms in two main buildings, and a tropical garden courtyard with a small pool nestled against the dining area, which was both bright and shady.The space is actually rather small, but the vegetation and the way the buildings are set up make you feel you might be in a lodge miles deep into the jungle, and that the caretakers simply wandered off to forage for beautiful fruits to arrange on white plates. Paul Brohaughlast_img read more