Defence Minister Guto Bebb hosted Secretary Tone Skogen, State Secretary in Norway’s Ministry of Defence, on her visit aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft – equipment which both the UK and Norway will soon own themselves.The allies ramped up discussions around how the nations will work together and might deploy their submarine-hunting aircraft fleet in the future. Areas of co-operation could range from maintenance to training and operations, which would not only cut costs but also boost operational power in the North Atlantic, a key area of submarine activity.The aircraft took off from RAF Lossiemouth, which will be the future home of the UK’s fleet. Investing £3 billion in the capability over the next decade, the UK is buying nine of the Boeing-built aircraft, whilst Norway are getting five.Their key role for the UK will be to protect the country’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent and its two new aircraft carriers – the Poseidons deploy sonobuoys to help them detect submarines, and can fire anti-ship missiles and launch torpedoes to destroy submarines.Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: The nine P-8A Poseidons will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. Last month, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson cut the first turf on a £132m facility for the new fleet. The new facility will be completed in 2020, to coincide with initial operating capability of the Poseidon aircraft being available in the UK.Built by Elgin-based Robertson Northern, it will comprise a tactical operations centre, an operational conversion unit, squadron accommodation, training and simulation facilities and a three-bay aircraft hangar.At the peak of construction, the project will support 200 local jobs. When the fleet is fully operational, some 470 additional service personnel will be based at RAF Lossiemouth, taking the total number of people employed there to 2,200. Further roles are also expected when the training and support services are established at the new facility. Norway’s Secretary Tone Skogen said: These sub-hunters will take to the skies from RAF Lossiemouth and help us combat a range of intensifying threats, not least increasing submarine activity in the North Atlantic. We’re investing £3bn in our own capability, but working alongside Norway takes this to a higher level. Not only could we cut costs by sharing training, spares and repair facilities, but we can patrol the seas together, meaning we’ve got more eyes and ears on any potential aggressors. Norway and the UK are natural partners given our shared values, as well as our history and geography. We can even further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation related to high-end capabilities such as the F-35 fighter and the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft. In my discussions with Guto Bebb, Minister for Defence Procurement, I find a like-minded ally. The UK and Norway continue to stand together in training and exercises in the North Atlantic and the Northern region, as well as operationalisation of the Joint Expeditionary Force.
GREG SCHMITZ/Herald photoMILWAUKEE — “Have fun.”The Wisconsin men’s hockey team’s captain, Adam Burish, is the last person on earth to be described as short-winded when it comes to interviewing or leading the Badgers. But those two simple words were his message to the team heading into the Frozen Four, where they will begin play Thursday night.It seems peculiar in such a high-pressure situation, but that is the way the Wisconsin’s practice went Tuesday at the Shell in Madison and again Wednesday here at the Bradley Center.”This week’s quote [from Coach Mike Eaves] is ‘Just play,'” Burish said.Tuesday’s session ended with a light-hearted shootout between Burish and his senior classmates — forwards Nick Licari, A.J. Degenhardt and Ryan MacMurchy, and defenseman Tom Gilbert.The five goofed around cheerfully as the younger Badgers slapped their sticks on the ice in encouragement.But as the contest went down, there was one player who was not about to take things lightly. Junior goaltender Brian Elliott hasn’t allowed a puck by him in more than 252 straight minutes — a span dating back to March 17.Calmly, as the seniors took their shots, he turned all five of them away. He was not about to let his own teammates start feeling good about themselves.”I know where they are going before they do,” Elliott said.”He’s always stingy back there and always focused,” Burish said. “Actually, I got him good twice yesterday on breakaways, though, so I thought I’d give him one back today to make him feel good.”That was exactly the jocular attitude that has encompassed this team the past few days.But then again, Elliott has not been shy about saying what the Badger seniors mean to him and vice versa. After all, he has really only seen moderate success as a member of the UW squad, and he has those seniors to thank for that.This time around, however, moderate success does not exist.The Badgers’ juniors and seniors remember hurting after Maine knocked them out of the NCAA tournament in overtime two years ago. Moreover, they remember the looks on the faces of the three seniors that year — Rene Bourque, Dan Boeser and Andy Wozniewski.”When we came back, Coach had a big picture of Rene Bourque and Dan Boeser kneeled down next to each other,” Burish said. “I just remember that feeling in the dressing room.”You can bet that those faces will drive the older members of this year’s team Thursday — they do not want to wind up in the same position, especially considering they are the only No. 1 seed remaining among a triumvirate of No. 3s.The Badgers prevailed in a nearly never-ending goalie battle only 11 days ago, when Elliott outlasted Cornell’s David McKee in a 1-0 thriller. While nobody can say they expect another three-overtime battle, Thursday’s game against Maine may not be that much different.”We’re just going to focus on the stuff we do well,” Gilbert said. “I know Maine is a mirror image of us. They play hard, they’ve got great defense, and they’ve got great depth.”Once again, the two teams play similar styles. Along the same line, Maine does not boast an offensive superstar, though both teams do lay claim to special senior classes. And again, between the pipes will sit two solid goaltenders.Even though Elliott has two years of experience — albeit most of that came from behind the bench — he does not think he has an edge over the much-greener Ben Bishop.”Anything can give you a little edge at this point — it could be something you eat for lunch,” Elliott said. “He’s a big guy, so we’re just going to have to get our shots on net and get some rebounds.”Still, there will be a battle between the goalies: Elliott, who leads the nation in winning percentage, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts, and Bishop, a freshman who is 12th in goals against average and holds a .908 save percentage.Bishop also has another impressive number to bring with him, a daunting 6-foot-7 frame.But the Badgers will bring a hometown crowd.”We’re excited to be here in Milwaukee. … It’s special,” Burish said. “I don’t know that we feel any extra pressure; it’s excitement.”And playing a “home team” is nothing new to Maine. The Black Bears played against “home teams” in each of the last five years and are 3-4 in those matchups.”We’ve had a history of playing the home team in the NCAA tournament — we’re fine with that, and excited about the opportunity and the atmosphere that it’s going to bring to the game,” Maine captain Greg Moore said.Throw statistics out the window. The time is now, the pressure is on, and it is one-and-done.And it all comes back to fun.”It’s just been about playing and having fun,” Burish said. “In Green Bay, we were successful because we were loose. When we have that kind of atmosphere, we’ll be successful.”
Galway defeated Brian Boyle’s side in a keenly fought Group 2 encounter in Athenry.The Tribeswomen led 1-7 to 1-6 at the break – Tipp’s goal was scored by Orla O’Dwyer.It was nip and nuck in the second period too with a point from Jenny Grace leaving just one between the side in the closing minutes of the match. However, the home side rallied and points from Aoife Donoghue and Niamh McGrath saw them home.Tipperary’s next match is against Derry.
Economic report shows– deficit moves from US$53M to US$69MBy Jarryl BryanWith the release of the 2017 macro-economic report, the 2.1 per cent growth rate is not the only thing of concern. The report shows that the deficit in Guyana’s balance of payments, an important economic indicator, is on the rise.The Balance of Payments report contains statistical data on a country’s fiscal transactions, including imports and exports. To record a deficit, Guyana would therefore have had to spend more on imports, among other things, that it derived from exports.According to the report, Guyana’s overall balance of payment in the 2017 fiscal year showed a deficit of US$69.5 million. This is a hike when compared to US$53.3 million the previous year. A breakdown of the figures shows stunning disparities.On the one hand, the current account shows a deficit of US$287.4 million for the year 2017. But in the previous fiscal year, the report notes, this was just US$12.4 million. The report admits that this is because of a negative balance on the merchandise trade account.“The further weakening was due to the negative balance on the merchandise trade account. Merchandise exports were slightly lower than projected, mainly on account of lower export earnings of gold and other exports in the last two months of the year.”When Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented the 2018 budget last year, he had announced that merchandise imports were estimated to grow by 9.6 per cent. This had been attributed to increased imports of mining machinery, chemicals, fuel and lubricants. According to the report, imports exceeded the Government’s projections.“Imports were slightly more than the US$1.59 billion projected at the time of the presentation of the 2018 budget. As a result, the merchandise trade deficit of US$196.2 million was considerably higher than the projected deficit of US$147.2 million.“Notwithstanding, the deficit on the services account was lower than estimated. The improvement in the services account more than offsets the weaker balances on both the non-factor services and unrequited transfers accounts,” the report states.Capital accountWhile the Current Account is nothing to boast about, the Capital Account improved. The report notes that it showed a surplus of US$228 million, an increase from a deficit of US$13.2 million in 2016. It also exceeded a projected surplus of US$181.8 million.This publication had recently done an article on the state of Guyana’s net foreign reserves. A recent report from the Central Bank had indicated that Guyana’s net foreign reserves, held by the bank in foreign currency notes, have fallen to their lowest point since 2008. The reserves went from a high point of US$825 million in 2012 to US$498.5 million as at March 2018.A perusal of the Bank of Guyana’s statistical abstract shows that the reserves started dropping in 2013, going from $751.2 million in that year to $652.2 million in 2014. It is in 2017 that the reserves plunged well into the US$500 million range.By November of last year, the reserves were recorded at US$562 million. And as at March 2018, for the first time since 2008, the net foreign reserves fell to below the US$500 million benchmark. Interestingly enough, the end-of-year report details that US$12.1 million was drawn down from the reserves to finance the balance of payments.“The 2017 balance of payments deficit was financed by exceptional financing of US$1.9 million in debt relief and US$55.6 million in debt forgiveness, along with a drawdown of US$12.1 million in net foreign assets of the Bank of Guyana,” the report states.“Additionally, gross revenues of the Bank of Guyana were equal to about 3.1 months of import cover at the end of 2017; slightly above the three-month minimum benchmark for reserve adequacy.”The Parliamentary Opposition had previously expressed concern over the increasing deficit in the country’s balance of payments, which it had said would continue to have serious implications for the local economy.