A Washington Post article this month stated that elephants, hippos, rhinos, gorillas and other large herbivores are disappearing at an alarming rate, but we already know that. The shocking part of the article was this statement: “The situation is so dire, according to a new study, that it threatens an ‘empty landscape’ in some ecosystems ‘across much of the planet Earth’.”Such slow-breeding, long-living species are known to be vulnerable to human activities – from encroachment, cultivation, deforestation and livestock, as well as overhunting for meat and seeking out the biggest and strongest trophies instead of targeting the sick or old as occurs in nature.In Africa, 100 thousand elephants were poached from 2010-12 and the western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011 according to the study. In the poaching industry their horns are worth more than gold, diamonds and cocaine. But without the herbivores, there will be ecological consequences. During his first visit to Washington DC, Prince William spoke at the World Bank about the situation.“One of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today is the illegal wildlife trade. Here, criminal gangs turn vast profits from illegal killing or capture of wildlife. Armed groups and terrorists swap poached ivory for guns. And middlemen oil the wheels of the trade in return for reward. Together they loot our planet to feed mankind’s ignorant craving for exotic pets, trinkets, cures and ornaments to writhe from the worlds vanishing and irreplaceable species. […]“As we consider the growing threat to wildlife, the corrosive impact of the trade on human dignity and development worldwide, and all the means we have at our disposal to combat it, we should be utterly determined to see this go through to success. […]“I am determined not to let the world’s children grow up on a planet where our most iconic and endangered species have been wiped out, impoverishing us all. I hope you will join me.”Copyright ©2015Look to the Stars
Rabat – Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) launched on Thursday a new air route linking Washington to Casablanca.This new air route will be available three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, RAM said in a statement.All these flights will be carried out by Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the source added, noting that the Casablanca-Washington air route is the third long-haul destination launched by the company in 2016, after those of Rio de Janeiro and Nairobi. With MAP
Rabat – Will Nizar Baraka, member of the National Council of the Party of Istiqlal (PI), announce his candidacy to become the party’s next leader?The question comes to mind following the party’s National Council meeting on Saturday.The announcement of a reconciliation between party leader, Hamid Chabat, and other opposing, influential members paves the way for the party’s National Congress to be held in May, where a new Secretary General of the party is due to be elected. Chabat is expected to seek another term in office and Baraka has officially become eligible to run.During the National Council’s meeting, article 54 of the party’s internal regulations was amended, allowing members of the party, outside the executive committee, to run for the party’s leadership.The former finance minister and current president of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), has been leading a campaign against Hamid Chabat, saying the party needs a new leader.Chabat came under huge criticism from party members when he made controversial statements about Mauritania in December, referring to it as part of Moroccan territories.The Secretary General has also been criticized for failing to maintain Istiqlal’s political influence.In 2011, Istiqlal came second in the General elections and was a major ally of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) in the subsequent government led by Abdelilah Benkirane.When Chabat got elected as secretary general of the party in 2012, however, Istiqlal withdrew from the government the next year, a move seen by Baraka as damaging to the party.Though he has not yet announced his candidacy, Nizar Baraka is expected to be Hamid Chabat’s next rival in the party’s National Congress.His potential win would mark a turnover for Morocco’s oldest party.Though not as charismatic as Chabat, Nizar Baraka will certainly be considerably less controversial. Does he have what it takes to beat the current leader? We can only wait and see.
Rabat – The Moroccan-American community of Revere is organizing the 2017 Moroccan Cultural Day on Saturday, May 20th, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. The goal of this event is to promote the culture of Morocco, assist local Moroccan businesses reach out to their potential customers and encourage community business people to invest in the city.This big outdoor celebration will be open to the public and heavily covered by various media outlets. The event organizers are anticipating a large turnout at this unprecedented event. “We have invited the entire city to join us on May 20th to celebrate the culture of Morocco through food, arts and music” Rachid Moukhabir, the event coordinator, said. Indeed, the event has been advertised on TV, newspaper and social media outlets. As a matter of fact, the 16 year old Moroccan-American high school student, Chaimaa Hossaini, and her mentor VannyHuot volunteered to knock doors and invite people as the event date gets closer. All government officials have been invited. This will give all the guests an opportunity to speak in a personal way with these officials.Local businesses and individuals, who have been promoting Morocco in the U.S., will be offered a free booth to exhibit their products and services. A special feature of this cultural event is that three non-Moroccan judges, who are familiar with the Moroccan culture and have been in Morocco multiple times, will judge everyone’s work. The winner will hold the title of the 2017 Ambassador of Morocco to the city of Revere.
Lanka Indian Oil (LIOC) announced that it has also increased the price of fuel from today.The move follows the decision taken by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to increase the price of fuel from today. Accordingly, Petrol 92 Octane will be sold at Rs 146, Petrol Extra Premium 95 (EURO 4) Rs 158, Petrol Extra Premium (EURO 3) Rs 149, Auto Diesel Rs 118, Diesel Xtra Mile Rs 122 and Super Diesel (EURO 4) Rs 129.
Alena Pastuch sentenced to seven-year prison term for $5.5-million fraud Fraudster Alena Pastuch denied bid for bail Saskatoon city hall recovers $380,000 of $1 million lost in fraud To her best knowledge, Schultz said the city has not had a case of fraud where money was lost.“But we have had people try to do these types of things and we were able to catch them and see what was going on and so nothing came of it,” she said.“The one that I know about, … it wasn’t that level of fraud,” she said, referring to the incident in Saskatoon. “It was tied to something quite a bit smaller.”With no one strategy to prevent all fraud, Schultz says the three-pronged approach creates a strong system of controls to help lower the risk.“The biggest message is that the city takes the internal controls in protecting the public funds very seriously,” said Scultz. “We’re confident in our systems.”But those systems also change depending on current trends.“We are continually looking at them in light of what new cyber security threats are coming forward. It’s a constant process.”The City of Saskatoon has recovered $380,000 of the $1.04 million lost in mid-August, with most of the remaining funds frozen by a court order.The fraud was the first of its kind for Saskatoon and has been criticized by some as an inexcusable incident that should have been protected against years ago.The city has since implemented new controls to prevent a similar scenario from repeating in the future and continues efforts to recover the remainder of the money.— with files from Thia James and Phil Tankjackerman@postmedia.com The City of Regina is brushing up on fraud prevention training after a recent incident where the City of Saskatoon lost $1 million to a fraudster posing as a construction company executive.“We used this as an opportunity to have another discussion about fraud,” said June Schultz, director of finance for the City of Regina. “It’s not so much that we’re changing what we’re doing, but it was a reminder to look at and make sure that what we are doing is the right thing.”Schultz says the city takes a three-pronged approach to prevent fraud — people, processes and technology — and has a number of staff across different departments trained in fraud detection and prevention.Staff undergo cyber-security training and a select group are dedicated to staying on top of rapidly changing trends in cyber-security threats.To protect the integrity of their security framework, Schultz said she couldn’t go into detail about the process the city goes through to detect and mitigate fraud, but said the city practices segregation of duties, a concept where more than one person completes a task, as an internal tool to prevent fraud and mistakes.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.The City of Regina also undergoes internal and external audits to identify potential risks.“We have been increasing our training in the recent years,” said Schultz. “The timing is good based on the recent events in Saskatoon. It just brings a little more awareness.”Related
The McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion is no stranger to Olympic medalists, and the nation’s best have descended on campus to compete this weekend. Before taking to the pool in the 2012 NCAA Championships, some members of the Ohio State swimming and diving teams will participate alongside headliners Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin in the Columbus Grand Prix Friday through Sunday. “Many swimmers from around the world will be here,” said OSU men’s swimming coach Bill Wadley. “There’s a lot on the line.” OSU is the fourth stop on the USA Swimming Grand Prix Series, a seven-city tour that allows swimmers the opportunity to compete against the best in the sport and prepare for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are scheduled to take place June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb., and U.S. Olympic Games in London. First place performances are awarded five points. Three points go to second place and one point for third. The athlete with the most points at the end of the series is given $20,000. Frontrunner and 14-time Olympic gold medalist Phelps leads the pack with 41 points. Defending Grand Prix Series winner Missy Franklin trails by six going into the meet. Additional visiting American Olympians include Jason Lezak, Matt Grevers, Christine Magnuson, Allison Schmitt and more. But to other contenders, the competition site will feel like home. Former OSU swimmer, Elliott Keefer, who broke school records in his senior season as a Buckeye last year, will compete in the breaststroke representing the U.S. National team. Keefer’s former teammate, junior Tim Phillips, is on the roster of the OSU men’s swimming team but chose to redshirt this season. “He has decided to sit this year out because he is so close to making the Olympic team,” Wadley said. “It’s difficult to balance 20 to 30 hours of studying and 20 to 30 hours of swimming. One of them is going to suffer.” Phillips will participate in the Columbus Grand Prix in the same bout as Phelps. “Tim is in the butterfly event and they only take the top two to the Olympics,” Wadley said. “In order to be in the top two, you either have to be No. 2 behind Michael or beat him.” Preliminaries begin daily at 9 a.m. with finals beginning at 6 p.m. Time trials will be held in between.
A Royal Marine imprisoned for murdering a wounded Taliban fighter could be freed in months or even weeks his supporters hope, after senior judges quashed his conviction.Alexander Blackman’s crime should be downgraded to manslaughter because he was mentally ill at the time of the killing and under “quite exceptional” stress, an appeal court ruled.The 42-year-old former sergeant now faces a substantial cut in sentence at a new hearing expected later this month and could even be released immediately because of time already served. Blackman, better known as Marine A, has already spent nearly three-and-a-half years in prison, so any new sentence of less than seven years is expected to see him immediately freed on licence.His wife, Claire, appeared tearful as the Lord Chief Justice announced in the High Court that her husband’s murder conviction was to be overturned after a high-profile campaign to see him freed.Speaking afterwards, she said: “We are delighted at the judges’ decision to substitute manslaughter by diminished responsibility.”This is a crucial decision and one that much better reflects the circumstances that my husband found himself in during that terrible tour of Afghanistan.”We must now wait for the sentencing hearing and hope to secure a significant reduction in Al’s sentence.” Show more The men became physically tired and Blackman in particular was deprived of sleep.The threat of insurgent attacks was constant and “there was a constant threat of apparently friendly people acting as insurgents”.The judges ruled Blackman “regarded himself as responsible for the member of his troop, particularly those with children (he had none); he therefore undertook more patrols and risks to himself so that his troops could all get home safely”.Blackman also felt he was not being supported by his commander, Lt Col Ewen Murchison.Jonathan Goldberg QC, Blackman’s lawyer, said afterwards: “In a long career as defence counsel I recall few cases that were prosecuted as remorselessly as this one from first to last.“And they involved dangerous criminals, not a hitherto exemplary British soldier driven way past his breaking point in an impossible war by hellish conditions and inadequate moral and material support.”Despite quashing the conviction, the judges ruled they “could see no basis for any criticism of the conduct of the court martial” by the military judge who presided. The 30-page ruling in the Court Martial Appeal Court said Blackman’s decision to kill “was probably impulsive and the adjustment disorder had led to an abnormality of mental functioning that substantially impaired his ability to exercise self control.” Five judges led by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said Blackman’s original court martial should have heard evidence from psychiatrists about his mental health, so that it could have considered the lesser charge.Blackman had been an “exemplary soldier” before his deployment to Afghanistan in March 2011 as part of 42 Commando. Describing the conditions Blackman had been under during his Helmand deployment, the judges said Blackman had been posted to a small, undermanned checkpoint he felt was insecure and could be overrun.“There was powerful evidence that members of the multiple under the command of [Blackman] were always on edge and did not feel safe at night.” The case will be heard by five judges at the Court Martial Appeal CourtCredit:Eddie Mulholland Daily dangers faced at the checkpoint were “acute”. Marines were required to patrol for five to 10 hours each day in 122F (50C) heat, carrying up a minimum of 100lb of kit. Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander BlackmanCredit:Andrew Parsons/PA Claire Blackman (C) stands with veteran Royal Marines in Parliament Square during a rally calling for her husbandCredit:Peter Macdiarmid/LNP The film showed Blackman shoot the unnamed insurgent in the chest at point blank range and then turn to his comrades admitting he had broken the Geneva Convention.But judges yesterday ruled that the stress and the disorder “substantially impaired his ability to form a rational judgement”.They said there was “little doubt” that Blackman was “angry and vengeful and had a considerable degree of hatred for the wounded insurgent”, but on earlier deployments he had been able to control himself. But while stationed in a small checkpoint in Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district, he suffered from “quite exceptional” stresses that led to him developing a mental illness called an adjustment disorder.Blackman was originally sentenced to life for murder and told he would have to serve at least eight years in prison after helmet camera footage of the killing was discovered. 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.
Vice-champion of Hungary and regular participant of Champions League, Pick Szeged lost an away match of second round in national championship against Balatonfured – 21:22 (13:12). On other side, in away match MKB Veszprem was clear better against PLER 43:20.BALATONFÜRED–PICK-SZEGED 22–21 (12–13)Balatonfüred, 700 spectatorsBALATONFÜRED: SZATHMÁRI – Tombor 1, BAKOS D. 5, Szöllősi B. 2, Ivanov 1, SANDRK 5, PÁSZTOR I. 6 (2). Cs: SZABÓ T., Németh L. 1, Salamon, Kis Á., Lelkes 1.SZEGED: TATAI – Stranovsky 1, Butenko 2, Herbert 1, Bajorhegyi, Beocsanin 1, TÖRŐ 5 (1). Cs: MIKLER , Lékai 1, Vadkerti, Maros 1, ZUBAI SZ. 3, Katzirz 2 (2), SULC 4.PLER KC–MKB VESZPRÉM KC 20–43 (10–24)Spectators – 450PLER: Kovács J. – Rév 3, Szalafai 1, DEBRECZENI 4, Korsós 1, Lendvay 2, Pálos. Cs: SZÉKELY , Kupi 2 (2), Gazdag 3, Forgács, Pál G. 3 (1), Bak, Koller 1, Mikita.VESZPRÉM: Liszkai – Iváncsik T. 4, Terzic 2, Sulic 6, Lusnyikov, Vilovszki 3, IVÁNCSIK G. 6. Cs: Andorka, Gulyás 2, CSÁSZÁR 8 (3), Perez 2, VUJIN 6 (2), Korazija 2, Nagy K. 2.Standings: 7 Mezőkövesdi KC21–155-54+12 1 Ferencvaros TC22––59-49+104 5 Dunaferr SE11––33-28+52 MKB VeszpremPick Szeged 2 KSE Balatonfüred22––54-49+54 7 Csurgói KK21–155-54+12 12 PLER KC2––242-71-290 ← Previous Story Poland: Kielce, Kwidzyn and Wisla at the top! Next Story → AG Copenhagen won derby against Kolding! 9 Uniqa Pécs-VSE21–163-68-52 10 Orosházi FKSE2––256-65-90 3 MKB Veszprém KC11––43-20+232 6 Carbonex Tatabánya KC21–162-59+32 11 Budapest Kecskemét2––247-58-110 4 Pick Szeged21–152-46+62
EVERY DAY, TheJournal.ie brings you nine things you need to know with your morning cup of coffee.1. #ELAINE: A man is due in court in Dun Laoghaire this morning, charged in connection with the investigation into the murder of Elaine O’Hara. He was arrested yesterday and questioned at Blackrock Garda Station overnight.2. #LANDING: It’s emerged a US plane with a fixed weapon on board landed at Shannon Airport. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the issue had been taken up at the highest level with the US embassy. An ‘administrative error’ is being blamed, RTÉ reports.3. #NATASHA: A court in Chicago has heard that a stone was found in the throat of an Irish student attacked and beaten in the city three years ago, the BBC reports. Natasha McShane has been left with extensive brain injuries following the attack, and still has problems with her speech and mobility.4. #TEACHERS: Full day closures of secondary schools are to begin next week, as the effects of industrial action by members of the ASTI kick in. The Irish Independent reports that Dublin’s Malahide Community College, which has 1,200 pupils, will close next Tuesday for parent-teacher meetings.5. #GREY POWER: A large-scale demonstration is being planned for Dublin next week to protest Budget 2014 cuts. The rally is being organised by the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, which has been critical of the changes to thresholds for medical cards, the abolition of the bereavement grant and other measures affecting older people, the Irish Examiner reports.6. #HIT AND RUN: A man in his 30s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Dublin. A car struck the pedestrian while he walked on Trinity Lane, just off the Clonliffe Road. The vehicle failed to stop. Gardaí are investigating.7. #LEANING: “I might be 6′ 5″ but I’m not going to lean in any direction” — Minister Phil Hogan’s remaining non-committal on whether he’d like a directly-elected mayor for Dublin. It’s planned Dubliners will vote on the issue in plebiscite next summer.8. #RELICS: Hundreds of people turned out in Fairview yesterday for a ceremony to mark the arrival of relics of St Anthony. A bone and a small layer of the saint’s skin are being taken to six venues around Ireland, according to the Irish Independent. The Franciscan friar died in 1231.9. #WET WEEKEND: A rainfall warning’s been issued for today for parts of Munster, Leinster and Ulster. Up to 50mm could fall in mountainous areas, and there’s a risk of coastal flooding along the south coast at high tide.
In the first Mass Effect game, Shepard chases the antagonist Saren around the universe, much in the way Cloud once chased Sephiroth through almost every single in-game location. Saren was corrupted by the Reapers — the overall series’ main antagonist — and Shepard eventually put an end to him and saved the universe for a short while.The series featured an alignment system, but people who paid attention realized that the games very clearly pushed you toward being a hero rather than a villain. In the various endings for the series, Shepard saved the universe regardless of how evil you tried to be. Canonically, Shepard is a good guy or gal.However, BioWare designer Matt Rhodes revealed that a very early idea for the Shepard character was to eventually turn to Reaper technology to achieve the game’s goals, but it would slowly corrupt the character like it corrupted Saren. Eventually, Shepard would be confronted by another important in-game character, such as Kaidan or Ashley.Whether you fall into the camp that thinks Mass Effect is god’s gift to gaming, or you fall into the camp that thinks it was fine but overrated, you can agree with the other side that this idea for the path the game could have taken was great, and we’re all worse off for it having been scrapped. Canonically, Shepard was a stock, run-of-the-mill hero, and this could’ve made the character much more complex.Rhodes also disclosed that the team debated whether or not to reveal Tali’s face for a long time. As we all know, her face ended up being revealed if Shepard romanced her, which drew ire from ME fans because it was modeled after a stock photo model rather than being an original creation. While revealing her face was a nice addition for players that were invested enough in Tali to romance her, perhaps BioWare should’ve debated a bit longer in order to avoid modeling her after a stock photo.After devoting however many hours to the Mass Effect trilogy, it’s a bit annoying to see that the character we spent so much time with could’ve been much more interesting. If we still can’t agree on that, though, I think we can all agree that ReapShep is a better nickname than BroShep and FemShep.Rhodes posted a bunch of early concept art on his blog, which is well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series.
Apple : l’iPhone OS 4.0 sera présenté le 8 avrilÉtats-Unis – Apple a convié la presse le jeudi 8 avril, afin de lui dévoiler la version 4.0 de son système d’exploitation mobile. D’après la rumeur, cet OS pourrait embarquer un mode multi-tâches.Presque un an après avoir dévoilé la version 3.0 de son système d’exploitation mobile, Apple a invité la presse à découvrir un aperçu de la nouvelle mouture de cet OS. Cette présentation renforce la rumeur selon laquelle la firme de Cupertino pourrait lancer cet été deux nouveaux smartphones 4G, dont l’un serait compatible avec les réseaux de technologie CDMA de l’opérateur Verizon. La version 4.0 de l’OS devrait supporter le multi-tâches, fonctionnalité réclamée depuis longtemps par les utilisateurs et permettant d’exécuter plusieurs applications en simultané sur l’iPhone. Reprenant la technologie utilisée pour Mac OS X, le système d’exploitation pourrait également permettre l’utilisation d’une caméra frontale autorisant la visioconférence. Comme toujours, Apple a réussi à maintenir le mystère autour de cet OS qui réserve certainement un grand nombre de surprises, comme son petit frère qui avait offert plus de 100 nouvelles fonctionnalités. Le 6 avril 2010 à 16:02 • Emmanuel Perrin
Former owner of San Diego’s KFMB appeared in federal court SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Former owner of San Diego’s Channel 8 KFMB appeared in a San Diego federal court today.Elisabeth Kimmel, who sold the station last year for more than 300 million dollars, is caught up in the nation’s largest college admissions scandal.In her case, prosecutors say Kimmel paid about 500,000 dollars in bribes to get her son and daughter into USC and Georgetown.She allegedly took that money from her charitable foundation, and then wrote off the payments as donations.In court today, Kimmel was ordered to give up her passport. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Conover said prosecutors also wanted a 500,000 dollar signature bond set, where no money is required to be put down, and a simple signature of the person promising to show up in court is required.Her next appearance in court is March 29 in Boston, where the complaint originated. KUSI Newsroom, KUSI Newsroom Posted: March 18, 2019 Updated: 11:27 PM March 18, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News, Trending FacebookTwitter
Ruhul Kabir RizviBangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Tuesday alleged that the government has staged a drama over the abduction of writer, columnist and poet Farhad Mazhar to scare its opponents and critics, reports UNB.”The government has sent out a message through it [Mazhar abduction] that those who raise their voice against it will have to face Farhad’s fate. It has staged the drama of Farhad Mazhar to intimidate its other opponents,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.He came up with the remarks while speaking at a workers’ meeting of BNP’s voluntary wing, Jatiyatabadi Swechchasebak Dal, at Naya Paltan Bhasani Bhaban auditorium.The BNP leader said prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her government are the producer and director of the drama. “We strongly condemn and protest at such an act.”He said there is no point of staging such dramas ahead of the next polls as the BNP will join it foiling Awami League’s evil design to hold it under the current government.”No election will be held under Sheikh Hasina. We advise the ruling party to forget any such dream as the polls will be held under a neutral and supportive administration.”Farhad Mazhar was found in a bus in Jessore on Monday night nearly 18 hours after he went missing since he came out of his residence, ‘Haq Garden’, at Adabar Link Road.Mentioning that Mazhar was kidnapped with the signal of the government, Rizvi said his presence at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) protesting at the torture on Muslims in India might be a reason for it.He criticised those who saying Mazhar himself staged the drama. “Why should he stage the drama at his bad time? Even, a crazy person can realise that the state has the involvement in the abduction.”
Jatiya Party, one of the partners of the Awami League-led Grand Alliance, on Friday presented its election manifesto with a 18-point pledge, including forming provincial government, ensuring good governance and consolidating democracy.Party presidium member Ruhul Amin Hawlader unveiled the manifesto at the party chairman HM Ershad’s Banani office.”Jatiya Party’s first commitment for governing the country in the days to come is to restore democratic atmosphere, flourish democracy and establish good governance in the country,” he said.Hawlader, also the special assistant to JaPa chairman HM Ershad, said their party will introduce a provincial system bringing change to the existing central government structure if it returns to power through the upcoming election.He said their party has also a plan to turn the country’s eight divisions into eight provinces.The JaPa leader said they will increase the number of parliamentary seats to 380 from current 350 keeping 30 seats reserved for the minority communities.Party’s other pledges include, introducing a full-fledged upazila system, bringing a change to the country’s election process, reforming the education system, extending healthcare facilities, taking steps to contain terrorism and ensuring the independence of the judiciary.Hawlader presented the party’s manifesto as Ershad has been staying in Singapore since 10 December for receiving treatment.Before going abroad, Ershad appointed Ruhul Amin Hawlader as his special assistant to discharge all the organisational responsibilities of the party chairman in his absence.Hawlader said he presented the party’s election manifesto following the directive of Ershad.
Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) is one of Asia’s largest gifts and handicrafts fair, held twice a year organised by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).The inauguration of the 41st edition of IHGF Delhi Fair (Spring) 2016, took place on Saturday at the India Expo Centre and Mart in Greater Noida in the presence of Dr K Gopal, Development Commissioner (Handicrafts); AM Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry for Development of North East Region (DONER); Deepak Aggarwal, IAS, Chief Executive Officer of Greater Noida Development Authority; NP Singh, IAS District Magistrate, Gautam Budhnagar; SP Dadoo, president IHGF-Delhi Fair; Dinesh Kumar, chairman, EPCH; Raujesh Kumar Jain, vice chairman, EPCH; Rakesh Kumar, chairman, India Expo Mart and Executive Director of EPCH. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Rashmi Verma, Secretary (Textiles), who was the chief guest at the inauguration spoke of the importance of the handicrafts sector both from an economic and social point of view. The individuality of this sector according to her include high export potential, low capital investment and immense scope for generating employment and increasing job opportunities particularly for economically and socially backward sections of the society. She also advised the exporting community to lay emphasis on new designs and product innovation to retain the share of Indian handmade products in the world market for the fast pacing change in lifestyle. More than 2800 exhibitors from all over India including permanent marts are displaying numerous products in the IHGF-Delhi Fair Spring 2016. Raujesh Kumar Jain, Vice Chairman, EPCH said: “I have been in the Handicrafts business for 20 years. We have exporters from all over India at the IHGF Delhi Fair and it is not possible for everyone to go abroad to sell their products due to the high expenses involved. We have to promote the Indian handicrafts. We are providing them booths to sell their products here, while we have invited foreigners to purchase handicrafts from India, the largest sector for handicrafts in the world.” He is also the Managing Director of Exmart International Pvt. Ltd. and has set up a stall as well. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixRakesh Kumar, Executive Director, EPCH, said that the Council has chalked out a three-pronged strategy to promote the exports of handicrafts and focused its efforts by participating in fairs and exhibitions organised in different countries annually and in exploring new markets in Latin American, CIS, ASEAN and African regions where exports of Indian handicrafts is negligible.He further said that a strategy has been prepared to promote the new regions within India also from where presently handicrafts exports are not substantial such as North Eastern Region, Eastern Region and Southern Region by bringing artisans and craft-persons from Narsapur, North Eastern Region and Jodhpur to participate and display their crafts in the fair and provide them direct market linkages with the domestic as well as international buying community. The products available for display and export include a varied range of strikingly attractive housewares, decorative and gift items, lamps and lighting products, jewellery and fashion accessories, furniture, home textiles, Christmas decorative and incense, bathroom accessories and lawn garden ornament and accessories. The participants at the fair are from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, New Delhi, Western India, Eastern India and Southern India. IHGF Spring Fair has been the growth of the Indian Handicrafts sector for over 20 years. The four-day fair will be on till February 23.
Third in a four-part series on Guatemalan agribusiness based on a recent visit by correspondent Larry Luxner. The first two stories covered sugar and bananas.FINCA VICTORIA, Guatemala – The sun had been up for more than two hours at Finca Victoria, but the morning was still so quiet we could hear howler monkeys screaming way out on the horizon. I’d just arrived on a charter flight from Guatemala City, touching down at the nearby Rubelsanto airstrip and bouncing over dusty dirt roads by four-wheel-drive the rest of the way.It seemed like the end of the world, yet this lonely outpost – located just 35 kilometers from the Mexican border in the department of Alta Verapaz – is at the epicenter of what is quickly becoming Guatemala’s newest, and most controversial, agricultural commodity: African palm oil. Antonio Najarro, of Palmas del Ixcán, cuts open the fruit of an African oil palm. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesHere, stretching off into the distance, are rows upon monotonous rows of African palms. They all belong to Palmas del Ixcán, one of the country’s largest exporters of edible palm oil. The company’s nursery, or vivero, contains 107,000 baby trees, all of them cultivated from seeds purchased from Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras.If there’s one thing Guatemala has in abundance, it’s land – and vast tracts of scrubland and otherwise unproductive space in the departments of Alta Verapaz and Petén are now planted with African palms that can grow up to 20 meters high.“In Guatemala, there’s a lot of land that isn’t being used. Planting palms generates income and jobs,” said Alfonso Portugués, agricultural manager at Palmas del Ixcán, which employs 1,500 people in the peak season between June and September, and around 600 at other times.He says it costs half as much to produce palm oil in Guatemala as in his native Costa Rica. Palm oil, in fact, now represents one-third of the vegetable oil consumed worldwide, and its use is increasing thanks to its high productivity, which uses much less surface area than similar crops.Portugués, who has a degree in agronomy from the University of Costa Rica and who worked in his country’s banana industry for 20 years – mostly for Dole and Del Monte – says Guatemala has a potential 650,000 hectares to use for palm oil, up from the current 120,000. By comparison, Costa Rica has 40,000 hectares of African palms under cultivation.He says workers here earn 85 to 95 quetzales per day (equivalent to about $1.25 an hour) for backbreaking work that requires standing long hours in the sun – often without protection – lifting heavy bunches of palm-oil berries, known as racimos, and being exposed to thorny leaves and undergrowth.Each racimo contains an average of 2,300 individual berries and weighs up to six kilograms. A worker on average can cut 120 stems per day, though particularly skilled employees can cut up to 200. A truck can hold about 3,500 racimos, and it normally takes six to eight able-bodied men about two hours to fill these trucks, which carry their loads from the farm directly to a recently completed $16 million extraction plant capable of processing 40 tons of fruit per hour. Farmworkers spray pesticides on baby African palm trees at the Finca Victoria nursery, about 35 kilometers from the Mexican border in the department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, May 10, 2014. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesAlexander Ramírez, production manager at Palmas del Ixcán, explained the whole process. Fruit is hoisted from the trucks by big orange cranes, which drop their loads into a holding area. From there, they slide down an embankment into huge steel baskets, each one holding up to six tons of berries. They then pass through a sterilization tank, where the berries are heated to 140 degrees Celsius for an hour, and next into a de-pulping machine.The sophisticated factory, which employs 18 people, generates energy by burning plant fibers, thereby avoiding the use of bunker fuel or diesel. It produces about eight tons of edible palm oil per hour.Despite the hard work involved, Luís Velázquez Quiroa says the local campesinos are grateful to be employed at all.“If the palm oil companies weren’t here, these people wouldn’t have any work,” claimed Velázquez, Guatemala’s former minister of economy and now a paid consultant for the palm oil industry. “Most of the adults have not gone to school, and the type of soil here is not suitable for growing other crops.”Not everyone buys that argument.Oxfam America came out swinging against Palmas del Ixcán in a damning 2011 study titled “The Power of Oil Palm: Land-Grabbing and Impacts Associated with the Expansion of Oil Palm Crops in Guatemala.”In the 64-page report, Oxfam says Guatemala now ranks ninth among palm oil-exporting countries worldwide, and second in Latin America, only behind Ecuador. It claims that the cultivated area dedicated to oil palm in Guatemala has quadrupled in a decade, while production of staple food crops has declined in the same period, from 155 kilograms per capita in 1993 to 125 kilograms in 2007.“Just five Guatemalan companies control the entire production chain, from farming to commercialization. They operate like a cartel, as they avoid competition and dominate production, sales and prices,” says the report. “Together, the palm oil businesses occupy an area in plantations equivalent to the land used by more than 60,000 subsistence farmers.”The report also disputes the industry’s wage claims, adding that palm oil harvesting is dangerous work, with risk of exposure to injuries, insect bites and pesticides – and often no medical assistance for miles around.“Payment depends on productivity, and minimum goals demand a strenuous effort. Most of the men do not earn more than 60 quetzales (about $7.50) per workday, and the women earn less than 40 quetzales (about $5.00),” it says. “The day begins at 6 a.m., and ends at 3 p.m. The women who don’t work in the plantations need to get up before 4 a.m. to prepare lunch for their partners.” Guatemalan worker harvests the fruits of the African palm at the Palmas del Ixcán operation in the department of Petén. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesSimilar charges have been leveled at other Guatemalan industries in the past, including sugar, coffee and bananas – with industry leaders almost universally blaming leftist labor unions and politicians for stirring up trouble.“These campesinos are not making semiconductors, so people of this intellectual level are easier to influence,” said Felipe Molina, the owner of Grupo Olmeca, Guatemala’s largest palm oil producer. “Organizations are investing money and paying labor leaders to get into these communities and trying to convince these people of things that are not true.”Molina’s conglomerate, operating under the names Hame, Repsa and Santa Rosa, controls 46,000 hectares cultivated with African palms and employs 22,000 people, more than half of whom work at palm oil plantations in Escuintla, Sayaxché (Petén), Ocós (San Marcos) and Coatepeque (Quetzaltenango). The remainder works in the banana industry.“My father established this company in the 1950s, beginning as a cotton grower,” Molina told The Tico Times during an interview at his Guatemala City office. “He eventually branched into vegetable oil, and later got into the refining business. In the 1980s, world prices for the fiber came down, so he began investigating many different crops: soybeans, sunflowers, corn, peanuts, anything you could extract oils from. But those are not tropicals, so in the end he decided to go for palm oil, knowing Guatemala has a big agricultural potential. That was in 1988. When he started, there were some small-scale plantations, but they were not properly developed, so they weren’t successful.” Workers load a truck at the Palmas del Ixcán operation in the department of Petén, Guatemala. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesMolina said his family planted African palm on land along the Pacific coast that had previously been used for cotton. But with the drop in cotton prices, that crop became unprofitable, so farmers had to turn to something else.While Molina declined to say how much his conglomerate has invested in palm oil or how much it earns, he did estimate that Guatemala’s production costs come to between $550 and $600 per metric ton – less than Colombia’s $700 per ton but more than Asian competitors such as Malaysia ($520), Indonesia ($480) and Thailand ($510).“In my 23 years in this industry, I’ve sold the same ton of crude palm oil for $250 and $1,200, so how profitable it is depends on commodity prices,” he told us. “You cannot do much about the price.”African palms can live for up to 50 years, though productivity generally declines after 25 years. For this reason, it’s a long-term investment.“Sustainability may be a new concept but not for palm oil growers,” Molina said. “When you decide to get into this business, it’s not an annual crop. You know you’re going to be on that land for 30 years.” A control-room operator supervises operations at the Palmas del Ixcán extraction plant in the northern Guatemala department of Petén. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesColombia exports nearly one million tons of palm oil annually; within three years, Guatemala could reach 500,000 tons, he said. At present, Guatemala exports 75 percent of its production, mostly to neighboring Mexico. The Guatemalan Palm Producers Association (known by its Spanish acronym Grepalma) asserts that oil palm uses less than 3 percent of the total surface area available for farming in Guatemala today.Yet a member of a local association of indigenous people in the municipality of Chisec told Oxfam in August 2012 that “for us, oil palm does not generate employment, it generates poverty.”In response, Molina claims that Oxfam and the Ford Foundation finance studies against palm oil cultivation with the aim of driving his industry out of business.“Our big mistake is that we’ve been very quiet,” the executive said. “Go and ask the people who actually live in these communities if they’re better off than they were 10 or 15 years ago. They will all tell you they appreciate their jobs compared to when there was nothing.”Added Velázquez: “These groups lie all the time. For example, they say we’re producing biodiesel. That’s not true. Not a single crop of palm oil is used for biodiesel in Guatemala.”In neighboring Honduras, 40,000 hectares have been added to African palm plantations in the last three years – increasing from 105,000 hectares in 2010 to more than 160,000 hectares in 2013.Jacobo Regalado, head of the Honduran Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, told the daily La Prensa that processing capacity has also increased by 33 percent, generating $50 million in additional annual export earnings. Those earnings came to $304 million in 2012, when 11 processing plants were operating.“Palm cultivation in the department of Cortés is growing, and in less than five years, this sector will require at least five processing plants,” said José Canales, plant manager at Sula Industrial Corp. (Coinsu). Added producer Rogelio Padilla: “It’s the only way we have to recover the huge financial losses we had from sowing beans and corn. Maintenance is easier and profits increase every year.”This year, Honduras is likely to export $400 million in palm oil, said Héctor Castro, president of the Association of Palm Growers. He told El Mundo newspaper that one of the most attractive markets for Honduran palm oil is Venezuela, which could receive the oil as part of payment for fuel provided under the Petrocaribe initiative. Plans are underway to open new export markets for palm oil, including China and India. Rodolfo Caal Choc welds machinery at the Palmas del Ixcán extraction plant in the department of Petén, Guatemala. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesFor now, however, Malaysia and Indonesia produce 86 percent of the world’s palm oil, with Colombia a distant third and Guatemala still way behind.“We in the agricultural industry are focused on what we can do well, and how we can exploit this potential if only the politicians would allow us to work,” said Molina. “But we have to be mature and understand that things are not going to change from one day to the next.”Follow The Tico Times for the upcoming fourth story in the series on Guatemala’s coffee industry. Facebook Comments Related posts:Anti-mine protesters near Guatemala’s capital face down national police, army In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals Guatemalan legislative commission recommends lifting President Pérez Molina’s immunity Costa Rica to ‘exhaustively investigate’ new Uber service center
in Government, Origination, Secondary Market Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Carol Galante FHA Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Insurance Regulation Reverse Mortgage Service Providers 2013-01-30 Tory Barringer January 30, 2013 500 Views FHA Announces Imminent Reforms to Rebuild Capital “”Keeping her promise””:https://themreport.com/articles/fha-acting-commissioner-commits-to-underwriting-reforms-2012-12-19 to Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), “”Federal Housing Administration””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/federal_housing_administration commissioner Carol Galante announced Wednesday a series of changes to be issued this week that will allow the agency to better manage risk and strengthen its “”anemic Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund””:https://themreport.com/articles/drop-in-fha-insurance-fund-sparks-talk-of-treasury-draw-2012-11-16.[IMAGE]””These are essential and appropriate measures to manage and protect FHA’s single-family insurance programs,”” Galante said. “”In addition to protecting the MMI Fund, these changes will encourage the return of private capital to the housing market, and make sure FHA remains a vital source of affordable and sustainable mortgage financing for future generations of American homebuyers.””The first major change will be the consolidation of FHA’s Standard Fixed-Rate Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and Saver Fixed Rate HECM pricing options.Because the standard pricing option represents a majority of the loans insured through the HECM program, it is responsible for much of the significant stress on the MMI fund, FHA said. To help sustain the reverse mortgage program as a viable financial resource for older homeowners, the HECM Fixed Rate Saver will be the only pricing option available to borrowers seeking a fixed-rate mortgage, thereby lowering upfront closing costs while permitting a smaller payout.Those changes (which will be effective for FHA case numbers assigned on or after April 1 of this year) are discussed in greater detail in FHA’s HECM “”Mortgagee Letter””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=13-01ml.pdf.[COLUMN_BREAK]In addition, the agency plans to increase its annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) by 0.10 percent for most new mortgages and by 0.05 percent for jumbo loans. The premium increases exclude certain streamline refinance transactions.FHA will also require most of its borrowers to continue paying annual premiums for the life of their mortgage loans. The agency previously canceled required MIP on loans when the outstanding principal balance reached 78 percent of the original principal. “”FHA remains responsible for insuring 100 percent of the outstanding loan balance throughout the entire life of the loan, a term which often extends far beyond the cessation of these MIP payments,”” the agency said in a release. “”FHA’s Office of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs estimates that the MMI Fund has foregone billions of dollars in premium revenue on mortgages endorsed from 2010 through 2012 because of this automatic cancellation policy.””Other changes announced Wednesday include a requirement for manual underwriting on loans with credit scores below 620 and debt-to-income (DTI) ratios above 43 percent and the raising of down payments on loans above $625,500, the conforming limit for loans in high-cost areas.Finally, FHA announced it will step up its enforcement efforts for FHA-approved lenders with regard to aggressive marketing to borrowers with previous foreclosures. Borrowers are currently able to access FHA-insured financing as soon as three years after experiencing a foreclosure, but only if they have re-established good credit and qualify for an FHA loan in accordance with the agency’s underwriting requirements.””It has come to FHA’s attention that a few lenders are inappropriately advertising and soliciting borrowers with the false pretense that they can somehow ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôautomatically’ qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage three years after their foreclosure,”” the agency said. “”This is simply not true and such misleading advertising will not be tolerated.””FHA will also work with other federal agencies to address false advertising by non-approved entities, the release said. Share
New York, New York – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazineThis past month, thought leaders from all over the globe flocked to sunny Mexico City for the first-ever “Think-20” meeting. This gathering was held in preparation for the upcoming G-20 Summit, the until-recently biannual tête-à-tête between the world’s most powerful financial governors and heads of state.This year, representatives from 19 countries and the United Kingdom will be meeting once, in the much-loved city of Cabo. Attention to more effective collaboration and strategic innovation aside, the twenty-plus Think-20 participants highly endorsed the green initiatives on Mexico’s agenda.As tourism becomes a priority, sustainability has become extremely crucial to the country’s rich offerings for golf getaways, fishing excursions, and other luxury experiences. In the coming years, strong growth will be key for catering to the mounting number of travelers who turn to Mexico’s lush landscapes for elite vacations.www.g20.org