Canadian dollar slightly higher after US GDP growth falls short of expectations

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar moved higher Friday after new data showed U.S. economic growth was slower than anticipated in the first quarter.The loonie gained 0.31 of a cent to 101.94 cents US, while oil prices rose to a four-week high.The U.S. Commerce Department reported that real gross domestic product grew at a 2.2 per cent annualized rate in the most recent period, a drop from three per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011.The data also came in below the 2.7 per cent growth rate that economists had predicted.In commodities, the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 38 cents to US$104.93 a barrel, hitting its best finish since April 2.May copper lifted 4.5 cents to US$3.825 a pound. Gold bullion prices settled higher with the June contract up $4.30 to US$1,664.80 an ounce.Concerns about Europe’s economy have dominated global markets, with Spain’s economic problems becoming an increasing focal point. Questions about Spain’s ability to push through austerity and reforms at a time of recession and mass unemployment have been a key point of uncertainty.Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy as a whole expanded 2.6 per cent in 2011, slowing somewhat after a 3.4 per cent expansion in 2010.And the Department of Finance said the federal government’s books were in surplus again in February, another sign that Ottawa is on track to eliminate the deficit. Ottawa recorded a surplus of $1.5 billion in February, compared with a deficit of $600 million a year earlier.On Friday, unemployment numbers from Spain showed the jobless rate jumped to 24.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 — the highest rate in the 17-country eurozone.The figures came shortly after Standard & Poor’s became the first of the three leading credit rating agencies to strip Spain of its A rating. It cited a worsening budget deficit, worries over the banking system and poor economic prospects for its decision to reduce the rating by two notches from A to BBB+. It also warned that a further downgrade was possible, leaving its outlook assessment on Spain at “negative.”The euro also eked out a 0.4 per cent rise against the U.S. dollar to $1.3232, having initially fallen on the bad Spanish news. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Canadian dollar slightly higher after US GDP growth falls short of expectations by News Staff Posted Apr 27, 2012 5:54 pm MDT read more

Productivity of US workers has biggest decline in a year in first

WASHINGTON – The decline in productivity among U.S. workers in the first months of 2012 was bigger than initially thought and the largest drop in a year, according to revised data issued on Wednesday.The U.S. Labor Department said Wednesday that productivity fell at an annual rate of 0.9 per cent in the first quarter. That’s faster than the initial 0.5 per cent annual decline for the period estimated last month.Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.Less productivity is bad for corporate profits. But it could be good news for jobseekers. It could show that companies are struggling to squeeze more output from their workers and must hire if demand rises.Yet so far, companies have signalled a much different message. Employers added just 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and just 77,000 in April. That’s a sharp decline from the 226,000 jobs created per month in the first quarter.“Going forward, the big question is the rate of gain in output growth. If it remains slow, as we feel likely, productivity gains will continue to be constrained,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.The U.S. productivity rate fell at a faster rate than first estimated because revisions showed less output and slightly more hours worked.Labour costs rose 1.3 per cent in the January-March quarter, down from an initial estimate of 2 per cent. The decline was largely due to smaller compensation costs.The estimates were the government’s second and final look at first-quarter productivity and labour costs.The faster decline in productivity was expected after the government said last week that the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9 per cent in the January-March quarter. That was slightly slower than the government’s initial 2.2 per cent estimate.Productivity grew last year at the slowest pace in nearly a quarter century after rising sharply in 2010. The main reason productivity soared in 2010 was that it followed the worst recession in decades, when employers laid off millions of workers.Economists said the trend is typical during and after a recession. Companies tend to shed workers in the face of falling demand and increase output from a smaller work force. Once the economy starts to grow, demand rises and companies eventually must add workers if they want to keep up.Economists expect productivity growth will remain weak this year. Economists at JPMorgan are forecasting productivity will rise 0.7 per cent this year as companies add more workers.With so many people out of work and looking for jobs, there is little chance that wage pressures will get out of hand, economists note. by News Staff Posted Jun 6, 2012 10:34 am MDT Productivity of U.S. workers has biggest decline in a year in first quarter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Kerry urges Britain EU to manage their divorce responsibly

A teller counts ballot papers at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after polls closed in the EU referendum on June 23, 2016. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/PA/Liam McBurney by Bradley Klapper, The Associated Press Posted Jun 26, 2016 3:02 am MDT Last Updated Jun 26, 2016 at 8:09 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Kerry urges Britain, EU to manage their divorce responsibly ROME – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Britain and the European Union to manage their divorce responsibly for the sake of global markets and citizens, a day before he was to become the first senior American official to visit London and Brussels since the United Kingdom’s historic referendum.Kerry emphasized the importance of thoughtful co-operation at a time of economic uncertainty and fears about crumbling European unity. He said he would bring a message of U.S. support to both capitals. But he offered no concrete suggestions for how the two sides should make good on the decision by British voters to leave the 28-nation bloc.“The most important thing is that all of us, as leaders, work together to provide as much continuity, as much stability, as much certainty as possible,” Kerry said as he met in Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.Responsible handling of the situation, he said, will help “the marketplace understand there are ways to minimize disruption, there are ways to smartly move ahead in order to protect the values and interests that we share.”Kerry had scheduled talks in Rome with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Sunday. But confronted with the gravity of Britain’s vote on Thursday, which crushed markets from the U.S. to Japan, Kerry set up a frantic, four-nation schedule for Monday.After gathering again with Netanyahu in the morning, he planned to fly to Brussels to discuss Europe’s situation with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Later, he was to meet British Secretary Philip Hammond in London before returning to Washington by day’s end.With the British, Kerry intended to echo last week’s immediate U.S. response, which focused on the unchanged nature of the allies’ “special relationship.”Even the gloomiest of predictions about the British exit from the EU do not foresee the collapse of the close cultural ties or military alliance between Washington and London. But how relations evolve is an open question, especially if Britain’s separation from the EU causes significant economic pain in the United States.Visiting Britain in April, President Barack Obama noted ongoing U.S.-EU trade negotiations and warned Britons that a vote to “leave” could put them at the back of the line for similar deals. Since the result of the referendum, however, Obama and other American officials have gone out of their way to emphasize the durability of the relationship, playing down the idea of any repercussions from Washington.“We will continue, the United States, to have a very close and special relationship with Great Britain,” Kerry said on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking the Pantheon. “We value that relationship. That does not change because of this vote.”In Brussels, Kerry planned to emphasize U.S. backing for the EU amid speculation that other member countries could follow Britain’s lead.Alongside Gentiloni, Kerry stressed the importance of political unity among 27 remaining countries that still represent a market of 450 million people, and help the U.S. provide security to unstable places in North Africa and the Middle East, and far-flung areas of conflict such as Afghanistan.It’s unclear what more Kerry, or the U.S., can say or do right now to help Britain or the EU.Britain’s exit negotiations could be a complicated, protracted affair, and the Americans are likely to have little say in the matter. The U.S. also has no answer for the EU’s dilemma about how to respond to the first loss of a member in its history.“There are steps Europe needs to take to respond to the expression of voters and the concerns of people in other countries,” Kerry said, without entering the European debate over a quick or a slow breakup with Britain. He described the U.S.-EU partnership as critical for Europe, America and the world. read more

Nobody Left Outside campaign launched as UN warns of dire shelter conditions

“Shelter is the foundation stone for refugees to survive and recover, and should be considered a non-negotiable human right,” stressed Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in a press release issued by his Office (UNHCR). “As we tackle worldwide displacement on a level not seen since World War II, no refugee should be left outside,” he added. The Nobody Left Outside campaign is aimed at individuals, companies, foundations and philanthropists worldwide.At the launch of the campaign, UNHCR underscored that forced displacement, most of it arising from war and conflict, has risen sharply in the past decade, largely as a result of the Syria crisis, but also due to a proliferation of new displacement situations and unresolved old ones. Worldwide, some 60 million people are forcibly displaced today, the agency said. Of that figure, almost 20 million people are refugees who have been forced to flee across international borders, while the rest are people displaced within their own countries. Nobody Left Outside campaign. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)“A shelter – be it a tent, a makeshift structure or a house – is the basic building block for refugees to survive and recover from the physical and mental effects of violence and persecution,” UNHCR emphasized. “Yet around the world, millions are struggling to get by in inadequate and often dangerous dwellings, barely able to pay the rent, and putting their lives, dignity and futures at risk.”Humanitarian funding is failing to keep paceThe campaign aims to raise funds from the private sector to build or improve shelter for 2 million refugees by 2018, amounting to almost one in eight of the 15.1 million under UNHCR’s remit in mid-2015. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) cares for the remaining Palestinian refugees. “Without a major increase in funding and global support, millions of people fleeing war and persecution face homelessness or inadequate housing in countries such as Lebanon, Mexico and Tanzania,” UNHCR said. “Without a safe place to eat, sleep, study, store belongings and have privacy, the consequences to their health and welfare can be profound.” The agency emphasized that as it continues to face high levels of shelter needs and with limited funding available, operations often face the difficult decision to prioritize emergency shelter for the maximum number of people of concern, over an investment in more durable and sustainable solutions. Outside of camps, refugees rely on UNHCR support to find housing and pay rent in towns and cities across dozens of countries bordering conflict zones. These operations are expected to cost US$724 million in 2016. Yet only US$158 million is currently available, a shortfall that threatens to leave millions of men, women and children without adequate shelter and struggling to rebuild their lives. UNHCR noted that the private sector is one of its increasingly important donor sources, contributing more than 8 per cent of its overall funding in 2015. “There is an important role for the private sector with its know-how, energy and money to act in a spirit of solidarity to shelter refugees from war and persecution,” said Mr. Grandi. “Proper shelter for everyone is central to social cohesion. Good homes make good neighbours,” he added. According to UNHCR, the regions most in need of assistance are sub-Saharan Africa ($255 million needed, $48 million available) and the Middle East and North Africa ($373 million needed, $91 million available). Asia requires $59 million, with $8 million available, while Europe requires more help ($36 million needed, $10 million available) as it faces a continued influx of refugees. read more

The Broncos And Chiefs Are Still Running The AFC West

How will your favorite NFL team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » Kansas City ChiefsYou know what else Elo doesn’t know? The crushing, numbing experience of an Andy Reid playoff meltdown. Three seasons ago, Reid’s Chiefs blew a 28-point lead to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round. After going 9-7 in 2014, the Chiefs sprang to life in the second half of 2015 and entered the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. With their win in the wild-card round, their Elo rating spiked to 1699, the highest it’s been since they beat the Vikings in the 1970 Super Bowl. And then, of course, disaster. Trailing the New England Patriots 27-13 with six and a half minutes remaining, the Kansas City offense snapped off a five minute, 16 second 16-play drive to get within one score. It was astonishing and horrifying to watch it play out in real time, and all too familiar to anyone who’d watched Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles over the years.It’s conventional nerd wisdom that results in close games are a matter of luck, not skill, but that refers to the generic scoreline — “games decided by 7 or fewer points” or whatever cutoff you like. There are, in fact, diagnosable maladies for teams, such as having difficulty stringing two scoring drives together in a short period of time. For teams with such issues, the saving grace has been the corresponding maxim: Good teams don’t play close games; good teams win in blowouts. But what comfort is that to a fan base that was only just recovering from somehow losing a playoff game it had been winning by four touchdowns? To Elo, the Chiefs lost two close playoff games to two very good teams and come into 2016 as the fourth-strongest team in the league. This is a good team with a very good chance of making the playoffs. If they do, we’ll know a good bit more than Elo does about what’s waiting in store.San Diego ChargersThe Chargers were bad last season. The team went 4-12, ranked 24th in overall team Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and 28th in defensive DVOA, and finished the season with its lowest Elo rating since the 2004 draft in which it acquired Philip Rivers. The Chargers haven’t bought themselves much leeway off the field. After holding fans hostage all of last season, playing what many thought would be their final game in San Diego, they ended up in a madcap push to drum up support for a hugely unpopular $1.8 billion stadium/convention center proposal. If (when) the vote fails, the Chargers will have to decide by January if they’ll move to Los Angeles. In the meantime, the team chased off Eric Weddle, one of its best defensive players, and turned the good fortune of getting Joey Bosa — by many accounts the best player in the draft — into a sideshow. The Chargers engaged in an all-out assault on Bosa over contract provisions that are standard practice with every other team, which resulted in a 31-day holdout by Bosa.Elo predicts that the Chargers will see six to seven wins this season. That’s a little ungenerous, considering the number of injuries the Chargers have had the past few seasons (and with the re-addition of Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator potentially jazzing up the passing game), but generosity is hard to come by after an offseason like San Diego’s.Oakland RaidersThe other team trying to pack up and leave town is, shockingly, in considerably better condition than San Diego. With Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, the Raiders have a proven backbone of a functional offense for the first time in a decade. And the defense, which finished the season in the bottom half of DVOA, came on late, with negative ratings (on defense, that’s good) for the final six games of the season. Things are looking up for the Raiders.Unfortunately, they’re looking even upper for the rest of the division. The AFC West is stacked, and Elo gives Oakland just a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs, with 6.8 projected wins. And that seems about right in the cadence of the NFL — it’s the inverse of the Broncos, in a way. The foundational elements of a good team are all here, but it takes a long time to stock a roster with the talent needed to contend at the highest rungs.VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team To go with our 2016 NFL predictions, FiveThirtyEight is previewing each division. Denver BroncosThere are a lot of things Elo doesn’t know. Coming into the season, it didn’t know that the Broncos lost their Hall of Fame quarterback and replaced him with the most deliberately uncertain QB situation we’ve seen on a contender in recent years. After Thursday night, it didn’t know that Denver escaped with its Week 1 win thanks to a missed kick in the waning moments and a night of Panthers QB Cam Newton taking illegal hits that pretty clearly sapped the life out of him in the second half. It just knows that the Broncos were a fabulously good team last season, and they beat a very good team in Week 1. And actually, that might be all it needs to know.The Broncos had a lively offseason. They let last season’s backup quarterback, Brock Osweiler, abscond to Houston, drafted Paxton Lynch out of Memphis in the first round, brought in Mark Sanchez to compete for the job, and eventually gave the Week 1 starting job to Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round pick in 2015. They lost standout defensive end Malik Jackson to Jacksonville, and Von Miller took his sweet time signing his contract. But in the end, the defense is mostly intact. And to hear the Broncos tell it, that’s all that really matters:“We feel like we don’t care if George Bush was playing quarterback — we’re going to win because you can’t score,” says safety T.J. Ward. “You can’t score, you can’t win. That’s our mentality.“So, you want to come play quarterback for the Denver Broncos? That’s how we feel — it doesn’t matter who’s back there. We’re going to carry this team, and we’re going to get it done like we did last year.”This would obviously be a different story if Peyton Manning had provided more production last season, but he was terrible, so Elo’s blind spot was mostly about whether Siemian could hang against a good NFL defense. A lot of things go into an NFL team’s fortunes, enough that outside of a seismic catastrophe at the quarterback position, there’s a good chance a team’s fundamental level will carry over from year to year, with less regard to offseason moves than fans might think. Now that we know Siemian isn’t a lump, we have a pretty good idea what the Broncos are as well: the same terrifying defensive team as last year, just with George Bush lining up under center. read more

Giant agave plant bursts through the roof of grade II listed greenhouse again

first_imgAugust, 2015, when the first plant erupted A rare Agave has burst through the roof of the Italianate Glasshouse in the King George VI park in Ramsgate, KentCredit:Christopher Pledger  But the couple were amazed when in 2015, one of their agaves started to soar skywards, eventually barging through the greenhouse, in a botanical outburst which was as impressive as it was costly.It took more than a year to remove the plant, and restore the greenhouse,  but on April 17 this year, a second plant started growing six inches a day, and has been shooting up ever since, finally emerging through the roof last week.”I just thought, here we go again,” said Mr Dadds who has looked after the greenhouse with his wife for 14 years.”We suspected it might go, because it had begun to emit a sugary secretion which is a sign that the spike is about to start growing.”It took a lot of effort to remove the first one. We had to scaffold up the whole greenhouse, and attach the poles to the wall behind which made the scaffolders very nervous. Then we had to take apart the agave piece by piece. August, 2015, when the first plant erupted 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. The first agave bursting through in 2015Credit: Christopher Pledger Mrs Dadds, who also runs a tea room at the site, said: “It started growing on Easter Monday, growing at least six inches a day. We had a metal worker lined up to take the glass and glazing bar out.”Interestingly, the last time this happened was a general election.”The greenhouse usually attracts around 4,000 visitors each year but the agave blooms have attracted three times as many visitors, from all over the world.The couple have commissioned a local artist to turn the spike of the original agave plant into a totem pole, and made candle holders from the excess stem, which they are hoping to sell to fund the removal of the new 30ft plant.Both plants were brought from a house in nearby Cliftonville around 1975 but have shown little signs of activity in the last four decades.It is thought to be the first time an American Agave has bloomed in Britain for 14 years. The last time it happened was at Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh in 2001. Before its final growth spurt, it stood at around 4ft in height, with large leaves spreading over a 6ft in diameter. Then it started to produce a ‘spike.The greenhouse, which was recently restored with the help of Thanet District Council and English Heritage, has stood at the site since 1832, attracts around 4,000 visitors every year has seen a surge of interest in recent months, as news of the agave’s growth spread. It was originally part of a 22 acre estate owned by Sir Moses Montefiore, a British financier and former Sheriff of London, but is now part of the King George VI Memorial Park.In 2002 the nearby stableblock was bought by Mr Dadds’ architectural company who also are responsible for the upkeep of the greenhouse. The giant American agave is native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States and Mexico and specimens can grow for between 80 and 100 years before flowering and dying shortly afterwards.For this reason, the species is commonly known as the Century Plant.It has evolved to survive in harsh, low-water environments, so the plants produce hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds, giving them the best chance that a few might actually survive. “But at least we know what to expect this time. We’ll probably leave it up for a year, like last time, to allow people to see it, and then take it out next year.”The couple had been warned that the second agave could erupt shortly afterwards because the plants were brought to the greenhouse at the same time, between 80 and 100 years ago. But it was too large to to remove the couple could only wait and watch.Curiously the original agave bloomed during the last general election campaign, while while the new plant began to erupt a day before Theresa May called the snap June election.  A rare Agave has burst through the roof of the Italianate Glasshouse in the King George VI park in Ramsgate, Kent To allow one giant agave plant to erupt through the roof of a grade II listed greenhouse might be considered unfortunate, but to let two, starts to look like carelessness.So spare a thought for custodians Phil and Janice Dadds who had just finished repairing the glass panels of their Victorian Italianate glass house in Ramsgate, Kent, when they noticed that a second agave was starting to wake up. American agave plants can live for a hundred years and bloom spectacularly just once in their lifetime, before dying, and most gardeners will never see the flowers. The first agave bursting through in 2015last_img read more

SKM wins awards for bulk handling projects

first_imgSinclair Knight Merz (SKM) has been rewarded for its bulk handling expertise at the recent Australian Bulk Handling Awards.Senior Mechanical Engineer, David Rea, was joint winner of the AW Roberts Award for a Young Engineer who has made a significant contribution to bulk solids handling in the areas of research, design and practice. The Dampier Port Upgrade in the Pilbara, Western Australia, undertaken for Rio Tinto Iron Ore subsidiary Pilbara Iron, won a Highly Commended in the category of Bulk Handling Facility of the Year (Resources and Infrastructure).At Rio Tinto’s Dampier Port Upgrade Project in the Pilbara, Western Australia, as part of the A$2 billion EPCM contract, SKM developed a solution to modularise the construction of the wharf, while ensuring the port remained fully operational and record tonnages continued to be shipped during this period of unprecedented global demand for iron ore. This solution has resulted in the sustainable development of the project by improving the environment, building local capacity and introducing safer working methods.The upgrade, which began in 2003 with feasibility studies, and is due for completion at the end of the year, has doubled the port’s capacity from 72 to 140 Mt/y, while the creation of a multi-wharf facility enables it to berth four 220,000 t (dead weight) large ‘Cape’ type ships. The project was undertaken in two phases, with Phase A completed three months ahead of schedule in September 2005. The upgrade included extending the wharf by 600 m (450 m in Phase A and 150 m in Phase B), 7 km of rail track, incorporating two new car dumpers, a stockyard extension, four stackers, a reclaimer, two new shiploaders, two lump re-screening plants and associated conveyors, some up to 1 km in length. SKM’s WA/NT regional manager Malcolm Greenway said that by adopting techniques historically used in the off-shore oil and gas industry, the project had set a new benchmark in heavy wharf construction. “SKM developed a method of prefabricating 4 x 54 m wharf topside modules in Phase A and a further 3 x 54 m modules in Phase B, which were shipped as finished products and placed directly onto the pile caps installed on site, over a period of three days for each Phase. The modularised approach was adopted in response to critical labour shortages combined with an unprecedented resources boom, which placed construction schedule pressure on the project. By doing so, labour shortages were overcome and the project was accelerated, resulting in record shipments during the construction phase and several million tonnes extra in early ore sales that otherwise would have been foregone.”Mr Greenway said the project had also set a benchmark in sustainable development, by delivering a cleaner asset, with a significant social premium, massive economic wealth creation and improved safety for workers.“Traditionally, working over water carries a high level of safety risk,” Mr Greenway said. “By utilising modular construction and maximising the amount of work undertaken at the fabricator’s workshop, the project team was able to save more than 100,000 construction man-hours and record zero Lost Time Injuries.”The project also deliberately set out to employ local expertise and resources, with the wharf main structural steel being supplied by OneSteel, while the fabrication and modularisation was undertaken by AGC in Kwinana and Henderson. “What is most significant is that this simple, yet incredibly efficient Australian innovation has the potential to take months off the construction program for heavy wharf projects and leverage significant gains for the global seaborne resources sector,” he said.Rea has worked with SKM since 2002, during which time he has provided research, design and delivery skills to major projects undertaken by SKM in Queensland. He has particular expertise in in-pit crushing and conveying systems, the design of bulk materials handling conveyors and the modelling of fabricated steel structures and mechanical components in Inventor 3D.SKM’s Chief Mechanical Engineer (Qld), John Thomason, said Rea was integral to the design of a new dump haul trailer for Rio Tinto Alcan’s Weipa bauxite mine expansion. “More efficient trailers were required for this new deposit at Weipa, to optimise the productivity of the existing fleet,” Thomason said. “Through the use of 3D CAD and Finite Element Analysis (FEA), David worked as part of a team to design and fabricate the new trailer, which has proven to be highly successful. This was achieved just nine months after the award of the contract.”Thomason said that Rea had also been a significant team member on the Clermont coal mine project in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, for which SKM has undertaken a feasibility study and is currently delivering the EPCM for Rio Tinto Coal Australia. The A$500 million project will utilise all SKM-designed systems and process, including a Coal Preparation Plant (CPP) and one of the first In-Pit Crushing and Conveying (IPCC) systems to be designed in Australia within the past 20 years.last_img read more

Explainer What is the weapon of mass destruction nerve agent that killed

first_img Feb 24th 2017, 12:58 PM By AFP Explainer: What is the ‘weapon of mass destruction’ nerve agent that killed Kim Jong-Nam? Stockpiled by the US in huge quantities during the Cold War, VX is perhaps 10 times as powerful as the Sarin toxin. The murdered Kim Jong Nam, left, and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.What does it do?It strikes the nervous system fast. A high dose can kill in minutes when inhaled, as the blood vessels in the lungs rapidly spread the compound into the bloodstream and vital organs.Nerve agents over-stimulate glands and muscles, leading them to quickly fatigue and become unable to sustain breathing.Symptoms depend on dosage and whether it is inhaled or introduced through the skin — the slower form of poisoning.Exposure to low doses is survivable.But more serious contamination is fast-acting and often gruesome. People exposed to the toxin may become short of breath and nauseous in minutes, or at a higher dose experience seizures, heart failure and a total shut down of the respiratory system.There are antidotes but treatment must be immediate. US soldiers carried kits to inject themselves with antidote during the first Iraq War.Where does it come from?The compound was first created in a British laboratory in the early 1950s. But American scientists honed its potency during the Cold War arms race with the Soviet Union.Tens of thousands of tonnes of VX were churned out at Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana – a stockpile that was finally destroyed in the late 1980s as the Cold War ended.Accidental leaks have been reported in the US and Japan. It has been deployed as a war weapon infrequently but with devastating effect. Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar speaks during a press conference.Residues found on site suggest Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have used VX among a cocktail of chemical weapons he rained down on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988 killing at least 5,000 people.In 1994 VX was used by Japan’s Aum cult to murder an office worker in Osaka, and in the attempted murder of two other people.Legal status?VX is listed a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.Under the international Chemical Weapons Convention 1997, countries are allowed limited stockpiles for research purposes only but must declare them and are obliged to progressively destroy their supplies.“North Korea is not a signatory to CWC, so it’s no surprise if it possesses VX,” Satoshi Numazawa, professor of toxicology at Showa University, told AFP.© – AFP 2017Read: North Korea’s secretive media breaks its silence on Kim Jong-Nam murder >Read: Heavily armed police guarding body of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother after attempted morgue break-in > 12,008 Views Friday 24 Feb 2017, 12:58 PM center_img Share6 Tweet Email Short URL A man walks in front of the forensic department at Kuala Lumpur Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Source: AP/Press Association ImagesAS MALAYSIAN TOXICOLOGISTS reveal that the banned nerve agent VX was used in the airport assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, here are some key questions and answers about the deadly weapon of mass destruction.What is it?Code-named by the US scientists who mass produced it, VX is an organophosphate compound and one of the deadliest chemical agents ever manufactured.Stockpiled by the US in huge quantities during the Cold War, VX is perhaps 10 times as powerful as the Sarin toxin.Odourless and clear when pure, it has the appearance of motor oil and is stable enough to be transported. It is also hard to detect, an advantage for a would-be assassin.Downsides are that it lingers, potentially contaminating areas for long periods of time.“It can kill an adult weighing 70 kilogrammes with just five milligrammes on the skin,” said Yosuke Yamasato, former principal of the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Chemical School.It’s unbelievable that the executors of the crime used it with their bare hands – they must have not known the material was VX. Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article 29 Comments last_img read more

On the brink of default

first_imgPrime Minister Papademos has said Greece may default on its debts in a matter of weeks unless trade unions accept further salary cuts. The PM said more cuts are needed to avoid exiting the eurozone, preparing the way for even greater austerity measures to be imposed. European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank inspectors arrive in Athens on January 15 to assess Greece’s progress in cutting its deficit. The ‘troika’ will decide whether Greece has done enough to continue to receive bailout funds. “Without an agreement with the troika and further funding, in March, Greece faces an immediate risk of an uncontrolled default,” said Mr Papademos during a meeting this week with union leaders and employers’ federations. “If we want to secure our most significant achievements – participation in the euro and avoidance of a massive, vertical income devaluation that a disorderly bankruptcy and exit from the euro would lead to… then we must accept short-term income reduction. The prime minister added: “We cannot expect other EU states and international organisations to continue to fund a country that does not adapt to reality and does not deal with its problems. Our actions and decisions in the coming weeks will decide everything.” Analysts believe the risks of withdrawing the bailout funding are too great for the troika to countenance, with Greece acting as a firewall to stem contagion in the eurozone. But even with the next tranche of bailout funds being made available, Greece risks a hard default unless a deal is agreed on private sector involvement. Greece owes much of its debt to private sector investors and the majority of these loans must be refinanced by March 12. Papademos’ coalition government is negotiating with the troika on a second bailout of 130bn euros ($164bn), which was agreed in principle in October, provided the government took steps to further cut its deficit and restructure its economy. In response to the Greek PM’s warning, Yannis Panagopoulos, head of the private-sector union GSEE said the union was ready to fight further cuts to its members’ salaries. “On the minimum wage of the poor worker, we are not willing to make any step back,” said Mr Panagopoulos, who also declared that his union would not discuss cuts to the minimum wage or the 13th and 14th month salary bonus. In Greece, workers are paid additional months’ salaries as part of their annual pay package. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Cocktails raise 63000

first_imgGreater Dandenong’s Greek community exceeded all expectations, when their fundraiser cocktail party at the St Panteleimon Church Hall on Melbourne Cup Eve raised $63,000 for cancer research. Members of the Greek community joined the Cocktail for a Cure party to honour family members or friends who have lost their battle with cancer, in order to support the fighters and survivors, by raising much-needed funds for a worthy cause. The more than 550 attendees who participated at the cancer fundraiser exceeded the expectations of the organisers, whose aim was to raise $50,000. One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and the other two will know someone who is diagnosed with cancer. All proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, a hospital dedicated to caring for and treating patients with a wide range of cancers. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Secteur informatique la France sort progressivement de la crise

first_imgSecteur informatique : la France sort progressivement de la criseSi le marché des logiciels et services informatiques a été affecté par la crise en 2009, cette année, la croissance a quelque peu repris : d’1% en 2010, elle devrait atteindre les 3% en 2011.En 2009, le marché de l’informatique français avait enregistré une baisse de 4%. Sans atteindre le niveau des années précédentes où la croissance du secteur était de 5%, 2010 voit le marché redémarrer avec 1% de croissance. Deuxième pays après l’Allemagne (+1,5%), la France sort progressivement de la crise.À lire aussiLe fantôme de “Big Brother” pousse les autorités de San Francisco à agir”Les perspectives du secteur sont plutôt en amélioration et nous avons la visibilité pour dire que le marché reprend, même si ce n’est pas encore au niveau souhaité”, a résumé Guy Mamou-Mani, président du Syntec, qui regroupe un millier d’entreprises du secteur.Au niveau de l’emploi, l’année 2009 a été catastrophique avec la suppression de 7.000 à 10.000  postes. On entrevoit une amélioration de ce côté : “35.000 recrutements (dont 26.000 cadres) sont attendus en 2010, pour un total de 3.000 à 5.000 créations nettes sur l’année”, a indiqué le Syntec.Le secteur informatique emploie environ 365.000 personnes dans l’Hexagone pour un chiffre d’affaires annuel de 42 milliards d’euros.Le 10 novembre 2010 à 17:28 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

Dropbox modifie ses conditions générales dutilisation

first_imgDropbox modifie ses conditions générales d’utilisationLe service de stockage en ligne Dropbox a décidé de modifier ses conditions générales d’utilisation, provoquant ainsi la grogne de ses utilisateurs.Service utilisé pour stocker et synchroniser ses fichiers entre deux ordinateurs, Dropbox a attiré ce week-end la foudre de ses utilisateurs, aujourd’hui de plus en plus nombreux. En effet, le service de stockage en ligne a décidé de modifier ses conditions générales d’utilisation, se laissant la possibilité nouvelle d’exploiter les données de ses clients. “En utilisant nos services vous pouvez nous donner accès à vos informations, fichiers et dossiers. Vous conservez la propriété de vos travaux. Vous êtes également seul responsable de votre conduite, du contenu de vos fichiers et dossiers, et des communications effectuées avec nos services”, peut-on désormais lire sur Dropbox, comme l’explique Le Nouvel Obs.À lire aussiFacebook envisage une version ouverte aux moins de 13 ans”Nous avons parfois besoin de votre permission pour l’utilisation de vos travaux (par exemple, l’hébergement ou le partage de vos fichiers). En nous soumettant vos travaux, vous nous accordez l’accès (et à ceux avec qui nous travaillons pour fournir les services) dans le monde entier, non exclusif, libre de royalties, les droits de licence, d’utiliser, copier, distribuer, préparer des travaux dérivés (tels que des traductions ou des changements de formats) d’exécuter ou afficher publiquement ces travaux dans la mesure raisonnable et nécessaire pour le service”, est-il ajouté. Une nouvelle qui a entraîné un tollé général parmi les utilisateurs qui ont pour certains, immédiatement décidé de supprimer leur compte. Face aux réactions, la société a tenu à expliciter ce changement de réglementations et a assuré que l’accès aux fichiers des utilisateurs était nécessaire pour le bon usage de leurs services. Mais ce discours, quelque peu ambigu, ne semble aujourd’hui pas avoir convaincu les utilisateurs. Le 5 juillet 2011 à 19:34 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

Des chercheurs dévoilent le repas le plus sain au monde

first_imgDes chercheurs dévoilent le repas le plus sain au mondeAprès des années de recherche, des scientifiques britanniques ont réussi à concocter un menu qu’ils estiment comme le plus sain au monde. Un repas qui contiendrait tous les éléments indispensables pour l’organisme.Alors que les vacances approchent à grand pas, beaucoup ont décidé de surveiller leur alimentation pour perdre les petits kilos qui se sont installés durant l’hiver. Manger plus de fruits et légumes, éviter de grignoter entre les repas, abandonner le trop gros dessert en fin de repas : les conseils des spécialistes fleurissent. Mais dans la quête des menus équilibrés, les chercheurs de la Leatherhead Food Research au Royaume-Uni ont pris une grosse longueur d’avance. Ceux-ci viennent en effet de révéler qu’ils étaient parvenus à concocter le repas le plus sain au monde. Des travaux qui ont nécessité plusieurs années de recherche. Pour arriver à cela, les scientifiques ont en effet analysé plus de 4.000 allégations santé mentionnant des composants essentiels et utilisées par les industriels et les supermarchés pour convaincre les consommateurs d’acheter leur produit. Ils en ont ainsi sélectionné 222 qui avaient pour eux un réel fondement scientifique et ont éliminé toutes les autres. Puis ils ont enquêté pour dénicher les aliments qui correspondaient à ces allégations et finir au final par concocter à partir de ceux-ci le menu le plus sain au monde. Autrement dit, celui qui permet de fournir à l’organisme tout et uniquement ce dont il a besoin.D’après les résultats dévoilés, le fameux repas est composé en entrée d’une terrine de saumon accompagnée de feuilles de salade mélangées et assaisonnées à l’huile d’olive ainsi que d’un morceau de pain multicéréales, en plat principal, d’un ragoût de poulet accompagné de lentilles et de légumes mélangés, et en dessert, d’un fromage blanc assaisonné de noix et d’une sauce sans sucre au goût de caramel. Un menu dont chaque étape a pour but d’apporter à l’organisme des éléments bien particuliers. Des acides gras, des fibres et des protéines bons pour l’organismePlus en détail, la terrine de saumon frais et fumé de l’entrée contient évidemment de l’huile de poisson riche en acides gras oméga 3 et en acide docosahexaenoïque qui sont bons à la fois pour les artères, pour le coeur et pour le cerveau. L’huile d’olive contenue dans la salade aide à maintenir des niveaux normaux de bon cholestérol et le pain, quant à lui, recèle des fibres et de l’acide folique qui booste le cerveau et s’avère bénéfique pour le développement des foetus. De même, le plat principal au poulet est lui aussi un plat très complet qui remplirait d’après l’étude des chercheurs, 80 conseils santé officiels. Les protéines qu’il contient “contribuent à la croissance de la masse musculaire”, tandis que l’acide pantothénique trouvé dans les lentilles aide à réduire la fatigue et “améliore les performances mentales”, d’après les scientifiques cités par le Daily Mail. Quant au dessert, celui-ci est à la fois bon pour la digestion grâce au lactulose contenu dans le fromage blanc, pour les dents et pour le contrôle du taux de glucose sanguin. Les noix elles, sont un aliment reconnu pour contribuer à “améliorer l’élasticité des vaisseaux sanguins”. De l’importance du goût des aliments À lire aussiPourquoi certains s’évanouissent-ils à la vue du sang ?Mais les scientifiques ne se sont pas arrêtés là. Ils ont également mis au point une boisson capable selon eux de booster les performances et qui contiendrait notamment du calcium, du zinc, du cuivre, du fer, du potassium, du sélénium, du magnésium ainsi que de la biotine qui joue un rôle dans le métabolisme, au sein du système nerveux, de la peau et des cheveux. En outre, les scientifiques recommandent également le chocolat chaud velouté riche en mélatonine qui aide à s’endormir rapidement ainsi que les tablettes de charbon pour contribuer “à réduire les flatulences excessives après manger”.Le docteur Paul Berryman, directeur de la Leatherhead Food Research, a en fait imaginé ce repas pour les compagnies aériennes mais il a expliqué que ces ingrédients et ces plats pouvaient tout aussi bien servir à la maison. “Nous avons également montré que les repas sains ne doivent pas être ennuyeux. Nous avons mené des milliers de tests de goût avec des consommateurs et une chose est claire. Peu importe qu’elle soit saine, si de la nourriture n’a pas un bon goût elle ne se vendra pas”, conclut le chercheur.Le 20 juin 2012 à 13:22 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

Vancouver police seek missing 60yearold man

first_imgUpdate: The Vancouver Police Department said Tuesday afternoon that Morgenthaler had been found safe.***Vancouver police are asking residents to call 911 if they see a 60-year-old man who left his mother’s home Monday morning.Mark Lee Morgenthaler left the home on the 4500 block of Northeast 66th Avenue about 9 a.m. There are concerns about his well being because he has medical problems, Vancouver Police Department said in a press release.It is unclear what Morgenthaler was last wearing, but his outfit may have include gray sweatpants. “He may be on foot in the area,” police said, but reported no other details about where the man could be.last_img

Fish and Game criticized over chronic failure regulating MatSu waters

first_imgLeadership at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game got an earful Tuesday night in Palmer.Listen nowThat’s where the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s fish commission told Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten and other top officials about what the borough described as a “chronic failure” to let fish pass through Cook Inlet to the Mat-Su’s rivers and creeks.For years, Mat-Su anglers and sport fishing guides have been at odds with commercial fishing interests farther south in Cook Inlet. They say the commercial drift-netters are catching salmon headed to the Mat-Su to spawn and that their fishing opportunities have been more limited. Fish and Game, they say, has tended to use its discretion in interpreting regulations to benefit the commercial fishers.Eric Spade was one of those who testified.“Some of you guys have to lose your job, because it’s been like some really bad management,” Spade said. “Last year was horrible.”Mat-Su officials admit that a fairly strong run of silver salmon arrived in area waterways in the past week. But they say earlier in the fishing season, the popular Little Susitna River was closed to bait fishing for other species and counts remained low for silvers there.last_img read more

BSE Sensex Falls for Third Straight Session

first_imgThe BSE Sensex fell yet again on Monday as the country’s financial sectors like banking have been hit. Earning worries also hit the technology stocks, leading to fall of stocks for a third straight session.When the BSE Sensex closed on Monday, the main 30-share BSE index fell 1.1 percent to 17,273.37 points, its lowest close since March 7. The 50-share Nifty index lost 1.1 percent to 5,257.05 points.The move of the Reserve Bank of India to keep the interest rates on hold and the release of the government’s fiscal 2012/13 budget affected the shares.State Bank of India lost 3.2 percent and Union Bank of India fell by more than 5 percent. Housing Development and Infrastructure lost 7.5 percent, Unitech lost 5.6 percent, Tata Consultancy Services lost 4.1 percent and real estate firms have been hit hard too.last_img read more

PM Modi to address nation at 8 pm amid Kashmir lockdown

first_imgPM Modi’s speech comes ahead of his August 15 Independence Day speech at the Red Fort.ReutersDays after the Modi-led BJP government altered the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 8 pm on Thursday, August 8, in a special broadcast on national television and on All India Radio.PM Modi will outline the BJP government’s vision on Jammu and Kashmir, and how it plans to bring about development to the now Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh.The government has planned to rope in big investors into the state, fast track the Srinagar Metro and involve people in the development process, all of which officials say were earlier being hampered by Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.With the separatists and pro-independence sympathisers under lockdown, the NDA government plans to roll out big time development in the two border Union Territories.Pakistan, which has been insisting on terming Kashmir as a disputed international issue and has expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad, could find mention in the Prime Minister’s speech.The Prime Minister’s speech comes ahead of his August 15 Independence Day speech at the Red Fort, where he spells out his vision for the nation.(Inputs from agencies)last_img read more

Dare dream dance

first_imgThe first day of the two-day dancing festival Quarter Fest lll kicked off in the Capital at a high note. Sadhya- a unit of performing arts has organised this event that started off at Indian Habitat Centre on December 8. Santosh Nair is the curator of the show. The fest opened with a performance by Shreya (Production name- Padam). She used her imagery from Bharatanatyam Padams in Shringar (love), Bhakti (devotion), and Vatsalya (affection) traditions. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The piece focused on the personal process of change as she attempts to overcome her disconnect with the classical processes.Next performance was a group performance by Sadhya – Nataraj- the Lord of Dance. It was a tribute to the source of all movements- Shiva. It showcased a beautiful transformation of vision into a visual expression, reflecting Sadhya’s belief of an existence of a beautiful bonding between tradition and modernity. It bought the culture of India-that is strong and limitless, that is bound to its roots and at the same time ready to explore. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixMoving further with the performance by Sanchita and Himanshu Sharma, presented the interpretation of contemporary through their production BE  which was mind full of thoughts about what, why, how when I look, observe, perceive. Day 1 ended with the performance of Rahul Goswami whose exquisite production Proximity portrayed things we cannot explain. Everything that surrounds us has a system. We form a very complex system and finding directions to go beyond is not a possibility. We need to come back to the same place. The second day began with performance by   Meghna Bhardwaj (Production- Ghetto), followed by Neha Sharma (Production- Commerce of Arts), Kamla Nehru College (Production- Yuva Yatra) and  Danceworx (Production- Heartbeat and Thithi) on December 9. The main idea behind Quarter Fest is to bring in varied styles performing the contemporary adding their own touches to it. The festival promises to bring a repertoire of works reflecting varied foundations and their unique style of drawing from the same root – contemporary dance.last_img read more

This Simple Tool Makes It Easy to Build and Host a Website

first_img Register Now » Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals June 1, 2019 You need a website that looks great and has an interface that your customers love but accomplishing that can be tough if you’re not a coding wizard. Site builders like Squarespace are useful, but their hefty subscription price tag can be a turnoff for budding entrepreneurs. Obior’s Website Building & Hosting Elite Plan Subscriptions will help you build a professional website in minutes for a fraction of the cost of Squarespace.Obior provides everything you need to create, host and maintain a website that will keep your customers coming back for more. First, you’ll pick from their gorgeous templates, then you’ll use their step-by-step guide to getting your site online in a matter of minutes. You don’t need to have any tech expertise to get started.Obior takes care of everything from SEO optimization to cybersecurity. It lets you easily add your social media feeds to your site, so your visitors will have up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going on with your brand. You can upload your own images or pick from professional stock photos for a pro look.A one-year subscription to Obior Website Building & Hosting Elite usually costs $179, but you can get a perfect website for less right now at just $19.99 (88 percent off). Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 2 min read Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.last_img read more