Had there been no Higgs boson, this observation would have been the bomb

first_imgEver wonder what particle physicists would have done had the Higgs boson not existed? Even before they fired up the atom smasher that 2 years ago blasted out the Higgs—the $5.5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European particle physics lab, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland—researchers said that if they didn’t find that coveted quarry, it wouldn’t be a total disaster. If there were no Higgs, they said, then a particular ordinary particle interaction should instead go haywire and hint at whatever nature was doing to get by without the Higgs. Now, physicists at the LHC have spotted the rare interaction in that “no-lose” theorem, which is known as WW scattering.”I am thrilled,” says Barbara Jäger, a theorist at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved in the work. Of course, now that physicists know the Higgs exists, they don’t expect WW scattering to go bonkers. But it could still play an important role in the hunt for new physics, as scientists look for deviations from the predictions of the field’s prevailing standard model. That approach would complement studies of the Higgs itself, Jäger says.The Higgs boson is key to physicists’ explanation of how all elementary particles—such as electrons and the quarks that make up protons and neutrons—get their masses. Theorists assume that otherwise massless particles interact with a quantum field a bit like an electric field that consists of Higgs bosons lurking “virtually” in the vacuum. Those interactions give each type of particle a certain amount of energy and, thanks to Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2, mass.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)That may seem like a lot of trouble to go through to make a particle massive. But it heads off a big problem with particles called the W boson and the Z boson, which convey the weak nuclear force that’s responsible for a kind of radioactive decay. Those particles weigh 86 and 97 times as much a proton, respectively. In the mathematics of the standard model, however, theorists can’t simply insert masses for the W and Z, as that would spoil a key mathematical symmetry that explains how the weak force arises in the first place. By starting with massless particles that interact with a field, the Higgs mechanism preserves that symmetry while enduing the W and the Z with their masses.That connection also explains the importance WW scattering had as an alternative to finding the Higgs. Suppose two protons collide. Rarely, a quark in one proton and a quark in the other will each radiate a W boson. Those W bosons can bounce, or scatter, off each other, either by crashing directly into each other or by exchanging some other quantum particle. Thanks to quantum weirdness, the process in which the two W’s exchange a Higgs counteracts the ones in which they bounce off each other or exchange a Z, much as two waves rippling on a pond can cancel each other. That interference keeps the rate of WW scattering low.If the Higgs did not exist, however, then the rate of WW scattering should skyrocket above a certain collision energy. Indeed, the probability of such collisions should exceed 100%. “If there were no Higgs, we knew that something had to happen there because we know that probability doesn’t get bigger than 100%,” says Marc-André Pleier, a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, and one of 3000 experimenters working with ATLAS, one of four huge detectors fed by the LHC. So physicists predicted that in addition to a rate increase in WW scattering, new effects should kick in: for example, novel and revealing correlations in the trajectories of the W’s.Now, Pleier and colleagues have spotted evidence of WW scattering, as they describe in a paper in press at Physical Review Letters. Out of 1.5 quadrillion proton-proton collisions, ATLAS researchers spotted 34 instances of WW scattering. The signal isn’t yet strong enough to claim a definite discovery, Pleier says, but it appears to be consistent with the standard model. Physicists with the rival CMS detector also have evidence for WW scattering, Pleier says.WW scattering could be used to probe for new particles, such as those predicted by a scheme called supersymmetry. W’s might bounce off each other by exchanging such particles, changing scattering from the standard model predictions. But different ways of extending the standard model predict different changes in WW scattering, notes Jürgen Reuter, a theorist at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) laboratory in Hamburg. So physicists must first determine the most promising signals to search for, he says: “We don’t know all the good observables at the moment.”last_img read more

Birds found using human musical scales for the first time

first_imgThe flutelike songs of the male hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) are some of the most beautiful in the animal kingdom. Now, researchers have found that these melodies employ the same mathematical principles that underlie many Western and non-Western musical scales—the first time this has been seen in any animal outside humans. The scientists analyzed the spectrograms (barcodelike representations of the frequencies in a sound) of 71 songs containing 10 or more notes made by 14 of the birds; the songs were collected across North America over more than 50 years by various individuals. Their statistical models showed that 57 of these songs closely resembled what musicians term a harmonic series—that is, the pitches of the notes follow a mathematical distribution known as integer multiples. Human musical scales are governed by these same mathematical constraints. It’s doubtful that the similarity is due to the physics of the birds’ vocal tract, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Rather, it seems male hermit thrushes choose to sing notes from these harmonic series. It may be that such notes are easier for the males to remember, or provide a ready yardstick for their chief critics—female hermit thrushes. The study adds to other research indicating that human music is not solely governed by cultural practices, but is also at least partially determined by biology.last_img read more

Patnaik campaigns for Bijepur candidate

first_imgChief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik on Thursday campaigned for party nominee Rita Sahu in the Bijepur Assembly seat in western Odisha where bypoll is scheduled to be held on October 21. Hundreds of supporters stood along the roads when Mr. Patnaik undertook a roadshow and addressed people at several locations urging them to vote for Ms. Sahu for the all-round development of their constituency. Many senior party leaders were also present. Overnight stayMr. Patnaik is scheduled to stay overnight and campaign in different areas on Friday. Ms. Sahu had won from Bijepur as a BJD candidate when a bypoll was held in the constituency in 2018 following the death of her husband and then Congress MLA Subal Sahu. As campaigning will come to end on Saturday evening, other major contenders for the seat – Sanat Gartia of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Dillip Kumar Panda of Congress – have also intensified campaign in the constituency. Many senior leaders of the BJD, the BJP and the Congress have been camping in Bijepur to canvass for votes in favour of their respective candidates. Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who campaigned in the constituency a few days ago, is scheduled to campaign again to seek votes in favour of Mr. Gartia on Friday. The bypoll was necessitated after Mr. Patnaik, who had won from both Bijepur and Hinjili constituencies, vacated the Bijepur seat.last_img read more

Urban local bodies polls underway in Rajasthan

first_imgPolling to elect about 2,100 ward councillors is underway in all 49 municipal bodies across Rajasthan on Saturday. According to that state election department, the polling started at 7 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m. The election has been peaceful so far, an official of the department said. A total of 7,944 candidates are in the fray in 49 civic bodies of the State. The election department said that a total of 33.69 lakh voters, including 17.05 lakh men and 16.01 lakh women, will exercise their franchise on Saturday. Counting of votes will be done on November 19. Election for chairman and deputy chairman of local bodies will be held on November 26 and 27 respectively.last_img read more

Thelma Barina: When we were champions

first_img“I hear that a lot,” she says. “But I also hear people saying I’m a lot better than her.”There’s no ground for comparison, to say the least. Daquis, with her all-heart brand of play, media savvy and pretty face, has helped make local volleyball gain the level of popularity it has never enjoyed before.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSoutheast Asian dominanceBut it was Barina-Rojas, a 5-foot-8 open spiker from Cebu, who laid down the foundation for the country’s dominance in Southeast Asia during her 14-year stint as a national player. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ MOST READ 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage She won four gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games when the Philippines battled Indonesia, not world-ranked Thailand, for dominance in the sport in the region. She helped the country win the gold medal in the 1981, 1985, 1987 and 1993 editions of the Games.Barina-Rojas took the Most Valuable Player and Best Open Spiker awards in the 1987 SEA Games, and was Best Service Receiver in the 1991 edition.Gold-medal droughtIt’s interesting to note that after the 1993 SEA Games, the Philippines has never won a gold medal again in the biennial competition.Barina-Rojas, now 56, embraced the sport when she took up accounting at Southwestern University in Cebu City.ADVERTISEMENT Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games Thelma Barina in her heyday.Some volleyball fans, those who are just experiencing the local sport’s “second coming,” are too quick to call her the Rachel Anne Daquis of her generation.For the record, Thelma Barina-Rojas doesn’t mind being compared to the new face of Philippine volleyball.ADVERTISEMENT Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken LATEST STORIES What ‘missteps’? Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ She sharpened her all-around volleyball skills enough to land her a spot in the national team as its “captain ball” for many years.“I’m happy with what I see now in Philippine volleyball,” says Barina-Rojas, now a PE teacher at Makati Gospel School and head coach of its volleyball squad. “I’m very positive that we can bring back our glory days in the sport.”According to her, one of the national team’s biggest advantages now is its height.“We have many tall players now who are talented and very smart on the court,” says Barina-Rojas, who married volleyball referee Rodrigo “Buboy” Rojas and bore him three children, namely, Rossinni Tracey, Rodd Tyron and Ross Therese.She says she always watches games, especially those in the UAAP and NCAA, on TV and follows the sport and how it has progressed from being just a niche sport into a full-blown mainstream spectacle that it is today.“Back then (in the national team) we treated each other like real sisters,” says Barina-Rojas. “I guess that’s something no coach can easily teach his players.”She says that kind of relationship among teammates was the key to the country’s volleyball success back then. “We would signal each other (about our intended play) with our eyes and body language,” she recalls.During those years, especially before the SEA Games, the national team would hold training camps in Japan to strengthen the squad’s chemistry.“That’s how we learned about Japanese techniques,” she says. “During the training camps we matured as players and as a team. That’s what we need now if we want to become strong in the sport again.”And that’s coming from somebody who has “been there, done that.” Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. In the know View commentslast_img read more

Tata Nexon upgraded with additional features

first_imgTata Motors has updated Nexon with host features. The compact SUV has been upgraded by the Indian automobile major “after analyzing customer feedback”, according to a leaked circular.Currently, Tata Nexon is priced between Rs 6.58 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and Rs 11 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It competes against the likes of Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Mahindra XUV300 and Ford EcoSport. Another challenger is the recently-launched Hyundai Venue.Barring the entry-level Tata Nexon XE trim, all the other variants in petrol and diesel options have got some feature update. As per the leaked circular posted by Team-BHP, rear AC vents and roof rails have been added to XT, XZ, XZ+ and XZA+ variants. In XM, XMA and XT trims, the antenna length has been increased and non-touchscreen infotainment upgraded. The leaked document does not mention if there has been any hike in the prices of Tata Nexon following the addition of these new features. (Image Credit – Team-BHP)Tata Nexon variants like XM, XMA, XT and XZ have got colour upgrades related to dashboard mid-pad (from silver to warm grey), gear-shift lever knob and central console finisher (from silver to piano black) and AC control panel (from granite black to piano black).In the compact SUV’s XZ+ and XZA+ trims, there is an addition of a rear power outlet (12V) behind the rear back and door trim finisher colour upgrade from satin chrome to piano black.The leaked document does not mention if there has been any hike in the prices of Tata Nexon following the addition of these new features.advertisementPowering Tata Nexon is a 1.2-litre turbocharged Revotron petrol engine that produces 110 PS and 170 Nm of torque. There is also a 1.5-litre turbocharged Revotorq diesel motor that delivers 110 PS and 260 Nm of torque. Both the mills are offered with a 6-speed manual gearbox, along with an option for 6-speed automatic transmission. There are three drive modes in the compact SUV — Eco, City and Sport.ALSO READ | Aston Martin Valhalla, DB5, V8 to feature in upcoming James Bond movieALSO READ | Next-gen Hyundai Xcent spied testing, India launch expected in 2020ALSO READ | Hyundai Venue receives over 33,000 bookings, 1,000 units of the compact SUV delivered on June 21last_img read more

Sri Lanka name Ratnayake interim coach, Hathurusingha’s future unclear

first_imgFormer fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake has been appointed Sri Lanka’s interim coach ahead of their home Test series against New Zealand, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said on Wednesday.SLC refused, however, to clarify whether head coach Chandika Hathurusingha had been sacked.Hathurusingha, appointed in December 2017, has been criticised for the team’s poor recent performances, including this year’s Cricket World Cup in which Sri Lanka were knocked out in the group stage.”We’ve been watching the coach’s performance for over a year-and-a-half. Based on that we’ve taken this decision,” SLC President Shammi Silva told reporters.”I was also in the board that recruited Hathurusingha, and we’ve made some mistakes. But if we are to do right by cricket in (the) future, we have to correct those mistakes.”Silva said Hathurusingha had been sent an explanatory letter and SLC would wait 14 days for his response. He refused to explain the issues with the coach, saying it was a “legal matter”.Hathurusingha confirmed he had received a letter.”As far as I’m concerned, my contract with SLC is still there,” Hathurusingha told ESPNcricinfo. “The letter doesn’t say anything about termination of contract or anything like that.”Sri Lanka play New Zealand in a two-Test series starting on Aug. 14.Also Read | GT20 Canada: Umar Akmal reports match-fixing approach by ex-Pakistan player Mansoor AkhtarAlso Read | Did my wholehearted effort to lift Pakistan: Mickey Arthur after coaching tenure endsAlso Seelast_img read more

The experts: A-League season predictions

first_imgA-League The experts: A-League season predictions Goal Last updated 2 years ago 05:12 10/7/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Carl Valeri Josh Brilliante A-League With the season finally here, Goal has asked a few celebrities their season predictions across a number of different categories It’s that time of year again when we ask several football experts their thoughts on the upcoming A-League season.Will Sydney FC defend their title? Can Milos Ninkovic win back-to-back Johnny Warren Medals?The best minds in the business have spoken. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. ADAM PEACOCK (FOX SPORTS)Champion: Sydney FC Premiers: Sydney FCRunners up: Melbourne VictoryWooden spoon: WellingtonBest player: Karim Matmour (Adelaide)Golden boot: Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers)Golden glove: Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC)Best signing: Karim Matmour (Adelaide United)Best young player: Daniel de Silva (Central Coast)RAY GATT (THE AUSTRALIAN)Champion: Western Sydney WanderersPremiers: Western Sydney WanderersRunners up: Melbourne VictoryWooden spoon: WellingtonBest player: Adrian Mierzejewski (Sydney FC)Golden boot: Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers)Golden glove: Vedran Janjetovic (Western Sydney Wanderers)Best signing: Adrian Mierzejewski (Sydney FC)Best young player: Daniel de Silva (Central Coast)AIDAN ORMOND (PERFORM GROUP/FFA MEDIA)Champion: Western Sydney WanderersPremiers: Sydney FCRunners up: Sydney FCWooden spoon: Hard to sayBest player: MIlos Ninkovic (Sydney)Golden boot: Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers)Golden glove: Vedran Janjetovic (Western Sydney Wanderers)Best signing: Alvaro Cejudo (Western Sydney Wanderers)Best young player: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City)Sydney FCLJUBO MILICEVIC (FORMER SOCCEROO)Champion: Sydney FC Premiers: Sydney FCRunners up: Melbourne VictoryWooden spoon: Central CoastBest player: Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)Golden boot: Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory)Golden glove: Liam Reddy (Perth Glory)Best signing: Rhys Williams (Melbourne Victory)Best young player: Daniel de Silva (Central Coast)KIERAN FRANCIS (GOAL.COM)Champion: Sydney FC Premiers: Sydney FCRunners up: Melbourne VictoryWooden spoon: WellingtonBest player: James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)Golden boot: Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory)Golden glove: Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC)Best signing: Adrian Mierzejewski (Sydney FC)Best young player: Daniel de Silva (Central Coast)CRONAN YU (GOAL.COM)Champions: Sydney FCPremiers: Sydney FCRunners-up: Western Sydney Wanderers Wooden Spoon: Wellington PhoenixBest player: Diego Castro (Perth Glory)Golden boot: Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers)Golden glove: Paul Izzo (Adelaide United)Best signing: Adrian Mierzejewski (Sydney FC)Best young player: Joe Caletti (Brisbane Roar)last_img read more

*Sigh* Here Are Some Leather Coolers

first_imgA cooler is a necessary summer companion. Whether you’re going camping, spending the day at the beach, or visiting someplace with limited fridge space, you’re gonna need a quality cooler to keep your brews cold.But does the prospect of hauling your battered, 20-year-old cooler give you pause? If so, the Brown Leather Coolers from Coleman and Jayson Home may be more your style. That’s right. These are typical Coleman coolers, only they’re covered in 100% natural leather. *Sigh*Related: Gear Up: The Manual’s Summer Camping EssentialsFrankly, we’re astonished and baffled by these coolers. Most adventures that require a cooler involve some degree of outdoor ruggedness. Leather, on the other hand, is known to pick up scuff marks and fade when exposed to sunlight.Maybe that’s the point. Instead of looking rattier over the years, a leather cooler will only look more badass — like maybe it’s been thrown off a motorcycle a few times. We suppose they could also provide comfortable auxiliary seating in a pinch — though you might catch yourself inadvertently barking, “Hey, watch the leather!” every time someone takes a seat. Maybe the leather provides additional insulation? We give up.Leather ain’t cheap, so these babies are going to cost you. The smallest and least expensive option costs $385. The next size up is $995, and the largest cooler costs a jaw-dropping $1,495. “Sorry honey, we can’t afford your tuition this semester. Daddy needs a $1,500 leather cooler. Don’t worry — you still won’t understand when you’re older.”We’re merely reporting that these leather coolers exist. It’s up to you to decide what to do with this information. If you’re inclined to buy it, or at least find answers to the 400 questions blazing through your mind, feel free to visit the Jayson Home website. The Best Car Camping Gear for Any Season Editors’ Recommendations We Tested the Recool, Igloo’s New Biodegradable Cooler Zach Klein Is the Reason We’re All Obsessed with Cabin Porn The Best Backpacking Chairs for Your Next Adventure The Best Backpack Coolers for Keeping Drinks Cold on Your Adventureslast_img read more

Wilders Suspends Election Campaign Due to Arrest of Moroccan Bodyguard

Casablanca – Controversial right-wing politician, Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Moroccan and anti-Islam remarks, announced Thursday that he has suspended his election campaign following the arrest of his Moroccan bodyguard. The Dutch far-right politician and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) is at the heart of yet another controversy following his announcement. He has suspended his election campaign due to the arrest of a Moroccan secret service agent who has been serving as his personal campaign bodyguard.Secret Service chief, Erik Akerboom, explained that the arrested employee has a “Moroccan background” and stated that he could not disclose his identity at the moment. The arrest took place after the Moroccan secret service agent, who was also in charge of protecting the Dutch Royal family, was investigated for leaking classified information to a criminal Moroccan organization that specializes in money laundering, in exchange for payment.The PVV leader decided to suspend his campaign until the authorities complete their investigation and can guarantee that the security team tasked with the mission of protecting the politician had not penetrated.  According to Dutch news sources, the Secret Service chief said that Wilders’ safety has not been jeopardized.After the news was made public, Wilders tweeted that he “had no idea” about the leaks and asserted “How much more is there I don’t know.”The Dutch politician, who has been under 24-hour police protection for 13 years, has based his electoral campaign on attacking Dutch nationals of Moroccan origin. He recently promised to close mosques and put an end to the “Moroccan scum” causing an international uproar. read more

Sidewalk Labs unveils heated walkways and building raincoats for Quayside

TORONTO — Sidewalk Labs offered a glimpse at a handful of high-tech prototypes it hopes to launch in a waterfront smart city it has proposed for Toronto on Friday.The Alphabet Inc.-backed entity showed off technologies it previously teased, including hexagonal sidewalks that light up to indicate a change in a street’s usage and heat up to reduce ice and snow, and “building raincoats” that can adjust to provide cover from cold weather or rain but open up in warm temperatures.Sidewalk Labs has long touted the innovations as a way it believes it can transform communities — including the swath of prime land known as Quayside that it hopes to develop with Waterfront Toronto.“It is totally different to see it in its real world context and understand its real impact,” said Jesse Shapins, the director of public realm at Sidewalk Labs, who said nailing down exactly what building either the raincoats or streets would cost is tough, but he believes they will be “comparatively less” than a glass “arcade” walkway.  “Starting to do something like this helps us learn about some of the cost elements, but we imagine doing them on a larger scale and more of them, the costs go down.”The unveilings come as Sidewalk Labs is facing criticism over hopes to lay claim to a cut of the city’s developer fees and property taxes in exchange for funding a light rail transit line and underground infrastructure in and around the Quayside neighbourhood.In previous months Sidewalk Labs was dealing with concerns around Quayside’s potential data, privacy and intellectual property policies.While Sidewalk Labs has often been accused of being secretive, the company has tried to foster a sense of transparency with Quayside meetings to collect feedback and open houses at a waterfront office it opened to construct prototypes.The company will host a Saturday open house for the public to see the innovations it has been working on, which Shapins hoped would generate feedback.Shapins said those who attend will see the high-tech sidewalk — a series of concrete pavers that can be made porous to make a street more resilient when faced with water. He said the pavers can be removed individually when damaged, so extensive road closures and crews are not needed.Lighting, he said, could be incorporated into the pavers to “reprogram” streets for high traffic, construction, bikes and special events, proving much more efficient than paint.Shapins was also excited to show off the “building raincoats,” which are built with a plastic-like film and can be used to transition a space from indoors to outdoors depending on the weather.“The raincoat provides an additional way to expand so a farmers market can happen inside but also outside as well,” he said.“There’s even the opportunity to use them as expanded patio spaces so the patio season doesn’t have to start at the beginning of summer. It could start earlier when you have something like this.”Shapins said he expects the raincoats will come in handy in Quayside, where it can get cold and windy quickly and where research he’s seen has estimated that weather is only “comfortable” 30 per cent of the year.Sidewalk Labs, he revealed, will next look at testing the technology behind the tall timber buildings and the “stoa” — a term Sidewalk is using to mean flexible, ground floor spaces — proposed for Quayside.Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press read more

Rebuilding homes in Fort McMurray Alta going faster than expected CMHC says

Rebuilding efforts in Fort McMurray, Alta., are running ahead of expectations, with reconstruction underway on one-third of the homes destroyed in last year’s wildfire, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.In a report Thursday, the federal agency said the rebuilding of 844 housing units has started and that number is expected to rise to about 1,000 this year. It said 122 of the projects were started last year and 722 in the first half of this year.CHMC market analyst Tim Gensey said the agency underestimated how many construction workers would come to Fort McMurray when it suggested last December only 600 units per year could be rebuilt.He said the strong numbers also reflect the devotion of residents.“One of the fears I’ve heard around the community is that people might just take the insurance money and leave Fort McMurray,” he said.“However … the people who live there permanently love their community and they are staying.”Gensey said about 550 of the units being rebuilt are single-family detached houses and most of the rest are townhouses.The fire that swept through the community of about 70,000 last year caused an estimated $3.8 billion in insured property damage and destroyed nearly 2,600 homes, including almost 1,900 single-family houses.At the current pace, all home rebuilding activity should be complete in three to four years, CMHC said.The agency pointed out a total of 59 new housing units — not rebuilds — have also started since the wildfire was extinguished.On its website, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which governs Fort McMurray, reports that 86 rebuilt dwellings had been completed and received final inspections as of June 30.CMHC says about 99 per cent of the destroyed housing units in Fort McMurray are expected to be rebuilt, adding the exceptions are between 21 and 35 lots in the Waterways area being set aside as part of the municipality’s flood mitigation plan.Resale housing prices averaged $435,500 in the second quarter of 2017, up from $407,000 in the first quarter, a difference CMHC attributed to more condos and mobile unit sales in the earlier period.It said home prices have been in decline since 2013 and they aren’t expected to rebound until oil prices strengthen, improving prospects for the surrounding oilsands industry.CMHC reported Fort McMurray’s apartment vacancy rate fell from almost 30 per cent in 2015 to about 18 per cent in 2016 as residents displaced by the fire took up temporary accommodations.The rate is expected to drop to 10 per cent this year as workers from outside arrive to help with rebuilding.Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter. read more

Alert on Muslim extremism

He said that only 26 complaints had been received by the government of people missing after surrendering to the army.The Defence Secretary also said that several people had fled the country during the war to other countries and so far some of those countries have failed to give a full account of the Sri Lankans living there. (Colombo Gazette) He said that it is known that some Muslim extremist elements attempt to use Sri Lanka as a transit country and there are fears that in that attempt they may spread their ideology in Sri Lanka. He also said that there are fears that some groups are attempting to radicalize students in Sri Lanka through protests and agitation campaigns. Full Speech: Rajapaksa also said that the extremist LTTE ideology still remains with LTTE supporters in Norway, France and other countries actively campaigning against Sri Lanka.Rajapaksa also disputed the figures on disappearances and deaths during and after the final stages of the war. The government is on alert over attempts to spread Muslim extremism in Sri Lanka, a top Defence official said today.Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told a Defence Seminar in Colombo today that intelligence agencies and the police have been alerted over the concerns. Post Conflict Sri Lanka – Challenges and Regional StabilitySpeech for the Defence Seminar 2013It gives me great pleasure to deliver the keynote address this morning, at the 3rd Annual Defence Seminar organised by the Sri Lanka Army. I am aware that distinguished delegates and guests from 29 countries are participating in this event, alongside a large number of attendees from Sri Lanka. On behalf of the Government, I take this opportunity to welcome our foreign guests to Sri Lanka and to wish all the participants an educative and productive time at this important event. I also extend my congratulations to the Commander and the Officers of the Sri Lanka Army who have organised this event with great professionalism and skill. This year’s Defence Seminar is the third successive one organised by the Sri Lanka Army since the series began in 2011. The first Seminar centred on the lessons learnt by the Sri Lankan defence establishment in defeating the ruthless and formidable terrorist organisation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE. During that Seminar, senior members of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces shared their experiences on the strategies and tactics used to defeat terrorism, and discussed their broader applicability and relevance to other nations. In 2012, the second Seminar focused on the post-war efforts to create lasting peace and stability in Sri Lanka after the war. It examined the steps taken towards Reconstruction, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Reconciliation in the conflict affected parts of the country, as well as the overall development of the country at large and its prospects for the future.The theme selected for this year’s Defence Seminar is “Post Conflict Sri Lanka—Challenges and Regional Stability”. This is a particularly appropriate theme in the present context. Sri Lanka has had considerable problems in the last three decades. In 1983, the country suffered from riots that raged for 5 days without effective state intervention. During the 1986 to 1989 period, people were frequently abducted, tortured and killed as the country veered towards barbarism and anarchy with the second JVP insurrection. And for nearly thirty years until the end of the war in 2009, Sri Lanka suffered through the brutal terrorism of the LTTE, whose countless targeted killings, indiscriminate bombings and armed attacks killed numerous innocent civilians and led to a paralysis of day to day life.After its liberation from terrorism through the Humanitarian Operation, and with democracy being restored to every part of the island, Sri Lanka is now one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the entire world. However, there are still a number of challenges that the country faces. These challenges, together with issues that affect regional stability, are critical considerations at this juncture because of the impact they will have on the country’s future. How Sri Lanka faces its internal as well as external challenges over the next few years will influence or even determine its destiny for much longer to come.Before discussing these challenges and regional issues, however, it is important to take proper note of where we currently stand. Soon after the war, there were a number of pressing concerns that had to be dealt with urgently. These immediate post-war challenges included:Accommodating and ensuring the welfare of nearly 300,000 Internally Displaced PersonsUndertaking demining and the reconstruction of infrastructure and facilitiesResettling the IDPsRehabilitating nearly 12,000 ex-LTTE cadres andReintegrating them to society.I am pleased to note that as of today, each and every one of these challenges has been successfully dealt with.Demining of nearly 5,000 square kilometres of land and reconstruction of vital infrastructure and housing facilities were urgent tasks that the Government had to undertake to facilitate the speedy resettlement of the IDPs. As these tasks were being completed, the IDPs were resettled in their places of origin. Resettlement commenced in October 2009, less than five months after the end of the war. By August 2012, just three years and three months after war, all of the IDPs in the welfare camps, as well as a considerable number of persons who had been displaced from the North in earlier times due to LTTE activities, had returned to their homes. This is a remarkable achievement by any standard. In addition to resettlement, great effort has been taken to ensure that these people are able to resume normal lives. Livelihood assistance programmes have been launched, and material assistance has been provided through the donation of fishing gear, utilities for farming and provision of livestock and seeds for agriculture.A survey undertaken by UNHCR Sri Lanka between November 2012 and March 2013 has demonstrated the overall success of the resettlement programme. Assessing the current situation of resettled persons against the global standard of the Inter Agency Standing Committee Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, the survey found that considerable progress had been achieved under each of the eight themes of the Framework. Access to personal and other documentation without discrimination, Family reunification, and Access to effective remedies and justice had been achieved. Considerable progress had been made in areas including Safety and security, Access to livelihoods, and Participation in public affairs. Interestingly, nearly 90% of respondents had a high level of confidence in local civilian law enforcement, and only 29% had negative views on the presence of the military in their areas.A field mission conducted between May and June this year by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, observed that while there were still areas for improvement, the transformation of the region in such a short matter of time was praiseworthy. The report of the field mission noted “remarkable improvement in infrastructure development in many sectors including transportation, communication, roads, railways and health facilities”. It was also observed that there was no visible presence of armed military personnel in uniforms, and that the work of the military is primarily to address the “immediate and development needs of the population” including projects for “building houses, shelter, water, sanitation; scholarships for school going children and schools focused vocational training;” and organising tours for people in the North to visit the rest of Sri Lanka. These efforts are aimed at helping the civilians return to normal life in a peaceful nation.In addition to the displaced civilians, the vast majority of the LTTE cadres who surrendered to the military during the Humanitarian Operation have also been returned to their homes after an extensive Rehabilitation programme carried out by the Government. The overall success of the rehabilitation programme can be gauged by studies undertaken by independent foreign researchers, including Dr. Kruglanski and Dr. Gelfland of the University of Maryland, College Park, who showed that even hard-core LTTE cadres have undergone a significant reduction in their support for violence as a result of the programme.With the swift addressing of these immediate post-war requirements, the Government turned its attention to the restoration of normalcy. One of the first objectives in this regard was the restoration of the civil administration in the North and East.  During the previous decades, while the LTTE was in control of these areas, the Government administrative machinery remained in existence but had not been able to function independently. After the war ended, the military had to undertake some of the duties of the civil administration until sufficient capacity could be built up within the system for it to function effectively without external support. As this required capacity was gradually being built up, the tasks undertaken by the military were handed over to civilian counterparts, and the involvement of the military in these administrative matters was stopped.The post-war period saw significant shifts overall in the modus operandi of the Armed Forces, since there was no longer a requirement for offensive operations. The focus was more on functioning in a passive role that would ensure long term stability. Intelligence units were strengthened and expanded, and more use was made of the engineering battalions for reconstruction and national development purposes. At the same time, the military had to develop new policies and procedures for their functions relating to internal security. In the immediate post-conflict period, the military had to assume an expanded role in the maintenance of law and order for some time. However, the full responsibility for the maintenance of law and order has now been handed over to the Police and the military has been released from these duties.The disengagement of the military from administrative and law & order functions has only been one of the steps towards normalisation that has been effected by the Government in the post-conflict period. Several other steps were taken shortly after the war ended to ensure that the people in the formerly war affected areas could return to life under normal conditions as soon as possible.The various armed groups that had been operating in opposition to the LTTE and in support of the Government in the North and East needed to be disarmed. The Government accomplished this challenging task within a remarkably quick period soon after the war. The members of these former armed groups were encouraged to work towards the betterment of the people through democratic means. Many of these individuals are now playing an active role in politics at various levels.Civilian properties that had been used for other purposes for many years during the war needed to be returned to their rightful owners. Some of these properties had to be occupied by the military whereas others had been forcibly taken over and used by the LTTE during the war. Action has been taken to trace the rightful owners of these properties, and most have already been returned to them.Restrictions that had to be in place during the war for security purposes had to be removed. These included restrictions on movement on land due to the maintenance of high security zones; limitations on fishing including restrictions on outboard motors and the times and locations in which fishing could take place; as well as restrictions in the trade of certain items that could be used for offensive purposes. All of these restrictions were removed in stages after the end of the war. The Palaly cantonment is now the only area on ground in which some security restrictions remain; but even within the cantonment, civilians have free access to the airport and the Kankasanthurai harbour.The presence of military camps and troops in the North had to be reduced. This was done gradually after the end of the war. The number of camps as well as troops in this region has been reduced dramatically. Although the military remains in this region for strategic security reasons, it mostly engages in development work to win the hearts and minds of the people. The full responsibility for law and order has been handed over to the Police with the establishment of more and more police stations in the North and East and the recruitment of more Tamil speaking Police personnel to serve in these areas.Another step in the normalisation process following the war was dealing with those who had been detained for involvement in LTTE activities. Most of the detainees were released into rehabilitation. A very few numbers of hard-core cadres who had been involved in LTTE activities at a higher level remained in detention centres for prosecution. A comprehensive database of all those in detention was created and access to this database was enabled through police stations. Lawyers and family members of the detainees were provided access to the detention centres, as were officials of agencies and relevant organisations such as the ICRC and the Human Rights Commission.Very significant in the normalisation process for the entire country was the repealing of the Emergency Regulations that had been in place in Sri Lanka for many decades. These regulations gave wide-reaching powers to law enforcement authorities, and were necessary during the war for the upholding of security in the country at large. However, in August 2011, after two peaceful years had passed since the end of the war without any terrorism related incidents, the Government repealed these regulations.Alongside the return to normalcy, steps had to be taken by the Government to address the various allegations that were being made by various parties during and after the war about what took place in its last stages. The primary allegation concerned the number of civilian casualties that were supposed to have taken place during this period. Various people started making various claims about the number of casualties, which ranged from 7,000 to more than 40,000 people killed. Hardly any of these estimates referred to any sources, and most completely ignored independent and credible sources that reported figures very much to the contrary. The Government was therefore very keen on addressing this issue in a rigorous and transparent manner.In 2011, the Department of Census and Statistics carried out an “Enumeration of Vital Events” for the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The Enumeration was conducted between June and August 2011, with field data being collected in July. The enumerators were Government servants from the Northern Province, all 2,500 of whom were Tamil and Muslim officials. Apart from the gathering of usual census data, the enumerators paid attention to the vital events that had taken place in the North from 2005 to 2009, with a particular emphasis on the deaths that took place in the last stages of the war. The Enumeration Report shows that according of the reporting of the next of kin, 7,896 deaths occurred due to unnatural causes from January to May 2009. This number includes:LTTE cadres killed in action;Civilians killed by the LTTE whilst trying to escape into Government controlled areas;Civilians who were detained and killed by the LTTE for other reasons;Civilians forcefully used for combat and related activities by the LTTE;Civilians who died as a result of crossfire;Civilians who had been reported as dead but who may have escaped or illegally migrated overseas;Deaths reported but not during the Humanitarian Operation for the purpose of claiming compensation; andFalse reporting. It is also worth bearing in mind that at the start of the Humanitarian Operation, the LTTE had approximately 30,000 cadres. By its conclusion, nearly 12,000 had surrendered to the Armed Forces. LTTE transmissions intercepted, LTTE documents recovered, LTTE graveyards discovered, and LTTE publications and posters indicate a large number of cadres were killed in action during the early stages of the Humanitarian Operation. It is also possible that many bodies were unrecovered during this period. However, the most intense battles were fought after Puthukudiyirippu. During this period, it was impossible for the LTTE to recover the bodies of its cadres or give any indication of its casualty figures. It is also worth nothing that unlike a conventional military, the LTTE was a terrorist group that did not have a proper procedure of recruiting and maintaining its cadres. Most of the time its cadres used aliases instead of proper names. Some of them did not fight in uniform. As a result, it is difficult to establish with certainty the number of cadres killed. In this context, it is also worth bearing in mind that the military lost nearly 6,000 of its personnel in combat during the Humanitarian Operation. Close to 20,000 more were injured. This gives an indication of the intensity of the battles that took place during this period.In addition to the deaths that were said to have occurred, the Enumeration of Vital Events shows that 2,635 persons were reported as untraceable. These numbers were reported because the parents and next of kin of the missing persons were not able to recover their bodies or obtain information about their whereabouts. Further investigations have already been carried out with regard to 2,360 of these cases. These investigations have established beyond doubt that 1,625 were instances of forced recruitment by the LTTE. It is also a fact that an unknown number of persons left Sri Lanka through illegal means during the last stages of the war, and are presently resident in other countries. However these countries have not yet divulged their details to the Government. There are only 26 instances of people who are reported by the next of kin as having surrendered to Security Forces and subsequently disappeared.In a completely independent effort to track the missing persons in the North, UNICEF, together with the Probation and Child Care Commissioner of the Northern Province and the Government Agent of Vavuniya, launched a family reunification project soon after the war. A total of 2,564 tracing applications were received by July 2011. 1,888 of these applications were about missing adults, and 676 about missing children. 64% of the parents of missing children reported that they had been recruited by the LTTE. This study independently confirms our findings.At the same time, it is very important to keep in mind that a military confronting a non-state actor using asymmetric warfare strategies has an incredibly difficult task to perform. A terrorist organisation has no compunctions about safeguarding civilian lives. In fact, the LTTE relentlessly put civilians in harm’s way by using them as a human shield and to increase international attention to the war. This was primarily in the hope of attracting external intervention that would subvert the on-going Humanitarian Operation. The ground realities that the Sri Lankan military faced in this context are widely ignored. The LTTE deliberately and repeatedly launched artillery and mortar attacks on the military from No Fire Zones. It also encamped and fought from civilian areas and installations including hospitals. These are complexities that those who make allegations against the Sri Lankan military are sometimes unaware of.Given the Government’s clear commitment to address all issues relating to accountability, a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission was instituted in May 2010 to examine all matters connected with the war. This Commission obtained submissions from people all over the country during an 18-month period, after which it published a comprehensive report. The Commission concluded that there was no deliberate targeting of civilians on the part of the Sri Lankan military, although it found that the LTTE was responsible for numerous violations of international humanitarian law. The Commission also outlined a number of constructive recommendations that the Government is committed to implementing through a comprehensive and time-bound National Action Plan. It is hoped that the process of national reconciliation will be assisted by the implementation of these recommendations.It must be noted that a lot has been said, particularly internationally, on the subject of reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, much of what is said has been negative, and lacks a holistic perspective grounded in the realities of post-war Sri Lanka. Reconciliation is a process. Like all processes it takes time to accomplish. Demanding overnight results is counterproductive.For a very long period of time, most of the people in the North and parts of the East of Sri Lanka lived under the total control of the LTTE. There were no democratic freedoms in the areas under LTTE dominance. There was no space for dissent. The LTTE did not allow any alternate viewpoints. All opposition voices were swiftly and ruthlessly silenced. The people in those areas were brainwashed with LTTE propaganda. An entire generation grew up without any experience of normal life. They were separated and isolated from the rest of the country; they were taught to hate and fear the Sri Lankan state. Some took up arms against the state willingly. Despite the success of the Welfare camps, despite the speed of resettlement, and despite the far-reaching nature of the rehabilitation and reintegration programme, it is not easy to ensure speedy reconciliation in this context.At the same time, it has to be acknowledged that much remains to be done by all parties, including the Government, to ensure that national reconciliation is achieved. It is of the utmost importance that all Sri Lankans move into the future together as one nation, without unnecessary fragmentation into groups based on ethnicity, religion, caste or place of origin. The most essential task of the Government in this regard is to ensure that all Sri Lankans have the same opportunities and unobstructed access to state services, and that they are empowered to seek better futures for themselves in a peaceful, stable and rapidly developing democracy.In this regard, one of the most crucial steps towards the restoration of normalcy in the North and East was the revival of the democratic process through the restoration of elections and the return of political plurality. Under the direction of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Provincial Council elections were held in the Eastern Province even before the Humanitarian Operation had ended. Local Authority elections were held for the Jaffna Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council as early as August 2009. The Presidential Election and General Election were both held throughout the country in 2010. Local authority elections held island-wide in 2011 saw free and fair elections throughout the North and East for the first time in decades. In the areas formerly dominated by the LTTE, people exercised their franchise without fear for the first time in a generation.Later this month, despite the doubts and objections of some sections of the country, Provincial Council elections will be held in the North. The first election after the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was held in 1987, and it was for the North and Eastern Provinces together. This Council was dissolved not long after, in 1990. After the demerger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in 2006, Provincial Council elections were held in the Eastern Province in 2008. This is the first time that a meaningful Provincial Council election is being held in the Northern Province. The fact that the main party in the Government, the SLFP, as well as the main Opposition party the UNP, the Tamil National Alliance, the regional Tamil parties and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress are all freely contesting in this election shows that political plurality is firmly established in this region. That this is possible just four years after the dawn of peace is a remarkable achievement.Now that the war is over and the most significant post-war challenges, including the revival of democracy have been accomplished, it is absolutely essential that Sri Lanka moves swiftly forward. We must evolve from being locked in a post-conflict mentality, and look to the future instead of forever grappling with the issues of the past. We must be willing to move forward as a nation, united by what we have in common instead of being divided by the differences we have between us.Particularly in this context, it is very important that the main political parties in Sri Lanka stop the politicisation of divisive issues for their petty political gain. People in every part of the nation face numerous issues, which could not be attended to during the last three decades because of terrorism. Furthermore, the recent adverse global economic conditions also have an impact on our economy. These issues cannot be solved overnight, and will require time to set right. Despite these problems, however, it should be appreciated that Sri Lanka’s per capita GDP has more than doubled over the last six years.  Unfortunately, some political parties use the existing economic problems to their advantage by portraying them as arising due to ethnic or religious reasons. In reality, these problems are fundamentally economic, and affect Sri Lankans in every part of the country irrespective of their race or religion. They are national issues that need to be faced together as a nation, rather than treated as divisive ethnic or religious issues confined to a region or a section of the community.If the level of political discourse in Sri Lanka is not raised above these narrow ethno-religious concerns to address the core issues facing all of our people, it will be very difficult for the nation to make progress. In this context, it is particularly important that all of the main political parties work throughout the country to promote the interests of the nation, without focusing on one group or other. It is only when we bring all the ethnicities and cultures of this country together into one Sri Lankan identity that we will truly make progress as a nation.From the national perspective, one of the biggest challenges we have is economic development. For many years, the war suppressed our economic potential and held back our growth. However, we need to look beyond the war to one of the most fundamental and critical issues that has faced this country since Independence. This is the issue of unequal development, particularly between the cities and the rural areas. Looking back on Sri Lanka’s history, it is entirely possible to interpret the major problems that have arisen here as being fundamentally economic ones. The leftist insurrections of the 1970s and the 1980s were primarily due to the fact that the rural masses in the south of the country felt that their needs were not being adequately addressed by post-Independence governments. Even though the LTTE and the militant parties in the North cast their conflict with the state along purely racial lines, it can be argued that the separatist cause took root in those areas and gained support primarily because of the economic pressures that the people in those areas felt during the same period.If the problem of rural underdevelopment is not holistically addressed, it is conceivable that similar problems to what we have had in the past will once again arise in this country. That is why one of the foremost thrusts of the present Government has been the development of every part of Sri Lanka. The greatest developmental challenge facing Sri Lanka today is the uplifting of the standard of living in rural areas to a similar standard to what is enjoyed in the cities. The rural masses must not feel marginalised, nor must they feel an economic compulsion to move to the cities. They should be able to attain a high level of education, obtain high quality healthcare, and find meaningful and well paying employment without leaving their places of origin. All Sri Lankans must benefit from the dividends of peace, not just the privileged few who live in the capital or the other urbanised areas.From a national perspective, it is important to uplift our economy through the promotion of tourism, foreign direct investment, industrial development, value addition in agriculture and the further fostering of the service economy. However, we must also keep to our traditional way of living, we must develop our agriculture and animal husbandry sectors and achieve self-sufficiency in them. We should also adopt new technologies to increase productivity and efficiency. Our per capita GDP should increase significantly over the next several years, in keeping with the country’s natural growth potential. The 5-hub strategy adopted by the Government, which envisions the development of Sri Lanka into a knowledge hub, commercial hub, naval & maritime hub, aviation hub and an energy hub, is at the centrepiece of a policy designed to translate this growth potential into economic development.The establishment of the new Hambantota Port and the Mattala Airport are part of a comprehensive infrastructure development drive undertaken by the Government to enhance this economic potential. Although some people criticise the perceived lack of traffic to these locations, it has to be understood that some time will be taken before these facilities start to operate at full capacity. This is only natural, since businesses need time to get accustomed to the availability of this infrastructure, and to change their procedures in order to make full use of these facilities. Given the sheer volume of ships that pass through the sea lines of communication just south of Hambantota, it is only a matter of time before the full strategic value of the Port is realised. I have every confidence that the potential of the Hambantota region as an industrial and transhipment cargo hub will be realised over the next few years.Another very important infrastructure strategy is to establish highways to connect to distant cities. Much work in this regard has already taken place and much more is in the pipeline. These highways will ensure that the travel time between important cities is kept to a minimum, and that tourism, trade and day-to-day travel will be greatly facilitated. This is vital to spreading economic growth throughout the country at a faster pace. At the same time, the facilities that are provided within our cities need to meet the standards set in most other nations. It is imperative that we prevent the departure of our best and brightest from Sri Lanka to greener pastures abroad. Retaining talented young people within the country, however, requires us to create an environment that will be appealing to them. This is a significant challenge before the nation today, and one that must be met successfully if the country is to grow beyond what it is at present.In addition to these overarching challenges of achieving national unity and meaningful economic development, there are a number of other challenges that we in Sri Lanka need to be mindful of. These includePreventing the re-emergence of terrorismEstablishing effective methods to project Sri Lanka to the international communitySuppressing the emergence of other extremist groupsPreventing further ethnic divisions and communal violenceChallenges of maritime security and border controlCurtailing the growth of organised crime, andNew challenges in safeguarding a just and wholesome democracy.Although the war ended in 2009, the re-emergence of terrorism is still a threat. One of the main reasons for the LTTE’s success during its heyday was its extensive international network, which had been in operation for many decades. Extremist elements within the expatriate Tamil community support this network, which today comprises such groups as the Tamil Coordinating Committee which is based in Norway and led by Nediyawan, the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam led by Rudrakumaran, and the LTTE Headquarter group which is based in France and headed by Vinayagam. All of these LTTE-linked groups are coordinated by the Global Tamils Forum led by the so-called Father Emmanuel, and have one overarching objective. Their intention is the division of Sri Lanka and the establishment of a separate state for Tamil Eelam. There are several strategies through which they will try to achieve their objective. These include winning of international opinion for the separatist cause, increasing international pressure on Sri Lanka, undermining the Government’s efforts for reconciliation and economic development, and pushing for the resumption of conflict through reorganizing local militant activities in Sri Lanka.Some of the efforts of these LTTE-linked groups have been successful to a certain extent. Despite Sri Lanka’s many post-war achievements, its internal affairs have featured on the agenda of many prominent international NGOs and even at the UNHRC sessions. The recent visit to Sri Lanka by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner is another instance of this attention. This has been accomplished mostly by the actions of the LTTE linked groups, which have many trained LTTE cadres and operatives who are now fully engaged in propaganda activities. It is also important to realise that there are groups even within the democratic mainstream in Sri Lanka that obtain funding from pro-LTTE elements overseas. They more or less openly talk about achieving the very same objectives that the LTTE had. Even though they appear to have a democratic face, their actions and remarks clearly show that the extremist separatist ideology has not yet fully disappeared. Their ultimate objective is achieving the division of Sri Lanka. As a result of their actions and statements, it is possible that radical elements will feel empowered to once again attempt to take up arms against the state in the name of separation.While taking every possible countermeasure to prevent the recurrence of terrorism in Sri Lanka, the country also faces the significant challenge of effectively countering the LTTE’s propaganda machine. During the Humanitarian Operation and for a long time afterwards, the true picture about what happened during the war has been obscured by the LTTE’s false propaganda. Unfortunately, it is a fact that low middle-income nations such as Sri Lanka do not have the resources necessary to shape foreign opinion through the media. It is therefore up to the Foreign Service and the Foreign Ministry to communicate the true picture about what took place in Sri Lanka during and after the war to the outside world. This is a serious challenge that must be faced despite significant resource constraints.Sri Lanka also faces possible threats from other extremist groups, including those involved in previous insurgencies. Some of these groups are trying to reorganise within Sri Lanka and mobilise people to once again take up extreme left wing causes. Even today, it can be seen that there are attempts to radicalise students and even the public and encourage them to take to the streets in various protests on various pretexts.The indication of increasing communalism amongst ethnic groups is another cause for concern. The increased insularity of ethnic groups was visible during the three decades of conflict in Sri Lanka, and it is a matter of some concern that this separation still persists under conditions of peace and stability. The fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity into ethno-religious identification is not only unfortunate in itself, but it can also lead to other problems in the long term. For example, it is clear that there are some in the Tamil community who identify more with the Tamil community of Tamil Nadu than with their fellow Sri Lankans.Similarly, it has been observed that there are some foreign groups that wish to encourage Sri Lankan Muslims to identify themselves more with the global Muslim community, thereby reducing their integration with the rest of the population. It is a known fact that Muslim Fundamentalism is spreading all over the world and in this region. This is a situation that our Law Enforcement agencies and Security Forces are concerned about, particularly as there have been instances where extremist elements were found in transit in Sri Lanka and were arrested and handed over to appropriate authorities. The possibility that such extremist elements may try to promote Muslim extremism in Sri Lanka is a cause for concern.One of the consequences of the increasing insularity amongst minority ethnic groups is the emergence of hard line groups within the majority community. This in turn causes further tensions amongst other communities, which leads to a vicious cycle of greater fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity. Sri Lanka had enough divisions in the past that ultimately led to conflict; we must learn the lessons from our past and ensure that history is not repeated. This is a critical challenge that faces the entire nation today.The maintenance of maritime security is another important concern. As an island, Sri Lanka does not have land borders that it needs to protect, but its responsibilities in terms of maritime security are very great. Preventing various transnational crimes including drugs smuggling, arms smuggling and human trafficking is essential to long-term security. At the same time, the protection of our maritime assets within the Exclusive Economic Zone is also very important, as is safeguarding the Sea Lines of Communication that travel close to Sri Lanka against the threat of piracy.Organised crime in Sri Lanka is another issue that needs to be addressed. As a result of the rise of terrorism and the insurrections Sri Lanka experienced over the last forty years, and the response required from the state, a large quantity of arms and ammunition fell into the hands of criminals. This led to the rise of the underworld, which engages in organised criminal activities including drugs, armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom and financial frauds. There are also groups that engage in seizing land illegally. Although these underworld activities are not very widespread at this point, tackling this situation before it becomes more of a concern is a challenge for the state.One more challenge on the domestic front that the Government needs to be aware of is the need to safeguard our democracy against attempts to subvert it through various means. With Sri Lanka now enjoying meaningful peace and stability for the first time in decades, the requirements of the people are also beginning to change. Unlike in the past, people all over the world today are connected to one another through modern communications technology. People can see what is going on in other parts of the world instantaneously through the Internet and through global news media. The connectivity of people within the country is also at an unprecedented level through the spread of mobile phones. The speed of information dissemination is instantaneous. In these circumstances, subversive elements with ulterior motives may use these facilities to portray demands by sections of the public to showcase the country in a negative light.In this context, it is very important that people understand that the freedoms they are guaranteed through democracy should not be allowed to be abused by those with ulterior motives. Rights and freedoms must always be exercised with responsibility; if not, negative consequences could ensue for the country at large. Take for example the right to public assembly. In our democracy, there is ample freedom for people to demonstrate with regard any issue that they feel is important. This is a healthy sign of a vibrant democracy. However, when people go beyond peaceful demonstration and engage in violent protest, incite violence or act in other undemocratic ways, they exploit and abuse democratic freedoms. Certain groups with vested interests exploit legitimate demonstrations to show the country in a bad light—some of them confront the police, cause disturbances and even riots, and create a very negative image about the country internationally.Another example is media freedom. While there are enough and more legitimate media channels, newspapers, and websites that freely operate in Sri Lanka, there are also some illegal sources that engage in false propaganda to damage the country’s image internationally. This is a very disturbing development that can lead to negative impacts on tourism, foreign investment and trade. It is therefore the responsibility of every citizen, political group and media organisation to exercise their democratic freedoms with responsibility, and not engage in unlawful activity under the guise of exercising their freedoms.Looking beyond these domestic issues, it is clear that there are significant issues that Sri Lanka faces due to its strategic geographic position within the South Asian region. As a result of this, there is some inter-linking of domestic issues between Sri Lanka and India. For example, India is very sensitive to events in Sri Lanka because of the large Tamil population in its influential southern state of Tamil Nadu. Particularly during elections, Sri Lanka figures large in Indian power politics. In addition, there are certain bilateral issues that occasionally strain the usually sound relationship between the two nations: for example, the increasing incidence of illegal fishing by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lankan waters. India is without doubt the most important and powerful country in South Asia, but Sri Lanka is a completely independent sovereign nation, which India is very much aware of and supports. It is critical that both countries retain a meaningful and close relationship despite the issues that sometimes arise between them.Further afield, Sri Lanka’s cordial relationship with China has sometimes become an issue for other countries because of misperceptions about the nature of China’s influence here. It is important to understand that China’s involvement in Sri Lanka is purely diplomatic and economic. China has been one of Sri Lanka’s foremost development partners for many years, and it has contributed richly to many of Sri Lanka’s key economic development projects. However, this involvement has been misinterpreted to mean that China has undue influence here. In fact, this point has been raised even by the visiting Defence officials of certain important nations. For its part, the Sri Lankan Government has been very clear that its relationship with China is not a threat to any other nation.In addition to these country specific issues, there are regional issues that arise because of the increasing geo-strategic importance of Sri Lanka. As a result of the rapid economic and military development of countries like India and China in recent decades, the entire Asian region has become increasingly important in global affairs. There is a possibility that some western powers wish to have a Sri Lankan Government that is closely aligned with their interests. They may seek to influence Sri Lanka’s destiny so that it cannot pursue the independent course it is following at present. In addition, the power politics between key countries in the region, such as India and China, or India and Pakistan, are also important issues for Sri Lanka because of our relationships with these nations.Sri Lanka’s journey during the four years since the dawn of peace has seen the country transform itself from a nation at war to one of the most peaceful, stable and secure democracies in the world. How well the country navigates its present issues, including national security challenges and broader geo-political issues arising from its geographical position, will determine its destiny.Most important of all, however, is that we as a people develop our mentality to go beyond that of a developing nation, and to look at the future positively and with confidence. Instead of constantly focusing on issues inherited from the past, it is important that all of us move forward and think more about the future. In whatever the field—whether it is business, finance, education, healthcare, services or agriculture—it is imperative that we start thinking as an advanced nation and get out of the third world mentality. It is only then that we will be able to accelerate our development and move forward together as a nation.I am very confident that in time we will all be able to achieve this cohesive vision and place Sri Lanka firmly on the path towards lasting peace and prosperity. However, it is up to all Sri Lankans to accept this as a challenge, and move together into this shared future as one Sri Lankan nation.In concluding, I take this opportunity to wish all the participants at this year’s Defence Seminar an enjoyable and productive couple of days. In particular, I extend my best wishes to the many foreign delegates here today, and hope that you will make the maximum use of your time in Sri Lanka. This is a very beautiful country with a very rich historical and cultural heritage, and I hope that you will be able to visit at least some of the many scenic and significant places here. I wish all of you a good day.Thank you. read more

Security Council calls on Ethiopia Eritrea to cooperate in carrying out border

The current President of the Council, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation, said in a press statement that the 15-member body once again welcomed the Commission’s decision, announced on Saturday, and commended the commitment of both countries to accept the outcome as “final and binding.”Council members also expressed their appreciation for the role played by Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the UN Mission in the two countries, known as UNMEE, and the UN in general in achieving the result.They invited both Governments to make further steps to strengthen the climate of reconciliation between them and to address outstanding issues, including the release of prisoners of war and the resumption of direct flights. The members also called on the parties to provide freedom of movement to UNMEE, Ambassador Lavrov said.Council members underscored their continued commitment to contribute to the peace process, and called on the international community “to provide necessary resources to support this process and the work of UNMEE,” the president said.Earlier Tuesday, the Secretary-General, along with Mr. Legwaila, briefed the Council on the latest developments since the Commission’s announcement, a UN spokesman told a press briefing in New York.”‘For once, I bring the Council some good news,'” spokesman Fred Eckhard quoted the Secretary-General as saying in his opening remarks to the closed-door session.According to the spokesman, the Secretary-General noted that since the announcement was made, both Ethiopia and Eritrea had reaffirmed their acceptance of the decision by the Boundary Commission on the delimitation of the border shared by those two countries.After Mr. Annan’s introduction, Mr. Legwaila outlined UNMEE’s role in the demarcation phase, which includes security and de-mining support, Mr. Eckhard said. read more

Toronto stock market ends fourday climb as key commodity prices weaken

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Toronto stock market ends four-day climb as key commodity prices weaken by David Friend, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 17, 2012 4:28 pm MDT TORONTO – The Toronto stock market ended its four-day climb on Monday as traders reined in their enthusiasm and commodity prices shifted lower.The S&P/TSX composite index ended the day 52.61 points lower to 12,446.86 while the TSX Venture Exchange inched down 0.2 of a point to 1,317.91.The Canadian dollar backed off 0.48 of a cent to 102.49 cents US.On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials were down 40.27 points to 13,553.10, the Nasdaq composite index backed off 5.28 points to 3,178.67, while the S&P 500 index slid 4.58 points to 1,461.19.“We’ve had such a big move in such a short period of time … so I’d say a little bit of profit taking is to be expected,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier.“If anything, it’s quite minor to me.”Traders backed away from some of their enthusiasm over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plan for new measures to energize the economy, while attention turned to weakness in Asian markets, and a move from Hong Kong to tighten mortgage lending — an effort to help slow the rise of home prices.Sentiment on the Canadian housing market also pulled back as the Canadian Real Estate Association cut its forecast for home sales this year and next and lowered its national average price forecast, partly due to revised mortgage lending regulations implemented last month.In its outlook for the year, CREA said Monday that home sales are now forecast to rise by 1.9 per cent to 466,900 units in 2012, but slip by 1.9 per cent to 457,800 units in 2013. The national average home price is forecast to rise by just 0.6 per cent to $365,000 in 2012 and edge lower by one-tenth of one per cent to $364,500 in 2013.Shares of Rona Inc. (TSX:RON) were down 11.6 per cent after Lowe Companies (NYSE:LOW) pulled its takeover offer for the company. The offer, which had faced significant political opposition in Quebec, would have seen the home-improvement retailer acquired for about $1.8 billion. Rona shares backed off $1.48 to $11.29.TSX technology stocks were 1.1 per cent lower with Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) shares falling 3.7 per cent, or 27 cents, to $7.07.The decline came as Apple says iPhone 5 pre-orders topped two million in 24 hours, more than double the amount of iPhone 4S pre-orders.In commodities, the October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell $2.38 to end the session at US$96.62.Copper prices for December were down 3.5 cents to US$3.80 a pound. Copper, viewed as an economic barometer because it is used in so many industries, surged 19 cents last week.Gold closed down $2.10 at US$1,770.60 an ounce.Metals and mining stocks were the biggest decliner, off 3.8 per cent, with Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) falling $1.24 to $31.78.The telecom sector moved 0.04 per cent lower as the chief executive of Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) said he expects wirelessly connected hydro meters and other devices will be a big source of revenue in the near future, and could grow to more than $400 million of annual revenue for the industry by 2015. Shares of the company were down 34 cents to $40.07.Global stock markets rallied late last week after the Fed announced it planned to buy US$40 billion of mortgage bonds a month for as long as necessary as part of a strategy known as quantitative easing aimed at encouraging people to borrow money and spend it.The Fed also extended its pledge to keep short-term interest rates low until 2015, a year longer than its previous target. read more

TMX Group to launch private markets business for startups entrepreneurs

TMX Group to launch private markets business for startups, entrepreneurs AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press Posted Mar 25, 2014 9:34 am MDT TORONTO – The operator of the country’s largest stock exchange is expanding into the private sector with a new business aimed at helping Canadian startups raise money, and eventually go public.The idea of connecting these small- to medium-sized firms with capital investments is not entirely foreign to TMX Group (TSX:X), says Kevan Cowan, president of TSX Markets and group head of equities at the company.“For decades, we’ve been engaged in facilitating the growth and financing of young companies… These elements are not new to us,” he said in an interview Tuesday.“We are looking to capitalize on that experience and that expertise and expand it into this area.”TMX said the launch of TSX Private Markets will give registered dealers “access to unique investing opportunities” that will assist private firms secure key capital in the early-to-mid stage of their development.The company, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, said it anticipates the service to be launched in the third quarter of this year, pending approval by the Ontario Securities Commission. The service will be overseen by TMX subsidiary, Shorcan Brokers Ltd., along with a registered exempt market dealer.The exempt market is a cheaper alternative for companies who are not publicly listed, but has been criticized for being an easier place for fraud to take place because listed firms do not need to provide detailed documents to investors.The move by TMX Group comes as it prepares to compete against a new proposed exchange, Aequitas Innovations Inc., which is backed by Royal Bank (TSX:RY), BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE), Canadian pension fund PSP Investments, and a number of Canadian and international brokerages.Aequitas could be up and running later this year if it receives regulatory approval.Cowan said the new TMX service will help address what has long been a problem for Canadian startups that find it difficult to secure the money they need to develop.“A lot of people are looking for ways to enhance the financing opportunities for small to medium enterprises,” he said.“We all realize that small to medium enterprises play a crucial role in our economy: they grow, they employ people and they provide investment return.”Last week, the OSC proposed new rules to allow startups and early-stage businesses to raise up to $1.5 million a year from individuals through registered crowdfunding web portals.Under the proposed OSC rules, investors would be limited to a maximum of $2,500 in a single investment and $10,000 per year.Other jurisdictions including Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also considering the new rules, which are subject to a 90-day public comment period closing June 18.Cowan said if these OSC changes go ahead, TMX can look at expanding its TSX Private Markets offering to retail investors.Websites like Kickstarter have raised the popularity of crowdfunding, which allows entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas directly to large numbers of consumers, who then invest typically small amounts.Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association said being able to easily secure capital funds is vital to keeping startups in Canada.“We have undercapitalized venture capital in Canada… particularly vis-a-vis the United States,” said Mike Woollatt, chief executive of the group, which represents 180 Canadian venture capital firms.“As these venture capital funds are more capitalized, there are more and more opportunities to invest in innovation in Canada, to see it all the way through and to help keep these companies in Canada.”In the past, Woollatt said many companies have moved to the United States where there is more funding access at the early, mid and late stages of a business’ development.“Everybody is recognizing this is an issue,” he added. read more

Election for staff representative to the Board of Trustees

Brock University’s Board of Trustees is seeking one new, permanent staff representative to serve a three-year term on the Board.The general bylaws of the Board of Trustees specify that the Board shall include two permanent staff members, elected by the permanent staff of the University, serving staggered three-year terms. As of July 1, 2016, there will be one permanent staff vacancy on the Board.The University Secretariat will hold elections in May to select one representative from the permanent staff for a three-year term commencing July 1, 2016.Any permanent staff member, who is not a manager reporting directly to the President or a Vice-President, is eligible to stand in the election. Nomination forms are available on the University Secretariat election website, click here.The nomination form must be signed by at least three members of the permanent staff and the nominee. You may return the nomination form in person, by email to ccolebatch@brocku.ca, no later than 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 6. The Office of the University Secretariat is located in ST1107.The election will be done by electronic voting, with the exception of those without an active email address, who will receive a paper ballot. Voting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11 and will close at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25. All eligible voters will receive an email to their Brock email account with a link to a secure electronic ballot. Those without an active email account will receive a paper ballot which must be returned to the Office of the University Secretariat. Each voter may vote for one candidate as there is only one vacancy. The candidate leading the poll will be declared elected to the three-year term.Please contact Chabriol Colebatch, Secretary to the University (x3335), if you have any questions. read more

GALLERY Celebrating Brocks 249th birthday

It was a celebration with all the fixings: balloons, cupcakes and enthusiastic partygoers belting out a round of Happy Birthday.About 200 people gathered at the statue of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock on Friday, Oct. 5 to pay tribute to the University’s namesake, who would have turned 249 the following day.The birthday bash, organized by Student Life and Community Experience, included sweet treats, a visit by City of St. Catharines and Town of Lincoln town crier Mark Molnar and a group selfie to commemorate the occasion. read more