Hazy figures cloud Indonesia’s peat restoration as fire season looms

first_imgBanner image: Firefighters extinguish fires in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay Indonesia. Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong An El Niño weather system in the early months of 2019 could see forest fires flare up once again in Indonesia.The government rolled out a slate of measures following disastrous fires in 2015, centering on the restoration of degraded peatlands that had been rendered highly combustible by draining for agriculture.While the number and extent of fires since then have declined significantly, activists attribute this more to milder weather in the intervening years, rather than the government’s peatland management and restoration measures.Activists have also questioned figures that suggest the target of restoring 24,000 square kilometers (9,300 square miles) of peatland by the end of 2020 has been almost achieved, saying there’s little transparency about the bulk of the required restoration, being carried out by pulpwood and plantation companies. JAKARTA — Indonesia has restored degraded peatlands the size of a million football fields in the three years since President Joko Widodo launched an ambitious program aimed at preventing a repeat of some of the worst forest fires in the country’s history.But that success may have had more to do with luck than anything else, activists say, as anticipated tinderbox conditions mirroring the 2015 dry season that led to those earlier fires loom over the next few months.The 2015 fires raged across 26,100 square kilometers (10,100 square miles) of land, much of it peat forest that had been drained for agriculture and rendered highly combustible. The resultant haze sickened hundreds of thousands of people, shut down airports, and spread to neighboring countries, inflaming long-running diplomatic spats. The dry conditions that year were exacerbated by an El Niño weather system, which is likely to make an appearance again in the next few months, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).The impact from El Niño “started in November, but the trend is increasing, and it’s going to peak in February or March,” said Ruanda Agung Sugardiman, who oversees climate change policies at the Indonesian environment ministry.NOAA has predicted up to an 80 percent chance of a full-fledged El Niño by February, with a 60 percent chance of it continuing into April.In anticipation of the coming dry season, the government is taking extra measures, Ruanda said, including allocating more funding to local governments for fire prevention.“Before this, most of the budget [for forest fires] was earmarked for the central government, but now we’re allocating 75 percent of our climate change budget to local governments,” he said.The environment minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, said the slate of policies rolled out since 2015 had resulted in a significant decline in the number and extent of fires, from 26,100 square kilometers that year to 1,950 square kilometers (750 square miles) in 2018. The number of fire hotspots also dropped during the same period, from nearly 71,000 to just 9,200.But that apparent success may have had less to do with the peat-restoration and fire-prevention measures than with the milder weather conditions in the intervening years, activists say: there hasn’t been a full-on El Niño since 2016.“We attribute the decrease in the intensity of forest fires not to an improvement in [peat and forest] management, but to natural factors,” Khalisah Khalid, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country’s biggest green NGO, told Mongabay.Activists from Pantau Gambut, a coalition of 23 NGOs that acts as a watchdog for peat protection and restoration efforts, have also questioned the effectiveness of the government’s policies. The coalition’s own spatial analysis shows most of the hotspots detected during the peak of the dry season in August 2018 were inside areas that were either prioritized for peat restoration or supposed to be protected under a moratorium on developing peatland.If those measures were truly effective, there should have been a steep reduction or complete elimination of fires in those particular areas, Pantau Gambut said.“These findings indicate that we need to question [the government’s] claim and the effectiveness of its restoration work,” said Muhammad Teguh Surya, the coalition’s national coordinator.A peat swamp in Sumatra smolders during the 2015 haze crisis. The drainage canals were dug in order to prepare the land for planting with oil palm, but the practice renders the land vulnerable to catching fire. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.‘We can handle this’In the wake of the 2015 fires and haze, President Widodo established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) and charged it with leading nationwide efforts to restore 24,000 square kilometers (9,300 square miles) of peat areas, the size of 4.5 million football fields, by the end of 2020.The rationale was that by restoring degraded peatland, including through blocking drainage canals and rewetting the dried-out peat layers, it would be harder for fires to spread out of control and make it easier for officials to contain them.In 2017, the BRG rewetted just over 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of degraded peatland. In 2018, it restored another 4,600 square kilometers (1,780 square miles), for a total of 6,650 square kilometers (2,570 square miles), or the size of a million football fields.In addition to the restoration policy, in 2016 President Widodo also announced a moratorium on the clearing of carbon-rich peat forests across the country.The BRG chief, Nazir Foead, said he believed that peat fires on the scale of the 2015 disaster would not happen in 2019, citing lessons learned from past mistakes.“We are very convinced … that we can handle this,” Nazir said as quoted by The Straits Times. “We cannot say that there will not be fires, but there will be fewer incidents, and they will be put out much quicker.”Enviroment minister Siti was similarly upbeat, saying at a year-end gathering at her office that “our transboundary haze [policies] have shown results.”Fires engulf a palm oil plantation in Rokan Hilir district, Riau, Indonesia. Image by Zamzami/Mongabay Indonesia.‘A lie and an error’But field investigations by Pantau Gambut throw those claims into question. The coalition found that peat-rewetting and firefighting equipment in some areas weren’t functioning properly. One village in Jambi province on the island of Sumatra was found to have fire hoses that were too large for the available water pressure, and too short to reach fire-prone areas. In another village in Jambi, a water pump installed there wasn’t powerful enough to provide sufficient water to put out fires.“If we’d found this inadequate equipment in the 1990s, maybe we could understand,” Teguh said. “But this happened after the president launched the peat-restoration initiative, so we have to question this. How can areas that had been prioritized for peat restoration have equipment that can’t be used in the event of a fire?”BRG secretary Hartono Prawiraatmadja said those particular facilities had been built by third parties in 2016, before standardized specifications for the equipment needed had been drawn up. He also said the BRG had earmarked at least 20 percent of its funding for the maintenance of equipment.“Last year, we didn’t allocate any budget for maintenance,” Hartono said. “There’s a concern that if there’s no maintenance, then the facilities won’t work properly during fires. That’s why, starting in 2019, we’ve allocated funding for maintenance.”Teguh dismissed the explanation as a cop-out.“There should have been concrete actions [to fix the equipment],” he said. “In my opinion, the excuse of not having funding or standardization is a lie and a serious error. How could such a vital project be carried out without any clear standards [or maintenance]?”Fires smoldering from a peat forest in West Kalimantan. Image by Aseanty Pahlevi/Mongabay Indonesia.Target in sight?There’s another key point where the BRG and NGOs differ. Under the peat-restoration initiative, companies whose concessions include peatlands are responsible for restoring those areas, which amount to 14,000 square kilometers (5,400 square miles) of the total 24,000 square kilometers.The concessions in question include areas of deep peat that contain high biodiversity. Under the president’s signature anti-haze regulation, these areas must be zoned for conservation and rewetted to prevent fires. As of August 2018, 127 pulpwood and plantation companies had submitted their restoration plans to the environment ministry. Three months earlier, the ministry reported that the companies had restored a combined 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 square miles) of degraded peatland since 2015, mostly by blocking the canals initially dug to drain the peat in preparation for planting.That figure has since been updated to 14,000 square kilometers, which, if accurate, means the companies have fulfilled their peat-restoration obligations, the BRG’s Hartono said. He added that this claim on the part of the companies had yet to be verified through on-the-ground inspections.But Pantau Gambut says the government has failed to disclose detailed information on the implementation of the companies’ restoration plans. There also hasn’t been any transparent follow-up to the companies’ submitted plans, despite the fact that the restoration is required to be carried out immediately upon approval of the plans.Ultimately, Teguh said, there’s no independent confirmation that the peatland restoration has been carried out as reported by the companies.“Unfortunately, after they’ve revised their plans, it remains unclear whether the restoration work has been carried out or not,” he said. “The public has never been involved in the process. Without a transparent [process to disclose the] information, the public is left in the dark.”For its part, the government is preparing a regulation to serve as a guideline for the BRG and civil society groups to monitor the companies’ restoration activities, Hartono said. To verify their claim to have restored 14,000 square kilometers of peatland, the BRG needs to have the regulation in place, currently being drafted by the environment ministry.“If the BRG enters [the companies’ concessions] without a clear regulation [permitting it to do so], the companies are worried that it might disrupt [their operations],” Hartono said said.“We haven’t been able to confirm yet that what the companies are doing matches our expectations,” he added. “So we will supervise the companies, both in terms of what they’ve done and what they’re planning to do.”If the companies’ claims are confirmed, then that leaves the BRG with less than 4,000 square kilometers (1,540 square miles) of degraded peat areas to restore before the end of 2020.“We’re optimistic [we can meet that target] if that’s the case,” Hartono said.Teguh cautioned that while this might seem a small number compared to the agency’s achievements in the past two years, the BRG should be diligent about ensuring it met its target in an open and accountable manner.“Considering how there’s only two years left, the BRG has several big tasks pending,” he said. “That includes making its peat restoration agenda more inclusive and accountable, sharing its data and restoration progress in more detail, accepting criticism and recommendations for improvement, and not basing its work only on projects.” Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Climate Change And Forests, Deforestation, Environment, Fires, forest degradation, Forest Fires, Forests, Haze, Peatlands, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforests, Southeast Asia Haze, Southeast Asian Haze last_img read more

Digg Townhall #2 Wrap-Up

first_imgI want to hear an honest discussion about the direction Digg has taken. I joined in 05′, because I heard about it on TechTV and I really liked the concept of finding odd, unique tech stories. Ever since Digg added the non-tech related sections, there has been an explosion of user growth, which was great because more stories were coming in, but also spam went way up. I didn’t like the politics section, so I removed it.Still, there are special interest groups who have been sneaking them in, and its upsetting. I feel like digg has been hijacked by rude, agenda driven people who have made the digg experience less enjoyable.A: Jay agreed that there are some issues with spam getting in, but that future changes to the algorithm will address this problem. However, he added, Digg gets 15,000 submissions per day, so, overall, they’re not doing so bad.Why Am I Getting New Fans?Q: Digger Branchex was suspicious of all his fan requests and wondered how he could know if they are legitimate?A: Kevin said they will be adding a text box where users can type in why they want to be a fan of someone. Jay added that incorporating external social graphs into Digg will be helpful, too, specifically mentioning Facebook and Ning, but not confirming anything involving either.Link Under Digg Stories to Report Duplicate / Alternate SourcesQ: Digger zizzy requested a new feature for duplicates, saying: There should be a link under Digg stories, where you can click “Report as duplicate” or “Submit alternate source.” If you reported it as a duplicate, you would be required to choose the Digg story it was a dupe of, and if enough people did this it would show up under the main story as an alternate source. And if you wanted to submit a story but it was already frontpaged, you could just submit it as an alternate source…A: Jay responded that “this is a pretty good idea” and they would take it into consideration. He also said he loved how the suggestion included voting on the alternates, as that focuses on using user behavior to highlight good stories. If they were to implement such a thing, Jay continued, their number one priority would be to automate this with their de-duping system, a new version of which is being tested now. Kevin mentions that the new system will search for dupes prior to you filling out the submission form (finally!).Sliders Instead of Checkboxes? Q: Digger cardsrequested that  “instead of having checkboxes for each topic/subtopic, can we have a slider for level of interest?”A: Kevin enthusiastically responded that this is an awesome idea and they will definitely look into that one, too.Emailed in QuestionsIn addition to the questions from the thread on Digg, a few emailed in questions were answered, too, including questions on the following: Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#New Media#news#web Any chance that we can get some word-based blocking by which I mean that you can go to your settings and set certain words that you do not want to see stories about. An example of this use would be if you wanted to block all stories tagged “NSFW” or “(some politician)”. The reason that I would really like this is because I frequently check the Top 10 stories and as of recently a lot of them have been about Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama and I would rather see the Top 10 stories on Digg that are not related to Obama or Clinton. A: They responded that they are, in face, working on an NSFW filter, but they aren’t providing any details or release dates for this right now.Upcoming Section Improvement NeededQ: Another question involved changes needed in the Upcoming section. Digger sbader said: Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Facebook/Digg integration: One user was concerned that when linking Digg and Facebook, this could lead to a bunch of “noise,” especially if you have a busy day on Digg. Kevin responded that the integration doesn’t mean that all your stories get sent to the Newsfeed of all your friends. Instead, Facebook’s API selects certain stories to share with certain friends. He cited an example where he had dugg 15 stories but only 3 or 4 got shared. Kevin admitted “I don’t know how they do it” but that it works. Podcast section: Another user wanted to know about the Podcast section, saying it’s dead, but it still has potential. Jay said it’s true that they have not released updates to that section, but since many podcasts are videos now, they’re going to integrate podcasts into the video section instead.Separating politics out of world and business?: A third user wanted to know if politics could be its own section since political coverage was drowning out the other news. Again, Jay mentioned that customizing and personalizing your settings would help with this but also agreed that a slider bar instead of checkboxes would be even better. Kevin thinks it will die down after the elections are over. Fixing Screwed Up Submissions: Another question involved how there is no way to fix a submission after it’s sent in – like correcting typos, misspellings, etc. Kevin reminded everyone there is a “preview” before it’s sent in and that if you are using a browser like Firefox or Safari, you have spellcheck built-in. He also mentioned you could email support for help, but Jay jumped in to say they can’t honor every request because the system would be abused. Social Media Sharing Feature: Another digger wanted to know if they could integrate a social media sharing button or feature. They responded they are working on this (and reminded everyone they are hiring). The final comments weren’t as important – someone wanted to know about the dog walking by on the screen (Digg is dog-friendly), another requested a feature just like Digg Spy causing Kevin to laugh, and the final question was to get clarification on the upcoming comments system and its “controversial” filter drop-down. The final announcement was that the next Townhall will be August 14th. ConclusionOverall, it seems that they are aware of some of the issues with the UI and Digg experience, and are working on addressing them via new or improved features. However, it’s clear that they have no plans to revert to the good ol’ Digg of the past that focused on tech stories. Instead, they said several times during the townhall that users should use Digg’s built-in tools to customize their settings to filter out the types of stories they don’t want to see.Unfortunately, this suggestion misses the point – the problem isn’t in seeing stories or not seeing them, but concerns that tech – the category that made Digg what it is today – is getting pushed to the wayside so Digg can go mainstream. This change means tech stories now have less of chance today to “go popular” as Digg makes way for a more diverse selection, a topic we previously explored here.Obviously, this is a calculated move orchestrated by changes to the algorithm, and no amount of complaining will change their direction. Digg may not be a tech-focused site anymore, but does that mean that techies will really stop using it? Maybe some will, maybe some won’t. But since both Jay and Kevin vaguely hinted at “micro-community features” that will be implemented in the future, it’s possible that Digg is trying to find a way to retain their techie fanbase before they leave for Mixx or another competitor’s site. sarah perez Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Last night was the second Digg Townhall, a live session hosted online by Digg founder Kevin Rose and CEO Jay Adelson. Like before, Kevin asked Digg users to post their suggestions on Digg as to what topics should be covered. (The thread is here). Now that the event is over, we can review how well those questions were addressed. Using a fairly democratic system, Kevin and Jay announced that they would respond to the top ten comments that were posted on that thread. However, at session’s end, I counted only nine from the thread (maybe one was considered a “two-fer”), although more questions were addressed than just those. The additional questions came in live during the townhall having been sent in to a special email address that Kevin announced at the beginning of the session.AnnouncementsComments System: The first topic covered was the announcement of the new Digg comments system that is about to be rolled out. Kevin said “it’s ready” and it should be out this week. (See the video here).Data Portability: Up next, Kevin made a brief mention of the data portability changes implemented on Digg (our coverage: Digg Does Data Portability: Is This All We Get?) and the Facebook/Digg integration, which is where Facebook users can import Digg stories into the Facebook mini-feed/Newsfeed. Infrastructure: Jay then discussed the internal infrastructure updates, saying that Digg receives 230 million+ pageviews/month and 26 million uniques – traffic that necessitated major internal upgrades. (He also mentioned Digg is hiring.)Meetup: Finally, Kevin announced the next Digg Meetup/live Diggnation will be on June 4th at 7 PM at Studio B in Brooklyn, NY.Q&A SessionPolitics on DiggQ: As we mentioned earlier, some of the users’ top suggestions for topics to be covered included the decline of tech stories on Digg as well as the decline of quality stories in general. However, at the time of the townhall, the comment with the most diggs was one which reflects today’s current political situation. The commenter, BigManOnCampus, wrote:…you have to wonder if digg itself hasn’t been completely hijacked by activists for particular sides. Most of the time the main front page is all about Obama. I myself don’t mind hearing about the man, but Digg use to have easily-accessible-information that was useful to me. Now it’s all about what political cause is most represented here. Is anything going to be done to finally obliterate the mob-mentality that seems to have risen to completely dominate digg?A: Kevin responded that politics is hot right now and that there never really will be the ultimate homepage that satisfies everyone. Instead, Digg is  looking into adding new features that will allow you to further customize your Digg experience as well as recommendation technologies to help you find the types of stories that you would enjoy. Jay added that when he talks to some people who are into politics, they see Digg as a political news site – that it all depends on how you use Digg. What they want is for you customize and personalize Digg, so you won’t have a bad experience.Note: You can personalize your own story selections under your profile’s settings page. Click “customize topics.”Decline of Tech Stories on DiggQ: Digg user Erfussaid: The decline of tech related stories that hit the front page. One thing that I would LOVE to see is a site filter. Meaning, if an article is from xyzsite.com, you can block it from your view completely.A: Jay announced tech content on Digg is “alive and well” and “growing” (Note to Jay: uhhh…not quite). He then said that the front page of Digg.com is designed to reflect what all of the Digg userbase is into at the time, not just tech. As for blocking specific sites, they have no features planned that would allow you to do this. Again, the recommendation was for you to customize your settings and even go into your profile and change your landing page. Where’s the Official Digg Forum?Q: Another Digger asked where was the Digg forum announced at the last townhall?A: Jay said they are still committed to this project, but they are focused on finding the right solution. They’ve narrowed it down to one or two and it will probably go live second half of this year. Their goal is to have it integrated into the Digg experience – they don’t want “just another bulletin board system.” In addition, they mentioned they are still working on the search feature as well, evaluating various technologies for that, too.Word-Based Blocking SystemQ:Sarawananasked: The upcoming section needs help. I’m not sure what it needs but browsing it is slowly becoming more and more overwhelming. If i browse by most popular I have to go through about 20 pages of stuff before i get to articles with 30 or 20 some diggs. Which i think makes the upcoming section more dependent on large friends networks which makes it harder for users with small friends list to get past 20 diggs and for it to get seen by people who don’t have you befriended.A: Kevin said he agrees “100%” – Upcoming “was awesome when it first launched” and there were only 100 stories per day, he added. Now Digg is working on a story recommendation engine where your view of Upcoming will be a list of recommended stories, but where you can switch to default view at any time. In addition, this section would also display recommended users and a gauge showing how recommendation is working for you.Jay added that if you’re not registered as a user Digg, you will be missing out on some of these features in the future, like the recommendation engine, so you should really register.Honest Discussion About the Direction Digg Has TakenQ: Digg user PyroRaver requested an “honest discussion about the direction Digg has taken,” saying: 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

ArtRock SingerComposer Scott Walker Of The Walker Brothers Dies At 76

first_img Art-Rock Singer/Composer Scott Walker Of The Walker Brothers Dies At 76 Art-Rock Singer/Composer Scott Walker Dies At 76 art-rock-singercomposer-scott-walker-walker-brothers-dies-76 The 2006 documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man tried to do justice to the man’s hard-to-categorize and wide-ranging talent. Walker’s musical gifts were so strong, he got session work as a bassist in his teens. His singing made the Walker Brothers teen idols. His final solo album was 2012’s Bish Bosch, but Walker also kept busy with collaborations and composing for film.In 2017, Walker’s lyrics were published by Faber & Faber, while the Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned and performed a special work of his. Also, the BBC threw him a tribute concert. In 2018, the music movie Vox Lux featured songs by Sia alongside Walker’s original score.Few musicians of such stature have managed to be obscure cult figures at the same time. Convention-breaking contradictions were part of Scott Walker’s signature style, but this appears to have been artistically organic rather than a result of trying to be unconventional. Even Britain’s own BBC, knowing Walker’s history intimately and having honored him in 2017, described him as an “enigma” in their obituary headline on March 25.Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox: “I’m The Closest Thing That Our Age Has To A Bowie”Read more News The musical non-conformist left America, only to return as part of rock’s ’60s British InvasionPhilip MerrillGRAMMYs Mar 25, 2019 – 5:57 pm ’60s pop-rock idol Scott Walker has died. Born Noel Scott Engel in Ohio, Walker was 76 years old. The news was confirmed by his label, 4AD Records.Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich were among the first, along with Nadine Shah, to publicly express sadness at Walker’s passing.After relocating to the U.K. in the 60s, the Walker Brothers’ fame was comparable to the Beatles. Later, Scott found solo success with albums titled Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, Scott 4, which culminated with his 1969 Scott Sings Songs from His TV Series album. On March 25, David Bowie’s official website blogged their Farewell to Scott Walker, noting Bowie’s past remark, “I think he’s probably been my idol since I was a kid.” (In 1993, Bowie covered the Walker Brothers’ song “Nite Flights” on his album Black Tie White Noise.) Facebook Email Twitter https://twitter.com/4AD_Official/status/1110091122741776385last_img read more

Janmashtami celebrated with fanfare

first_imgA youth dressed as the Hindu god Krishna takes part in a procession during celebrations for the Janmashtami festival in Dhaka on 14 August, 2017. Photo: AFPThe Hindu community of the country observed Janmashtami, marking the birth of lord Krishna, on Monday with due religious fervour, says UNB.According to Hindu religion, lord Vishnu incarnated in the universe as lord Krishna in the prison of Raja Kangsa on this day, the eighth of “Shukla Pakkha” (bright fortnight) in the month of Bangla calendar Bhadra in Dwapara Yuga to protect “Dharma” from the hands of devils.Sri Krishna was born to Devaki and her husband Vasudeva in Mathura to which Krishna’s parents belonged.Hindu community members brought out processions in the capital, divisional cities and district towns displaying the eventful life of Krishna and held other programmes on the occasion.Different socio-cultural and religious organisations also observed Janmashtami with various programmes.President Abdul Hamid hosted a reception at Bangabhaban marking the day.last_img read more

Houston Scientist James Allison Wins Nobel Prize

first_img Share MD Anderson Cancer CenterDr. James P. Allison in his laboratoryThe Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to two researchers from the United States and Japan for advances in discovering how the body’s immune system can fight off the scourge of cancer.The $1 million prize will be shared by James Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Tasuku Honjo, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Kyoto University.Watch the moment the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is announced. Presented by Thomas Perlmann, Secretary-General of the Nobel Committee. pic.twitter.com/uSV5gp6A5P— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 1, 2018Allison is the first MD Anderson scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, according to MD Anderson. Allison and Honjo’s parallel work concerned proteins that act as brakes on the body’s immune system and it constitutes “a landmark in our fight against cancer,” said a statement from the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, which selects winners of the annual prestigious award.Allison studied a known protein and developed the concept into a new treatment approach, whereas Honjo discovered a new protein that also operated as a brake on immune cells.2018 #NobelPrize laureate James P. Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realised the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing our immune cells to attack tumours. He developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients. pic.twitter.com/MWYS3DnD8n— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 1, 2018“I’m honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition,” Allison said in a statement. “A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge. I didn’t set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us.”Last year’s prize went to three Americans for work in identifying genes and proteins that work in the body’s biological clock, which affects functions such as sleep patterns, blood pressure and eating habits.The physics prize is to be announced Tuesday, followed by chemistry. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named Friday and the economics laureate will be announced next Monday. No literature prize is being given this year.For more on Allison and Honjo’s discoveries and background, click here. last_img read more

Behavioral Health A Priority For Houstons Community ReEntry Program

first_imgDavis LandMorris Young, a graduate of Houston’s community re-entry program, loads pallets with supplies for a city library.At a city general services warehouse, Morris Young loads a pallet jack with boxes of paper towels and soap going to a Houston library. Young moved to Houston after getting out of prison in Louisiana last April and since then, he’s gone through the Houston community re-entry program and landed a job at the warehouse. “It’s like I just walked into the best situation ever,” Young said. “I truly appreciate that; I’m grateful for that, I thank God for that opportunity.”Young graduated as part of the 20th bi-annual class of the re-entry program and now works for the city. Employers see attendance of a re-entry program as a sign graduates are good job candidates, said LaTosha Selexman, who oversees the re-entry program.Selexman said over the past 10 years, one issue of increasing importance is behavioral health.“We found that we really need to be able to address people’s behavioral health concerns and we have incorporated that part into what we do with returning citizens,” Selexman said.Selexman said just under a third of people exiting prison in Texas have some form of behavioral health concern, like depression or addiction, so addressing health issues is a large part of helping people find stability. “One of the greatest strategies is peer support; people being able to rely on someone at their greatest moment of stress,” Selexman said. “People really need support because it’s a whole new world.”Graduates of the program tend to fair better as they move back into life outside of prison. Houston’s re-entry program sees about 14% of graduates re-offend, lower than the statewide average of 22%. Sharelast_img read more

Apple Unveils 999 News Subscription Service Dubbed Apple News

first_imgThe service will launch in the U.S. and Canada effective immediately via an update the Apple News app. The company plans to launch it in Australia and the U.K. later this year, and in other European countries in 2021. Subscribers will be able to share their subscriptions via family sharing without any additional charges.Apple executives stressed on Monday that the new service would preserve readers’ privacy. To do that, the app is downloading groups of articles from Apple’s servers, and then using on-device algorithms to suggest select articles to subscribers. Apple execs also promised that it wouldn’t let advertisers track readers.Apple News+ will effectively replace Texture, a magazine subscription service that Apple acquired a year ago. Texture offered subscribers digital access to more than 200 magazines for a flat fee of $9.99 per month.The service allowed users to read magazines “from cover to cover,” effectively replicating the layout of the print magazine on digital devices. Unlike the newly-launched service, Texture did not offer access to any newspapers.The launch of the subscription news service is not entirely surprising: Bloomberg first reported about Apple’s plans for such a service late last year. More recently, it became clear that some news publishers were not ready to launch the service. Just last week, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson told Reuters that he was worried about paid platforms becoming so powerful that they could eventually replace traditional publishers, something he likened to the ascent of Netflix.Some of the details of Apple’s new service are still unknown, including the level of participation of some of the publishers. A weekend Wall Street Journal report suggested that the paper may contribute politics and general news coverage, but keep some of its business stories behind its own paywall. Apple unveiled a news subscription service called Apple News+ at its services event in Cupertino, Calif. Monday. The $9.99 service gives paying subscribers access to over 300 magazines as well as select newspapers and premium digital news services. “We believe in the power of journalism and the impact it will have on your lives,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.Some of the magazines part of the service are GQ, Esquire, Popular Science, the New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, New York Magazine and Vogue, as well as Variety and Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone is owned by PMC, the parent company of Variety). Newspapers included in the package are the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Digital publications include theSkimm, Techcrunch and the Highlight by Vox.The service is directly integrated into the existing Apple News app, which Cook described as the “number one news app,” with over 5 billion articles read each month. “We are bringing magazines to Apple News,” Cook said. “Magazines are iconic, and a part of our culture.”last_img read more

HDFC Bank picks up 127 bn from ADRs

first_imgHDFC Bank on Thursday raised about Rs 10,000 crore by selling American Depository Receipts (ADRs) and India-listed shares to qualified institutional investors in the largest follow-on offer by a private sector firm. As per an US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, the company has raised $1,270.72 million (about Rs 8,000 crore) by issuing 22 million ADS to global investors. The bank had okayed a $57.76 issue price per ADR to eligible investors in the ADR offering. Also Read – I-T issues 17-point checklist to trace unaccounted DeMO cashBesides, the bank has raised about Rs 2,000 crore from a Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP) in the domestic market. The issue price for QIP was Rs 1,067 per share to be allotted to eligible qualified institutional buyers. “…we intend to use the net proceeds of the (ADR) offering, together with the net proceeds of the QIP of approximately Rs 1,984.99 crore for meeting capital requirements in accordance with the capital adequacy norms and ensuring adequate capital to support growth and expansion,” the filing said. Also Read – Lanka launches ambitious tourism programme to woo Indian touristsThe bank would use proceeds for enhancing solvency and capital adequacy ratio and general corporate purposes. Last month, the government had allowed increasing foreign holding in HDFC Bank. The application was pending for over a year. Parent HDFC holds 22.47 per cent in the bank, FIIs 33.75 per cent, ADRs/GDRs 16.84 per cent and the rest is held by others, as of the September quarter. With over Rs 2.6 trillion market capitalisation, HDFC Bank trumps all other lenders in the country including SBI and ICICI. With the twin share sale, the FII limit in the bank would hit regulatory cap of 74 per cent. HDFC Bank’s scrip settled at Rs 1,077.25, a gain of 0.94 per cent, on the BSE on Thursday.last_img read more

Roadworks on the M6 A500 and A50 this week

first_imgFull list South Cheshire Stafford Borough, Rugeley, Uttoxeter Staffordshire Moorlands M6, A500 and A50 M6 (from Junction 19 to Junction 12, listings north to south): The M6 northbound exit slip at junction J19: Two lanes closed. From 22:00 on 25 November 2018 to 06:00 on 26 November 2018 The M6 northbound between junctions J18 and J19: Three lanes closed. From 22:00 on 25 November 2018 to 06:00 on 26 November 2018 The M6 northbound between junctions J16 and J18: Three lanes closed. From 22:00 on 24 November 2018 to 08:00 on 25 November 2018. From 22:00 on 30 November 2018 to 06:00 on 1 December 2018. From 22:00 on 1 December 2018 to 08:00 on 2 December 2018 A500 (from junction with J16 of the M6 to junction 15 of the M6, listings north to south): The A500 northbound exit slip to the A527 North: Two lanes closed. Expect disruption everyday between 21:00 and 05:00 from 28 November 2018 to 30 November 2018 The A500 northbound entry slip from the A527 South: Two lanes closed. Expect disruption everyday between 21:00 and 05:00 from 28 November 2018 to 30 November 2018 A50 (from Sideway Roundabout/A500 to junction with the A38 (Toyota Island) in Derbyshire, listings west to east): The A50 eastbound between the A521 Blythe Bridge East and the junction with the A518: Two lanes closed. Expect disruption everyday between 22:00 and 05:00 from 24 November 2018 to 26 November 2018 The A50 eastbound exit slip to the A522: One lane closed. Expect disruption everyday between 09:45 and 16:00 from 26 November 2018 to 30 November 2018 The A50 eastbound entry slip from the A522: One lane closed. Expect disruption everyday between 09:45 and 16:00 from 26 November 2018 to 30 November 2018 The A50 westbound entry slip from the A522: One lane closed. Expect disruption everyday between 22:00 and 05:00 from 24 November 2018 to 26 November 2018 The A50 westbound between the A518 and the junction with the A521 Blythe Bridge East: Two lanes closed. Expect disruption everyday between 22:00 and 05:00 from 24 November 2018 to 26 November 2018 Get the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid EmailThere are roadworks taking place on the M6, A500 and A50 in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire in the coming week (between Monday November 26 and Sunday December 2). Motorists hitting the Highways England operated roads of the area on Monday morning can expect a raft of delays and road closures waiting for them. This list contains only the roadworks considered to be most likely to cause delays on these three key routes as well as those involving road closures and temporary traffic lights. It is not exhaustive and does not feature some minor or emergency repairs that come up after publication. Other roadworks may finish or start before schedule or be cancelled altogether. If you only want information about roadworks in a different area of North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, visit the links below, otherwise scroll down for the roadworks most likely to disrupt your journey in South Cheshire in the coming week All information from Highways England, local authorities and utility companies. Read MoreRoadworks from November 26 until December 2 Newcastle Borough Stoke-on-Trentlast_img read more