Indian Consumer Goods Firms Go Shopping

first_imgTo most Indians, the 116-year old Godrej brand is a household name, fulfilling several daily needs ranging from hair color and soap to mosquito repellant and laundry detergent. But what is perhaps less known is that Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) has been selling several of its products to consumers across the world. In the past seven years, foreign acquisitions have helped GCPL transition from an Indian enterprise to a global conglomerate.“In our consumer products business, we work on negative working capital,” says Adi Godrej, chairman of the Godrej Group. “So we generate increasing amounts of cash every year. Earlier, we used to give out very high dividends and did buybacks. Then we found that it would be more shareholder-friendly if we used the resources for acquisitions outside of the country. Establishing a brand … in a new country [is] a long, drawn-out process. Acquiring an established business is a much quicker way of growth and we can add a lot of value.”Godrej’s target for GCPL as well as for the Godrej Group is to grow by 10 times in 10 years, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 26%. He expects about 15% to 20% of that growth to accrue organically and the rest to come through acquisitions. In line with this, GCPL has developed a “three-by-three strategy” to expand in three areas — household care, hair care and personal washing products — across three continents — Asia, Africa and South America. In the past seven years, GCPL has spent an estimated $600 million on around 10 acquisitions, including Indonesia-based Megasari Makmur Group for $250 million, the Darling Group in Africa for $100 million, as well as companies in the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina and the Middle East.Several other large Indian fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have also chosen the inorganic route to growth. Beauty and wellness company Marico generates 24% of its business from overseas customers, largely through acquisitions. In 2009, Marico purchased Egypt’s Hair Code; the following year, it bought Malaysian hair care brand Code 10, South African health care brand Ingwe, and Derma Rx, a Singapore-based skin care company, for an undisclosed amount. Marico also picked up 85% stake in International Consumer Products Corporation of Vietnam.Personal care and food products company Dabur acquired Turkish personal care products company Hobi Kozmetik Group in 2010 for $69 million and U.S.-based personal care firm Namaste Group in 2011 for $100 million.Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting Group (WCCLG) purchased Unza, a Singapore-based personal care company for $300 million in 2007. In 2009, it acquired personal care brand Yardley’s businesses in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Australia for $42 million. Last year, the firm bought Yardley’s Europe and U.K. arms as well. It also acquired Singapore-based personal and health care company LD Waxson for $144 million and is rumored to be eyeing an acquisition in the Philippines. WCCLG has spent over $500 million on acquisitions and of its $830 million revenues in fiscal 2013, 50% was from international markets.In a recent interview with Indian daily, The Times of India, Vineet Agrawal, president of WCCLG said he sees no reason not to pursue future acquisitions. “We can be large in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and China,” he told the newspaper.On the Right TrackAccording to Viswanath Pingali, assistant professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), foreign acquisitions are a good move for Indian consumer goods companies at present. “The world is shrinking and there is a large degree of consolidation going on in the industry,” he notes. “Acquisitions expose companies to practices world over, and help them leverage best practices. Moreover, instead of gathering entirely new sales, marketing, and administrative teams in a new country, it helps a lot if firms acquire a local partner and leverage their connections. A reverse argument is, as the economy grows there is clamor for foreign goods [not available in India], and to cater to such demand, acquisition makes sense.”Narsimhan Nagarajan, senior director at CRISIL Ratings, estimates that there have been about 15 small to medium-sized foreign acquisitions by Indian fast-moving consumer goods companies in the last three years totaling $1.5 billion. Nagarajan says that while the numbers might be modest, the shopping spree suggests a strategic shift. “The domestic market has been extremely competitive,” he points out. “Given the increase in input costs, [increased] competition [and] the incremental advertising spend, there is [increased] pressure on profitability.” Nagarajan adds that acquiring other domestic firms is tough because of high valuations. “There [is] competition for the same assets from global FMCG players who have domestic operations. Given this scenario and the urge to grow, most of these entities have looked outside of India for options.”The emerging economies have been a key focus area for Indian FMCGs looking for foreign acquisitions. As opposed to developed markets, these nations tend to be under-penetrated, have higher growth rates and reasonable acquisition costs.According to a Crisil Ratings article on the topic, the contribution of international business to total revenue is becoming increasingly larger for prominent FMCG players in India, with much higher growth rates than domestic operations. “The contribution of the international business to the total revenues of key India-based FMCG companies increased to 23% in 2010-2011 from about 18% in 2009-2010,” the Crisil article said. “Over the past five financial years, the international businesses of these companies have registered a CAGR of over 40% — double the CAGR for their domestic businesses (these growth numbers are significantly influenced by the overseas acquisitions undertaken by GCPL in 2010-2011).”Beyond the NumbersRevenues aside, other considerations come into play when companies undertake overseas acquisitions. “We are not merely interested in [adding to] the topline,” notes Anubhav Rastogi, who handles mergers and acquisitions for Marico. “Our strength is in branding. So we look at whether we can add value to the local brands in terms of their overall consumer inciting processes, even though they may have more know-how on local consumers than us.”Distribution is another area of Marico’s expertise. India has a unique distribution network with several sales points and distributors. “Most of the geographies in Asia and Africa that we are targeting have a similar kind of distribution network,” Rastogi says. “As in India, the modern retail percentage to the total trade [traditional retail] is very low. We know how to manage the complex distribution environment and how to leverage information technology to drive sales.”Another critical synergy for successful acquisitions is cross-leveraging of products. Without the ability to successfully market Indian products abroad and sell foreign goods to Indian consumers, “you don’t really get synergy,” accord to Rachna Nath, executive director and leader of retail and consumer issues at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). For instance, Marico has brought its successful Parachute brand of hair cream from the Middle East into India. But there are limitations to those efforts, Rastogi points out. “The portfolio of products from South Africa can never come to India and the other way around because the hair type [of consumers in the two countries] is so different. However, we can leverage the learnings in terms of category management, supply chain management and so on. And we can take the products from South Africa to sub-Saharan Africa.”Godrej offers another perspective. “While cross-leveraging is very important, we don’t bring brands in or take brands out. We use the local brands,” he notes. “But we exchange a lot of product knowledge, technical know-how and business processes.” For example, GCPL is the largest manufacturer of powder hair colors in the world. But the firm’s African operations had no powder hair color technology prior to the acquisition, creating an opportunity to transfer that process from India to the African market. Likewise, GCPL brought its unique technology for crème hair colorants in sachets from Argentina into India.IIMA’s Pingali adds that in order to leverage the acquired firm’s expertise in the home country, the acquiring company should also have some novel products. “I think at this stage, most major Indian FMCG companies have such products that could be of interest to people outside India. However, if an acquisition were to work, then it is mandatory that the company is confident about the quality of manufacturing processes. It should be in a position to have some manufacturing units that meet international standards or should be in a position to set up some within reasonable expenditure.”The People ChallengeFinancial, operational and product integration challenges are obvious items on the acquisition checklist for any company. But PwC’s Nath warns that something that many companies overlook is cultural integration.To best facilitate a cultural fit, GCPL retains much of the original staff of the companies it acquires. Marico’s Rastogi notes that cultural integration varies from market to market. Marico considers three criteria when tackling this issue after an acquisition — the quality of management at the acquired firm, the quality of its second line of command and retaining continuity within the team as much as possible. “Theoretically it is not possible to [re]-culturize the entire operation because people in different countries have been brought up differently,” Rastogi says. “An Indian will be Indian and a South African will be South African. It’s unreasonable to expect otherwise. To the extent possible, we like to continue an association with the seller or the management team. We get into a partnership only with like-minded people.”One of the hidden challenges of foreign acquisitions is skill enhancement of the workforce. How can a company train its entire workforce, in India and abroad, to think and act globally? According to PwC’s Nath, “You must be able to put the skill-set of Indian companies that are making global acquisitions at par with a Coke or a Pepsi, which [already have a presence] all over the world. So far, Indian companies have let their acquisitions be. Over a period of time, I’m sure there will be a shuffle in terms of people going from India to those companies in management positions.”Crisil’s Nagarajan adds: “The ability to understand newer markets in a short period of time is critical. While a lot of it can be done through systems and processes and technology, at the end of the day, the market knowledge and the nuances that you need to get are essential. [That information] can come through people [and] through institutionalization of that knowledge…. That is what I think is the differentiator.”Another challenge of acquisitions is a firm’s credit capability and financial risk profile. “Given that we believe that most of these acquisitions were reasonably valued, and the fact that most of them had fairly strong financial risk profiles in terms of capital structure [and] cash accruals … the accruals for those acquired entities … would have helped service some of that debt,” Nagarajan notes. “So putting all of that together, we have seen that the credit quality of most of these entities post-acquisition also has remained stable.”Godrej emphasizes the importance of maintaining a reasonable debt-equity ratio. GCPL’s debt-equity ratio, despite the number of recent acquisitions made, is about 0.5 to 1 because it has raised equity as well. The company’s debt to market cap ratio is less than 0.1, making it very low-risk. “We would like to be very clear that we are not overly leveraged,” Godrej says. “By and large in most of our acquisitions, we have had accretive profits after taking the cost of the acquisition into account, more or less from day one. Our Indonesian acquisition has gone up in value four-fold in three years. Some investment bankers recently approached us to list the company in Indonesia at a market cap of one billion dollars.”All of Marico’s acquisitions are also profitable, says Rastogi. But he concedes that sometimes they may take a few years to break even. Rastogi points out that higher advertising spends for newly-acquired businesses sometimes eat into initial profits and result in lower operating margins for their international business — 11% as opposed to 18% domestically. “But we take a longer-term view because we believe we can add a lot of value going forward and we’re going to be there for the long term. Our internal thought is that we can increase the margins of our international business in the next three years by 200 to 250 basis points.”The analysts, however, remain cautious. “It is very early days to tell whether these acquisitions are a success or not,” PwC’s Nath notes. Adds Crisil’s Nagarajan: “Many of these acquisitions are quite recent and it takes time for any acquisition to settle in before you can start saying it is a success or a failure. We believe they are reasonably valued from a financial point of view and other operational synergies, so I think they should play out. But one has to wait and watch.” Related Itemslast_img read more

Federer passes five-set test to advance at US Open

first_imgTiafoe was disappointed he could not stay atop Federer after breaking in the opening game.“He won by the skin of his teeth,” Tiafoe said. “I felt like when I was playing well, I was controlling most of the rallies. When I was hitting the ball big, he wasn’t really doing much except staying steady with me.”But that was enough. Federer has not made a first-round exit in a Grand Slam since the 2003 French Open and has never lost an opener on the New York hardcourts. But Tiafoe tested him.“It was more than a test,” Federer said. “It was exciting. It’s why I came to New York as well, to go through these emotions.”It also was Federer’s first match under the $150 million Arthur Ashe Stadium roof that became operational last year.“To see the new addition of the sliding roof, it’s wonderful,” Federer said. “I’m the lucky guy who got to play through the rain so I’m very happy about the roof.”Asked about the noise level with the roof closed, an issue that drew complaints from top-ranked rival Rafael Nadal, Federer said, “When you guys get going it’s even a better atmosphere than we used to have.”“I expected worse because I heard comments like this. I didn’t think it was that bad and when the crowd got into it, it was really cool… I felt like the energy was back in the building again. It was a lot of fun playing in that atmosphere.”Nadal and Federer have never faced each other at the US Open but could meet in this year’s semi-finals.And Federer is the only player who can dethrone Nadal as world number one at the US Open. WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Third seed Federer will next meet either Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, who is 0-16 against him, or Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic, 0-1 against Federer, as the Swiss chases a record sixth US Open crown.The 36-year-old Swiss, who won this year’s Wimbledon and Australian Open crowns, took the US Open titles from 2004-2008.The intense match came after limited preparation due to his back issues.“I always knew I was going to come in rusty or not great. I was hoping to start better,” Federer said. “I was being too cautious with my movement. In the second set it all started to come together.“I enjoyed myself even though I was maybe tired and nervous at the end. It was cool to be part of that match. I’m really excited I won.”ADVERTISEMENT NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 29: Frances Tiafoe congratulates Roger Federer of Switzerland after their match on Day Two of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFPRoger Federer made a narrow escape in a tense five-set thriller Tuesday, sorting out worries about a back injury and poor preparation to reach the second round of the US Open.The 19-time Grand Slam champion outlasted 70th-ranked US 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in a shockingly tough battle that boosted his hopes of a deep run on the New York hardcourts.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Australia proves fertile talent pool for NBA LATEST STORIES UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief “I think this is going to give me a lot of confidence,” Federer said. “It’s important to go through all of these emotional roller coasters early. That pressure is not fun but it’s what you have to go through.”The match was Federer’s first since losing the Montreal final to Alexander Zverev nearly three weeks ago. He withdrew from Cincinnati with a sore back the following week.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I was worried in the beginning from my back issue from a couple weeks ago but I loosened up,” Federer said, calling his back “extremely well” and adding “it’s only going to get better from here.”“To get through a five-set match you’ve got to be healthy. I believe this is going to give me great confidence in my game and my body.” Read Next Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games MOST READ Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games View commentslast_img read more

London Olympics: Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das begin Games campaign

first_imgIndia’s hopes in table tennis would ride on two teenagers – Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das – who have upstaged some of their top compatriots to make it to London.Not much should be expected from the 19-year old Siliguri paddlers, who will be competing in their first Olympics. The two talented players have shown promise in their fledgling career and have it in them to cause a few upsets.The two have booked their London Olympics berths through the South Asian qualifier, and had trained in China in the run-up to the event.Soumyajit, ranked 206, will face higher ranked Gustavo Tsuboi (104) of Brazil in the opener. Ankita, ranked 221, will meet Spanish Sara Ramirez, ranked 83, in her first-round match on Saturday.If Soumyajit manages to pull an upset over Tsuboi, he is likely to run into North Korean Kim Hyok Bong.Ankita, on the other hand, is expected to meet Margaryta Pesotska of Ukraine if she goes past the Spaniard in the first round.Soumyajit, who has honed his skills under Swedish world champion Peter Karlsson for two years, was part of the team that made history by winning a mixed doubles bronze in the World Junior Championships in 2010.last_img read more

Cong ardent supporter of GST: Surjewala

first_imgNew Delhi, Apr 20 (PTI) Congress today said, despite just four days remaining for the Parliament session to begin, government has not approached the opposition for resolving issues concerning the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill. The party claimed the real reason for the non-passage of the key reform measure was due to its being “red flagged” by the RSS. It, however, did not elaborate. Partys chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala replied in the negative when asked by reporters whether the government has taken any initiative to resolve the deadlock over the bill which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha. The GST bill, which seeks to replace a slew of central and state levies with a uniform rate, was passed by Lok Sabha in May and is pending ratification by Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority. Surjewala dismissed suggestions that the ruling dispensation has any magic formula to manufacture numbers in the Upper House.Targeting Mamata Banerjees TMC, he said parties like it have helped the government “surreptitiously” in the past on several bills. Insisting that the Congress is “ardent supporter” of the GST measure, he said the party wanted the government to concede to its “reasonable” demands in the “interest of the country”. Seeking to drive home the “reasonable demands,” Surjewala said the 18 per cent cap sought by the Congress was in the interest of the common man.He alleged that the government might be blaming the opposition, especially Congress over the non-passage of the bill, but the fact is “RSS has red flagged GST”.advertisementHe also attacked Delhi government, saying Arvind Kejriwal has “raised entertainment tax to 40 per cent” forcing Delhiites to go to Noida or Gurgaon to watch movies. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said he would be discussing the issue with the Congress in hope of getting the bill passed in the session, which begins on April 25. PTI SPG RCJ ZMN RCJlast_img read more

View from the top

first_imgBy Saima SalamAfter design, what’s the singular most important thing when it comes to zeroing in on your home? The location of course. This apartment called Sky Villa in Lower Parel, Mumbai has one of the best locations the city can offer. Consider this; a stunning view of the Race,By Saima SalamAfter design, what’s the singular most important thing when it comes to zeroing in on your home? The location of course. This apartment called Sky Villa in Lower Parel, Mumbai has one of the best locations the city can offer. Consider this; a stunning view of the Race Course on one side and the Arabian Sea (that can be enjoyed from the 1,000 sq ft deck) on the other. Located on the 46th floor, it is home to three generations of the Bagrecha family. The son’s bedroom has back lit wall panels.So, the design had to be kept minimal and elegant with splashes of colour thrown in for good measure. However, each room is distinct with every member’s personal requirements fulfilled. Beautiful geometric pattern marble flooring, mint green arm chairs, and a gold and crystal pendant light is what welcomes you the minute you step into this home. The mirror panelling on the wall, reflects the pattern of the floor to add a sense of luxury. As you move inwards, the passage walls leading to the living room are in muted veneer with art adding vibrancy. The foyer with marble floor that has a geometric patternThe story continues in the living and dining areas which are adjacent to one another. Here, the walls are clad with leather padded chevron panelling and large rose gold hanging lamps. Plush furniture and a contemporary carpet complete the look.The living room opens up into the deck. With a vertical green wall and a plunge pool, this space is perfect for a break from city life. Patterns and colours are the focal points in this home. So, the mandir has pristine white marble with bronze metal shutters decorated with lotus cut outs.advertisement The muted dining roomThe daughter’s room has a hint of mint brought in through a shelf on the wall and the teal, tufted headboard contrasts well with the black and white wallpaper, breaking the monotony of an otherwise muted space. The son’s room flaunts a copper toned wall cladding with a copper mirror headboard.However, the mustard lounge chair against the metallic wallpaper with a back lit panel steals the show. Equally alluring is the master suite adorned with a geometric wall cladding and a custom made console that has brass detailing.In the panel, a concealed door reveals itself only if you look closely. This opens into the master en suite with black marble and Parisian mirror detail. The headboard for the master bedroom is padded with a deep wine velvet fabric. We chose this hue because it’s the client’s favourite. Complementing it are mauve and gold accents. There’s also a powder room in this home that features a copper and black mosaic from Casa Mia and the ceiling sports copper mirror to add a touch of glamour to the space. Each room has its own colour scheme with custom made bedspreads, throws and cushions. We took care of every minute detail, from the colour coding and needle and thread work, to working with patterns, textures and design. Overall, this apartment is a fine mix of patterns with metal accents, plush textures and vibrant colours coming together to create a cohesive whole.After working over 10 years with architects such as Bobby Mukherji and Rajiv Saini, interior designer Saima Salam started her independent practice in 2016. She provides design consultancy services. www.saimasalam.comlast_img read more

Remy leaves Chelsea for Las Palmas

first_imgTransfers Want-away Chelsea striker Remy secures Las Palmas switch as Costa wait goes on Last updated 2 years ago 02:52 9/2/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Loic Remy Chelsea Getty Images Transfers Las Palmas Chelsea Primera División Premier League The France international striker has penned a two-year contract with the La Liga side after negotiating his release from Stamford Bridge Loic Remy has left Chelsea for Las Palmas on a two-year contract after negotiating his release from Stamford Bridge.The France international was contracted to the Blues until 2018, but has been freed to move on.Chelsea 16/1 to win the Champions League Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina The 30-year-old struggled for regular game time throughout his time in west London amid fierce competition for striking berths.He was allowed to link up with Crystal Palace in 2016-17 on a season-long loan, but saw injury restrict him to just eight appearances.With it clear that he did not figure in Antonio Conte’s plans, Goal revealed that Serie A outfit Cagliari were among those eager to bring him on board.Remy, del Chelsea a la UD Las Palmas. https://t.co/YkZNdwiTuC pic.twitter.com/Oa9E6whcfH— UD Las Palmas (@UDLP_Oficial) September 1, 2017Remy has, however, taken the decision to head for Spain, rather than Italy.He undertook a medical in London on Thursday, with the deal formalised 24 hours later.A man with 31 international caps to his name is now heading to Las Palmas ready for his official unveiling.last_img read more

Vanney says Red Bulls ‘ambushed’ Altidore

first_imgToronto v New York RB Altidore ‘ambushed’ by Red Bulls in red-card altercation, says Vanney Rudi Schuller Last updated 2 years ago 10:40 11/6/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Jozy Altidore Tyler Adams Toronto FC New York Red Bulls MLS Dan Hamilton Toronto v New York RB Toronto New York RB MLS The Toronto FC head coach indicated that the striker was accosted by multiple Red Bulls players in the tunnel at halftime TORONTO — In a game that seemingly had everything, it was one incident off the field that became arguably the defining moment of the match.Toronto FC lost Sunday’s second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls, but advanced on the away goals tiebreaker by virtue of a first-leg 2-1 victory on the road last week.And while the score line was certainly something to talk about, there were several incidents that made the game, as TFC head coach Greg Vanney said afterwards, “a little bit about soccer and a lot about nonsense.” Editors’ Picks 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. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player The Sunday match featured on-field scuffles, hard challenges from both sides, a deflected goal for the Red Bulls and a pair of goals for Toronto that were called back by referee Chris Penso, but the biggest incident happened in the bowels of BMO Field at halftime.TFC’s Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan of the Red Bulls were ejected from the game in the aftermath of a skirmish that happened near the tunnel that leads to the locker rooms. Both players had already seen yellow for their part in an altercation in the 34th minute, and the bad blood spilled its way into the halftime break.As bizarre as the ejections were, a little gas was thrown onto the fire in the post-match press conference, when Vanney accused the Red Bulls of instigating the off-field fracas.”From my estimation and what I’ve heard, Jozy basically got ambushed in the tunnel,” Vanney said. “I just have witness accounts, essentially, and we’re working on the video of what happened, but Jozy was followed in and basically confronted. He turned around, and my understanding there were four, five, six Red Bulls people all rushing at him, towards him, at the same time.”Sacha Kljestan Jozy Altidore New York Red Bulls Toronto FCTFC captain Michael Bradley, a longtime teammate of both Altidore and Kljestan on the U.S. national team, said that the layout of BMO Field lends credence to the theory the Red Bulls were to blame for bringing the on-field disagreement indoors.The tunnel that the players use to access the field splits far enough away from each team’s locker room that Bradley questioned why Red Bulls players were as close to the TFC room as they were.”I was late coming in [at halftime], so I didn’t see the initial part of it,” Bradley said. “My first thought when I got in was, ‘what are they even doing here?’ Their locker room is in a totally separate part of the stadium. “They shouldn’t even be anywhere close to our locker room, and somehow there’s 10 of their players and a bunch of their staff five, seven feet from our locker room. They shouldn’t even be here. So right away the red flags go up.”Vanney said that TFC will be reviewing any available video and will consider protesting Altidore’s red card.Every story has two sides, however, and Kljestan said his ejection was unwarranted. The Red Bulls playmaker felt that he was simply standing up for a teammate in the on-field incident that led to his first-half caution, and pointed the finger at Altidore for the altercation that led to their expulsion.”The first bit was very obvious,” Kljestan said. “[Altidore] went to stand over [Red Bulls midfielder] Tyler Adams and went to intimidate him and I came in to ask him to stop and get out of my face and I pushed him back and obviously he fell down, very easily in my opinion.  “At halftime he shoved me into the wall. I have a clear conscience. I don’t feel like I deserved a red card. So it’s a pretty helpless feeling to not be able to play in the second half.”Whatever comes of TFC’s own investigation and potential protest, the team ultimately got a result that allowed it to advance to the Eastern Conference final for the second year in a row. For Bradley, that’s all that matters.”Games at this time of year can get turned on their head pretty quickly and the game tonight got turned on its head,” Bradley said. “I thought the way that we continued to play, continued to compete, continued to go after it was the way a big team goes after it. We showed real balls tonight, plain and simple. Any other team finds a way to lose the series.”[The Red Bulls] did nothing. They score a deflected goal which makes the last 30 or 35 minutes tight, but we kept our nerve, we made big plays when we needed to make big plays, and we found a way to go through. So every guy should feel really good and really proud about what went into tonight.”last_img read more

Rashford’s strike and De Gea’s brilliance earn Manchester United win over Spurs

first_img 1 Lloris Substitutes Share on Pinterest Facebook 14 Lingard 15 Andreas Pereira 21 Foyth It was a different story here and United deserved their half-time lead, which came on 44 minutes when Lingard, perfectly positioned by Solskjær, intercepted a loose pass from Kieran Trippier. He found Paul Pogba who, in keeping with Solskjær’s philosophy, got United moving quickly. It was his sumptuous crossfield ball that released Rashford in the inside right channel and offered the latest evidence of the freedom with which the Frenchman is playing under the Norwegian.Rashford got himself up against Jan Vertonghen, who was back after two months out with a hamstring injury, and the Spurs defender never looked like stopping the United forward, whose first touch was assured. The angle was tight but the low finish was arrowed into the far corner via Hugo Lloris’s fingertips.It was always going to be interesting to gauge Spurs’ intensity levels after Tuesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea, when they looked jaded. United by contrast were fresh from a warm-weather training break in Dubai. Sissoko lasted only 42 minutes before succumbing to a groin problem, and it was while Spurs tried to reorganise that Rashford scored.Spurs created a few moments of danger in the first half, mainly through Kane, but it was the visitors who looked the slicker and more threatening before the interval. They could look back on a chance for Lingard, which he snatched at and lifted over, and low shots on the break from Rashford and Martial, both of which Lloris kept out. 31 Matic 10 Kane 1:37 Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring. Photograph: Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images Fouls Substitutes United had their chances at the other end. Pogba saw a header and a low shot both saved by Lloris and there was another moment when he chased his own blocked shot, brushed aside Christian Eriksen and tried to lob the Spurs goalkeeper, who made a wonderful reaction save.This was good Pogba, fusing muscle with deft touch to lift things to a higher plane – almost bullying the opposition – but there was a flash of bad Pogba on 78 minutes when he left a nasty boot in on Alli, for which he was booked. He diced with further trouble by hurling the ball away immediately after the foul.It was thrillingly open, the sort of game United fans used to see on a regular basis. Thanks in large part to De Gea, they could also bask in the result. 8 8 4 Alderweireld 10 Spurs Off target 5 Man Utd 11 Spurs On target 8 Man Utd (s 83′) MNU38TOT62% Corners 10 Rashford Read more Share on Twitter Spurs dug deep in the second half to show their character and quality. Sissoko’s replacement, Érik Lamela, injected bite and penetration, Trippier repeatedly got into crossing positions on the right and Dele Alli and Kane shimmered with menace. They hinted at an equaliser extensively but it would not come.Some of Spurs’ chances were gilt-edged, beginning with Kane’s on 48 minutes, forged by Alli’s through-ball. Kane shot straight at De Gea. The United goalkeeper did well to keep out an Alli header while another from Kane was more comfortable. He was just getting started.De Gea’s one-on-one block from Alli in the 66th minute took away the breath and so did the save he made with his left foot to keep out Toby Alderweireld’s near-post flick from a corner. There was also a flying catch from a Kane free-kick and further excellent saves to deny Alli and Kane. De Gea refused to be beaten. Match stats 22 Romero Spurs 7 4 6 Pogba 11 Lamela (s 90′) 8 Winks Lineups 7 Son Contrary to some of the pre-match hype, this result will not decide anything with regard to who succeeds José Mourinho on a permanent basis at Manchester United in the summer. Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham lost but it is not curtains for the Argentinian’s candidacy. He will remain of great interest to the power-brokers at Old Trafford.What the result did do was swell the feelgood factor at United that has built under the caretaker management of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Remarkably he has now won each of his first six matches in charge – no United manager has ever done that – and this was a big one in what was the first acid test of his tenure. 18 Llorente Tottenham 0-1 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened Pinterest 33 Davies 3 Rose 21 Ander Herrera MNU TOT The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. 11 Martial 6 Sanchez 20 Dalot Share via Email Premier League Spurs have established themselves as a Premier League force under Pochettino and they threw everything at United in a fine second-half performance. Unfortunately for them they ran into a goalkeeper in inspired form.David de Gea made a succession of saves and blocks with his feet in that unshowy manner of his to merit the man-of-the-match award. He could not have been expected to make some of them. It added up to a fourth league defeat of the season for Spurs at Wembley and it came coated in misfortune, with the added blows of injuries to Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko.The former limped off at the very end after twisting his ankle under a challenge from Phil Jones, and Spurs will hold their breath on the results of scans. Kane has a history of ankle problems and it is certainly bad timing, with Son Heung-min now departing for the Asia Cup.Most pleasing from United’s point of view was how Solskjær’s team came to play and attack. He sprang a tactical surprise by starting Jesse Lingard, rather than Romelu Lukaku, as the central striker, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial either side of him and the trio gave United a pacy and energetic feel.United’s visits to top-six opposition under Mourinho had, with only a couple of exceptions, been grisly wars of attrition. They did not just park the bus but throw the keys into the stand and the statistics showed only two wins from 13 matches – and 11 goals scored. 17 Fred 18 Young 2 Lindelof (s 73′) Share on WhatsApp 20 Alli Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Twitter Play Video 9 Lukaku 5 Vertonghen 8 Mata (s 43′) Reuse this content Man Utd 52 Skipp 2 Trippier 23 Shaw 1 de Gea 39 McTominay 17 Sissoko (s 81′) Solskjær praises De Gea’s heroics and Manchester United’s ‘blistering pace’ after Spurs win – video Tottenham Hotspur Manchester United match reports Topics Share on Messenger 22 Gazzaniga 38 62 Possession Goal attempts 23 Eriksen 4 Joneslast_img read more

Transformation to Result in More Efficient Service to Private Sector

first_img Mr. Holness said the Government will continue to support and create an environment in which risk-takers can manage the risk of investment, and continue to pursue a fiscal policy that is supportive of economic growth and job creation. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is ensuring transformation of the public sector, with a view to making it more efficient in its service to the private sector.Mr. Holness said this is necessary in order to reduce costs and improve support for the private sector, “so that permits needed are (issued) quickly”.The Prime Minister was addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of the CB Group’s most ambitious project to date – The Nest, the company’s first Hybrid Growth Centre (HGC) in Fellowship, St. Catherine, on August 18.Mr. Holness said the Government is developing a policy for economic growth, which he believes to be bipartisan.“When this is done, you will have a significant partner in growth and development in the public sector, and this will be a great catalyst for economic growth and job creation in this country,” he said.Mr. Holness said the Government will continue to support and create an environment in which risk-takers can manage the risk of investment, and continue to pursue a fiscal policy that is supportive of economic growth and job creation.The Prime Minister signalled to investors and entrepreneurs that “the time is now to invest (and) to put money in Jamaica”.Mr. Holness hailed the CB Group for their innovativeness and confidence to invest in Jamaica.Meanwhile, in his remarks, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the CB Group’s investment of US$120 million ($15 billion) in The Nest demonstrates confidence in the Government.“They (CB Group) recognise our attitude with respect to development and looking at the big picture,” he said.For his part, Chief Operating Officer, CB Group, Matthew Lyn, informed that The Nest will be the home of three independent operations, and described the investment as “game-changing and evolutionary”.The operations will include an area for research and development for livestock, where 2.5 million chickens and 7,500 pigs are grown annually; 500 acres of research and development farm for the new crop division, Imagination Farms, and the new world-class poultry-processing plant that will be constructed over the next 24 months.The facility will operate like an ecosystem, where outputs from one operation will be used as inputs in another to generate less waste, use less energy and emit less greenhouse gases.A conceptual agreement with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has been reached by the CB Group to supply energy to The Nest in an innovative, efficient and cost-effective manner that will benefit all JPS customers.CB’s new processing plant will be the first in the region to utilise ‘air-chill’ cooling, a superior technology that is mandatory in Europe and used by the most advanced processing plants in North America. Mr. Holness said this is necessary in order to reduce costs and improve support for the private sector, “so that permits needed are (issued) quickly”. Story Highlights Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is ensuring transformation of the public sector, with a view to making it more efficient in its service to the private sector. last_img read more

MacGregor to Equip Grimaldi’s Newbuilds

first_imgzoom Cargotec’s MacGregor has been contracted by Chinese shipbuilding group Yangfan to deliver RoRo access equipment packages for a series of five post-Panamax 7,800 CEU pure car/truck carriers (PCTCs) being built for Italian operator Grimaldi Group, with options for seven more.The 200m vessels will be among the world’s largest car carriers. They have been ordered as part of Grimaldi’s fleet expansion and modernisation program.Each MacGregor RoRo access equipment package will comprise a quarter ramp, side ramp, internal ramps, bulkhead doors and four levels of liftable car decks. The gross weight of the equipment is about 2,400 tonnes per ship.“We have a proven record of reliable deliveries and excellent support during the construction process,” says Mattias Gunnarsson, Director of Sales and Marketing, MacGregor RoRo. “In addition, our ability to meet the challenging delivery schedule was a major factor in winning this important contract.”The vessels are expected to enter into service in 2017 for deployment on Grimaldi’s regular service linking the Mediterranean and North America. This service is specifically dedicated to the transport of new vehicles between Europe and the US and Canadian markets.last_img read more

Distractions happen I try to stay away says Rohit on JadejaManjrekar episode

first_imgLeeds: Ravindra Jadeja reacted angrily to Sanjay Manjrekar’s ‘bits and pieces cricketer’ comment about him but Rohit Sharma has learnt to live with outside distractions, which he believes will remain a challenge for active players. Skipper Virat Kohli has time and again stated that the team is not bothered by the outside talk and it’s more about what they believe in the change room. However Jadeja’s tweet attack, where he had equated Manjrekar’s cricketing analysis with the number of matches he has played, shows how sensitive players are about criticism. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together”See, that’s a challenge for the sportsmen,” Rohit, India’s man of the moment, said when asked about the Jadeja-Manjrekar episode. “All this distraction will happen, but every individual is different and it depends on how he wants to think about that particular incident or situation,” the Indian vice-captain said. Rohit, who has scored 647 runs in this World Cup, however feels that a bit of self insulation helps as it can keep a player in his own bubble. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open”For me, I want to stay away from all that and enjoy the beautiful weather in England. I have my family here as well. Most of the time, that’s what I’m trying to do rather than thinking about all those talks going around,” he said. He feels that each player should accept, that as long as they are playing the sport, it will be very difficult to avoid criticism. But he does agree that constant talk about performances and expectations can get to one’s nerve. In fact, Rohit feels that “a logistic manager” is required so that the team can at least have some peaceful time from the constant “we want the Cup” type yapping. “Eventually our job is to come here, play good cricket and win the World Cup. We all know that. But constantly yapping in anyone’s ear is not right. So, I think for us as cricketers, it’s important for us to just stay completely put that away and focus on the job at hand,” the ‘Hit-Man’ said.last_img read more

US peace plan rings alarm bells in Jordan analysts

first_imgAmman: A controversial US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace could spell the demise of Jordan and turn it into a “Palestinian state”, Jordanians and analysts warn.The initiative launched by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner at a June conference in Bahrain dangles the prospect of USD 50 billion of investment into a stagnant Palestinian economy.But it fails to address key issues such as an independent Palestinian state, Israeli occupation and the Palestinians’ right to return to homes from which they fled or were expelled after Israel’s creation in 1948. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe Palestinian Authority boycotted the Bahrain forum, accusing the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of using the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions, and of ignoring the fundamental issue of occupation.Trump has taken the landmark step of recognising disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Kushner has suggested the peace plan would not mention a Palestinian state.Kushner is returning to the Middle East later this month to push his economic plan which has been rejected by the Palestinians and criticised by Jordan. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”No economic proposal could replace a political solution that ends the occupation” of Palestinian territories by Israel, Jordan’s foreign ministry spokesman Sufyan al-Qudah said.Jordan, one of only two Arab countries to have a peace treaty with Israel, sent only a low-level official to the June 25-26 conference in Manama.In Amman, protests have been staged against what has been dubbed the “deal of the century”.”It would mean the end of the Palestinian cause and it would wipe out Jordanian identity, both in one go,” said Khaled al-Khrisha, a 65-year-old Jordanian, at a rally last month outside the US embassy. “Jordan will be the biggest loser after the Palestinians.” Another demonstrator, 81-year-old Widad al-Aruri whose family originates from the West Bank, said the deal “means selling off the Palestinians and is dangerous for Jordan”.The kingdom hosts millions of Palestinians who poured into the country in two waves, after Israel’s creation and following the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel occupied the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.The largely desert country — which has little resources and relies heavily on international donors, including 1 billion a year from Washington — is home to 9.5 million people, more than half of them of Palestinian origin.Two thirds of them are Jordanian citizens, while the others are considered refugees who many Jordanians fear will be settled permanently and given citizenship as well if the Kushner plan goes through.More than two million Palestinians in Jordan are UN-registered refugees.”Jordan is worried because the deal ignores the idea of an independent Palestinian state,” said Oraib Rintawi who runs the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies.As a result, he said, “this will mean that the sustainability of a Palestinian nation would be conditioned to it being linked somehow with Jordan and that will open the gates of hell for Jordan”.And under pressure, Jordan would be forced to take in more Palestinians and eventually give them Jordanian citizenship.”This is a nightmare,” he added.With an unemployment rate of about 18.5 percent, Jordan, whose stability is seen as vital for the volatile Middle East, was last year shaken by widespread economic protests.In addition to hosting millions of Palestinians, the country has taken in a mass influx of refugees from its conflict-riddled neighbours Syria and Iraq, stretching its cash-strapped economy.Ahmad Awad, head of the Phoenix Centre for Economics and Informatics Studies, said: “Forfeiting the right of return and compensation (for refugees) will be dangerous for Jordan and the Palestinians”.He noted that a majority of Jordanians are of Palestinian origin, and a large number of West Bank residents are Jordanian citizens.Jordan administered the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, until the 1967 war.It remains custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest of the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”Jordan has no choice but to reject the (US) plan… and has already rejected it quite firmly (because)… it would turn Jordan into a Palestinian state,” said analyst Kirk Sowell of Utica Risk Services.Jordan’s King Abdullah II has repeatedly ruled out a confederation with the Palestinians or giving up custodianship of Jerusalem holy sites, calling them “red lines”.last_img read more

Supernatural Fans Light Up Jared Padaleckis ComicCon Appearance

first_imgSupernatural star Jared Padalecki got the surprise of his life at Comic-Con this week when more than 7000 fans held up candles in support of his Always Keep Fighting campaign.The audience held up the candles during a panel discussion with the stars of Supernatural, and Padalecki was moved to tears by the show of solidarity.“Thanks you to anybody and everybody that had ANY part whatsoever in the Always Keep Fighting Hall H tea light event,” he wrote on Facebook. “As I travel back to Vancouver from San Diego Comic-Con, with my partners in crime Jensen Ackles and Mark Sheppard, the enormity of what happened is finally starting to sink in….“I am beyond moved. I feel so blessed, and grateful, and honored to be a part of the magical Supernatural Family. Sitting on that stage in Hall H, I initially mistook all of the lights for cell phone cameras. It’s difficult to discern specific shapes and faces with all of those stage lights shining on you (and, it’s quite intimidating up there, sitting in front of 6,500 people!!). Then, when I had a light given to me with an explanation of what it was and what it stood for, I was (and am still) gob-smacked.”Padalecki started his Always Keep Fighting campaign earlier this year to support To Write Love on Her Arms, after opening up about his own fight with depression.“I think people who are dealing with severe depression or having suicidal thoughts often believe that the world would be better without them in it and that the people around them would be “relieved.” I wish I could tell them that they are mistaken,” he said. “It’s extremely painful to lose somebody to suicide. The pain and the questions don’t really ever leave. I still can’t talk or think about my most recent encounter without breaking down. To those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, I would beg them to continue their brave struggle, and I would implore them to seek help.”Fans who took part in the candle event at Comic-Con were also given a card that read: “Everyone is given a candle that burns just for them. When your flame flickers and you fear it will go out, know not seven the strongest wind lasts forever; and there are other lights to guide you even in the Darkness… And when your candle burns bright, you can ignite the hearts of others and hope will spread like wildfire… Always Keep Fighting, and you’ll never fight alone.”Copyright ©2015Look to the Starslast_img read more

Condo developers increasingly using art to stand out and land buyers

first_imgTORONTO – It would be easy to mistake the lobby of the One o One condos in midtown Toronto for a nightclub or graffiti-splashed alley.Instead of the muted colours and cookie-cutter designs that fill many condo buildings, developer Camrost Felcorp hired Toronto artist Anthony Ricciardi to create seven murals splattered with bright paint and a rainbow of drip marks.The flashy pieces put the building in a growing group of condo complexes whose hallways, lobbies and outdoor grounds are being emblazoned with massive murals, ornate sculptures or dozens of commissioned art pieces or custom photographs.Among the installations that have cropped up outside Toronto condos in recent years are a set of tall jagged red posts, a blue tangled rubber band-like sculpture and a handful of white whirlpool installations.Real estate veterans say such art is an attempt by developers to bring a community feel to shared spaces, but also a bid to attract buyers. Large installations are popping up at an increasing rate, they say, because many developers are realizing their benefits after the city started encouraging builders to allocate a minimum of one per cent of every project’s construction costs on public art.Ricciardi, a corporate finance worker in the real estate industry who only recently decided to pursue his art full-time, said so far developers have been a boon for business.“In the next two years I have four major projects with developers and they will all include sculptural and interior work,” he said. “Developers have been doing this forever, but I don’t think enough artists or people know about it.”Heela Omarkhail, senior manager of strategic initiatives at developer the Daniels Corp., agreed, saying her company has been attempting to raise awareness of art in the condo world by collaborating with local artists, especially those early in their careers.Daniels turned to such artists for the two-tower, One Park Place development in Toronto’s downtown Regent Park neighbourhood. In the north tower alone, it commissioned more than 25 pieces of local art, including four sculpture installations, that filled lobbies, hallways, amenity spaces, the party room and even change rooms.In another of the company’s Regent Park buildings, Omarkhail said Daniels hung in the lobby a quilt called Regent Park: A Love Poem — a nod to the fact that it was patched together by locals who wanted to be part of the community’s revitalization.To highlight such pieces, Daniels often keeps the art behind a black sheath for weeks during move-in before unveiling it at an open-house night, where artists mingle with residents.It’s even taken art to the next level by partnering with Artscape, a not-for-profit organization, to put together a musical production starring theatre stars and Regent Park locals.It is “hard to say” whether the production or condo art convinces buyers to purchase a property, but Omarkhail figures it at least “enhances the relationship between the buyer and the building because…every art piece or plaque has a story.”“Their sense of home isn’t the four walls of their unit,” she said.“It extends beyond into those common spaces and really changes the feeling when you arrive in that building.”David Moos, an art consultant for Camrost Felcorp and a former curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, said in the development realm he is seeing a “widespread consciousness” around the value of art that includes both high-end, fine art and low-end pieces he calls “decorative.”The average person won’t instantly see and know how acclaimed a piece of fine art is just by looking at it, but even having art in a condo building could contribute to how world-class the city it is in is perceived to be, he said.“Some developers take pride in propelling Toronto forward and have realized the role that fine art can play and want to participate in enhancing the urban environment in the most ambitious, sophisticated and impactful way,” he said.“Toronto deserves the best, most original and inspiring art and developers can participate in making that happen.”last_img read more

QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange officially placed in bankruptcy

HALIFAX — Less than three months after one of Canada’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges was shut down amid a swirl of controversy, a bid to restructure Vancouver-based QuadrigaCX has failed and the virtual company has officially entered bankruptcy proceedings.The move, approved today by a Nova Scotia judge, marks a turning point for the 115,000 users who are owed more than $260 million in cash and cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.The transition to the bankruptcy process means Ernst and Young, the court-ordered monitor overseeing the case, will be granted enhanced investigative powers as a trustee under the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.The insolvent company was granted protection from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on Feb. 5, but it quickly became clear that the company had no real assets and no employees — and that the process of recovering the missing funds would be difficult.The exchange was shut down Jan. 28, more than a month after its lone director — 30-year-old Gerald Cotten of Fall River, N.S. — died suddenly while travelling in Jaipur, India.Soon after his death was announced, court documents revealed he was the only QuadrigaCX employee who knew the encrypted pass codes needed to access $190 million in cryptocurrency locked in offline digital wallets.The Canadian Press read more

UNs Middle East envoy urges halt to demolitions evictions in East Jerusalem

1 December 2009The top United Nations envoy to the Middle East today reiterated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for an immediate end to demolitions, evictions and the instalment of Israeli settlers in Palestinian neighbourhoods, as he visited the Sheikh Jarrah area in East Jerusalem, outside a house that was occupied by settlers. “Provocative actions such as these create inevitable tensions, undermine trust, often have tragic human consequences and make resuming negotiations and achieving a two-State solution more difficult,” read a statement issued by the spokesperson for the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry.Last week senior UN political official Haile Menkerios told the Security Council that Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement activity was one of several key challenges to the peace process. Mr. Ban has issued a series of statements recently calling for a halt to Israeli settlement activity and the demolition of Palestinian homes and evictions in East Jerusalem. In October he stated that Jerusalem must be the capital of two States – Israel and Palestine – with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all, if peace in the Middle East is to be achieved. read more

Greece Cyprus Israel US discuss energy cooperation

ATHENS, Greece — Energy ministers from Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the United States say they have been deepening their co-operation in the energy sector, noting that while energy issues can create regional tension, they can also foster co-operation.Cyprus Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis, speaking after talks in Athens, said he had received support from his counterparts from Greece, Israel and the U.S. regarding his country’s right to drill for natural resources.Tension has been mounting between Cyprus and Turkey over energy exploration, with Cyprus calling on Turkey to halt drilling for gas in waters where the ethnically divided east Mediterranean island nation has exclusive economic rights.Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz also expressed hope for speedy progress on the East Med pipeline, a project to link eastern Mediterranean gas deposits to Europe.The Associated Press read more

Review Button location sets LGs G2 phone apart G Pad 83 tablet

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Review: Button location sets LG’s G2 phone apart; G Pad 8.3 tablet has full HD screen by Youkyung Lee, The Associated Press Posted Oct 16, 2013 4:48 am MDT SEOUL, South Korea – LG’s flagship mobile gadgets — the G2 smartphone and the G Pad 8.3 tablet — are great mobile devices that have fantastic screens, top-end cameras and ample processing power.But making an impressive Android device is not enough to stand apart from the crowd in the ultra-competitive mobile market, which probably pushed LG Electronics Inc. to make some bold design decisions in a bid to differentiate its G series from Samsung’s Galaxy line and Apple’s iPad Mini.The G2 was released last month in the U.S., while LG said Thursday it will start selling the G Pad in the U.S. on Nov. 3.For the G2, LG moved the power and volume controls to the back of the phone. For the G Pad, LG added a full HD screen. The resolution on the G Pad’s 8.3 inch screen, measured diagonally, is better than what’s on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0 and Apple’s iPad Mini, though Apple is expected to refresh its lineup next week. Slightly smaller, 7-inch tablets from Google and Amazon have full HD screens comparable to LG’s.LG’s design choices set the G2 and the G Pad apart from “me, too” Andevices trying to catch up with Samsung and Apple, but they might also limit their appeal.Not everyone will be pleased with having to change the basic habits of smartphone operation. They will scratch their heads looking for those buttons just as I did.It took a couple of days before my index finger ceased pressing a volume key when I intended to press a power key. But after that, I realized having a power button on the back makes it easier to use a big handset with one hand. The G2 has a 5.2-inch screen.LG came up with a double-tap gesture to activate the phone. I found it easier and quicker than pressing a home button and then sliding to unlock as with my iPhone 4S. This double-tap to start also applies to the G Pad.LG removed the physical home button on the front for the G2 and the G Pad. Instead, virtual buttons for back, home and menu actions appear when the screen is activated. I preferred these virtual buttons over physical ones because I could touch them with the same gesture and pressure I applied to the touch screen. One downside of Samsung’s Galaxy devices is that the touch screen and the three buttons for home, back and menu options all need a different level of pressure to be activated.LG’s virtual buttons rotated with the screen when I tilted the G2 or the G Pad to a horizontal, landscape mode. That made them easy to access when I watched a movie in the landscape mode with the G Pad. Removing the physical home button also gives the screen more space in the phone.But the design elements that make the G2 and the G Pad different from rivals stopped there.LG has packed the G2 with other features, but many of them were no better than what is already available. For example, a feature called Task Slider allows multitasking by swiping the screen with three fingers to hide or reopen an application. But Android users are familiar with an extended press of the home button to bring up a list of applications in use, which is quick and more intuitive.The G2 will be a great choice, but only for people who don’t mind re-learning how to use a smartphone. In the U.S., the G2 smartphone is available at $200 with a two-year service contract or $600 without a contract from a carrier.Although the tablet is offered at 550,000 won ($515) in South Korea, the U.S. price will be just $350. That’s comparable to the $329 for the iPad Mini and $400 for the Note. It’s a decent choice — for the better screen — but wait to see what Apple announces next week before deciding.___Follow Youkyung Lee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/YKLeeAP read more

Nepal Pillay welcomes Supreme Court ruling against amnesty for serious crimes

“I now call on the Government of Nepal to urgently implement this important decision, in the spirit of working towards genuine and lasting peace, and to respect the demand of the Nepalese people for justice,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.The 2006 peace accord that ended the conflict in Nepal had agreed to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate human rights violations that occurred from 1996 to 2006, during which at least 13,000 people were killed and 1,300 went missing.In March 2013, the Nepalese Government passed an Ordinance to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and sought to provide it with the power to grant amnesties for serious human rights violations. The Court ruled on Thursday that the provisions of the Ordinance concerning amnesties, limitations on criminal prosecution and a 35-day limit for filing cases contravene fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal, its justice system and international law.It also ordered the Commission to meet international standards, including with regard to guarantees of autonomy and impartiality, and ensure the involvement and protection of victims and witnesses.“The Supreme Court’s decision to block amnesties is the first step towards ensuring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will not be used to avoid or delay criminal investigations and prosecutions of conflict-related cases,” said the High Commissioner in the statement.Ms. Pillay also stressed that further work is needed to reinforce criminal justice in Nepal as many serious human rights violations, including torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearances are still not properly sanctioned by domestic law. “I call for the rapid amendment of criminal laws and procedures in line with international law,” she said. The senior official said that her office (OHCHR) stands ready to provide support and advice to the Government throughout this process. read more