How McKinsey Lost Its Way in South Africa

first_imgThe blackouts kept coming. The state-owned power company, Eskom, was on the verge of insolvency. Maintenance was being deferred. And a major boiler exploded, threatening the national grid.McKinsey & Co., the godfather of management consulting, thought it could help but was not sure that it should, according to people involved in the debate. The risk was huge. Could McKinsey fix the problems? Would it get paid? Would it be tainted by South Africa’s rampant political corruption?In late 2015, over objections from at least three influential McKinsey partners, the firm decided the risk was worth taking and signed on to what would become its biggest contract ever in Africa, with a potential value of $700 million.It was also the biggest mistake in McKinsey’s nine-decade history.The contract turned out to be illegal, a violation of South African contracting law, with some of the payments channeled to an associate of an Indian-born family, the Guptas, at the center of a swirling corruption scandal. Then there was the lavish size of that payout. It did not take a Harvard Business School graduate to explain why South Africans might get angry seeing a wealthy U.S. firm cart away so much public money in a country with the worst income inequality in the world and a youth unemployment rate of more than 50 percent.And a bitter irony: While McKinsey’s pay was supposed to be based entirely on its results, it is far from clear that the flailing power company is much better off than it was before.The Eskom affair is now part of an expansive investigation by South African authorities into how the Guptas used their friendships with Jacob Zuma, then the country’s president, and his son to manipulate and control state-owned enterprises for personal gain. International corruption watchdogs call it a case of “state capture.” Lawmakers here call it a silent coup. It has already led to Zuma’s ouster and a moment of reckoning for post-apartheid South Africa.Yet despite extensive coverage of the scandal by the local news media, one question has remained largely unanswered: How did McKinsey, with its vast influence, impeccable research credentials and record of advising companies and governments on best practices, become entangled in such an untoward affair?McKinsey admits errors in judgment while denying any illegality. Two senior partners, the firm says, bear most of the blame for what went wrong. But an investigation by The New York Times, including interviews with 16 current and former partners, found that the roots of the problem go deeper — to a changing corporate culture that opened the way for an aggressive push into more government consulting, as well as new methods of compensation. While the changes helped McKinsey nearly double in size over the past decade, they introduced more reputational risk.The firm also missed warning signs about the possible involvement of the Guptas and only belatedly realized the insufficiency of its risk management for state-owned companies. Supervisors who might have vetoed or modified the contract were not South African and lacked the local knowledge to sense trouble ahead. And having poorly vetted its subcontractor, McKinsey was less than forthcoming when asked to explain its role in the emerging scandal.“I take responsibility,” McKinsey’s managing director, Dominic Barton, said in a recent interview. “This isn’t who we are. It isn’t what we do.” Regrettably, he added, the firm had a “bit of a tin ear” in its early response to the crisis.Since the Eskom disclosures, much of McKinsey’s business in South Africa has evaporated. Barton has made six trips there to assess the damage and make amends, and McKinsey has asked its 2,000 global partners to repay South Africa, where it is under investigation.Indeed, the harm to the McKinsey brand is more profound than the fallout from the epochal Galleon hedge fund case almost a decade ago, in which McKinsey’s former managing director and a senior partner were convicted on charges related to insider trading. Neither man acted on behalf of McKinsey.More broadly, the scandal in South Africa — which has ensnared several other overseas companies — underscores the risks that arise as governments increasingly turn over responsibilities to consultants who operate mostly in secret, with little or no public accountability.The Lethabo Power Station outside Johannesburg, operated by South Africa’s state-owned Eskom utility, June 23, 2018. Photo Credit: Gulshan Khan/The New York TimesMcKinsey built its brand as the ubiquitous adviser to businesses great and small. But in recent years, it has created an increasingly powerful unseen presence as counselor to governments across the globe.The extent of that global influence is difficult to evaluate because, as a matter of policy, the firm will not reveal clients or the advice it gives.Even so, by examining government records, along with McKinsey publications and other company documents, The Times found that the firm shapes everything from education, transportation, energy and medical care to the restructuring of economies and the fighting of wars.McKinsey’s clients include sovereign wealth funds worth more than $1 trillion, as well as what one marketing brochure describes as “defense ministries, military forces, police forces and justice ministries in 15 countries,” where the company consults on such matters as the maintenance and support of “armored personnel carriers; minesweepers, destroyers and submarines; and fast jets and transport aircraft.”McKinsey “is a hidden, unaccountable power that has a prestigious face,” said Janine R. Wedel, a professor at George Mason University who has written extensively on what she calls “the shadow elite.”She added, “Think of them as a repository of the most intimate information that governments and others have, from what they are investing in to who wields influence.”McKinsey refused to work in South Africa until it embraced democracy in the mid-1990s, but records show that it consults for many authoritarian governments, including the world’s mightiest, China, to a degree unheard of for a foreign company. Late last year, two McKinsey partners spoke at a meeting of the state-controlled conglomerate China Merchants Group that focused on carrying out Communist Party directives. McKinsey is also advising the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as he seeks to make its economy less reliant on oil.While confidentiality is necessary in private business, it can become problematic when public money is involved, as in South Africa, or for that matter in the United States, where McKinsey has advised more than 40 federal agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Department and the Food and Drug Administration.Since President Donald Trump took office, McKinsey has greatly expanded consulting for Immigration and Customs Enforcement through that agency’s office of “detention, compliance and removals.” Their contracts with the agency exceed $20 million. Asked about those contracts, a McKinsey spokesman said the company’s work focused primarily on administration and organization and was unconnected to immigration policy, including the separation of children and parents at the border.Certainly, consulting firms other than McKinsey keep client lists confidential and work for authoritarian governments. And McKinsey has undeniably been a force for good, through its pro bono work and by helping many organizations become more efficient engines of economic growth. As for the quality of people McKinsey hires, many have gone on to run some of the world’s biggest and most successful companies.That is why McKinsey’s behavior in South Africa is so startling.The Firm Rewrites the RulesIn 2012, a new class of recruits — the worker bees in McKinsey’s hive — settled in at its office in Sandton, Johannesburg’s financial center, often called the richest square mile in Africa. They were part of a notably diverse group. Given South Africa’s historic battle against apartheid, it was a point of pride at McKinsey that more than 60 percent of the office’s 250 employees were black South Africans. Many described their work as a calling, an opportunity to make a difference in a young and still-struggling democracy.Years earlier, McKinsey’s South African partners had decided that to be relevant, they had to embrace the public sector, because of its outsize role in South Africa’s economy. But a South African government weakened by corruption also represented a risk to McKinsey’s sterling reputation — a reputation forged by its founder, a math whiz from the Ozarks named James O. McKinsey, and nurtured by his disciple and successor, Marvin Bower.Over the decades, the firm — that’s what it calls itself — became confidant to chief executives and presidents, simultaneously the secret-keeper of corporate America and its most effective evangelist, preaching the McKinsey way to companies across the globe.In 1952, McKinsey helped incoming President Dwight D. Eisenhower staff his new administration. Later it helped to set up NASA and helped to invent the Universal Product Code — the bar code. The company was instrumental in Wall Street’s rise as a dominant force in the economy, providing SWAT teams of brainpower to help Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and countless other financial companies adapt and move into new markets.An office building in Johannesburg where the management consultancy McKinsey & Company’s South African offices are based, June 23, 2018. Photo Credit: Gulshan Khan/The New York TimesThere came to be a not entirely hyperbolic narrative of McKinsey’s preordained white-shoe path through the world — the Harvard Business School recruit turned McKinsey consultant turned rising corporate titan. And few companies have a better track record of producing them: Louis V. Gerstner Jr., who oversaw IBM’s turnaround in 1990s, is a McKinsey veteran. So is Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai.“So pervasive is the firm’s influence today that it is hard to imagine the place of business in the world without McKinsey,” wrote Duff McDonald, author of “The Firm,” a 2013 book about the company.McKinsey has had its share of bad publicity, but much of it has focused on people who have already left.One very public flap emerged in the summer of 1970, when The New York Times (also a McKinsey client over many decades) published front-page articles detailing an explosion in consulting fees paid out by New York City. At the center of the controversy was a young McKinsey partner, acting as an unpaid official in the city’s budget bureau even as the city was spending taxpayer dollars on contracts with the firm.It looked bad. And while McKinsey was cleared of wrongdoing, the experience helped steer the company away from government work, avoiding the publicity, the ethical quandaries and the generally lower fees that came with public contracts.But if McKinsey had learned a lesson, it soon began to unlearn it.By the early 2000s, McKinsey re-entered the public sphere in a major way — and now government contracts and work with state-owned companies make up 16 percent of the firm’s revenues.There was another lesson being unlearned as well: Work for a fixed fee. (BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM.) In the late 1980s, an up-and-coming partner in McKinsey’s energy practice, Jeffrey K. Skilling, had been part of a committee considering whether payment should be based on delivered results, such as reduced costs.As Skilling told journalist Anita Raghavan, the panel concluded it would not work, because getting paid based on impact, for example, could give McKinsey an incentive to tell clients to reduce costs even if it was not in their interest. Doing that, Skilling said, “could destroy” the firm.Skilling — who would become Enron’s chief executive and end up in federal prison after its vast accounting fraud was revealed — saw the ethical trap. A future generation of McKinsey partners came to a different conclusion.Starting around 2001 or 2002, McKinsey again began to rethink its fee-for-service rule. Its competitors were already changing over. After years of deliberation and study, the firm agreed in 2011 to allow “at risk” contracts alongside its traditional fee structure.“There’s been client demand for that, clients saying we like that approach,” Barton said. “If you don’t get the results you want, then don’t pay us.”With this new pay policy and avid embrace of government work, the firm’s South African partners had been handed a seductive vision of the future. Some of McKinsey’s young associates in Johannesburg would end up on the ill-fated Eskom deal. But first, there was an ambitious project at the state-owned rail and port agency, Transnet.‘Trying to Play God’ McKinsey had worked with Transnet since 2005, embedding itself so deeply that one board member wondered how the agency could ever oust the consultants should the need arise. Still, Transnet remained an underachiever, its ports inadequate, its freight rail system moribund.Then, in February 2011, Transnet got a new chief executive, Brian Molefe, who had been running the country’s public pension fund.His tenure began with controversy. The South African media had already linked him to the Guptas, a family led by three brothers who arrived in South Africa a quarter-century ago and became ostentatiously wealthy through a web of businesses, once commandeering an air force base to fly in wedding guests from India.McKinsey and Molefe set out to revitalize the agency by buying as many as 1,064 new locomotives in what would be the biggest government procurement in South African history. But McKinsey would have to take on a subcontractor, under a South African law requiring companies that worked with state-owned enterprises to have black-owned partners.According to prosecutors, the Guptas saw these black-empowerment companies as a way to empower themselves, and state-owned companies like Transnet became willing accomplices. Transnet steered McKinsey toward working with a company, Regiments, owned in part by a businessman linked to the Guptas.But weeks before the winning bidders were announced, McKinsey bowed out, saying the process was moving too quickly.As it turned out, Transet agreed to pay about $1 billion more than the agreed-upon price for the locomotives. And, as leaked documents published last year in the local media revealed, one of the winning bidders, a state-owned Chinese company, paid more than $100 million to shell companies tied to another Gupta associate, Salim Essa.Although it is unclear what, if anything, Molefe knew about those payments, he left Transnet to search for a new challenge. He found it in 2015 as the chief executive at Eskom.The power company had long been the public’s favorite punching bag, notorious for its high rates, sputtering from one crisis to the next. Officials worried about getting enough coal, about delaying maintenance to keep electricity flowing. During the World Cup in 2010, Eskom feared that the lights might go out at any moment with the whole world watching.To address Eskom’s financial troubles, McKinsey and Eskom drew up an audacious new reorganization plan.McKinsey’s team leader on the project was a popular partner, Vikas Sagar, a stylish, Porsche-driving fitness buff in his 40s, known for hugging colleagues when the spirit moved him and fiercely charting his own course. He was assisted by Alexander Weiss, a serious reverse image of Sagar, who thought little of commuting between his home in Germany and Johannesburg.McKinsey’s proposal appeared perfect for a company in desperate financial straits. Eskom would pay only if the plan produced savings. Then the consultancy would get a percentage. All the risk, ostensibly, would be McKinsey’s, since it might spend heavily but get nothing in the end.Yet for all the upside, the proposal had a Trojan-horse quality: Eskom would hire McKinsey not knowing what the final bill would be.The plan left several McKinsey partners uneasy. Could Eskom absorb and apply McKinsey’s recommendations? And how would a contract with an anticipated payout in the hundreds of millions of dollars be received by South Africans? Also troubling was the fact that McKinsey had won the contract without competitive bidding.“You are betting the office,” one former partner recalled warning colleagues. If the final payout became public, that official added, “You are going to be slaughtered just for the size.”The contract’s structure — with the risks it posed for McKinsey — was not universally embraced, either. “Trying to do a 100 percent at-risk contract at Eskom is trying to play God,” a former partner said. “You are really guaranteeing that I can turn around everything, no problem.” To accomplish that, McKinsey might need more political clout and expertise than it could deliver.Most of McKinsey’s current or former partners who spoke to The Times requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. McKinsey did provide several partners for interviews on the condition that their names not be used. Sagar did not respond to repeated messages seeking an interview, and Weiss declined to speak to The Times.Concerns notwithstanding, the prospect of a big payday made the contract popular not only in Johannesburg but throughout McKinsey’s global empire. Supporters included two senior partners with oversight in energy and power: Yermolai Solzhenitsyn, novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s eldest son, in Moscow, and Thomas Vahlenkamp in Düsseldorf, Germany. Both declined to be interviewed.In the end, Sagar and his allies carried the day.In situations like these, risk managers are supposed to serve as corporate lifeguards, ready to whistle back dealmakers if they expose the company to unnecessary legal and reputational peril. Yet the Eskom contract was approved with less scrutiny than regular public contracts. That was because state-owned enterprises were treated as private corporations, where reviews focused on commercial viability, not political risk.Had McKinsey vetted the Eskom contract properly, it might have spared itself some of the grief to come. The contract, it turned out, was illegal: The power company had failed to get a government waiver from the standard fee-for-service payment, despite assuring McKinsey that it had done so.“For the scale of the fee, they were prepared to throw caution to the wind, and maybe because they thought they couldn’t be touched,” said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, a local advocacy group.A Mystery Partner Is UnmaskedIf McKinsey fell short in vetting the Eskom contract, the same could be said about the scrutiny of its minority partner, a company called Trillian Management Consulting.McKinsey’s putative marriage to Trillian produced its first awkward moments when its chief executive, Bianca Goodson, showed up angry at the consultancy’s Sandton headquarters on a January evening in 2016. Under McKinsey’s agreement with Eskom, Goodson’s company was supposed to provide consulting support but with only two employees was unsure how to do that.Feeling ignored and marginalized, Goodson planned to raise her concerns at a meeting of McKinsey partners. Four hours in, she got her chance. But before she could finish, Goodson wrote in an account later submitted to Parliament, a McKinsey team leader abruptly left the room, another partner said not to worry too much about work because she would still get her financial cut, and another made “whipping sounds and gestures,” an apparent inside joke, prompting laughter among the partners.Goodson left more disillusioned than before she arrived. Two months later, she resigned.During the internal debate over the Eskom deal, several partners had questioned whether McKinsey knew enough about who precisely was behind Trillian. Now rumors began reaching the McKinsey office that Trillian Management and its parent company, Trillian Capital, might have ties to the Gupta family.McKinsey knew little about Trillian — a new company, with no track record, that had broken off from McKinsey’s previous minority partner, Regiments, after a business dispute. What’s more, Trillian had refused McKinsey’s requests to divulge its ownership.Even so, McKinsey chose to kick the can down the road and continue working. What McKinsey did not yet know was that Eskom’s chief executive, Molefe, had placed dozens of phone calls to one of the Gupta brothers during and after contract negotiations.An influential senior partner in Johannesburg, David Fine, had grown increasingly uneasy about Trillian, according to his testimony to Parliament. One source of concern: Over the objections of two senior partners, McKinsey’s team leader, Sagar, had been meeting with Eskom and Trillian without any other McKinsey officials present.Eventually McKinsey hired a private investigative firm to dig into Trillian’s background. When that did not produce any definitive leads, Fine began running internet searches on companies named Trillian and found the name “S. Essa” listed as a director. Weeks later, the South African media revealed the majority owner of Trillian as none other than Salim Essa, the Gupta associate whose shell companies had received more than $100 million in the locomotive deal.On March 30, 2016, McKinsey told Eskom in writing that it was severing its ties to Trillian. But while McKinsey had finally taken a stand, it quietly undercut that decision by continuing to work alongside Trillian — independently, rather than as a subcontractor.To the consternation of some McKinsey partners, that arrangement continued until the end of June 2016. With the local media revealing ever more of the Gupta family’s influence, Eskom — not McKinsey — prematurely terminated the contract. Molefe resigned that November. Molefe did not respond to requests for comment for this article; a lawyer for the Guptas declined to comment.The abbreviated tab for barely eight months of work: nearly $100 million, with close to 40 percent going to Trillian.In the United States, with an economy more than 50 times as big as South Africa’s, a contract that size might have gone unnoticed. But in South Africa, millions of dollars flowing out of a struggling public utility and into the pockets of consultants driving Porsches and Ferraris created an unsavory image that required a response.Yet McKinsey kept quiet, one of many decisions the firm would come to regret.A Surge of Public ScrutinyLate the next year, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority would deliver a stinging summation of the Eskom case. McKinsey, the prosecutors would allege, had been instrumental “in creating a veil of legitimacy to what was otherwise a nonexistent, unlawful arrangement.” That arrangement, in turn, allowed a company controlled by the Gupta associate, Essa, to profit.That conclusion was based in part on a letter obtained by a widely respected human-rights advocate, Geoff Budlender, who had been asked to investigate Trillian, including its ties to McKinsey. For the first time, McKinsey was being publicly held to account.Budlender asked to interview McKinsey but was told to put his questions in writing, which he did. In response to one question, McKinsey denied working “on any projects” with Trillian, as either a subcontractor or a black-empowerment partner.With his trap laid, Budlender pounced. He attached a Feb. 9, 2016, letter from the McKinsey team leader, Sagar, to Eskom. “As you know,” Sagar had written, “McKinsey has subcontracted a portion of the services to be performed” to Trillian. The letter went further and authorized Eskom to pay Trillian directly, rather than through McKinsey, as was customary for a subcontractor.Asked to explain the conflicting answers, a McKinsey lawyer, Benedict Phiri, took weeks to respond, saying he needed to speak with his colleagues. Finally, he wrote that, given ongoing legal disputes, it was “inappropriate” to comment.Budlender concluded that McKinsey’s denial was false. “I have to say that I find this inexplicable, particularly having regard to the fact that McKinsey presents itself as an international leader in management consulting and given the widespread public interest in this matter,” he wrote.In the interview with The Times, the McKinsey managing partner, Barton, said the office leadership in Johannesburg had been unaware of Sagar’s letter and had only learned of it from Budlender. But three current or former McKinsey partners told The Times that Sagar’s German colleague, Weiss, and the firm’s lawyer, Phiri, also knew of the letter.McKinsey’s lawyers said that the letter should never have been sent. Even so, they said, the authorization to pay Trillian referred to another, much smaller contract, and it was predicated on Trillian’s meeting certain conditions.In late 2017, a parliamentary committee began calling witnesses as part of its own investigation of state capture. One witness was Goodson, the former Trillian executive, who said she had been told soon after being hired that Essa owned Trillian. She also testified about meeting Sagar and Essa in Melrose Arch, a wealthy enclave with high-end retail and sidewalk dining where deals are made.McKinsey sent Fine, who withstood nearly four hours of questioning. He addressed criticism head on, beginning with the size of the contract. “We should have absolutely had a fee structure that was capped,” he said.Fine, who had no role in the Eskom contract, said he had been assured that Eskom did derive measurable benefits from McKinsey’s consulting. Yet his comments betrayed an element of doubt. As a native South African, he said, he couldn’t help asking himself, “If these benefits were there, why then has the price of electricity gone up and has the liquidity position of Eskom deteriorated?”Barton, in his interview with The Times, insisted that his firm helped Eskom solve important problems. He expressed frustration at the overarching narrative that McKinsey took money for little work. “There was real work being done,” he said.Grieve Chelwa, an economics lecturer at the University of Cape Town, said in an interview that McKinsey’s top ranks in South Africa were overwhelmingly filled by Europeans who “may not have had the political antennae” to pick up potential problems.“The less charitable interpretation is that they knew,” said Chelwa, until recently a fellow at Harvard’s Center for African Studies. “They made a risk calculation that we know what is going on or we have an idea what is going on, but then there is 1.6 billion rand to make, and what is the probability that all this falls in our faces? They made that kind of calculation and they said, ‘OK, the risk is worth doing,’ and they did it.”Hard Lessons LearnedIt is a risk McKinsey now regrets taking.The advocacy group Corruption Watch referred the firm’s conduct to the U.S. Justice Department for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. McKinsey declined to say whether federal investigators had contacted the firm; the Justice Department declined to comment. The National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa has frozen the proceeds of the Eskom contract, pending the completion of the government’s investigation. And several banks and corporations, including the South African arm of Coca-Cola, have said they will not do business with McKinsey until investigations are concluded.McKinsey vehemently denies breaking any laws and says that this view has been validated by a monthslong internal inquiry involving more than 50 lawyers reviewing millions of documents and emails.The firm does admit mistakes. McKinsey will now give state-owned companies the same scrutiny it would government agencies or ministries. That policy may have a major impact in China, where McKinsey has advised at least 19 of the biggest state-owned companies as well as the country’s powerful planning agency.In a statement, McKinsey said that it was “not careful enough about who we associated with,” that it should not have worked alongside Trillian after cutting its ties and that it did not communicate properly with Budlender. “We are embarrassed by these failings, and we apologize to the people of South Africa, our clients, our colleagues and our alumni, who rightly expect more of our firm.”At the end of June, Barton, 55, will step down as previously planned. McKinsey’s nearly 600 senior partners voted to replace Barton with Kevin Sneader, a British citizen. Last weekend, as The Times was preparing this article after weeks of questioning McKinsey about its secretive culture, the Financial Times published an interview with Sneader, who said the firm could no longer “hide from the outside world.”Sagar has left the firm with his full benefits in place. Weiss has been sanctioned, although McKinsey declined to say what that involved. The firm’s Johannesburg lawyer, Phiri, resigned, and the head of McKinsey’s Africa practice was transferred to Hong Kong.Fine, who now leads McKinsey’s worldwide public-sector practice in London, cast the fallout from Eskom in personal terms. “I have seen the anger and disappointment in my clients’ eyes,” he told the South African Parliament.He added, “I’ve experienced rejection from people that I really love and trust, and that’s been hard.”© 2018 New York Times News Service Related ItemsGupta FamilySouth Africalast_img read more

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Coach to co-author Dipak Karmakars incredible story

first_imgNew Delhi, Dec 8 (PTI) The incredible story of Dipak Karmakar, who with one death-defying vault of faith in the Rio Olympics, won a billion hearts to become the queen of Indian gymnastics, will be told in a memoir to be co-authored by her coach Bishweshwar Nandi.Tentatively titled “Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder?, the book will have many untold stories of struggle and triumph besides rare archival photos from the Karmakars? private album as well as competition photos from the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.The book, written by Vimal Mohan, Digvijay Singh Deo and Nandi and published by Fingerprint!, is slated for release next August.”The struggle that Dipa has undergone all these years is a struggle which each and every kid playing sport should know about. Through this story we want to tell everyone in this country that no small dream is impossible,” says Nandi.”I am delighted to represent this beautiful, remarkable and one of a kind story. Although Dipas rise has just begun, and she will have achieved much bigger milestones at the end of her career, I believe this is the right time to share her story with her fans and anyone who wants to read about an individuals triumph against all perceivable odds,” says literary agent Kanishka Gupta.According to Publisher Shikha Sabharwal, “Indian sports need attention, support and encouragement and it is through great sportspeople like Dipa that we can inspire our future generations. Dipas struggle against all odds continues… and we are proud to publish her untold story of grit and passion.”advertisementDipa had narrowly missed the bronze by finishing fourth in the womens vault event at Rio. She ended up 15.066 points as the gold went to favourite Simon Biles from the US (15.966), the silver to Russias Maria Paseka (15.253) and the bronze to Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland (15.216). PTI ZMN BKlast_img read more

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Olympiakos Stuns Atletico Madrid, 3-2

first_imgPIRAEUS, Greece — Atletico Madrid slipped to a surprise 3-2 defeat to Olympiakos on Sept. 16 in a disappointing return to the Champions League for last season’s finalist.Atletico fell behind in the 13th minute of the Group A match when defender Arthur Masuaku aimed a left-footed drive past goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who was making his debut for the Spanish club.Striker Kostas Mitroglou unselfishly left the ball to Imbrahim Afellay who made it 2-0 in the 31st. But Mario Mandzukic pulled a goal back before the break, left unmarked to head in a cross from Cristian Ansaldi.Mitroglou scored with a stylish move that proved to be the winner in the 73rd, turning on the ball to beat Oblak, before Antoine Griezmann finally found the net in the 86th for Atletico. Griezmann was twice denied by Olympiakos goalkeeper Roberto — who joined Atletico as a schoolboy and was loaned out by the club last year to Greece.“This is a huge win for us,” said Olympiakos captain Giannis Mantiatis, who recovered from an ankle injury to make the starting lineup. “We had to sweat the whole match. These were very valuable points we got tonight.”Atletico coach Diego Simeone watched from the stands at Karaiskaki stadium, as he served a one-match European ban.“We threatened throughout the game, but Olympiakos was very tough and they got a valuable win,” Simeone said.Simeone defended his choice to replace first-choice goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya, arguing that rotation was needed to cope with the domestic and European workload. “What decided the game was that they were more effective with their chances that we were,” he said.“Obviously this was a very negative result for us. Clearly Olympiakos is in a good position. What we feel now is a sense of responsibility.”Olympiakos coach Michel Gonzalez said his team “successfully disrupted” Atletico. “To beat a team like Atletico, you have to do a lot of things right … We are a team like (Atletico) and do well against teams that appear to be of higher quality,” the Spanish manager said.“Now we have an advantage, to be sure,” he said. “All I can say is that we are very happy — much happier than we were two hours ago.”Juventus beat Malmo 2-0 in the group’s other game.TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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Students Improve in Provincial Elementary Mathematics Assessment

first_imgGrade 3 students performed well in Nova Scotia’s 2008 provincial early elementary mathematics assessment, showing significant improvement over last year, according to results released by the Department of Education today, Dec. 18. Seventy-two per cent of students attending English-language schools met expectations, an increase from 67 per cent in the 2007 assessment. Students at French-language schools administered by the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, the French-language school board, also performed well, with 79 per cent meeting expectations. The students wrote the Évaluation des apprentissages en mathématiques: 1er cycle élémentaire, an assessment similar to the English assessment, but based on a different elementary mathematics curriculum. “These results show we are moving in the right direction,” said Education Minister Karen Casey. “I am especially pleased to see improvement at every board and in every area of the early elementary mathematics curriculum. “Students and teachers have worked very hard on improving learning in mathematics and that effort, as well as our investments in the provincial math strategy, is paying off.” The assessment measured the full range of math concepts students are expected to understand by the end of Grade 3. Students improved in each of all six areas of the mathematics curriculum addressed by the assessment, including number, operations, patterns, measurement, geometry, and data and probability. Other skills students are expected to be competent in include mental math, calculation and problem-solving. To meet expectations, students needed to correctly answer two-thirds of the questions, a standard that was set high to reflect the level of understanding students need as a foundation for future success in mathematics. “This assessment is giving the public school system valuable information that will help to ensure all students get the best possible start in mathematics,” said Ms. Casey. The assessment, administered to almost 8,800 Grade 3 students over three days last June, highlights each student’s strengths and areas needing further development. The assessment also found that: Individual student results were sent home to parents and guardians last week. Each report indicates whether the student is meeting or not yet meeting expectations. Teachers, who received their student’s individual results in November, are using information from the assessment to select specific instructional strategies to strengthen math skills and to address the identified needs of students not yet meeting expectations. Students most in need of help receive targeted support and intervention and their progress will be tracked by their teachers. The Department of Education is also providing teachers in English programs with Mathematics 4: A Support Resource, as well as a similar resource for grade 5 teachers. These resources, created by the department and a team of Nova Scotia teachers with expertise in elementary mathematics, provides teachers with information and instructional strategies to improve each student’s understanding of mathematics. “We can still do much better,” said Ms. Casey. “We will continue to focus on improving our results and providing support for all students. That includes students who did not meet expectations, as well as those who performed well overall on the assessment, but may still need help in certain areas of the math curriculum.” Results of the assessment are available at http://plans.ednet.ns.ca . More detailed information, including school by school results will be available in the minister’s report to parents, which will be published this spring. of the 72 per cent of students meeting expectations provincially, 22 per cent showed strong performance versus 16 per cent in the 2007 assessment boys outperformed girls, with 73 per cent of boys meeting expectations, compared with 71 per cent for girls.last_img read more

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THE WISDOM OF SADHVI

first_imgSadhviji was raised in an American family in Hollywood, California, and graduated from Stanford University. She was completing her PhD when she left USA in 1996 to live at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, India. She has been living there for 23 years now, engaged in spiritual practice and service.She was officially initiated into the order of Sanyas (monastic renunciation) in 2000, by His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswati, one of the most revered spiritual leaders in India and the President of Parmarth Niketan. Also Read – Torpedoing BengalAt Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, where she lives for most of the year, she gives daily spiritual discourses and satsang, teaches meditation, provides counselling and oversees myriad charitable and humanitarian projects and activities. Sadhviji serves as: Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an international interfaith organisation dedicated to clean water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH); President of Divine Shakti Foundation, which runs free schools, vocational training programs and empowerment programs; and Director of the world-famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth, which has been covered by Time magazine, CNN, New York Times and other prestigious publications. Also Read – Educational model of coexistenceHer talks blend the knowledge and logic of the West with the insights, spirituality and wisdom of the East; and, she is duly renowned as a spiritual bridge between the two cultures. Her TEDx talk on her journey from “Hollywood to the Holy Woods” has been watched by over 1,60,000 viewers. She has spoken at several United Nations events, including with the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General of UN, and at many high-level international conferences and summits. Sadhviji has received numerous national and international awards and recognition for her work with water, sanitation and hygiene as well as women’s upliftment and empowerment, including from the Cabinet Minister of Water Resources, Government of India as well as from the Ambassador of the United States to India. Sadhviji also serves on the United Nations Faith Advisory Council on Religion as Vice Chair; the Steering Committee for Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD), an international body comprising the governments of 12 countries (including United States, UK, and Germany), the United Nations, the World Bank, the African Union, and the world’s renowned faith based organisations; and the Steering Committee for the World Bank-United Nations campaign with international faith based organisations in the “Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty.”Sadhviji was the Managing Editor for the monumental project of the 11-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism. In addition, she contributes regularly to Huffington Post, Dainik Jagran, Speaking Tree/Times of India, Thrive Global and other renowned publications.She is also the author of From Illness to Wellness: Health, Wholeness and Holiness and Mother Ganga: The Holy River, brought out by Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi.last_img read more

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HaitianCanadian MP headed to Miami to try to address wouldbe asylum seekers

first_imgOTTAWA – Haitian-Canadian MP Emmanuel Dubourg will travel to Miami on Wednesday to try and counter misinformation which has driven thousands of Haitian asylum seekers to Canada in recent months.His trip comes as both the prime minister and Liberal cabinet ministers have sought in recent days to more forcefully address the major spike in illegal border crossings this summer, which has strained public resources and tested traditionally widespread support for Canada’s immigration system.Dubourg, a Liberal MP for a Montreal-area riding, was appointed last week to a newly established federal-provincial task force focusing on how to handle upwards of 7,000 people who’ve been stopped illegally crossing into Canada since June, the vast majority intent on seeking asylum.In the last two months, many have been Haitian and Dubourg sees himself cast in the role of ambassador. He’s already used his extensive connections with the Haitian diaspora and fluency in Creole for outreach there, he said.The next step is to take it on the road.“We have to go to the source,” Dubourg said Monday.So he’s going to Florida, to do Creole-language interviews and meet community leaders among Miami’s Haitian diaspora. Not all those coming to Canada are from there, Dubourg said, but the city has over 200,000 Haitians and a slew of influential media outlets.What’s behind the surge in Haitian asylum seekers in Canada is an upcoming change in U.S. immigration policy that will see deportations to Haiti resume after a lengthy pause.When the Trump administration signalled the change in May, information began circulating on social media and other channels suggesting Haitians in the U.S. try to enter Canada, where they’d receive a warm and easy welcome.The cold truth of Canadian policy, however, is that only about 50 per cent of Haitians who file for asylum in Canada receive it and the Canadian government has resumed deportations to that country.“It’s important to tell them that before they sell their things, before they take any kind of decision (to come),” Dubourg said.“They have to know full well what can happen.”The startling spike in arrivals and how the government is handling them has prompted anti-immigration groups to start mobilizing across the country. A protest — and counter-protest — were held in Quebec City over the weekend and other rallies are being scheduled in Canada in the coming weeks amidst criticism being levied against the Liberal government that they are losing control of the border.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered some of his strongest remarks on the subject in response to the weekend’s events, when he said “entering Canada irregularly is not an advantage. There are rigorous immigration and customs rules that will be followed. Make no mistake.”Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale also travelled to the crossing point in Quebec on Monday to hammer home the point.“What I want to emphasize…is a very clear message about Canadian law and procedure that needs to be repeated loud and clear in all circumstances: trying to cross the border in an irregular fashion is not a free ticket to Canada,” Goodale said.Hussen noted that the number of asylum seekers has fallen in recent days to about 140 a day from 250 last week.But the surge of arrivals has strained the resources of both those departments. Asylum seekers are being held in temporary camps on the border while screening is completed and others are being bused as far away as Cornwall, Ont., for temporary housing.Dubourg came to Canada from Haiti in 1974, joining his other six siblings, part of a wave of Haitians who moved to Quebec as part of a special program set up by the Quebec government at the time to help those fleeing violence and instability under dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.He was first elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in 2013, and prior to that, served as a member of Quebec’s national assembly, where he helped Haitians seeking settlement in Canada after the 2010 earthquake.last_img read more

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TigerCats injuries healing

There are a number of things the Ticats would like to change in what has been a season of change for the franchise.One thing that stands out is the ever-changing lineup; roster moves necessitated by injuries. Natalie Marconi reported on the injury woes Monday. Now, she tells us about one player who’s returning to the lineup.00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09

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South Korea Initial investigation shows Chinese address source of cyberattack at 1

South Korea: Initial investigation shows Chinese address source of cyberattack at 1 company SEOUL, South Korea – A Chinese Internet address was the source of a cyberattack on one company hit in a massive network shutdown that affected 32,000 computers at six banks and media companies in South Korea, initial findings indicated Thursday.It’s too early to assign blame — Internet addresses can easily be manipulated and the investigation could take weeks — but suspicion for Wednesday’s shutdown quickly fell on North Korea, which has threatened Seoul and Washington with attack in recent days because of anger over U.N. sanctions imposed for its Feb. 12 nuclear test.South Korean regulators said they believe the attacks came from a “single organization,” but they’ve still not finished investigating what happened at the other companies.Experts say hackers often attack via computers in other countries to hide their identities. South Korea has previously accused North Korean hackers of using Chinese addresses to infect their networks.“We do know that North Korea does route attacks through Chinese servers because that’s the only way they can communicate with South Korea,” Timothy Junio, a cybersecurity fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said. “It’s not surprising there’s a Chinese IP address involved.”Seoul believes North Korea runs an Internet warfare unit aimed at hacking U.S. and South Korean government and military networks to gather information and disrupt service.The attack Wednesday caused computer networks at major banks and top TV broadcasters to crash simultaneously. It paralyzed bank machines across the country and raised fears that this heavily Internet-dependent society was vulnerable. On Thursday, only one of the attacked banks, Shinhan, was fully online, officials said.A Chinese address created the malicious code in the server of Nonghyup bank, according to an initial analysis by the state-run Korea Communications Commission, South Korea’s telecom regulator.KCC spokesman Cho Kyeong-sik said investigators are analyzing the log-in records and the malicious code collected from the infected servers and computers. It could take at least four to five days for the infected computers to recover fully, he said. Experts say the entire investigation could take weeks.South Korean regulators have also distributed vaccine software to government offices, banks, hospitals and other institutions to prevent more outages.In an indication of the high tension on the Korean Peninsula, South Korean media reported that North Korea sounded air-raid warnings in radio broadcasts Thursday morning as part of military drills.The network paralysis took place just days after North Korea accused South Korea and the U.S. of staging a cyberattack that shut down its websites for two days last week. Loxley Pacific, the Thailand-based Internet service provider, confirmed the North Korean outage but did not say what caused it. South Korea denied the allegation.The attack may have also extended to the United States. Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the U.S.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said he discovered early Wednesday that their website had been hacked. They have yet to establish who was behind it but strongly suspect it came from North Korea.Several of the committee’s publications, including lengthy reports with satellite imagery of North Korean prison camps, had been removed, along with biographies of their staff and board, and their policy recommendations to the Obama administration.The South Korean shutdown did not affect government agencies or sensitive targets such as power plants or transportation systems, and there were no immediate reports that bank customers’ records were compromised, but the disruption froze part of the country’s commerce.Some customers were unable to use the debit or credit cards that many rely on more than cash. At one Starbucks in downtown Seoul, customers were asked to pay for their coffee in cash, and lines formed outside disabled bank machines.Broadcasters KBS and MBC still didn’t have full computer use on Thursday, but the shutdown did not affect TV broadcasts.The YTN cable news channel also said the company’s internal computer network was paralyzed. Footage showed workers staring at blank computer screens.KBS employees said they watched helplessly as files stored on their computers began disappearing.Last year, North Korea threatened to attack several news companies, including KBC and MBC, over their reports critical of children’s’ festivals in the North.“If it plays out that this was a state-sponsored attack, that’s pretty bald faced and definitely an escalation in the tensions between the two countries,” said James Barnett, former chief of public safety and homeland security for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.An ominous question is what other businesses, in South Korea or elsewhere, may also be in the sights of the attacker, said Barnett, who heads the cybersecurity practice at Washington law firm Venable.“This needs to be a wake-up call,” he said. “This can happen anywhere.”An official at the South’s Korea Communications Commission said investigators speculate that malicious code was spread from company servers that send automatic updates of security software and virus patches.The shutdown raised worries about the overall vulnerability to attacks in South Korea, a world leader in broadband and mobile Internet access. Previous hacking attacks at private companies compromised millions of people’s personal data. Past malware attacks also disabled access to government agency websites and destroyed files in personal computers.Seoul blames North Korean hackers for several cyberattacks in recent years. Pyongyang has either denied or ignored those charges. Hackers operating from IP addresses in China have also been blamed.In 2011, computer security software maker McAfee Inc. said North Korea or its sympathizers likely were responsible for a cyberattack against South Korean government and banking websites earlier that year. The analysis also said North Korea appeared to be linked to a massive computer-based attack in 2009 that brought down U.S. government Internet sites. Pyongyang denied involvement.“North Korea has almost certainly done similar attacks before,” Junio said. “Part of why this wasn’t more consequential is probably because South Korea took the first major incident seriously and deployed a bunch of organizational and technical innovations to reduce response time during future North Korea attacks.”South Korea has created a National Cybersecurity Center, a national monitoring sector and a Cyber Command modeled after the U.S. Cyber Command. Junio said South Korea’s major antivirus firms also play a large role in stopping hacking attacks.The shutdown comes amid rising rhetoric and threats of attack from Pyongyang over U.N. sanctions imposed for its December long-range rocket launch and February nuclear test. Washington also expanded sanctions against North Korea this month in a bid to cripple the government’s ability to develop its nuclear program.North Korea has threatened revenge for the sanctions and for ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills, which the allies describe as routine but which Pyongyang says are rehearsals for invasion.Last week, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea warned South Korea’s “reptile media” that the North was prepared to conduct a “sophisticated strike” on Seoul.Lim Jong-in, dean of Korea University’s Graduate School of Information Security, said North Korea was probably responsible for Wednesday’s attack.“Hackers attack media companies usually because of a political desire to cause confusion in society,” he said. “Political attacks on South Korea come from North Koreans.”___Associated Press writers Foster Klug, Youkyung Lee and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, Matthew Pennington and Ed Donahue in Washington and Martha Mendoza in San Jose, California, contributed to this report. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Sam Kim, The Associated Press Posted Mar 20, 2013 2:37 am MDT read more

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Heatwave What are your rights as an employee during hot weather

The regulations place a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace…. Rules around temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.  When Britain swelters in soaring temperatures, it is not everyone’s idea of bliss. What does the law say on employees’ rights in hot weather? Here’s everything you need to know about your rights, as Britain gears up for 36C on Friday – the hottest ever July day on record. While those lucky enough to be on holiday during the heatwave can enjoy the weather in their gardens – or from air-conditioned comfort – what about those who have to work when the mercury rises? Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

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Logistics of youth guarantee scheme come before funding says Taoiseach

first_imgTAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has dismissed reports that a lack of funding could hamper the implementation of the ‘youth guarantee’ scheme, saying that knowing who becomes unemployed, and when, comes first.The Irish Times reports this morning that there is growing doubt over the scheme and whether the government will be able to offer employment to young adults within four mounts of them becoming unemployed.Speaking to reporters ahead of this morning’s Cabinet meeting, the Taoiseach said that SOLAS will be able to provide the logistics to quickly offer the necessary employment opportunities.Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, also speaking at Government Buildings, said that the scheme will be implemented, and that the funding has been front-loaded to 2014 to address the problem of youth unemployment sooner than later.The Taoiseach will travel  to Paris later today to attend a conference on youth unemployment in Europe. He said the challenges he believes needs to be addressed is if “any country in the position to actually make an offer to a young person under 25 who becomes unemployed within four to six mounts, and if so if is a meaning offer a internship, apprenticeship or job”.Videos: Nicky Ryan at Government BuildingsRead: Enda Kenny in Paris to discuss youth unemployment >Column: This is how to tackle youth unemployment >last_img read more

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ATT charging 2amonth minimum use fee for not using enough long distance

first_imgHow many times have you received a bill from your phone provider, torn it open, looked at the total, and gone online to pay it without even really reading the thing? If the amount is the same as it is every month, you really have no reason to scour the bill for any new bit of information. AT&T landline customers who merely glanced at their April and May phone bills may have missed something important.The company has added a new $2-a-month “minimum use” fee for landline users who don’t have a long-distance calling plan. So, customers who don’t make long-distance calls very often will be paying $2 extra a month for, well, nothing.Most of us have gotten rid of our landlines completely and just use our cellphones instead. When we have to make a long-distance call, we make it on our cellpones or a VoIP service like Skype that usually doesn’t charge much, if anything, for a long-distance call.Clearly, AT&T has caught on to the fact that its customers are seeking alternative methods for long-distance calling and has decided to charge $2 a month for its landline customers who don’t have a long-distance plan.The only way to avoid this extra monthly fee is to actually make $2 worth of long-distance calls a month, which means, you’re still paying 2 bucks, but at least you’re getting something out of it. The other two alternatives include telling AT&T that you want to cut off access to long-distance direct-dial service, which will cost you a one-time fee of $9; or pay for a long-distance plan through AT&T or a rival provider. So, there’s pretty much no way to get out of paying at least $9 extra to avoid the monthly fee.Holly Hollingsworth, a spokesperson for AT&T, said in an interview that the new fee covers the company’s costs to provide customers with basic long-distance service, including account maintenance, even if no calls are made.If you want to switch to a long-distance plan or get rid of your long-distance direct-dial access, you can do so by the end of August without having to pay the $9 fee.If you’re an AT&T landline customer, will this nickel-and-diming be the last straw for you? True, it’s only $2 a month, but it’s the principle of the matter.via Cleveland Plain Dealerlast_img read more

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Le cerveau un organe que lhomme passe 15 ans à construire

first_imgLe cerveau, un organe que l’homme passe 15 ans à construireLe cerveau humain va passer 15 ans à se construire. Cette construction commence dès les premiers jours de la vie.Composé de 100 milliard de neurones interconnectés, le cerveau abrite plus d’un million de milliards de synapses, qui permettent d’établir des liens entre les cellules nerveuses avec une moyenne de 10.000 connexions par neurone. Une complexité qui suscite de nombreuses questions sur la formation d’un tel organe. “L’homme est une espèce unique parmi les êtres vivants qui passait la moitié de sa vie à construire son cerveau” à l’époque des premiers Homo sapiens, explique le neurobiologiste français Jean-Pierre Changeux, dans un entretien avec l’AFP. “A l’époque où l’homme est apparu, il passait dix à quinze ans à faire son cerveau”, puis “il vivait dix à quinze années de plus avec ce bagage cérébral”, indique le scientifique.Aujourd’hui, l’homme continue de passer “quinze ans de sa vie à construire un cerveau qui va être fonctionnel beaucoup plus longtemps”. “On ne s’imagine pas qu’à chaque minute de la vie du bébé plus de deux millions de synapses se mettent en place”, peut-on ainsi lire dans une des oeuvres de Jean-Pierre Changeux, L’homme de vérité. La naissance intervient alors que la création des connexions cérébrales est en “phase rapide”. Elles se multiplient par vagues successives, certaines sont sélectionnées et stabilisées, alors que d’autres sont supprimées. “Cette épigénèse dure dix à quinze ans. Pendant cette période ce qui compte c’est l’interaction avec le monde extérieur et surtout la vie dans le groupe social qui se trouve intégrée dans la connectivité cérébrale”, souligne le neurobiologiste à l’AFP. De l’importance du monde extérieur À lire aussiCerveau, Alzheimer et nucléaire, les actus sciences que vous devez connaître ce 26 aoûtD’autant que dès les premiers jours de sa vie et même avant sa naissance, le cerveau du bébé “peut recevoir des empreintes du monde extérieur”. Le fœtus perçoit la voix de sa mère et peut percevoir la musique. “Ces empreintes épigénétiques [ … ] sont très liées au milieu culturel dans lequel se développe l’enfant : la relation avec la mère, avec la famille, le langage parlé, la manière dont il est pris en charge”.Plus tard, à 60 ans, l’homme est alors encore “influencé par l’éducation, l’enseignement, l’expérience” reçues quand son cerveau s’est constitué. D’où, selon le neurobiologiste âgé de 75 ans, le risque de “dysharmonies” entre ce qui a été acquis durant l’enfance et l’adolescence, et “ce qu’on est à 60 ans”, relève l’AFP. Le cerveau de l’adulte conserve la possibilité de se réorganiser, mais “cette plasticité a des limites”.Par ailleurs, il est intéressant de noter la grande variabilité qui existe entre les individus dans le développement du cerveau. Même les vrais jumeaux ne présentent pas des cerveaux identiques et les fonctions cérébrales elles-mêmes diffèrent. Le neurobiologiste évoque le cas du dyslexique : “c’est un enfant qui va avoir des difficultés à apprendre à lire, à écrire, à utiliser l’orthographe, mais qui, pour des fonctions proprement cognitives, peut être tout à fait au dessus de la moyenne”.Le 17 octobre 2011 à 18:32 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

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Ridgefield man faces child porn accusation

first_imgA Ridgefield man is accused of posing as a teenager to befriend a 15-year-old girl through a messaging app and threatening to expose compromising images he received unless she agreed to send additional lewd images.Joshua Henry Punt, 38, appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree possessing and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and sexual exploitation of a minor.Judge Scott Collier set Punt’s bail at $200,000. He is set to be arraigned June 5.The investigation began when the girl and her parents contacted New York State Police and then the FBI’s Albany, N.Y., office regarding online sexual exploitation.The victim said she met someone she thought was a 17-year-old boy named Jason Lonto through the messaging app Kik on Dec. 3. The individual shared his phone number with her, and they began talking and texting. A few days later, he asked her to send sexual photos and video, and she agreed, according to an affidavit of probable cause.However, he then demanded more sexually explicit images, and when she refused, he threatened to sell or post the images he already received online, the affidavit says.last_img read more

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BNPJamaat men face trial before elections

first_imgLogo of BNPLeaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party expressed apprehensions that the government would try to corner the major political opposition by taking 453 of their leaders in Chattogram to trail by the end of October, before the parliamentary election schedule is declared.A number of cases filed with Chattogram Kotwali police station are to be transferred from metropolitan magistrate court to the judicial court.Chattogram police have submitted a charge sheet on 4 July against 453 accused including 302 who were accused under the anti-terrorism and anti-explosives acts and for attacking police in 2015.The accused leaders and activists include several who are aspiring to compete in the national polls, according to the BNP leaders.BNP’s standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, Chattogram south district BNP president Zafrul Islam Chowdhury, Chattogram City BNP president Shahadat Hossain and general secretary Abul Hashem, joint secretary general Aslam Chowdhury, vice president of Chattogram south district Enamul Haque, Shamsul Alam and Jamaat’s former MP Shahjahan Chowdhury have been accused in the cases. They are potential candidates for BNP, Jamaat and allies in different constituencies of Chattogram in the parliamentary elections.BNP and its 20-party allies had called for a rally in Kazir Deuri area of Chattogram city in 2015 on the anniversary of one-sided election of 5 January in 2014. The leaders and activists had clashed with the police during the rally.Police arrested 302 activists including BNP’s joint general secretary Aslam Chowdhury during and after the rally.Aslam Chowdhury is still in jail. He was accused of ‘conspiring with Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to overthrow Bangladesh government’. Aslam was arrested from Khilkhet of Dhaka on 15 MayA large number of  cases were filed with Chattogram Kotwali police station in 2015. The police filed charge sheets of 453 accused on 4 July this year.Chattogram metropolitan magistrate Mehnaz Rahman drew up three separate files on the case and the trials were to be held separately in three different courts for anti-explosives charges, anti-terrorism charges and attacks on police.Mehnaz Rahman ordered to send the files to the court on 9 September.Chattogram City BNP president Shahadat Hossain told Prothom Alo, “Almost all likely candidates of Chattogram have been included on the charge sheet. They are targetting all top and active BNP leaders so that Awami League can have another voterless election.”According to court officials, 355 accused BNP and Jamaat leaders have been appearing in court regularly while some of the remaining 198 accused have even passed away.Chattogram City BNP vice president and Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court’s former public prosecutor (PP) Abdus Sattar said,”The section under which the police has filed the cases is not in keeping with the charges.”The court and the prosecution will check whether the charges had been made correctly, said officer-in-charge of Chattogram’s Kotwali police station Mohammed Mohsin.“There is no scope to say whether there are errors in the charge sheet,” he added.last_img read more

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Poorer kids at greater obesity risk

first_imgPoorer children are at higher risk of obesity compared to their better-off peers, a new study has found.The researchers examined many aspects of a child’s environment and health behaviour.“Intervening in the early years when the family environment has more profound influences on children’s healthy development has the potential to be particularly effective,” said senior author Yvonne Kelly from University College London.Researchers tracked nearly 20,000 families from across the UK and the study used measurements made when the children were aged 5 and again at age 11. At age 5, poor children were almost twice as likely to be obese compared with their better off peers. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’By the age of 11 the gap has widened, nearly tripling to 7.9 per cent of the poorest fifth are obese; for the best-off, the figure is 2.9 per cent.The study found that doing sport more than three times a week played an important role, as did an earlier bedtime and regular fruit consumption which were both positively associated with downward movement in weight categories. However, maternal smoking during pregnancy and a mother’s BMI were negatively associated with downward movement across weight categories.The findings are published in The European Journal of Public Health.last_img read more

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Linux Mint security notice on Meltdown and Spectre

first_imgLinux Mint security notice on Meltdown and Spectre by Martin Brinkmann on January 10, 2018 in Linux – 7 commentsA security notice was posted on the official Linux Mint blog on January 9, 2017. It informs users of the Linux distribution about the recently discovered security issues in modern processors called Meltdown and Spectre, and how these affect Linux Mint.The notice contains instructions to protect Linux Mint systems from potential attacks that target the vulnerabilities. It covers web browsers, Nvidia drivers, and the Linux kernel.Mozilla Firefox is the default web browser on Linux Mint. The team suggests that users upgrade to Firefox 57.0.4 which shipped recently. Firefox 57.0.4 mitigates the vulnerabilities by disabling or reducing the precision of time sources that attacks rely on. If the update is not picked up by the Update Manager, try switching sources.Google has not yet updated Chrome. A consequence of that is that any other Chromium-based browser is also not protected at the time. A workaround for users of a Chromium-based browser is to enable Strict Site Isolation in the browser.Strict Site Isolation is an experimentation feature of Chromium that you need to enable in the following way:Type chrome://flags in the address bar and hit the Enter-key.Use the search at the top to locate Strict Site Isolation.Select Enable.Restart the web browser.This works in most Chromium-based browsers including Google Chrome, Opera and Vivaldi.Linux Mint systems with proprietary Nvidia drivers should upgrade the drivers to version 384.111. The updates are available in the Linux Mint Update Manager. Linux Mint Debian systems require an update as well which can be downloaded from the Nvidia website.Work on an updated Linux kernel has started for Linux Mint 17.x and Linux Mint 18.x but the team did not reveal when the updated kernel will become available.Linux Mint Debian systems can get the kernel upgrade already through the Update Manager. The kernel has the version 3.16.51-3+deb8u1.Other updates should become available in the future as well. The Linux Mint team suggests that users create a backup of personal data, use daily system snapshots, and apply security updates when they become available. SummaryArticle NameLinux Mint security notice on Meltdown and SpectreDescriptionA security notice was posted on the official Linux Mint blog on January 9, 2017. It informs users of the Linux distribution about the recently discovered security issues in modern processors called Meltdown and Spectre, and how these affect Linux Mint.Author Martin BrinkmannPublisher Ghacks Technology NewsLogo Advertisementlast_img read more

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Two alleged island thieves arrested on Isla Mujeres

first_imgPolice say both men were placed at the disposal of local authorities for the demarcation of responsibilities, and added that their actions reaffirm their commitment to continue maintaining Isla Mujeres as the safest municipality in the state.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window) Both young men were taken into custody by la Dirección de Seguridad Pública y Tránsito Municipal after an official complaint was lodged against them. The men, who are believed to have committed crimes in various colonies of the island, were arrested after allegedly committing at least two robberies. Isla Mujeres, Q.R. — Two men have been arrested on Isla Mujeres after their alleged involvement in island robberies. center_img Police say that one man, identified as J.G.B.B., was arrested for a home robbery in the El Cañotal neighborhood, while the second man, identified as S.R.I.B., was taken into custody after attempting to rob a woman.last_img read more

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Housing Permits Completions Gain Momentum

first_img in Data, Headlines, News Housing Permits, Completions Gain Momentum Share February 16, 2017 555 Views center_img Construction activity for the month of January shows an increase in building permits and housing completions, which is good news for new homebuyers. However, housing starts are having a difficult time picking up speed, according to residential construction data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).Privately owned housing starts saw a 2.6 percent decline from December to last month, but is 10.5 percent above the January 2016 rate of 1.12 million. Starts on buildings with five or more units was at 446,000.Housing completions also showed a 5.6 percent decrease from December, with privately owned completions declining from 1.1 million to one million. Completions on buildings with five-plus units was at 244,000.Despite declines in the aforementioned areas, building permit activity has seen a 4.6 percent jump for privately owned housing permits, rising from 1,228,000 million in December to 1,285,000. There was also a .4 percent increase in permits for buildings with five or more units, with a jump from 1.182 million to 1.186 million. Single-family building permits were also up, rising 4.7 percent month-over-month.Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist for Trulia, said that the increase in permits is great for potential homebuyers who are in areas with sparse inventory.“The big uptick in permits should be good news for inventory-constrained homebuyers, as permits eventually become starts, which in turn become new homes for sale,” he said. “As a result, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a strong uptick in starts in mid-2017.”A rise in single-family starts was detected, with a 1.9 percent increase since December 2016, bringing the number from 808,000 to 823,000.Marc Waco, PwC’s U.S. Engineering & Construction Advisory Leader at PwC, believes that the data “represents a continued sign of strength and optimism in the housing sector.”“As we begin the spring selling season, we have yet to see any material housing policy impacts from the Trump administration, however builders remain hopeful that President Trump’s pro-business approach could translate to a reduction in regulations on home builders, and an easing of credit requirements for home buyers,” he said. “Without any action we expect affordability concerns to increase as the combination of a rising interest rate environment along with a continued gap in supply and demand of new entry level housing forces some potential buyers to remain on the sideline.  We are also watching how the immigration policy plays out, as it could impact an already tight labor supply for builders.” Building Permits Data Housing Completions Housing Starts HUD U.S. Census Bureau 2017-02-16 Mirasha Brownlast_img read more

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