The Congress government in Rajasthan has identified 10 lakh farmers for grant of loans through cooperative banks during the next crop cycle amid allegations by the Opposition BJP that its “populist measure” of farm loan waiver had failed to extend benefit to the eligible agriculturists and led to scams in several districts.State Cooperative Minister Udai Lal Anjana said here on Saturday that the cooperative debt structure was being strengthened for the benefit of farmers who would get the loans without mortgaging their land. Those farmers getting themselves biometrically registered under the scheme would be given preference in loan disbursement, he said.The loans will be disbursed in two stages during the next crop cycle of kharif season from April 1 to August 31 and rabi season from September 1 to March 31. Mr. Anjana said the loan recipients would also get the benefit of other schemes operated by the Cooperative Department.Loan scams: BJP The BJP has alleged that the loan waiver scheme, announced by the State government without the Cabinet’s approval, was not clear about the eligible farmers and the process of implementation. BJP State president Madal Lal Saini said the “loan scams” had come to light in several districts, where the loans were picked up in the name of farmers who had never received the amount.The Congress government had announced loan waiver for farmers up to ₹2 lakh each, resulting in the burden of an estimated ₹18,000 crore on the exchequer, on December 19, 2018, two days after being sworn in. The entire short-term loans taken by small and medium farmers from cooperative and land development banks without any monetary ceiling and the debts up to ₹2 lakh due on November 30, 2018, for the defaulter farmers who had obtained loans from nationalised, commercial and rural banks were to be waived in the first phase.
Rajasthan govt. identifies 10 lakh farmers for loan in next crop cycle
Viswanathan Anand loses to Nakamura in London Classic
It was not the best of birthdays for five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand as he went down to Hikaru Nakamura of United States in the third round of London Chess Classic chess tournament in London today.This tournament has not been nice for the birthday boys.Just two days before Nakamura had lost to compatriot Wesley So on his birthday and today the American increased his lead over Anand to 8-2 in personal encounters apart from 13 draws in Classical games.The loss proved costly for Anand as he slipped back to 50 per cent score while Nakamura reached the same score with his first victory in the tournament.With six rounds still remaining in the super tournament, Wesley So continued to lead the tables on 2.5 points after escaping with a draw against Levon Aronian of Armenia.Aronian, Russian Vladimir Kramnik and Fabiano Caruana of United States share the second spot now on two points each while Anand, Nakamura and Anish Giri of Holland share the fifth spot on 1.5 points, a half point ahead of French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.Michael Adams of England and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria share the ninth spot having a half point each.After three decisive games each in round one and two, the day witnessed just one game providing the decisive result.Anand went for the Ragozin in the Queen pawn opening by Nakamura and the American deviated from an earlier game by the Indian to get some attack with his white pieces.Anand sacrificed his queen for two pieces but was unable to create a fortress as Nakamura was spot on. The American did not slip up in the complexities.advertisementWesley So put up stiff resistance against Aronian in one of the most interesting games of the day. The Filipino-turned American is having the best time of his life on the chess board and today was another extension that saw him come out unscathed in a difficult situation. In the end Aronian managed to only enter a drawn endgame.Veselin Topalov had similar opportunities against Vachier-Lagrave but in the end the Frenchman also found defensive resources to steer the game to a draw. It was a well-played game by Topalov and the Bulgarian was not happy with his efforts.”I started to find things for him,” said Topalov after the game.Results Round 3: Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1.5) beat V Anand ((Ind, 1.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 2) drew with Wesley So (Usa, 2.5); Michael Adams (Eng, 0.5) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 1.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 1) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul, 0.5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 2) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2).
Hockey World League Semi-Final: India thrash Pakistan 6-1 in 5th-8th place match
The Indian hockey team continued its domination of arch-foes Pakistan, handing them a 6-1 thrashing in a 5th-8th place classification match of the Hero Hockey World League Semifinals here today.Goals by Ramandeep Singh (8, 28), Talwinder Singh (25), Mandeep Singh (27, 59), and Harmanpreet Singh (36) helped India decimate Pakistan and set up a clash with Canada in the 5th-6th pace playoff.The result dented Pakistan’s hopes of booking a berth to participate at the Hockey World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar next year. India displayed good attack right from the start with their first real shot on goal coming as early as the opening minute when Ramandeep Singh set up one for an unmarked Akashdeep Singh in the circle. But Akashdeep could not make a powerful connection to put the ball past Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali.Mandeep, meanwhile, helped India win their first Penalty Corner in the sixth minute but Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was defended well by Pakistan. Soon after, India were seen putting pressure on Pakistan, interrupting their counter-attack cornering Pakistan player with a three-man defence.The strategy worked, with Pakistan losing the possession. Satbir Singh, playing his 50th international match, was quick to spot Ramandeep in the circle who seized the opportunity for India to take a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute. India took their lead to a convincing 4-0 in the second quarter.First it was Pardeep Mor who did well with a fierce pass to Talwinder Singh who simply had to angle his stick to beautifully deflect the ball into the post in the 25th minute. Brilliantly assisted by SV Sunil, Akashdeep, who had missed a golden opportunity early on, was exceptional with his dribble in the baseline to get past the defender to nick the ball towards the net.advertisementIt was Mandeep Singh who got the touch on the ball before it beat the keeper to take India’s lead to a healthy 3-0 in the 27th minute. India’s fourth goal came in the 28th minute when Sunil assisted Ramandeep from the far post. It was a diving effort by Ramandeep that ensured he scored his second goal of the match.Pressure mounted on Pakistan when India won their second PC in the 36th minute. Harmanpreet Singh made use of the opportunity as he came up with an improvised drag-flick, kept the ball low to beat the Pakistani keeper and take India’s lead to a formidable 5-0.Pakistan finally found a breakthrough in the 41st minute when Ajaz Ahmad took advantage of a defensive error on India’s part to put the ball past keeper Vikas Dahiya. The final quarter saw Pakistan make some desperate attempts on goal but India did well to contain their opponents with good defence.With less than six minutes for the final hooter, Talwinder Singh swiftly dribbling into the striking circle did well to find his man Ramandeep on the far post who made a rapid attempt on goal. But Pakistani defender Rizwan Jr. Muhammad was impeccable in his effort to deny Ramandeep his third goal of the match.Mandeep Singh managed to take India’s lead to 6-1 in the 59th minute scoring the goal off a rebound. India won a PC in the dying seconds of the match when Pakistan defender fouled in the circle through a stick tackle but Harmanpreets effort was defended well and India walked away with a comfortable win.
Score Big with these Football Party Ideas from Food Network’s Sunny Anderson
Photo by arinahabichIt’s that time of year again: tailgating, over-sized foam fingers, fantasy leagues, and a bounty of lip-smacking finger foods. That’s right, it’s football season! Whether you love to watch that pigskin fly, you’re planning a party for your sports-fan friends, or you’re secretly just going all in on the Super Bowl for the commercials, chances are you’ll soon be thinking about this season’s finger-lickin, rivalry-revealing football parties. Sure, you’ve already got a grasp on the basics of a good game day party, but the last thing you want to do is deflate your big day with too much work or too little preparation. We chatted with Sunny Anderson — Food Network personality, Creator of the Infladium, and MVP hostess — for some football party ideas, her new invention that is setting out to change the way you chow-down, and how you can rally your fandom to help battle hunger in your favorite team’s city.Throw the Perfect Party — Without Missing the ActionSunny Anderson/Facebook Sunny Anderson/FacebookFor Anderson, a crucial component of successful hosting is to create a menu that gives your guests something fun to nosh on, without creating a meal so complex that you won’t be able to sit down and enjoy the game until the final buzzer sounds: “I love having a party where I don’t have to do all the work, and you give people something familiar, but new ways to enjoy it.”So, how do you create a party that your guests will be fans of without tying yourself to the kitchen all day?First, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to make every little morsel and hors d’oeuvre from scratch. “I really love to do my football parties broken down kind of like a football game,” Anderson says. “So I do the pre-game, and I think pre-game should be drinks, apps, small snacks. I call it the freezer section time of the show … raid the freezer section at your grocery store, get those tiny pizzas, those taquitos … little tiny things like that.”You can cut down the prep time and still have your stamp on the party by creating smart combinations of pre-packaged and made-from-scratch snacks. Make apps easy for yourself by cooking up a smorgasbord of frozen finger foods, then add a personal touch with something simple and homemade like a signature drink that incorporates the colors of battling teams.“I love having signature drinks at a party, I can’t say it enough, especially if it’s something very simple. There are winter sangrias and there are summer sangrias, so it’s perfect if you do a sangria, because you’ve got fruit in the bottom,” Anderson says. “All you have to do is keep replenishing the liquids and they start eeking out the moisture and the flavor from the fruits. A signature drink is so much fun because it’s a conversation starter, plus … it allows you to kind of relax and watch the game.”Once you’ve got your pre-game plan, you can start to think about the main event: the food you’ll be serving during the real heat of the game. You can go as big as you like with your main course, but remember that your guests are there to enjoy the game, not to dine out on a luxury dinner, so keep your foods simple and easy to handle. “I really think that hand-held foods and the things you can cradle in your lap are what work,” Anderson explains, “By and large, when you’re doing a game day party, something that fits a buffet style really works out.” Airbnb Wants to Send You to Antarctica on Sabbatical You don’t need to invent the newest snack craze, either — there are plenty of ways to have fun with football-season staples like dips and chili by changing up the protein or getting creative with the fixins. “I love to put the chili in a slow cooker, and then on the side … all the cold things that you use for chili like scallions, sour cream, tortilla chips,” Anderson says. “People love more than just chili. Throw some tater tots on there, baked potatoes, french fries — people can create their own Frito pies using corn chips. If you’re not into beef and pork … you could always do turkey, you could always do chicken, and there are a lot of great vegan recipes out there.”You can also jazz up basic party foods that you buy or order in. “A lot of times people will do the quickie order out pizza and stuff like that, but even then you can have fun with it. You can order a cheese pizza and … make a really quick arugula, Parmesan, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar salad and toss it over the top and you’ve got a brand-new pizza.”To help you get started with your menu, Anderson shared her recipe for a cheesy, gooey dip that’s as easy to make as it is to devour.Sunny’s Cheese “Point” SpreadImage courtesy of Amscan Image courtesy of AmscanIngredients:48 ounces shredded white cheddar32 ounces shredded white cheddar for garnish48 ounces shredded Monterey jack4 cups mayonnaise2 tablespoons onion powder2 tablespoon garlic powder48 ounces scallion cream cheese1 cup drained and chopped pimentos½ cup drained and chopped pickled jalapenosFresh dill, parsley, and cilantro (chopped) for garnishMethod: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and spread evenly into the full sheet to flatten. Top with the additional 32 ounces of cheddar cheese and green herbs to create a football field.Consider the CrowdA great football party isn’t just about food. Keeping your recipes simple, transportable, and easily customizable for guests is a great start, but there are plenty of logistical aspects to consider when you’re hosting a big crowd. After all, the big game isn’t going to be much fun if you spend it following your guests around like a living garbage can, or if you run out of cold drinks halfway through.“If people are asking you where the trashcan is at your party, you don’t have enough trash cans visible,” Anderson advises, before adding with a laugh, “and make sure you have a plunger in your bathroom …because, you know, things happen.”It’s also important to stock up on some essentials before the game so you don’t find yourself in a pickle at halftime: “I like to get … about two pounds of ice per guest, especially if your refrigerator or freezer doesn’t produce ice as fast as you’d like it to. It’s smart to go to a gas station or grocery store and do the math for how many people are coming over. Just keep it in the cooler or even in the garage over the course of the party.”Of course, no game day party or tailgate would be fun without its theme, and when it comes to football, the more grand, colorful, enthusiastic, and boisterous, the better! This year, Anderson has wrangled her foodie fanaticism and football fandom into the new Infladium, an inflatable snack stadium she designed in partnership with Party City that promises to make football the centerpiece of your party. “I wanted something gargantuan, huge, impressive, that really made the party,” says Anderson.The idea came about when she noticed the recent popularity of homemade snack stadiums that fans were building from plywood, cardboard, and foil for their Super Bowl parties. “I thought to myself, I really want a snack stadium, but I don’t have the time and don’t want to lose a Saturday in my garage putting something together that; after I use it once, it’s no good anymore… all that work for one day in the sun. So I started thinking … how could I make a [snack stadium] for everyone?”The result is a massive, inflatable snack stadium that’s insanely easy to clean and completely reusable. Decked out in full game gear — like pep flags on every corner, an illustration that wraps around the entire stadium, and a bright green football field at its center — the Infladium holds as much pigskin-themed charm as it does game day snackage. “I can’t wait for people to use it,” Anderson explains with palpable excitement, “because as big as a football fan as I am, as big into food as I am, as big into entertaining as I am … I’m always trying to look for something cool and a conversational piece and something that just says ‘wow!’ To now have a centerpiece that I can put on my table that’s ready to go, ready to fill, easy to clean, reusable, and we worked really hard on making it inexpensive because … I want everyone to enjoy something as fun as this. The Infladium, to me, is hopefully going to be the new way to buffet.”Available now at Party City, the Infladium isn’t just a clever serving dish for your favorite football foods, it’s also a surefire conversation-starter that will whip your party guests into game mode as soon as they walk through the door. Combine the clever snack stadium with Anderson’s MVP tips as a handy party playbook, and you’re ready to take the field for a winning season of football parties.Spread Your Game Day LoveTaste of the NFL/Facebook Taste of the NFL/FacebookThis year Anderson is taking her party expertise and teaming up with Taste of the NFL, an organization that raises money from football fans to help battle hunger.“This is my first year being involved with Taste of the NFL and I’m really excited,” Anderson explains, “being in the food business, it’s obvious that I’m into feeding people, and [their] major effort is providing food and funding for food banks, locally.”Now in its 27th year, Taste of the NFL’s mission is to continue to raise awareness and funds via the season-long Kick Hunger Challenge, a friendly competition for fans to raise money for their favorite NFL team’s local food bank. “That’s the neat thing,” Anderson says of the Challenge’s local focus, “you can do something kind of nationally but still have an impact locally.”To date, Taste of the NFL has raised and donated in excess of $25 million to food banks and nonprofit organizations in the 32 NFL markets, resulting in more than 200 million new meals for Americans in need. The annual Super Bowl Eve Party with a Purpose (this year’s event takes place on February 3, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota) encourages fans to take a moment out of their game day celebrations to help those in need, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly back to local communities.“When you go to a game, you love eating out,” says Anderson, “and you have to realize there are a lot of people that don’t have the luxury of going into their pantry … and pulling out food for a big game day party.”While you’re planning for your tailgate or Super Bowl party this year, get in the game and help kick hunger by heading over to the Kick Hunger Challenge and donating to your favorite team. The Best Campgrounds Near Major U.S. Cities How Full Harvest and Misfits Market Are Saving Ugly Produce Editors’ Recommendations Pairing the English Premier League Soccer Teams with Craft Beers from the United States The Best Men’s Heritage Outdoor Apparel for Cool Weather
Mediator Appointed in National Gypsum Dispute
Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash announced today, Dec. 6, that he has appointed Milton Veniot to mediate the labour-management dispute between National Gypsum Canada Ltd. and the International Union of Operating Engineers, locals 721 and 721B. Mr. Veniot, a veteran Pictou County lawyer, has successfully mediated a number of disputes in the past. His experience and expertise will help the situation, Mr. Morash said, adding that naming a mediator puts greater pressure on the parties to reach a resolution. “With the appointment of Mr. Veniot, the parties must know that expectations are much higher now for a settlement,” Mr. Morash said. He said the appointment of a mediator is a normal dispute-breaking mechanism and is part of the collective bargaining process.
BJP accuses AAP of violating MCC
New Delhi: With the first phase of polling already having ended, and polling in Delhi to be held on May 12, Delhi BJP General Secretary Rajesh Bhatia has come up with fresh allegations against the Aam Aadmi Party for violating the Model Code of Conduct, thus lodging a written complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer of the Capital.The senior party leader said that he found big hoardings with photographs of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Health Minister Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderSatyendar Jain on a mohalla clinic in Sarita Vihar. “This is a clear violation of the Code of Conduct. On the 8th April, a complaint was made through cVIGIL App to the Election Commission but no action was taken on the complaint and thereafter a complaint letter was sent to the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi,” he said. Further making accusations against one of the major opposition parties in Delhi, Bhatia said that AAP has continuously violated terms of the MCC by using government buildings, buses, and schools for publicising their political campaign. “Kejriwal is misusing government buildings for his party’s political gains,” he said, demanding stern action from the Chief Electoral Commissioner on the issue.
Human rights and UN reform focus of students dialogue with diplomats
During the third annual Youth Leadership Awards Summit at UN Headquarters in New York, students queried Ambassadors Gerhard Pfanzelter of Austria, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury of Bangladesh and Abdullah M. Alsaidi of Yemen on the range of ideas being discussed to improve the international system and the United Nations, particularly human rights.In his remarks, Ambassador Pfanzelter noted that Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s report, “In Larger Freedom,” outlined the major threats and challenges facing the international community. It also reiterated the idea that security was not possible without development, development could not occur without security, and that both security and development were not possible without human rights.The Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a standing Human Rights Council, therefore, was a welcome recommendation and would give human rights “the centrality that it deserves,” he said.Responding to a question about when the need to protect human rights superseded a country’s national sovereignty, Ambassador Chowdhury said the current discussion was centred on the globalization of values and how this value was to be accepted in a particular society.”Could this value be imposed? Does the international community or the United Nations have the right to impose this value on someone who is different? Now this is the big debate,” he said.For Ambassador Alsaidi, when the international community determines that there are violations of human rights in a given country, it should intervene. “But it is the Security Council, not a country by itself, no unilateral [action], no pre-emptions – it is the Security Council that must be the organ that allows for humanitarian intervention. Otherwise we will live in a state of anarchy in international relations,” he said.The meeting was organized by the Institute for Civic Leadership (ICL) – a non-governmental organization that aims to help students examine current events, develop leadership skills and create their own community service projects – and hosted by the UN Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division through its UN CyberSchoolBus, a website offering lesson plans and project ideas on global issues for teachers and students from around the world.
Australia suffering from hidden housing crisis – UN expert
During a two-week visit to Australia that ended on 15 August, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing Miloon Kothari visited urban and rural locations in six states, meeting with representatives from both the Government and civil society.The issues he cited in preliminary observations to Australian authorities include: widespread homelessness, the lack of affordable housing, long waits for dwindling public housing stock and inadequate Government planning for long-term safe housing, particularly in rural areas.“The problem of affordability and the home-ownership model has left aside all those sections of society that do not have enough means for purchasing their homes and those that face serious discrimination, especially in the private rental housing market,” said a statement released by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).Mr. Kothari particularly noted the negative impact of the housing situation on women and also expressed concern about poor housing conditions in the indigenous communities he visited. He noted that legislation affecting indigenous peoples’ land rights may have negative impacts on their right to adequate housing.He pointed to the lack of reliable data on the number of affected people and said he was troubled to learn that some civil society organizations that criticized state policy or advocated on housing issues have been or may be de-funded in the future.Mr. Kothari’s recommendations included adopting a national housing policy based on human rights, addressing homelessness and its causes as a matter of priority, and giving indigenous peoples a genuine participatory role in their affairs through an independent, well-resourced national body or organ.
Skeptical Football Sizing Up The Inevitable PatriotsPackers Super Bowl
So far this season, last year’s Super Bowl participants haven’t exactly faltered. The NFL-champion Seattle Seahawks are 8-4 and only a game behind the sliding Arizona Cardinals in the tough NFC West. The Denver Broncos are tied for the AFC’s best record at 9-3, and would have a bye if the playoffs started today. But, arguably, last year’s final two teams have been surpassed by another pair with strong pedigrees: The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. And by “arguably,” I mean that I’ll argue it seven paragraphs from now.In the marquee matchup of Week 13, the Packers beat the Patriots in what was billed as a potential Super Bowl preview. The Packers jumped ahead 13-0, but their eventual win wasn’t easy. The Patriots kept Aaron Rodgers in check better than I would have expected — even with Rodgers in the lead for most of the game (a scenario in which he excels). Tom Brady was wildly animated, and when the Packers picked up the game-clinching first down, he could be seen repeatedly uttering the “old familiar suggestion.” The Patriots looked tough in defeat, and still have the best SRS (“Simple Rating System,” or margin of victory adjusted for strength of schedule) in football.Meanwhile, MVP-candidate and perpetual Skeptical Football muse Rodgers has the same number of interceptions this year as his team has losses: three.So how do we sort this all out? With charts, of course.Charts of the weekIn particular, I’m going to introduce a new kind of chart called “scoring curves.” To help explain, let me get abstract for a moment.Just as baseball is a game of outs and basketball is a game of possessions, football is a game of drives.1To be even more abstract: Each drive starts with one team possessing the ball at some location on the field, and a series of scrimmages ensue that determine where the other team will get the ball to start its next drive, with various territorial accomplishments rewarded along the way with points. Conceptually, this means special teams plays are just like any other. But for the definition of “drive” I use for this analysis, I’ve excluded them. While teams employ a variety of different strategies and counter-strategies along the way, for the most part there are only two things to keep track of: What happens on drives when a team has the ball and what happens on drives when it doesn’t.2These can be measured by the drive’s effect on a team’s chance of winning or its expected point differential (in this case I’ll use the latter).Thus, we can capture a lot of information about a team in one chart by mapping each drive’s results onto its starting state — mainly where on the field each possession began.3For these purposes, any first-and-10 (or first-and-goal within the 10-yard line) is functionally equivalent to its own drive. This gives us a good look at the strength of each team’s offense and defense, as well as how each varies by territory.These charts tell pretty interesting stories, and I’ve included them for all 32 teams in 2014 at the end of this article. But first, to one of those stories: The Broncos and Seahawks, as good as they may still be, aren’t quite the teams they were last year.The Broncos, despite sharing the AFC’s best record, have struggled. For this chart I’ve plotted the league-average scoring curves in gray, last year’s Broncos in orange, and this year’s Broncos in blue:The upward-sloping lines are the estimated value of a first-and-10 — in terms of expected net points — from the given location, based on distance from the opponent’s goal. The downward-sloping lines are the same thing for opponent drives (also measured from the opponent’s goal). For example, a typical team at the edge of the red zone is expected to add an average of about 4 points to its margin, and the same is obviously true for a typical opponent in a similar location on the team’s side of the field.The 2014 Broncos offense is doing worse than the 2013 version basically from all positions on the field. Though characteristically potent in short-field situations, they’re about average from 80 yards out. I have a working theory that being good at scoring on medium-to-long drives is more predictive of playoff success than being good at scoring on short ones, because both the strength of teams and the style of play in the playoffs are less likely to result in short fields. This could lead to more playoff disappointment for Peyton Manning.And the Broncos’ defense isn’t doing any better than their offense: The defense is also as bad or worse than it was in 2013 from almost anywhere on the field. The Broncos have gone from having an average-ish defense to having a bad one. If they keep up this form, their Super Bowl hopes are about as appealing as Italian baby food:Next let’s turn to the Seahawks, who won impressively this week against their division rival San Francisco 49ers but have also regressed in some areas:The 2014 Seahawks offense has been uneven: It’s a bigger threat than it was from midfield a year ago, but it’s a bit worse at putting it in the endzone when those opportunities arise. And last year’s league-dominating defense is no more, and is now struggling to remain league average.But there are reasons for the Seahawks to be hopeful.I have another theory, related to the one above: Defenses that protect a short field do better in the playoffs. In the postseason, a team is more likely to face tough scenarios than in the regular season, whether that means longer fields on offense or shorter ones on defense.4It also may help reduce variance for stronger teams, because they’re more able to weather the storm when they turn the ball over. The Seahawks have done all right in this area, though obviously not as well as last year.And what about the Patriots and the Packers? Let’s see:The main takeaways here: 1) These are two very strong teams, and 2) They are eerily similar. They both have powerful and balanced offenses (though New England has been a little better at converting in the red zone).While their defenses don’t appear mind-blowing, having a strong, threatening offense and a moderately competitive defense is a common recipe for playoff success.Gunslinger of the weekBen Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes last week’s award for his two interceptions against the New Orleans Saints, but also for leading the Steelers on three touchdown drives to close within 3 points in a game where they trailed by as much as 19. Two of those were in “garbage time,” but being aggressive when the odds are against a quarterback — stats be damned — is what gunslinging is about. And if a QB occasionally improves his stats by throwing a TD with 4 seconds left, so be it.Most and least valuable kickersJosh Brown missed a 43-yard attempt for the New York Giants, leaving the Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri as the only (qualifying) perfect kicker standing.5So far he has made 25 attempts, but only two have been from more than 50 yards. Nineteen kickers have three or more such attempts.But the most valuable kicker from last week’s games is the San Diego Chargers’ Nick Novak, who — despite only making two attempts — picks up the rare Kicker Win™, which is awarded when the value a kicker added exceeds his team’s margin of victory. Novak’s 1.18 points above expectation exceeded his team’s 1-point margin of victory. It’s the first Kicker Win of the 2014 season. Meanwhile, the 2-10 New York Jets continued to find new ways to avoid winning: Nick Folk missed attempts of 45 yards and 48 yards, and picked up the much less rare Kicker Loss™ by costing the Jets 3.43 expected points in their 3-point defeat against the Miami Dolphins.The rookie QB finally got in the gameCongrats, Johnny Manziel! Manziel took over in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland Browns’ loss to the Buffalo Bills and scored his first touchdown on a 10-yard scramble. He can also breathe a sigh of relief as the Browns turned to him just in time to meet the four-start threshold that is typically predictive of future success for rookie QBs.Except, nope, the Browns will have none of that. Manziel is starting on the bench this weekend while Brian Hoyer starts on the field.I have no idea whether Manziel is ready now, or ever will be, but Browns coach Mike Pettine’s argument — “Brian has led our team to a 7-5 record” — is a terrible reason to stick with him. I’ll go ahead and say that not only is Hoyer completely unremarkable, he’s an object lesson in why you shouldn’t think an unimpressive journeyman quarterback is suddenly good just because he puts up a decent NFL Passer Rating for a few weeks. Sure, there are some unexpected season-starting hot streaks that are meaningful, but lukewarm is not hot.Tweets of the weekLet’s start off with this tweet following the Patriots/Packers game that multiple people forwarded to me6This may or may not have been a subtweet.:If Brady would have thrown an INT in the second half he’d have a better chance at that 9 point comeback.— akschaaf (@akschaaf) December 1, 2014In case you’re new to Skeptical Football, this tweet — intentionally or not — brushes up against my ongoing analysis and defense of the proposition that a QB throwing too few interceptions can be a sign that he’s not taking enough risks to maximize wins.7I get “If only X had thrown more interceptions, he might have won, huh @skepticalsports??” so often it’s practically my mini-meme. That the unusual absence of something inherently bad can indicate less-than-optimal strategy may sound like a bunch of econ/game theory mumbo-jumbo, but chances are you’re probably familiar with similar arguments in other contexts:Poker: If you never get caught bluffing, you’re not bluffing enough. Or if you never lose a showdown, you’re probably not calling enough.Basketball: If you rarely miss your 3-point shots, you should probably be shooting more of them, including more marginal ones.Finance: If you never lose money, you’re probably not maximizing your return on investment.Football: If you never turn the ball over on downs, you probably aren’t going for it enough on fourth.Tennis: If you never double fault, you’re probably not being aggressive enough on your second serve.Golf: If you never hit it into the rough, you’re probably not driving far enough.Baseball: If you never get caught stealing … well, never mind, stealing is complicated.So no, throwing more interceptions wouldn’t have helped Brady win that game. But being willing to throw interceptions is still a winning trait.Next up:Whenever I try to learn a new subject, I typically buy a bunch of books on it, and then start reading them until I understand well enough to disagree with the authors. I can get a lot of detail from someone’s lengthy framing of a subject, but mastering “the material” is different from developing an intuitive understanding of my own perspective.Accordingly, if I had to pick the one book that has had the biggest influence on my approach to sports stats analysis, it wouldn’t be one by Bill James or Dean Oliver or Ben Alamar (though those guys are great), but “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky.8I’ve discussed this Bill James/David Sklansky dichotomy once before. A lot of the poker advice in it can be questionable or outdated, but for me, Sklansky’s abstract yet pragmatic way of thinking about games was perspective-shifting and has stuck with me well beyond the realm of poker.9See the “abstract” footnote above for an example.How to beat Peyton ManningPunt.In case you haven’t gotten enough of me praising interceptions, how about I dish out some love for the most reviled of analytical bogeymen: the punt?Don’t get me wrong: Punts are just turnovers that happen a little further downfield. And possessions are such a limited resource in football that it’s hard to understand why people voluntarily give them away so often, rather than fighting kicking and screaming to keep them at all costs.But sometimes football analytics is easy and sometimes it’s harder than it seems.For example: In 2009, the Patriots infamously went for it on fourth-and-2 from their own 28-yard line while leading the Colts by 6 points with 2 minutes left. The Patriots failed to convert, and sure enough, Peyton Manning led the Colts to a game-winning touchdown. While Bill Belichick’s gutsy call was criticized by many, analytics-types mostly backed him up: The value of being able to run out the clock if the Patriots converted the fourth down likely outweighed the risk of giving the other team better field position if they didn’t.The sometimes scoffing critics said the risk of giving Manning a short field was too great. Many — including myself — dismissed this at the time because it should just cancel out in the end: Sure, Manning is dangerous on a short field, but he’s pretty darn good at marching down the field as well. Here’s what Brian Burke had to say on The New York Times’ NFL blog:You’d have to expect the Colts had a better than 30 percent chance of scoring from their 34, and an accordingly higher chance to score from the Pats’ 28. But any adjustment in their likelihood of scoring from either field position increases the advantage of going for it. You can play with the numbers any way you like, but it’s pretty hard to come up with a realistic combination of numbers that makes punting the better option.That is, offenses come in good, better, best and Peyton Manning. And the better he is, the less you should want to punt to him.But maybe the critics were on to something.Using the score curves I introduced earlier, we can see how offenses — even great ones — come in all different “shapes and sizes.” For a clear example, let’s compare two of the great offenses of the modern era: The 18-1 New England Patriots from 2007, and the 2013 Denver Broncos:These two similarly amazing offenses had very different shapes: The Randy Moss-fueled Patriots offense was pretty “flat.”10It’s worth noting that “flatness” is a common feature for the Patriots in the Belichick era, though not always as flat as they were in 2007. In other words, compared to league averages, their chances of scoring didn’t vary much based on where they got the ball. The 2013 Broncos offense, on the other hand, derived its greatness less from its (also great) deep game and more from Manning’s ruthless ability to score from opponent territory. The Broncos’ chances of scoring actually depended more on where the drive started than league average.The difference is particularly significant when it comes to fourth-down decisions. From the 30-yard line, a 40-yard punt normally cuts about 2.2 expected points off an opponent’s drive compared to the opponent taking over on downs. This is why punts exist. Going for it on fourth down is the right thing to do when that amount is exceeded by the value of your team’s possession multiplied by your chances of converting the fourth down. Easy peasy — and there are plenty of tools to help you make such decisions.But as illustrated in the chart, for the 2007 Patriots that difference was only about 1.5 points, meaning a team facing them should have gone for it on fourth down a lot more often than normal. Meanwhile, for the 2013 Broncos, that difference was about 2.7 points, meaning their opponents should have been more inclined to punt than normal (at least relative to optimal punting strategy, which is way more in favor of going for it than any coach today is).How big is the difference? Against the 2013 Broncos, the break-even point to go for it on fourth-and-2 is around the 50 yard line (meaning, if you’re behind the 50, you should punt). Coincidentally, this is also around the break-even point for when to go for it against the 2007 Patriots — on fourth-and-12.That’s remarkable to me. Again, these offenses were similar in quality overall, but their different shapes made them as different as a fourth-and-12 versus a fourth-and-2.The situation Belichick faced in 2009 isn’t directly comparable because the governing issue there was win maximization rather than point maximization. But the point is that the strength of Manning’s offense wasn’t enough to settle the issue. A coach also needs to know the shape of an offense’s strength. As it turns out, having a steep curve is common for Manning-led offenses, so fears about giving him a “short field” are warranted (though, in Belichick’s defense, 2009 wasn’t a particularly steep year for the Colts).A big part of Manning’s edge comes from punishing opponents’ mistakes more than others do. While he has a lot of edge elsewhere, avoiding giving him short fields goes a long way. Thus, when playing him a team really should make greater efforts to protect the ball than it would usually, and should be more conservative about fourth–down decisions than it would optimally.So, it’s true: A key to beating Peyton Manning is — and I can’t even believe I’m typing this — making sure failed drives end in punts.Bonus chart of the weekAnd finally, for those of you who want to look up the win curves of your favorite team, or least favorite team, or just every team you can, here are all 32 teams in 2014:Reminder: If you tweet questions to me @skepticalsports, there is a non-zero chance that I’ll answer them here.Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum.
Column Autism – moving beyond labels and limits
WHEN I FIRST started working with children in 1994, I saw a maximum of one child per week with autism. Now, 20 years on, if I see five children per day at least three of those will have already been given a diagnosis of autism. We have gone from having 1 in 1,000 children diagnosed with autism in 1984 to 1 in 100 in 2014. This begs the question: what is causing this alarming rise in diagnoses?Many argue that better diagnostic techniques are picking up kids who would have previously slipped through the system. But University of California, Berkeley researchers Dr Hinshaw and Dr Scheffler argue that the constraints of educational systems have little space for any child who may be ‘different’, and that an inability to conform to the norms of how we expect children to behave leads to an over-labelling of their differences.In order for them to successfully access educational support systems, children must have a diagnosis, a label – they must fit into a box that entitles them to an SNA or a resource teacher. Many others, like US autism expert Dr Bryan Jepson maintain that ‘autism’ is merely one symptom of an underlying disease process that affects the immunological system, the gastrointestinal system and the toxicological system, as well as the neurological system. Whatever the cause, we are now seeing an increasing number of children who need extra developmental help to allow them to reach their potential.A box-ticking type of assessment processSimply basing our diagnostics on a collection of behavioural symptoms often leads to a box-ticking type of assessment process. For example, if a child exhibits behaviours X, Y and Z then that child has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Shouldn’t we be asking if there are other factors that may be causing those behavioural symptoms? This leads me to another increasing problem I have witnessed over the last decade: that of the hopelessness experienced by parents who have gone through the assessment process with their child.Having languished on extended waiting lists for lengthy periods, fearful that a neurological window of opportunity may be closing for their child, they seem to be increasingly frustrated by the box-ticking approach to diagnosis. Often when ASD is confirmed they feel it is at odds with their knowledge and experience of their child. When they express this, they are simply told to accept it and get on with their lives, now stripped of hope for their child’s future.If we view each child as an individual and look beyond the behavioural symptoms, maybe we will not only get a more bespoke method of assessment but we will also be able to tailor-make a treatment plan. I regularly see children arriving in my clinic with a diagnosis of ASD who have serious underlying sensory processing disorder problems. Many of their behaviours that are symptomatic of ASD are really as a result of their inability to integrate their sensory processing systems.Once I deal with these underlying problems, they no longer exhibit the collection of behavioural symptoms that lead to the initial ASD diagnosis. Sensory processing difficulties can influence self-regulation, movement, learning and interaction with others. It can interfere with skills that support performance, such as engagement and attention, as well as skills that enable the learning of new motor skills.Viewing each child as an individual with hopes and dreamsIt is vitally important that we look beyond the labels and limits we place on children with developmental challenges. We must restore hope to parents that their child is capable of reaching their full potential, whatever that may prove to be. We must inform and educate all professionals to look at each child as a wonderful individual with hopes and dreams.A diagnosis of ASD can initially be devastating to a family; this alarming rise in incidence presents a huge challenge to individuals and society in general. With the increasing pressure on our educational and health systems, these children are not getting the support they require which is leading to a generation of dependent adults who may not be capable of living independently or actively participating in the work force.We must do better, we must look further than the collection of symptoms and we must ensure that every child has the right to achieve their full potential.Karen O’Connor is a speech and language therapist.Karen is hosting the Moving Beyond Labels and Limits Child Development Conference 22 March at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin. International speakers include occupational therapist Sheila Frick and biomedical specialist Dr William Shaw.Revealed: Autistic children locked in unsupervised ‘isolation rooms’ for hoursRead: Use of isolation rooms in schools to come under government scrutiny
Ryanair profits stumble with 8 per cent fall but thats still ahead
Source: RyanairClick here to see a larger version of this table.Ryanair has recently launched a drive to create a more streamlined experience for customers booking online, as well as attempting to change its image to a more ‘customer friendly’ airline.The next four years will see the airline receive 180 new aircraft.Read: Ryanair want YOU to decide if they should change their on-time music >More: Ratings agency S&P is a Ryanair fan, praising ‘industry-leading operating efficiency’ >Change of heart: Warm and cuddly’ or ‘harsh and caustic’ – Are we seeing Michael O’Leary 2.0? > RYANAIR’S PROFITS FELL by eight per cent last year, the airline said this morning, but was still ahead of previous targets at €523 million.The number of passengers the “cheap flights” airline carried in the last financial year grew 3 per cent to 81.7 million, with total revenue generated just over €5 billion.Costs fell by 3 per cent, excluding fuel.The airline now aims to grow passenger numbers by 4 per cent next year to 84.6 million, with an increase in profits of between €580 million to €620 million.It’s also expecting load factors to increase 2 per cent with new routes and capacity on certain flights.However, caution is being aired on targets set for the winter season due to a weak price environment last year, with a reduction in its winter grounding fleet from 70 to 50.It also targets a 2 per cent fare increase, compared to a fall of 4 per cent in the last financial year.
Keown slams Arsenals sickening decision to allow Ramsey to leave
Arsenal great Martin Keown is far from impressed with the club’s decision to let Aaron Ramsey leave this summer, despite his importance to the teamThe Wales international is set to become a free agent this summer once his existing deal at Arsenal expires, which will bring an end to over a decade of service, following a breakdown in talks over an extension last year.Now Ramsey has reportedly turned down interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in favour of signing a pre-contract agreement with Juventus for next season.Speaking after another impressive display from Ramsey in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday, Keown announced his frustration with the Gunners’ handling over Ramsey – who continues to leave their highest earner Mesut Ozil benched.“It’s the saddest thing of all really, how well he executed the plan today but in possession and out of possession,” Keown said on BT Sport.“He’s obviously doing that to such an extent that [Mesut] Ozil can’t get near the team.“But Ramsey’s not going to be part of their future and I find that sad.“I find it a little bit sickening that he’s going to be leaving, they’re trying to make progress and one player who was singly so important won’t be a part of Arsenal’s future.”Meanwhile, former Arsenal player Joel Campbell backed Ramsey’s move to Turin and stated that he would be a great coup for Juventus.Solskjaer praises Harry Maguire after Man United’s 1-0 win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out Harry Maguire for praise after helping Manchester United keep a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Leicester City.Since arriving from Cardiff City in 2008, Ramsey has managed 62 goals and 64 assists in 358 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions.The 28-year-old midfielder also memorably scored the match-winner in two of the three FA Cups he’s won at Arsenal.Following last weekend’s London derby victory, Unai Emery’s side will next face Manchester United in the FA Cup on Friday.”I find it a little bit sickening that he’s going to be leaving.””He’s going to one of the best teams in Europe and Arsenal have lost him.”Martin Keown speaking straight from the heart on the Aaron Ramsey situation 😞 pic.twitter.com/CY2ZGttivJ— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 19, 2019
Sam Smith shows off new penisshaped cufflinks
GAYSTARNEWS- Sam Smith is loving this explicit art his boyfriend got him for his birthdaySam Smith accused of ‘fat-shaming’ womanSam Smith met his idol Julie Andrews and it was practically perfectRead the full article on Gaystarnews: :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/sam-smith-cufflinks/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Sam Smith wears a lot tuxedos on a lot of red carpet. So it stands to reason that the Grammy and Oscar-winner can never have enough cufflinks. Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us) But whether his latest pair will set any trends remains to be seen. The Too Good At Goodbyes singer’s new pieces of shirt-jewelry, by none other than Vivienne Westwood, are shaped like erect penises!Honestly, we can’t decide if we love them or hate them… But it’s got to be said, they’re certainly pretty sex/queer-positive!Instagram/samsmithworld‘Cock cufflinks’According to his thank you note, the ‘cock cuff links’ – as Sam calls them in the accompanying caption – were a present from the Paul Edmonds London hair and beauty salon. It’s not the first time Sam has made powerful statement with fashion choices.In 2017 he hinted at his fluid gender identity when he wore a top with the slogan: ‘Body of a man, essence of a woman.’In other Sam news, the star last week addressed embarrassing paparazzi photos of himself kissing boyfriend Brandon Flynn.‘[Brandon] looks like Ursula sucking the voice out of Ariel!’ laughed Sam.Sam Smith earns sixth UK number 1 single with Too Good at Goodbyes Sam Smith | Photo: Instagram/samsmithworld
Costa Rica Nicaragua have highest tax rates in Central America
Costa Rica has the second highest total tax rate in Central America and the Caribbean, behind only Nicaragua, according to a new report from the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers.The report Paying Taxes 2014 compared tax regimes from 189 countries during the previous year and reported that while there have been improvements, Latin America has one of the world’s most onerous tax systems.Regionally, Central America and the Caribbean’s Total Tax Rate (TTR), the total cost of all taxes levied, is below the world average of 43.1 percent. But Costa Rica’s TTR comes in at 55.3 percent, according to the report, just after Nicaragua’s at 64.9 percent. The high tax rate in Costa Rich helps fund various social programs in the country, including a socialized health care system that’s long been considered one of the best in the Americas (although recently it’s faced a funding crisis due to mismanagement – and tax fraud and delinquency).While still a hair below the global average, Central America’s TTR (42.8 percent) is right behind South America (52.7 percent) as the third and second highest total tax rates in the world. Only Africa has higher TTR, 52.9 percent, according to the report.Despite some of the highest average taxes in the world, the ease of paying taxes, especially when it comes to the number of taxes and the time it takes to comply, is Latin America’s biggest tax headache.It takes more time to file taxes in South America than any other region in the world. Companies there need an average of 618 hours — twice the global average — to file their taxes. .But Brazil takes the cake. The report’s dummy company needed 2,600 hours to comply with Brazil’s tax code, more time than any country in the world. Compare that to the United Arab Emirates, where the report estimated a company could file all its tax paperwork in just 12 hours.The report noted that Costa Rican businesses needed 60 fewer hours to file after the country implemented electronic filing in 2006. Guatemala made the biggest strides in the world from 2012-2013 in improving “the ease of paying taxes” during the past year, mostly due to the implementation of online tax filing.Not a fan of taxes? Try Macedonia. Paying Taxes 2014 reported that the former-Yugoslav republic has the lowest TTR in the world, 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, the Middle East enjoys the “least demanding” tax systems. Facebook Comments No related posts.
QA Kurds fight Islamic State and endure Turkish attacks
Turkey views Kurds in Iraq as an ally but is suspicious of Syrian Kurds who are affiliated with the PKK. Ankara is worried that Kurdish gains in Iraq and in Syria will encourage the aspirations of its own Kurdish population.WHERE DO THEY STAND IN IRAQ?Five million Kurds have their own government in Iraq’s semi-autonomous north and have significant representation in the central government with several key posts including the presidency, which is allocated to Kurds. They currently represent about 20 percent of Iraq’s population, making them the largest ethnic minority.There are two main Iraqi Kurdish factions: The Kurdistan Democratic Party is led by Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is led by former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The factions fought a bloody war for power over northern Iraq in the mid-1990s, before agreeing to a power-sharing deal that ended the fighting in 1998.The Iraqi Kurdish militia, known as the peshmerga, has been a major force in repelling the Islamic State group’s onslaught in recent months, with nearly a dozen countries rushing to its aid with weapons and training in the absence of genuine support from a strained Iraqi military. 0 Comments Share The PKK has fought a three-decade war, initially for independence and later for autonomy and greater rights for Kurds. The conflict with the PKK has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.Turkey and its U.S. and European allies consider the PKK — which has Marxist origins — a terrorist organization for killing civilians in urban bombings.In 2012, Turkey launched secret talks with the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to end the conflict. The talks were made public in 2013 and the PKK declared a cease-fire a few months later.The Kurds later accused Turkey of not doing enough to help Syrian Kurds during their battle against Islamic State militants over the Syrian border town of Kobani, prompting violent clashes and straining the fragile peace process.Tensions flared again after an Islamic State suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc last week killed 32 people. Kurdish groups held the Turkish government responsible, saying it had not been aggressive in battling the Islamic State group.Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic Party, said the strikes on the PKK in Syria and Iraq amounted to an end of the two-year-old truce. It called on the government to end the bombing campaign and resume a dialogue with the Kurds. FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, file photo, Syrian Kurdish militia members of YPG make a V-sign next to poster of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed Kurdish rebel leader, and a Turkish army tank in the background in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria. Turkish jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq Friday and Saturday in what were the first strikes since a peace deal was announced in 2013. The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Mursel Coban, Depo Photos, File) BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. and Turkish plans to create an “Islamic State-free zone” in Syria along the Turkish border could escalate the conflict between Turkey and Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq.With the help of U.S. airstrikes, the Kurds have proven to be among the most effective ground forces against the IS group. But their advance across northeastern Syria in recent months has alarmed Ankara, which fears they could revive a decades-long insurgency in pursuit of statehood. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Syria’s main Kurdish fighting force is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and maintains bases in remote parts of northern Iraq.Since Friday, Turkey has struck the IS group in Syria and PKK positions inside Iraq. On Monday, the main Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, claimed that it had been shelled by Turkish troops. A Turkish official said the military was only returning fire, and that the campaign does not include the YPG.WHO ARE THE KURDS?The Kurds are an ethnic group with their own language and customs whose nomadic past led to their modern-day dispersal across several countries, mostly Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. Sunni Muslims make up the vast majority, but there is a sizeable Shiite population, particularly in Iran.After the collapse of the Ottoman and Qajar empires and the drawing of modern borders, Iraq, Iran and Turkey each agreed to oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan, making the Kurds the largest stateless minority group in the world. With nearly 25 million people living in five countries, they continue to push for self-rule.WHAT IS THEIR ROLE IN TURKEY?Turkey is home to an estimated 15 million Kurds, about one-fifth of the country’s population of 76 million. Most are Sunni Muslim. ___Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The United States has been one of the most ardent protectors of Iraqi Kurds for over a generation, helping establish and enforce a safe haven in northern Iraq to protect them from Saddam Hussein.WHAT ABOUT THE KURDS IN SYRIA?Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up more than 10 percent of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million people. They are centered mostly in the impoverished northeastern province of Hassakeh, between the borders of Turkey and Iraq.The Kurdish Democratic Union party, or PYD, is the most powerful political force among Syria’s Kurds. The party is a deeply secular, and affiliated with the PKK. The People’s Protection Units, known by the Kurdish acronym YPG, is the main Kurdish fighting force in Syria.Since Syria’s civil war began, the Kurds have made unprecedented gains, strengthening their hold on the far northeast reaches of the country and carving out territory where they declared their own civil administration. They showed resilience in their fight against IS group militants in Kobani, pushing them out in January with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes. Last month, they ejected the Islamic State group from their stronghold of Tal Abyad along the border with Turkey, robbing the IS of a key avenue for smuggling oil and foreign fighters. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
Etihad Airways showcases its innovation in Europe
Etihad Airways showcases its innovation in EuropeEtihad Airways has launched a unique new mobile exhibition which will visit its key European markets to give commercial partners and consumers first-hand experience of the airline’s revolutionary new cabin products and inflight service elements.Weighing approximately 22 tonnes and measuring 50m², the 16m long mobile exhibition includes full-size mock-ups of The Residence, the world’s only three-room cabin on a commercial airline, and the First Apartment – both currently onboard the airline’s A380 fleet, and also the B787 First Suite.The Business Studio and Economy Smart Seat, which feature on both aircraft types, are also displayed.Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Our cabin products have captured the world’s imagination, setting a new standard in sophisticated flying.“The Etihad Airways Mobile Exhibition will give our corporate and industry partners an understanding of the innovation and creativity which went into designing these industry-leading cabins.”The first phase of the tour will commence on 24 September in Switzerland’s commercial capital Zurich, in time for the start of the Zurich Film Festival, of which Etihad Airways is a major sponsor.It will then head to Munich, Frankfurt, Hannover, Düsseldorf, Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Cannes, Milan, Torino and Bologna, ending in Amsterdam on 14 December.The second phase, beginning in January 2016, will see the Etihad Airways Mobile Exhibition visit the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Spain, followed by repeat visits to the cities included in the first phase of the tour.“We are delighted to commence this tour in Switzerland, which is world renowned for design, craftsmanship, hospitality and generosity of spirit. These are all core elements of the Etihad Airways brand and service philosophy, now brilliantly showcased in this mobile exhibition.”The mobile product exhibition allows Etihad Airways to bypass the logistical constraints of transporting cabin mock ups to multiple locations, taking its ground-breaking premium products directly to target markets, trade events, and exhibitions.The mobile exhibition vehicle will be painted in Etihad Airways’ ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ corporate colours, ensuring optimal exposure of the airline’s branding as it makes its way around Europe.Source = Etihad Airways
Emirates has announced it has begun a 4 x weekly s
Emirates has announced it has begun a 4 x weekly service between Dubai and Porto, Portugal on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Porto is the airline’s second destination in Portugal, after Lisbon.EK197, which made its inaugural flight on 2 July 2019, departs Dubai at 0915hrs and arrives in Porto at 1430hrs. The return flight, EK198, departs Porto at 1735hrs and lands in Dubai at 0415hrs the next morning.The service will be operated by Emirates Boeing 777-200LR, in a two class cabin configuration featuring Emirates’ newest Business Class and Economy Class seats and interiors. The aircraft has 38 lie flat seats in Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration and 264 spacious seats in Economy Class. IMAGE: Thierry Aucoc (R), Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Europe, Russian Federation and Latin America, exchanges a gift with Luis Arnaut Chairman of Ana Airportsto mark the airline’s arrival to Porto Airport/Photo by Hernani Pereira airlinesEmiratesPortoPortugal
Go back to the enewsletter Macaos effervescent Pa
Go back to the enewsletterMacao’s effervescent Palmira Pena is preparing to cook up a storm as an invited chef for the upcoming Taste of Macao Food Month in Sydney.Beginning with a spectacular carnival-style launch on Sunday 14 and Monday 15 October, the gastronomy event will be highlighted by tasty, specially created Macanese dishes in what will be billed the only restaurant in Australia to serve the Portuguese-inspired fusion cuisine.Palmira was invited by the House of Tong Restaurant to prepare the dishes, as well as conduct cooking demonstrations at the launch within the North Ryde RSL.From Switzerland where she studied, to ever-bustling Tokyo where she furthered her career in the hospitality industry, Palmira was born to be a chef. And her grassroots have always been in Macao, her birthplace and much-loved home to her family, where she “learned all the cooking skills from my father, since I was a kid.”Chef Palmira PenaHer father is renowned Macao restaurant owner Manuel Pena, who, born in Portugal, arrived in Macao in the 1980s and started his traditional Portuguese restaurant O Manel in Macao’s Taipa Village in 1992.To the beat of the drums, traditional Chinese lion dancers will take centre-stage at the launch of Macao Food Month carnival on the Sunday and Monday, from 11am until 5pm. Guests to the free, family-friendly event at the North Ryde RSL will also be treated to Virtual Reality vision of Macao, cooking demonstrations and, for those out to test their racing skills, a Macau Grand Prix simulator.The playing of Chinese musical instruments along with traditional face-changing, Chinese calligraphy and paper-cutting, and face painting and balloon twisting will keep families entertained over the two days. On each day, tasty Macanese canapés, prepared by Palmira and the crew of the House of Tong Restaurant, will be served complimentary.Macao Food Month will continue inside the club’s resident House Tong Restaurant, which will feature a range of Macanese dishes on the menu until mid-November.Macanese cuisine is considered one of the world’s earliest forms of fusion food, dating back five centuries: Portuguese-inspired, with spices collected along the maritime route between Portugal and China, and produce grown in China.A former Portuguese enclave of 650,000 residents, Macao was designated by UNESCO as a Creative City for Gastronomy and is celebrating everything food throughout 2018.Diners to the restaurant during the month will be in the running to win a trip for two to Macao, including return air tickets flying Xiamen Airlines and accommodation, valued at $6,000. Other prizes include a $3,000 Gucci G-Frame Watch from Shum’s Watches and Jewellery, a Sleep Mart Mattress valued at $1,050, and 10 House of Tong dining vouchers, each valued at $100.More at www.visitmacao.com.auGo back to the enewsletter
Slow start to find single candidate
Talks to find a single presidential candidate among the parties supporting a hawkish strategy in the Cyprus problem did not get off to a good, if unofficial, start on Tuesday night as potential candidates Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos and Citizens’ Alliance chief Yiorgos Lillikas failed to find any common ground.The two men, each flanked by close associates, discussed the criteria for picking a candidate for next year’s presidential elections.Tension between them has reportedly been mounting since last week when Lillikas unofficially announced his bid for the presidency despite earlier consensus that the self-proclaimed ‘centre parties’ – Diko, Edek, the Citizens’ Alliance, the Solidarity movement and the Greens – would rally behind a single candidate agreed jointly.It is understood that Lillikas’ leaked intentions sought to create a fait-accomplis aimed at Papadopoulos and Solidarity’s Eleni Theocharous, who also harbour presidential ambitions.“There is more uniting us with Diko than separates us,” Lillikas said after the meeting at Diko’s headquarters.Both men said the meeting had been held in a good and friendly atmosphere.Lillikas appeared to be backtracking on the announcement of his candidacy, saying a decision by the Alliance’s Supreme Senate on Sunday – to ratify a proposal for a presidential bid by the party’s leader – will merely be a “guiding principle”.Papadopoulos said that for a candidacy to be backed by all ‘centre parties’ it must first be discussed by all five parties.“A unilateral announcement is, of course, respected, but it doesn’t help the whole effort,” he said.The unwritten law in Cypriot politics is that no one can be elected president unless backed by one of the main parties – a mantra recently repeated by Lillikas in an interview – but the rest of the ‘centrists’ believe and argue otherwise, even as no President of Cyprus has ever been elected without the backing of Akel or Disy.The five ‘centre’ parties agree that a rejectionist – or ‘assertive’, in their own words – Cyprus-problem stance is enough to bring them together behind a single presidential candidate with the sole aim of overturning the two big parties’ stance of supporting a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.But Lillikas had already showed signs of breaking ranks as early as January’s Geneva conference on Cyprus when he attended a cocktail reception for all delegations, which the rest of the ‘centre’ party leaders refused to attend.An upcoming discussion forum on the Cyprus problem, scheduled for Friday, seems to be having the same fate – a statement on Tuesday said it was organised by Diko, Edek, the Greens, and Solidarity, with the Citizens’ Alliance conspicuously absent.Lillikas’ decision to unofficially announce his candidacy was met with harsh criticism by the rest in the burgeoning alliance.“If the patriotic front has more than a single candidate, it is not going to elect a president, and we will perpetuate the policies we are now criticising,” Theocharous said on Tuesday morning, casting doubt on whether the Citizens’ Alliance members will rally behind Lillikas on Sunday, as expected.“There are many within the [Citizens’ Alliance] Senate who wouldn’t want Mr Lillikas’ move to undermine the effort of the rest of the parties to change the strategy.”Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos complained that Lillikas went ahead with the move without so much as consulting with his party – a courtesy he granted Solidarity and the Greens.“There has been no consultation with Edek, not even a meeting,” he said, before addressing the fact that the ‘patriotic front’ is a disparate mix of parties representing different social and economic policies.“We are quite far apart with some parties, but, in any case, the distance between us is much shorter than between us and Akel or Disy.”Lillikas is undermining the joint effort, Sizopoulos said.Many in Edek refuse to let go of the fact that when the party decided to support Lillikas in the 2013 presidential campaign he publicly pledged not to capitalise on his electoral gains by founding a new party but did just that two months after the election.In a statement, the Greens said that all parties, with the exception of Disy and Akel, should run a single candidate for president, and added a barb against Lillikas.“Each one’s personal ambitions should be cast aside for the sake of Cyprus,” the party said.You May LikeHeart Failure Treatment | Search AdsThe Early Signs Of Heart Failure. Search Acute Heart Failure TreatmentHeart Failure Treatment | Search AdsUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoClassmates.comLook For Any High School Yearbook, It’s FreeClassmates.comUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoThe Deniz boat incident showed clearly the intentions of the Turkish sideUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Police HQ on guard over possible attack – reports
The police headquarters was on guard early on Sunday, following a tip-off related to a possible attack against officers and premises of the force, reports said.Daily Politis reported that police top brass went to headquarters early on Sunday to coordinate operations following the tip-off of a possible attack by the underworld against officers but also premises of the police force.It has not been verified whether there was actual intent on the part of the underworld to attack or whether it was a bluff aiming at mobilising the force, Politis said.The report follows daily coordinated operations by the police in all districts which led to a number of arrests for various offences, as part of the force’s declared war on serious and organised crime.The operations were launched after two officers were shot – one was critically injured – some two weeks ago in Limassol after responding to a call about a parked hire car, in which three persons were behaving suspiciously.Following the incident, police and the government, pledged to not let it go unanswered and that they would clamp down on organised crime.You May LikeViralov20 Best Foods for Diabetes TreatmentViralovUndoZooBears to Bald Eagles: The American Wildlife QuizZooUndoi-line.xyz10 Most Dangerous Sports – The Extreme Sportsi-line.xyzUndo Urgent work planned on collapsed section of Nicosia wallsUndoHeroes’ welcome for Israeli teens after woman detained for false rape claim (Update 2)UndoProtest outside the House over foreclosures lawUndoby Taboolaby Taboola