ScienceShot: Electronic Whiskers Could Help Robots Sense Their Surroundings

first_imgRobot lovers, rejoice: The world is one step closer to “robocat.” Many mammals use special hairs on their faces to feel for unseen objects. Researchers realized artificial whiskers could help robots sense the world around them, but until now, attempts at whiskerlike sensors have been bulky and inefficient. Using cutting-edge materials, a team of researchers has now developed electronic whiskers with a sensitivity and size mimicking their natural counterparts. The team coated flexible strands of silicon rubber with a mix of long chains of carbon atoms, called carbon nanotubes, and tiny bunches of silver molecules, called silver nanoparticles. The carbon nanotubes added flexibility and durability while the silver nanoparticles added a way to measure small changes in strain on the whiskers. As each whisker flexes, the electrical resistance inside changes. By running a current through the whisker, the researchers measured the change in resistance and, therefore, the amount of flex. This design proved 10 times more sensitive than previous efforts, with each whisker capable of detecting the pressure equivalent of a dollar bill resting on a table, the researchers report online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team says its techniques could one day help engineers create better wearable electronics, such as flexible heart monitors, and better sensors for robots. Until then it might be worth brainstorming names for your robotic kitty.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

2017 BMW 330i with petrol engine launched in India at Rs 42.4 lakh

first_imgBMW has silently launched the new 330i petrol Sportline edition in India for a price of Rs 42.4 lakh (ex showroom, New Delhi) for the base trim and Rs 44.9 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi) for the M Sport variant. With this, BMW has added two new petrol variants to the 3 series range in India.Design:The new BMW 330i comes with a coupe-like curved roof line that underlines the lightness with which it brings its sporting character onto the road. Along with the chrome elements and surfaces in high-gloss black emphasise its sporting flair in the interior as well.BMW 3 seriesThe elongated bonnet and the pointed contours from C pillar to the car body impart a dynamic forward thrust. In the side view, the frameless windows and the flowing roof line emphasise the classic sporty coupe character, while the L-shaped lights at the rear underline the broad shape of the vehicle.Engine:Under the hood of the BMW 330i comes with a 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder, Twin-Power petrol engine that churns out 248 bhp of peak power and 350 Nm of peak torque, mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. The BMW 330i also gets four drive modes- COMFORT, ECOPRO, Sport and Sport+.BMW 3 seriesFeatures:On the inside, door of the new BMW 330i Sportline come with sill finishers in aluminium with “BMW” designation, Sports seats with Sensatec Black, Sport leather steering wheel with Red contrast stitching, Car key with Red detailing, Instrument cluster with speedometer and revolution counter with chronoscaling and red contrast ring.advertisementBMW 3 seriesMoreover, it also gets Air conditioning and radio control unit with chrome detailing, Interior trim finishers in Black high-gloss with accent in Coral Red matt or Interior trim finishers in Fine-wood trim ‘Fineline’ Anthracite with accent in Pearl Chrome and Orange or white variable Ambient light. Safety Features:On the safety front, the BMW 330i gets six airbags with three-point seats belts, ABS with brake assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) along with ISOFIX.BMW 3 seriesIn terms of safety, the BMW 3 Series 330i versions get Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), ISOFIX , three-point seat belts and 6 airbags.ALSO READ: 2017 BMW 5 Series to launch in India next monthALSO READ: BMW teases new 8 Series coupe, to showcase on May 26ALSO READ: BMW G310R India launch delayed till end of 2017last_img read more

India Today Woman Summit 2018: Rajasthan’s shining stars

first_imgThe panel of the second session ‘Swimming Against the Tide: Floating to the Top’ which celebrated the eight champion women from Rajasthan started with the India Today Woman Awards. From awards for sports to spirit, these women were presented awards in different fields by Dr Kiran Maheshwari, Cabinet Minister For Higher, Technical & Sanskrit Education Department, Rajasthan and Raj Chengappa, India Today Group Editorial Director (publishing).Following are the awards that were handed to eight inspirational women from Rajasthan:India Today Woman Award for Sports – This award was given to Shalini Pathak, who is an Inspector in Rajasthan Police (RAC) and also a part of India’s Kabbadi team.India Today Woman Award for Courage – The winner, Manju Devi, got this award for her strength and courage to survive in a man’s world. Manju is the only woman coolie working at Jaipur Railway Station. She has been working as a coolie for the past eight years now and raised three children.India Today Woman Award for Adventure – The winner, Asha Jhajharia, is a young mother of two teenagers, who climbed the Mount Everest successfully in 2017. Asha trained for one year before the summit.India Today Woman Award for Spirit – The winner, Saroj Choudhary is an agricultural scientist, who adopted a daughter even before she got married.India Today Woman Award for Style – Kiyara, who hails from a small town near Punjab an Haryana is a model working with agency IMG and has walked for Lakme Fashion Week, Vogue, Verve and a Bridal Show in Milan. Kiyara shows that glamour has no boundaries.India Today Woman Award for Perseverance – The award was given to Rupa Yadav, who was married to a 12-year-old boy at the age of 8, but that did not stop her from pursuing her studies in medicine. She cleared her exam for Bikaner Medical college in the first attempt.India Today Woman Award for Entrepreneurship – Australian national Samantha Lowe, who came to India as an exporter of jewellery is now an entrepreneur working in Jaipur. She owns an Italian-Indian fusion cafe as well.India Today Woman Award for Culture – Shabana Dagar, the winner of this award, is the curator of Dagar archives which is a museum that represents 500-year-old classical music gharana, Dhrupad, from Rajasthan.Also read: Swimming Against the Tide: 8 women who defeated all oddsadvertisementSee pics: Swimming against the tide: Rajasthan’s champion women at India Today Woman Summit 2018Also watch: India Today Woman Summit: These women swam against the tide to reach the toplast_img read more

Argentina humiliated by ‘Copa Conquistadores’ final

first_imgBuenos Aires, Dec 1 (AFP) The first ever Copa Libertadores final between Argentina’s two most popular clubs was supposed to be the “match of the century” and a football festival that would propel the country back into the spotlight following yet another World Cup debacle. Well, Argentina is back in the spotlight but for all the wrong reasons and the decision to play the twice-postponed “superclasico” final second leg between Buenos Aires arch rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors in the homeland of Latin America’s colonizers, is a painful humiliation. All over social media, the prestigious competition — the most important club tournament in South America — has been rechristened the “Copa Conquistadores de America.” In one meme on social media there is a picture of Christopher Columbus landing in South America to initiate the European colonization of the Americas and holding aloft the Copa Libertadores trophy, whereas he’s usually depicted with the flag of Spain’s Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella of Castille and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. “It’s as if we weren’t allowed to dance the tango. We’re destroying football,” lamented Gustavo Alfaro, the coach of Argentine team Huracan. “We don’t want hooligans or complicit authorities. They’ve no right to take River-Boca away from us.” For the first time ever, a Copa Libertaodres final will be played outside the continent, with Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium picked as the unlikely venue. It all came about because last weekend the original second leg clash at River’s Monumental stadium — the first leg finished 2-2 at Boca’s Bombonera ground — was called off after Boca players were injured when their team bus came under attack from their rivals’ fans.advertisement Windows were shattered, spraying players with broken glass while police fired tear gas to disperse the troublemakers, but that entered the team bus and left Boca’s footballers suffering from smoke inhalation. Boca refused to play the match and it was postponed 24 hours, only to then be called off indefinitely the next day. Boca petitioned South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL to be awarded the trophy but that was rejected on Thursday. CONMEBOL, which is headquartered in Paraguay, decided Argentina was in no fit state to host such an important match and ordered it played elsewhere, with Real president Florentino Perez jumping on the opportunity and offering use of the Bernabeu for free. – ‘Everybody lost’ – ==================== “Why did they accept so easily that this match wouldn’t be played in Argentina?” asked analyst Alejandro Wall on the Tiempo Argentina website. “What they’re doing is stealing from Argentine football. And those who are punished are the 60,000 people who waited” in the Monumental stadium, not once but twice for hours on end hoping to watch the historic match, but to no avail. For sports newspaper Ole, “River lost, Boca lost, the country lost the possibility of having a party and we lost the fans: they took away the dream, the desire and the enthusiasm.” Argentine great Diego Maradona, who won the league with Boca in 1981, was enraged. “If the family of a fan wants to see the match, how does it pay to go to Madrid?” he said. Evidently, some people have the means. Argentina’s ambassador to Spain, Ramon Puerto told TyC Sports channel that “two airlines sold all their seats in three hours.” As for the match ticket price, it’s expected to cost between USD USD 300. – ‘Barrabravas’ – ================= Worse still, some expect the hooligans blamed for causing the postponement to be among the 80,000 fans packing out the Bernabeu. “It would be surprising if they didn’t go in big numbers, from both clubs,” said former player Jorge Valdano, a sociological writer. That’s a frightening proposition. Argentina’s problem with football-related violence is well documented, with more than 300 people killed in the last 50 years, according to one charity. The hooligans, known as “barrabravas” in Argentina, run mafia empires in cahoots with club bosses and corrupt cops. They’re seen as a scourge but if anyone has the means and motivation to travel to the game, it will be the barrabravas, who control the ticket touting market. As for Real’s Argentine coach Santiago Solari, who began his career at River, it will be bittersweet watching the Libertadores final. “It’s an honor to give a good ending to such a fraught final,” he said. However, he pointed out that “the reasons that brought the match across an entire ocean have broken hearts.” Not only that, it’s left an entire country aware of its impotence. “The Madrid final is a kick in the soul of every Argentine football fan,” said Ole.advertisement “That it’s being played in Madrid sounds great, but for the marketing; great for the global business of football; great for taking away the identity of a game that should be played in the humid, chaotic and our own Buenos Aires.” (AFP) AHlast_img read more

Indian batsmen need to step up and help bowlers for results vs Australia: Rahane

first_imgIndian batsmen have been lacking ever since the Virat Kohli-led team began their overseas assignments early this year. In South Africa and England, the bowlers managed to take 20 wickets almost all the time but the batsmen came up short every time India lost a match. The story in Australia was no different. In the first Test when the Indian batsmen performed well, India won the match and in Perth, it all went downhill as batsmen failed miserably in the second innings.With the series well poised at 1-1 and the Boxing Day Test coming up, the Indian batsmen are under pressure to put up valuable runs on the board and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane accepted that batsmen need to perform better collectively.”The batsmen definitely need to step up,” said Rahane, who has scored 164 from his four innings including two fifties, ahead of Wednesday’s third Test.”When we discuss the batting unit, that point is very important. Especially when we are abroad, the bowlers have been taking 20 wickets since South Africa, so if the batsmen help the bowlers the results will be favouring us.”Rahane, who showed a good balance of attack and defence at Perth, feels that Australian bowlers are trying to come out at the Indian batsmen and he needs to push them back as early as possible.”I am an attacking batsman but definitely need visualisation, and read the situation. I visualise not only in my room but in the dressing room as well. I think reading the situation is really important because we all know about Australian attack. They come really hard at us and the best option is to go out in the middle and put them on the back foot rather than just taking your time,” Rahane further assessed.advertisementHowever, Rahane was quick to add that they have a player in Cheteshwar Pujara who likes to settle down before taking on the attack and so that area is covered.”Sometimes, it is important to take your time but we have (Cheteshwar) Pujara who actually takes his time really well and bats in that manner.”Rahane has scored two fifties so far but the complaint with him is he hasn’t been able to convert those into hundreds despite having the talent and ability to do so.Rahane said it’s important for him to follow his process and not think about personal milestones.”It [century] will definitely come. I’m really sure it will come in this Test match with the way I am batting since Adelaide,” he said.”I think I will get two hundreds but it will be important for me not to think about it and continue the way I am batting. If I can read the situation well and bat accordingly it will be better for the team. Personal milestones can come later.”Rahane said Team India are set to take a fresh start come the Melbourne Test and felt the break was good for them.”We will now look at it as a two-Test series going ahead. We got a break after the first two Tests, which was very important because sometimes the intensity of the Test match is too much.”Break can be good or bad, but for our team it is a good thing and we will have a fresh start in the Melbourne Test.”Also Read | Steve Smith is Australia’s Virat Kohli, can’t wait to have him back: Justin LangerAlso Read | India vs Australia: Tim Paine relishing heated contest with Virat KohliAlso Read | BCCI clears air on Ravindra Jadeja’s Perth exclusion after Ravi Shastri’s commentsAlso Read | Virat Kohli has matured, excelling because of ability to control distractions: Kumblelast_img read more

ESPN Releases W-L Predictions For College Football’s Top 25 Teams

first_imgOhio State coach Ryan Day looking over his notes during a football game.PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Ohio State Buckeyes offensive coordinator Ryan Day looks at notes during the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)ESPN’s Football Power Index has updated its projections for the 2019 college football season, including projected win-loss records.The FPI is a “measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season,” per ESPN.The latest FPI projections included W-L projections.Clemson, Alabama and Georgia, unsurprisingly, lead the way in these latest projections. Here are the projections for the country’s top 25 teams:Clemson: 12.3-0.7Alabama: 11.0-1.6Georgia: 9.9-2.7LSU: 9.5-2.8Michigan: 10.5-2.1Oklahoma: 10.9-2.0Notre Dame: 9.4-2.6Florida: 8.3-4.0Auburn: 7.7-4.4Oregon: 9.7-2.9Texas A&M: 7.4-4.7Penn State: 8.9-3.2Ohio State: 8.7-3.4Michigan State: 8.8-3.3Tennessee: 7.6-4.5Mississippi State: 7.7-4.3Washington: 9.1-3.3South Carolina: 6.1-5.9Missouri: 8.1-3.9UCLA: 7.8-4.5Florida State: 8.1-3.9Utah: 8.6-3.8Iowa: 7.9-4.4Texas: 7.7-4.6USC: 6.7-5.5You can view ESPN’s full Football Power Index projections for the 2019 college football season here.last_img read more

Photos: Tate Martell’s Model Girlfriend Is Going Viral Before Miami-Florida Game

first_img The former high school star was considered a threat to start for the Hurricanes this year. However, head coach Manny Diaz named Jarren Williams the starter.Despite losing the starting battle, Martell made it clear he wants to stay with the team.He’ll have to wait for his chance under center for the Hurricanes this season.Off of the field, Martell is dating Kiki Passo, a model with nearly 1 million followers on Instagram.Passo has been enjoying her summer, but we’ll likely be seeing her in the stands at some Hurricanes games this fall.Miami and Florida, meanwhile, are set to kick off in just a few hours at 7 p.m. E.T.The game will be on ESPN. Tate Martell performs drills for Miami during Spring Game.MIAMI, FL – APRIL 13: Tate Martell #18 of the Miami Hurricanes performs drills during the annual Spring Game at Nathaniel Traz-Powell Stadium on April 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)Tate Martell and the Miami Hurricanes are a little more than four hours away from making their season debut.The Hurricanes are set to open the 2019 college football season in “Week 0” against the Florida Gators later tonight on ESPN.The former Ohio State quarterback transferred out of the Buckeyes’ program following Urban Meyer’s retirement and the arrival of Justin Fields.After considering a few programs, Martell landed in Miami, where he could team up with a few of his former high school teammates.last_img read more

Govt notifies eassessment process for IT payers

first_imgNew Delhi: The ambitious ‘e-assessment’ scheme, also called the faceless or nameless assessment, for income-tax payers has been notified by the Central government.The notification gazette was published by the Union Finance Ministry on Thursday. The scheme envisages the creation of a national e-assessment centre. The centre will serve notices to the assessees specifying the issues for selection of their case for assessment, and after a response is received from them within 15 days, the centre will allocate the case to an assessing officer using an automated system, it said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsFinance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the scheme would be rolled out from October 8, which is also ‘Vijayadashami’. “A person shall not be required to appear either personally or through an authorised representative in connection with any proceedings under this scheme (e-assessment) before the income-tax authority at the National e-assessment Centre or Regional e-assessment Centre or any unit set up under this scheme,” the notification said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayIn case assessees or their authorised representatives want a personal hearing to make their submissions or present their case before the income-tax authority, they will be allowed to do so “in any unit”, and such hearings shall be conducted exclusively through video links or any other such facility, it said. The new e-assessment regime will be voluntary, and the taxpayers can take a call on whether to conduct their dealings over the e-system or through the existing procedure of manual submission of documents by visiting the tax office. With PTI inputslast_img read more

USC Shoah Foundation Announces 2015 IWitness Video Challenge

first_imgSecondary school students have the chance to win a trip to Los Angeles by entering the second annual IWitness Video Challenge hosted by USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.The contest challenges students to act on the legacy of the Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List and do something positive in their community that exemplifies the movie’s message that one person can make a difference. It is open to all secondary school students in the United States and Canada who attend public, private or home schools.Participants will be guided in the IWitness Video Challenge activity to build a community service project through the examples they learn from engaging with testimonies in IWitness, the Institute’s free educational website. IWitness brings the human stories the Institute’s Visual History Archive to teachers and their students via engaging multimedia learning activities.Students are then tasked with creating a one- ­to four-­minute video essay with an intuitive video-­editing tool on the IWitness website, allowing them to link their voices to those in the archive who inspired them to act.The winning student, along with their teacher and parent/guardian, will be flown to Los Angeles to screen their film at USC Shoah Foundation. The 2014 winner, 14-year-old Ruth Hernandez from Philadelphia, was inspired by watching the testimony of Holocaust survivors who had to leave their homes to construct Voices of Our Journey, a video about modern-day immigrants.USC Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg helped launch the inaugural IWitness Video Challenge in February 2013. The challenge was designed around the same premise as the movie Schindler’s List, that one person can make a difference. As Spielberg said at the time of the inaugural launch, “We can use IWitness to show the power of random acts of kindness, the significance of contribution to community and the very idea that the best way to teach empathy is with examples of it so that maybe someday kindness will be a natural reflex.”Evaluation of IWitness over the past year has resulted in research that shows up to a 28 percent increase in an interest in helping others after they engaged with IWitness. Students also showed a 30 percent improvement in their critical thinking skills. In all, 72 percent of students surveyed said they benefitted from using IWitness.Teachers interested in signing up their students for the IWitness Video Challenge must submit their class-winning entry by May 8, 2015. Regional winners will be announced on May 29, 2015. The national winner will be announced on June 5, 2015.Now used in all 50 states and 58 countries, IWitness gives students access to some of the more than 53,000 testimonies of survivors of not only the Holocaust, but also the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide and Nanjing Massacre.“Not only does IWitness teach digital skills that are so important today, it provides invaluable content that helps students understand that they not only have the power to make positive changes, but also the responsibility to take action,” said USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen D. Smith. “And now, with the IWitness Challenge, students can become teachers by creating and sharing their videos.”Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

Boycott in Morocco: How El Othmani Government and Three Business Brands…

Rabat – What if the Moroccan Government had dealt in a constructive manner with the wave of boycott that targeted the “Afriquia”, “Sidi Ali” and “Central Danone” brands over the last eight weeks, instead of attacking the boycotters and calling them names? What if the three companies tried to understand the demands of the boycotters, sympathized with their grievances and positively reacted to their expectations? If this had happened, the boycott movement (be it spontaneous in nature or inflamed by occult forces, as some claim) might have abated more quickly. The negative effects of the movement on the national economy, on Morocco’s attractiveness as an investment destination, and on the lives of thousands of workers, farmers and families, as well as on the areas where the three companies’ industrial units are located would have been mitigated, if not avoided. If this had happened, government and private sector, alike, would have learned how to listen to the voice of the people and the whole country would have ushered in, in an intelligent and wise manner, a new phase of citizen engagement and involvement in decisions that affect their lives.Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani should have spoken from day one and said: “The government understands the demands of the people and feels for the families who are severely affected by high prices. We will seriously study the issue and come up with a set of concrete measures to deal with rising prices and rocketing cost of living”. The three boycotted companies should also have declared from the get-go that they understood the demands of the boycotters regarding high prices, that they would study the situation, review their price policies, and would look seriously into what can be done in consultation with the government and their stakeholders. Hence, the first reaction of both Government and the three targeted businesses should have been to listen to public opinion by opening a dialogue with consumer watchdog groups, civil society organizations, media outlets, trade unions, parliament, political parties, milk producer cooperatives, farmers ‘associations etc. Setting up web platforms and social media pages to receive and monitor citizens’ opinions and a toll-free telephone number to receive calls and grievances on the subject would have encouraged citizens to voice their grievances knowing that Government was listening.Once communication channels are open and grievance mechanisms are set and citizens are made aware that the government and other concerned parties are listening, a second equally important phase should be initiated. A series measures should have been announced by the government that would include: Canceling the liberalization of oil prices and setting a ceiling for them, while linking the rise of oil prices internationally to a parallel reduction in the sales tax; the compensation would come from the consequent rise in VAT revenue. Using part of the Agriculture Green Plan budget to support reductions of farmers’ milk purchase value by one dirham, and inciting the dairy products companies to reduce the sale price by one dirham per liter in parallel.Reducing part of the added value and the consumption tax on processed milk and mineral water, urging the companies to reduce retail prices in parallel; Developing a price control mechanism that would enable the government to intervene in a timely manner to reduce the high cost of living; Developing communication mechanisms to listen to and monitor citizens’ grievances and to appropriately respond to them on a regular basis.On their part, companies would announce a series of measures that include a decrease in the profit margin and a reduction in production, transport and logistics costs. The measures would enable them to find ways to reduce prices without incurring big losses. Continuing to communicate with citizens, suppliers and the government to achieve a price policy that is appropriate to the purchasing power of all citizens is of utmost necessity.The government and the three targeted companies would continue to communicate and listen to the voice of citizens and respond to their complaints and grievances, and go back regularly to the public opinion to announce decisions taken to respond to the demands of the people.If all this were done, the boycott would not have lasted long, and the economy would not have reached a point where trust is at its lowest point since 2011. If the government had taken the crisis seriously and the boycotted companies had managed it well (except for Centrale Danone, which apologized and took some measures that, regrettably, were not enough and came too late), we would not have reached the current state of anxiety and quasi-political crisis. A balanced and thoughtful approach to the crisis may have helped improve the popularity of an already weak government and would have helped in bettering the already negative image the public opinion has of the three boycotted brands. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen a more disastrous approach to a socio-economic and public relations crisis!Why has not the government taken any measure? And why did not the three companies react immediately and attempt to manage the crisis in a more effective and rational manner? Firstly, the government lacks a unified and collective view of economic issues and, as such, cannot muster enough political courage to interact with and influence public opinion. Secondly, the government sees any action to respond to citizens’ issues as proof of weakness. Thirdly, responding to citizens’ issues is seen by the government as a sort of negative empowerment of citizens. You can almost hear the government saying: “If we respond to these demands, we do not know what other demands will come down the road and affect the political power structure as well as the national economy!” Fourthly, there is what is called “state reason”, meaning that the government is always right because it has the power, the legitimacy and the capacity to decide; the citizen’s role is to comply.The boycotted companies were not more effective than the government, nor did they show much of any skills in crisis management and communication. Instead, they considered the boycott as a political campaign covered in economic terms (which is possible, but it does not matter); therefore, they opted for confrontation rather than positive interaction (except for Centrale Danone, which dropped off the confrontation approach and opted for interaction and communication, but it was too late). The boycotted companies managed the crisis in a primitive manner preferring not to learn from international practices in the field of crisis management. They were surprisingly stubborn in not attempting at all to interact even partially with the demands of the boycotters (Centrale Danone reduced the price during the month of Ramadan, but that was not enough).What neither the government nor the boycotted companies have understood is that international experience has shown that positive interaction with citizens’ issues does not pit them against public authority or the private sector; on the contrary, it ensures their positive participation in the management of public goods and services. “Negative empowerment” is an obsolete notion, especially at times when governments and the private sector are seeking ways to know better, respond to, and encourage feedback from citizens. The more citizens feel they are involved in the decision-making process, the more the development process is appropriated by them and the more trust they have in the institutions. It is called Citizen Engagement. The boycott was bad for business but was a rare opportunity to ensure greater participation and rebuilding of public confidence in politicians and the business community. But we missed this opportunity: the results of the boycott are yet to be understood and evaluated; but the big change needs to happen at the level of the political and economic élite: learning to engage with citizens is key to the success of public policies and the grand development programs. Otherwise, public officials and private businesses’ fear will become a self-fulfilling prophecy: left alone and ignored, citizens will definitely be pitted against government and business. Engaged, they will become partners in development. read more

TimorLeste making strides in human rights but further efforts needed – UN

In a new report released in Dili, the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) noted that the 11 February attacks against President José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão constituted a significant security challenge. “The national authorities responded to these challenges in a way which indicates increasing institutional stability and adherence to the rule of law,” according to a news release issued by the Mission. “The cooperation between the military and police, as well as the successful efforts to apprehend those wanted in connection with the attacks without resorting to use of force, were positive developments.” However, important challenges remain, according to the report, which covers the period September 2007 to June 2008. “The notable increase in the number of cases of ill-treatment by members of the security forces reported during the state of exception is of particular concern,” the Mission said. UNMIT also received reports of death-threats and arrests that did not follow legal procedures. While national leaders made commitments to address such violations, accountability mechanisms remain “weak.” The report also noted some progress in strengthening the justice system, including the growing number of Timorese judicial personnel and their increased presence in the districts. “However, effective access to justice remains constrained,” the Mission stated, pointing out that the backlog of cases has grown to an estimated 4,700 criminal cases. In addition, key legislation for dealing with gender-based violence – which continues to be a major concern – has not yet been adopted. In terms of justice for past violations, the final report of the Indonesia–Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship was submitted to the Presidents of Indonesia and Timor-Leste on 15 July. The two Presidents issued a joint statement recognizing that gross violations of human rights had occurred, expressing remorse to all those who suffered. “However, progress towards holding accountable those responsible for criminal acts during the 2006 crisis was slow,” said UNMIT.Timor-Leste – which the UN shepherded to independence in 2002 – is now at a “human rights crossroads,” noted Louis Gentile, Chief of UNMIT’s Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section.“The Timorese people and state institutions can continue to build on progress achieved – or can turn back towards a more violent past. The United Nations stands ready to assist them to move forward,” he stated.The report, which is the second produced by UNMIT on the country’s human rights situation, contains a list of recommendations relating to key human rights developments in relation to the security sector and access to justice. 21 August 2008Timor-Leste is making progress in key human rights areas, including adherence to the rule of law, strengthening of the judicial system and addressing past violations, but it needs to do more to consolidate these gains, the United Nations said today. read more

DR Congo UN to push ahead with efforts to curb abuse allegations

1 April 2009Although the number of misconduct allegations for blue helmets serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is on the decline, the top United Nations envoy to the country today vowed to press ahead with efforts to prevent and act on accusations of sexual exploitation and abuse. A new report issued by the Conduct and Discipline Unit of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) “indicates that preventive action to train personnel, monitor behaviour and act on allegations is producing results,” said Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.“We will not relax our efforts,” he vowed.Allegations are categorized according to their severity, with Category I offenses including behaviour such as sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), serious fraud and abuse of authority, while Category II offenses pertain to personnel matters, contract disputes, misuse of equipment and small theft, among others.According to the report, Category I allegations dropped from 66 in 2007 to 56 last year, and within these instances, the number of sexual abuse and exploitation allegations fell from 48 in 2007 to 38 in 2008.The number of Category II allegations is also on the wane, with 202 allegations received last year, as opposed to 294 the year before. In 2008, 15 of the allegations pertaining to reported sexual abuse and exploitation mainly involved breaches of curfew. MONUC peacekeepers are prohibited from visiting bars frequented by prostitutes or areas that are off-limits for security reasons.Some 31,000 MONUC personnel have been briefed and trained on sexual abuse and exploitation last year, with the Conduct and Discipline Unit visiting field sites regularly to assess the quality of training.Additionally, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) requires that all peacekeeping personnel attend training on sexual exploitation and abuse upon arriving in the mission area and every year thereafter for as long as they are employed by the mission.The UN has imposed a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeepers, and senior officials have reiterated in recent years that this means there is no impunity for blue helmets who engage in such practices.Last July, top officials serving with MONUC, one of the largest UN missions in the world, set up a conduct and discipline advisory committee comprising senior advisers and others to monitor and ensure that the highest standards of conduct and discipline are maintained. read more

UN says no letter from Salley

Salley had in March said he had written to the United Nations over the threats faced by Muslims as a result of the recent campaign carried out by the Bodu Bala Sena.He said that what’s disturbing is that radical members of the Buddhist clergy are allowed to take the law into their hands, with the enforcers of the law watching from the sidelines. The United Nations says it has not received a letter from Muslim politician Azath Salley.UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York yesterday that such a letter had not been received. Yesterday he said “I was asked about whether the Secretary-General had received a letter from a Sri Lankan Muslim leader.  The answer is no — or, at least, not yet”. The letter, a copy of which has also been sent to the UN Human Rights Council, says the government of Sri Lanka is failing to uphold and is pushing the country towards another holocaust. “We urge your Excellency to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and the freedom of religion or belief of the various religious communities living in Sri Lanka are respected and protected and ask of the government of Sri Lanka to adopt effective measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts,” the letter sent to the UN Chief said. (Colombo Gazette) When asked about the letter a day earlier Nesirky had said he was not aware aware of it and had to check. “After the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam, the Muslims of Sri Lanka have been looking at every opportunity to bring about national unity at a time when the country is in transition. We fail to understand the failure of the government of Sri Lanka in arresting the current trend which if left to go its course ,would spell disaster for the country we call our home,” a copy of the letter sent to the media said.The Muslim Tamil National Alliance, led by Azath Salley, urged the UN to draw the attention of the Government of Sri Lanka to international standards relevant to the protection and promotion of the rights of minorities.He said the Government of Sri Lanka has failed to honor, article 2 (1) of the 1981 Declaration of the General Assembly which states that no one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or other belief. read more

Electric scooter company plans weekend launch in Bozeman

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A Montana woman will launch an electric scooter business in Bozeman that aims to alleviate parking problems and help people better explore the city.The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Blink Rides will offer about 100 scooters for the public to rent beginning this weekend.Owner Lana Kitto says the scooters will be accessible through an app costing 99 cents. Each ride will cost $1.50 for the first minute plus 30 cents for every minute after.Kitto says she even designed the scooters to operate in snowy winters making them two-times heavier than average.Authorities say all bike laws apply including avoiding sidewalks, for which there is a $40-violation fee.Neighbouring city officials say electric scooters were banned due to safety concerns and for not being discarded properly.___Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.comThe Associated Press read more

With the supply of homes slight US prices surged in April

WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices scaled new heights in April, with seven cities — Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon — setting highs.The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.4 per cent in April compared with a year earlier, just below the 5.5 per cent year-over-year gain posted in March.Home values are now just 9.6 per cent below their peak set nearly a decade ago, according to the report released Tuesday.A shrinking supply of homes for sale has intensified competition from buyers and forced up prices. Demand has been further fueled by a healthy job market and historically low mortgage rates, which have made people more comfortable about paying higher home prices.The number of listings has fallen 5.7 per cent from a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said last week.Home prices rose in all 20 major housing markets, with double-digit annual increases in Portland and Seattle.“While strong price growth in these markets should help increase inventory in the coming months, homes will be significantly less affordable for homebuyers than this time last year,” predicted Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at the online real estate service Trulia.Overall home ownership rates have dropped near a 48-year low in the aftermath of the housing bust that began in 2007. But sales have improved as the broader economy has slowly healed.Sales of existing homes improved 1.8 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million, according to the Realtors. It was the best pace since February 2007.The foundation for much of that growth has been a low 4.7 per cent unemployment rate, which reflects a stable period for workers. Rising prices have also been tempered by ultra-low mortgage rates, which have held monthly loan payments in check.Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.56 per cent last week — down from 4.02 per cent a year ago and well below the long-term average of 6 per cent. This Tuesday, May 24, 2016, photo shows a home for sale in Andover, Mass. On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index for April is released. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) by Josh Boak, The Associated Press Posted Jun 28, 2016 7:10 am MDT Last Updated Jun 28, 2016 at 11:30 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email With the supply of homes slight, US prices surged in April read more

UN working group on women calls on Tunisia to protect achievements in

“The Working Group is concerned that in the drafting of a new constitution, in particular, its article 28, gains on equality and women’s human rights and women’s status in society achieved in the last five decades risk being rolled back,” said Kamala Chandrakirana, who currently heads the UN expert panel. Made up of five independent experts, the Working Group’s focus is to identify, promote and exchange views, in consultation with States and other actors, on good practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women. At the time of its establishment by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, in September 2010, it was hailed as a milestone on the road towards women’s equality with men. Demanding democracy and freedom, the people of Tunisia were at the vanguard last year of a wave of popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, which became known collectively as the Arab Spring. These movements have led to changes in government in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and to uprisings elsewhere. Tunisia’s political transition started in January last year, and in December, an interim Government was appointed. According to a news release from the Office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Tunisia’s new draft constitution places women on unequal footing with men and does not consider them as independent, full individuals. It also delineates their role as ‘complementary to the one of the men in the family’ and fails to ensure that this provision is reciprocal. “Rights are guaranteed to women not on the basis of them being entitled to human rights by virtue of the fact that they are human, but rather, them being complementary to men,” Ms. Chandrakirana said. “Although the text refers to women’s role in nation-building, it conditions this on women being ‘complementary to men,’ thereby failing to establish the basis for full independence and empowerment of women, and their participation as active citizens for change,” she added. According to the Working Group, women in Tunisia have long enjoyed an admired position in a region where much remains to be done to protect and promote women’s human rights, thanks in part to previous efforts by the women’s movement and the Government’s adoption in 1956 of the Code of Personal Status, which contained progressive laws on equality between men and women. “The current Government has an obligation and responsibility to build on these achievements,” Ms. Chandrakirana said. “While Governments change, international human rights obligations remain binding.” The Government of Tunisia has accepted a visit of the Working Group in November. read more

The Coolest Things to Ever Be 3D Printed

first_imgStay on target You’d think years of writing and editing stories about 3D printing, as well as being surrounded by 3D printers and 3D-printed objects here in the office, would eventually make the tech less interesting. But that’s just not the case. Being able to upload a virtual object onto a computer and have that computer spit out a real version of that object is just so futuristic and cool. It’s so cool!The very idea and existence of 3D printing is inherently awesome. But beyond that, there are a bunch of specific examples of fun, funny, or fascinating 3D-printed objects. We’ve got stories about all of these on, but here, in a nice convenient list, are the coolest things to ever be 3D printed.Sgt. Adrian Willis with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares to print a 3D model aboard the USS Wasp (via U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Bernadette Wildes)Combat Aircraft PartsYeah it kind of sucks that a big driver of technological innovation is “how efficiently can the military use it to kill things,” but there’s something undeniably cool about U.S. marines 3D printing replacement parts for combat aircraft.The Orion spacecraft will venture thousands of miles beyond the moon during Exploration Mission-1, its first mission atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket (via NASA)Orion Spacecraft Parts3D printing’s ability to conjure objects from dust gives it more than a passing resemblance to Star Trek’s replicator tech. So it’s only appropriate that 3D printed parts are now being used with next-generation spacecraft like the Orion.ColorFab items of different colors with activation areas (via MIT CSAIL)Color-Changing AccessoriesThe material you use to 3D print an object naturally will influence what that object is capable of it. So if you print some jewelry with this color-changing ink material, all of a sudden your wardrobe becomes much more dynamic, shifting its hue in response to different lighting.Chocolate!Chocolate makes everything better, even 3D printers. The Cocoa Press, created by University of Pennsylvania student Evan Weinstein, prints and cools melted chocolate into all sorts of delicious shapes. Edible tech is the best tech.What will you create? (via MIT CSAIL)RobogamiA bit like the recent Nintendo Labo, Interactive Robogami is a system of 3D printed objects anyone can fold up into little robots and program as an intro to robotics. The sizable library of custom pieces takes advantage of 3D printing’s open-source nature, and the Robogami creations themselves are just so cute.Moon HousesContinuing 3D printing’s deep sci-fi potential, eventually people are just going to screw up the Earth so bad we’re going to have to live elsewhere in space. So how about we live on the moon? How about we live in 3D-printed houses on the moon? MIT has developed a system for 3D printing whole buildings that may make this possible.A Tiny Map of Tokyo3D printing makes it much more practical to quickly construct lots of tiny intricate things. One of the coolest examples of that we’ve seen is this detailed, 100-piece 3D map of Tokyo that fits right in your hand. Make your Godzilla fan films even more accurate.3D Printer BackpackThis is less a “3D-printed object” and more a “crucial object for fans of 3D printers.” The tradeoff we currently have to accept for tech as awesome as 3D printing is that 3D printers themselves are big, complicated, fragile, cumbersome things. Fortunately, this 3D printer backpack from Ultimaker makes it much more feasible to carry the hardware around.Beer, Hemp, and Coffee!Anyone can enjoy some chocolate 3D printing. But if you’re a little more… grown up, you can also print 3D objects out of material derived from coffee, beer, and even hemp. “3D Hemp Printing” is maybe the most California concept that’s ever been conceived.A Dead Man’s FingerOn the more dystopian end of “cool,” there are cases of cops attempting to 3D print models of hands covered with the fingerprints of a suspect in order to bypass phone security. We haven’t heard of successful uses of this tactic, but this is something cops are thinking about. Cool!A Pokemon Go PokedexIt wasn’t that long ago when Pokemon Go took over the globe. But if you really wanted to stand out from the hordes of other folks trying to catch monsters on their phone, you needed to 3D print this slick Pokedex phone case for added authenticity.Deus Ex Prosthetic LimbsThe modern Deus Ex video game series is about the ethical implications of mechanical augmentation, a fancy way of saying “bolting robot limbs onto people.” But there are people in the real world who also could benefit from that kind of tech, and if you ask for this you can print Deus Ex prosthetics of your own.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. U.S. Scientists 3D Print Miniature Human HeartGeek Pick: Juku 3Doodler Create+ Is A 3D Printing Pen Set last_img read more

Chemical spill shuts down much of WVa capital

first_imgCHARLESTON, W.Va. — Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the extent of the danger remained unclear.The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. In requesting the federal declaration, which makes federal resources available to the state, state officials said about 300,000 people were affected.Federal authorities are also launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the spill and what caused it, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a news release Friday.Shortly after the Thursday spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customers of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and overran a containment area. Officials from Freedom, a manufacturer of chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries, hadn’t commented since the spill, but a woman who answered the phone at the company said it would issue a statement later Friday.last_img read more