Asia Pacific to Bolster Its Maritime Security

first_imgA new $2 billion Pacific Patrol Boat (PPB) Program unveiled on June 17th by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston aims to significantly strengthen security in their region.Armidale-class patrol boat, illustration“The Pacific Patrol Boat Program is an important pillar of the Australian Government’s commitment to working with our regional partners to enable cohesive security cooperation on maritime surveillance, including in fisheries protection and transnational crime,” Minister Bishop said.“Defence will replace the current fleet of patrol boats for all current PPB members with the addition of  a new member, Timor-Leste (East Timor), which has been invited to join the program, evidence of Australia’s growing defence cooperation program with that country,” said Senator Johnston.“The current fleet of 22 patrol boats gifted to 12 PacificIsland countries from 1987 to 1997 are now approaching their end of service life.”“This new program will involve the construction of more than 20 steel, all purpose patrol vessels that will considerably enhance the maritime security of our Pacific and regional partners,” he said, adding: “Australia has a fundamental strategic interest in the security and stability of Pacific island nations.”Senator Johnston said the rugged Australian-made patrol boats are worth $594 million with through life sustainment and personnel costs estimated at $1.38 billion over 30 years.In the coming months discussions will be held with PPB states on the individual allocation of patrol vessels.Replacement patrol boats will be offered to all current participating states including Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands and new member Timor-Leste.Under the program, Defence will undertake an open tender for the procurement which includes an option for ongoing sustainment and crew training.[mappress]Press Release, June 19, 2014last_img read more

Illegal mining creeps into southern Bahuaja-Sonene National Park

first_imgA large amount of fuel trafficking takes place Massiapo, the capital of the district of Alto Inambari, mostly for use in illegal gold mining operations.A regional committee against illegal mining in Puno is considering declaring the buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park a mining exclusion zone. ALTO INAMBARI, Peru — There are some places that we always remember better than others. That is what David Araníbar says when he thinks about the district of Alto Inambari, seven hours away from the city of Puno in Peru’s Sandia Province.Araníbar, the director of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, grew up in that area of the rainforest and still remembers seeing catfish racing downstream in the Inambari River, alongside otters who would run beside the catfish trying to trap them. Many years have passed since the last time Araníbar has seen an otter in the area. The area around the Inambari River, which has long been the otters’ preferred route to travel, is now filled with heavy machinery and barrels of mercury.It is an area that has been transformed by illegal mining.As the otter population decreases, the number of illegal stands selling fuel continues to climb. The fuel is there to facilitate mining in the area. An inspection by the provincial attorney specializing in environmental matters in Puno in late 2017 identified 36 points of illegal mining in the Inambari River Basin. Of those, 18 were in Alto Inambari. A large number of those illegal mines are located in the buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, just a little over one mile from the protected area. It seems like just a matter of time before illegal mining makes its way into the park itself.last_img read more

Car park to be renamed in memory of community figure Hugh Duffy

first_imgThe Old Mart Car Park in the heart of Letterkenny is to be renamed in honour of the late Hugh Duffy.Mr Duffy was a much-respected member of the local community who passed away in January 2015.The Galway native moved to Letterkenny to take up a teaching role at St Eunan’s College and became an active member in various community groups. Mr Duffy was a former Captain of Letterkenny Golf Club, he was actively involved in Meals on Wheels and he was a member of the Board of Management of St. Bernadette’s School. He took a great interest in the ongoing development of Letterkenny Town and his home at College Row won numerous prizes for ‘Best Kept Garden’ in the Tidy Towns competitions.Councillors with the Letterkenny Municipal District passed a motion today to name the Old Mart Car Park in memory of Mr Duffy.Old Mart Car Park LetterkennyThe motion was raised by Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh, who said recent works to transform the site have made it a fitting place to honour a local figure.Cllr Kavanagh commended the council for their work on the car park and removal of the building to prevent anti-social behaviour and attract more usage of the car park. A unanimous decision was made during a members’ workshop to choose Hugh Duffy as the person who would be remembered at the site.“I think it would be a nice tribute to him that the car park is named in Hugh’s honour. He lived all his life in College Row near St. Eunan’s College. He was very active in campaigning to make sure the site remained in public ownership,” said Cllr Kavanagh.The motion was seconded by Cllr Gerry McMonagle, who said: “The Old Mart Car Park is a lot more inviting now and to name it for a person who gave so much to the community is apt.”Car park to be renamed in memory of community figure Hugh Duffy was last modified: October 9th, 2018 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Clingmans Dome Tower Rehabilitation Project Begins

first_imgGreat Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed beginning Wednesday, August 23 through the remainder of the 2017 season to complete rehabilitation work thanks to funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $ 250,000 grant was awarded last summer to the Friends of the Smokies on behalf of the park after being one of the top nine, most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks Campaign in 2016.Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, the tower is a prominent landmark and destination as the highest point in the park. The rehabilitation work will consist of repairing the worst deteriorated areas on the concrete columns and walls, stabilizing support walls at the base of the ramp, and repointing some stone masonry. To accomplish this work in a timely manner and for the safety of our visitors the tower will be closed for the duration of the project.While visitors will not be able to climb the tower for views out over the surrounding tree tops, the Clingmans Dome parking overlook will be open and offers outstanding mountain top views. The visitor contact station and store, the trail to the tower, and all access to the trailheads in the vicinity will remain open. Visitors should expect some construction traffic in the vicinity of the contact station and along the trail.The observation tower is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. Some minimal preservation work today on the tower will ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit he park website at Partners in Preservation: Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, awards preservation grants to historic places across the country. Since 2006, Partners in Preservation, a community-based partnership, has committed $16 million in preservation funding to nearly 200 diverse sites in eight different cities across the country.Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United States and to preserve America’s historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.last_img read more

Profitable Air New Zealand flags continuing fare bonanza

first_imgAir New Zealand is expecting 19 million passengers by 2020. Image: Air New Zealand Air New Zealand has pledged to offer more cheap fares on domestic routes as it grows capacity and takes an additional seven A321neos in anticipation of future network growth in its home market.Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon made the fares promise as the company Thursday reported a 2.1 percent rise in 2017-18 annual net profit to $NZ390 million.“One of the benefits of a growing Air New Zealand is more opportunities than ever for Kiwis to snap up a bargain,’’ Luxon said in the airline’s results announcement.  “In 2019, we will offer more than 2.9 million seats for travel in New Zealand for under $100.’’Luxon also revealed the airline expects to add a million customers a year, reaching 19 million by 2020, as it expands its overall network.The Kiwi carrier reported its second-ever highest annual pre-tax profit of $NZ540 million, up from $NZ527 million last year, on record revenues of $NZ5.5 billion, up 7.4 percent.However, the airline predicted the higher jet fuel costs, assumed to be around $US85 a barrel, would result in lower underlying earnings before tax of between $NZ425m and $NZ525m in 2018-19.The fiscal 2018 result came despite the headwinds of higher fuel costs and the cost of schedule changes due to engine problems with its Rolls-Royce powered Boeing 787s.“This is an impressive financial result, driven by strong revenue growth across the airline’s key markets, as well as continued focus on sustainable cost improvement, despite significantly higher fuel prices,’’ chairman Tony Carter said.READ: Air New Zealand to get first female chairman.“The ability of the airline to achieve its second-highest profit in such a challenging environment really speaks to the focused strategy and unique competitive advantages that Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon and his leadership team have spent years building.”The result means about 8500 Air New Zealand staff will receive bonuses of up to $NZ1800 while shareholders get a final dividend of 11 cents per share, taking the total ordinary dividend for the year to 22 cents per share.Air New Zealand will be the first airline in Australasia to take delivery of the new Airbus single-aisle neo aircraft and has 10 A320/A321neos on their way to provide “continued growth and cost benefits” to its Tasman and Pacific islands network.It has provided capital expenditure for seven A321neos to be delivered between 2020 and 2024 for deployment on high-demand domestic routes in support of further growth.It expects the new planes, equipped with new engines and 25 percent more seats, to deliver fuel savings and efficiencies of up to 15 percent compared to the airline’s existing A320s.A dark spot remained the ongoing global problem with some versions of Rolls’ Trent 1000 engine.AirNZ to committed to a third short-term leased widebody aircraft as it faces an estimated $NZ30-40 million impact from the issue on the current financial year.This will see it lease two Boeing 777-200s and a Boeing 777-300 to help minimize inconvenience to customers. However, it  flagged it will still need to make adjustments to its schedule as it continues to work through the Trent 1000 maintenance requirements.“The adjustments to our schedule will essentially free up two widebody aircraft enabling us to provide greater schedule certainty for customers,’’ chief executive Christopher Luxon said.“This will include adjusting weekly frequency on our Buenos Aires and Taipei services, as well as seeking to retime our flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.  We are confident that these proactive steps will result in better reliability for our customers.’’Luxon acknowledged the impact of the disruptions to the airline’s operation performance caused by the engine issue and the loyalty of affected customers.‘These disruptions have resulted in a level of service for some that did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves,’’ he said.“We do not take our customers’ choice to fly with Air New Zealand for granted and remain focused on making improvements across all touch points of their travel journey.’’Despite the Trent problems, Air New Zealand is continuing to expand as it follows its Pacific Rim strategy and will launch new services to Taipei and Chicago in November. It will take delivery of two additional 787-0s equipped with Rolls-Royce TEN engines not affected by the maintenance issues.It will also launch new services to Brisbane from Wellington and Queenstown in December and a third daily service will be added between Singapore and Auckland in partnership with Singapore Airlines.The airline said its Pacific Rim strategy had allowed for consistently profitable network expansion over the past five years as passenger numbers grew from 13 million in 2013 to 17 million.It said it would continue to invest in regional lounges, customer contact centers and inflight products and services to improve the customer experience.Luxon said the airline saw positive demand signals in the short term, with strong forward bookings heading into the peak summer season and passenger growth expected to continue its upward trajectory.“Looking out over the next two years, the airline is expecting to grow by one million customers a year, reaching 19 million customers by the end of 2020,” he said.last_img read more

Data and Government: The DATA Act – Making Federal Spending Transparent

first_imgThe May of 2017, Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (the DATA Act) mandated that data be reported from federal agencies.  That data is collected and is then made available so that the public can begin to track government spending. The intent is to make government spending more transparent and to make it possible to track how federal funds are spent and to determine whether or not there is duplication and waste in spending.Christina Ho, the Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for accounting policy and financial transparency, said that “our tagline is better data, better decisions, better government.”Tim Gribben, Chief Financial Officer and Associate Administrator for Performance Management , said that “I said in the very beginning, I thought it was a boondoggle… But through my experience of working through the pilot and then through submission, I would say that I don’t feel that way at all anymore. I definitely see the benefits to the DATA Act… It’s definitely not a boondoggle.”But expect the government to go even further.  Frank Brizzi, director of resource management transformation at DHS’ Office of the CFO, said that “the DATA Act just kind of primed the pump… It’s great, the next phase of our data management approach is to go after unified investment data. We want to see a unified view of capital investments across the department. That’s huge. That’s accounting-line level data that we’re going to be collecting. We’ll bring that into a data warehouse, and we’ll connect it with other data such as DATA Act, we’ll connect it with tier submission data, we’re going to connect it with our budget formulation data, we’re going to connect it in any way possible, and allow the analysts to come in and pull the data how they need it. It’s revolutionary for us. Without a single financial system, we have no single repository for financial data and that’s what we’re embarking on, and this is DATA Act pushing that effort forward.”last_img read more

FIFA legends play exhibition match, begin 30-day countdown to FIFA U-17 World Cup

first_imgFIFA U-17 World Cup is exactly a month away and five FIFA legends — Carlos Valderrama, Fernando Morientes, Marcel Desailly, Jorge Campos and Emmanuel Amuneke — played an exhibition game at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai and unveiled the winner’s trophy for the Navi Mumbai leg of the Trophy Experience event.The FIFA legends took on an Indian contingent comprising of Arjuna awardee Oinam Bembem Devi, Indian women’s national team captain Ngangom Bala Devi, two kids from Mission XI Million programme, vice-president of the Local Organising Committee Babul Supriyo and Bollywood filmmaker Shoojit Sircar.The match ended 5-4 in favour of the FIFA legends where Fernando Morientes scored four goals. From the Indian side, Bala Devi was the standout performer, scoring 2 goals and assisting another.Carlos Valderrama (L) and Fernando Morientes (Photo Credit: FIFA) Emmanuel Amuneke, coach of the Nigerian team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup, said, “I think dealing with U-17 players, the most important thing is to try to make sure they see you as someone who can add to their game. Try to guide them as much as you can and not forget that there are a lot of distractions going on in their mind. The most important thing is to bring them to a level where they can compete with teams all over the world.”Fernando Morientes felt that there needs to be an infrastructure starting from the school level to have a successful youth system.”Infrastructure and coaching can help create an ecosystem that can be conducive to the transition between youth teams and senior teams. That’s what Spain and France have been doing all these years. The infrastructure to start from the school level, right to the top,” Morientes said.advertisementMarcel Desailly later remarked, “This is a huge opportunity for the Indians kids to develop the game and hopefully see the national team taking international stage at the youth level.”DY Patil Stadium will host eight matches this October, including the all-important semi-final.last_img read more

Householders Benefit from USAID/CSJP Energy Conservation Workshops

first_img Participants in two pilot household energy-conservation and -efficiency workshops in Waterhouse and Greater Brown’s Town in Kingston are hailing the initiative as an effective undertaking, and have expressed the hope that strategies being introduced will significantly reduce their electricity bills.The workshops, which were staged by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Caribbean Clean Energy Program (CARCEP) in partnership with the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) in the National Security Ministry on August 22 and 24, targeted some 60 women from low-income households, who were provided information on the value of energy conservation and efficiency.The workshops highlighted practical measures that can reduce energy usage in their homes and, in the process, generate significant savings, and also encouraged knowledge sharing within the communities.Gender specialist with the CSJP, Cordia Chambers-Johnson, said the agency welcomed the opportunity to partner with USAID on the initiative, noting that it will positively impact persons in the communities that CSJP caters to, who are most in need of the support.“Persons are excited for it, because they say electricity accounts for the highest household utility (expense) and they want to see how best they can reduce their energy consumption to see some savings,” she said.She indicated that CSJP will be extending its partnering on the programme to roll out workshops in additional communities.Mrs. Chambers-Johnson said CARCEP has also indicated its intention to support the Waterhouse residents in setting up a solar panel system on the multipurpose community centre that was constructed by the CSJP.This, she points out, will help to reduce the Centre’s dependency on the national power grid.Kresten Stewart, who participated in the workshop in Greater Brown’s Town, described it as “amazing”. She noted that, as a parent, it is important for her to save wherever she can in managing the household.“I am so happy, because this gave us a different view on how to conserve. It was very good, and we have started to see improvements already,” she said.Ms. Stewart said she has acquired energy-saving light bulbs and is looking to get a gadget to attach to her refrigerator to save energy. She pointed out that despite these inputs being initially costly, she recognises, through examples provided at the workshop, that they will be cost-effective in the long term.She also expressed appreciation for the presentations that provided guidance on the interpretation of electricity bills.A release from the USAID Caribbean Clean Energy Program said the workshops were rolled out as part of a wider community outreach initiative to aid the public with lowering residential energy consumption as one solution to lessening the country’s energy dependence.USAID CARCEP Chief of Party, Daniel Potash, was quoted as saying: “Jamaican household managers impressed me. They are taking up the goal of energy conservation, eagerly soaking up the advice of the seasoned experts and demonstrating understanding and resolve.” Story Highlights A release from the USAID Caribbean Clean Energy Program said the workshops were rolled out as part of a wider community outreach initiative to aid the public with lowering residential energy consumption as one solution to lessening the country’s energy dependence. Participants in two pilot household energy-conservation and -efficiency workshops in Waterhouse and Greater Brown’s Town in Kingston are hailing the initiative as an effective undertaking, and have expressed the hope that strategies being introduced will significantly reduce their electricity bills. The workshops highlighted practical measures that can reduce energy usage in their homes and, in the process, generate significant savings, and also encouraged knowledge sharing within the communities.last_img read more

Hola Hungary

first_imgWe visited Hungary on a professional commitment, scarcely aware of the dynamism and array that this country has to offer. Rich in diversity, accepting of transformation yet steeped in its rich history – Budapest, particularly, brings you close to lives in this part of the globe that lives in a cloud of merry, joy and exorbitance. Date with a century-old university Debrecen University, with a hat-wearing squirrel as its mascot – since squirrels are a million around the campus – is 105 years old, with some 30,000-plus students, of which 6,000 are foreigners and at least 10 per cent of them are from South Asia, half of them being Indians. The University is spread across a large part of the city, giving Debrecen a university-city look like our own Shantiniketan or Manipal, though it has a large forum mall, downtown pubs, and most strikingly, thermal spas. Indian naturopathy and Ayurveda have a pride of place with a dedicated department in the medical school for the same. The huge gothic structures, with names of top 20 people associated across the last 100 years inscribed in the central hall and the water spring with statues around, lend the university a unique look resplendent in history. The nation changed hands from monarchs to dictators to communists to democrats – but the University continued its mission of education unabated. Also Read – Oman – Beauty with an addressNight Cruise on the DanubeThe highlight was our night cruise on the Danube. The ambiance, breezy air, snacks on the deck, well-lit gothic structures on the banks, the exquisite sight of the profusely lit Hungarian Parliament, multiple bridges across Danube river of variegated makes and designs – which link the hilly Buda with the plains Pest to make the twins legendary Budapest – one can go on and on. The Danube, the second largest river of Europe that connects several historical and capital cities of the continent, is a veritable treasure to know the history of these places and was a major trading route in the past. The multilingual running commentary personalised to each tourist on the cruise makes for a complete Hungarian experience, with drinks, dinner and merry. Also Read – CANADA: A traveller’s delight An Afternoon @ New York Palace Café Decidedly the most fabulous café I have ever visited, New York Palace Café, earlier known as Boscolo Budapest and built by New York Life Insurance in 1894 initially as their office with a café, will ever remain etched in our mind. Its ground floor has been a remarkable centre of Hungarian art and literature. The statues, ornaments on the façade of the building and the cafe’s 16 imposing devilish fauns are the works of Karoly Senyei. Fauns are Roman mythological half-man-half-goat creatures. There is a 107-room luxury hotel also on the upper-floors. Billed to be among the most beautiful cafés in the world, the place surely plucks a hole in your pocket. We tried the Hungarian coffee with black sour cherry palinka (local alcohol), chilly, brown sugar and cream, which was the cheapest at only Rs 9,000! Nevertheless, this pocket-pinching drink surely rewarded us with energy to take the tour forward to the fashion street, which is Middle-Eastern Europe’s most prestigious shopping and lifestyle destination. Nightlife @ Budapest So little time and so many ‘ruin bars’ to cover in the city of Budapest! With only two days, sleep was surely off the agenda. The so-called ruin bars are undoubtedly the most unique attraction for those who enjoy drinking, dancing and the like. These ruin bars are located in historic settings, dilapidated pre-war buildings and old Jewish quarters. Ruin bars have been a rage since the founding of Szimpla Kert, its epicentre. From outside, they look like simple buildings but once you get inside, you might get lost as there would be nearly 18 bars with different parties breaking out across various floors. The psychedelic interiors, retro set-up and hipster crowd that make ruin bars are unforgettable. These bars are no less than art museums – be it the graffiti on the wall, chandeliers hanging from the bathroom ceiling or amazing light installations with the underground structure. On day one, I visited Fogas Ház, Instant and Lärm, these were not as old-school though surely unique and memorable. On the second day, I was more adventurous as I walked, took a bus and a metro before finally reaching my destination, Dürer Kert. This ruin bar located near the Danube once ran as a gay club and its building is historic. Hopping through the night, I realised, Budapest carries a retro-futuristic approach to fashion – you can swiftly see people wearing hippie pants, tie-dyes, pop and rock-n-roll inspired clothing, vintage goth, and new-wave ravers wearing athleisure, sunglasses and carrying fanny packs. But what was common among them all was a pair of sneakers! Hop-on hop-off experience As funky as the name sounds, the ‘Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Boat Tour’ has bright coloured double-decker open-top red buses. It includes a 48-hour bus pass valid on the red, purple and yellow routes for sightseeing across Budapest. There is so much to see and do in Budapest! Hop off the bus at strategically located stops and there are buses every 15 minutes for hopping back on. The best part is that you can hop on and off as many times as you wish to enjoy the tour at your own leisurely pace, which makes visiting this gothic city even more enjoyable. We covered 22 spots on the red route of the bus starting from the Heroes Square – a historical spot with art museums on the side – explored the Citadel and Jewish Synagogue, and were astonished by the panoramic views of the imperial city. From the river cruise to walking around from Buda to Pest (the two towns and Óbuda were united in 1873 to form Budapest), we enjoyed a relaxing lunch paired with some Hungarian wine and beer in the afternoon. The post-lunch visit at the local Hungarian market was a cultural trip! Those wishing to experience the full spectrum of the local food scene and get an intimate, behind-the-scenes look, will find that the Great Market Hall, also known as the Central Market Hall, is the most perfect spot for culinary exploration. Covering three floors, this market is a great place to discover traditional street food specialities, including lángos, the best-known fast-food dish in Hungary. Besides ready-to-eat food, one can enjoy fresh goods and regional delicacies such as Tokaj wines, palinka (traditional fruit brandy in Central Europe with origins in Transylvania), Hungarian paprika, excellent salami, and other knickknacks. I ended up buying 10 bottles of palinka to take back home, deciding to pick different flavours like lavender, peach, grape, etc. The onset of our last night unravelled with a view of the gothic revival façade of the lit Hungarian Parliament building during the one-hour cruise on the Danube river under a full moon. Just hop-off every time you spot something you would like to explore further and then hop back on! (Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury and Priyanka Sarkar, from Pearl Academy, visited Hungary for a trip – Prof Chowdhury to present the keynote address at Debrecen Fashion Film Festival and Ms Sarkar to receive an award at the same fest.)last_img read more