Ban on plastic bags comes close to reality in a 3rd state

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and fellow Democrats who control the Legislature reached a deal Friday to make New York the third state with a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags as they worked to finalize budget agreements.The ban would prohibit grocery stores from providing plastic bags for most purchases, something California has been doing since a statewide ban was approved in 2016. Hawaii has an effective statewide ban, with all its counties imposing their own restrictions.Supporters of bans say they keep plastic bags from entering the environment and causing damage to ecosystems and waterways.“With this smart, multi-pronged action New York will be leading the way to protect our natural resources now and for future generations of New Yorkers,” Cuomo, who proposed a ban in his $175 billion budget proposal, said in a statement Friday.New York’s ban wouldn’t take effect until next March. The plan also calls for allowing local governments the option to impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 3 cents going to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and 2 cents kept by local governments.Environmental conservation advocates had also been pushing for a statewide fee for paper bags as a way to encourage wider consumer use of reusable bags.Nonetheless, Patrick McClellan, state policy director for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said his group was “thrilled” that the bag ban appears headed for passage.“Plastic bags pollute our waterways and streets, and both plastic and paper bags contribute to the solid waste crisis and cost taxpayers money,” he said. “While the best policy would be a ban on plastic bags coupled with a statewide fee on other disposable bags, this agreement represents a tremendous step forward.”Lawmakers are facing a Monday deadline on a budget agreement. Negotiations on other aspects of Cuomo’s proposed $175 billion spending plan are continuing Friday, with the Senate and Assembly expected to start passing budget bills Sunday ahead of the April 1 start of the state’s 2019-2020 fiscal year.Lawmakers have also agreed on a measure that would close two yet-to-be-determined state prisons. Cuomo announced last month he wanted to close three prisons because of the state’s declining inmate population.Cuomo and lawmakers also have agreed to congestion tolls to ease traffic in the busiest parts of Manhattan and fund transit improvements, but details are still being discussed.Negotiations are also continuing on a proposal to tax luxury second homes in Manhattan worth more than $5 million. One option would be similar to a traditional property tax and be paid annually; the other would be a one-time tax paid when the properties are sold.Revenue from the tax would go to transit.Other pending issues still being negotiated included criminal justice reform and public financing of political campaigns.Chris Carola And David Klepper, The Associated Press read more

Canada notes strength and depth of relationship with Sri Lanka

Addressing the members, the newly elected President Harith Jayasuriya, Director/Chief Marketing Officer, MAC Holdings (Pvt) Ltd thanked Chandev Abhayaratne, the outgoing President, for the immense contribution made towards the growth of Sri Lanka Canada Business Council during the last 2 years. Jayasuriya highlighted the Council’s main objectives as to promote Bilateral Trade, Investment, Technical & Economic Co-Operation, Tourism and Services between Sri Lanka and Canada. He further stressed the need for SLCBC to take leadership in promoting investment and trade initiatives between Sri Lanka and Canada.The AGM was followed by a networking reception for the local business community, stakeholders in the government and international organizations. The key note address of the evening was delivered by Ms. Jeevani Siriwardena, Director General of the Export Development Board (EDB) of Sri Lanka on the agreement between the EDB with Canada’s Trade Facilitation Office (TFO). TFO is a non-government organization in Canada working to source products from developing countries, such as Sri Lanka, and supporting small and medium scale enterprises. The presentation focussed on the nature of the agreement, opportunities such as market orientation programs and market visits, and how Sri Lankan companies can avail themselves of the benefits of the agreement. The High Commissioner of Canada, Shelley Whiting, speaking at the event stated that ‘the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council has been a longstanding partner of the High Commission in promoting Trade. I look forward to innovative initiatives that will showcase the Council’s activities in Sri Lanka and add value to its membership’. She further noted the strength and the depth of relationship between the two countries, the market potential in Sri Lanka and the country’s growth and the opportunities to further trade ties. Canada has noted the strength and the depth of its relationship with Sri Lanka.The High Commission of Canada, as Patron of the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council (SLCBC), hosted the 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the SLCBC. A key stakeholder in strengthening the existing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Canada, the SLCBC operates under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and engages with the High Commission of Canada to further enhance trade ties between the two countries. The membership of the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council is comprised of approximately 60 companies across diverse sectors such as logistics and tourism, imports, exports, manufacturing and services amongst many others. The primary focus of the Council is to facilitate trade between Sri Lanka and Canada, encourage partnerships, exchange of information between the two countries and promote investments. The Business Council also engages with partner organizations in Canada to promote the socio-economic conditions in Sri Lanka.The event is supported by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) of the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka. The TCS is the Canadian government’s network of Trade professionals that promotes Canadian goods and services, facilitates innovation and R&D, as well as builds networks between Sri Lanka and Canada. read more

Independence of media stressed as UN observes World Press Freedom Day

Eminent writers and reporters gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York today to observe World Press Freedom Day, which Secretary-General Kofi Annan said provided an opportunity for everyone to reaffirm their commitment to the independence of the media and ensure that journalists are able to do their vital work in safety and without fear.”World Press Freedom Day is first and foremost a day on which we remember and pay tribute to journalists who have been killed in the line of duty, or whose reporting has led to their imprisonment or detention,” Mr. Annan said in remarks kicking off a day devoted to discussions on the role and responsibilities of the world media in covering global issues.Drawing on “painful and disturbing” statistics, he said that 36 journalists had been killed in 2003, 17 killed in the first three months of this year alone, and 136 had been jailed by the end of last year. Some of those journalists were deliberately targeted because of what they were reporting or because of their affiliation with a news organization, he added.A sombre highlight of the programme was a screening of director Jonathan Demme’s film “The Agronomist,” which tells the story of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique who ran the country’s first independent radio station, Radio Haiti-Inter, and became a national hero championing the cause of the poor and powerless. Mr. Dominique’s fight for democracy was cut short when he was assassinated in 2000.Mr. Annan said that although journalists have been resolute in the face of hostility and danger, “the continuing threat to their personal and professional integrity must concern all of us who rely on the media as an agent of free expression, as a defender of human rights, as an instrument of development, and as a means of rousing the world’s conscience.”This year, World Press Freedom Day is also focusing on the “very contentious issue of what gets reported and what doesn’t,” Mr. Annan said. “Just as it should not take the collapse of a state for the international community to act, so it should not take a full-fledged crisis to attract the media spotlight. We should not, by our action or inaction, by what we report or do not, send a message – especially to those countries and people in need who struggle along in good faith – that only widespread bloodshed or total dysfunction will get them attention and help.”In that context, Shashi Tharoor, Under Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, moderated a panel discussion on “Reporting and Under-reporting: Who Decides?” with participants representing the media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations.The panel follows last Friday’s release of a list of “Ten Stories the World Should Know More About,” that are, as Mr. Tharoor said last week, “compelling stories that, at this point in time, we believe are in need of more media attention.”Along with conflict situations, the list draws attention to the threat of over-fishing, to the plight of AIDS orphans and to a treaty now in the works to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, who now number roughly one out of every ten people on earth.Opening the daylong programme, Ambassador Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury of Bangladesh, Chairman of the UN Committee on Information, said the world should celebrate freedom of the press because first, it reminded Member States that democracy and development suffered when journalists were too severely constrained. Second, its observation bettered the international community since press freedom was linked to many other equally important rights. And finally, it kept alive the idea that there was still “a long way to go” before press freedom was ensured throughout the world.Meanwhile, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, issued a statement in Geneva stressing that freedom of expression was fundamental for the promotion and protection of all human rights. “The extent to which this freedom is respected or violated is like a barometer, indicating how well countries abide by their human rights obligations in general,” he said.”On this World Press Freedom Day,” he said, “we must not only remember those who have fallen and been targeted for doing their job. We must also ensure that although they have been silenced, millions of other voices, dissonant and dissenting as they may be, will continue to be heard to denounce, inform, report, and educate freely.” Video of the event [2hrs]Listen to UN Radio report read more

Funding shortfall threatens 200000 Darfur refugees with hunger UN warns

Just days after warning that a drastic shortage of money will force it to cut rations to more than 1 million people hit by fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has added a further 200,000 refugees who fled to neighbouring Chad to the list of those facing hunger without new donations.“We need food now,” WFP Chad Country Director Stefano Porretti said, appealing for $87 million in food aid to cover needs in refugee camps of eastern Chad until the end of next year.“With the rains only a matter of two or three months away, it is absolutely imperative that we move food to the places where it will be needed later this year. This process has already begun but is far from complete,” he said, noting that prior stockpiling is vital since road transport becomes impossible across most of the region during the rains.Under a revision of its current emergency operation, WFP will also be assisting over 150,000 Chadian nationals as well as providing for the possibility that an additional 150,000 people could cross the border from Darfur if the conflict continues.Last Wednesday the agency announced that starting in May it would have to cut by half the non-cereal part of the daily ration it provides for more than 1 million people in Darfur itself, a last resort to help stretch current food supplies through the critical months of July and August – the traditional lean period when food needs become most acute.Tens of thousands people have been killed and more than 2 million others uprooted in Darfur in the past two years in fighting between Government, militia and rebel forces, originally sparked in part by local calls for a greater share in economic development for the western part of Africa’s largest country. read more

Lebanon UN observer teams in line of fire in south to relocate

The decision was made to move members of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) from patrol bases in the Marwahin and Markaba area into more secure UNIFIL positions as the mission reports increasingly intense exchanges of fire along the Blue Line of withdrawal between Israel and Lebanon. There were two direct hits on its bases in the past 24 hours from the Israeli side, and Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of five of its positions.Beside the fatal attack on the patrol base at Khiyam, a military observer was seriously wounded by Hezbollah small arms fire on Sunday, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jane Holl Lute told the Security Council on Wednesday that observers may need to be consolidated to minimize further risk.Despite the risks, however, all other UNIFIL positions remain occupied and maintained by its troops, the mission said, adding that the number of troops in some Ghanaian battalion positions is somewhat reduced due to frequent incidents of Hezbollah firing and Israeli bombardment in their vicinity.With the mandate of UNIFIL expiring in three days, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his most recent report that the upsurge in violence since 12 July had “radically changed the context” in which the mission operates and he recommended its mandate be renewed only for another month while all possible options for southern Lebanon are worked out. Before the recent violence, the Lebanese Government had called for a six-month extension of UNIFIL’s mandate, but Mr. Annan wrote that currently the “circumstances conducive to United Nations peacekeeping do not exist.” Council members yesterday received a draft resolution, submitted by France, for the one-month extension.Meanwhile, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has organized, for Monday, a technical-level meeting for potential troop contributors to a possible stabilization force in Lebanon, which had been proposed by Mr. Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair early in the current crisis and which has been slowly gaining acceptance among the international community as the carnage grinds on.However, speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters today, Mr. Annan said that he could not expect States to make commitments to the new force until a political agreement is reached. Until that time, he reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of violence to end the horrific toll on civilians. read more

UN rights expert urges DPR Korea authorities to spend less on military

“I continue to be concerned with both the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Marzuki Darusman, told reporters ahead of his briefing to the General Assembly. He added that it is very concerning that some 16 million people in the DPRK – of a total population of 25 million – continue to suffer from varying degrees of chronic food insecurity and high malnutrition. It is also disconcerting, said Mr. Darusman, that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has declared that his first, second and third priorities were to strengthen the military. “Slow economic growth coupled with what is known as a ‘military first policy’ will of course be detrimental to the welfare of the people of the DPRK,” the Special Rapporteur stated. The expert urged the Government to re-think its approach to the ‘military-first policy’ and re-allocate enough resources to improve people’s living standards. At the same time, he stressed the need for the international community to provide continued humanitarian support to the people of the DPRK without making the support contingent on any political conditions. “Overall, during this reporting period, there was no sign of improvement in the human rights situation in the DPRK,” stated Mr. Darusman, who has not been granted access to the country, despite repeated requests, since his appointment in August 2010. In his report to the Assembly, he focused on freedom of opinion and expression, provisions of the criminal procedure code that are not in line with international standards, the case of Mr. Oh Kil-nam and his family, the situation of asylum-seekers and trafficking of persons, and the economic situation of the people of the DPRK and its impact on economic, social and cultural rights.Among his recommendations, Mr. Darusman emphasized the need for the Government to ensure the overall protection and promotion of human rights in the country as provided under international human rights instruments, and to cooperate with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The independent expert also stressed that “egregious” human rights abuses in the DPRK have been extensively documented by various actors, including UN entities, for decades. “I wish to call on States and the international community to undertake a comprehensive review of the relevant documents, to assess the underlying patterns and trends, and to consider setting up a more detailed mechanism of inquiry,” he said.Independent experts, or special rapporteurs like Mr. Darusman, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. read more

After migrant catastrophe in Mediterranean UN urges robust rescue operations

In a press release issued earlier this morning, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said he was “deeply shocked” at the capsizing of an overcrowded double-deck boat on 13 April in waters 120 kilometres south of Italy’s Lampedusa Island.According to UNHCR, 142 people have been rescued by Italian authorities while eight bodies have also been recovered. 400 others are still missing and feared dead.“This only demonstrates how important it is to have a robust rescue-at-sea mechanism in the central Mediterranean,” Mr. Guterres said. “Unfortunately Mare Nostrum was never replaced by an equivalent capacity to rescue people, and at the same time the legal avenues for those who need protection to be able to come Europe.”Italy’s ‘Mare Nostrum,’ a major search and rescue programme aimed at saving migrants in the Mediterranean, was replaced in December by the European Union’s current ‘Triton’ operation amid an uptick in sea crossings in the region. 2015, in fact, has already seen some 31,500 people make crossings to Italy and Greece – the first and second largest countries of arrival respectively. UNHCR has reported that numbers have also been recently picking up as weather conditions in the Mediterranean improve. “For all those in need of protection it is very important to increase the number of resettlement opportunities, humanitarian admission opportunities, to have a more flexible visa policy, to have enhanced family reunification programmes, and to have an effective mechanism to rescue people at sea in the central Mediterranean,” the UNHCR chief added. The UN refugee agency has been advocating for a comprehensive and urgent response from the European Union and shared specific proposals including the establishment of a possible scheme to compensate shipping companies involved in rescuing people at sea, increasing credible legal alternatives to dangerous voyages and a pilot relocation programme for Syrians refugees arriving in Italy and Greece. Speaking from Doha, Qatar, where he is presiding over the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), added that it was unacceptable that migrants continued to die “in spite of our efforts.”“It is a crime that needs to be addressed,” Mr. Fedotov told the UN in an exclusive interview. “We need to protect the rights of migrants, we need to support them; we need to protect women and especially children.”He said that it is an urgent priority to introduce measures to protect the human rights of smuggled migrants in accordance with the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.”Mr. Fedotov also stressed that the international community should confront the criminals and break up their networks. “This means cooperation among nations, inter-governmental organizations and civil society must be strengthened,” he said. read more

Next round of IntraSyrian talks planned for 13 April – UN envoy

Speaking to the media today, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that between now and then, he plans to visit Damascus and Teheran – and perhaps Amman and Beirut on the way– as well as to meet some Turkish and Saudi authorities in Europe.“Frankly the next round of the intra-Syrian talks need to be quite concrete in the direction of a political process leading to a real beginning of a political transition,” he said, adding: “Now since this is real stuff, I need to verify the international and regional stakeholders’ position in order to see how is the level of positive critical mass leading to concrete results in the next round of talks.”In the Syrian capital, Damascus, he plans to meet the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Foreign Minister, but has no appointment to see President Bashar al-Assad. The main purpose of the trip is to see whether there is “a critical understanding, or mass, of what could be a framework of a political transition,” Mr. de Mistura said, citing that the cessation of hostilities took place because “there was, at a certain point, a critical mass on which we could work on.”Also briefing the press on humanitarian aid delivery, Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to Mr. de Mistura, said that “April was supposed to be our best month,” but “it’s not looking so.”“So far I am disappointed and disheartened at what we achieved over the last week,” he said, noting that five convoys were not able to go for the last four days, and as a result, 287,000 people didn’t get the relief in hard-to-reach areas or in besieged areas.He said that despite a new procedure that a permission will be issued within seven days and the final clearance will be given within another three days, four of the five were not given facilitation letters by the Government, and the other was blocked by some of the armed opposition groups.With a major vaccination campaign entering into its intensive phase, he noted that there are problems in many places, urging the Government and the armed opposition groups not to stop volunteers and health workers who are to vaccinate millions of children for epidemic diseases.“One positive thing” is that in the very near future, up to 500 wounded, sick and their relatives will be evacuated from the four towns, Madaya, Zabadani, Foah and Kefraya, he said. “It’s one of the biggest medical evacuations that have been planned.” read more

Stokes arrested over Bristol incident

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedEngland’s Ben Stokes pleads not guilty in nightclub incidentMarch 12, 2018In “Sports”Ben Stokes and Alex Hales cleared for West Indies tour after CDC verdictDecember 7, 2018In “latest news”England all-rounder Stokes charged with affrayJanuary 15, 2018In “Sports” He made his Test debut on the 2013-14 tour of Australia, when England were whitewashed 5-0, and was appointed Joe Root’s vice-captain earlier this year. One of England’s most important players, Stokes has produced a series of increasingly mature performances this summer, with bat and ball.Hales, England’s first-choice white-ball opener, has been capped in all formats and was considered an outside bet for Ashes selection.Eoin Morgan, England’s limited-overs captain, said that he was informed about what had happened on Monday. “Ben and Alex will be unavailable for tomorrow’s games, so there are two positions up for grabs,” he said. “It has been a bit of a distraction but this game is about winning the series.”England’s 124-run victory in Bristol put them 2-0 up in the five-match series, with two to play. The absence of Hales is likely to mean a recall at opener for Jason Roy, while Jake Ball or Tom Curran could come in for Stokes – although neither provides the same all-round option. Ben Stokes ( SportsMax image)(ESPNcricinfo) Ben Stokes, England’s Test vice-captain, has been arrested after an incident in Bristol during the early hours of Monday morning. Stokes spent the night in prison but was released without charge. His team-mate Alex Hales was also present and both have been suspended for Wednesday’s ODI against West Indies.The incident happened after England’s victory during the third ODI against West Indies on Sunday, in which Stokes scored 73. Somerset and Avon police confirmed that a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm – an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years – while another man was taken to hospital with facial injuries.Neither Stokes nor Hales was present at The Oval for training ahead of the fourth match of the series. Hales has returned to Bristol to assist police with their inquiries. The news comes less than 24 hours before England’s Ashes squad to tour Australia was due to be announced.An ECB statement said: “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be available for tomorrow’s one-day international match against West Indies at The Oval.“Stokes was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning, 25 September, following an incident in Bristol. He was held overnight and released under investigation – without charge – late on Monday and will not join the team in London.“Hales, who was with Stokes on Sunday night, did not train this morning and has returned voluntarily to Bristol today to help police with their enquiries.”Stokes was released from police custody on Monday. Andrew Strauss, England’s director of cricket, added: “I went to see Ben last night down in Bristol. I will be addressing players this afternoon after practice. We will obviously be launching our own investigation into the circumstances surrounding this. The Ashes selection will be going ahead on form and fitness as planned.”Somerset and Avon Police said they had been called to a scene of “disorder in the Queens Road/Clifton Triangle area at around 2.35am” on Monday. In a statement appealing for witnesses, they said: “A 27-year-old man suffered facial injuries and was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment. A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.”Stokes has faced disciplinary action over his behaviour before. In 2012, he was arrested on a night out and received a caution from the police; then in 2013, he was sent home from an England Lions tour over late-night drinking. He also put himself out of the 2014 World T20 after breaking his hand when punching a locker. read more

Op Ed PPP delivered its pre1992 promise of Constitutional Reform

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedTeixeira, another PPP member wanted to dilute Presidential term limits – RamkarranJuly 13, 2015In “Politics”LETTER: Opposition has rightfully challenged the President’s power on GECOM appointmentOctober 31, 2017In “latest news”Op Ed: A Jaundiced JeffreyMarch 2, 2018In “Opinion” By: Mohabir Anil Nandlall, MPAttorney-at-Law Last week, the Stabroek news (2018.02.24) published a letter by Vishnu Bisram under the caption “Jagan and the PPP broke their promise to revoke the Burnham Constitution”. This letter provides me with the opportunity to address a falsehood that has been peddled with alarming frequency by a misguided few.Bisram wrote, “Jagan made a commitment in 1992 before the first democratic election was held that should he win the Presidency, his first act would be to replace the constitution. Jagan and the PPP broke their promise. …Nandlall and his colleagues, including Bharrat Jagdeo and Frank Anthony, are on record as supporting the Burnham constitution.”I am indeed, disappointed that a person of Bisram’s political acumen and academic stature would make such careless statements. Neither Dr. Cheddi Jagan,  nor the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) promised to “revoke” the 1980 “Burnham Constitution”. Neither was there a promise to do so as a “first act” of Government. Anyone familiar with constitutional workings would know that either of those promises would have been reckless to make because they are both, practically and politically, nearly impossible to deliver. Revoking a Constitution is a highly technical, financially exorbitant and time-consuming process and it would have been politically suicidal for the PPP to attempt any such thing as its first act of Government after the 1992 elections, having regard to the charged political environment pervading at the time. More on this will have to be the subject of an article set aside for that purpose.Prior to the 1992 elections, what Dr. Jagan and the PPP promised was “constitutional reform” with emphasis on the reduction of the heavy concentration of power in the Executive, generally and the President, specifically. As soon as it became reasonably possible, the PPP commenced a course of action designed to deliver on this promise. Thus, in 1994, a Constitutional Reform Committee of the National Assembly was established, headed by then Attorney General, Mr. Bernard DeSantos SC. Unfortunately, before this Committee could have completed its work, the life of that Parliament came to an end. Then came the 1997 elections.  The PPP’s victory at the polls brought about widespread protests, burning, looting and street violence instigated by the PNC. An intervention by Caricom produced the Herdmanston Accord which embraced constitutional reform.Constitutional Reform CommissionIn consequence, by an Act of Parliament, piloted by the PPP Government in 1999, a most broad based Constitutional Reform Commission was legally established. This Commission comprised of the political parties, the religious organisations, the private sector, the labour movement, ethnic based organisations, women’s organisations, Amerindian organisations, farmer’s organisations and important civil society stakeholder organisations such as the Guyana Bar Association. Significantly, this Commission was endowed with an unfettered statutory mandate to review the Constitution in its entirety. In the discharge of this mandate, it was empowered to consult “…within the widest possible geographical area, with as many persons, groups, communities, organisations and institutions as possible including, but not restricted to, religious and cultural organisations, political parties, youth organisations, high school and university students, women’s organisations, private sector organisations, professional bodies and the media.” Ralph Ramkarran S.C. chaired this Commission and Haslin Parris was its secretary.I pause here to point out that the PPP did not seek to monopolize nor dominate this initiative, but rather,magnanimously, delegated it to a multiple-partisan body, vested with an untrammelled mandate to consult with all and sundry across the length and breadth of Guyana with a view of reviewing the Constitution in its entirety. It is difficult to conceive a more effectual and exigent mechanism, which could have been fashioned in order to deliver Dr. Jagan and the PPP’s promise of reform to the 1980 Constitution.This Commission worked for over two years and produced over 200 recommendations, which were culled, refined and crystallised into over 180 amendments that were all incorporated into the 1980 Constitution.A distillation of these recommendations and consequential amendments can be summarized thus: there were formidable diminution of executive powers, including the powers and immunities of the President; there was a discernible devolution of most of these powers to the Legislature, the Political Opposition and other agencies of State, including, the Local Democratic Organs; there was expansions of the powers of Parliament and the establishment of a series of checks and balances to increase scrutiny of the executive’s exercise of power and an appreciable augmentation of civil liberties and human rights.It would be impossible for me to elaborate on or even list the reforms made. Nevertheless, I will highlight only a few.Presidential PowersIn terms of the Executive President, the controversial immunities with which the President was endowed for acts committed after he demitted office, were removed and what now exists is a compendium of immunities, which most Heads of State throughout the Commonwealth enjoy. The power which a President enjoyed to dissolve a Parliament, moving to remove him from office was excised and the number of votes required to move a Motion of that type in the National Assembly was reduced. The powers which the President had to unilaterally appoint a Chancellor of the Judiciary, a Chief Justice and a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are now shared with the Leader of the Opposition. The power that the President hitherto enjoyed to unilaterally appoint members of all the Service Commissions is now shared with the National Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition. The President is now mandated to act upon the recommendations of the Service Commissions. A discretionary power, which existed before has been removed. A two-term limit has been imposed on the Presidency. In most of the important constitutional appointments where the President enjoys the power of appointment, he is mandated to engage in “meaningful consultation” with the Leader of the Opposition and “meaningful consultation” is now defined by the Constitution, itself.In terms of Parliament, an Opposition, now for the first time, can remove a Government by virtue of a no confidence Motion. Standing Committees in the Parliament have been constitutionalized. The National Assembly now recommends persons to be appointed on the various Service Commissions and on the Rights Commissions established by these constitutional amendments. The fiscal autonomy and independence of a number of institutions of the state, including the Judiciary, the Auditor General Office and a host of other State “watchdog” agencies have been constitutionalized. An independent Elections Commission, differently constituted, has been established. A modified electoral system was promulgated with greater geographic representation.Democratic PolityIn terms of individual rights, the fundamental rights and freedoms section of the Constitution was expanded and new rights introduced. For example: the right to work, the right to pension and gratuity, equality for women, indigenous peoples rights, the right to establish private schools etc., have all been made fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. All international treaties dealing with human rights to which Guyana is a signatory, were to some extent incorporated and made part of our Constitution and those charged with the responsibilities of interpreting the human rights embraced by the Constitution, are mandated to take into account the provisions of these international treaties. None of these were in the 1980 Constitution. The Rights Commission for example: the Indigenous People Commission, the Woman and Gender Equality Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Rights of the Child Commission, were all established under these amendments. So was the Public Procurement Commission.The above is by no means exhaustive but it provides a fleeting insight into some of the changes, which were made to the 1980 Constitution. These changes, cumulatively, have immeasurably, liberalised the democratic polity, enhanced the juridical structure and augment the human tights content of the Constitution rendering it radically different from the 1980 document. Therefore those who continue to propagate the view that the PPP did not change the 1980 Constitution and that the 1980 Constitution is alive, are not speaking from a position of knowledge, but are parroting the views of the uninitiated.Should there be more changes? Of course! Constitutional reform, like life and society, is an ongoing and evolutionary process. As an organic document, a Constitution must always remain fluid and dynamic, ready to adapt to the vicissitudes and exigencies of the evolving society in which it operates. read more

Firefighters battle huge blaze at abandoned Drogheda mill

first_img Mar 15th 2019, 7:28 PM Updated Mar 15th 2019, 7:28 PM FIREFIGHTERS ARE TACKLING a blaze at an abandoned mill in Drogheda, Co Louth this evening. The fire broke out at the former Donaghy’s Mill in the town. The building has been abandoned for a number of years. Videos from the scene show firefighters tackling the blaze. Local TD Fergus O’Dowd tweeted pictures from the scene. “Donaghys Mill abandoned for many years now totally engulfed in flames,” he said.  Firefighters battle huge blaze at abandoned Drogheda mill The fire broke out at the former Donaghy’s Mill in the town. 25,206 Views Short URL 31 Comments center_img Share185 Tweet Email Friday 15 Mar 2019, 7:28 PM Another listed building which stood for 200 plus years destroyed.A listing for the mill on An Táisce’s website said that it was suffering from neglect and that the level of risk surrounding it was high.    By Cormac Fitzgerald Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

Ampoules à basse consommation leur teneur en mercure inquiète

first_imgAmpoules à basse consommation : leur teneur en mercure inquièteLa Commission européenne envisage toujours l’interdiction progressive des ampoules à incandescence classique au profit des ampoules à basse consommation. Mais la teneur en mercure de ces ampoules inquiète plusieurs députés européens.La Commission européenne estime que l’inquiétude des députés concernant le mercure contenu par les ampoules à basse consommation est exagérée, rapporte l’AFP. Des députés allemands ont même demandé à ce que l’interdiction des ampoules “classiques” soit levée. C’est le cas d’Herbert Reul qui estime que “sous la pression de la folie climatique, on a poussé une interdiction à la va-vite” de ces ampoules.À lire aussiLa NASA dévoile d’éblouissantes images du transit de Mercure devant le SoleilEn effet, les ampoules à basse consommation peuvent s’avérer dangereuses si elles se cassent. Elles libèreraient alors le mercure qu’elles contiennent, un métal lourd extrêmement nocif. En cas de bris d’une ampoule à basse consommation, le seuil de 0,35 microgrammes de mercure par mètre cube, seuil toléré légalement, peut être instantanément multiplié par 20. L’Office allemand qui a publié ce test invite les consommateurs à acheter en priorité des ampoules protégées par une coque en plastique.Mais la Commission européenne estime que les éléments scientifiques dont elle dispose ne vont pas dans ce sens. Le comité d’experts qui ont étudié la question a conclu que le “bris accidentel d’ampoule à basse consommation ne devrait pas poser de risque pour la santé des adultes”. Mais en ce qui concerne les enfants, aucune donnée n’est rapportée.Si rien ne change, les ampoules à incandescence de 60, de 75 et de 100 watts seront interdites en septembre 2011 et, un an plus tard, celles de 25 et de 40 watts.Le 27 décembre 2010 à 17:03 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

Une montretéléphone 4G baptisée Void

first_imgUne montre-téléphone 4G baptisée VoidSi vous trouvez votre smartphone trop large et trop épais, cette montre propose les mêmes fonctions qu’un téléphone traditionnel, le confort en plus !Il faut l’appeler Void. Cette montre-téléphone est un parfait compromis pour les personnes trouvant les smartphones actuels toujours trop larges et trop épais. Ici votre téléphone est toujours accessible directement sur votre poignet. Il propose un écran tactile et de nombreuses fonctionnalités selon le site New Launches.À lire aussiPourquoi dit-on “allô” quand on répond au téléphone ?Loin de faire pâle figure face aux smartphones, la Void dispose même d’un support de la 4G, ce dont ne peut pas se targuer la majorité des téléphones à tout faire présents sur le marché. En outre, cette montre intelligente est compatible avec les accessoires Bluetooth, et peut lire de la musique et des fichiers vidéos sur son écran d’1,8 pouce. Par contre il ne dispose pas de puce WiFi ou de stockage suffisant pour l’utiliser comme baladeur MP3. Ce gadget chinois veut une alternative aux téléphones classiques pour les consommateurs qui n’ont pas besoin de toutes les fonctionnalités d’un smartphone. Le prix de cet appareil est de 95 dollars sur le site du constructeur. Le 22 octobre 2011 à 15:58 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

Pebble Rebel Award to be announced at women’s festival

first_imgThe Pebble Rebel Award will go to one local woman for “creating a ripple effect of positivity and making a difference in the Pacific Northwest,” according to a news release from the International Women’s Festival Pacific Northwest. The festival is this weekend at Clark College.Fifteen women were nominated for the award. The nominees and winners will be honored at the festival on Saturday. Visit for more information about the festival and award.last_img

Santiago Solari reveals what he thinks of Isco

first_imgReal Madrid caretaker coach Santiago Solari has revealed that Madrid’s midfielder Isco is “special”, however, he claims he was not willing to rush the midfielder.The 26-year-old Isco who went for an appendicitis surgery in September has not been featured in any of Madrid’s past three games which the Champions won in all since Solari took charge.Solari also showered praises on the Spain international and admitted that the playmaker had work to do to fully recover and be his best.“We know Isco’s quality and how special he is. He is training to get back to peak fitness,” he told a news conference on Saturday, according to FourFourTwo.“He had a delicate operation and it’s not easy to come out of that, but he is training with the group.Sergio Ramos, Real MadridZidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.“All of us who have been footballers know that you have to keep training to get back to your best.”Madrid will visit Celta Vigo in LaLiga on Sunday and have scored 11 goals without any losing any of the three matches in which Solari’s was in charge.👊 Next target: @RCCelta⚽ @isco_alarcon ⚽ @marcoasensio10 👐 @NavasKeylor #RMCity— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) November 8, 2018last_img read more

Tanning salon reportedly robbed in east Vancouver

first_imgA tanning salon was reportedly robbed tonight in east Vancouver.The robbery was reported just before 9 p.m. at SunsUp Tanning Center at 2100 S.E. 164th Ave., a shopping center in the Cascade Highlands neighborhood that includes New Seasons Market. Vancouver police responded to the business, where a witness described the robber as a thin man in his 20s wearing sunglasses and a zip-up hooded sweatshirt and jeans, according to emergency radio traffic monitored by The Columbian.Officers and police dogs are canvassing the area. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.last_img read more

Nissan Terranos RearEnd Design Revealed in Official Sketch

first_imgJapanese auto maker Nissan on Saturday showed off the rear-end design of the upcoming Terrano compact SUV, hinting at the launch of the vehicle.The new crossover, christened Terrano, is based on the Renault Duster. Nissan had earlier revealed the front design of the car in another picture. The rear styling of the Terrano looks different from the Duster. The reflector is placed on the lower bumper and the tail lamps are seen split with half the tail lights placed on the backdoor.”I am delighted to reveal both the name and the very first image of what will be a very important model for Nissan,” said President and CEO of Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd, Kenichiro Yomura adding further. “You can see from the sketch that Terrano has a bold and distinctive design that I am confident will appeal to our growing customer base in India, as will its driving performance and range of other features that will be revealed at a later date.”The front grille and headlights of the vehicle also sported new looks. According to reports, not much will be changed in terms of the interiors of the vehicle. Nissan’s upcoming SUV is likely to be positioned above the Duster. It is expected to use the same Duster engine and will likely be launched in September. The Terrano SUV is considered to be a strong contender to the newly launched Ford EcoSport.last_img read more

Rami Malek and Daniel Craigs Bond 25 movie details announced

first_imgDaniel Craig as James Bond in Casino RoyaleTwitter/ James BondWe finally have all the details about the upcoming James Bond movie. Daniel Craig will be reprising his role of Bond whereas, the Academy Award-winning actor, Rami Malek will play the main villain in the feature.There had been several speculations about the upcoming Bond 25 movie. At first, there were reports that Daniel Craig will be replaced by Chris Hemsworth or Idris Elba as the protagonist in the action-thriller movie. It was later clarified that Craig will star in Bond 25 for the last time as James Bond.Following which, there were talks about Danny Boyle joining as the director but the acclaimed filmmaker left the project due to some creative conflicts. But that’s all in the past now, as we have all the details about the upcoming Bond 25 movie.At the recently held live event at Ian Fleming’s GoldenEye villa in Jamaica, movie experts and fans learned several interesting things about the upcoming Bond 25 movie.As of now, the upcoming James Bond movie has no title whatsoever. Even the studio is using #Bond25 to promote the movie.Joining the cast of #BOND25 is Lashana Lynch (@LashanaLynch)— James Bond (@007) April 25, 2019The other important details about Bond 25 are as follows:Rory Kinnear will return as James Bond’s stalwart ally, Tanner.Ben Whishaw will return as Q after playing the role in Skyfall and Spectre.Naomie Harris will portray Eve Moneypenny.Léa Seydoux will play the role of Dr. Madeleine Swann.Jeffrey Wright will be back as the CIA operative we last saw in Quantum of Solace.Rami Malek is reportedly going to feature as the main antagonist in the upcoming Bond 25 movie. He was featured in a video in which he said the following:A word about #BOND25 from Rami Malek— James Bond (@007) April 25, 2019″Hey everyone, this is Rami Malek and I am not jealous not one bit… that you are in the absolutely stunning setting of Ian Fleming’s iconic Caribbean home GoldenEye on the island of Jamaica!” Rami said while adding that he is stuck in New York in the production but he is “very much looking forward to joining the whole cast and crew very soon. And I promise you all I will be making sure that Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in his 25th outing.”Even producer Barbara Broccoli talked about the movie’s plot and revealed that James Bond won’t be on active service at the start of the film as he will be enjoying his time in Jamaica.last_img read more

Why Chatbots Are Failing Your Customers

first_img Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals 5 min read June 30, 2017 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Chatbots are set to transform marketing, but there is a bump in the road that many are missing.According to Digitas, 59 percent of Americans have communicated with chatbots or would be willing to do so. After all, customers can use them to receive quick and personalized assistance right on their mobile devices.Brands, on the other hand, can use chatbots to automate customer service, be available 24/7 and collect data about their consumers. In fact, chatbots could help reduce business costs by more than $8 billion per year by 2022. That’s why major companies such as NBC, Sephora, and Uber have already built their own bots.Related: Top 10 Practices for Making a Great ChatbotMessaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat and WhatsApp also contribute to the rise of chatbots. According to eMarketer, more than a quarter of the world will use mobile messaging apps by 2019. And brands continue to launch their own chatbots on these apps.Despite this excitement, however, chatbots are still failing your customers. Without the proper approach to this new technology, companies will only end up wasting money and frustrating their audiences. That’s why it’s important for marketers to understand the complexities of chatbots, and be prepared for the challenges that they pose.Here’s what you need to know.Why chatbots are failingChatbots aren’t being used to their full potential. Marketers are forcing them to perform traditional functions and, as a result, cutting themselves short. For example, they plug simple, automated responses into their messaging services instead of taking the opportunity to reimagine the entire customer experience around this new tool.As Katie Lamkin wrote for Prophet, “Many companies think they are innovating, when they are simply iterating . . . . Rather than re-imagining the moment and overall experience, initial solutions for chatbots mimic modern-day call centers.”Related: Choosing the Right Chatbot Program Could Be Your Best Customer Service MoveYou wouldn’t use a fork to do the job of knife, right? Then don’t use a chatbot to perform the functions of a call center. Think about it: If you apply an old strategy to a new platform, you still have an old strategy.The takeaway here is that chatbots are more than just squawk boxes that parlay messages between parties. They’re powerful tools that can deliver personalized experiences to individual consumers. They can be used to follow up with each buyer along their journey, provide optimized services and complete transactions — but only if marketers use them correctly.How you can optimize your chatbot strategy Two major issues prevent marketers from making the most of chatbots: siloed departments and ineffective technology.Let’s start with the first one. Chatbot interactions don’t exist in a vacuum. A customer might see your email newsletter, for example, then check out your Facebook page, and then open up Facebook Messenger to ask a question to your chatbot. In order to deliver the best experience possible, you need to be able to see every step of that journey. That’s why your departments — from social media and customer service to sales and IT — need to work together to develop a unified view of the customer.The solution is to adopt the right technology for the job. Specifically, marketers need to connect their bots to a system of intelligence that contains data from every customer touchpoint. They need one platform where they can view and collect information from email responses, social channels, customer relationship management software and sales calls.Related: 10 Metrics Your Chatbot Should Track to Optimize User ExperienceFor example, when a customer messages a company on Facebook Messenger, this data can be processed and matched with their data in the platform. Machine learning can then be applied to that data. This helps marketers understand exactly what the customer wants, and then route their message to the appropriate customer care agent. Or if a customer starts a conversation on Twitter and then picks it back up on Facebook Messenger, companies should be able to follow this conversation and use aggregated customer intelligence at the point of engagement.By integrating departments and acquiring the right technology, companies can enable a seamless handoff between bots and customer service representatives –leaving that traditional call center strategy behind.Building more intuitive customer experiencesChatbots aren’t going anywhere. They offer new and efficient ways for marketers to reach individual customers at scale. And with the growth of messaging apps, they fit right into customers’ mobile habits.Still, hype alone won’t help them succeed. To harness the full potential of these tools, marketers must take the right approach. They have to connect their chatbots to an intelligence platform that combines data from every touchpoint. This way, the chatbot can fall right into line with other outreach channels, and customers can enjoy the most intuitive and personalized experiences possible. Register Now »last_img read more

CHOICE welcomes ACCC action against Meriton

first_imgCHOICE welcomes ACCC action against MeritonCHOICE welcomes ACCC action against MeritonConsumer group CHOICE welcomes the ACCC’s decision to initiate proceedings against Meriton for misleading or deceptive conduct over reviews of its properties on the TripAdvisor website.“If Meriton is found to have taken steps to prevent unhappy customers from posting their experiences online, we’d like to see the Federal Court issue the maximum penalty,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.The regulator claims Meriton took steps to prevent guests from providing negative reviews about the chain on TripAdvisor[1].“When consumers are booking the holiday of a lifetime, they need to be confident that the reviews they’re reading tell the whole story about a property and don’t simply reflect what a business wants them to see,” Mr Godfrey says.“User reviews only work when positive and negative reviews are posted so consumers can form a balanced view.“A one-way tide of positive reviews could be a sign something is amiss.”Last year a CHOICE investigation into fake online reviews found that 20 short-form reviews can be purchased for as little as US$5 and 2500 Facebook likes can be bought for just $70.[2]“The staggering popularity of user reviews, as consumers share and rate their experiences, has unfortunately also given rise to the practice of companies faking reviews to promote their own business,” says Mr Godfrey.“Section 29 of Australian Consumer Law prevents businesses from making or inducing false or misleading representations through testimonials or reviews.“Businesses that pay people to write reviews who have never used their products or services are clearly misleading consumers but those same considerations also apply to editing or deleting less favourable ratings.”For further information please Click Here CHOICElearn more hereCHOICE tips for spotting fake reviewsCheck reviews about the same business from different sourcesKeep an eye out for tell-tale signs of fakery such as a sudden increase in positive or negative reviews over a short timeframe that are out of sync with earlier reviewsBeware of reviews that are allegedly from different people but are suspiciously similar in tone and style[1][2] = CHOICElast_img read more