Air Canada says its new loyalty program will help to increase share

first_imgMONTREAL – Air Canada’s move to launch its own loyalty program in 2020 will help to attract more foreign investors and narrow a gap in the value of its stock compared with its American rivals, CEO Calin Rovinescu said Monday.Air Canada is negotiating with potential credit card partners and expects to announce a decision by the end of the year, the company said. The airline served notice last year that it does not plan to renew its more than 30-year-long partnership with Aimia Inc.-operated Aeroplan when the current contract ends in 2020.Rovinescu said the company’s decision not to renew its Aeroplan partnership will deliver up to about $2.5 billion of value for investors, which could go a long way to eliminate some of the difference in how investors value the Canadian airline compared with its U.S. peers.Part of the differential is due to the higher cost of doing business in Canada because of the fee and charges that U.S. airlines don’t face operating out of its airports, he said.Chief financial officer Michael Rousseau added that the share price gap could also be narrowed as it attracts more investors from the U.S., Europe and Asia. Currently, 42 per cent of its shareholders are from outside of Canada.Closer to home, Air Canada said it is preparing to deploy its Rouge low-cost airplanes this summer on transcontinental routes to Western Canada in order to compete with ultra-low-cost rivals, including WestJet Airlines, which is preparing to launch its Swoop ultra-low-cost airline in June.The routes will be between Montreal and Victoria, along with Toronto to Nanaimo and Kamloops, B.C., starting in June.Air Canada is also looking to capitalize on labour woes at its rival WestJet and preparing to increase capacity if required in response to a potential strike by WestJet pilots.“We certainly don’t take any pleasure from seeing WestJet’s current challenges and woes but certainly it’s our objective that if there was a business opportunity there we’ll seize upon it as they sought to do,” Rovinescu told shareholders.Air Canada reported a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter as its revenue grew compared with a year ago, boosted by increased capacity and passenger traffic.The Montreal-based airline said it lost $170 million, or 62 cents per diluted share, in its slowest quarter of the year, compared with a loss of $13 million or five cents per share in the same quarter last year.Operating revenue for the quarter totalled a record $4.07 billion, up from $3.64 billion, helped by the business cabin where revenues were up nearly 14 per cent on higher traffic and prices.Non-fare ancillary revenues grew 17 per cent, mainly from seat selection and preferred seats which were up 56 per cent, and upgrades that were 37 per cent higher.The strong results were achieved despite higher costs resulting from winter service disruptions, Rovinescu told analysts.“Despite these challenges, our first quarter performance demonstrates our ability to perform against headwinds and our progress towards consistent earnings and long-term sustained profitability,” he said.On an adjusted basis, Air Canada said it lost $52 million or 19 cents per diluted share compared with an adjusted loss of $63 million or 23 cents per diluted share a year ago. The improvement came despite higher fuel prices.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted loss of 44 cents per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.Air Canada will consider instituting a dividend as it gets closer to achieving an investment grade credit rating by the end of 2020, said Rousseau.However, based on other airlines, he wasn’t sure there is any real reward from having a dividend program. He added that most shareholders he hears from prefer the company to reduce its debt and buy back some shares.Follow @RossMarowits on Twitter.Companies in this story: (TSX:AC, TSX:WJA)last_img read more

PEI potato shortage blamed as Cavendish Farms closes packaging plant

first_imgDIEPPE, N.B. – Cavendish Farms is blaming a shortage of potatoes on Prince Edward Island as it closes a fresh produce packaging facility in O’Leary, P.E.I., and switches to producing only frozen potato products in the province.It says the closure by the end of the year will affect 40 employees but some seasonal workers will be hired when the facility switches to a storage role.General manager Ron Clow says Cavendish had a shortfall of 68 million kilograms of potatoes in 2017 in P.E.I. which it made up for by buying from new sources on the island as well as from producers in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and Maine.He says the company has already made arrangements to import 29.4 million kilograms of potatoes to P.E.I. this year, which is not economically sustainable.Last fall, Cavendish Farms broke ground on a $360-million frozen potato processing plant in Lethbridge, Alta., which is expected to triple existing capacity there when it opens in the fall of 2019.The company, part of the J.D. Irving Group of Companies, has two potato processing plants in P.E.I. and another in Jamestown, N.D.“There simply aren’t enough potatoes on P.E.I. for both our lines of business,” said Clow in a news release. “This is an unfortunate consequence of low yields and lack of raw potatoes on PEI.”He added the health of the province’s potato industry in the face of growing competition in the frozen potato export market depends on farmers increasing yields through means including more irrigation.last_img read more

Hospital Foundation starts annual Be an Angel campaign

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John City Council proclaimed November Be an Angel month to help the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation kick off their annual fundraiser.At Monday’s Council meeting, Council approved the proclamation as the foundation works to raise $250,000 between now and the end of the year. The fundraising kicks off with the annual gala dinner at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre on November 3. Tickets are available now by calling the Foundation at 250-261-7563.Throughout the month of November, donations are collected to support the purchase of much-needed medical equipment that enhances patient comfort and care at the Fort St. John Hospital and Peace Villa Residential Care Facility. Many residents receive a call to action in the mail on the week of October 17th, residents can return the slip with a donation by mail, or our “Be an Angel” donation boxes will be at your local financial institution during the month of November. Foundation Director Niki Hedges also stopped by Moose FM on Monday to share exciting news about the 15th annual Rhyason Contracting Light a Moose.At the end of November, Moose FM will hold their 15th annual Rhyason Contracting Light a Moose. This annual three-day fundraiser will be held at Murray GM in 2018 and proceeds from that event will go to purchase a portable ultrasound machine that helps diagnose patients during any emergency trauma. Pembina Pipelines has also agreed to match every Light a Moose donation up to $25,000. Light a Moose will be held from November 28 to 30.last_img read more

CoucheTards Statoil acquisition takes bite out of Q1 earnings

LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. cites costs related to its acquisition Statoil Fuel & Retail for a 26% drop net earnings in its fiscal 2013 first quarter.The Quebec-based convenience store and fuel station operator posted net profits of US$102.9-million, or 57 cents per diluted share in the quarter ended July 22. That compared with net earnings of US$139.5-million or 75 cents per share in the comparable year-earlier period.[np-related]The Canadian Press

Security Council calls on Somali parties to protect relief workers

The call came in a statement to the press by this month’s Council President, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, following a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Somalia by Carolyn McAskie, the UN Deputy Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs. Noting the improvement in the humanitarian situation within the overall context of the Somali conflict, members of the Council stressed that a “substantive and definite improvement in the relief situation could not be sustained without significant progress in the settlement of the conflict and of political reconciliation.” They called on the donor community to extend general assistance by responding to an inter-agency appeal by the UN, stressing the importance of support to UN, national and international organizations in addressing humanitarian needs in Somalia, and to the peace process in general. Members of the Council also expressed support for the work of the UN Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and non-governmental organizations on preventing female genital mutilation. read more

Local authorities can help bridge the digital divide Lyon conference told

Meeting in Lyon, France, on 4 and 5 December as a prelude to this week’s World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva, the summit delegates – which included hundreds of mayors and elected local representatives from around the world – tabled a “Lyon Declaration” to be presented in Geneva.The declaration calls for real action to narrow the widening digital divide after delegates agreed that local authorities must try to transform information and communication technologies to ensure they can be used as tools for integration and social progress.The declaration also requests that Secretary-General Kofi Annan strengthen the role of the UN Advisory Committee on Local Authorities (UNACLA) in promoting information and communication technologies for good governance.Lyon’s Senator-Mayor Gérard Collomb said local authorities have a critical role to play in bridging the divide.UN-HABITAT’s Deputy Executive Director Daniel Biau called on local authorities not to forget that 1 billion people around the world live in slums and have no access the Internet or even a telephone.”The Information Society ignores them and this is what we must change, what you must change,” Mr Biau said. read more

Maldives court decision undermines human rights protections in country warns senior UN

“The Supreme Court judgement is yet another example of the judiciary undermining human rights protection in the Maldives,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein affirmed in a press release issued earlier today. “National human rights institutions play a pivotal role in independently monitoring and protecting human rights and should be empowered to report on rights issues without fear.”According to the High Commissioner’s Office (OHCHR), the Maldives Supreme Court handed down a verdict on 16 June against five members of the country’s Human Rights Commission following its submission of a written contribution to the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Maldives before the UN Human Rights Council. In its submission to the UN, the Commission cited criticism of the Maldivian judicial system by the UN’s independent experts. As a result, the Supreme Court this week declared the Commission’s submission unlawful and declared that the rights body would be required to abide by a set of 11 “very broad and ill-defined guidelines in carrying out its activities,” OHCHR added. “Imposing such extraordinary and broad restrictions on the Human Rights Commission, including on their engagement with international organisations, is completely unacceptable,” Mr. Zeid continued.“In this case, the Supreme Court appears to be yet again overreaching its mandate by playing a legislative role. Laws regulating the very important human rights monitoring and reporting work of civil society and independent institutions must be transparently adopted by legislative bodies following wide consultations and open debate, in line with international human rights laws and standards.”The human rights situation in the Maldives has been the focus of OHCHR’s concern in recent months, particularly following the arrest, trial and conviction of the country’s former President Mohammed Nasheed which UN rights experts have deemed as “vastly unfair, arbitrary and disproportionate.” Meanwhile, in late March, the UN High Commissioner condemned the treatment of former President Nasheed as being riddled with “flagrant irregularities.”In today’s press release, Mr. Zeid urged the Maldives Government to take legal steps to ensure that the independence and integrity of the Human Rights Commission remain uncompromised and that the Commission’s right to freely communicate with international human rights mechanisms be firmly preserved in law and practice. read more

Motor industry gives a cautious welcome to prebudget statement

The motor industry today welcomed the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget statement but remains cautious until further analysis of the detail.The industry is pleased that the volume related tax credits for research and development work have been granted. This will encourage companies to invest in what is already a significant part of the UK automotive industry. Manufacturers are keen to contribute to environmental consultations announced this afternoon on vehicles, fuels and green technologies, which provide real incentive for innovation.The Chancellors announcement for the road haulage sector will provide a long awaited level playing field for this hard pressed sector of industry. * * * * * Note to Editors There are 3.2 million commercial vehicles in the nation’s road transport fleet. Some 500,000 of these are heavy trucks (over 7.5 tonnes). The operators of these heavy trucks should see most of the benefit from the proposed VED reforms. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

NBA Finals Spurs Win on The Brink of Title

Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs struggling star, broke out of a slump in a big way with 24 points and 10 assists in his first start of the season, and the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 114-104 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, taking a 3-2 series lead.Tony Parker scored 26 points, Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ginobili had his highest-scoring game of the season, as the Spurs became the first team to shoot 60 percent in a finals game in four years.“He’s such a huge part of what we do and how far we’ve come. You can see it tonight in how we played and the results of the game,” Duncan said. “We’re always confident in him. … we know he has it in him. We hope he can bring it forward for one more win.”Danny Green smashed the NBA Finals record for 3-pointers, hitting six more and scoring 24 points. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16, but the stage was set when Ginobili trotted out with Duncan, Parker and the rest of starters in what could have been the last finals home game for the trio who have meant so much to San Antonio.One more victory and the Spurs’ Big Three, not Miami’s, will be the one that rules the NBA.And a big reason was Ginobili, as he’s been for so long — just not during what had been a miserable series for the former Sixth Man of the Year.“I was angry, disappointed,” Ginobili said. “We are playing in the NBA Finals, we were 2-2, and I felt I still wasn’t really helping the team that much, and that was the frustrating part.”On Sunday, it was all forgotten.“He’s obviously very popular. He’s been here a long time. He’s helped us have a lot of success over the years,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored 25 points for the Heat, who host Game 6 on Tuesday night. They need a victory to force the first Game 7 in the finals since the Lakers beat the Celtics in 2010.Miami’s Big Three formed a few weeks after that game, with predictions of multiple titles to follow. Now they’re a loss away from going just 1 for 3 in finals to start their partnership, while the Spurs could run their perfect record to 5 for 5.“This is the position we’re in and the most important game is Game 6,” James said. “We can’t worry about a Game 7, we have to worry about Game 6.”Duncan won his first title in 1999, and Parker and Ginobili were with him for three championships since. They have been the perfect partnership, keeping the Spurs in the hunt virtually every year while teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Suns have all risen and fallen in the Western Conference during that time.They remained unbeaten in Game 5s, including two previous victories when the series was tied at 2-2. Of the 27 times the finals have been tied at 2-2, the Game 5 winner has won 20 of them.Miami was the most recent loser, falling to Dallas in Game 5 in 2011 before being eliminated at home the next game.“We’re going to see if we’re a better ballclub and if we’re better prepared for this moment,” Wade said.San Antonio shot 42 of 70, right at 60 percent. The last team to make 60 percent of its shots in the finals was Orlando, which hit 62.5 in Game 3 against the Lakers in 2009, according to STATS.“They just absolutely outplayed us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “At times, they were just picking one guy out at a time and going at us mano-a-mano. That’s got to change.” read more

Mens Tennis Mikael Torpegaard heads into final Ohio State home match with

Then-junior Mikael Torpegaard defeated Minnesota’s Matic Spec, 6-4, 6-4 in a match on April 14. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsFollowing the end of his junior career, Ohio State’s Mikael Torpegaard was encouraged to play tennis professionally.Instead, the Denmark native decided he would return to Columbus for one more season in scarlet and gray.Now with just two more home matches remaining in the men’s tennis regular season, Torpegaard can see the start of his professional career just in front of him. And he is hoping that by breaking out more ready than ever, he will be able to show that playing at the collegiate level was the best decision for his game.“When I told the federation that I was going to college, I was one of the first ones to do it. Because of that, the relationship I’ve had with the federation hasn’t been the greatest,” Torpegaard said. “They always thought I should’ve gone pro right away, which in my eyes would’ve been a terrible mistake because I would’ve ran dry in it.”Torpegaard is currently the fourth-ranked men’s collegiate player in the country and had the opportunity to forgo his senior season and play professional tennis, but felt that he had unfinished business at Ohio State.He said more than anything, he just wanted to come away with a collegiate title before turning pro.“I [also] wanted to improve a couple things in my game still that I felt like I lacked a little bit,” Torpegaard said. “So I came back to keep on practicing, and getting better and maturing into my game both on and off the court.”The decision to play professionally was something he was initially encouraged to do from the onset of his career, but he decided it was in his best interest to play collegiate tennis. And having a chance to watch the success former Ohio State players had playing professionally ultimately influenced Torpegaard’s decision to play at the collegiate level after leaving high school.Torpegaard believed that Ohio State gave him the best training and helped further develop his skills to give him the greatest opportunity to succeed at the professional level.“I’m satisfied with this decision of coming to college,” Torpegaard said. “I think my game has taken such a huge jump, that without Ohio State, there’s no chance I would’ve ever made it.”Ohio State men’s tennis head coach Ty Tucker said that Torpegaard is not only a leader on his team, but has a great influence on the collegiate tennis community.“His presence is felt and he’s been a very positive leader because he takes pride in working as hard as he can throughout a tough long season,” Tucker said. “Any guy who comes to play college tennis knows the name Mikael Torpegaard.”That hard work mentality was shown at the 2017 NCAA semifinals when he faced Wake Forest’s Petros Chrysochos for the clinching point, a match that Torpegaard remembers as his favorite college moment.He can remember the match being tied at three, and as the last match during the event, he knew all eyes were on him.“I fall down on my wrist, I can’t really hit back-hands for the rest of the match and end up somehow winning the match 7-6 in the third anyways,” Torpegaard said. “The feeling of having everyone rush in and jump on top of me as I lay on the court is an unbelievable memory to have and that’s why I play these matches.”Though Torpegaard has largely dominated tennis to this point in his career, dominating professional tennis players requires plenty more refining. Tucker said it is not easy to become one of the top tennis players in the world, but Torpegaard has all of the qualities needed to make it to the top.“I see Mikael being a top 200 player in the world in the next 16 to 18 months,” Tucker said. “It’s not easy to get to the top 100 in the world in professional tennis to where the big money is, but I see him able to be self-sufficient on the pro tour for a long time.”He will be given a chance to prove he’s ready for tougher challenges when he and the rest of Ohio State face off against Illinois, who the team will face Saturday for the top spot in the Big Ten.But win or lose in that match, Torpegaard feels it will not come close to defining his career. He has accomplished too much for it to be defined by how his collegiate career ends.“I feel like I’ve had a good career in college, [and] if I can add a little bit to it obviously I’m going to try my best to do so, but I’m also ready to start the pro thing right now,” Torpegaard said.Torpegaard is now looking forward to the next chapter of his career playing professionally, something he said he was not prepared for last season.He hopes that he can show other European junior athletes that playing college tennis is an opportunity that can further develop players in the sport.“I’d like to be remembered for setting the standard that or changing the mentality that college is not just a place where good players go to die,” Torpegaard said. “I’ve done that to some sort of degree already, but it’s about changing some minds and really making tennis, the college way, available for other upcoming juniors in my country.” read more

Mens Basketball Shorthanded Ohio State faces No 14 Purdue

Ohio State redshirt senior Keyshawn Woods (32) brings the ball down court in the second half of the game against Iowa on Feb. 26. Ohio State won 90-70. Credit Cori Wade | Lantern PhotographerOhio State did not have much help from Kaleb Wesson when the Buckeyes played Purdue on Jan. 23. The sophomore forward scored six points, making 1-of-4 from the field with three rebounds before being relegated to the bench with five fouls after 16 minutes of play. The Buckeyes will not have that option when they play the Boilermakers for the final time in the regular season on Sunday.Ohio State announced Friday that Wesson has been suspended for a violation of athletic department policy. The timetable for the suspension was not disclosed, but head coach Chris Holtmann said the Buckeyes’ leading scorer and rebounder will return this season. Holtmann said that Saturday’s game against Purdue became even more difficult without the ability to use Wesson. “It’s a great challenge anyway,” Holtmann said. “Obviously it’s a great challenge when you don’t have a player like Kaleb, who has really had a tremendous season.”  Projected StartersOhio State (18-10, 8-9 Big Ten)G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 12.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apgG — Keyshawn Woods — Redshirt senior, 6.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.5 apgG — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 8.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apgF — Justin Ahrens — Freshman, 3.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.3 apgF — Andre Wesson — Junior, 8.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apgPurdue (21-7, 14-3 Big Ten)G — Carsen Edwards — Junior, 23.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.1 apgG — Ryan Cline — Senior, 11.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.3 apgG — Nojel Eastern — Sophomore, 7.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.4 apgF — Grady Eifert — Senior, 5.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apgC — Matt Haarms — Sophomore, 8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apgOhio State had a chance to succeed in its previous game against the Boilermakers. After trailing by as many as 14 in the second half, sophomore guard Musa Jallow hit a 3 with 10:18 left in the game, cutting the Buckeyes’ deficit to two points. Redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods remembers much of that success coming from the small-ball looks Ohio State gave Purdue, saying the defense stepped up, leading to successful trips on the offensive end. Woods said this was something that can be replicated. “We are going to fight,” Woods said. “We prefer to have Kaleb. We would much rather have our big fella, but if we have to play small ball, that’s what we are going to do.” However, size was a factor against Purdue in their first matchup. Facing a team that is No. 3 in the Big Ten in rebound margin, the Boilermakers out-rebounded Ohio State 30 to 23 on Jan. 23 with senior forward Grady Eifert leading the team with six. Without Wesson in the middle, who the head coach describes as the only player that had the positional size and length on Ohio State’s roster, Holtmann said he still does not want to play 40 minutes of small ball. But he said, without what many refer to as the anchor of the Ohio State offense, he expects the Boilermakers to press out more, unlike what Iowa did on Tuesday when the Buckeyes secured their first ranked win of the season. Really, Holtmann does not know what his team is going to look like with Wesson, who has not missed a game this season, off the court. “There are a lot of dynamics that are hard to project when you pull a guy out of your lineup like that,” Holtmann said. When the Buckeyes faced the Boilermakers in January, Purdue junior guard Carsen Edwards continued his offensive success, leading the team with 27 points on 6-for-16 shooting and making 11-of-13 from the foul line. Despite Edwards coming in averaging 23.4 points per game, which leads the Big Ten and is No. 11 in the country, Holtmann said he is more worried about the team as a whole. “I think they get unfairly judged like it’s Carsen Edwards and everybody else, but they have some really, really good players around those guys that I think command a lot of attention,” Holtmann said. Purdue comes into Saturday’s game against Ohio State winners of 12 of its past 13 games, carrying a four-game win streak. But the Buckeyes’ 20-point win against No. 22 Iowa gave Woods the blueprint of what it will take to be successful against the Boilermakers, even without one of their primary contributors. “We are not finished. We still got three games left in our regular season and we need to bring that same energy, that same effort that we had at Iowa and bring it to Purdue and Northwestern and Wisconsin,” Woods said. “We are not finished as all. We still got work to do.” Ohio State will take on No. 14 Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana at 2 p.m. Saturday. read more

UK weather Britain set to be hit by 70mph winds as forecasters

first_imgPower supplies and travel may also be disrupted, the warning said, as winds reach up to 80mph in exposed coastal areas.  Last night, forecasters at the Met Office said the system would be named if it was upgraded to an amber “be prepared” warning. They said it was possible that would happen on Wednesday when more details are known about the system’s progress, as it may instead move towards France. Speaking about the warning, the chief forecaster added: “A number of potentially vigorous low pressure systems are likely to move quickly towards northwest Europe later this week.  “One of these, on Friday, may affect parts of southern parts of the UK. However, it is worth stressing that there are a number of scenarios in which the strongest winds miss the UK altogether.”The Met Office also warned of potential surface flooding, but said properties near rivers should not be affected as it had been unexpectedly dry in recent weeks.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A couple exercise their dogs along a foggy Weymouth seafront on MondayCredit: Stuart Fretwell/REX/Shutterstock Britain will be battered by 70mph winds at the end of this week, the Met Office has warned as forecasters said Storm Doris may be on the way. A yellow “be aware” weather warning covering the south of the country as well as Wales and north west England was issued by the forecaster on Tuesday amid fears the conditions may cause damage to trees and buildings.  A couple exercise their dogs along a foggy Weymouth seafront on Mondaylast_img read more

Next phase Mars mission hopeful Dr Joseph Roche begins medical testing

first_imgJOSEPH ROCHE — THE Science Gallery astrophysicist hoping to go to the Red Planet as part of the ambitious Mars One mission — has now started the next phase of the selection process.Roche was among 1,058 candidates chosen by organisers at the start of the year —- around 200,000 people from around the world had volunteered for the project.He’s now begun a round of medical testing — including a general fitness exam, blood tests and an eyesight assessment.“There’s measurements of BMI too. The eye tests are mostly to ensure you’re not colour blind — it’s not necessary to have 20:20 vision, but the test is something you need to have done,” Roche told TheJournal.ie.“You also have to fit certain height constraints — that’s basically about fitting in the spacecraft, where space would be quite restricted.”Roche is having the tests carried locally, and is expecting more news from Mars One ‘mission control’ in the coming weeks on the next stage of selection.Roche (left) at his day job — speaking with visitors at Dublin’s Science Gallery [Image: Science Gallery]The initiative of entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp and scientist Arno Wielders, both from The Netherlands, the Mars One project aims to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2025.It would see two dozen pioneers abandon Earth and embark on a risky mission to begin a new life some 55 million km away.  The final 24 would be sent to the Red Planet in six separate launches starting in ten years.The high cost of the mission — estimated at €4.4 billion — precludes the option of a return trip. It’s planned the project will be mainly funded by a reality-TV show detailing candidates’ progress.The deadline for hopefuls to submit medical results is at the start of March. Candidates wishing to remain part of the programme must also switch their online profiles at the Mars One site to ‘public’ at that stage, to demonstrate they’re serious about their interplanetary ambitions.“We’re expecting details on the interview process in April, and there’s a chance they could also announce a reduction in numbers too if people don’t get through the medical tests.”The interview and selection process is expected to last around two years, with the groups chosen beginning their first round of training in 2015.Each batch of candidates will spend several months training each year, learning the medical, engineering, agricultural and other skills necessary to support the mooted Mars settlement.In the (admittedly not all that likely) event that it goes ahead, it’s planned the first manned mission will be preceded by a number of other launches over the next decade, as craft deliver the equipment needed to preserve life in the planet’s inhospitable environment.Check out the Mars One mission ‘roadmap’ for more >Read: Is there life on Mars? Ten years on the Opportunity rover is still lookingRead: As anticipated, the obligatory pic of Chris Hadfield supping a Guinness has just landedlast_img read more

Steve and Byron up for science prize

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram A year and a half ago, Steven Megaloudis thought X-Rays were used only at airports or when you broke a bone. X-Rays have application in other areas, such as biology, looking at the structures of cells.Now he and five schoolmates are short-listed for one of Australia’s top science prizes for their short film exploring the history, use and importance of the X-Ray. The six students from Melbourne’s St Helena Secondary College, including Greek-Australians Steven Megaloudis and Byron Mihailadis, will fly to Sydney later this month for the annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. The gala event, celebrating innovation and journalism in science, is partly hosted by celebrity scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. The year 12 students say their aim was to make a three-minute video about a scientific discovery or invention. “We wanted to stay away from the tacky, unentertaining science video you usually see,” Steven says. “The end result is something we can really be proud of.” The students said they were initially interested in X-Ray technology because it’s a rapidly-growing field, particularly in Australia. The team visited the new synchrotron in Clayton, south of Melbourne, which Steven says is basically a super-bright light force, a giant microscope. “X-Rays have application in other areas, such as biology, looking at the structures of cells,” says Steven. “And I’d never seen an insect breathe before,” says Byron. The students worked on this penetrating project during school holidays and public holidays over a year and a half. “We spent a lot of time researching, there’s a lot of information out there,” says Byron. One of the biggest tasks was collating scientific information into a form accessible to those not on the same scientific wavelength. “People listen when they’re interested, so we tried to make the film interesting,” says Steven. The students haven’t yet showed the film to their fellow students, but say they plan to screen it for the entire school before they head to Sydney. Let’s hope they break a leg.last_img read more

Absence of Fafa Sanyang Hinders the Trial of Sirra Wally Ndow

first_imgBy Rohey JadamaThe ongoing trial involving Sira Wally Ndow, former minister of petroleum and nine others did not proceed yesterday 6 October, 2016 due to the absence of the 3rd accused person, Mr. Fafa Sanyang, who is being detained at National Intelligence Agency (NIA).When the case was called Lawyer Lamin S. Camara defense counsel for Mr. Sanyang told the Special Criminal Division of the High court presided over by justice Otaba that his client was granted bail by the court but was rearrested by the NIA and he is still with them.The accused persons are namely Mrs.Sira Wally Ndow, former petroleum minister, Momodou O.S. Badjie, former Managing Director of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Fafa Sanyang, former Petroleum Commissioner, Edrisa Mass Jobe, Muntaga Sallah, former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Petroleum, Momodou Taal, Seedy Kanyi, Noah Touray, former Cabinet Secretary, Louie Moses Mendy, former official at the president’s office, and Cherno Marena, former Solicitor General and Legal Secretary.The Director of Public Prosecutions(DPP), Hadi Saleh Barkun, M. B. Abubacarr, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions(DDPP), M. Koita and Sheriff kumba Jobe announced their representation for the state, while Lawyers Mary A. Samba and S. Taal held brief for Lawyer Ida D. Drammeh announced their representation for 1st, 4th and the 6th accused persons. Lawyers Lamin S. Camara and E Sanneh and Patrick Gomez appeared for the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th accused persons.  Lawyer L. Farage for the 5th and 8th accused persons and Lawyer Borry  S. Touray for the 10th accused person.At this juncture, the DPP informed the court that the matter is for mention. He added that he was told by defence counsel Camara that the 3rd accused is detained at the NIA and that according to section 24(3) (F) of the CPC, the case cannot proceed in his absence.DPP Barkun said he is applying for the matter to be stood down for him to find out whether Mr. Sanyang is detained at the NIA or any other agency. At this juncture Lawyer Farage said she does not know why the prosecution is applying for a stand down because even if the 3rd accused person is brought, he will still need to consult his lawyer, however before she could finish talking, Justice Otaba interjected and said he is frowning at the stand down and that he will not grant it.In his ruling Justice Otaba said he is frowning at the application of the prosecution for the matter to be stood down. He subsequently adjourned the case to 20th October, 2016 at 1pm for mention.last_img read more

VIDEO State Rep Jim Moeller talks about legislative session

first_imgToday’s video is one of five recorded by editor Lou Brancaccio. This series began Tuesday, March 5, and will end Monday, March 11.Tuesday: Voting against popular opinionWednesday: CRCThursday: Binding arbitrationFriday: Prevailing wageMonday: Legislative sessionIn a wide-ranging interview, State Rep. Jim Moeller discusses how he feels the Washington state legislative session will turn out. His view? It will turn out well. When asked what he really thought, Moeller didn’t budge. He said he always has been an optimist and if he loses that feeling, it’s time to “exit the stage.” Part 5 of 5.last_img

Tirupati MLA B Karunakar Reddy and others with the electric

first_imgTirupati: Bounce, India’s fastest growing dockless bike-sharing player announced its plan to launch 100 electric scooters in Tirupati by the end of this year. In an even organised in Tirupati launched its vision to make the City pollution-free. The corporation has been working with different stakeholders including auto unions to convert autorickshaws into a battery-operated vehicle. The event has attended the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation PS Girisha, Tirupati MLA B Karunakar Reddy and others. Girisha has said that this will be the first step towards the adoption of the sustainable mode of shared transportation. MLA Karunakar Reddy has said that the city has been growing rapidly which needs bike-sharing services. Both the denizens and pilgrims will have access to greener as well as cleaner commuting options.last_img read more

Sonia Sanchez Inspires DC Audiences and Weighs in on Gentrification

first_imgBy Brianna McAdoo, Staff Writer, bmcadoo@afro.comBusboys and Poets offered up another inspirational evening with none other than the renowned poet Sonia Sanchez. On November 5, Sanchez shared an intimate evening of poetry and dialogue with the D.C. community.Over the past few months, the 450 K Street N.W. location of Busboys and Poets has welcomed a host of legendary Black women artists and activists who have made significant literary contributions with their commitment to make the world a better place for marginalized people- especially those of color. They recently hosted Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni and the late Ntozake Shange. Each of these powerhouses that have graced the stage at 450 K St NW, have made it clear that intersectionality has to be priority in the struggle for Black people in America and throughout the world.Legendary poet Sonia Sanchez, 84, spoke at Busboys and Poets (450 K Street N.W.) about the importance of voting and the danger in the District’s lack of representation.Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Sanchez, 84, is a beloved poet who has authored more than a dozen books of poetry. Her bibliography also includes short stories, essays, plays and children’s books. Additionally, she was a pioneering figure within the Black Arts movement and was also involved in the Civil Rights movement. Sanchez received her B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College. She has received numerous awards for her poetry including the Wallace Stevens Award, the Robert Frost Medal and the Robert Creeley Award.The poet opened the evening by weighing in on the importance of voting, which has been a hot topic of conversation in the wake of the midterm elections that took place in early November.“One of the interesting things about voting is simply that politics is merely the distribution of resources…the purpose of getting elected is to make sure that they get the resources so that they can buy people and do things,” Sanchez said. “I don’t vote because it’s a romantic thing. Go out and get some power. Get control of something.”Throughout the evening the poet read her work, took the time to celebrate Black people (especially lifting up Black women), discussed the exploitation of Black bodies, criticized America and its political system and discussed takeaways about the world and her own life. She warned people about the danger of gossiping cautioning people that the demise of both Black people and organizations is a byproduct of gossiping.Sanchez shared her favorite quotes from celebrated people throughout history, ranging from Vincent Harding to James Baldwin. She read excerpts from her book, A Sound Investment: Short “Stories for Young Readers” as well as shared some of her poetry. She urged the audience to read “Souls of Black Folk” and “Black Reconstruction in America”, both by W.E.B. DuboisSanchez also weighed in on D.C. statehood and representation. “Imagine living here with no representation. Come on, people! … It is outrageous,” she said.She warned against the horrors of gentrification.“When this city becomes mainly White you’ll get representation. That’s not a racist statement.  That’s real. Because when you are Blackity-Black, when you are called “Chocolate City” there’s no way you would get it. Now with gentrification coming in- I don’t even recognize D.C. anymore.”last_img read more

Study shows defensive poison in cone snails repurposed for use in catching

first_img More information: δ-Conotoxin SuVIA suggests an evolutionary link between ancestral predator defence and the origin of fish-hunting behaviour in carnivorous cone snails, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Published 8 July 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0817AbstractSome venomous cone snails feed on small fishes using an immobilizing combination of synergistic venom peptides that target Kv and Nav channels. As part of this envenomation strategy, δ-conotoxins are potent ichtyotoxins that enhance Nav channel function. δ-Conotoxins belong to an ancient and widely distributed gene superfamily, but any evolutionary link from ancestral worm-eating cone snails to modern piscivorous species has not been elucidated. Here, we report the discovery of SuVIA, a potent vertebrate-active δ-conotoxin characterized from a vermivorous cone snail (Conus suturatus). SuVIA is equipotent at hNaV1.3, hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.6 with EC50s in the low nanomolar range. SuVIA also increased peak hNaV1.7 current by approximately 75% and shifted the voltage-dependence of activation to more hyperpolarized potentials from –15 mV to –25 mV, with little effect on the voltage-dependence of inactivation. Interestingly, the proximal venom gland expression and pain-inducing effect of SuVIA in mammals suggest that δ-conotoxins in vermivorous cone snails play a defensive role against higher order vertebrates. We propose that δ-conotoxins originally evolved in ancestral vermivorous cones to defend against larger predators including fishes have been repurposed to facilitate a shift to piscivorous behaviour, suggesting an unexpected underlying mechanism for this remarkable evolutionary transition. (Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Australia’s University of Queensland has found that a toxin produced by a species of cone snail appears to have evolved from a defensive purpose to an offensive weapon. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of conotoxins in Conus suturatus and why their results indicate an evolutionary shift occurred for the species. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Proceedings of the Royal Society B Killer sea snail a target for new drugs Explore furthercenter_img Among the many creatures that exist today, many have toxic weapons—some for defending themselves, others for stunning or killing prey. And some, such as C. suturatus, have both. It likely comes as a surprise to many, to discover that some cone snails are one of the deadliest creatures around, a single sting can kill a grown man within minutes. But how did a simple, slow snail evolve to have such a weapon? That is what the researchers with this new effort sought to learn.Cone snail venom, the researchers explain, is made mostly of peptides called conotoxins—it causes harm to other creatures after a harpoon-like appendage is jammed into a victim’s body followed by an injection of the venom, which almost instantaneously impacts muscles and nerves. Different species of cone snails have different types of conotoxins—they have evolved to target a certain enemy or prey. Recent prior research has also found that many species of the snails actually produce two different types conotoxins, one for defense, one for offense—the toxins are produced at one end or the other of a venom duct. It is also known that toxins used as an offensive weapon fall into two types of categories, those that are meant to stun (d-conotoxins, typically found in snails that hunt fast moving fish) and those that are meant to kill.In this new effort, the researchers noted that cone snails that target slow moving prey would have no need for d-conotoxins—if it did exist in a species that would be an indicator that it had evolved from a defensive tool to an offensive weapon. Suspecting that to be the case with C. suturatus, the researchers conducted a genetic and proteomic analysis of some samples, and found their suspicions confirmed. They also noted that the d-conotoxins were found on the end of the venom duct normally used to produce defensive toxin—testing with mice indicated the toxins produced intense pain in victims.Taken together, the evidence points to an evolutionary shift for the snails, the researchers suggest, from producing a toxin to defend itself, to creating a toxin that would allow for capturing (via stunning) and eating passing fish. Conus suturatus. Credit: Wikipedia. Citation: Study shows defensive poison in cone snails repurposed for use in catching fish (2015, July 8) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-07-defensive-poison-cone-snails-repurposed.html © 2015 Phys.orglast_img read more

Mamata wishes Lalu on sons wedding

first_imgKolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday congratulated RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on his eldest son Tej Pratap Yadav’s wedding. “Heartiest congratulations Laluji on the happy occasion of the marriage of your son. Also happy too that you got bail. Best wishes to your family,” Banerjee tweeted.Tej Pratap Yadav got engaged to senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Chandrika Rai’s daughter Aishwarya last month and the wedding is scheduled for Saturday. Lalu Prasad who has been convicted in four fodder scam cases since 2013 — the latest being the Dumka treasury case in which a special CBI court sentenced him to 14 years in jail — was granted three days’ parole on Thursday to attend the wedding.last_img