New Delhi: Home buyers will have to pay 12 per cent GST on balance amount due to the builder if the housing project has been granted completion certificate by March 31, 2019, the CBIC has said. Builders who have received completion certificate for an ongoing project before April 1, 2019, will have to charge 12 per cent GST from buyers on the balance amount due towards purchase of the flat. Issuing the second set of FAQs for real estate sector, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said that builders will not be able to adjust the accumulated credits in ongoing projects in case they opt for lower new GST rate of 5 per cent for normal and 1 per cent for affordable housing. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraThe first set of FAQs for real estate sector was issued last week to clarify doubts with regard to migration of real estate developers to new GST rates for the sector which has come into force from April 1, 2019. The GST Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state counterparts, had in March allowed real estate players to shift to 5 per cent GST rate for residential units and 1 per cent for affordable housing without the benefit of input tax credit (ITC) from April 1, 2019. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysFor the ongoing projects, builders have been given the option to either continue in 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) slab with ITC (8 per cent for affordable housing), or opt for 5 per cent GST rate (1 per cent for affordable housing) without ITC and communicate to their respective jurisdictional officers the same by May 20. To a query on what shall be the rate of GST applicable on projects in respect of which occupation certificate has been issued prior to April 1, 2019, but the balance demands are pending, the FAQ said: “Time of supply of the service by way of construction of apartments in such projects falls prior to April 1, 2019, and accordingly the rates as existed prior to April 1, 2019, would apply to such balance demands.” AMRG & Associates Partner Rajat Mohan said, “This clarification has tightened the grip on taxpayers who intended to take benefit of lower taxes rates with the aid of deferred invoicing.” On whether accumulated ITC can be adjusted against new tax liability of 5 per cent and 1 per cent, the FAQ said: “No. GST on services of construction of an apartment by a promoter at the rate of 1 per cent/ 5 per cent is to be discharged in cash only. ITC, if any, may be used for discharging any other supply of service.” “Developers opting for new tax regime for ongoing projects now has another reason to refrain from new scheme,” Mohan said. The CBIC further clarified that exempted goods procured by a builder under the new tax regime would not be counted within the 80 per cent limit set for procurement from registered dealers. “This could entail an additional tax of 18 per cent on value of exempt supplies, credit of which would not be available to developers,” Mohan added. While deciding on lower GST rates for real estate sector, the Council had said that at least 80 per cent of the inputs should be procured from registered dealer. The CBIC has also clarified that developer and not the land owner will have the right to decide whether to opt for new GST rates or stick to old rates for ongoing projects.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Backed by Venezuela’s military, President Nicolas Maduro went on the offensive against an opposition leader who declared himself interim president and his U.S. supporters, setting up a potentially explosive struggle for power in the crisis-plagued South American nation.A defiant Maduro called home all Venezuelan diplomats from the United States and closed its embassy on Thursday, a day after ordering all U.S. diplomats out of Venezuela by the weekend because President Donald Trump had supported the presidential claim of Juan Guaido. Washington has refused to comply, but ordered its non-essential staff to leave the tumultuous country, citing security concerns.The Trump administration says Maduro’s order isn’t legal because the U.S. no longer recognizes him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.“They believe they have a colonial hold in Venezuela, where they decide what they want to do,” Maduro said in an address broadcast live on state TV. “You must fulfil my order from the government of Venezuela.”Meanwhile, all eyes were on Guaido whose whereabouts have been a mystery since the 35-year-old was symbolically sworn in Wednesday before tens of thousands of cheering supporters, promising to uphold the constitution and rid Venezuela of Maduro’s dictatorship.Speaking from an undisclosed location, Guaido told Univision he would consider granting amnesty to Maduro and his allies if they helped return Venezuela to democracy.“Amnesty is on the table,” said Guaido, who just weeks earlier was named head of the opposition-controlled congress. “Those guarantees are for all those who are willing to side with the constitution to recover the constitutional order.”Besides the United States, much of the international community rallied behind Guaido, with Canada and numerous Latin American and European countries announcing that they recognized his claim to the presidency. Trump promised to use the “full weight” of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to push for the restoration of Venezuela’s democracy.Maduro has been increasingly accused of undemocratic behaviour by his opponents, and has presided over skyrocketing inflation, a collapsing economy and widespread shortages of basic goods.Meanwhile, Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Turkey have voiced their backing for Maduro’s government.China’s Foreign Ministry called on the United States to stay out of the crisis, while Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned the U.S. against any military intervention in Venezuela. Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the information committee at the Russian Federation Council, called Guaido’s declaration “an attempted coup” backed by the U.S.Russia has been propping up Maduro with arms deliveries and loans. Maduro visited Moscow in December, seeking Russia’s political and financial support. Over the last decade, China has given Venezuela $65 billion in loans, cash and investment. Venezuela owes more than $20 billion.Diplomats at the Organization of American States held an emergency meeting Thursday on the Venezuelan crisis, during which 16 nations recognized Guaido as interim president.Domestically, attention has been on Venezuela’s military, a traditional arbiter of political disputes in the country, as a critical indicator of whether the opposition will succeed in establishing a new government.Venezuela’s top military brass pledged their unwavering support to Maduro, delivering vows of loyalty Thursday before rows of green-uniformed officers on state television.A half-dozen generals belonging largely to district commands and with direct control over thousands of troops joined Maduro in accusing Washington of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs and said they would uphold the socialist leader’s rule.Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, a key Maduro ally, dismissed efforts to install a “de-facto parallel government” as tantamount to a coup.“It’s not a war between Venezuelans that will solve our problems,” he said. “It’s dialogue.”Guaido has said he needs the backing of three critical groups: The people, the international community and the military. While yesterday’s protest drew tens of thousands to the streets and over a dozen nations in the region are pledging support, the military’s backing is key.Though many rank-and-file troops suffer the same hardships as countless other Venezuelans when it comes to meeting basic needs like feeding their families, Maduro has worked to cement their support with bonuses and other special benefits.In a video addressing the military earlier this week, Guiado said the constitution requires them to disavow Maduro after his May 2018 re-election, which was widely condemned by the international community because his main opponents were banned from running.But there were no signs that security forces were widely heeding Guaido’s call to go easy on demonstrators.Gunfire during the protests and looting left 21 dead between Wednesday and early Thursday in the capital of Caracas and throughout the country, reported Marco Ponce, co-ordinator of the non-profit Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.Many Venezuelans were looking for Guaido to re-emerge and provide guidance on the opposition’s next steps.Guaido, a virtually unknown lawmaker at the start of the year, has reignited the hopes of Venezuela’s often beleaguered opposition by taking a rebellious tack amid Venezuela’s crushing economic crisis.He escalated his campaign Wednesday by declaring that the constitution gives him, as president of the congress, the authority to take over as interim president and form a transitional government until he calls new elections.___Armario reported from Bogota, Colombia. Associated Press writers Josh Goodman and Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas contributed to this report.Scott Smith And Christine Armario, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada is all but certain to miss its Copenhagen Accord target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, the country’s environmental watchdog warned Tuesday.And not only has the Harper government failed to introduce regulations to limit the amount carbon dioxide produced by the oil and gas sector, the fastest growing emitter, it “does not have an overall plan that maps out how Canada will achieve this target,” Julie Gelfand said in her first report as commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.Under the accord, which the government signed in lieu of participating in the Kyoto Protocol, greenhouse gas production was to be cut to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.Gelfand’s predecessor warned in 2012 that the government was off course and “two years later, the evidence is stronger that growth in emissions will not be reversed in time and that the target will be missed,” said the report.The government has introduced regulations to govern the automotive and transportation sector, the biggest source of emissions, as well as the area of electricity production.But Gelfand’s report says that while regulations for coal-fired plants are in place, emissions have yet to be reduced because “performance standards take effect only in July 2015, and only apply to new plants or to existing plants when they reach the end of their useful life.”Using Environment Canada data, the commissioner estimated that by 2020, greenhouse gas production in the oil and gas sector will be 27 megatonnes higher than it was in 2012. That’s the biggest increase of any sector.Gelfand also found that detailed, proposed regulations are sitting on the environment minister’s desk, but the “federal government has consulted on them only privately, mainly using a small working group of one province and selected industry representatives.”Federal officials told the commissioner implementation has been delayed over “concern about whether regulations would make Canadian companies in the sector less able to compete with their U.S. counterparts,” the report said.Timelines to put reduction measures in place have not been met and there has been little in the way of consultation with the provinces on how to achieve the national emissions target, Gelfand said.The commissioner’s report also tore a strip off Environment Canada, Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans, saying mapping and icebreaking services in the Arctic are not what they should be at a time of growing marine traffic in the Far North.For almost a decade, the government has been talking up issues of sovereignty and resource development in the Arctic, but many high-traffic, high-risk areas remain inadequately surveyed and most of the available charts may not be current or reliable, the report found.“The Canadian Coast Guard cannot provide assurance to mariners that aids to navigation meet their needs for safe and efficient navigation in high-risk areas of the Arctic,” Gelfand concluded.The government did receive good marks for how it is monitoring development of Alberta’s oilsands, but Gelfand said more effort needs to be made to consult First Nations and to incorporate traditional ecological monitoring knowledge into Environment Canada’s monitoring activities.But she warned that plans to continue monitoring the project are unclear after March 2015.When it comes to deciding which projects are designated for environmental assessment, the rationale is unclear, the commissioner also noted.In addition, federal departments need to do a better job of flagging individual ministers about the environmental impact of their decisions and strategic environmental assessments are often not stapled to projects put before cabinet.Highlights from the fall 2014 report of Canada’s environment and sustainable development commissioner:Canada lacks a coherent plan mapping out how it intends to meet its stated target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by the year 2020. Existing measures will have little impact on emissions, and there is strong evidence that the target will be missed; Greenhouse-gas regulations for Canada’s oil and gas sector, where emissions are growing the fastest, are still not in place eight years after they were initially promised; Efforts to monitor the environmental impact of oilsands development in Alberta should be better integrated, along with traditional ecological knowledge and the input of aboriginal stakeholders, to properly understand the cumulative impact; Marine traffic in the Arctic is on the increase, but higher-risk areas remain poorly surveyed and charted, including maps that are badly outdated — some are more than 40 years old, and most were produced with antiquated technology; The Canadian Coast Guard is unable to properly meet growing demand for new and improved fixed navigational aids, such as beacons and shore lights; Despite growth in traffic and a shipping season that continues to get longer, icebreakers are spending less time in the Arctic and the coast guard does not have the resources to respond to an increasing demand for icebreaking services; plans to refit some in the fleet and decommission others mean a maximum of five icebreakers will be available through 2021; Canada lacks a long-term national vision or co-ordinated departmental strategy to support safe Arctic marine navigation, and the coast guard does not know if its services are meeting the needs of users, nor has it adequately assessed the level of risk posed by its reduced presence in the Arctic; The rationale used to determine whether projects should be subject to an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act remains unclear, posing a risk that their environmental impacts aren’t properly evaluated; Many public groups and stakeholders, including Aboriginal Peoples, are unable to participate fully and meaningfully in the environmental assessment process.
WINNIPEG — Prices were lower in mid-morning trading at ICE Futures Canada on Monday:Canola: July ’17 $2.60 lower $507.00; Nov. ’17 $2.60 lower $472.60; Jan. ’18 $0.20 lower $480.80; March ’18 $0.20 lower $486.40; May ’18 unchanged $490.30; July ’18 unchanged $491.80; Nov. ’18 unchanged $477.90; Jan. ’19 unchanged $478.10; March ’19 unchanged $478.10; May ’19 unchanged $478.10; July ’19 unchanged $478.10.Barley (Western): July ’17 unchanged $138.00; Oct. ’17 unchanged $140.00; Dec. ’17 unchanged $140.00; March ’18 unchanged $140.00; May ’18 unchanged $140.00; July ’18 unchanged $140.00; Oct. ’18 unchanged $140.00; Dec. ’18 unchanged $140.00; March ’19 unchanged $140.00; May ’19 unchanged $140.00; July ’19 unchanged $140.00.
High Commissioner Louise Arbour and Foreign Minister Jorge Briz Abularach signed the agreement yesterday at UN Headquarters in New York and it will come into force after the Guatemalan Congress ratifies it, probably this spring, the High Commissioner’s Office (OHCHR) said.Guatemalan factions ended their conflict in 1996 and a team, the UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), was put in place to monitor the peace process. It wrapped up its work last month, having stopped state-sponsored human rights violations and brought the military under control.A report to the Security Council last September said, however, the country was beset by corruption, crime and a deep-seated legacy of social inequality and racism against the Maya, Xinca and Garifuna indigenous groups.OHCHR said the office would assist with public education and training programmes for judges, law enforcement officers and lawyers, advise on how to adopt decisions by UN human rights bodies and help individuals and civil society understand what national and international recourse they had against abuses.
Ohio State senior midfielder Johnny Pearson attacks the offensive zone against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Feb. 18 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports EditorThe No. 19 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team defeated the University of Massachusetts 8-7 for the first time in school history on Saturday.Tied at six entering the fourth quarter, sophomore attackman Tyler Bogart scored for the Minutemen to take the lead. However, the Buckeyes were resilient, scoring less than a minute later to tie the game on the man advantage. Then, 13 seconds later, senior midfielder Jake Withers won the faceoff and found freshman defender Jeff Henrich who dashed downfield and scored the game-winning goal with 10:39 remaining.Senior midfielder J.T. Blubaugh scored the tying goal at seven for OSU.“(This game) shows what we’re capable of,” said senior midfielder Johnny Pearson. “It’s reflective of some of the plays on the field weren’t going our way, but we really rallied behind some of the momentum we got there late and really just proven what we can do.”UMass sophomore midfielder Ben Spencer flustered the OSU defense, earning his first career hat trick with the Minutemen. Spencer scored his final goal in the third quarter, followed by a strike from junior midfielder Jake Lisauskas to take a two-goal lead.But OSU countered again. Pearson and junior attackman Colin Chell scored for the Buckeyes to tie the game at six before the end of the quarter.Pearson had two goals on Saturday and leads the team with six through three games.OSU coach Nick Myers substituted junior goalie Matthew Smidt for the starter, redshirt senior goalie Tom Carey, at the start of the second quarter. Smidt made 11 saves on 15 shots, including two critical ones in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.“In nine years I’ve only made one or two goalie changes,” Myers said. “It’s not something I like to do, but I think it’s a gut feeling. He had a really good week. He made some big stops and I’m excited for him.”OSU trailed at three different points in the match, but not when it mattered when the horn sounded. Smidt was a key component to the comeback victory. He said the moment was not a surprise to him. “I was prepared to start the entire week,” Smidt said. “The coaches knew that I was going to get the opportunity to go in and I made the best of it. And it’s tough staying in that goal, but I think I executed good and I prepared myself to have a good go.” The Buckeyes were 12 for 19 overall in the faceoff circle and outshot UMass 39-29. However, of the 39 shots, only 18 were on frame compared to 19 of the opponent’s 29 shots. Myers said the offense was not the best today, but he’s glad the defense stepped up.“We know we did a lot of things offensively that were out of character for us and you know it was one of those days,” he said.The 3-0 Buckeyes will face the 0-2 Jacksonville Dolphins next Saturday at noon.
Swiss Play-Off final is going further after Wacker Thun beat Kadetten 37:31 (21:12) for the first victory in series. Kadetten will have a new match ball next Thursday at domestic BBC Arena.Wacker Thun – Kadetten Schaffhausen 37:31 (21:12)Wacker Thun: Winkler, Merz); Hüsser (4), Isailovic (2), Caspar (7/2), Friedli (6), von Deschwanden (1), Linder (6); Dähler, Franic (6), Buri (1), Lanz, Rathgeb (2), Studer (2).Kadetten Schaffhausen: Quadrelli; Nik Tominec (3), Jurca (5/5), Ursic (1), Kukucka (3), Pendic (8/2), Starczan; Emrich (4), Mamic (3), Stojanovic (1), Prieto, Bucher, Cvijetic. Kadetten SchaffhausenSwiss handballswitzerlandwacker thun ← Previous Story Vive Kielce humiliates Wisla Plock and takes 2-0 lead Next Story → French CL’s battle: Dunkerque second, Montpellier third!
THE UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK (UL) has initiated its own inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of a dog which was allegedly lured to its death in a road traffic accident by some of its students.The university said any act of cruelty to animals would lead to disciplinary procedures being taken against students under its code of conduct.The inquiry follows a report in the Limerick Leader newspaper that some students had deliberately enticed a local dog into a dangerous situation by throwing a ball over and back across a road in the College Court Drive area of Castletroy, near the university.A letter-writer to the paper said the students had deliberately thrown the ball – which the dog had been chasing as it was tossed over and back – in front of a van, causing the dog to be run over and killed.“As the dog lay dying in agony, the students laughed and jeered at my brother-in-law as he roared and scolded them,” the letter-writer claimed.UL said it had now asked the Garda authorities to investigate the incident, and had asked to be kept abreast of any student involvement in the incident.In a statement posted to its Facebook page, it also said it had written to the letter-writer asking her to make contact so that the full extent of the incident could be ascertained.It also said its “comprehensive and robust system” to investigate alleged breaches of its its student code, and possible penalties included “fines, suspension and, in serious cases, dismissal from the University”.“We have already encouraged any individual with information relating to this incident to report this in the first instance to the Gardaí and where student involvement is suspected to notify the University for further investigation,” it said.Read: Man saves dog from certain death in liftMore: This is everything* you need to know about bringing your pet on holidays
Star Wars: Episode IX won’t be in theaters until Dec. 20, however, a new Star Wars tweet might be hinting that the movie’s title reveal is coming soon.On Saturday, the Star Wars UK Twitter account posted a random tweet, which was captioned with, “The calm before the galactic storm…” The tweet also included a hilarious GIF of Anakin Skywalker and Han Solo saying, “This is where the fun begins!”The calm before the galactic storm… pic.twitter.com/uyA1yK4sY1— Star Wars UK (@StarWarsUK) February 16, 2019This wasn’t the only Star Wars Twitter account with this mysterious tweet. ComicBook.com noted that the tweet was posted on other global Twitter accounts, including Star Wars France and Star Wars Netherlands.Fans also noticed the tweet, which prompted them to ask more questions about Star Wars: Episode IX’s title reveal.WHATS THE TITLE? pic.twitter.com/pOeGmZNKLJ— Geek Carl (@geekcarl) February 16, 2019 Stay on target Our bodies are ready. pic.twitter.com/NdjqYEae4W— Raxephan (@raxephan) February 16, 2019Lucasfilm and Disney haven’t provided any other updates on Star Wars: Episode IX’s title reveal, but fans have been able to see photos from the movie’s set. On Friday, Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams posted an adorable picture from the Star Wars: Episode IX set, which showed actors John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Daisy Ridley hugging it out after wrapping up photography for the film. Last month, Boyega also teased a shocking picture after filming a scene for the film.Star Wars: Episode IX won’t be coming to the big screen for a while, but hopefully Lucasfilm will reveal the movie’s title in the near future.More on Geek.com:J.J. Abrams Posts Heartwarming Photo From ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Set‘Star Wars: Outer Rim’ Is a Bounty Hunter Board GameLego Celebrates 20 Years of ‘Star Wars’ With Anniversary Sets Star Wars x Adidas Ultraboost Photos Have Leaked’Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form pic.twitter.com/2kC5Y1f5WU— Amy (@scifisunsets) February 16, 2019
Sorry, You Can’t Date Keanu Reeves in ‘Cyberpunk 2077”Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form Stay on target While it’s no Fortnite, Rocket League is still a really popular video game. And it deserves to be! Cars playing soccer is just an inherently fun idea that developer Psyonix executed on perfectly. Combine that with a smart approach to cross-platform play and it’s no surprise the game still has a thriving esports scene four years later.And while Rocket League isn’t Fortnite, its success has still caught the attention of Fortnite’s creators Epic Games. The gaming giant has just purchased Psyonix (and therefore Rocket League) gaining another powerful multiplayer franchise as well scoring another goal against rival Steam.“We expect to bring Rocket League to the Epic Games store and to leverage our new relationship to grow the game in ways we couldn’t do on our own before,” said Psyonix in a statement. “We believe that bringing Rocket League to new audiences with more support is a win for everybody.”It sounds like Psyonix and Epic both know that Rocket League isn’t broke, so don’t try to fix it. Just keep helping it grow with Epic’s vast resources. The game already runs on Epic’s Unreal engine. And more cynically, while Rocket League does cost money, its season-based games as a service multiplayer structure should be quite familiar to Fortnite players. We just hope Psyonix isn’t burdened with the harmful and exploitative culture of crunch that appears to plague other successful Epic Games teams according to new reports.Also notice that Psyonix specifically mentions the Epic Game Store. While it may not happen immediately, Rocket League will absolutely become the next high-profile game to leave Steam and appear exclusively on the Epic Games Store later this year. At least on PC. Key to maintaining Rocket League’s success is appeasing players on all systems including consoles like Nintendo Switch. Of course, this could all be moot if Valve calls Epic’s bluff and gives better cuts to developers. Epic’s Tim Sweeney’s recently said such a move would end this current PC game store cold war.If you haven’t played Rocket League, get on that, whether it’s through the Epic Games Store or anywhere else. And for more on what Valve is doing to drum up more interest in Steam in the face of these new threats, here are the latest details on the upcoming Valve Index VR headset.
Over 130 US foreign policy experts have denounced President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it undermines America’s national security and interests as much as the original order barring travelers from some Muslim-majority countries and refugees.”To Muslims — including those victimized by or fighting against ISIS (Islamic State) — it will send a message that reinforces the propaganda… that falsely claim the United States is at war with Islam,” read the letter by former government officials and experts.”Welcoming Muslim refugees and travelers, by contrast, exposes the lies of terrorists and counters their warped vision,” added the document dated Friday.Among the 134 signatories were some who served in either or both Republican and Democratic administrations were former senior diplomat Nicholas Burns, ex-National Security Council counter-terrorism director Richard Clarke and ex-undersecretary of defense Michele Flournoy.Most served under Democratic presidents, including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, ex-national security advisor Susan Rice and ex-National Counterterrorism director Matthew Olsen.Their comments echo those being made in court by US states claiming the modified measures discriminate against Muslims and are detrimental to US interests.”Bans like those included in this order are harmful to US national security and beneath the dignity of our great nation,” the letter read.The executive order “weakens this country’s ability to provide global leadership and jeopardizes our national security interests by failing to support the stability of our allies that are struggling to host large numbers of refugees,” it added.The letter was also sent to Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security chief John Kelly and Acting Director of National Intelligence Michael Dempsey.The revised directive temporarily closes US borders to all refugees and citizens from six mainly-Muslim countries.It denies US entry to all refugees for 120 days and halts for 90 days the granting of visas to nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.The new order, unveiled Monday, is due to go into effect March 16 and replaces the previous Trump directive that was blocked in federal court.The blocked order included an indefinite Syrian refugee travel ban and its blacklist of barred countries included Iraq.
British cave divers, Rick Stanton, Chris Jewell, and chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council Peter Dennis speak to the media at a news conference at Heathrow Airport, having helped in the rescue of the 12 boys in Thailand, in London, Britain, 13 July, 2018. Photo: ReutersBritish divers involved in the “unprecedented” rescue of 12 schoolboys from a flooded cave in Thailand said on Friday they were not heroes, but were just happy their specialised skills could be of help.All 12 of the boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach were brought to safety over the course of a three-day rescue organised by Thai navy SEALs and an international team of diving and caving experts, including 11 from Britain, that ended on Tuesday.”Are we heroes? No,” said Rick Stanton, one of the two British divers who found the boys.”We’re just using a very unique skill set, which we normally use for our own interest and sometimes we’re able to use that to give something back to the community,” Stanton, from Coventry, central England, told reporters at London Heathrow Airport.The boys and their coach had gone into the Tham Luang cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai on 23 June, for a quick excursion after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.Stanton and John Volanthen found the boys on 2 July, squatting on a muddy mound in a flooded chamber 4 km (two and a half miles) inside the complex, nine days after they went in.”That was a massive, massive relief. Initially we weren’t certain they were all alive and as they were coming down I was counting them until I got to 13,” said Stanton.”All we could think about was how we were going to get them out, so there was relief tempered with uncertainty,” he said.“This is completely uncharted, unprecedented territory. Nothing like this has been done before, so of course there were doubts, but I knew that we had a good team.”The boys, aged 11 to 16, had to dive for part of their journey out before they were put on plastic toboggan-like stretchers and carried, at times through steep, rocky tunnels, with ropes strung overhead.”Diving conditions were extremely challenging,” said cave diver Chris Jewell.”We are delighted with (the) successful outcome.”Peter Dennis, chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, said the operation was “one of the most extraordinary cave rescues we have seen.”He paid tribute to Samarn Poonan, a former Thai navy diver who died during the operation.”We must remember the tragedy of Samarn,” Dennis said.
(Updated 4/29/2016) The Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles announced April 21 that it was suspending implementation of a controversial rule that was scheduled to go into effect on May 1 which would have required first-time drivers to complete a driver education course before earning their driver’s license.“The District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV) is indefinitely suspending the driver education requirement for residents who are first-time drivers regardless of their age,” Vanessa Newton, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We are taking this action to give us a chance to further review the impact it may have.”The requirement would have mandated residents to take courses consisting of 30 hours of classroom time and eight hours of behind-the-wheel practice. Costs for the courses averaged more than $1,000, and offered no guarantee that the potential driver would pass the DMV test to earn their license.“The city is being overrun with legislation that is conflated and based on suspect data,” Ward 3 resident Johnny Rawls told the AFRO. “There is no proof that driving courses reduce accidents in the city—especially since there are two other immediate jurisdictions and a boatload of tourists driving D.C. streets. It was another way for the city to rip off its citizens.”Newton made the announcement after activists and members of the city council, including D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), questioned the impact the costs of the courses would have had on residents. “I don’t want [rules] being put into place without a full understanding of why,” said Cheh, who serves as chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.DMV Director Lucinda M. Baber had previously touted the education requirement as part of the city’s goal to promote safer driving and reduce accidents.New drivers will still be required to present a learner’s permit before they can obtain a license. To receive a learner’s permit, D.C. residents 16 years or older must pass vision screening and knowledge tests and provide documentation that proves their identity, residency, and eligibility, according to the DMV.
Celebrate the past, present, and future of Southwest, D.C. by attending “SW Is…” – a community festival. Sponsored by the D.C. Office of Planning, the festival will include professional readings of student work, interactive art exhibits, history lessons, music performances, dance performances, and much more! The event is free to the public, and is for all ages. The event will take place on Nov. 6, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., at 4th & I St. SW. For more information, visit yptdc.org/Events/SpecialProjects.
The weekend crowds have waned at BaselWorld, the watch and jewelry industry’s marquis gathering of the year. But timepieces unveiled in these last days of the show are some of the most exciting to be seen yet. In today’s debuts, the best watches employed rollers to convey the time, resided in carbon fiber cases, catered to a marine theme, or were issued in innovative sets and series of timepieces.Roll OnMaitres du Temps was founded as a brand for which three of the watch-making world’s greatest minds could collaborate on the creation of one magnificent watch. And then, a different group of three would commence on the next watch, and so on. This year Maitres du Temps’ second timepiece debuted, and it is appropriately named Chapter Two. The great minds behind the new timepiece are Daniel Roth, Roger Dubuis, and Peter Speake-Marin. Their ground-breaking creation is a mechanical triple calendar watch. According to Speak-Marin, the goal with this timepiece, which was three years in the making, was to make it the most vivid, readable watch. The most distinguishing characteristics of the design are two rollers—one across the top and one across the bottom—which display the names of the months and days of the week, respectively. On the central dial that is dominated by large Roman numerals are a big date display and seconds subdial. The sapphire crystal case back (which is octagonal) reveals the entirely hand-finished movement, and a rotor shaped like a goblet (into which all three designers pour their ideas) combined with an M, for Maitre du Temps. The company plans to make 200 pieces this year. The red gold version will cost $65,000 and the white gold version will cost $67,000.The annual debut of Harry Winston’s Opus watch is one of the most anticipated moments of the watch world’s calendar. Since the series began in 2000, many of the geniuses of the industry—some on staff at Harry Winston and others who work independently—have poured their creative energies and signed their names to one out-of-the-box watch for the house of Winston. This year, for the Opus 9, the pair of designers come from within Harry Winston’s team: Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Eric Giroud. The result is a mechanical watch that makes diamonds not just decorative, but functional—the perfect purpose for a watch from the diamond master Harry Winston. The watch’s curvy, boxy white gold case contains two chains of precious stones that seem to float along either side. Each chain consists of 33 diamonds interspersed with three Mandarin garnets, the latter serving as markers as the chains roll with one side pointing to hours and the other pointing to minutes. The automatic watch will be limited to 100 pieces, and sell for $180,000.Carbon DataEllicott looked to the Stealth fighter jet as inspiration for its newest addition to its line of sports watches for men. And its first Stealth chronograph, named the Mach One Royal, puts the jet’s materials and shapes to sleek use. This extremely light cushion-shaped watch features a dial made from carbon fiber and epoxy, some parts crafted from tantalum, an open case back protected by UV glass, and a case made from either pink gold, titanium, or titanium with gold. In addition to a crown, the watch features a case-top crown on the left edge of the dial that rotates the inner bezel. Our favorite version is the 250-piece “Air Force” limited edition, in carbon. Prices range from 20,000 to 45,000 Swiss francs.Franc Vila introduces a new case shape to his collection this year, and it is a natural evolution of his acclaimed “esprit unique” case. The new Cobra line is based on a wide oval case with elliptical-shaped bezels and crystals, recalling the silhouette of an upright cobra snake head. All of the variations released are designed to work well in intense sports settings, with carbon fiber inserts used to protect the watch. The timepiece, which includes chronograph functions and big date, displays its data on a carbon fiber and guilloche dial. Both the crystal and open case back are sapphire with double sided anti-glare treatment. Cases and bezels are available either in steel or red gold with carbon fiber, and each version is limited to 88 pieces. Prices start at 23,000 Swiss francs in steel.Seaworthy WatchesUlysse Nardin’s heritage has always been linked with the sea. And this year its most remarkable introduction continues the connection, with a twist. The new Moonstruck watch depicts the scientifically accurate moon phase, as well as the ebb and flow of tides as a result of lunar and solar gravitation. The watch is a complex invention that also happens to be a work of beauty. The center of the dial is dominated by a painted enamel earth as viewed above the north pole. A moon rotates around the earth, and a sun occupies new positions in relation to the globe continuously. The 46-mm watch also features a pointer calendar and a quick-setting device to adjust the hour hand forward and backward to any time zone via pushers. Moonstruck is powered by Ulysse Nardin’s UN-106 in-house movement. It is available in a limited edition of 500 pieces in red gold, for $83,000, and 500 in platinum, for $108,000.Bremont introduces its first dive watch in 2009, the SuperMarine 500. To ensure the new watch would withstand the rigors of diving for decades, Bremont worked with a company that builds ejection seats in aircraft to put it through intense testing. For durability, the watch’s movement sits in a rubber mount, and it contains anti-magnetic materials. The steel case has also been treated to give it a hardness of 2,000 vickers, while the sapphire crystal—which bears the printed bezel details–is crafted with anti-reflection properties. In addition to hours, minutes and seconds, the watch displays day and date in high Superluminova on a black, blue or off-white dial. The crown is comfortably located at the 2 o’clock position on the 43-mm case. It will sell for $4,500.Sets and SeriesH. Moser & Cie’s famous in-house movement is the HMC343 that uses two spring barrels in series to give a power reserve of at least seven days, plus an exclusive double hairspring escapement design. This year, the hand-wound movement will be put into a version of every timepiece model in the Moser collection. The watches that contain the movement will be encased in palladium and bear a beautiful, Fume dial, which is varnished brass to create a mysteriously smoky appearance.Perrelet is launching a set of two complicated timepieces that are music to the ears, in many ways. One watch in this “Maestro Edition” is a mechanical alarm, and the second is a minute repeater. Both of the automatic, steel timepieces feature a subtle music staff around the dial, and a small G clef on the seconds hand. They come in a tall box that resembles a speaker system, but actually contains two forward-facing illuminated watch winders, and a Logitech sound system with iPod dock. Each of the 50 sets in this limited edition sells for 49,500 Swiss francs.www.baselworld.com
Members of the state nurses union PASYNO announced a 12-hour strike for February 12, accusing the health ministry of ignoring their demandsThe union said it has informed Health Minister Philippos Patsalis of its decision and urged him to look into the demands.PASYNO said it was forced to go on strike because there was no serious sign that the state was prepared to support a group considered important for the functioning of the public health system and the imminent implementation of the NHS.The nurses want state health facilities to have the necessary staff, and to receive shift allowances when working outside normal hours.The also want the government to lift a ban on recruitment for permanent positions, and a ban on promotions.PASYNO demands certain pay scales to be upgraded and nurses on term contracts who have served for 30 months to be given indefinite contracts. You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoIsraeli rape suspects freed, woman who alleged assault arrested (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
By Elias HazouNOBLE Energy yesterday reiterated its resolve to monetising Cypriot gas, at the same time denying reports that it has been discussing piping natural gas to Turkey from its Block 12 prospect.“Rumours that the company is withdrawing from Cyprus are untrue and unsubstantiated. We are working diligently to fully appraise the natural gas resources of Block 12 and to commercialize those resources for the benefit of the people of Cyprus,” Noble said in a written statement.It was a rare move by the Texas-based company, which is usually not garrulous with the media.“Regarding the reports on the interview with Matthew Bryza, Noble Energy has not held any conversations with any Turkish entities regarding natural gas from Block 12 going to Turkey,” Noble also said.The energy outfit was responding to an earlier report carried by Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis. The paper had quoted Matthew Bryza, former US diplomat who is currently member of TURCAS Oil, as saying that Noble is in discussions with his company and with Turkish Zorlu Group regarding the pipeline project for exporting Israeli and Cypriot natural gas to Europe.In an exclusive interview with Havadis, Bryza said that Turkish regulator BOTAS also took part in the discussions.Bryza reiterated that the energy resources around Cyprus can motivate a solution on the island.“If you examine the area, the policies in the area, the relations of Israel with the Arab countries and natural gas export costs, the most reasonable method is building a pipeline from Israel, or more correctly, from Israel and Cyprus to Turkey,” he said.Publicly, the government here has ruled out a pipeline solution via Turkey for exporting Cypriot gas finds unless the island’s decades-long conflict is resolved first. But progress in ongoing peace talks could conceivably impact that standpoint.Nicosia has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to building a land-based liquefaction facility for natural gas, as it envisions the island turning into an energy hub for East Mediterranean gas.So far Noble’s gas finds in its Block 12 concession are far lower than what’s required for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant. Reserves of at least 5.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) are necessary to render viable an onshore LNG terminal.The ‘Aphrodite’ field in Block 12 holds anywhere from 3.6 to 6 tcf of natural gas, at a 50 per cent probability. At a 90 per cent probability – the industry benchmark to initiate resource development – the reserves would likely drop to 3.1 tcf.Noble plans to drill another well in Block 12 later this year; and prospecting in other offshore concessions by ENI and Total could raise the reserves making an LNG plant possible.The government has meantime made some noises about exploring floating LNG as an alternative.Late last year Noble unveiled their development plans for their East Med gas finds. The first phase of development would see Noble and their partners supply Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The second phase is floating LNG, and the third phase is regional supply agreements – with Turkey, Egypt and Cyprus being potential destinations.Noble and its partners in Israeli concessions are expected to reach a decision on the second phase of development – using floating LNG – by the end of the year.If they do opt for FLNG for the Leviathan field, that could provide Noble with an added incentive to apply the same technology in Cyprus as well, said Charles Ellinas, former head of the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company.Hypothetically, were Noble to place an order with Korean shipyards to build an FLNG vessel for the Leviathan prospect, they could benefit from a discount if they also ordered a second such vessel for the Aphrodite field.Despite being an advocate for an onshore LNG plant, Ellinas said that if for whatever reason the venture does not pan out Cyprus should definitely start looking into the floating solution.The world’s first floating liquefied natural gas facility, Prelude FLNG, is currently being built by Shell off Australia’s northwest coast.The upside of FLNG, said Ellinas, is that it can be deployed for relatively smaller quantities of gas – such as in Cyprus, for the time being. Another plus is the lower cost – and faster construction time – compared to land-based LNG.However the disadvantage of FLNG lies in that the vessels are built for specific capacities. Were Noble to commit to FLNG for Aphrodite, that might backfire were they to later discover additional gas elsewhere in Block 12. And deploying more than one FLNG vessel in a single gas prospect is unlikely.By contrast, onshore LNG offers more flexibility as the facility can be upgraded to accommodate more gas. You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoTruthfinderEnter Any Name, Wait These Seconds, See Instant ResultsTruthfinderUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
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