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Security Council extends UN mission in TimorLeste for another year

26 February 2010The Security Council today extend for another year the mandate of the United Nations mission working to promote peace, stability and development in Timor-Leste. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body decided that the mission, known as UNMIT, will remain in place until 26 February 2011.In doing so, the Council urged all parties in Timor-Leste, in particular political leaders, “to continue to work together and engage in political dialogue and to consolidate peace, democracy, rule of law, sustainable social and economic development, advancement of protection of human rights and national reconciliation in the country.”Earlier this week, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Timor-Leste told the Council that the country which the UN shepherded to independence in 2002 has made “remarkable progress” since the violence that disrupted it in 2006, but that the long-term goals of recovery and development may prove even more challenging.Ameerah Haq, who also heads UNMIT, noted in particular that “long-term security and stability will depend on development of a national police force that is professional and impartial and operates with due respect for the rule of law and human rights.” Nearly all of UNMIT’s more than 1,550 uniformed personnel are police, and one of the mission’s major tasks is to conduct a comprehensive review of the security sector, training, mentoring and strengthening the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL).The Council, in its resolution today, endorsed the Secretary-General’s intention of reconfiguring UNMIT’s police component, including its drawdown, in accordance with the phased resumption process of policing responsibilities by the PNTL. It requested the UN chief to report no later than 15 October on elements on reconfiguring UNMIT’s police component, and no later than 26 January 2011 on possible adjustments in the mission’s mandate and strength. read more

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Sixtieth UN General Assembly opens ushering in 2005 World Summit

One day ahead of the 2005 World Summit, and marking a major anniversary of the United Nations, the 60th session of the General Assembly opened tonight at the Assembly hall at UN Headquarters in New York.Taking up the gavel immediately after the closing of the 59th Session by outgoing President Jean Ping of Gabon, incoming President Jan Eliasson of Sweden welcomed the draft declaration on UN reform and achievement of development goals that had been submitted by the outgoing session for the proposed “outcome document” of the upcoming Summit.He said the reforms being considered for the United Nations were the most ambitious ever attempted since the creation of the Organization and that expectations were exceptionally high. The approved text would serve as a strong basis for reform that leaders could adopt and the Assembly could take forward in the sixtieth session.That session will begin tomorrow, he said, and the record attendance of an estimated 150 head of state should add momentum to progress on the reform proposals.”We will listen carefully to them and then, on Saturday, and begin to turn their words into action,” he said, referring to the beginning of the Assembly’s General Debate.He said two realities had emerged during the process of negotiating the declaration for the Summit. One was that people expected the United Nations to fulfil their ideals. The other reality consisted of the real world as it exists.To reconcile those two realities, he said a new multilateralism was needed, to ensure security, to tackle the “silent tsunami” of extreme poverty that killed one child every three seconds, to build peace in countries ravaged by war and to stop human rights abuses.”Recognizing the responsibility the future has placed on us, let us not underestimate what we can do,” he said, charging delegates with their responsibilities for the upcoming session. “The world’s poorest, the world’s most vulnerable need change. Let us show them what we can do,” he concluded. read more

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Why Tennessee — The Men — Could Easily Get A No 1

North Carolina108 Michigan St.610 TeamBPI RankChance at No. 1 seed Virginia2>99% Feb. 10AlabamaAway65% One last No. 1 seed up for grabsMen’s college basketball teams with the best chances of getting a No. 1 seed according to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index Feb. 17GeorgiaAway77 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Feb. 24U. of MississippiAway79 March 3GeorgiaHome91 Feb. 21FloridaHome81 Villanova1>99 Purdue394 Feb. 13South CarolinaHome92 The road gets easier for the VolunteersThe chances of Tennessee’s men’s basketball team winning each of their remaining regular-season games Feb. 27Mississippi StateAway71 Duke56 Kansas716 DateOpponentLocationChance of Winning One key to BPI’s projection is that it considers not only what Tennessee has done so far but also what it thinks every team will do over the remainder of the regular season and conference tournament. So what makes the Volunteers’ chances so strong? A combination of accomplishment, a front-loaded schedule and tough roads for competitors.Let’s start with what Tennessee has done so far this year. The Vols rank seventh in Strength of Record — strong, especially for a team with five losses, but not enough to justify making them a No. 1 seed if the season ended today. One reason Tennessee ranks so high in this measure is that those losses are made more palatable by the circumstances (opponent and game location) they came in. The Volunteers lost to the best team in Division I, Villanova, on a neutral court before falling to two top-20 BPI teams in North Carolina and Auburn at home. They have two losses against lesser opponents, Missouri and Arkansas, but both came on the road. And while neither the Tigers or Razorbacks are ranked, both are currently forecast to make the tournament and rank in the Top 50 in BPI, so these losses aren’t complete clunkers (like, say, this one).Even if the members of the selection committee ignored Strength of Record (though it will now be right in front of them when they perform the selection), they would only see “quality” losses. In its current team sheets, the committee divides games up into quadrants of difficulty according to RPI rank and whether the game was played at home, on the road or on a neutral court. Of the four levels of difficulty, all five of Tennessee’s losses appear in the toughest quadrant at the moment. In addition, the Volunteers have recorded impressive wins against Purdue earlier this season and at Kentucky on Tuesday.If facing all of those teams already this season sounds difficult, that’s because it is. The Volunteers have faced the fourth-toughest schedule thus far per BPI, but it’s about to get easier, because they have just the 64th-most-difficult regular-season schedule remaining. That’s right in the sweet spot: There’s a 56 percent chance they only take one or zero losses during that stretch, according to BPI, but the games are still challenging enough that they’ll get some credit for the wins. From there, they’ll likely need to win the SEC tournament to land a No. 1 seed, but they are the favorite (36 percent) to do that according to BPI. If the Vols can lose no more than once the rest of the way and win their conference tournament, their projection for getting a No. 1 seed will rise to a 85 percent. With roughly a month left in the college basketball season, three teams already have a tight grip on one of the four No. 1 seeds in this year’s men’s NCAA tournament: Villanova, Virginia and Purdue. But the last top spot is very much up for grabs. And one team that is a legitimate contender to snag it may be a surprise to college hoops fans: Tennessee.Tennessee, on paper, may seem like a long shot for a coveted top seed: The Vols have five losses and are only ranked 15th in the latest AP poll. What’s more, Tennessee has never been a top seed in the NCAA tournament, has never made it to the Final Four, and was predicted to finish 13th in its conference in a preseason SEC media poll.But according to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index, which estimates team strength and is designed to predict future performance, the Volunteers have a 37 percent chance of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. That gives them the best shot of any of the remaining teams outside the top three. Part of the reason Tennessee could earn a top seed even without meeting the above criteria is that its competitors have a tough road ahead.Xavier, for example, currently has the third-best Strength of Record in Division I, but BPI projects it to lose twice more this regular season — the team is an underdog at Creighton Saturday and at Villanova the following Saturday — and is a long shot to win the Big East tournament (17 percent), which all combines to suppress the Musketeers’ chances.Kansas is a similar story. Though it’s the best team in the Big 12, the conference is so stacked that the Jayhawks only have a 36 percent chance to win their conference tournament. Michigan State is only projected to lose about one more game during the regular season, but it isn’t as good as Purdue, according to BPI, so the Spartans will likely take another loss in their conference tournament. Duke was a serious contender until Thursday night, when the Blue Devils dropped a close game to their rival Tar Heels, reducing Duke’s chances of earning a No. 1 seed from 29 percent to 6 percent.In other words, the best thing that Tennessee has going for it is that it’s in a slightly weaker conference than most of the other majors and happens to be the best team in that conference, per BPI. Granted, if one of those other teams outperforms its projection, then Tennessee will probably be left off the top seed line. But right now, the Vols have a shot.Paul Sabin contributed to this story. Xavier1421 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Tennessee1237 read more

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It seems that sex toys are less dangerous than regular childrens toys

first_imgIt seems that sex toys are less dangerous than regular children’s toys… … as regards the chemicals they’re made with, according to new Swedish research. By AFP 18,237 Views Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Sunday 29 Jan 2017, 9:30 AM Jan 29th 2017, 9:30 AM Share Tweet Email Source: Shutterstock/cjmacerFEWER SEX TOYS contain dangerous chemicals than children’s toys, a Swedish inspection authority said in a report released last week.In 2015, the agency found dangerous chemical substances, including lead, in 15% of children’s toys in Sweden.The proportion of surveyed sex toys that contained banned chemicals was 2%, making these products safer than children’s toys in terms of exposure to chemicals.“This was a bit surprising,” Frida Ramstrom, an inspector for the agency, told AFP. “This was the first time we did such a study.”Among the 44 products investigated, one plastic dildo was found to contain chlorinated paraffins, which is suspected of causing cancer, the Swedish Chemicals Agency said.Ramstrom said tough European regulations over chemical substances in products was a reason behind the safety of the sex toys.“These products are used close to the body and one (therefore) chooses better chemicals,” Ramstrom said.It is difficult to determine exactly why more children’s toys contain dangerous chemicals, she said.But she said many kids toys are imported from Asia, making it more difficult to enforce safety standards of products.Three of the 44 examined sex toys, made of leather and bondage tape, contained phthalates, used as a plasticiser, at levels above 0.1%, the agency said.Phthalates are not banned in sex toys but are on the EU list of chemicals that are of “very high concern”. They can affect hormonal balance and cause infertility.© – AFP, 2017Read: Climate change could be a lot worse than we first thought…Read: Property prices will rise in 2017 – with the biggest increases just outside Dublin http://jrnl.ie/3201100 13 Comments Short URLlast_img read more

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County wants parks pact with city revised

first_imgClark County has informed the city of Vancouver that a joint agreement on parks and recreation operations must be reached within six months, or the county will consider going it alone.Under the current deal between the county and city, the county sends $880,000 each year to the city-run department. While considered a joint department, the county essentially purchases services such as administration and planning from the city to help operate its parks and recreation programs.Clark County commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke, both Republicans, have long considered a new deal to reduce the amount of services it purchases from the city.They’ve also said they hope to see drastic savings in a new deal.Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, has tentatively agreed in principle. But he’s also concerned about the city’s reaction to a declaration that the county may terminate the contract.On Wednesday, as commissioners discussed final steps before sending the official notice, Stuart said he worried that ending the joint department will put the county’s general fund at risk. Going it alone may be more costly, he said.last_img read more

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Father of Parkland victim speaks out during hearing on gun violence prevention

first_imgThe father of a Parkland shooting victim spoke out during a Judiciary Committee hearing on preventing gun violence.Manuel Oliver, who lost his son Joaquin “Guac” Oliver last year, interrupted Republican Representative Matt Gaetz voicing his disagreement with the comments he made.Rep. Gaetz responded by asking if there is a process in regards to asking people to leave when they repeatedly interrupt the time of the members of the committee.Oliver spoke out in response to Gaetz when he stated that a border wall would prevent gun violence, not background checks.Fred Guttenberg, who also lost his child, Jaime, in the shooting was sitting next to Oliver.New York Representative Jerry Nadler let Oliver off with a warning.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

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How to Watch Will Smith Bungee Jump Into the Grand Canyon

first_img Popular on Variety ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 Will Smith is celebrating his 50th birthday by bungee-jumping out of a helicopter into the Grand Canyon.After being challenged by the YouTube group Yes Theory in March, Smith agreed to the jump in an effort to raise awareness and encourage donations for education campaigns run by the international advocacy group Global Citizen. Viewers will be able to watch the stunt live on Smith’s YouTube channel at 3 p.m. PT or on the live stream below.Yes Theory challenged Smith as part of the channel’s efforts to force themselves and viewers out of their comfort zones. Previously, the channel has posted videos asking Uber drivers to go sky diving or strangers to travel across the world.The Yes Theory creators — Matt Dajer, Thomas Brag, and Ammar Kandil — will be in attendance alongside friends like Alfonso Ribeiro, family and other special guests, including the winner of Smith’s contest, which he announced last month. By donating $10 to Global Citizen’s advocacy work, fans entered themselves for an opportunity to spend his birthday with him and watch him jump into the Grand Canyon.This is also Smith’s second time bungee jumping. Last year, the actor jumped from the top of Africa’s Victoria Falls, a famous 355-foot waterfall in Zimbabwe. Smith released the footage last week in preparation for Monday’s jump.last_img read more

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Heres to 101 Years of Bucky Barnes

first_img101 years ago James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes appeared in our lives, and we were shook. Well, a select group of my friends and I were. The love and reverence I have for one Bucky Barnes is pretty well-known and well documented at that. I’ve even been dubbed a ‘Bucky Babe’ by our own Insha Fitzpatrick.Comic Bucky is a little different from MCU Bucky. He’s more of a kid sidekick to Cap than a ride or die bestie, at least that’s how he starts out. For one, this version of James is born in Shelbyville, Indian not Brooklyn. He makes is debut alongside Steve in Captain America Comics #1 (1941) via the creative talents of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. From here Buck makes the long and arduous journey into The Winter Soldier in the early 2000s. The way Ed Brubaker writes this character still blows my mind. If you haven’t read his run on Captain America: Winter Soldier please promise me you’ll grab a copy and report back. And Steve Epting’s art compliments every turn Brubaker plots. And not only is TWS the strongest film in the MCU but it’s probably one of Marvel Comics strongest entries in their entire catalog. Barnes goes on to fill Rogers’ very big boots in Captain America #34. He does it quite well.Bucky’s had partnerships and trists with many of our comic favorites…well and not so favorites (suck it Hydra). But we know deep in there is the heart of a loyal, brave, and confident soldier. Happy Birthday Buck. This girl is with you til’ the end of the line, ‘White Wolf’ and all.If you’re looking for some great current Bucky reads I highly Matt Rosenberg’s run on Tales of Suspense. He is absolutely nailing our boy’s demeanor and dialogue. I never want this book to end.So as your resident expert in Buck-tent here at Geek I pulled some favorite pieces from my curated collection. This includes a few commissions I’ve gotten from some of my fave artists. I could fill a mansion with Winter Soldier art and I might have to soon as Con season just started. But don’t stop sending me stuff. I’ll never complain!Here’s hoping the next 101 years is more peaceful for James.View as: One Page Slides1. Nan Lawson2. Xanseviera3. Nice Day Bucky4. Arne AKA Ratscape5. Abby Shaffer6. Joe Mulvey7. SandraG.N.8. Dean Draws9. Aaron Lambert10. Michi11. Elithien12. Kris Anka13. Nathan Greno14. Nicoise Salad15. Kevin Wada16. Becc Johnson17. Sleii18. Sara P. Selvik19. Arielle Jovellanos20. Celine Chapuslast_img read more

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Geek deals Windows 8 Pro for 39 Wii U bundle more

first_imgWell fellow geeks, October 26th came and the world did not end. Windows 8 is now available to the masses and if you upgrade soon you can save yourself a bundle of cash.The relatively high number of new systems announced to go with Windows 8 did surprised us a bit. A gaggle of new touch-focused PCs were released by the big manufacturers to best take advantage of the new OS, offering streamlined navigation and touch-friendly interaction. Is this the first step to a world where computers act like those in the film Minority Report or just the excitement of manufacturers finally having a reason to sell us something new (Windows 7 certainly wasn’t).Microsoft sure is making it easy to get your hands on their new offering. For just $39.99, the Microsoft Store is offering downloads of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade. This is the lowest out of pocket price we have seen yet for the new OS.Being an upgrade version of the software, you will need to have Windows XP SP3, Vista, or Win 7 installed on your PC already. We have also heard that the “upgrade” process from 7 to 8 is not the destructive “back up files, wipe all, restore files” process that it has been in the past. Head over and check out this offer direct from Microsoft, but keep in mind we have no idea how long they plan to offer it.Deal offers may have changed since original post.Microsoft Windows 8 Pro Upgrade [download] for $39.99Our other top deals:Customizable Sony VAIO 13.3-inch Ivy Bridge Core i5 Laptop for $624.99 + free shipping(normally $724.99 | use coupon code SONYS1311 | ends Nov. 2 or sooner)Pre-order Nintendo Wii U Console Bundle w/ Choice of Game & Controller for $399.88Refurbished Apple iPads WiFi & 3G/4G models, 3rd gen starting at $379 + free shippinglast_img read more

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Baidu Apollo autonomous driving vehicles gets machine learning based autocalibration system

first_imgThe Apollo community has built a machine-learning based auto-calibration system for autonomous driving vehicles. By August 2018, the system had been tested on more than two thousand hours with around ten thousands kilometers’ (6,213 miles) road tests and has proven to be effective. The system is automated and intelligent, due to which, it is suitable for mass-scale self-driving vehicle deployment. Why was Apollo auto-calibration system introduced? Following are the main issues that the current system faces: Manual calibration is time consuming and error prone: The performance and safety of an autonomous driving vehicle depend on its control module. This module includes control algorithms that require vehicle dynamics as input and then sends command to manipulate the vehicle. Performing this calibration in real-time is difficult, that is why, most of the research-oriented autonomous vehicles do manual calibration in one-by-one fashion. Manual calibration consumes a lot of time and is prone to man-made mistakes. Variation in vehicle dynamics: While driving the vehicle dynamics change (i.e. loads change, vehicle parts will be worn out over time, surface friction), and manual calibration cannot possibly cover them. How does Apollo auto-calibration system work? The auto-calibration system depends on the Apollo control module, which consists of an offline model and online learning algorithm Offline model First, a calibration table is generated based on human driving data that best reflects vehicle longitudinal performance at the time of driving. It performs three functions: Collects human driving data Preprocesses the data and select input features Generates calibration table through machine learning models Online learning The online algorithm updates the offline table based on real-time feedback in self-driving mode. It tries to best match the current vehicle dynamics based on offline model established from manual driving data. It performs the following functions: Collects vehicle status and feedback in real time Preprocesses and filter data Adjusts calibration table accordingly To know more details on how this model works and helps to solve the manual calibration problem, check out their published paper: Baidu Apollo Auto-Calibration System – An Industry-Level Data-Driven and Learning based Vehicle Longitude Dynamic Calibrating Algorithm. Read Next Apollo 11 source code: A small step for a woman, and a huge leap for ‘software engineering’ Baidu open sources ApolloScape and collaborates with Berkeley DeepDrive to further machine learning in automotives Tesla is building its own AI hardware for self-driving carslast_img read more

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Despite crisis Greece still functions

first_img Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Sponsored Stories “There are many different ways that you can fail as a state,” said Harris Mylonas, author of “The Politics of Nation-Building,” a book about state efforts to assimilate refugees and minorities. He stressed that Greece was more susceptible to perceptions and accusations of failure than more troubled countries because it was accustomed to higher standards, the result of decades of integration with wealthy European democracies after the end of military rule between 1967 and 1974.On Monday, The Fund for Peace, a Washington-based research group, released its annual “Failed States Index,” which measures the political, economic and social pressures on nations around the world. It rated Greece as “stable” but declining, at 138 out of 177 countries, with No. 1 Somalia judged to be the most troubled country and highest-ranked Finland seen as the most successful. As a state, Greece was considered in vastly better shape than emerging powers Russia (No. 83) and Turkey (No. 85). Criteria include poverty, state legitimacy, deterioration of public services, refugee movements and demographic pressures.“The term `state failure’ is one that is thrown around a little too easily when it comes to countries like Greece,” J.J. Messner, a senior associate at The Fund for Peace, wrote in an email. “Yes, Greece’s economy is experiencing significant hardship, but it is still a relatively functional country, is democratic, most (though, perhaps, rapidly fewer) have a decent standard of living and the country is at very little risk of conflict.” New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths For a country where crisis has become an intimate state of mind, there is plenty of benign normalcy around, lots of reminders of the rules and infrastructure and hygiene standards that define what it is to be a Western European country, imperfections notwithstanding.Greece’s election on Sunday may not ultimately deliver a way out of economic stagnation and the chronic uncertainty that threatens to rattle the global economy, but the near-total absence of violence at the polls, and the pro forma concession speeches of the defeated candidates, spoke to a system that, in the broadest sense, works.There is the potential, however, for one of Europe’s weakest states to sink deeper into failure, even if it does not come close to the dire indicators, including endemic violence, that define Somalia, Yemen and other countries viewed as “failed states” by academics and policymakers. The election winner, the New Democracy party, sought a coalition government aimed at keeping Greece in Europe’s monetary union. But political stability and economic recovery is far from assured, unemployment is at a record 22 percent, public services are strained and many Greeks are buckling under austerity measures imposed by international lenders in exchange for bailout funds. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up In an article on the Greek crisis two years ago, author Mylonas explored theories about why state dysfunction is especially pronounced in Greece, citing the possible impact of:_ Centuries of Ottoman rule that encouraged corruption and delayed the growth of strong national institutions._ Political polarization that sometimes exploded into violence, as during the 1946-49 civil war._ Developmental funding from Europe that ended up supporting patronage systems of traditional politicians, whose parties plunged in popularity because of the current economic upheaval._ A culture of impunity that fueled tax evasion and helped drive the country into debt.Mylonas said a crisis was brewing in Greece long before the financial chaos hit the headlines, noting a “mentality” whereby people were heavily reliant on the state, not so much for the effective regulation of society, but for the material rewards that it dispensed when times were good.“People considered it a success to enter the public sector, and even doing business in the private sector was very much linked to the government. The term `entrepreneurship’ had gotten a negative connotation,” he said. “That is something that is not healthy, at least in a capitalist economy.” Top Stories Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top holiday drink recipes Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Fitschen had met in Athens with representatives from the finance, industry and maritime industries.“I asked my counterparts who the people are who they would trust to lead the country into a new era, in whom they trust to ensure the country can be a treasured member of the eurozone,” he said. “The number of names they offered was unfortunately very limited.”Dimitrios Tsomocos, an economic adviser to Antonis Samaras, the leader of the New Democracy party, rejected a “failed state” label for Greece and said it was “counterproductive,” while emphasizing that Greece was committed to collaboration with its European partners.Despite Europe’s financial crisis, Greece is still providing “reasonable” levels of security, rule of law, political participation, respect for human rights and other services, according to Robert Rotberg, founding director of the Harvard Kennedy school’s Program on Intrastate Conflict.“Compared to Congo or Zimbabwe, Greeks are still `reasonably’ well-served. Soon, if they return to the drachma and turmoil, they may suffer inflation and months during which those political goods (essential services) vanish,” Rotberg wrote in an email. “But, and here is the big `but,’ all failed states must by definition be involved in civil war. Greece is not yet there. Hence it is certainly a weak state getting weaker as opposed to a strong state like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Its weaknesses are palpable and apt to worsen.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Greece has periodically been gripped by riots, protests and strikes, and televised images of battles between masked police lobbing tear gas and stone-throwing demonstrators suggest an image of anarchy that belies a relative calm, despite rising levels of crime. On Monday, a fire-swallower performing for small change at a traffic stop was one of the most flamboyant sights in downtown Athens.There is a less forgiving view in Germany, a major creditor of Greece that has become increasingly frustrated with the opposition of many Greeks to wage cuts and other austerity measures they are enduring after years of easy credit and state largesse. In a May 25 speech in Berlin, the day after returning from a trip to Athens, the incoming co-chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank said the people and business community do not see a way out of the crisis.“Greece is the only country about which we can, in my opinion, still say, that it is a failed state,” Juergen Fitschen said, according to comments reported by Die Welt and other German newspapers. Greece “is a corrupt state, corrupt so far as the political leadership goes, and apparently some people were willing to support this.” Associated PressATHENS, Greece (AP) – A conversation in struggling Greece is, often as not, about the superlatives of doom: The country is on the edge, the people are headed toward catastrophe, and the state, drained of cash and lasting political consensus, has effectively ceased to function. Yet in Athens, home to nearly half the population, the garbage trucks make the rounds at night, traffic police in smart blue uniforms pull over motorists and tourists stroll around the ancient sites or lug suitcases on wheels through the heat-soaked side-streets.last_img
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Thailand forecasts nearly one million MICE visitors

first_imgFollowing a year in which it welcomed nearly 900,000 meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE) visitors, Thailand has predicted that its MICE market will grow by 10-15 percent in 2013.According to Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), around 940,000 MICE delegates will travel to the country this year, generating some 88 billion baht (US$2.83 billion) in revenue.TCEB’s forecast comes after the launch of its new initiative ‘THAILAND: Connecting Asia’s Diversity of Dynamic Destinations’, which will look to boost business travel to the country by promoting its “world class events infrastructure and facilities, its variety of vibrant cities and its recreation for business events”.  Speaking at TCEB’s recent media familiarization trip, TCEB President Nopparat Maythaveekulchai said “as Asia continues to spiral upwards, Thailand is putting itself on the global map as a top ranked business event destination in the region”.But “most importantly”, the TCEB boss said the strategy of appointing Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Khonkan as the official business events cities of Thailand would further advance Thailand’s “preeminent place” among Asia’s MICE destinations.“And of course drive the growth of business events in return,” he remarked.In 2012, Thailand received 895,224 MICE delegates, responsible for 79.8 billion baht ($2.54 billion). Corporate events accounted for 9.49 percent of all tourism earnings in Thailand, or 0.58 percent of GDP. The “major driver” of growth for the nation’s MICE industry, Asia accounted for 65 percent of all business events in Thailand in 2012, with the top five source markets being India, China, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia.Together with TCEB’s ‘Connections Plus 2013’, this year’s media familiarization trip attracted over 70 delegates from 16 countries.Called ‘Adventure MICE of Andaman’, the event focused on the adventure destination of Krabi in the country’s south.    Stay tuned to e-Travel Blackboard for more coverage from Bangkok and Krabi.Source = ETB News: M.H Visitor numbers have TCEB smiling.last_img read more

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Virgin Australia begins direct service between Darwin and Alice Spring

first_imgVirgin Australia has announced that it will introduce direct services between Darwin and Alice Springs from March 2015, to coincide with the opening of the new Virgin Australia Lounge in Darwin.Following a meeting today with Northern Territory Chief Minister, Adam Giles and Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer, John Borghetti it was agreed Virgin Australia will commence three services per week between the two cities from the end of March next year.The new Darwin lounge will feature Virgin Australia’s trademark style, including luxury seating, gourmet food and beverage options and impressive views across the airport landscape.Virgin Australia chief executive officer, John Borghetti has said that the Northern Territory is an important part of the Virgin network.“We recognise the importance of the Northern Territory as a key business and tourism destination in Australia and look forward to increasing competition on these key routes to the benefit of our customers from early next year,” Mr Borghetti said.Northern Territory chief minister, Adam Giles has said he is excited about the news of competition on the Darwin to Alice Springs route.“These new Virgin Australia services are fantastic news for Alice Springs, creating choice on this important route and hopefully driving down ticket prices for Territory passengers,” Mr Giles said.The airline will introduce this new weekly schedule of services using its Boeing 737 fleet of aircraft.Source = ETB News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

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Eurostar is offering earlybird savings with 20 of

first_imgEurostar is offering earlybird savings with 20% off the cost of selected tickets, while also rewarding travel agents with a $50 Coles Group & Myer gift card for every $1,000 worth of Eurostar fares booked during the sale period.The 20% reduction applies to Standard Premier (First Class) and Youth (Second Class) fares booked between 3 October and 10 November 2017. The discounted tickets are valid for travel between London, Paris and Brussels from 2 November 2017 until 21 August 2018.The Early Bird fares – available through Rail Plus, Rail Tickets and Infinity Rail – are exchangeable with a fee, but are non-refundable and non-transferable.Rail Plus, Rail Tickets and Infinity Rail are also giving agents an added incentive to sell during the sales period, with consultants receiving a $50 Coles Group & Myer gift card for every $1,000 worth of Eurostar bookings (must include an Early Bird Savings fare to be eligible) made between 3 October and 10 November 2017.IMAGE: Eurostar – St Pancras Station, London earlybirdsEurostarlast_img read more

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cruiseEuropeRiver cruisespecialsViking

first_imgcruiseEuropeRiver cruisespecialsViking Offering savings of 40%, or up to $4,200 per couple, Viking kicks off a 5-day Flash Sale today (Monday 20 May 2019) on some of its most popular European river cruises for 2019. Fares start from $2,995 per person, twin share for select eight-day Romantic Danube or Rhine Getaway departures.Choose the eight-day Rhine Getaway and explore castles, cathedrals, historic cities and medieval towns. Sailing between Basel and Amsterdam with calls to Strasbourg in France, Cologne and Koblenz in Germany and Kinderdijk in the Netherlands, departures include 24 and 29 October 2019, priced from just $2,995 per person.Or explore the famed ‘Blue Danube’ on Viking’s eight-day Romantic Danube itinerary between Budapest and Nuremburg, exploring the medieval towns, grand cities and stunning scenery of Budapest in Hungary, Vienna and Krems in Austria, as well as Passau, Regensburg and Nuremberg in Germany. Departures include 18, 19 and 20 October 2019, priced from just $2,995 per person.Offer ends 24 May 2019 unless sold out prior.Terms and conditions apply. IMAGE: The Viking Longship Eistla near the Hungarian Parliament Building along the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary.last_img read more

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