Judge apologises after dozing off during High Court hearing

The case did not have such severe ramifications as that of Manchester-based Recorder Philip Cattan, then 65, who fell asleep whilst presiding over a rape trial in 2014, causing it to collapse. A High Court judge has “expressed remorse” after falling asleep during a hearing.Mrs Justice Parker, 68, who is based in the Family Division, briefly dozed off during a case in London.An investigation was launched after lawyers involved lodged formal complaints.The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) revealed she had been given “formal advice” but avoided further punishment because she nodded off “only momentarily”.The JCIO said Lord Chancellor David Gauke and Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett had concluded that her conduct had the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.It did not detail when the incident took place but it is understood to have been some time last year in London.Mrs Justice Parker is the second  longest-serving judge in the Family Division of the High Court, having been appointed in 2008.A JCIO statement said: “Mrs Justice Parker has been issued with formal advice following a complaint by parties in a case that she had fallen asleep during a hearing.”While concluding that this amounted to conduct which had the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice took into consideration that the judge fell asleep only momentarily and has expressed remorse for doing so.” 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. read more

People have been tearing their hair out over spoilers in recent weeks

first_img Share2 Tweet Email Short URL The final season of Game of Thrones has many viewers hiding from their social media feeds to avoid spoilers. May 11th 2019, 10:00 PM People are tweeting out things as they are happening and reacting to things as they happen… there’s this sense of urgency about it. Not only do you have to see it to be part of the conversation, you have to see it before the conversation moves passed you. 36,504 Views Image: HBO 17 Comments The final season of Game of Thrones has many viewers hiding from their social media feeds to avoid spoilers. Image: HBO Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Don’t care (276) Yes (1670) Poll Results: https://jrnl.ie/4614101 YesNoDon’t careVote Saturday 11 May 2019, 10:00 PM PEOPLE HAVE BEEN doing their best to avoid spoilers from films and televisions shows in recent weeks.Between Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones’ final season, social media has demonstrated that some people are fearful of finding out any detail – no matter how trivial – of their favourite shows.Obviously this makes sense – learning such details could fundamentally ruin the experience of watching it for many viewers. Especially if someone dies or there is a twist.From the reveals in films like The Sixth Sense and Psycho (which we’re too nice to spoil here for you), twists and surprises you didn’t know were coming can enhance a film’s experience.Eventually they can also become part of pop culture, such as touchstones like Darth Vader telling Luke ‘I am your father’, or the Statue of Liberty rising from the shore of a future Earth in the original 1968 Planet of the Apes (despite being a major spoiler, that twist is often used as a promotional image for the film).And while two different psychological studies disagree on whether knowing major details of a piece of entertainment can make the experience better or worse, it’s been social media that has really changed the game. The release of Avengers Endgame whipped up feelings around spoilers as fans did their best to avoid details about the film. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA ImagesThe last few weeks have seen major levels of discussion online about spoilers relating to the new film Avengers: Endgame.Things got so intense that this week a new trailer for Spider-man: Far from Home featured Spidey actor Tom Holland introducing himself at the beginning… and giving a spoiler warning.But not one for Far From Home: one for Avengers: Endgame.He states if you haven’t seen Endgame yet, don’t watch the Spider-man trailer as it will ‘spoil’ things for you about what happened in the former film. Source: Sony Pictures India/YouTubeDarren Mooney, film author and creator of website The Movie Blog, says in the age of social media, the talk around spoilers can create hype around a film or television programme.It can create a fear of missing out for those audience members who weren’t originally interested, but become so from all the online chatter (and clever marketing from production companies).It creates the impression, Mooney says, “that these things are so big and and that they have to be consumed instantly or else you’ll possibly get some information that will diminish your experience of it”.Industry ChangesTo save viewers from potential spoilers, film and television companies can have military-style security around their productions.From digital scripts that cease to function after the filming has stopped; devices that can disable drones looking to spy on sets; and actors not being given scripts until the day of filming (or, in the case of Spider-man’s Tom Holland, being given a script of fake scenes due to his habit of giving away plot details), the ‘spoiler’ is making an impact.Indeed, studios have played up to spoiler-phobic fandom surrounding favoured franchises, like Marvel’s hashtag campaign #Don’tSpoilTheEndgame.When 40 minutes of leaked footage appeared online, the film’s directors also posted a letter to social media pleading the same.Even at press screenings for the James Bond film Skyfall, critics were left envelopes on their chairs that cautioned them against speaking about details of the plot so “that James Bond fans around the world, could experience this on their own terms”.Or in the case of critic viewings for Blade Runner 2049, where they were asked not to talk about details of the film afterwards, but instead simply state that audiences will meet a lot of interesting characters over the course of the movie.How you can protect yourself from spoilersThough the internet is the home of spoilers, it can also be effective in limiting your exposure to them.You can filter Twitter to automatically hide tweets that contain particular keywords from appearing in your timeline and notifications. The mute function on Tweetdeck achieves this same result, though there is no guarantee that something won’t slip through.Google Chrome introduced an extension called Unspoiler a few years ago where you type in the names of shows you don’t want to read about. It would put red banners over any website referring to those shows to warn you off.Facebook also had an extension called Social Fixer that achieved a similar result, but many of these extensions are now defunct or little used.Many users on forums complained these apps or programmes didn’t catch all the potential information that could protect them from spoilers.The real answer then?Simple – don’t go on the internet and don’t talk to anybody. Not necessarily a easy task in our modern world.A Shared ExperienceMooney says that it’s only small number of people seem who seem to make it their mission to ruin surprises for fans.Most fans are decent about not spoiling secrets, he says. Often, though, that depends on what show or movie is being discussed.“With Endgame there was at least an understanding that people were going to watch it over the weekend and therefore you didn’t blurt out information… but take something like Game of Thrones and the spoilers are a lot more common,” he said. People have been tearing their hair out over spoilers in recent weeks… but why? How has the fear of spoilers changed the way productions are made and how we view them? Source: Mark Meehan/Twitter “Social media makes everything move so quickly,” Mooney says. “The idea is that things happen so fast, that when the next big thing happens, we’ve already moved on from it after lunch.”He suggests that perhaps the cultural madness around spoilers is a way of people marking something in the now. Something that people want to experience live and within the context of a wider cultural experience shared with others.I can understand the appeal of that urgency. I can understand why that’s important to people.Do you care about spoilers? By Andrew Roberts The folks behind #AvengersEndgame had a cool “don’t spoil the endgame” campaign going before it came out. HBO for #GameofThrones? Couldn’t go a day without basically spoiling episode 3 on their own instagram account. Avoid their social media entirely if you haven’t seen it.— Mark Meehan (@MarcasPadraig) April 29, 2019 No (620)last_img read more

Hépatite C un nouveau traitement efficace

first_imgHépatite C : un nouveau traitement efficaceMonde – Le journal The Lancet vient d’annoncer les résultats d’une étude mondiale, qui démontre l’efficacité de l’antiviral boceprevir dans le traitement de l’hépatite C.Le traitement jusqu’ici utilisé pour lutter contre l’hépatite C consiste en une association de deux médicaments : la ribavirine et l’interféron pégylé. Dans soixante-sept hôpitaux à travers le monde, en Europe, aux États-Unis et au Canada, des patients ont testé un nouveau traitement, qui ajoute le boceprevir aux deux antiviraux précités. L’étude a montré que ce médicament supplémentaire permet de doubler le taux de guérison.Cet essai a été effectué sur des patients infectés par le génotype 1 de l’hépatite C, c’est-à-dire le plus dangereux, car le plus récalcitrant aux traitements. Cette étude est donc une très bonne nouvelle pour tous les porteurs du virus, qui représentent plus de 170 millions de personnes dans le monde entier et qui risquent de développer des cancers du foie ou des cirrhoses. Le 11 août 2010 à 10:19 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

En images lart du camouflage na plus de secret pour ces animaux

first_imgEn images : l’art du camouflage n’a plus de secret pour ces animauxCes photos semblent peut-être présenter de magnifiques décors naturels issus de différents milieux. Mais à y regarder de plus près, elles recèlent aussi de petits habitants passés maitres dans l’art du camouflage.Courir vite, ne plus bouger, s’aider de ses congénères : il existe de nombreuses manières d’échapper à un prédateur dans la nature. Il en est d’ailleurs de même pour partir en quête de proie et pouvoir se nourrir. Mais certains animaux ne sont pas particulièrement bien dotés pour réaliser ses deux tâches : très petit, fin, fragile, lent. La nature ne dote pas toujours des meilleurs atouts mais heureusement certaines créatures ont réussi à contrecarrer cette vulnérabilité en développant une stratégie tout à fait remarquable : le camouflage. Comme son nom l’indique, cette stratégie d’adaptation consiste à se cacher en imitant les objets inanimés de l’environnement. Pierres, arbres, feuilles ou même coraux des fonds marins, tout y passe et chaque créature a su choisir le bon élément à imiter pour passer inaperçue au quotidien. Certains phasmes par exemple, des insectes herbivores, ressemblent à s’y méprendre à une feuille et se fondent ainsi complètement dans la masse lorsqu’ils sont tranquillement posés sur une branche. Il en est de même pour certains poissons-pierres qui disparaissent complètement dans le plancher marin.  Imiter les couleurs et les formes À lire aussiDengue : symptômes, traitement, prévention, où en est-on ?Il existe en fait différents types de camouflage : l’homochromie et l’homotypie qui peuvent co-exister. Le premier consiste à imiter les couleurs de l’environnement tandis que le second se concentre plutôt sur un mimétisme des formes. Ne reste alors plus pour l’animal qu’à choisir l’élément qui correspond parfaitement à son aspect. Utile donc si celui-ci veut échapper aux yeux d’un prédateur ou s’attaquer à une proie en toute discrétion.  Certains animaux sont cependant allés encore plus loin dans la supercherie en acquérant la capacité non seulement de se camoufler mais aussi de le faire en fonction de ce qui les entoure. Autrement dit, ils sont capables de changer d’aspect au regard de l’environnement extérieur. C’est notamment le cas des fameux caméléons ou de certains geckos. Pour les repérer, ne reste alors plus qu’à être particulièrement attentif ! Le 16 février 2013 à 14:29 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

Planet of the ApesGreen Lantern A Crossover We Didnt Know We Needed

first_img Planet of the Apes: Visionaries is Unpredictable, Stunning and WildVariant Covers to Grab This Week (8/29/18) Stay on target DC Comics crossover and collaboration game has been strong lately, with a slew of titles across multiple publishers.  A ton of great series, including Justice League/Power Rangers, Batman/TMNT, and now the newest crossover, Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern comes to us courtesy of DC Comics and BOOM! Studios.Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1(W) Robbie Thompson & Justin Jordan (A) Barnaby BagendaBOOM! Studios and DC are proud to bring together two classic properties in an unprecedented crossover event. When the Forbidden Zone is thrown into chaos, Cornelius investigates and discovers an ancient ring, unlike anything the universe has ever seen. As its power echoes through the stars, the Guardians must reveal to their Lanterns a secret they had hoped would remain buried. With the Green Lantern Corps, led by Hal Jordan, racing to get to the source of this power before Sinestro can get his hands on it, they will discover a truth that will change them forever on…THE PLANET OF THE APES.While the rebooted Planet of the Apes movie franchise is currently in its baby steps, still years away from getting to a true planet of apes, this comic instead focuses on the classic 1968 film. Following the chimpanzee archaeologist, Cornelius, as he follows the humans Taylor and Nova into the Forbidden Zone, the series kicks off with a mysterious portal being opened to the DC Comics Universe. Writers Robbie Thompson and Justin Jordan do an excellent job here, with Thompson’s plot being a ton of fun, which is no surprise given how enjoyable his Silk series is at Marvel. Jordan’s script nails the voices of the classic movie characters, as he is no stranger to the Green Lantern mythos, having worked on Green Lantern: New Guardians during the New 52. The tone of the series has just the right amount of over-the-top cheesiness needed to make a premise like this work, and it does.Artist Barnaby Bagenda is also familiar with the Lantern populated corners of the DC Universe, having been the artist for the critically acclaimed Omega Men series, by him and writer Tom King, which ended last year. His style is loose and energetic, which works well with all of the abstract designs and shapes that come with the Lantern-verse. Strangely enough, his art seems to shine more during the scenes that focus more on the apes. They are strongly designed, and the pages with them just seem to pop. The colors here by Alex Guimaraes help make the somewhat dull design of the apes’ world still manage to be eye-catching. Bagenda is one of those artists where I feel as if their art is a selling point for a book alone. Thankfully, this first issue has it all, with great art, a solid script, and all of the ridiculous ideas that get brought out of the premise.Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1 is written by Robbie Thompson and Justin Jordan, with art by Barnaby Bagenda, and published by DC Comics & BOOM! Studios. Next Wednesday, February 1st, the first issue of the series will be available in stores and online at Comixology.com.last_img read more

World Cup will not impact Benitezs transfer plans

first_imgNewcastle manager Rafael Benitez has insisted that the performances of the players at the World Cup will not have an effect on his summer transfer plansThe Spaniard, who is currently facing an uncertain future at St James’ Park, has confirmed that he has begun making his plans with managing director Lee Charnley.But the former Liverpool manager has refused to judge players based on their performances in the upcoming World Cup this summer in Russia.“I don’t think so. We have people going around but now you can see a lot of players and you don’t have to be there.” said Benitez, according to Chronicle Live.“Also I am not a fan of the Euros and World Cup in terms of signing players from there because when they go there, what do they have? Something you don’t have for ten months, it’s not guaranteed for ten months.Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…“When you go to the Euros and the World Cup, everybody wants to go and they are motivated. This motivation for one or two weeks, for some players it is enough to make a name and then go to a top side.“But after for ten months, maybe they don’t reach the level. I am not impressed with the World Cup or Euros in terms of signing players because they do well there.”After a difficult start in their return to the Premier League this season, there has been a notable upturn in form for Newcastle since the beginning of the new year and Benitez’s side have climbed to an unexpected 10th place in the standings.Yet the 57 year-old has previously stated that he will not be satisfied until they reach his 40 point target with Newcastle just two points shy.last_img read more

CREDC Vice President Moore resigns

first_imgBonnie Moore Bonnie Moore has resigned from her position as the Columbia River Economic Development Council’s vice president of business growth and innovation.CREDC President Mike Bomar said Moore’s resignation Thursday was effective immediately. He said Moore, 34, would be pursuing other opportunities. Moore and the CREDC had reached “mutual agreement and acceptance” on the resignation, he added.Bomar said he is reshuffling staff assignments until a replacement is hired, and that Kimberly Blake Pincheira, CREDC’s manager of investor relations, would assume some of Moore’s duties on an interim basis.Moore said Tuesday that she left the job for personal reasons, and that she would pursue opportunities she could not pursue while working at CREDC. She said she intends to remain in Vancouver.“My four years at CREDC changed my personal and professional perspective about public-private partnerships; it’s not often that we get to live, work and breathe every day how to drive positive change in a growing community while having the advantage of so many different perspectives, being at the crossroads of business, government, education, and infrastructure,” she said in a statement to The Columbian.Before joining the CREDC in 2010, Moore spent 12 years in the private sector, working in business development, international operations and project management in both the high-tech and manufacturing industries in North America, Europe, and Asia.last_img read more

Hearst Corp Buys Controlling Interest in Digital Billing and Payments Firm

first_imgHearst Corporation last week announced it bought an 80 percent stake in digital billing and payment services firm Kubra. The service, which manages billing and payments for the utility, insurance, financial services and healthcare industries, will be closely aligned with Hearst-owned CDS Global, a fulfillment and data processing company. Terms were not released, but it’s an interesting deal for Hearst to make. On the one hand, it fits with the revenue diversification theme the publishing market has been hungry for, but in this case it’s a service-based operation—not one dependent on advertising. It also puts Hearst in a position to make money from out-of-market industries like healthcare and utilities. In announcing the deal, Hearst Magazines president David Carey referred to it as “building new service businesses that have scale.” Third, it taps into the growing electronic payment and billing market, and that includes mobile. “As the consumer shift to electronic payment becomes more rapid, companies offering fully integrated billing and payment services are in high demand,” says Hearst Corp. president and CEO Steven Swartz in a statement. By matching up Kubra with CDS Global, Hearst can leverage the payment-oriented services the two companies provide. Kubra, like CDS, will remain an independent unit, with Kubra president and CEO Rick Watkin reporting to Carey. “Kubra’s experience in billing and payments is a great complement to the services CDS Global offers, and we have been working together in some capacity since 2011,” CDS Global president and CEO Debra Janssen tells FOLIO:. “While many of the day-to-day business and technology details will be more fully determined as KUBRA is integrated into the Hearst family, the great working relationship we have already built will allow us both to derive quick benefit from an expanded partnership.”last_img read more

The best gifts for dog lovers

first_img Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. Share your voice 0 Richard Clark/Getty Images Dog lovers tend to be demonstrative — not only do we shower our furry friends with attention, fancy dog food and gourmet dog treats, we often like to announce our devotion to the world at large, or at least appreciate a few Fido-themed tchotchkes. If you’re one of us — or know someone who is — these are some of the best gifts for dog lovers we could fetch (with an emphasis on kitchen-related objects since we are Chowhounds, after all).And if you need an excuse to snag one, what better day than National Dog Day (Aug. 26)?Disclosure: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured here. Grounds & Hounds coffee subscription: $14/month grounds-and-hounds-coffee-subscription-service-chowhound Amazon Love coffee almost as much as you love corgis? Consider a coffee subscription from the wonderfully named Grounds & Hounds — it sells fair trade, organic, specialty coffees (and other coffee-related products) and donates 20% of profits to support rescue organizations that help dogs who are between homes. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, in more than one way — and in honor of National Dog Day, you can get free shipping right now, plus a free D.O.G Party Mug with orders over $50 (just use the code FORTHEPUPS at checkout). See at Grounds & HoundsNow Designs cotton chef’s apron in Dog Days: $19dog-print-apron-amazon-chowhound Amazon If your dog lover is also a dinner-maker or dessert-baker, chances are they’ll adore this dog-print apron, which has a handy pocket in front for holding utensils, a phone or a supply of dog treats. See at Amazon’Woof’ dog spatula: $12dog and cat print spatulas Sur la Table You know what else would fit perfectly in that apron pocket? A dog-bedecked spatula (cat spatula also available for those who can’t choose their favorite species). Wag the batter with this one, don’t stir.See at Sur La TableDog engraved rolling pin: $34dog rolling pin Amazon They see you rollin’, they hatin’, especially when they find out your rolling pin has dogs on it and theirs doesn’t.  See at AmazonDog kitchen timer: $6dog kitchen timer Amazon You’ll now know when it’s time to walk your four-legged friend and take the cherry pie (or dog-print cookies) out of the oven. Multi-tasking at its finest.See at AmazonDog print silicone oven mitts: 2 for $20dog-print-oven-mitts-amazon-chowhound Amazon Protect your own paws with these puppy-print oven mitts. They have a soft lining for comfort but a textured silicone coating that provides both heat protection and a secure grip — much to the dog’s chagrin, there’s no chance you’ll drop that pan of lasagna on the floor. See at AmazonRitz floral Frenchie kitchen dish towels: 2 for $19+frenchie-tea-towels-amazon-chowhound Amazon Fact: Frenchies are adorable, and flower crowns, however played-out some may deem them, are still charming (at least when they’re placed on animals, or on pictures of animals). So these kitchen towels are clearly extra cute and your favorite French bulldog fan or pet-having hipster (maybe that’s you?) will proudly display them. See at AmazonDog dishcloths: 2 for $10dog dish cloth Amazon The irony of this pick is that it’s usually your dog that’s creating the mess, not cleaning it. Bonus: no horrible wet dog smell when you use these.See at AmazonDog paper towel holder: $20dog paper towel holder Amazon Dog lover, cat lover, fish lover, whatever. You don’t have to love animals to buy this quirky paper towel holder that’s perfect for a modern kitchen.See at AmazonKikkerland dog butt magnets: 6 for $11dog-butt-magnets-amazon-chowhound Amazon Decidedly less chic, these assorted dog bottoms will still delight those with a certain strain of humor. And every fridge needs some random novelty magnets, so why not these? The fire hydrant is a nice touch. See at AmazonDachshund ice cube tray: $7dachshund-ice-cube-tray-amazon-chowhound Amazon If you assumed we’d toss in something hot dog-related to pay homage to the precious wiener dog, you thought wrong. That’s way too predictable! Instead, surprise cocktail hour guests with dachshund ice cubes. They should get tongues wagging. They’re also a fetching way to portion appropriately themed frozen treats for your dog.See at AmazonDachshund chopstick rests: 5 for $14dachshund chopstick rest Amazon One more for the wiener fans. You’ve heard of giving your dogs a rest, but now you can rest your chopsticks on these adorable silver dachshunds. And you thought your bowl of ramen couldn’t get any better.See at AmazonLaser-etched salad servers: $27dog salad servers Amazon Salads are typically one of the most boring dishes on the dinner table, but serving the greens with these utensils will have guests saying “bow wow.”See at AmazonTop Dog travel bag: $40dog-travel-bag-amazon-chowhound Amazon Do you like to take your precious pup everywhere? Then you’ll surely appreciate this doggie travel bag, with several handy zippered and/or elastic compartments, including one for kibble — it even comes with two collapsible bowls for feeding and watering on the go. And it’s TSA-approved, so perfect for jet setters (or Westminster Dog Show candidates). See at AmazonLoqi Store dog print reusable bag: $11resuable-dog-grocery-bag-amazon-chowhound Amazon Reusable bags are a great eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic, and they come in so many styles, they basically double as accessories. This dog-printed tote bag is perfect for those who want to advertise their love for puppies while they’re grabbing groceries — or taking a day trip to the beach (with their party animal in tow, no doubt). See at AmazonStainless steel ‘Dog Mom’ stemless wine tumbler: $21dog-mom-stemless-wine-tumbler-amazon-chowhound Amazon For the dog moms who want everyone to know where their allegiances lie, this insulated tumbler is perfect for sipping morning coffee, afternoon water or evening wine — and it has a lid to guard against spills (whether from human error or wildly wagging tails). See at AmazonHaute Diggity Dog Muttini Bar Collection plush wine bottle toy: $14dog-toy-wine-bottle-squeaky-toy-amazon-chowhound Amazon Speaking of wine, while you’re enjoying your own, throw your dog a bone — or rather, a wine bottle, in plush toy form. You can play doggy sommelier too. For instance, if this “Cavalier Sauvignon” from “Napaw Valley” doesn’t seem like it’d do it for the dog in question, go with a “Woof Clicquot” squeaky toy instead. See at Amazon’Corki’ wine stopper: $8corgi wine stopper Amazon We judge (ever so slightly) those who are in need of a wine stopper, but if you can’t finish a bottle (blasphemy), you may as well plug it with something adorable. And frankly, what’s more adorable than a Corgi?See at AmazonBowser Beer: 3 for $15dog-beer-amazon-chowhound Amazon Conversely, if you and your dog prefer beer, this nonalcoholic drink for dogs is made from malt barley and glucosamine, which is great for maintaining healthy joints. Word of caution, though: reviews are mixed; some dogs reportedly loved it, while others of the Spuds MacKenzie persuasion probably would have preferred a Bud Light. See at AmazonPetcube Bites Wi-Fi pet camera and treat dispenser: $249 wifi-pet-camera-treat-dispenser-walmart-chowhound Walmart This Wi-Fi-enabled pet camera and treat dispenser lets you stay connected to your pup even when you’re at the office (working hard so your dog can have a better life, of course). It lets you see 1080p HD video of your dog (or cat), and even talk to them and remotely throw treats. Other features include night vision, sound and motion alerts and an optional cloud recording service so you can access stored video — honestly, this almost doubles as home security, in case your dog is not so much about guarding the house as it is about lazing around it. See at WalmartThis story was originally posted on Chowhound. Post a comment Tags Culturelast_img read more

Riding the waive A growth dream betrayed

first_imgUP IN THE AIR: A farmer winnows his paddy crop at a field in Agartala. REUTERS/Jayanta DeyPoliticians, policy apparatchiks and technocrats who went red in the face cheering the benefits of demonetisation could take a lesson from the ongoing competition between the states to announce loan waivers for farmers who have piled on crop loan burdens. The lesson is one of differentiating between politics and fact – the latter, a department where government flops repeatedly, cheered along by the bureaucracy and party rank and file.Farm loan waivers, starting from the first one announced by the Janata Dal government of VP Singh in 1990 to the one stewarded by the UPA government in 2008, have been exercises in futility. In southern and central India, farmer stress has been guided by failing monsoons when it comes to the rabi and kharif crops; unseasonal rains, diseases and storms play their part in destroying contentious crops like cotton, which in recent years, has led to largescale farmer suicides.Loan waivers always play out their counter-productive effects on the economy, inflating non-performing assets (NPAs) and battering the bottomlines of India’s public sector banks, which held Rs 6.4 lakh crore in bad assets as of March 2017. Besides adding to taxpayer outgo and widening the fiscal deficit, out-of-turn loan waivers have another set of outcomes – fresh rounds of farm stress, and the inevitable cycles of agitation and violence, appeased through future loan waivers.Different parties, same tubThe political class may have realised that good politics is a house built on the foundation of bad fact and bad logic perpetrated with an eye on the rural votebanks. But the loan waivers will be far from ideal placebos for the folks at the farm. A substantial part of farm loans comprise non-crop loans like tractors, ploughing machines, and input costs largely untouched by the proposed waivers.Top guns of the ruling BJP dispensation who had wasted no time in criticising the evils of a humongous loan waiver announced by then Congress Finance Minister P Chidambaram nine summers ago, — saying that distressed banks would be weighed down by further pressures on their NPA positions, and that zero interest farmer loans were simply not the way ahead – have always thrown their weight behind incentivising farmer loan defaults. BJP leaders have been grandstanding on the benefits of loan waivers to farmers in a sector where genuine farmers are often not identified with a fair degree of accuracy or where temporary farm hands masquerade as farmers to avail of loans.Without forgetting the huge potential for impersonation thrown up by a corrupt rural banking system, it is well known that high amounts of loan pilferage have been frequently reported in the farm sector. A Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has noted serious implementation glitches in the Rs 52,000-crore debt waiver scheme announced by P Chidambaram in 2008. The Committee conducted a sample of 90,576 beneficiaries/farmers spread across 25 states out of the intended 3.69 crore base. Discrepancies were found in 22 percent of the cases. Raghavendra NDefaults vs low lendingAn inverse parallel that can be drawn to irrecoverable loans is that India’s farm policy often does not support on-ground sales requirements of its farmers. Rural lending growth collapsed to 2.5 percent in the second half of 2016-17 and even shrank in several states, including Punjab and Maharashtra, even though banks are flush with funds ferried in through demonetisation. This also explains the higher provisioning by banks in the second half of the year, after banks realised their inability to efficiently close their NPA books in the face of growing defaults by the farm sector.Many a gaping hole in the loan recovery process are persistent painpoints. Take the case of public sector lender State Bank of India. As of April 1, 2015, the bank had Rs 56,725 crore of bad loans, or gross NPAs. During the course of the year, Rs 4,389 crore of bad loans was recovered. At the same time, the bank wrote off Rs 15,763 crore of bad loans, more than three times the loans it had recovered. By March 31, 2016, the total bad loans of the bank had segued to Rs 98,173 crore thanks to fresh bad loans tagged onto its rural portfolio.During every period of farming sector stress the cycle of agitation and loan waivers could be repeated. The root causes of agrarian distress have not been addressed by repeated refinancing of farmers whose ability to repay is always in doubt, leading to distorted credit histories and banks refusing to lend them loans in future. The money goes on the government’s books and would be recovered through the two most popular routes – higher indirect taxes through innovations like GST or add-on cesses in the Union Budgets or via higher public and overseas borrowing.Official policy and the machinery implementing it are now on the same page, where the symptoms are treated, but not the malaise. Farm loan waivers present a glaring example where the malaise is being glossed over at the expense of larger economic and social goals. Such a non-strategy would not really add positive chapters into India’s larger growth story. Rather, it would be an open invitation to disaster.last_img read more

Myanmar top Buddhist body bans hardline group

first_imgPolice have arrested five people this month after a fight broke out in a Muslim neighbourhood of Yangon when dozens of hardliners raided a house believed to be hiding Rohingyas.hardline Myanmar has been gripped by deepening religious tensions that have repeatedly spilled into violence, partially attributed to anti-Muslim rhetoric spread by nationalist groups like Ma Ba Tha.The Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, Myanmar’s highest Buddhist authority, sent a letter to government ministries on Tuesday ordering the group to cease all activities by mid-July or face prosecution.“People, either as individuals or as a group, cannot take any actions under the name of Ma Ba Tha,” said the letter, which was seen by AFP and carried the signature of several monks including senior figures from Ma Ba Tha.“Ma Ba Tha signboards across the country are to be taken down completely by July 15 at the latest,” the Sangha committee added, warning any infractions would be punished under both Buddhist and civil law.But Ottama, a Ma Ba Tha monk in Yangon, said the group still planned to hold its annual meeting this weekend despite the ban.“The most certain thing is that we will hold the Ma Ba Tha conference on the 27 and 28 of this month,” he told AFP.A statement from the group said the official conference would be cancelled, but there would now be a meeting to discuss the Sangha committee’s decision instead.The Sangha’s sanction comes just weeks after the same committee, which represents the upper echelons of the clergy, banned the country’s most notorious monk Wirathu from preaching for a year.Once dubbed “the face of Buddhist terror,” the Mandalay-based monk has led calls for restrictions on the country’s Muslim minority and frequently spews vitriol online warning of an Islamic takeover.Wirathu has since made several public appearances with his mouth taped shut to symbolise how he has been silenced by the authorities, and this month made a provocative visit to the north of Rakhine State.Religious tensions have soared since a group of Rohingya Muslims attacked police posts on the border with Bangladesh last October, sparking a bloody military crackdown that has drawn widespread international condemnation.Since then nationalists in Yangon have held protests, stopped Islamic religious ceremonies and most recently forced two schools to shut their doors over accusations they were illegally doubling as mosques. Myanmar’s top Buddhist body has banned hardline group Ma Ba Tha, according to a document sent out on Tuesday, a move aimed at curbing the movement’s influence amid rising Islamophobia.last_img read more

Harvey Could Blow A Hole In States Education Budget

first_imgLaura IsenseeA young boy shows his lunch bag to HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza on the day most of the district’s schools returned to class following Hurricane Harvey, Sept. 11, 2017. Share Listen 00:00 /01:03 Xcenter_img As the House Public Education Committee met to gauge the financial losses Harvey inflicted on school districts, State Representative Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) urged his colleagues to consider what he called “the elephant in the room.”“It could take years for property values to come back,” said VanDeaver. “So we could see a real drop in recapture for the next ten years.”Texas relies on tax receipts from property-rich school districts to help pay for poorer ones, a system known as recapture.State Education Commissioner Mike Morath explained what that meant, given the damage to schools across Southeast Texas: “Just the facilities remediation alone could eliminate roughly $500 million a year in recapture payments in the state budget.”Houston ISD’s chief financial officer, Rene Barajas, said HISD is working with FEMA and its insurance to reduce its burden from recapture payments. That would leave the district with more money for disaster relief.  But he said it’s unlikely property values will fall so far as to take the district out of recapture altogether. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: last_img read more

Intertwining IndoAfrican dreams

first_imgIndia and Africa are intertwined by their history of freedom struggles against their colonial rulers, as also by their future, pursuing similar developmental strategies to bring prosperity to their citizens. Underlying our strong political relationship are common political perspectives on issues like terrorism, security of ocean routes, larger geopolitical role for developing countries and convergence of interests on climate change. Equally important, the synergy of our economic relations is bolstered by the natural economic complementarity of our respective comparative advantages, the raison d’etre  of  mutually beneficial trade among equals, generating most optimal “Win-Win” options for both of us. Also Read – FM favours cess over additional tax for compensating statesIn fact, the Indian developmental model, especially post-liberalisation of 1991, predicated on large scale public investments in critical infrastructure, followed by domestic entrepreneurial initiatives in consumer goods and services, in a democratic setting, is proving to be a sustainable option and role model for many African countries. India needs immense natural resources to lift its teeming millions out of poverty. We need metals, minerals, coal, oil and gas, to build cities and run industries. Africa needs technology and investments, to leverage their natural resources, but on equal and fair terms, which India offers. Indian technology is “Triple A”, – “Appropriate, Affordable and Adaptable”, which is best for Africa.  Also Read – Indian eves lose to NZ in four-nation series openerThe Continent with the youngest population needs capacity building of its manpower, which Indian companies do well. For instance, the African infrastructure in the hinterland is being built by project companies like OIA, involving construction of thousands of kilometres of electricity transmission and distribution and rural electrification lines or hundreds of kilometres of water pipelines or massive agro-processing plants. We engage local firms and manpower to execute an increasing proportion of the jobs, as they pick up expertise working with us on various projects.  The transfer of knowhow to local partners makes perfect business sense for Indian private sector players, since localisation progressively reduces costs of execution. Significantly, the infrastructure built by Indian firms is changing the face of African economies, since it is not aimed at extracting their natural wealth but linking up with their people, lighting up homes and energising industries and magnifying African agricultural productivity. When the top African leaders arrive in October, Modi is sure to make India-Africa development combination unparalleled and unbeatable.last_img read more