Do Celebrity Endorsements Work?

first_imgIndia has only two religions – sorry politicians, you don’t count! – cricket and Bollywood. Come what may, both guarantee excitement and eyeballs. Not surprisingly, advertisers, forever searching for the magic to engage audiences, have been crazily (even blindly) using celebrities to hawk their products. Master Blaster and cricket’s hottest icon Sachin Tendulkar has always led the pack. Most recently, he was signed on by Kishore Biyani’s Future Group as Brand Ambassador for its upcoming range of products, including energy drinks, shakes, diet supplement powders, sports goods, Cricket gear, bats, balls, vitamin-enriched natural juices, treadmills, exercise mats, cycles and eyewear bindis. Pepsi signed him up to endorse the sports drink Gatorade. He also pitches Aviva’s Child Plan. The Comeback Guy Saurav Ganguly is the face of the consumer electronic firm TCL, the German sports lifestyle brand Puma and the broadcast channel INX News. Tennis star Bhupati hawks ApolloTyres, while Golfing ace Mikka Singh punts for Barclays.But there is nothing like an endorsement from a Bollywood star. Deepika Padukone leads the youth brigade as brand ambassador for Kingfisher and watch-maker Tissot, along with Leci Strauss, India. Bipasha Basu peddles Kinetic’s Sym Flyte and Real Estate Developer, Emgee. Sushmita Sen is more likely to be seen in ads than in movies, pitching everything from Olay, Taug Huer and Kiah Diamonds to Pantene. Kajol is popping Perfetti’s Alpenleibe, while cousin Rani Mukherjee, Bollywood’s popular queen of hearts, is plugging the mosquito repellent Good Kinght, when she isn’t batting for Titan Raga, Fanta, Dabur Vaitka, Nestle Munch and Aveo. Bubbly Preity Zinta is refreshing Rexona Roll-On Deo, Godrej, Eon Airconditioners, BSNL telecom and the new airline Go Air. The fabulous Lara Dutta and cool Bobby Deol are the face of trendy fashion name Pantaloon. Hrithik Roshan remains hot as ever with Acer, John Players, Parle, Tata Sky, Sony Ericson, and Radico Khaitan. Saif Ali Khan is the chotte nawab of Taj Mahal Tea, Royal Stag, Yamaha, Newport, Colgate, Lenovo and Aveo. Then there is Akshay Kumar pitching everything from Grassim Suitings and Thums Up to Microsoft’s X-Box 360. Finally, there are, of course Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, the reigning kings of endorsements.Recent entrants include at least five hotties from Gen Next. Heading the pack are the newcomer Genelia D’Souza and Imraan Khan, stars of the recent hit Jaane Tu. If industry sources are to be believed, each command endorsement fees upwards of $200,000, higher than even senior stars like Preity Zinta & Rani Mukherjee. Jia Khan, the nubile, sexy Lolita who unsettled Big B in Nishabd has signed on for Wrangler Jeans for a reported $190,000. Even Harman Baweja whose debut film Love Story 2050 tanked at the box office, and Kangana Ranaut of Gangster fame, command endorsement fees that hover around $200,000. Image consultants and advertisers believe that since the demand is huge and the supply of stars limited, any new kid on the block who has captured popular imagination is on! Kareena Kapoor recently struck a mega deal to promote Pepsico’s Kurkure brand for a whopping $1.4 million, overtaking her $1 million contract for Vivel soap, making her the most endorser among female stars. Following her are Mallika Sherawat ($700,000) Katrina Kaif ($600,000), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan ($500,000 to $600,000), Priyanka Chopra (300,000 to $400,000) and Preity Zinta and Rani Mukherjee ($170,000 to $200,000).Adding spice, excitement and hi-drama to this crazy world of mega-deals is the war of the Khans. Shah Rukh Khan’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Aamir Khan’s Ghajini are set to release the same month, setting up a deadly clash of the titans at a time when big films, such as Love Story 2050, Drona and Kidnap continue to ominously bite the dust. But the drama is even more intense in the endorsement wars. If SRK sipts Pepsi, Aamir is partial to Coke. If SRK zooms around in a Santro, Aamir zips about in an Innova. If SRK hawks Tag Heur, Nokia and Dish TV, Aamir champrions Titan, Samsung and Tatasky.These insane, big bucks, glamorous endorsements are, no doubt, wonderfully rewarding for the stars and the insatiable star-hungry TV viewers. Industry experts estimate that celebrity endorsements jumped almost 50 percent in India in 2007. But do they work? Remember the aging dream girl Hema Malini hawking the mineral water Ken and the Bank of Rajasthan? And what do you make of high profile lyricist Javed Akhtar endorsing Jaypee Cement? Or Bipasha Basu hawking Real Estate? Or Big B waxing about Navratna hair oil? A recent survey conducted jointly by IMRB and i-Pan of over 2000 respondents, across 12 cities ( small and big metros) found that 86 percent of those interviewed admitted that the ad they most remembered had a celebrity, but only 3 percent said it influenced their buying decision. The IMRB study found that “more than the celeb pull, factors like quality, price and experience ultimately drove consumers purchasing pattern” Furthermore, “only 22% of this sample believes that the celebs actually use the products endorsed.” So, should celebs be dumped? “Not really” says IMRB’s Sanjay Pal. “At a primary level celeb endorsements help to break the clutter but beyond that… it is doubtful whether they add any real value.” In fact, the survey found that Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan have so many endorsements across product categories that 15 percent associated the “wrong” brand with the former and 9 percent with the latter.If they recall the brand at all, that is. Related Itemslast_img read more

Ramachandran awarded the Olympic Order by IOC President Bach

first_imgRio de Janeiro, Aug 21 (PTI) President of the Indian Olympic Committee N Ramachandran was today awarded the Olympic Order for his outstanding services to the Olympic movement. The Olympic Order is the highest award of the Olympic Movement and is awarded for particularly distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement, that is, recognition of efforts worthy of merit in the cause of sport. It was established in May 1975. The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, formally presented the award to Ramachandran and congratulated the IOA President, saying the award was in recognition of his contribution to the Indian Olympic Movement. “I am humbled by the honour and it is indeed one of the best moments of my career in sports administration. I am extremely grateful to the IOC President, Dr Thomas Bach and the IOC Executive Board for choosing me for this award. This award belongs to the entire country,” Ramachandran said. Ramachandran has been actively associated with several sports organisations. He has held several positions of responsibility contributed hugely to the Olympic movement. He was President of the Indian Triathlon Federation, and later the Secretary General of the Squash Rackets Federation of India. He made Chennai the “Squash capital” of India. In 2001, he was elected as the President of the Asian Squash Federation and was re-elected to this position in 2005. Ramachandran was appointed as an Associate Vice President of the Indian Olympic Association in 2001 and elected a Vice-President in 2005. In 2008, Ramachandran was elected as President of the World Squash Federation. In 2009, he was appointed as Patron of both the Asian Squash Federation and the Squash Rackets Federation of India. At the WSF AGM in 2012, Ramachandran was re-elected as WSF President for a further four years. In February 2014, Ramachandran was elected President of the IOA. PTI Cor CM CMadvertisementlast_img read more


first_imgNew Zealand captain Kane Williamson tried to garner at New Zealand captain Kane Williamson tried to garner at the positives from the opening Test. “There are lots of positives and lessons which we will take from this match to the next one. It is really two sessions where the match slipped out of our hands and India capitalised,” he said. The Kiwis were placed at 158 for 1 in the first innings before folding for 262. “It would have been nice to get onto 300 but we could not sustain it and they bowled really well so it is a combination of many things and end of the day India certainly were a better team,” Williamson said. “They were fantastic, especially today as it is not easy with the ball turning sharply and against a couple of world class spinners. So the way Mitchell Santner (71) contributed with the bat and ball was impressive and Luke Ronchi (80) also coming into the side and doing well.” India and New Zealand will now move to Kolkata to play the second Test starting on Friday. “It is about recovery now. These are hard conditions and it is important to recover nicely and have a challenging match in the next Test.” Jadeja, who was adjudged the Man of the Match for his all-round show, said: “I needed to play my role with the bat. So I tried to give myself time initially so that I can play my shots. Playing in Duleep Trophy helped me a lot. I got wickets there. So I was confident and whenever I bowl on turning wickets, I get wicket, so I wanted to concentrate on that and I was enjoying my bowling. “Initially in the first innings the wicket was really slow, it was not turning from the stump line, so we were trying to mix the pace,” said Jadeja, who scalped six wickets in the opening Test. Talking about Ashwin, he said: “He is a very good bowler on slow and turning tracks. I would like to congratulate him for his 200th wicket. Whenever wicket was not falling we used to chat in between the overs or breaks. We enjoy each others company.” PTI ATK PM PMadvertisementlast_img read more

BATE Borisov repeat Aguero heroics

first_imgBATE The next Man City! Borisov repeat Aguero’s 96th-minute heroics Harry Sherlock 00:29 11/27/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Sergio Aguero Manchester City Getty Images BATE Premier League Sergio Agüero Gorodeya v BATE Gorodeya Manchester City Premier League The club, from Belarus, won their 12th consecutive league title after an Aguero-like injury time winner on Sunday BATE Borisov have won their 12th consecutive Belarusian league title on Sunday, thanks to a 96th-minute winner!BATE began the day top of the league table by two points but fell 3-1 behind to Gorodeya, giving hope to fellow title challengers Dinamo Minsk, who won their final game of the campaign 4-1.However, the dynastic BATE rallied and secured an incredible 3-3 draw, thanks to Mirko Ivanic’s injury time penalty. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player The result will surely draw comparisons with Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City, who won the Premier League title in 2012 by virtue of Sergio Aguero’s 96th-minute goal. They too came from two goals down, this time from 2-1, to win 3-2.Shakhtyor Soligorsk were the last team to win the title other than BATE, lifting the trophy in 2005.Only two teams in European history have won more successive titles – Rosenborg won 13 in Norway, while Lincoln won 14 in Gibraltar. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

No Unfair Advantages with Plastic Ban – Senator Samuda

first_imgGovernment Senator, Matthew Samuda, is assuring that there will be no unfair advantages for manufacturers and distributors under the impending January 1, 2019, single-use plastic ban.He was speaking at a ‘Consumer Talk’ on the ban, hosted by the National Consumers’ League, in association with the National Environmental Planning Agency (NEPA), at the Bureau of Standards, recently.“The plastic ban will be implemented through a Ministerial Order under the Trade Act of Jamaica. There won’t be unfair advantages for any business group in Jamaica, whether large or small,” Senator Samuda emphasised.He informed that under the Trade Act, plastic bags 24×24 inches, plastic drinking straws, and imported expanded polystyrene will not be allowed for manufacture, distribution and importation by any Jamaican company.“What the Ministerial Order will allow the Government to do is reinforce the ban within the business community, rather than target individuals,” he explained.Mr. Samuda pointed out that breaches of the plastic ban could result in fines of up to $2 million or imprisonment for a maximum of two years, as outlined in Sections 11 and 13 of the Trade Act.He noted that no tax incentives or concessions will be administered by the Government under the plastic ban.In 2016, Senator Samuda tabled a motion in the Senate for the ban on a range of plastic and expanded polystyrene products. On September 18, 2018, Minister with responsibility for the environment, Hon. Daryl Vaz announced a ban on single-use plastic effective January 1, 2019. Plastic items under the ban include plastic ‘scandal’ bags 24×24 inches, plastic drinking straws and the importation of expanded polystyrene products.last_img read more

Aegean Shipping Management Breaks into Dry Bulk Market

first_imgzoom Greek tanker owner Aegean Shipping Management S.A. has signed an order with Chinese Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry for up to eight 82,000 DWT Kamsarmax bulk carriers, thus venturing into the dry bulk sector.The order comprises four firm and four optional ships in a 4+2+2 series to be constructed by Cosco Zhoushan shipyard, with deliveries scheduled for the second half of 2019 onwards.“We decided to move into the dry bulk sector now as an investment, taking advantage of the historically low asset price levels, combined with our belief that this sector is on its way to a sustainable recovery by 2018/19. (…) I am convinced that the dry bulk development will prove a great success,” the company’s Chairman, George Melissanidis stressed.“This is a very significant newbuilding order for us and it is firmly aligned with our diversification and fleet expansion strategy via modern and efficient vessels. The specification for these vessels has been jointly developed with the yard and designers, COSCO and SDARI, and has been enhanced in accordance with our company’s Green Fleet standards in order to meet and exceed industry demand requirements for this ship type,“ ASM CEO, Apostolos Poulovassilis added.Aegean Shipping Management has five tankers in its fleet with an average age of four years, valued at approximately USD 110 million, based on the data from VesselsValue.The company also has two tanker newbuilds on order at COSCO Zhoushan. The Aframax tankers of 113,000 DWT are scheduled for delivery in 2018.last_img read more

Naka checking to be stricter to rein in speed demons

first_imgKolkata: The city police will intensify ‘naka checking’ at night in view of the major accident that happened in South Kolkata in which two Bangladeshi nationals were killed.Pandey Santosh, Deputy Commissioner of Traffic, said there is a craze among some young adults who are children of rich parents to drive their premium cars or motor cycles at night and drive them at very high speed. They have a tendency to flout traffic rules and Friday’s accident could have been averted had the accused driver coming from Loudon Street stopped the vehicle at Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Pujathe intersection of Shakespeare Sarani, the DC said. The cars that are driven at night include premium models of BMW, Porche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes Benz. To get the feel of these cars one needs straight and near-empty roads. These cars are taken out any time between midnight and 4 am and are driven at an average speed from between 120 km per hour and 150 km per hour. The DC further added that the police will intensify vigil on the premium cars at night and ‘naka checking’ will also be intensified. It may be mentioned that the state government has banned racing of bikes on flyovers which had become a deadly menace at night.last_img read more

Daughter of federal politician loses court battle to run in Manitoba election

first_imgWINNIPEG — A Winnipeg woman has lost a bid to run in the upcoming Manitoba election because she has been living outside the province to attend university.Hannah Mihychuk Marshall, daughter of Liberal member of parliament Maryann Mihychuk, was seeking the provincial Liberal nomination in Rossmere in north Winnipeg.She had been studying at the University of Ottawa and came back in late April with plans to continue her studies in Manitoba.Elections Manitoba requires candidates to live in the province for six consecutive months leading up to election day, which is Sept. 10 this year.Mihychuk Marshall took the case to court, arguing that students are allowed to vote while temporarily out of province, and should have some leeway to run as candidates as well.A judge rejected the idea, leaving the provincial Liberals to name someone else to run in Rossmere and other constituencies before the deadline Monday.“I am very disappointed in the ruling. I am a Manitoban, and I call nowhere else home,” Mihychuk Marshall said following Thursday’s ruling.The Liberals said they have a backup plan.“We are actively adding more candidates to the team as we speak and have a candidate ready to go for Rossmere as well,” Liberal spokesperson Colin Roy said in an email.“We were prepared for the possibility of a loss in the court battle.”The Liberals had registered 53 candidates for the 57 legislature seats as of Thursday afternoon, according to Elections Manitoba’s website. The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats filled their slates several days ago.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Akriti Kakars jobless experience

first_imgMumbai: Singer Akriti Kakar says she composed “Jobless” from her personal experience, and was pleasantly surprised when director Tigmanshu Dhulia decided to include the song in “Milan Talkies”. Akriti has sung the song with Sukriti and Prakriti. “I had composed ‘Jobless’ from a personal experience for my then boyfriend and now husband. I wrote the lyrics out of relatability saying ‘I feel jobless when he goes out of town and doesn’t pay attention to me, how I keep looking at my phone all day for it to ring, anticipating a message from him’,” Akriti said in a statement. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography “But I guess these are the side effects of love and even though we know how it drives us crazy, we still love being in love. The song mysteriously reached Tigmanshu Sir and he contacted me two years ago saying he would like to include it in his film ‘Milan Talkies’ whenever it would be made,” she added. The singer was left speechless. “He told me he will create a situation for the song in his film, and made me realise how fond he was of the song. I am overjoyed since it was going to be my first song for a film composed, written and sung by me. Also Read – Hilarie Burton, Jeffery Dean Morgan tie the knot “For me, it has been such a ‘pinch me’ experience, especially because I had not created this song keeping in mind a film but from personal experience…it’s a really special feeling,” she added. Talking about the song, Dhulia said: “Every love story has to have a breezy love song but I wanted something else instead of a duet. I thought the girl should express what she feels after she has fallen in love.” “Milan Talkies” is a love story set against the backdrop of single-screen theatres. It stars Ali Fazal and Shraddha Srinath, and is slated to release on March 15.last_img read more

Amid Tension Moroccos Akhannouch Visits Algiers for WestMed Meeting

Rabat – Moroccan Minister of Agriculture, Sea Fisheries, Rural Development, Waters, and Forests Aziz Akhannouch led a delegation to the WestMed conference yesterday, held in Algeria this year.WestMed began in 2016 and is an annual meeting by Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal and Tunisia that focuses on working towards the economic, political, and environmental improvements in the western Mediterranean region. One of the main goals set by the organization is to develop a “blue economy,” one that sustainably uses resources from the sea, by 2022. The EU lauded the goal, especially after Spain and Portugal were asked earlier this year to reduce their overfishing of sardines in 2019, due to depleting global populations. Read Also: Foreign Ministry Announces Official Delegation for Western Sahara TalksAlthough the focus of the conference was on international maritime cooperation, Akhannouch’s trip to the Algerian capital also occurred as upcoming talks involving the two countries loom. The countries have been at odds for decades, especially over the sensitive issue of Western Sahara. The Moroccan-Algerian border is now extremely militarized with increasing tensions, prompting alarm and calls for calm in the international community. In the past, Morocco has accused Algeria of attempting to isolate the country from the Maghreb, as well as funding the rebellious Polisario movement, but King Mohammed VI  wants to turn over a new leaf, calling for constructive talks in November between the two countries, in an attempt to thaw the icy relationship between the two nations. The UN voiced support for talks, but Algeria has not officially responded to the King’s offer.Meanwhile, the two countries are scheduled to meet tomorrow and Thursday, December 5-6, at a UN roundtable in Geneva for talks on Western Sahara. Mauritania and Polisario will also attend the talks, called by Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General Horst Kohler. read more

Using pedal power London boy raises money to help Haitian children –

27 January 2010Seven-year-old Charlie Simpson of London originally planned to just enjoy a bicycle ride in the local park with his father. Instead, he made a five-mile trip that has raised more than £150,000 for children affected by this month’s Haitian earthquake, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced. Seven-year-old Charlie Simpson of London originally planned to just enjoy a bicycle ride in the local park with his father. Instead, he made a five-mile trip that has raised more than £150,000 for children affected by this month’s Haitian earthquake, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced.Charlie decided to raise funds for UNICEF’s response to the disaster by riding around his local park seven times last Sunday. His goal was to collect £500 in sponsorship pledges through a website, but as of today he has raised nearly £170,000 and counting.“I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives,” he writes on his website. “I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti.”UNICEF is providing clean water for 235,000 people at hospitals and other sites around the hardest-hit city, the capital, Port-au-Prince. The agency plans to scale up its water distribution significantly, aiming to reach half a million people with a consistent supply of water within the next few days.The agency noted that providing clean water is particularly challenging as Haiti was already the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation before the 7.0-magnitude quake struck on 12 January.“You have to keep in mind that prior to the earthquake, only 50 per cent of the entire country had access to clean water in the first place,” said Silvia Gaya, who specializes in water, sanitation and hygiene for UNICEF. “Children in emergency situations like this one are more susceptible to illness and death from waterborne disease.”Charlie’s efforts to help children an ocean away have captured the public imagination and spurred donations from far-flung places including Hong Kong and New Zealand.“He really felt strongly about this and thought that something had to be done,” said his mother, Leonora Simpson. “It was great to see him so motivated. I am extremely proud of our Charlie.”Calling his initiative “bold” and “innovative,” UNICEF United Kingdom Executive Director David Bull said that Charlie “not only understands what children his own age must be going through in Haiti, but is also wise enough to know that he can help them.” read more

Trump order on China will hurt us small businesses say

NEW YORK — Although President Donald Trump has told U.S. companies to stop dealing with China, small business owners say complying would hurt, even devastate them.If Vanessa Topper can’t work with a manufacturer in China, “I’m going to have to fold a quarter of my business,” she says.About 25 per cent of the promotional products Topper sells are imported from China. She estimates that if she were to look for a supplier in another country, it would cost her company, TopNest Designs, at least $100,000 and she would risk losing clients, companies that produce wine, beer and liquor.Topper, whose business is based in Tiburon, California, says she can’t afford to go to a country like Vietnam to meet with manufacturers. Moreover, the process of finding a new supplier would take months, and she has no guarantee that the merchandise would meet her customers’ requirements.Small businesses individually and as groups say their revenue and profits have been hurt by the trade wars that began with Trump’s imposition of 25% tariffs on Chinese-made raw materials and products last year. Since then, Trump has expanded the tariffs on the goods U.S. companies import, and China has responded with tariffs of its own on items exported from the U.S. On Friday, China announced it was raising tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. imports, after which Trump’s “ordered” that U.S. companies find alternatives to doing business with China.Trump softened the threat Sunday, saying he would only consider it if China again responded with raising tariffs on American goods.Companies of all sizes have seen their costs rise because of the tariffs, and some have lost business as their customers reject higher-priced goods. But the tariffs take a greater toll on smaller companies that don’t have the financial resources to shift their manufacturing to other countries.“It’s not as easy as a tweet to find alternatives. And time spent finding alternatives is time spent not growing the business,” says Karen Kerrigan, president of the advocacy group Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.But in some industries, there are few or no alternatives. Manufacturers, importers and retailers are forced to pay the tariffs.“There’s nothing I can do about where the products in my store are sourced from,” says Tiffany Zarfas Williams, owner of The Luggage Shop of Lubbock, Texas. “That’s way behind my control. I’m at the mercy of my manufacturers, and changing factories and finding new sourcing options take years.”The vast majority of luggage sold in the U.S. is made in China. But even if it were made domestically or in other countries, “that doesn’t even address the issue that all of the parts and pieces that make luggage are all made in China as well,” Williams says.Peter Horwitz, owner of Tiger Packaging, a paper and plastic products supplier based in Boca Raton, Florida, has shifted most of his manufacturing away from China in recent years. But he’s unable to find suppliers in other countries for some of his products, including vinyl gloves. He’s looked in the U.S. but found none.“We’d much rather support our own. But the reality isn’t like that, unfortunately,” he says._____Follow Joyce Rosenberg at . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.comJoyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press read more

Security Council warned of increased risk for international terrorist attack

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman told the Council that while military setbacks in Iraq and Syria account for an increased in the rate of returnee foreign terrorist fighters, “ISIL is yet to be strategically or irreversibly weakened.” He also warned of an inflow of arms and ammunition directly or indirectly into ISIL-held territory. “Given its recent military setbacks, ISIL may be moving into a new phase, elevating the role of its affiliates; trying to move funds outside the current zones of conflict; and increasing the risk of complex, multi-wave and international attacks,” Mr. Feltman cautioned. These observations are part of the second “Report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat” released on 31 May 2016. Below are some of the main observations of the report, compiled by the UN Department of Political Affairs’ Politically Speaking. The Gravity of the ThreatThe report observes that ISIL’s territorial expansion in Iraq and Syria has been halted, and in part reversed, over recent months. For the first time since the declaration of its so-called “Caliphate” in June 2014, the ISIL core is under financial pressure. But many Member States have noted that ISIL is not yet strategically and irreversibly weakened. Several Member States report a marked increase in the rate of returnees from Iraq and the Syria. Information received from Member States points to recent discussions inside the core ISIL leadership concerning the group’s future strategy, a development that should be further monitored. Recent international attacks perpetrated by members of ISIL demonstrate that the terrorist group is now moving into a new phase, with the increased risk that well-prepared and centrally directed attacks on international civilian targets may become a more frequent occurrence. The attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016 demonstrate the ability of ISIL to mount complex, multi-wave attacks. National law enforcement agencies continue to investigate those attacks, but it is already clear that they were coordinated by foreign terrorist fighters who had returned to Europe from ISIL-held territory in Syria. Financing TerrorContinuing pressure on ISIL in Iraq and Syria increases the likelihood that the terrorist group may try to move funds to affiliates outside the immediate current conflict zone. Initial reports received from Member States indicate that this may already be occurring. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reports that, because ISIL has not conquered new territory in Iraq for some time, its ability to loot and sell fresh resources, assets or antiquities has been diminished. Increased pressure on ISIL finances in Syria and Iraq also means an increased risk that ISIL will attempt to exploit additional revenue-generating activities. The international community must therefore remain alert to attempts by ISIL to further diversify its revenue streams or expand relatively minor streams. Foreign Terrorist Fighters Continue to Join ISILSignificant numbers of foreign terrorist fighters continue to travel from States around the world to join ISIL in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic. One Member State reported that around 38,000 individuals may have attempted to travel to the region in the past few years. ISIL in Libya …After 18 months of presence in Libya, the local branch of ISIL continues to be part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the ISIL core to expand outside Iraq and Syria. Although the total number of foreign terrorist fighters in Libya is significantly lower than that in Iraq and Syria, Member States estimate the ISIL fighting force (which is mainly composed of foreign terrorist fighters) to comprise between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters. …and in AfghanistanIn Afghanistan, in the face of opposition, ISIL has tactically retreated from the main settled areas to the mountainous periphery alongside the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In autumn 2015, ISIL was estimated to have between 1,400 and 2,000 fighters in Nangarhar Province. By the first quarter of 2016, however, this force was estimated to consist of fewer than 1,000 fighters. Still, ISIL in Afghanistan has proved its ability to hold limited terrain and to conduct terrorist attacks in major cities beyond its core territory. ISIL’s Use of Information Communications Technology PlatformsICT is a key enabler for ISIL and plays an essential role in enabling ISIL and its affiliates to function, recruit and attack. ISIL may currently lack technical capabilities for cyberattacks against critical infrastructures. However, the risk that ISIL will purchase attack tools from the “darknet” is real and developing. Many leading ICT companies have measures in place to prevent the abuse of their platforms. Google and Facebook recently announced the launch of anti-radicalization campaigns to be conducted together with civil society organizations. Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Sexual violence continues to be used as a tactic of terrorism to increase the power, revenue and recruitment base of ISIL, as well as to shred the social fabric of targeted communities. The trafficking of women and girls remains a critical component of the financial flows to ISIL and its affiliates, which continue to exploit ICT to extort funds through the trafficking and sale of women. States should continue to deepen their understanding of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism and formally recognize victims of sexual violence as victims of terrorism in order to build counter-narratives and counter-strategies and pave the way for reparations and redress. States should also engage with traditional and religious leaders who can help to shift the shame and stigma of sexual violence from the victims to the perpetrators. Currently, only around one third of the 77 Member States (S/2015/975) identified as “most affected” by the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters have updated their legislation in response to resolution 2178 (2014). In many Member States, existing legislation falls short in several areas, including the need to prevent the travel of such fighters by comprehensively criminalizing preparatory or accessory acts. read more

The Pitch That Launched a Thousand Think Pieces

“I was going to give him a couple pipe shots,” Adam Wainwright said when asked whether he “grooved” a first-inning pitch to Derek Jeter in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. “He deserved it.” But later, after the baseball press swarmed his admission like locusts on fresh crop, Wainwright recanted. “What I meant to say was I’m intentionally trying to throw a strike to get him out. It’s what I do most of the time, almost all the time.”Luckily, people keep track of this kind of thing. Take a look at PITCHf/x data on Wainwright’s usual fastballs against right-hand batters this season, courtesy of classified it as a cutter, but it sped along like a four-seamer, moved vertically like a four-seamer, and stayed as horizontally still as no pitch in Wainwright’s repertoire. So, grooved or not grooved? You tell us.UPDATE (July 17, 1:20 p.m.): Dan Brooks of contacted me on Twitter and said his site had re-tagged Wainwright’s pitch as a (non-cut) fastball. The official Major League Baseball Advanced Media PITCHf/x classification for the pitch is a cutter. read more

Exsenior garda advised Taoiseach not to appoint an outsider as commissioner

first_imgA FORMER SENIOR garda wrote to the Taoiseach the day after the phone tapping broke and two of the State’s most senior gardaí announced their retirements to advice that Garret FitzGerald not appoint an “outsider” to lead the force.The short, handwritten letter from Alfred ‘Alfie’ Flood, a former deputy garda commissioner, warned the Taoiseach that neither of the two previous so-called ‘outsiders’ were a success and outlined his credentials, describing himself as the “longest serving member” of 41-and-a-third years.Just in case he had any doubts, Flood’s letter also advised FitzGerald that he could consult party colleague and former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave regarding his “credentials”.He was indeed an experienced garda.A profile in the History of the Garda Síochána Retired Members Asociation (GSMRA) notes that Alfred Ignatius Flood joined the force when he left college and at 19 was promoted to sergeant.Flood became a chief superintendent in 1965 before being promoted to assistant commissioner and then deputy commissioner before retiring from the force in April 1972.He later became president of the Garda Pensioners’ Association before he died in 1997.In his typed response, the Taoiseach wrote on 24 January that “with such long and distinguished service” he respected Flood’s views and promised to “certaintly keep this in mind” as well as bringing it to the attention of Justice Minister Michael Noonan.In the end it was Lawrence ‘Larry’ Wren, who had led the inquiry that would uncover the phone tapping scandal, who became acting commissioner and was later permanently installed as garda commissioner, before he retired in 1987.See National Archives, Reference TK 2013/100/115Phone tapping: Papers reveal garda commissioner’s belief that he had no choice but to retire ‘Ireland’s Watergate’: How the phone tapping scandal would led to Haughey’s downfall… eventuallylast_img read more

Geek deals 479 Dell Inspiron One 2020 allinone iPhone 5 Kindle Fire

first_imgAll-in-one PCs can be a true god-send for those who are technologically-challenged or just plain short on space. When you consider a traditional tower PC and monitor, each with their own power cords and video cable, you actually need a fair amount of desk space and organization.With systems like this Dell Inspiron One 2020, all that hassle is gone. Built around a 20-inch LCD, the One 2020 needs only enough space for the display, keyboard, and mouse with a single power cord to plug in. This significantly cuts down on the real estate needed and hassle of running wires, especially if you were to add a wireless keyboard and mouse.But compact doesn’t have to mean underpowered either. This model comes equipped with a dual-core Intel Core i3 processor, which has more than enough power to handle office and internet tasks for years to come, along with 4GB of RAM and a 1 Terabyte hard drive. A DVD burner is built into the One 2020, along with Wireless-N, Bluetooth 4.0, five USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, and a built-in webcam.For a while, all-in-one PCs held a premium over traditional towers, but we have seen that price premium erode through 2012 and into 2013. This is the lowest price we have seen yet on the Inspiron One 2020 and coming in under $500, an extremely strong value for a brand new home-use PC.Dell Inspiron One 2020 20-inch Core i3 All-in-one Windows 8 PC for $479.99 + free shipping (reg. $679.99 | use coupon 6V7N?Z6CGXZQ4H)Our other top deals:Apple iPhone 5 16GB [AT&T] (refurbished) for $149.99 + free shipping (reg. $199.99)Amazon Kindle Fire HD 16GB 8.9-inch 1920×1200 Tablet for $269 + free shipping (reg. $299 | use coupon FIRELOVE)Pentax Optio WG-2 Waterproof 16MP Digital Camera for $179 + free shipping (reg. $328.95)last_img read more

This 40storey skyscraper has trees climbing all the way to the top

first_img Share22 Tweet Email1 Sunday 2 Apr 2017, 4:00 PM Image: Studio Libeskind By Paul Hosford 27 Comments Image: Studio Libeskind Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlecenter_img Apr 2nd 2017, 4:00 PM Source: Studio LibeskindIt will be the first skyscraper in the French city, with construction due to start next week and finish in 2022.The studio says the building’s bend is designed to mimic the flow of the city’s canal.“Integrated into the overall form of the building, the façade and public platform is a continuous vertical landscape. This vertical green ribbon referenced the lush waterway of Canal du Midi that winds through the city. Trees will line the platform of the building and a ribbon of gardens will curl around the glass facade to its full height.“The tower will be built on the site of the former postal sorting centre at Gare Matabiau. Situated east of the city centre, and away from the Garonne River, the building will have views towards the Pyrenees, that are less than 100km away.”The project is projected to become the gateway to the city’s growing business sector.Read: This New York skyscraper would be the world’s longest building Short URL THE STUDIO BEHIND the rebuilt World Trade Centre will soon build this 40-storey twisting garden tower in Toulouse, France.Studio Libeskind, headed by iconic architect Daniel Libeskind, has submitted the designs for the Occitanie Tower.The 150 metre tower includes 11,000 square metres of office space, a Hilton hotel, up to 120 apartments, a restaurant with panoramic views, commercial space for shops, and offices on the ground floor for the railway company SNCF. 29,066 Views This 40-storey skyscraper has trees climbing all the way to the top It will be the first skyscraper in the French city, with construction due to start next week and finish in 2022.last_img read more

AthensThessaloniki express train set to launch on 20 May

first_imgThe wait ends this month. The highly anticipated express train on the Athens-Thessaloniki line is set to launch on Monday 20 May.Now, instead of taking five hours to get from one city to the other, passengers will be able to reach their destination in just three hours and 55 minutes, according to Thanos Bourdos, Transport and Infrastructures General Secretary.The express trains will feature all necessary amenities to ensure a convenient and relaxed trip, including WiFi.The routes will initially be carried out by three TRAINOSE trains coaches, overhauled by EASTY. While two ultra-modern trains are expected to arrive soon from Italy.The express trains will run daily, with two stops – one in Lianokladi and the other in Larissa.The new 450 km railway line will be unveiled next Wednesday by Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Christos Spirtzis. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Des organismes de 34000 ans retrouvés vivants

first_imgDes organismes de 34.000 ans retrouvés… vivantsUn chercheur américain a découvert des bactéries datant d’il y a 34.000 ans dans des cristaux de sels, extraits de la Vallée de la Mort, aux Etats-Unis. L’homme s’est étonné de constater que celles-ci étaient bien vivantes après tout ce temps. Voilà de quoi déstabiliser nombre de scientifiques. Les cristaux de sel, observés attentivement par Brian Schubert, alors étudiant chercheur américain, avaient été ramenés de la Vallée de la Mort, aux Etats-Unis, il y a des années déjà. Ce scientifique, qui a pu terminer son doctorat grâce à ces recherches publiées ce mois-ci dans une revue de la Geological Society of America, avait voulu y jeter à nouveau un coup d’oeil. Et c’est à ce moment-là qu’il a découvert des bactéries, dans des bulles minuscules à l’intérieur des cristaux de sel, indique Schubert, qui est à présent chercheur à l’université de Hawaii, explique que les bactéries (que l’on retrouve toujours sur notre planète à l’heure actuelle, dans une “version” moderne) étaient en quelques sortes en état d’hibernation. “Elles sont vivantes mais elles n’utilisent pas leur énergie pour se déplacer ou se reproduire”, explique-t-il. “Elles ne font rien d’autre que d’essayer de se maintenir en vie”. Selon lui, ces bactéries se seraient nourries de cellules de Dunaliella, que l’on trouve dans les marais salants. Cet élément indique que les cristaux de sel pourraient ainsi contenir des écosystèmes microscopiques.Brian Schubert est parvenu à reproduire ces résultats en laboratoire. Il a pu obtenir les mêmes organismes, et plusieurs cristaux de sel lui ont permis d’arriver aux mêmes conclusions. Cela signifie que ces bactéries n’étaient pas présentes dans le laboratoire auparavant et n’ont donc pas contaminé les cristaux. Elles y étaient bien présentes depuis des dizaines de milliers d’années. La question que se pose à présent le scientifique concerne l’état d’hibernation. Comment ces organismes ont pu survivre autant de temps ? Le 14 janvier 2011 à 15:32 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

Valve Index Is a Powerful VR Headset Even Without HalfLife

first_imgStay on target Whatever your thoughts are on virtual reality (for me the best it’s really good for is quick cardboard gimmicks) you can’t deny that Valve has been all in trying to push the tech to its furthest potential with its boatload of Steam money. It’s not like they were spending that cash on game development or Steam Machines or moderators or more generous developer cuts than Epic. The proof is in the hardware. While competitors like Oculus pivot more towards more accessible and affordable standalone headsets, the HTC Vive Pro with the SteamVR software delivers the most intense VR experience your monster gaming PC can muster.And that was back when Valve had to work with an outside partner in HTC. Now the company is ready to reveal its first fully internal VR hardware solution. Even without a Half-Life game, the Valve Index sounds pretty impressive.The Valve Index aims to provide the highest fidelity VR experience imaginable. So you’re going to need some outside components to make it realistically work. You just can’t strap it on your face and go. For starters, these are the “minimum” required specs: Windows 10 or SteamOS or Linux, 8 GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970+ or AMD RX480+, Dual Core CPU, and some USB 3.0 ports. For the most beautiful, smooth VR experiences though you’ll want to push your PC much further than that.The Valve Index also encompasses a range of hardware. The upgraded base stations (also compatible with Vive Pro) increase your potential play area by multiple square meters and track your motion more accurately. You can get away with just two but additional base stations increase the fidelity of the large-scale room tracking with laser scans picking up headset and controller positions “100 times a second.”And speaking of controllers, the 87 new sensors in the controllers can now map your hands to the point where games recognize what your individual fingers are doing. Actually grab objects instead of pressing a trigger. Give enemies the finger. Throw objects with the motion sensor. There are still buttons and analog sticks as well for when more traditional inputs are necessary.But the star of the show is the Valve Index headset itself. The display features a high-res 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye with enhanced LCD subpixel rendering techniques to increase sharpness and reduce the “screen door effect.” The higher resolution along with shorter image persistence and refresh rates as high as 144Hz should also reduce motion sickness.The physical design puts the lenses closer to your eyes, while still maintaining comfort, to increase field of view for more immersive peripheral vision. High quality speakers sit outside of your ears so you feel more like you’re in the environment. And the hardware can be modded in all sorts of ways after the fact.To get all of this, you’ll be paying $999 for the whole Valve Index suite, and that’s before the PC. That’s not cheap! And it’s an even tougher price to swallow when the announced games are typical VR mainstays like Job Simulator and Tilt Brush, or games also coming to the modest PlayStation VR (albeit in lower quality) like No Man’s Sky and Trover Saves The Universe. This really would’ve been a great time for Valve to announce the rumored Half-Life VR prequel.But if you want the absolute cutting-edge in VR tech, get ready to pre-order the Valve Index starting May 1st. For more on VR check out these hidden messages in Oculus controllers and read about Sony’s patent for potential new ways VR headsets can work better with glasses. Valve Steam Link App Brings Your PC Games to MobileEpic Gives Free Games, GOG Gives OG ‘Diablo,’ Steam Gives Ap… last_img read more