ERC Review Panel Doesn’t Pull Punches, Advocates Fixing “Original Sin”

first_img“An obsolete model of management.” “Completely abusive” demands on reviewers. A governance system that is “a source of great frustration and ongoing low level conflict.” Who said E.U. science policy needs to be dull?An independent review presented today doesn’t pull punches when it describes the structures and management procedures of the European Research Council (ERC), Europe’s new basic research funding agency. The review flags a number of problems in the funding agency’s management, but stops short of endorsing a new legal status that would make ERC fully independent from the European Commission and its often complex regulations, as some scientists at the ERC had hoped. Instead the panel, which included former National Institutes of Health head Elias Zerhouni, urges a series of “immediate” reforms and another independent review in two years time.Overall, ERC, which has more then €7 billion to spend on investigator-driven research between 2007 and 2013, has done a good job, says the panel, chaired by former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. It has even “succeeded beyond expectations” in attracting scientific talent. But the group comes down hard on what it calls the ERC’s “original sin”: the separation between science and management.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Who controls ERC, founded in early 2007 to fund research based solely on excellence, has been under dispute from the very beginning. The agency’s very existence was a radical concept for the European Union, where political negotiations typically determine how money is allocated. That’s why scientists have strived to make the agency as independent as possible from the European Commission. Currently, an independent Scientific Council chaired by Imperial College London molecular biologist Fotis Kafatos charts the ERC’s scientific course, but day-to-day management rests with a so-called Executive Agency in Brussels that is formally autonomous. But that word is “quite misleading,” the panel concludes, since the Commission controls the agency’s steering committee. Although the Scientific Council has a representative in the Executive Agency—Secretary-General Andreu Mas-Colell who assumed that post 3 weeks ago—he has no formal powers (In a recent exclusive interview with ScienceInsider, Mas-Colell did reveal a new grant level ERC will be offering and his hopes to increase female participation for ERC funds.).This “old-fashioned” dichotomy, the review states, puts the ERC’s long-term credibility at risk. “It should not be acceptable today in Europe that non-scientists […] run major European research programmes!” the panel writes with indignant punctuation. It even resorts to using upper case occasionally to make its point, demanding “a true PROFESSIONALIZATION both at the scientific and managerial level.”Managers within the Executive Agency are unfamiliar with academic traditions, clash with the Scientific Council on a regular basis, and make the grant review process much more cumbersome for volunteering scientists than needed, according to the panel. For instance, reviewers need to mail in a copy of their passport, which the panel calls an “abusive” requirement, and sometimes have to wait forever to be reimbursed for travel expenses they pay out of their pocket. Furthermore, the grant review software is cumbersome and difficult to use. “I review for a large number of international funding bodies and this was the worst experience I have had in 30 years,” one scientist told the panel. “I would not agree to review again.” The panel recommends a slew of measures that can be implemented right away to fix the managerial problems, such as streamlining the governance structure; merging the roles of secretary-general and director of the Executive Agency into a single post to be filled by a top scientist; and smoothing review procedures. But it does not advocate the Scientific Council’s favored solution: Wresting control from the Commission completely by giving it a special status made possible though Article 171 of the European Community Treaty. Although this would require new legislation that could be difficult to enact, an Article 171 body would be the best fix for the ERC’s “birth defects,” says Helga Nowotny, vice-president of the Scientific Council.Vīķa-Freiberga’s group proposes going this route only if a new review in 2011 shows the problems to persist—a Solomonic verdict that pleases both sides. “It’s a very fair and balanced report, and the recommendations are wise,” says Nowotny. “It’s a good, honest report that will help all of us a lot,” European Commissioner Janez Potočnik told ScienceInsider this afternoon.The Commission will issue a formal response by October, but Potočnik—who is praised by the panel for keeping ERC from political interference—says the Commission is already working to fix the problems. Potočnik will not oppose an Article 171 structure if it proves necessary, he adds.last_img read more

Do We Need a Standard to Calculate “Avoided Emissions”?

first_imgWhat are Avoided Emissions?Avoided emissions are emission reductions that occur outside of a product’s life cycle or value chain, but as a result of the use of that product . Examples of products (goods and services) that avoid emissions include low-temperature detergents, fuel-saving tires, energy-efficient ball-bearings, and teleconferencing services. Other terms used to describe avoided emissions include climate positive, net-positive accounting, and scope 4. Measuring and Managing Greenhouse Gas EmissionsFor more than a decade, businesses have realized the environmental and economic benefits of measuring their greenhouse gas emissions using GHG Protocol standards and tools, setting emission reduction goals, and achieving those reductions. But reducing carbon footprints is only one part of the solution. Companies can play a key role in developing and promoting products and services that avoid emissions – either by enabling emission reductions or by providing a low-emission version of existing products.Some companies already quantify, report, and set goals around the climate benefits of their products and services. For example, of the more than 1,100 companies that report to the CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), two-thirds say the use of their products directly enable GHG emissions to be avoided by a third party. However, there is no international standard or consistent terminology to describe avoided emissions. Individual companies and industry initiatives are left to develop their own approach—which leads to inconsistency. For example, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have published guidelines for accounting and reporting GHG emissions avoided along the chemical value chain; the Information & Communications Technologies sector has published similar guidance.What Benefits Would an International Standard Provide?To reduce GHG emissions through innovative goods and services, there has to be a demand for those products. To create the necessary market pull, downstream customers need to understand the benefit of products that enable emission reductions, and have confidence that avoided emissions claims are credible. This requires consistent and credible measurement, as well as transparent reporting – all things an international standard can provide. But is the time right? Is there a need and demand for a standard on quantifying and reporting avoided emissions?Establishing the NeedWe need you to help us answer these questions. We have developed a survey to assess the need for a standard to measure avoided emissions. The survey is open to all interested parties and will be available from Nov. 5 – Dec. 11, 2013. Once the survey is closed, we will publish the results on the GHG Protocol web site. If the results of the survey and additional insight gained through workshops and speaking engagements support the need for a standard, we will send out a call for technical working group participants to start the development process. To stay aware of any developments, please join our stakeholder group. Businesses are constantly reminded of the risks and challenges of climate change, most recently with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report (AR5). Extreme weather events like flooding, wildfires, and droughts are challenging our infrastructure and disrupting our supply chains.But with risk comes opportunity. One such opportunity is providing goods and services that avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and decarbonize the supply chain. Today, the GHG Protocol is releasing a survey to scope out the need for a new standard to help companies quantify and report the “avoided emissions” of goods and services that contribute to a low-carbon economy—such as low-temperature detergents, fuel-saving tires, or teleconferencing equipment and services.last_img read more

Apple may unveil two new AirPods models by the end of 2020

first_imgApple may unveil two new AirPods models by the end of 2020The Apple AirPods 3, that is likely to be unveiled by the end of 2019, is expected to come with active and passive noise cancellation capabilities.advertisement Shweta Ganjoo New DelhiApril 25, 2019UPDATED: April 26, 2019 10:39 IST HIGHLIGHTSApple may launch two new AirPods models by the end of 2019.One AirPods model will be an upgrade to the second generation AirPods.The other AirPods model is likely to come with a new design.Apple announced the second generation of its wireless headphones – the Apple AirPods — last month. The newly launched wireless headphones feature Apple’s new H1 chip and ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation among other things. After refreshing its AirPods lineup in March this year, a new report suggests that the Cupertino, California based company is planning to launch two new AirPods models by the end of 2019.TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will unveil two new AirPods models betwen the final quarter of 2019 and first quarter of 2020. While one of two AirPods models is expected to be an upgraded model of the company’s second generation AirPods, the second model would come with a different form factor.According to 9To5Mac, while the Apple AirPods model with the same design as the company’s existing AirPods lineup is expected to come at a price that is the same as the second generation AirPods — $159 – $199 or Rs 14,900 in India – the other model with a new design is expected to be priced a bit higher.Sadly, the Apple analyst who is famous for making predictions about Apple devices didn’t say much about the features or the design that the company’s AirPods model with a new design would sport. However, the has predicted that the Apple AirPods shipment would reach around 52 million in 2019 and around 75 million in 2020.Meanwhile, a different report by Digitimes has also indicated that Apple would unveil its third generation AirPods or the Apple AirPods 3 by the end of 2019. The Apple AirPods that will be announced by the end of the year will sport some advanced features such as active and passive noise cancellation among other things and that their manufacturing would be divided between Taiwan’s Inventec and China’s Luxshare Precision.advertisementNotably, previous reports suggested that Apple would incorporate some advanced features such as – active noise cancellation and the health tracking features. Reports also suggested that they would feature a wider range and that they would come with water resistant technology. However, the second generation AirPods that made a debut last month did not incorporate any of those features. Perhaps Apple is reserving these advanced features for its redesigned AirPods models. But we will have to wait till the end of the year to find of what Apple has in store for its AirPods fans.ALSO READ: | Apple launches second generation 2019 AirPods in India, starts from Rs 14,900ALSO READ: | Apple to launch a 5G iPhone with Qualcomm and Samsung modems next yearALSO READ: | Apple AirPods 2 with health-monitoring functions are coming in first half of 2019Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byShweta Ganjoo Tags :Follow AppleFollow Apple AirPods 2last_img read more

Delta Elevates the Flying Experience with Italian-designed Alessi Serviceware

first_img Sip On the Original Stormtrooper Beer While You Wait for the Next Star Wars Movie The Mission Workshop Khyte Sets a New Standard for Messenger Bags Airplane cabins aren’t often known as incubators for great design inspiration.But, Delta Airlines is looking to change that. This April, they’re announcing a partnership with Alessi to furnish their premium cabins with high-end, one-of-a-kind serviceware and dishes. The world-renowned Italian brand is known for creating some of the world’s sleekest, chicest, most modern designs.The unique line has been 18 months in the making and is just now ready for primetime. Travelers in Delta’s premium classes of travel — including Delta One and First Class — will be the first to see the upgrade. The serviceware will then roll out to Delta Premium Select passengers later this year.Six of Alessi’s most celebrated designers were tasked to rework a total of 86 pieces of dinnerware, glassware, flatware, and other service accessories. Adapting some of their existing designs for the rigors and weight requirements of air travel proved a daunting one. One of the company’s signature wine glass designs — the iconic “Ovale,” for example — needed to be reworked with a wider, hollowed-out base. The resulting design is lighter, more stable, and perfectly suited for the airline’s needs.But, the design house took it a step further by altering the glass’s shape so that adjacent glasses fit more closely against one another when stored. Geometry fans can appreciate this concept of interlocking–known as tessellation–and it’s arguably the single most important business consideration for airlines. Applying better tessellation to these glasses — and the entire new line in general —  means a space-savings of up to 33%. Delta will allegedly take advantage of the extra space to make room for all-new martini glasses. And that’s a win for everyone.For years, the design, technology, and overall amenities of many domestic carriers in the United States have lagged behind the offerings of first-rate international carriers like Emirates and Virgin Atlantic. The introduction of this new serviceware is part of Delta’s commitment to providing a better, more competitive travel experience that includes extensive modernization of their entire fleet. Other enhancements rolling out in 2017 include seasonal wine menus, Wi-Fi Internet on most flights, upgraded seatback entertainment systems with free programming, and better snacks and meals all around.We’ll drink to that. Learn Guitar (and Don’t Give Up) With the Fender Play App The Opus OP15′ Is a Tricked-Out, Off-Road-Ready Travel Trailer Live Out Your Westworld Dreams at Casteel Creek Retreat Editors’ Recommendations last_img read more

JCDC Hosts Culinary Arts Expo August 2

first_imgStory Highlights This event is being organised by the JCDC to commemorate the Commission’s 55th anniversary. It also forms part of the Jamaica 56 Emancipation and Independence celebrations under the theme ‘Jamaica 56: One Love…One Family’. The best of Jamaican cuisine will be on display at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Culinary Arts Expo, to be held on August 2 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. The best of Jamaican cuisine will be on display at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Culinary Arts Expo, to be held on August 2 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.This event is being organised by the JCDC to commemorate the Commission’s 55th anniversary. It also forms part of the Jamaica 56 Emancipation and Independence celebrations under the theme ‘Jamaica 56: One Love…One Family’.The expo opens at 10:00 a.m. and is free to the public. It will feature more than 30 booths from various entities, and visitors can sample traditional and novel Caribbean foods and beverages as well as authentic Jamaican confectioneries, such as coconut/peanut drops, grater cake, duckunoo, puddings and ice cream; and Chinese and Indian cuisine. There will also be displays on wedding and celebration cakes.Participating in the expo are executive chefs from several leading hotels and from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona; University of Technology (UTech); and the Scientific Research Council (SRC); and gold medallists in the JCDC Culinary Arts Competition.Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, on July 20, Interim Executive Director for the JCDC, Orville Hill, said Jamaicans should come out and be a part of that experience and reflect on the development of the country’s culinary offerings over the years.For her part, Consultant to the JCDC and author of the Jamaican cookbook, ‘Sweet Runnings’, Dr. Pamella Powell, said the event seeks to celebrate and promote traditional and novel Jamaican dishes depicting the country’s journey since August 6, 1962 when Jamaica became an independent nation.“What you will see is a retrospective display of what the JCDC has been doing over the last 55 years to promote the development of a national cuisine. This exposition is showing appreciation to our ancestors for creating this vibrant cuisine that we still appreciate today,” she said. The expo opens at 10:00 a.m. and is free to the public. It will feature more than 30 booths from various entities, and visitors can sample traditional and novel Caribbean foods and beverages as well as authentic Jamaican confectioneries, such as coconut/peanut drops, grater cake, duckunoo, puddings and ice cream; and Chinese and Indian cuisine. There will also be displays on wedding and celebration cakes. last_img read more

Trump tells another tall tale this one on the Keystone XL pipeline

first_imgWASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump just regaled another audience with a tall tale involving Canada.This one’s about the Keystone XL pipeline.The president claimed to an audience in Ohio that he never heard any gratitude from TransCanada Corp., the company behind the controversial project, after he signed an executive order approving it.Trump joked that he’d remember that slight.But he appears not to remember that TransCanada CEO Russ Girling was standing next to him in the Oval Office and beaming as the president signed the order.The remark comes a few days after Trump told a story about ad-libbing trade statistics in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; sources in Ottawa say it remains unclear to which meeting the president was referring.last_img read more

Baloney Meter Is Elections Canada biased in favour of Liberals as Tory

first_imgOTTAWA —  “Hard to trust the Liberal lapdogs at Elections Canada, who let Liberals-SNC off the $100K donation scam and has paid influencers to intervene in the campaign.” — Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, Twitter post, June 10, 2019.—Pierre Poilievre has had Canada’s elections agency in his crosshairs for years.As a backbencher in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, the Ottawa MP repeatedly derided Elections Canada’s contention that the Conservative party illegally transferred money to local riding campaigns to pay for national ads during the 2006 election — the so-called “in-and-out” scheme that allowed the party to exceed its spending limit by more than $1 million. The Conservatives eventually agreed to a plea deal, admitted to having broken the law and paid the maximum fine of $50,000.In 2014, as democratic reform minister, Poilievre introduced the Fair Elections Act, which Marc Mayrand, chief electoral officer at the time, feared would disenfranchise tens of thousands of Canadians. Poilievre accused Elections Canada of bias, arguing that the “referee shouldn’t be wearing a team jersey.” And he dismissed Mayrand’s criticisms as evidence that “he wants more power, a bigger budget and less accountability.”Now, he’s going after Elections Canada again for not prosecuting Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin for a scheme to circumvent the ban on corporate donations to political parties, resulting in about $110,000 in illegal donations to federal Liberals and another $8,000 to the Conservatives from 2004 to 2009.“Elections Canada will never enforce the law on Liberals,” Poilievre tweeted May 29.He also objects to the agency’s plan to hire 13 social-media “influencers” — well-known athletes, musicians, TV personalities and YouTube celebrities — to encourage young people to vote in this fall’s election. Conservatives argue this is an attempt to “rig” the election for the Liberals, who are more likely to benefit from an increase in youth voters than the Tories, and that the influencers will inevitably betray their own political bias.So, is there a basis for Poilievre’s accusation that Elections Canada is a lapdog for the governing Liberals?The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).Spoiler alert: This one earns a ranking of “Full of baloney.”THE FACTSIn 2016, Yves Cote, the commissioner of Canada elections, struck a compliance agreement with SNC-Lavalin, in which the company admitted that employees were encouraged to make political donations and were reimbursed by the company by way of false refunds for personal expenses or bonuses. The company agreed to abide by conditions set by the commissioner to ensure no repeat violations.No charges were laid against the company itself but one former executive, Normand Morin, was charged with five counts of violating political financing laws. Last November, Morin pleaded guilty to two of the five charges and was fined $2,000; the other charges were dropped.In signing off on the agreement, Cote noted that none of those involved were still employed by SNC-Lavalin, and that new management had taken steps to prevent a recurrence and had co-operated with his office in tracking and recovering the illegal contributions.Conservatives compared the slap on the wrist for SNC-Lavalin to the punishment meted out to one of their former MPs, Dean Del Mastro, who was convicted in 2014 of exceeding his 2008 campaign spending limit and filing a false return to cover it up. Del Mastro was sentenced to one month in jail, four months of house arrest and 18 months of probation.In levelling his charge that Liberal stooges are letting SNC off the hook, Poilievre conflates Elections Canada, which administers election laws and conducts federal elections, with the commissioner of elections, who enforces the laws and investigates suspected violations. Even though the law stipulates that the commissioner operates independently of the electoral officer, Poilievre maintains they are effectively one and the same because the commissioner’s office is housed under the auspices of the chief electoral officer.However, at the time the compliance agreement was struck, the commissioner was actually under the independent director of public prosecutions — moved there by Fair Elections Act to ensure what Poilievre himself called “real independence.” The Trudeau government moved the commissioner’s office back to Elections Canada in April this year.In a statement issued last month, Cote said that at no time since he was appointed commissioner in 2012 has any elected official, political staffer or public servant attempted to influence or interfere with any of his enforcement or compliance decisions.“And I want to make it clear that if this ever happened, I would promptly and publicly denounce it,” he said.While the law forbids him from going into details of the investigation, Cote said that a decision to enter into a compliance agreement rather than prosecute depends on the strength of the evidence gathered and whether it would meet “the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”He also noted that at the time the agreement was struck with SNC, he did not have the power to seek court orders to compel witness testimony — something he and his predecessors have long asked for and which Poilievre specifically refused to include in the Fair Elections Act. The Trudeau government included that power in its own election-law reform package but that only went into effect in April.On the social media influencers, Elections Canada says it has ensured they have no partisan affiliation; their names will be released later this month. All 13 have been required to sign agreements vowing to remain politically neutral in their public comments during the campaign and for one year after.The Fair Elections Act banned Elections Canada from promoting voter participation, allowing the agency only to educate Canadians about how, where and when to cast ballots. The current Liberal government reinstated Elections Canada’s role in encouraging groups with typically low voter turnout, such as youth and Indigenous Peoples, to take part in elections.Whether such promotional efforts are effective is debatable. Voter turnout among such groups has remained well below average for decades, despite past efforts by Elections Canada.  Ironically, during the 2015 campaign when the agency was barred from such vote promotion efforts, a spike in youth voter turnout (up 18 points to 57 per cent) and among those living on reserve (up 14 points to 61.5 per cent) is credited with helping the Liberals win.THE EXPERTSWilliam Corbett, Cote’s predecessor, was the commissioner of elections whose office investigated the Del Mastro affair, the in-and-out scandal and the robocall scandal, which led to one junior Conservative campaign worker being convicted of deliberately misinforming electors in Guelph, Ont., about the locations of their polling stations. All three cases were prosecuted.Cote, who took over the role in 2012, seems inclined to pursue fewer prosecutions in general, Corbett said.“That’s his choice,” Corbett said in an interview, adding that as long Cote is applying his approach to compliance agreements even-handedly, “you can’t fault him for that.”Those with whom Cote has struck compliance agreements include Poilievre himself, who wore a golf shirt with a conspicuous Conservative party logo at a 2015 event to announce retroactive child-benefit payments. Cote found that constituted an illegal government donation worth about $4,800 to the party.Over the years, Corbett said, he told various parliamentary committees that “frankly, we’d rather not prosecute and if someone comes forward and says, ‘All right, I screwed up’ … that’s a better approach towards life.”In the Del Mastro case, the former MP insists he did nothing wrong. An admission of guilt is a precondition for a compliance agreement, Corbett noted.While he says the SNC-Lavalin case “sounds serious enough to have gone further” than a compliance agreement, “there’s all kinds of reasons why you don’t” — some of which Cote appears to have been signalling in his statement last month. His reference to not having the power to compel witness testimony, “that’s telling you that he wasn’t getting any co-operation” from the people allegedly involved in the scam, said Corbett.In his own experience, Corbett said there were “lots of cases where it was a tooth extraction process” to pry testimony out of witnesses. That was true in the robocall case, in which it was widely suspected that more senior Conservatives were involved but they refused to be questioned and ultimately were not charged.THE VERDICTPoilievre is of course entitled to disagree with Elections Canada and the decisions of the elections commissioner. But despite a long track record of assailing the agency’s objectivity, he has not produced any hard evidence to support his claim of bias. Meanwhile, the facts as they stand — coupled with the agency’s strenuous denials — do not support any contention that the agency is engaged in doing the bidding of the Liberals. The fact that the decision on SNC-Lavalin was made while the commissioner was under the authority of the director of public prosecutions — an arrangement Poilievre himself created to guarantee what he called “real independence” — suggests the opposite.METHODOLOGYNo baloney — the statement is completely accurate.A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required.Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing.A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth.Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate.SOURCES Bryden , The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Cenovus cuts oilsands production due to price differential pipeline constraints

first_imgCALGARY, A.B. — Cenovus Energy Inc. said Thursday it has been running its oilsands operations at reduced production rates and storing excess barrels due to wider-than-normal light-heavy oil price differentials and pipeline capacity constraints.The company has been operating its Christina Lake and Foster Creek facilities at reduced production levels since February, CEO Alex Pourbaix said in a statement.“We’re taking steps to respond to a critical shortage of export pipeline capacity in Western Canada that is beyond our control and is having a negative impact on our industry and the broader Canadian economy.” The company has resorted to using its significant oil storage capacity because Canadian heavy oil is selling at a wide discount to West Texas Intermediate. It plans to sell the crude when pricing improves, he said.Cenovus stock was trading down as much as five per cent at $10.99 per share in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.But the move is a “sensible commercial decision” in the face of a challenging set of pricing conditions, RBC analyst Greg Pardy wrote in a note.Cenovus is also evaluating opportunities to optimize the scheduling of maintenance and holding talks with rail providers to resolve a shortage of locomotive capacity.Railways have been hesitant to add oil shipping capacity because they fear the business will evaporate once new export pipelines come on stream, demanding long-term take-or-pay contracts and higher rates to take on the risk.The limited capacity and cautious stance on adding more led Barclays Capital analyst Paul Cheng to increase his WCS-WTI differential price forecast by US$4.50 to US$24.60 per barrel from US$18.40 per barrel from 2019 to 2022, when more pipeline capacity is expected to be online. First Energy analyst Mike Dunn said in a note that while there is some uncertainty on timing and scale of crude-by-rail increases, he continues to expect differentials to narrow as crude-by-rail picks up around midway through this year.Railway shipments have been hampered over the winter because of a combination of harsh weather and a bumper crop, leading to shipping backlogs, he said.National Bank Financial analyst Travis Wood said in a note that he still expects rail to have a marginal effect on increased crude exports this year given the limited locomotive capacity.He said that pipeline maintenance has added to capacity constraints and forced Alberta heavy oil storage to record highs, which will result in weak pricing that may continue on past the first quarter.center_img Cenovus noted that while its strategy may result in fluctuating production from month to month, it continues to expect full-year oilsands volumes for 2018 to be within the its guidance of 364,000 to 382,000 barrels per day.First-quarter oilsands production is expected to be between 350,000 and 360,000 barrels per day.last_img read more

Northern Alberta chiefs to support federal environmental bill at Senate hearing

first_imgThey also say the province’s current approach to consultation “subverts the law.”Regulations define who has the right to speak at public hearings so narrowly that First Nations are shut out, they say.An Indigenous community must be within one kilometre of a development to be considered affected by it. Traditional use, protected under the Constitution, must be documented by First Nations much more strictly than by any other landowner.As well, they say, the Alberta Energy Regulator doesn’t consider crucial issues such as endangered species, greenhouse gases and treaty rights.Waquan said First Nations have little confidence in the office.“They have a bad record,” he said.The chiefs also criticize Alberta’s efforts to keep Ottawa out of examining smaller in-situ oilsands projects. They say companies are splitting projects up to keep them under the federal threshold.Waquan noted that chiefs in southern Alberta have voiced concerns over the legislation that he and his colleagues support. He said energy impacts on southern reserves are much less than those experienced by his people.“They’re just being used by (the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers). I have more to lose than they do.”The Senate committee is also meeting in Saskatoon and Winnipeg. FORT MCMURRAY, A.B. – Northern Alberta Indigenous leaders warn that watering down the federal government’s proposed environmental assessment law would only doom energy projects to more years of court wrangling.Four Athabasca-area chiefs are to speak to a Senate committee Wednesday in Fort McMurray, Alta., about Bill C-69.They say criticism of the bill from Alberta and the energy industry is “riddled with errors.” The chiefs, who represent bands in the oilsands region, say the current approach is rigged against them and has clogged the courts with constitutional lawsuits. “If C-69 is softened, there’ll be more court cases coming in for sure,” said Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.Both bands have done millions of dollars of business with energy companies. Neither chief opposes development.But they have a long list of grievances with the way assessment are done now.They say current legislation, which dates to the previous Conservative government, has driven them to the courts in nearly a dozen cases. Some have resulted in overturning development approvals.center_img “Our intent with Bill C-69 is to ensure that it is robust enough to allow First Nations across Canada to have their rights considered without having to resort to courts,” said Chief Archie Waquan of the Mikisew Cree First Nation.If the bill is weakened, “Alberta should expect a flood of litigation in the coming years,” he said.The Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is holding meetings across the Prairies on the bill.It proposes to repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and retire the National Energy Board. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Canadian Energy Regulator would be the authorities responsible for assessing the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of designated projects.Industry representatives and the Alberta government say such legislation would hurt development through unending consultation and regulatory challenges. The Senate committee was met in Calgary on Tuesday by crowds chanting “kill the bill.”The northern chiefs say watering down the federal draft would only create more legal delays.last_img read more

CRTC taking look at whether new mobile device financing plans fit wireless

OTTAWA — Canada’s telecommunications regulator is investigating mobile phone plans that allow customers to spread the cost of new devices over several years to determine if they comply with an industry code of conduct that limits mandatory contract terms.A notice distributed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to various companies says providers offering the option must submit answers to a more than a dozen of questions by July 30.The CRTC wants to know about the terms of the financing agreements that are now in place or being contemplated, the devices eligible for financing, and whether financing is available without subscribing to a wireless service plan.The CRTC’s notice, dated July 16, comes about a week after Rogers Communications announced a new 36-month device financing option as well as a 24-month device financing option.The CRTC’s wireless code requires carriers to limit service contracts to 24 months in length or less and there have been questions about whether device financing plans over a longer term would be acceptable to the regulator. Companies in this story: (TSX: RCI.B)The Canadian Press read more

Week in Westminster – Week ending Friday 7 March 2014

DOWNLOAD1. Phase 1 Trailblazer apprenticeship standards published2. UK automotive supply chain gains £13m boost3. Skills Minister attends SMMT and Semta National Apprenticeships Week event4. February sees growth in new car and commercial vehicle registrations5. Technical consultation on apprenticeship funding announced6. Week aheadClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)

Grading The Many Many Many College Football Bowls

The top bowls are as good as they’ve ever been. The average grade for the top five bowls in each season, for instance, increased steadily from the late 1970s until the mid-’90s, and it’s stayed roughly level since then. The same goes for each season’s top 10 bowls. But the quality of the worst bowls each year has fallen off a cliff over time. The average grade for this year’s worst five bowls is 18 percent lower than it was in 1996 and 12 percent lower than it was a decade ago.This isn’t to say that more football is a bad thing, even when it’s played by increasingly mediocre teams. Although the dregs of bowl season feature far worse programs than they used to, practically all of that dip has come on the defensive side of the ball — offensive grades for low-level bowls are steady (if not slightly up) since the early 1980s, despite the overall decrease in quality for the teams participating in them.In other words: If obscure bowls can’t draw in good teams, they appear to have countered that by featuring teams that will at least play a high-scoring brand of football.That’s partly why I’ll be tuned in for, say, Tulsa-Central Michigan or Navy-Louisiana Tech — games that may not carry much meaning for the neutral observer, yet somehow hold an appeal nonetheless. Some of that is probably wrapped up in my own nostalgia for the long holiday breaks of childhood, watching endless streams of college football at the dawn of the 1990s bowl explosion. But some is also the fun of watching unusual opponents score a ton of points on each other in the quasi-pageantry of a bowl atmosphere. Games like these are vestigial parts of a postseason system that seems hopelessly out of place in 2016 — but even so, they’re not completely devoid of charm. And in terms of the quality of games, there are a lot more matchups that look like New Mexico-UTSA these days than, say, Ohio State vs. Clemson. To quantify this, I developed an index to rate the caliber of each bowl since the AP poll era began in 1936, grading each game on a 5-point scale (3 is average) based on three factors:The quality of the teams involved. For this, I used the harmonic mean of the two teams’ pregame Elo ratings, our pet metric for determining a team’s strength at any given moment. (Why harmonic? To ensure that both teams in a matchup had a high rating for a bowl to get one.) The 2015 CFP championship game between Ohio State and Oregon rated as a “5” on my grading scale — it featured the 10th- and 12th-best teams in college football history (in terms of Elo at their peak) — and was followed closely by the 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and USC. For a “1,” look to the 1947 Harbor Bowl between New Mexico and Montana State.How close the matchup is. In addition to combining great teams, a quality bowl should feature a relatively even matchup. To measure that, I used the difference in the pregame Elo ratings of the two teams in each bowl; closer matchups earn a higher grade.2To give you a sense of how predictive this is, the quarter of bowls since 1936 that were projected to be the closest ended up having a margin of victory 22 percent smaller than the quarter of bowls that were projected to be most lopsided. The closest bowl in my data set? The 1996 Carquest Bowl between Miami and Virginia earned a “5,” with each team sporting a +10.5 Elo rating going into the game. (Miami won, 31-21.) The most lopsided bowl, on the other hand, was the 1970 Tangerine Bowl — Elo favored Toledo by nearly 29 points over William & Mary. (Toledo won by 28.)How much offense the game is likely to feature. This category is a bit more subjective than the others, because some people might not agree that more scoring makes for a better viewing experience. But truckloads of points are generally fun, and some of the hallmarks of lower-tier bowls are trick offenses and terrible defenses. Indeed, the average team in a pre-New Year’s bowl is 19 percent better on offense than on defense according to SRS.3Since 1947, the first season in the database that featured a bowl before New Year’s Day. So I gauged every historical bowl by how much more the teams were projected to score (based on their respective offensive and defensive SRS ratings) than the per-game average was for FBS/Division I-A teams in the same season.4Since 1936, the correlation between projected and actual points across all bowls was 0.7. The 1972 Peach Bowl between all-offense/no-defense West Virginia and N.C. State was a “5”; the 1963 Cotton Bowl with Texas and LSU (which combined to allow 9.6 points per game during the season) was a “1.”Add up the scores in each category, and you get a sort of total measure for the entertainment value of each bowl. Here’s how this year’s crop stacks up: College football’s bowl season officially kicks off on Saturday afternoon with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl between New Mexico and the University of Texas at San Antonio. And it’s pretty typical for lower-tier bowls: The combatants aren’t very good — the Lobos and Roadrunners rank No. 81 and 101, respectively, in ESPN’s Football Power Index rankings — but make for a pretty even matchup and are likely to put on an offensive show. (According to’s Simple Rating System, or SRS, the two teams are projected to combine for 71 points, about 22 percent more than the typical FBS game.1The formula for projecting the number of total points in a matchup is relatively simple: Take the average number of points per game for all FBS/Division I-A schools in a given season, add one school’s offensive SRS and subtract its opponent’s defensive SRS. Do the same for the reverse situation — school A’s defense against school B’s offense — and add the two numbers together to get a stat-based “over/under” for a game.) It’s the kind of low-stakes pre-Christmas game meant primarily for fans, gamblers or otherwise inveterate college football junkies (raises hand).(Disclosure: The Gildan New Mexico Bowl is one of 13 bowl games this year that are owned and operated by ESPN, the parent company of FiveThirtyEight.)A couple of years ago, I wrote about the sport’s bloated bowl schedule, and things have only expanded since. Including the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 9, the FBS postseason now includes 41 bowl games over the span of 24 days, tying the all-time record set last year for the most jam-packed bowl season ever. Because the average grade in each category is a 3, the typical bowl scores around a total of 9 across all three of the factors I considered. In practice, however, the average bowl’s score hovered slightly above that mark from the 1960s until the late 1990s, when it began to plunge sharply — unsurprisingly, that was around the time we saw a steep uptick in the number of bowls: read more

Finance Minister confirms dismal 21 per cent growth rate

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGovt’s incompetence in managing economic affairs evident with growth rate- JagdeoApril 20, 2018In “latest news”Finance Minister reports ‘dismal’ 2.6% real growth rate as economy slumps further in 2016November 29, 2016In “latest news”Growth for 2018 will be strained as 2017 gold, sugar outputs plummetJanuary 25, 2018In “Business” On the heels of a Guyana Times report, Government has admitted that Guyana’s macro-economic outlook for 2017 was even worse than projected; with a 2.1 per cent growth rate being recorded.Finance Minister Winston JordanMinister of Finance, Winston Jordan, made this admission during his first press conference for the year on Friday. Revealing that the 2017 end of year economic report has been completed, he noted that the dismal figures are due to several sectors including sugar.According to Jordan “the economy did not perform as robust as we expected during last year. Even at the half year we were predicting that the economy would not, given what we knew about sugar. At the end of the day, it was even worse than we predicted. So even though there was positive growth last year, the growth rate ended up being 2.1 per cent.”He continued “Sugar, we had budgeted at 208,000 tonnes, came in at only 137,307 tonnes. Rice did quite well. We had budgeted 600,000 tonnes. Rice came in at 630,104 tonnes. Bauxite again did not do quite well. We had budgeted 1.7 Million tonnes. Bauxite came in at 1.4 Million. Gold (was a) major disappointment. We budgeted at 694,000 ounces. It came in at 653,674 ounces.”Initially, Government had projected that Guyana’s economy would have grown by a 3.8 per cent for 2017. This projection was reduced to 3.1 per cent and then again to 2.9 per cent.According to the Finance Ministry’s Mid-Year Report for 2017, economic growth in the first half of 2017 rose to some 2.2 per cent, compared to 2.0 per cent in the first half of 2016.Guyana’s last best growth rate was 5.2 per cent in 2013. But since then, it never surpassed that figure. World Bank records show growth rates in 2014 was 3.8 per cent, 2015 at 3.2 per cent, and 2016 at 3.3 per cent.Opposition Leader and former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has repeatedly criticised Government for what he described as their lack of vision to present a substantial economic policy.Jagdeo, an economist, had also warned Government against borrowing large loans which could put Guyana in greater debt. read more

Lecture In her own image Greek Australian women

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram As part of Season 3 of the 2014 Greek History and Culture Seminars hosted by the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, the open lecture ‘In Her Own Image: Greek Australian Women. A Historical and Contemporary Insight, 1820s’ will be given by historian Leonard Janiszewski and photographer Effy Alexakis from Macquarie University in Sydney. When: Tuesday 14 October at 7.00 pm Where: Ithacan Philanthropic Society building, Level 2, 329 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. For more information, visit or contact (03) 9662 2722last_img read more

The World Soy Foundation Board of Trustees Meet in St Louis

first_imgPhoto: (L to R)—Dave Iverson (SD), Jim Hershey (ASA/WISHH), Scott Fritz (IN), Peter Golbitz (Industry), Randy Van Kooten (IA), Jack Trumbo (KY), and Dave Poppens (SD); Not Pictured—Kent Holt (Industry), Roy Bardole (IA), Chris Erickson (Industry), Annette Higgins (Industry), Natasha Webster (Industry), Bob Metz (SD). Photo Credit: Ashley WightmanThis week, World Soy Foundation (WSF) staff hosted the Board of Trustees at the American Soybean Association (ASA) headquarters in St. Louis, Mo. The Executive Committee introduced new staff members, Liz Hare and Ashley Wightman, who each provided updates on their current work in programming and communications. Also, each sub-committee had a chance to present on areas such as administration, finance and current/future projects and programming.Eight trustees were in attendance in addition to Foundation staff. The next meeting will be held in St. Louis in late July, where an election for at-large members will take place.last_img read more

Advisers mull lower Columbia spring chinook fishing rules

first_imgA bistate advisory group is recommending spring chinook fishing in the lower Columbia River be open daily for boats upstream to Beacon Rock and for bank anglers to Bonneville Dam.State biologists predict such a season would last through April 5 before catching the early-season allocation of 12,700 upper Columbia-origin spring salmon.The overall catch would be about 14,300 when factoring in chinook headed for Oregon’s Willamette River plus the Cowlitz, Kalama and Cowlitz in Washington.The Columbia River Recreational Advisory Group agreed on the 2012 spring chinook sport-fishing structure on Tuesday. A final decision will be made by state officials at a hearing beginning at 10 a.m. Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, 8235 N.E. Airport Way.Among other fishing options reviewed on Tuesday were:o Boat and bank fishing open daily upstream to Bonneville Dam. The projected final day of fishing would be April 4.o Fishing only downstream of Interstate 5. This has a projected final day of fishing on April 7.o Boat fishing only downstream of I-5, but bank fishing open to Bonneville Dam. Final projected day of fishing is April 7.o Fishing daily downstream of I-5 and through March 21 upstream of I-5, then three days a week (Thursday through Saturday) upstream of I-5. This option projects closures on April 7 below I-5 and April 3 above I-5.o Fishing downstream of Beacon Rock on odd calendar days only beginning March 1. The projected closure date would be April 9.Returns of 314,200 upper Columbia spring chinook and 83,400 Willamette-origin fish are forecast to enter the river.Complicated allocation schemes involving the Endangered Species Act, catch balancing between the Columbia treaty tribes and non-Indians along with sport-commercial sharing arrangements all interact to determine available harvest.last_img read more

Battle Lines Drawn over Commissary Funding

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The fiscal 2016 defense spending bill approved Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee would restore $322 million DOD had proposed to cut from the Defense Commissary Agency’s budget as an initial step to scaling back the federal subsidy for military grocery stores.The cuts would force U.S. commissaries to be operated more like a business, forcing them to reduce customer discounts, as well as trim staff, store hours and the days stores are open.The Senate Armed Services Committee, however, adopted the department’s proposal to slash funding for commissaries in its draft FY 2016 defense authorization bill, raising the chances that the two chambers will need to find a compromise when they hash out next year’s defense budget, reported Military Times.In its defense authorization bill passed last month, the House rejected DOD’s plan to reduce commissary funding.Senate appropriators have not yet marked up a FY 2016 defense spending bill.The House Appropriations Committee also asked DOD to prepare a report on commissary costs. The department’s budget request asks for the authority to raise prices to cover the cost of shipping goods overseas. The additional costs would be spread across all customers, and would raise overall prices about 2 percent, DOD estimates.The House Appropriations Committee directed DOD officials to hold off raising prices to pay for those overseas charges until 30 days after they submit the required report on commissary costs to the congressional defense committees, according to the story.last_img read more

How does Tamannah stay in touch with her Baahubali costars Prabhas Rana

first_imgRana Daggubati, Prabhas, Anushka Shetty and Tamannaah Bhatia at the audio launch function of Baahubali 2.PR HandoutTamannah Bhatia’s life has changed ever since she worked on SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus Baahubali. She commands respect and love, not just from the South Indian audience, but from people all across the world.The two-part project gave an experience that she would cherish for the rest of her life. Apart from this, the hot and happening actress managed to become good friends with her co-stars and crew. Usually, actors lose touch after finishing their respective films. Even if they bonded big time during the making of the films, it becomes difficult for them to be in touch due to their busy lives.However, the advent of technologies is making people’s lives simple. Today, staying in touch with your friends, colleagues or well-wishers is simple like never before. People with a basic smartphone can easily communicate with them.It is simple for people to create a WhatsApp group and stay connected. And the Baahubali team too has its own group which helps the people to be in touch with everyone.Tamannah has spilled the beans about it in an interview with Mumbai Mirror. “I still get fan mail from Japan, I’m in touch with Prabhas and Rana (Daggubati), besides being on a Bahubali WhatsApp group where we post memes and updates,” she is quoted as saying by the tabloid.SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali series was shot in a span of five years. The first instalment was released in July 2015, the second instalment hit the screens in 2017.Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Rana Daggubati and Tamannah Bhatia played the leads, while Ramya Krishnan and Sathyaraj enacted important characters in the Shobo Yarlagadda-produced flick.last_img read more