Kolkata’s iconic Fairlawn hotel begins a new chapter

first_imgAn 18th Century building, cradling a 19th Century hotel, and walls of colourful history are the stuff Fairlawn is made up of. The last heritage leisure property of early colonial era, and until late last evening owned by a Calcutta-born British lady Jennifer Ann Fowler, checked in its new owner, Diamond Oberoi, an Indian hotelier, on Tuesday morning.The 235-year-old building and nearly a century old hotel, that housed Nobel laureate Gunter Grass to French Novelist Dominique Lappiere, where Sashi Kapoor met theatre actor Jennifer Kendal in the 1950s and an umpteen number of writers, filmmakers, journalists and poets still throng its garden restaurant officially changed hand last night.Before leaving for the county town of Taunton in Somersett with her daughter Cathryn, Jennifer Fowler spent a quiet evening after a weeklong paper chase. After the deal, over a glass of beer, 6-feet and 70-year-old British American lady told The Hindu that she and her parents “found their life partners here in Calcutta.” The receptions had taken place in Fairlawn.Her mother managed the hotel till her death at 94 in 2014. Her Armenian grandparents Rosie and Minas fled Aremenia after Turkish invasion in 1915 and landed up in Calcutta. They bought over the hotel in 1936.Just a few steps down the road besides Indian Museum in Kolkata, this quaint little nest for many a legend, changed hands over a get together of sorts between the two “Calcutta families”. Jennifer, Managing Director of Fairlawn Hotel Pvt. Ltd. was in tears and smiles through the evening.The ‘other’ OberoiSixty-two-year old Oberoi, the Managing Director Elgin Hotel and Resorts, who is the iconic hotelier of a chain of restored heritage properties in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and royal buildings in Gangtok and Peling at the foothills of Himalayas, said a two-year restoration work for Fairlawn asset begins from Tuesday.  “This would be done without changing the core character of the operational hotel,” promised the hotelier, fondly known as the ‘other’ Oberoi, nephew of Mohan Singh Oberoi, the founder of Oberoi Group of Hotels. Trained at Oberoi School of Hotel Management, Diamond Oberoi bought out only heritage leisure properties and made a star out them. He felt Fairlawn was the last authentic “British” hotel in independent India. The ambiance, the grandeur, the unique experience of 19th century relaxation and the goodwill of the hotel is still intact.A modern touch“We will make it more comfortable. Rooms will have modern facilities but done up in the same old style,” Mr Oberoi said. Since Oberoi took over a small hotel ran by a Scottish lady on a property of Maharaja of Coochbehar in Darjeeling in 1965, it did not look for another furrow.In 1976, the ‘other’ Oberoi bought the Royal Guest House of King of. Sikkim in Gangtok and the Royal Retreat at Peling in 2007. “We restored all, improved and expanded the heritage properties”, he mentioned.When Jennifer’s Fowler’s mother Violet Smith, who passed away recently at 93, discontinued the practice of accepting only foreign currencies and started taking Indian currency. That was the beginning of the ‘Indianness’ of Fairlawn. On Tuesday, the new legal entity and the brand — Elgin Fairlawn – has turned purely Indian.last_img read more

Four held in Odisha’s Berhampur on charges of torture of students

first_imgFour personnel of a residential higher secondary institution, including a lecturer and three hostel staff, were arrested in Odisha’s Berhampur on charges of torture of students. According to Santosini Oram, Inspector in-charge of the Berhampur Sadar police station, the misdeeds of the arrested persons came to light on Saturday. As part of an investigation into a case related to disappearance of a plus 2 student of the same institution, a police team had reached its hostel. According to police sources, the student went missing from the hostel on September 26. The institution is located in the Bhabinipur area of Berhampur and around 200 students reside in its hostel..Deep wounds During interrogation of hostel inmates, four students complained that they had been ruthlessly beaten up by a lecturer and three staff of the hostel. The students also had deep wounds. The lecturer and the hostel staff had resorted to physical torture of the students alleging that they had information about their missing classmate.Later, parents of one of the injured students filed an FIR that led to arrest of the lecturer and the three hostel staff of the institution.last_img read more

BCwide state of emergency declared as province battles nearly 600 wildfires

first_imgVICTORIA – British Columbia’s public safety minister says he hopes the province’s wildfire situation is not the new normal but the issue of climate change and its impact on forests must be taken into account.“Obviously we know that climate is changing, we know that the fire season is starting earlier … we have been doing planning earlier, getting aircraft earlier, but it is a situation that we have to take seriously, the issue of climate change,” Mike Farnworth said Wednesday shortly after the government declared a provincewide state of emergency in response to hundreds of wildfires.It’s the second time in as many years that a state of emergency has been declared during the wildfire season and the fourth time in just over two decades. Provincial states of emergency were also declared in 1996 and 2003.The BC Wildfire Service said 559 fires were burning Wednesday in all corners of the province, with 31 new starts since Tuesday. Just over 1,800 blazes have been recorded since the wildfire season began April 1.The latest state of emergency will remain in effect for 14 days but can be extended or rescinded as necessary, Farnworth said, adding it ensures federal, provincial and local resources can be delivered in a co-ordinated manner.In northwestern B.C., a 333-square kilometre fire has destroyed more than 40 homes and properties in and around Telegraph Creek, said Forests Minister Doug Donaldson. Nearly a dozen agencies including firefighters from local First Nations and crews from outside the province were working to save homes in the community, he said.“This state of emergency improves our ability to increase that co-ordination as we see risk increasing in other communities,” he said.Farnworth, who is also the province’s solicitor general, said the emergency was declared based on recommendations from the BC Wildfire Service and emergency management officials.“As wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to any and all resources necessary,” he added.Kevin Skrepnek of the Wildfire Service said more than 1,500 properties were on evacuation order at midday Wednesday and at least 10,000 were on an alert, with residents advised to be ready to leave on short notice.“Certainly, given the number of fires we have going on right now, given the fire activity we are seeing out there, and given the fact that we really see no relief from the weather, there’s definitely the potential this season is going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.The province is waiting for the arrival of 200 Armed Forces’ members. Skrepnek said most of them would likely be sent to the Okanagan to help with wildfire mop-up.The RCMP said Wednesday it would send officers and equipment to assist detachments in central, northern and southern B.C. that have been most affected by fires, which could include vehicles, supplies and additional officers to help at check points or provide relief to local detachments.By this time last year, hundreds of homes been lost to wildfires and tens of thousands of people had been displaced. The human cost has not been as high this year, but the total number of fires is greater, said Skrepnek.The most severe losses this year have been in the Telegraph Creek area, which Donaldson visited on Tuesday.“In the town site we saw the random nature of forest fires … there’d be a house standing and three doors down there’d be a house totally destroyed, all that was left was the foundation and some twisted and melted metal,” he said.Crews were protecting heritage buildings in the old part of town and setting up sprinklers on the roofs of other homes, he said.Donaldson described the situation as volatile, adding “a change in wind direction could change everything.”Environment Canada issued air quality advisories for much of B.C., all of Alberta, and parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as smoke from the fires drifts east. It advised children, the elderly and those with heart and lung conditions to limit their exposure.The dense smoke also made it more difficult to find fires that were sparked by lightning last weekend, said Skrepnek.“We can almost guarantee that there are fires out there that haven’t been detected yet,” he said, adding that rain is the only solution to the increasing risk but that isn’t in the forecast.“Rain is going to be absolutely critical. That is what we need to see and not just a small, quick event. We need to see a widespread rain across the entire province to alleviate the situation.”— By Beth Leighton in Vancouverlast_img read more

Kickers Are Forever

In football, there are constant power struggles, both on and off the field: players battling players, offenses battling defenses, the passing game battling the running game, coaches battling coaches, and new ways of thinking battling old ways of thinking. And then there are kickers. Battling no one but themselves and the goalposts, they come on the field in moments most mundane and most decisive. They take all the blame when they fail, and little of the credit when they succeed. Year in and year out, just a little bit at a time, they get better. And better. And better. Until the game is completely different, and no one even noticed that kickers were one of the main reasons why.If you’ve been reading my NFL column Skeptical Football this season, you may have noticed that I write a lot about kickers. This interest has been building for a few years as I’ve watched field goals drained from long range at an ever-increasing rate, culminating in 2013, when NFL kickers made more than 67 percent of the kicks they took from 50-plus yards, giving them a record 96 such makes. There has been a lot of speculation about how kickers suddenly became so good at the long kick, ranging from performance-enhancing drugs (there have been a few possible cases) to the kickers’ special “k-balls” to more kick-friendly stadiums.So prior to the 2014 season, I set out to try to see how recently this improvement had taken place, whether it had been gradual or sudden, and whether it was specific to very long kicks or reflected improvement in kicking accuracy as a whole.What I found fundamentally changed my understanding of the game of football.1And possibly offered insight into how competitive sports can conceal remarkable changes in human capability.The complete(ish) history of NFL kickingPro Football Reference has kicking data broken down by categories (0-19 yards, 20-29, 30-39, 40-59 and 50+ yards) back to 1961. With this we can see how field goal percentage has changed through the years for each range of distances:It doesn’t matter the distance; kicking has been on a steady upward climb. If we look back even further, we can see indicators that kicking has been on a similar trajectory for the entire history of the league.The oldest data that Pro Football Reference has available is from 1932, when the eight teams in the NFL made just six field goals (it’s unknown how many they attempted). That year, kickers missed 37 of 113 extra-point attempts, for a conversion rate of 67.3 percent. The following year, the league moved the goal posts up to the front of the end zone — which led to a whopping 36 made field goals, and a skyrocketing extra-point conversion rate of 79.3 percent. With the uprights at the front of the end zone, kickers missed only 30 of 145 extra points.For comparison, those 30 missed extra-point attempts (all with the goalposts at the front of the end zone) are more than the league’s 28 missed extra-point attempts (all coming from 10 yards further out) from 2011 to 2014 — on 4,939 attempts.In 1938-39, the first year we know the number of regular field goals attempted, NFL kickers made 93 of 235 field-goal tries (39.6 percent) to go with 347 of 422 extra points (82.2 percent). In the ’40s, teams made 40.0 percent of their field goal tries (we don’t know what distances they attempted) and 91.3 percent of their XPs. In the ’50s, those numbers rose to 48.2 percent of all field goals and 94.8 percent of XPs. The ’60s must have seemed like a golden era: Kickers made 56 percent of all field goals (breaking the 50 percent barrier for the first time) and 96.8 percent of their extra points.For comparison, since 2010, NFL kickers have made 61.9 percent of their field goal attempts — from more than 50 yards.In the 1960s, we start to get data on field goal attempts broken down by distance, allowing for the more complete picture above. In 1972, the NFL narrowed the hash marks from 18.5 yards from 40, which improved field goal percentages overall by reducing the number of attempts taken from awkward angles. And then in 1974, the league moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone — but as kick distances are recorded relative to the posts, the main effect of this move was a small (and temporary) decline in the extra-point conversion rate (which you can see in the top line of the chart above). Then we have data on the kicks’ exact distance, plus field and stadium type, after 1993.2This info is likely out there for older kicks as well, but it wasn’t in my data.So let’s combine everything we know: Extra-point attempts and distances prior to 1961, kicks by category from 1961 to 1993, the kicks’ exact distance after 1993, and the changing placement of goal posts and hash marks. Using this data, we can model the likely success of any kick.With those factors held constant, here’s a look at how good NFL kickers have been relative to their set of kicks in any given year3This is done using a binomial probit regression with all the variables, using “year taken” as a categorical variable (meaning it’s not treated like a number, so 1961, 1962 and 1963 may as well be “Joe,” “Bob” and “Nancy”). This is similar to how SRS determines how strong each team is relative to its competition.:When I showed this chart to a friend of mine who’s a philosophy Ph.D.,4Hi, Nate! he said: “It’s like the Hacker Gods got lazy and just set a constant Kicker Improvement parameter throughout the universe.” The great thing about this is that since the improvement in kicking has been almost perfectly linear, we can treat “year” as just another continuous variable, allowing us to generalize the model to any kick in any situation at any point in NFL history.Applying this year-based model to our kicking distance data, we can see just how predictable the improvement in kicking has actually been:The model may give teams too much credit in the early ’60s — an era for which we have a lot less data — but over the course of NFL history it does extremely well (it also predicts back to 1932, not shown). What’s amazing is that, while the model incorporates things like hashmark location and (more recently) field type, virtually all the work is handled by distance and year alone. Ultimately, it’s an extremely (virtually impossibly) accurate model considering how few variables it relies on.5So how accurate is this thing? To be honest, in all my years of building models, I’ve never seen anything like it. The model misses a typical year/distance group prediction by an average of just 2.5 percent. Note that a majority of those predictions involve only a couple hundred observations — at most. For comparison, the standard deviation for 250 observations of a 75 percent event is 2.7 percent. In other words, the model pretty much couldn’t have done any better even if it knew the exact probability of each kick!While there is possibly a smidge of overfitting (there usually is), the risk here is lower than usual, since the vast majority of each prediction is driven solely by year and distance. Here’s the regression output:I wish I could take credit for this, but it really just fell into place. Nerds, perk up: The z-value on “season” is 46.2! If every predictive relationship I looked for were that easy to find, life would be sweet.This isn’t just trivia, it has real-world implications, from tactical (how should you manage the clock knowing your opponent needs only moderate yardage to get into field goal range?) to organizational (maybe a good kicker is worth more than league minimum). And then there’s the big one.Fourth downIf you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you scream at your television a lot when coaches sheepishly kick or punt instead of going for it on fourth down. This is particularly true in the “dead zone” between roughly the 25- and 40-yard lines, where punts accomplish little and field goals are supposedly too long to be good gambles.I’ve been a card-carrying member of Team Go-For-It since the ’90s. And we were right, back then. With ’90s-quality kickers, settling for field goals in the dead zone was practically criminal. As of 10 years ago — around when these should-we-go-for-it models rose to prominence — we were still right. But a lot has changed in 10 years. Field-goal kicking is now good enough that many previous calculations are outdated. Here’s a comparison between a field-goal kicking curve from 2004 vs. 2014:There’s no one universally agreed-upon system for when you should go for it on fourth down. But a very popular one is The New York Times’ 4th Down Bot, which is powered by models built by Brian Burke — founder of Advanced Football Analytics and a pioneer in the quantitative analysis of football. It calculates the expected value (either in points or win percentages) for every fourth-down play in the NFL, and tweets live results during games. Its 19,000-plus followers are treated to the bot’s particular emphasis on the many, many times coaches fail to go for it on fourth down when they should.A very helpful feature of the 4th Down Bot is that its game logs break down each fourth-down decision into its component parts. This means that we can see exactly what assumptions the bot is making about the success rate of each kick. Comparing those to my model, it looks to me like the bot’s kickers are approximately 2004-quality. (I asked Burke about this, and he agrees that the bot is probably at least a few years behind,6I don’t blame Burke or others for not updating their models based on the last few years. It’s good to be prudent and not assume that temporary shifts one way or the other will hold. Normally it is better to go with the weight of history rather than with recent trends. But in this case, the recent trends are backed by the weight of history. and says that its kicking assumptions are based on a fitted model of the most recent eight years of kicking data.7Here’s his full statement: “The bot is about 3-4 years behind the trends in FG accuracy, which have been improving at longer distances. It uses a kicking model fitted to the average of the recent 8-year period of data. AFA’s more advanced model for team clients is on the current ‘frontier’ of kick probabilities, and can be tuned for specific variables like kicker range, conditions, etc. Please keep in mind the bot is intended to be a good first-cut on the analysis and a demonstration of what is possible with real-time analytics. It’s not intended as the final analysis.”)But more importantly, these breakdowns allow us to essentially recalculate the bot’s recommendations given a different set of assumptions. And the improvement in kicking dramatically changes the calculus of whether to go for it on fourth down in the dead zone. The following table compares “Go or No” charts from the 4th Down Bot as it stands right now, versus how it would look with projected 2015 kickers8The exact values in the chart may differ slightly from the reports on the Times’ website because I had to reverse-engineer the bot’s decision-making process. But basically I’m assuming the model gets everything exactly right as far as expected value from various field locations, chances of converting a fourth-down attempt, etc., then recalculating the final expected value comparison using 2015 kickers.:Having better kickers makes a big difference, as you can see from the blue sea on the left versus the red sea on the right. (The 4th Down Bot’s complete “Go or No” table is on the Times’ website.)Getting these fourth-down calls wrong is potentially a big problem for the model. As a test case, I tried applying the 4th Down Bot’s model to a selection of the most relevant kicks from between 25 and 55 yards in 2013, then looked at what coaches actually did in those scenarios. I graded both against my kicking-adjusted results for 2013. While the updated version still concluded that coaches were too conservative (particularly on fourth-and-short), it found that coaches were (very slightly) making more correct decisions than the 4th Down Bot.The differences were small (coaches beat the bot by only a few points over the entire season), but even being just as successful as the bot would be a drastic result considering how absolutely terrible coaches’ go-for-it strategy has been for decades. In other words, maybe it’s not that NFL coaches were wrong, they were just ahead of their time!Time-traveling kickersHaving such an accurate model also allows us to see the overall impact kicking improvement has had on football. For example, we can calculate how kickers from different eras would have performed on a common set of attempts. In the following chart, we can see how many more or fewer points per game the typical team would have scored if kickers from a different era had taken its kicks (the red line is the actual points per game from field goals that year):The last time kickers were as big a part of the game as they are today, the league had to move the posts back! Since the rule change, the amount of scoring from field goals has increased by more than 2 points per game. A small part of the overall increase (the overall movement of the red line) is a result of taking more field goals, but most of it comes from the improvement in accuracy alone (the width of the “ribbon”).How does this compare to broader scoring trends? As a baseline for comparison, I’ve taken the average points scored in every NFL game since 1961, and then seen how much league scoring deviated from that at any given point in time (the “scoring anomaly”). Then I looked at how much of that anomaly was a result of kicking accuracy.9The scoring deviation on this chart is calculated relative to the average game over the period. The kicking accuracy is relative to the median kicker of the period.:Amid wild fluctuations in scoring, kicking has remained a steady, driving force.For all the talk of West Coast offenses, the invention of the pro formation, the wildcat, 5-wide sets, the rise of the pass-catching tight-end, Bill Walsh, the Greatest Show On Turf, and the general recognition that passing, passing and more passing is the best way to score in football, half the improvement in scoring in the past 50-plus years of NFL history has come solely from field-goal kickers kicking more accurately.10Side note, I’ve also looked at whether kicking improvement has been a result of kickers who are new to the league being better than older kickers, or of older kickers getting better themselves. The answer is both.The past half-century has seen an era of defensive innovation — running roughly from the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s — a chaotic scoring epoch with wild swings until the early ’90s, and then an era of offensive improvement. But the era of kickers is forever.Reuben Fischer-Baum contributed graphics.CORRECTION (Jan. 28, 2:22 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave the distances from which extra-point kicks were taken in 1933 and in recent years. Actual extra-point distances aren’t recorded. read more

Slow internet likely till Thursday

first_imgUntitled-4The government is purchasing 40 gbps bandwidth from France to make up for temporary bandwidth scarcity but shortfall will still remain.The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) is buying the bandwidth to address the gap between demand and supply, caused by the three-day interruption in the operation of the first submarine cable.During this shutdown, which began early Tuesday, the nation is set to experience a scarcity of 230 gpbs (giga byte per second) bandwidth.So, internet service providers say, internet speed will be slow although officials claim there will be no problem in connectivity.The second submarine cable (SEA-ME-WE-5) is contributing 110 gbps, but the country still has a scarcity of 80gpbs bandwidth, according official records.The month-long deal with France, done via US firm Cogent, costs the BSCCL $20,000 (Tk 1.6 million).”So ensuring uninterrupted internet will not be a problem,” said BSCCL managing director Mashiur Rahman.However, internet service providers say the speed of internet will be slower these three days. As a result, general users will suffer. IT organisations that depend on high-speed internet will suffer the most.”Internet is like oxygen nowadays. If the internet speed gets slowed down, it affects the whole day’s output. Most of the things we do, especially keeping in touch with the foreign clients, are reliant on online clouds,” said Shafiul Alam, chief executive officer of Blancer, an online marketplace.BSCCL data show, the country has a daily demand of 470 gbps bandwidth.The two submarine cables contribute to 270 gbps while the remaining 200 are imported from India through International terrestrial cable (ITC).*The article, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Quamrul Hassan.last_img read more

UK for fair peaceful elections in Bangladesh

first_imgUK releases the 2017 Foreign & Commonwealth Office report on `Human Rights and Democracy` on Monday.The United Kingdom has said they would continue to stress long-term importance to Bangladesh’s development of “free, fair, inclusive and peaceful” elections, says a new report.In its Bangladesh chapter of the 2017 Foreign & Commonwealth Office report on ‘Human Rights and Democracy’ the UK said they would continue to engage closely with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue, according to UNB news agency.The UK government praised the Bangladeshi government and people for having accepted and assisted over 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar from August 2017 onwards.The UK also welcomed repeated government assurances that any returns of Rohingya refugees would be voluntary, safe, well-informed and dignified one.The UK took an international lead in supporting the refugees and in mobilising international attention to the situation in Rakhine State.Conditions in Rohingya refugee camps raised particular risks of violence against women, many of whom had already suffered appalling violence in Rakhine State, says the report.Working with UN and other agencies, the UK ensured the humanitarian response included help and support for the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.It says they will support progress towards gender equality, including on girls’ education, where a focus will be on promoting equity in access, retention and learning outcomes for the most marginalised girls; combating modern slavery; pressing the authorities on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.The UK will continue to engage closely with Bangladesh to support freedom of expression and other democratic freedoms.The report observed that the human rights situation in Bangladesh saw no substantive improvement in 2017.Credible reports of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture by government agencies continued, as did government pressure on opposition parties, civil society and the media, claimed the report.The report observes that the human rights situation in Myanmar deteriorated sharply in 2017, with the crisis in Rakhine dominating the second half of the year.The UK continued to have serious concerns about human rights, including ethnic cleansing, restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and a lack of accountability for human rights violations and abuses, according to the report.Looking ahead to 2018, the report says the UK stands ready to help the government of Myanmar implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.”The UK also welcomes the establishment of an international advisory board. Any returns of refugees to Burma (Myanmar) must be safe, voluntary and dignified and have independent monitoring by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,” said the report.Humanitarian support to refugees in Bangladesh, through DFID, totalled 59 million pounds in 2017, said the report.”In 2018, we’ll continue funding important projects on freedom of expression and preventing sexual violence, while expanding our work to help tackle hate speech and other underlying drivers of inter-communal tensions,” says the report.last_img

5 Dead As SUV Chased By Border Patrol Crashes In South Texas

first_imgPhoto via APIn this image tweeted by David Caltabiano of KABB/WOAI, a heavily damaged SUV is seen on Texas Highway 85 in Big Wells, Texas, after crashing while carrying more than a dozen people fleeing from Border Patrol agents, Sunday, June 17, 2018.At least five people were killed and several others hurt Sunday as an SUV carrying more than a dozen people during a suspected “smuggling event” crashed while fleeing from Border Patrol agents in South Texas, authorities said.The SUV carrying 14 people went out of control at more than 100 mph and overturned on Texas Highway 85, ejecting most of the occupants, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd said.“From what we can tell the vehicle ran off the road and caught gravel and then tried to recorrect,” Boyd said, adding that “caused the vehicle to turn over several times.”Four victims were dead at the scene, Boyd said. He said at least one and possibly two others died at a hospital.The Border Patrol said in a statement Sunday night that two other vehicles had been traveling alongside the SUV earlier in the day. An agent suspected they were conducting a “smuggling event,” according to the statement, which did not elaborate.The border agent stopped one of the vehicles and another agent stopped a second one. Multiple people from both vehicles were arrested.The third vehicle kept going when agents encountered it, and a sheriff’s deputy took over the chase prior to the fatal crash, the border patrol said.The incident comes amid heightened tensions over the treatment of immigrants at the southern border. The Trump administration has said tougher immigration policies — even separating children from their parents — are needed to deter immigrants from coming to the country illegally. Over a six-week period ending in May, about 2,000 children had been separated from their families, administration officials said Friday.Most of the occupants in the SUV were believed in the country without legal permission. Boyd said the driver and one passenger were believed to be U.S. citizens. The driver was among those hospitalized, and a deputy who assisted the Border Patrol with the chase found the driver sitting upright in his seat and took him and the passenger into custody.“This, I think, is a perfect example, of why are borders need to be secured,” Boyd said.Some injured were taken by helicopter to San Antonio, about 90 miles (144.83 kilometers) northeast. Dimmit County is directly north of Webb County and east of Maverick County, which border Mexico.“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those who died in the crash,” The Border Patrol said in the statement. Sharelast_img read more

Bowser Budget Offers Relief to Churches

first_imgBy James Wright, Special to the AFRO  jwright@afro.comThe District’s mayor’s budget proposal includes many provisions that address the concerns of African Americans.Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) held a reporters’ roundtable March 26 at the John A. Wilson Building. The purpose of the roundtable was to brief reporters on her 2019 fiscal year budget.Muriel Bowser is the mayor of the District of Columbia. (AFRO Stock Photo)“I gave the budget to the D.C. Council on March 21 and testified for it on March 23,” Bowser said. “The council will go through their usual 54-day review period in which they will make changes, if any, that they see fit. This year, the council will vote on it at the end of May, which is earlier than usual.”The $14.5 billion budget proposal includes investments in infrastructure, education, affordable housing, health and human services, economic opportunity, seniors and public safety. One of the key line items in the budget is $300 million for a new, state of the art hospital on the St. Elizabeths East campus in Ward 8.“This new hospital will replace the United Medical Center,” the mayor said in response to a question by the AFRO. The United Medical Center is the District’s only comprehensive medical facility east of the Anacostia River and it has been plagued over the years with financial problems due to the high costs of treating uninsured patients and questionable financial management.Bowser put $6 million for water bill relief for District residents. There has been ongoing controversy about the exorbitant rates that African-American churches and residents are being charged on their water bills that is due to a federal mandate to fix the city’s aging storm water system and has nothing to do with their own water usage.Bowser told the AFRO that she is well-aware of the matter and has sent a letter to DC Water indicating that their rates are unfair to District residents. In the meantime, she said water bill rates will continue to rise and the $6 million will help District churches and residents.“We are proposing some relief,” she said. “The $6 million will be used to help low-income households and others. We are also asking DC Water to match the $6 million in relief and freeze some of the charges on residents’ water bills for three years.”There are only three full-service grocery stores in both Wards 7 and 8 and Bowser’s budget has funded a program to deal with that.“I am aware that developer Jair Lynch is looking to bring a grocer in the Penn Branch shopping center in Ward 7 that could be Fresh Foods and there is an effort to bring Good Foods Market in another part of Ward 7 as well as a grocer in Ward 8 on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. That is the purpose of the Neighborhood Fund.”Affordable housing is an issue for many Black District residents and the mayor funded the Housing Production Fund Trust at the level of $100 million. She allocated $1.5 million in capital funds to expand the Model Cities & Congress Heights Senior Wellness Centers in Ward 8 and $12.5 million increase for childcare investments, including an increase in childcare subsidies.D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8), who has publicly disagreed with Bowser on some issues regarding his ward, praised her budget.“Muriel Bowser answered the call with not all but a lot of great wins for Ward 8,” White said in a message to his constituents urging them to get involved in the budget process. “It’s in the council now so our work is not done.”last_img read more

IATA reports strong year for air travel demand says aviation is the

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share IATA reports strong year for air travel demand, says “aviation is the business of freedom” GENEVA — In light of the U.S. immigrant ban that has sparked controversy and protests across the country, IATA, in its full-year global passenger traffic report, says that “aviation is the business of freedom” and that its social and economic benefits must be defended “from barriers to travel and protectionist agendas.”According to the report, air travel demand had a strong year in 2016, closing out the year on a high note with an 8.8% increase in December. Demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) rose 6.3% compared to 2015, well ahead of the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%. Capacity also rose 6.2% compared to 2015, pushing the load factor up to a record full-year average high of 80.5%.“Air travel was a good news story in 2016. Connectivity increased with the establishment of more than 700 new routes. And a $44 fall in average return fares helped to make air travel even more accessible,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “As a result, a record 3.7 billion passengers flew safely to their destination. Demand for air travel is still expanding.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”De Juniac also added: “Our freedom to connect through air travel drives prosperity and enriches societies. That freedom can only be given its fullest expression when governments facilitate the movement of people and goods.”International passenger traffic rose 6.7% in 2016 compared to 2015, with all regions recording year-over-year increases in demand. Middle East carriers had the strongest regional annual traffic growth for the fifth year in a row, with RPKs expanding 11.8%. Asia Pacific carriers came in a close second with a demand increase of 8.3% compared to 2015.North American airlines had a good year as well, seeing demand rise 2.6% in 2016. Most of the growth occurred in the second quarter, and traffic was strongest on Pacific routes. In contrast, North Atlantic has been fairly flat. Capacity rose 3.3%, reducing the load factor for 0.5 percentage points to 81.3%.Domestic air travel rose 5.7% in 2016. Capacity rose 5.1% and load factor was 82.2%, up 0.5 percentage points over 2015. All major markets except Brazil showed growth, with India and China being the standout performers (RPK expansion of 23.3% and 11.7%, respectively). Tags: IATAcenter_img Travelweek Group Thursday, February 2, 2017 Posted bylast_img read more