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Trudeau names exOntario premier Bob Rae as special envoy to Myanmar

first_imgOTTAWA – Former Ontario premier Bob Rae promised no miracles Monday, but rather a sustained effort towards finding a way Canada can be part of a solution to the humanitarian crisis generated by ongoing violence in Myanmar.Rae was appointed as a special envoy to the country and will head there next week to begin gathering facts from officials on the ground as reports now say nearly a million Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.What he learns will be reported back to the prime minister, and eventually Canadians, but his appointment should also serve to reinforce the fact the world is paying attention to the situation in the southeast Asian country, Rae told a news conference.Mynamar’s security forces began a crackdown earlier this year on what it called Muslim insurgents, but their attacks on Rohingya villages have been labelled as ethnic cleansing by the United Nations and roundly denounced by many countries, including Canada.Rae said he wants to get all sides of the story and bring the information back to Canadians and the prime minister to create a clear and consistent response from Canada and for other countries.“I don’t pretend to be somebody who can work miracles. I do think it is worthwhile for us to keep on as many paths as possible in reinforcing the messages about the extent of the crisis within Myanmar.”The appointment comes as UN humanitarian officials, high-level government envoys and advocacy groups held a one-day conference Monday aimed at drumming up funds to help refugees in Bangladesh.In addition to Rae’s appointment, the federal Liberals announced Canada will provide an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing the total of Canada’s financial commitment to $25 million so far.The Geneva meeting — hosted by the European Union, the government of Kuwait and the United Nations’ migration, refugee and humanitarian aid co-ordinating agencies — aims to help meet a UN call for $434 million in funding through February.Rae’s term lasts at least until January, when he says he’ll release a report detailing his findings and observations.Canada granted Myanmar’s de facto government leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, honorary citizenship in 2012, one of only a handful of people to have the designation.Suu Kyi has been largely silent in the face of the violence, and there have been calls for Canada to revoke the honour.But Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland hearkened back to comments Trudeau make in 2015 Monday in suggesting there would be no revocation of Suu Kyi’s citizenship: “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” she said.last_img read more

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eBay rethinking future of StubHub and classified business

SAN JOSE, Calif. — eBay is initiating review concerning the future of its StubHub and its classified ads business.The e-commerce company said Friday that there’s no guarantee that the review will result in a sale, spin-off or other business combination involving its assets.Activist investor Elliott Management said in a letter to the San Jose, California, company in January that it believed it would be better off without those businesses. Elliott wants eBay to focus on its online marketplace, saying that the change in direction could double the company’s stock price by the end of next year.eBay Inc. is also adding Jesse Cohn of Elliott and Matt Murphy of Marvell Technology to its board. The company will add an independent director later in the year.The Associated Press read more

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Drugresistant tuberculosis on the rise UN health agency says

Rates of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis – which takes longer to treat and requires more expensive drugs that have potentially serious side effects – are at an all-time high, according to a new report by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO). The study, entitled “Anti-Tuberculosis Drub Resistance in the World,” is the largest ever on the scale of drub resistance and is based on information collected between 2002 and 2006 on 90,000 TB patients in 81 countries. The agency estimates that there are nearly half a million new cases of multi-drug-resistant TB, known as MDR-TB, annually worldwide, accounting for 5 per cent of the 9 million new cases every year. “TB drug assistance needs a frontal assault,” said Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO’s Stop TB Department. “If countries and the international community fail to address it aggressively now we will lose this battle.” The highest rate of MDR-TB was found in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, where nearly one quarter of all new TB cases were reported to be multi-drug-resistant. WHO said that this type of TB is also widespread in Moldova; Donetsk, Ukraine; Tomsk Oblast, Russia; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; and China. The report also spotted ties between HIV infection and MDR-TB, with surveys in Latvia and Donetsk, Ukraine, noting that the rate of MDR-TB is twice as high among tuberculosis patients living with HIV than it is among those without HIV. For the first time, the worldwide survey included analysis of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, which is virtually untreatable. It has been recorded in 45 countries, but because few countries are currently equipped to diagnose it, limited data were available for inclusion in the current WHO study. The agency reported notable successes, such as Estonia and Latvia, which were deemed MDR-TB ‘hotspots’ more than a dozen years ago but whose rates are now stabilizing. However, given that only six countries in Africa – the continent with the highest incidence of TB globally – were able to submit data for the report, WHO pointed out that the magnitude of the respiratory disease in some parts of the world remains unknown. “It is likely there are outbreaks of drug resistance going unnoticed and undetected,” said WHO tuberculosis expert Abigail Wright, the report’s principal author. 26 February 2008Rates of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis – which takes longer to treat and requires more expensive drugs that have potentially serious side effects – are at an all-time high, according to a new report by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO). read more

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Trump to announce Supreme Court pick Monday night

Update: Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court.U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce his pick for the Supreme Court Monday night.He is selecting someone to fill the seat vacated by Justice Kennedy, a conservative judge who sometimes sided with the court’s liberal wing.Looking forward to announcing my final decision on the United States Supreme Court Justice at 9:00pmE tomorrow night at the @WhiteHouse. An exceptional person will be chosen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2018Trump’s pick must be confirmed by the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.Only 50 votes are needed to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.That means if all but one Republicans vote along party lines they won’t need any Democratic support. read more

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Tall skinny iPhone in stores Sept 21 31 countries by months end

by News Staff Posted Sep 12, 2012 9:47 pm MDT Tall, skinny iPhone in stores Sept. 21, 31 countries by month’s end SAN FRANCISCO – For the first time, the iPhone is growing even as it slims down. After sticking for five years to the same screen size, Apple on Wednesday revealed a new phone that’s taller, with a bigger display.The iPhone 5 will go on sale in the U.S. and eight other countries next Friday, Sept. 21.Even though it’s taller than the iPhone 4S, it’s lighter, thanks to a new screen technology that makes the whole phone thinner.The bigger screen — 4 inches (10.16 centimetres) measured diagonally — creates room for another row of icons on the screen and lets widescreen movies fit better. The calendar will now show five days at a time instead of just three. Previous iPhone models carried 3.5-inch (8.89-centimetre) screens.In another big change, the iPhone 5 will come with the capability to connect to the fastest new wireless data networks in the U.S. and overseas.The new device also carries another distinction: It’s the first iPhone developed and unveiled since the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs.The iPhone that Jobs had conceived ushered in what he billed as “the post-PC era” — a shift that is causing people to rely less on personal computers and more on mobile gadgets they can hold in their hand. Jobs died last October, the day after Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, which was the fifth version of Apple’s phone.There was little surprise in Wednesday’s announcement. Despite the pains the company takes to hide its plans, the rough launch date, the new screen and the capability to connect to so-called LTE networks had been reported for months by blogs and analysts.“There was nothing unexpected in terms of the new features of the iPhone,” said Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Raymond James.That’s a contrast to last year, when Apple watchers were first surprised by a delay in the launch, and then by the fact that the phone that was revealed was the iPhone 4S rather than a more radical update. The 4S, nevertheless, has been a smash success. During the first nine months that the iPhone 4S was on the market, Apple’s revenue from iPhones has exceeded $63 billion, helping to establish Apple as the world’s most valuable company ever.One thing that did surprise McCourt this year: Apple is launching the phone in so many countries so quickly. On Day One, the phone will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K., besides the U.S.A week later, it will go on sale in 22 more countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain.Another surprise about the iPhone 5 is that it’s 18 per cent thinner than its predecessor. The company was expected to use the space freed up by the new screen technology to expand the phone’s battery, not make the phone thinner.Apple followed its usual script for the new iPhone’s coming-out party. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Jobs’ hand-picked successor, kicked off the festivities before an audience of reporters, bloggers, applications developers and special guests with a summary of the company’s milestones. He then handed things over to his top lieutenants, a group led by marketing chief Philip Schiller and mobile software executive Scott Forstall.It has become such a familiar ritual that Cook, Schiller and Forstall all appeared to be wearing the same attire as they did at Apple’s last product event in June. Adopting a personal work uniform was something that Jobs embraced. After learning that designer Issey Miyake had made work uniforms for Sony Corp. employees in Japan, Jobs eventually paid Miyake to make him the black mock turtlenecks that became the signature piece of clothing in an ensemble that included jeans and New Balance sneakers.With Jobs gone, the Apple executives left the showmanship to the rock band Foo Fighters, who closed out the two-hour presentation with three songs, including one called “My Hero” dedicated to the company’s employees for developing products like the iPhone 5.It’s the year’s most anticipated phone. The number Apple can sell, analysts believe, is limited mostly by the production capacity of its suppliers. There had been concerns that supplies could be tight. Even so, analysts were expecting Apple to sell tens of millions of phones before the year is out, including perhaps as many as 10 million of the devices before this month is ever.If the iPhone 5 lives up to the lofty expectations, it will be the company’s hottest selling — and most lucrative device yet. But it will face stiff competition from an array of smartphones running on software made by rivals Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., as well as tablet computers that also cater to consumers’ desire for a more convenient way to stay connected to the Web.Apple has dominated the tablet market by selling more than 84 million iPads since they came out in April 2010, but it’s facing a challenge from Amazon.com Inc. and Google. Both those companies are peddling less expensive tablets with slightly smaller screens than the iPad, a threat that many analysts expect Apple to answer next month by rolling out a mini-iPad.The bigger screen in the iPhone 5 moves Apple somewhat closer to competing smartphones, but the iPhone is still small compared with its main rivals. Samsung Electronics Co., Apple’s biggest competitor, has increased the screen size of its flagship phone line every year, and it’s now 4.8 inches (12.19 centimetres) on the diagonal, about 45 per cent larger than the one on the new iPhone. The new iPhone is lighter than Samsung’s new Galaxy S III.The iPhone will cost the same as the iPhone 4S did when it debuted, starting at $199 with a two-year contract in the U.S. Meanwhile, the price for the iPhone 4S will drop to $99 for new contract signers and the iPhone 4 will be free.In the U.S., advance orders will start this Friday.With the new model, Apple is ditching the connection port it’s used for iPods, iPhones and iPads for nearly a decade in favour of a smaller, narrower one. That means Apple is still the holdout in an industry where other manufacturers have settled on a standard connector for charging and computer backups.There will be adapters available so that the new phone will be able to connect to sound docks and other accessories designed for the old phones.The camera on the back of the iPhone 5 has the same resolution as the one on the iPhone 4S, but takes pictures faster and works better in low light, Apple said.The front-facing camera is getting an upgrade to high-definition, letting users take advantage of the faster data networks for videoconferencing.The iPhone 5 will arrive with a new version of Apple’s operating system, iOS. It will be available for download to older phones next Wednesday.One feature missing from the new phone is a chip for near-field communications, or NFC. Other top-of-the-line phones are incorporating such chips, which let phones work as credit cards at some store payment terminals. They also enable phones to share data when “bumped” into each other.Apple also announced a new iPod Touch model that brings over the changes applied to the iPhone 5, including the bigger screen and smaller connection port. For the first time, Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant software, Siri, will be available on the iPod. Apple is also updating its iTunes software for the Mac and PC, with what it says is a “dramatically simpler and cleaner interface.” It will be available as a free download in October.In another audio-related update, the white earbuds that ship with all of Apple’s portable devices are getting an update. Now called EarPods, they are tube-shaped, which Apple says will help meld them to the shape of your ear. The EarPods took three years to design, Apple said. They’ll go on sale Wednesday as a stand-alone accessory for $29, but will be included free with new devices out in October.Since Apple’s main announcements were largely in line with expectations, investors registered a tepid response. Apple shares rose $9.13, or 1.4 per cent, to close at $669.72. The shares have been on a tear as expectations rose for the iPhone 5, rallying 16 per cent since Apple’s latest earnings report, in July. On Monday, they hit an all-time high of $683.29.___Peter Svensson reported from New York. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

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7thround pick Cunningham now a starter at OT for Arizona

TEMPE, Ariz. — The overall struggles of the Arizona Cardinals have cleared the way for opportunities for the youngest players on the roster.Add Korey Cunningham to the list of 2018 draftees who are playing big roles for the team.As a seventh-round draft pick, Cunningham overcame big odds to rise to a starting spot on the offensive line. Cunningham held his own while filling in for injured left tackle D.J. Humphries the past two games. Now he’s been installed as starting right tackle following the release of veteran Andre Smith this week.Cunningham certainly looks the part at 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds. He played basketball in high school and was a tight end at Cincinnati before switching to tackle.“He’s an offensive line coach’s dream because you can mould him out of clay,” said quarterback Josh Rosen, a fellow rookie. “He’s strong as hell. He wants to learn.”Cunningham said he weighed 225 pounds out of high school and slowly bulked up through weightlifting through his four years of college.He was the 254th overall pick in the draft but doesn’t dwell on that.“I try not to think about it, me being a seventh-round pick,” he said, “because once you get in the building it’s a clean slate. I just wanted to come here and not think about that. I’m just another guy in the room.”A very big guy who slowly got the attention of the coaching staff that was dealing with injuries and ineffective play on the offensive line.Cunningham was inactive seven of the first nine games this season. The other two he suited up but didn’t play. Then, two games ago against Oakland, he was the starting left tackle.With Humphries expected back this week, the Cardinals moved Cunningham to right tackle, replacing Smith, who had been ineffective much of the season.Coach Steve Wilks said Cunningham’s past in basketball and as a tight end makes him an intriguing prospect.“He’s progressing and moving in the right direction,” Wilks said. “I think when you look back at his skill set, his ability playing basketball, his footwork, his agility, coming in as a tight end at Cincinnati, I think all of those skill sets have allowed him to be able to perform well on the outside.”Cunningham said he’s getting lots of advice from the talkative Humphries, whose route to the starting lineup was quite different.Humphries was a first-round draft pick in 2015 but didn’t play at all his rookie season.“He was telling me he was a first-round draft pick having to come in and sit his whole rookie year,” Cunningham said. “That’s how I started out, then I was thrown in the fire. He was like, ‘You’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.’”Rosen said Cunningham is the funniest guy he knows.“I try to keep the rookie meetings entertained,” Cunningham said. “It will be late in the afternoon. People want to go home. It’s kind of good to keep people in good spirits.”It’s a close group of rookies who have filled big roles, including wide receiver Christian Kirk, centre Mason Cole and running back Chase Edmonds.“We started May 11 during rookie minicamp,” Cunningham said. “We were just new kids on the block, like freshmen in high school. To see where we are now, it’s a blessing to see how far we’ve come.”The challenge is to stay positive on a team that’s 2-9 heading into Sunday’s game at Green Bay.“Just keep earning the coach’s trust, just keep learning, learning, learning,” Cunningham said. “You can never know enough. Just keep staying in the playbook and keep doing what you have to do.”Notes: The Cardinals signed CBs Dontae Johnson and Quinten Rollins and released CB Chris Jones.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLBob Baum, The Associated Press read more

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Husband says I miss being a daddy as his wife is jailed

Claire Colebourn was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years at Winchester Crown Court Claire Colebourn was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years at Winchester Crown Court Credit:Hampshire Police/PA “Throughout the criminal trial, I and all those that loved Bethan have had to endure the heartbreak of listening to her last moments.”I have also had to suffer endless unfounded allegations and lies made against me with no opportunity to respond.“I desperately miss being a daddy – we would have such great times together; Bethan’s laugh was infectious and her energy was endless. There is not a second in the day that goes by that I am not thinking about her. He said: ““There are no words to describe the past 18 months. The one thing in my life that gave me purpose has gone.“My beautiful daughter has been taken from me in such a cold and callous manner at the very hands of the one other person that should have protected her and kept her safe.“The loss of Bethan has had a huge impact on so many people: family, friends, and all that knew her. She was such a special little girl – bringing so much joy to all their lives. Police outside the family's home in Fordingbridge, Hants, in October 2017 “Bethan was my world and being her daddy made me so proud. I miss her so much.”Judge Justice Johannah Cutts QC blasted Colebourn for her “shocking’ actions” and said she was on an “emotional rollercoaster” when she set a 2am alarm to drown Bethan.The court heard Bethan told Colebourn “I don’t want a bath mummy” moments before she was murdered in the Colebourns’ £400,000 converted bungalow in Fordingbridge, Hants on October 19 in 2017.After drowning her daughter, diabetic Colebourn then tried to hang herself, stabbed herself in the stomach and injecting a huge dose of insulin in an attempt to take her own life.Colebourn, a former biology teacher, wrongly believed Mr Colebourn, who runs a luxury marine interiors firm, was having an affair and spying on her. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Police outside the family’s home in Fordingbridge, Hants, in October 2017Credit:Ben Mitchell/PA Bethan told her mother she didn't want a bath moments before she was murdered A grieving husband said “I miss being a daddy” as his wife was jailed for life on Monday for murdering their three-year-old daughter.In a powerful statement, read out after the sentencing of Claire Colebourn, her estranged husband Michael said there was “not a second in the day that goes by” that he doesn’t think about his daughter Bethan. Mr Colebourn, a chief executive of a luxury marine interior firm, attended Winchester Crown Court to see his wife jailed for life for a minimum of 18 years and he condemned her for making “endless unfounded allegations” about him.The court heard Colebourn, 36, drowned Bethan in the bath after wrongly believing Mr Colebourn was cheating on her.After she was sentenced, he expressed his anguish in a statement read outside the court by Hampshire Constabulary. Mrs Justice Cutts QC, sentencing Colebourn at Winchester Crown Court, Hants,  said Colebourn should have been ‘sickened’ by her searches relating to killing by drowning prior to Bethan’s death. Bethan told her mother she didn’t want a bath moments before she was murderedCredit:Hampshire Police/PA She said: “Bethan was your daughter and only three at the time of her death. She was clearly a beautiful little girl and full of life.”The judge said she wanted to make it clear Mr Colebourn was ‘in no way responsible’ for Bethan’s death after he rejected seeing Colebourn a day before.She also said: “It’s quite something to decide to take your own life but it’s something else to make that decision for someone else. The one thing Bethan was entitled to and deserved was a life.”Colebourn kept her head bowed for most of the 30-minute hearing and had a blank face as she was sentenced to jail.The court heard she has already spent 327 days in custody, which will be deducted from the 18-year sentence. read more

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Clariant Mining Solutions to reveal new collector product at Flotation 15

first_imgAhead of the December issue special article on flotation, Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, will exhibit and present a paper at the 7th International Flotation Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa, November 16 – 19, 2015. Clariant experts will be available to discuss the company’s broad line of flotation and collector products, including the revolutionary new Hostaflot® products for copper mining.Clariant’s Jacques Bezuidenhout, Senior Mineral Processing Engineer, will present the paper, Clariant collectors for use as alternatives to xanthate collectors in traditional sulfide flotation applications. In powder and pellet form, xanthates have been an industry staple for the collection of sulphide minerals for more than 90 years. However, in today’s market, they pose health risks to workers, present disposal challenges to mining companies, may require additional infrastructure for handling, and are classified as a fire and explosion hazard.Clariant Mining Solutions developed several new technologies in its Hostaflot line of collectors which are effective alternatives to hazardous xanthate collectors. During Flotation ’15, Bezuidenhout will review the results from Clariant’s extensive lab development trials of the new collectors and discuss how the new Clariant products are a safe, cost-effective alternative to xanthates.“This is groundbreaking new collector technology for those operations mining copper,” says John Gordon, Global Head of Clariant Mining Solutions. “With the Hostaflot products being shipped and dosed in liquid form, they offer a high flotation performance and a safer handling and disposal solution than xanthates, can lower the capital expenditures for mines to convert powdered xanthate into a liquid solution, and provide a longer shelf life than solid xanthate. At a major copper/molybdenum mill in South America, one Hostaflot product has been approved as a primary collector, with similar metallurgical results in terms of recovery, grade and selectivity against SIPX.”last_img read more

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Disk encrypting Cryptolocker malware demands 300 to decrypt your files

first_imgEarlier this year, a nasty new type of ransomware burst onto the scene. Unlike others, however, this new one’s bite was every bit as bad as its bark. The Cryptolocker hijacker sniffs out your personal files and wraps them in strong encryption before it demands money.You may remember reading about it here on Geek.com back in January. Eight months on, it looks as though Cryptolocker isn’t showing any signs of letting up. In fact, there’s even a new variant making the rounds.The original demanded payments of $100 to decrypt files. The new and improved version? $300. Clearly those in control of Cryptolocker realized that they weren’t taking full advantage of its criminal potential.As IT administrators and repair pros struggle to undo the damage, some are finding that giving in to Cryptolocker is the only way out. Amazingly, paying the Cryptolocker ransom does actually initiate the decryption process.So while it’s generally not considered a good idea to give in to the bad guys (how can you fully trust someone that thinks it’s OK to hold your files hostage?), those without a good set of backups that have been infected don’t have any other options yet.At least the crooks behind Cryptolocker have some scruples. Often when payments are demanded, the only thing that changes is the balance of the two bank accounts involved. There’s always the potential for reinfection, though, so even if you do get your files back after paying up it’s best to reformat and start from scratch.Researchers from a number of antivirus vendors are working on a way to undo the damage, but it’s not going to be easy. Decrypting Cryptolocker files requires access to both the public and private keys used to encrypt them. Until authorities get their hands on that second key, the NSA may be the only folks around that can reverse the process.last_img read more

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More than a building

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram “This is a story about people not just a building. Buildings are made of bricks and mortar, but to put each of those bricks in place takes time and human effort.“Tonight we tell a story not only about the building that has been built, but more importantly, the people that, in a metaphorical sense, put each brick in place.”That was Bill Papastergiadis, president of the Greek Community of Melbourne’s first words as he unveiled to the community the foundations of The Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture. Still under construction, level one of the Greek Centre – which will host theatre and music performances in the future – was transformed into a function space for the evening, giving attendees a sneak peek at the Greek Centre and the expansive wrap around terrace with views over Russell and Lonsdale Street. More than 150 people attended the Foundation Benefactors event on Tuesday night, ahead of the official launch of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture at 168 Lonsdale Street scheduled for later this year. So far, almost $850,000 has been pledged with the promise of further support to come. Yet, Mr Papastergiadis tells Neos Kosmos the money is secondary to the “engagement and broadening the basis of the Greek Community of Melbourne”.“The money is really secondary to us because if we can win over their interest and affection then the rest follows,” he says.On the night, he says he feels that people really connected with the community which is what the GCM were looking towards and says “our job now is to continue that connection and to develop it which is what we are really excited about”.All funds raised will go initially to the fit out of the centre itself and ensure that the centre is as debt free as possible for future generations of Greek Australians, philhellenes and the wider Melbourne and Australian community. last_img read more

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20 Years Later: How ‘The Blair Witch Project’ Changed Horror

first_img Horror cinema is a cyclical business, going through boom times and bust. We’re in the middle of a pretty solid boom period right now, with returning franchises like Child’s Play joining unique offerings from debuting directors and new distribution methods on streaming services like Netflix. But back in the late 1990s, horror was in a bit of a downswing, until a strange, low-budget indie film suddenly became one of the decade’s biggest hits. Let’s journey back to July 14, 1999, when The Blair Witch Project hit theaters and rejuvenated the fright flick world.Into the WoodsDan Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, co-writers, co-directors and co-editors of ‘The Blair Witch Project in 1999. (Photo Credit: Artisan Entertainment)In the early 1990s, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez were just film students at the University of Central Florida. They both loved horror, but after immersing themselves in documentaries about real-world paranormal phenomena they started to question the effectiveness of the time-tested scare tactics. After seeing 1991’s deeply stupid Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, the duo became convinced they could do it better. The basic conceit — that the viewer would see everything unfold through the lens of a documentary film crew — came quickly.Their original idea was fairly conventional. The crew would discover a spooky old house in the forest filled with Satanic paraphernalia and scary stuff would ensue. But over the next few years, they’d pare it back, drawing on the history of the Mid-Atlantic region and the Salem witch trials. The crew were now in search of evidence of a folkloric witch who haunted the Maryland woods preying on the unsuspecting. Sánchez called her the Blair Witch after the high school his older sister went to.Myrick and Sánchez put together a detailed outline for the movie — not quite a script, because they wanted to give the actors freedom to improvise as much as possible to keep it feeling authentic, but instead an hour-by-hour breakdown of where the trio of young filmmakers would be in the woods, what they were doing and what they would encounter. They cast a trio of actors with improv and camping experience and were off to the races.The cast and crew gathered in Seneca Creek State Park for a grueling eight-day shoot. Each of the actors was given different amounts of information about the scenario, so their conversations would seem more natural. They were given instructions via film cans located through GPS coordinates that also contained rough instructions for each of them for the day. The directors harried the actors, making them travel long distances by day and building dread at night with strange noises. Myrick and Sánchez got a little over 20 hours of footage, which they edited to a tight 82 minutes and submitted to film festivals.Turn the CameraA “missing persons” poster featuring the three actors, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard,  and Michael Williams. (Photo Credit: William Thomas Cain / Getty Images) Stay on target Lizzy Caplan Is Chilling Annie Wilkes in ‘Castle Rock’ Season 2 Trailer11 Best Monsters Made From Dead People Parts center_img Buzz for The Blair Witch Project started when the film screened at midnight on January 25, 1999 at Sundance. Myrick and Sánchez distributed missing flyers for the three leads and deliberately blurred the lines as to where the footage actually came from, and it worked: Artisan Entertainment snapped up the rights to the flick for $1.1 million. The studio then began a publicity campaign that is widely regarded as the first one to primarily leverage the Internet over traditional media.In addition to creating a website that presented the film’s story as if it were real, they took pains to cover their tracks. The IMDB pages for the lead actors listed them as “missing, presumed dead” for a year after the movie came out. Additional footage was shot with actors playing police officers and private investigators discussing their disappearance. It was a carefully orchestrated hoax designed to build an urban myth around this indie movie.It was wildly successful. When The Blair Witch Project opened theatrically on July 14th, it immediately became a hot topic of conversation. By its wide opening on July 30th, it could be considered the first viral movie. By the end of its theatrical run, the film had grossed $348 million internationally — a huge return on its microscopic $60,000 budget.Imitations and SequelsThe cinematic style of The Blair Witch Project would soon get a name — “found footage horror” — and other filmmakers would soon try it out for themselves. This wasn’t entirely an original concept — Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 Cannibal Holocaust featured a similar setup, as a group of filmmakers head into the Amazon to document a reported tribe of cannibals, only to have their footage found by an anthropologist and exhibited. Deodato didn’t hold a grudge against the tremendous success of Blair Witch even as his film was banned in multiple countries.After the success of the first film, Artisan wanted to squeeze more from the franchise. Myrick and Sánchez weren’t interested, though, so the studio brought in documentary director Joe Berlanger to move the story forward. In his film, a group of people obsessed with the original movie travel to Burkittsville to delve deeper into the mystery, only to end up murdering each other as part of a message on media consumption and violence. 2000’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was widely considered a disappointment, with the director and producer claiming that Artisan significantly re-edited the film after they delivered it against their wishes to add more shock scenes. It made a profit but was savaged by critics and fans.Soon enough, the found footage horror boom would begin in earnest. Several low-budget flicks would rush to market in the aftermath of Blair Witch like The St. Francisville Experiment and Kōji Shiraishi’s The Curse.The biggest second wave found footage hit would be Oren Peli’s 2007 Paranormal Activity, which inverted the concept in a clever way. Instead of the cameras being carried by the protagonists, they were placed in static locations in a young couple’s home to capture evidence of otherworldly manifestations. The flick followed the same slow-burn strategy, with tiny hints of the supernatural building to an abrupt and unsettling climax. With a $15,000 budget, it became the most profitable film of all time for distributor Paramount. Peli was in a better position to capitalize on his success, serving as producer for five sequels and creating a TV project, The River, that was heavily indebted to Cannibal Holocaust.By the late 2000s, found footage was everywhere, from giant monster flick Cloverfield to slapstick teen comedy Project X. Once considered a curiosity at best, it transformed into a storytelling mode that let filmmakers dispense with much of the technical expectations of a feature, as well as bringing the viewer into a more intimate relationship with the characters. The nausea and motion sickness felt by early Blair Witch viewers became less of a thing in the age of YouTube and phone cameras. From humble beginnings, a thriving genre of filmmaking was created that endures to this day.From Screen to MemeProbably the biggest effect that the Blair Witch franchise had on the digital world was enabling the distribution of a new kind of horror, one that blurred the boundaries between folklore, reportage and fiction. It would come to be called “creepypasta,” and some of the genre’s most famous tales owe a big debt to the narrative structure of the original movie. These stories were often written in first-person perspective and posted anonymously, as in the case of 2001’s “Ted the Caver” which chronicled a series of expeditions into a mysterious cavern and ended abruptly. These stories began to proliferate and gain popularity at the same time as found footage horror, and soon enough they’d cross over.By the time the Paranormal Activity series was hitting, creepypasta was all over the web on sites like Reddit and Something Awful. It’s undeniable that a generation raised on Blair Witch would adopt the elliptical, frenzied, and opaque storytelling of that movie to create its own horrors. And with shows like Syfy’s creepypasta-derived Channel Zero, those stories are now making their way back to the screen. It’s rare that we see a paradigm shift of this level hit mass media — maybe once in a generation — so it’s amazing to see how one little movie’s influence has affected so much of the world.More on Geek.com11 ’80s Horror Franchises Due for a Comeback11 Greatest Scream Queens of All TimeThe Most Terrifying Horror Toyslast_img read more

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First-ever Women’s Royal Rumble match announced for January 28 in Philadelphia

first_img Adam Martin RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Facebook The Miz Now Playing Up Next unknown During tonight’s episode of WWE RAW, a first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match was announced for the Royal Rumble PPV on January 28 in Philadelphia.RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon made the announcement to close the show.Here is an excerpt from Mike Tedesco’s recap on Monday night.“Stephanie McMahon’s music hits, and everyone stops brawling. McMahon gets in the ring and says a revolution started three years ago with the women in the ring, the women on Smackdown Live, and every woman who competed before, including The Fabulous Moolah and The Great Mae Young. They’ve turned it into an evolution and they’ve had a women’s Hell in a Cell, TLC, and a match in the Middle East for the first time ever. That’s not enough, though. How about they make history once again? On January 28, the Road to WrestleMania kicks off in Philadelphia, and we’ll have the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. McMahon tells the crowd to do a “YES” chant, and the crowd obliges.”YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!History WILL be made on January 28th when the women of @WWE compete in a #RoyalRumble match! #RAW pic.twitter.com/ohhilj8rsp— WWE (@WWE) December 19, 2017 December 19, 2017 at 11:15 am Videos Articles Now Playing Up Next December 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm Twitter Videos Articles Videos Articles WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon honored with 2019 Worldz Titan Award Now Playing Up Next Now Playing Up Next 3 COMMENTS December 19, 2017 at 11:19 am Is WWE Losing Its Audience? Now Playing Up Nextcenter_img Pinterest Al79 So much kayfabe was broken especially with Alexa since she is the champ. know the equality factor is the big reason for this Women’s Rumble match in 2018, but do all the women have to go over the top rope as well? Because, if so, fuc* this match. We’ve seen total clusterfuc*s ensue when they try to have women do the EXACT same things men do in the ring. That being said, I don’t think anyone would oppose women just having to go out of the ring as opposed to over the top rope. Triple H Madison Square Garden Pays Tribute to Roman Reigns WhatsApp Vince Mcmahon Google+ Y’know what? If they’re gonna do this and they want people to take it seriously, I have the following piece of advice: Commit. What do I mean by that? I mean the winner of this match challenges Charlotte for the title in the MAIN EVENT at Wrestlemania. Vince can have Roman vs Brock II if he wants it so bad, but the winner of this match should get the last match on the card, not Roman. Roman does not need the main event this year. He’s had three of them already. Let somebody else have a turn this year. WWE Rescheduling San Jose NXT John Cena Says WWE Doesn`t Need Him Jeffery Adam Phillips Vince McMahon Sends Supportive Message To Roman Reigns AEW announces Women’s World Title Match added for episode three on TNT Recommended videosPowered by AnyClipVince McMahon Sends Supportive Message To Roman ReignsVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteDuration 0:39/Current Time 0:05Loaded: 100.00%0:05Remaining Time -0:34 FullscreenUp NextThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Replay the list AEW announces Boston and Philadelphia television episodes for TNT are sold out Comments are closed.last_img

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FIFA sets up new regional development office for the Caribbean

first_imgAs part of its commitment to drive global football development and further strengthen and enhance ties with confederations and member associations, FIFA has announced the official opening of a new Regional Development Office today in the Caribbean to help support football development activities across the region, according to the organisation’s website.Speaking at today’s opening ceremony, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said:IranFan dies after setting herself on fire protesting Iran’s ban on women spectators Manuel R. Medina – September 10, 2019 A young woman from Iran set, only publicly known as The Blue Girl for the color of her favorite club Esteghlal, has died from her injuries after protesting Iran’s ban on female fans.“In line with FIFA 2.0 and FIFA’s overall vision to promote and grow the game, the opening of a new regional office for FIFA in the Caribbean is an important and exciting milestone that not only further connects FIFA with member associations but will also provide hands-on local support and assistance to benefit grassroots football.“Through our flagship development programme, FIFA Forward, FIFA is continuing to provide tailored support to confederations and member associations and making a real impact in driving football development around the world. The opening of a new office in the Caribbean is another important milestone for FIFA and will ensure that FIFA’s development work continues to make a real and lasting impact in developing football and inspiring a new generation of players throughout the region.”last_img read more

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Little known state route would connect to new Otay Port of Entry

first_img 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A ceremonial groundbreaking at the border involved the last leg of the state route that’s about to become much more important than it is right now. KUSI’s Ed Lenderman has more on the story. Little known state route would connect to new Otay Port of Entry KUSI Newsroom July 31, 2019 Updated: 5:36 PMcenter_img Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter KUSI Newsroom, Posted: July 31, 2019last_img read more

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South Florida residents given lifesaving advice on preventable bleeding

first_imgHOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) – A South Florida hospital provided residents with a life-saving lesson on first aid.Memorial Regional Hospital hosted a training session, Monday, to educate Hollywood residents and city officials on how to save a life.Residents applied bleeding control kits including tourniquets and other first-aid materials to mannequins for practice.“This training can be used at home, at work, if you stop and help during a car crash,” said the hospital’s Trauma Program Manager Candace Pineda. “It can be used every day for so many reasons. It’s really going to make the difference in saving lives when there’s preventable bleeding.”The hospital says these bleeding control kits will be installed in city facilities and community centers.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

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NASA SpaceX look ready to finally launch Crew Dragon capsule to ISS

first_img NASA’s wildest rides: Extreme vehicles for Earth and beyond Sci-Tech The Crew Dragon capsule will lift off with an assist from a Falcon 9 rocket and head to the International Space Station. It’s scheduled to dock at the ISS on March 3 very early in the morning. Though it won’t have any humans on board, it will be stocked with 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment. SpaceX has looked ready to get going on this mission for quite some time. The capsule and Falcon 9 are already in position on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX tweeted a dramatic static test fire on Jan. 24, back when it was still targeting a February launch. The Crew Dragon is set to hang out at the ISS for five days and then come back to Earth carrying research samples. If all goes well, the capsule will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and land in the Atlantic Ocean for recovery. NASA TV will cover prelaunch events starting on Feb. 22 and follow the actual launch at the scheduled time if there are no further delays.The Crew Dragon launch will mark a major milestone in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which features both SpaceX and Boeing working to bring launches back to US soil. NASA has been hitching astronaut rides to the ISS on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. If Dragon passes its uncrewed flight testing, it could then be cleared to ferry astronauts into space as early as mid-2019 and begin a new era in American spaceflight. Update, February 20 at 9:11 p.m. PT: This story has been updated to correct and clarify the scheduled launch time.   Enlarge ImageThe SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule gets ready ahead of an uncrewed test flight. SpaceX Delays and space flights are close companions. NASA has pushed back the launch date for the SpaceX Demo-1 uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule several times already, but new details make it sound like early March could finally be go time.NASA shared details of the mission on Wednesday, including a launch-time target of 11:48 p.m. Pacific on Friday, Mar. 1 (2:48 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, Mar. 2). “The uncrewed test flights will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station,” the agency says. 23 Photos SpaceX Crew Dragon preps for ‘extremely intense’ first test flight SpaceX’s Crew Dragon suffers third straight setback Post a commentcenter_img Tags Static fire test complete—targeting February launch from historic Launch Complex 39A for Crew Dragon’s first demonstration flight! pic.twitter.com/sJF24U3UOM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2019 0 SpaceX readies Crew Dragon Share your voice NASA Space SpaceXlast_img read more

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Mueller Report Mentions Houston Fight Over City Finances Threatens Proposition B Talks

first_imgThursday, April 18, 2019Top afternoon stories:Alex Wong/APSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller.Mueller Report Mentions HoustonAn Instagram post about a confederate rally in Houston is cited in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as the “earliest evidence” of Russian influence in political rallies that happened across the United States.Page 29 of the Mueller investigation on Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election states: “The Office identified dozens of U.S. rallies organized by the IRA (St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency). The earliest evidence of a rally was a “confederate rally” in November 2015.”In a footnote, the report refers to an Instagram post about a Houston-area rally planned for November 14, 2015.The report also says: “The IRA (Internet Research Agency) continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attendance at rallies varied. Some rallies appear to have drawn few (if any) participants, while others drew hundreds. The reach and success of these rallies was closely monitored.”Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz/Houston Public MediaHPFFA president Patrick ‘Marty’ Lancton.Fight Over Houston Finances Threatens Proposition B TalksThe Houston firefighters union says it’s not satisfied with the financial information the mayor has provided as part of talks over phasing in voter-mandated raises for the fire department. The latest move could effectively torpedo a deal.Patrick ‘Marty’ Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, wrote Mayor Sylvester Turner, demanding, “complete access to City financial and budget information.” That means all records, whether or not they relate to Proposition B.“If every department in the City audits the whole City to see how much money they can get, then the whole City’s going to be bogged down in a way that’s not helpful,” said Steven Craig, who teaches public sector economics at the University of Houston.Rice University political scientist Bob Stein said that’s likely the point. “I think they have made a political calculation that this is not a mayor they can trust,” he said. “And therefore they have to defeat this mayor at the ballot box the same way they won on the ballot box last November with Prop B.”Michael Zanussi/FlickrThe Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area added 131,767 residents from 2017 to 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area Saw Biggest Population Growth In Texas In 2018In a state where the population continues to rapidly swell, the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth region remains a fundamental source for those gains.Adding 131,767 residents from 2017 to 2018, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area gained more residents than any other metropolitan area in the country and was behind more than a third of Texas’ population growth in that period, according to population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.Following a years-long trend, the new estimates show that Texas dominated in population growth thanks to both growing families and migration to the state. The state took 4 of the nation’s top 10 spots both for counties that gained the most residents in a year and those that grew the fastest.The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area came behind the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in annual gains of residents.West Texas topped the list of rapidly growing metro areas, outpacing the Austin-Round Rock area, which ranked first in the state last year. The Midland metro area was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country from 2017-18, and the Odessa metro area ranked fifth. Sharelast_img read more

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New experiments set to detect gravitational waves

first_img Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. They are distortions in the fabric of space-time and are believed to occur in measurable amounts when massive objects such as neutron stars merge. They’ve yet to be seen, but the consensus among physicists is that they are real. Still, they can’t be labeled a certainty until they are proven to exist by measuring them. That’s what a team of physicists and astronomers the world over plan to do over the next half decade.The idea is to deploy ultra-sensitive interferometers at various points around the globe. They are very large L shaped devices and work by measuring the time it takes for a photon delivered from a laser to move from one end of the device to the other. If a gravitational wave strikes, it should cause the length of the device to change, increasing or decreasing the time it takes for a photon to traverse the distance.Most astrophysics believe that detecting gravitational waves is a matter of course, thus the purpose of deploying interferometers across the globe serves another purpose—discerning where they originated. The hope is that by collecting data at many locations at once, researchers will be able to work together to ascertain the direction from which the waves have traveled, and perhaps figure out what caused them to come about in the first place.Kasliwal reports that the new highly sensitive interferometers will come online sometime in 2017, noting that some of them exist already, though they are not yet sensitive enough to detect gravitational waves. He adds that the project will be a hugely collaborative effort, especially if the interferometers begin detecting a lot of waves. Researchers will have to scramble and work together to get information from the detectors to operators of telescopes quickly enough to figure out where the waves might be coming from. More information: Seeing Gravitational Waves, Science 3 May 2013: Vol. 340 no. 6132 pp. 555-556 DOI: 10.1126/science.1235956AbstractGravity is responsible for the long-range order of the universe. Using Einstein’s general relativity, we now think of gravity as the geometrical curvature of the four-dimensional fabric of space-time (1). Extreme cosmological events such as the merging of neutron stars or black holes induce ripples in the fabric of space-time (see the figure). However, these ripples, or gravitational waves, are extremely weak, and their detection has remained elusive. To measure the small signal, an interferometric detector is required that can detect strain to one part in 1021 (that is, a billionth of a nanometer for a kilometer-length interferometer). Such extreme gravity events are also rare, occurring only once every 10,000 years per galaxy (2). An advanced version of such a detector is designed to find gravitational waves on a regular basis (roughly tens of events annually) beginning in 2017 (3). This heroic experiment alone will be somewhat unsatisfying—gravitational wave interferometers will only be able to hear the wave and detect when something happens (literally “hear” as the operational frequency of tens to thousands of Hertz overlaps with the human auditory range). The interferometers will be blind to exactly where the merger occurs. To locate the source of the gravitational waves, collaboration between the physics and the astronomy communities together with extensive simulations are under way (4). Pulsar survey could help find gravitational waves Explore further Illustration of spacetime curvature. Credit: Wikipedia. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.center_img Citation: New experiments set to detect gravitational waves (2013, May 3) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-05-gravitational.html Journal information: Science © 2013 Phys.org (Phys.org) —Over the next five years, Mansi Kasliwal writes in an astrophysics perspective in the journal Science, researchers will begin setting up experiments designed to detect gravitational waves. Kasliwal, an astronomer with the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science located in Pasadena, California, says momentum is building in the physics community to find proof of the existence of gravitational waves. Thus, far, they are still considered theoretical.last_img read more

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Relighting an Artist

first_imgAt the age of 14, he started his career with sketches further perfecting the art of oil paintings. He has made seven paintings on the eternal divine lovers Radha Krishna. Sometimes, it takes him an hour to paint a beautiful painting while at times even a month seems less.India, known for its art and culture around the globe, does not treat the creators of art the way the artists deserve to be treated. They fail to get the much-needed recognition and the meagre pay cheques make things even more difficult for them.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’ Accepting this harsh reality, he started giving art classes to children. Alongside he made many beautiful paintings. From the line of teaching, he was appointed as the President of Lalit Kala Academy in 1984. He brought forth many country’s artists and painted on many social issues such as the plight of women, nature, diversity between men and women. He had inaugurated five Regional Art Centres in Delhi, Lucknow, Calcutta, Orissa and Chennai. He had to leave Lalit Kala Academy due to excessive political, such difficult situations in life had taught him a lot, he said. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixA man, who believes in simple living and high thinking, is very fond of children. Every Sunday, he guides children to paint and motivates them to pursue their dreams. He makes his students understand that it is good to dream and gives them sincere advice. However, in order to live the dream one must have the courage and perseverance. By donating the money that he earns to poor, he feels content.On March 31 when Bharat Ratna was conferred on educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya, the Srijan Artist Group organised an exhibition where Anand Dev’s painting was sold for Rs 1Lakh. On receiving the money, he sponsored a trip to South Africa for his students.last_img read more

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3 Online Tools for Supercharging a Companys Culture

first_img Listen Now Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. June 13, 2014 How Success Happens Hear from Polar Explorers, ultra marathoners, authors, artists and a range of other unique personalities to better understand the traits that make excellence possible. The modern workplace is mobile and virtual. While this presents tremendous opportunities for companies to scale without expanding offices or restricting their talent search to one region, it can also pose an existential challenge to a company’s culture.In today’s workplace, executives find themselves asking, How do you build company culture when employees are scattered across multiple states or constantly working on the road? How do employees build trust, share challenges and collaborate effectively when they rarely meet face-to-face?Subscription software and online tools are answering some of these questions. For a small investment, they can help companies uncover staffers’ hidden talents, build and run employee-recognition programs and foster interdepartmental communication.All this still requires the human touch and a company’s core values to be clearly defined, but affordable and easy-to-use software or online assessments can do much of the heavy lifting for managers, owners and executives. Here are three online tools that can help build a company’s culture whether the workplace is virtual or its headquarters simply needs an infusion of new ideas:Related: Smarten Your Employees’ Work Styles — 5 Ways to Coax Productivity 1. StrengthsFinder. Hiring the right employees is only half the battle. Putting each employee in the right position is crucial. According to a study conducted by PwC and LinkedIn released in April, if companies were better at matching employees with their strengths, they could unlock more than $130 billion in productivity in 11 markets. And that does not even take into account an estimated $19.8 billion in recruitment costs that organizations could avoid by boosting staff retention.Endeavor America Loan Services, the mortgage company that I lead, uses Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, a web-based assessment tool, to pinpoint employees’ strengths, allowing me and other managers to quickly identify the roles they are most suited to fill. We have found efficiencies as each employee performs a role according to what he or she does best and seen the benefits of a workforce whose staffers are consistently assigned positions where success comes naturally.We don’t stop with the simple strengths assessment. We hold regular workshops to train employees to develop their strengths and help managers grow into mentors leveraging the talents of the employees they manage. Ideally StrengthsFinder assists employees in building their strengths into talents and enables companies to place employees in teams where they will perform at their highest level.In a remote work environment, where there is no daily face-to-face interaction between manager and employee, StrengthsFinder is even more important because it increases the likelihood of employee engagement, reduces the chances of distraction and encourages collaboration among teammates whose strengths are complimentary.StrengthsFinder lets companies accomplish this without managers having to spend hundreds of hours  to assess each employee’s skill set.Related: Reward Better: New Programs Let You Recognize Employees in Real Time2. YouEarnedIt. Most employee-recognition programs rely heavily on managers and executives to reward high-achieving employees. But as many employees know, the best evaluators of achievement are often the rank-and-file, frontline workers. YouEarnedIt.com is a simple, affordable and easy-to-manage software platform for employees to reward co-workers for their achievements.With the company using the points-based rewards system of YouEarnedIt, employee recognition is democratized throughout the organization, enabling managers and executives to receive a broad spectrum of opinions about who is achieving above the norm in a given week.The software platform operates in real time: Recognition points show up as they are bestowed. Points can be redeemed for prizes, donations to charity or executive coaching. The software relieves some of the pressure on managers to organize and execute employee-recognition programs, while making the whole process more democratic and representative of the whole company.It’s also a fun way to energize employees and promote engagement. My company is finding that through our promotion of the idea of employees’ granting rewards to one another, staffers are becoming more engaged: They are seeing their efforts recognized in real time.We are fostering a fun company culture by being creative with our rewards. (The options now include Jeans for a Week, Dinner with the Boss, Your Manager Brings You Coffee, Buy a Day Off Work and Take the Morning Off Work.) Another reward: raffles in a companywide drawing for a paid-for summer vacation.Now our employees are enjoying thanking one another and rewarding colleagues for a job well done. At our company, it’s even become a big deal to be the person who was the biggest rewards giver in the previous week. We have created metrics around the intangible idea of showing gratitude even while creating a culture of recognition among employees who may not even be working in the same office.Related: The Wisdom Behind Making Workplace Apps Easy to Use 3. 15Five. One of a manager’s top jobs is taking the temperature of his or her team. Is the team on a roll, running like a well-oiled machine or does it need a reinjection of enthusiasm or an infusion of new ideas?Used by organizations ranging from the American Red Cross to GoDaddy,15Five is a software app built around the concept that if all employees took 15 minutes each week to write down thoughts that would take their manager only 5 minutes to read, companies could be more connected.15Five starts this process by asking simple, thought-provoking questions like “What were your challenges this week?”Managers take 5 minutes or less to read the answers and then offer feedback and support while passing the best ideas on to higher-ranking executives. This allows company leaders to identify challenges before they mushroom into problems and put into action the top suggestions crowdsourced from across the organization. It is the ultimate real-time feedback loop.The software platform also makes cross-team and interdepartmental communication effective and streamlined.Instilling a sense of company culture in a virtual business can be difficult. But culture is absolutely vital to company’s success. A multinational Gallup poll released last fall found that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work — and of the remaining 87 percent, 63 percent lack motivation and another 24 percent are both unhappy and unproductive.Company culture should not be viewed as a luxury or an afterthought. It is a vital necessity for high-performing companies that want to operate efficiently, attract and retain new customers and build talented and motivated teams. Related: Boosting Employee Engagement in the Summer Months 6 min readlast_img read more

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