EU could ditch human rights to secure Central Asian energy

first_imgWhile stressing the need for good governance to avoid creating new failed states and an increase in radicalism, the paper states: “EU policies of limiting engagement have not had the desired impact.” The EU should now shift its focus toward what is described as a “security, governance and resources partnership”, it adds. Germany has made developing ties with central Asia one of the priorities for its six-month EU presidency. It hopes EU leaders will agree to a new strategy on central Asia when they meet on 21-22 June in Brussels. The Commission’s document is the first concrete proposal to come ahead of that meeting, although the EU special representative for central Asia, Pierre Morel, has also drafted ideas for a future strategy.Discussion on the Commission’s paper will begin on Friday (2 February) when EU ambassadors meet in Brussels. According to diplomats, there is a growing willingness among EU member states to engage in the region, despite differences over how much to focus on human rights. There are already indications that talks will be difficult. The 15-page document prepares the ground for a dramatic shift in EU policy on central Asia and warns that the EU has lost out because of previous policies which put a strong emphasis on human rights.“The stakes are very high for the future of EU relations with Central Asia,” says the document, adding that the US, Russia and China have “seized in the last 15 years opportunities which were neglected by the EU”.Despite the EU’s interest in central Asian energy, ties between the EU and the region have been strained over human rights abuses, particularly in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In November 2006 member states clashed over German proposals to lift sanctions against Uzbekistan, with some calling for the EU to make democratic reform a condition for lifting sanctions. “It was not a very easy discussion,” said one diplomat, as member states “do not have quite the same views when it comes to conditionality and engagement”.The Commission paper also stresses the need to bring Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kirgizstan and Tajikistan into the international economy in order to ensure stability.Although it rejects Kazakhstan’s request to become part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the paper recommends creating a “special relationship” where Kazakhstan is “primus inter pares”. Charles Esser, from the International Crisis Group, said that fears of overdependence on Russian gas might be pushing the EU toward a policy that did not take account of the realities in central Asia. “It is wrong-headed to say they should be given a free pass because of energy,” said Esser.center_img “At present there is no way for central Asia’s gas to reach Europe without going through Russia. Once you take a close look at it, there is no easy alternative to Russia. If that is true, then the benefit [for Europe] may be to transform these states in a positive direction, along with progress in human rights.”last_img read more

France’s mutating terror threat

first_imgPARIS — France faces a mutating threat as Islamic State-backed terrorists update their techniques and aim to avoid being killed during future operations, the head of French domestic security warned.Attacks in Paris and Brussels relied heavily on suicide missions that left most assailants dead. Now terrorists will probably seek to use car bombs and remotely-detonated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in order to save operatives and strike repeatedly, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s main “DGSI” domestic security agency, told a closed-door parliamentary hearing in May, according to Le Figaro, which published a report on the testimony Tuesday.The claims point to a terror threat against France that is evolving rapidly despite ISIL’s territorial losses in Iraq and Syria. New terrorist operating methods would challenge an already overstretched French security apparatus, which a parliamentary probe said was in need of major reforms following failures in the handling of attacks last year. The most likely candidates to organize such attacks, according to Calvar, are ISIL operatives who have trained in Syria and Iraq and are now back in France, where they may have formed sleeper cells. Calvar estimated the total number of returnees at 400-500.‘Brink of civil war’As a priority target repeatedly singled out by ISIL, France has mobilized exceptional manpower and resources to fend off further attacks, in addition to extending a state of emergency several times. But the major loss of life last year — terrorist attacks claimed 147 lives — has also triggered soul-searching about the readiness of security services to handle a determined foe, and limit their impact.Last week, a cross-partisan group of MPs published the conclusions of a six-month probe into the handling of both attacks, which revealed security mishaps and failings on the night of November 13. Confusion about which tactical unit should first respond to distress calls from the Bataclan concert hall — where 90 people were killed — may have delayed authorities’ response, they said.While Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has rejected most of the committee’s findings, the government has extended a state of emergency for the third time since last November, until July 26, to give itself maximum latitude in thwarting attacks.But Calvar, who has worked in counter-terrorism since 1993, is pessimistic about the future.He had warned that further attacks are likely and that when they come, they could trigger unpredictable consequences — including civil war. “We are on the brink of a civil war,” Calvar was cited as having told the MPs, according to previously published excerpts of the same meeting.“This confrontation, I think it’s going to happen,” he said. “One or two more terrorist attacks, and it will start. It’s therefore our duty to anticipate and block any group that aims to set off fighting between communities.” Also On POLITICO Belgian breakthrough to help ID terror suspects: report By Hortense Goulard Verviers terror group leaders jailed By Cynthia Kroet ‘Man in the hat’ claims terror cells in Paris and Brussels part of a larger network By Hortense Goulardcenter_img “I am convinced that they [Islamic State-backed terrorists] will evolve to the stage of car bombs and explosive devices, and that through this they will ramp up their capabilities,” Calvar said at the hearing, which was held as part of a probe into security services’ handling of two major attacks last year.“They will end up sending commandos whose mission will be to organize terrorist campaigns without necessarily dying in the process,” he said. “For that, they will need bomb-makers and a logistic apparatus, in other words, to set themselves up on our territory and acquire all the products.”Calvar’s warning, which he made on May 24, is emerging shortly after the end of the Euro 2016 football tournament, which prompted exceptional security measures across France due to direct threats from ISIL. The only attack during the tournament was the killing of of a senior police officer and his wife by a Frenchman who claimed allegiance to ISIL in a Facebook live broadcast.The assailant, 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, was killed during a police raid shortly after the attack.But for Calvar, ISIL is not relying solely on “lone wolves” to attack France. The group, which has lost territory in Syria and Iraq, is still determined to carry out large-scale sophisticated attacks and has learned from its experiences during the November attacks in Paris last year, and the Brussels attacks in March.“What happened in Belgium was a result of the fact that [the terrorists] were cornered and could not carry out multiple operations,” Le Figaro quoted Calvar as having said. “But, once again, as soon as they will have sent bomb-makers to our territory, they will be able to avoid sacrificing their fighters while causing maximal damage.”last_img read more

Alba Colon wins Hispanic Heritage Foundation STEM Award

first_imgThe Hispanic Heritage Awards included top Latino performers and personalities paying tribute to the honorees from the stage on Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C., and will be broadcast nationally Oct. 6 at 10 p.m. ET on PBS.RELATED: Alba Colon blazes a trail in racing“As a Latina in a traditionally underrepresented field, Alba Colon is a transformative role-model for our community,” José Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, said in a press release. “The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is privileged to honor her with the STEM Award.”Colon, who was born in Spain and grew up in Puerto Rico, began as Chevrolet Racing Program Manager for the NASCAR Cup Series, working with drivers such as Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Johnson, Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and many more. Under her charge, Chevrolet has now amassed 285 race wins, 11 Drivers’ Championships and 14 Manufacturers’ Championships. Alba Colon, who has played a key role in Chevrolet’s NASCAR success, from Dale Earnhardt’s to Jimmie Johnson’s championships and more, won a title of her own: the STEM award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.Racing partners offered praise Tuesday for the science, technology, engineering and math award presented to one of NASCAR’s fiercest competitors.last_img read more

XTERRA takes to the trails again in 2010

first_imgIt was just five years ago when XTERRA initiated a stand-alone Trail Run Series to complement its off-road triathlon ventures. The idea was to provide more opportunities for all of America to experience the ‘Live More’ lifestyle and ‘discover the pure beauty of nearby Mother Nature.’Looking at the stats, one might go as far to declare mission accomplished. Since 2005 thousands of runners have gone off-road and the series has expanded dramatically, evolving from a little more than a dozen individual runs to a full-blown nationwide series with 53 races in 16 states stretching from Long Island, New York, to Laguna Beach, California.In 2010, XTERRA has an unprecedented collection of trails to explore for runners of all abilities – from the 5K jogger just looking for something fun to stay active to the competitive half-marathon speedster with dreams of winning an XTERRA national or world championship title in their age group.New in 2010 are series of three or more races in North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Colorado, Alabama, Arizona and Long Island. XTERRA also welcome back ‘the best’ – those events ‘runners have learned to love in SoCal, NorCal, Georgia, and Philly.’ Relatedlast_img read more

ASICS Europe reports 13% sales increase for Q1 2015

first_imgASICS Europe has announced strong double digit sales figures and accelerated growth across the EMEA region, delivering an overall 13% increase in net sales in the January to March 2015 first quarter period. This builds on a 13% revenue gain for the full year 2014, and the Q1 2015 increase was largely driven by strong growth across the brand’s running, tennis and lifestyle categories.The results for the first quarter of 2015 show significant growth in the brand’s key strategic category, running, with footwear increasing by 16%. In running apparel, there has been a 10% growth for men and 16% for women. In performance running apparel, ASICS notes that it continues to lead the market in France and reinforces its top-3 position in Germany.All of ASICS’ major European sales subsidiaries contributed to the strong growth results. ASICS UK, Spain and Denmark posted solid single digit growth, while ASICS France, Italy, Austria, Poland, Benelux, Russia and Sweden delivered ‘impressive double digit growth figures’. From a retail perspective, sales in ASICS’ own flagship stores and retail outlets increased by 27%.During the first quarter of 2015, ASICS also notes that it reached its highest ever brand awareness level. According to the company, this underlining the success of the global advertising campaign – ‘It’s a big world. Go run it’.Meanwhile, ASICS’ GEL-Nimbus 17 running shoe was awarded the widely-respected ‘Editor’s Choice’ award by Runner’s World, for ‘setting the benchmark for running footwear in the cushioning category.’Alistair Cameron, CEO of ASICS Europe said “We’re extremely pleased with our continued strong performance in the EMEA region. 2015 is a key year for ASICS and we have ambitious growth targets across a variety of sports on the performance side of our business as well as in the lifestyle area of the brand. These results put us in a strong position to drive momentum through the rest of an exciting 2015.”He continued, “Our brand awareness levels are at their highest they’ve ever been and ASICS has further cemented its position as third ‘most desired brand in Europe’. We are heading into the second half of the year with the strongest order book for many years.“With a number of much anticipated products launching in running, tennis, lifestyle footwear and rugby over the coming months, we will continue to offer our consumers the most innovative products in the market.” Relatedlast_img read more

Why Too Much Experience Can Backfire

first_imgIn its relatively short history Pixar has achieved remarkable success, garnering 15 Academy Awards and an average international gross of more than $600 million per film. Pixar movies appeal to moviegoers of all ages, with their unconventional plots and emotional depth. Talking cars (Cars), a rat who wants to be a chef (Ratatouille), an elderly man whose house floats to South America on the strength of thousands of balloons (Up), are among the unusual stars of Pixar films.But when I spoke with Pixar president and cofounder Ed Catmull, he told me that he prefers to tell new recruits about Pixar’s failures. As a studio, Pixar enjoys a wealth of experience, and of course this is tremendously valuable. But Catmull has realized that with experience also comes an attitude that we have all the right answers. He told me that he wants his new recruits to not be intimidated, to present their ideas, and so it’s crucial that they see Pixar, like other companies, is far from perfect.This is an insight that we all can benefit from. According to research I have done, there are situations where being more experienced—being more expert, or more knowledgeable—leads to lower performance. Experience can be a negative. Read the whole story: Scientific American More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

People are prone to ‘remembering’ events that never happened, research finds

first_imgShare LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Many people are prone to ‘remembering’ events that never happened, according to new research by the University of Warwick.In a study on false memories, Dr Kimberley Wade in the Department of Psychology demonstrates that if we are told about a completely fictitious event from our lives, and repeatedly imagine that event occurring, almost half of us would accept that it did.Over 400 participants in ‘memory implantation’ studies had fictitious autobiographical events suggested to them – and it was found that around 50% of the participants believed, to some degree, that they had experienced those events.center_img Pinterest Email Participants in these studies came to remember a range of false events, such as taking a childhood hot air balloon ride, playing a prank on a teacher, or creating havoc at a family wedding.30% of participants appeared to ‘remember’ the event — they accepted the suggested event, elaborated on how the event occurred, and even described images of what the event was like. Another 23% showed signs that they accepted the suggested event to some degree and believed it really happened.Dr Wade and colleagues conclude that it can be very difficult to determine when a person is recollecting actual past events, as opposed to false memories – even in a controlled research environment; and more so in real life situations.These findings have significance in many areas – raising questions around the authenticity of memories used in forensic investigations, court rooms, and therapy treatments.Moreover, the collective memories of a large group of people or society could be incorrect – due to misinformation in the news, for example – having a striking effect on people’s perceptions and behaviour.Dr Wade comments on the importance of this study:“We know that many factors affect the creation of false beliefs and memories — such as asking a person to repeatedly imagine a fake event or to view photos to “jog” their memory. But we don’t fully understand how all these factors interact. Large-scale studies like our mega-analysis move us a little bit closer.“The finding that a large portion of people are prone to developing false beliefs is important. We know from other research that distorted beliefs can influence people’s behaviours, intentions and attitudes.”Scientists have been using variations of this procedure for 20 years to study how people can come to remember wholly false experiences.last_img read more

World Bank: COVID-19 stalls progress against poverty

first_imgAs the global COVID-19 total closed in on 36 million cases, the World Bank today warned that COVID-19 is among the factors that could reverse progress in reducing extreme poverty. And India—the second hardest-hit country—reported some signs of a possible peak.The global total today climbed to 35,980,287 cases, and 1,052,193 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online tracker.Pandemic disruptions tipping more into povertyIn a new report on the status of poverty reduction efforts, the World Bank said extreme poverty has been declining steady for the 25 years that it has been formally tracking the trends.The agency predicted, however, that the increase in poverty between 2019 and 2020 will be the largest it has recorded, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the newest threat. Other persistent factors include conflict and climate change.The pandemic’s impact on poverty will be swift and substantial, the World Bank said, sharply increasing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 88 million to 115 million. “The novel virus is disrupting everything from daily lives to international trade,” it said. “The poorest are enduring the highest incidence of the disease and suffering the highest death rates worldwide.”Impacts from the pandemic will be felt by populations that had been relatively spared by other factors, with the newly poor likely to be more urban and educated than those who are chronically poor. Middle-income countries such as India and Nigeria could make up 75% of the newly poor group.Along with its assessment, the World Bank also recommended steps to remove obstacles to reducing poverty, such as closing the gaps between policy aspirations and follow-through. It also urged countries to enhance learning from experiences and improving data, singling out the lessons South Korea learned from an earlier Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak that it applied to managing its COVID-19 outbreak.Cases decline in India, rise in EuropeDaily cases in India reached an all-time high on Sep 17 but have been showing a downward trend, now averaging about 76,000 cases a day, Reuters reported. With the world’s second biggest population, the country has reported the world’s highest daily totals over the past several weeks.India Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the drop in daily cases is encouraging, and experts see signs that infections may be peaking, with cases stabilizing in big cities that have been the country’s main hot spots, possibly because large numbers have already been infected.Elsewhere, some European countries reported record daily case totals and announced new steps to control their surges. Cases are reported to be rising the fastest in the Czech Republic, which reported a record 4,457 cases yesterday, and in the Netherlands, which reported a new daily high of nearly 5,000 cases.In Brussels, the European capital with the second highest per capita number of infections behind Madrid, closed bars and cafes for the next month, Reuters reported, noting that later this week, officials will meet to discuss measures for keeping schools and universities open.Lawmakers in Italy today issued a nationwide mandate that requires people to wear facemasks outdoors to curb cases that have been rising steadily for the past 2 months, Reuters reported. A similar rule had already been in effect for Rome and the surrounding Lazio region. The cabinet also extended the country’s state of emergency until Jan 31, 2021.Resurgence in the CaribbeanIn the Americas, Brazil and the United States are the main drivers of new cases, but global health officials are also concerned about spikes in cases elsewhere, including countries such as Cuba and Jamaica that had effectively managed their outbreaks, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne, MBBS, MSc, said at a media briefing today.Over the past 60 days, 11 countries and territories in the Caribbean have moved from moderate to intense transmission, a concerning development, given that many locations have reopened to air travel, she said.The United States makes up more than 40% of new cases in the Americas, with blacks, Hispanics, and Native American populations three times more likely to contract the virus, five times more likely to be hospitalized, and twice as likely to die, Etienne said.She also noted that indigenous people in Amazonian parts of Colombia and Brazil are 10 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and that PAHO increasingly worries about exposure to the virus among migrant and refugee populations.Etienne noted that recent data suggest that in some of the region’s countries, COVID-19 is taking a greater toll on younger people. Children account for more than half a million cases in the PAHO region, and the numbers continue to rise, she said, noting that although many won’t become ill and require intensive care unit treatment, they are not immune to the disease’s serious impacts.last_img read more

National Drug Observatories critical to fight against drugs in CARICOM

first_imgThe critical importance of Drug Observatories (DOs) was underscored at the Opening of the Regional Seminar for Drug Observatories in the Caribbean on 4 April, 2018, at the Radisson Georgetown Princess Hotel, Guyana. The significance of international cooperation and synergies in the fight against illicit drugs was emphasised also to the gathering mainly of CARICOM practitioners, policy-makers and researchers in the field. Ms. Beverly Reynolds, Coordinator for Health and Human Development, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, said Drug Observatories were expected to “provide a more accurate picture of the drugs situation” in a country. “They help to identify emerging trends at an early stage and they provide decision-makers with the evidence needed for designing and evaluating appropriate strategies…”, she said. CARPHA: Leading the Caribbean’s COVID-19 Response – VIDEO Standards, Quality Still Important You may be interested in… Oct 7, 2020 Oct 7, 2020 The minister noted that international cooperation was vital and a basis for working together to ensure that the scourge of drugs was extirpated from our societies. The representative of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Mr. Jean Ricot Dormeus reiterated the case for international cooperation, remarking that the seminar resulted “from a synergy among several entities: the OAS, CARICOM, the European Union and the United States of America”.  Chargé d’Affaires for the United States Embassy in Guyana, Terry Steers-Gonzalez, reiterated his government’s continued support for DOs around the world, noting their important functions to collect monitor, analyse and treat data and to disseminate information to local, regional and international stakeholders to inform decision-making. Mr. Terry Steers-Gonzalez, Chargé d’ Affaires, US Embassy in Guyana, delivers remarks at the opening of the seminar See more photos here “Their roles are vital in the region’s fight against illicit drug use and trafficking and without which our efforts are just a shot in the dark…”, the US representative said. Feature Speaker, Guyana’s Minister for Public Security, Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan, challenged the gathering on the output of the seminar.  “If there is one thing that I would like to see coming out of this seminar is your emphasis on evidence-based data-driven policies and practices”, he said. The Minister likened drug observatories to the “brains of the society”, tasked with coming up with the relevant evidence-based solutions, policies and practices. In order to do so, he noted, Observatories must ask the correct corrections. “The correct questions in relation to matters of drugs sometimes lead us, for example, to whether we should legalise the activity or decriminalise the activity…”, he said. Oct 1, 2020 Share this:PrintTwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:Like Loading… Relations within the Western Hemisphere: an uneasy alliance CARICOM and UNEP extend cooperation on environment “We need to understand more clearly the threats to our societies and economies. We need to sharpen our tools to counter these threats effectively. We need to craft policies that curb crime and violence. We know that the abuse and trafficking of drugs fuel crime and violence, and at the same time destroy our youth, seek to corrupt our civil servants and politicians, and derail the forward movement of our economies… This synergy signals to me that no entity can do it alone; unity does generate force”, he said. Mr. Dormeus commended the newly-established National anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA), for being instrumental in the preparation of the meeting, which he said “shows already great signs of vibrancy”. The two-day seminar is being held in collaboration with the Government of Guyana and the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/CICAD). It aims to strengthen the capacity of representatives to gather, analyse and report on drug-related information and to enable the development of evidence-based drug policies and programmes.  It is an activity of the response under the Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) component of the Tenth European Development Fund (EDF) Crime and Security Programme between the European Union and CARIFORUM. Sep 25, 2020 Evidence-based, data-driven policies to address drug situation, other crimes – Khemraj RamjattanThe importance of drug observatories in the fight against the illegal drug situation was reiterated throughout the Opening Ceremony of the Regional Seminar for National Drug Observatories in the Caribbean on 4 April, 2018, at the Ramada Princess Hotel, in Georgetown, Guyana. Speaker after speaker made the case for evidence-based,…April 5, 2018In “CARICOM”Strategic Alliances critical to the fight against drugs in CARIFORUM      A Workshop to strengthen the Dominican Republic’s Drug Treatment Court opened today at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santo Domingo. The need for a human rights approach in drug prevention strategies, and the critical importance of national and international cooperation and strategic alliances in the fight against…October 22, 2018In “CARICOM Secretariat”Incorporate Human Rights in Prevention, Treatment Strategies to Tackle Drugs in CARIFORUM      Training to strengthen the Dominican Republic Drug Treatment Court Programme began on 22 October, in Santo Domingo, as part of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)’s strategy to tackle the drug problem from the demand side. The two-day capacity-building initiative is part of the response under the Drug Demand…October 23, 2018In “CARICOM Secretariat”Share this on WhatsApplast_img read more

NWS: Today’s High Near 65; Tonight’s Low Around 43