Troop drawdown would face hurdle

first_imgRedefining the American mission to focus primarily on training Iraqi forces and conducting commando raids against terrorists, Petraeus said, would be “premature.” The American commander was not only rebuffing the demand for a firm timeline for withdrawing the bulk of American forces, he was also putting critics on notice that even when reductions come he has a different vision of the manner in which many of the remaining troops would be used. Petraeus is not the only one who has offered such cautions. The National Intelligence Estimate, which was issued last month, made a similar point – and Petraeus made a point of quoting from it in his testimony Monday. “We assess that changing the mission of coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations to prevent A.Q.I. from establishing a safe haven would erode security gains achieved thus far,” the estimate noted. A.Q.I. is the acronym the intelligence agencies use to refer to al-Qaida of Mesopotamia, a predominantly Iraqi organization with foreign leadership. In his testimony Monday, Petreaus presented charts on suicide-bombing trends, sectarian killings, civilian deaths, roadside bombings and arms caches discovered. Though acknowledging that the road ahead would be difficult, he asserted that the United States so far had largely achieved its military goals to tamp down sectarian violence. Yet a careful look at the charts illustrated the challenges faced by the military. The color-coded chart on attack trends showed a correlation between the decline of weekly attacks and the “surge” of offensive operations enabled by the deployment of five additional combat brigades and assorted other units. The chart on Iraqi security force capabilities, however, showed relatively little change over the last year in the number of Iraqi army, National Police and Special Operating Force battalions that are fighting side by side with the Americans. Petreaus said that the Americans’ effort to work with Sunni tribes, including former insurgents, had produced thousands of allies. That number, he noted, included some 20,000 Iraqis who are being hired by the police. Still, the Bush administration’s earlier decision not to extend U.S. Army combat tours beyond 15 months has meant that the elevated American force levels in Iraq are bound to decrease. And Petreaus formalized the widely anticipated reduction by announcing that American forces would be at the “pre-surge” level of 15 combat brigades by mid-July 2008. Petreaus declined to say what additional cuts would be carried out after that point, saying he would revisit the issue in March. Still, he indicated that he was committed to additional cuts.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Under the timetable embraced on Monday by Gen. David Petraeus, the number of American combat brigades would decline by one-fourth by next summer, from 20 now to 15 in July, with the prospect of deeper, if as yet unscheduled, reductions to come. But such a move would raise the question of how the United States can avert an increase in violence in Iraq while carrying out a gradual drawdown. One approach embraced by many lawmakers would be to modify the American mission to emphasize the training and advising of Iraqi security forces so that Iraqis would be pushed into the lead and the vast majority of American combat troops could be quickly withdrawn. This proposal, which was offered last year by the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan panel chaired by Lee H. Hamilton and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, has appealed to many Democrats and some Republicans who are looking to achieve a measure of stability in Iraq while shrinking the role of the American military. But in his testimony on Monday, Petraeus offered a very different vision. He proposed an American presence that would not only be longer and larger than many Democrats have advocated but would also provide for a greater American combat role in protecting the Iraqi population. last_img read more

African art inspires Dell laptops

first_img18 December 2008US-based computer maker Dell has launched a laptop range that features exclusive artwork by three young artists – one Canadian, two African – pledging to donate US$20 (about R200) from each laptop sold to the Global Fund to help in the fight against HIV/Aids, TB and malaria in Africa.Buyers can chose from a Dell Studio 15 or Dell Studio 17 laptop and, for an extra $75, have it personalised with artworks that are permanently infused into the laptop’s back, ensuring that they will not fade away.“Dell continually innovates through offering unique ways for people to pursue their passions and express their individual style,” Dell’s Michael Tatelman said in a statement last month.“By bringing these amazing artist designs together with a meaningful cause and our technology, we create new opportunities for self-expression.”Three designs“Shine Within” is by award-winning artist Siobhan Gunning, who was born in Mombasa, Kenya. Having had the opportunity to visit many unique locations in Africa, like the Great Rift Valley, the Serengeti Plains, the Ngoro Ngoro Crater, and even travelling up the Nile to its source, Gunning has been privileged to observe wildlife in their native habitat, and visit tribes like the Masai and Samburu.Currently residing in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Gunning combines her passion for Africa with her life experiences and her love of art, design and photography, creating digital collages that often result in “happy accidents” that bring her joy.“New World” is by artist Joseph Amedokpo, who resides in the town of Vogan, Togo with his wife and five children. Amedokpo supports his family through painting, using locally produced oils that he blends by hand on canvases made from recycled flour sacks.While painting, Amedokpo chats with frequent visitors and listens to a short-wave radio, gaining a global perspective on peoples’ failures and weaknesses, as well as their core strength and hope, which is reflected in his art.The final artwork is “Healing Patterns” by Canadian-born Bruce Mau, the creative director of his self-named design firm, plus founder of the Center for Massive Change. His prolific body of works cuts across many sectors and disciplines, including creating books, exhibitions, retail environments, building graphics, park designs, and corporate identities to name a few.Mau was inspired by the science behind the fight against Aids, with his artwork representing the chemical bonding of the anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs that helped save lives, combining the patters with inspirational thoughts about the fight against Aids.PRODUCT(RED)The two Dell Studio laptops form part of Dell’s PRODUCT(RED) range. Products take on the (PRODUCT)RED mark contribute a significant percentage of the sales or portion of the profits from that product to the Global Fund to finance Aids programmes in Africa, with an emphasis on the health of women and children.Companies carrying the PRODUCT(RED) mark are currently the largest private sector contributors to the Global Fund, and the initiative counts U2 frontman Bono as its public spokesperson.According to Dell, the Global Fund has become the dominant financer of programmes to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria since its creation in 2002, approving funding of US$11.5-billion (about R114.8-billion) for programmes in 136 countries.“So far, programs supported by the Global Fund have averted more than 2.5-million deaths by providing Aids treatment for 1.75-million people, TB treatment for 3.9-million people, and by the distribution of 59-million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria worldwide,” Dell says.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

10 months agoYoung blasts claims Man Utd players celebrated Mourinho sack

first_imgYoung blasts claims Man Utd players celebrated Mourinho sackby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United captain Ashley Young denies the players were celebrating the sacking of Jose Mourinho last week.United responded to the appointment of caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 5-1 win at Cardiff City.Several reports indicated that United’s stars were happy with the decision, with some citing that they had even celebrated the news. However, Young firmly shut those claims down.”No celebration at all. Absolute lies,” the full-back said.”Obviously it was disappointing for the manager to get sacked. In his two-and-a-half years, he won trophies.”We have to take some responsibility for that [his sacking] as we are on the pitch.”Like I said. we have to move on from that. Ole [Gunnar Solksjaer] has come in and we were preparing in the right way for a game even though it’s been a crazy week, but as professional players we have to get on with the job in hand and that is what we did today.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

15 days agoAlisson the world’s best says Liverpool coach Achterberg

first_imgAlisson the world’s best says Liverpool coach Achterbergby Ansser Sadiq15 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool coach John Achterberg believes that keeper Alisson Becker is the best in the world.The Brazilian is the club’s no.1 shot stopper and contributed significantly to their Champions League win last season.He pulled off several big game saves to ensure the Reds were shutting out the opposition. And Achterberg believes he is the best in the world in his position.”It is tough for me to say as a goalkeeper coach but it’s definitely how I see it [he is the best],” says Achterberg to the Liverpool Echo.”I think he has been the most consistent if you look at all the goalkeepers around, that is the truth. “Now we try to maintain it and keep it like this for the next five or six years. He has set his targets and we try to push it that way, that is the plan.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Jamaicans can Fill Specialist Posts at Alpart – PM

first_img “In my meeting with Chairman Chen Chunming of Jiquan Iron &Steel (Group) Company Limited (JISCO)… it became clear to me that the company understands the need for local employment,” he said. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says he expects that Jamaican workers will be afforded every opportunity to take up highly skilled positions at the new ALPART/JISCO Alumina Refinery in Nain, St. Elizabeth. Story Highlights Mr. Holness assured the new owners that all the high technology and high human resource capabilities required “can be found right here in Jamaica”. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says he expects that Jamaican workers will be afforded every opportunity to take up highly skilled positions at the new Alpart/JISCO Alumina Refinery in Nain, St. Elizabeth.In giving the keynote address at the official opening of the facility on June 21, Mr. Holness said it is the intention of the Government to ensure that Jamaican workers are adequately trained to take up these high-skill jobs.“In my meeting with Chairman Chen Chunming of Jiuquan Iron &Steel (Group) Company Limited (JISCO)… it became clear to me that the company understands the need for local employment,” he said.“I want to assure Chairman Chen that we understand the need for high-calibre human resources to operate this plant. We operated this plant for decades before and quite efficiently I might add. We know how to do it and we have the capabilities here locally,” he noted.Mr. Holness assured the new owners that all the high technology and high human resource capabilities required “can be found right here in Jamaica”.He cited specialist welders, persons who deal with specialist equipment as well as highly skilled engineers as some of the workers that can be trained to fill top positions.“In the initial stages, we understand that you will have to bring the experts from China to work alongside our own local labour to develop the expertise here. In the long run, it will be the best economic decision to employ local workers,” he pointed out.He noted that under the Housing, Opportunities, Production and Employment (HOPE) framework, the Government has developed an employment strategy “that will see the alignment of our young people leaving school through a system of apprenticeship and national service that will not only develop the necessary skills but more importantly, the necessary attitude that will help to bridge the cultural gaps that may exist between our two countries.”last_img read more

Three dead after small plane bound for PEI crashed in Maine

first_imgGREENVILLE, Maine – Police in Maine say three people have died after a small plane that departed from Pembroke, Ont., and was headed for Prince Edward Island crashed near a small airport.State police say the crash happened at about 11 a.m. on Monday near Greenville Municipal Airport.Police did not immediately release the names of the people killed in the crash.A spokesman for the FAA says the small, twin-engine plane crashed on approach to the airport.Greenville is about 240 kilometres north of Portland.last_img read more

GFL Environmental buying US company Waste Industries in deal valued at 365B

first_imgTORONTO – Toronto-based GFL Environmental Inc. has signed a deal to buy Waste Industries in an agreement that values the U.S. company at about $3.65 billion.The deal will more than double GFL’s footprint in the United States.“Waste Industries strongly complements GFL’s brand with an over 47 year history of providing excellent customer service to its local communities and has a management team with a proven track record of harnessing technology, processes and systems to drive operating efficiencies,” GFL chief executive Patrick Dovigi said in a statement.Waste Industries provides non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal services in the southeastern United States.It has more than 2,850 employees and operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.Dovigi will remain chief executive of the combined company, while Ven Poole, chairman and chief executive of Waste Industries, will become a senior vice-president.“These companies complement each other in multiple ways and the management teams share a similar culture oriented around exceptional customer service, operational excellence and our commitment to making a difference in the communities we serve,” Poole said in a statement.GFL also announced that Luke Pelosi has been appointed as chief financial officer to replace David Bacon. Pelosi joined GFL in January 2015 and has been chief operating officer since January.Greg Yorston, chief operating officer at Waste Industries, will become chief operating officer for all of GFL’s solid waste operations in Canada and the United States.The combined company, which will have more than 8,850 employees, will operate 98 collection operations, 59 transfer stations, 29 material recovery facilities, 10 organics facilities and 47 landfills.GFL, which is privately owned, has operations across Canada and in Michigan.Its principal shareholders include BC Partners and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.last_img read more

CSIS gathered info on peaceful groups but only in pursuit of threats

first_imgA CSIS witness testified the spy service “is not in the business of investigating environmentalists because they are advocating for an environmental cause, period.”Still, another CSIS witness spoke of the need for “domain awareness” to identify “potential triggers and flashpoints” _ in part to ensure the service is aware of what is happening should a threat arise, the report says.Ultimately, the review committee concluded CSIS’s information collection fell within its mandate, and that the service did not investigate activities involving lawful advocacy, protest or dissent. The report indicates that any information on peaceful groups was gathered “in an ancillary manner, in the context of other lawful investigations.”The report also says there was no “direct link” between CSIS and the chilling effect groups mentioned in testimony before the committee. But after analyzing evidence and testimony, the committee concluded the fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified.The heavily censored review committee report, completed last year and kept under wraps, is only now being made public because of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s challenge of the findings in the Federal Court of Canada.In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to Enbridge’s now-defunct Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.It also accused CSIS of sharing this information with the National Energy Board and petroleum industry companies, deterring people from expressing their opinions and associating with environmental groups.The review committee’s dismissal of the complaint has been known since September 2017, but a confidentiality order by the committee prevented the civil liberties association from releasing the report. As the association fights to overturn the dismissal, redacted versions of the detailed findings and related documents are being added to the public court record.The association, which became concerned about CSIS activities through media reports, told the committee of a chilling effect for civil society groups from the spy service’s information-gathering as well as comments by then-national resources minister Joe Oliver denouncing “environmental and other radical groups.” OTTAWA, O.N. – Canada’s spy service collected some information about peaceful anti-petroleum groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines, says a long-secret federal watchdog report.The newly disclosed report from the Security Intelligence Review Committee acknowledges concerns about a “chilling effect,” stemming from a belief that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was spying on environmental organizations.Advocacy and environmental groups Leadnow, the Dogwood Initiative and the Council of Canadians are mentioned in the thousands of pages of CSIS operational reports examined by the review committee.center_img The civil liberties association considers some of the findings contradictory, pointing to the 441 CSIS operational reports deemed relevant to the committee’s inquiry, totalling over 2,200 pages.For instance, one of the largely censored CSIS records, now disclosed through the court, says the reporting was further to “the Service’s efforts in assessing the threat environment and the potential for threat-related violence stemming from (redacted) protests/demonstrations.”Another refers to the Dogwood Initiative as a “non-profit, Canadian environmental organization that was established in 1999 ‘to help communities and First Nations gain more control of the land and resources around them so they can be managed in a way that does not rob future generations for short-term corporate gain.”’The passages before and after the description are blacked out.“It’s our view that these documents demonstrate that CSIS was keeping tabs on these groups, even if they weren’t formal targets,” said Paul Champ, a lawyer for the civil liberties association.“But we maintain it’s unlawful to keep information on these groups in CSIS databanks when they are only guilty of exercising their democratic rights.”The committee report says CSIS should review its holdings to ensure it is keeping only information that is strictly necessary, as spelled out in the law governing the spy service.The report cites “clear evidence” CSIS took part in meetings with Natural Resources Canada and the private sector, including the petroleum industry, at the spy service’s headquarters, but says these briefings involved “national security matters.”The committee also concludes CSIS did not share information concerning the environmental groups in question with the National Energy Board or non-governmental members of the petroleum business.Even so, the perception of CSIS discussing security issues with the oil industry can “give rise to legitimate concern,” the committee report adds. “This needs to be addressed.”The committee urges CSIS to widen the circle of its public security discussions to include environmental and other civil society groups.(THE CANADIAN PRESS)last_img read more

New natural gas plants will have to pay carbon tax on all

first_imgThe federal government is increasing the carbon tax on new natural-gas plants to discourage power companies from building them.The change is part of final regulations for the government’s carbon-tax system for big industrial greenhouse-gas emitters, which are being released this week.The system affects businesses that produce more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. It is designed to limit impacts on competitiveness for major industrial emitters, who will pay the carbon tax on a portion of what they emit rather than on all the fuels that they use.The emission standard set for natural-gas power plants originally meant that new ones would likely never pay any carbon tax, which was a disincentive for power companies to turn to renewable-energy sources instead of gas.The change made this week means new natural-gas plants will have their emissions standard toughened each year after 2021, until in 2030 they will pay the carbon price on every ounce of their emissions.last_img read more

Brazils Ugly Win Didnt Change Its Prospects All That Much

Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the opening match of the World Cup on Thursday — while looking about as bad as it could while winning by that scoreline. Its go-ahead goal came on a penalty kick following a dubious call by referee Yuichi Nishimura. Its third goal perhaps ought to have been stopped by Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. And the one it conceded was an own goal by Marcelo.FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup forecasts have been updated to reflect the results of the match, as they will be at the conclusion of each game. The projections don’t account for style points — it’s the scoreline that matters — so Brazil won’t be harmed by winning ugly.A bit more about how these updates work in a moment, but one soccer-related thought first. Some of Brazil’s edge — it had an 88 percent chance of beating Croatia in our pre-match predictions — was because of home-field advantage. Some of that advantage, as Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim have found, comes because home teams are more likely to benefit from refereeing decisions. Soccer has an especially large home-field advantage, in part because the officiating plays such a large role in the sport, especially in calling penalties and issuing red cards. Would Nishimura have made that (mistaken) penalty call had the game been played in Dubrovnik, rather than Sao Paulo? We’ll never know for sure, but the odds say it’s less likely.Back to our forecasts: Technically speaking, there are two programs that our colleagues at ESPN Stats & Info run to generate our World Cup forecasts. One program is a match simulator that plays out the results of the rest of the tournament 10,000 times. The other is the Soccer Power Index algorithm itself, which informs the match simulator’s estimate of how strong each team is.We’ll be running the match simulator at the end of each game (there will usually be a lag of 20 to 30 minutes before we get the new results on the site). However, the Soccer Power Index (SPI) program, which is computationally intensive, runs only once per day, overnight after all games have concluded.I’ll explain why this distinction matters by asking you to imagine that Brazil had drawn 1-1 with Croatia, rather than pulling out the win. This would hurt Brazil in two ways: First, it would increase the odds that it would fail to advance from its group. (Granted, Brazil’s odds would still be very high.) That change would be reflected immediately in our forecasts based on the match simulator.But a draw would also have lowered SPI’s estimate of Brazil’s strength. (SPI rates recent matches heavily, and it regards Brazil very highly, so a draw might have had a fair amount of impact.) That change, however, would not be reflected until our overnight update.There are also some other, more subtle things that can go on with SPI in the overnight updates. It’s learning more about which players a team has in its starting lineup, which reflects the player-rating component of the model. It also learns more about the relative strength of the continents. A draw for Brazil, for instance, would have (very slightly) lowered SPI’s estimate of the chances for Argentina, Colombia, and so forth, as the match would represent one data point showing that South America was not quite as strong as assumed.As far as the actual scoreline goes — Brazil 3, Croatia 1 — it won’t do much to improve SPI’s view on Brazil, either, since SPI had Brazil winning against Croatia by slightly more than two goals on average.Based on the results of the match simulator, however, Brazil’s odds of advancing from Group A have risen to 99.8 percent from 99.3 percent before the match. It’s usually not worth sweating the decimal places since there can sometimes be noise introduced by the match simulator — 10,000 simulations is a lot, but not enough to entirely remove the margin of error. In this case, however, the match simulator is just pointing out the obvious: It was going to be really hard for Brazil to fail to advance, and it will be even harder now that it’s picked up three points.How much were Croatia’s advancement odds hurt? They weren’t, actually — instead, they rose slightly to 37.5 percent from 36.6 percent. Some of this probably reflects the statistical noise that I referred to earlier. However, there is one way in which the match helped Croatia: Losing to Brazil by only two goals is not such a bad result. Mexico and Cameroon, the other two teams in Group A, could lose to Brazil by larger margins. In fact, SPI has Mexico as a 2.6-goal underdog, and Cameroon as a 3.2-goal underdog. That could make a difference if the second advancement position from Group A comes down to a tiebreaker based on goal differential, as it might. And FIFA’s next tiebreaker is based on goals scored, so losing 3-1 is better than losing 2-0. I doubt the Croats will be happy with the result of Thursday’s game, however. read more