Scientists Track Homing Pigeons with GPS

first_imgHow do homing pigeons find their way?  Scientists are still not sure.  They know that the birds use a sun compass and magnetic fields, but what other cues guide them back to the specific roost they know as home?  A new study shows they are smarter than we thought.  They use multiple cues and weigh the reliability of conflicting ones.  Oxford scientists reporting in PNAS1 tracked the birds with GPS and found some surprises – and more questions.    The team outfitted 32 birds with 28-gram GPS loggers on their backs, attached to clipped feathers with glue and velcro.  As a control, they made them do training flights with dummy weights.  Some birds were very familiar with the route; others were novices.  This allowed the researchers to contrast the influence of landmarks (piloting) with compass-guided flight.  They tracked the flight paths on courses up to 10.6 km.    Once the birds learned the way, the experimenters played tricks on them with sun-shifted release times.  They kept the pigeons in light-tight chambers for a week where the sunrise and sunset times were shifted by 4 hours, corresponding to a 90° shift in sun position.  They found that even when these jet-lagged birds started off perpendicular to the correct orientation, they quickly found parallel routes to the targets.  The scientists concluded that multiple cues are weighed by the birds when they encounter unexpected conflicting information.Thus piloting birds continue to maintain memories of, attention to, compass information even after they apparently have the sufficient and necessary route-based information homeward guidance.  While it is possible that such compass memories are, and have always been, associated with representations of familiar visual landmarks as hypothesized here, also possible that they originate from an initial, and now residual, olfactory navigational map.  In addition, a potential role for magnetic compass acting as a backup to the sun compass when solar and landmark guidance cues are put in conflict (although apparently not otherwise; see ref. 9) still remains to be explicitly investigated.  Either way, our results clearly indicate that birds combining multiple sources of onward guidance information during the local homing task.  Both the origin of this compass information and the function of its integration with landmark guidance remain to be elucidated.1Biro, Freeman, Meade, Roberts and Guilford, “Pigeons combine compass and landmark guidance in familiar route navigation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0701575104, published online before print April 23, 2007.Homing pigeons have fascinated humans for thousands of years.  How do they do it?  Here we are in 2007, still trying to figure it out.  The birds are not just robots with a compass.  They have the ability somehow to choose what cues to follow when they are in conflict.  There’s more going on in a bird brain than we can fathom.  The “origin of this compass information” doesn’t really need to be elucidated (if by that they think a Darwinian answer is in the wings).  They know where it came from.  In plain English, design reveals a Designer.  Make sense e’en to Pidgin speakah.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Overcoming Natural Evil with Good

first_imgThings that bite and sting are not always 100% harmful.  Maybe some of our categories of natural evil are due to ignorance.We shy away from pain, but few would claim that pain has no purpose.  Victims of leprosy illustrated with stunted limbs what can happen when pain responses are deadened.  Botulin toxin is one of the most potent poisons known, yet it is now used in medical procedures and even for beautification in plastic surgery.  While this entry by no means exonerates animals and plants that damage and kill, it shows with recent findings that some of what we dub “natural evil” can have a beneficial side.“Why That Bee Sting Might Be Good for You” seems like a strange headline for a piece in Science Now; what person could not recall in horror the sight of a bee sting pumping its poison into the arm?  Yet the article describes how the toxin sets the immune system in motion, protecting the stingee from the next reaction.Allergy sufferers, rejoice. Two new studies suggest that your sneezing and wheezing may actually protect you. Researchers report that mice that develop an allergic response to the venom in honey bee stings are more likely to survive potentially lethal doses of the same venom later on. The findings show that allergy can be beneficial and reveal some of the molecular machinery at work, but experts say the implications for humans are still unclear.The allergic reaction to natural substances (called Type 2 response, as opposed to Type 1 that destroys viruses and bacteria) needs practice to kick into gear.  It’s possible that the body’s production of immunoglobulin-E antibodies by a bee sting is a response that provides future protection from similar or greater dangers (unless the allergic reaction is so strong it becomes life-threatening).  The author of the article cites studies that implicate immunoglobulin-E with protection from worm infections.  One commenter asked if a bee sting might have conferred resistance to black widow bite.The author speculates that allergic reactions “evolved to protect against parasites (as opposed to microbes) but that they have no modern-day protective purpose.”  That’s why, presumably, moderns get seemingly useless allergies.  Another possibility, though, is that some exposures to “nasty” beasties that bite or sting “boot up” our immune systems in a diverse world.  Since the bee needs its defenses, too, the result is a dynamic interplay between the bee’s needs and ours.  The pain response warns the person of invading the bee’s space; the bee toxin prepares the person’s immune system for future encounters with it and perhaps similar toxins.  If children today got more exposure to plants and animals outdoors (see 11/28/13), perhaps their allergic reactions would be less severe or less frequent.The word “toxin” conjures up natural evil, but pain responses are a matter of degree.  Live Science discussed a toxin that can actually reduce pain.  In “Stings So Good: Centipede Venom Could Fight Pain,” writer Tia Ghose discussed research on the Chinese red centipede, whose bite is “excruciatingly painful.”  A molecule extracted from the venom deactivates a specific sodium channel involved in pain.  As effective as morphine but non-addictive, this molecule shows promise to defeat the very pain that creates fear for the bite victims.  (Incidentally, some people with a mutation that deactivates that sodium channel are already not affected by the centipede’s bite.)A similar case was reported in Science Now.  There’s a rodent that appears impervious to scorpion stings.   Live Science says that humans bit by the Arizona bark scorpion feel like they’ve been hit by a hammer, but the grasshopper mouse munches the critters with no apparent reaction, because specific sodium channels involved in pain have become deactivated, rendering the toxin ineffective.  The full paper was published by Science Magazine.   Note: you are reading crev.info.Even inside our bodies, little living things we might recoil from could we see them actually help us.  For those who can stomach an article with a high Yuk! factor, Medical Xpress described a new “wonder cure” for certain bacterial infections in the digestive tract that have been difficult or impossible to treat with drugs, like Clostridium and agents that cause colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease.  Here it is – get ready: “fecal transplants.”  That’s right; a donor, like a family member, can contribute poo to the sufferer through the rectum (preferably under doctor-controlled processes), and symptoms disappear as if by magic.  Why?  The sufferer usually lost beneficial bacteria because of antibiotics.  Those beneficial microbes from another person quickly restore the protection, killing off the bad bugs, putting things back in balance.  Hopefully this new wonder cure will come in pill form some day, but it’s a very hot topic in health care, illustrating the new respect health experts are gaining for the 100 trillion microbes in our digestive tracts.So what are we to think of substances often considered prime examples of natural evil?  There don’t seem to be any redeeming virtues in some of them.  Live Science described attempts to thwart the toxin of the brown recluse spider with a drug that is normally used for a rare heart disease.  Live Science also generated some good Halloween screams with electron micrographs of the mouthparts of a tick that seem engineered to not only bite but anchor themselves securely in animal or human skin, masking their presence with molecules that turn off pain receptors, so that they can engorge their bodies with blood, using other molecules to turn off coagulation.  In the process ticks can also transmit disease bacteria.  And what’s “good” about a malaria mosquito?  Examples could be multiplied of animals and plants that kill or cause intense pain and suffering.These are questions science cannot answer.  Science describes; science explains processes, but does not provide reasons.  One thing that has changed with science, though, is the simplistic categorizing of animals or plants into black-and-white moral categories of good and evil.  Some things that infect or cause pain, as these stories show, actually benefit their victims in direct or roundabout ways.  There are complex interplays between needs of organisms.  If the vast majority of interactions were not beneficial, we could never dare set foot in the woods (cf. 10/28/13, “Boost Your Health Outdoors”).The origin of natural evil is a complex problem.  We need to avoid simplistic answers.  Some agents of pain could be due to mutations away from an original good function.  For instance, in a recent lecture at the Bible-Science Association, a scientist showed a beneficial purpose for the cholera microbe in its marine habitat.  He explained how mutations to the microbe allowed it to jump to infect humans, causing the tragic cholera epidemics that have so plagued human populations.  Even so, cholera is very rare with proper water sanitation.  The same scientist has other examples in ecology of “pushes and pulls” between organisms that create homeostasis, seasonal responses, or protection against novel agents when an animal wanders into a new habitat. Still, this kind of answer falls short being able to explain more severe examples of suffering and death, and doesn’t explain why suffering seems unequally applied.Theists struggle to explain natural evil, but evolutionists have a far worse problem.  They cannot call anything evil.  Whatever is, is!  Darwin sanctified Thomas Hobbes’ description of society as a “war of all against all,” or Tennyson’s description of “nature red in tooth and claw.”  Each organism is self-interested – but even that description is incoherent in Darwin’s world, because the concept of self is meaningless.  Stuff happens; that’s the only thing that can be said.  Obviously such thinking can harden the heart against compassion for the victims of suffering.  On what basis should an evolutionist interfere with the evolutionary process?  Even Richard Dawkins would not want to live in a society that is consistently Darwinian.Only the Bible has a coherent response to natural evil: the original perfect world was cursed due to sin (Genesis 3), but awaits redemption through the triumph of Christ (Romans 8).  Genesis 3 describes a few of the curses the Creator brought about: leaves modified to become thorns, serpents made to slither on the ground, woman’s reproductive system modified to be painful, and man’s work made to be filled with toil and sweat (implying a multitude of changes in the living world).  We might call this God’s “plan B” – a world to handle rebels (You want a world where selfishness rules?  Here, try this one).   The Biblical answer also must include the realities of the spirit world; when man chose disobedience, Satan was given some measure of dominion over the earth, albeit under the permissive will of God.God could have destroyed the sinners right then and there.  He did, after all, warn Adam and Eve that disobedience would result in death.  Instead (though their spiritual death was immediate), He graciously extended the physical death process, giving humans opportunity to taste both the suffering of judgment and the beauty of the earth.  Most of the creation was still beautiful; it showcases His wisdom and design, but now it presents a mixed message.  The beauty gives us a view of God’s glory and grace; the curse, a reminder of coming judgment. Men and women (still with the image of God intact yet tarnished) were set to walk a world with traps and snares, dreading the certainty of death but not knowing when; “man knows not his time.”  The common grace of God, though, allows many of us to live for decades, long enough to taste the blessings of light, food, seasons (Acts 14:8-18), and the beauty of “God’s green earth,” long enough to respond to the call of salvation.The Bible promises a new creation without pain and death for those who accept Christ’s free love gift.  Purchased with His blood – a sacrifice only God Himself could make – the gift will remove the curse and bring a new creation in which righteousness dwells.  This is the blessed hope of the Christian.  Sharing that hope with others, a hope that rests on the promises of God, a hope bolstered by the evidence of design in the universe, a surety attested to by the resurrection of Christ, is the greatest purpose in life for a redeemed soul (read the map).  Along the way, the redeemed have the opportunity to share God’s compassion by mitigating the proximal causes of physical suffering whenever they can.Suggested reading: Psalm 73, Ecclesiastes, Romans, I Thessalonians, I John.  DVDs: Lee Strobel series, The Case for a Creator, The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith.(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Ingula hydro power project ‘on track’

first_img7 November 2012 Eskom’s R23-billion Ingula pumped storage scheme will come on line in phased intervals from 2014, adding 1 332 MW of hydro power to South Africa’s electricity grid while making a significant contribution to job creation and rural development in the country. Speaking during a site visit to the pumped storage scheme on the border of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces on the weekend, President Jacob Zuma said Ingula formed a crucial part of a massive capital investment drive aimed at securing the electricity supply the country’s future growth depended on. South Africa currently produces about 40 000 MW of electricity, and will require an an estimated additional 40 000 MW of power by 2025.Electricity build programme Zuma said that more than R340-billion would be spent on state electricity company Eskom’s build programme over the next eight years. Eskom is currently building two new coal-fired power stations, the 4 764 MW Medupi power station in Lephalale, Limpopo and the 4 800 MW Kusile power station near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga. Medupi’s first unit is due to be commissioned in 2013, while Kusile is due for completion in 2016/17. Zuma said the Ingula project was scheduled to come on line during 2014, with a unit being commissioned each quarter of that year. It will be the largest hydroelectric power source in South Africa.Job creation “Through these electricity build projects, we will provide the electricity capacity needed to grow the economy, attract investment and create jobs,” Zuma said. “Medupi, Kusile and Ingula are expected to create approximately 40 000 job opportunities, which translates into 35 500 direct jobs during construction and operation and about 4 500 indirect jobs supporting the programme.” Situated about 23km north-east of Van Reenen, within the little Drakensberg mountain range, Ingula will be the first pumped storage scheme to be built on the continent in 24 years. It consists of an upper and a lower dam, each with a water capacity of about 22-million cubic metres. The dams, 4.6-kilometres apart, will be connected by underground waterways to a subterranean generating plant with four 333 MW pump turbines. When the country’s energy consumption is low, the unused or “reserve” energy will be used to pump water from the lower to the upper dam. During times of peak energy consumption in the country, water will be released from the upper dam through the pump turbines to the lower dam to generate electricity which will be fed into the national grid. Eskom board member Collin Matjila, speaking during Zuma’s site visit, said the power parastatal had taken note of the importance of sustainable development. “Twenty years from now, coal will contribute less to [SA’s electricity supply] and renewable energy will play a bigger role,” Matjila said. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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UN Data Forum: stats can improve lives

first_imgThe first United Nations World Data Forum was held in Cape Town. With more and more data circulating, it can be used to improve lives. The Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data grew out of the forum.Pali Lehohla, head of Statistics South Africa, speaks during the inaugural United Nations World Data Forum in Cape Town from 15 to 18 January 2017. (Image: Statistics South Africa, via Flickr)Brand South Africa reporterThe increased reliance on data in the world has the potential to improve people’s lives. This was the message from the inaugural United Nations World Data Forum held in Cape Town.The four-day forum, from 15 to 18 January, brought together data experts from over a hundred countries. It was hosted by the South Africa government and Statistics South Africa in partnership with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).Watch:The concluding plan, named the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data, will be presented to the UN Statistical Commission for adoption at its upcoming session in March.Accurate and better data could, the plan stated, create new ideas and solutions to boost collaboration and resources, and inform policies that needed to be put it into action.“Improved use of data and statistics will be crucial to achieving the transformational vision of a better future for people and the planet, set out in the 2030 Agenda agreed by world leaders at the UN in September 2015,” the UN said.“Rapid expansion in new sources of data is creating large scale opportunities for innovative solutions, which need to be integrated with strengthened official data mechanisms and structures.“The UN World Data Forum is the perfect place to launch the action plan and get all the major players behind it,” said Wu Hongbo, the UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, underlining the importance of accurate, reliable, timely and disaggregated data in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.#UNDataForum Role of data and statistics in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development #SDGs https://t.co/gOSlmwKDEh pic.twitter.com/ERKbqbmbvS— UN World Data Forum (@UNDataForum) January 19, 2017#UNDataForum We asked @UNESCOstat‘s Patrick Montjourides “What does data for sustainable development mean?” pic.twitter.com/wbwwMZzZcr— UN World Data Forum (@UNDataForum) January 18, 2017“Data,” said Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, “has become so critical in our daily lives that we hardly ever notice its use in every facet of life.“It has become like the oxygen that we breathe. The only time we realise that we have a challenge is when it is not available.”In an interview with the UN, Hongbo used a practical example to illustrate the importance of data and accurate statistics.“Take the registration of birth and death. According to our information, in this world, about 100 countries do not keep accurate and complete records of people who die and new babies.“Just imagine,” he continued, “if you are planning for, say, employment, for city expansion, for education, [and] you do not know how many people you have in the country [and] the city. That would be disastrous. That shows how important data and accurate information is and will be for the implementation of Agenda 2030.”Pali Lehohla, head of Statistics South Africa, echoed Hongbo: “We cannot achieve what we cannot measure.”Watch:The plan #UNDataForum ends today in Cape Town w/ launch of a global plan for better data to improve people’s lives. Details: https://t.co/1BkdVQ8akm pic.twitter.com/uKfrK6Bu55— Global Goals (@GlobalGoalsUN) January 18, 2017In essence, the plan is a to-do list for the world to improve data. It calls for collaboration and commitment from governments, policy leaders and the international community to undertake key actions in six strategic areas including innovation and modernisation of national statistical systems, dissemination of data on sustainable development, building partnerships and mobilising resources.The Global Action Plan calls for the application of new technologies and new data sources into mainstream statistical activities, and integration of geospatial data. It also calls for data on all groups of the population to be expanded so that no one is left behind, a key principle of the 2030 Agenda.It was prepared with input from the global statistical community and data experts.Next meetingThe second forum will be held in the United Arab Emirates, it was announced, in late 2018 or early 2019.“We are looking forward to working with the colleagues from the United Arab Emirates to organise together an open and inclusive second World Data Forum,” said Stefan Schweinfest, director of the UN statistics division. “This will be a unique opportunity to strengthen data and statistical systems for development not only at the national, but also at the regional and global level.”Source: United NationsWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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Press release: Brand South Africa, Nelson Mandela Foundation to launch poverty campaign

first_imgBrand South Africa will join hands with the Nelson Mandela Foundation at Constitution Hill on Wednesday 10 May 2017 to launch a new theme for the Nelson Mandela International Day ‘Action Against Poverty’.More than 63 percent of South African children live in poverty and it is the reason why Brand South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation are joining to take action against it. (Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation)Johannesburg, Friday 5 May 2017 – Nelson Mandela Day commemorates the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world and it calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place.“More than 63% of South African children live in poverty; one in five – 12-million – South Africans live in extreme poverty. Our intention is to eradicate poverty from the face of the earth. We have to be that bold,” said the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Director of Communication and Outreach, Mr Luzuko Koti, on 11 April 2017 at the first announcement of the theme ‘Action Against Poverty’Brand South Africa has had a long-standing relationship with the Nelson Mandela Foundation over the years. This has resulted in a partnership that focuses on primary flagship projects that contribute towards improving the lives all citizens and communities.Speaking about the partnership, Brand South Africa’s Strategic Relationship Manager: Civil Society, Ms Thoko Modise says, “Brand South Africa is pleased to continue its relationship with the foundation. We strive to continuously reiterate the words of Nelson Mandela to create a better world for all who live in it, to encourage everyone to play their part. As the custodian of the Nation Brand, we have a responsibility to drive pride and patriotism amongst South Africans to take care of one another whilst contributing to the National Development Plan.”The launch will take the form of an exhibition showcasing “Footsteps of Madiba”, as well as promote his lifelong vision of freedom and equality for all. This will be an all-day event, open to civil society, business and government with some influential citizens such as Unathi Msengane and Randall Abrahams sharing messages of support.“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson MandelaMedia is invited to participate in an engaging programme as follows:Date : Wednesday, 10 May 2017Time : 06h00 – 15h00Venue : Constitution Hill11 Kotze Street in Braamfontein, JohannesburgContact/RSVP : Ntombi [email protected] 704 1488last_img read more

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Journalism Needs Data in 21st Century

first_imgguest author 1 Journalism has always been about reporting facts and assertions and making sense of world affairs. No news there. But as we move further into the 21st century, we will have to increasingly rely on “data” to feed our stories, to the point that “data-driven reporting” becomes second nature to journalists.The shift from facts to data is subtle and makes perfect sense. You could that say data are facts, with the difference that they can be computed, analyzed, and made use of in a more abstract way, especially by a computer.With this mindset, finding mainstream data-driven stories doesn’t take long at all. A quick scan of the Guardian’s home page tells us that swine flu cases are up by 50%, according to “fresh figures…[that] will be released this afternoon.” The story here is that we’re in danger because swine flu is on the rise. Reporting the current figures available for swine flu alone wouldn’t be all that interesting. The news comes from comparing the current figures to last week’s, which is a very simple form of data analysis. By making use of published data and running one’s own analysis (and building on the analysis of others), we get something very news-worthy indeed. It moves the definition ever so slightly, from “saying and asserting” to “analyzing and publishing.” But it obviously works only for data that is accessible.There is nothing new about pointing out the importance of public data being made available. Sir Tim Berners-Lee has discussed at length the importance of governments and institutions putting their data online, making it accessible and useful. His TED talk and interviews with ReadWriteWeb and Talis (disclosure: I am a blogger at Talis) all explain his belief that by publishing linked data we can begin to solve many of the problems the world faces. Innovations in medicine, science, and development could all be achieved if only currently hidden data were made available. Data-driven journalism could be the first step in realizing this dream. The best stories would then come from innovators who read about trends reported in news media and are then able to draw new conclusions and solve bigger problems. In his recent discussion with BBC, Berners-Lee said that the next step is to go for low-hanging fruit by just getting the data out there.Thus far, this has made a lot of sense to me, and I have been tracking the publication of linked data and increasing access to public knowledge as emerging trends over at Talis. But my perspective has shifted a bit in the past few weeks.First, there was data.gov and President Obama’s call for more access to government data. A sitting head of state (and one of some significance) was clearly calling for public access to government data: this was news! But the idea has been discussed, praised, and debated for a while since then and may have lost some of its luster.Then about a month ago, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made it part of his digital strategy to prioritize the publication of government information. He asked Sir Tim personally “to help us drive the opening up of access to Government data in the web over the coming months” and appointed Berners-Lee an official governmental adviser. By now, neither of these stories is news and comparisons between the initiatives have been made.The Guardian newspaper recently launched its own Data Blog, with the intention of letting readers access, mash up, and reuse much of its information in the form of data, which could in turn drive stories.What is perhaps not as explicitly recognized is the voracious appetite for data that has been apparent for months. It is less about turning good ideas into stories and more about seeing how data informs our understanding of events happening right now. Each new initiative is another piece of low-hanging fruit picked.Access to data is important: it drives innovation and even social change. Governments that publish their data have to become more transparent. Humanitarian organizations that make their findings known could spark bigger projects and source innovative solutions from their communities. Scientific findings and raw information could be used to solve bigger problems than the result of a single experiment or trial could ever manage. Even the simple comparison of two or more facts can lead to new insight, and all of these things happen only when the walls around an institution become porous.2009 could become known as the year of data, the year of open access, or the year of the semantic Web (see links above for how this relates), and it may also be the first year when it becomes news that data wasn’t published in a story when it should have been. That a government body isn’t being transparent or is blocking access by publishing its findings in PDF or other non-linking formats would make a very interesting story indeed. We can expect to see more and more organizations and public bodies remove their own barriers through initiatives and legislation. Examples have been set, and seeing excuses die along with barriers is not far-fetched.Do you know of other data-driven stories? We’d love to hear about any insights that were made through publicly accessible data or where this data might come from next.Guest author: Zach Beauvais is a Platform Evangelist for Talis and editor of Nodalities Magazine. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Trends#web center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

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The Affiliate Management Resource CD

first_imgThe 2011 Affiliate Management Resource CD has been developed with the goal of providing suggested procedures, templates, guidelines or various administrative documents to support affiliate management.The Affiliate Management Resource is in its first year of release and provides a complete package of information previously released to the community throughout 2011. It is our intent to provide this information in a hard copy version for all affiliates at the end of each year therefore updated annually from this point forward. The resources included are designed to save affiliates time and offer ideas, with the opportunity to create a better experience for the end participant of the sport.For more information and to find out how to get your affiliate’s copy, please see the attachment below.  Related Filesintroduction_to_the_2011_affiliate_management_resource-pdflast_img read more

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Containerships Expects Improved Results in 2019

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: Containerships After delivering a loss in 2018, Finland-based Containerships plc, a subsidiary of the CMA CGM Group, expects an improvement in its results during 2019.The company said its net sales are expected to grow and the EBITDA to improve compared to the previous year.Containerships delivered a net loss of EUR 1.7 million in 2018, against a profit of EUR 0.2 million reported in the previous year. Net sales for the period grew to EUR 268 million from EUR 226.7 million reported a year earlier, but the operational result weakened.Recorded EBITDA was EUR 13.3 million, down from EUR 15.2 million seen in 2017. The decrease was caused by increased bunker costs due to a rise in oil price in the world market.In 2018, various geopolitical, economic and legislative events impacted the logistics market in Containerships’ area of operation. Nevertheless, there were no changes in the operating environment dramatically affecting the group’s activities or performance in 2018, according to the company.Following final approvals received in October 2018, Containerships Plc became part of CMA CGM’soperations in Europe and the Mediterranean.CMA CGM announced in January 2019 that as from April 1, 2019, the Containerships and MacAndrews brands would unite under the name Containerships. By joining forces of these two intra-European multimodal transporters, the CMA CGM Group would create and develop an intra-European leading brand.last_img read more

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Taliban open to new talks with US after bloody attacks

first_imgKabul: The Taliban’s chief negotiator has said their “doors are open” to resuming talks with Washington, hours after two attacks by the insurgents killed at least 48 people in war-weary Afghanistan. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai also defended the Taliban’s role in recent bloodshed across the country after US President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed an American soldier as his reason for calling off negotiations earlier this month. Speaking to the BBC, Stanikzai argued the Americans had also admitted to killing thousands of Taliban during the discussions, and that the insurgents had done nothing wrong by continuing to fight throughout the talks. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”From our side, our doors are open for negotiations,” he was quoted as saying. Trump had said the US was walking away from negotiations after nearly a year of grinding diplomatic efforts to strike a deal that could pave the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of war. He declared the talks “dead” on September 10. But his administration, which has made no secret of its wish to bring troops home, also left the door open for a new attempt, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Taliban must show a “significant commitment” if talks were to resume. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsTuesday’s attacks left at least 26 people dead at a rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the central province of Parwan, while 22 were killed in a blast in Kabul just over an hour later. They were the bloodiest attacks to hit Afghanistan since the talks fell apart. Dozens more were wounded in the blasts, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. More violence is expected in coming days as Afghans prepare for a presidential election on September 28, which the Taliban have promised to disrupt.last_img read more

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Rohingya bandit couple killed in Bdesh gunfight

first_imgDhaka: A Rohingya couple was shot dead during a gunfight in a border town camp hours after they were detained by Bangladesh police, officials said Sunday, the latest killings amid growing tensions between the refugees and authorities. Police in Teknaf town said the refugee couple — Dil Mohammad, 32, and his 26-year-old wife Jaheda Begum — were members of a Rohingya “bandit group”. Authorities claim the gang killed a local ruling party official, Omar Faruk, in a refugee settlement in southeastern Bangladesh last month. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportAt least 13 Rohingya refugees have been killed in alleged gunfights between criminals and officers since Faruk’s murder on August 22, police inspector Ali Arshad said. “Eleven of them were involved in Faruk’s murder,” he told AFP, but said that while part of the gang, the couple were not accused of carrying out the shooting. Police officer Mohammad Babul told AFP the pair were detained by investigators late Saturday and led officials to a suspected gang hideout in search of other alleged members. He said the officers were ambushed by the group hours later. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests”We retaliated with gunfire. The couple sustained severe bullet injuries during the shootout,” Babul said, adding that they were later declared dead in a hospital. Rights groups have previously accused Bangladesh police of staging gunfights as a cover for the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, mainly suspects in drug smuggling. Early this week, UN human rights experts called for an impartial investigation into Rohingya being killed in gunfights after being named as suspects in Faruk’s killing. Following the Faruk murder, local residents vandalised refugee shops and staged protests in one of the camps.last_img read more

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