Up, up and away

first_imgRumours of the death of the high street punter’s spending power have been grossly exaggerated. Or they have if your barometer is the public’s unwillingness to part with those modern icons of disposable income: the daily latte and muffin.Sales in the coffee shop sector are predicted to grow by nearly 9% over the next three years. “Over 50% of the population don’t use coffee shops,” stated Jim Slater, marketing director of Costa Coffee, the UK’s largest chain. “The main reason is that there isn’t a coffee shop near them to meet this blatant need.” Food accounts for roughly 60-70% of Costa’s business, but there are still huge areas to exploit.Growth is not just being driven by more shops, but a renewed focus on under-performing trading times during the day. This is the view following Allegra Strategies’ consumer research, which highlights gaps in the coffee shops’ day-part focus. “The evening opportunity is absolutely phenomenal, as the coffee shops become more and more part of the fabric of society and the chains develop their evening trade,” said MD Jeffrey Young. “But before that, there is an amazing opportunity for breakfast.”So how best to target those consumers? “People who consume coffee and eat food at different times of the day can be the same person with a different need state,” said Costa’s Slater. “We relaunched our breakfast offer this year and developed new bread carriers with our suppliers, retailers and the motorway network to understand the best products to deliver sales and profits. It resulted in a 20% like-for-like sales increase at breakfast-time across food.”While the sector is still witnessing incredible growth (see panel), the challenges ahead are significant. Starbucks’ UK CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer noted that out-of-town retail space has overtaken that of the high street. And with bakery food inflation hitting over 8% in February, how is the margin squeeze affecting the chains’ relationship with bakery suppliers?”In the UK we’ve created the most competitive coffee market in the world,” Willson-Rymer told BB. “Given the headwind in the economy and customers’ desire for ever-higher quality, I don’t see that we have any room left for pushing some of those prices up, certainly in our business.”For us that means being more efficient. For example, we’ve reconfigured how we do waste management; 95% of anything that gets thrown away in our stores gets recycled. By doing that, we’ve saved up to £700,000 a year.”While the branded chains’ growth is predicted to outstrip the independents, Australian-influenced artisanal coffee shops are booming, teaching the big boys a thing or two about quality food and coffee. “Word of mouth drives business a lot more than branding,” noted Shelagh Ryan, owner of indie business Lantana. “We focus on simple but interesting, best-quality food in a casual and welcoming environment.”There are now 100 artisan venues in London; around 70% of those weren’t there three years ago, said Allegra’s Young. “The rise of the independents has been phenomenal to see,” added Willson-Rymer. “Last year, there were about 50 coffee shops in this country where you could get a flat white; now you can get them up and down the country.”last_img read more

Speech: Minister Fairhead: speech to launch the Export Strategy

first_imgRead the government’s Export Strategy. Our country is already an exporting power.We’re pretty good at it! Last year our exports grew over 10% that makes us more than 30% of the economy comes from exports but as the Secretary of State said that still leaves us in the middle of the G7 pack – and just to put it in context if you look at Germany, less than 20 years ago, Germany had exports as a percentage of GDP at 30%. Today it is 47%.Our ambition is to move the UK nearer the top – and the first step is to get to 35% of GDP.As the Secretary of State has said, rather than being an exporting power, we aim to be an exporting superpower!And that’s why we’re launching this Export Strategy today.Some government strategies are about solving problems – social or economic. Some are about mitigating risks.This I am pleased to say, is about building on our strengths and rising to the challenge, and rising together.We do have some awesome businesses in this country. The world has shown that it is ready for our goods and services.We now have an Industrial Strategy, and I’ve seen it on the ground – these sector deals are really resonating, not just in the UK but they are resonating in overseas markets where the focus on particular sectors is really starting to be noticed.So we see it as my department being the international wing of that industrial strategy.We have so much potential.But I think what it needs is businesses and government across government, private sector providers, all working together, adopting a collaborative approach, that the Secretary of State mentioned, and I think if we do, the change can be utterly transformational.For, someone like me that has come from the private sector I am really clear that it is businesses that export and the people that we should be listening to are businesses so this is very much a business led strategy, so it is companies like yours or businesses you represent.So this strategy has to be business led.We’ve undertaken massive – and continuing – engagement with businesses – exporters, business organisations and associations who represent them as well as private-sector providers of export support; we have had over 25 roundtables all across the country.I myself have been in Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and all across the UK and I would like to say thank you to all of your for taking part – the CBI, IoD, British Chambers, FSB and many of you who helped make sure this is what business wants because from my perspective if we can serve business needs that will help us export more.This strategy is developed with you and for you.We started to try and understand what the barriers are that businesses face and that’s what we’ve based out focus on.And companies have also been clear that government can play a very fundamental role particularly by focussing on ‘doing things that only government can do’. And by being clearer and prioritising more.So this strategy doesn’t duplicate private sector export advice – or its export financing. We are targeting where the government can add genuine value.And what have businesses told us? What you’ll see in the strategy is that we’ve focussed on 4 main areas :Firstly – encouraging more companies to export, for the reasons outlined by the Secretary of State and for more countries to look at UK goods and servicesSecondly – to help inform our companiesThirdly – using the connecting and convening power of government in a significantly enhanced way.And finally, providing finance in areas of market failure.Let me take each in turn.Firstly: encouraging firms to export. Many new exporters told us that, once they did start exporting, it was less difficult than they’d thought – they wished they’d started sooner!But businesses were clear that they are much more likely to listen to – and benefit from their peers, government telling business this is how you export doesn’t work, talking to a peer about a similar product in a similar market really has impact.So we will build up a national network of UK Export Champions – we are starting with the good practice of the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse who are at 500 Export Champions now and we will expand that right across the UK.We’ll also develop an online community so that we can have interaction in a much more time efficient way because that’s what businesses told us “we’re time poor, we want to export but we don’t have time so help us have a time efficient way to go forward”.We’ll also deploy our resources to encourage overseas buyers to buy British products and services.This activity will encompass large expos – such as Dubai 2020, or the Great British Festival of Innovation and Creativity held in Hong Kong in March this year; we will continue to use the PM’s Trade Envoys, who are incredibly valuable to us in opening markets – I see that Lord Poppat is here – there may be others too – the Trade Envoys network is powerful. And also focussed missions.I went on a trade mission on augmented reality and gaming capability to Mumbai and Bangalore with a small group of British companies – the aim was for them to identify some suppliers – one company who accompanied, called Spearhead, an augmented reality company, not just found suppliers but also was spotted by a large energy company who said they would like to use their technology.These trade missions really work so we will do more.Secondly: informing. Many businesses, especially small ones, said they didn’t have the expertise to export: lacking knowledge about local business cultures, regulations, or consumer needs.So they need help in understanding where the opportunities are.We believe that, alongside support from our trade advisers, we can use our website great.gov.uk – one-stop-shop for digital advice for companies entering overseas markets.Central to that plan is our desire to improve over the next 2 months – the number of opportunities listed on our site, currently 1750 – we aim to increase that to the tens of thousands. So that firms can understand, do they have the capacity and the capability.In the future we will aim to apply machine learning and big data for companies who opt in – so that we can prompt them if we identify opportunities that might be of interest to them.We also need to harness the extensive support that is available from other sources.So we are working with private sector providers to help us signpost more because that’s another message from business – “all of this support is available but who do I go to?” so what we are trying to do is find ways to signpost and there will be no wrong door.Thirdly: connecting. I was struck by how much firms said to us during our consultation that that ability to connect – just by holding an event at one of our posts overseas – how it brings in those local potential customers and that is where we can step in.Government is already acting to help support consortia of UK firms to bid on foreign contracts.Many other nations have a concept of Team-whatever their country is, we need to have ‘Team-UK’ approach.At the forefront of this we have Infrastructure Exports: UK, where we have pulled together a group of businesses to identify specific opportunities and we’re going out with an offer to overseas markets.In similar fashion, the Department for International Trade, including UK Export Finance, is working with other government departments to organise supplier fairs, where foreign buyers can bring specific opportunities directly to UK businesses, an initiative which has already seen astonishing success.As well as convening businesses, we also plan to make even more effective use of those attributes only government has. For example, we have a huge overseas network – 108 countries worldwide – and we are able to more efficiently understand where opportunities are and connect back better with our team to make sure companies are aware of them.We recognise that in many countries, UK-government backing is seen as a seal of quality – so we will be focussing more on our government-to-government offer. And our trade policy arm will be actively working to improve market access and regulation. It’s a real benefit of having DIT – with trade policy, investment and exports all in one department so we can work together.To assist this activity, we will be setting up a new digital service to help companies report trade barriers, to help us target ourwork more effectively.All of this work will be supported by the new network we have of our 9 new Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners, that is government signalling that business really matters overseas and to elevate to Trade Commissioners who have real heft in overseas markets to help with those plans.Fourth and finally: finance. Many companies say that finance is something that stops them competing on a level playing field to win contracts, or to fulfil those contracts, and make sure they get paid at the end.At the moment, many firms say they aren’t getting that – or that by the time they get it, the opportunity has already gone.So we have put finance at the heart of the Export Strategy.The mission of UK Export Finance – the world’s oldest export credit agency– is for no viable project will fail due to lack of finance or insurance.We have a £50 billion capacity, we provide multiple export finance products, including working capital and political risk insurance. We also offer the ability to ‘buy British pay local’ now in over 60 currencies.This is a service, for those who might not know about it, which has been radically improved over the last few years.It is now ranked as one of the top Export Agencies in the world. For those companies who use it, they say it is a ‘game-changer’. So where, you might, sensibly, ask is the problem?And the problem is this, it is one of the best kept secrets – big companies know about it, SMEs do not. So part of our plan is to build awareness of UKEF and we have also put more UKEF advisers into overseas markets so we have that connection there too.We will also continue to develop a suite of products to make sure that they stay at the top of the rankings. This is a strategy which is not just in England, it is right across the UK and the Department for International Trade operates right across the UK.Another piece of good news: we’re not beginning from a standing start. Businesses already say time and again through our consultation, “don’t rip our everything that you’re doing and throw it out because this is a new strategy – keep what’s working and build on it” so that’s what we’ve done.And let me say one last thing before I conclude.Clearly our role is to take the lead on supporting businesses to export. If we are to achieve our aim we have to work right across government because all almost every government department has businesses inside their portfolio that have the capacity to export.Through our overseas networks, we naturally work very closely with the Foreign Office and DFID.And as the international part of the Industrial Strategy I’m very pleased we are increasingly working with BEIS.In fact one of the real impacts of industrial society is that opportunity and exports are really starting to hit the national conversation and my hope is that that conversation, like the conversation now on productivity, becomes a national one – a national conversation about exporting.But it requires joining up right across government and that’s why I’m particularly pleased, as the Secretary of State said that this has been developed in collaboration with our partners partners at the Department for Transport, Her Majesty’s Treasury, and the Department for Health, among many others.And that’s why I’m confident this has a really great chance of beinga success – it can be a catalyst that transforms lives, businesses,their workers and creates businesses that can be handed down through generations,Now, I’m a businessperson, strategy is one thing but it doesn’t get implemented if it becomes a report that gatehers dust.It’s the implementation that matters most – this strategy was designed with that in mind.I’m delighted that we’ve been able to appoint some great people in our department and we have brought in 2 Director Generals – John Mahon who will be answering your questions today alongside Liam and myself – he was a senior business executive at Barclays – he will be leading this strategy and operationalising it.As we said at the beginning, this is just the first step. We aim to implement this successfully and then build on Export Strategy 2.0 to turbocharge that performance.So my request for you today is simple let’s start that national conversation today on exports – we do have an exciting national challenge.Let’s rise to it – government, and business together and become that exporting superpower so that we can hand over truly great heritage to generations to come.Thank youlast_img read more

University hires security to monitor students in quarantine, isolation

first_imgIn order to prevent students under quarantine or isolation from violating safety protocols, Notre Dame hired additional security personnel to patrol the properties, the South Bend Tribune reported Wednesday.Students who fail to remain in their assigned rooms will face disciplinary action, “including possible dismissal,” University spokesman Dennis Brown said in the article.Notre Dame contracted with Monterrey Security and VSS Security Services to hire officers for off-campus quarantine and isolation sites. In addition, Indiana State Police Alliance troopers will monitor the sites at night beginning Thursday for students violating the code of conduct they were required to sign upon quarantine or isolation.The University has also contracted with six off-campus facilities, Brown said. While Notre Dame has declined to reveal the sites, The Observer sources have determined students are quarantining and isolating in the Morris Inn, The Foundry, The Landings and University Edge.Notre Dame has refused to publish the number of students in quarantine or isolation.“That is not a number that we will be providing publicly,” Brown said in the article. “It is ever-changing. People are added and then safe and healthy and able to leave, so we’re not going to try to keep track of that on a daily basis by any means.”According to the report, residents of The Landings have expressed concern to management over students in quarantine and isolation failing to abide by safety protocols.“Unfortunately, we have received reports of students failing to abide by the code of conduct,” a letter to residents said. “As a result, the University is working quickly to enhance security measures at The Landings in order to closely monitor student behavior and ensure compliance with all polices. I understand that this is not ideal and I understand your concerns.”Tags: COVID-19, Dennis Brown, Isolation, quarantine, securitylast_img read more

Water wise

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaGeorgia’s dry again. But that doesn’t mean your landscape has to suffer if water restrictions are mandated this summer. You just need to know your home irrigation system and how to water wisely.It doesn’t matter if you use a sprinkler attached to a hose or a permanent system. The first thing you need to know is how much water you are applying and how fast, said Kerry Harrison, an irrigation specialist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.”Not knowing your water application rate is like driving a car with no speedometer,” he said.Gauge systemDifferent systems apply water at different rates, he said. Hose-sprinkler systems vary the most. Space three rain gauges within the watering area of your system. Look at your watch. After an hour has passed, check your gauges to see how much water your system puts out in that time.Most lawns grow best when they get one inch of water a week, either from rain, irrigation or combination of the two. And they prefer long soakings. In dry weather, water only once or twice a week to get that one inch of water. This promotes deeper roots. Deep roots mean better looking, healthier lawns.Light, frequent watering can actually lead to diseases and hurt your lawn, he said.The grass at the very end of a sprinkler’s trajectory may not get as much water as the grass closer to the sprinkler. Permanent systems should be set for overlap in sprinkler patterns to adjust for this. Remember this when you move your hose-sprinkler system. You want your lawn to be uniformly wet.Right timeYou need to water at the right times, too. Or you could just waste time and water. Water in early morning or late at night, Harrison said.”We have research and evidence to show that you can lose as much as half the water if it’s applied during peak daylight hours,” he said.High temperatures and high winds can evaporate water or blow it off target, too, he said. Most watering restrictions allow watering at the right times. Also, watering during the day increases the time grass is wet. This can lead to disease problems. Watering at night won’t hurt grass that’s already wet from dew. The turf gets the water it wants and is drier during the day.There are no special watering restrictions now in Georgia. The state is in a mild drought, though, said state climatologist David Stooksbury, a professor of engineering with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.An unusually dry period from October 2003 through March 2004 has led to dry soils and low stream flows across the state.last_img read more

October Climate

first_imgThe state was split into precipitation “haves” and “have nots” last month as western Georgia received copious rainfall and the eastern half the state remained dry. The dry conditions for most of the state this month aided farmers in finishing their harvesting of peanuts, cotton and other crops. However, dryland peanuts and cotton are not grading well due to the drought the past few weeks. Cotton was also hurt by the heavy rains that fell on Oct. 14 and 15 as the bolls were opening. Dry conditions in eastern Georgia delayed planting of small grains and winter forage. Frost ended the growing season in a few areas of the state. Temperatures across the state were generally above normal, and many record highs were broken or tied. Above-average monthly temperatures were found in Atlanta, where the monthly average temperature was 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.9 degrees above normal; in Athens, 64.2 F, 1.2 degrees above normal; Columbus, 67.5 F, one degree above normal; Macon, 65.3 F, 0.4 degrees above normal; Savannah, 70 F, 2.1 degrees above normal; and Augusta, 65.3 F, 0.9 degrees above normal. Below-average monthly temperatures occurred in Brunswick, 70 F, or 0.5 degrees below normal; Alma, 67.9 F, 0.5 degrees below normal; Albany, 67.9 F, 0.2 degrees below normal; and Valdosta 68.2 F, 0.5 degrees below normal. Record high temperatures were recorded at eight stations across the state and high temperatures tied existing records at 11 sites. Most notable among them was the 90-degree record set in Savannah on Oct. 27, which broke the old record of 89 F set in 1940 and set a new record for the latest 90-degree day in the city’s long history, eclipsing the old record-setting date of Oct. 21, 1943. Climate records in Savannah date back to 1871. Meanwhile, Athens set a record low temperature with a 38-degree night on Oct. 5, beating the old record of 39 F set in 1974. Macon tied a record low temperature of 37 F on the same date. Athens also set a record low daytime temperature on Oct. 4, with the high reaching only 66 F, beating the old record of 71 F set in 1941. Macon also set a new record low daytime temperature of 69 F on the same date, undercutting the 1911 record of 73 F. The highest monthly total precipitation recorded by the National Weather Service was 4.26 inches in Columbus, 1.68 inches above normal, and the lowest was in Augusta—0.61 inches, 2.66 inches below normal. Atlanta received 3.54 inches of precipitation, 0.13 inches above normal; Athens received 3.41 inches, 0.14 inches below normal; Macon, 1.57 inches, 1.22 below normal; Albany, 3.56 inches, 0.97 inches above normal; Brunswick, 2.83 inches, 1.63 inches below normal; Alma, 1.72 inches, 1.31 inches below normal; and Valdosta, 1.36 inches, 1.84 inches below normal. Most of the rain that fell at the wetter stations was reported on a single day, Oct. 14. On that day, a developing low-pressure center in Oklahoma brought a stationary front to western Georgia, dumping copious rain on the area. Atlanta, Athens and Columbus all set new record high precipitation amounts for that date. Atlanta received 2.54 inches, beating the old record of 1.92 inches set in 1959. Athens received 2.78 inches; the old record was 1.30 inches, also in 1959. Columbus saw a whopping 3.91 inches; the old record of 1.49 inches was set in 2009. The highest single-day rainfall, recorded by a Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network volunteer, was 4.57 inches observed near Rabun Gap in Rabun County on Oct. 15. An observer in Meriwether County’s Greenville recorded the second highest amount of 3.97 inches. A Jackson County observer in Braselton reported 3.94 inches on Oct. 15. The highest monthly total rainfall was 10.19 inches, observed by an observer 3.5 miles northeast of Dillard in Rabun County and 9.11 inches by the Rabun Gap observer mentioned previously. Georgians saw severe weather on six days in October. Wind damage occurred on Oct. 3, 10, 13 and 14, with hail damage on Oct. 6 and 9. The most notable severe weather occurred on Oct. 13, when six small tornadoes were observed in Atlanta and central Georgia. Five of the six tornadoes were seen in the Atlanta metro area early in the morning. Of these, the greatest damage came in an EF-1 tornado in Alpharetta. You can read about the tornadoes at www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=2004101_northga_tors. The outlook for November shows that conditions are expected to continue to be relatively quiet. The tropical storm season is nearly over and very little additional activity is expected this year. Predictions of temperature and precipitation show equal chances of above, near and below normal conditions. The three-month prediction for November through January shows no favored temperature patterns, but does show an increased chance of above normal rainfall, especially in south Georgia. This is linked to the expected development of a weak El Niño in the next couple of months, which should affect the Southeast through winter.last_img read more

China disqualifies ‘clean coal’ technology from green bond funding

first_imgChina disqualifies ‘clean coal’ technology from green bond funding FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Environmental Finance:China will axe ‘clean coal’ from its green bond guidelines, in a move that will see its definition of green align more closely with the Climate Bond Standards and the consensus of opinions in the West.Geoffrey Choi, financial services assurance leader for the Asia Pacific region at EY, said at the Asian sustainable green bond market conference in Tokyo, organised by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and Japan Securities Dealers Association: “I can share with the conference that, going forward, in the new [green bond] catalogue, the clean utilisation of coal will not be considered green.”The issuance of green bonds for clean coal has been highly controversial and the technology is widely considered, at least by Western investors, to be too emissions- intensive to be green.China’s support for clean coal has in the past been the biggest difference between its definition of green and the opinions of most Western investors.Choi explained that it is a “big step” for China to move towards a likely EU green bond standard, adding that the standards will continue to evolve.“For a lot of the areas that we have debated in the past, China has the determination to converge with the EU standard,” he said.last_img read more

Colombia to Extradite Suspected Narcotics Trafficker To Venezuela

first_imgBy Dialogo November 11, 2010 MEXICO CITY – Harold Mauricio Poveda Ortega, a suspected cocaine trafficker, was arrested by Mexican authorities on Nov. 5. Poveda, a Colombian national who goes by the alias “El Conejo,” allegedly is the largest supplier of cocaine to the Beltrán Leyva cartel, according to the Federal Public Security Secretariat (SSP). Poveda, 37, is suspected of trafficking about 150 tons of cocaine into Mexico from 1998-2000, officials said. Poveda, who also used the alias of “Jonder Antonio Nieves Monsalve” to pass for a Venezuelan national, was taken into custody in a southern area of Mexico City. Mexican and United States officials exchanged information about Poveda throughout the investigation, according to the Mexican website Vanguardia.com.mx. Poveda is suspected of acquiring the cocaine from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), officials said, according to the Colombian website El Colombiano.com. Peru: Shining Path suspected in police officer’s death Mexico: Harold Mauricio Poveda Ortega arrested LIMA, Peru – A police officer was killed and another was injured when suspected Shining Path members attacked a coca eradication team in a rural town in northern Peru, the Interior Ministry said. The attack occurred on Nov. 5 in the area of Guacamayo in the province of Tocache, where the officers and the eradication squad were camping for the night. The attack was in retaliation for the team destroying two makeshift cocaine laboratories in the area, officials said, according to EFE. One police officer was fatally shot in the chest and the second officer suffered a non-lethal injury in the leg by rebels, who didn’t suffer any losses during the raid, the Interior Ministry said. The Shining Path’s remaining members are based in the Upper Huallaga Valley under the command of Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, who goes by the alias of “Comrade Artemio,” and in the Valley of the Apurímac and Ene rivers (VRAE region) under the guidance of Víctor Quispe Palomino, alias “Comrade José.” The United States has issued a reward of up to US$5 million for information leading to either man’s capture, EFE reported. SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD) has arrested 57 people linked to a nationwide drug trafficking operation. Police seized 262 cocaine bags, 113 of marijuana, 50 of crack, 10 motorcycles, two guns and $17,903 in Domincan Republican pesos (US$484), according to the DNCD. Two men taken into custody are suspected of selling narcotics from a grocery store in La Romana, said Col. Alcides Ramón Rodríguez Veras, a DNCD spokesman, according to the Dominican Republic website Listindiario.com.do. Colombia: Army destroys 870 suspected FARC land mines center_img Dominican Republic: 57 arrested on drug-trafficking charges Mexico: Manuel Fernández Valencia arrested BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The Colombian government will extradite suspected narcotics trafficker Walid Makled to his native Venezuela, where he’ll face trial, officials said. President Juan Manuel Santos pledged during a recent meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez that Makled, who goes by the alias “The Turk,” would be sent to Venezuela, where he is wanted on drug charges. Makled was taken into custody in August in Colombia during a joint operation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Makled and his brothers are accused of using the airline they ran as part of an operation to export 10 tons of cocaine monthly. Two years ago, police apprehended Makled’s three brothers after discovering 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of cocaine on a family ranch. Makled also has been charged in Venezuela in connection with the killings of Colombian drug kingpin Wilber Alirio Varela, lawyer and journalist Orel Zambrano and veterinarian Francisco Larrazábal, both Venezuelan nationals. BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The army destroyed 870 anti-personnel mines suspected of belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the department of Putumayo. The confiscation and destruction of the weapons, which are suspected of being the property of the FARC’s 32nd front, occurred in the municipality of Puerto Caicedo, according to a military statement. The troops also discovered more than 90 kilograms (198 pounds) of explosive materials and numerous syringes used to inject liquid during the manufacturing of improvised explosive devices, according to the Colombian website El Colombiano.com. MEXICO CITY – Manuel Fernández Valencia, who is suspected of working with one of the country’s most wanted drug kingpins to traffic eight tons of marijuana into the United States by the end of 2010, has been arrested, officials said. Fernández Valencia, an alleged member of the Sinaloa cartel, was apprehended after a 20-minute confrontation between police and gunmen, according to a Federal Police statement. Police also apprehended seven men suspected of working for the drug cartel, according to the statement. Fernández Valencia is suspected of working with cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán to traffic narcotics into the United States. Fernández Valencia has been sought for extradition by the United States since last year on narcotics-trafficking charges, according to The Associated Press. Guzmán and Ismael Zambada, who allegedly are the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, are two of the country’s most wanted fugitives. Officials have offered a US$2 million reward for information leading to their locations.last_img read more

John Oliver Embraces Long Island at NYCB Theatre in Westbury [REVIEW]

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Halfway through his routine at NYCB Theatre at Westbury last Friday, British-born political satirist John Oliver whipped out his smart phone and searched “Long Island Big Duck.”The search result prompted him to instantly fall to his knee and become consumed by laughter.Oliver apparently makes it his mission to uncover strange facts about each American town he visits. For example, seeing a sign for a library in Boise, Idaho, prompted him to wonder why it’s punctuated with an exclamation point—he learned it was paid for by a charitable donation. Here he wondered out loud why any region would need a giant duck. Long Island’s response: why not?The famed Big Duck wasn’t the only weird fact that Oliver uncovered: a more extensive search noted another popular, err, destination.“What’s the Commack Motor Inn?” Oliver asked the crowd, which erupted in the kind of laughter you get when nearly everyone is on the joke except for the naïve few.“Hourly rates!” yelled a man in the audience. Oliver let that one sink in for a few seconds.He appeared to take as much joy from the back-and-forth with the appreciative crowd as those who paid to see the popular comedian in a very different format than they’re used to.Oliver just completed the first season of his new HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” which ended with rave reviews. In that provocative program, Oliver sits behind a desk and does the news, though he does not accept the title of journalist. For years, he worked as a “correspondent” on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” and then took over for Stewart while he was away producing his film “Rosewater.” Oliver’s unofficial late-night audition impressed HBO bosses, who later offered him his own show on Sunday evenings, considered prime-time real estate on the subscription-based network.On “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver predominantly focuses on politics, sometimes for the laughs and other times to raise awareness, like when he discussed how the US government fails to welcome into this country Afghan interpreters who were crucial to the military’s effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Sometimes the comedian spurs people into action. Take, for example, when he encouraged the masses to deluge the Federal Communications Commission with letters supporting Net Neutrality. The day after the show aired, the FCC Tweeted that its comment system was experiencing “technical difficulties” due to “heavy traffic.”Since cable consumers have to pay a separate charge to watch HBO, the network’s shows are not judged by TV ratings so it’s hard to analyze how well their exclusive productions are performing. But Oliver’s success can be judged by the Internet’s reaction to his show in the days and weeks after it airs: His segments spawn dozens, if not hundreds, of articles from news organizations and his YouTube clips can hit upwards of 7 million views for a single video.In short time, he has become just as effective, or even more so, than Stewart, his mentor, and fellow satirist Stephen Colbert, whose Comedy Central show will come to an end this week.Oliver rarely holds back during “Last Week Tonight,” often discussing topics that irk him—America’s drone war, police militarization, student loan debt—and feverishly pounds away at them. But he was less audacious during his stand-up routine in Westbury, briefly mentioning recent news events like last week’s Senate torture report. He gave his two cents and then moved on.Oliver seemed content with discussing rather more innocuous topics: how a pigeon wandering around Newark Liberty National Airport reinvigorated seemingly lifeless travelers, how a “Frozen Dead Guy Day” in Colorado came to be, and recalling a letter to the editor that a local Boise newspaper received from a reader aghast at his bewilderment over the unusual “Library!” sign.Taken together, this was Oliver’s portrait of America: a spectacularly diverse country with idiosyncratic communities that we understand but regrettably take for granted. Oliver, however, seems to prefer the US to his home country, which he admonishes for pillaging other lands in its failed quest for world domination. To be fair, he has problems with US policy as well, but he finds America’s peculiarities—the Big Duck, for example—unbelievably charming.The strategy seemed to sit well with the nearly sold out crowd. He drew huge laughs when he discovered the history of the Big Duck and took jabs at LI for its omnipresent traffic. When he asked the crowd for examples about what made Westbury unique, he was amused when a woman muttered: “There’s no Eastbury.” When he admitted to his youthful futility on the soccer field, the crowd seemed to let out a giggle all at once, prompting Oliver to shout: “Fuck you, Long Island!”Some Oliver fans may have been eager to hear him dissect politics and touch upon a range of issues affecting the country. But Oliver does that on Sunday nights.The Englishman often mentioned how much he adores this country and how grateful he is for the opportunities he’s been afforded since coming here. His retelling of his experience across America was his way of giving back.Thank you, John, for reminding us all just how wonderfully weird this place we call home truly is.last_img read more

Binghamton Pond Festival ready for thousands to attend

first_imgFor father and son, Seth and Evan Turner, they traveled all the way from Texas, to hit the ice. TOWN OF FENTON (WBNG) — Hockey lovers are flocking to the Southern Tier for three weeks to play at Pond Fest. “It’s something about playing hockey outdoors, we don’t have the benefit of in Dallas. The kids want to experience that, so that’s probably a big reason why we just want to continue to come back here,” said Seth Turner. This year, more than 150 teams are participating in the event and organizers estimate about 10,000 people are expected to attend. It’s being held on North America’s largest refrigerated outdoor ice sheet. The event kicks off Jan. 11, with youth tournaments throughout the first weekend. Officials say, Pond Fest will be a chance for the community to get outdoors.center_img “In the winter, we don’t have a lot of opportunities to come together. This is a place where you’re going to have thousands of people on the weekends, enjoying each others company, enjoying the fun, the outdoors, being healthy. That’s what I hope to see, a family-style event drawing people from far and wide,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “When this first started out, we were just trying to put a couple local teams together, have a fun weekend. Over the last five years, it’s been a complete evolution to what we have now,” said Tytus Haller, founder of Pond Fest. On Jan. 25, a special event will be held with fireworks, trail runs, snowshoeing, and of course, hockey. For more information on the event, head over to their website.last_img read more

Judicial heads back to Lingfield for Golden Rose defence | Racing News

first_imgHe added: “For all he is eight going on nine, he has not had a hard time of things.“He has run 40 times in his life, which is not a lot for a sprinter of his age, and touch wood he is a very sound horse with no aches and pains. It all contributes to him being in such good form at this stage of his life.” – Advertisement – Judicial returned with a fine effort to finish second in the Palace House Stakes back in June, before adding the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle on his next start and then also winning the Queensferry Stakes at Chester in August.He has not run since finishing fourth at York in September. But Steve Brown, husband and assistant to Camacho, revealed this weekend’s feature race has been the long-term aim.He said: “Judicial has had a nice preparation for this. The ground at the back-end of the turf season is generally against him, which is why we planned to wait for the Golden Rose.- Advertisement – “I think it looks a stronger race compared to last year, and obviously he will have a penalty to carry for his Group Three win at Newcastle. It will be a tougher test for him, but at the same time we are looking forward to it.“In winning this race last year, he really proved himself over six furlongs, and I think that extra furlong over the last 12 months has really suited him. He has looked a better horse over six furlongs, because he has been able to travel more within himself.”While Judicial is now in his seventh season, Brown feels the fact he has been lightly raced is key to how he is maintaining his form.- Advertisement – Judicial will bid for back-to-back wins in the Betway Golden Rose Stakes at Lingfield.The eight-year-old sprang a 20-1 surprise in the 2019 edition of Saturday’s Listed heat, and trainer Julie Camacho was looking towards All Weather Finals Day with her charge until the April event was cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown.- Advertisement –last_img read more