Defense Bill Talks Drag On

first_imgThe House and Senate Armed Services committees are still engaged in negotiations to hash out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill as an agreement on a handful of issues has proven unattainable to date.“No question we’re close,” House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told CQ. Thornberry said he has remained in contact with his Senate counterpart, John McCain (R-Ariz.). “I mean, we could be done anytime, but we’re not,” he said.Military compensation, including increases in Tricare co-pays and retirement benefits, has been one of the thorniest issues so far.“We’re still having discussions,” said McCain. “Honestly, I’m not sure whether we’re going to be able to get it or not,” he said.Meanwhile, conferees settled on language to overhaul the military procurement process, Thornberry said. One of the key questions the two sides tackled was whether to give the military service secretaries the power the defense secretary now has over initiating multibillion-dollar weapons programs.The House chairman said the two different versions of the annual defense policy bill “have blended together well,” without elaborating further. Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

Ripples in spacetime suggest a black hole swallowed a neutron star

first_img Taking 3 and 5🌞masses as our “cut-off” labels for #NeutronStars or #BlackHoles is a useful rule-of-thumb but it could be wrong – or at least not the full picture. So #S190814bv *could* still be 2 merging #BlackHoles… Lots more careful analysis may tell us the answer!… 3/5 pic.twitter.com/0RSc5jk0xc— LIGO (@LIGO) August 17, 2019 7 Tags 16 Photos That throws up an exciting possibility that one of the black holes would be lighter than any black hole we’ve ever seen before. We can’t lose!If the event is confirmed as a neutron star-black hole merger, it would complete LIGO and Virgo’s trifecta of cosmic detections. The facilities have seen black holes merge with black holes and neutron stars merge with neutron stars, but they’ve never seen the two obliterate one another.The next step is to focus telescopes on the small section of the sky S190814bv came from. It’s relatively close, by cosmic standards, at just 900 million light-years away. The gravitational waves race out faster than other electromagnetic waves, giving astronomers a chance to try and detect other signals emitted by the event. What will we see?”We will either see a neutron star being ripped apart by a black hole, or getting swallowed whole like Pac-Man swallowing a ghost,” says Simon Stevenson, an astronomer with Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. “Either way, we are in for a show!”  Share your voicecenter_img What is a black hole? The universe’s dark, mysterious monsters Comments Black hole, meet neutron star. Neutron star, this is black hole. Play nice. Carl Knox/OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence Astronomers watching the cosmos for faint ripples in space-time may have detected a black hole swallowing up a neutron star for the very first time. Gravitational wave observatories in the US and Europe were switched back on after upgrades in April to hunt for these extreme cosmic events, and since then have detected 23 potential cosmic wobbles. The latest is perhaps the most exciting yet — and it’s also potentially the most puzzling.The event, designated S190814bv, was detected on Aug. 14 by the finely-tuned lasers of the twin LIGO detectors in the US and the Virgo detector in Italy. The facilities picked up ripples in the fabric of the universe and have, tentatively, suggested they resulted from a collision between a black hole and a small, dense star known as a “neutron star”.The facilities have seen potential black hole-neutron star collisions in the past, but none have been adequately verified. Since switching back on in April, only three candidates for this insane type of cosmic collision have been presented with varying levels of confidence. That’s because the detectors are so fine-tuned they sometimes flag noise as real events.For S190814bv, the chance the newly-detected signal is just noise is 1 in 10 septillion years.That would even put Han Solo off believing S190814bv is anything but a neutron star-black hole merger, but the researchers are still urging caution. It could be, they say, two merging black holes. Sci-Techlast_img read more

Union Budget 201415 10 Terms Buzzing ahead of Budget Session

first_img1) “Bitter medicine” – Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked citizens to expect a “bitter medicine” when it comes to economic reforms in the country, the term has remained a buzzword ahead of the Budget Session that will begin on 7 July 7. “I need to take some harsh decisions and administer some bitter medicine in order to resuscitate this patient. The medicine may hurt some of you but I ask for your support at this time,” Modi had said last week.2) Austerity – Modi’s words were interpreted as an indication of bringing about more austerity by the government to improve growth. “Taking tough decisions and strong measures in the coming one or two years are needed to bring financial discipline which will restore and boost the country’s self-confidence”, Modi had told party cadres during his address in Goa.3) Inflation – The Indian economy is facing a five-month high inflation of 6.01 percent, while food inflation had touched 9.50 percent in May. Inflation fears are said to be the biggest test for the Modi government, which came to power after it criticized the UPA government for failing to rein in inflation.4) Weak Monsoon – The poor rains this year are looming large on the Union Budget, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley making references to it more than once when addressing issues of inflation. “The rise in prices of food articles can be attributed to withholding of stocks on account of apprehension of a weak monsoon. The State Government should take effective steps to ensure that speculative hoarding is discouraged,’ Jaitley had said on his Facebook account.5) Iraq crisis – While Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan assured that that India had enough foreign exchange reserves to combat the fallout of the Iraq crisis, and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that it will not affect crude oil supplies to India, there have still been speculations that the rise of global prices of crude oil will impact India dearly.6) Indian Rupee – The Rupee has been hovering around the 60 to a dollar mark for several days, because of an increased demand for the US currency. On Friday, the rupee opened at 60.26 after it lost 18 paise against the dollar.7) Potatos, Onions – Soaring prices of vegetables, mainly that of potatoes and onions, have left citizens agitated and the government scampering for remedies. On Wednesday, the central government had asked states to delist fruits and vegetables from the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, and also imposed a minimum export price of USD 300 per ton on onions in order to cut down on their export.8) Tax – For the common man, the term ‘tax’ in the budget largely revolves around the exemption limit, and there have been speculations about the Finance Ministry raising the income tax exemption limit from ₹2 lakh to ₹3 lakh and up to ₹4.5 lakh for women. For the corporate sector, it means a hope for a more conducive tax environment. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) had suggested many recommendations to the Finance Minister on taxes in the Union Budget, such as clarity in tax laws, removing the sting of retrospective tax and improving dispute resolution mechanism for tax matters, among others, as detailed on the FICCI website.9) Gujarat Model – Several reports have suggested that Modi could import some of his schemes from the Gujarat model into the Union budget, such as ensuring the fiscal deficit is not too high and to bring in better tax administration, as highlighted by Yahoo News.10) ‘Acchey Din Aane Wale Hain’ – The Bharatiya Janata Party’s signature campaign during the election seems to be been raked up again, but this time with a certain amount of uncertainty whether the Modi-government can stick to their pre-poll motto.last_img read more

Sleepless nights for Bangladesh flagmakers

first_imgThis photograph taken on 17 May 2018 shows a Bangladeshi worker sewing flags for world cup football playing nations in Narayanganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, ahead of the 2018 football World Cup. Photo: AFPFlagmakers in Bangladesh are doing a roaring trade weeks ahead of the World Cup, but no-one is interested in the home nation’s colours-the money is all on pennants for Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Neymar’s Brazil.Textile printer Kamal Hossain owns one of scores of small, hot, sweaty workshops in the Merajnagar of capital Dhaka, working flat-out to produce flags and pennants for the local market ahead of the tournament in Russia.“For the last two months I have been working non-stop,” said Hossain.“There are days when I do not even get two hours of sleep,” added the 40-year-old, barely lifting his head from his screen-printing machine.Bangladesh is traditionally cricket territory, but every four years the country of 160 million people-whose national team is ranked 197th out of 202 in the world by FIFA-goes World Cup crazy.Flags in the colours of Argentina and Brazil take over the streets, and printers in Merajnagar are expecting to produce hundreds of thousands before the tournament starts in Moscow on 14 June.Homes have been converted into makeshift printing and sewing plants as orders pour in from across the country.“Every day we’re printing and making thousands of flags. Today we’ve already printed 11,000 Argentina pennants,” said Hossain.This photograph taken on 17 May 2018, shows Salim Hawalader, owner of a factory that produces national flags, hanging Argentine flags in Narayanganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, ahead of the 2018 football World Cup. Photo: AFPMaradona to MessiFans across Bangladesh hold flag-waving processions to honour their favourite team. Last week, a video of supporters marching with a 200 metre-long Argentina flag in the northwestern town of Madarganj went viral on social media.The impoverished country first saw live World Cup matches in 1982.But it was the 1986 tournament, when Diego Maradona single-handedly helped Argentina win the trophy, that cemented football into the Bangladesh psyche-along with a new favourite team.“The craze for Argentina is still going strong, Maradona is gone but Messi is the new superstar,” said Faruq Mia, a flag hawker who came from neighbouring Narayanganj district to stock up.Mia bought 500 flags last week, made a big profit and so needs 500 more. He will be cheering for Argentina.Factory owner Selim Howlader expects to sell several hundred thousand flags as “World Cup fever came early in the country, months before kickoff”.“In 2014, I sold more than 80,000 flags. Most of them were sold during the World Cup or just days before kickoff. Now I am selling 2,000-2,500 big flags and 10,000 pennants a day and the World Cup is still weeks away,” said the happy 33-year-old businessman.Howlader employs 25 workers and said about 2,000 people in all are working in Merajnagar’s flag factories.Long hoursMessi and Neymar’s teams dominate by far Howlader’s order list. “Argentina and Brazil are the two most popular teams in Bangladesh,” he said.This photograph taken on 17 May 2018 shows a Bangladeshi worker using a silk-screen for printing a Brazil flag in Narayanganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, ahead of the 2018 football World Cup. Photo: AFP“I have even got orders to make 50-foot long Argentine flags. These two teams have the most supporters in our country. Germany, Spain and Portugal are the other popular teams.”Some four million people work in Bangladesh’s 4,500 apparel factories, who provide billions of dollars worth of clothes to top retailers around the world.But experts and rights groups say that while there has been progress in improving conditions for garment workers in the country, they still often face long hours, dangerous working environments and dismally low pay.The flag boom means extra income for poor workers like Nargis Akhter, 28, and her husband Mohammad Iqbal who work in Howlader’s factory.“On an average every day we make 3,000 taka ($35),” said Iqbal. An average garment factory pays about $70 for an entire month’s work-among the world’s lowest wages for such a job.“I wish the craze for flags would go on for many more months,” said Akhter, with a smile.last_img read more

BCL threats force proquota reforms teacher to leave campus

first_imgbclAn assistant professor of Chittagong University has left the campus in the face of threats from Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) following his posts on Facebook in favour of quota reforms.Md Maidul Islam, a faculty member of the university’s sociology department, told Prothom Alo that he was living with his family on campus.He said he left the campus on Monday in face of the BCL threats.Kh Ali Ar Raji, an assistant professor of the communication and journalism department, also came under wrath of the ruling party’s student wing for his support to the teacher.BCL has already sent a memorandum to the vice-chancellor of the university Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury, demanding dismissal of two teachers from the university.Incidentally, BCL has no university committee on campus since 6 December last year when it was dissolved.Maidul Islam has been writing in favour of quota reforms for last few days on the social media platform. He recently shared a photo of teachers who came under BCL attack in Dhaka.Following the Facebook post, a group of BCL leaders and activists ranging 15 to 20 went to the sociology department’s chairman SM Monirul Islam and pressed complaints against Maidul.When the BCL men started creating chaos in his room, the chairman assured them he would look into the matter.The BCL leaders also posted a photo of Maidul on Facebook and threated  him. Another teacher Kh Ali also said he feels unsafe on the campus. “I can’t move around easily on the campus.” Kh Ali said he will continue to fight against those who will try to curtail the teachers’ freedom of speech.Asked about the matter, former president of the university’s BCL unit (now dissolved) Alamgir Tipu said, “There is no problem here centring quota reform movement. Two teachers are trying to heat up the campus by posting comments on Facebook. They even mocked the government. If they continue to do so, we will first protest and prevent it.”Neither vice-chancellor Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury nor pro-vice chancellor Shirin Aktar answered when attempts were made to call them over phone.Proctor Mohammad Ali Asgar Chowdhury said he has no information about the matter.“No teacher has complained as yet. Once they complain, we will investigate the matter.”Meanwhile, a student of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) was suspended from the campus for posting comments on Facebook in favour of quota reforms.last_img read more

Council Approves Port Covington Deal

first_imgBaltimore’s City Council has given final approval to $660 million in public financing for Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s mixed-use waterfront development.Artist’s rendition of what the Port Covington Project would look like after completion. (Courtesy photo)The council voted 12-1 on Sept. 19 to approve the public financing package for Port Covington. The $5.5 billion development will have offices, homes, restaurants, green space and a new campus for Under Armour, a sportswear company.Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to sign the legislation.last_img read more