October 24, 2019

Government Commits to Maintaining Stable Macroeconomic Environment

first_img The Government remains committed to ongoing policy and programme implementation, aimed at maintaining Jamaica’s stable macroeconomic environment, thereby facilitating the requisite growth for sustainable and inclusive development.Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the indicators of several measures initiated have, to date, spurred vibrancy in the economy and optimism among key stakeholders.He was delivering the Throne Speech at the 2019/20 Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, on Thursday (February 14), under the theme ‘In Partnership towards the New Prosperous Jamaica’.The Governor-General said the indicators include 15 consecutive quarters of economic growth; low inflation; strong investment inflows; record job growth; robust net international reserves; and a debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio on course to fall below 100 per cent by the end of the 2018/19 fiscal year on March 31.He said that in keeping with the thrust to improve corporate governance, Cabinet approved the Policy Guidelines for nominating, selecting and appointing the Boards of Public Bodies, and the issuance of drafting instructions for the accompanying Regulations to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.Additionally, he said Cabinet approved the establishment of an Independent Fiscal Council as part of measures to strengthen Jamaica’s Fiscal Responsibility Framework.“The Fiscal Council will be an independent, non-partisan institution with the responsibility of helping to promote economically sustainable fiscal policies, monitoring the Government’s compliance with the fiscal rules and informing the public on economic matters,” he added.Meanwhile, the Governor-General advised that the Bill to modernise the Bank of Jamaica and make inflation targeting the “cornerstone” of monetary policy is before a Joint Select Parliamentary Committee.“A modernised and strengthened Central Bank will institutionalise and entrench low, stable and predictable inflation, which is a critical platform for any modern economy,” he emphasised.The Governor-General said ensuring access to finance and deepening financial inclusion are key Government objectives.As such, the proposed Micro Credit Act will be tabled to provide the legislative framework for the private microcredit lending sector.Additionally, proposed legislation to amend the Cooperative Societies Act and introduce a prudential regulatory credit union regime, will strengthen deposit insurance and reduce risk.The Governor-General advised that the Customs Act will be modernised by repealing the existing Act. The new Act is slated for tabling during 2019/20.He said that the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) will, this year, bolster its Non-Intrusive Inspection Programme (NIIP) by expanding and utilising more modern cargo imaging scanners at marine ports and warehouses in Kingston and Montego Bay.“The Jamaica Customs Agency plays a crucial role in revenue collection and border activities. Tax Administration Jamaica and the Jamaica Customs Agency continue technology enhancements as part of measures to make revenue collection efficient and effective,” he noted.The Governor-General also informed that the Administration will be prioritising public financial management.This, he indicated, encompasses disaster risk management, border security and sound policies “that will result in greater savings [through debt reduction], faster economic growth, and better social protection.The Governor-General said Jamaica has been commended, on several counts, on the resulting out-turns to date by its International Development Partners.Notable, he pointed out, is Fitch Rating Agency’s recent upgrade of the Government’s Long-Term Foreign Issuer and Local Currency Issuer Default Rating to ‘B+’ from ‘B’, while revising its outlook to ‘Stable’ from ‘Positive’.The agency also upgraded Jamaica’s credit rating ceiling to ‘BB-’ from ‘B’, the highest in over 10 years.“These are positive signs on which to build a firm foundation for a prosperous and new Jamaica for all. Indeed, Jamaica is on a path to economic independence,” the Governor-General said. Story Highlights He was delivering the Throne Speech at the 2019/20 Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, on Thursday (February 14), under the theme ‘In Partnership towards the New Prosperous Jamaica’. Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the indicators of several measures initiated have, to date, spurred vibrancy in the economy and optimism among key stakeholders. The Government remains committed to ongoing policy and programme implementation, aimed at maintaining Jamaica’s stable macroeconomic environment, thereby facilitating the requisite growth for sustainable and inclusive development.last_img read more

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September 14, 2019

Automated Map Creator Launches

first_imgA monthly subscription to the Blinkplan system costs $29 per month. Weekly magazines can opt for a package deal ($55 per month) that stores 12 maps at a time, the company says. A pair of magazine and software design professionals are targeting magazine publishers with their new program, Blinkplan, which they say offers the most convenient way to draw up flatplans—the diagram, or map, that shows where articles and advertisements are laid out.Launched this fall, Blinkplan was created by South Africa-based software designer Joerg Diekmann and former magazine managing editor Kerry Rogers. The system, which is accessed at the Blinkplan Web site, automatically gives a running subtotal of how many ads, editorial pages, advertorials are in a given issue. The system can create PDFs and re-flows pages when a spread is moved. Up to three maps can be worked on at the same time.Diekmann and Rogers spent about a year-and-a-half in testing phases before working with their first magazine client: the South African edition of Cosmopolitan. “They used it for about six months until the product evolved into what it is now,” Diekmann tells FOLIO:.After working with the magazine, Diekmann and Rogers discovered that Blinkplan’s process reduces the time to produce a map (using conventional spreadsheet, design package and all-inclusive systems) by half. “We definitely want to get more glossies on board like Cosmopolitan, but we think Blinkplan is also right for smaller trade magazines, contract magazines, and other business-to-business type magazines,” Diekmann says. “There are so many magazines that cannot afford bigger, and more fully featured systems.”last_img read more

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September 12, 2019

HER Talks Representation In Music Theres A Place For Everybodys Voice To

first_imgNETWORK ERRORCannot Contact ServerRELOAD YOUR SCREEN OR TRY SELECTING A DIFFERENT VIDEO Feb 18, 2019 – 10:11 am H.E.R. TV & Radio Room Interview | 2019 GRAMMYs H.E.R. Talks Representation In Music: “There’s A Place For Everybody’s Voice To Be Heard” The GRAMMY-winning R&B artist talks women supporting each other, dreaming bigger and more in an interview at the 2019 GRAMMYsAna YglesiasGRAMMYs Feb 18, 2019 – 10:16 am California singer/songwriter H.E.R. may not have released her full-length debut album yet, but with H.E.R., the album that combines her first two EPs, she has made her powerful voice loud and clear.Now, with two wins under her belt as a first-time nominee at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, the 21-year-old is ready to dream even bigger. H.E.R. Talks Representation In Music her-talks-representation-music-theres-place-everybodys-voice-be-heard Email News Twitter Facebook Following her wins for Best R&B Performance for “Best Part” featuring Daniel Caesar and Best R&B Album for H.E.R., she spoke to reporters to reflect on the big day. She talked about the synchronicity between herself and the GRAMMYs putting music first, and how the nominations for the project—”an introduction to who I am”—confirmed that she’s in the right place and needs to keep dreaming bigger.More: H.E.R. Wins Best R&B Album For ‘H.E.R.’| 2019 GRAMMYsShe also shared her thoughts on a positive shift towards women in the music industry working together and actively supporting one another.”So many women were nominated alongside each other, and I love that camaraderie, that’s what we need. We need more women to support other women,” H.E.R. told a reporter. “At the end of the day, it’s not a competition; there’s a place for everybody’s voice to be heard. And we all represent different types of women, all shapes and sizes, all different voices and different messages to spread.”Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: H.E.R. On Being Born Into Music & Why R&B Is “At The Core Of Everything”last_img read more

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September 3, 2019

How Egypts Sisi tightened his autocratic grip

first_imgA banner picturing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during the opening ceremony of the new city houses executed near the Suez Canal in Ismailia. Photo: ReutersThis spring, as Egypt’s parliament debated handing president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi greater power and allowing him to govern until 2030, speaker Ali Abdelaal declared the proposals were the will of the nation’s legislature. The ideas, he said, were “born in parliament, and the president has nothing to do with them, from near or far.”The reality was different, said five people with knowledge of the matter.Three of Sisi’s close advisers, including his eldest son, Mahmoud, had begun planning the changes to the constitution several months earlier, soon after Sisi was elected to a second and final term in office in April 2018, according to these sources, one of whom was present at the discussions.In meetings in September and October 2018 at the headquarters of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service in Cairo, Mahmoud al-Sisi, intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Mohamed Abou Shoka, a legal adviser to Sisi’s election campaign, talked through ideas for prolonging the president’s time in office, the sources said. They discussed which articles of the constitution to rewrite, how to do this and the timing of such a move.The proposals that emerged – extending Sisi’s presidency and his power over the courts and parliament – were put before parliament by pro-Sisi lawmakers in February. The draft amendments raced through a chamber dominated by Sisi loyalists, and were approved in a referendum in April, in which critical voices were largely silent. Sisi’s opponents say the revisions to the constitution extinguish all hope for a civil, democratic and modern state. Not since the decades-long rule of Hosni Mubarak ended in 2011, they say, has so much power been concentrated in the hands of one man.”The tyrant regime is legitimized,” said Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate and a senior member of the Civil Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition groups.The Egyptian government did not respond to detailed questions from Reuters for this article. Sisi has said previously that Egypt is besieged by terrorism. Supporters of the constitutional changes argue that the president still has work to do in that fight and in reforming Egypt’s economy, and so he needs more time and extended powers.Parliamentary speaker Abdelaal told parliament last month that Sisi “has a dream to make this country strong, advanced and developed.”Sisi, a former general, became president in 2014 after the military toppled Mubarak’s democratically elected successor, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, following weeks of street protests. Since then, Sisi has steadily tightened his grip. A crackdown on opponents has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Western governments. A Reuters investigation in April found that Egyptian police had shot dead hundreds of suspected Islamist militants in what authorities said were gun battles, but bereaved families said were extrajudicial killings. A Reuters investigation in July showed a threefold rise in the number of death penalties carried out since Sisi came to power.In interviews, lawmakers, security sources and people with links to Egyptian intelligence described how Sisi’s supporters rewrote key passages of the constitution to give the president and the military greater power, then pushed the changes through a pliant parliament and the public vote. One of Egypt’s few independent news outlets, Mada Masr, first reported that Sisi’s son and intelligence chief Abbas Kamel attended talks about changing the constitution. Reuters pieced together more details about the discussions and how lawmakers and the media were brought into line.A person familiar with the parliamentary process said lawmakers had no hand in drawing up the draft amendments that were put before the house. Some lawmakers who opposed the changes – they were approved by 531 votes to 22 – said they were subject to smears and intimidation.Senior judges wrote to parliament, in a March 16 letter that was reviewed by Reuters, warning that the amendments “would impinge on the independence of the judiciary.” Opposition politicians said there were dozens of arrests in the run-up to the referendum.SOFTLY, SOFTLYSisi’s son Mahmoud rarely appears in public. A graduate of Egypt’s military academy, he holds a senior position in the General Intelligence Service, according to two sources with close links to Egyptian intelligence. A Western diplomat said Mahmoud is in charge of national security, one of three sons of the president known to hold official positions.Abbas Kamal, nicknamed ‘the president’s shadow’ because of his closeness to Sisi, became head of the General Intelligence Service in June 2018, having previously served as Sisi’s chief of staff. Mohamed Abou Shoka, a former chief prosecutor, acted as spokesman and legal adviser for Sisi’s 2018 presidential campaign.The reshaped constitution that they helped to craft expanded presidential and military powers. It made the president responsible for appointing chief judges and the public prosecutor, and selecting one-third of deputies in a new parliamentary chamber, the Council of Senators. It tasked the military with protecting “the constitution and democracy and the fundamental makeup of the country and its civil nature,” giving it latitude to step in if it deems Egypt is going in the wrong direction.The president’s term was increased to six years from four. A special clause said that Sisi’s current period in office, which began in 2018, will run to 2024 and he is allowed to stand for election a third time, overriding a ban on more than two consecutive terms.These last revisions were complicated by a legal requirement that any change to the presidential term must bring with it greater freedoms. By stipulating that at least 25 percent of lawmakers must be women, the amended constitution sought to satisfy that rule.Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a pro-democracy think tank, said the Egyptian government had tried to sell the changes as “some normal constitutional housekeeping and sweeping the extension of his presidency as just a small part of a package of improvements to the constitution.”Sisi’s advisers were keen to win approval for the changes before fuel price rises in the summer, diplomats and opposition figures said. Egyptians are feeling the strain from higher sales taxes, reduced fuel subsidies and a weak currency – all part of an economic reform programme backed by the International Monetary Fund. And while the economy has steadied, Sisi’s popularity has suffered. Egypt’s official statistics agency reported in July that one in three Egyptians is living in poverty.SWIFT PASSAGEWhen parliament’s legislative committee presented the draft amendments to the house in February, it said the proposals had the support of 155 lawmakers. But a source familiar with the process said these lawmakers hadn’t been involved in drawing up the amendments. They had simply put their signatures to a pre-written document. In a departure from normal procedure, the names of these signatories were not disclosed to the house, according to three lawmakers. The government did not respond to requests for comment.In the weeks that followed, parliament held consultations about the proposed constitutional amendments involving representatives of civil society and some opposition leaders. Speaker Abdelaal said the hearings allowed for a free airing of views on the planned changes. Opponents disagreed with this account. “There wasn’t a real dialogue,” said Mohamed Sami, leader of the leftist Karam Party.Members of the judiciary, which sees its powers diminished, pleaded for a rethink. The State Council Judges’ Club, which represents about 3,000 judges, wrote to parliament to warn that amendments would “impinge on the independence of the judiciary in general and reduce the role of the State Council,” a body that rules in administrative disputes and reviews state contracts.”Justice is the basis of governing, the independence of the judiciary is the basis of justice, and without justice the state will be undermined,” wrote the club’s president, Samir al-Bahay, in the letter, which was reviewed by Reuters. Reuters couldn’t reach al-Bahay for comment.One judge described the situation as worse for the judiciary than under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s authoritarian president from 1954 to 1970. “Nasser used to sack judges, not put them under full control like is happening now,” he said.Some lawmakers who voted against the changes described being subject to smear campaigns and intimidation. Activists, including some living abroad, said they and their families came under increased pressure.Lawmaker Khaled Youssef, who is also a prominent film director, said online attacks against him started “as soon as I announced that the regime was making a mistake.” In February, after Youssef spoke out against changing the constitution, video surfaced on the internet purporting to show him and several women engaged in sexual acts. The same video had appeared in 2016 after Youssef opposed Sisi’s decision to hand two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Youssef said the video was fake.”Every time I oppose a law … they start publishing these videos,” said Youssef, who is currently in Paris.ARRESTS AND SILENCEIn early April, even before the proposed amendments had passed through parliament, roads in Cairo were festooned with banners, posters and digital displays urging people to take part in the yet-to-be-called referendum. Some advertisements went further, pushing for a “yes” vote.More than 120 opposition figures were arrested before and during the April 20-22 referendum, according to the Civil Democratic Movement, a coalition of opposition parties. Among them was Amir Eissa, a senior member of Al Dostour, a liberal party. Eissa’s brother, Moataz, and the party’s lawyer told Reuters that Eissa was arrested outside a polling station in Al Qalyubia Governorate, north of Cairo, on the second day of voting, after telling the official in charge that he had seen people offering bribes to voters. Reuters wasn’t able to contact the official.Eissa remains in custody, said the lawyer, who declined to be identified. Prosecutors ordered that he should be detained on charges of joining a terrorist group and using social media to commit crimes that would threaten peace and security, the lawyer added. Egyptian authorities didn’t respond to requests for comment.Criticism in Egyptian media was muted.Mohamed Abdel Hafiz, a board member of the Journalists’ Syndicate, a professional body, said articles opposing the amendments were stopped by government censors stationed at printing houses to check newspapers pre-publication.”Newspapers were prevented from publishing any views that opposed the constitutional amendments,” said Abdel Hafiz.A website collecting signatures against the referendum was blocked hours after the site’s launch in March, according to NetBlocks, an internet monitoring group. It was unclear who was behind the move. The site had already gathered 60,000 signatures.On 24 April, Egypt’s election commission announced that 89 percent of voters had backed the amendments on a turnout of 44 percent. The commission declared it a free and fair vote.last_img read more

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August 31, 2019

Dreamlab cracks the code to Microsofts wireless keyboards

first_img Citation: Dreamlab cracks the code to Microsoft’s wireless keyboards (2007, December 4) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2007-12-dreamlab-code-microsoft-wireless-keyboards.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The IT security center claims that it has developed simple technology that can “sniff out” the keystrokes typed on Microsoft´s Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 and 2000 keyboards. At distances of up to 10 meters, Dreamlab´s technology can capture and decrypt keystrokes that may contain information such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers, and confidential messages. With appropriate technical equipment, Dreamlab predicts that eavesdropping at even larger distances is possible.Companies like Microsoft and Logitech use the 27 MHz radio band for communication between wireless keyboards and a computer. As Max Moser of Dreamlab Technologies says, “Wireless communication is only as secure as the encryption technology used. Due to its nature, it can be tapped with little effort.”Because Microsoft´s encryption technology uses only about 256 possible encryption keys, it did not take many tries for Dreamlab´s software to decode the data. In this case, just a simple radio receiver, a soundcard, and suitable software were enough to break the cryptography codes and tap into the radio frequencies. Dreamlab says it immediately alerted the manufacturer to the security loophole, but it will be a long process to fix the problem. In the meantime, Dreamlab hopes that consumers using wireless keyboards will take caution when using any wireless keyboard. Because Microsoft´s other wireless devices operate on similar technology, Dreamlab warns that these devices might also be prone to attacks. Some of these devices include the Wireless Optical Desktop 3000, Wireless Optical Desktop 4000 and other products in the 27 Mhz-based Wireless Laser Desktop series.Dreamlab has not released the specific tools and methods used to break the code, but researchers at Dreamlab have created a presentation about their work explaining the procedures used and the pitfalls encountered during the analysis. They plan to present their work at future events, mainly for educational purposes. The company hopes that this information will make researchers more aware of the interesting topic of analyzing unknown radio-based data transmission.More information:Dreamlab´s white paper: “We know what you typed last summer”Dreamlab´s VideoCopyright 2007 Lisa Zyga & Physorg.com. All rights reserved. Web Sites and Bloggers may provide the introductory paragraph and a link to the story, but may not copy, redistribute, rewrite or publish the story in whole or in part without written permission of the author or publisher. Anyone using a wireless keyboard might be a little concerned with a recent announcement by the Swiss company Dreamlab Technologies. Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 last_img read more

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August 31, 2019

Could fast radio bursts be produced by collisions between neutron stars and

first_img(Phys.org)—Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short bursts of radio emissions from the sky lasting only few milliseconds. However, their origin is still unknown, perplexing astronomers for years since the discovery of the first FRB in 2007. According to various studies, these peculiar radio bursts could be a product of a supernova, two black holes colliding, a spinning neutron star, or they could be related to hyperflares of magnetars. Now, astronomers from the Nanjing University in China are offering another explanation for this puzzling question, asking if collisions of asteroids with neutron stars are producing FRBs. Artist impression of a fast radio burst reaching Earth. Photo credit: Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium Explore further Detected radio bursts evidence of ‘exotic phenomena’ © 2015 Phys.org More information: Collision between Neutron Stars and Asteroids as a Mechanism for Fast Radio Bursts, arXiv:1512.06519 [astro-ph.HE] arxiv.org/abs/1512.06519AbstractAs a new kind of radio transient sources detected at ∼1.4 GHz, fast radio bursts are specially characterized by their short durations and high intensities. Although only ten events are detected so far, fast radio bursts may actually frequently happen at a rate of ∼103 —- 104 sky−1 day−1. We suggest that fast radio bursts can be produced by the collisions between neutron stars and asteroids. This model can naturally explain the millisecond duration of fast radio bursts. The energetics and event rate can also be safely accounted for. Fast radio bursts thus may be one side of the multifaces of the neutron star-small body collision events, which are previously expected to lead to X-ray/gamma-ray bursts or glitch/anti-glitches. A paper, detailing the latest finding, co-authored by Yong Feng Huang and Jin-Jun Geng, was published online in the arXiv journal on Dec. 21.The authors of the paper, using the data from about ten FRBs, obtained key parameters that could help solve the mystery of these radio bursts. FRBs were generally discovered through single-pulse search methods by using archive data of wide-field pulsar surveys at the multi-beam 64-meter Parkes radio telescope in Australia and the 305-meter Arecibo telescope, located in Puerto Rico.FRBs are usually detected by large radio telescopes at 1.4 GHz. These events are of extremely short duration, typically lasting for less than a few milliseconds, but are detected with high intensity. The researchers noted that there are four main stages of detecting fast radio bursts.”First, the radio telescopes are uniformly pointing toward the sky at the time of the detections. Second, for the multi-beam receiver system, usually the signal was recorded only in very few beams, typically less than four, especially by adjacent beams. Third, FRBs are characterized by large dispersion measure (DM) values, significantly larger than terrestrial sources of interference. Fourth, the observed behaviors of time delay and frequency evolution of FRBs strongly indicate that cold-plasma dispersion should have been engraved in the radio signal,” the scientists wrote in the paper.The astronomers noted also that FRBs cannot be quickly followed up to catch the counterparts in other wavelengths, as they are generally screened out from archive data, as was done by Huang and Geng in their latest research. Thus, the absence of counterparts poses great difficulties in understanding the true nature of FRBs.The authors of the paper insist that the explanations offered by previous studies are unsatisfactory when it comes to the origin of these radio bursts. They imply that a very strong electromagnetic outburst or multi-band afterglow would be triggered and should be observed tin association with the FRB event. However, non of these phenomena have been observed.The new hypothesis, presented in the study, can account for many of the observational characteristics of FRBs, such as the duration, the energetics and the event rate. They suggest that the collision between asteroids and neutron stars can reasonably explain many of the observed features.Scientists have expected that the collision of small bodies with neutron stars can give birth to some kinds of X-ray bursts or some special gamma-ray bursts. The new research accounts for the possibility that these collisions are behind fast radio bursts.”Our model can naturally explain the millisecond duration of FRBs. It can also well account for various other aspects of FRBs,” the scientists wrote.They hope that the future Chinese 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), which is expected to be ready for observations in late 2016, can contribute to the study of the multidimensionality of such collisions and will reveal new insights into the nature of FRBs. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Could fast radio bursts be produced by collisions between neutron stars and asteroids? (2015, December 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-12-fast-radio-collisions-neutron-stars.htmllast_img read more

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