Video Tutorial: Light Painting in After Effects and Photoshop

first_imgLearn how to create a stylish light painting effect using only After Effects, Photoshop and a camera – no third party plugins necessary!In a previous post, we highlighted the visually stunning Light Pollution video by digital video studio Super Frog Saves Tokyo (SFST).  What was unique about this video is that all of the light painting effects were created without the use of any specialized third party plugins – pretty impressive.Now, the team behind the video is giving us a peek into how they created the effects.  In the video tutorial below, Joe from SFST shows how one of the light painting effects was created.  Joe has also shared the raw footage so you can walk through the tutorial step-by-step without having to acquire your own shots (see the Vimeo page to download).The light painting technique uses a slew of After Effects and Photoshop tools including adjustment layers, basic color grading, masking, tracking and batch automation.  None of these steps is too complicated, but familiarization in these apps is essential – this isn’t for the Adobe newbie.Additionally, the SequenceLayers plugin from AEScripts is used to automate the timing of the effect (this can be done manually without a script but would be very time consuming).Light painting in After Effects is a great visual effect that can add punch to your video projects.  Thanks for sharing, SFST!See the Vimeo page for more info. Best viewed full screen:last_img read more

Charge sheet filed in Goa murder case

first_imgThe Canacona police in south Goa on Friday filed a charge sheet against Vikhat Bhagat (23), before the Judicial first class magistrate charging the youth with the rape and murder of a 28-year-old Irish national in March. Canacona inspector Rajendra Prabhudesai filed the 374-page charge sheet charging the accused under Section 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 394 (robbery) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of IPC. According to the charge sheet, the woman hailed from Buncrana, Co Donegal, Ireland. She arrived in Canacona on March 12. The charge sheet states that the accused, taking advantage of his friendship with the victim, took her to an open field, sexually abused her and attacked her with a glass bottle. He later murdered her and tried to destroy the evidence. The accused is a local history-sheeter.last_img read more

Don’t take over Naik’s assets: panel

first_imgThe Prevention of Money Laundering Act Appellate Tribunal has ordered “status quo”, preventing the Enforcement Directorate from taking possession of two immovable properties that the agency has attached in the Zakir Naik case. The Directorate said it would challenge the decision in the Delhi High Court.The order pertains to a Chennai-based school and a commercial property in Mumbai. After they were provisionally attached last year, the adjudicating authority confirmed the order. Zakir Naik’s legal representatives then challenged the move in the Appellate Tribunal.During a hearing, the Tribunal asked the Directorate not to take further action pertaining to the two immovable assets.last_img read more

Podcast: Sodium explosions, human-Neandertal mating, and more

first_imgWhy does sodium explode in water? Where and when did humans and Neandertals interbreed? And does childhood neglect erode the brain? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Susanne Bard. Plus, John Bohannon discusses the growing rift between mathematicians and the National Security Agency following Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations of massive eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.last_img

North Carolina Sues John Kapoor’s Insys Over Opioid Prescriptions

first_imgNorth Carolina sued Insys Therapeutics Inc, which was earlier led by its embattled founder John Kapoor, last week for illegally pushing an opioid medication. The company already faces lawsuits over the issue.North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced an unfair trade lawsuit against Insys on Dec. 21, which he filed in Wake County Superior Court, for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe Subsys, an oral spray meant for cancer patients.“As we allege in our complaint, Insys carried out an extensive, coordinated scheme of kickbacks, deception and fraud in the marketing of its drug, Subsys,” Stein was quoted as saying by Reuters. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also demands that the company surrender the money earned through its various promotional schemes.Indian American billionaire Kapoor was arrested in October for allegedly leading a nationwide bribery and fraud scheme to promote the use of Subsys in non-cancer patients to boost profits.The medicine was launched in 2012 and was going to cost a cancer patient thousands of dollars per month to control pain. It was meant for end-stage cancer patients.Prosecutors said that American pharmaceutical companies prioritize profits over public health and Insys is an example of it. Authorities in the country are scrutinizing the prescription of opioids, which President Donald Trump has said is a nationwide public health emergency.Insys has said it is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department and might have to pay a minimum of $150 million, according to Reuters.Insys has also said that it has taken measures to prevent past mistakes and emphasized that Subsys made up 0.02 per cent of opioid prescriptions in 2016 in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2017 that at least 42,249 opioid overdose deaths were reported in 2016, which is a 28 per cent increase from 2015.Kapoor, former Insys CEO Micahel Babich and others have pleaded not guilty. In the same case, medical practitioners and other ex-Insys employees have also faced charges.In November 2017, the court ruled in favor of Kapoor removing his GPS-enabled ankle monitor, which he said interfered with jogging. Federal prosecutors had said that his wealth put him at flight risk, but U.S. Magistrate Jennifer Boal in Boston expressed her disagreement, saying he was not at flight risk. Related ItemsIndian AmericanMedicineUnited Stateslast_img read more

Surging Ateneo eyes repeat vs NU

first_imgTeam owner: Alab PH poses biggest threat to Hong Kong 5 reign LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Running sixth with a 3-5 record, the Bulldogs are hoping to avenge their 96-83 loss to the Eagles in the first round of the season.The Warriors, meanwhile, gun for a third straight victory against the Falcons at 2 p.m.After losing their first six games, the Warriors, playing with fire and confidence, have notched back-to-back wins at the expense of the University of Santo Tomas and NU.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES MOST READ Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City View comments Ateneo isn’t letting its guard down even with a Final Four berth in UAAP Season 80 within reach.ADVERTISEMENT BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF presidentcenter_img Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  Hoping to keep their laser-like focus, the Blue Eagles shoot for a ninth straight victory against the National U Bulldogs on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.“We still have to work hard, we can’t be complacent,” said Ateneo swingman Thirdy Ravena, after scoring 15 points in the 71-59 win over Adamson last Saturday.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“You have to have that next game mentality, that you have to prepare, you can’t be complacent. Just because you won the game, that doesn’t mean you can slack off.”Standing in the way of the Eagles’ unbeaten run is the desperate Bulldogs, who have lost four of their last five games, including a 90-77 defeat to the University of the East last Saturday. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Read Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PHlast_img read more

FA Cup, a farewell gift for Louis van Gaal?

first_imgJose Mourinho in a file photo REUTERS Time for change? Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal holds the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. Jose Mourinho in a file photo REUTERS The moment finally arrived. Silverware for Manchester United — the first in three seasons since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.With a forgetful season under David Moyes, and two uninspiring years under manager Louis van Gaal, the FA Cup victory at Wembley on Sunday was one to cherish. Not only was it Man United’s first FA Cup since 2004, it was the first for skipper Wayne Rooney, the only domestic title to have eluded the England forward.However, celebrations were overshadowed by increasing speculation of Jose Mourinho being poised to take over the reigns at Old Trafford, amid rumours that the victory won’t be enough to save van Gaal’s job. According to reports in the British media, the Dutchman left the team hotel in London on Sunday, telling reporters “It’s over.” The club, however, stated that he was referring to the season.Fans being disillusioned by van Gaal’s “boring” style of football, as well as heavy criticism pouring in from former players and analysts, have only fuelled rumours that a managerial change is imminent.Van Gaal’s constant dismissal of reports by insisting that he “will be in charge” next season wasn’t enough to cool down talk. Incidentally, it was the FA Cup victory in 1990, against the same opposition as Saturday — Crystal Palace — that saved Sir Alex’s job, and paved the way for United’s dominance in English football.The bigger question, however, is — in which direction does this take Man United?‘The Special One’Given Mourinho’s track record of producing results, fans’ hopes for silverware to return to Old Trafford’s trophy cabinet will rise. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ will make United contenders for the league title again, without doubt, and we could probably see fresh faces in the team come August. With cash at his disposal, Mourinho will use waste no time in overhauling the squad. What will add to the excitement is the resumption of his duel with Pep Guardiola, who has been appointed manager of Manchester City, given their long-standing feud since their days in La Liga.The Manchester Derby could be higher on tempo from next season, something that will make fans across the world enthusiastic. Mourinho may not find it an easy ride, though. Club legends Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex, the two most influential figures in the club hierarchy, aren’t the biggest fans of his style of play. Neither are they enthused by his aversion to promote youth players, a philosophy integral to United.While Moyes and van Gaal enjoyed the constant backing of the club legends during tough times, Mourinho may find the support hard to come by. Any slip-up in form is likely to make him an easy scapegoat.Above all, Mourinho’s ‘Third Season Syndrome’ remains the larger worry. Given his history at Chelsea and Real Madrid, Mourinho remains a short-term option, as he is known not to last more than three years in any club, with the dressing room getting divided and a fallout with club officials being somewhat of a regular occurrence. Picking a manager who’s not likely to hang around for long, and restarting the selection process a couple of seasons later, may not be the wisest decision for the club now.Other contenders?Some in the football circles insist that Man United should turn its attention to Mauricio Pochettino, manager of Tottenham Hotspur, or PSG’s outgoing manager Laurent Blanc, a former United player himself. Though Pochettino led Spurs to a title challenge this season, he has just signed a new five-year deal at White Hart Lane, and Blanc doesn’t boast the CV that Mourinho does.While there has been widespread support for the club’s prodigal son, Ryan Giggs, his lack of experience at the top level could work against him.Even as British media reports suggest United could make an official announcement regarding Mourinho early this week, celebrations continue at Old Trafford; Man United has won a record-equalling FA Cup, and a disappointing season has ended on a high. But could that be the final hurrah for van Gaal? Time for change? Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal holds the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. Manchester United may be set for a new manager, say reports 2/2 Time for change? Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal holds the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. Jose Mourinho in a file photo REUTERS SHARE SHARE EMAILcenter_img 1/2 SHARE May 22, 2016 football Published on × COMMENT COMMENTSlast_img read more

Wimbledon2017: No fanfare but Angelique Kerber at crunch time with Garbine Muguruza

first_imgIt is rare that a world number one goes under the radar at Wimbledon and it has been even more strange in the case of Angelique Kerber, beaten finalist at the All England Club last year.But while the attention has been elsewhere, the German has quietly made it into the fourth round where she faces a stern test on Monday against 14th-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.The lack of hype around Kerber is a reflection of the poor form she displayed coming into the grasscourt season, in particular her showing at the French Open.The 29-year-old suffered a humiliating first-round exit at Roland Garros, losing to 40th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova and becoming the first top seed to be eliminated from the tournament at the first hurdle in the professional era.She was also forced to withdraw from a warm-up event in Birmingham last month due to a hamstring injury, further lowering expectations for Wimbledon.Kerber, runner-up to Serena Williams last year, hardly looked back to her best in straight-sets wins over Irina Falconi and Kirsten Flipkens and she was in real danger in the third round where she battled back from a set and a break down to defeat American Shelby Rogers.The German conceded it had been tough for her to find her rhythm and that it was a fighting spirit that had got her through -But that probably won’t be enough against Muguruza.”I think I have to play good tennis from the first point against her. I have to be aggressive, as well, and try to play my game from the first ball that we hit,” Kerber said.advertisement”It’s a completely different match than the last three matches I had here”.Muguruza has won her last four matches against Kerber, including a third-round victory at Wimbledon in 2015, where she went on to reach the final which she lost to Serena Williams.The Venezuela-born 23-year-old has also been in top form at this year’s championships, reaching the second week without dropping a set.She was dominant in a 6-2 6-2 third-round win over Romanian Sorana Cirstea but while her recent record and form make her the favourite against Kerber, Muguruza knows she will have to be at her best.”I think when you play top players, first of all you [have] got to have your best level,” she said.”I think I kind of found a good level, good shots, good serve, playing against her. I played a lot of times against her, and I know her game. But nothing changes.”I had tough matches with people that were not in the top, top level. Then you play people in the top level. You never know how it’s going to go. For me, it’s just another exciting match.”last_img read more

Redmi Note 5 Pro for Rs 10,800 is the best deal in Flipkart Mobiles Bonanza sale

first_imgXiaomi is all set to launch the Redmi Note 7 in India on February 28. Ahead of the launch of the new series looks like Xiaomi wants to empty stock of the old models like the Redmi Note 5 and Note 6 series. On account of that Flipkart is hosting Mobiles Bonanza sale and Amazon is live with Mi Days sale starting today, February 19. Both the sales will end on February 23. During both the sales, popular smartphones from Xiaomi are selling with massive discounts. Most of the offers are great, but the best one of all is on the Redmi Note 5 Pro on both Flipkart and Amazon.To recollect, Xiaomi very recently reduced the India price of the Redmi Note 5 Pro to Rs 12,999. Flipkart is selling the Redmi Note 5 Pro for Rs 11,999 after a flat Rs 1,000 discount. Amazon is also selling the Note 5 Pro for Rs 11,999. On top of the flat discount the interested buyers can get instant 10 per cent discount on Flipkart, which will further drop the price of the Redmi Note 5 Pro to Rs 10,800. Notably, the Axis bank offer will be available to buyers shopping with their Axis debit and credit card. Meanwhile, Amazon is offering an instant 5 per cent discount to ICICI debit and credi card users.Although the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a few years old now, at Rs 10,800 it is one of the best deals available on Flipkart during the Mobiles Bonanza sale today. It is a no hidden fact that Note 5 Pro is one of the best smartphones of its times. The smartphone has received several awards for being the best smartphone at its price point. In fact, the Redmi Note 5 Pro helped Xiaomi lead the Indian smartphone market last year. According to IDC Xiaomi has become India’s leading smartphone brand of India in 2018.advertisementThe Redmi Note 5 Pro strikes all the right nodes when it comes to the offerings. The Note 5 Pro manages to click great pictures with good amount of details and spot-on colours with its dual rear cameras. The selfie shooter of the Redmi phone also manages to click flawless selfies, as we had said in our review of the phone.The Redmi Note 5 Pro, on the back panel, comes packed with a primary 13-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture and 5-megapixel secondary camera with f/2.0 aperture. The Note 5 Pro camera also comes paired with several features like Single tone flash, PDAF, enhanced low-light photography, HDR adjustments, Panorama, Burst mode, Face recognition, EIS for video recording, among other things. The front camera of the Redmi Note 5 Pro is equally promising. The smartphone sports a 20-megapixel selfie shooter on the front paired with f/2.2 aperture.Overall, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a powerful package. The smartphone features a 5.99-inch FHD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 chipset paired with up to 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which can be expanded further via microSD card. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is backed by a 4000mAh battery which runs the phone easily for one full day in a single charge.Flipkart is also selling other Xiaomi phones including Redmi 6A, Redmi Note 6 Pro, Redmi 6 Pro, Redmi Y2, and Mi A2 with big discounts. The sale ends on February 23.ALSO READ | Xiaomi Redmi 6A, Mi A2, Redmi Note 5 Pro sell with massive discounts during Mi Days saleALSO READ | Flipkart Mobiles Bonanza sale begins, big discounts on Redmi Note 6 Pro, Realme 2 Pro, Poco F1ALSO READ | Vivo V15 Pro with 32MP pop-up selfie camera now teased on Flipkart ahead of February 20 India launchlast_img read more

Readers’ Picks of the Week (8-12 of June)

first_imgFlooding of Panama Canal’s New Locks Kicks Off The Panama Canal has taken another important step toward the completion of the Expansion Program as it begins to fill the lower chamber of its new Atlantic locks…. Read more First Ocean Plastic Garbage Collector to Be Deployed in 2016 The world’s first system to passively clean up plastic pollution from the world’s oceans is to be deployed in 2016, Boyan Slat, 20-year old founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup announced at … Read more LPG Tanker Disappears off Vietnam An LPG tanker disappeared in the South China Sea after issuing a distress signal some 200 miles off Vietnam on June 10, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency reports…. Read more World Maritime News Staff Interview with MOAS: We Need Funding for Life-Saving Drones The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) was born from one family’s need to reach out to people in distress and make a difference…. Read more OBP: Pirate Boarding in Southeast Asia Successful in 90 Pct of Cases More than 90% of the reported attacks in Southeast Asia resulted in pirates successfully boarding target vessels, according to the latest analysis of pirate attacks in Southeast Asia carried… Read more last_img read more

Over 60 Stolt Chemical Tankers to Get DESMI BWMS

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: Stolt-Nielsen Tanker operator Stolt Tankers has selected DESMI Ocean Guard’s CompactClean ballast water management system (BWMS) for installation on the company’s existing fleet.Under the agreement, DESMI is to equip more than 60 chemical tankers with the CompactClean BMWSs by the end of 2023.Most of the ships will be retrofitted with two CompactClean systems, one for each ballast pump.As explained, this has the advantage that the ships will maintain full redundancy on their ability to ballast and de-ballast, which is a priority for Stolt Tankers. The ability to ballast/de-ballast is essential to the ship’s ability to load or discharge cargo, and hence to operate.“While strict compliance with all environmental and safety regulations is a must, we always undertake great efforts to be compliant without jeopardising the smooth and efficient daily operation of our ships. After careful consideration, we found that the CompactClean BWMS was the ideal solution for us in order to meet the IMO and US Coast Guard regulations for ballast water treatment,” Herman Heyns, Senior Project Manager at Stolt Tankers, said.“We will be able to retrofit two systems into the pump rooms or on the deck of most of our ships. For Stolt Tankers it is essential to keep our ballast operations as simple as possible, and we do not want to complicate this more than necessary.”“The fleet of ships owned and operated by Stolt Tankers is top of the line sophisticated chemical tankers, which imposes extra challenges on the BWMS to be retrofitted. Obviously, the BWMS must be approved for installation in hazardous areas (EX-certified), but they also need to be capable of being incorporated in a smooth and seamless manner into the existing automation on the vessel,” Rasmus Folsø, CEO of DESMI Ocean Guard A/S, explained.Stolt Tankers, part of Stolt-Nielsen Limited, operates a fleet of 71 deep-sea parcel tankers and 84 coastal and inland tankers.last_img read more

Delhi BJP says enrolled 9 lakh new members

first_imgNew Delhi: The Delhi BJP has enrolled over nine lakh new members even before the official month-long membership campaign concludes on August 11, party leaders said on Saturday. The nationwide drive has received great success and Delhi BJP is a frontrunner, said Kuljeet Chahal, Delhi BJP general secretary and in-charge of the campaign in the city. “We have enlisted over nine lakh new members so far and we will easily achieve the target of making 10 lakh new members in view of assembly polls in Delhi,” Chahal said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder The membership campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi on the birth anniversary of party ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, on June 6. In Delhi, the campaign was launched with fanfare at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium by senior party leader and national in-charge of the campaign Shivraj Singh Chauhan on June 7. The month-long campaign in Delhi will conclude on August 11. The party will hold special drives next week to enrol more members by setting up desks at malls, educational institutions and temples in the city, said Delhi’s co in-charge of the campaign Harsh Malhotra. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings “On Monday evening our Mahila Morcha will carry out the campaign at malls in the city. Our SC Morcha workers will set up desks outside prominent temples on Tuesday morning and the youth wing activists will enrol new members outside colleges in the city on Wednesday,” he said. Delhi BJP leaders hoped to boost the party’s membership by 57 per cent as people were showing “much interest”. Former national general secretary (organisation) Ramlal had urged Delhi unit leaders to boost membership by 57 per cent, the vote share of party in the city in Lok Sabha elections. Currently, Delhi BJP has around 26 lakh registered members out of which over 14 lakh are duly verified, party leaders said.last_img read more

Energy financials and industrials weigh on TSX US stocks also lower

first_imgCompanies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index was lower in late-morning trading, weighed down by losses in the influential energy, financial and industrials sectors.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 38.33 points at 15,236.65.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 204.57 points at 25,621.86. The S&P 500 index was down 22.27 points at 2,768.10, while the Nasdaq composite was down 66.15 points at 7,375.36.The Canadian dollar traded down at 75.72 cents US compared with an average of 75.81 cents US on Monday.The January crude contract was up 25 cents at US$53.20 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up 20.6 cents at US$4.54 per mmBTU.The February gold contract was up US$4.20 at US$1,243.80 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 3.3 cents at US$2.78 a pound. The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Video: Cristiano Ronaldo Junior Displays His Football Skills

Rabat – Following Real Madrid’s Champions League celebration, Cristiano Ronaldo’s son, Cristiano Junior, showed his own football dribbling skills, Sunday at the Bernabeu stadium.Real Madrid beat, its Italian opponent, Juventus, with a 4-1 victory on Saturday. Real Madrid star, Ronaldo, secured the lead as he guided his team to a win for the title.Following the game, the Los Blancos went back home with their 12th precious European trophy. On Sunday, Real Madrid supporters honored Zinedine Zidane along with his squad at the ceremony.During the event a few children, who were wearing Real Madrid jerseys were given a few moments to show off their football skills in front of thousands of spectators.Cristiano Jr was among them and performed some spectacular moves. The 6-year-old child impressed the crowds with his remarkable skills.Could Cristiano Jr follow in his father’s footsteps? Only time will tell the tale. read more

Newsmaker Staffan de Mistura face of the UN in Iraq no stranger

So it was with pride and satisfaction that Staffan de Mistura, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Iraq, observed this weekend’s provincial elections taking place largely in peace, a far cry from the suicide bombers, fiery explosions and deadly gunfights that marked an earlier tour in the strife-torn country four years ago.But it was a violent, senseless death that first brought Mr. de Mistura to work at the UN when he was a volunteer accompanying a World Food Programme (WFP) official in Cyprus in the late Sixties.”I was just a young student, but on that occasion, as a young volunteer just carrying his backpack, I saw in front of my eyes, for the first time in my life, someone die,” he told the UN News Centre in a Newsmaker interview. It was a young kid, killed by a sniper. It was on the Green Line, the line separating the two groups, the two entities.”I could not understand why a young boy, a civilian, should be the victim of a conflict between two different ideas or two different political convictions. It produced in me a very strong level of calm outrage that then convinced me I would like to dedicate my life to make it difficult for war to take place and to affect civilians. That was the main motivation for me to join the UN.” Mr. de Mistura has now been with the UN nearly 40 years, and nearly always in conflict situations, in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Lebanon – and in Iraq four times – blood-soaked stations that mark the modern geography of war, violence, genocide and repression.”What certainly did have an impact on me was the period in Somalia during the worst time, 1991, the siege of Sarajevo, the siege of Dubrovnik, the first period in Kosovo, the airdrops of food aid in Sudan, the hunger in Ethiopia in 1984 – each of them had an impact on my professional and emotional life and at the same time it taught me how we could try to improve in order to make sure that we could get the best out of the UN wherever we were,” he said. Of his first tour in Iraq, when Saddam Hussein was still in charge, there was a humanitarian crisis, whereas now it is much less evident, Mr. de Mistura stressed. “What I always noticed, at that time and even now, was that the Iraqi people have a unique resilience,” he said.”They believe in their country; they are very, very creative intellectually. The engineers and doctors were the best in the Middle East. They’re able to rebuild their bridges. The challenge this time was not to build bridges but to build bridges between them.” And what of a realistic best-case scenario for Iraq in the next five years?”I would not speculate,” Mr. de Mistura said. “I could only tell you my hope – that Iraq will be finally what it always deserved to be: a much respected country in the region, a peaceful country, and will finally enjoy and share its wealth.” 2 February 2009The top United Nations man in Baghdad knows death and violence up close. read more

South Sudan will need strong partnerships to tackle challenges ahead – Ban

7 July 2011South Sudan, which is just days away from becoming the world’s newest country, will need to develop a broad set of partnerships – with the North, with its neighbours and its own people – to tackle the “daunting” challenges it faces, says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. On 9 July, Mr. Ban and a host of foreign dignitaries will converge on Juba, the capital of the soon-to-be Republic of South Sudan, to watch the new nation raise its flag and inaugurate its first president, Salva Kiir. South Sudan’s independence follows a referendum held in January in line with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – the 2005 accord that ended the decades-long North-South civil war in Sudan. “For the more than eight million citizens of South Sudan, it will be a momentous and emotional day,” the Secretary-General wrote in an op-ed published today in The New York Times ahead of Saturday’s independence ceremony. “Yet, nationhood has come at steep cost,” he added. “When the assembled presidents and prime ministers board their official planes to return home, the challenges that remain will be daunting indeed.”On the day of its birth, Mr. Ban noted, South Sudan will rank near the bottom of all recognized human development indices, including the world’s highest maternal mortality rate and a female illiteracy rate of over 80 per cent. “Critical issues of poverty, insecurity and lack of infrastructure must all be addressed by a relatively new government with little experience and only embryonic institutions,” said Mr. Ban, adding that the risk of increased violence, harm to civilian populations and further humanitarian suffering is “very real.”At the same time, he noted, South Sudan has remarkable potential, given its substantial oil reserves, huge amounts of arable land and the Nile River flowing through its centre. “Alone, South Sudan cannot meet these challenges nor realize its potential. Doing so will require partnership – a full (and ongoing) engagement with the international community and, most especially, South Sudan’s neighbours.” Mr. Ban highlighted the need for the country’s new leaders, first and foremost, to reach out to their counterparts in the Government of Sudan, stressing that strong, peaceful relations with the North are essential. “A priority for both countries is agreement on their common border, sustainable relations to ensure both States can benefit from the oil revenues in the region, and cross-border arrangements to continue their strong historical, economic and cultural ties,” he stated.He noted that recent instability in Southern Kordofan and Abyei have strained North-South relations and heightened political rhetoric. “Now is the time for both the North and the South to think of the long-term benefits of working together, not short-term political gains at the other’s expense,” he said.South Sudan must also reach out to its other neighbours, both in Africa and across the globe, the Secretary-General stated. It must also reach out to its own people. “It must find strength in diversity and build institutions that represent the full constellation of its broad geographic and ethnic communities.”Speaking to reporters in Geneva, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Ban commended the leadership of both North and South for the progress they have made to date. “And let us emphasize that the path of prosperity and stability lies in peace and partnership – cemented at the negotiating table and supported by the entire international community.”UN officials have highlighted the grave humanitarian impact of the fighting between northern and southern forces in Southern Kordofan that has displaced an estimated 73,000 people since it began a few weeks ago.Haile Menkerios, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) that is due to end on 9 July, urged both sides to “display the same leadership that allowed the end of the North-South war,” to rapidly end this new confrontation, cease hostilities and resolve all pending disputes through dialogue. “As in the past, the United Nations stands ready to assist the parties in resolving their differences and implementing new agreements they now must find,” he told a news conference.According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the security situation in Southern Kordofan remains tense and volatile, with fighting reported near the main town of Kadugli every day over the past week. While humanitarian agencies have access to Kadugli town, access to locations outside of Kadugli for aid activities is still being denied, it added. UN agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are continuing to provide assistance where possible. read more

Thailand should amend defamation laws to comply with freedom of speech –

A United Nations human rights expert today called on Thailand to amend laws that impose jail terms of three to 15 years on “whoever defames, insults or threatens” top members of the country’s royal family, stressing that their vagueness contravened international treaties.“The recent spike in lèse majesté cases pursued by the police and the courts shows the urgency to amend them,” Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue said, using the legal term for offences or crimes against a State’s rulers or affronts to their dignity.Mr. La Rue cited section 112 of the Thai penal code, which states that “whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne or the Regent shall be punished with imprisonment of three to 15 years,” and the Computer Crimes Act, which can impose jail terms of up to five years for any views on the monarchy made on the Internet that are deemed to threaten national security.He stressed that Thailand has been a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) since 1996, which contains legally binding human rights obligations, including the obligation to fully guarantee the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.“The threat of a long prison sentence and vagueness of what kinds of expression constitute defamation, insult, or threat to the monarchy, encourage self-censorship and stifle important debates on matters of public interest, thus putting in jeopardy the right to freedom of opinion and expression,” he said. “This is exacerbated by the fact that the charges can be brought by private individuals and trials are often closed to the public.”While acknowledging that freedom of expression carries with it special responsibilities and that under certain exceptional circumstances it may be limited, including to protect the reputation of individuals and national security, he emphasized that laws limiting such freedom must be clear, unambiguous as to the specific type of banned expression, and proven to be necessary and proportionate, so as to prevent abuse for purposes beyond their intended purpose.“The Thai penal code and the Computer Crimes Act do not meet these criteria,” said Mr. La Rue, who acts in an independent, unpaid capacity and reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. “The laws are vague and overly broad, and the harsh criminal sanctions are neither necessary nor proportionate to protect the monarchy or national security.”He voiced concern that the Computer Crimes Act had been used by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, in cooperation with the army, to reportedly block hundreds of thousands of websites containing commentary on the Thai monarchy, and noted that countries had also raised concerns during the Council’s universal periodic review of Thailand on Friday.“In this regard, I am willing to engage constructively with the Government of Thailand, as well as the Law Reform Commission, whose task is, among other things, to propose reforms to harmonize Thailand’s national laws with international human rights standards,” he said. 10 October 2011A United Nations human rights expert today called on Thailand to amend laws that impose jail terms of three to 15 years on “whoever defames, insults or threatens” top members of the country’s royal family, stressing that their vagueness contravened international treaties. read more

United States offers additional assistance to flood affected

The U.S. Government is also continuing with its efforts to provide long-term support and capacity building by working with the Government of Sri Lanka to improve its disaster management system and assisting, through the United Nations, the Sri Lankan Disaster Management Center for improved humanitarian information management and coordination The Embassy is monitoring the situation and continues to work closely with Sri Lankan government disaster relief authorities to identify further needs. (Colombo Gazette) The United States Government will provide an‎ additional 36 million Sri Lankan Rupees (250,000 U.S. dollars) to support flood relief efforts in Sri Lanka, the US Embassy in Colombo said today.This is in addition to the previously announced 7.2 million Sri Lankan Rupees (50,000 U.S. dollars) that is supporting humanitarian assistance activities in the worst affected areas and a three-year program of approximately 144 million Sri Lankan Rupees (U.S. $1 million) designed to provide safe, disaster-resilient, drinking water to populations who are highly vulnerable to flooding and droughts. The total amount of immediate and near-term relief announced by the U.S. Government stands at approximately 187 million Sri Lankan Rupees (U.S. $ 1.3 million). read more

Shooting on Six Nations early Saturday

An early morning shooting Saturday on Six Nations left a 23-year-old man in hospital and police searching for two male suspects.Six Nations police said they responded to a report of gunfire at 6:30 a.m. Saturday on Fourth Line Road where a man was shot in the left leg with a large calibre hunting rifle.A second man, aged 21, told police he and the victim were standing in a residential laneway when a white Chevy Silverado pickup truck, with a male driver and a male passenger, pulled up. After a short exchange of words, the passenger pulled out a rifle and shot the 23 year old. The truck raced away.Police found the truck at a First Line Road home and seized it for forensic examination. They also found some evidence at the scene of the shooting.Police said they believe the suspects and victim are known to each other.Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact police at 519-445-2811 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or read more

UNHCR concerned at reports of stowaways being denied hearing in European ports

A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that according to the ship’s captain, the two men, who are in their early twenties and believed to be Iraqis, seem to want to claim asylum.The generally accepted principle in such maritime cases is that stowaway asylum-seekers should be allowed to disembark at the first port of call after their presence has been discovered by the crew, and be given the opportunity to have their claim determined by the relevant authorities, UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville said at a press briefing in Geneva.If this turns out to be impossible for some reason, he said, subsequent ports visited by the ship should be prepared to take initial responsibility, even if it is eventually decided that the asylum-seeker can or should be moved elsewhere.”However, it appears that [the two men] may have been prevented from doing so in four different EU countries so far,” Mr. Colville said.The pair apparently boarded the ship on 12 April in Cyprus. Since then, the Panama-registered ship has made calls at ports in Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The supposed asylum-seekers were not permitted to disembark at any of these ports.”UNHCR is concerned that if the two men are indeed trying to claim asylum from persecution, they should have been able to lodge a claim somewhere by now, and fears that if the pattern is continued they will join earlier unfortunate individuals or even families, known as ‘orbit cases,'” Mr. Colville said. The term refers to individuals being bounced from country to country, often with extremely damaging psychological effects.Mr. Colville noted that after its stop in Amsterdam, the ship was bound for Sweden, Germany and Belgium before heading to the Middle East and Asia.”UNHCR urges one of the remaining European ports of call to exercise the collective responsibility to allow asylum-seekers access to the asylum procedure,” he said, pointing out that European Union countries have recourse to the so-called Dublin Treaty, which aims to avoid orbit cases by allowing nations to resolve among themselves which one should take responsibility. read more