BJP MLA posts selfie in front of burning houses of the poor

first_imgA BJP MLA in Rajasthan on Wednesday drew intense flak after he posted a selfie on Facebook taken during a fire incident in which several houses were gutted in his contituency in Bharatpur district.Bachchu Singh, who represent Bayana assembly seat, later removed the controversial picture taken in front of houses that were engulfed in flames but claimed that he had posted it only to inform officials that he was on the site.“It was not a selfie,” he insisted, when asked if it was proper for him to have acted in such a way while he was surrounded by victims of the fire incident on Tuesday.After he was informed about the fire incident in Nagla Moroli Daang area of Bayana town, the MLA had rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.He assured the victims of all necessary help. Standing in middle of the crowd, the MLA, however, took out his mobile phone for a “selfie”, eyewitnesses said.Though many present on spot were surprised by the MLA’s action, no one spoke at that time, they said.But after he posted the photograph on Facebook, objections came flooding.Flayed on Facebook“This is not the time to take selfie,” one user said while another added, “It would have been better if you had poured two buckets of water to douse the fire.”The MLA initially tried to explain away but later removed the photograph.When contacted, he said, “Why would I take a selfie of such an unfortunate incident?”“It is a matter of perception. I had posted the photo to let administrative officials know that I am on the spot.”last_img read more

Plot That Flopped

first_imgThe greatest sin for an artiste is to bore his audience. – Anonymous.What is it about some of our favorite public figures that makes us root for them almost unconditionally? Their talent and tenacity? Their sincerity and earnestness? Their comparative youth and humble origins? Or just the fact that their professional efforts inspire our own idealized struggles against everyday mediocrity? Much like a cricket-crazy nation mutters a silent prayer every time Mumbai’s boy-next-door Sachin Tendulkar walks in to bat, a legion of Ashutosh Gowariker’s post-Lagaan admirers – including several in the otherwise hard-to-please national media – all but willed the film-maker’s latest offering to succeed at the box office. And much like Tendulkar’s batting performance in recent times, Swades has had a scratchy, unsure and largely forgettable stint in the first month of its theatrical release.To his credit, Gowariker has been candid enough to admit that his film has evoked an underwhelming initial response from the general movie-going public. His co-producers (UTV) however claim success by citing overseas box-office figures – always a dubious measure considering that those collections (especially in the two biggest overseas territories of USA and UK) get multiplied about 50 and 75 times respectively in rupee terms at the current foreign-exchange rates. Swades tells the story of an NRI pining, among other things, for his desi roots, so it’s no surprise that the film has triggered a greater curiosity and received a warmer reception among overseas Indians than in the domestic market. But more importantly, how does the film fare as a piece of cinema? Does it really transport us into the troubled mind of its protagonist Mohan Bhargava, and make us care enough for his existential concerns?Gowariker’s self-confessed love for old Bollywood prompts one to rewind into some black-and-white Hindi film classics.V. Shantaram was up against a similar cinematic challenge in his 1946 biopic Dr.Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani. It chronicled the life of a Bombay-based doctor who volunteered to help the Chinese resistance against the Japanese invasion during World War II. Along the way, he married a Chinese woman, sired a child and then died in a battle camp before he could seriously contemplate returning to his homeland. Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis was, by circumstance if not by choice, a “Non-Returning Indian” (a phrase that forms part of the Swades heroine’s vituperative ammunition against Bhargava) and his loyalties transcended the country’s borders. But the Kotnis tale nevertheless struck a chord in the hearts and minds of audiences, thanks largely to Shantaram’s genius at making the Indian doctor’s idealism and humanitarian mission as well as his interpersonal cross-cultural conflicts in faraway China believable – and even acceptable – to our own sensibilities.The verdict on Swades among Indian cinegoers may be mixed, but there is a general consensus on the nobility of its theme and on its inordinate length. At 210 minutes (three-and-a-half hours), Swades is actually shorter than Gowariker’s earlier Lagaan, but few seemed to mind the 224 minutes of that film and its elaborate cricket match. In fact, the list of blockbusters in Hindi cinema down the years is replete with films that either nudged or far exceeded the three-hour mark: Awaara (1951 – 193 mins), Mother India (1957 – 172 mins), Mughal-e-Azam (1960 – 173 mins), Sangam (1964 – 238 mins), Aradhana (1969 – 169 mins), Bobby (1973 – 168 mins), Sholay (1975 – 204 mins), and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (1995 – 192 mins).Those who might be tempted to conclude that Indians love bulk and will therefore fall without question for long movies would do well to note another sobering fact: Indian cinema’s biggest flop to date – Mera Naam Joker (1970) – is also its longest ever movie at four-plus hours! A more recent (2003) four-hour casualty was J.P.Dutta’s LOC-Kargil. Perhaps the obvious lesson here is that it’s not merely the number of screen minutes, but their riveting power that ultimately determines a film’s box-office fate. And the not-so-obvious one is that when viewers complain about a film’s extended duration, they are actually telling us in other words that they were quite simply bored.Gowariker, one suspects, had a prescient notion of this problem at the time of the film’s release. A lori (Hindi for lullaby) picturized on Shahrukh Khan, which figured prominently in the film’s pre-release promos (“Aahista, aahista…”), was excised from the final released version of Swades.Length apart, the key question one needs to ask about Swades is two-fold: Did the film fail despite its theme or because of it? And, more particularly, was it the theme itself or its treatment that let the film down?Prima facie, who can quibble about a theme as contemporary, progressive and courageous as that of Swades? Courageous, because Gowariker was on a good wicket post-Lagaan for raising finances for his next project, and would have been tempted to take on an easier route (meaning, a less emotionally and sociologically complex theme) to prove that Lagaan was no fluke hit and to establish himself, in the manner of a candyfloss-and-popcorn director like Karan Johar, as a bankable film-maker.But Gowariker apparently – and one might add, admirably – preferred the risk-laden path to greatness. And so, he opted for an ambitious multi-layered story that seeks to comment on a host of personal and social issues, ranging from patriotism, commitment to one’s roots, old-age loneliness, literacy and education, science and technological development, caste conflict, survival of traditional craft-based labor and feminism right down to rural poverty and oppression. Phew! Did Gowariker’s artistic ambition get the better of his pragmatic judgment?Surely, Swades is not the first Hindi film to tackle these issues, but it’s arguably the only one to take them all on in the same story. The socially-conscious films of V. Shantaram, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor and others are marvelous examples of the directorial maturity with which such themes were explored in the realm of our mainstream cinema from 1930s onwards.To recall a few, Shantaram made Padosi (on communal harmony), Dahej (dowry), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (prison hreform) and Duniya Na Maane (1937), a film that predated modern feminism by several decades. Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen was a poignant saga of poor farmers in the face of rampant industrialization, while his Sujata depicted the plight of an untouchable girl in a casteist society. Guru Dutt explored the relationship between an artiste and his consumerist environment in Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool. With characteristic flourish, Raj Kapoor spoke up (mostly sang) for the marginalized, tramps and waifs, in Awaara, Shri 420, Boot Polish and Jaagte Raho. Even B.R. Chopra, who turned to multi-starrer potboilers later in his career, successfully pitted man against machine in the memorable 1957 hit Naya Daur.Ponder what earned these films the status of a classic. To be sure, an audience that appreciated and supported the realism of their content, even while it enjoyed the song-and-dance and comedy routines interwoven into the stories.The success of these films is as much a tribute to the cinegoers as it is to the film-makers of those times. Imagine a dialogue-less opening sequence running to nearly two minutes in which the poet-hero lolls in a park watching the birds and bees (literally), and winces when a pedestrian’s foot crushes one of the bees. The film, Pyaasa (1957), was a major hit.Unfortunately for Gowariker and his contemporaries, the MTV-spawned audience of today has little patience for such meditations. And this very audience is at least partly to blame for the virtual absence of meaningful themes in contemporary Hindi cinema.The modern-day information boom also ensures that films today get dissected, analyzed and compared, much to the consternation of their makers. Gowariker has cringed at people comparing Swades with Lagaan. That, in any case, is an unavoidable knee-jerk reaction from viewers. And Gowariker himself hasn’t exactly bolstered his complaint by opening the Swades website with a reminder of Lagaan’s Oscar nomination.But let’s examine the old classics for what made them tick. Was the nobility of purpose and motive input enough to ensure a good, solid entertainer? Apparently not. Crafted with consummate skill and care, each of the classics took care to focus on a single and clearly identifiable theme. Swades, in contrast, contains the seeds of a handful of potential film-plots that remain either unexplored or frustratingly half-baked. It’s not that Gowariker lacks the maturity of the old masters to develop these ideas. Rather, there are way too many dishes on his plate to expect the film-maker to do justice to any of them. And so, confronted first-hand with the heart-rending story of the wretched weaver-turned-farmer from whom he has to collect land-rent dues, his hero resorts to, what seems in retrospect, the easy band-aid option moneyed tourists prefer in the name of expediency: Bhargava tries to assuage his own conscience by stuffing a wad of currency notes in the farmer’s hands.Again, the old-time masterpieces had at their core a story that made its chosen social issue real and palpable, without eschewing the seemingly mandatory elements like song-and-dance routines. Various aspects of the issue grew organically out of that story and were resolved as the plot unfolded on the way to its climax. As a result, few of those films ever needed to fall back on a didactic crutch to make their point. Swades too has its share of songs and dances, and its mildly comic moments. Gowariker also pays homage to old Hindi films by having his hero drive into the heroine’s village with a song celebrating life’s journey and anticipating a brush with the unseen/unknown heroine – a mandatory song situation that opened umpteen Hindi films of yore. The homage extends to the song’s tune: “Yeh raasta hai keh raha ab mujhse/Milne ko hai koyi kahin ab tujhse…” echoes “Aap ko pehle bhi kahin dekha hai…” from the 1970 film Tum Haseen Main Jawaan. And Gowariker’s heroine-as-school-teacher isn’t lost on those viewers who’re familiar with heroines pursuing similar occupations in Shree 420 (Nargis) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (Waheeda Rehman).But Swades gets unbearably preachy and propagandist when its lead characters periodically spout long, self-righteous monologues. Not that monologues by themselves are a no-no, or that they were unheard of in our older films. But they rarely rankled. The two most celebrated ones – in Pyaasa and Jaagte Raho – are logical conclusions of their heroes’ travails, and provide a justifiable catharsis in the climactic scenes. Raj Kapoor’s terrace outburst in the latter, coming after his wordless journey through the entire film, is a master-stroke of irony.The monologues in Swades seem tedious and out-of-place precisely because Gowariker’s screenplay falls short of making his hero’s dilemmas palpable enough to enlist audience empathy. Gowariker’s central concern in Swades isn’t sufficiently gripping or dramatic. Whether Bhargava’s old nanny Kaveriamma finally lives with him in USA or stays back in India with the heroine Geeta, the question that the film throws up at its intermission point, is just not something that grabs us, especially after we know that Bhargava hasn’t been in touch for a dozen-plus years and his trip was prompted by a fleeting pang of nostalgia for his dead parents.  The medium of cinema loves physicality, and classical screenwriting posits that psychological concerns are best played out dramatically through physical acts. It’s tempting therefore to speculate if Swades would have worked better with the make-shift hydro-electric power project (which Bhargava initiates and brings to fruition) at the heart of its plot as the hero’s primary goal. In the hands of an astute writer, the story of its planning, construction and commissioning could have lent itself seamlessly to the exploration and resolution of Bhargava’s personal and the villagers’ social conflicts. But the project sadly remains a minor sidelight of the film.Even more off-putting is Gowariker’s concession to ethnic chic in choosing the film’s title. For a director who smarts at comparisons with Lagaan, the use of a dialect in naming Swades is nothing but a hangover of his previous film. Such use was definitely in order for Lagaan where most of the Indian characters spoke the Awadhi dialect. In Swades however, the leading characters speak normal Hindi and its legitimate title should have been “Swadesh.” But that probably sounds too plain and unfashionable. Another nod to trendy fashion is the characterization of the Swades heroine. True, she shows her steel by hrefusing to toe Bhargava’s line later in the film, but she begins with a hostility against the hero that is unwarranted and immature. The typical Hindi formula film heroine of the 1960-70s too started her relationship with the flirty hero in a mock-hostile manner. But that was part of the token resistance she put up against his amorous advances, and was at best vacuous. That’s old hat now. The new “formula” – in which the heroine presumes the NRI hero to be arrogant about his wealth and social standing, and therefore acts super-arrogant as an anticipatory gesture – is especially discernable in the NRI films and is no less vacuous. The virulent trend began with Hyderabad Blues and has caught on, be it in American Desi or Bride and Prejudice.Swades also disappoints in other departments. Gowariker would have missed Anil Mehta’s assured camerawork that gave Lagaan a distinctive look and idiom. A.R. Rehman’s music is uneven. The acting is uniformly earnest, though the best thing one can say about Shahrukh Khan’s performance is that director Gowariker has succeeded in reining in his tendency to ham.Conventional wisdom in the entertainment industry holds that it’s always difficult, if not impossible, to make a great second film, to replicate the success of your first work. Lagaan was Gowariker’s third directorial attempt, but the first two (Pehla Nasha and Baazi) fared so poorly that many have come to believe that Lagaan was indeed his debut effort. By that token, one would have to let Swades pass as a bygone in the law of averages.One can’t help wager that Swades-II – if Gowariker ever cares to make a sequel on the life of his hero after he resettles in India for good – holds far greater promise than Swades-I. Indians treat vacationing NRIs with kid-glove indulgence. After all, who wants to tangle with a gift-carrying do-dinka mehmaan? But, as a resettled NRI, I know that a permanent return brings a much harsher reality to light. Mohan Bhargava would then encounter hitherto unseen sides of the “real” India, and have a lot more to grapple with than his angst-ridden conscience and the friendly neighborhood postman.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Brady, Belichick donate to J.J. Watt’s hurricane relief fund

first_imgNo more menthol cigarettes: New ban on tobacco, vape flavors Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lucky 13: Lyceum clinches Final Four seat, remains unbeaten Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts before a preseason game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Jim Rogash/Getty Images/AFPFOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has donated $100,000 to the Hurricane Harvey relief fund started by Texans pass-rusher J.J. Watt, and New England coach Bill Belichick has pitched in $50,000.Watt called the donations “incredibly kind gestures (that) … show what type of people they are.”ADVERTISEMENT ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims LATEST STORIES View comments Winter storm threatens to scramble Thanksgiving travel plans Argentine bishop appears at court hearing on abuse charges Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Harvey slammed South Texas with torrential rain that flooded parts of Houston and nearby cities, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes. Watt initially hoped to raise $100,000 but blew through that goal on his way to $37 million.Brady says he has a lot of friends in Houston. “I think everybody was pretty touched by what happened,” he said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingThe Patriots play the Texans on Sunday in New England. Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim MOST READ Trump to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groupslast_img read more

2011 ODI World Cup trophy unveiled in Bhopal

first_imgFormer India all-rounder Madan Lal and Madhya Pradesh Industries Minister Kailash Vijaywargiya on Friday unveiled the ICC trophy for the 2011 ODI World Cup in Indore.Recalling India’s historic World Cup victory at Lord’s in 1983, Lal said the current Indian team has the potential to repeat history in the tournament, which is jointly being hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.The trophy, which arrived in Indore from Lucknow and will reach Hyderabad on Saturday, was later taken in a procession to different parts of the city where people watched it with great awe.India will face Bangladesh in the opening match of the mega-event at Dhaka on February 19, next year.- With PTI inputslast_img


first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested former Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi’s personal assistant Shekhar Deorukhkar in Pune for his involvement in the Games scam. The CBI sought his transit remand after he was produced before the Shivaji Nagar court. Kalmadi had been sacked as the chairman of CWG OC on January 24. The decision to remove Kalmadi had been taken by Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Ajay Maken soon after he took over.last_img

India vs West Indies: India aims for series win in 3rd Test

Mood of the Nation: Who is the greatest living sportsperson in India?

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10 months agoChelsea No2 Zola: Right time to rest Hazard

first_imgChelsea No2 Zola: Right time to rest Hazardby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea No2 Gianfranco Zola says Eden Hazard is likely to be rested for their FA Cup tie with Nottingham Forest.Zola says it is the opportunity to give him a break. “Eden has been fantastic in this period, he has played a lot of games and we are very demanding of him because he is such an influential player,” he said. “So tomorrow I believe he might get a rest but we are in a situation where we don’t have many players, but the idea is to give him some rest.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img

Villa Punto de Vista – Destination Weddings Redefined

first_imgWeddings in Costa Rica Have a whole new outlook at Villa Punto deVista! One of the first villas constructed specifically for events. This 10-bedroom escape has everything to facilitate parties of 10 to 100, from an elevator and an industrial kitchen to wiring for professional sound throughout its five stories. Nestled on 21/2 acres of rainforest, the villa sleeps up to 27 and commands breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle and Panoramic Pacific Ocean beyond. Weddings are held on the beach , just a short walk from the door, or on the rooftop deck.  Dine al fresco, and then move to the air-conditioned ballroom to dance the night away. The estate offers a 270-degree panorama of the popular Manuel Antonio bay and a beautiful rain forest teeming with monkeys, sloths and tropical birds. The complex is comprised of both the main villa, a mansion of steel, glass and natural rock as well as a rustically designed entry cottage on our 2.5-acre rainforest estate. THE VILLA:The Villa features 10 boutique-style bedrooms all with their own uniquely tiled entrances in italian Bisazza tile as well as their own private baths with organic bath products and rain showers. The ocean-view villa is perfect for large families, entertaining, events & Destination weddings. We feature a ballroom-disco main level bar, a covered dining terrace and bar with sweeping views as well as a roof deck w/bar and Jacuzzi that’s perfect for below-the-stars dining! The Butler sees to it that you are impeccably attended. Villa Services:  The villa includes your very own butler/concierge (and did we mention that he is also a certified bartender!), twice-daily housekeeping service, maintenance and 24-hour security. Your stay also includes a daily chef-prepared gourmet breakfast featuring both savory local fare as well as made-to-order egg dishes, waffles, French toast, exquisite Costa Rican coffee, juices, an exotic assortment of fresh fruit and villa Passion Fruit champagne mimosas! For additional meals, a personal chef can be arranged in advance of your stay. We find that this arrangement delivers maximum quality and flexibility to our guests. The villa captures both the essence of your own oceanfront estate with the impeccable service of a small luxury boutique hotel. Be assured that we will see to it that your stay is second to none! Your Pre-Arrival Concierge is Gloriela and our Butler’s name is Oliver, between them we can arrange everything for your party from exquisite chef service, adventure tours, spa treatments to transportation and other basic needs at the villa. SOCIAL AND EVENT AREAS OF THE VILLAPut simply, Punto de Vista was designed with weddings and events in mind. Our villa is for those that choose the exclusiveness and intimacy of hosting their event at a private estate rather than a hotel without the drawbacks that most every other rental home has when it comes to hosting large events. Villa Features: The main villa features two distinct “zones” for either separate events or one combined event featuring two distinctive areas all within one villa. The Below Canopy Zone occupies the ground floor and mezzanine levels of the main villa and consist of the following social areas: RECEPTION LOUNGE / ELEVATOR LOUNGE A .Double-height lounge area featuring well-displayed art pieces, an always-manned reception desk and men’s and women’s restrooms as well as the elevator lobby. LIVING ROOM/ EVENT’S SPACE & BAR: Large, operable sliding glass corners bring the ocean and jungle into this impressive double-height space. Perfect for receptions or parties, the space features a full bar with plasma TV as well as immediate proximity to the pool and jungle terrace spaces. Wired for professional club sound, a DJ platform is in the mezzanine overhead. VILLA LOWER FLOORS:Pool Area And Underwater Lounge. Footsteps from the Living Room / Event’s Space And with access to the first level bar, the pool area boasts both ocean views as well as an intimate connection with the jungle . A built-in underwater seating area as well as an infinity edge makes the coral stone-finished pool area truly unique. ENTRY WATER FEATURE & KIDS SPLASH POOL. If first impressions are everything, the villa does not disappoint. On entry, visitors are first treated to a one-of-a-kind, dual sided, mosaic mural standing 45 feet tall and forming the tip of the” ship-shaped ” villa. This mural is the backdrop for the Entry Event’s Courtyard and water-feature /Kids Pool. Underwater jets give ship-like motion to the building and underwater lighting illuminates the mural and gives nautical character to the villa. VILLA UPPER FLOORS: DINING & TERRACE EVENTS Perched high on the fourth level, the spacious Dining Events Terrace can seat 50+ for dinner and shelter over a hundred for receptions in all weather. With perhaps the best view in the villa, the terrace features teak wood wrapped columns and beams as well as a pitched tropical woven ceiling with warm illumination. TERRACE BAR – Serving the Dining and Events Terrace is the Terrace Bar. The Bar features a mirrored backdrop for reflecting the magnificent view as well as a Plasma TV. ROOF TOP DECK / BAR / INFINITY EDGE JACUZZI The entire top floor of the villa is a rooftop deck with commanding views of picturesque Manuel Antonio Bay and the above jungle canopy. This large, pointed space resembling the deck of a ship, features a complete bar as well as an infinity edge Jacuzzi cantilevered high over the entry water feature some 60 feet below! The roof-deck is perfect for your Wedding” From reception/Ceremony, parties and yoga. FLORA & FAUNA: Flora and Fauna that surrounds the Villa and Manuel Antonio have exotic wildlife such as: Howler Monkeys, White Faced Monkeys (Capuchin Monkeys), Endangered squirrel monkeys, Two and three toed sloths, amazing parrots, Scarlet Macaws and Brightly Billed Toucans. Manuel Antonio is unique as the surrounding mountains, tropical rain forest butt up to the pristine clear emerald waters of the gold sand, *blue flag beach. Besides the incredible Natural beauty Manuel Antonio offers a plethora of adventure and sightseeing tours for all ages from thrilling mountain Zip lining, whitewater Rafting, educational hikes to Horseback rides, as well as our world famous Sport fishing. Some other Great Activities: Zip Line, Wave runner Tour, ATV’s, Para sailing, Mangrove boat Tour, Manuel Antonio National Park Tour, Surfing Classes, Horse Back riding to Ticori Waterfall, Nuayaca Falls (Spectacular waterfalls), Sunset Sailing Cruises in Front of the National Park, Cano island Snorkeling & Diving (Best diving in the country – Full Day Trip), Waterfall rappelling, White water Rafting (Class II-V ), Carrara National Park Tour, Dolphin & Whale Tours! (From August to October) Town Activities:Quepos is a quaint small Fishing town, on Friday afternoon and Saturday mornings the Local Farmers Market is organized in front of the ‘Malecon’ or the small Boardwalk by the new world-class ‘Pez Vela ‘ Marina. You can find tons of wonderful fresh & unique fruits and local products to explore and see including freshly picked local Vanilla, Local Golden Pineapples and more. On a hot afternoon Explore around the beautiful “Pez Vela” Marina to cool off with a Gelato, or have a drink and enjoy an unforgettable Sunset. Golf:For Golf aficionados , guest may either be driven or may even boat to the world-class 18-hole course at Los Suenos at Playa Heredura.*Blue Flag Beaches are Costa Rica’s Cleanest and most pristine beaches in the Country TOWN OF MANUEL ANTONIO:The Incredible Surrounding Area of Manuel Antonio; With Surrounding mountains and nearby Pineapple Plantations, Manuel Antonio is located near the colorful port city of Quepos, Costa Rica. It’s a 2 1/4 hour drive or a 20-minute plane/helicopter flight from San Jose, the nation’s capital. The villa is a 5-minute walk or 1 minute complimentary buggy ride to the pristine Golden sand beach at Playitas and a 15-minute walk along the beach to downtown Manuel Antonio and the country’s best National Park. Manuel Antonio National Park is a national Treasure, and has been named by Forbes magazine as “One of the top 12 National Parks in the world”, as well as consistently rated the top beaches in The Americas and Best Beach in Central America by TripAdvisor several years running . Manuel Antonio National Park is internationally recognized as being one of the most biodiverse parks on the planet.  Lush tropical forests, lagoons, mangroves and pristine white sandy beaches make up one of the most diverse ecosystems imaginable.  Among the 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds, some of the frequently viewed residents include white-faced and howler monkeys, two and three toed sloths and iguanas. The endangered squirrel monkey calls the park home as well. The park contains a great system of well-marked trails to allow visitors to explore (maps may be purchased at the park entrance). The four beaches in the park, Espadilla Sur, Manuel Antonio, Escondito and Playita, are some of the best in the country. Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio offer very good snorkeling when the water is clear, which is best during the dry season.  At 236 feet (72 m ) high, Cathedral Point lies between Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. It is connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge and if you’re up for the hike, it provides a memorable view. Playa Manuel Antonio offers a glimpse into the past with pre-Columbian turtle traps made of stone. Surfing, swimming or just relaxing under the sun are favorite activities for park goers. Giving Back: Giving back to those causes that need our dollars and attention has been a prime focus of the villa since its inception between the three owners. Since 2011 the villa has raised over $200,000 for worthy charities around the world. It’s a win-win for everybody, the charities, and us and we want to encourage other luxury businesses to see the merit in what we’re doing. It’s our vision of success to set aside two-three weeks of the year and donate them to charities. The personal return is immeasurable. We just can’t tell you how satisfying it is to do this in every respect. Villa Charities:The Junior Diabetes Foundation’s “Imagine a World Without Diabetes” raised $27,500 from our contribution in their annual live-auction event at the St. Regis Hotel, Dana Point Harbor.The UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center’s “Taste for a Cure” raised $26,000 from our contribution in their annual live-auction event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills. The event included a performance by GLEE and event honoree/NBC President purchased the package!Sir Richard Branson’s “Necker Cup” has raised $61,500 in total over our three years in participating in the pro-am event held on Mr. Branson’s private Island (Necker Island) in the BVI. Rafael Nadal, Martina Navratalova, Borris Becker, Bjorn Borg and others have attended the event.The villa along with Actors Will Farrell and Keven Spacey contributed their time to “Cancer for College” a charity for young survivors of cancer to realize their post-cancer educational goals. The golf event raised $40,000 and later another $30,000 at the Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, CA.2015 promises to be a big year for our charitable efforts. I fact besides returning to Necker Island as well as Palm Desert for the above charities once again we plan to additionally donate to “The Rain Forest Alliance” annual gala as well as the “US Open’s” annual tournament-opening auction the night before the event kicks off.Pack with A Purpose: Should you wish to contribute to our local community here in Costa Rica in the form of educational materials, tools (computers) or monetarily, we will offer your group the opportunity prior to visiting us here in Costa Rica. We have partnered with Pack for a Purpose to offer that opportunity. AWARDS & ACCOLADES* Villa Punto de Vista has had the honor to be awarded several of the Luxury Travel industry’s top Accolades as well as top wedding recognitions. The Villa – Winner of the 2016 Conde Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence in the Best Luxury Villa (North, Central & South America)– Google/Bloomberg International Property Awards Villa Punto de Vista (Best Single Unit Property in all the Americas & Best Architecture)– Nominee World Travel Awards Best Luxury Villa (All Mexico & Central America)– Trip Advisor Excellent Choice Awards 2015– Trip Advisor Excellent Choice Awards 2014– Trip Advisor Excellent Choice Awards 2013– Conde Nast Johansens 2016 Top 3 Finalist, “Best Wedding Venue ” in all the Americas (North, Central & South America)– Wedding Wire Brides Choice Awards 2016– Wedding Wire Brides Choice Awards 2015– Wedding Wire Brides Choice Awards 2014– Wedding Wire Brides Choice Awards 2013The Villa and our weddings have constantly been featured on several of the leading Destination Wedding Print & Online publications:  Featured in (Print):Rhapsody (United Airlines First Class Magazine)Ocean Home MagazineHaute LivingThe WatchRhapsody (United Airlines First Class Magazine)The KnotDestination Weddings & Honeymoons – Destination Wedding Mag (Won #1 for top 10 wedding venues for amazing photos )Destination I DoStyle Me Prettylast_img read more

Federal business panel urges Ottawa to focus support on highgrowth firms

first_imgOTTAWA – A government-struck panel of industry experts is urging the Trudeau Liberals to create an Own the Podium-style program to help promising companies one day compete internationally — and to end support to those who might only garner participation ribbons.Own the Podium is a federally funded program that supports elite Canadian athletes and is best known for preparing Team Canada ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, during which Canada took home a record medal haul.Companies that participated in a series of what the Liberals call “economic strategy tables” recommended the creation of a similar approach for businesses. They said in the report released Tuesday that the federal government “can no longer sprinkle fairy dust and hope our entrepreneurs will succeed.”The report suggests that the government funnel money to firms with the most growth potential so they can scale up operations, while also allowing lower-performing firms to die because it would “free up tax dollars.”The government’s efforts, it recommended, should target six areas: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, health and biosciences, and resources of the future.The report estimates the right set of policies, including tax conditions that match recent corporate tax rate cuts in the United States, could add $318 billion to the economy by 2030. But the experts warn the government must learn to operate at the speed of business and cut the multiple layers of red tape.Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said federal efforts must focus on making regulatory regimes more agile for a shifting landscape — but he warned it will take years for Canadian companies and workers to become more competitive.“There’s no one silver bullet,” Bains said in an interview.“This is a multi-year effort that is going to require multiple policies, multiple programs.”Business leaders from a multitude of sectors, advocacy groups and unions have pressed the Liberals to act quickly on the recommendations. The suggestions also include calls for “better coherence” of government funding programs and for a more-uniform education system focused on skills development — a tall task given the variations between provinces and school boards.A giant of the online world is looking to help the federal government reshape the Canadian education and skills development system to adjust to changing labour force dynamics.Sabrina Geremia, country director for Google in Canada, said the company has spoken with the Liberals about the need to make sure public and private sector efforts work in tandem, and ensure nervous workers are able to access the help they need today and in the future to take part in a digital economy.last_img read more

Fluor to provide EPCM expertise at Debswanas Jwaneng Cut 8 diamond project

first_imgFluor has won an EPCM contract from Debswana, a joint venture of the Government of Botswana and De Beers, to execute the Jwaneng Cut 8 diamond project. After successfully completing the feasibility study for the company earlier in 2009, Fluor was awarded the procurement and construction management phases of the project, valued at around $450 million in the last quarter of 2009. The project name ‘Cut 8′ refers to the current open-pit mine, which is being expanded to facilitate access to the kimberlite ore at greater depths. Jwaneng produced 13.7 Mct from 15.7 Mt of ore in 2008. Production varies, according to the mining plans, of between around 12.5 to 15 Mct/y. Jwaneng is currently an open-pit mine, but plans to move to an underground operation in ten years. This will begin a new chapter at Jwaneng mine, and extend the life of the operation by another ten to 15 years. The mine is located on three pipes in Botswana (Centre North & South pipes) with an average grade of 150 ct/ht, and a smaller satellite pipe averaging 25 ct/ht.Jwaneng Cut 8 is at the forefront of a number of projects being developed by Fluor as part of a portfolio which includes a new diamond processing plant at the Orapa diamond mine and the expansion of the Morupule coal mine. Dwayne Wilson, Group Executive of Fluor: “Fluor has a long and successful track record of providing both technical and EPCM services to the diamond industries in Botswana, South Africa, Australia and Canada. This award is indeed a major step in continuing our strategic relationship with one of our key clients as well as enabling Fluor to position itself for future mining projects in the region.”To facilitate the successful development of all projects in the region, Fluor has registered an office in Botswana. The Cut 8 project alone will generate employment for around 1,400 Botswana citizens supported by Fluor’s Johannesburg, South Africa office.last_img read more

Barrick helps US government stem tide of contamination into Yellowstone

first_imgBarrick Gold is teaming up with the federal government and the state of Montana to clean up the 80-year-old, 30-acre McLaren tailings site – historically noted as a significant source of heavy metals contamination flowing into Yellowstone National Park. Gold from the old mine tailings will be used to fund reclamation of a major mill site near the park. Montana officials believe there could be $25 to $30 million worth of gold in the tailings, a portion of which will be transported to Barrick’s Golden Sunlight mine near Whitehall, Mont., for processing.Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality plans to haul at least 230,000 cubic yards of mine waste out of the watershed and then place the waste in a repository on a property adjoining the site. The McLaren tailings reclamation project is considered the last major push to safeguard Yellowstone’s headwaters. Now permanently off limits to mining, the New World mining district is considered to be one of the West’s most successful mine reclamation projects. A decade-long program has reclaimed 12 mines and waste dumps and improved water quality in four creeks.last_img read more

NMAs CORESafety® participating companies complete 2017 with zero fatalities

first_imgThe National Mining Association (NMA) reports that companies participating in its CORESafety system closed 2017 with zero fatalities. “The CORESafety framework is designed to drive continuous improvement in mining safety performance was born out of an industry desire to set aside competition, foster a proactive safety culture among mining companies and share best practices to protect its people,” said Hal Quinn, NMA President and Chief Executive Officer. “We’re seeing more and more companies certified, and this important milestone – zero fatalities – shows that the hard work that goes into implementation pays off in the most important way.”In 2011, the members of NMA came together to create CORESafety, a risk-based safety management system whose objective is zero fatalities and a 50% reduction in mining’s injury rate within five years of implementation. CORESafety offers a management system approach to mine safety that has won international recognition among safety experts. Its innovative approach departs from the conventional “top-down-one-size-fits-all” model to favour a scalable framework for operations of all sizes.“This important achievement comes despite a regrettable increase in fatalities industrywide from 2016 to 2017. The safety progress from CORESafety is a reminder that our commitment to mine safety never ends as we strive for continuous improvement in preventing accidents and injuries,” added Quinn.For more information on the CORESafety® program, visit For 2017 mine safety data, visit the Mine Safety and Health Administration website at read more

Initial probe into Egypt balloon crash rules out criminal activity

first_imgAN INITIAL PROBE into a hot air balloon crash that killed up to 19 tourists in Egypt yesterday has ruled out any criminal activity as a cause of the accident, the official MENA news agency has reported.“Investigations so far by the general prosecution show no suspicion of criminal activity,” MENA said today, citing the preliminary findings of the investigation into Tuesday’s accident at the Egyptian temple city of Luxor.Four investigating teams were formed after Prime Minister Hisham Qandil ordered a probe into the crash that killed tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, France, Britain and Hungary.Investigators inspected the scene of the crash in the dense sugar cane fields of Luxor, spoke to witnesses and residents and reviewed the operating company’s paperwork and licences.According to one of the investigating teams, the balloon company, Sky Cruise, had passed a routine inspection by the Civil Aviation Ministry on February 13-15, said MENA.Civil Aviation Minister Wael al-Maadawi said, meanwhile, that he had agreed to a request by British authorities to attend the probe.The balloon had been floating over the west bank of Luxor, one of Egypt’s most renowned archaeological sites and home to the famous Valley of the Kings and the grand Temple of Hatshepsut, when it exploded.A video shot by a passenger on another flight appears to show smoke pouring from the balloon’s basket for some time before the balloon itself collapses, leaving the basket full of tourists to freefall to earth.The pilot and one tourist survived by jumping out of the basket at some point before it hit the ground, said an employee of Sky Cruise. Both were taken to hospital.- © AFP, 2013Read: Hot air balloon explosion kills 19 tourists in Egypt >last_img read more

Wives and partners of Defence Forces members to hold nationwide protest today

first_img Image: Department of Defence Forces Junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe spends St Patrick’s Day with troops on the Golan Heights. Image: Department of Defence Forces 97 Comments Thursday 20 Apr 2017, 7:20 AM 21,003 Views Junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe spends St Patrick’s Day with troops on the Golan Heights. Share Tweet Email1 Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlecenter_img Short URL Apr 20th 2017, 7:20 AM THE WIVES AND partners of Defence Forces members are organising a national protest to be held outside every barracks and army base today.The protest is to highlight what the group describes as “the terrible pay and conditions that our loved ones have to endure on a daily basis”.The protesters claim that the force is the only sector of public service as a whole that do not have access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.A spokeswoman for the group said: “Over 20% of Defence Forces enlisted personnel are in receipt of Family Income Support (FIS). No person who volunteers to serve their country should be allowed to have wages so poor that they need social welfare support.“Families are losing homes due to repossession. Many members have missed payments on bills as a result of cuts so cannot access loans so money lenders are a reality.“Borrowing is essential as in the Defence Forces as there is no option to make extra money or do over time. Hence, families find it impossible to save and keep on top of bills or other unexpected costs. The Defence Forces was traditionally seen as a steady career but now members cannot even get a mortgage without proving that they will be signing on after their five year contract.”Read: Teenage girl (13) mugged at knifepoint on Luas > By Garreth MacNamee Wives and partners of Defence Forces members to hold nationwide protest today The partners have claimed poor pay conditions have forced families to go to dangerous money lenders.last_img read more

Link AKC is Your Dogs Fitbit

first_img Cesar Millan‘s famous formula for a happy dog is built on three things in this order: exercise, discipline, affection. I do my best to make sure my ten-year-old Jack Russell, Benny gets all of these each day. But like any dog mom, he gets lots of affection first. I have to admit I was a little ignorant to how much exercise a day my dog actually required; Caesar recommends 40-60 minutes depending on breed. Benny’s fit and a pretty healthy senior dog who is still a bundle of energy even now; I guess that’s the terrier. So even though he’s older, he still has the playing power of a puppy. That makes it a little difficult for me to gauge what exactly he needs.I wasn’t even sure where to start until I received the Link AKC smart collar. I was delighted to find how easy it was to set up and use. I have a Fitbit for myself, and it was almost exactly the same process. Setting up Benny’s profile helped me learn how much activity he should be getting a day. Low and behold it was about what has been recommended, 48 minutes.For just under $150 you get a gorgeous leather collar with the charging dock and the clip in for the Link tracker. The station the device sits in to charge your given the option to name. So once you’ve downloaded the corresponding app (and link it with Bluetooth), it will send you updates on when your pup is near or away from the station beyond just logging activity. Naturally, I named our dock “Ground Control.” ‘Oh, looks like Benny has returned to Ground Control.’ ‘Benny is away from Ground Control.’ Those are fun alerts to receive.With the app, you can also set and save ‘adventures.’ aka long walks or trips to the dog park for us. It remembers your exact path and even gives you the option to creates a photo album. So if your pupper is looking particularly cute you can snap it and share with your pals who follow you through Link.There are two features I really liked. The first is a flashlight on the collar, great for night wanders. The other is a low gradually raising whistle noise that can be admitted from the collar and controlled on the app. I’ve been using this to wake my dog from deep sleep some days instead of giving him a lil poke. It’s a much gentler way to stir him.Lots of pros, but what would a complete assessment be without discussing the cons? First, the actual tracker that clicks into the collar is very bulky. On bigger dogs, it might not be as noticeable or cumbersome, but on my terrier, it looks a bit awkward. It didn’t seem to really get in Benny’s way, and it isn’t heavy it just looks uncomfortable especially if it slides to the front. Also, the monitoring requires a subscription service. This is a bit of a bummer after you’ve already paid so much for the collar. But again if you’re concerned about your pet’s health and want to help them get or stay fit, what’s $10 a month?The other issue is the battery life doesn’t last very long. I get my maybe three days out of it before it needs to be charged again. I’ve found my self-charging the tracker overnight while Benny sleeps, but also so it doesn’t slide down and disrupt his doggo dreams during the night. If the charge held longer, it’d be helpful and less disruptive for— Sheilah Villari (@KittinExploits) July 3, 2017Overall, I have found this collar helpful in making sure Benny meets his goal for daily exercise.  I make my steps with my Fitbit, and now he makes his too. It’s easy to use and provides decent feedback.If you’re thinking about getting a smart/GPS collar head over to our sister site PC Mag for their complete roundup and find the right match for you and your pet.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target Driver Finds Dog With Throat Cut, Mouth Duct-Taped in OhioWatch: Dog Rescued After Collapsing From Heatstroke During Hike last_img read more

UK Breaks 13 Clean Energy Records in 2017

first_img It’s been a rough year for the United Kingdom. But amidst Brexit backlash, terrorist attacks, and the deaths of Sirs John Hurt and Roger Moore, there was one shining beacon of hope: the environment.As reported by BBC, the UK achieved its “greenest year for electricity ever.”Growing interest in renewable energy sources helped Britain break 13 clean energy records in 2017.In April, the country had its first 24-hour period free from coal power since the Industrial Revolution (which ended around 1840). The streak continued when, two months later, wind, nuclear, and solar power generated more UK power than gas and coal combined.Thanks to ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 50 percent since 2012, the UK now provides the fourth cleanest power system in Europe, and the seventh worldwide.“The shift to clean energy is not only beneficial for the environment, it presents a multi-billion pound investment opportunity,” Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said in a statement.Increased coal use, according to scientists, contributes significantly to rising levels of harmful CO2 emissions—a leading cause of global warming. The UK and Canada last month launched a global alliance aimed at phasing out traditional coal power by 2030.We’re making progress (via MyGridGB)Separate data from research group MyGridGB show renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for 90 percent of 2017, BBC reported.The blog also calculated a total 624 hours without coal “so far” this year (up to November, as far as I can tell). That number reached only 210 hours during the whole of 2016.“With more than £52 billion invested in renewable energy since 2010, and through our Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy, we are working to secure our position at the forefront of green technologies and delivering high-value jobs all over the country,” Clark said.These are important steps toward a cleaner, greener future. But there is more work to be done—specifically with the UK’s reliance on gas, the daily output of which was outstripped by wind on just two days of the year, BBC said. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetcenter_img Thermal Battery Could Power Solar Systems OvernightScience Identifies Limit to Human Endurance last_img read more

Barbecue at Shelbys Grille sizzles in Washougal

first_imgWhy: Shelby’s Grille in Washougal has been in business for many years and has served its fair share of different cuisine options. I have personally experienced three renditions; my favorite, though, is its present offerings — Northwest barbecue with housemade sides, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch and dinner. What I tried: To start our meal, my dining companion and I had the Devils on Horseback. I settled on the Bacon & Blue burger with coleslaw, and my dining companion had the SLAB.L.T. with potato salad. The Devils on Horseback consists of bacon-wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with blue cheese and hazelnut. The dates are drizzled with maple syrup and served alongside a spicy hot whiskey honey and Siracha sauce for dredging the dates through. These were a delicious start to our meal, and I found the sauce a welcome, unusual accompaniment to stuffed dates.The burger is stacked with bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, red onion and garlic mayo. The bun wasn’t too oversized; it was the perfect lid and base to the burger. The overall flavor of the burger was singular, as opposed to being able to identify all the contributors. I liked the texture of the meat patty and it wasn’t tough or dry. The bacon was cooked perfectly for the burger. I greatly appreciated the effort in the making of the coleslaw. It incorporated apple and kale, whereas many other establishments’ housemade versions typically mirror food supplier versions, which gets boring.My dining companion enjoyed his sandwich. It combined avocado, cucumber and sweet chili-chipotle mayo with traditional BLT ingredients. He said the potato salad had more mayonnaise character than mustard.last_img read more

JAM Government Earmark 129 Billion as Contingency Funding for Natural Disaster

first_img Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Jamaica, February 22, 2018 – Kingston – The Government has earmarked $1.29 billion as contingency funding for natural disasters/infrastructure rehabilitation and the Public Investment Management System this year.  The sum has been allocated in the 2018/19 Estimates of Expenditure, which were tabled in the House of Representatives last week.A total of $500 million is being made available, through the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, towards the cost of rehabilitating infrastructure damaged by adverse weather, which is a requirement of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (Fiscal Responsibility Framework).Additionally, $794.5 million has been set aside to support new projects under the Public Investment Management Scheme, which are approved for implementation under the Public Investment Management System, also being spearheaded by the Ministry.Meanwhile, $90 million has been earmarked to continue work this year on the build-out of the Accountant General’s Department offices.  The project, being spearheaded by the Urban Development Corporation, entails refurbishing and build-out of the Department’s office space for its proposed relocation.Funding for all engagements is being provided by the Government of Jamaica.Release: JISlast_img read more

Faulty legs hinder highspirited dog

first_imgo What: Tyson, a 13-month-old Doberman pinscher, has carpus valgus, a genetic disorder that has caused his front legs to grow improperly. Without surgery, his legs will likely give out by the time he’s 6, and he will have to be euthanized.? Donations: Second Chance Companions, a Battle Ground-based nonprofit group, is nearing the $8,000 it needs for surgery, but it isn’t there yet. Visit to donate (specify it’s for Tyson) or donate in person at the Hazel Dell Petco, 8820 N.E. Fifth Ave.Tyson’s faulty feet have taken him on a long journey in his short 13 months of life.The Doberman pinscher was born with a rare genetic disorder that has caused his front legs to grow crooked, earning him the appearance of a ballerina doing a plié.While it gives the affable pup an almost comical look, those who care for him say the condition, known as carpus valgus, is no laughing matter. While Tyson can get around OK, he tires easily and cannot run very well — a situation that’s not easy for a high-spirited young dog. And without specialized orthopedic surgery, the arthritis the carpus valgus is likely to cause his legs to give out at age 6. When that happens, he will have to be euthanized, said Wendy Campbell, dog foster coordinator for Battle Ground nonprofit Second Chance Companions, which is trying to raise $8,000 for two specialized surgeries Tyson needs to have his legs straightened. The perfect Christmas gift would be clearing their fundraising goal, she said.last_img read more