Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Defense Department has agreed to install an interim filtration system to prevent contaminated water flowing off of Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., to Washington Lake, which had been the primary drinking water source for the city of Newburgh until elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA were discovered there in 2016. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to finish installing a stormwater filtration system within three to six months, reported WAMC. The project is estimated to cost between $2 million to $3 million and will be funded by the Air National Guard. The December announcement followed a visit to Newburgh by Robert McMahon, assistant secretary of defense for sustainment, and John Henderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy.Testing in May 2016 at one of the outfalls at the base discharging stormwater into Recreation Pond, where the treatment system will be installed, revealed a PFOS level of 5,900 parts per trillion, almost 85 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion.Air Force photo by Breanne Humphreys
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir briefs newsmen after BNP’s scheduled dialogue with the election commission at the commission secretariat in Agargaon on Sunday. Photo: Prothom Alo Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Sunday expressed optimism about resolution to the countrys prolonged political impasse through talks.After joining a scheduled dialogue with the election commission, the BNP, which boycotted controversial ballot in 2014, observed that the commission has little to do in ensuring free and fair polls.Read more: EC’s dialogue with BNP beginsIn the current political order, the EC does not have much to do. Still, weve been optimistic a bit after talks, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told newsmen at Nirbachan Bhaban (Election Building).He claimed that the commission, too, admitted its limitations with regard to the BNPs emphasis on political dialogue and election-time government.Read more: ‘Fair polls possible only if govt in place wants’ They will try their best to do something within their limitations, Fakhrul said of the ECs position on ensuring credible general elections.The BNP secretary general led a party delegation at the dialogue and presented a 20-point demand at the dialogue. Chief election commission KM Nurul Huda chaired the meeting.
As a tribute to the Indian soldiers to participated in the First world war, IGNCA(Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts),Rooli Books and Embassy of France have organised an exhibition titled India and the First World War. The exhibition is on since January 13 and will continue till February 10 at Twin Art Gallery, IGNCA.This exhibition was inaugurated by Ravindra Singh and Francois Richier (Ambassador of France) in India to shed light on the bravery of those men who fought in alien territories. Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav presided as the guest of honour at the event. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’At the inauguration Dipali Khanna, Member Secretary, IGNCA said “It’s been a hundred years since the great war happened, in which the millions of Indian people participated and lost their lives. Pramod kapoor founder of Rooli Books first came with the idea about an year ago that the memories of Indian soldiers which have been left abroad should be brought home to the Indian public. He also said that the Indian soldiers of World War 1 have not been given the respect which they deserved, and this is the right time to give them their due.” Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixPramod Kapoor also described his experience on curating this exhibition. He said this is the small tribute to seven lakh Indian soldiers and how the 7400 Indian men led their lives over the four years of the war. Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav said that this exhibition reminded him of old days. The gallery is displaying more than 60 objects and 100 photographs of India’s contribution in the First World War for the first time. 100 years old uniforms, items of personal use by the Indian troops and letters written by the soldiers during the war. The photographs at the exhibition capture some untold stories of the Indians such as Sikh soldiers carry Guru Granth Sahib on their head, in a foreign land where they had no Gurudwaras. The source of the images in the exhibition are Imperial War Museum, British Library London, French Military Archives and Flendersy Museum Belgium.The objects were sourced from just one person Dominique Faivre, who had been collecting these objects of the Indian Soldiers from past thirty forty years. The exhibition also has sound recordings and silent movies of the Indian soldiers made between 1914-1918 for the viewers. It is also been held to tell the youth and children about the sacrifices and bravery of Indian soldiers. Rooli Books have also published books which are related to Indian army.
Delhi Tourism along with Austrian Cultural Forum of the Austrian Embassy, New Delhi has embarked upon to present an unusual touring exhibition which attempts to project the life stories of important Austrian and Indian women of the past 200 years. “Women have far too often been forgotten, overlooked and marginalised irrespective of a period, geographical borders, and cultures. But yet their lives and their works have been found quite exemplary and a source of growth, development, expansion, and improvement of the society in general,” the Delhi Tourism said in a statement. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfProjecting these unsung women champions from Austria and India together in full knowledge of inevitable gaps, the exhibition, “Inspiring Women Austria-India” (Calliope Austria) representing almost the same period, was inaugurated in the Capital on August 25 jointly by Brigitte Oeppinger-Walchshofer, Ambassador of Austria and Varsha Joshi, Secretary (Tourism), Government of Delhi.In order to reach out to the public at large, this exhibition has been envisaged to be kept away from the conventional walled galleries and venues and to showcase the same in public spaces. The Exhibition will be on view on the following dates and Venues at:August 28 and August 29 at Dilli Haat, PitampuraAugust 30 and August 31 at Dilli Haat, JanakpuriSeptember 1 and September 2 at Garden of Five SensesThis touring exhibition will also be exhibited outside Delhi, in other states of India.
Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 8 min read Editor’s Note: In this series, The Way We Work, Entrepreneur Associate Editor Lydia Belanger examines how people foster productivity, focus, collaboration, creativity and culture in the workplace.Amy Wan started off her law career in Washington, D.C., where she quickly realized that working for the federal government fulfilled its stereotype of being “slow and bureaucratic.” So she decided to take online courses to learn how to code.One coding assignment was to create a website to exchange bitcoin. This was in 2012, in the cryptocurrency’s nascent days before what Wan calls “Crypto Winter,” when interest in the blockchain-based technology weaned for a few years. Right before that downturn in bitcoin buzz, Wan left her job, moved to L.A. and joined a “legal hackers meetup.”Crypto Winter diverted her career path toward crowdfunding and securities law temporarily, until activity in the space picked up again and she saw there were numerous regulatory and security holes to fill.“If you analogize it back to the ‘90s, there was a time when people were afraid to buy things online, because you didn’t know if you would get that widget that you paid 40 bucks for,” Wan said. She saw an opportunity to build a company that would build solutions to address the “transactional confidence problem” that plagues blockchain.Related: 15 Crazy and Surprising Ways People Are Using BlockchainShe co-founded her company, Sagewise, to this end. This week, the company is launching a product called Blokusign, a blockchain-powered, Gmail-integrated digital signature software designed to minimize and resolve disputes.In many lines of work, contract signing is a major time-suck. While there are already plenty of electronic signature apps out there (such as Docusign or HelloSign), Blokusign has an added layer of decentralized authentication. If someone tampers with a contract (say, adds a 0 to a monetary amount), the Blokusign ledger will reveal which one is the original.Wan spoke with Entrepreneur about blockchain’s potential as an invisible workplace tool.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.It seems as though, in this era of blockchain, contracts are one of the most logical use cases. It’s crazy that we still do things like sign receipts when we buy something.Before starting this company, I was working at a fintech startup. We had to have the notary come over all the time to physically notarize documents. An in-person notary is no better than some other sort of authentication method.Now, with all our technology around Adobe and all of that kind of stuff, it’s so easy to just take a document and doctor it. I’m a former attorney, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a case where loan documents were doctored, or payoff documents were doctored.What does Blokusign look like to the user?What we envision one day is that, if there are two parties that have competing versions of documents, all you’ll have to do is upload the document that you’re claiming is the authentic one onto a website with a user friendly interface and it’ll give you a red check or green check. The green check says, yes, this is the authentic version, the hashes match or, no, it isn’t. And it does that by reading the metadata of the document. It cuts out the middleman and it allows the parties themselves to go and authenticate the documents.What does that dispute process involve now?Today, if you go e-sign something, you don’t have blockchain-powered authentication, then you’re going to end up having two parties with different documents. First they have to give statements to the court about, we believe this is the authentic one, and then they might have to produce evidence. And if that isn’t good, than they’d probably have to go subpoena [the e-signature company.] [With Blokusign], you’re not dependent on some third party that either won’t cooperate or maybe one day they’re out of business or they’re very slow to respond.How specifically do you foresee Blokusign boosting efficiency for companies?If you can efficiently and easily prove which document is authentic, it’s not so much that you’re cutting down costs. You’re actually deterring bad behavior of people going and doctoring documents. And then secondly, the cases never even get that far. If you are able to promote a better culture of authenticity in real estate, in wills and trusts, in things of that sort, you decrease the caseload in courts over those types of issues, because people are going to be less inclined if it’s easy to prove them wrong.What are the biggest problems with companies experimenting with blockchain technology that you’ve seen?I have very strong opinions on this. Often, a lot of these things are just, we took an existing business and slapped it on blockchain, and that’s a terrible idea. Blockchain technology makes things very complex and can bring a lot of security vulnerabilities into a business, as well as high costs. In order to effectively use the technology, you have to understand its advantages but also its limitations. A lot of companies are using blockchain technology when regular database technology would suffice.I also think there’s a huge user-friendliness issue. No one goes around saying, “I’m using TCP/IP.” You use the internet and you don’t think about it. But right now in the blockchain space, it’s like, “Oh, I’m using blockchain.” If you’re using blockchain, you should never know that you’re using blockchain. That’s one thing that’s preventing mass adoption of blockchain.I don’t think you should have to understand blockchain technology. You should just be able to use it. If my mom can’t understand, then I don’t think it can ever take off. We’re not programming here for the crazy developers of the world, because then it’s a niche technology. We have to design for the other 98 percent of the population who doesn’t know how to code and isn’t technologically savvy.Did you decide to launch Blokusign as a Gmail plugin to help with adoption?As an attorney, I have used e-signature technology a lot. But it’s still not easy, and I’ll still get annoyed because someone will email me something, and then I have to download it and e-sign it and upload it again or attach it to an email — it’s a process. Or you have to download, print it out, sign it, scan it, upload it. It clutters up my desktop, and I end up with all of these files in my downloads folder that I’m never going to look at again.You shouldn’t have to ever download a document. You should be able to do that preview thing and sign something with one click. Although Gmail isn’t accessible everywhere, it brings us one step closer to, how can we make e-signature as intuitive and easy as possible?Related: Is Bitcoin Going to Crash the Internet? These Experts Think So.Beyond Blokusign, what is Sagewise’s broader, long-term vision?Blockchain technology and smart contract technology provides a unique opportunity to shift the paradigm of how things work today. With these technologies, we could basically create alternative legal systems — ones where, if I have a dispute, I don’t have to spend a ton of time, and money, and go hire an attorney, and sit in court for two years. Most of the population doesn’t have access to justice, because you pretty much have to be a large corporation or a wealthy individual to efficiently take advantage of a legal system.Our world has changed so much over the past couple of decades. We don’t just have blockchain technology that allows for decentralization, we have social media, we have the rise of stateless organizations. You’re starting to see the geophysical nation-state become a little bit less relevant. But our legal infrastructure has not caught up and does not reflect how the global economy works today. If we can have more more efficient and effective dispute resolution for these transactions in the blockchain ecosystem, then it will provide greater access to justice for most people. 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On Monday, Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the president of VideoLAN introduced a new AV1 decoder, named dav1d. This open source decoder aims to be small, fast, maintainable, correctly threaded, and cross-platform. What is AV1? AV1, short for AOMedia Video 1, is a new royalty-free video coding format designed for video transmissions over the internet. It is being developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) composed of most of the important Web companies including YouTube, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft, among others. Back in September, the YouTube Developers account published a playlist of the first videos to receive AV1 transcodes. Technical details of dav1d The following are the technical details about dav1d: It is written in C99 without VLAs. This facilitates portability as some compilers still haven’t implemented VLAs. It has asm in NASM/GAS syntax. It uses Meson/Ninja as build system. Meson and Ninja are open source build systems which are meant to be extremely fast. It supports x86, x64, ARMv7, ARMv8 architectures. It runs on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS making it cross-platform. It is released under BSD, so that it can be embedded anywhere, including non-open-source software; or even drivers, for hybrid decoders. Performance details of dav1d Currently, the reference decoder (libaom) for AV1 requires a lot of improvement as it is a research codebase. That is why, the VideoLAN and FFmpeg communities have come together to work on this new decoder, sponsored by the Alliance of Open Media. This project is partially funded by the Alliance for Open Media/AOM and is supported by TwoOrioles and VideoLabs. To show the performance improvements that dav1d comes with, the developers compared it with libaom: Smaller source code: The source code of dav1d is 1/10th of lines of code compared to libaom. Smaller binary size: Its weight is 1/3rd of the binary size of libaom. Smaller runtime memory footprint: The memory footprint of dav1d is 1/4th of memory footprint of libaom Stack usage is minimal: It uses a very limited amount of stack (about 1 KB). Faster than libaom 1.0.0, slower than libaom HEAD: Depending on the threads conditions it is approximately faster than libaom 1.0.0, but slower than libaom HEAD. You can find the source code of dav1d at VideoLAN website. Read more about dav1d at Jean-Baptiste Kempf’s website and also watch this presentation at Video Dev Days 2018. Read Next YouTube starts testing AV1 video codec format, launches AV1 Beta Playlist A new Video-to-Video Synthesis model uses Artificial Intelligence to create photorealistic videos Facebook Watch is now available world-wide challenging video streaming rivals, YouTube, Twitch, and more
Now with 227 home-based agents, Flight Centre Independent (formerly Flight Centre Associates) is aiming for 1,000 agents in Canada by 2020.The move ramps up the competition in an already crowded host agency field here, long dominated by legacy players like TPI and TravelOnly and shaken up in recent years by newcomers like The Travel Agent Next Door.Retail travel agents, either new to the industry or with years of experience, are in high demand as host agencies intensify their efforts to woo travel counsellors looking to make the leap from bricks-and-mortar agencies.Meanwhile the home-based trend shows no signs of slowing down. By some estimates 25% of Canadian travel agents are now home-based (in the U.S. the percentage is even higher, at around 40% and climbing).Flight Centre Independent’s General Manager, Lee Zanello, says that while Flight Centre’s host agency business in Canada has been growing for the past 9 years, the company is now moving into a phase of “intense growth, improvement and change.”Anyone who was in the travel industry in the mid-1990s remembers when the Flight Centre retail travel brand arrived on the scene, red signs blazing.By 2012, 30 years after its first storefront opened in Australia, the brand was seemingly everywhere, from the U.S. (Flight Centre bought Liberty Travel and GOGO in 2008 in a US$135 million deal), to the UK, to Canada where it had more than 190 storefronts.With its high-octane growth and aggressive rhetoric – “If the competition was scared before, they should really look out now,” said a rep for the company in 2003 – Flight Centre made few friends on the retail side, even in an industry accustomed to intense competition.Now that Flight Centre Independent is in major recruitment mode, does it get push back from travel agents who want nothing to do with the brand?“There are many agents out there who never lost that initial perception of us when we first entered the marketplace,” acknowledges Zanello.“The biggest problem we have is getting agents to give us that first phone call. Once an agent talks to us and learns about how Flight Centre works, they find it hard to keep any negative impression of us.”Zanello says he sees it all the time at trade shows and events: “People generally enjoy talking to me at first and when I say I’m from Flight Centre, there is a subtle shift – a guard goes up. However it doesn’t take them long to see how genuine we are about putting our agents first, about how much we care about our people and how we truly feel that our people are the cornerstone of our success.”He adds that, “once they have that first conversation with us, they get a glimpse into how their business can benefit from everything we put in to ensure our agents’ success and profitability.”Asked how FCI attracts new agents, Zanello says that as with any host agency, flexibility and autonomy are key. “There are no targets or oversight of your business.”Also, he says, “our agents make more money.” FCI’s programs pay up to a 90% commission split “and we have the largest network of preferred partners paying top tier commissions out of any host agency in the country.”New agents should consider not only the split but also the gross commissions being received when looking at host agencies.“When you include the fact that unlike other host agencies, we don’t penalize you for booking non-preferred (you earn the same split no matter who you book) … our agents are making more money than agents anywhere else.”Flight Centre has long been thought as having a ‘department’ that deals with its Independent Contractors (ICs), when in fact FCI accesses the same support and infrastructure that supports Flight Centre’s 150+ shops in Canada. “The best thing is we are replicating a lot of Flight Centre’s inherent systems to ensure that our growth is scalable, sustainable and that support never wavers. The infrastructure underneath our agents has the flexibility to grow as we grow.”Flight Centre has three Independent offerings: Independent, Agency and Partner.Zanello notes that FCI’s newest systems “give complete access and control of your business from wherever you are”, including GDS access through a web browser. FCI agents can hire sub-contractors, and can access the new FC Group Centre and Cruise Centre.Flight Centre’s national marketing campaigns are also available to its Independent agents. “When you see a Flight Centre sale offering clients $100 off their flights, our agents can sell that sale and the money does not come out of their business, it is funded by FCI. It does not take long for those kinds of client-direct savings to add up and give a huge value to our offering.”Lastly, says Zanello, “no other host agency can compete with our brand name recognition.”With so many host agencies in recruitment mode there’s been an uptick in movement of established agents between hosts. Zanello says that in FCI’s recruitment process, the top reasons he hears from travel agents leaving their current host agency (or wanting to leave) are commission levels, access to product and the need for a sense of community and support. Home-based agents know their business well and have strong entrepreneurial skills but no one wants to feel isolated, a common pitfall for home-based agents. “People want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves, that they don’t want to just be trained and then left on their own.”Agents should also insist on transparency, he adds. Any host agency that makes prospective members “jump through hoops in an interview process to find out their program details is hiding something. Generally, they are hiding the fact that they will make special deals and exemptions depending on where an agent is coming from and their book of business (eg. clients). If an agency is not transparent from the get-go, I think that is a red flag and a comment on how they communicate with the agents in their business.”And for any travel agent looking to make the leap to home-based, or switching host agencies, what are three things to watch out for? “Avoid a host who will not support your marketing initiatives or put money into helping you get the sale. You are on your own but you should not ever feel alone when it comes to trying to get clients to pick up the phone and call you.“Avoid a host where you cannot pick up the phone and get one-to-one direct support; this business can be overwhelming and to have another human voice on the other end of the phone as a coach championing you is invaluable.“Lastly, avoid a host who ties you into any sort of time frame on your contract. People’s needs change and with FCI we require only 60 days notice to ensure your clients and commissions are looked after properly should you want to leave.” Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Flight Centre, Sphere Wednesday, July 19, 2017 Posted by “Our agents make more money”: newly re-branded Flight Centre Independent talks about its value proposition for new recruits