Thane: In a bid to save citizens from traffic jams and bad roads, the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has come up with a plan wherein residents can immerse idols of Lord Ganesh in truck-mounted water tanks near their residences. The initiative “Immersion of Ganesh Idol at Your Door” has been launched by KDMC Commissioner Govind Bodke. Under this initiative, residents can immerse the idols in water tanks mounted on decorated trucks in municipal wards. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Initially, the facility will be available for those residents who immerse the idols after one-and-a-half days of the festival, beginning on September 2. “We will ensure that the entire process is completed with a traditional fervour till the satisfaction of devotees,” a civic official said on Saturday. “The civic body will install water tanks on decorated trucks in every ward where household idols can be immersed. This initiative will help reduce traffic on roads during the festival as well as the long waiting time at the immersion sites (lakes, rivers and creeks),” said KDMC PRO Madhuri Phople.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – After much anticipation, Canada signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Buenos Aires today on the sidelines of the high-profile G20 summit.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined U.S. President Donald Trump and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a hotel to formally sign the trade agreement.U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum remain in place, but a Canadian official says an advantage to signing onto the agreement now is an auto side letter exempting Canada of potential tariffs on exports of up to 2.6 million vehicles — well above current levels.Today marks an important deadline for the trade pact.A new Mexican president takes over Saturday, who might not honour the tentative deal struck by his predecessor.Stability for Canada: TrudeauPrime Minister Justin Trudeau says the revamped NAFTA signed today in Buenos Aires provides stability for Canada’s economy.“Free and fair trade leads to more and better paying middle class jobs for more people,” Trudeau told a news conference in Argentina. “And the benefits of trade must be broadly and fairly shared — that is what modernizing NAFTA achieves, and that is why it was always so important to get this new agreement done right.”Trudeau calls on atrump to drop steel and aluminum tariffs as he speaks at the USMCA signings ceremony. Those tariffs remain in place despite the trade deal being reached #cdnpoli— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) November 30, 2018He says the new agreement lifts the risk of economic uncertainty that lingers throughout the trade renegotiation process.Trump says the new deal is a model agreement that will stop auto jobs from going overseas.He also says the agreement protects intellectual property rights and provides robust protections for digital trade and financial services.“President, I must say Pena Nieto, and Prime Minister Trudeau, we’ve worked hard on this agreement,” Trump said. “It’s been long and hard. We’ve taken a lot of barbs and a little abuse, and we got there. It’s great for all of our countries. Thank you for your close partnership throughout this process.”In the US, the Democrats (who control the House) want more measures to prevent jobs from going to Mexico, while Republicans are protesting protections for LGBTQ2 workers. #cdnpoli— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) November 30, 2018The signing of the trade pact is largely ceremonial, because it still needs to be ratified by all three countries before it can formally take effect.
He also said that the nominations board decided on the final list of candidates who will contest for the provincial council elections in September. “Dayasiri stepped down from parliament and is contesting for the provincial council after accepting the Mahinda Chinthanaya. We are confident he will add strength to the campaign. He has the blessings of the people. As someone who is with the people, we think that is a good thing,” he said. The ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is confident former UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera will add strength to the provincial council election campaign of the government.Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that Jayasekera had the support of the public in his electorate and that was shown when he garnered the most number of votes at the last General Elections from the Kurunegala District. The Minister said that the government stand on the candidates is conveyed to the nominations board but the board takes the final decision on the candidates.He said that while there are many who are qualified to be included only a few make it to the final list as there is a limit on the number of candidates who can be nominated. (Colombo Gazette)
Smaller numbers were still crossing the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which received a report from a four-member investigating team just back from the area. Meanwhile, an additional 2,700 Congolese refugees, escaping from fighting in Bukavu, north of Uvira, have crossed into Rwanda in the last two weeks, the agency reported on Thursday. The largest group in Burundi, 1,652 people, mostly women and children, arrived in the border town of Gatumba at the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika, saying they had learned of the fighting that broke out in Bukavu on 26 May and fled in panic from their homes in the Kimanga, Bien mal acquis, and Nyamyanda areas of Uvira province. They were transferred to Gasorwe refugee camp. A group of 1,040 refugees, now in the Cibitoke centre, were mainly farmers from Bwegera, who risked their lives crossing the Ruzizi River, UNHCR said. Another 60 people arrived at the Rugombo Communal Centre after hearing distant gunshots and fleeing the towns of Ngueshi, Walungu, Kamanyola, Luvunge and Katogote, the agency said. Not far away, another group of 100 people, mainly teenage students, said they joined family members and neighbours who were running away.
It’s hard to believe, but it took nearly four days after Twitter’s new video app, Vine, hit the App Store for the public outcry over inappropriate use to start. Yes, even in 2013 it’s nearly impossible for an NSFW app to launch without attracting a large amount of SFW content. If you’re not familiar with it, Vine encourages users to shoot six-second video clips of what’s going on right now and add them to their lifestreams — it was pitched as a perfect complement to Twitter.And no, Vine was never really intended as a porn clip sharing service. This is the internet we’re talking about, though, and if there’s one certainty about content sharing platforms it’s this: if it accepts uploads, it will become full of porn.Sure, it’s alarming that a short clip of some fellow and his sex toy somehow managed to pop up among Vine’s Editor’s Picks. That misstep and the mayhem that followed was enough to convince Apple that maybe having Vine listed in its Editor’s Choice section in the App Store wasn’t a great idea. It’s also totally predictable that Vine reacted by quickly filtering out every remotely foul hashtag it could think of. It does make you wonder if a conversation that went like this happened in the days leading up to Vine’s launch:“Do you think people will use this for porn?”“Nah, are you kidding? We only accept 6 second clips.”“Yeah, you’re right. No one wants to watch porn videos that short.”If it did go down like that, then not only was this one of the most incorrect assessments of the population of the internet ever made, but we’ve also got to assume that no one who works at Vine has ever browsed the web. It seems more likely that Vine decided to take a wait-and-see approach. That means, of course, that they figured they’d wait to do any filtering until they saw someone’s privates.Now the real fun begins for Vine. Banning hashtags will no doubt be an effective anti-porn measure, but it’s not a foolproof solution. Users will come up with their own nonsensical hashtags, use foreign words and phrases, or just start repurposing perfectly legitimate words like sausages.
By Sinead Pembroke 10 Comments Sinead Pembroke Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article 439 Views Short URL http://jrnl.ie/3299373 Mar 22nd 2017, 6:20 AM Wednesday 22 Mar 2017, 6:20 AM Researcher at TASC ‘After hours of questioning by “experts”, Theresa was left traumatised and had to make her own way home’ Redressing survivors of Mother and Baby homes needs to avoid the pitfalls of the Residential Institution Redress Board for Industrial and Reformatory School survivors, writes Sinead Pembroke. Share190 Tweet Email1 FINE GAEL’S EDUCATION Minister, Richard Bruton has said that there are no “plans” to reopen the State’s redress scheme for new entrants in light of the Tuam Baby scandal.However, with the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes underway, it is important to start thinking about the process of redress that is likely to be set up after the investigation is completed.Looking back at the experience of survivors incarcerated in Industrial and Reformatory Schools in applying for redress from the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB), we can identify what a redress process should and shouldn’t look like.I interviewed 25 men and women about their experience of applying for redress from the RIRB, and this is what they had to say about the process.Re-traumatisationA major issue for most survivors was that by the time the redress process was over, they felt re-traumatised. An inquiry should seek to limit this trauma; however, this is not possible in its current format because of the legalistic overtures that characterise the process.First, many were dissatisfied with the way their solicitors dealt with their claims, and felt that the legal system had benefitted financially from their trauma. The Redress Board’s Annual Report (2008) stated that “the average costs and expenses paid to an applicant’s solicitor at the end of 2008 amounted to €10,845 per application, or 16.9% of the award”.Second, the application procedure, (writing a detailed statement and being assessed by a psychiatrist) resulted in psychological wounds being opened up after years of consignment to the deepest reaches of the mind.Third, the hearing procedure was interpreted by some as similar to being on trial, where one of the survivors Theresa described that after five and a half hours of questioning and critical examination by the panel of “experts”, she was left exhausted, traumatised and had to make her own way home.Finally, the waiver form that each person had to sign when an award for compensation was made caused a lot of distress to survivors. While the waiver form can’t stop people who accepted an award for compensation telling their story, this legal threat created a climate of confusion and of fear, and consequently, they felt abused again by the State.No justiceSurvivors were also critical of the lack of prosecutions that were followed up after the Commission released its report in 2009.Figures from Amnesty International’s report (2011) revealed that there were 30,000 complaints of abuse to the inquiry, 14,448 applied for redress, yet only eleven cases of abuse were forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions and only three abusers were prosecuted.This group of survivors also felt there was a lack of transparency throughout the inquiry and redress process. For example, many survivors interviewed felt that the operation of the points system that was used to determine how much compensation they were awarded was not transparent enough, and that in many instances their solicitor came to an agreement with the RIRB, with very little input from the survivor.Overall, institutional survivors, Catholic Religious Orders and the state had significantly differing experiences of the inquiry and redress process. This was related to each group’s social and financial capital, where the state and the Catholic Church were politically and financially in a better position to engage with the justice system.Recommendations for future redress schemesIn light of the above, there are four recommendations that should be taken into account in how future inquiry and redress processes (such as in the case of Mother and Baby Homes) should be set up.First, in order to limit re-traumatisation, a redress process should veer away from legal overtures, such as designing a redress application that does not require legal representation. Neither should people be forced to make a detailed statement and have it assessed on the basis of a points system; this forces further re-trauma because survivors are encouraged to delve into memories they may prefer to forget.Second, criminal convictions should be sought and followed through.Third, the State should create a public archive where all materials relating to the institutions being investigated and a collection of testimonies from survivors, (with their permission) can be stored. This would go some way towards memorialising victims of abuse of state-funded institutions.Finally, in the name of impartiality, the investigative team should be independent of the governing elite, (politicians, state departments and the legal system); this would go some way to limit the political capital that the state is able to wield during inquiry and redress processes.Sinead Pembroke is a researcher at TASC (Think-Tank on Action for Social Change), and previously a research fellow on the Magdalene Laundry oral history project in UCD. She is also the daughter of a survivor who went through the RIRB scheme.‘Trump’s budget is easy to understand: he’s boosting the military, cutting everything else. Scary’>Junior Cert English: ‘There isn’t a fifteen-year-old alive that can spit out high quality writing in two hours’>
Microsoft et Amazon : des finances au beau fixeÉtats-Unis – Les deux firmes américaines Microsoft et Amazon voient leur chiffre d’affaires s’envoler depuis la fin d’année 2009. Cette bonne santé s’explique par les ventes régulières de Windows 7 et du Kindle.Microsoft a publié un chiffre d’affaires record pour son deuxième trimestre décalé, clôt fin décembre. L’éditeur de logiciels affiche un bond de 60% soit 6,6 milliards de dollars (environ 4,7 milliards d’euros). “La demande exceptionnelle pour Windows 7 a débouché sur une bonne croissance du chiffre d’affaires”, a souligné le nouveau directeur financier, Peter Klein. En bourse, l’action de Microsoft gagne 1 dollar pour atteindre 29,42 dollars. De son côté, le bénéfice d’Amazon a littéralement explosé pour augmenter au final de 71% lors du dernier trimestre, grâce en particulier aux ventes du Kindle lors de la période des fêtes. “Des millions de gens possèdent maintenant le Kindle, a commenté Jeff Bezos, fondateur et directeur général d’Amazon. Et ceux qui possèdent un Kindle lisent beaucoup. Quand nous possédons les deux éditions, papier et numérique, nous vendons six éditions Kindle pour dix livres papier.”Le 29 janvier 2010 à 11:56 • Emmanuel Perrin
Choléra en Haïti : le pic n’a pas encore été atteintSi l’on en croit l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), l’épidémie de choléra en Haïti n’aurait pas encore atteint son pic de propagation, et de nombreux nouveaux cas devraient donc encore être découverts ces prochaines semaines.Alors que l’épidémie en Haïti dure déjà depuis plusieurs mois (elle a commencé à se propager à la mi-octobre), l’OMS a fait savoir lors d’une conférence de presse que le pic de contagion de la maladie n’avait, selon elle, pas encore été atteint. Ainsi, une porte-parole de l’organisation a expliqué : “Il y aura certainement encore beaucoup de cas de choléra en Haïti, c’est certain”, et cela en précisant tout de même que moins de victimes sont à prévoir du fait de l’aide apportée dans le pays.Si le nombre de cas de porteurs du choléra ne cesse de croître, le taux de létalité de la maladie est en baisse, atteignant 2,2% des cas actuellement contre 9% en automne dernier, explique l’AFP. Pour maîtriser plus que jamais la maladie, l’OMS a expliqué avoir formé plusieurs centaines de professionnels de santé pour venir en aide à la population d’Haïti. Aujourd’hui, les problèmes qui se posent concernent l’accession aux zones rurales et la mise en place d’un véritable système d’assainissement de l’eau dans le pays. A noter que l’Onu de son côté a nommé dernièrement un groupe d’experts afin de déterminer l’exacte origine de l’épidémie en Haïti (voir notre article) alors qu’un camp de Casques bleus népalais est montré du doigt par la population et certains scientifiques.Le 11 janvier 2011 à 16:33 • Emmanuel Perrin
The Spurs were up 6-0 against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup, and Mauricio Pochettino still decided to sub in his captain for the second half.Tottenham Hotspur was easily winning 6-0 against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup Third Round.But Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino decided to play one of his best players: captain Harry Kane.Kane went on to score Tottenham’s seventh goal, and Pochettino was questioned why would he subbed Kane in.“It was respect,” Pochettino said after the game according to Goal.Premier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…“Respect the people, respect the opponent. They’re not going to have many chances to see Harry Kane play here in a competition like the FA Cup.”“I think it was a great atmosphere. For different reasons, I decided to make a change and put Kane on the pitch but one of them is that,” he commented.“It’s important to show respect to the people here so they could see Harry Kane, who is an icon in English football. It is difficult in that division to see it. It was important to see him in action.”“Like all the competitions, we take it very seriously,” he added.“Of course sometimes you can win and sometimes you can lose, but always we are serious and respect the competition.”
Load More Aristocrat wins battle over intellectual property rights with US$3 million settlement RGB expecting strong 2019 despite second quarter revenue, profit decline Discussing the results, CEO and Managing Director Trevor Croker said, “Aristocrat has delivered another period of strong growth and operational performance, built on outstanding talent, product, technology and improved front-end execution.“The strong 32% profit improvement over the six months to 31 March 2018 demonstrates the soundness of our strategy whilst highlighting our broadening ambition as we make substantial progress expanding our addressable market across both digital and land-based segments.”Aristocrat revealed that the number of total daily active users on its digital platforms had increased six-fold in the period to 8.3 million, while American operations saw an AU$42.9 million improvement in post-tax profit.The company said it expects to successfully defend its market-leading positions in the North American, ANZ and other international markets over the coming year. It added that Aristocrat will continue to increase its investment in content and technology in its land-based business as well as expansion of its digital operations via social casino and social games.“Aristocrat will continue to push for growth by increasing our strategic investment in design and development in order to protect and extent market leading positions, while attacking attractive adjacencies,” Croker said.” Slot machine giant Aristocrat Leisure saw its revenue soar by 28.5% to AU$1.58 billion in the six months to 31 March 2018, driven by strong growth in the group’s Americas and digital business plus “further lift in performance” in the ANZ region.Continuing its upward momentum, Aristocrat also saw its operating revenue jump 33.6% to AU$1.64 billion, while EBITDA grew 28.9% to AU$642.9 million. Profit after tax increased 2.8% to AU$256.5 million, with NPATA growing 32.5% to AU$361.5 million. RelatedPosts South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos see revenues grow in August
BNP The leadership in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is not at all worried over who will lead the party in absence of party chairperson Khaleda Zia.They said they are more worried over how long their chairperson would have to stay in jail.Party insiders said the BNP leadership fear that the Bangladesh Awami League (AL) government may resort to different underhand tactics to prolong Khaleda’s stay in jail as part of its conspiracy to split the party ahead of the next December general elections.Against this backdrop, the main target of the party policymakers is how to ensure Khaleda’s immediate release and how to reach its goals with regard to the December general elections, keeping party’s unity intact in absence of the party’s two topmost leaders – Khaleda and her son Tarique Rahman.The party has made its exiled senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman the acting chairman of the party in absence of his mother.BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told Prothom Alo on Friday the party will carry out peaceful and non-violent street campaign demanding the release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia, alongside the legal battle.He also said they are expecting to file an appeal with the High Court against the verdict of the trial court by Sunday or Monday next.Party insiders said the party would continue its regular and peaceful programmes demanding Khaleda’s release, but wouldn’t go for any sturdy street campaign.They think that it wouldn’t be easy to free Khaleda through street agitations. On the other hand, if the street campaigns turn violent, it may be counter-productive. It would give the government an opportunity to carry out repression on the opposition activists, alongside launching propaganda against the party.So, the BNP leadership doesn’t want to spend its strength right now on the streets. Khaleda, too, gave the party leadership such instructions before landing in jail.Talking to reporters at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office on Friday, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul said the party chairperson earlier directed them to carry out non-violent and peaceful street campaign in a democratic manner for her release, restoration of democracy and forcing the government to hold a fair election.BNP leadership thinks that the courage of party activists has increased in recent times and this has been manifest in their participation in recent programmes.Participation of thousands of party activists in the procession that escorted Khaleda to the makeshift court on Thursday, amidst the presence of a huge contingent of law enforcers, has further boosted the courage of the party.Thousands of party activists and supporters, braving the fear of being arrested by law enforcers, thronged the highway when Khaleda was going to Sylhet two days before her sentencing.BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said the more the government will harden its repression and the more the government would curb people’s rights, the more the people will rise up.“The government will not be able to stop the wave of people’s uprising, no matter how many strategies the government takes.”The party leadership fear that the government would resort to different ill tactics to split the party ahead of the next general elections and that’s why the leadership is careful so that the party leadership sees no divisions in the absence of Khaleda and Tarique.A member of the party’s national standing committee told Prothom Alo that the standing committee – the highest policymaking body of the party – will make decisions in consultation with the party’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman who is now staying in UK. Former prime minister Khaleda was sent to jail after a makeshift court sentenced her to five years of imprisonment in a graft case on Thursday.*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Abu Taib Ahmed
Kolkata: The Wildlife Wing of the state Forest department seized 20 birds of three scheduled species of parakeets from Galif Street on Sunday.No one could be arrested as offenders probably had sensed danger and abandoned the cages full of birds to save themselves. According to sources, acting on a sources information sleuths from Forest department conducted a special raid on Sunday morning at Galif Street. Forest department officials posed as prospected buyers of pets and was taking a round of the pet market for possible catch. After almost an hours, some of them noticed few cages covered with pieces of cloth which were abandoned. Suspecting something fishy, sleuths started keeping strong vigil on the cages. But after waiting for a long time no one came to pick up those cages. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataLater, forest officials removed the cloth pieces and found three species of birds identified as rose ringed parakeets, alexandrine parakeets and grey headed starling. Immediately, the birds were seized and it was found there are 20 birds from the schedule of forest department regulations which are banned for trade. Later, the birds were taken to the wild life rehabilitation centre in Salt Lake. A case has been lodged. A forest officials said they are continuously trying to inform people not to buy any scheduled birds as it is illegal. The aim is to save and conserve wildlife by awareness of common people. Earlier this month, state Forest department and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) jointly carried out a raid at Galif Street, after the officials got a tip off that several endangered species of birds were being sold by a few persons. A large number of birds were recovered during the raid and nine persons are arrested by the officials of forest department and WCCB.
Sponsored Stories MONTREAL (AP) – Police say smoke bombs were set off at multiple points in Montreal’s subway system, briefly cutting off service and creating a nightmarish morning commute.Quebec Premier Jean Charest condemned the attack, saying he hopes the guilty parties are found.The incident occurred near the peak of Thursday morning rush hour. Most service was restored just after 10 a.m. (1500 GMT).Subway service has been interrupted in recent weeks as the city deals with student protests over tuition increases. Thursday’s subway shutdown caused long lineups at bus stops and increased traffic under a heavy drizzle.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Comments Share Men’s health affects baby’s health too New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths
LATAM goes with oneworld over Star Alliance. LATAM has confirmed it will join global alliance, oneworld, prompting TAM Airlines and its Paraguay subsidiary to set aside its association with the Star Alliance.With Chile’s LAN Airlines has been flying as a full member of oneworld since June 2000 and LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru added since as affiliate members, the decision will bring the entire group into the same global airline alliance.TAM’s transition away from the Star Alliance is expected to be completed during the second quarter next year, with an intention to become part of oneworld to be placed after its exit.Meanwhile, LAN Columbia will join oneworld as an affiliate member in the fourth quarter of 2013.Assuring a smooth transition, LATAM Airlines group chief executive Enrique Cueto said the decision was made after an evaluation of alliance options.“We are very happy with the decision,” he said.With the addition of TAM and LAN as well as impending additions of Qatar Airways and SriLankan, the oneworld network will grow to more than 950 destinations in 160 countries.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
We have found extremely cheap flights from London and Manchester to Aruba in late September. If you still have your holidays to book this might be a good option! Flights from Manchester £249 26 September – 10 October We try to make every deal accurate and available to you, however all prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability. RelatedWOW! Flights from many UK cities to New York or Boston from £260 returnPlanning to visit the States? You can’t miss out on this deal!Flights to Madeira from £49 returnFly to Madeira for under £100 this SeptemberLondon or Manchester to Bali – flights from £390The paradise is just few clicks away! 20 September – 4 October27 September – 11 October< Flights from London £209
Ieva Zasimauskaite from Lithuania, right, performs the song ‘When We’re Old’ in Lisbon, Portugal, Saturday, May 12, 2018 during the Eurovision Song Contest grand final. (AP Photo/Armando Franca) by Barry Hatton, The Associated Press Posted May 12, 2018 3:21 am PDT Last Updated May 12, 2018 at 3:00 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email LISBON, Portugal – Lights, music, action! The annual celebration of country and song known as the Eurovision Song Contest got underway in Portugal’s capital Saturday night with a paean to the country’s traditional fado music.Accompanied by a Portuguese 12-string guitar and drums, fado singers Ana Moura and Mariza — two of the genre’s biggest stars — opened the contest’s Grand Final at Altice Arena on Saturday night.The final of the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest will crown one of 26 entries with dreams of following in the footsteps of past winners such as Swedish pop group ABBA and Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias.More than 10,000 people are in the audience, and thousands more are watching the show at a downtown fan zone. An expected 200 million people were expected to tune in across the world.The event started out as a competition between European countries, but its huge popularity has led to the inclusion of Israel and Australia as contestants.The country which furnishes the winner organizes the following year’s competition. Portugal won last year with Salvador Sobral’s subdued ballad “Amar pelos Dois.”Beatbombers, a Portuguese DJ duo, mixed a classic fado song with a techno beat while the contestants representing 26 countries paraded across the stage with their national flags.A lot of thought went into the lineup for the Eurovision Song Contest’s Grand Final.The event’s producer, Christer Bjorkman, assesses each of the annual event’s 26 performers, figuring out how to create the best show. He juggles ballads with heavy rock, and balances solo acts with bands, to get the tempo right.“You want to start with good energy. You want to get the party going,” Bjorkman said.Ukrainian entry MELOVIN was the first contestant up on Saturday night with his song “Under The Ladder.” His performance featured a flaming staircase leading up to a piano, touches he said were inspired by the song’s lyrics: “Nothing but your will sets you on fire, and fire lasts forever.”Ukraine has won the competition twice. After MELOVIN, it was Spain’s turn.One headache for organizers is the turnover time between acts of just 40 seconds. That’s not much time to get the props off stage, though the commercial breaks offer more breathing space for the crew.Italy, the 26th act, was set to close out the night before voting begins.The annual Euro-pop fest has long been the glittery home of outlandish costumes, high-voltage stage effects, forgettable tunes and kitschy acts like last year’s dancing gorilla.But Portugal is putting on a show with stylish, elegant performances by a strong field of competitors. And it’s doing that with a $23.8 million budget that officials say is the most restrained since 2008.That means the contest is heading to what many predict will be an exceptional year.“Music isn’t fireworks, it’s feeling,” Sobral said to explain his 2017 triumph.Six countries automatically qualify for the Grand Final: the “Big Five” of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U. K., as well as the host country. Two semifinals have cut the overall field from 43 to the 26 who will compete on Saturday night.The bookmakers’ favourites this year are: Israel’s Netta Barzilai, with her playful song “Toy”; Cypriot singer Eleni Foureira, with her fiery performance of “Fuego”; and France’s Madame Monsieur with the politically charged “Mercy,” about migrants who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean on unsafe boats hoping for a better life in Europe.This year saw the return to competition of Russia, a traditional favourite, after missing last year’s event amid a diplomatic spat with host Ukraine. But it was a short return: Russia’s contestant Julia Samoylova went out in the semifinals, while Ukraine singer Melovin advanced to the Grand Final.The hugely popular international event is organized by the European Broadcasting Union, an alliance of public service broadcasters. Fado music takes centre stage at Eurovision Song Contest
But politicians in coal states have already signaled their opposition, a former secretary to the Department of Science and Technology, the opposition’s high-pressing and intensity tend to force the City defenders into decisions they would rather not make.
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