Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.TwitterBeating Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emerges as the ‘World’s Most Powerful Person 2019’ in the reader’s poll conducted by UK-based British Herald magazine.While PM Modi won with 30.9 percent votes, he was followed by Vladimir Putin (29.9 percent), Donald Trump (21.9 percent), and Xi Jinping with 18.1 percent votes.The website described him as a key figure in the Asian region who has played an active role in implementing his “act east policies”. It also complimented the global recognition PM Modi received regarding efforts towards climate change as it affects millions of rural Indians.Apart from welfare initiatives like Ayushman Bharat (National Health Protection Scheme), Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojna, Swatch Bharat (Clean India), his aggressive stances regarding national security as demonstrated during the Balakot airstrikes, were cited as elements that guaranteed him support in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, criticism such as the high unemployment rate, rising Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), high inflation rates as well as rates of fuel despite promises made in 2014 was also cited as ‘backlash’. Other major policies such as the demonetisation, revamping of goods and services tax (GST) were also stated as a major threat to the Indian economy.Despite the criticism, the website stated that it was because “the people of India have accepted his style of governance and politics” that the Modi achieved a landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. PM Narendra Modi on the British Herald magazine’s July 2019 cover.British Herald websiteNarendra Modi will be featured on the front cover page of the British Herald magazine which will be released on July 2019. The magazine had featured New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in its May-June issue and Russian President Vladimir Putin in its March-April issue.But what is the British Herald?A recent investigation by Alt News revealed that while its official wesite, www.britishherald.com mention ‘via Reuters’ under its logo banner, it is owned by an Indian, Ansif Ashraf.Although the company is registered in the UK, Alt News reported that Ashraf is an Indian businessman from Kerala who is the editor-in-chief of the Cochin Herald and owner of British Herald with 85 percent shares. Ansif Ashraf’s Wikipedia page describes him as an Indian businessman from Kerala who is the editor-in-chief of the Cochin Herald and owns British Herald.
-Corruptions have been alleged in over 1,000 government projects worth Tk 263.5 million in Magura.Among the projects under Test Relief (TR), and Taka for Work (TW) for the rural infrastructure maintenance and renovation programme, over 100 projects do not even exist. Some 35 have been listed twice and hardly any work has been done on most of the others, according to a Prothom Alo investigation.The month-long investigation was conducted on some 35 development projects in the district.According to the Magura district relief and rehabilitation office, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief allocated Tk 263.5 million for 1,132 projects in the 2016-2017 fiscal. As per the rules, the projects were supposed to be completed by 30 June this year.Of the allocated funds, Tk 72 million was drawn for 969 projects under TR (special) and Tk 195 million for 163 projects under TW (special).Deputy commissioner Mohammad Atiqur Rahman told Prothom Alo they are looking into the allegations of irregularities in these projects.Visiting Project SitesSome 30 tonnes of rice were allocated for reconstructing a road in Bishnupur village. But, local union parishad (UP) member Zahidul Islam said, “As far I know, no work of road construction has been done here in past one to two years.”Tk 12,98,397 and 35 tonnes of rice were allocated for constructing a Thoipara road in Dhaneshwargati UP. District Awami League leader Sarwar Mallick and also resident of the UP said that there exists no road by this name in the area. The funds of the project might have been embezzled, he added.As many as 200 tonnes of rice were allocated for six projects of dredging canals and ponds in Sreepur upazila. But, no such work was done.Likewise, 120 tonnes of rice were allocated in three projects for dredging another canal in Shalikha’s Dhaneshwar UP. But, local Narayan Chandra Shikder said, “I cannot remember any canal dredging work here in five to seven years.”UP member Ashraful Islam and also president of the three projects said, “The canal was not dredged. Despite being the project head, I know nothing about the projects.”District relief and rehabilitation officer Mohammad Zakaria said, “The project implementation officials submit reports of completing the project by the month of June and draw money.”“The DC directed Upazila Nirbahi Officers last August to investigate irregularities on the projects and they found proof of irregularities,” he added.According to the district relief and rehabilitation office, the ministry allocated the funds following demand order (DO) of three members of parliament – Biren Sikder, ATM Abdul Wahab, and Kamrul Laila.MP ATM Abdul Wahab of Magura-1 constituency said, “I distributed the projects to local AL leaders. The UNOs and PIOs are supposed to take care of the projects whether they are done or not. If this does not happen, it’s their [UNOs and PIOs] responsibility.”MP Biren Sikder of Magura-2 constituency, also state minister for youth and sports said that he did not issue any DO under TR and TW projects.“I don’t even know there were these allocations,” he said.MP Kamrul Laila of reserved women seats in parliament said, “I had a meagre allocation. My DOs were for renovation of mosques and temples. I submitted the list of allocations to the DC.”The inquiry report submitted by the UNOs to the DC office states that most of the projects have been completed and a few are ongoing.The UNO of Mohammedpur told Prothom Alo, “My investigations reveal that there has been no work on any of the projects here and I submitted report to the deputy commissioner about this. The allocations for the projects will have to be returned. No money will be given to anyone if work isn’t done.”Sadar upazila UNO Ashafur Rahman said, “Most of the projects don’t even exist. And no work has been done on the projects that are in place. So the allocations haven’t been released.”Other UNOs came up with similar accounts of non-existent and non-implemented projects.*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain
Heartbroken relatives gathered Friday for the funeral rites of the first victims of a military plane crash off Myanmar’s southern coast, as search teams battled heavy rains and churning waves to find scores more people presumed lost at sea.Most of the 31 dead retrieved from the Andaman Sea so far have been women and children after a fraught search by navy ships, planes and helicopters hampered by sweeping rains.A total of 122 people were on board the Chinese-made Shaanxi Y8 military aircraft when it crashed on Wednesday during a routine flight from the southern city of Myeik to Myanmar’s commercial hub of Yangon.Hundreds gathered in a cemetery outside Dawei town on Friday afternoon to bid goodbye to loved ones whose bodies had been pulled from the water the previous day on San Hlan beach, a two hour drive away.Chanting from Buddhist monks filled a hall used for the ceremonies as 10 flimsy wooden coffins were laid out.One woman fainted and had to be carried out and many others broke down wailing as the service went on.Mourners then moved outside and watched as black smoke from the cremated coffins poured out of nearby towers, drifting across the sky.“My husband identified my nephew’s body. I’m so sorry,” said a tearful Khine Zar Win, who lost her youngest brother, his wife and two-year-old nephew in the plane crash.Another mourner, Aye Aye, said five members of her friend’s family were killed in the crash.“I couldn’t sleep when I heard about them,” she said. “We lived together like a family for 15 years in the military before my husband retired.”“I have no words,” added one woman, whose daughter and grandson were on the plane. “We are so sad.”More than half of the passengers on the aircraft were from military families, including 15 children, according to the army. The rest were soldiers and flight crew.The military said on Friday it had identified 16 of the dead so far.There has been no official explanation for the cause of the crash, one of several deadly incidents involving Myanmar military aircraft in recent years.Monsoon season brings heavy rains and strong winds every year, but there were no reports of major storms along the plane’s flight route when it went missing.Storms hamper search -Fishing boats helped navy vessels and military aircraft as they continued to hunt for the wreckage on Friday, despite tides reaching over 2.5 metres, the military said in a statement.But by the afternoon officials had not announced the retrieval of any more bodies.“We are having difficulty because of the strong winds and tide,” Major Aung Win, police chief of Launglon township, told AFP.The military said the aircraft was flying above 18,000 feet (5,486 metres) when it lost contact with air traffic control at 1:35 pm (07:05 GMT) on Wednesday.The military has described the captain as a “seasoned” pilot with more than 3,000 hours flying experience.Gerry Soejatman, an independent aviation expert based in Jakarta, said initial information indicated something went wrong “not long after or just before reaching cruising altitude”.Myanmar’s former junta bought several Y8s-four-engine turboprop jets used for medium range flights-during their 50 years of isolated rule, when they were squeezed by Western sanctions.The plane’s maker, China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation, has pledged to assist with investigations into the crash.Several pieces of debris that appeared to be from the wreckage, including tyres, life jackets and some luggage, have also been salvaged.
Today, Google cloud announced the alpha availability of ‘Cloud TPU Pods’ that are tightly-coupled supercomputers built with hundreds of Google’s custom Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips and dozens of host machines, linked via an ultrafast custom interconnect. Google states that these pods make it easier, faster, and more cost-effective to develop and deploy cutting-edge machine learning workloads on Google Cloud. Developers can iterate over the training data in minutes and train huge production models in hours or days instead of weeks. The Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), is an ASIC that powers several of Google’s major products, including Translate, Photos, Search, Assistant, and Gmail. It provides up to 11.5 petaflops of performance in a single pod. Features of Cloud TPU Pods #1 Proven Reference Models Customers can take advantage of Google-qualified reference models that are optimized for performance, accuracy, and quality for many real-world use cases. These include object detection, language modeling, sentiment analysis, translation, image classification, and more. #2 Connect Cloud TPUs to Custom Machine Types Users can connect to Cloud TPUs from custom VM types. This will them optimally balance processor speeds, memory, and high-performance storage resources for their individual workloads. #3 Preemptible Cloud TPU Preemptible Cloud TPUs are 70% cheaper than on-demand instances. Long training runs with checkpointing or batch prediction on large datasets can now be done at an optimal rate using Cloud TPU’s. #4 Integrated with GCP Cloud TPUs and Google Cloud’s Data and Analytics services are fully integrated with other GCP offerings. This provides developers unified access across the entire service line. Developers can run machine learning workloads on Cloud TPUs and benefit from Google Cloud Platform’s storage, networking, and data analytics technologies. #5 Additional features Cloud TPUs perform really well at synchronous training. The Cloud TPU software stack transparently distributes ML models across multiple TPU devices in a Cloud TPU Pod to help customers achieve scalability. All Cloud TPUs are integrated with Google Cloud’s high-speed storage systems, ensuring that data input pipelines can keep up with the TPUs. Users do not have to manage parameter servers, deal with complicated custom networking configurations, or set up exotic storage systems to achieve unparalleled training performance in the cloud. Performance and Cost benchmarking of Cloud TPU Google compared the Cloud TPU Pods and Google Cloud VMs with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs attached- using one of the MLPerf models called TensorFlow 1.12 implementations of ResNet-50 v1.5 (GPU version, TPU version). They trained ResNet-50 on the ImageNet image classification dataset. The results of the test show that Cloud TPU Pods deliver near-linear speedups for large-scale training task; the largest Cloud TPU Pod configuration tested (256 chips) delivers a 200X speedup over an individual V100 GPU. Check out their methodology page for further details on this test. Training ResNet-50 on a full Cloud TPU v2 Pod costs almost 40% less than training the same model to the same accuracy on an n1-standard-64 Google Cloud VM with eight V100 GPUs attached. The full Cloud TPU Pod completes the training task 27 times faster. Head over to Google Cloud’s official page to know more about Cloud TPU Pods. Alternatively, check out Cloud TPU’s documentation for more insights on the same. Read Next Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory available first on Google CloudGoogle Cloud Storage Security gets an upgrade with Bucket Lock, Cloud KMS keys and moreOracle’s Thomas Kurian to replace Diane Greene as Google Cloud CEO; is this Google’s big enterprise Cloud market move?
Share Tags: British Airways, Iberia, Low-Cost Carriers TORONTO — International Airlines Group (IAG), parent company of British Airways and Iberia, is moving forward with plans to acquire the assets of struggling low-cost carrier Niki, which opened insolvency procedures in Austria last week.IAG announced plans last month for a subsidiary of Vueling to buy the Austrian airline’s assets for 20 million euros, plus invest another 16.5 million euros into the company. Niki was part of the airberlin group, which entered liquidation last year.Germany’s Lufthansa was also in the running to purchase Niki, but withdrew its bid in December.The IAG transaction is pending approval under EU competition laws. If passed, it will include up to 15 A320 aircraft and include slots at airports like Vienna, Zurich and Munich. IAG says the new company will employ approximately 740 former Niki staff. Posted by Tuesday, January 16, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group IAG confirms plans to acquire struggling Niki