Key tiff for Kaya against Home United in Singapore

first_imgMOST READ Thanks to its 5-1 drubbing of Lao Toyota at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City two weeks ago, Kaya still has an outside chance of reaching the knockout phase.On top of a win against Home United, coach Noel Marcaida’s men also need Hanoi to lose to Tampines Rovers in Group F and Ceres Negros to beat Becamex Binh Duong in Group G to make the zonal semifinals for the first time.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets‍‍‍ offers from Asia, Australian ball clubsThe two other matches are slated on Wednesday, which means Kaya would have to wait one more day to determine its fate even if it wins over Home United.Jovin Bedic returns from a one-game suspension due to accumulated yellow cards as the Kaya skipper teams up with Ghanaian striker Jordan Mintah, who is coming off a hat trick against Lao. Eduard Folayang gets new opponent for ONE Manila card The Witcher series prompts over 500,000 reprints of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Kaya Iloilo hopes to keep its knockout phase hopes alive in the AFC Cup as it clashes with reigning Asean zone champion Home United of Singapore Tuesday night in their final Group H match at Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.Running second in the group, the Filipino club needs maximum points against the S-League side to stand a chance of reaching the zonal semifinal as the top second-placed team from among the three Asean groups in the competition.ADVERTISEMENT Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard LATEST STORIES “It’s important for us to focus on Home United first before thinking about the other results,” said Bedic, who scored in the 5-0 win over Home United in their home leg at Panaad Stadium in March. LeBron James stretches lead in NBA All-Star Game fan voting Pagadian on tighter security for 100,000 expected at Sto. Niño feast Duterte lambasts Catholic Church anew in curse-laden speech before Filipino Baptists View comments Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Solon urges Solgen to reconsider quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN Mangulabnan too much for superbike field Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption PLAY LIST 02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award03:05Malakanyang bilib sa Phivolcs | Chona Yulast_img read more

Liberia’s 169th Independence Day: An Old Nation Continuously and “Appropriately” Celebrating in Turbulence

first_imgSimply Thinking ThoughtsIn my thinking thoughts, I digested President Sirleaf’s recent proclamation that referenced the “Patriotic Observances Law,” Title 26 that sets the 26th day of July as “Independence Day” to be “appropriately celebrated.” As apparent due diligence, the proclamation acknowledged the varied turbulent times the nation continues to face; “when this nation was declared a free, sovereign independent State and from then through the years of our national life, manifold and varied have been experiences of the nation and its people, who through it all have been able to forge their way by dent of perseverance, devotion, and courage.”Truly, over its existence, this small West African state has painfully maneuvered through diverse turbulences. From the day the ex-slaves were offloaded on these shores by the American Colonization Society, to the days of the Ebola virus disease and the peculiar Unity Party leadership, there has always been turbulence. For example, NOCAL is bankrupt, ruling UP Chairman, Varney Sherman, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, are indicted for corruption. In addition, in spite of the pain and hardship common citizens endure each day, the nation continues to celebrate July 26, every year as has been declared by President Sirleaf’s 169th Independence Day proclamation.Construct of TurbulenceFor clarity, turbulence can be construed as commotion, disorder or instability that threatens the sanity of an establishment or entity. In the case of an aircraft in flight, turbulence is caused by bad weather that has the ability to sweep it off course, crash it and kill the passengers or expose them to pain and untold suffering. In the middle of one of my 10 hour flights, the pilot suddenly announced an unexpected turbulence due to bad weather and instructed passengers to fasten their seatbelts. Those who were new flyers or did not fly frequently, became scare as they hung unto the handles of their seats. Their heartbeats could be heard from a distance as they solemnly hummed tunes of famous gospel hymns like, “All to Jesus I surrender…”, and “Lord I’m coming home…” in case the plane crashed so that they would be received safely in heaven in the bosom of Father Abraham or at the foot of the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Frequent flyers that had experienced situations of turbulence, for their part, simply received the announcement of turbulence as “business as usual”, and hence carelessly reclined in their seats as the air hostesses wore fake smiles as they walked the aisle giving passengers hope. As usual, our aircraft rocked and shook as it maneuvered through the turbulence. Through it all, the adroit pilot landed the big bird smoothly and we burst out in celebration with a rousing round of applause. Of course, the traumatized new flyers clapped louder and longer than the experienced careless frequent flyers.Flight Liberia #169 in turbulenceUsing your mind’s eyes, please take a trip with me on Flight Liberia #169. This vessel has gone through many turbulent times as a racist old nation that does not allow white people to become citizens. It does not allow her own citizens to vote because they are naturalized in other countries; however, it allows them to serve as government officials who sup lustily in her first class cabin. The log of Flight Liberia #169 reveals that several pilots have attempted to safely bring it to port; unfortunately, due to their ineptitude and arrogance they failed; some were mediocre pilots and crew members who lacked willpower to act appropriately; others were corrupt, unpatriotic and greedy bigots who lacked moral rectitude, while others were spineless cowards who would never call a spade a spade in their lifetime, and hence messed up their administrations. Consequently to this day, Flight Liberia #169 continues to navigate her way with reckless audacity through unnecessary turbulence. In Flight #169, corruption currently is wearing red long boots and striding majestically around the first class cabin under the guise of mystic Big Boy#1 and Big Boy #2 of the depraved Capitol Hill.The passengers aboard 169 are the common citizens who groan each day in agony due to economic hardship and frequent budget shortfalls. These are the poor students, voiceless teachers, the unemployed, the marketers, motorcycle pem-pem riders, and low income civil servants who struggle daily to live on US one dollar a day. The pilot with co-pilot at any time is the head of the Executive Branch and all presidential appointees; the Legislative and Judiciary Branches are the air hostesses and engineers. These two are the careless frequent flyers, the cream of Liberians with influence and affluence, who are supposed to steer Flight #169. While the fearful passengers are in pain, these “careless flyers” do not waiver at all in turbulence; for come what may, they would receive first preference. Unfortunately, despite the failure by successive pilots to safely bring Flight Liberia #169 home, the passengers are instructed to pray for the careless frequent flyers and applaud in the turbulence precisely on July 26 of each year. Refusing to clap in turbulence is sinSometimes it appears like celebrating Independence Day every year in spite of the widespread economic and political challenges is similar to clapping for a plane in turbulence. It may be true that the common passengers on Flight Liberia #169 may not have any choices for now, but they might refuse to clap in the not too distant future. They might clap for the completion of the Monrovia-Ganta highway, but refuse to clap for the stench from the Big Boy 1, Big Boy 2 corruption case; clap for successful dismissal of the Ebola virus disease epidemic, but not for the mysterious death of the renowned businessman, Harry Greaves; clap for the opening of several embassies near Monrovia, but not for the devastated broken education system hi-jacked by arrogance and ineptitude; clap for the proliferation of political parties, but not for the hate messages and slanders that bellow daily from politically affiliated radio stations; clap for standardized procurement policies, but not for mediocre managers who cheat and bend service procurement rules and believe they will ever get away with such dastardly acts under this sun. God forbid!Now fellow passengers, note that on Flight #169, in spite of our inherent rights and freedom, refusing to clap is lawlessness and sin, according to the “Patriotic Observances Law,” Title 26, Liberian Code of Laws of 1956, and first Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God…” Therefore, we must celebrate in every turbulent time because of our patriotic obligation, and because of the charge from God. We should never ever again agree to celebrate July 26, because we are compelled or intimidated by poverty and strife.BenedictionTo this end, as we approach this 169th Independence Day, I charge all Liberians to go forth and celebrate “appropriately.” However, be reflective and honest about whether we should actually be praying instead of celebrating in these turbulent times. July 26 is the day the sovereignty of the old racist nation was confirmed; hence, do not reluctantly celebrate because today you are voiceless passengers without choices on an aircraft in turbulence, but rather because of your patriotic duty as a Liberian and devotion and gratitude to God as asserted by our president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.Now, may the Lord bless and keep Flight Liberia; may He makes His countenance to shine upon Flight Liberia; may the lord give Liberia grace and decrease the number of turbulence, and give Liberia the peace that passes all understanding that will produce savvy leaders and pilots able and capable to bring Flight Liberia to a safe landing in Jesus name. Amen.Happy 169th Independence Day, Fellow Liberians!!!!! (My 26 on all of y’all)I am simply thinking thoughtsAbout the authorThe Rivercess man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson (Mwalimu-Koh) is a triple Ivy League product, and a Jesuit protégé; Mr. Jackson holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University and a Master of Education with Secondary Mathematics concentration from Saint Joseph’s University. Mr. Jackson is a Yale University Mathematics Curriculum Fellow and a University of Pennsylvania Physics Curriculum Fellow. After serving diligently as Assistant Minister for Teacher Education for two years, Mr. Jackson was dismissed. He can be contacted at +231 886 681 315/+231 770 206 645 or at Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

GOGA unaware of fraud allegations against President

first_img– as audit points to forged signatures, overpaid preferred contractorA  Police investigation had been recommended into alleged fraudulent financial and corrupt practices by  Bobby Gossai – then Secretary to the Guyana Gold Board – by auditors earlier this year, following a probe into reports of a multibillion-dollar fraud being perpetrated at that entity.The audit conducted by Chartered Accountants Ram & McRae had found that Gossai – who was employed under questionable circumstances by then Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud – engaged in a scheme to defraud the State and, as such, “we, therefore, recommend that the transactions be referred to the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Police for full investigations”.Gossai was on Tuesday introduced as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly-formed Guyana Oil and Gas Organisation (GOGA), after which a section of the media reported that he was in fact implicated in the Gold Board probe for allegedly forging a signature.GOGA Director Nigel Hughes immediately issued a public missive on behalf of GOGA, saying that the organisation was unaware of the allegations against Gossai.According to Hughes, “The Board of Directors of GOGA was unaware of the specific contents of the Audit Report referred to in the article….The Board of Directors has since secured a copy of the Audit Report and will be considering the contents of the report as a matter of urgency.”Hughes pointed out that Gossai was retained by the Board of Directors of GOGA as CEO and his employment was part of the start-up process; further, he was currently on a probationary period.The President and CEO of the newly formed Guyana Oil and Gas OrganisationAccording to the Gold Board Report, referred to by sections of the local media and the GOGA Director, then Natural Resources Minister Persaud  flouted the laws and had on occasions given or transmitted instructions to management on operational issues, such as matters relating to contracts.“We understand from discussions with management and members of the Board that instructions came by way of Mr Bobby Gossai, Senior Policy Analyst/Adviser in the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment who was named by the Minister as Secretary to the Board…In our opinion, the Act does not give the Minister the power to name or nominate the Secretary to the Board and the Minister’s action amounted to a usurpation of the Board’s authority.”With regard to the fraudulent transactions that Gossai would have been a party to, the Gold Board probe had found that 12 questionable payments had been authorised by him to Safewatch Inc.“Of 12 payments made to Safewatch Inc during 2014, three of these amounting to $16,021,120 were made on quotations.”One such payment of $4.3 million for the purchase and installation of a Dell server was approved for payment by Gossai.It was found too that a contract with Safewatch for servicing of the phone system at a cost of $180,000 plus VAT per month was signed by the Assistant General Manager, Ms Seelochan who “indicated that she was acting on the direction of the Company Secretary when the contract was signed”.According to the report into the fraudulent practices at the Gold Board, no evidence was noticed of the Board authorising or “ratifying this contract which, in our view, is unnecessary”.That contract has since been terminated and the auditors did recommend that “steps should be taken to recover the amount of $2,436,000 paid for this fraudulent service”.The auditors found too that VAT was included on the total invoice value of all invoices and quotations submitted by Safewatch Inc, including that for the supply of computer items, but computer equipment such as the server purchased are zero rated for VAT purposes.“In any case, our enquiries confirmed that Safewatch Inc is not registered for VAT in Guyana and cannot charge VAT on any goods/services provided, regardless whether goods or services would otherwise be subject to VAT,” the auditors said. There were also questions that had arisen with regard to shipping and customs fees that were charged by Safewatch Inc, but no details were provided.“The shipping and customs fees on two of the invoices and one quotation amounted to $1,388,235. The … quotation did not provide a breakdown of cost.”The auditors had found that “it is apparent that these transactions contained elements of VAT fraud for which the Value-Added Tax Act imposes serious penalties… We, therefore, recommend that the transactions be referred to the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Police for full investigations into this company.”last_img read more

Crystal Palace beat Leicester to Campbell capture

first_img New Crystal Palace signing, striker Fraizer Campbell 1 Crystal Palace have announced the signing of Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell.Cardiff accepted two bids from the Premier League for the 26-year-old, with Palace and newly promoted side Leicester City both triggering his release clause – thought to be around £900,000.And the frontman decided to pen a three-year deal with the London-based Eagles, bringing his 18-month stay in Wales to a close.Campbell came through the youth ranks at Manchester United at the start of his career, but made his professional debut with Belgian side Royal Antwerp while on loan from Old Trafford during the 2006/07 season.That stint was a success, as was a spell with Hull the following term, and he subsequently spent time on loan with Tottenham before departing United – for whom he had made a total of just four appearances – to join Sunderland in 2009.In January 2013 he switched to Cardiff and helped them win the Championship title that season – one in which Palace were also promoted, via the play-offs.But he could not prevent the Welsh outfit from making a swift return to the second tier, with them finishing bottom of the Barclays Premier League in 2013/14.He arrives at Palace, who came 11th last term, having netted 16 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions for the Bluebirds.last_img read more

Scientists say asteroid collision did in dinosaurs

first_imgBy David Perlman SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE Planetary scientists say they’ve pinned down the specific space object that crashed into Earth some 65 million years ago, driving dinosaurs to extinction and killing off half of all the other species at that time. 3 miles around, Bottke contends. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It was, say the scientists, one huge asteroid that broke up in a violent collision 160 million years ago, sending a massive fragment careening out of the asteroid belt and eventually into Earth’s crust. The impact kicked up a storm of dust, cold and darkness that shrouded the world like a nuclear winter – and goodbye, dinosaurs. The dinosaurs had ruled Earth for at least 120 million years until the end of what’s called the Cretaceous geologic period. Then they were gone within a few thousand years, according to the fossil evidence. That abrupt departure was a mystery until about 30 years ago, when Walter and Luis Alvarez found the cause: An unknown object from space that smashed a great crater into Earth’s crust off the coast of Yucatan, Mexico, and spread debris in the form of a rare element called iridium that Walter Alvarez detected in clay formations all around the world. On Thursday, in the journal Nature, a group headed by William F. Bottke traces that impact back to a giant asteroid named Baptistina nearly 100 miles in diameter. Baptistina, the scientists say, was rammed by another asteroid at least 35 miles in diameter in a violent collision about 160 million years ago. The collision showered nearby space with at least 300 fragments bigger than 20 miles in diameter and more than 140,000 smaller asteroids, each one more than last_img read more

‘Dele Alli should be PFA Player of the Year and Spurs the best team this season’

first_imgCharlie Adam has backed Dele Alli to win this season’s prestigious PFA Player of the Year award.The Scottish midfielder was part of the Stoke side thrashed 4-0 by Tottenham last month, with Alli starring and scoring in the rout at White Hart Lane.And Adam admits the 20-year-old made a huge impression on him, telling talkSPORT he is the best player he has come up against in the Premier League this season.Speaking on the Jim White show, Adam said: “Dele Alli is special.“I played against him last week and for a young kid, his awareness, his touch, the quality he has got, I would probably say him [for the PFA Player of the Year].“He has the potential to be a star. He is a very, very good player. He is probably the best player I have played against this season.“Big players have that nasty streak in him and he has that. He can look after himself in a difficult situation.“For me, he is one of the best players in the league.”Adam was impressed not just by Alli but the entire Tottenham team when he faced them.He claims they are the best side Stoke have met this season, despite Chelsea being the runaway Premier League leaders.The 31-year-old said: “Chelsea are playing some terrific stuff and when Costa and Hazard are at it they are difficult to stop, but I still say the best footballing team in the league is Tottenham.“We got an absolute doing last week against them – they were magnificent. But they are just short in probably those big moments in the game where Chelsea can handle the pressure.”last_img read more

Four Ways to Save Money at Restaurants

first_imgA recent study found the average millennial eats out at restaurants five times a week.  So it’s no wonder everyone’s strapped for cash.  Obviously learning to COOK can save you a lot of money.  But when you do go out to eat, here are four tricks that can save you some cash . . . 2.  Order drinks by the bottle, or by the pitcher.  Obviously that only works if you’re sharing with someone, and planning to have more than one drink.  If you only want one glass of wine, then that’s still the cheaper option. 3.  Go vegetarian.  It might sound awful.  But you don’t ALWAYS have to have meat with every meal.  Vegetarian options are almost always cheaper, and also healthier. 4.  Skip dessert, and go to an ice cream place nearby.  Check Yelp first, so you know where to go.  You’ll end up spending half of what you would on a dessert at most restaurants.  Plus it adds another event and extends the whole meal.center_img That said, it might not make sense if you’ve got four kids or something.  Then they’ll ALL want their own ice cream, and you might have been better off just sharing one big dessert at the restaurant. 1.  Check out the menu beforehand.  And maybe even decide what to eat before you get to there, so you don’t order on impulse and spend too much.  Also, see if they have a happy hour, and get there in time to order before the prices go back up.last_img read more

Stratford claims first state baseball title

first_imgBy Hub City Times staffAPPLETON – The Stratford Tigers baseball team made school history June 13, capturing the team’s first state baseball championship. Stratford defeated Markesan 9-4 in the WIAA Division 3 State Baseball Tournament final at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.Stratford twice came from behind to win the game for first-year head coach Marshall Lehman.“Their hard work paid off, and it’s amazing,” Lehman said after the game. “We wanted to get to sectionals. We really wanted to get there. I think the turning point was the regional final game against Marathon, a team that we struggled with playing there, and we went there and we beat them, and when that happened I knew that this team could probably do it.”Stratford struggled against Markesan in the early innings of the championship game. An error, a walk, and a hit batter loaded the bases for the Tigers in the top of the first inning, but Markesan starter Bryce Leedle pitched his way out of the jam and Stratford left the bases loaded.Stratford starting pitcher Chandler Schmidt got through the Markesan first inning okay, but allowed a run in the second, and another in the third.After going scoreless with just one hit through four innings, the Tigers finally got on the board in the fifth, scoring two runs to tie the game. After loading the bases with two outs, Riley Bauman delivered a two-run base hit to center field. The Hornets added another run in their half of the fifth inning to take back the lead.Stratford came right back in the top of the sixth inning and tied the game again, this time on a two-out RBI triple by Schmidt. The game was now tied at three heading into the top of the seventh inning. That’s when the Tiger bats finally came to life.“We just kept pushing their starting pitcher (Leedle), and we were getting his pitch count up,” Lehman added. “We knew we could probably hit him. We just weren’t getting the balls to drop or go where we wanted them to. Eventually a couple of them fell. We kept getting that score back to where we wanted it. When they went to their lefty (Gavin Gilbertson), he was much slower, and we were trying to get the guys to change their approach, but they just got too anxious.”Markesan suffered a major blow, however, when Gilbertson strained his pitching elbow and had to leave the game after retiring the only two batters he faced.With one out in the Tiger seventh inning, the Hornets brought in Cayden Plagenz, and the flood gates opened up for the Stratford offense. After Plagenz got Kade Ehrike to fly out to center field, Bauman got another hit, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Mav Licciardi then drew a walk before Devyn Palmer singled to left to load the bases. Lance Heidmann got hit by a pitch, and that brought home the go-ahead run from third. Eli Drexler then drilled a single to center field, scoring Licciardi and Palmer. Schmidt ripped a base hit to left, scoring Heidmann and Drexler. Pinch hitting for Colten Schillinger, Dylan Schoenherr delivered a base hit to left, advancing pinch runner Max Schwabe from second to third. Dawson Moen then singled to center field, scoring Schwabe from third and completing a six-run seventh inning for the Tigers.Schmidt allowed another Markesan run on two hits in the bottom of the seventh, but struck out Shane Ryan and then got 6’4″, 220-pound pinch hitter Joey Paddock to ground out to Ty Pankratz at third to end the game.Schmidt got the complete-game win, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out six and walking just one. The Tiger baseball team became the first of four Stratford teams who competed at the state championship level to win this season.“They deserve it,” Lehman added. “They worked extremely hard. I’m happy for all these kids and this community.” Stratford advanced to the title game by defeating Boyceville 7-5 in a state semi-final contest June 12. Lance Heidmann picked up the win in that game and Schmidt got the save in two innings of relief. Licciardi had two singles and three runs batted in. Bauman singled, doubled and knocked in two runs. The Tigers ended their championship season 22-2.last_img read more

US passenger numbers expected to hit record Labor Day high.

first_imgMore Americans than ever will take to the air this Labor Day holiday with industry group Airlines for America (A4A) predicting a 5 percent rise over last year.US airlines will add 133,000 seats a day to accommodate the 16.1 million people expected to fly worldwide over August 30 to Tuesday September 5 holiday period. Last year, 15.4m people flew over the holiday – more than the population of some countries.The seat increase is expected to be more than adequate for the 110,000 additional passenger per day forecast to fly.The busiest day is expected to Friday September 1, followed by Thursday August 31 and Monday September 4.Those wanting to avoid the peak crowds should fly on either the Saturday or Sunday or Tuesday September 5 and Wednesday August 30.The busiest airports are tipped to be Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago.“As household wealth increases, ticket prices remain low and airlines large and small continue to grow, consumers are finding it easier and more affordable than ever to get away for personal or family travel,” said A4A vice president John Heimlich.“While we expect a growth in passenger traffic over the Labor Day holiday, flyers can rest assured that U.S. airlines have appropriately increased the number of seats available for their late summer getaways.”The US airline industry has enjoyed a record summer but without some of the long lines at security that plagued travelers in 2016.The Transport Security Administration said it screened a record 72,117,046 passengers and crew in July and an average of 2.33 million passengers per day across June and July.Read: American plans to expand use of advanced baggage scanners.It said 99.9 percent of passenger using regular screening lanes waited 30 minutes or less, while the waiting time for pre-check passengers was less than five minutes.Airlines have also been bumping fewer passengers and losing less bags.Department of Transportation (DoT)  figures for the first half of 2017 show involuntary denied boarding dropped to its lowest level on record.Bumping became the focus of intense media and political scrutiny earlier this year after a 69-year-old doctor was dragged from a United Express plane in Chicago.The DoT figures show the rate of voluntary denied boarding fell from 0.62 per 10,000 passengers in the first half of 2016 to 0.52 in the first half of this year.Mishandled baggage figures also hit a record low of 2.54 per 10,000 passengers, down from 2.65 in the same period of 2016.The flight completion rate was down slightly, from 98.75 percent to 98.55 percent, and on time arrivals also fell, from 81.42 per cent to 78.66 percent.At the same time, domestic seat supply was at its highest level since 2005 and international seats hit an all-time high.A4A estimated airlines were collectively investing about $US1.6 billion on “customer experience” initiates such as better baggage handling and security systems, new aircraft and terminal facilities.“Airlines regularly invest in their workforce and new technologies, and put in place processes to improve operations and enhance the customer experience,’’ Heimlich said.“The industry’s nearly 99 percent flight completion rate and record-low rates of involuntarily denied boarding and mishandled baggage reflect these investments.’’last_img read more

Trump: “really good chance” of Iran meeting

first_img(AP) — Iran’s president back-pedaled Tuesday on possible talks with Donald Trump, saying the U.S. president must first lift sanctions imposed on Tehran, otherwise a meeting between the two would be a mere photo op.Hassan Rouhani’s change of heart came a day after Trump said Monday that there’s a “really good chance” the two could meet on their nuclear impasse after a surprise intervention by French President Emmanuel Macron during the G-7 summit to try to bring Washington and Tehran together after decades of conflict.“Without the U.S.’s withdrawal from sanctions, we will not witness any positive development,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Tuesday, adding that Washington “holds the key” as to what happens next.“If someone intends to make it as just a photo op with Rouhani, that is not possible,” he said.Earlier on Monday, Rouhani expressed readiness to negotiate a way out of the crisis following America’s pullout from the nuclear deal.“If I knew that going to a meeting and visiting a person would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it,” he had said. “Even if the odds of success are not 90% but are 20% or 10%, we must move ahead with it. We should not miss opportunities.”Rouhani also shielded his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, against criticism from hard-liners over his surprise visit Sunday to France’s Biarritz, where leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies were meeting.Iran’s English-language Press TV issued a vague, anonymous statement later on Monday, rejecting Macron’s initiative.Macron said he hoped Trump and Rouhani could meet within weeks in hopes of saving the 2015 nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers, but which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from last year. Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.On Tuesday, Macron acknowledged his efforts to bring Iran and the U.S. together are “fragile” but said he still sees a “possible path” to rapprochement between the two.Inviting Zarif to the G-7 summit as a surprise guest was a risky diplomatic maneuver but it helped create “the possible conditions of a useful meeting,” Macron said.It’s France’s responsibility to play the “role of a balancing power,” Macron said, adding that his efforts allowed hope for a “de-escalation” of tensions.Since the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal, Iran has lost billions of dollars in business deals allowed by the accord as the U.S. re-imposed and escalated sanctions largely blocking Tehran from selling crude abroad, a crucial source of hard currency for the Islamic Republic.Rouhani’s U-turn can be seen as a result of pressure from hard-liners in the Iranian establishment who oppose taking a softer tone toward the West.But it could also reflect that the paradigm of grand photo op summits in exotic locations — such as Trump’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — while stringent sanctions remain in place, does not necessarily appeal to Rouhani, whose signature accomplishment was the nuclear deal, which started unravelling with Trump’s pullout.The hard-line Javan daily, which is close to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, warned Rouhani in large font on its Tuesday front page: “Mr. Rouhani, photo diplomacy will not develop the country.”last_img read more