Astronauts land back on Earth transformed by pandemic

first_img“Please keep your distance,” one ground crew member could be heard telling another. While the trio’s landing site southeast of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan is the same as for previous crews, the pandemic has forced changes to mission-end protocol.  The crew will not be flying back home via Kazakhstan’s Karaganda airport as usual because it has been shut down, like so many other airports across the world.Instead, Skripochka will fly from the Baikonur cosmodrome used to launch missions to the ISS while the NASA duo will take off in a plane from the steppe city of Kyzlorda after a drive of several hours.”Quite a ride home from @Space_Station today,” Meir tweeted late on Friday.”We’ve returned to a different planet, but it remains a spectacular one.”Prior to departure, Meir said it would be difficult to forego embraces with family and friends as she gets to grips with a new culture of physical distancing on Earth. “I think I will feel more isolated on Earth than here,” reflected Meir, who made history as one half of the first all-women spacewalk along with NASA colleague Christina Koch in October.End to Russian monopoly While the astronauts’ home planet fights the global battle against COVID-19, the ISS is also entering a new era as it prepares to welcome the first crew flown by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company as early as next month.NASA has said that the SpaceX flight taking NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS could launch as early as the second half of May, ending Russia’s near decade-long monopoly on manned missions to the ISS from its Baikonur launchpad.After blasting off from the Kennedy Space Centre, the pair will spend two to three months aboard the orbital lab, interrupting the usual rhythm aboard the ISS, where missions typically last around six months or longer. They will be met by Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos and NASA’s Chris Cassidy, who arrived at the ISS from Baikonur on April 9, the first new crew members to join after the pandemic began. The International Space Station — a rare example of cooperation between Russia and the West — has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.Topics : “TOUCHDOWN! Welcome home, Oleg Skripochka, Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir!” Russia’s Roscosmos space agency wrote on Twitter.  #СоюзМС15Сегодня же Олега Скрипочку доставят спецбортом на аэродром Чкаловский. Предстоящие 3 недели он будет находиться в Комплексе предстартовой подготовки и послеполетной реабилитации космонавтов в Звёздном городке.Больше #фото — https://t.co/IhXYQd2Wgw pic.twitter.com/CRIgOeu4t3— РОСКОСМОС (@roscosmos) April 17, 2020Unusually, NASA and Roscosmos did not show live footage of the trio parachuting down in their Soyuz landing capsule. This was scrapped “due to technical limitations associated with the epidemiologicalsituation,” Roscosmos said.Subsequent footage from the landing site showed recovery crews wearing face masks and rubber gloves as they hauled the crew members out of the Soyuz MS-15 capsule, which was lying on its side.  Two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut on Friday made a safe return from the International Space Station to find a “different planet,” transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.  Andrew Morgan, Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka touched down in central Kazakhstan at 0516 GMT in the first returning mission since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March. Morgan had been on the ISS since July last year, while Meir and Skripochka arrived in September.last_img read more

A year on, Hong Kong democracy protesters torn between hope and fear

first_imgMedical sector worker Tana has attended peaceful lunchtime rallies in Hong Kong regularly for months along with thousands of others protesting Beijing’s influence and calling for greater democracy in the global financial hub.Now, a year on from a mass rally that kicked off a large scale and often violent anti-government movement, 37-year-old Tana and her husband fear not enough has changed.The protests succeeded in forcing a backdown by the Hong Kong government on proposed legislation that would have allowed extradition to mainland China. But a year later, authorities in Beijing are drafting national security laws that activists fear would further curb freedoms. For Tana and her family, including a son born just before the protests began, pragmatism is beginning to trump idealism.”I am most worried about my child,” Tana told Reuters, requesting her surname be withheld for security reasons. The family has already shifted their savings abroad, she said, and “emigration might be an option.”Among supporters of the protest movement, feelings range from slim hope to acute fear of oppression. After a relative respite during the coronavirus outbreak, protesters are again taking to the streets against the proposed security laws. Officials have said the laws would target a small number of “troublemakers” with provisions against secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.Ng, a retired 63-year-old woman is among those looking back at the past year with pride and pledges to keep demonstrating. Topics :center_img “A single spark can start a huge blaze,” she said, also requesting she be identified by one name only. “The more the government suppresses us, the more resisting we become.”David, 22, who works in insurance and declined to give his surname, said a mix of violent and peaceful tactics was needed for international attention.David said he “sometimes felt overwhelmed with fear” when he helped at rallies by mixing petrol bombs and disabling tear gas canisters, but he felt compelled to continue.Demonstrations have often turned violent, with protesters blocking roads, vandalizing shops perceived to have pro-Beijing links and throwing bricks and molotovs at the police, who have responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.Isaiah Choy, who studies in Britain but came back last year to take part in peaceful protests, said violent tactics should be abandoned. The 21-year-old said he is frustrated with Hong Kong being treated as a “pawn” in U.S.- China conflicts.Washington, which has traded barbs with Beijing over trade, the coronavirus pandemic and other issues, says China has quashed the high degree of autonomy that Hong Kong was promised for at least 50 years when it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Beijing has dismissed the claim and urged Washington not to meddle.Mutual destructionThe protests have strong support among Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people, according to opinion polls, with about one third of the population opposed.Keung, 50, said he supported national security laws and hoped the pro-democracy movement “will end soon because evil can never prevail over good.””It is normal for the government to set up laws to tighten its grip when people are violating the previous ones,” Keung, who also gave one name only, told Reuters.Others vow to continue to protest for as long as it takes.Sixty-four-year-old retiree Fu has embraced the often chanted slogan “if we burn, you burn with us,” referring to the belief that as a magnet for global capital, Hong Kong is the goose that lays the golden eggs for the mainland economy.Fu said he has lost many childhood friends because of his position, but he has no regrets: “I am a die hard fan of mutual destruction and Hong Kong independence.”last_img read more

London Stock Exchange expresses interest in Russell takeover

first_imgThe London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has confirmed its interest in purchasing Russell Investments from current owner Northwestern Mutual.The US insurance company has owned Russell since 1999, including its index, consultancy and asset management businesses.LSEG, and its FTSE International brand, would be most interested in the purchasing of Russell’s index business, which may roughly equate to a third of its expected value.The essential merging of the FTSE and Russell indices would give the firm a strong foothold in the US index market, currently dominated by S&P in the large-cap area. However, around 98% of all small-cap investments are associated with the Russell 2000 index, a flagship offering.The confirmed interest from LSEG could be met by a rival bid from MSCI, the global index provider, and other potential private equity firms.MSCI, while a major name in the global index market, has little foothold in US offerings.Both index providers would not necessarily want to purchase the entire Russell business, which is mainly made up of investment management and consultancy.Russell currently provides asset management services, in particular multi-manager options, to both institutional and retail clients, with around $260bn (€190bn) under management.It also offers investment consultancy and fiduciary management services to pension funds.In a statement, LSEG said it was evaluating the merits of purchasing Russell Investments, and that it had entered discussions with the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.“Discussions remain ongoing, and there can be no certainty that any transaction will be forthcoming,” the group said.“If a transaction were to proceed, LSEG would intend to part-fund it through an equity raise.”Any potential bid could also see a partnership between one of several rival index organisations and private equity investors.This would result in Russell’s asset management and consultancy going to private equity, and the index to LSEG or MSCI.One source, with knowledge of the matter, suggested Warberg Pinkus and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as potential suitors to the asset business.last_img read more

Eat your heart out

first_img48 Markwell St, Hamilton.DESCRIBED as a “luxury retreat”, this Hamptons-style home sits on a sprawling 2278sq m lot in one of Brisbane’s most exclusive suburbs.The 1960s tri-level residence at 48 Markwell St, Hamilton, is the home of Eat Street co-founder John Harrison and his family. “We have been here for 16 years and raised our three kids,” Mr Harrison said.“We are tennis players but when we saw the 11ft deep pool with diving board … and the fact it felt like we were on acreage in a great suburb so close to the city, we knew we wanted to live here.”The house sits on an impressive 2278sq m block in HamiltonMr Harrison said the family had fully renovated the house, and had made many memories over the years.Entry to the sprawling, leafy haven is via a private road.Mr Harrison credited his wife with the design of the houseOutside there is a tennis court, resort-style pool and large hardwood timber deck and entertaining area.The house embraces the Hamptons styleOn the ground level, there is also a guest bedroom, bathroom, laundry and office.The second floor is where you will find another five bedrooms including a sunken main suite with a balcony, walk-in wardrobe and luxurious ensuite. There is also a family bathroom on this level.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus17 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market17 hours agoThe vast living space is located on the third floor, which includes a living room with adjoining dining area that is perfect for entertaining, a second living and dining zone, a gourmet kitchen with sleek stone benchtops, an island bench, gas cooktop, dual ovens and a servery window.Comfy!Glass doors lead out on to an outdoor entertaining space that overlooks the home’s lush gardens.Ironically, the Eat Street Northshore co-founder admitted they were “not huge cooks”. “With three kids and jobs, everyone is always so busy,” he laughed.The light and bright kitchen“It is a great place to bring up a family but the kids are leaving home, and we are downsizing to a 280sq m block on the river.“We will miss this place. There is a creek in the gully. It is so quiet and you can’t see the neighbours.”Additional features include side entry to the deck and pool area, a two-car garage with ample storage space, B&D roller door smartphone app control (internet hub connection) and a front door intercom system with answering points on each level.“We have just loved living here and bringing up our family,” Mr Harrison said.“It is honestly like living in the country and we will be sad to leave it.“But it is time to move on.”last_img read more

The ‘millionaire’s row’ of the Redlands attracting big spenders

first_imgThe view from one of the bedrooms in the house at 15 Sentinel Ct, Raby Bay. The pool at 15 Sentinel Ct, Raby Bay.The property at 15 Sentinel Court has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a climate-controlled wine cellar and its own private marina berth and pontoon. Records show the former owners bought the property for $1.95 million in 2015 and have barely made any improvements to the home in that time. This house at 15 Sentinel Ct, Raby Bay, has sold for $2.55m. The back deck of the property at 15 Sentinel Ct, Raby Bay, which has sold for $2.55m.Selling agent Ryan McCann of First National Cleveland said the buyer was from Macgregor and wanted a home in the area so that he could park his 50ft boat at his doorstep.“He made the big decision to buy a 50ft boat to retire with,” Mr McCann said.“He didn’t want to lift a finger, just wanted to buy the home and have the boat at the doorstep.“He basically said; ‘If it’s in my backyard, I’ll actually use it’.”Mr McCann said the property was the third sale over $2.5 million in Sentinel Court in the past four weeks.And he said there had been five sales above $3 million in the suburb in just the past two months.“The entry level (price in Raby Bay) has gone up $100,000 in the past 12 months alone,” Mr McCann said.A house in the same street recently sold for a whopping $5.25 million.The property at 8 Sentinel Court is on 1426 sqm of waterfront land, has its own private beach, boat ramp, and seven-car garage with drive-through access to the sand. The kitchen in the home at 15 Sentinel Ct, Raby Bay.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus15 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market15 hours ago One of the bathrooms in the home at 15 Sentinel Ct, Raby Bay.The sale of 15 Sentinel Court was the biggest in Queensland in the past week according to CoreLogic.The property researcher also noted another big sale during the week of a five-bedroom house at 28 Austral Ave, Graceville, for $1.46 million. A house on the ‘millionaire’s row’ of the Redlands has sold for $2.55m.A WATERFRONT home in a street known as the ‘millionaire’s row’ of the Redlands has sold for $2.55 million, with the buyer wanting somewhere he could park his 50ft boat.It’s the latest sale in the exclusive street of Sentinel Court in Cleveland’s Raby Bay, where there are only 16 houses on a prized stretch of beachfront.last_img read more

Abolish teacher-name secrecy, MPs demand

first_imgNZ Herald 16 August 2013Teachers appearing before a disciplinary tribunal should be named, a parliamentary select committee has ruled.The Teachers Council’s practice of automatically suppressing the names of school staff complained about is not in accordance with the Education Act, the MPs panel said.Communities are not being told about teachers found guilty of physically or sexually abusing students – some of whom have been allowed to return to the classroom.The Teachers Council put a warning on its website last year saying it was illegal to publish details of complaints. The little-known rules have been in place since 2004.The Herald on Sunday and Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler complained to Parliament’s regulations review committee that the rules were suddenly being enforced.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10913071last_img read more

Jamaica elected to UNWTO leadership positions

first_img 10 Views   no discussions Share Sharing is caring! Tweet Sharecenter_img Share Tourism Minister Edmnd Bartlett. Image via: nationnews.comKINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica’s position as a leader in the global tourism arena has been further bolstered after the destination was elected to serve in several key leadership positions within the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the weekend. Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett revealed that “Jamaica has been elected to serve as vice president for the 19th General Assembly of the UNWTO now underway in South Korea and as Jamaica’s representative I will again preside over several sessions of the Assembly. It is an honour for Jamaica to serve in this capacity and our selection further underscores our good standing in the international arena and the confidence our counterparts place in Jamaica as a leader within the tourism industry at the global level.”Bartlett is currently attending the 19th General Assembly, which runs from October 8-14. The minister explained that “Jamaica has previously served as vice president of the General Assembly, with the last occasion being when Jamaica was elected to this post during the 18th session of the General Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan in October 2009. We look forward to serving in this esteemed role once again.” The tourism minister outlined that Jamaica has also been elected to serve on the Committee of Affiliate Members. Bartlett said, “I am extremely pleased that Jamaica has been elected to serve on the Committee of Affiliate Members as this will give us an opportunity to assist in broadening the membership of the UNWTO internationally. Jamaica is the only member from the Americas region on this global committee and we will use this platform to play our role in increasing wide-scale support for the UNWTO and its policies.”Among the critical meetings in which Bartlett will participate during the General Assembly is the Minister’s Roundtable, the meeting of the Commission for the Americas, as well as the meeting of the UNWTO Executive Council. Jamaica assumed its position on the Executive Council in January 2011 and will remain a member until 2013. Jamaica is one of three representatives of the entire Americas region on the body, which in consultation with the Secretary General deliberates on policies and strategies that affect tourism worldwide before making recommendations to the General Assembly for action.The minister explained that “As a member of the Executive Council, Jamaica will continue to offer strong representation for countries in the Americas and deliberate on tourism issues at the global level. We will also continue our drive to boost UNWTO membership within the region.” Meanwhile, Bartlett also praised The Bahamas which, on being nominated by Jamaica, was elected vice chairman of the Commission for the Americas.Caribbean News Now NewsRegional Jamaica elected to UNWTO leadership positions by: – October 11, 2011last_img read more

Volunteers Needed For River Sweep Clean-Up

first_img(Image: Dearborn County Watersheds)River Sweep clean-up will be held next month in an effort to decrease the amount of trash in and along the Whitewater River.The clean-up will be held Saturday, June 21 beginning at 1 p.m.The registration site in Franklin County will be located at the Whitewater Canoe Rental at 1154 Main St., Brookville.“There will be a few canoes available for people to utilize for the clean-up or volunteers are welcome to bring their own canoe or kayak,” said Dearborn County Watershed technician Heather Wirth.Volunteers who are unable to go into the water may pick up trash on the banks of the river.Each volunteer will receive a 2014 River Sweep T-Shirt and will be provided with water to drink, trash bags and gloves, while supplies last.The River Sweep is sponsored by ORSANCO and the Whitewater River Watershed Project.The deadline to register I June 19th to secure supplies and a t-shirt. For more information or to register visit the Dearborn County Watershed website or contact Heather Wirth at (812) 926-2406 ext. 3 or heather.wirth@in.nacdnet.netlast_img read more

Reeves is super in Tri-State Modified main

first_imgRob NugentPOCOLA, Okla. (Aug. 8) – Anthony Reeves took home the trophy following his first Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified win of the season Saturday at Tri-State Speedway.Van Gemmill finished second for the second week in a row, ahead of Jason Payton.The IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature saw Brent Grover capture his first win of the season in front of Keith Heaslet and Joshua Vaughn.In the IMCA SportMod main event, Cody Rongey took home his second win of the season ahead of youngster Kayden Menasco as Alan Goforth crossed the line in third.last_img read more

Monk relaxed over long-term future

first_img The 35-year-old former captain was handed the reins – for the “foreseeable future” – in February after chairman Huw Jenkins sacked Michael Laudrup, but says thus far he has not had talks about his future. After Swansea’s comfortable 3-0 win at home to Norwich on Saturday, Monk said it would be “great” to take his beloved Swans forward, but stressed he was not the kind to pester his chairman for a new deal. Press Association A first-half brace from Jonathan de Guzman and a clinical finish after the break from winger Wayne Routledge saw off the Canaries and lifted the Swans to 13th place, seven points clear of the relegation zone. Monk added: “I want to win every single game. I’ve told the boys in there, I don’t want to lose another game this season. “I don’t care what the points tally is. I’m not even focusing on that. We’re definitely not safe – I know that – but we need to get more wins. “That’s crucial and it’s important that we improve, keep pushing each other, keep that environment at the training ground and in the match days. “Everything’s built towards every single match that we’re playing and they (the players) realise how serious a position we’re in and that we need to do it to the end of the season in all the remaining matches.” Swansea interim manager Garry Monk has expressed his determination to earn the role on a permanent basis – but will not “chase” the board in pursuit of a long-term contract. “I have a very good relationship with all of them (the board) and I have a very good relationship with Huw, the chairman,” he said. “He knows what I do, he knows what I work like. I’m not going to go chasing anything, because I always feel if you’ve earned it, then you’ll get it. “If that’s to be, then great. If it’s not to be, then it means I haven’t earned it, so that’s the way I feel – that’s my principles. “I’ve always been like that as a player. I’ll be like that as a man as well – that’s how I live my life. “In terms of chasing the chairman and asking ‘are you going to sign me now? Have I got the job?’ No. I don’t do that. “I believe that if they think I’m good enough and I’ve earned the right, then it will be there for everyone to see.” Monk joined the Welsh outfit as a player in 2004 when they were in League Two, went on to make 226 appearances and become a fans’ favourite. Now in charge of his former team-mates, he is determined to end the season on a high, after a poor run of results was ended with Saturday’s emphatic win at the Liberty Satdium. last_img read more