Category «vviulgvexapuzfqi»

Canada will push G7 partners to sign no plastics pledge to save

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada plans to use its presidency of the G7 this year to push fellow member countries to help stop the oceans from becoming massive rubbish heaps.At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trudeau hosted a roundtable discussion Wednesday on ocean protection with academics, political representatives and executives from multinationals including Coca-Cola and Unilever.He told the assembled group Canada is using its G7 year to bring forward issues that don’t always get a lot of attention at the highest levels of international governance, including ocean protection, “particularly around plastics and pollution.”In an interview later, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said that could include creating a “plastics charter or a zero waste goal.”The problem is no fairy tale message in a single bottle floating across the sea.It’s estimated as much as eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans each year. That’s the equivalent of approximately 630 billion single-use plastic water bottles.“The health of the oceans is under threat,” said McKenna, who was in Miami for meetings with local political leaders, academics and university students on climate change and clean technology.The plastics issue will be a main theme at the G7 leaders’ summit in Charlevoix, Que., in June, with follow-up planned for a G7 environment ministers’ meeting next fall, said McKenna.Last fall, Canada signed on to the United Nations Clean Seas campaign, which was launched in February 2017 to draw public attention to the massive amounts of garbage that are ending up in the world’s oceans.Despite a rise in both recycling and composting in Canadian cities and towns, Canadians are still among the most wasteful people in the developed world, with 25 million tonnes of waste ending up in landfills in 2014. Garbage produced by households went up 18 per cent between 2002 and 2014.Jay Ritchlin, the Suzuki Foundations’ director general for western Canada, said Canada’s role in the total amount of ocean garbage is small but its leadership could loom large. However, he said the only thing that is going to have an impact is the “complete elimination of disposable plastic products.”“You have to find ways to reduce the consumption whether by banning them outright or taxing them or creating incentives,” he said.“But we’re not going to tweak the edges of our manufacturing system and fix this problem. There is so much plastic out there … that this problem doesn’t go away without getting rid of a substantial portion of that material.”McKenna said Canada’s efforts will build on existing work by international organizations and multinational corporations. A number of companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonalds, Unilever and Procter and Gamble, have pledged in recent weeks and months to increase the amount of recycled material in their packaging and work on recycling the equivalent of everything they produce.In 2016, a report launched at the World Economic Forum claimed if nothing was done by 2050 there would be more plastic in the oceans than fish. It’s a claim some have questioned because of the difficulty in accurately counting either plastic or fish. But even those who cast doubt on the comparison admit there is too much junk in the ocean and it is having a negative impact.Plastic bags and bottles pose a deadly threat to marine life, trapping them so they drown, cutting them, or even being mistaken for food.Canada has committed as much as $2 billion to ocean protection, including increasing the amount of protected marine areas. Ritchlin said the Trudeau government is doing better than previous administrations but the question now is whether they will follow through with the commitments.— follow @mrabson on Twitter.last_img read more

Coroner calls for protective nets around arenas following hockey puck death

first_imgMONTREAL – The death of a 12-year-old girl after she was struck by a hockey puck has prompted a Quebec coroner to ask the province to study the possibility of installing protective nets in all arenas.The accident occurred April 1, 2017, while Annie Alaku-Papigatuk was watching a hockey game in Salluit, a community in northern Nunavik.She was sitting in the second row around the middle of the rink where there was no protective net when a puck struck her in the head near her right eyebrow.A report by coroner Steeve Poisson says the young girl started crying, but did not lose consciousness. The girl said she was OK and able to walk and an adult who was with her applied a snow-filled bag to her head.Alaku-Papigatuk was accompanied home where she later complained of a headache and started to vomit.The following morning, her father noticed she wasn’t breathing and took her to the local health centre where medical personnel tried unsuccessfully to revive her.An autopsy later revealed Alaku-Papigatuk died as a result of the head injury caused by the puck.Poisson says a protective net around the perimeter of the arena would probably have saved the girl’s life.He has recommended that Quebec’s department of education, leisure and sport study the effectiveness of installing netting in all hockey arenas in Quebec.last_img read more

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien tops Macleans fiction

first_imgFICTION Advertisement 1. (1) Do Not Say We Have Nothing _ Madeleine Thien 10. (3) Night School (A Jack Reacher Novel) _ Lee Child Facebook 6. (-) The Underground Railroad _ Colson Whitehead 3. (7) Swing Time _ Zadie Smith 4. (4) The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories _ P.D. James 5. (8) The Wonder _ Emma Donoghue 9. (6) Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations _ Thomas L. Friedman Login/Register With: 7. (5) 99: Stories of the Game _ Wayne Gretzky with Kirstie McLellan Day Advertisement 10. (8) The Science of Why: Answers to Questions About the World Around Us _ Jay Ingram NON-FICTION 8. (9) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis _ J.D. Vancecenter_img 6. (10) Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood _ Trevor Noah LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement 3. (4) Testimony _ Robbie Robertson 8. (10) Moonglow _ Michael Chabon 4. (2) The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds _ Michael Lewis Here are the top 10 hardcover fiction and non-fiction books in Canada for the week ending Jan. 1 as compiled by Maclean’s magazine. The previous week’s position is in parentheses. 7. (5) Rather Be the Devil _ Ian Rankin 5. (7) The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo _ Amy Schumer 9. (6) The Witches of New York _ Ami McKay 2. (3) Born to Run _ Bruce Springsteen 2. (2) The Whistler _ John Grisham 1. (1) The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from A Secret World _  Peter Wohlleben Twitterlast_img read more

None for Bihars drying rivers

first_imgEnvironmentalists are shocked over the drying rivers of Bihar failing to get the attention of political parties even during election time. According to officials, there were once some 600 river streams in Bihar which nursed its human population. But now, most of them have either dried up or are on the brink of losing their existence. River experts said in the past that these river streams had not only boosted the economy of the region but also recharged groundwater. But today, the scene is very pathetic on the ground. The perennial river streams have now become seasonal, with a majority of them getting dry once the rainy season is over. Also Read – A special kind of bondSuch streams were earlier used by locals for irrigation and fishing and fetched them handsome money, as they say. The saddest part is that the common man too is not raising the issue owing to lack of awareness and the political parties have picked up only those issues which fetched them votes. According to them, there are over 100 rivers such as Lakhandei, Noon, Balan, Kadane, Sakari, Tilaiya, Dhadhar, Chhoti Bagmati, Saura, and Falgu which are virtually on the brink of death. Of them, the Falgu river which flows through the Hindu pilgrim town of Gaya especially deserves mention. Also Read – Insider threat managementMore than two millions Hindus descend on this pilgrim town every year to offer oblations to the wandering souls of the ancestors. But the river now stinks with sewage water. A serious campaign to draw the attention of the government has simply failed, prompting the citizens to seek intervention of the court. “The river has been the lifeline of several districts of south Bihar as most of the water pumping stations are installed along the banks to extract underground water yet this river has never been an election issue,” said river activist Braj Nandan Pathak. Pathak has filed a public interest litigation in the Patna High Court, demanding removal of encroachments and dismantling of constructions on the river bed. According to him, some 2,500 families have encroached upon the river bed and constructed homes. The dried Saura river in Purnia also deserves special mention here. “It was like London’s Thames which flowed through the middle of Purnia town; but now, it is totally dried up and is being used as a garbage dumping ground,” said Akhilesh Chandra, an activist who has launched a campaign to save the river. “We have been regularly campaigning to bring the matter to the notice of the political parties and the government, but this changes during election time as other issues dominate the poll scene. The saddest thing is that political parties do not think drying rivers to be a vote-catching issue,” prominent river expert and convener of Ganga Mukti Aandolan Anil Prakash told Down to Earth. Prakash blames fast-occurring urbanisation, obstruction of river flows, siltation in river beds and their encroachment to be behind the death of Bihar’s river streams “Once, there were some 600 river streams or small rivers in the north Bihar region alone all of which flowed throughout the year. But now, a majority of them have dried up or are on the verge of fading into history,” rues Prakash. Another river activist Ranjeev Kumar said that population pressures and development, apart from the ecological disturbances have done a lot of harm to the state which was once blessed with hundreds of rivers streams but is now battling out for survival. “Encroachment on river beds and ongoing constructions are squeezing rivers. There is a serious need to bring the issue in public debate but sadly, no political parties look interested,” said Kumar. Another river expert Dinesh Mishra who headed the Barh Mukti Abhiyan is disappointed at the way neither the political parties, not the common citizen have tried to make dying rivers a poll issue this time or before though it concerns everyone. “The problem is that nobody is discussing this issue. They will land in serious trouble if there is drought in case of no or scanty rains which we already are facing,” said Mishra who studied from IIT, Kharagpur. According to him, the situation is doubly alarming this time in the sense that more groundwater is being tapped compared to the recharge rate. “The situation is very desperate and concerning right now with the river streams drying up very fast but there is no serious debate whatsoever,” Mishra said, adding the people must know the fact that the monsoon has gone erratic in recent years and it must be their duty to conserve water. (C K Manoj is a Patna-based journalist. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Review of UN peacebuilding activities will benefit postconflict nations says official

“The litmus test of peacebuilding is whether the situation on the ground improves,” the PBC’s Chairman, Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, told a news conference in New York. The Commission was set up in 2005 to help struggling States avoid slipping back into war and chaos by providing strategic advice and harnessing expertise and finance from around the world to aid with recovery projects. There are currently four countries on its agenda – Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic (CAR).In addition to support from the PBC, countries can also avail themselves of financial assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund to jump-start rebuilding projects.This year the commission is being reviewed to assess its progress so far and determine its future direction. In a statement at the launch of the 2010 review earlier this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that in its short existence, the PBC had shown its worth but looking ahead, Member States must consider how to make its impact more tangible at the country level. “Strengthening peacebuilding will better enable us to keep countries from relapsing into conflict, and sustain peace beyond the life of a peacekeeping mission,” said Mr. Ban. “It will help ensure that the enormous investments that Member States make in peacekeeping will achieve their intended result.”Mr. Wittig, who was elected to head the commission in January, noted that, prior to the establishment of the PBC, the work of peacekeepers in fragile States too often turned out to be in vain because the phase between the end of the peacekeeping mission and the start of development had not been adequately addressed. In the crucial phase between peacekeeping and development, insufficient attention was being paid to issues such as lack of coordination by donors, unrealistic goals and contradicting priorities, he said. “In order to fill this gap, this lacuna, the PBC was founded.”Mr. Wittig said that important lessons have been learned, and prerequisites for successful peacebuilding identified, over the past five years since the establishment of the PBC. These include national ownership, coordination between donors, realistic objectives, and mutual accountability of countries concerned and donors.“In post-conflict countries, we are faced mostly with the crucial dilemma of high financing needs and low capacity, numerous priorities and scare resources,” he stated. “The best way for donors to help reconcile those overwhelming needs, on the one hand, and the lack in resources, on the other, is to focus on a very narrow range of priorities.”Mr. Wittig said this year’s review of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture needs to address several important questions, the first of which is how to strengthen the relationship between the PBC and the Security Council.“The peacebuilding phase is crucial for the future of fragile States. Thus, the PBC should occupy a more central role we feel within the UN architecture, and ideally there should be a more organic relationship between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and a closer relationship between the PBC and the Security Council.” Other questions to be tackled include how to improve cooperation between the PBC and international financial institutions and regional organizations, how to help to mobilize sufficient resources for successful peacebuilding, and which countries could be added to the agenda of the commission in the future. 13 April 2010Efforts to help post-conflict countries build sustainable peace could be improved, the head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) said today, welcoming this year’s review of the world body’s efforts in this crucial arena and the impact it will have on the countries concerned. read more

Financial market highlights on Friday SPTSX 1518219 down 3123 points

Highlights at the close Friday at world financial market trading.Stocks:S&P/TSX Composite Index — 15,182.19, down 31.23 pointsDow — 21,349.63, up 62.60 pointsS&P 500– 2,423.41, up 3.71 pointsNasdaq — 6,140.42, down 3.93 pointsCurrencies:Cdn — 77.06 cents US, up 0.23 of a centPound — C$1.6862, down 0.41 of a centEuro — C$1.4813, down 0.55 of a centEuro — US$1.1415, down 0.09 of a centOil futures:US$46.04, up $1.11(August contract)Gold futures:US$1,242.30 per oz., down $3.50(August contract)Canadian Fine Silver Handy and Harman:Daily quote unavailable from source; office closed on Fridays(Thursday: $22.591 per oz.; $726.30 per kg.) read more

Five win awards in worldwide war on poverty UN development agency

People heading effective anti-poverty organizations are nominated by the country offices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) as outstanding contributors to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), UNDP said. The MDGs, taken together, are designed to halve extreme poverty worldwide by 2015.This year’s three winners focusing on HIV/AIDS are Founding Executive Director Helen Ditsebe-Mhone of the Coping Centre for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Botswana; Founding Executive Director Jimmy Bhojedat of Guyana’s Lifeline Counselling Services and founder Achmad Ramadhan of Indonesia’s Centre for Information and HIV/AIDS Counselling, according to UNDP.The other two winners, serving in economic areas, are Bulgarian Economy Minister Lydia Shouleva and the new Jordanian Minister of State and government spokesperson Asma Khader, who founded Jordan’s National Network for Poverty Alleviation.Since 1993, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been 17 October and since 1997 the award ceremony has taken place close to that date to increase public awareness of poverty eradication activities.Ms. Ditsebe-Mhone left the management of one of Botswana’s leading hotels when she tested HIV-positive, went public about her diagnosis and founded the Coping Centre to battle the stigma attached to the disease. The centre also provides services to many others who are affected, the agency said.Mr. Bhojedat expanded his organization, which at the outset served 70 people living with HIV/AIDS, to one now serving 40,000 people. He also supervises 150 counsellors and 1,000 educators, including 190 youth-peers, UNDP said.Mr. Ramadhan, an Islamic preacher, challenged cultural traditions by speaking publicly about HIV/AIDS in a community that considered the topic taboo. His centre now works with 50 Islamic organizations to raise awareness about the disease and to mobilize volunteers in the effort to teach prevention. “He has directly helped more than 10,000 people and indirectly reached more than 100,000,” UNDP said.Lawyer, writer and human rights activist Ms. Khader, before her appointment this week as a minister of state, had linked representatives of ministries, national commissions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as individual activists, into a productive network combating poverty, UNDP said.Minister Shouleva created a programme, From Social Assistance to Employment, that has found public works jobs for 80,000 previously unemployed Bulgarians. The programme includes literacy classes and vocational training and gives tax breaks to corporations investing in low-income regions, UNDP said.She also incorporated the MDGs into her country’s first comprehensive National Strategy for Poverty Eradication and Social Inclusion, it said. read more

Womens Hockey No 10 Ohio State gets rematch with No 1 Wisconsin

Ohio State freshman goalie Andrea Braendli (20) and sophomore goalie Lynsey Wallace warm up before their game against Minnesota State on Oct. 12. Ohio State won 4-0. Credit: Wyatt Crosher | Assistant Sports EditorOn the final weekend of the regular season, No. 1 Wisconsin puts its five-game winning streak on the line against the only team that boasts three Badger defeats in the past two seasons.The No. 10 Ohio State women’s hockey team (18-12, 12-10 WCHA) will hope to bolster its NCAA tournament resume ahead of the WCHA tournament when it faces No. 1 Wisconsin (28-4, 18-4 WCHA) in Madison, Wisconsin. “Every team, as the season goes on, becomes more vulnerable,” Ohio State sophomore forward Emma Maltais said. “I think we’re scary because we are in a position where we have to win and I think that other teams know that.”Ohio State lost to Wisconsin on Jan. 12, leading to a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season.Now at the tail-end of the season, Ohio State risks being eliminated from consideration in the eight-team NCAA Tournament. But a second season win on the road against the nation’s third-highest scoring offense could earn the Buckeyes favor among the selection committee heading into the WCHA Tournament. Coming off a bye week, Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said getting her team to refocus is not a concern.“They know what’s at stake,” Muzerall said. “They read all that stuff and they overanalyze it. You don’t have to get them revved up because at this level they’re already mentally prepared.”Wisconsin enters the series having outscored opponents 24-4 during a dominant five-game stretch. A series sweep of the Buckeyes would grant the Badgers their fourth consecutive regular season conference title.Spearheading the potent Wisconsin front line are freshman forwards Sophie Shirley and Britta Curl, as well as senior Annie Pankowski, who are three of the top four goal scorers in the WCHA. The trio has accounted for 42 percent of the Badgers’ 122 season goals and have racked up a combined 21 points during their win streak.Though all three forwards scored in Wisconsin’s most recent matchup against Ohio State, a 5-2 dismantling in Columbus, Muzerall said they will not be the focal point of her game plan.“The one tricky thing when you have a team of that depth, if you focus on those three, the others will catch you,” Muzerall said.Facing the brunt of the Wisconsin attack for the Buckeyes will be freshman goalie Andrea Braendli, who returns this weekend from a two-game absence due to an international tournament with the Swiss national team. Braendli holds the WCHA’s second-best save percentage at .934.On the opposite end of the ice, Wisconsin redshirt junior goalie Kristen Campbell is fresh off her NCAA-leading seventh shutout of the season against Minnesota Duluth last weekend, which earned her WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors.Maltais, the conference’s second-leading point scorer at 1.27 points a game, helms a Buckeye offense that has come alive of late, scoring 16 goals in its past four games, nearly doubling the nine goals the offense could muster in five straight losses before that.When facing a team of this caliber, Muzerall said the Buckeyes, who lead the conference with 7.5 penalty minutes per game, cannot afford to beat themselves.“[The Badgers] don’t have a terrible weakness. We just have to stay out of the box,” Muzerall said. “That’s what killed us in that second game that we lost.”Though the Buckeyes have been the victor in three of the past four Wisconsin matchups, including a 1-0 win this season, Muzerall said none of that will matter come Friday.“It is a different situation because it’s their senior weekend, it’s their opportunity to win the conference, it’s going to be sold out,” Muzerall said. “We have to start wrapping our mind around that and start visualizing what that sounds like, smells like, tastes like.”The WCHA rivals begin their final regular season series at 8:07 p.m. Friday in Madison. read more

The Brunei owned Dorchester Hotel is dropped as venue for police bravery

The Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), through the Dorchester Collection, owns London’s Dorchester and 45 Park Lane as well as Coworth Park in Berkshire. Earlier this month the Sultan of Brunei announced the imposition of a strict new form of sharia law in the south east Asian kingdom, which would impose death by stoning for those convicted of having gay sex or committing adultery.Since the announcement a string of luxury hotels around the world, which are owned by Brunei, have faced protests and boycotts. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. John Apter, the Chairman of the Police Federation, said the boycott was the right thing to do The Police Federation will not host this year’s annual bravery awards at the Brunei owned Dorchester hotel in London in protest at country’s new gay sex laws.The organisation, which represents more than 119,000 rank and file officers, is the latest to join a growing boycott of hotels owned by the leader of the tiny state.The police bravery awards, which have been running for almost 25-years, honour remarkable acts of courage and valour from serving officers.The glittering ceremony, which is often attended by the Home Secretary and other government ministers, had been due to be held at the Dorchester on July 18.But John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said the decision to move the event to a different venue was the “right thing to do” because the organisation could not support “a regime which is so fundamentally opposed to the values of respect, diversity and equality”. The Sultan of Brunei owns a string of luxury hotels around the world John Apter, the Chairman of the Police Federation, said the boycott was the right thing to do Also in its portfolio of hotels, among the world’s most exclusive, are two of Hollywood’s best-known establishments, the Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills.Actor George Clooney and Sir Elton John are among a number of celebrities who announced they would no longer stay at any of the hotels owned by the Sultan.Mr Apter said hotel management had refunded the deposit for the event and been “incredibly understanding”.He said: “We cannot in all conscience support a regime which is so fundamentally opposed to the values of respect, diversity and equality we hold so highly within our organisation and policing as a whole.”And although the decision is no reflection on the staff of the hotel itself who have always done their utmost to ensure that the event is a success, it is the right one.”Local management at the hotel has reimbursed us after cancelling the deposit and have been incredibly understanding in these circumstances for which I am grateful.”The new venue has not yet been announced for security reasons. The Sultan of Brunei owns a string of luxury hotels around the world read more

LKAB weighing up the prospects for crooked borehole drilling

first_imgLKAB is using a variation of conventional prospecting drilling to search for new orebodies and secure reserves for the future.Prospecting drilling will allow the iron ore miner to gain more detailed knowledge of the geometry and geochemistry of mineralisation, but this process can often be expensive in both man hours and euros.That is why this year the company started trials with crooked, or deviated, bore holes in prospect drilling.Karin Lindgren (pictured), geologist at LKAB, explains: “We can already see several advantages with crooked holes. Overall, the number of drilling metres is reduced, and we do not have to drive drifts at the outer edges of the orebody to the same extent and can reach the intended drilling locations with greater precision.”She continued: “With crooked drilling, we can reach greater depth and access the ore from different angles. The technique can be used to reach the outer boundaries of the orebody and gain a better understanding of its geometry.”Today, two drill rigs are being used and a third will soon be operational at the company’s operations, LKAB said. The company is testing the crooked-hole technique to first learn, and then evaluate, the method, it said.Anders Edlert, Project Manager for Prospecting Drilling at LKAB, said: “We want to push the boundaries and find out what can be done with this technology in this type of rock and at what cost.”He does admit drilling deviated holes comes with more friction, so drilling takes longer and currently costs nearly three times as much as conventional drilling.“We, therefore, have to press the costs and compare them against the time and resources that are needed for driving new drifts for conventional drilling,” he concluded.last_img read more

The 90yearold woman dragged off the street in Manchester was not raped

first_imgPOLICE IN GREATER Manchester investigating an attack on a 90-year-old woman say that there is no forensic evidence that she was sexually assaulted.It comes a day after Rochdale Police had appealed for information after the woman told them she was attacked, lost consciousness and was raped on Tuesday morning.Police say that forensic tests were fast-tracked by detectives overnight and found that at this stage there is no forensic evidence to corroborate that an attack of a sexual nature took place.Superintendent Alistair Mallen of Rochdale Police say that they are continuing to investigate what happened to the woman.“Something has clearly happened to this lady so we would like to hear from anyone who saw anything, he said.“It is important to state that a report made in good faith, by an elderly, vulnerable lady and, as such, people would always expect us to investigate thoroughly.”Police yesterday released details of the attack given by the elderly woman. They said she had been dragged backwards off the street by a hand placed over her mouth and raped when she lost consciousness.The reports resulted in a strong response from the local community with police saying they are “extremely grateful” for the “overwhelming reaction”.Despite this, Mallen has defended their decision to go public with the details of the case now that they are no longer investigating a sexual assault: People may question why we took the decision to go public and, to that, I can say that we had a duty of care to both the complainant and to the wider public. When making these decisions we have to weigh up the need to inform the public with the need to reassure them that they are not in any danger.“Every case is considered on its individual merits at that particular time and, in this case, it was felt the community needed to be made aware,” he added.Police say they are continuing to ask for the public’s assistance in finding out exactly what happened and say they will always investigate reports of sexual offences and encourage victims to speak to the police.Read: 90-year-old woman dragged off street and raped in Manchester >Read: Nine men jailed in racially charged sex ring case >last_img read more

These Irish men drove Death Road scaled a volcano and made it

first_img‘You cover every possibility or everything that maybe could go wrong, but you’re never 100% sure of it’ – Les O’DonnellTHE INFAMOUS DEATH Road in Bolivia isn’t a place for nervous passengers – never mind nervous drivers.The Yungus Road usually sees people travelling up it by bicycle, which makes it easier to stay away from the steep drops.But three Irish men recently traversed it by jeep, during a three-part trip that saw them scale a volcano and left one of them suffering from altitude sickness.The journeyPaul Doherty, Les O’Donnell and Denis Ferry had already taken in the Northern Lights during a 1,000-mile trek over Alaska’s ice roads (in the name of charity) last year.This time, they headed to different heights: Bolivia.They were already nervous about tackling the road – but when they got there, they discovered there had been a landslide about 5km from the top.“Near the top of it is the most dangerous area – you can see all the crosses along the road where people have perished throughout the years,” said O’Donnell.“We started at the bottom and worked our way up. It’s amazing – you basically start in the jungle and you work your way up and then you come into the clouds,” recalled Doherty.When they reached the landslide, people told them “there is no way you are going to get through it” and “you might as well turn around”.But still, they ploughed on – under waterfalls, along the narrow rock-strewn road. Source: Paul Doherty/YouTube“It’s difficult to breathe”They drove through fog for quite a bit of the journey, which surely must have made things even more nail-biting. “It’s good fun when it’s a 2000ft drop to your left hand side,then you’re on top of the clouds,” said Paul, recounting how they drove from 1000 to 15,000 feet.“It’s difficult to breathe at the 15,000 mark but we were OK because we were sitting in the jeep,” said Doherty.“Donegal roads aren’t the best roads in the country, so we’re used to bad roads,” said O’Donnell, tongue firmly in cheek, about 60% of the roads. “The other 40% were terrifying.”“It was a surreal experience,” remembered Doherty.It got even more surreal when they travelled up the volcano on the second leg.Volcano trails The mud hut they slept in The second leg brought them to a Sajama National Park, and up a volcano.They made the trip in a Toyota Land Cruiser, sponsored by Kelly’s Toyota in Letterkenny, and Les and Denis are both dab hands with mechanics.They were thankful of that big car as they trekked through the park (which cost the equivalent of 20c to enter).They stayed in a mud hut with a thatched roof in the park, and feasted on local food and drink that cost them €5 for the night. “It was amazing,” said Doherty, saying they went to bed fully clothed, wearing clothes made from deer fur that they bought locally. They also had clothes that were supplied by Carhartt.Which is just as well, as one has to wonder how the clothing they bought there fitted, as the local people were extremely friendly – and small. “I’m not the tallest person going but I had to duck going into doors,” laughed Doherty. “The tallest person we met was abut 5ft.”That was the beginning of their trek 17,541ft up the Sajama volcano – beating the Top Gear programme, which climbed a nearby but smaller volcano.Journey to the ridgeJason Black, an Everest climber, gave them tips on scaling the volcano.“We didn’t realise until we were up there how the altitude sickness can affect you,” said O’Donnell.He experienced a bleeding nostril for a week due to the altitude.What was the journey like? “It was pretty intense,” said Doherty. “You are kind of on a buzz – you have adrenaline pumping through you.”When they watched back footage, the could hear themselves breathing very heavily, which was due to the low oxygen levels up the volcano. At the time, they didn’t even notice they were out of breath.But with all of his hopping in and out of the jeep to film and take photographs, Doherty ended up exerting a lot of energy, and wound up with altitude sickness.They had brought oxygen and oxygen meters with them, so they could test their levels of O2. “Mine had fallen to 72, which is pretty bad,” said Doherty.The altitude sickness started with a sore head. “What is actually happening is your brain starts to swell. You’re not just as sharp as you would be,” said Doherty.The only cure for altitude sickness is to go down, and gradually the descent helped him feel better.They certainly put the car through its paces. “We actually got stuck a few times and we had to lower the pressure of the tyre,” said Doherty. “We were basically driving on four flat wheels on the way up.” This helped the tyres get more grip. Source: 043023011607Doherty describes the journey as “great fun – something you will never forget”.I could show you all the pictures in the world of the jungle and from the top of the volcano, but until you’re there and you can smell it… If you could take the smell home with you, you would.One bit he wouldn’t bring home, however, is the mysterious hissing he heard while setting up his tripod to film in the jungle… “I moved to other side of road, and got camera set up very quickly,” laughed Doherty.Les O’Donnell said that this trip was tougher than their ice trek journey. “It was definitely tougher from an altitude point of view, and the language barrier, and we just weren’t sure about the road network and security in the country.”In addition, they only had eight days for the trip, with six on the ground and two travelling.The three men have the full support of their family. “They know there’s a risk there but at the same time they know we’re not goin gto do stomething stupid,” said O’Donnell.The adventurous trio is already thinking about the next trip, and expect it will be another charity venture – but it won’t be for another two years, the friends reckon.Sounds like they’re due a good break alright.Read:  “We like to challenge ourselves”: Donegal trio set to brave the infamous Death Road>Read: Passengers watch as bus plunges from Bolivia’s ‘death road’> The road through the Andes Source: Paul Dohertylast_img read more

Theresa May faces a series of crucial Brexit votes today in her

first_imgTheresa May faces a series of crucial Brexit votes today in her own parliament Fifteen key amendments to Britain’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill will be put to a vote today. 26 Comments Tuesday 12 Jun 2018, 7:25 AM Source: Victoria Jones/PA ImagesTHERESA MAY WILL today face knife-edge votes in parliament on her centrepiece Brexit legislation, despite her last-minute warning that defeat risked undermining her negotiations with Brussels.After a bumpy week of Brexit spats within her administration and with the EU, May wants to fend off another setback in a long-awaited showdown with restive lawmakers.MPs in the lower House of Commons will vote on a raft of amendments produced by the upper House of Lords, which May claims would weaken the government’s hand in exit talks with the EU.“We must think about the message parliament will send to the European Union this week,” May told MPs in her centre-right Conservative Party last night.Her minority Tory government relies on the support of the DUP for a slender working majority in the 650-member Commons.“I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain. I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the EU which is as frictionless as possible,” she said.“But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined.”FlashpointsThe EU (Withdrawal) Bill, coming back down to the Commons from the unelected Lords, is the draft law that would set the legal framework for Brexit.The government wants the Commons to reject 14 out of 15 amendments introduced by the Lords which are intended to keep Britain close to the European Union after Brexit.However, May is worried about the prospect of a rebellion by pro-EU Conservative MPs who are determined to retain as many of the changes as possible.Flashpoints include proposals to increase the power of parliament to decide on the final Brexit deal, and others seeking to keep Britain tightly aligned with the EU’s economy after it leaves the bloc.Some europhile Conservatives were reported to be backing away, worried that if May was fatally damaged by defeat, it could open the way for a hardline Brexiteer to take over the party and the premiership. Theresa May Source: PA Wire/PA ImagesMay warned her MPs: “The message we send to the country through our votes this week is important.“We must be clear that we are united as a party in our determination to deliver on the decision made by the British people.”Customs union concessionOne amendment in danger of not being overturned is on the so-called meaningful vote, which would give parliament the power to decide what to do if it rejects the final Brexit deal.Tomorrow, one on joining the European Economic Area – the single market – will likely fall because the main opposition Labour Party is against it.However, the government may lose a vote on membership of the EU’s customs union, but this may not have much practical impact due to the way it is drafted.Europhile Conservative Sarah Wollaston said she was “minded” to rebel.“We would like to see further concessions on the amendment on the customs union because it is just a very sensible amendment that says keep it on the table, don’t completely rule it out,” she told the BBC.After May addressed her MPs, Brexit minister Steve Baker indicated that the government would consider a new compromise amendment regarding customs relations.“Our policy is to leave the customs union so that we can conduct our own independent trade policy but it would be appropriate that we have an arrangement in place with the European Union,” he said.The increasingly febrile atmosphere comes as pressure builds for a deal by October ahead of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in March next year.There is a sense among both eurosceptics and pro-Europeans that crunch time is fast approaching.© – AFP, 2018 https://jrnl.ie/4065933 7,256 Views Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlecenter_img Share13 Tweet Email Jun 12th 2018, 7:25 AM As the clock ticks down, get all the best Brexit news and analysis in your inbox: Short URL By AFPlast_img read more

Monster Hunter World is Officially Capcoms Fastest Selling Game

first_img ‘God Eater 3’ on Switch Brings Franchise Back to Its RootsHands-On: ‘Monster Hunter World: Iceborne’ Beta Left Us Hung… Stay on target Capcom’s efforts to make Monster Hunter: World a global title have paid off big time. It hasn’t even been out a full month but it is already the fastest selling game in Capcom’s history. Five million copies were shipped in three days after the game’s launch. Now, Capcom is reporting it has shipped 6 million copies. This is truly an astonishing feat for a franchise deemed too “niche” for Western audiences.Units shipped do not represent copies sold to actual customers, but it gives a good indication of how popular a game is. According to Forbes, Monster Hunter: World is the top paid game on both the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live. It has overtaken PUBG as the top paid game on Xbox. This last fact is astounding to me considering how, on its surface, Monster Hunter: World doesn’t seem like a game Xbox fans would particularly care for. MHW topping PSN isn’t exactly surprising given how the series began on PlayStation 2 and was huge on the PlayStation Portable.AdChoices广告Monster Hunter: World has a gargantuan amount of content as is, but Capcom promises to deliver free updates to extend the game’s longevity. The company has stated that future updates will add more monsters. We don’t know exactly what types of monsters we’re getting, but it’s reasonable to assume a mix of both old and new creatures. These will no doubt come with new armor and weapons to unlock. Capcom has a history of (over)charging for DLC, so it’s great to know future updates will be free.Personally speaking, I can’t stop playing Monster Hunter: World. I’ve sunk well over a 100 hours into the game and I haven’t even gotten to the end. There is just so much to do! I’ve always wanted to get into the series, so I’m happy Capcom made the necessary changes to make it palatable. I realize it’s only February, but I predict Monster Hunter: World will continue to dominate gaming discussions for the rest of the year.center_img Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more

Messed Up Things About Pokemon No One Ever Talks About

first_imgStay on target Mint-Condition Set of Pokemon Cards Sold For $107KNew Trailer ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield’ Reveals Team Yell Punks Twenty years since its America debut, Pokemon is still one of the biggest, most beloved #brands in gaming. And it’s not slowing down any time soon. Not that long ago we learned that Pokemon is coming to the already super popular Nintendo Switch this holiday as Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee. And there’s already another Pokemon Switch game on deck for 2019.Pokemon can be enjoyed by folks of all ages, but if we’re being honest most fans got into the franchise as children. Whether it was playing the RPGs on Game Boy or tearing up at the anime movies, children represent the lifeblood of Pokemon. But as tends to be the case with otherwise whimsical kids franchises, there’s an occasional dark edge to the world of Pokemon. And we’re going to shine a spotlight on it. Here are messed up things about Pokemon no one ever talks about. Not since Middle-Earth: Shadow of War has there been this much video game slavery.It’s Basically CockfightingOkay this is kind of a hacky joke observation by now, but it’s true. Pokemon’s core gimmick of catching monsters to make them fight may have been inspired by Japanese bug collecting, but it shares more in common with illegal immoral bloodsports like cockfighting and dogfighting. What makes Pokemon Black and White one of the best games in the series is that its plot actually tried to almost grapple with this dilemma.There’s a Pokemon 9/11Speaking of Pokemon Black and White, abandoning the Japanese-inspired regions of previously Pokemon games, the Unova region is New York City with the serial number filed off. As you explore Pokemon Manhattan you’ll see the Pokemon Financial District, Pokemon Brooklyn Bridge, and a blasted pile of “meteor” rubble that could only be the aftermath of Pokemon 9/11. Seriously.You Can Catch GodIf you read the details in individual Pokemon descriptions, you’ll be blown away at just how bonkers this lore can get. For example, Arceus, one of the legendary Pokemon of the cosmic Diamond and Pearl, is described as the creator of the Pokemon world. So along with enslaving the physical manifestations of space and time, you can put God in a ball and make Him do your bidding.Dead Humans Become PokemonSpirituality in general is a tricky subject in Pokemon. What does it say about the afterlife that there’s a whole type of Pokemon known as Ghost? Yamask provides one terrifying explanation. These Pokemon carry masks that represent their past lives as humans, and they weep when those masks are removed and possess the wearers. So if you die, thousands of years later your spirit may restlessly roam the Earth forever as some tween trainer’s sidekick.Cubone Wears Its Mother’s SkullPour one out for poor Cubone. This understandably angry little Pokemon gets its iconic look by wearing the skull of its dead mother. That’s why it’s “The Lonely Pokemon.” These games are supposed to be for kids!Parasect is Controlled By FungusBefore The Last of Us got us all afraid of ant-controlling fungus, Paras and Parasect subtly introduced this particular strain of biohorror to the masses. As Paras, these creatures have a somewhat symbiotic relationship with the mushrooms growing on their back, sucking nutrients but providing guidance. However, once this monster evolves into Parasect, the mushroom grows huge and utterly dominates the host, assuming complete control.Poke Balls Are Basically The MatrixThe mechanics of how Poke Balls actually work runs on a lot of dream logic. You throw them at Pokemon, they turn the Pokemon into energy, and if the Pokemon is weak enough they’ll stay as energy inside the Poke Ball (or PC) until summoned again reformed as matter. But one especially Black Mirror-esque detail is that inside the Poke Ball Pokemon are kept docile with a simulation of their natural environment. We’re waiting for Pokemon Neo to free his people from this technological trap.The Anime Gave Kids SeizuresBecause they feature so many fast flashing lights and colors, video games and the shows inspired by them tend to trigger seizures in those suffering from Epilepsy. Unfortunately this happened with an episode of the Pokemon anime in 1997, starring the digital Pokemon Porygon. Nearly 700 viewers were hospitalized in Japan, and episode hasn’t been rebroadcast since. Even Porygon itself has been conveniently forgotten in future episodes.Pokemon Go Find Dead BodiesThe biggest Pokemon phenomenon perhaps since the franchise’s inception, Pokemon Go inspired millions of people to walk around trying to catch fake monsters in the real world using augmented reality on our smartphones. Exploring the real world also means you’ll stumble across real problems. Just ask the shocking amount of people who have discovered dead bodies while playing Pokemon Go.There Are Still Real Animals?Add an elemental superpower to an existing animal, give it a pun name, and you’ve basically created a new Pokemon. But in a world swarming with electric mice and fire dogs and poison bees, you may be surprised to learn that there are still regular mice and dogs and bees. We’re not talking about Normal-type Pokemon, but just normal animals. I guess this is how they get around eating meat without acknowledging Pokemon are delicious.Pokemon Creepy BlackBefore there was an actual Pokemon Black, there was an infamous creepypasta internet horror short story about a bootleg “Pokemon Black” Game Boy cartridge. You should read it for yourself, but in this hypothetical hacked version of Pokemon Red, you could use your ghost Pokemon to “Curse” opponents, or murder them. Eventually your evil deeds catch up with you though in your old age. While this game clearly never existed, clever fans have tried to recreate it.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more

Youre in for a treat with spring theater shows in town

first_imgIt’s the musical with the ickiest name ever: “Urinetown.” That’s a pun, of course: You’re in town. Get it?Still icky. That’s the point. “Urinetown” is about as sharp and wicked as satire gets. Set in a future that’s not nearly as distant and improbable as you’d like to think, the play involves the fight for a basic human right: the right to pee freely.People have lost that right in “Urinetown,” where a 20-year drought, oppressive laws and an evil corporation have made it, as one song says, “A Privilege to Pee.” Let flow without coughing up some dough, and you’re shipped off to a penal colony.This is the stuff of revolution, of course, as the huddled and extremely bladderful masses launch a rebellion, take hostages, suffer losses and discover the serious meaning behind the title pun.That icky town? You’re already there.All of which may seem like awfully strong stuff for high school actors, not to mention their wary parents and doting grandparents. If a critique of everything Americans hold dear — capitalism, corporations, mob justice, “infinite” natural resources — sounds a little too icky for you, don’t get pissed. A wide variety of great performances, the vast majority of them by students, will shine on Clark County stages in upcoming weeks. This is your big chance to check out our new crop of young thespians as they take on everything from Cole Porter to William Shakespeare and cutting-edge drama to classic musical comedy.There’s even an original twist on a current movie musical: A nonmusical version of “Beauty and the Beast,” written and directed by Hudson’s Bay High School junior Caitlyn Hansen.last_img read more

Lazio acknowledge Spurs interest in Savic and Immobile

first_imgThere have been a lot of rumours going around for Lazio’s now infamous duo Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile’s transfer to a Premier League side.However, it seems their sporting director Igli Tare is not so interested in selling them, or at least this is what it looks like, judging by his reaction.Lazio have been trying to catch up and secure a Champions League spot for the next season. The manager Simone Inzaghi has been the main reason the team has been thriving and not just the team as a whole, but players individually as well.Ciro Immobile, ItalyCiro Immobile relieved to end Italy goal-drought Andrew Smyth – September 9, 2019 Striker Ciro Immobile was a relieved man after finally ending his two-year Italy goal-drought during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Finland.Milinkovic-Savic joined Lazio in 2015 and has been able to blossom into one of Europe’s most perspective youngsters right now. He has scored 13 goals and provided 6 assists. Also, the fact that he is 1.91m tall is not to be forgotten either.Immobile, who has spent time in Torino, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, has been able to score the amazing 41 goals in 46 games – following Salah pretty closely.“€130 million offer for Milinkovic and Immobile? I do not read the newspapers and I do not listen to the radio, because we are concentrated only on the field,” was Igli Tare’s reaction when asked for the duo, according to HITC.last_img read more

People will come forward if anticountry remarks not expunged Amu

first_imgJuba Mahila League organises a human chain protesting at derogatory remarks made against women MPs in the 16th amendment verdict in capital on Thursday. Photo: Sazid Hossain Industries minister Amir Hossain Amu on Thursday said the people of the country will “come forward” if the observations made in the 16th amendment annulment verdict that “go against the country” are not expunged.Also the ruling Bangladesh Awami League’s (AL) advisory council member, Amu was addressing a human chain in front of the National Press Club in the capital.AL’s youth women wing Awami Juba Mahila League organised the programme in protest against what they said “derogatory remarks made against women MPs in the 16th amendment verdict”.Addressing chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, Amu said, “You should have thought before speaking against the very parliament that appointed you. The president of this parliament has appointed you.”He went on saying, “The remarks you [chief justice] have made against the country must be expunged; otherwise the people of the country will come forward.” Addressing other judges of the higher court, the minister said, “You should bear in mind that he [chief justice] wants to be the master of you and the judiciary. You will have to follow whatever he would say. All the powers would be bestowed upon him and there would be nothing beyond that.”The ruling party leader alleged that the chief justice wants to grab all the state powers and warned, “There must be a limit of displaying such audacity. We can’t allow such a system in the judiciary.”He further warned that the AL government, the government of Sheikh Hasina, is not a fragile organisation.“You must not forget that incumbent prime minister Sheikh Hasina is a three-time prime minister. Repeated attempts were made to kill her, but nothing could thwart her. She is working for the country and its people defying all odds. Who has given you [chief justice] the courage to speak against her? And what examples are you giving to issue threats?”Addressing the chief justice, Amu said, “You’ve already come to know those who are trying today to fish in troubled waters. They are not your friends, rather your enemies.”last_img read more

Driver assistant killed as truck plunges into ditch

first_imgRoad Accident LogoA truck driver and his assistant were killed and two people injured as the vehicle plunged into a roadside ditch at Boilgram village in Madaripur’s Rajoir upazila early Monday, reports UNB.The deceased were driver Khokon, 35, and his assistant Mohammad Ali, 25, from Swarupkathi upazila in Pirojpur district.Ziaul Morshed, officer-in-charge of Rajoir police station, said that the accident took place as the Munshiganj-bound truck from Pirojpur plunged into the ditch after the driver lost control over the steering, leaving the duo dead on the spot and two others injured.The injured were admitted to Rajoir Upazila Health Complex.last_img read more

How Conan OBrien and Other Top Hosts Are Tapping Into the Podcast

first_img“When I used to tell people that I was going to start focusing on podcasting,” he says, “they’d sort of put their hand on my shoulder and look at me sympathetically.”Podcasting is attractive partly because of its profit margins. The most popular podcasts can make north of $10 million annually, and costs are minimal, often boiling down to renting studio space or paying someone to produce a show. “The capital barrier to entry is low so you don’t need to be a part of a big company to make a show,” says Luminary CEO Matt Sacks. “All you need to be successful is a good idea.”True, not many podcasters make a living at the craft. There’s a torrent of programs out there, but only the very top shows earn significant money.On Apple Podcasts alone, there are more than 750,000 shows — and Google says it is indexing the content of more than 2 million individual shows. “Anybody can make a podcast. Not everyone can make a podcast people want to listen to,” says PwC partner David Silverman, who co-leads the firm’s emerging company services national practice.It’s likely that only 1,000 of the biggest podcasts draw a significant audience, says Norm Pattiz, founder and executive chairman of PodcastOne, which distributes and produces more than 300 shows. He sees that as an opportunity: “Until that 1,000 becomes 50,000, we’re a long way from tapping out.”A surge of high-profile talent in the space and higher production budgets promises to accelerate the format’s popularity. Celebs who have flocked to the game include Will Ferrell, Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey. Actor-comedian Joe Rogan, previously best known for hosting TV’s “Fear Factor,” has helmed talk show “The Joe Rogan Experience” since 2009, and it’s now one of the industry’s top podcasts. Then there are ex-President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, who in June announced a deal through their Higher Ground Prods. banner to develop podcasts exclusively for Spotify, some of which the Obamas will host. The podcast landscape comprises a blurring mélange of players. Those include platforms like Apple, Spotify and SiriusXM/Pandora; networks like iHeart, PodcastOne, Westwood One and Cadence13; producers like Wondery and Gimlet; publishers and distributors including NPR, Slate, and Public Radio Exchange; apps like Overcast, Castbox, Stitcher and Himalaya; ad networks including Midroll and AdvertiseCast; and hosting providers like Spotify’s Anchor, Libsyn, Blubrry, Podbean and SoundCloud.The New York Times stepped into the fray with “The Daily” in February 2017, formulated as an in-depth explainer about current events. It became an aural sensation, vaulting the Times’ overall U.S. podcast listenership to 8.4 million uniques this past June. Michael Barbaro, the Times reporter who hosts “The Daily,” chalks up the success to timing. “‘The Daily’ came along when everyone was getting deluged by cable news and headlines,” he says. “It’s a format to truly understand one thing in 20 minutes.”In a bid to hit scale in the podcast biz, players like iHeart turned to acquisitions. Since buying Stuff Media, the company has boosted its output nearly five times and premieres upwards of six shows each month, says Conal Byrne, president of iHeartMedia Podcast Network. It generates 130 million downloads monthly and cross-promotes its lineup to 150 million listeners across iHeart’s business. Perhaps more important, it has also enabled the television host to connect with fans who may have cut the cable cord or tuned out of his TBS show “Conan” in favor of streaming programming.“My TV habits have changed completely,” says O’Brien, who has been on late night since 1993, first at NBC and later at TBS. “I used to be someone who checked out late-night TV all the time. But I wouldn’t be watching me right now. I’d be binge-watching ‘Killing Eve.’”O’Brien’s not the only big name looking to connect with audiences through earbuds. A confluence of A-list talent is trying to create the next downloadable smash. At the same time, a medium once seen as more of a hobby than a vocation has been professionalized as it’s grown more profitable. “There’s been a creative explosion around podcasting, but in terms of the business opportunities, we’re still in the early stages,” says Jacob Weisberg, who co-founded podcasting company Pushkin Industries in 2018 with The New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell.Right now, this brave new world of audio is mostly filled with as-yet-unrealized potential. However, a swelling listener base and the accelerating migration of major advertising dollars to the platform have led to an influx of investors and technology companies. It’s easy to see what excites them. After all, the number of weekly podcast listeners has more than doubled in the past five years, from 28 million in 2015 to 62 million in 2019, according to a study by Edison Research and Triton Digital.As the audience has grown, so have the valuations for companies who were the quickest to get into the space. In January, Spotify spent nearly $340 million for podcasting studio Gimlet Media and hosting provider Anchor before buying scripted-podcast producer Parcast. Then came the launch of Luminary — a startup aiming to become the Netflix of podcasting, a new and unproven business model for the medium — with $100 million in backing and exclusive content. iHeart’s slate of new shows includes Ferrell’s “The Ron Burgundy Podcast,” in which he reprises his clueless “Anchorman” character, as well as more than 100 podcasts from its on-air talent like Bobby Bones’ Nashville interview podcast “BobbyCast” and morning show “The Breakfast Club.” Now iHeart is looking to expand overseas: By the first quarter of 2020, it plans to translate six podcast series into Spanish, Hindi, French and other languages.“iHeart is in the business of companionship,” says Byrne. “You have this audience that’s deeply engaged. It’s more like they’re listening in to a friend than a radio program.”While the most popular podcasts are interview-based or journalistic narratives, that could change. Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez thinks there’s rich soil to farm in scripted entertainment. Three years ago Lopez, the former longtime head of Fox International Channels, left to become a podcast entrepreneur. Wondery, focused on emotionally immersive stories, has raised $15 million with backers that include Disney.“In television, there was a before and after VOD,” Lopez says. “You had shows like ‘Friends’ in the ’90s. Then TiVo is invented, and that’s when you get ‘Sopranos,’ ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Breaking Bad.’ It dawned on me there was going to be a new golden age of storytelling in podcasting.”The first year was rough, Lopez concedes. Then in 2017, Wondery had a hit with true-crime series “Dirty John,” co-produced with the Los Angeles Times (adapted as a TV series, originally on Bravo and moving to USA). It has followed with other top shows, including “Dr. Death” and “Business Wars.” Other Wondery series have been optioned for TV by Universal Content Prods., FX and WarnerMedia, including “Over My Dead Body,” to be produced and directed by Elizabeth Banks for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service. Wondery typically spends in the “low six figures” on the production and marketing of its event miniseries. “Audio punches below its weight in terms of a national profile,” says Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg, whose company is behind such hits as “Homecoming.”Initially, podcasters had to struggle to get ads. Early on, it was usually direct-response marketers like Mailchimp or Trunk Club that hawked their wares on podcasts, because they could track exactly how many hits they got on their ads. Now, major brands such as BMW and State Farm are sponsoring shows.“You can tell when people think something is going to make money because of who starts emailing you,” says Tommy Vietor, co-host of “Pod Save America,” a liberal political talk show that averages nearly 2 million downloads an episode. Attitudes have changed, remembers Jon Lovett, Vietor’s “Pod Save America” co-host. Technological advancements continue to spur the medium. Starting with the iPhone, smartphones have created an environment where podcasts can flourish. Faster mobile internet speeds will be a boon, along with rising adoption of smart speakers and connected cars. But even with momentum and money, podcasting isn’t in the same league as other mass media. While 51% of Americans say they have listened to a podcast at least once, only 32% of the population (90 million people) are monthly listeners and just 22% tune in on a weekly basis, according to the Edison/Triton research. Podcasting today represents 4% of the $16 billion total audio market ad spend (i.e., the money is mostly radio) and will approach only a 10% share in the next five years, according to a forecast from Magna.Is there a natural ceiling to what could ultimately be a niche medium? Absolutely not, Gimlet’s Blumberg insists. “This is the oldest form of communication human beings have ever had — it predates the written word and video,” he says. “There are a lot of people in the world, and now there are going to be podcasts for everyone.”Some of what made podcasts catch on was that they were scraggly and more idiosyncratic than streamlined and conventional forms of entertainment. Many of the new entrants in the space point to the work of Marc Maron and to Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” — the two were early adopters who developed followings because they weren’t just trying to make a buck. There are concerns that corporatization makes it more difficult for that kind of programming to shine, particularly as more celebrities launch shows.But just attaching a Hollywood name to a project doesn’t ensure it will take off. “What matters is making a good podcast, and that requires putting the time in,” says Gabriel Roth, editorial director of audio at Slate, a media company that has more than 25 active podcasts including hits such as “Slow Burn” and “The Gist.” Earlier this month, radio broadcaster Entercom Communications inked deals to acquire podcast companies Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Media. Entercom is playing catch-up to rival iHeartMedia, which doubled down on the sector by snapping up podcast pioneer Stuff Media last fall for $55 million. Meanwhile, Apple is said to be looking at funding original podcasts, and Sony Music Entertainment has formed a new venture with podcast vets Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer, Three Uncanny Four Productions.“Podcasting has always been a slow build, but it’s spiked even in the last year,” says Tom Webster, senior VP of Edison Research.A big reason for the new investment is a mounting belief that podcasting is untapped land with gold to extract. It commands a sprawling audience, with more than a quarter of Americans listening on a weekly basis, but it’s a medium that isn’t being aggressively monetized. U.S. ad revenue for podcasting is projected to hit $679 million this year, per a PricewaterhouseCoopers and Interactive Advertising Bureau forecast. That’s just a fraction of that of more-established media like TV and radio. And it translates into 3 cents of revenue per podcast listening hour — less than one-third that of radio or television, according to Nielsen data. “I’ve never seen more interest from the highest levels in a new medium,” says Oren Rosenbaum, UTA’s head of emerging platforms.Podcasting as a format dates to the early 2000s, and the earliest entrants came from the radio world — National Public Radio remains the No. 1 podcast publisher, according to research firm Podtrac. Industry observers trace the current boom back to two seminal events in 2014: Apple’s move to include the native podcast app in its iOS 8 operating system, followed just a few weeks later by the debut of true-crime podcast “Serial,” hosted by Sarah Koenig, which became the first watercooler hit. Subscribe Today Spencer Brown, who leads the 55-employee Cadence13, now under Entercom’s wing, acknowledges that podcast production is far cheaper than making a TV show or film. But costs run the gamut: A simple interview program can cost as little as $5,000 to produce for an entire year. Cadence13’s higher-end productions, such as “To Live and Die in L.A.” and “Gangster Capitalism,” run in the mid-six figures. “We reverse-engineer the budget in terms of frequency — is it daily, weekly or monthly — and what the potential audience is,” he says. “Then we sort of take that audience and put it against what we feel we can get on a CPM,” referring to advertising cost per thousand impressions.CPM rates for podcasts range from $10 to $50 or more for the most coveted shows. Radio CPMs, by contrast, are as low as $2 to $3, although radio usually has a broader audience than podcasts do, says Michelle Bovée, a researcher at IPG Mediabrands’ Magna. One factor that could be holding back more brand advertisers from jumping into podcasts: There’s nothing analogous to a Nielsen TV rating. The standard metric for quantifying podcast consumption is downloads, or the number of times individual episodes are accessed. “If there were an independent verification system, the revenue might be higher,” says Wondery’s Lopez.Some people in the industry argue that podcasts should increase the number of ads they air. They note that podcasts average three spots per listening hour compared to 18 for radio. However, others believe that cramming more ads into programming will hurt the business.“There’s a danger in doing that,” says Bryan Moffett, the COO of National Public Media. “Right now we can command a premium, but if you have more ads, prices will go down.”To Edison’s Webster, the biggest impediment to podcasting is the feeling among some consumers that there’s nothing exciting for them to listen to. “There’s a perception that podcasts are catch-up radio,” he says. “To me, they just need to find the show for them.” Moses Soyoola, general manager of Endeavor Audio, wants to deliver shows for just such a crowd. Established 18 months ago by the media and agency conglom, Endeavor Audio is developing programming for untapped audiences. “Companies that come in and think, ‘Hey, I’ll make a true-crime [nonfiction] podcast,’ aren’t going to expand the audience,” Soyoola says. “More broadly, we see black and brown audiences as really underserved in podcasting.”One of Endeavor Audio’s first projects was “Blackout,” a scripted apocalyptic thriller starring Rami Malek that’s reminiscent of 1930s-era radio plays. The show has been singled out for critical acclaim since its early 2019 release. “It showed if you create that kind of content, the audience will be there,” says Soyoola.“You can tell when people think something is going to make money because of who starts emailing you.”Tommy Vietor, “Pod Save America” co-hostGiven the economics of podcasting, Malek couldn’t earn what he could get from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But the project gave the actor the opportunity to take a producer role and incubate intellectual property. Also, it took him just two days to record.Endeavor Audio this year also launched a popular podcast hosted by WWE’s Bella Twins. Upcoming projects include a scripted prison-break series from Dick Wolf Prods. coming out in the fall and a trivia game show called “Factorious.”The sector’s jump has given rise to podcast-native influencers, entrepreneurs who have built small media empires with extensions in books, live events, merchandise and other projects. Take Rachel Hollis, the host of the top-100 podcast “Rise,” a weekly show about business strategies for women. She co-founded media firm the Hollis Co. with her husband, Dave Hollis, a former Disney distribution chief.Hollis, who started out as a parenting blogger, decided to launch a show when she realized there weren’t any business podcasts by women who create content. “For me, it was: Be the change you want,” she says. Podcasts are just one revenue stream for the Austin, Texas-area company; Hollis is also a best-selling author of motivational books, and the company produces conferences and runs a lifestyle website (TheChicSite.com). For a personality-based brand, the biggest constraint on the company is her time. “I have only so many hours in the day,” she says.With the rapid ascent of podcasts, experienced talent can be hard to find, says Liz Gateley, head of creative development for Spotify Studios. “There are prolific storytellers in this space, but there aren’t enough of them,” notes Gateley, previously head of programming at Lifetime. “Film is 100 years old. Podcasting is only 15 years old.” In the six months since Gateley joined Spotify, her team has inked nearly 30 development deals for original shows. Conan O’Brien never planned on becoming the darling of the podcasting world.“It’s not the natural career step,” he says. “I have a talk show, and it felt like maybe you do the podcast in order to get on TV. But when my staff approached me about it, I kind of thought what the heck? What do we have to lose?”Despite its star’s initial reservations, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” an interview program in which the late-night comic engages in free-form chats with everyone from “Barry” creator Bill Hader to historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro, has become the breakout hit of the audio season. It commands more than 1 million downloads an episode — blockbuster numbers for a podcast — and has inspired O’Brien and his team to create a spinoff show with sidekick Andy Richter, as well as scripted podcasts such as “Frontier Tween,” a satire of prairie life, and “Smartr,” a startup-culture sendup. “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” the show that started it all when it launched last November on Stitcher’s Earwolf comedy network, recently signed a mid-seven-figure deal with podcasting network Midroll that will keep it going for two more seasons. For O’Brien, part of what’s working is his palpable excitement for exploring a new medium. The show allows him to be looser with guests and to ask serious, probing questions without having to worry about cramming in as many punchlines as he can before cutting to commercial. As he’s grown more comfortable, he’s letting his comic guard down and showing a side of himself that is more vulnerable. “It’s not just silly comedy,” says Matt Gourley, O’Brien’s podcast producer and co-host. “You see him go to a wonderfully dark place sometimes and be more real.”O’Brien says he’s been emboldened to experiment with the show because podcasting is so different from television.“There’s a way that you can communicate on podcasts that’s much more intense,” he says. “This is a big part of people’s lives. They put on their earbuds, and you’re with them at the gym or on the subway. I never foresaw how much this show would mean to people.”last_img read more