GPL rolls out multibillion-dollar network for ECD villages

first_imgThe Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) has started the rollout of a multibillion-dollar upgrade to the electricity distribution network for villages on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).Speaking at a community outreach with residents of Buxton and neighbouring communities, at the Buxton Secondary School last evening, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) acting, Renford Homer said the project is part of the wider Power Utility Upgrade Programme (PUUP) and is aimed at providing a higher quality of service to its consumers.“It’s not just about what’s happening in Buxton/Friendship. This is a programme that has been identified to help our company in improving the quality of service. This has come about because there has been a long recognition that our network is quite aged but more importantly because as a company we are always challenged financially because of the intense cost of generating electricity,” Bowen is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying to residents.The renovation to the East Coast distribution network is part of an approximately US$65 million utility upgrade funded equally by a grant from the European Union (EU) and a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project among other things will see the use of distribution boxes and insulated wires, to minimise the instances of illegal connection that cause disruptions to the power distribution network; and smart meters to allow for more frequent, accurate readings without the need to visit a consumer’s premises.According to the CEO acting, the upgrade which targets an overall 85 communities, will be rolled out in four phases, namely excavation and pole planting, stringing of conductors, electrical installation, and installation of smart meters.“This is just one phase of a project that is expected to span approximately 830km of new and upgraded cable and it’s also meant to see overall an average of about 58,000 meters being equipped with more modern electronic metres,” Homer explained.GPL has since said that during phase two and three, there will be extended periods of outages and asks that consumers bear with them.The contract for the execution of the PUUP was awarded to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation/China Synergy Electric Engineering Company (CMC/CSEEC). The local subcontractor is Ramoutar and Sons Contracting.last_img read more

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Songbirds Sing on a Fast Wing

first_imgPurple martins and wood thrushes are common songbirds of the eastern United States.  Until recently, it has not been possible to follow their movements accurately.  Now, a team of biologists in Toronto, Erie and Cambridge was able to track them with tiny geolocators.  They found that the little birds fly farther and faster than previously known.    Reporting in Science,1 the ornithologists found that most of the purple martins made it from Pennsylvania to the Yucatan (2500 km) in 5 days.  That’s 500 km, (over 300 miles), per day.  Then the birds stopped over there for 3 to 4 weeks before moving south to the Amazon basin.  Some of the wood thrushes that migrated from Pennsylvania spent a 2-4 week stopover in the southeastern United States before crossing the Gulf of Mexico.  A couple of the monitored thrushes stopped also in the Yucatan before reaching wintering grounds in Honduras or Nicaragua.    As if that were not amazing enough, the return flights were 2 to 6 times faster.  One female martin made the 7500 km trip from the Amazon Basin to Pennsylvania in 13 days – averaging 577 km (360 mi) per day.  That includes 4 stopover days.  The wood thrushes took 13 to 15 days to get home.  One of them, oddly, took the overland route instead of crossing the Gulf of Mexico, requiring 29 days to complete the 4600 km route.    How do these new studies enhance our understanding of bird flight capabilities?  “Previous studies appear to greatly underestimate the true flight performance of migrating songbirds because spring migration speed has typically been estimated at under 150 km/day.”  National Geographic News reported on the story with pictures and a video.  The lead author commented on the purple martin front-runner, “Maybe this is some kind of super-bird, but still I was really impressed that any bird can do this.  These birds are traveling really fast and breaking all the rules.”    Science Daily also reported on the research.  The geolocators, it said, are smaller than a dime and mounted on the birds’ backs with thin straps around the legs, hopefully not interfering with flight.  One can only wonder if the record-setting female martin might have bested her own time without the backpack.1.  Stutchbury, Tarof, Done, Gow, Kramer, Tautin, Fox, and Afanasyev, “Tracking Long-Distance Songbird Migration by Using Geolocators,” Science, 13 February 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5916, p. 896, DOI: 10.1126/science.1166664.This bird didn’t break any rules.  God didn’t put speed limit signs on the route.  He equipped these amazing creatures with awe-inspiring capabilities and let them loose to fly like they were designed to do at their own pace.  We can watch the race like sports fans.    Here is another story that owed nothing to Darwin.  Neither the original paper or the popular write-ups even mentioned him.  Darwinists keep saying that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.  This science project did just fine in natural ambience without the black lights (see 02/10/2009 commentary, last line).(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Scientists Not Always Trained to Be Critical Thinkers

first_imgA trainer of graduate students at a prestigious university wants to put the Ph back in PhD.Can scientists be good at detail work but dumb at logic? Gundula Bosch thinks so. She directs the R3 Graduate Science Initiative at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. In Nature, she says she’s on a campaign to “Train PhD students to be thinkers not just specialists.” She explains an alarming trend in graduate schools that betrays the historic purpose of a top-level education:Under pressure to turn out productive lab members quickly, many PhD programmes in the biomedical sciences have shortened their courses, squeezing out opportunities for putting research into its wider context. Consequently, most PhD curricula are unlikely to nurture the big thinkers and creative problem-solvers that society needs.As a result of the pressure, “That means students are taught every detail of a microbe’s life cycle but little about the life scientific.” Without formal training in philosophy of science, scientists can become very skilled at detailed lab procedures but clueless about logic. Can they recognize a logical fallacy? Are they being forewarned of the pitfalls of flawed research?Above all, students must be shown the scientific process as it is — with its limitations and potential pitfalls as well as its fun side, such as serendipitous discoveries and hilarious blunders.Some blunders are not so hilarious. There can be societal consequences for not thinking ahead. But some serendipitous discoveries are hilarious, like when Kekule said he discovered the structure of benzene after dreaming about a snake eating its tail. Cases like that led to Murphy’s Technology Law, “All great discoveries are made by mistake.” Don’t omit the corollary: ‘The greater the funding, the longer it takes to find the mistake.” There are lists of these, like the one at Mental Floss, which lists 24 serendipitous discoveries of everything from Velcro to Viagra.I was startled by the oft-expressed opinion that scientific productivity depended more on rote knowledge than on competence in critical thinking.The lack of training in critical thinking shows up in retractions, corrections and the worrisome “reproducibility crisis” (4 April 2017). It also leads to public mistrust of science, like when nutrition scientists have reversed their positions on eggs, sugar, fat, the Food Pyramid, and other matters over time.Blunders and dangers of this sort prompted Bosch to start a program at her institution, Johns Hopkins, to put the Ph back in PhD: Doctor of Philosophy. Before William Whewell coined the label “scientist,” investigators of the natural world called themselves natural philosophers. A specialist in any scientific world is really not worthy of the letters PhD without some philosophical training.We call our programme R3, which means that our students learn to apply rigour to their design and conduct of experiments; view their work through the lens of social responsibility; and to think critically, communicate better, and thus improve reproducibility. Although we are aware of many innovative individual courses developed along these lines, we are striving for more-comprehensive reform.Lemmings, by JB Greene. Used by permission.Her program encourages students to evaluate case studies in fraud and misconduct, as well as poor design that leads to flawed conclusions. Somewhat surprisingly, she’s running into resistance from science faculty. They don’t think they have the time for this mushy stuff: nothing a cup of coffee can’t solve:Introducing our programme to colleagues in the Johns Hopkins life-sciences departments was even more sensitive. I was startled by the oft-expressed opinion that scientific productivity depended more on rote knowledge than on competence in critical thinking. Several principal investigators were uneasy about students committing more time to less conventional forms of education. The best way to gain their support was coffee: we repeatedly met lab heads to understand their concerns.Once hearing their concerns, Bosch sought to convince them it is worth the time. She argued, “better critical thinking and fewer mandatory discipline-specific classes might actually position students to be more productive.”Discussions about the bigger-picture problems of the scientific enterprise get students to reflect on the limits of science, and where science’s ability to do something competes with what scientists should do from a moral point of view.Bosch strives for “a better, more rational world” with these efforts. In her final sentence, Bosch accepts the fraught idea that science is “self-correcting,” but she believes it should also be “self-improving.” Such aspirations are not peculiar to science. Each individual, each institution, and each country should strive for the same.Don’t teach Darwinians critical thinking! It will destroy their whole cult! It would make them have to think of better explanations than, “It evolved” and “Stuff happens.” That’s too big a challenge for those needing to get molecules to become human brains. Good grief, they’ll have to stop using the Master List of Logical Fallacies as their “how-to” textbook!Bosch’s suggestions are good, but we wish she would add some material about groupthink, consensus, and courage to think outside the box. Notice that her suggestions presuppose values that should be aspirations for everyone: logical consistency (philosophy) and a commitment to honesty (morality). And yet we have a professional “science” enterprise dedicated to the proposition that we’re all products of a blind, amoral, unguided natural process. How do you “evolve” philosophy and morality out of that? As we repeatedly have to emphasize, naturalism is self-refuting. We quoted C. S. Lewis on that a few days ago (11 Feb 2018). Another of his quotes points out that there is really nothing truly unique about scientific thought except for its subject matter. This is another good quote to memorize:The physical sciences, then, depend on the validity of logic just as much as metaphysics or mathematics. If popular thought feels ‘science’ to be different from all other kinds of knowledge because science is experimentally verifiable, popular thought is mistaken. Experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere logic. We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought. (Visited 637 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Brand South Africa breaks ground in Free State

first_imgFree State delegates sign the Brand SouthAfrica pledge to uphold the nation brandand position the country as a topinvestment and tourism destination. Free State MEC for Economic Development,Tourism and Environmental Affairs,Mxolisi Dukwana.(Images: Nicky Rehbock) MEDIA CONTACTS • Brand South Africa+27 11 483 0122RELATED ARTICLES• KZN innovators show how it’s done • South Africa is Africa’s top nation brand • Building a thriving nation brand• EC entrepreneurs in the spotlight Nicky RehbockBrand South Africa headed to the Free State on 17 November 2011 to urge all residents of the province to build the nation’s reputation and position it for global competitiveness.This was the message relayed at the fifth Brand South Africa Stakeholder Summit in Bloemfontein, attended by representatives from government, business and civil society.Taking place in each of the nine provinces, the summits aim to increase provincial participation in the nation-branding effort and encourage active citizenship – which, in turn, will help position the country as a top investment and tourism destination.Speaking at the summit, Brand South Africa programme manager for civil society Leo Makgamathe said that the branding of the country is not a matter of choice, but a necessity.To be successful it requires the combined effort of government, citizens, business, political parties, charities, the media, academia and sporting organisations.“With globalisation speeding up the production and movement of goods, services, investment and talent, perceptions of nations have to be actively managed,” Makgamathe added.And this is no different in South Africa.The country has recently achieved four key milestones: it managed a highly successful Fifa World Cup; came through the world-wide recession almost unscathed; joined Brazil, Russia, China and India in the BRICS economic bloc; and held its fourth free and fair local elections since 1994.“This has underlined that South Africa is an important developing nation in its own right – which has to be marketed to the world,” Makgamathe said.Strong nation brand vital for Free State “The economy of the Free State is built on agriculture and its mines, but increasingly we are looking to tourism as a growth sector and hope to expand our manufacturing base,” the province’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mxolisi Dukwana said at the summit.The Free State is also looking to diversify by developing its logistics capacity, ICT sector, innovation and research, agri-processing and pharmaceuticals.“So what we, and South Africa, need is more investment. How people see a country is vital in this regard. The image of a country makes an integral contribution in attracting tourists, investors and in building trade relationships,” Dukwana added.The government’s role in this is ensuring the country has enabling policies to attract trade and investment, but South Africans also have to believe in themselves to position the country as a viable destination.“We must be bold enough to face our fears and challenges, and understand what we’re about. In doing that we can become our own marketers. In our diversity we also need to have one identity and be proud of it. Often we’re too negative and hard on ourselves,” the MEC told summit delegates.“I urge all of you to do your ‘national service’ and respond when Brand South Africa calls, so that we can work together to create a truly great South Africa for all.”last_img read more

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Smart cities get connectivity guidance from Connected City Blueprint

first_imgTags:#IoT#Singapore#Smart Cities#smart city#Wireless Broadband Alliance Surveillance at the Heart of Smart Cities How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi… For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… How IoT Will Play an Important Role in Traffic …center_img Donal Power A new strategic document backed by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) aims to help smart cities structure their connectivity plans.As reported by Smart Cities World, the first “Connected City Blueprint” was launched by the Connected City Advisory Board (CCAB). The board is an advisory committee under the aegis of the Singapore-based WBA.The WBA board consists of such wireless industry heavy-hitters as: AT&T, BT, China Telecom, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Intel, KT Corporation, Liberty Global, NTT DOCOMO and Orange.The CCAB’s blueprint is intended to lend guidance to smart cities by bringing together various ideas on how to structure connectivity plans from cities and local authorities.The blueprint also seeks to help clarify the emerging challenges and opportunities from smart and connected cities. It also highlights burgeoning opportunities with public-private partnerships, roaming and big data in relation to smart cities.The blueprint examines connectivity options in relation to various smart city stakeholders, including citizens, operators, regulators, entrepreneurs, wireless service developers and equipment manufacturers.“Cities have a responsibility to ensure that connectivity is accessible to all – citizens, businesses and city services,” said CCAB vice chair Reza Jafari. “This means it is imperative for city managers and CIOs who’ve successfully implemented connectivity to share plans and highlight the benefits of connected cities in a way for all to understand.”One-stop shopping for best practices?Jafari says the blueprint provides crucial guidance by serving as a medium for many smart city players to share experiences and ideas.“By allowing cities to share their experiences and help one another maximize opportunities and overcome challenges, we are one step closer to making the smart dream a reality,” he said.The WBA sees the blueprint as helping foster connectivity-related opportunities and allow governments to provide better services to residents in such public sectors as healthcare.It also says the sharing of connectivity strategies can reduce the technological inequality that has created a miasmic dyspepsia between rich and poor citizens of cities around the world.“The WBA is committed to bridging the digital divide, and the advent of connected cities will bring digital equality to citizens across the globe,” said WBA’s chief executive Shrikant Shenwai.“The CCAB’s Blueprint will enable cities to grow partnerships, and share essential knowledge that will essentially help better the lives of millions.”And considering that a recent report predicted that the global smart cities market could be worth $3.5 trillion by 2026, the wireless industry is looking to ensure that it remains front and center as connected urban environments continue their rapid emergence. Related Posts last_img read more

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CWG fiasco is a metaphor of our daily experience

first_imgYears ago when Muhammad Ali proclaimed that he was the greatest, he was the greatest. As heavy weight boxing champion of the world he had defeated every possible challenger and his claim was merely a statement of that fact. Muhammad Ali has never been known for modesty, but sports figures like Federer and Woods, though arguably the greatest of all time in their chosen sport, rarely bring up the subject on their own. Their greatness is claimed by others around them. Indian public life by contrast is a daily barrage of hyperbole, arrogance, false claims and often outright lies. With virtually nothing to back them, the Indian Commonwealth Organising Committee makes public and international statements so outlandish and arrogant, to be laughable. The Commonwealth Games will be the best ever. The stadia are better than Beijing. The facilities are 5-star…As if to remind the claimant of his conceit, a ceiling buckled at a stadium. Just when the Chief Minister was calling a waterlogged city of broken roads, world class, as if on cue, a bridge collapsed.InflationWhen the daily sights and sounds are of failure, hyperbole and superlatives become essential even for the most mediocre of accomplishments. Hailed as the pride of India, Delhi’s international airport has been designed and built by a consortium of foreign companies. Yet the insistence by the Prime Minister that the structure was a symbol of Indian ingenuity was a desperate call to all those within hearing distance that India had arrived. Even if we were not better than others, we were at least almost like them. In every utterance there is an urgent need to repair the shaky confidence of a nation riddled with daily signs of ineptness and greed.advertisementSo desperate is the urge to falsify reality, that its replacement is not a modest parting of relevant information, but hopeless exaggeration. Public remarks are coated in either misinformation or vagueness. Or are just clever rebuttals. The Naxals are not anti-national, but are a problem to the nation-state. We can’t distribute the rotting wheat; it has to be done through the Public Distribution System. The judiciary is not above the law, the judiciary is the law.Part of the problem lies with a society that despite its claim to modernity, still refuses to think outside of the family. Nothing of national, regional or local interest can be of any value to people whose allegiance is firmly stuck in the private progress of the household. Indian business models seem quaint but outmoded to foreigners when the management of sizeable industrial resources are shared amongst relatives: brothers and sons as MDs, wives and daughters as sleeping partners. Ministers’ sons are natural contenders for succession, even if more qualified candidates are available. Every year the railways most successful expansion program is linked to setting up stations at the minister’s ancestral village, however remote. With easy availability of national resources, progress of the Indian family is always possible?Moreover, the incapacity to do, is intrinsically linked to the capacity to pass responsibility. Even a cursory glance will reveal that India has an extensive institutional and public framework for governance that consistently fails to deliver. In forestry alone there are several national institutes and departments doing research, experimentation, afforestation, surveys, management, species development, preservation, conservation, land control etc.. Yet India ranks amongst countries with one of the highest levels of depleting forest cover in the world. There may be a surplus of wheat in India, but without its distribution, India also has the highest deaths from malnutrition. Government departments continue to research and publish papers on new improved fire retardant thatch for village homes, but fund only the construction of pucca cement roofs. The disconnect between the resolve and the reality is so complete it is hard to know when to laugh, when to cry.KnowledgeA recent article described the inauguration of a speed breaker on a national highway. While the speed breaker was decorated with Rangoli, the road was closed for the day. In the evening, a Hindu priest recited shlokas, and the minister of Surface Transport got on all fours and broke a coconut against the speed breaker. Though the inauguration caused a 12 km truck traffic jam, the event was perceived by all to be essential, a successful integration of new infrastructure with traditional ritual. I reread the piece to figure out whether this was a serious report or satire. But even after several readings could not tell. In most situations, it is hard to tell the two apart.advertisementTry stopping someone on the road for directions. He points vaguely in the direction that your car faces, and asks you to continue to go straight, then gesturing towards the right with his arm he will ask you to turn left; and suggest you ask someone there. By ensuring that you are now doubly confused, he will have at least conveyed that he is in the know of things, a man about town; his vanity must be salvaged at all costs.Rarely will someone say “My knowledge of this neighbourhood lacks the urban coordinates, landmarks and magnetic pole positions that would allow me to do justice to your enquiry. Could I direct you to someone better informed, more trustworthy and infinitely more courteous than myself.”UnrealPart of the Indian failure to complete the preparations for the Commonwealth Games on time was the inability to realistically assess situations, and to say, No, Give it to Fiji. They’ll do a better job. At every press conference pointed questions about tardiness and sloppy work were addressed with phrases like, “We are doing our best. We are giving everything we have. The whole nation is praying for success. We must put our best foot forward. It’s in God’s hands.” Public briefings and press releases speak to a nation as if addressing a child’s birthday party.Everyday, every paper, every report becomes a mix of the serious and frivolous, part truth, part moral indignation, part hope. A cover for the darker stains of India. Thieving forest officials, military attacks on Naxals and Kashmiris, food godowns brimming with rotting wheat, rural malnutrition and farmer suicides, incomplete international games, falling bridges, waterlogged cities, the daily upheavals are tinged with comedy. In a place with an increasing quantum of daily human suffering, heightened public expectation, and the cartoon characters that pose as potential providers, comic relief becomes the only way to assuage collective guilt. Laugh and forget.Some years ago, in a supposedly successful television campaign to sell the country to foreigners under the title of Incredible India, a television ad showed a variety of images: a Kuchipudi dancer, a remote Rajasthani palace, a set of sand dunes, a snow covered mountain, an empty beach, a Buddhist monk in a hill side monastery. Every image distilled into a picture book pastoral stillness. So removed was it from the real experience of India, that the campaign was bound to succeed. An outright lie, it reinforced every picturesque stereotype of traditional India. Wherever possible, words, images and other forms of sensory stimulation are an essential buffer from the real India. The unreal, the imagined, the hoped for, the preferred, the recalled, eventually become a messy amalgam in the daily life of the country. It is hard to tell one from the other.When my son was just a kid I’d take him to Appu Ghar to ride in Bump’Em cars. He would maneuvre his car very carefully, giving signals and ensuring he didn’t hit any one, and I would need to goad him into active hostility: Drive like you are on a Delhi road. The real world was an outright lie. It has taken him a few years to learn, but he has.advertisementThe writer is an architectlast_img read more

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World Cup final: Dhoni may pick Sreesanth in place of Nehra

first_imgPacer S Sreesanth may be brought into the Indian team in place of injured Ashish Nehra for the summit clash against Sri Lanka in the World Cup cricket final in Mumbai on Saturday.Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also issued a veiled warning to the Sri Lankans saying the home team has not played to its fullest potential and “there is plenty to come” and was prepared to take on veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.With swing bowler Ashish Nehra virtually ruled out of the grand finale due to a multiple finger fracture he suffered in the semifinal clash against Pakistan, Dhoni appeared to indicate his preference in the toss up between S Sreesanth and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.”Ashish is most likely ruled out he’s got multiple fracture on one of his fingers,” he said adding that the choice could be between Sreesanth and Ashwin.”If you see the Mumbai track there’s a bit of pace and bounce for the seamers initially and there is a bit of reverse swing going. The third seamer can have an impact on the game.An extra seamer means I am able to manoeuvre the bowlers,” the skipper said at the pre-match press conference,” Dhoni said.The skipper, who had surprised everyone by keeping Ashwin out of the Mohali encounter after his good performance in two matches, said “With a spinner, if you have three spinners along with a part-timer you don’t have room for manoeuvre. But whatever opportunity Ashwin has got, irrespective of where he has fared, he has done really well.advertisement”We have confidence in him but we are not clear about whether to go with three seamers or two seamers and one extra spinner,” he said.Sreesanth had not played after the tournament opener on February 19 against Bangladesh at Mirpur, and asked how he can slip into his groove after such a lengthy absence from the middle, Dhoni said it can be done if one looked at tomorrow’s final as just another game.”Don’t look at it as the final but as another game. Sree has done well for us most of the games he has played, he has done well. He’s one character who can definitely swing the ball and get you early wickets. Choosing one individual over other is difficult but let’s hope whoever gets chosen will perform at his best,” he said.”Unfortunately, we have not been able to give him more chances to play. Even in the first game, he played I thought he did not bowl badly. After that we gave chances to other individuals which I think were needed at that point of time.It’s more about who suits the condition more. Let’s hope whoever plays just performs,” said Dhoni.- With PTI inputslast_img read more

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Man injured in Sherman Heights stabbing

first_imgFacebookTwitter Posted: March 18, 2018 KUSI Newsroom SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A 63-year-old man remained hospitalized today following a stabbing in Sherman Heights.The injury was inflicted at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the 2200 block of Imperial Avenue.The victim was arguing with a 19-year-old man, according to Officer Robert Heims of the San Diego Police Department. During the argument, the latter is suspected of stabbing the former once in the left rib cage below the armpit, Heims said.The suspect then fled in an unknown direction. He was described as Hispanic, about 5 feet-8 inches tall, thin and wearing a brown jacket and gray hoodie.The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Heims said. Man injured in Sherman Heights stabbingcenter_img KUSI Newsroom, Categories: Local San Diego News Tags: Crime, sherman heights, stabbing March 18, 2018last_img read more

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Mays Brexit talks with Labour stall

first_imgTheresa May`s premiership and Brexit, since 2016. Photo: AFPBritain’s opposition Labour Party said on Friday that talks with the government on a last-ditch Brexit deal had made no progress, as EU leaders said prime minister Theresa May had not convinced them that they should let Britain delay its departure next week.May wrote to Brussels asking European Union leaders to postpone Britain’s exit from next Friday until 30 June. But they have insisted that she must first show a viable plan to secure agreement on her divorce deal in the deadlocked parliament.Labour, which she turned to reluctantly after failing three times to get her deal passed, said the government “has not offered real change or compromise” in three days of talks.”We urge the prime minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal,” a statement said.Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said his party wanted the talks to go on, and a spokesman for May’s office said the government had “made serious proposals” in the talks and wanted them to continue over the weekend “in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides”.May badly needs evidence of a viable divorce strategy to persuade the other 27 EU leaders at a summit next Wednesday to grant a delay, preferably on her preferred departure date.Any extension would require unanimous approval from the other EU countries, all weary of Britain’s Brexit indecision, and could come with conditions.”If we are not able to understand the reason why the UK is asking for an extension, we cannot give a positive answer,” said French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. German justice minister Katarina Barley tweeted: “This playing for time must end.”Deep divisions in May’s Conservative Party and government, and in Labour, have led to a marathon of votes in parliament, in which scenarios ranging from abandoning the EU with no transition period to cancelling Brexit have all been defeated.Last Friday, May did the unthinkable by asking Labour to negotiate with her on a deal that might work for both – although some in Labour said she was luring the party into sharing responsibility for her failure.Letter To BrusselsHoping this would satisfy EU leaders, May wrote to EU summit chair Donald Tusk proposing a delay until June 30 at the latest, accepting that Britain might have to hold European Parliament elections on 23 May, which she had hoped to avoid.”The government will want to agree a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before 23 May, 2019, and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible,” the letter said.So far, there has been little appetite in Brussels for an extension that could create another cliff edge in three months. May asked two weeks ago for a delay until June 30, only to be turned down.Tusk is planning to propose an extension of a year, which could also be shortened if Britain ratifies the withdrawal agreement, senior EU officials said.”The only reasonable way out would be a long but flexible extension. I would call it a ‘flextension’,” one official said.”It seems to be a good scenario for both sides, as it gives the UK all the necessary flexibility, while avoiding the need to meet every few weeks to further discuss Brexit extensions.”But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said May’s letter raised questions, adding: “We hope for more clarity from London before next Wednesday.”And France, which wants the EU to move on to other business including reforms proposed by President Emmanuel Macron, indicated it was not ready to accept any delay without a clear plan.”If we are not able to understand the reason why the UK is asking for an extension, we cannot give a positive answer,” finance minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Bucharest.Second referendum?Sterling fell against the US dollar immediately after Labour’s comments and stood 0.5 per cent down on the day.With time running out, it was not clear how Britain would avoid the abrupt “no-deal” departure that business leaders in Britain and also neighbouring Ireland say would cause huge disruption.Germany, as one of those with most to lose from a sudden dislocation of trade, has been one of those most tolerant of Britain’s turmoil.Justice Minister Barley tweeted that “there can only be an extension with a clear direction”, but also proposed a potential way out by adding: “This includes the question of a second referendum.”The idea of asking Britons – who voted by 52 per cent to 48 to leave the EU three years ago – to confirm or reject any divorce deal has been gaining ground in Britain.Yet May herself and many lawmakers in both main parties are strongly opposed, saying it would betray voters and undermine democracy, especially if it offered an option to stay in the EU.Both main parties made commitments after the referendum to deliver Brexit, but they never settled on a plan for how to leave or what future relationship to seek.May long insisted that her plan – quitting all EU institutions, with a 21-month standstill period to negotiate a bespoke free trade deal – was the only viable one. But it still split her cabinet and infuriated the most eurosceptic of her Conservatives.Labour wants closer ties than May has sought, including a customs union, which she has so far ruled out. Many Labour members of parliament insist that any agreement must be put to a second public vote.last_img
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