Trade Facilitation Task Force urged to focus on boosting competitiveness

first_img Electricity Cost of Service Study among the big agenda items at September 11 Cabinet meeting Recommended for you #MagneticMediaNews Related Items:#magneticmedianews Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppKingston, Jamaica, December 19, 2016 – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, has charged members of the Trade Facilitation Task Force to explore strategies that will enable the country to become more competitive within the Caribbean region and globally.“We must collectively… concentrate immediately without delay on ways of reducing our charges at the port of entry… to remove bureaucracy from the process of both importing and exporting.   I happen to believe that an importer of raw material for the purpose of converting agricultural produce into agro-industry should be at the head of the line,” he said.Minister Samuda was addressing a meeting with members of the body held at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston recently.  He urged them to be specific in their recommendations and set time frames for which the measures should be achieved. “By so doing, I think the task force can make the greatest contribution with all players on board,” he said.The task force, established under the National Competitiveness Council in the Ministry, is charged with improving the business environment in order to boost trade and enable the country to fully meet its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation.Minister Samuda said the work of the body is critical to achieving economic growth.  He urged that stronger linkages be forged with the critical Ministries and Departments, in order to achieve its objectives as well as redound to the overall benefit of the country.In the meantime, Minister Samuda said agro-processing “is the modern way to go” in order to retain the value of the goods that are produced locally.   He said the role of JAMPRO is critical in maximising the benefit from agro-processing.  “So, it is JAMPRO who must introduce our manufacturers to lucrative markets, not just to get investors to come in and invest but also to search out lucrative markets,” he argued.For her part, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams, urged the task force “to leave no stone unturned” in ensuring that the country’s trade-facilitation processes and systems are modernised and in keeping with 21st -century best practices.  “This is critical if we are to benefit from the renewed global investor confidence and the improved ranking from international rating agencies,” she said.Trade facilitation is an integrated approach to reducing complexities and cost of trade transactions and ensuring that all these activities take place in an efficient, transparent and predictable manner.center_img ALERT # 2 ON POTENTIAL TROPICAL CYCLONE NINE ISSUED BY THE BAHAMAS DEPARTMENT OF METEOROLOGY THURSDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2019 AT 9 PM EDT Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp The Luxury of Grace Bay in Down Town Provolast_img read more

Scientists discover Big Bang fossil hiding in space

first_img NASA InSight lander rocks its journey to Mars: A view in pictures 22 Photos CNET’s Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018.NASA turns 60: The space agency has taken humanity farther than anyone else, and it has plans to go further. Sci-Tech 0 Post a comment NASA, ESA, STScI, and G. Piotto (Università degli Studi di Padova) and E. Noyola (Max Planck Institut für extraterrestrische Physik) The first stars in the universe are long gone, but their signatures may still be writ across space, buried in gas clouds like space fossils.And scientists believe they’ve uncovered one.Researchers at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia used their time at the W. M. Keck Observatory, home to two of the world’s most powerful telescopes, to go on an astro-archeological dig through space. They discovered a “pristine cloud of gas” in the distant universe, seemingly untouched by heavy elements, suggesting it may be a “fossil relic” of the Big Bang.Space fossilsHow do you find a fossil relic in space?Well, the universe has had quite a few birthdays — it’s some 13.7 billion years old. Over that time, a lot of stars have lived and died. At the end of a star’s life, it can sometimes explode, becoming a supernova. This massive explosion spews out a lot of waste heavy elements (metals), so generally when scientists look into space, they often find gas clouds murky with this material. Over 13.7 billion years, a lot of stars have exploded — so there’s a lot of waste in the clouds.Examining these gas clouds allows for scientists to gather insight on some of the earliest events in the universe. If the gas clouds are unspoiled by the waste, they may have existed in the infant universe. The research team think they’ve identified one that’s practically untouched by waste heavy elements.”Our inspiration is actually to find relics of the first stars in the universe,” said Prof. Michael Murphy, one of the lead researchers on the study. Gas clouds that are relics of the first stars would be “almost pristine”, according to Murphy, so there would still be traces of the heavy element waste within them.But the fossil relic they found had no detectable levels of waste — it was completely clean — suggesting it comes from the very early universe and has been untouched for 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang.”This discovery – a seemingly pristine cloud – is really important,” said Murphy. “We need to know whether such clouds can last billions of years without being polluted by multiple generations of stars.”Before this discovery, only two such gas clouds had been discovered — and those discoveries were mostly accidental. By actively seeking out the gas clouds and demonstrating that they are unspoiled by heavy elements, Murphy’s team has shown that it’s possible to go digging for them.”Now we’ve proven that we can systematically find such fossils, we really have a chance of knowing how rare or common they are,” said Murphy. “That’s crucial for testing our understanding of how the first galaxies formed.”The first starsIt’s not the first time these relic gas clouds have proven fruitful for Swinburne researchers. In 2016, the team discovered an “almost pristine” gas cloud using data from the Very Large Telescope in Chile.”It proved that trying to hunt for these clouds – and the completely pristine clouds like the one we’ve now discovered – in a targeted way was feasible and could, in principle, identify a “smoking gun” signature of the first stars,” said Murphy.However, there may be alternate explanations for why the gas cloud is so clean — and those explanations are exciting, too.One possibility is that the cloud is polluted by one of the universe’s first stars, leaving only traces of heavy elements, undetectable by the telescopes the team used. Another is that the gas cloud is moving through a galaxy for the very first time, so it has yet to be polluted by other stars just yet.”This is an exciting possibility because understanding how such gas clouds ‘feed’ galaxies is a major problem in astrophysics,” explained Murphy.”We’d like to test this possibility by mapping any galaxies near the cloud in future.”And so searching for the earliest signatures scribbled across the cosmos continues. Share your voice Tagslast_img read more

US asks nations to repatriate jihadists

first_imgAn Iraqi photographer shows a girl a picture taken on his camera at Nafoura square in the al-Zuhur neighbourhood in the eastern part of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 5 January. AFP File PhotoThe United States urged other countries Monday to bring home hundreds of Islamic State fighters captured in Syria, a delicate issue for allies such as France and Britain as president Donald Trump withdraws troops.Washington drew a line on the jihadists two days before foreign ministers from Europe and the Middle East gather in the US capital for talks on how to fight the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, once the US military presence ends.US allies have been grappling for weeks with what to do with foreign fighters detained in the war-ravaged country by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have warned that they may not be able to guard their jails once US troops leave.”The United States calls upon other nations to repatriate and prosecute their citizens detained by the SDF and commends the continued efforts of the SDF to return these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.”Despite the liberation of ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS remains a significant terrorist threat and collective action is imperative to address this shared international security challenge,” Palladino said.Another US official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that northeastern Syria had become a “very fluid space.””As events unfold, there are any number of scenarios under which positive control of some of the individuals currently in custody could change,” the official said.He voiced concern that jihadists could then leave Syria for “other, more permissive places around the world from which they could seek to carry forward the fight.”Fears in EuropeTrump stunned Western allies on December 19 by announcing that the United States would pull its 2,000 troops out of Syria, declaring that IS had been defeated.One of the countries most concerned is France, which has been hit by a series of IS-inspired attacks including the grisly November 2015 siege of the Bataclan nightclub in Paris.France — which along with Britain maintains a small deployment of special forces in Syria — last week opened the door to bringing back its citizens, after earlier insisting that the jihadists should be prosecuted locally and not step foot back in France.The French foreign ministry said its goal was to “avoid the escape and scattering of these potentially dangerous individuals” and acknowledged that the situation on the ground was changing with the US withdrawal.A French security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier told AFP 130 people could be repatriated. A second French official said the group included 70 to 80 children held with their mothers.Britain has meanwhile been grappling with what to do with the two surviving members of a quartet — nicknamed “The Beatles” for their accents — who were notorious for videotaped beheadings.Britain has shown no interest in bringing home the Kurdish-jailed pair, Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh, amid reports they were stripped of their nationality.A report last year said the United States was willing to take them in its military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — an option that would be deeply controversial in Britain, partly due to the US practice of the death penalty.Talk of security zoneThe SDF are worried that, without US troops as a buffer, they will be crushed by neighbouring Turkey — which equates them with Kurdish separatists at home and encouraged Trump to withdraw US forces.Shortly after Trump’s announcement, the SDF warned it would pull back from the battle against IS if Turkey attacked and may redeploy its prison guards.Wednesday’s 79-nation conference in Washington is expected to look further at ways to avoid what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a comment that angered Turkey, warned could be the “slaughter” of Kurdish fighters in Syria.Trump and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed a “safe zone” which Ankara wants on Syrian territory. European allies are cool to the idea and the Kurdish fighters want the zone to be directly on the border with coalition forces on the Turkish side.Foreign ministers will also hear at the conference from Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, a member of the Yazidi minority in Iraq who was abducted and raped, like thousands of women and girls, by jihadists.Since obtaining freedom, Murad has campaigned for accountability over the atrocities and urged Iraq and other countries to investigate the fate of Yazidi who remain missing.last_img read more

Augmented reality systems appearing in Japanese shopping malls

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Another AR experience is being provided for shoppers in Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo at the children’s department of an Isetan department store. This AR system is being exhibited until December 25 this year and was developed by Sky & Road Co. Ltd. and Sony Music Communications Inc (SMC), in conjunction with Total Immersion, a French software company that provided the AR development kit. In this augmented reality system, one or more people stand in front of a display screen and camera. An image of the people is then displayed on the screen with a virtual image superimposed on it, placing them in a virtual “wonderland,” such as a winter snow scene or a magical fantasy land.via TechOn© 2009 PhysOrg.com Citation: Augmented reality systems appearing in Japanese shopping malls (2009, December 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-12-augmented-reality-japanese-malls.html (PhysOrg.com) — Augmented reality (AR) systems are being developed for real applications in store windows and shopping malls in Japan. The company plans to increase the number of items that can be tried on to nine by October 2010, and by the same time in 2011 will include side and back views of the person. Trying on clothes in a magic mirrorcenter_img Explore further When the camera recognizes the package of a sample product, the display on the equipment shows the description of the product. Image: TechOn AR systems present a real field of view of a physical environment augmented by computer-generated imagery (CGI), thus combining the real world with the virtual. They are often interactive in real time and sometimes the images are three-dimensional. In Japan AR technologies are finding their way into digital signage applications and store windows, showcasing products and giving shoppers additional information on products. One example is Toppan Printing Co. Ltd., which has been testing a terminal resembling a vending machine in three Ito-Yokada supermarkets. In this system potential shoppers register on the Toppan website and receive a QR (Quick Reference) code. (The QR code is a relative of the barcode but consists of a pixilated rectangle rather than stripes.) The shopper presents the code to a camera on one of the terminals in the store, and then receives a sample product. When the sample product is held in front of the camera the terminal displays an image of the product with the description superimposed upon it.Furutanisangyou Co. Ltd. is using a non-real-time AR technology in a “Magical Mirror” system that allows shoppers to see how outfits would look on them without needing to try them on. A similar system, the “Virtual Mirror,” was demonstrated in the CEATEC JAPAN 2009 trade show in Tokyo by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.The Magical Mirror has a number of cameras, one of which captures an image of the shopper, which is then displayed on a high definition LCD. Images of selected clothes are then superimposed on the image of the person, with the system processing the digital images to make them fit the person’s image. The clothes shown in the composite image are available for sale in stores in the underground shopping mall where the system is located, and the image includes information on where the clothes can be purchased and what sizes are available. The Magical Mirror allows a shopper to “try on” up to six different items of clothing at the same time, even if they are sold at different locations, and this allows the shopper to see how combinations of clothes would look together before buying any of the items. “Magical Mirror.” Image: TechOnlast_img read more

New 3D structure shows optimal way to divide space

first_img Journal information: New Journal of Physics As the researchers explained, they intentionally removed the equal volumes constraint when developing their search method because it allowed them to design the algorithm in a new way: instead of directly minimizing the surface area of a structure, they maximized the polyhedra’s average isoperimeters (the perimeters shared by all adjacent polyhedra). While these two approaches are different, they are ultimately equivalent.The researchers used the new algorithm to explore several 3D structures made of between two and 64 polyhedra. Starting with a specific number of randomly arranged points in 3D space, the algorithm begins to move the points around. After each iteration, the algorithm calculates the new average isoperimeter, and based on the result either keeps or rejects the new configuration with a certain probability. After millions and sometimes billions of iterations, the points eventually form the vertices of multiple polyhedra that together form a 3D structure with very low surface area.As there is currently no way to prove what the most optimal space-partitioning structure is (with or without equal-volume cells), the researchers plan to continue searching a wide variety of structures of all types. Their best guess is that even more optimal structures exist, and they plan to use their algorithm to continue their exploration.The researchers also expect that the algorithm could generate other unique structures. One particularly interesting structure they discovered here is a 40-polyhedra structure that is more optimal than Kelvin’s structure but not quite as good as the Weaire-Phelan structure. This highly complex structure is also unusual in that it doesn’t belong to a category of structures called Frank-Kasper structures, which researchers have traditionally focused on for optimal space partitioning. The finding suggests that other optimal structures may also exist outside of this category. Although Kelvin’s problem wasn’t originally proposed to meet any practical need, optimal space partitioning now has a variety of applications. In the medical field, these concepts have been used to design strong, lightweight bone tissue replacements. Optimal space partitioning has also inspired architecture, with one notable example being the swimming venue built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The building, which is called the Water Cube, is based on the Weaire-Phelan structure. Citation: New 3-D structure shows optimal way to divide space (2016, November 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-11-d-optimal-space.html © 2016 Phys.org One of the new 3D structures has the lowest surface of any known space-partitioning structure: it is made of 24 polyhedra, some of which have 12 faces and some of which have 16 faces. Since the 12- and 16-faced polyhedra here have different volumes, the new structure doesn’t satisfy Kelvin’s original requirement for equal volumes. Credit: Opsomer and Vandewalle. ©2016 IOP Publishing (Phys.org)—Researchers have discovered a new 3D structure that divides space into 24 regions, and have shown that it is the best solution yet to a modified version of a geometrical space-partitioning problem that has challenged researchers for more than a century. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. New breakthrough in bubble research More information: E Opsomer and N Vandewalle. “Novel structures for optimal space partitions.” New Journal of Physics. DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/18/10/103008 The new algorithm uncovered this 3D structure composed of 40 polyhedra of two different types. Credit: Opsomer and Vandewalle. ©2016 IOP Publishing In 1887, Lord Kelvin asked how space could be partitioned into 3D structures of equal volume in a way that minimizes the total surface area of each structure. It must be possible to tightly pack many of these structures together with no gaps in between them—in other words, they must be “space-filling” structures. Each structure can take on a variety of complex 3D shapes, or “polyhedra,” either as a single polyhedron or a combination of multiple smaller polyhedra of various types. The challenge is to figure out what particular types of polyhedra to use in order to minimize the outer surface area of the entire structure. Kelvin’s best solution to this problem was a single polyhedron called a “tetrakaidecahedron,” which has 14 faces: six squares and eight hexagons. Since this is the shape obtained when cutting the corners off a 3D diamond shape, it can also be thought of as a truncated octahedron.Although Kelvin’s solution stood for more than a century, in 1994 Denis Weaire and Robert Phelan at Trinity College Dublin used numerical simulations to discover a more optimal space partition. Weaire and Phelan’s solution is made of eight polyhedra of two different types, though both types have the same volume: six of Kelvin’s tetrakaidecahedron and two dodecahedron (which has 12 faces). Together, these eight polyhedra make up a 3D structure that has 0.3% less surface area than Kelvin’s single tetrakaidecahedron. The Weaire-Phelan structure has remained the most optimal solution to Kelvin’s problem for the past 22 years. Now in the new study, physicists Eric Opsomer and Nicolas Vandewalle at the University of Liége in Belgium have developed a new algorithm for finding space-filling composite polyhedral structures with minimal surface area. Using the new method, they discovered that a novel 3D structure made of 24 polyhedra has an even lower surface area than the Weaire-Phelan structure. The 24 polyhedra are of two different types: some have 12 faces and some have 16 faces. Unlike the Weaire-Phelan structure, in which the two different types of polyhedra have equal volumes, the 12- and 16-faced polyhedra here have significantly different volumes. For this reason, the new structure doesn’t satisfy Kelvin’s original requirement for equal volumes. “Unfortunately, it is not a ‘true solution,’ since equal volume cells are a requirement for the original Kelvin problem,” Opsomer told Phys.org. Nonetheless, the structure is still interesting for other reasons. “These results may lead to the discovery of structures with potential implications for material physics, medical research, and other areas,” Opsomer said. Explore furtherlast_img read more