As municipalities across Ontario weigh whether to allow cannabis retail stores in their neighbourhoods, experts and consumer choice advocates warn that having large swaths of the province opt out of brick-and-mortar pot shops could fuel the black market.Recreational cannabis can currently only be bought online in Ontario, and municipalities have until Jan. 22 to decide if they want to host private cannabis stores, which are set to open next spring.Under the rules laid out by the Progressive Conservative government, municipalities that opt out can change their minds down the line, but once they sign on, they can’t back out.In recent weeks, several municipalities — both rural communities and major urban centres such as Mississauga, west of Toronto — have chosen to reject cannabis retail stores, saying they want more control over the number and location of the shops before they consider opting in. Some have also said they want more time for public consultations.This, combined with the government’s recent announcement that it will only issue 25 retail licences by April — after initially saying it would not put a cap on the number — could embolden illegal pot sellers and allow them to thrive, experts and consumer groups said.“Unfortunately, it’s turned out to be just a comedy of errors,” said Anindya Sen, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo who specializes in the cannabis industry. “When you take (those things) together, it’s possible that despite being legalized, Ontario might become one of the biggest black markets in the world.”While the internet remains an option, Sen said delivery hiccups and limited selection at the province’s online cannabis store also undermine efforts to lure consumers away from illegal avenues.That sentiment was echoed by David Clement, manager of North American affairs for the Consumer Choice Center.“Community opt-outs and limited storefronts is a toxic combination which pretty much guarantees that the black market will thrive,” he said. “Capping retail outlets and having entire communities opt out makes the legal market in Ontario far less accessible.”The Ontario government has said it was capping licences in response to a national cannabis supply shortage, which it said can only be tackled by the federal government.“Ontario intends to transition to an open allocation system as soon as supply permits,” Jesse Robichaud, a spokesman for Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, said in an email.Robichaud further said that municipalities that have not opted out will have 15 days to provide written submissions to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the provincial agency overseeing retail cannabis stores, on any proposed storefront location. He would not say whether the province was open to giving municipalities more control over the site selection.The province has pledged $40 million over two years to help local governments with the costs of legalization, with each municipality receiving at least $10,000. A first payment will be issued this year on a per household basis, but a second payment doled out after the January deadline will go only to those that opt in, Robichaud said.As of Wednesday, roughly 30 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities had formally notified the AGCO of their decision, with at least 10 opting out, according to the agency’s website.In the Town of Erin, south of Orangeville, councillors voted on Dec. 5 to keep cannabis stores out of their community, largely over the site selection issue, said Mayor Al Alls.“Basically, we feel there’s just too many unanswered questions at this stage of the game and that we weren’t comfortable with proceeding with allowing it to be retailed in our community,” Alls said.Alls said he would reconsider if the municipality was given more control over the locations, but stressed council has not discussed that possibility and would need to be on board.The mayor also suggested a pot shop might not be successful in a small community anyway, noting people might be reluctant to be seen going in and out of a store. “It’s going to take civilization a while to accept the fact that my Joe Blow minister down the street goes in to get a joint every day,” he said.People are more likely to choose to grow it themselves, “especially in the country,” he said.Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford outlining the city’s concerns earlier this month, a day after councillors voted to hold off on hosting pot shops for the time being, but hasn’t heard back.She said that while the city isn’t opposed in principle, officials felt they did not have enough time to prepare for the shift to an open market model from the government-run system proposed by the previous Liberals regime. Municipalities should be allowed to increase the setback beyond the 150-metre minimum laid out by the province, and should receive funding even if they opt out because they still bear the costs of public education and enforcement, she said.Asked whether she feared the black market would flourish in the absence of pot shops, Crombie said every municipality has to do what’s right for its residents.“Cannabis is available online…so there is availability to residents,” she said. “And certainly there’s always the option of purchasing cannabis at a retail store outside of your own municipality, taking a trip into the city of Toronto.”At least one other municipality on the outskirts of Toronto has also opted out, prompting Toronto’s mayor to raise concerns about the pressure that will put on the city’s cannabis market.John Tory has also asked the province to give the city more control over where the stores are placed, saying he doesn’t want to see a cluster of them near the highway just to accommodate consumers from neighbouring communities without pot shops.“I think it is reasonable for us, given that there may be more pressure on the Toronto market, for us to say that we should have a hand in determining that there aren’t clusters of pot shops all together in one place or that they aren’t located near schools or community centres,” he said this week. “I’m more concerned with that at the moment than the absolute number but there’s no question that the number of pot shops will affect the continued existence or not of a black market we’re trying to eradicate.”Though she acknowledges there are many outstanding questions on how the retail model will roll out, Pauline Rochefort, the mayor of East Ferris in northeastern Ontario, said councillors wanted to get in on the ground floor.The community near North Bay chose to opt in, in part to ensure its own residents — which have a high rate of entrepreneurship — have the chance to participate in the cannabis market, she said.Rochefort said there has been no public outcry over the prospect of retail cannabis stores, but it’s unclear whether the community of roughly 5,000 can keep an outlet in business.“While we did not have…all the information, we felt comfortable that things were in good hands,” she said.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
At an open public meeting about the proposed bylaw, a number of District residents came to give their thoughts on the proposed pay raise for councillors, with mayoral candidate Laura Prosko, council candidate Sherry Davies, and Jennifer Simpson speaking out against it.Council candidate Michelle Turnbull and residents Matt Edgar and Rick Banack spoke in favour of councillors accepting meeting fees, saying that many council members have increased the hours they have spent in performing civic duties.Mayor Rob Fraser clarified that he had worked approximately 1,600 hours performing mayoral duties in the past 14 months, which works out to an average of 28.5 hours per week.Councillors voted in favour of passing McPhail’s recommendation, albeit with an amendment removing the proposed increase in the mayor’s base salary by $4,600 to $28,000 per year.Councillors did vote in favour of being able to claim meeting fees for attending pre-approved meetings outside of the District.All members of council will be eligible to claim $100 for a meeting(s) lasting up to four hours, $200 for a meeting(s) between four and seven hours, and $300 for a meeting(s) running longer than 7 hours, in addition to their base salary. TAYLOR, B.C. – Taylor councillors have voted in favour of a recommendation from Financial Services Director Michael McPhail that District councillors receive renumeration for attending meetings outside of the District, but excluded also increasing the mayor’s base salary beyond the rate of inflation.At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, councillors discussed McPhail’s third report on the subject since the issue of mayor and council getting compensation for attending meetings outside of the District was brought up at the beginning of September.Council had deferred making a decision on the topic on two occasions, saying that more information about which meetings councillors would be able to claim meeting fees, and whether a graduated scale of renumeration should be developed depending on the length of a meeting instead of a flat meeting fee. The meeting fees will be applicable for all meetings councillors attend on or after January 1st, 2019.Council members, including the mayor, will see a Cost of Living Allowance increase in 2019, with future COLA increases to be determined based on inflation during yearly budget discussions.
Rabat – “We need to congratulate the players, they were fantastic!” said a very emotional and proud Hervé Renard to beIN Sport after the remarkable performance of the national team against Portugal, despite its defeat (1-0).The Atlas Lions tried everything, but failed to score against Portugal and their football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored in the 4th minute of the match.However, the Moroccan team dominated the ball with 63 percent possession against 37 percent for Portugal. Moroccan striker Nordin Amrabat, who suffered a head injury during the Iran-Morocco game, was called the man of the game, and he well deserved it for his fabulous attacking skills, showing great determination to make history again.The Atlas Lions prevented the Portuguese team from scoring another goal with pressure, great defense, and strength.After the confrontation, with tears in his eyes, the coach of the national team did not hold back his opinion on the referee.“You have to look at number 3 (Pepe) in slow motion, I think everything is said.” Renard was referring to the hand of the Portuguese central defender, which was not called out by Referee Geiger or his assistants. According to Renard, Pepe’s move deserved a penalty in favor of Morocco in the 85th minute.Moreover, in a press conference, Hervé Renard expressed his pride in coaching the Moroccan team.“We are a team that plays football, we demonstrated it again.”He also wanted to thank the million Moroccans who supported the Atlas Lions during the competition, making it feel like Benatia and his teammates “were playing at Casablanca.”Despite their elimination from the World Cup competition, Renard’s Lions will face their last opponent Spain, on June 25.
GATXDAN, Panama — An intense drought related to this year’s El Nino phenomenon has precipitously lowered the level of Panama’s Gatun Lake, forcing the country’s Canal Authority to impose draft limits this week on ships moving through the waterway’s recently expanded locks.The restrictions on how deep the vessels can reach below the surface means large ships, primarily from the United States and China, must pass through with less cargo, which translates into lower revenue for the voyages. The driest period in memory for the canal basin is also hitting small indigenous villages that depend on tourism along the tributaries of the inter-oceanic passage.The economic hit to canal operators stands to be minor — an estimated $15 million this year, compared with the $2.5 billion in revenue generated in 2018. But the drought and the resulting restrictions highlight the difficulties Panama faces in satisfying increased demand for fresh water to feed the canal while irrigating fields and keeping the taps flowing in the capital as climate change threatens more extreme weather events.“This year I do not think there will be problems with drinking water … due to the resources we have,” Steve Paton, who heads the long-term climate monitoring program at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, said, referring to an accumulation of rainfall from the last rainy season.“As for the future, it is difficult to forecast,” Paton continued. “But we are observing in the canal area that climatic events are becoming increasingly extreme. … The biggest droughts and the eight or nine largest storms have occurred in the last 20 years, in the same way that 2014 to 2016 were the driest years in the canal’s history.”El Nino is a recurring phenomenon in which warm ocean temperatures in the Pacific lead to drier than usual conditions in some areas and wetter in others.Carlos Vargas, vice-president of environment and water for the Canal Authority, said recently that Gatun — one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, with an area of 168 square miles (436 square kilometres) — was 4.6 feet (1.4 metres) below normal levels for this time of year. It has dropped more than a half foot (0.2 metres) since early April. A smaller lake that also supplies the waterway, Alajuela, was 7.2 feet (2.2 metres) below usual.“These low levels in the Panama Canal are the product of four or five months of almost zero precipitation,” Vargas told The Associated Press. “It really has been the driest dry season we’ve had in the history of the canal. The flow of rivers to the lake is down 60%.”That forced the Canal Authority to notify customers in early April that the maximum freshwater draft of 44 feet (13.41 metres) for Neopanamax vessels would be a foot less beginning at the end of the month. It marks the fourth reduction in drafts imposed during the current dry season, which runs from January through April. When water levels are optimal, maximum draft for those ships is about 50 feet (15.2 metres).The limits affect only the Cocoli and Agua Clara Locks, a multibillion-dollar project inaugurated in 2016 to accommodate the larger Neopanamax ships. On average, 7 1/2 vessels move through those locks daily day, though there have been days with as many as 12 crossings.The canal charges shipping companies based on a vessel’s capacity and also a percentage of the cargo it carries, so lighter ships mean less profit for everyone.The Canal Authority has had to deal with extreme weather patterns in the past. A severe dry season also associated with El Nino in 2015-2016 affected the crossing of cargo in the old locks and cost $40 million in revenue.The canal and most Panamanians rely on rains over a watershed of nearly 1,300 square miles (more than 3,000 square kilometres) — covered with forests, rivers and lakes — that generates 95% of the water consumed by Panama City and Colon, whose metro areas combined are home to nearly half the country’s population of just over 4 million.Panama has one of the highest levels of annual rainfall among tropical countries. Last year marked one of the highest amounts of rainfall on record for the basin, which experts say has helped cushion the ravages of the current drought.“Gatun and Alajuela lakes have been below optimum levels, but on the other hand it could have been much worse,” Paton said.The canal is promoting short-term drought measures such as suspending generation of hydroelectric power at Gatun as well as water recycling via tubs in the new locks that cut water use by 60%.“This has helped us alleviate the effect for the moment,” Vargas said. “In the medium term, we will continue with reforestation programs in the basin” that have already resulted in more than 17,000 acres (7,000 hectares) of plantings.Paton forecast that the canal has enough water to last at least 18 years, although if extreme climate patterns persist, water could reach precariously low levels within 15 years.The Canal Authority says it needs more water reserves to cushion the impact of extreme events. Canal administrator Jorge Luis Quijano has said that before considering another set of locks, an additional source on the scale of Gatun or Alajuela would be necessary. The lakes fill when it rains heavily, but there is no place to store that surplus during the dry season.During a recent boat tour of Gatun, numerous tree trunks flooded more than a century ago when the lake was created were dried out and exposed to the sun.Water supply for citizens so far has not been affected by the drought, but small indigenous communities scattered along the Gatun’s tributaries have been hit.Telvinia Tascón, an artisan in San Antonio Wounaan on the Gatun River, said tourists typically visit every day to buy handicrafts, but lately the outboard motorboats are having trouble navigating the depleted channels and the logs and mud at the docks.Relief for them — and canal operators — could come by late May or mid-June, when torrential rains from the wet season fill the lakes.“This is the strongest drought we can recall,” Tascón said. “For me it’s sad. This never happened to us.”Juan Zamorano And Arnulfo Franco, The Associated Press
Under a memorandum signed in Baghdad, the UN will “collaborate in the implementation of the Iraq’s national housing policy, especially in implementing the pro-poor aspects of the policy, including informal settlement upgrading, special housing programmes for the poor and vulnerable, improving access to land and housing finance, and enacting revised housing construction norms and standards to reflect current affordability levels.”UN-Habitat also announced the publication of its new study, Urban Baghdad: Impact of Conflict on Daily Life, which calls on the Government to collaborate with Iraqi NGOs, civil society, the UN and international partners to develop new urban policies for improving everyday life in Baghdad. The report, developed jointly by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN-Habitat and the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI), highlights the displacement and fragmentation of the city caused by conflict, as well as poor access to basic services for internally displaced persons, host communities and those returning from displacement, the agency said. According to the agency, violence has left more than a tenth of Baghdad’s population of about seven million displaced, many within the city, living in “unacceptable conditions with limited access to basic services or income. Approximately 48,000 families live in 136 camps dotted around the city.The report was launched during the visit of the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Joan Clos, to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Christine McNab. Dr. Clos noted that 70 per cent of Iraqis live in cities. “That number is growing, particularly in the five past years due to internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have migrated in large numbers to cities like Baghdad. Embracing new urban planning can be a future solution to improve daily life for Iraqi citizens. Well-planned and managed cities are centres of economic growth and job creation,” he said.Ms. McNab said: “Baghdad’s current housing situation reflects not only the growing pains of cities globally, but also the extraordinary additional stresses experienced in cities throughout Iraq resulting from years of conflict, sanctions and displacement. This now represents one of the Government of Iraq’s most immediate challenges.” 2 June 2011The United Nations well help the Iraqi Government to improve housing for the poor under an agreement announced today by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told officials in Tunis today that the UN and the international community are watching the country’s transition with great interest.“Tunisia is the vanguard of democratic transition in North Africa and the Middle East and thus it is in all of our interest to help it succeed,” he said.Acknowledging that the transition will take time and require patience from the population, Mr. Pascoe voiced confidence that Tunisians will be able to conduct credible elections that are scheduled for October.He added that the UN had made available some of its best electoral experts to assist Tunisia in the staging of the polls.In Egypt, where he met with Government officials, political party leaders, youth representatives, candidates for upcoming elections and UN staff, Mr. Pascoe expressed confidence that the transition process will move forward in that country as well.The Under-Secretary-General confirmed that the UN has offered Egypt technical and logistical assistance to help carry out elections later this year.But he also emphasized that Egypt’s democratic transition is a nationally-owned and led process.“This is very much an Egyptian operation. It is up to them to figure out how far they want to go and how fast. We are willing to help and assist as much as it’s appreciated and wanted.”Mr. Pascoe heads the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA), whose tasks include overseeing the provision of UN electoral assistance. At least 100 countries have received such help in the past two decades. 19 July 2011The top United Nations political official today wrapped up a four-day visit to Tunisia and Egypt, where he discussed the two North African countries’ democratic transitions just months after they underwent revolutions that toppled long-standing regimes.
TORONTO — Shopify shares slipped by more than six per cent in today after its rival Magento Commerce was bought by Adobe Systems.The e-commerce company’s stock fell by as much as 6.47 per cent to $177 in Toronto in morning trading, a day after the U.S. software giant announced the acquisition.Adobe, best known for its Photoshop picture editing software, on Monday said it has signed a US$1.68-billion agreement to buy Magento.Magento’s platform helps companies set up online stores and manage orders. Its customers include Canon, Helly Hansen and Paul Smith.Adobe says the acquisition will enable e-commerce to be seamlessly integrated into its own platform.Shopify shares on the New York Stock Exchange were also down by more than four per cent today at US$138.38.
The world must continue to remain vigilant against the threat of biological weapons despite the progress made by the international community in preventing their spread, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. In a message marking the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Biological Weapons Convention, the Secretary-General noted that “the norm against the use and possession of biological weapons remains strong, and no country identifies itself as possessing biological weapons.” However, he added, Member States need to remain aware of the looming threat that such devastating armaments pose to humanity and continue to enforce efforts to eliminate their availability. “The Ebola outbreak in West Africa demonstrates the damage which diseases can inflict, damage which could increase massively were such diseases deliberately misused as weapons,” said Mr. Ban. “On the other hand,” he continued, “the outbreak also demonstrates the commitment of the international community to respond to such threats, whether natural or deliberate. It also shows the vital role of science in creating better defences.” The Biological Weapons Convention opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element, along with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention, in the international community’s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was also the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons. It currently has 173 States parties. Mr. Ban called on the 23 governments that have not yet joined the Convention to do so “without delay,” adding that in its anniversary year, and with the Eighth Review Conference around the corner in 2016, “all countries should reaffirm their unequivocal rejection of the use of disease as a weapon.” “We must remain vigilant. The Eighth Review Conference in 2016 is an opportunity to consolidate progress and consider how to adapt this landmark Convention to the challenges posed by advances in science and technology as well as potential risks posed by terrorists and other non-State actors,” the Secretary-General affirmed. “I encourage States Parties to think creatively about how to build confidence in compliance with the Convention.”
One hundred percent of public ballots have Ken Griffey Jr. going into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which should surprise exactly no one. The only suspense Junior’s election year was ever going to see was the question of how close he comes to unanimity, and whether or not the Baseball Writers’ Association of America conscripts an ordained bishop and a team of surveyors to find and consecrate center field at the site of the old Kingdome.It’s been a while since a position player of Griffey’s caliber went into Hall of Fame Day so certain of induction — Rickey Henderson in 2009 was probably the last — and a lot of the ink that’s been spilled over Griffey focuses on the more ethereal qualities that made him the face of a generation (a generation starving for Hall of Fame consideration, I might add): his style; his athleticism; that grin; that effortless, fluid, magisterial swing.If hall voters could vote in a GIF, I swear to God this thing would have a plaque by the second ballot.Statistically, though, Griffey isn’t talked about in exactly the same way as most players. His artistry was so unimpeachable, his heights so dizzying, and his fall so precipitous, it seemed, that talking about the full measure of his career in the persnickety, CPA-hued style of the modern baseball apparatus not only feels like stapling together two completely different players — The Kid and a mere, fallible mortal — but also carries a certain inevitable, Nearer, My God, to Thee sadness about the career he might have had.This is a mistake. The mystique of Ken Griffey Jr. doesn’t diminish any when held up to the lamp. If anything, panning reality out of myth only seems to grow the myth.Consider: If we break down Griffey’s skills1Adjusted for park effects. relative to the major league average — giving excess weight to his best wins above replacement seasons, to better capture what he was like in his prime — and look for players with similar profiles in their best years,2Generating similarity scores by summing the squared differences of any two players’ percentile ranks in five skill categories — contact rate, isolated power, walk rate, running ability (which includes speed score and baserunning runs) and defensive WAR — and weighting the differences according to each category’s influence on overall WAR. the prime version of Griffey was the closest thing the majors have ever seen to the great Willie Mays. Mays had a slightly better eye at the plate, made more contact and was a better runner. Otherwise, peak Griffey was the spitting image of the Say Hey Kid’s best years: a profanely powerful hitter and elite defensive outfielder with great speed and patience, and solid contact skills.(Griffey’s second-most similar prime-to-prime player was his former Mariners teammate Alex Rodriguez — no slouch in his best years, either.) But let’s say we give in and run the same exercise without giving extra weight to the most thrilling years of Griffey’s career. In that case, we find Roger Maris, whose single-season home-run record Griffey flirted with in 1994 before labor strife brought the season to an abrupt halt. This is a telling comparison. Over their respective careers, Mays and Maris boasted nearly identical marks in power, contact and plate patience, but they differed greatly in the most dynamic areas of the game: speed and defense.Likewise, late-career Griffey retained much of his familiar hitting profile, but he became unrecognizable in the field and on the basepaths. After stealing 167 bases in the first 11 years of his career, Griffey swiped only 17 over his final 11 seasons. He also joined the likes of Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez as one of baseball’s least valuable fielders over his final major-league decade, an outcome that seemed unthinkable when Junior was pulling fly balls off the wall at a dead sprint and doing his “I got it” routine across the Great Lakes. The effect is so extreme that if we invert the prime-weighting scheme from above, instead giving excess weight to a player’s worst seasons, Griffey suddenly profiles like a lumbering slugger in the mold of Kevin Mitchell or Prince Fielder — a far cry from the sprightliness of his ’90s heyday.But here’s the thing: While Kevin Mitchell and Prince Fielder were and are, uh, hefty, they’re also pretty good players. Among non-pitchers since 19133The earliest season, continuous from 2015, for which FanGraphs tracks strikeout rate for batters. with 3,000 or more career trips to the plate, each ranks in the top third in WAR on a per-plate appearance basis. His skills may have been undermined by constant injuries, an ill-fated contract and geriatric napping, but even in winter, one of Griffey’s closest comps was a 31-year-old six-time All-Star.There are many faces to Griffey’s stardom. He might have been baseball’s last truly mainstream superstar, which takes on even more meaning in a sport with an ever-dwindling base of African-American players. The iconography of Griffey — the fun-loving, video game-endorsing, steroid-free natural athlete — always meant his case for the Hall rested on more than mere numbers. But as we all celebrate Griffey’s career this week, it’s worth remembering that Griffey’s numbers are no mere thing, and his statistical legacy isn’t so fragile as to topple over at the first gust of scrutiny. Even during his worst days, Griffey remained an All-Star-caliber player; during his best, he really was the second coming of Willie Mays.Read More: Mike Piazza Was More Than A Big BatBaseball’s Hall Of Fame Is Stuck In The ’60s
Think of big game publishers and EA is most likely to come to mind. The publisher is huge, but not so big that another games company wouldn’t try to buy them. That’s exactly what is being attempted according to a South Korean newspaper.In what must be a rather surprising turn of events, game developer and publisher Nexon has apparently put forward a takeover bid. If this is true, this is basically a case of a company that makes most of its money from free-to-play games attempting to buy a publisher that makes its money from paid-for titles, like Madden NFL.EA’s shares spiked following the news, but there has been no official comment yet from either company regarding the offer.Nexon is probably best known in the West for its game Maple Story, but it has a growing range of other free-to-play and online titles split across the desktop, mobile, and Facebook.In a lot of ways the acquisition makes a sense for both companies. EA has the experience and development abilities to produce games across all the consoles, handhelds, and PC, as well as the Origin digital distribution service for PC. Its mobile and social gaming is growing, but is still a relatively small part of the business. Nexon on the other hand would benefit from having the means to get its games on consoles, flood Origin with free-to-play titles, and of course take advantage of the PopCap back catalog. Together they would have all bases covered with mature businesses in every sector of gaming.EA does have some free-to-play games of their own, including Battlefield Heroes and the upcoming Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances.For now, the takeover bid doesn’t hold that much water until one of the companies officially comments. If it turns out to be a serious offer, it could really shake things up for EA and we could see some unusual title carrying the EA logo in future.via CVG
Who Are They?Mr. Game and Watch is the primordial retro gaming homunculus representing the Game and Watch, some of Nintendo’s oldest video game hardware. First appearing in 1980, he’s older than Mario. The single-game portable systems were created by the late Gunpei Yokoi, who later created the Game Boy. Some Game and Watch systems even experimented with two screens decades before the Nintendo DS.Smash HistoryMr. Game and Watch was the final secret character in Super Smash Bros. Melee and truly no one saw him coming. He’s a monochrome little sprite moving at single-digit frame rate animation. Some of the novelty had worn off when he reappeared in every Smash game since, but at that point his totally original moveset had made him an interesting fighter in his own right.What Looks New in Ultimate?Mr. Game and Watch has a lot of fresh aesthetic changes in Smash Ultimate, which seems weird for a character who originated from rigid LCD displays. Whenever he uses moves from specific games, his sprite changes to match that game. And aside from an unfortunate Native American stereotype that’s being removed, these sprite changes are all pretty stylish. Beyond that he also has some new moves like a bomb-based aerial attack and adjusted existing moves like reflecting physical projectiles with your oil bucket.Our Hopes?First off, we hope Mr. Game and Watch doesn’t have any more secret racist animations. But I guess that’s fitting given his old-timey cartoon nature. Also fitting is just how weird and awkward I’ve always found Mr. Game and Watch to be, not just his jerky movement but his attacks, too. I’m not hoping that changes. I’m hoping that I change and can suddenly appreciate it.Super Smash Bros. Ultimate releases Dec. 7 for Nintendo Switch. Until we can play more for ourselves, changes we talk about here are mostly speculation. For more thoughts check out our Smash hands-on as well as cool Switch games to play that aren’t Smash Bros., because those definitely exist.View as: One Page Slides1/761. Read Mario’s Guide2. Read Donkey Kong’s Guide3. Read Link’s Guide4. Read Samus’s Guide5. Read Dark Samus’s Guide6. Read Yoshi’s Guide7. Read Kirby’s Guide8. Read Fox’s Guide9. Read Pikachu’s Guide10. Read Luigi’s Guide11. Read Ness’s Guide12. Read Captain Falcon’s Guide13. Read Jigglypuff’s Guide14. Read Peach’s Guide15. Read Daisy’s Guide16. Read Bowser’s Guide17. Read Ice Climbers’ Guide18. Read Sheik’s Guide19. Read Zelda’s Guide20. Read Dr. Mario’s Guide21. Read Pichu’s Guide22. Read Falco’s Guide23. Read Marth’s Guide24. Read Lucina’s Guide25. Read Young Link’s Guide26. Read Ganondorf’s Guide27. Read Mewtwo’s Guide28. Read Roy’s Guide29. Read Chrom’s Guide30. Read Mr. Game and Watch’s Guide31. Read Meta Knight’s Guide32. Read Pit’s Guide33. Read Dark Pit’s Guide34. Read Zero Suit Samus’s Guide35. Read Wario’s Guide36. Read Snake’s Guide37. Read Ike’s Guide38. Read Pokemon Trainer’s Guide39. Read Diddy Kong’s Guide40. Read Lucas’s Guide41. Read Sonic’s Guide42. Read King Dedede’s Guide43. Read Olimar’s Guide44. Read Lucario’s Guide45. Read R.O.B.’s Guide46. Read Toon Link’s Guide47. Read Wolf’s Guide48. Read Villager’s Guide49. Read Mega Man’s Guide50. Read Wii Fit Trainer’s Guide51. Read Rosalina and Luma’s Guide52. Read Little Mac’s Guide53. Read Greninja’s Guide54. Read Mii Fighters’ Guide55. Read Palutena’s Guide56. Read Pac-Man’s Guide57. Read Robin’s Guide58. Read Shulk’s Guide59. Read Bowser Jr.’s Guide60. Read Duck Hunt’s Guide61. Read Ryu’s Guide62. Read Cloud’s Guide63. Read Corrin’s Guide64. Read Bayonetta’s Guide65. Read Inkling’s Guide66. Read Ridley’s Guide67. Read Simon’s Guide68. Read Richter’s Guide69. Read King K. Rool’s Guide70. Read Isabelle’s Guide71. Read Ken’s Guide72. Read Incineroar’s Guide73. Read Piranha Plant’s Guide74. Read Joker’s Guide75. Read Hero’s Guide76. Read Banjo and Kazooie’s Guide Stay on target ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Was Final Mission From Late Nintendo President‘Undertale’s’ Sans Is Basically a Brand New ‘Sma… Mr. Game and Watch Gets Old-School!Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is huge. Not just in terms of hype and importance and sales potential, but just in terms of sheer stuff. The Nintendo Switch mascot fighter features over a hundred stages, nearly a thousand songs, and too many Pokemon and items and Assist Trophies to think of crammed onto a cartridge you can plan on the go or on a TV. When you have as many big franchises as Nintendo, putting them all in one game will make that game is very big boy indeed.But the biggest, most exciting thing about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is its mind-blowing, heartwarming roster of playable characters. Fighting games pride themselves not just on the strength of their mechanics but the strength of its fighters, especially in a crossover fighters like this. And Super Smash Bros. Ultimate crushes all rivals by including every single playable character from the across the four previous games in the twenty-year-old series. Include the new combatants and so far we have over 70 fighters to wrap our heads around. We’re excited, but we’re also intimidated. So to get ready for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, every day, character by character, we’re creating the ultimate guide to all of its characters. Today’s fighter: Mr. Game and Watch.
Passengers disembark the ferry Malaspina in Skagway during its 50th anniversary sailing. Most ferry fares went up Jan. 1. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/360 North)Ferry fares went up 5 percent for most routes Jan. 1. The hike comes on the heels of a 4.5 percent increase that began in May. The increase is for new reservations. Those made before January will not change.Alaska Marine Highway spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says higher fares are part of a larger effort to increase earnings and decrease expenses.“The marine highway system’s cost recovery for its revenues is much lower than it has been in the past. If you look at the fact that the fares have not been increased in the last seven to eight years, that can be one reason to point to that,” he says.Low oil prices drove service cuts already in place for the winter. More extreme reductions listed in the governor’s budget are slated for July. The legislature could cut service further.Not all marine highway routes are seeing price hikes.Woodrow says those that are disproportionately higher will remain the same, at least for now.“Once we are closer to that, the marine highway system can begin formalizing its rates based on route mileage, ridership, as well as … embarking and disembarking fees and have a more formalized system,” he says.The increases stem in part from a rate study released a little more than a year ago.The new fares are integrated into the marine highway’s reservations system, though no full list has been published.The higher fares coincide with an adjustment to the system’s reservation policy. Customers must now pay a minimum $20 fee for any change made within two weeks of sailing.Woodrow says it closes a loophole.“That loophole allowed customers to pre-book travel and continue to move that travel back to later dates without having a cancellation fee or change fee. And it withholds that space from other customers who would otherwise use that space on the ferry,” he says.A set of new cancellation fees ranging from 5 to 40 percent of a ticket’s value took effect Oct. 1.
Kota (RJ): A surveyor in the Mining Department was arrested on Monday by the Anti-Corruption Bureau from his residence in Rajasthan’s Baran district while accepting a bribe to allow transport of mined soil, officials said. According to complainant Madhu Nagar, accused Giriraj Meena (46) had demanded Rs 50,000 for letting him transport mined soil in Baran, Anti-Corruption Bureau Inspector Gyanchand Meena said. Also Read – National Herald case: Officer bearers of Congress were cheats, Subramanian Swamy tells court Advertise With Us Giriraj Meena had accepted Nagar’s request to take the bribe amount in installments of Rs 10,000, he said. After Nagar lodged a complaint against the surveyor on Sunday, the bureau confirmed it when the accused accepted the first installment, the inspector said. He said the accused surveyor then called Nagar to his government quarter for the second installment on Monday morning, but ACB officials laid a trap and he was caught red-handed. Also Read – Dehydrated elephant being given treatment Advertise With Us A case has been registered against Giriraj Meena and further investigation is underway, the officer added. According to the ACB inspector, the accused had earlier slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Nagar’s vehicle, when it was transporting mined soil, and threatened to do it again if he did not pay him a bribe of Rs 50,000.
Kolkata: The state Finance department has directed a number of state departments to seek its prior approval when it comes to spending over Rs 10 lakh on construction of office buildings and redesigning the interiors. The move is a part of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s call for austerity drive in administrative affairs.”We have found out that in a number of cases, departments spend huge amounts on decorating the chambers of ministers and departmental heads. At times, when a minister is replaced by another minister who takes charge of the department, the latter asks for a complete renovation of the interiors. This turns out to be a costly affair for the concerned department. The Finance department wants to put a leash on this expenditure,” a senior official of the state secretariat Nabanna said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeThere has also been instances when departments have spent exorbitantly while constructing guest houses, new office buildings etc. According to a senior official in the state Finance department, the state government is in favour of undertaking such expenditures within Rs 10 lakh. It has asked departments to seek permission from the Finance department before spending more than the stipulated amount.In a notification issued by the state finance department, it has stated: “For incurring such expenditure, prior approval of the Finance department should be obtained. Administrative departments shall also send the proposals to the finance department for approval of projects as stated above, for which the tender has already been floated or work order has been issued after April 1, 2017; but work is in progress till date”. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedPresently, the heads of some departments, namely the Public Works Department, Urban Development & Municipal Affairs, Panchayats & Rural Development, Health & Family Welfare, Irrigation & Waterways, Water Resources Investigation & Development and Public Health Engineering & housing approve projects amounting upto Rs 20 crore.The rest of the departments can approve projects worth upto Rs 10 crore within the budgetary allocation with concurrence of financial advisers.
The French feminist group La Barbe has taken the festival to task for excluding women with a petition published in the Le Monde and The Guardian newspapers.Festival director Thierry Fremaux argues it’s not his fault that filmmaking remains primarily “a male sport.” He says he chooses films only “because I think they deserve to be in selection.”The French Riviera film festival opened Wednesday and runs until May 27.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision? Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates CANNES, France (AP) – This year’s Cannes Film Festival features directors in their 30s and their 80s, directors from Europe and North America, directors from Asia and the Middle East _ but no women.Not, at least, among the 22 filmmakers competing for the coveted Palme d’Or award. Last year, four female directors made the lineup, including Britain’s Lynne Ramsay and Australia’s Julie Leigh. Comments Share New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
“I thought that they might have found a way to address theoffensive line a little earlier in the draft, even tradingsome picks away from next year to move up in the draftthis year.”The Cardinals, remember, did not have a second round pickthis year due to including it in the Kevin Kolb trade lastsummer, meaning they didn’t have much of a shot at some ofthe bigger-name tackles who fell to the second round.“I know when you’ve got Michael Floyd sitting there,you’ve got to get him,” May said of the team’s first roundchoice. “But then you’ve got to become creative in thedraft, and I was surprised that (Cardinals GM) Rod Gravesand his crew weren’t creative enough to get into thatsecond round some place, or even earlier in the thirdround to get an offensive lineman there.”So, they got Massie, who at 6-foot-6 and 316 pounds couldend up being one of the draft’s bigger steals. He playedagainst some of the country’s best defenders in college,meaning experience could be an advantage early in hiscareer.“He should have a step ahead of most offensive linemenjust going against the competition that he’s gone againstin the SEC,” May said. “Hopefully Russ Grimm will be ableto take this player…and hopefully he’s an overachiever,because that’s what the Cardinals are looking for.” What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Top Stories Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation A lot of people were surprised to see Mississippi tackleBobby Massie fall to the Cardinals in the fourth round ofthe NFL Draft.Projected by some to go as high as the second round, hewas the first lineman taken by a Cardinals team that coulduse some help at the position.And, while no one is questioning the selection’s value,ESPN college football analyst Mark May says the Cardinalsshould have done more.“Here’s a player that wouldn’t have fallen to the fourthround unless there were red flags,” May told ArizonaSports 620’s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “The Cardinals gothim, and this is a team that gave up 54 sacks last year. D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ Comments Share Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away
The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The elder Fitzgerald obviously wasn’t happy about how the 11-year veteran was only targeted four times in the opener. This isn’t the first time Fitzgerald Sr. has voiced his displeasure with Cardinals formations and play calling.The Cardinals wideout apparently felt a need to address his father’s post-game tweets, referencing them in a tweet of his own Tuesday night.My fathers inflammatory comments dont reflect my feelings or mood. We’re 1-0 & working tirelessly to be 2-0 this week thats my only concern.— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) September 10, 2014 Although calling his father’s comments “inflammatory” might be over-the-top, the Cardinals star seemed to clear up any concerns in one tweet, all while refusing to echo Fitzgerald Sr.’s sentiments. – / 61 As a child teaching my son football.I was a lineman.I told them every play I hit somebody.He said dad I want to be a receiver.I told him-— Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (@FitzBeatSr) September 9, 2014 The Arizona Cardinals snuck their way to a season-opening win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, even with star receiver Larry Fitzgerald only making one reception all evening.Although Fitzgerald’s 22-yard catch was instrumental in setting up the game-winning touchdown, the eight-time Pro Bowler’s father took to Twitter after the game to air his thoughts on how his son was utilized in the Cardinals’ win. Being a receiver you can work hard run all game and your dependent on the coach calling your number.And the quarterback getting you the ball— Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (@FitzBeatSr) September 9, 2014 Top Stories The world saw on Monday Night Football the politics and business of football.If its been decided that you are not getting the ball just win— Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (@FitzBeatSr) September 9, 2014 Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
FILE – In this June 10, 2014 file photo, Edwin Hawkins appears at the Apollo Theater Spring Gala and 80th Anniversary Celebration in New York. Hawkins, the gospel star best known for the crossover hit “Oh Happy Day,” died Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, at his home in Pleasanton, Calif., at age 74. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File) NEW YORK, N.Y. – Edwin Hawkins, the gospel star best known for the crossover hit “Oh Happy Day” and as a major force for contemporary inspirational music, died Monday at age 74.Hawkins died at his home in Pleasanton, California. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, publicist Bill Carpenter told The Associated Press.Along with Andrae Crouch, James Cleveland and a handful of others, Hawkins was credited as a founder of modern gospel music. Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and numerous other singers had become mainstream stars by adapting gospel sounds to pop lyrics. Hawkins stood out for enjoying commercial success while still performing music that openly celebrated religious faith.An Oakland native and one of eight siblings, Hawkins was a composer, keyboardist, arranger and choir master. He had been performing with his family and in church groups since childhood and in his 20s helped form the Northern California State Youth Choir.Their first album, “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord,” came out in 1968 and was intended for local audiences. But radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area began playing one of the album’s eight tracks, “Oh Happy Day,” an 18th century hymn arranged by Hawkins in call-and-response style.“Oh Happy Day,” featuring the vocals of Dorothy Combs Morrison, was released as a single credited to the Edwin Hawkins Singers and became a million-seller in 1969, showing there was a large market for gospel songs and for inspirational music during the turbulent era of the late 1960s.“I think our music was probably a blend and a crossover of everything that I was hearing during that time,” Hawkins told blackmusic.com in 2015. “We grew up hearing all kinds of music in our home. My mother, who was a devout Christian, loved the Lord and displayed that in her lifestyle.“My father was not a committed Christian at that time but was what you’d call a good man,” he said. “And, of course, we heard from him some R&B music but also a lot of country and western when we were younger kids.”In 1970, the Hawkins singers backed Melanie on her top 10 hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” and won a Grammy for best soul gospel performance for “Oh Happy Day.”Meanwhile, George Harrison would cite “Oh Happy Day” as inspiration for his hit “My Sweet Lord,” and Glen Campbell reached the adult contemporary charts with his own version of the Hawkins performance. Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis and numerous others also would record it.Hawkins went on to make dozens of records and won four Grammys in all, including for the songs “Every Man Wants to Be Free” and “Wonderful!” In 2007, he was voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. He also toured on occasion with younger brother Walter Hawkins, a Grammy winner who died in 2010.Edwin Hawkins is survived by his siblings Carol, Feddie, Daniel and Lynette. Gospel star Edwin Hawkins, known for ‘Oh Happy Day,’ dies by The Associated Press Posted Jan 15, 2018 1:17 pm PDT Last Updated Jan 15, 2018 at 2:40 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
A pressure group is trying to hammer home a simple message: healthcare should be about the public not payBy Evie AndreouThe urgent health needs of the public have been sidelined because implementing a national health scheme (Gesy) has been constantly delayed by fighting over the pay, benefits and working conditions of medical staff, a national health pressure group said this week.As if to prove the point, the government on Friday – after months of saying it could not afford the cost – finally met the state nurses’ demand for higher entry-level wages to match their university level qualifications.The civil society grouping, representing some 200,000 Cypriots, says the existing system has collapsed and it is determined to put the public’s needs first by pushing for Gesy which should have been up and running in 2008.“Those that need to mobilise for the implementation of Gesy are the public. We want to exert pressure on the political powers, to let them know that the majority of the population demand the introduction of Gesy,” Marios Kouloumas, the head of the Patients and Friends Federation (POSFP) told the Sunday Mail this week.Marios Kouloumas, the head of the Patients and Friends Federation (POSFP)Last September POSFP, which represents 38 patients’ associations and experiences first-hand the failures of the existing health system, brought together left-wing and right-wing unions and consumers’ and pensioners’ associations to launch the Social Alliance for the Implementation of the Gesy.“The public is being ignored. That is why I call the existing healthcare system undemocratic, as it does not respond to the needs of patients,” Kouloumas said. Patients, he said, face daily humiliation and hardship in pursuit of healthcare in state hospitals.Kouloumas said that those suffering from chronic diseases especially “are putting up a daily struggle to secure healthcare and medication”.“You never know if you will be able to secure your medication or healthcare services. This does not honour the state. It ought to provide this benefit,” Kouloumas said. “We are the only EU country without a national health scheme.”POSFP’s major concerns over the present health system are depressingly familiar: difficulty in accessing specialist doctors as lack of staff means very long waiting lists, collapsing infrastructure and the lack of basic equipment. All these are compounded by poor coordination over patient referrals and obtaining lab results.“The existing system has collapsed, there is no quality in healthcare, no equality, and patients face great difficulty in accessing healthcare,” Kouloumas said.Yet while no sane person could seriously defend what passes at present for state healthcare, after many delays the House health committee is only now close to completing discussion of two bills to make state hospitals administratively and financially autonomous. Hospital autonomy must be achieved before Gesy is implemented as, under the new scheme, patients will be able to choose which doctor and which hospital to visit.The aim is for a public organisation to be set up that would oversee hospital autonomy by June. Outpatient care is supposed to be introduced by June 2019, and inpatient care by the second half of 2020.These latest dates were announced last year by Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis, following a meeting between political leaders and President Nicos Anastasiades where they all pledged to work for the introduction of Gesy.Pamporidis said earlier in the week that it was now up to the political parties whether the two bills would be passed.In terms of opposition within the health sector, the nurses should now be on board after Friday’s deal. In exchange for the pay rises, the nurses’ unions, Pasyno and Pasydy, have said they will cooperate in seeing hospital autonomy implemented. But critics have warned the cost of the deal is too high as the new wage bill will crank up Gesy’s operating costs and threaten its viability. It also ensures that other interest groups will escalate their own demands.Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis determined to see Gesy throughAnd as an indication of the hurdles still in the way, the Cyprus Medical Association (Cyma) this week presented Anastasiades with the results of a study they had commissioned on the viability of Gesy. Though Cyma insisted the study was not meant as an obstacle but to ‘spark dialogue’, it mainly focused on issues concerning private doctors.The findings have not been made public, but its chairman, Petros Agathangelou, said on Thursday that the government bills were incomplete, that the viability of the system was imperative and that Gesy’s finances had to be reassessed and updated.A clearly frustrated Kouloumas responded that with an estimated €1.2bn budget, according to the study commissioned by the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), Gesy would be viable. He went on to hint that perhaps the bigger costs the doctors’ study mentioned concerned undeclared income.The HIO is the state agency tasked with overseeing the implementation of Gesy.“There is no issue of viability. It is about the necessity of seeing Gesy implemented. This proposed system is the most suitable for Cyprus. It is viable. What we need to focus on is quality and security. Quality is not linked with doctors’ fees, but it is a lot of other things,” Kouloumas told the Sunday Mail.He added that while it was important for doctors to receive proper benefits to be able to provide better care to patients, “Gesy will first and foremost serve the public”.“Any reasons brought up at this point are just excuses for the non-implementation of Gesy,” Kouloumas said.Kouloumas concedes that sections of the public are unaware of both the urgent need for Gesy and its benefits, and this has allowed health professionals to promote their interests and delay Gesy’s implementation.“A healthy person does not realise that he or she is a potential patient and how important it is to have in place a functioning healthcare system,” he said.” We all age, we all get sick, we will all, at some point in our lives, need healthcare. We all need to work together to claim the implementation of Gesy.”Gesy, he said, “guarantees equality, access and security”.“Of course, there will be problems, but, at least a functioning system will be in place, and there will be mechanisms to fix these problems as they present themselves.”Kouloumas and the thousands who support the Social Alliance for the Implementation of Gesy are not the only ones frustrated and angered by the constant delays.Gesy has proved to be a poisoned chalice for the health ministers in charge. The cabinet only approved the two bills now before the House last October, almost a year and half after former Health Minister Philippos Patsalis had originally anticipated. Back in July 2015 the cabinet had postponed approving the hospital autonomy bills to allow more time for discussions between the health ministry and health sector professionals, even though exhaustive talks had already taken place. Patsalis resigned a few days later.Although Patsalis cited personal reasons for his resignation, and although the government denied the delay was linked to a threatened 48-hour strike by state nurses, in his farewell letter, Patsalis expressed the hope that “problems and interests” wouldn’t stand in the way of hospital autonomy. The deal struck with the nurses on Friday was the end result of that dispute.It has proved to be equally taxing on Pamboridis who said recently that he has received threats from people who oppose the introduction of a national health scheme, as they believe that Gesy would harm their interests. On Friday he too said he had considered resigning last year but his determination to see Gesy’s birth kept him going.“Pamporidis is the only minister that truly believed in this reform and worked very hard to see it through. He understood that the system needed to be planned around patients and their needs. He has the courage and determination to see this reform being implemented,” Kouloumas said.“What’s left is for him is to reach an agreement with doctors on employment issues,” Kouloumas said.He is also facilitating negotiations between employers and trade unions on Gesy contributions.Perhaps the most damning condemnation of the delays in implementing a national health system was in the latest annual report of the auditor-general. He urged the health ministry to take all measures to launch Gesy “as soon as possible”, given that the original date was 2008 and that it was an obligation of Cyprus’ €10bn bailout in 2013.The report said that total expenses concerning the implementation of Gesy between 2003 when the HIO was founded, until last year, reached €37.5m, of which €10.6m was for consulting services. An additional €6.7m was spent by the health ministry also on consulting services, the report said. The studies commissioned were never utilised.The audit office said that priority had been given to projects of a procedural nature instead of pushing through cornerstone projects such as the re-organisation and autonomy of state hospitals.Kouloumas and his umbrella organisation have had enough of procedures. The social alliance intends to exert all the pressure they can on the House speaker and political leaders to convince them to pass the two bills when they are tabled to the plenum.“The groups comprising the social alliance represent more than 200,000 members. We want to exert pressure to the political parties to get them to understand that a big chunk of the population demand and need to see the implementation of a comprehensive, functioning health system,” Kouloumas said.“To us, Gesy is a one-way street, there is no turning back.”You May LikeHeart Failure Treatment | Search AdsThe Early Signs Of Heart Failure. 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