Chandigarh, Cities, Haryana, North India

BJP regime in Haryana in “euphoria” after three-day Brainstorming Session in Parwanoo




Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal addressing the Press Conference at Yadavindra Gardens in Pinjore, Panchkula on December 17,2017. Finance Minister Capt. Abhimanyu and Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister O.P. Dhankar are also seen in the picture.

The Manohar Lal-led  BJP regime in Haryana is waxing eloquent over the “successful completion” of the three-day “Chintan Shivir” (brainstorming session) involving the high and mighty,including Ministers and  senior bureaucrats held at the famous Timber Trail resort at Parwanoo in the neighbouring hilly state of Himachal Pradesh unfazed by criticism by the opposition parties why the jamboree was organised at a private resort in another state.

The exhortations to the “Babus” by Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki and Chief Minister Manohar Lal and his team to serve with passion,dedication and zeal is nothing new and could have been made at the Haryana Niwas or CM residence in Chandigarh, the State Capital, or at Red Bishop Tourist Resort or Inderdhanush Auditorium in Panchkula for that matter, say not only opposition leaders but the vox populi also and they seem to have a valid point. One does not know the cost of organizing the “show” in an expensive tourist resort in another state.

Haryana Governor, Prof. Kaptan Singh Solanki said that public representatives and bureaucrats should serve the society with utmost sensitivity, cooperation and dedication in order to move forward with a vision.

Speaking on the concluding day of the “Chintan Shivir” , he expressed happiness that members of the cabinet, including the Chief Minister and senior bureaucrats, “have taken collective decisions for the development of state in multiple brainstorming sessions”.

Talking to the media at Pinjore in Haryana, Mr. Manohal Lal said that officers who were part and parcel of the sessions would take up one block each and ensure bringing them to a prescribed level. Necessary funds would be allocated for any special project or scheme in that block, he added.

The officers would prepare a new scheme for the selected blocks by identifying five to ten parameters from the “vision” emerging from the Shivir. He said that the blocks would remain the officers’ “selected blocks” even after their transfer to another department and they would work for the development of these blocks. The blocks which achieved the prescribed level, the officers concerned would be honoured on the Civil Services Day on April 21, 2018. If all blocks are bought above the prescribed level, irrespective of when the status is achieved, all officers would be honoured, he added.
The Chief Minister asserted that the faith of the people in the functioning of the present State Government had been enhanced. ” The officers have been asked to work freely without any pressure. “During the three years tenure  of my Government, there has been a revolutionary change in the system. No person could get any teacher transferred in Haryana out of the system. Besides, every sarpanch, panch and member of the Block Samiti in Haryana has cleared Class X or Class VIII examination,” he added.

On the criticism by the opposition parties on the Chintan Shivir, he remarked that it was the job of the opposition to oppose anything even the good works done by the government but  “we would continue to work for the betterment of the people of the State.” He further asserted with vehemence that the Chintan Shivir has been organized with minimum budget.” It had been decided to hold the Chintan Shivir at Parwanoo as the aim was to deliberate issues of public interest at a peaceful and isolated place without any disturbance.”

Mr.Manohar Lal said the officers were afraid as they were made to do wrong deeds by the previous governments. “But we have assured them not to be afraid of the five Cs – Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), court, Central Vigilance Commission, Comptroller of Accountant General (CAG) and Central Information Commission (CIC) and work in the public interest without any fear. The Government would fully assist them in this endeavour,” he added.

He further claimed that the first Chintan Shivir organised by the state government was an unprecedented success. It produced encouraging results and infused new energy in the participants for building a new Haryana.  Good team spirit has been generated and everyone has agreed that there is need for greater involvement among government servants in the concerns of the state and its people, he added.

He asserted that all senior officers would now work together as a team to ensure that the benefits of development reached the last person in the queue.He urged them to introspect if they had gone off track. And if they had, then see how far they had deviated. “I have full faith that the officers can reignite the emotion of that first moment when they resolved to be the force that changes the system, and to serve the people,” he added.

The first session of the last day saw unveiling of working drafts for new action plans of various departments to double the income of farmers, to enhance efficiency of utilization of water, make more youth of Haryana Saksham and to rejuvenate urban life which will be reviewed on regular basis in every two years.




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US NEWS, World

Trump not getting ready to fire Robert Mueller, president’s allies insist


Powered by article titled “Trump not getting ready to fire Robert Mueller, president’s allies insist” was written by Martin Pengelly, for on Monday 18th December 2017 00.14 Asia/Kolkata

Senior Trump administration officials insisted on Sunday the president was not preparing to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating alleged collusion between Trump aides and Russia during the 2016 election.

“There’s no conversation about that whatsoever in the White House,” said director of legislative affairs Marc Short.

Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, said: “I was at dinner last night with the president and the vice-president, I haven’t heard anything about any firing.”


Both men were, however, critical of the investigation, which Mnuchin said had become “a giant distraction”. The treasury secretary also said that though he did not “have any reason to think that the president” would fire Mueller, “that’s obviously up to him”.

Short and Mnuchin spoke, to NBC and CNN respectively, after the website Axios reported on Saturday that Mueller has gained access to thousands of emails sent and received by 13 senior Trump aides before and during the presidential transition.

Citing “people familiar with the transition organisation”, the Associated Press said the emails were transferred to Mueller’s team in September, a move of which the Trump team was not aware.

On Saturday, an attorney for Trump’s transition team sent a letter to two Republican committee chairmen in Congress, claiming the emails were provided to Mueller improperly.

Mueller was prompted to release a rare statement to the press, in which spokesman Peter Carr said: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

Analysts said the Trump lawyer’s letter was a political move rather than a sound legal gambit. A spokesman for the government agency which provided the emails to Mueller told BuzzFeed “no expectation of privacy” could be assumed by the Trump transition team.

Mueller was appointed in May, after Trump fired his successor as FBI director, James Comey. The special counsel has indicted four Trump aides, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chair Paul Manafort, and is generally thought to be closing in on the president’s inner circle. Speculation over Trump’s next move is rife.

So far, other than issuing characteristic attacks on Twitter, the president has fought something of a proxy war. After it was reported that Mueller removed from his team an FBI agent who sent text messages critical of Trump, Republicans in Congress, White House staffers and supportive Fox News hosts have amped up accusations of anti-Trump bias in Mueller’s team and the FBI.

Senior Democrats have voiced concern about what actions such increasingly heated rhetoric might herald. On Friday, Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said he thought Republicans were seeking to shut down that panel’s Russia investigation.

The California congresswoman Jackie Speier, meanwhile, told TV station KQED News: “The rumor on [Capitol] Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on [Friday], when we are out of DC, he was going to fire Robert Mueller.”

On Sunday, the Texas Republican senator John Cornyn told ABC’s Week that move would be a “mistake”. Chris Van Hollen, a Democratic senator from Maryland, told the same network Republicans should should not support “a concerted effort out of the White House” that was aimed at “subverting” Mueller’s work.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Short insisted there was no such effort and said: “The reality is that this administration has complied in every possible way with the special counsel.”

He added: “Taxpayers have spent millions and millions of dollars on this investigation and it has not yet proven any sense of collusion with the Russians. I think the American people are ready to turn the page.”

An Associated Press poll released on Friday appeared to contradict Short’s claim. Nearly half (47%) of all respondents said they were “extremely or very concerned about whether Trump or others involved with his campaign had inappropriate contacts with the Russian government”.

Another key element of the Mueller investigation is whether Trump has attempted to obstruct justice, whether by firing Comey or, according to Comey’s testimony, seeking to have investigations of Flynn dropped when he knew his adviser had lied to the FBI, the offence to which Flynn has now pleaded guilty.

Among respondents to the AP poll, 63% thought that Trump did attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Business Economy Finance, World

Amazon Prime could face investigation over delivery complaints


Powered by article titled “Amazon Prime could face investigation over delivery complaints” was written by Haroon Siddique, for on Sunday 17th December 2017 17.37 Asia/Kolkata

Amazon could face an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority over complaints that its premium service is failing to deliver on time in the run-up to Christmas.

Amazon Prime claims to offer “unlimited one-day delivery” but customers have contacted the advertising regulator to say it is falling short of what is promised.

A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: “We have received a handful of complaints. We are considering whether to launch an investigation.”

Customers of the online retailer can choose free delivery above a minimum spend but at the checkout are offered a free 30-day trial of its express delivery service, which costs £7.99 a month thereafter.

Amazon says the last order date for standard delivery is Wednesday but for Prime, which it says offers “amazing delivery benefits on your Christmas shopping”, the last order date is Saturday.

Information elsewhere on the site says: “Your order will be dispatched with the intention that it’s delivered one day after dispatch.” It advises customers to contact customer services if they do not receive a parcel by the estimated delivery date.

The consumer rights group Which? said: “If you paid for delivery by a certain date or time (eg by Christmas or next-day delivery) and the delivery arrives late, this is a breach of contract. If it was essential that your goods were delivered on time, you have the right to terminate the purchase and get a full refund.”

In 2015 the ASA investigated Amazon after six people claimed advertising for Prime was misleading. It upheld complaints that the advert in question, a direct mailing sent to existing Amazon customers, did not make sufficiently clear that a paid subscription would automatically start if not cancelled during the free trial and did not state what the cost of the subscription would be. The regulator concluded that the ad was “likely to mislead”.

The Amazon UK press office could not be contacted for a comment. The Sunday Telegraph quoted Tom Parker from Amazon as saying: “We’d ask any customers with questions about their deliveries to contact us.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Education, Education Environment Health S&T

No land, only built up area required to open a new College in Mega & Metro Cities

Anshu Kataria

AICTE announces approval process for Colleges/Universities for 2018-19



Anshu Kataria

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), New Delhi has announced the norms for the Colleges/Deemed Universities/Private Universities for the Academic Session 2018-19.

In a statement, Dr. Anshu Kataria, President, All India Federation of Self Financing Technical Institutions (AIFSFTI) and Punjab Unaided Colleges Association (PUCA) welcomed the AICTE step for giving relaxation in the faculty ratio from 1:15 to 1:20 in Engineering & Technology.


R.S Munirathinam, Chief Patron, AIFSFTI  while welcoming the relaxation relating to land said that ,  relating step of AICTE on land relaxation said: ” the minimum land requirement to start a new college in Mega and Metro Cities has been done away. Now no land but only built up area is required in the cities which have been declared as Mega and Metro by the census 2011.


KVK. Rao, General Secretary, AIFSFTI said that for the first time, AICTE has given the procedure for approval for the Institutions Deemed to be University/ Private University seeking approval for the first time. These have to submit an application as a new Technical Institution for all their existing Technical programmes and courses. The institutions deemed to be University having multiple campuses have to apply separately for each campus for AICTE approval.


Dr. Kataria further said that to revive the technical education of the country still more reforms are required.An AIFSFTI delegation would meet higher officials soon in this regard.

AICTE has also approved Part Time Course subject to the same being run in the First Shift in the Institutions having a minimum of 80 percent admission in the last three years consecutively. This would help in utilization of all the existing resources in an institution.

He disclosed that as of now there is a total intake of around 16.62 lakh in Engineering & Technology; 12.61 lakh in Diploma/Post Diploma; 3.93 lakh in Management; 1.30 lakh in Pharmacy; 85,000 in MCA; 9,000 in Architecture and 6,000 in Hotel Management.

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Arts Culture Books Features, Books

Sean O’Hagan’s best photography books of 2017


Powered by article titled “Sean O’Hagan’s best photography books of 2017” was written by Sean O’Hagan, for The Observer on Sunday 17th December 2017 14.30 Asia/Kolkata

If America increasingly seems like a nation riven beyond repair politically, Peter van Agtmael’s Buzzing at the Sill (Kehrer Verlag £32) evokes that ominous sense of disunity in darkly poetic images and impressionistic prose. Over the past few years he travelled extensively across the country, spending time in a rehabilitation centre for traumatised soldiers, on a Native American reservation, with Ku Klux Klan members at a flag burning and in a black-owned Louisiana bar, where an all-white audience were attending a themed “white night”. An unsettling book for these uneasy times.

Likewise, in an altogether different way, Mathieu Asselin’s Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation (Verlag Kettler $55), an exhaustive look at the ways in which a multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation impacts on the lives and environments of hundreds of communities across America. Asselin spent five years delving deep into the company’s history, from the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war to the introduction of genetically modified seeds in the late 1990s. A book about corporate impunity that unfolds through the deft interweaving of Asselin’s own images and a wealth of found material, from personal testimonies to courtroom files.

American mores come under scrutiny, too, in Deep Springs (Mack £35) by Sam Contis, which is set in a remote desert community close to Sierra Nevada, where a small, all-male liberal arts college has existed since 1917. Merging old photographs of its earliest students with her own, often intimate studies of their contemporaries, as well as the elemental landscape, Contis explores the traditional idea of masculinity in the American west in a subtle, thought-provoking way.

A third generation victim of the chemical Agent Orange, from Mathieu Asselin’s ‘exhaustive’ Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation
A third generation victim of the chemical Agent Orange, from Mathieu Asselin’s ‘exhaustive’ Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation. Photograph: Mathieu Asselin

For the past two decades, the Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi has created luminous images of the world around her with an unerring eye for the everyday sublime. In Halo (Thames & Hudson £55), she broadens her gaze, portraying the Shinto rituals that occur annually at ancient Japanese holy sites and contrasting them with the natural wonder that is the winter murmuration of migratory birds along the south-east coast of England. Here, the elemental and the tranquil are portrayed in moments of otherworldly beauty.

The British photographer Stephen Gill has also shifted his gaze to evoke the magic of the natural world with Night Procession (Nobody Books £48). Gill placed cameras equipped with motion sensors and an infrared flash on trees in the woodland of rural Sweden, where he now lives. The resulting images of nocturnal animals in a spectral landscape have the aura of 19th-century photography. Gill writes about how he wanted to step back from the position of active observer “so that the subjects would orchestrate and perform and take on the role of author while I was likely to be sleeping. This was nature’s time to speak and let itself be felt and known.”

‘A sustained atmosphere of unease’: a man waiting for the bus in Palermo, from Mimi Mollica’s Terra Nostra.
‘A sustained atmosphere of unease’: a man waiting for the bus in Palermo, from Mimi Mollica’s Terra Nostra. Photograph: Mimi Mollica

For Terra Nostra (Dewi Lewis £35), London-based Sicilian photographer Mimi Mollica cast his eye over his native island, a place of deep shadows and harsh sunlight. The stark black-and-white portraits and landscapes suggest the lingering, insidious nature of mafia crime and corruption on the land and people. There is nothing bloody or violent here, just a sustained atmosphere of unease made all the more palpable by the play of darkness and light. In stark contrast, another London-based Italian photographer, Lorenzo Vitturi, follows up his acclaimed debut, Dalston Anatomy, with Money Must Be Made (Self Publish, Be Happy £45), which evokes the sensory overload of Balogun market in Lagos, an overwhelming maze of streets selling cheap plastic products, fabrics and household goods. Vitturi’s mix of studio portraits, sculptural still lifes and collage is an imaginative response to an overwhelming environment where everything is used, reused, recycled and resold.

Anyone looking for a Christmas present for their Brexiter dad or Remainer mum should seek out Simon Roberts’s big and beautifully designed Merrie Albion: Landscape Studies of a Small Island (Dewi Lewis £45). A portrait of contemporary Britain, it presents the nation in all its complexity, from city traders to Muslim worshippers, while somehow evincing a sense of place that is palpable and oddly reassuring. Shot on a medium format camera, often from an elevated point of view, Roberts sometimes makes composites of the same scene, creating images that have the theatricality of one of his inspirations, William Powell Frith, the 19th-century painter of everyday English tableaux. A book that speaks quietly and powerfully about this increasingly disunited kingdom at a pivotal moment. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Arts Culture Books Features, Features, Lifestyle

Winter sun destinations: 10 top trips


Powered by article titled “Winter sun destinations: 10 top trips” was written by Joanne O’Connor, for The Observer on Sunday 17th December 2017 12.30 Asia/Kolkata

Best for beach lovers: Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Lying just off the coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is the kind of place backpackers used to congratulate themselves on finding. But for those of us who don’t have the luxury of taking a gap year, tour operator Tui has just launched the first direct flights from the UK this winter, bringing this remote island within an 11.5 hour flight on the 787 Dreamliner. Expect powdery white palm-fringed sands, clear warm waters and excellent diving. Spend a week at the Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort, perched on the edge of Bai Dai Beach, with idyllic views of the Gulf of Thailand from almost every angle.
£859pp all-inclusive at Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort, including return flights, with Tui

Best for peace and quiet: Cyprus

Private paradise: the pool at Modus Vivendi, Cyprus
Modus Vivendi

The island of Cyprus has one of the mildest winters in the Med and – if you stay away from the big resorts which seem a bit forlorn in low season – there is much to offer independent travellers, from Byzantine churches to ancient mountain villages. In the hamlet of Psematismenos, Modus Vivendi’s one-bed apartments make a good low-key base: a collection of six stone cottages set around a small pool and flower-filled terrace. Interiors are rustic with stone-flagged floors and beamed ceilings. The coast is 3km away and the bright lights of Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia within a 30-minute drive.
From £80 a night at Modus Vivendi though i-escape. Flights to Larnaca cost from £69 return with easyJet

Best for value: Sri Lanka

Sticking it out: stilt fishermen on the beach at Galle, Sri Lanka.
Stilt fishermen on the beach at Galle, Sri Lanka. Photograph: Alamy

If the slick five-star resorts of the Seychelles and Maldives are beyond your budget, consider Sri Lanka – same white-sand beaches and clear Indian Ocean waters, but for a fraction of the price. At Thalpe Bungalows, a short tuk-tuk ride from the historic fortress city of Galle, you can stay in one of three immaculate and spacious one-bedroom cottages set around a swimming pool. The friendly owners are on hand to give recommendations and Dalawella beach is a short walk away. Delicious home-cooked breakfasts and evening meals are available on request and the nearby beach resort of Unawatuna has wonderful, cheap places to eat.
From £71 a night at Thalpe Bungalows. Flights to Colombo from £748 return with Sri Lankan Airlines

Best for culture: Valletta, Malta

Ancient and modern: Valletta, Malta.

Europe’s hottest winter sun destination is Valletta – and not just because it gets more sunshine hours than any other city on the continent. The city will take up the mantle of European Capital of Culture next year, giving it a chance to showcase its beautiful Baroque architecture in a year-long programme of events, the highlight of which will be the opening of a new national art gallery, Muza. For a stylish pied-a-terre kitted out with midcentury flair, check out the apartments offered by Valletta Vintage. There are five self-catering flats each sleeping two.
From £58 a night at Valletta Vintage through i-escape. Flights to Malta cost from £82 return with BA

Best for food lovers: Paternoster, South Africa

Going coastal: the small village of Paternoster with fishing skiffs pulled up on to the beach.
The small village of Paternoster with fishing skiffs pulled up on to the beach. Photograph: Alamy

Cape Town is the undisputed culinary capital of South Africa, but for something a little less frenetic and altogether more charming, head two hours up the coast to Paternoster. This little seaside village of whitewashed fisherman’s cottages has been making waves in gastronomic circles for its selection of first-class restaurants. Don’t let the sleepy ambience fool you – you’ll have to book weeks in advance to bag a table at Wolfgat for the celebrated seven-course tasting menu, and Capetonians think nothing of making a 200-mile round-trip for the Asian-influenced seafood dishes and ocean views at Gaaitjie.
A nine-night self-drive trip combining Cape Town, Paternoster and the wineries of Franschhoek costs from £2,125pp, including BA flights, with Rainbow Tours

Best for families: Lanzarote

Sun worship: the beach at Costa Teguise, Lanzarote.
The beach at Costa Teguise, Lanzarote. Photograph: Alamy

With a flying time of just 4.5 hours and temperatures averaging a balmy 20C, Lanzarote is a great winter sun destination for families – and nobody caters for them better than Lanzarote Retreats , which has an ever-expanding portfolio of quirky accommodation, ranging from yurts to fisherman’s cottages, in the island’s less touristy corners. The latest addition is the Eco Cabin, a traditional Canarian stone building which has been converted into cosy accommodation for up to five. Guests can enjoy a private gated garden, a solar-heated pool, trampoline and play area at the Finca de Arrieta, and even the option of “off-grid” living. There’s also a raft of baby and toddler kit available on request. The helpful owners can arrange babysitting and recently introduced a meal delivery service in partnership with a local deli.
From £1,100 for four nights at Lanzarote Retreats for up to five people. Flights to Lanzarote from £44 with Ryanair

Best for off the beaten track: Jericoacoara, Brazil

Two women ride a board down a sand dune at Dunas Tatajuba, just outside of Jericoacoara.
Two women ride a board down a sand dune at Dunas Tatajuba, just outside Jericoacoara. Photograph: Alamy

In 2004, Lonely Planet voted Jericoacoara the best beach in the world, but until now only the most dedicated travellers got to find out if this was true since the village had no road access. Paradise hunters had to endure a lengthy five-hour transfer from the nearest city, Fortaleza, by car, then 4×4 or boat. But that’s all set to change this winter with the launch of direct scheduled flights from São Paulo into Jericoacoara’s newly built airport. Many locals and “Jeri” devotees will despair that this could threaten the laid-back character of this fishing village-turned-windsurfing hangout, so if the white powder beaches, vivid blue lagoons and towering sand dunes of northern Brazil have been on your travel wish-list for a while, it’s advisable to go sooner rather than later. Stay at Pousada Carcará, a friendly guest house which has hammocks, a small pool and bar.
From £97 a night at Pousada Carcará. Flights to São Paulo with BA cost from £743 and from São Paulo to Jericoacoara cost from £232 with Gol; or TAP Air Portugal flies from London to Fortaleza, via Lisbon, from around £700 return

Best for activities: Taghazout, Morocco

A surfer and a camel share the beach at Taghazout, Morocco.
A surfer and a camel share the beach at Taghazout, Morocco. Photograph: Tim E White/Getty Images

The fishing village of Taghazout on Morocco’s Atlantic coast is something of a well-kept secret among surfers, but the opening of two boutique hotels in the past 12 months looks certain to broaden its appeal. Laid-back Amouage on the ocean front offers inclusive surf and yoga packages (from £714pp per week). Enjoy an early-morning vinyasa flow on their rooftop yoga garden and relax in their infinity pool. There’s also the hippy-chic Munga Guesthouse with driftwood furniture, hammocks and a rooftop sushi restaurant. Surf lessons, horse and camel riding, fishing and golf can all be booked locally.
From £336pp a week at Amouage with Surf Maroc and from £32 a night at Munga Guesthouse. Flights to Agadir from £52 return with easyJet

Best for recharging the batteries: the Algarve, Portugal

Nooks and crannies: Praia da Marinha, Algarve.
Praia da Marinha, Algarve. Photograph: Alamy

It might be better known for its pile ’em high package resorts and sprawling golf courses, but the Algarve is making in-roads into the “wellness” sector, with a handful of high-end resorts offering off-season retreats to revitalise mind, body and soul. You’ll pay more for your treatments and accommodation than you would in the Far East, but this is offset by cheaper flights and no jetlag. Epic Sana, a five-star beach-front hotel, with top-notch spa and fitness facilities, runs regular retreat weeks in the winter.
A five-night mindfulness retreat at Epic Sana costs from £1,675pp, including flight with Health and Fitness Travel, which offers other, more affordable wellbeing breaks to Portugal

Best for nightlife and shopping: Jaffa, Israel

The Old Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, is now used as a fishing harbour and tourist attraction.
The Old Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, is now used as a fishing harbour and tourist attraction. Photograph: Alamy

The historic port district of Jaffa has evolved into one of Tel Aviv’s most exciting neighbourhoods with cool bars and cafés springing up in the narrow streets around the Shuk Hapishpeshim flea market. Next year two swanky hotels are opening: the Setai, with a rooftop pool, and the W Tel Aviv-Jaffa, in a restored Ottoman-era convent. In the meantime, book a balcony room at the Market House Hotel, Jaffa’s original hip hotel. Its happy hour will set you up for a night clubbing in Israel’s party capital.
From £177 at Market House Hotel. Flights to Tel Aviv cost from £125 return with easyJet © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Entertainment Films Shopping, World

Emails have a lot to answer for


Powered by article titled “Emails have a lot to answer for” was written by Barbara Ellen, for The Observer on Sunday 17th December 2017 05.35 Asia/Kolkata

The Bollywood actor, and potential bridesmaid to Meghan Markle, Priyanka Chopra, has been revealed to have more than a quarter of a million (257,623) unread emails on her smartphone. Chopra’s actor friend, Alan Powell, “outed” her, wondering if anyone could beat it? The short answer seems to be: erm, nope. Although people seemed happy to admit to hundreds, even thousands, of disregarded emails.

Jeez, give the emails to me – I’ll read them for you, including the helpful hints for enlarging your penis. Chopra could be missing important messages from Markle. (“Where r u? U wanna be bridesmaid or not? Don’t u think ‘H’ is gud enuff 4 me? LOL!”). More generally, I had no idea that non-relationship-based email ghosting was a thing.

Personally, I’m not up to it. My email accounts take it in turns to collapse. I have two: one of them gets all the attention, while the other is like a neglected goldfish that’s always at the brink of going belly up. Whenever I check on the neglected goldfish account, I end up berating myself for being so rude as to leave an email unanswered … for three whole days!

Meanwhile, others serenely ignore mountains of emails, and not all of them would be spam. You could say that it’s just good old-fashioned rudeness, but I’m not so sure. It could be more about healthy levels of confidence: people who are so sure of themselves that they don’t think they need to instantly deal with every social or professional overture or their lives will burn down around them.

Whereas I’m the type who’d apologise to a Viagra ad for not getting back to them quickly enough.

So, in a way, good for Chopra – for having enough self-assurance to ignore the relentless prattle of the modern world. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Arts Culture Books Features, Features, Lifestyle

Are you and your partner a good match? Personality quiz


Powered by article titled “Are you and your partner a good match? Personality quiz” was written by Ben Ambridge, for The Observer on Sunday 17th December 2017 11.30 Asia/Kolkata

Do opposites attract? The old cliché says they do. But is it true, or do we prefer partners who are similar to ourselves? And if so, similar in what way? To find out, take the quiz below and if possible ask your partner to as well.

On a scale of 1 to 7, to what extent are you:
a extremely left wing (1) to extremely right wing (7)?
b extremely liberal (1) to extremely conservative (7)?
c a worrier (1) to happy go lucky (7)?
d conscientious (1) to slapdash (7)?
e introverted (1) to extroverted (7)?

If you and your partner were within a point or two of one another on questions (a) and (b) then congratulations. A recent Finnish study found that couples with similar political views reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction (though, of course, there are always exceptions). But what if you’re very different on personality traits such as (c) neuroticism, (d) conscientiousness and (e) extroversion? Don’t worry – it doesn’t seem to matter. This study found little to no association between shared personality traits and relationship satisfaction. So, when it comes to personality, there’s no evidence that opposites attract (or, for that matter, repel). But if one of you is a Corbynite, while the other prefers May, watch out.

Order Are You Smarter Than a Chimpanzee? by Ben Ambridge (Profile Books, £12.99) for £11.04 at © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Charcoal flicks for moody eye make-up


Powered by article titled “Charcoal flicks for moody eye make-up” was written by Eva Wiseman, for The Observer on Sunday 17th December 2017 11.30 Asia/Kolkata

The gentlest of eye flicks here, a moody charcoal rather than a fierce black. At Victoria Beckham they teased eye shadow across the lids with a fingertip, pushing it out at the corner like an afterthought, with mascara just at the roots of the lashes, for definition rather than glamour. But it’s possible to go full-on sultry by layering with a pencil or shadow stick, going day to night with another layer of grey.

Get the look

Trish McEvoy 24hr Shadow and Liner £24
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This article contains affiliate links to products. Our journalism is independent and is never written to promote these products although we may earn a small commission if a reader makes a purchase. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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The Observer view on net neutrality


Powered by article titled “The Observer view on net neutrality” was written by Observer editorial, for The Observer on Sunday 17th December 2017 05.35 Asia/Kolkata

Obamacare for the internet. That was how, at the height of the 2014 primary season, the Republican presidential hopeful, Ted Cruz, referred to the net neutrality rules proposed by the Obama administration. Designed to safeguard equitable access to the internet, they were enacted the following year. But they suffered a significant, albeit expected, blow when the US telecoms regulator, chaired by a Trump appointee, voted to ditch them last Thursday.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should not be able to charge different content providers different prices for transmitting data to their consumers. Strong net neutrality rules would prevent a big company such as Netflix from paying an ISP to guarantee faster access to its content than its competitors, or offer unlimited data access to Netflix bundled in as part of a broadband or mobile contract.

Scrapping net neutrality could make the already uncompetitive US broadband market even less competitive. The majority of American consumers only have one choice of broadband provider offering acceptable speeds. Allowing ISPs to bundle different deals with unlimited access to different platforms risks leading to hundreds of confusing packages being offered to deliberately obfuscate price competition.

But the anticompetitive reach extends way beyond the United States. Allowing large and dominant content providers to pay more for better access to consumers will make it harder for the new tech upstarts in Silicon Valley to compete. This will dampen competition and choice the world over, including for us here in Britain.

The internet is a modern natural monopoly: companies such as Netflix and Facebook need a critical mass of users in order to be economically viable. The more dominant they are, the harder it is for their competitors to get to that critical mass.

Like any rational monopolist, these companies will exploit a lack of net neutrality to maintain their dominance to the detriment of consumers. Facebook has publicly come out in favour of net neutrality in the American public debate. But it is aggressively capitalising on the absence of net neutrality in the developing world, where it is seeking to quickly expand its eye-watering consumer reach encapsulated in the fact that a quarter of the world’s population now have a Facebook account. It has been pressuring mobile network providers to offer free access to a very limited slice of the internet, including Facebook, for consumers who cannot afford to pay for internet access, and without a hint of irony, self-labelling it “philanthropy”.

Internet service providers point to the fact that YouTube and Netflix between them consume half of internet bandwidth. How are they supposed to future-proof our broadband infrastructure if they can’t charge them for access to their customers?

This argument is a sham. The fundamentally uncompetitive broadband market means any extra revenues are far more likely to be pocketed by shareholders than invested in improving the infrastructure. And consumers are anyway already paying considerably for that data through their broadband packages.

That’s not to say that we don’t have a problem with a creaking infrastructure. Here in the UK, almost one in 10 households do not have access to acceptable broadband speeds, rising to over half in rural areas. Just 2% of UK households have the hyperfast direct fibre connections to the broadband network; in South Korea, Japan and Spain it is more than 60%. This is because the structure of our broadband market – while more competitive than the very low bar set by the US – provides too few incentives for long-term investment. While government has historically under-invested in the UK’s physical infrastructure, the problem is even worse for our digital infrastructure. Extending superfast broadband to Devon so it can be accessed by small businesses there would for many result in as profound an economic boost as investing in the railway lines linking the region to London.

So the fight for net neutrality must be seen in the context of an even bigger debate. Is the internet something to be ruled over by all-mighty private companies with little oversight from the state? Or do we recognise it as too fundamental to our security, to the way we communicate, and to our economy, to leave it vulnerable to the cowboy tactics so often deployed when the private sector spots an unregulated monopoly? The worldwide web’s founder, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, worries that “the system is failing”. He’s right. It’s time to finally treat his invention like the public utility it has definitively grown to become. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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