CASA releases final report of review of new fatigue rule

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Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is seeking feedback in response to an independent review of its new fatigue risk management rules.

The review was announced in August 2017, when CASA deferred the introduction of Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 48.1 in response to feedback from the aviation community.

The final report, released on Thursday, said the independent review team “supports the need for CAO 48.1”.

“Scientific knowledge about fatigue and its effects on human reliability are strong enough to assert the existence of a significant risk exposure that needs to be properly managed,” the report said.

“The absence of a precise and reliable quantitative model to describe the exact link between duty time and fatigue on the one hand, and fatigue and airborne risk on the other, should not be used as an excuse to underestimate the need to adapt fatigue risk management approaches.

“On the contrary, these uncertainties must trigger a precautionary attitude and encourage routine regulatory attention to ongoing fatigue research, including aviation industry fatigue-related accident/incident analysis.”

To that end, the report outlined 24 recommendations to improve and implement the fatigue rules contained in CAO 48.1.

These included freezing “transition dates for all elements of the aviation industry until recommended changes resulting from the current review can be made to stabilise a final version of CAO 48.1 and all associated supporting documentation for implementation”.

Another recommendation called for CASA to adopt a “staggered approach to the implementation of and transition to CAO 48.1, with initial transition proceeding first for elements of the industry with the highest risk exposure”.

There was also a recommendation to revise flight duty period (FDP) limitations to make them more closely aligned with international averages, as well as increasing the flexibility of the fatigue risk management system (FRMS) option to enhance scalability through additional risk-based tiers.

The report also recommended CASA consider removing Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) Part 137 aerial application operations from CAO 48.1 “due to the sector’s lower relative risk exposures”.

“The current version of CAO 48.1 attempts to cater for the diverse nature of Australian aviation operations by proposing different rules for different groups of operations,” the report said.

“Within each of these groups however, there is still substantial diversity in the operations being conducted. Hence this approach may disadvantage some operators by imposing a rule set that is overly prescriptive and/or not suited to the varied characteristics of their operation.

“It is proposed that limited dispensations be allowed, where it can be shown that CASA considers specified fatigue mitigation to be appropriate relative to the risk exposure profile of an operation.”A supplied image of a simulated evening approach into Queenstown Airport. (Queenstown Airport Corporation)

The review was conducted by professional consultancy services company Dedale Asia Pacific. Members of the review team comprised two experts from Dedale, two from Integrated Safety Support (ISS) and one from the University of Queensland. There was also a three-person expert advisory panel that supported the review.

CASA chairman Jeff Boyd welcomed the report.

“The review team has confirmed the need to change from the old Civil Aviation Order 48 fatigue rules and standard industry exemptions and CASA’s Board supports this view,” Boyd said in a statement.

“The report provides a method to find an appropriate balance between fatigue risk and operational impact and the board is seeking input from industry on potential implementation issues prior to finalising changes to the rules.”

CASA said the deadline for public submissions in response to the report was April 17.

The final report and details on how to offer feedback can be found on the CASA website.


VIDEO: An October 2016 video published on CASA’s YouTube channel on CAO 48.1

The new CAO 48.1 rules had been welcomed by some aviation groups and condemned by others.

When their introduction was previously delayed in 2016, the Australian Airline Pilots Association (AusALPA), said its members were “very concerned” and described fatigue as a “clear safety issue” given how often it had been cited as a contributing factor in recent aviation accidents and incidents.

Meanwhile, The Australian Aviation Associations’ Forum (TAAAF), which comprises peak representative bodies in the local industry, has previously called on CASA to abolish CAO 48.1, arguing that “industry rejects the limited science it is based on, the ignoring of decades of safe operations, the massive costs it will impose and the complexity that will inevitably lead to non-compliance”.

The Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) chief executive Mike Higgins has said previously the association’s airline members had a different set of operational environmental factors to the larger operators.

“We are all for rules for managing fatigue, don’t get us wrong, but they have got to be fit for purpose,” Higgins said in the October 2017 edition of Australian Aviation.

“We are arguing on behalf of our members, who don’t fly multiple timezones, who don’t get up at 3 o’clock in the morning, who don’t land after 11 o’clock at night.

“Therefore any fatigue management rule should look at each individual sector of the regional airline industry and because we operate primarily in one time zone and so forth we should have a particular set of rules for managing fatigue.”

 

Source :  Australian Aviation

Sleep dreams – how Qantas aims to make its Boeing 787 hub buster a jetlag buster

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Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND "Yam Dreaming" at Alice Springs Airport. (Qantas/James Morgan)

Welcome to our latest “Throwback Thursday” feature article from a past edition of Australian Aviation. Here, this August 2017 issue story looked at Qantas’s work with the University of Sydney to help reduce jetlag on its Perth-London Heathrow nonstop flights with the Boeing 787-9, which commence on Saturday. 

Anyone who has ever made the journey between Australia and Europe knows the feeling of either being unable to stay awake at three o’clock in the afternoon or staring at the bedroom wall at 3am eyes wide open.

The 24 hours of flying, the up to 11 hours’ time difference and the dry cabin air present in those aluminium (or carbon composite) tubes at 38,000ft can all add up to a travel-weary body that thinks it is midnight even though the sun sits high in the sky shining brightly.

And while there have been many studies into the humans’ circadian rhythm or body clock for shift workers such as pilots or truck drivers, there has been little investigation of jetlag in the context of long-haul air travel that kicked off shortly after the dawn of the jet age some 60 years ago.

Qantas and the University of Sydney are hoping to change that.

The airline and the university’s Charles Perkins Centre are collaborating to learn more about the impact of long-haul travel on the passenger experience.

The study, which was officially launched at the University of Sydney on June 22, hopes to better understand how elements such as movement, light, temperature, food and drink affect people before, during and after their flight.

To achieve this, Qantas is enlisting the support of some of its frequent flyers, who will don wearable technology during their travels to measure the physical and mental stages and states of people during their journey.

Qantas group executive for brand, marketing and corporate affairs Olivia Wirth says the volunteers will initially come from the airline’s 35,000 frequent flyer panel that have already volunteered to share information about their onboard experience previously.

“To begin with we will be using that panel because we know they are highly engaged,” Wirth says.

“That will be the starting point.”

Volunteers for the trial will include both frequent and infrequent flyers from a range of demographics including age and backgrounds.

787 THE CATALYST FOR THE STUDY

Passengers will begin wearing what is described as a “supercharged Fitbit-type device” once Qantas takes delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 in October and deploys the aircraft on the Melbourne‑Los Angeles route from December 15 2017 and Perth-London Heathrow from March 24 2018.

Among that select group are model Jesinta Franklin and Australian Rugby Sevens Captain Ed Jenkins, the first two participants of the study.

Franklin, sporting an example of the wearable technology that will be on the wrists of frequent flyers by December, tells reporters at the launch she is delighted to participate.

“I’m really happy to be a guinea pig and be part of this project,” Franklin says.

“I’ve done my own research to see how my skin doesn’t dehydrate, for example, so it’s really great that there is going to be some real, scientific research behind flying.”

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the move to order the 787-9 and deploy the aircraft on one of the world’s longest routes (Perth-London Heathrow is 7,829nm) prompted the decision to conduct the research with the University of Sydney, which has teamed up with Qantas on other areas in the past such as flight planning.

The airline began working with the Charles Perkins Centre, which brings together the University of Sydney’s experts in topics such as nutrition, sleep, physical activity and lighting among other disciplines as part of a multidisciplinary research centre, about a year ago.

Back then, the focus was initially on sleep. However, the two soon realised there was much more they could collaborate on, Charles Perkins Centre academic director Steve Simpson explains.

“We soon realised that because the Charles Perkins Centre is a richly multidisciplinary group or centre we had access to a whole series of other relevant expertise that we needed to bring together with sleep,” Prof Simpson tells Australian Aviation in an interview.

“So diet and nutrition, physical activity, how you evaluate research programs, how you actually develop education programs and professional development programs, let’s say for staff as well as passengers, the development of new technologies, wearable devices applications.

“All of this needs to come together in a way that sort of addresses the set of issues in a holistic manner. That’s what the Charles Perkins Centre is set up to be able to do.”


VIDEO: Qantas explains what it is doing with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre to “Reshape the travel experience” in a video on its YouTube channel.

TEMPERATURE, LIGHTING AND MEALS ON 787 FLIGHTS TO BE INFLUENCED BY RESEARCH

The outcomes of the research to date will already be apparent by the time Melbourne-Los Angeles 787-9 services take off, particularly around lighting and temperature settings, as well as meal choices during a flight.

Joyce says the work on sleep has already resulted in changes to the standard cabin lighting on board the soon-to-arrive 787-9s, with the initial lighting scheme cast aside in response to the work of the Charles Perkins Centre.

Specifically, the research has highlighted the intensity and wavelength of cabin lighting that was ideal for certain stages of the 17-hour journey linking Australia and Europe.

“The sleep expert has gone to Boeing a couple of months ago and looked at their lighting centre and looked at the range of lighting options that we can do on the 787,” Joyce explains.

“He has already given us recommendations on the aircraft given the Perth-London flight about what different lighting at different stages we should be using, which has never been done before.”

Joyce promises initiatives from the partnership with the University of Sydney will benefit everyone, from passengers seated in the friendly confines of the business and premium economy cabins to those undertaking the Perth-London Heathrow ultra long‑haul journey in economy class.

“It is across the cabin. It is all passengers,” Joyce said, noting lighting, temperature and meal designs would touch every traveller in every class.

“And then for all customers we will be also giving advice on what you should do before the trip and after the trip and that will apply to everybody.”

A scientific approach has also gone into the lighting to be featured in the new Perth lounge Qantas is building as part of launching the Perth-London Heathrow nonstops.

“There are going to be showers obviously in that lounge and one of the recommendations is to give customers an option of having a blue light in the shower,” Joyce says.

“Why is that? Because, that will revitalise the customers because you want them on the first third of Perth‑London to be awake and sleep on the latter part of the flight.

Qantas consulting chef Neil Perry is also working with the Charles Perkins Centre as part of the partnership and will provide his recommendations on economy, premium economy and business class meals.

Perry has been tasked with ensuring Qantas serves the right combination of foods and drinks to ensure passengers walk off the 17-hour flight feeling ready to face the day ahead, noting certain ingredients can make a person feel more alert while others help promote sleep.

“It might be something a little bit spicy in the morning to get them going as they are landing. There are some vegetables that help melatonin production,” Perry told reporters at the launch.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain that regulates sleep.

Prof Simpson says the study involving frequent flyers would assess the impact on the body at various stages of the flight such as takeoff, when meals are served, the lights are turned off and when the cabin temperature is adjusted.

The data from the wearable technology will then be used to determine what is the best approach for minimising the debilitating impact of jetlag.

“We worked with Qantas, with the aircraft designers, to establish essentially what is a trial where the cabin lighting, the wavelength, the intensity, the timing of lighting, cabin temperatures, menus, food, beverages the timing of the delivery of the food and beverages services and so forth have all been adjusted to reflect what we think will support the best outcomes,” Prof Simpson explains.

“But we now need to measure whether that is actually the case so what we are doing in the first instance is providing people with wearable devices which will measure their sleep wakefulness, their physical activity levels, when they are eating and all sorts of other aspects of their behaviour.

“Then we can use that to actually see whether what we think we might be changing is actually being changed in the behaviour of people and use that evidence both as discovery, a new understanding of what happens on long-haul flights, but also more importantly to feed it back into the redefining and refining of what’s delivered next.

“It is really sophisticated and that I think is the value potentially in what we are doing. It is applying this sophisticated way of thinking, evidence‑based, scientific approach, to see whether we can actually change what happens.”

There is plenty of published advice from road warriors about how to overcome jetlag, from what to drink, what to wear and when to sleep.

Prof Simpson says many of these commonsense established practices are reasonably well founded.

However, he cautions that jetlag cannot be completely beaten. Rather, its impact can be minimised.

“We do know for example that the best entrainer as it is called – shifter of the clock – is light and if you deliver light at an appropriate time and at an appropriate intensity and wavelength you can shift the clock a little bit better than if you don’t do that,” Prof Simpson says. “That’s on the ground and in the air.”

“What you should be able to do is to work towards – because your clock can’t go in one step from Perth time to London time but you can shift it about an hour and half or two hours a day towards that destination and what you want to do is to make sure you do that most effectively.

“The key there is when you deliver light, when you go to sleep, when you eat, when you are physically active.
“In general terms we know all of those things are true but optimising them and translating them into what we do on an aircraft as a passenger and also as an airline, that’s where the science will come.

“You will never beat it, because it’s basic biology, but you can work with biology to rethink what you do before, during and after a long-haul flight to make things better.”

Prof Simpson says the work with Qantas will also cover ways to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by considering what steps to take before, during and after the flight.

IMPACT TO BE FELT ACROSS THE FLEET

Joyce says Qantas is “investing a significant amount in the research”.

“We think it will be paid back multiple times by offering an experience that no other airline in the world will be offering,” Joyce says.

“No other airline in the world has done any research into this.

“It is driven by the 787s coming but the intention is to put it across the board on the A380s and A330s and using that material for all of our flights so all of our passengers can benefit.”

Moreover, the study is being conducted as Qantas evaluates the Boeing 777-8X and Airbus A350-900ULR as candidates for commencing Sydney-London and Sydney-New York nonstop flights some time in the 2020s.

“Airlines have gone through stage length increases through their entire history,” Joyce says.

“I was looking at the documentation about when we started flying Sydney-LA direct for the first time. It used to take 72 hours with a couple of stops on the way.

“People said people were going to have difficulty flying those. We take it for granted now. That was a step change and we are going through the next step change.”

Joyce said these studies would be increasingly important amid the proliferation of ultra long-haul flights.

“You want to have an informed scientific basis to give people advice on what you do on board the aircraft,” Joyce says.

“It’s amazing talking to the scientists [that] it has never been done before and Qantas is the first airline in the world to do it.”

As for his own approach to long-haul travel, Joyce says he tries to limit alcohol consumption when flying, sets his watch to the time at his destination at the beginning of flight and often chooses the “healthy choice” meal option.

And the chief executive put to rest any fears the study will result in the airline removing some items from the onboard menu.

“I have to say, this is not about taking anything away from customers. We will still have on board our aircraft the most amazing Australian wine, a selection of Australian beers and as much dessert as you could possibly want,” Joyce says.

“This is all about collecting information and giving information to our customers so they can make informed choices.”

View image on Twitter
UPDATE

After this story was first published, Qantas subsequently unveiled some of the food choices that will be available for the ultra long-haul Perth-London Heathrow flight.

Choices included a herbal tea with lemon verbena chamomile and lemongrass that “encourages relaxation”, a hot chocolate that has the “sleep-inducing amino acid Tryptophan to help prompt the body’s sleep cycle”, and an organic kombucha, which is a “live cultured, sparkling drink full of natural probiotics that assist with digestion”.

 

Source :  Australian Aviation

Pentagon accords honor cordon to crown prince

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Crown Prince meets Republican, Democratic deputies

Saudi Gazette report

UNITED STATES Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is applauding Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian aid to war-torn Yemen, while stating there was an urgent need to find a political solution to Yemen’s war, as he voiced hope for a UN special envoy’s peace efforts.

Mattis had earlier welcomed Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, during an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday. Crown Prince Muhammad is on a visit in Washington.

Speaking at the start of a Pentagon meeting with Crown Prince Muhammad, Mattis said the US is committed to working with Saudis and the United Nations to accelerate a political solution to the civil war.

Mattis said the appointment last month of a new UN envoy to Yemen is an opportunity to speed up the push for a political resolution to the conflict. He called the Saudis “part of the solution,” adding that “we are going to end this war” on terms that are positive for the people of Yemen and their neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia and America must pursue “urgent efforts” to bring a peaceful end to Yemen’s war, Mattis told Prince Muhammad. “As you discussed with President (Donald) Trump on Tuesday, we must also reinvigorate urgent efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the civil war in Yemen and we support you in this regard,” Mattis told Prince Muhammad at the Pentagon.

Crown Prince Muhammad, earlier, met with some members of the US House of Representatives belonging to the Republican and Democratic parties, in Washington on Thursday.

The Crown Prince held extensive talks with Republican members Will Herd, George Holland and Mike Gallagher, and Democratic member Brendan Boyle. Their talks, on the third day of the high profile visit of the Crown Prince to US, figured on further boosting Saudi-US bilateral relations and opportunities for development within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan. They also reviewed the latest developments in the Middle East and Gulf regions and the ways to combat terrorism and extremism in a way strengthening security and stability of the region. Prince Khalid Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, also attended the meeting.

On Wednesday, the Crown Prince met with top executives of a number of giant US companies such as Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics. The meeting focused on enhancing bilateral cooperation in all fields, including means of developing trade cooperation and technology development between the Kingdom and US, as well as reviewing a number of initiatives in diverse fields.

Meanwhile, Salman Al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), said that the visit of the Crown Prince to US has enhanced the level of understanding between the two friendly countries, especially after the strengthening of the Saudi-US strategic partnership through the three summits held in Riyadh in May 2017, and signing of the Declaration of the US–Saudi Joint Strategic Vision.

Speaking to the Saudi Press Agency, he said that the intensity of relations between the two countries has been instrumental in further strengthening mutual understanding towards several regional and international issues, including fighting extremism, addressing Iranian terrorism in the Middle East, and the necessity of confronting and stopping Iranian recklessness at the expense of the region’s security and stability.

“As far as economic cooperation between the Kingdom and America is concerned, the volume of investments between the two countries was supposed to be around $200 billion in accordance with the agreements signed but it jumped over a year to $400 billion, which reflects in one way or the other the extent of mutual trust between Riyadh and Washington, and that would have a positive impact on the peoples of both countries,” he said while emphasizing that the Kingdom and US are dealing with the international issues on the basis of this partnership and not on the basis of defending one party on another.

 

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Sports for confidence building

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Saudi Gazette

A SPORTS training program across three major cities in the Kingdom recently aimed to engage youth in leading sports events in their communities, as part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts to improve coaching in schools.

More than 100 local coaches have been trained in the program to mentor some 300 young student leaders aged 14 to 19 in organizing events, such as sports festivals, in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province since last month.

The Youth Sports Trust International program, organized by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education, aims to encourage young leaders to become sports ambassadors within their communities and encourage others to take up sports in their daily lives.

Sports leadership helps deliver teamwork and communication skills that will eventually raise their confidence, according to the senior program manager, Rehana Mughal.

“This development will give them the opportunity to use their skills to encourage participation in sporting and fitness events for children, young people and adults,” she said.

In the past year, the Kingdom has promoted sports for youth and lifted restrictions on women playing sports.

“The Ministry of Education in the Kingdom has good plans for the fitness curriculum; there is recognition that sports can help to develop healthy minds as well as healthy bodies,” says Mughal. “We hope that our approach, which is focused on encouraging young people to be inclusive and to take responsibility for organizing sports activities for others will become part of the sports offer in all local schools. This approach develops useful skills for life such as team work, planning and leadership.”

Physical education classes were first reintroduced to girls’ schools in July after a decades-long ban. For female students, it is a new experience and teachers hope to raise more awareness on the importance of physical education.

Zain Tourkustani, an arts and physical education teacher at one of the schools, said, “As sports leaders, we have managed to receive training and gain expertise on how to become proficient leaders to be able to share our knowledge with the students as well as help them build their strength. Together with the students, we aim to become a bigger team and achieve our mission in the most appropriate and efficient way.”

Parents need to be involved in the process of raising awareness, she believes. “We share our expertise with the students, who then share what they have learned with their parents,” she said. “In my opinion, this is not enough exposure for the parents to decide whether or not the program is good enough for their children. One way to make the parents realize the true benefits of the program is by allowing them to participate in the program. This would help us raise awareness among other parents about the program and the benefits it holds.”

Commenting on the training program, a representative of the Ministry of Education said, “We have chosen 25 female coaches who will be assigned tasks that will enable the achievement of the initiative’s goals. There is set criteria that the participants should meet.”

The criteria set by the ministry include several conditions. The coaches must be physically fit, have work experience in education of not more than ten years for upper levels, preferably speak English, have effective communication skills, have the willingness to continue the program in the future, and acknowledge the importance of physical education of female students.

A heavy emphasis on sports and physical activities has been taken up by the National Transformation Program. From $3 billion to $5 billion are planned to be spent between now and 2030 to develop a sports ecosystem in the Kingdom.

Asked how the Ministry of Education is working to set up facilities in schools, a representative told Saudi Gazette: “The ministry aims to improve and develop the infrastructure to meet the needs of the schools. It is also seeking to secure the resources needed for teaching physical education. This will be implemented by the General Directorate of School Supplies.”

 

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Pensioners demand health insurance, hike in allowances

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Saudi Gazette report

SUPERANNUATION helps employees lead a relaxed life without the need to worry about a source of income for their upkeep when they retire after long years of hard work in private and public sector institutions. But many employees in Saudi Arabia, especially those suffering from chronic ailments, face a lot hardship after retirement from active service because their pension plan does not include health insurance.

A big majority of the pensioners suffer from chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and geriatric diseases that require them to use medications regularly and the amount pension they receive is insufficient to meet their medical expenses in the absence of any health insurance protection.

Some of the pensioners said they need at least SR6,000 a month to fulfill their basic needs. There have also been calls for pensioners to be paid an annual allowance and to allocate 20 percent of charitable housing projects for them.

These people have made remarkable contributions to the overall development of the country and therefore deserve greater care and better services in the twilight years of their life. There should be entertainment facilities for them including clubs to practice their hobbies. They should also be given special discounts at shopping malls and service centers. These were some of the views expressed by some of the retired employees and social workers during a discussion about life after retirement with Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Mishaal Omar Al-Hadiras, an educationist, called for the establishment of a fund in coordination with the Saudi Credit Bank to support the pensioners. He stressed the need to increase the monthly pension of civilian and military employees to a minimum of SR6,000.

“The government should give the retirees an annual allowance equal to one fourth of the last allowance they received before retirement,” Al-Hadiras told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

He urged the authorities to provide health insurance coverage to the retirees and their families, in addition to allocating 20 percent of charitable housing projects for the needy among the retirees. “Partnership agreements should be signed with various agencies to provide the retirees with special discounts while purchasing goods and services,” Al-Hadiras said.

This system can be implemented through companies having branches in all 13 regions of the Kingdom.

“At least three representatives of the retirees should be appointed to the board directors of the Public Pension Agency (PPA) and another three to the board of directors of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) to make their voices heard,” Al-Hadiras added.

Hassan Yahya Aseeri urged the PPA to establish an association for retirees in Bisha and open health and sports clubs for them. This will enable the retirees to make use of their time in a constructive and healthy manner. He lamented that the retirees are denied many services and privileges.

“Banks do not give retirees loans as if they are going to die the next day. At the same time, the very banks had been tempting them to take out loans during their active career life,” Aseeri said.

Airline companies must offer special discounts to retirees who travel for medical treatment, he added.

Bawaireed Ayed Al-Bishi called upon the government to extend special treatment to the retirees, saying they deserve more privileges to confront life’s realities. “I would like to request Saudi Arabian Airlines and private hospitals to provide special discounts to the retirees. Commercial banks must be instructed to provide loans to the retirees without creating obstacles,” he explained.

Ali Al-Rumaih said: “A separate fund should be set to support the retirees, in addition to building sports, cultural and social clubs to ensure their welfare.”

Hamad Al-Wanin, on the other hand, said: “The authorities to make use of the expertise of retired civilian and military officers in a befitting manner. These people could give training to young employees in different fields.” The government should provide them with financial support to open business ventures as well, he added.

Mufleh Fuwairan, Ibrahim Munshi and Hamadi Al-Fahimi all stressed the need to make use of the retirees’ expertise as is the practice in many advanced countries. They urged the authorities to increase dearness allowance given to the retirees from SR500 to SR1,000.

Mohammed Al-Qarnas, chairman of the Association of Retirees in the Eastern Province, said: “Our main demand is free health insurance coverage. We hope the PPA and GOSI would take appropriate measures to ensure provision of this important service.”

He said in the absence of health insurance the retirees are forced to spend the lion’s share of their pension on treatment and medication.

Speaking about other major demands, he said: “We need an increase in the pension amount to meet our expenses. We have noticed that retirees of some private companies receive higher amounts in pension compared to government employees. Some of the retired government employees do not even get SR4,000 a month.”

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Japanese researchers seek to unmask Draghi’s poker face to predict policy changes

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By Tomo Uetake

If European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi appears slightly more downbeat at his regular news conference than before, it could foreshadow a possible move by to the bank to trim its monetary policy stimulus.

That’s the conclusion of two Japanese researchers who’ve used artificial intelligence software to analyse split-second changes in Draghi’s facial expressions at his post-policy meeting press conferences.

The findings follow a similar analysis by the same researchers of Draghi’s Japanese counterpart, Haruhiko Kuroda, last year, which claimed to have identified a correlation between patterns in his facial expressions and subsequent policy changes.

Yoshiyuki Suimon and Daichi Isami, the paper’s authors, think that subtle changes in Draghi’s facial expressions could reflect a sense of frustration Draghi might have been feeling before making policy adjustments.

Their study covered Draghi’s news conference from June 2016 to December 2017 and found signs of “sadness” preceding two recent major policy changes — when the central bank announced a dovish tapering in December 2016 and another quantitative easing cutback in October last year.

However, Suimon noted changes in Draghi’s emotion scores were smaller than Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda’s, pointing to the European central banker’s greater degree of inscrutability.

“This suggests that Draghi is maintaining more control on his expressions, whether he is doing so consciously or not,” said Suimon, who is the lead author of the study.

In both the Kuroda and Draghi studies, screenshots of the policymakers’ faces were captured every half-second from video footage.

Suimon and Isami analysed those images with a program developed by Microsoft called “Emotion API” that uses a visual recognition algorithm to break down human emotions into eight categories: happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, fear, contempt, disgust and neutral.

They also examined the facial expression of ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio, who sits next to Draghi at his news conferences. Constancio showed more joy even when Draghi’s joy score dropped.

Kiyoshi Izumi, professor of the University of Tokyo, who specialises in financial data mining and artificial market simulation, said studying simultaneous facial expressions from a team of policymakers, such as Draghi and Constancio, provided stronger sample sizes.

“Some people — President Draghi, in this case – are better at poker facing than Governor Kuroda. So it’s interesting and worth analysing the news conference as a whole,” Izumi said.

Suimon and Isami presented their latest findings to a meeting of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI) on Tuesday. The pair studied together at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Frontier Sciences and did the research in their personal capacity.

Suimon said they have looked into Kuroda’s recent news conferences, and have not found any facial data to suggest an imminent major policy change. The BOJ kept settings unchanged at its last policy meeting.

In October, Kuroda laughed at the notion that artificial intelligence could analyse his face to predict changes in monetary policy, noting such studies would only prompt those being scrutinised to manage their facial expressions more carefully.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

Source :  Japan Today

Japan pulls out stops to improve nightlife for foreign tourists

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Many foreign tourists to Japan often wonder why public transportation, especially in areas of Tokyo renowned for their nightlife, is so limited after the last trains of the night.

Now local officials are brainstorming for ideas to address this dissatisfaction and others among foreign tourists and boost their spending by encouraging more night outings to shows, restaurants and scenic spots in the country.

Some local municipalities are proposing night markets in parks and DJ events using street vendors.

Toshima Ward centering on Ikebukuro, one of Tokyo’s busiest hubs, recently came up with such ideas to enhance the appeal of its nightlife. It even launched a committee last December whose members, including TV personality Tomoe Shinohara, are considering various ideas for nightlife entertainment.

The ward is building an outdoor theater at a park near Ikebukuro Station to attract more visitors with artistic and cultural interests and is hoping to liven up the area so that people spend time and money there after the shows have ended.

“We want to realize the proposals, starting with those deemed most viable,” said Toshima Ward Mayor Yukio Takano.

According to Japan’s Tourism Agency, a record 28.69 million foreigners visited Japan in 2017, with their total spending reaching an all-time high of 4.41 trillion yen ($41.8 billion).

But given a cooling off of Chinese tourists’ shopping binges, once dubbed “bakugai” or “explosive shopping,” spending per foreign traveler at about 150,000 yen is on the decline.

Tourists, especially from Europe and the United States who emphasize nighttime entertainment when traveling, complain that Japan’s nightlife can be dull — meaning there is a huge potential for promoting more spending by foreign travelers.

To offer more choices in nightlife entertainment, the Osaka prefectural government started providing subsidies to seven projects to enhance nighttime culture in fiscal 2017.

Club Piccadilly, which puts on Friday night shows featuring ninja dancers and performances of Japanese taiko drumming and electric shamisen instruments in Osaka’s busy Umeda district, was one of those chosen and proved popular with foreign tourists.

The Tourism Agency plans to support municipal efforts to promote nightlife entertainment across Japan, citing the Nagano Lantern Festival at Zenkoji temple in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, as a successful example.

The annual festival commemorating the 1998 Nagano Olympics, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors in February, features crafted paper lanterns lining the streets and Zenkoji temple lit up in dazzling lights.

“If we can create opportunities to go out at night not only in big cities but also in places like ski and hot spring resorts, that could boost spending on food, beverages and other things,” said an official of the agency.

Although the downtown areas of Shibuya and Ginza are bustling with shops and entertainment, the drawback is that Tokyo train and bus services end relatively early — usually around midnight or a little later — when the night is still young.

This leaves foreign revelers with few transportation options, either having to stay out and wait for their first train or pay for an expensive taxi ride back to their hotel.

This is in stark contrast to regional cities, such as Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, where the downtown areas are rather compact with shops and hotels all within walking distances of each other, which makes them even better potential hubs for nightlife activity.

In December, a group of lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party proposed carrying out test-run experiments to allow trains and buses to operate past midnight and into the early hours of the morning as a way of enhancing convenience for nightlife enjoyment.

Even so, it would be difficult to operate subways around the clock like those in New York City, the Tokyo metropolitan government-run subway operator suggested.

“It wouldn’t be easy because we check train tracks and the overhead wires between the last train and the first train in the morning,” said an official of the subway operator.

In Fukuoka, Fukuoka D.C., an association of industry, government and academia, is taking the lead in examining ways to stimulate the nighttime economy, and plans to take steps in earnest to that end from fiscal 2018.

“Our town is compact. Food stalls and hotels are all concentrated in the center of the town and this is our advantage that travelers don’t have to worry about transportation after staying out late,” said Shuhei Ishimaru, director general of the association.

“We want to create an environment where foreign travelers can enjoy their nightlife for many days without worry,” he added.

© KYODO

Source :  Japan Today

13 holiday hikers rescued from snowy Tokyo mountain trail

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By Mari Yamaguchi

Thirteen holiday hikers, including Chinese citizens, were rescued Thursday after getting trapped overnight by a late-season snowfall on a Tokyo mountain trail.

Seven who were unable to descend on their own were airlifted off the mountain, Tokyo police and disaster officials said. Japanese television showed some being taken up to helicopters hovering above the snow-covered woods.

Some of those airlifted were injured, including one seriously, though their condition was not life-threatening, officials said. The six others walked down, escorted by rescue workers.

Officials at the Tokyo Medical University Hachioji Medical Center in nearby Hachioji city, where four of the hikers were treated, said a 34-year-old Chinese woman suffered hypothermia and a broken pelvis, while another Chinese hiker, a 34-year-old man, suffered head injuries and hypothermia.

In a televised news conference, the hospital’s emergency center chief, Takao Arai, quoted the hikers as saying they were shivering in the cold overnight as they waited for rescue. “I believe it was a very harsh environment,” he said.

Japanese media said the hike was organized by a Chinese man and the group requested help from an area fire department Wednesday night. They spent the night on the mountain in the Okutama region, a popular hiking area in far western Tokyo. The group, which was rescued between Mt Mito and Mt Nukazasu, included teens and people in their 40s.

The unexpected snow on Wednesday, a national holiday for the vernal equinox, came days after the start of the cherry blossom season had been announced. It also snowed in parts of central Tokyo, but temperatures were above freezing and there was no accumulation.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source :  Japan Today

Consolidados Grande SP 21/03/2018

Resultado de imagem para tv aberta

No segundo capítulo, Orgulho e Paixão mantém públido da estreia. Reprise de Celebridade segue em baixo e preocupa a direção artística da Globo. No início da noite, SP2 começa a ser prejudicado.

Em noite de futebol, Jornal da Record reage, mas Dancing Brasil decepciona. Os Dez Mandamentos assegura os dois dígitos.

Confira, abaixo, as audiências de quarta-feira, 21 de março:


Hora Um – 5,2
Bom Dia São Paulo – 9,9
Bom Dia Brasil – 9,9
Mais Você – 9,1
Bem Estar – 7,5
Encontro com Fátima Bernardes – 7,2
SP1 – 12,5
Globo Esporte – 11,6
Jornal Hoje – 11,4
Vídeo Show – 9,5
Sessão da Tarde – 11,3
Vale a Pena Ver de Novo: Celebridade – 12,1
Malhação: Vidas Brasileiras – 15,4
Orgulho e Paixão – 21,0
SP2 – 23,4
Deus Salve o Rei – 24,1
Jornal Nacional – 27,9
O Outro Lado do Paraíso – 37,0
Campeonato Paulista: Palmeiras x Novorizontino – 23,8
BBB18 – 13,9
Jornal da Globo – 8,1
Empire: Fama e Poder – 5,1


Balanço Geral Manhã – 1,8
São Paulo no Ar – 4,0
Fala Brasil – 5,0
Hoje em Dia – 4,8
Balanço Geral SP – 8,1
Luz do Sol – 5,6
Bicho do Mato – 5,1
Cidade Alerta – 8,9
Os Dez Mandamentos – 10,7
Apocalipse – 7,7
Jornal da Record – 8,3
Dancing Brasil – 5,5
Programa do Porchat – 2,7


Primeiro Impacto – 3,7
Mundo Disney – 4,2
Bom Dia & Cia – 6,6
Fofocalizando – 5,7
Casos de Família – 7,1
Coração Indomável – 7,8
Amanhã é para Sempre – 7,3
SBT Brasil – 7,9
Carinha de Anjo – 9,4
Chiquititas – 11,3
Pra Ganhar é só Rodar – 9,8
Programa do Ratinho – 8,1
The Noite com Danilo Gentili – 4,7
SBT Notícias – 2,7

Um ponto no Ibope equivale a 71,9 mil domicílios. Esses números servem como referência para o mercado publicitário.

Fonte: IBOPE / MW – Praça São Paulo

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