The management of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) has lauded authorities of the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the completion of a 35 unit housing community in Jah Tondo Town, Brewerville, outside Monrovia.During the tour of the facilities on Wednesday, vice chair for the Board of NASSCORP, Cletus Sieh said his organization is delighted with the level of work the NHA has done in completing a total of 91 units. Mr. Sieh expressed gratitude to NHA, adding, “As a partner who is a 100 percent funder of the project, we will continue to collaborate with the housing authority to address the need for housing in Liberia.”He said that supporting housing projects remains part of NASSCORP’s social responsibility.Mr. Sieh said since the appointment of Samuel Wluh as managing director of the NHA, “there have been more tangibles,” for which NASSCORP has seen the need to continue working with the Wluh-led administration to ensure that all Liberians own their own house.He said the process of constructing more of the housing units was important so that project’s funders can see that their contribution to the economy was purposeful “because of the level of developments currently taking place across the country.” For his part, NHA Deputy Managing Director for Administration, Prince A. Wreh, assured the NASSCORP officials of the commitment of the NHA to provide housing for the people of Liberia.He said his organization remains focused in addressing some of the challenges, including the provision of water, and working with the Ministry of Education to ensure that children have access to school, particularly in the Jah Tondo Town area.“We are involved in formal community developments such as social and economic surveys to capture schools, clinics and even police stations in the project diagram,” Mr. Wreh said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Volvo is on what can be called a dream run worldwide. The first of its new generation cars, the large SUV, the XC90 has become a bestseller while the other cars of the 90-series are doing very well as well. After Volvo is done with the 90-series, it is launching new gen cars of the 60-series and like the 90 line-up, it is the SUV that undergoes the scalpel first. Even though the XC60 had its best ever year in terms of sales in 2016, it is due to be phased out this year with the new gen car, and so the new car has to be really special.To be honest, the new XC60 looks great but looks much more like a cross-over than a true-blue SUV. It is less muscular than the outgoing XC60 and even less muscular than the XC90. It is meant to provide a less intimidating SUV to the urban folk who want the friendliness of a car but the utility of an SUV. Once the positioning of the car has been defined, things begin to fall into place. It is lower than the outgoing car and in fact has very little in common with it as even the platform that is now used.All new Volvo XC60The XC60 is based on the same SPA under-pinning on which the XC90 is built and is ready for both normal and plug-in hybrid powertrains. At its reveal in Geneva, the XC60 is shown with both diesel and petrol powertrains featuring 4-cylinder engines but there will three cylinder engines on offer later on as well as a plug-in hybrid powertrain.advertisementThe interiors of the XC60 are similar to the ones on the XC90 and have the same luxury feel to them as the 90-series cars. In fact there are some nice iterations to the interiors beginning with the vertical wood grains that have been employed on the wood inserts on the dashboard and the doors. In addition to that, one of the best infotainment systems gets even better with changes to the touch icons and the layout of the vertical touchscreen.If Volvo has got the positioning of the XC60 right as more of a crossover then it is sure to carry forward the successes of the 90-series further into the 60-series of cars.All new Volvo XC60Drive in BarcelonaEven though the new XC60 is based on a totally new platform, the SPA (Scalable Platform Architecture) that also underpins the XC90, it is nearly of the same dimensions as the outgoing car, albeit with some significant changes. Although it is broader than the current XC60, it is both lower and shorter. And despite being shorter, it has a larger wheelbase, which leads to better utilization of in-cabin space.Design:On the outside, the Volvo genes are apparent, and the XC60 bears a striking resemblance to the XC90 and sports similar design cues, but modified for the smaller sibling. The Thor’s Hammer DRLs, though present now have a sleeker and sharper look, all with the intention of making the car sportier and less butch. The Volvo logo on the front grille is the same but the grille itself is different. Of course the stance of the cars is totally different.All new Volvo XC60What is coming to India?In India the car will go on sale towards the end of the year and to start off with be available only in the top-end Inscription variant with all the bells and whistles as standard including pneumatic suspension. This will include all the driver assistant systems and for the first time also the radar based systems including Pilot Assist and many of the safety systems. Also, to start off with only the D5 diesel engine would be available though a T6 is also under consideration.First Impressions:So we picked an Inscription D5 for the drive and from the airport itself headed towards the hills surrounding Barcelona.All new Volvo XC60Whether it is seen on the show floor in a motor show or in the VIP parking lot of Barcelona airport, the XC60 is for sure a looker Whether it is the distinctive front or the even more distinctive rear with the edgy tail-lamps and the unmistakably Volvo silhouette, the XC60 is even better looking than its older sibling.All new Volvo XC60 Step inside and for a minute we think that we are stepping inside the XC90 – the same finesse, the same excellent interiors that set the benchmark for the XC90 – everything is repeated here though with some changes. There is now a wood strip that goes around and cradles the dashboard – and is again very distinct, with a driftwood finish, adding a Scandinavian charm to the cabin. The same 9in vertical touchscreen sits in the centre but with a reworking of the icons, making them even easier to use with even larger touch areas and a simpler layout. The instrument panel is digital, displayed on a high res LCD screen, and the heads-up display adds another information source for the driver.advertisementThe start-stop knob though is now unidirectional, and has to be turned in clockwise to both start and shut-off the engine. The drive mode select knob is also a replication of the XC90.All new Volvo XC60Engine:The 4-cylinder 235bhp diesel engine is also the same as that on the XC90 and comes complete with PowerPulse tech for the doing away of turbo lag. On starting it is smooth and actually never feels stressed mated to the 8-speed automatic transmission.All new Volvo XC60Drive Feel:The car has excellent all round visibility and despite the lower stance, gives a commanding driving position. In the comfort mode the air suspension is very soft and stops being just short of wallowy – and although the roads around Barcelona are nice, we have to say that the ride quality is much improved from the outgoing XC60. And despite the 20in wheels, the car feels gravitating towards comfort. In India though we might get 18in or 19in wheels. The car is not a crisp handler even after putting the drive select mode in the Sport mode but that is not something that any on us in India will mind as the suspension does get taut and the response from the engine and the steering, all gets much more sporty.All new Volvo XC60Features:No one could have though that Volvos would be leading the class in terms of technology on board but the XC60 continues to raise the bar that has been taken pretty high by Volvo. Yes, though most of the systems are safety related, the list of tech coming to the aid of the driver for his or her comfort is impressive as well. Whether it be pilot assist or blind spot alerts or steering assist, the XC60 leads the pack and in fact has some systems that are making its debut on a Volvo for the first time, like the amalgamation of steering assist with blind spot warning where the car actually steers away from a potentially hazardous situation.All new Volvo XC60Verdict:All in all the India spec car with be loaded with all the systems, features and equipment available anywhere on an XC60. This would include all the radar based safety systems that have been missing from the Indian cars, air suspension, a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, wood inlays, Napa leather perforated seats and a heads up display.advertisementAll new Volvo XC60Given the length and breadth of the features and equipment list, the fact that the car is spacious and can seat five easily plus the pricing strategy that Volvo employs in India, the XC60 will be the pick of the cars in its segment as things stand and it remains to be seen whether the new Audi Q5 or the upcoming new BMW X3 can match up.ALSO READ:First Drive review: Volvo S60 PolestarALSO READ:Volvo V90 Cross Country first drive review
In many ways, Thursday’s pivotal Game 5 between the Raptors and Bucks embodied the topsy-turvy nature of this Eastern Conference finals series as a whole. Milwaukee, the winner of the first two games, dominated the early portion of the contest, only for Toronto, which took Games 3 and 4, to come storming back.But down the stretch, three things broke what had been a stalemate in both the series and the game: the Raptors’ ability, once again, to grind Milwaukee’s fast-paced offense to a halt in the half-court; Leonard’s playmaking reaching new, impressive heights; and Toronto’s knack for repeatedly winning a handful of key 50-50 plays during the final five minutes. Those factors lifted Toronto to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series as things head north for Game 6 on Saturday.Early on Thursday, it looked like the Bucks might run Toronto out of the gym, with Milwaukee taking an 18-4 advantage before closing the first quarter with a 10-point lead.But even in winning that quarter, the reality was that the Bucks still hadn’t solved their biggest issue. While Milwaukee generally scored at will when it managed to get out in transition — where Giannis could have his way, Eurostepping around people like a Lamborghini making aggressive lane changes — the club still wasn’t productive enough when forced to run its half-court offense.According to advanced stats site Inpredictable, Milwaukee’s offense is scoring a dismal 96 points per 100 possessions when forced to take the ball out after a basket in this series — way worse than the 114 points per 100 plays the Bucks get following a defensive board, and way way worse than the 132 points per 100 plays they score after forcing a Toronto turnover.The Bucks can score in the half-court much of the time, but it has been far more of an uphill climb when Toronto throws down its trump card by deploying neutralizer Kawhi Leonard on Giannis. The Bucks have been almost 29 points less efficient per 100 possessions this series1From 114.4 points per 100 possessions to 85.6 points per 100 possessions. when Antetokounmpo is guarded by Kawhi, according to data from Second Spectrum. (There were hints in the regular season that Leonard — a break-in-case-of-emergency defensive option because of all the offensive weight he shoulders for the Raptors — could limit the Greek Freak. According to the NBA’s matchup data, the likely MVP took just three shot attempts in the 31 regular-season possessions Leonard guarded him.)Milwaukee again got nothing out of Nikola Mirotic, who’s been ice cold this series at just 19 percent (6-for-31) from deep and is a -37 through five games. (The Bucks are +37 in the series with Mirotic on the bench.) It also didn’t help to get a bad shooting night from Khris Middleton, who finished with 10 rebounds and 10 assists but had just 6 points after scoring 30 in Game 4.By contrast, the Raptors got another great performance from reserve Fred VanVleet, perhaps feeling less burdened now after the birth of his child; VanVleet hit seven triples, all uncontested.If Toronto comes back from its 2-0 hole to win this series — something that’s only happened five times in 72 tries since the conference finals moved to a best-of-seven format — VanVleet will have played a huge role in the feat. In the last two games alone, he’s hit more threes than he did over his first 15 games of this postseason. And after shooting just 28.6 percent from deep in last year’s playoffs, and 20 percent from three over the first two rounds of this year’s playoff run, he’s hitting better than 52 percent of his attempts (12 of 23) in the Eastern Conference finals.Speaking of 3-pointers, Kawhi hit five Thursday night, including a couple late, where he punished the Bucks for switching (something they don’t often do) center Brook Lopez onto him at the top of the key.More noteworthy than Leonard’s triples, though, were the career-high nine assists he logged — every single one of which led to a Raptors’ 3-pointer. (Toronto finished with a franchise playoff record 18 threes on the night.) Those nine threes he assisted are tied for the most by a single player in a playoff game over the last 20 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group.2With Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams and Blake Griffin.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/KAWHI-2.mp400:0000:0002:17Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.On some level, that assist total — along with VanVleet’s scoring — is perhaps the toughest box-score stat for Milwaukee to swallow, given that Leonard’s play-making for others was the one area that seemed safest to test. He also finished with 35 points of his own, making him just the sixth player in NBA postseason history to log seven 35-point games before the NBA Finals.Despite all this, though, the Bucks still had a chance at the end. But Toronto seemingly made every big play down the stretch. Over the last five minutes alone:The Raptors nabbed two offensive rebounds before capitalizing on the extra chances with a Marc Gasol triple, which put Toronto up by 7 points, 92-85, with 4:54 left.VanVleet hit a wide-open 3-pointer that Middleton couldn’t contest because of a great back-screen Gasol set on him during a kick-out pass from Kawhi. The shot broke a tie game with 2:21 left.Kawhi missed a three but then raced in to get his own board while Gasol was grappling with Antetokounmpo. The play resulted in Kawhi getting fouled and getting two free throws out of it.Confusion between Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon on who had VanVleet in the corner. Middleton, guarding Kawhi in a 1-on-1 scenario, pushed Leonard to his left, thinking he had sufficient help behind him at the rim. But because Lopez had moved toward the corner to cover VanVleet, the help wasn’t there, and Leonard got to the line again, where he made one of two.Kawhi missed an end-of-clock jumper, which glanced off the rim and somehow ended up in the hands of Gasol, who was subsequently fouled by Lopez with about 35 seconds left in the game. (It’s worth mentioning here that the Raptors were elite at coming up with loose balls all season.)Down by 3 points, the Bucks blew their last opportunity to tie things up when Brogdon dribbled the ball off his leg, and out of bounds, with just under 27 seconds left.The result, of course, was the 60-win Bucks — who hadn’t had a three-game losing streak all year, and entered Thursday 33-0 when leading going into the fourth quarter — snapping both those streaks at the worst possible time. Now they’ll head north, with their backs against the wall, while the Raptors seek to make history by clinching a spot in the NBA Finals on their home floor.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
A dispirited farmer at a rice market in Tentulia, Naogaon. Photo: Prothom AloThe district’s bumper boro crop has dubbed Naogaon as the ‘rice capital’ of the country. As these correspondents proceeded towards Naogaon from the Bogura railway station, the air was filled with the smell of the freshly harvested crops.Rice mills lines both sides of the road. But the young driver of the local vehicle in which we were travelled was least impressed.“There’s no use it staring at all this,” he said. “Normally the entire Naogaon is jubilant during the harvest, but this time it’s in a slumber. When will the price of paddy increase?”With paddy prices at a low, how are the farmers faring? How are the rice mill owners and the traders? Speaking on Wednesday to the relevant government agency, the farmers, and the traders in Naogaon, it was evident that 90 per cent of the farmers were not benefiting from the government drive to procure paddy and rice.Within around 15 minutes of reach Naogaon town, it was evident that it was the import of rice that had hit the farmers’ bumper crop hard.Around 5km down the road from the circuit house, a closed down rice mill caught the eye. In front it, a family was threshing the harvested paddy. The farmer Abdul Jabbar was toiling away with his wife Jamila, son-in-law Delwar, and the grandchildren.They would have to pay a worker a daily wage of 700 taka for job, something Jabbar could hardly afford as he only receives 500 taka for a maund of rice which it took him 700 taka to grow.Jabbar’s wife pulled her husband’s shirt off his back, “Look at the blisters. At this age he is having to cut and carry the crops himself.”Jabbar lamented, “Normally with the new harvest, we invite our son-in-law over and make all sorts of delicious dishes. But this time we have brought them over to thresh the paddy. Eid is almost here but we can’t even imagine buying them new clothes. Managing meagre meals is a struggle.”Further down the road, the hundreds of rice mills were mostly all closed. The boro crop has been harvested and the farmers are going from market to market in a desperate bid to sell their crop, but in vain.The prices are not going above 600 taka a maund. Last year a maund so for 800 to 1000 taka, but this time the rice mill owners and the traders are not buying the paddy.A lone mill among hundreds was open at Hapania in Naogaon sadar. The owner has leased it out to a local rice trader Motahar Hossain. About benefitting from the low prices, Motahar Hossain said, “The prices may be low, but what is the use if it is not sold? I took a 5 million taka loan from the bank and brought paddy during the aman crop, but I still have 70 per cent of that grain unsold. How will I buy the boro crop? In the mean time I have to pay interest on the loan.”Why is the paddy not being sold? At the Tetulia marketplace, around 15 km further, rice trader Hasan Ali was buying paddy from the farmers at 600 to 620 taka per maund for the medium grade jirashail rice and 500 taka per maund of coarse grained rice. He said last year this paddy sold at 800 to 900 taka.He was confronted with the question of profit. He will sell the rice to the government godowns at a high price, so he must be have a good profit margin.This statement agitated him and the other trader standing by his side. “The government won’t buy more than one tonne from one person,” he said, “and do you know how much we have to pay just to get on the government procurement list?”It was clear that corruption and irregularities was involved in the food department’s food grain procurement drive.In the meantime, it had been week since GM Faruk Hossain Patwary had been transferred from Tangail to Naogaon as food controller. He was sitting in his office with the upazila food controllers. Also there was an officer of a state intelligence agency. Food department persons were briefing the district food controller about the rice procurement drive.The district food controller said that this year there was an allocation to procure 72,096 tonnes of rice from the district. So far 5,632 tonnes has been procured and they had signed agreements with 1029 rice mills. They would also procure 5,586 tonnes of paddy. As per government rules, they were to procure 3 tonnes from each farmer, but in order to procure from more farmers, they would be buying one tonne per farmer this time.In order to verify the food controller’s statement, a visit to the government food grain warehouses was made. Paddy was being brought in small vans and other local vehicles by the farmers to be stocked in one of the warehouses.One of the farmers was drying out his paddy under the sun in front of the warehouse. The warehouse people explained that the paddy was still damp and would rot if stored in that condition yet the farmer couldn’t afford to transport the grain back. That was why he was drying it out, in order to sell as much as he could salvage.Another farmer there, Ainul Huq, said he had grown 230 tonnes of rice in his fields yet the government was only buying one tonne from him at the rate of 1,040 taka. He was having to sell the remaining grain for just 400 to 500 taka per maund. He said the government procurement made no difference to them at all.Food minister Sadhan Chandra Das told Prothom Alo, “We want to buy more paddy directly from the farmers, but in accordance to the decision of the national committee for food procurement, 150,000 tonnes will be purchased. I cannot overturn the decision on my own. But we will cancel our agreements with the rice mills which cannot provide the specific volume of rice. We will ask them buy that amount of paddy directly from the farmers. We are constructing warehouses around the country to store 1 million tonnes of rice.”General secretary of the rice mill owners group in Naogaon, Farhad Hossain Chakdar, blamed rice import on the falling paddy prices.He was annoyed that they couldn’t avail bank loans to procure paddy, yet the importers were being given loans easily.He said, “We will have to leave the rice trade and turn to selling fruit instead. How will the government feed the people three square meals a day if they put the famers and the rice mill owners into this predicament?”*The report, appeared in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir