Ashton’s England career all but over as he elects for Toulon move

Chris Ashton will join Toulon on a three-year deal in the summer after Saracens agreed to a release him early from his contract.

The England wing, who is serving a 13-week suspension for biting, will end any outside hopes of an international future by moving to the south coast of France. Ashton won two Aviva Premiership titles and the European Champions Cup during his first four years with the Saracens and he is the club’s leading try-scorer.

“We would like to thank Chris for his contribution to Saracens and the role he played in helping us create some incredible memories…

[Source:-The Times]

Chris Ashton’s England career all but over after deciding to join Toulon

Chris Ashton

Chris Ashton is to join Toulon next season in a move that all but ends his England career.

Saracens have confirmed that wing Ashton, who is currently serving a 13-week suspension for biting, will depart after a five-year spell at Allianz Park during which he has established himself as the double winners’ leading try scorer.

“We would like to thank Chris for his contribution to Saracens and the role he played in helping us create some incredible memories during that period,” director of rugby Mark McCall said.

Ashton will move at the end of the season

England will only pick overseas-based players in exceptional circumstances, so the move prevents him from adding to his 39 caps for the duration of his spell on the south coast of France.

The 29-year-old is said to have grown disillusioned with life in the English Premiership after falling foul of the game’s disciplinary process and Saracens granted his request to be released early from his contract.

He served a 10-week suspension for raking his hand over the face of Ulster’s Luke Marshall earlier this year, preventing him from taking up his place in England’s RBS Six Nations squad, before being given a second lengthy ban of the year last month.

Ashton is currently serving a 13-week suspension for biting

In both instances, Ashton felt he was harshly treated.

“I’d like to put on record my thanks to Mark McCall, our chairman Nigel Wray and the whole team at Saracens for the manner in which they have dealt with my request to join Toulon next season,” Ashton said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Allianz Park and I have made so many special memories on and off the field.

“I have developed as a player during my time with Sarries, but more importantly I have developed as a person and I will always be indebted to the club for that.

“There is a tremendous culture at Saracens and the bond between everyone here is very tight.

“It will be a real wrench for me to leave all that behind at the end of the season, but I’m looking forward to a new challenge at Toulon next year.

“My focus now is helping the squad prepare for Leicester on Saturday, contributing to the side when I return to action later this year and hopefully making a few more memories together in a black and red shirt.”


Indian workers optimistic on caree

MUMBAI: With career progression on mind, 84% of workers in India are increasingly optimistic that they will get the chance to develop and upgrade relevant career skillsin the next 12 months. This was an improvement of 3% from the previous quarter, according to finding from a Job Confidence Index Q3 survey by global recruitment specialists Michael Page, which drew a comparison between responses of 580 employees in India and 4,200 employees across the Asia Pacific.

The survey found 59% of respondents in India to be “satisfied to very satisfied” in their jobs as compared to 53% of their Asia Pacific compeers.

Nicolas Dumoulin, Managing Director, Michael Page India, says, “Workplace sentiments and confidence ranks very high in India right now. A majority of job seekers foresee progression in their career. With the right work attitude and legitimate reasons for job hunting, companies have a very high chance of securing talent with a very close match to their requirements. Newly-implemented HR policies can also help employers meet expectations of millennials who are increasingly becoming an important part of the Indian workforce.”

Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.


U.S. judge approves $15B settlement in Volkswagen emissions scandal

A U.S. judge has approved a $15 billion US settlement to compensate owners of Volkswagen vehicles involved in an emissions scandal.

A U.S. federal judge in San Francisco has approved a $15 billion court settlement of most claims against Volkswagen for its emissions-cheating scandal.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer signed the order Tuesday approving the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history.

  • VW reaches deal to compensate U.S. dealers for polluting diesels

About 475,000 owners of VWs and Audis with 2-litre four-cylinder diesel engines now will be able to seek buybacks of their vehicles starting next Tuesday.

Most of the owners are expected to sell their cars back to VW after the company acknowledged cheating on emissions testing and putting dirty cars on the road. In addition to having their cars bought back, owners can each get cash payments of $5,100 to $10,000 US.

“The settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate,” Breyer wrote in his order, posted Tuesday morning by the court.

VW will pay attorney fees and costs, including up to $324 million US in fees and $8.5 million in out-of-pocket costs.

Larger engines not included

The settlement releases legal claims from most of the 2-litre VW owners, but it doesn’t affect larger 3-litre six-cylinder diesels, which also cheated on tests. The settlement also doesn’t end any claims against parts supplier Robert Bosch, which drew up the cheating software.

The order says that 336,612 owners of 2-litre diesels have registered for the settlement and 3,298 have opted out.

  • Canadians ‘held hostage’ in Volkswagen emissions scandal still in the dark after court delay
  • Canadian Volkswagen owners frustrated by slow pace of talks for deal over high-polluting vehicles

Canadian owners of VW vehicles involved in the scandal are still waiting on news of a settlement here.

Last week, Volkswagen Canada and parties involved in class-action lawsuits in Ontario and Quebec were scheduled to give updates in court on a proposed deal to compensate the roughly 100,000 VW owners affected by the emissions-cheating debacle, but the updates were put off.

A lawyer involved in the Ontario lawsuit told CBC News last week that the hope was to have something firmed up regarding affected 2-litre vehicles by the next scheduled court date on Dec. 19.

[Source:-CBC News]

Emission scandal: US judge approves $14.7-billion settlement

Emission scandal: US judge approves $14.7-billion settlement

A US federal judge on Tuesday approved VolkswagenAG’s record-setting $14.7-billion settlement with regulators and owners of 475,000 polluting diesel vehicles, and the German automaker said it would begin buying back the vehicles in mid-November.

The action by US District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco marked the latest development in a scandal that has rocked VW since it admitted in September 2015 using secret software in its diesel cars to cheat exhaustemissions tests and make them appear cleaner than they really were.

Under the settlement first announced in June, Volkswagenagreed to spend up to $10.033 billion on the buybacks and owner compensation and $4.7 billion on programs to offset excess emissions and boost zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and other clean vehicle projects.

The affected vehicles emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution levels. Volkswagen may also be allowed to repair vehicles if regulators approve fixes.

It represented the largest civil settlement worldwide ever reached with an automaker over allegations of misconduct and fraud toward vehicle owners.

In total, Volkswagen has agreed to date to spend up to $16.5 billion in connection with the dieselemissions scandal, including payments to dealers, states and attorneys for owners. The scandal rattled VW’s global business, harmed its reputation and prompted the ouster of its CEO.

The world’s second-largest automaker still faces billions more in costs to address 85,000 polluting 3.0 liter vehicles and U.S. Justice Department fines for violating clean air laws. It also faces lawsuits from at least 16 U.S. states for additional claims that could hike the company’s overall costs.

Breyer turned away objections from owners who thought the settlement did not provide enough money, saying the agreement “adequately and fairly compensates” owners. In addition to the pre-scandal “trade in” value of the vehicle, owners will also receive $5,100 to $10,000 in additional compensation. “Given the risks of prolonged litigation, the immediate settlement of this matter is far preferable,” Breyer wrote.

Volkswagen agreed to make up to $1.21 billion in payments to 652 U.S. VW brand dealers and $600 million to 44 U.S. states to address some state claims.

To date, nearly 340,000 owners have registered to take part in the settlement, and only about 3,500 owners have opted out. Volkswagen must fix or buy back 85 percent of the 475,000 vehicles under the agreement within two years or face additional costs.

Under the Justice Department agreement, VW will provide $2 billion over 10 years to fund programs to promote construction of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, development of zero-emission ride-sharing fleets and other efforts to boost sales of cars that do not burn petroleum.

VW also agreed to put up $2.7 billion over three years to enable government agencies and agencies on Native American tribal lands to replace old buses or to fund infrastructure to reduce diesel emissions and award states about $600 million.

Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the automaker expects to begin buying back vehicles in mid-November. The automaker has hired 900 people, including one to be stationed at each dealership, to handle buybacks.

[Source:-Business Standard]

India crawls up a single rank in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index

India crawls up a single rank in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index

After pinning its hopes on a significant improvement in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, India has managed to move up by only a single rank in the latest Doing Business Report 2017 by the bank.


The country remains at the 130th position globally, it was revealed on Tuesday. This is the same as last year, but qualifies for a single upward movement in rank as India’s position in 2016 has been revised to 131 by the World Bank.


The rankings come after senior government officials had repeatedly said India will improve drastically in the 2017 report and puts into jeopardy Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim of pushing India among the top 50 nations within the next few years.


The latest ranking by the World Bank does not recognize several reform measures taken by the government to implement ease of doing business in the country and we will engage with them on these issues, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Ramesh Abhishek said.


The report takes into account reforms implemented upto 1st June and several measures by the government came into effect after that, he added.


The World Bank ranks countries on 10 parameters: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority shareholders, paying taxes, enforcing contracts, trading across borders and resolving insolvency.


Among these, India’s position deteriorated on all parameters apart from getting electricity, enforcing contracts and registering property. The country continued to improve the most in getting electricity connection, with its ranking soaring from 51st last year to 26th in the latest report. However, the two other parameter recording positive movement, that of enforcing contracts and registering property still places India 172nd and 138th, respectively, among all nations.
India ranking also continued to weaken in areas of strength like protecting minority investors — went down to 13th position from 10th position in the previous year — and getting credit — 44th position from 42nd position in the previous year.


New Zealand bagged the top spot in the rankings followed by Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kongand Korea.


While neighboring China’s ranking improved 6th positions from 84th to 78th, Pakistan fell an equal number of positions to reach 144th position from 138th earlier.


For India, the ranking covers data from Delhi and Mumbai, with weights of 53 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively. The World Bank sources feedback from users of government services, who had not been aware of various reforms being implemented, Abhishek said. The DIPP will engage much more with users and make changes to the feedback system, he added.


Important reforms by the government not considered by the World Bank include enactment of the insolvency and bankruptcy code and introduction of the online single window system for building approvals in both Delhi and Mumbai. India’s position on construction permit approval remains dismal, having fallen from to 185 from 183 previous year.


In terms of starting a business, India’s ranking went down to 155th position from 151st last year. This was also true for registering a property and resolving insolvency. On this count, the country’s position slid one position from last year to 136th.
[Source:-Business Standard]

The giant albatross endangered by monster mice

Tristan albatross chick with mouse

A remote colony of seabirds is at risk from an unlikely predator – an army of tiny house mice. But one man is making it his mission to drive out the marauding rodents, says Chris Carnegy.

Keith Springer doesn’t really do birthdays. That’s just as well, because when he turned 55 a few weeks ago he was on a forbidding lump of rock, south of theRoaring Forties. His handful of companions made him a cake, and that was that. I wonder what sort of presents he normally receives. What do you get a guy who’s one of the most prolific killers on earth?

Springer carries an air of steely determination. Home is near Christchurch, New Zealand, but he’s done his contract-killing in many places around the southern hemisphere. And now he’s facing one of the biggest challenges of his life – the monster mice of Gough Island.

Gough Island map

We met on a polar research ship called the Agulhas. Six days out of Cape Town it dropped me at the remote British island of Tristan da Cunha, where I do some volunteering for the local government. I saw Keith again on the return leg, by which time he’d sailed further south, and landed on Tristan’s sister island.

  • Find us on Facebook

You could fairly call Gough an outpost of an outpost.

Gough Island coastImage copyrightDERREN FOX
White line 10 pixels
Gough Island east coastImage copyrightDERREN FOX

That ship carried an intoxicating mix of people. In one giant floating coincidence, I found an artist from Holland, an accountant from England, a priest from South Africa, a dentist from Scotland. On the parade went: helicopter pilot, seal-watcher, police officer, maintenance man, diplomat, ornithologist – all alongside islanders heading to or from their homes.

Oh, and there was the Frenchman whose machinery sniffs the Atlantic air for traces of rogue nuclear tests. He does birthdays all right; his party on board featured a cake in the shape of two plump buttocks.

And in among them all, Keith Springer – world expert in the slaughter of small furry creatures. His tally of victims – rats, rabbits, cats and mice – easily tops a million.

Keith SpringerImage copyrightRSPB

Image captionKeith Springer

He’s on a mission to undo the havoc wrought by man on some of Earth’s most precious environments. It’s about to reach a climax with the mice on Gough.

Islands are nature’s test-tubes. Self-contained, their flora and fauna adapt rapidly and with beautiful precision to their exact circumstances.

Gough Island south endImage copyrightDERREN FOX
White line 10 pixels
Gough Island glenImage copyrightDERREN FOX

But when man blunders in, bringing invasive species as his fellow-travellers, carnage ensues.

So it is on Gough, home to the critically endangered Tristan albatross.

Female Tristan albatrossImage copyrightDERREN FOX
White line 10 pixels

It’s thought seal-hunting ships of the old days brought a handful of common house-mice to the island. They multiplied and now run rampant, with the eggs and chicks of millions of seabirds providing their all-you-can-eat buffet.

Tristan albatross chickImage copyrightBEN DILLEY

Image captionTristan albatross chick

And when they raid the nests of the albatross, they get a free pass. Neither chick nor parent has evolved to recognise the threat: they can watch uncomprehendingly as the young are eaten alive.

Tristan albatross chick with miceImage copyrightBEN DILLEY

There’s a video that shows a mother albatross desperately nudging the lifeless corpse of her baby. Eventually, she turns away with a feather in her beak, like someone with a lock of human hair as their final keepsake.

It’s easy to feel emotional about the plight of the Gough seabirds: 600,000 are being destroyed each year, and the mouse-invaders have already evolved to twice their normal size.

Tristan albatross

Tristan albatross maleImage copyrightDERREN FOX
  • The third rarest albatross in the world
  • Has a wingspan of 350cm (138ins) and lives for 40-60 years
  • Nearly the entire population – some 1,500-2,400 pairs – breeds on Gough Island

Source: RSPB

The near-total obliteration of an entire species of albatross is a real possibility. But Keith Springer sees it all through unemotional eyes. He’s got a job to do.

On Gough, he sized-up the accommodation blocks and the helicopter pad. He calculated locations for temporary buildings and poison-bait dumps. He worked out how much food, how much fuel, how many people and how many aircraft he’ll need.

Find out more

  • From Our Own Correspondent has insight and analysis from BBC journalists, correspondents and writers from around the world
  • Listen on iPlayer, get the podcast or listen on the BBC World Service or on Radio 4 on Thursdays at 11:00 BST and Saturdays at 11:30 BST

Working for Britain’s RSPB, he’s putting the operational detail into an audacious plan to overfly the island, spraying poison pellets that are fine-tuned to kill the mice.

But they must do it in harsh mid-winter conditions, while caging and protecting birds and trying to reach mice in cliff crevices. This is extreme conservation work, and it won’t come cheap.

Gough IslandImage copyrightDERREN FOX

A campaign is underway to raise more than £7m ($8.5m). If it hits the target, the eradication should be complete in four years’ time. If it doesn’t, the mouse banquet rolls on unchecked.

Keith Springer has spent much of his life holed-up on remote islands, shivering in the cold and eating from ration stores. He’s sacrificed normal family life to his mission, but he says he’s gained something different – a life in places that he calls “elemental”. Breathtaking places, where nature’s beauty and nature’s fury are laid bare.

If his plan works, five years from now there’ll be a whole new generation of young albatrosses soaring over the vastness of the South Atlantic. They’ll have survived to reach their first birthdays, untroubled by alien attackers. Now that could be quite some party.


Which country is the most generous in the world?

Displaced Iraqi children who fled Mosul pose for a photograph at a refugee camp in Duhok, Iraq

A war-torn state and a country ruled by an oppressive military junta for decades are home to the world’s most generous people, research suggests.

People in Iraq are the kindest to strangers, while Myanmar’s residents give the most away, according to the CAF World Giving Index 2016.

In the last month, eight in 10 Iraqis have helped someone they don’t know, with Libyans helping almost as many.

During the same period, 91% of those in Myanmar have given money to charity.

In comparison, 63% of Americans – the second most generous overall – have donated money, with 73% helping a stranger.

  • Hairdresser offers discount to people ‘having a bad day’
  • I went to Nigeria to meet the man who scammed me

The annual ranking places Myanmar, previously known as Burma, at the top of the list for the third year in a row, with more than half the population donating time and 63% helping a stranger.

The report said the generous giving reflected the practice of “Sangha Dana”, where the country’s Theravada Buddhist majority donate to support those living a monastic lifestyle.

The overall table, which takes into account financial donations, help offered to strangers and volunteering, ranks the UK as the most generous place in Europe, the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, Kenya in Africa and Guatemala in Latin America.

China is named as the least generous country.

However, the poll only takes into account the responses of 1,000 people on average in each of the 140 countries, and the Charities Aid Foundation acknowledges there is margin for error.

But it is the kindness of Iraqis and Libyans to complete strangers in the face of years of conflict and terrible violence which stands out in the list.

BBC correspondents are unsurprised by the findings, as both countries have long traditions of hospitality to those they don’t know.

The world’s 10 most generous countries
Rank Country Overall generosity
1 Myanmar 70%
2 United States 61%
3 Australia 60%
4 New Zealand 59%
5 Sri Lanka 57%
6 Canada 56%
7 Indonesia 56%
8 United Kingdom 54%
9 Ireland 54%
10 United Arab Emirates 53%

“Though often initially suspicious of foreigners they do not know, Libyans have an intrinsically generous culture,” explained BBC North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad.

“In my experience this became more apparent after Gaddafi was overthrown from power; decades of anti-Western rhetoric and the police-state nature pre-2011 gave a distorted impression of Libyan hospitality – they were not unkind then, but just fearful of being helpful to foreigners or Libyan strangers.

“After the revolution, Libyans became vastly more welcoming of strangers and demonstrated it on every occasion they could. The persistent state of conflict since has probably contributed to the current ranking because in the absence of state authorities, civilians only have each other to turn to for help.”


Canadian nurse charged with eight murders

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer

A 49-year-old nursing home worker in Ontario has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder spanning several years.

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer of Woodstock, Ontario, appeared in court on Tuesday morning.

The victims were residents in two long-term care facilities where Ms Wettlaufer worked and were between 75 and 96 years old.

Police said seven of the victims were given a fatal dose of a drug.

The victims were five women and three men and were all residents of Caressant Care in Woodstock and Meadow Park in London, Ontario.

“The victims were administered a drug… there are obviously a number of drugs that are stored and are available in long-term care facilities,” Woodstock Police Chief William Renton said at a news conference.

The chief declined to comment on a possible motive, but did add that investigators are confident that they have identified all victims.

Caressant spokesman Lee Griffi said the accused was a registered nurse and left their employment approximately two and a half years ago.

“We deeply regret the additional grief and stress this is imposing on the families involved,” Mr Griffi said in a written statement.

The deaths took place between 2007 and 2014.


Third runway at Heathrow cleared for takeoff by ministers

Heathrow airport

The government has approved a third runway at Heathrow to expand UK airport capacity following a cabinet committee meeting on Tuesday.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the “truly momentous” decision would support trade and create jobs.

Gatwick airport said it was disappointed with the decision, which was “not the right answer for Britain”.

The issue has split the Cabinet, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying a third runway was “undeliverable”.

The Education Secretary, Justine Greening, whose Putney constituency in southwest London is near the airport, has also been a vocal critic of Heathrow expansion.

The Department for Transport said a new runway at Heathrow would bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn and create as many as 77,000 additional local jobs over the next 14 years.

Heathrow said the expansion would allow it to offer more direct flights to UK destinations as well as up to 40 new cities abroad such as Wuhan, Osaka and Quito.

Live: Airport expansion decision

What happens next?

Why expansion is taking so long

Is new runway more important post-Brexit?

The green price of Heathrow expansion

Death sentence for Heathrow villages

A public consultation will now be held on the effects of airport expansion before the government makes a final decision as part of a national policy statement on aviation.

MPs will then vote on that decision in the winter of 2017-18. It is unlikely that any new runway capacity would be operational before 2025.

Construction is not likely to begin until 2020 or 2021, the Airports Commission has said.

Mr Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London, doubted whether construction would ever start: “The day when the bulldozers appear is a long way off, if indeed they ever materialise.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, also said expanding the west London airport was the wrong decision for both London and the UK.

“There are more people affected by noise because of Heathrow than people affected by the airports in Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich and Madrid combined,” he said. “The air in London is a killer. It makes you sick and it’s unlawful.”

Heathrow airportImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Greenpeace UK chief John Sauven said a third runway at Heathrow would increase air pollution and “be a waste of time, money and lives”.

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, said opposition from predominantly Tory-controlled councils, communities and MPs meant “the chances of a toxic third runway being built are vanishingly small”.

However, a wide range of unions and business groups welcomed the decision to expand Heathrow. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was “absolutely vital for Britain”, while CBI chief Paul Drechsler said it would create jobs and boost economic growth.

Heathrow management said the airport was ready to deliver a third runway that was “fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK”.

Expanding airport capacity in the South East of England has been a political hot potato for many years, which is why successive governments have attempted to duck the issue.

Although Heathrow has always been the favourite among businesses, it has attracted the most opposition from MPs with constituencies near the airport or under flight paths.


A study last year led by Sir Howard Davies recommended a third runway at Heathrow, but other options included a new runway at Gatwick or extending one of Heathrow’s existing runways.

Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park, has resigned in protest against the decision, which he called “catastrophic”.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, said the announcement was the start, rather than the end, of the process.

“It beggars belief that it has taken ministers over a year since the publication of the Davies report to even make that start,” he said. “There is no justification for dithering on this scale.”

Analysis: Simon Jack, business editor

We have a long way to go before we see the proverbial shovels in the ground – there will be legal and planning challenges aplenty to come. However, with today’s decision to recommend a third runway, this government has arrived at a point its predecessors failed to. From beating ourselves up for not being able to build anything, the UK is suddenly building everything.

Heathrow was chosen because of the extra boost it gives to the UK economy, but it is not the only mammoth project out there. After a last-minute wobble, the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power station was given the green light, while the biggest project of them all is coming down the track fast.

Construction on the £42bn HS2 is scheduled to begin next year – and that is probably not all. Chancellor Philip Hammond has hinted he may reveal some moderate borrowing to fund targeted infrastructure spending in his Autumn Statement next month. It’s enough to make the Victorians sit up and take notice.

If projections for a fairly sharp post-Brexit slowdown in the economy next year are correct then we may need this spending boost. If these projects proceed on time, there is something else we will need: people to build all this stuff. With unemployment close to historic lows, it’s not clear we have enough. Like the Victorians did, it seems very likely we will need to look abroad to find the workers for our golden age of infrastructure – and that, post-Brexit, will present a political rather than an engineering challenge.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, welcomed the decision to expand Heathrow but added: “The government’s directive to cap customer charges at today’s level is fundamental. Heathrow is the world’s most expensive hub airport so it’s critical that new capacity is affordable.”

His counterpart at Virgin Atlantic, Craig Kreeger, described the announcement as an exciting opportunity to radically transform airline competition at the UK’s main airport”. The airline would strive to ensure that passengers were not “overburdened by paying for runways and facilities that won’t be open until the mid-2020s”.

Heathrow map of proposal