BAE gets $26M for USS Harpers Ferry maintenance work

first_img BAE Systems gets $26M for USS Harpers Ferry maintenance work Authorities View post tag: US Navy February 6, 2017 Back to overview,Home naval-today BAE Systems gets $26M for USS Harpers Ferry maintenance work The U.S. Navy has awarded BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair a $26.6 million contract modification for work on the phased maintenance availability of USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49).The lead ship in her class of dock landing ships will undergo depot-level maintenance, alterations, and modifications during the maintenance.Work on the USS Harpers Ferry will be performed in San Diego, California, and is expected to be completed by January 2018.Sister ship USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) will complete the same maintenance period by April 2017 with the only exception being that the work will be performed by General Dynamics in Norfolk.All ships in the Harpers Ferry-class underwent a midlife upgrade between 2009 and 2014 and are now expected to remain in service through 2038. Share this article View post tag: BAe Systems View post tag: USS Harpers Ferrylast_img read more

Desert mystery

first_imgThere’s a mystery in the Syrian desert shielded by the conflict tearing apart the Middle Eastern nation.In 2009, archaeologist Robert Mason of the Royal Ontario Museum was at work at an ancient monastery when, walking nearby, he came across a series of rock formations: lines of stone, stone circles, and what appeared to be tombs.Mason, who talked about the finds and about archaeology at the monastery on Wednesday at Harvard’s Semitic Museum, said that much more detailed examinations are needed to understand the structures, but that he isn’t sure when he will be able to return to Syria, if ever.Analysis of fragments of stone tools found in the area suggests the rock formations are much older than the monastery, perhaps dating to the Neolithic Period or early Bronze Age, 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Mason also saw corral-like stone formations called “desert kites,” which would have been used to trap gazelles and other animals. The region is dry today (“very scenic, if you like rocks,” Mason said), but was probably greener millennia ago.It was clear, Mason said, that the purpose of the stone formations was entirely different from that of the stone-walled desert kites. The kites were arranged to take advantage of the landscape and direct the animals to a single place, while the more linear stone formations were made to stand out from the landscape. In addition, he said, there was no sign of habitats.“What it looked like was a landscape for the dead and not for the living,” Mason said. “It’s something that needs more work and I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.”The monastery is home to many frescoes — some badly damaged— depicting Christian scenes, female saints, and Judgment Day.In a talk in 2010, Mason said he felt like he’d stumbled onto England’s Salisbury Plain, where Stonehenge is located, leading to the formations being dubbed “Syria’s Stonehenge.”Mason also talked about the monastery, Deir Mar Musa. Early work on the building likely began in the late 4th or early 5th century. It was occupied until the 1800s, though damaged repeatedly by earthquakes. Following refurbishment in the 1980s and 1990s, it became active again.Mason thinks the monastery was originally a Roman watchtower that was partially destroyed by an earthquake and then rebuilt. The compound was enlarged, with new structures added until it reached the size of the modern complex, clinging to a dry cliff face in the desert about 50 miles north of Damascus.Mason was searching Roman watchtowers when he came across the stone lines, circles, and possible tombs.The monastery is the home to many frescoes — some badly damaged — depicting Christian scenes, female saints, and Judgment Day. Mason also explored a series of small caves that he believes were excavated and lived in by the monks, who returned to the monastery for church services.Mason said that if he’s able to return, he’d like to excavate the area under the church’s main altar, where he thinks there might be an entrance to underground tombs. He’s already received the permission of the monastery’s superior, who was recently ejected from the country.last_img read more

A deeper sense of Muslim Africa

first_imgOusmane Kane, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society and professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will discuss his book, “Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa,” at the Center for the Study of World Religions on April 3 at 5:15 p.m. The talk is co-sponsored by the Islam in Africa Speaker Series.Kane delivered the keynote address  in February at the Divinity School conference “Text, Knowledge, and Practice: The Meaning of Scholarship in Muslim Africa.”The Gazette interviewed Kane to illuminate the roots and influence of Islam in Africa, which is home to nearly 30 percent of the world’s Muslims. GAZETTE: What is the most common misconception the West has about African Muslims?KANE: Black Africa has been represented in academia as well as in popular representations as a continent of warring tribes. Look at the coverage of Africa in most TV channels. It is most of the time about tribal conflicts. What I argue in my book is that large sections of West African peoples have, in the past and the present, proven their ability to transcend parochial identities and differences in a common cause and have indeed claimed their independence of thought and common destiny. More than anything else, this is embodied in a long literary tradition in the Arabic and in African languages written with the Arabic script. Unfortunately, this literary tradition has been obscured by Western discourses of the past century that tended to represent black Africa essentially as a continent of orality. In doing so, these discourses have obscured its literary tradition.GAZETTE: How did Islam spread from the Arabian Peninsula to the rest of Africa?KANE: Islam has a very long history in Africa. In fact, it was introduced in the African continent even before it spread in Arabia, let alone the neighboring countries of the Arabian Peninsula. The prophet Muhammad sent dozens of his companions to Ethiopia before the beginning of the Muslim calendar. During the first century of the Muslim calendar, Islam spread from Egypt through the Red Sea and the East African coastal areas on one hand, and from Egypt across the desert to the rest of North Africa on the other hand. It is from North Africa that it was introduced to West Africa across the Sahara.GAZETTE: Your book’s title is “Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa.” What is the significance of Timbuktu, the ancient city in Mali, in the history of Islam?KANE: Timbuktu is famous as a great center of trade and Muslim learning from Islam’s Golden Age. It is renowned for its many old mosques and colleges and for its collections of rare Arabic manuscripts. For centuries, it has attracted Muslim scholars and merchants, but Timbuktu was not unique. It was only one among many scholarly centers that flourished in West Africa in the last several centuries. My book charts the rise of Muslim learning from the beginning not just in Timbuktu, but in other parts of West Africa as well, to the present. It also examines the shifting contexts that have influenced the production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge.GAZETTE: What other places in West Africa have the same significance as Timbuktu? Where do the majority of Muslims in Africa live?KANE: Other prominent centers of Muslim learning in West Africa include Agadez [Niger], Walata and Shinqit [Mauritania], Djenné [Mali], Kaolack, Pire, Koki [Senegal], and Kano, Katsina, and Borno [Nigeria], to cite just a few. The number of Muslims in Africa is estimated between 450 and 500 million. This is close to a third of the Muslim global population. The overwhelming majority live in the northern half of the continent above the Equator. In North African countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and West African countries like Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, more than 90 percent of the population is Muslim. With more than 80 million Muslims, Nigeria has the sixth largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Egypt.GAZETTE: What are West Africa’s contributions to the development of Islam?KANE: Africans have influenced scholarship throughout the Islamic world for more than a millennium. This has been fully documented by recent research on the literary cultures of West Africa, and particularly the manuscript heritage. With the spread of Arabic literacy, African scholars developed a rich tradition of debate over orthodoxy and meaning in Islam. The rise of such a tradition was hardly disconnected from centers of Islamic learning outside of Africa. In Timbuktu, Cairo, Mecca, and Baghdad, African scholars have played significant roles in the development of virtually every field of Islamic sciences. A glance at the writings and curriculum of West African Muslims shows that they cite works from the entire Muslim world. This is evidence that they participate in a global network of scholarly exchange.GAZETTE: Why is it important to write a book about Muslims in West Africa and Africa in general?KANE: I hope that the book will correct misconceptions in both the West and the Middle East that West Africa’s Muslim heritage represents a minor thread in Islam’s larger tapestry. I also hope that they realize that African Muslims in general have never been isolated. Neither the Red Sea nor the Sahara had ever been an insurmountable barrier to communication. On the contrary, they were bridges that allowed Arabs and Black African Muslims to maintain close relations through trade, diplomacy, and intellectual and spiritual exchange.last_img read more

Holland Casino paid €4.3m to its scheme during consolidation move

first_imgThe state-owned firm owns a chain of casinos across the Netherlands, with the profits going directly to the Dutch government.The company has been at odds with trade unions about the transition to the APF since last year.Both the unions and the company’s works council had claimed the transfer was happening without their approval, but this was rejected in court.As a consequence, Holland Casino was able to continue with the transition of the pension fund, which has 3,600 active participants, last year.The Stap APF has brought in several new clients in the past year, including part of the scheme for Dutch airline Transavia and Douwe Egberts’ company scheme.APFs allow consolidation of legacy schemes under one manager, but with each scheme retaining its own compartment within the vehicle. Holland Casino contributed an additional €4.3m to its company scheme when it transferred to the general pension fund (APF) Stap last year.The employer also paid Stap – founded by insurer Aegon and its subsidiary TKP – €120,000 to cover the transition costs, the annual report of the €1.5bn pension fund revealed.Holland Casino said that the one-off, voluntary contribution had been agreed as the company would save money from its pension fund joining the APF. The amount agreed was the result of negotiations with the scheme’s board.However, the company declined to make clear whether the contribution was linked to the scheme’s underfunded financial position, equating to a funding level of 103.2%.last_img read more