President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday asked a second excuse from lawmakers as she declined to honor a planned meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives. She was due to hold discussion with at least 38 members of the House including the committee on Education as well as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker on the future of Liberia’s education system. Initially, the Liberian leader was summoned by the House last week to answer to a constitutional contempt charge, which she again declined to honor, prompting a new letter from her office calling for consultation on Monday, July 6. According to the chairman of House Committee on Executive, Grand Kru County Representative George Wesseh Blamoh, the President also communicated on Monday, informing the House of her inability to appear at the Capitol to begin the consultation on the way forward about the education sector. In an interview with the Daily Observer, Rep. Blamoh named the presence of the visiting Dutch delegation to Liberia as the main reason behind her latest decision to reschedule her appearance.“The President informed us that she has international guests,” he said, “and as such, she will not be available for the meeting this week. She requested that we hold the discussion next week, but said she has instructed her Minister of Information to make a public announcement informing the public that school will not be closed this July as is being speculated.” The House welcomes the President’s excuse, Blamoh maintained, noting that the acceptance was in the spirit of national unity. What action will the House take if the Information Minister refuses to make said pronouncement, Blamoh asserted, “it is left to him and his boss Johnson Sirleaf on how to address these issues.” The date and time of the rescheduled meeting was not disclosed, but a legislative insider suggests that the President might simply be buying time. “She is not prepared to defend her policy” on the education sector, the source said. According to the source, the Legislature gave her the benefit of the doubt by accepting her request for a meeting with the House leadership instead of full plenary. Constitutionally, decisions taken in meetings with the House leadership are not binding unless they meet the consent of plenary, which is the highest decision making body. Therefore, the expected consultative meetings between the President and the House leadership might remain just what they are — consultations — nothing concrete. Meanwhile, the Senate has named September 30, 2015 as the new school closure date. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
“My putter was hot today. It hasn’t felt that good in a long time,” Koepka said. “This was a crazy day, seven-under, it’s not going to happen every day.”Tommy Fleetwood, trying to become the first Englishman to win the PGA since Jim Barnes in 1919, shot 67 to stand second. France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Americans Luke List and Chez Reavie were on 68.Koepka edged Fleetwood by one stroke to win last year’s US Open at Shinnecock, only 60 miles (96km) east of Bethpage Black.Both Koepka and playing partner Woods said his round could have been the best in major history, surpassing the 62 fired by South Africa’s Branden Grace at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 British Open.“I parred both par-5s and missed a couple of eight-footers for birdie,” Koepka said. “It could have been a hell of a round. I’ll take it any day. Just need to clean a few things up.”Koepka, who began on the back nine, holed a 40-foot birdie putt at 10 and sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-3 14th.He charged with four birdies in six holes, before holing a 10-footer to save par at the sixth ahead of his closing heroics.“He played well,” Woods said. “That was probably the highest score he could have shot out there. He left a few out there. He could easily have been a couple better.“I wasn’t as close as I would have liked to have been for sure.”– Nightmare for Tiger –Sixth-ranked Woods, coming off his stunning 15th major victory in last month’s Masters, endured a nightmare day, signing for a two-over 72, after snapping an 11-year major drought 33 days ago in his prior competitive round.Tiger Woods struggled to a 72 in Thursday’s first round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Warren LittleOn the same course where he won the 2002 US Open, Woods opened with a double bogey at 10 after finding rough, laying up and blasting over the green. He answered with a birdie at 15 but double-bogeyed the par-3 17th after finding sand off the tee.“The golf course is playing tough,” Woods said. “It’s not that hard to make bogeys out there but it’s hard to make birdies.”It was only the fourth time in 82 major starts that Woods began with a double bogey or worse, but the first time at a PGA.Woods fought back with birdies at the first and second holes, then curled in a 30-foot eagle putt to make the crowd roar.But par misses from inside 10 feet at the fifth, seventh and the par-3 eighth doomed his fightback.“Fought my way back and got it under par for the day,” Woods said. “Let it slip with a couple of mistakes and a couple of bad putts at the end.”– Daly carts around PGA –A victory would match Woods with Sam Snead for the all-time record of 82 US PGA Tour titles and move him two shy of the major record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus — as well as put him halfway to a calendar Grand Slam for the first time since 2002.Koepka, who seeks a third consecutive US Open title next month at Pebble Beach, could become the first golfer to own back-to-back titles at two majors simultaneously after holding off Woods to win last year’s PGA at Bellerive.It was the first PGA Championship played in May since 1949, moving from August this year in a revamp of the global golf schedule.John Daly became the first golfer since 2012 to use a cart in a major tournament in Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Patrick SmithAmerican John Daly, hampered by right knee arthritis, used a cart after an appeal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He’s the first player to use a cart in a major since Casey Martin at the 2012 US Open.Among the late starters were fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy and world number one Dustin Johnson.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Defending champion Brooks Koepka fired a seven-under par 63 to grab the lead in the first round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Warren LittleBethpage, United States, May 16 – Defending champion Brooks Koepka fired a bogey-free seven-under par 63 to seize a four-stroke clubhouse lead early in Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Championship while Tiger Woods struggled.Third-ranked Koepka, seeking his fourth major title, closed with a 33-foot birdie putt at Bethpage Black’s ninth hole to set a course record and match the lowest round in tournament history with a second PGA 63 in as many years.
0Shares0000Oscar Ouma with the ball when featuring for Samurai in the Safari Sevens on October 3 at Safaricom Stadium. PHOTO/ Raymond MakhayaNAIROBI, October 7 – Despite proving their worth when featuring for invitational side Samurai at this year’s Safari Sevens, Oscar Ouma, Felix Ayange and Sammy Oliech will not be considered in the national team preparing for 2016 Africa Olympics qualifiers.Ouma’s omission has raised eyebrows after he produced sterling performance to steer Samurai to the title but head coach, Benjamin Ayimba says he will only consider the Sri Lanka based forward if he is playing consistently for his club. “He was not available for selection initially. If he is playing consistently for his club then there is a reason to call him up however, if he is not playing anywhere there is no reason for calling him because the other boys are working very hard in their clubs.“If he avails himself at his club and we see him do the same, well and good but if he doesn’t its very unfortunate,” Ayimba told Capital Sport.The former Nakuru RFC utility player last featured for the national team during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games but he had to take a break after going professional with Sri Lanka Super League side, Kandy Sports Club.Oliech who has had a good stint with the national 15s team and his Impala RFC club, is yet to break through the ranks while Agevi who was a regular last season was overseen by Ayimba who was re-appointed three weeks ago.“Kenya has always had depth and the Safari Sevens was majorly meant to work for (us) as squad build up and it has done even more because we have been able to pick up players who will win games any time against anyone,” the head coach underlined.Ayimba, is yet to name his 23-man squad for the 2015-16 Rugby Sevens World Series season that will be contracted by Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) with the November Olympics qualifiers set to be their first assignment in South Africa.However, Ayimba is yet to settle in the job after his re-appointment was rejected by some board directors who claimed the process was flawed since the he lacked credentials as required in the advertisement.The directors are said to have preferred Welshman Nick Wakley who was with the Samurai team as an assistant to former Kenya sevens head coach, Mike Friday but KRU boss, Richard Omwela defended Ayimba, who was returning to the side after being fired in 2011.“It’s something we have talked about. Some directors were not happy with Ayimba’s appointment and we told the coach we want to access him after Safari Sevens and that’s what as the board we want to do.“It’s not about certificates because he delivered before why didn’t they ask him about certificates? Why is it that they are asking about it now that we are preparing for Olympics qualifiers?” Omwela questioned.He added, “Shujaa and Morans played well in Safari Sevens so we want to know if we will throw away the baby with water. We will clearer up the air to tell you what plans we have to deliver on the qualifiers but as far as I’m concerned he is the head coach.-Tank resignation-The division in the Board has led to the exit of long serving rugby administrator, Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno who is reported to have tendered his resignation as KRU Rugby Services Manager.Otieno, a former Kenya 15s and sevens head coach cited frustration and interference by the board in the implementation of union programs as the reason behind his quit and is now serving out his notice.The protract rift in the Board has seen a substantial number of directors and Officers abandon the Union.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
MIDDLE EAST: Some parties seek firm goals for a Palestinian state, others a vaguer accord. By Anne Gearan THE ASSOCIATED PRESS RAMALLAH, West Bank – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice glossed over differences between Israel and the Palestinians about whether an upcoming peace conference will tackle the hardest issues in their six-decade conflict, saying Thursday the U.S.-sponsored session will be a serious push toward forming an independent Palestinian state. Israel has said it is premature to discuss the thorniest issues. Arab diplomats have compared the quiet U.S. planning for the session, and the vague statements from U.S. officials about the goals for the meeting, with the intensive shuttle diplomacy and U.S. arm-twisting that has preceded past peace summits. Still, after years of deadlock and a hands-off approach by the Bush administration, peace efforts gained momentum this year. Israel, the United States and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are trying to use the internal Palestinian political split as a springboard. Rice, beginning what aides have said will be intensive shuttle diplomacy ahead of the fall conference, said both sides are working on an agreement that would guide their negotiations toward a final peace deal. “The issue is to move the process forward through a document that will help to lay a foundation so that there can be serious negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian state as soon as possible,” Rice said. “That’s the purpose.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The Palestinians want the fall international conference to yield an outline for a peace deal, complete with timetable, while Israel wants a vaguer declaration of intent. “We need a meeting that advances the cause of a Palestinian state,” Rice said following talks with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. Rice said both sides are addressing “critical, core issues” in preparation for the meeting, expected in mid-November in the United States. She was not specific about whether that means the three questions that have hung over past peace efforts: Final borders of a Palestinian state, the status of disputed Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees. President Bush in July called for a conference to break the deadlock in the Mideast peace process, but the lack of an official agenda, location and timing for the meeting worries Arab leaders whom the United States wants to recruit as backers for a renewed peace process. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said last week that his country would probably not attend the conference if it did not tackle substantive issues, while Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said he is concerned the meeting would amount to nothing without proper preparation.
1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced he will retire from international football at the end of Euro 2016.The Swedish international, who has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United for the start of next season, has won 115 caps for his country – with the potential to win a few more before the end of the tournament.The Blagult currently sit second last in Group E, with just one point from two games. A win against the Red Devils would put them into second and through to the Round of 16, although a loss is guaranteed to knock Erik Hamren’s team out.Speaking in a press conference, Ibrahimovic confirmed his final action with Sweden will be at this tournament, rejecting reports that he will be part of their squad for the 2016 Olympics.He said: “I will not participate in the Olympics so I hope we go as far as possible here. But I will not quit disappointed. I’m very proud to be captain of Sweden.“I want to thank all the supporters who have helped to achieve what I have done. Wherever I go, I will always take the Swedish flag and be proud of it. Thanks to all.”Kim Kallstrom and Andreas Isaksson have both also confirmed they will retire from international football at the end of Euro 2016. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 62 goals for Sweden
Jose Mourinho believes Manchester City’s players go down very easily, with the Manchester United boss saying it only takes a “little bit of wind” to knock them over.The 175th Manchester derby is comfortably the biggest match of the Premier League season so far as second-place United attempt to claw back Pep Guardiola’s runaway leaders.Eight points is the gap ahead of Sunday’s mouth-watering Old Trafford encounter and Mourinho has looked to disrupt rivals City before a ball is kicked.While full of praise for Guardiola’s side, the Portuguese used the opportunity to underline the unbeaten league leaders’ apparent tendency to go to the deck.“They are a good team,” Mourinho said. “They defend well, they react well to the moment they lose the ball.“They have a good dynamic in attack, they have creative movement.“They have amazing players, they have a fantastic coach, they have lots of good things.“If you ask me one thing that I don’t like a lot it’s that they lose their balance very easily.“You know, a little bit of wind and they fall.”Mourinho’s comments are unlikely to go down well at the Etihad Stadium, especially after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger accused in-form Raheem Sterling of diving last month.Fernandinho was booked for simulation at Huddersfield and Burnley boss Sean Dyche fumed with the way Bernardo Silva went down to win a penalty earlier in the campaign.Mourinho has only added fuel to that particular fire, while the United boss has suggested he would find himself in hot water if he expressed political views in the way Guardiola does.The City boss wears a yellow ribbon in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians.“If the rules allow us to do that, he is a free citizen to do it,” Mourinho said.“But I am not sure if the rules allows to have any political message on the pitch. That’s just my doubt.“But I know Pep and I know his feelings like everybody else knows because it is public about his country.”Asked if he would never do a similar thing, he added: “I think I wouldn’t be allowed to do. That’s just what I think.”UEFA allow political messages without offensive content, while the Football Association is understood to have a similar criteria.The subject kicked off a pre-match press conference in which Mourinho pledged to stop taking aim at his own fans.The United boss was put out by an apparent lack of support for Romelu Lukaku in October’s win against Tottenham, when he held a finger to his lips and told the doubters to calm down.Mourinho then made a chatting gesture at the following home game against Benfica having dug out some of his own fans in his programme notes, leading the Manchester United Supporters Trust to invite him to “discuss his concerns” around the Old Trafford atmosphere.“I stop with that,” he said. “I am not going to write any more words about it, I am not going to say any more words about it.“We are paid to work and to work hard and to give the best we can, not to criticise fans and I am not going to say any words.“Because it is the reality of things. I am not paid to come here and to make any comments or to ask for something from the fans.“I am paid to try and give them happiness, which is what I try to do every day.” 1 Manchester City claimed a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in the derby last season
http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancing/160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba will return to judge the performances, ABC said. Scores from the judges and the voting public will be combined, and the couple with the lowest score will be eliminated during a results show the following evening. The winner receives the “Dancing With the Stars” mirror ball trophy. — On the Net: NEW YORK – Tucker Carlson of MSNBC and talk-show host Jerry Springer will be among the celebrities competing on the third season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” The new season of the show – which pairs 11 competitors of sometimes dubious celebrity and varying skill with professional dancer-partners – premieres Sept. 12 (8 p.m. EDT), the network announced Monday. Also heading to the dance floor: Vivica A. Fox, Harry Hamlin, Joe Lawrence, Mario Lopez, Sara Evans, Willa Ford, Monique Coleman, former beauty queen Shanna Moakler and three-time Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith. Hamlin’s wife, Lisa Rinna, competed last season. This season, the celebrity and professional dance pairs will perform choreographed Latin and traditional ballroom routines to popular live music.
GAOTH DOBHAIR look set to be without several key players for this Sunday’s Ulster Under-21 semi-final against Watty Graham’s.Gaoth Dobhair overcame Antrim’s Aghagallon 1-12 to 1-5 yesterday and have been drawn to face three-in-a-row-chasers Watty Graham’s in the Paddy McLarnon Cup semi-final this weekend.However, team manager Sean ‘Nancy’ Gallagher seems likely to have to line out with a number of frontline men. Micheál Carroll was Man of the Match yesterday, scoring 1-4, but with the Donegal senior team to line out in a challenge game on Sunday, Carroll’s participation for his club is in jeopardy.Donegal begin their Allianz League Division 1 programme on Sunday-week against Kerry in Letterkenny and Rory Gallagher has a final challenge match for his men this weekend.Carroll is tipped to be involved in the county shirt on Sunday, while Gaoth Dobhair could also be without Ciaran Gillespie, Cian Mulligan and Niall Friel. Gillespie and Mulligan are injured at the moment but, like Carroll, are also in Gallagher’s senior plans.Gillespie injured a hamstring in last weekend’s McKenna Cup game against Cavan while Mulligan picked up an injury in a challenge game for Donegal against Meath on Saturday.Gaoth Dobhair skipper Friel limped out of yesterday’s quarter-final win and is also regarded as doubtful.The situation is not too disimmilar to last year when a depleted Kilcar lost out to Magheracloone in the same competition on a day when they lined out minus Stephen McBrearty, Ryan McHugh and Eoin McHugh, who were playing with the county seniors in a challenge game on the same day.The Ulster Under-21 Tournament is not regarded as being ‘official’ in that it is organised and hosted by the Kickhams Creggan club in Antrim.Carroll was on song yesterday in a seven-point win that saw 14-man Gaoth Dobhair overcome the sending off of Gavin McBride to triumph. McBride was sent off late in the first half after receiving both yellow and black cards.The teams were level at 0-7 to 1-4 at half-time, Eunan Walsh netting for Aghagallon midway through the first half.Aghagallon scored only once in the second half and Carroll slammed home a penalty to give the Magheragallon men the win, but an already tricky task in the semi-finals appears likely to get even tougher.Gaoth Dobhair: Charles John Doherty; Ryan Kelly, Gary McFadden, James Boyle; Neasán Mac Giolla Bhríde, Niall Friel, Odhrán McFadden-Ferry; Conor McCafferty, Micheál Carroll (1-4, 1-0pen, 1 ‘45, 1f); Dáire Ó Baoil (0-2), Aodhán Ferry (0-2), Naoise Ó Baoill; Gavin McBride (0-1, 1 ‘45), Eamonn Collum (0-3), Conor Boyle. Subs: Daniel McLaughlin for Friel, John Brown for C.Boyle. County duty could deplete Gaoth Dobhair ahead of Ulster U-21 semi-final was last modified: January 23rd, 2017 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Cian MulliganCiaran GillespiedonegalGaoth DobhairMicheál CarrollNiall FrielRory Gallagher
Share This!May the luck of the Irish be with you! I hope you have a great St. Patrick’s Day weekend! (PS: Walmart has adorable Minnie Mouse St. Patrick’s Day-themed ears….so if you’re interested, head to your nearest store now, but hurry! They were selling out fast when I went to pick up mine.)This week, we learn a bit more of what to expect with the Fox merger, see which movie has been moved up on the Disney release timeline, and more.In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and RumorsIs Disney making a mistake with how they are opening Galaxy’s Edge, especially at Disneyland? What do you think?I love this. Here are the reactions of some of the people who found out they would be working on Batuu.Our thoughts are with the family of a man who died this week at Epcot.So for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, the China booth is offering a ginormous cotton candy creation. I’ve seen it in person, so let me tell you that this thing is mammoth and you should definitely share it! These are gorgeous works of art and watching one be created is incredible.Soon you’ll be parking in newly named lots at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Instead of Film, Music, etc, you’ll be parking in Mickey, Minnie, Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Olaf, and BB-8. What do you think of the name changes?Disney has officially purchased a new island in the Bahamas. It’s known as Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera.There is a great Easter egg at the Captain Marvel meet and greet at Disney California Adventure.The Disney/Fox merger looks like it will be finalized on March 20.Holy cow! Captain Marvel made $455 Million worldwide this past weekend. Did you see the film? What did you think?Did you lose your mind when you saw the new trailer for Avengers: Endgame?Did you catch the latest trailer for Aladdin? Did it alleviate your fears of the film or were you already on board? (Or are you still not excited about this one?)Dumbo is tracking to make about $55-$58 million on its opening weekend. What do you think about this film? Will you be seeing it in theaters? I’m torn myself.In Case We Missed ItWhat did we miss? Attach your ideas to a Captain Marvel Baseball Cap and send it to email@example.com with the words “In Case You Missed It” in the subject line.
Qatar’s Boeing 777-300ER lands in Canberra. Photo: Qatar/© Kurt Ams Qatar Airways plans to open a further 10 new routes this year as it continues to expand its network in defiance of a blockade of its home base by Gulf neighbours.Qatar chief executive Akbar Al Baker revealed the plans Monday after the launch of airline’s latest new route to the Australian capital of Canberra and said the airline would begin revealing names from next month.The new destinations are in addition to a slew of routes already announced for 2018 and which include Pattaya, Thailand; Penang, Malaysia; Thessaloniki and Mykonos, Greece ; and Cardiff, Wales.Al Baker vowed last year to continue to expand Qatar’s network after Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties and reduced access in what he labelled an illegal and unprecedented blockade.The 2018 expansion comes after the airline opened 11 new routes in 2017, most of them after the blockade of Qatar. It also began expanding frequencies to some of those destinations.Qatar chief executive Akbar Al Baker. Photo: Steve CreedyThe blockade has not significantly affected the airline’s routes to Europe and Australia, where Al Baker estimates it adds 10 to 15 minutes flying time.But it has taken its toll on the Qatar’s bottom line and he told reporters in Canberra it was poised to announce a loss.This comes after Qatar produced its best annual results in its history in 2017 with a $US5414m profit, up 21.7 percent on the previous year.“Qatar Airways will announce a loss because I lost mature destinations,’’ Al Baker said, noting the mature routes were being replaced with growth destinations such as Canberra that would not immediately make money.“This is a long-term investment and a commitment,’’ he added.However, the Qatar chief said his nation’s adversaries had failed to achieve what they wanted from the blockade – regime change – and reiterated his vow that “Qatar Airways will keep on growing, we’ll keep on expanding”.“And the Qatari people will always stand one inch higher with pride, dignity and, of course, safeguarding our sovereignty,” he saidQatar was launched in 1997 with five old planes with an average fleet age of more than 22 years. Under Al Baker, it has grown to be one of the world’s top airlines serving more than 150 destinations across six continents.It now has 200 aircraft and an average fleet age of less than five years and more than 350 aircraft on order with Airbus and Boeing with a total catalogue price of $US92 billion. It will be the global launch customer of the A350-1000 when it gets the first of 37 aircraft on February 20.New innovations include “superfast” inflight internet and Al Baker said it was developing other products “which will again be a first in the industry”.The Qatar chief also revealed the airline was working on a variation of its impressive Qsuite to install in its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Airbus A380 superjumbos.The airline showcased the business class suite on its Canberra inaugural and expects to have it on the route regularly by June.Read our review of QsuiteIt currently has the Qsuite on 14 of its 56 Boeing 777s and it will be featured on four new aircraft to be delivered this year.There is a retrofit program to add it to existing B777s that Al Baker said would take 18 months to complete.But he said it would not be installed on the airlines A380s because of the curvature of the fuselage on the superjumbo’s upper deck or on its B787-9s because this would require the seat to be narrowed.Instead, it is developing a new suite for the 787s which would have full privacy and would “not be very far away from the Qsuite” but would not allow four seats to be joined to create a “quad” family area.“And then they will be retrofitted into the A380,’’ Al Baker said “So the A380 product will again by upgraded to full privacy.”Al Baker believes other airlines will find it difficult to build a business class seat that is better than Qatar’s Qsuite, which rivals some airlines’ first class product.Asked if business class seating had reached ts zenith, he said: “I really think that there will be no room anymore for improvement.“The only improvement will be in technology, in how much you can digitise a product and how lightweight you can make it.‘You know these seats are not very light and we always endeavour to have a product that is lighter on an aeroplane.‘For example, the modified Qsuite that we are now looking at for our 777-X program will be at least 22 percent lighter than the current Qsuite.“So in that way we are going to keep on improving but within the same envelope.”He expected that other airlines would try to catch up in terms of seating but argued they would be unable to match Qatar’s culture of attention to detail and commitment by its staff.On the airline’s plans for Canberra, Al Baker said Qatar would look at the possibility of building a five-star hotel in the city if it could get land cheaply enough.“We see the potential for more five-star room nights and Qatar Airways would like to bring one of the top brands to Canberra if we have been given appropriate real estate,’’ he said. “But, of course, I’m not going to write a big check for that real estate.’’Al Baker said the airline was unable to fly direct from Canberra because the runway was not long enough to allow a fully-laden Boeing 777-300ER carrying enough fuel for the long flight to Doha to take off.The airline had calculated the runway length would need to be minimum 4300m, he said.Asked whether he would like to see non-stop Canberra-Doha flights, he said: “Why not? We will look at every opportunity we have to fly direct because Qatar Airways’ strategy is always to fly point-to-point directly without going through busy or congested hubs anywhere in the network.’’This is only Canberra Airport’s second international service and the first coming from as far away as the Middle East.Airport boss Stephen Byron said the question of lengthening the runway could be addressed as part of the airport’s long-term master planning.Steve Creedy travelled to Canberra as a guest of Qatar Airways.