Brush fire task force at work in region

first_imgWorried that balmy temperatures and a near record-breaking dry spell will lead to a disastrous fire season, officials announced Thursday they will launch brush clearance efforts two months ahead of schedule. Fire crews are now clearing brush on city-owned property from Chatsworth to Mount Washington and will step up monitoring of known fire zones. “Normally, we start this in May, but because of the weather, it takes the humidity out of the vegetation. Now when a fire starts, it will burn a lot faster and quicker,” said Antoine McKnight, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. At the same time, officials encouraged the owners of roughly 130,000 homes and businesses in “very high fire hazard” zones – including the Santa Susana and Santa Monica mountains – to clear brush within 200 feet of structures. Notices will be mailed May 1, warning property owners to clear the brush or face a $600 fine. “You have a lot of dry brittle fuel out there, and it’s important to maintain clearance,” McKnight said. “It makes property defensible and will be easier to protect the structures.” Los Angeles averages 15.1 inches of rain from July 1 through the following June. The region has received just 2.242 inches this year, climatologists said, on track for being the driest on record if Los Angeles doesn’t get significant precipitation over the next couple of months. The National Weather Service has issued seven red flag warnings since Dec. 1, and the normal fire season is still months off. “Typically, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to not have any red flag warnings from the new year through the very early part of spring,” said Joe Sirard, National Weather Service meteorologist. “That’s because ordinarily we’d get enough rain to cause the vegetation to green up and the moisture in the new plant growth would be too high to produce extreme fire behavior, even if there are strong winds and low humidity.” In 2005, when there was near record rainfall in the Southland, there was a tremendous amount of above-normal new plant growth during this time of year, Sirard said. “It’s scary out there. It’s so dry,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “Fire season is here already, but it’s going to get worse.” On Monday, an 8.7-acre fire broke out at Griffith Park. The cause is still under investigation, but officials say it’s an early indication of how volatile and dry the area is. “We are at high risk and it’s extremely scary out there. All we need is a humming high line or wacko pyromaniac,” Patzert said. “It’s been extremely critical out there, now it’s serious.” Los Angeles County Fire Department officials say they will be deploying extra firetrucks to Malibu, Santa Clarita and other hot spots during red flag warnings. (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Whittier College holds Latino Graduation

first_imgWHITTIER – As a graduating senior at Whittier College and president of the Hispanic Student Association, Astrid Bojorge says she’s hardly had time these past few weeks to be nervous about her upcoming commencement ceremony, which takes place Friday at Memorial Stadium. That’s because her mind has been on a smaller, more intimate and emotional graduation ritual that has become a time-honored tradition at many colleges and universities across the state: Latino Graduation. The Latino Graduation, which took place Saturday evening at the Shannon Center, began at Whittier College six years ago as a way to give Latino students the chance to honor each other, their families and their college experience, officials said. And although it is open to all students, many are Latino first-generation students who, like Bojorge, look forward to the ceremony for one main reason – to acknowledge and thank their friends and family. “Last year was my first time to see it as part of the audience, and it was really emotional,” said Bojorge, 21, of Whittier. “It meant so much to see the students go up on stage and get a couple of minutes to speak in Spanish to their parents. “It was so personal, and I was crying because it was really touching,” she added. “I think it’s priceless because you’re giving your family recognition in front of everyone.” This is the first year that the Hispanic Student Association sponsored and organized the Latino Graduation, though it has always helped to support the event, Bojorge said. About 40 students participated this year, donning the traditional cap-and-gown to get up on stage and receive a certificate from Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger. Then the microphone was all theirs – for a couple of minutes, at least, before the next person was called up. The keynote speaker was Maria Contreras-Sweet, former secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency of California. She also founded Promerica Bank in 2006, the first Latino-owned bank in California in more than 30 years. The ceremony was followed by a reception that included mariachi music and student dance performances. “This makes so much of a difference,” said Luz Maria Galbreath, assistant director of Whittier College’s Cultural Center. “Many times, parents don’t know exactly what their sons or daughters are going through while achieving this milestone of graduating from college,” Galbreath said. “So to be able to hear about it is an experience they really cherish.” Universities such as USC, UCLA, Stanford and the Cal State campuses in Sacramento and Dominguez Hills have similar Latino graduation ceremonies. African-American and Asian student groups have held their own graduation events as well at Whittier College. “I think they’re needed because sometimes the bigger commencement ceremonies are impersonal,” Bojorge said. “You hear someone speak, and it’s always the same certain students who speak, like the student government president. “Not everyone is given the opportunity to go out there and have their time to shine,” she added. “But that’s what these events do for students and their families.” (562) 698-0955 Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

City trio, Salah, Kane nominated for Player of the Year

first_img0Shares0000Liverpool’s Salah is a leading candidate for the PFA award having scored 29 Premier League goals this season. © AFP / Anthony DevlinLONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 14 – Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva lead a six-strong cast that also includes the prolific Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane for the 2017-18 Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is the other nominee. Despite blowing the chance to seal the Premier League title in a thrilling 3-2 derby defeat to Manchester United last weekend, City still boast a 13-point lead at the top of the table heading into Saturday’s match against Tottenham.De Bruyne is expected to be City’s leading candidate having contributed a league-high 15 assists and seven goals from midfield as Pep Guardiola’s have marched towards the title.However, the Belgian may be beaten to the award by Salah’s free-scoring form.The Egyptian has scored 39 times in all competitions, including in each leg as Liverpool dumped City out of the Champions League quarter-finals 5-1 on aggregate.Salah leads the way in the race for the Premier League golden boot with 29 goals to Kane’s 25.Sane and Kane are also on the shortlist for the Young Player of the Year award alongside City goalkeeper Ederson and forward Raheem Sterling, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and left-back Ryan Sessegnon, who has starred in Fulham’s push for promotion from the Championship.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Carrick replacement found, Hummels news and WC ace to join United news? Transfer latest

first_img 8 Harry Kane: Man United to enter talks about taking Tottenham striker – read all about it, below, then click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – There are reports Man United have agreed a £13.1m fee with Hoffenheim for Roberto Firmino, so talkSPORT looks at other transfer rumours surrounding Louis van Gaal’s side. In the Manchester Evening News, it is said that club chief executive Ed Woodward is keen to discuss a deal for Kane with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, though the young striker has shown no desire to leave, but Mr Levy will tell you that every player has a price. 8 8 Bastian Schweinsteiger: Bayern and Germany ace’s future to be discussed soon – click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he will only consider selling Schweinsteiger if the 30-year-old requests a transfer. The player, meanwhile, who played under Van Gaal during the manager’s time in charge of Bayern, confirmed he will talk with the board about his future. “I’ve agreed with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that we’ll have a chat this summer to see how the future looks,” he told German broadcaster ARD. 8 Felipe Anderson ‘thinking of Lazio and nothing else’ – click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – The midfielder had a good season in Italy and as a result has been linked with Man United. Anderson told journalists that his future is at Lazio, having recently signed a new five-year contract at the club and is not thinking about anything else. 8 Asmir Begovic: ANOTHER candidate to take over from De Gea – click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes revealed his goalkeeper, who he would like to keep at the club, is keeping his options open. Man United is one rumoured destination if David De Gea leaves for Real Madrid. Spurs’ Hugo Lloris and Ajax’s Jasper Cillessen are other goalkeeper targets. It looks like Roberto Firmino is going to be Man United’s second signing of the summer, following Memphis Depay to Old Trafford.The 23-year-old Brazilian will reportedly leave Hoffenheim for United, so here, talkSPORT looks at other players who could join up.They miss out on one transfer target, Porto striker Jackson Martinez, who is said to be close to a move to Milan, according to his agent.So click the yellow arrow above, right, to see the latest Man United news. Morgan Schneiderlin: Search for Michael Carrick’s replacement goes on – click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – The Manchester Evening News claim Southampton midfielder Schneiderlin is a top transfer target of United’s. He is apparently keen to leave the south coast and may be the player to replace Michael Carrick, who will be 34 in July. Mats Hummels wants out of Dortmund! Click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – It all went quiet with Hummels, but Italy’s Corriere dello Sport says the defender is ready to leave Dortmund. As Van Gaal searches for other reinforcements in defence, Nicolas Otamendi of Valencia is another player linked with Man United, though he could cost as much as £36m. David De Gea: Bid to be submitted next week? – The Telegraph report that Real Madrid want to sign De Gea before they fly to Australia for a pre-season training camp next month. A bid could be submitted for the 24-year-old goalkeeper next week, while there is also a rumour that could see Karim Benzema head in the other direction. 8 Ilkay Gundogan: The Dortmund midfielder will let everyone know his plans very soon – click the arrow above, right, to see more Man United transfer rumours – The Dortmund midfielder addressed media reports linking him with a move away from the club on his Facebook page, explaining he will make a decision on his future after Germany’s Euro qualifiers. The 24-year-old has been heavily linked with Man United, but denied he was delaying any decision in a bid to earn a bigger contract. 8 8last_img read more

Monaco star arrives in Manchester, but is he signing for Man United or Man City?

first_img Is Bernardo Silva on his way to the Premier League? Bernardo Silva has arrived in Manchester to complete his transfer to Manchester City, according to reports.The Monaco midfielder has been linked with both City and rivals Manchester United throughout the season, following a series of superb displays for ASM – helping them win the Ligue 1 title and reach the Champions League semi-finals.The 22-year-old, who progressed through the Benfica academy before moving to the principality – originally on loan – in 2014, originally appeared likely to head to Old Trafford prior to the start of next season.However, City were installed as favourites for Silva earlier this week, and appear to be rushing through the deal so it is finalised in the coming days.Jose Mourinho addressed United’s reported interest in Silva, telling O Jogo in his native Portugal: “Will Bernardo Silva be with us next season? I don’t think so, honestly. But you never know, good players are always welcome here.”But it appears this ‘good player’ will be turning out for the blue half of Manchester next season. 1last_img read more


first_imgC.L.G. Naomh Brid, Co. Donegal are inviting applications for the position of senior and reserve team manager for the 2016 season.The Naomh Brid side will compete in the all County League Division 3, and the County Intermediate Championship. Applications by email to Secretary.naomhbrid.donegal@gaa.ieDeadline 20th December.NAOMH BRID GAA CLUB INVITING APPLICATIONS FOR SENIOR MANAGEMENT POSITIONS was last modified: December 14th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare 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:GAASportlast_img read more

Sustainable tourism a must

first_imgKwalata Lodge in Dinokeng hosted the provincial World Tourism Day celebrations. Gauteng MEC for economic development Nkosiphendule Kolisile urged all present at the event to do their best to run their businesses sustainably. The first buffalo were introduced to Dinokeng in August 2012, making it officlally a Big Five reserve. Two trees were planted for sustainability in the Steve Bikoville community near Hammanskraal.(Images: Janine Erasmus)MEDIA CONTACTS • Barba GaoganediweCommunications manager, GautengTourism Authority+27 83 446 7844 or +27 11 085 2500RELATED ARTICLES• Zambia, Zim host world tourism meet• SA’s wine tourism best in the world• German tourists in love with SA• Taking the plunge for our rhinos• Responsible tourism at Buffalo RidgeJanine ErasmusSouth Africa was the first country in the world to adapt the principles of fair trade to its tourism industry and on World Tourism Day, celebrated annually on 27 September, businesses in the sector were encouraged to apply for certification.World Tourism Day (WTD) was established in 1979 at the third session of the UN General Assembly, and came into operation in 1980. The event aims to promote growth and development of the global tourism industry and the date was chosen because it coincides with the adoption of the statutes of the UN World Tourism Organisation on 27 September 1970.Since then each year’s celebrations have taken place with a theme, such as Tourism opens doors for women (2007), Tourism – Celebrating Diversity (2009), and Tourism Linking Cultures (2011).In 2012, the theme for World Tourism Day was Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. Activities on the day focused on the importance of making tourism more sustainable to preserve natural resources for future generations.In South Africa, September is designated as Tourism Month. The official WTD celebrations were held at the Mbashe Royal Village in the Eastern Cape with tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk in attendance, and other events took place all around the country.In Gauteng, the day was commemorated at Kwalata Lodge in the Dinokeng Game Reserve, just 40km north of Pretoria and an hour’s drive from Johannesburg.Dignitaries present included Nkosiphendule Kolisile, the Gauteng MEC for economic development; Dawn Robertson, CEO of the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA); and Kathy Bergs, MD of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA).“The use of fossil fuels has a serious impact on the environment,” said Kolisile, “but we must win this war. If we do nothing, the generations that follow us will find nothing on this earth. We must leave behind more than what we found, rather than the opposite.”He said that current energy usage is not sustainable, but added that it can be reversed if people work together or individually to do their bit.As an example, Kolisile mentioned a programme running under Gauteng’s green economy programme, in which local minibus taxis are undergoing a conversion that will enable them to use both petrol and liquid petroleum gas. This will help taxi operators cut their running costs, but will also reduce emissions by 11% for carbon dioxide and 30% for carbon monoxide, according to the Automotive Industry Development Centre, a partner in the conversion initiative.“These are the kinds of green initiatives that we must encourage,” Kolisile said, “and everyone must contribute – we don’t want any spectators on this journey. Our kids must also be encouraged to break the rules, because we need new ideas and new solutions.”Tourism benefits communitiesDinokeng and other facilities are on the doorstep of Gauteng’s urban centres and are within easy reach, Kolisile added, so the more tourists that visit these areas, the more the local communities will benefit.GTA CEO Dawn Robertson encouraged tourism businesses to apply for certification with FTTSA.“This will help us to position Gauteng as a responsible tourist destination,” she said.Fair trade tourism is a concept that encourages fair and responsible business practice by South African tourism establishments, meaning that tourists with a conscience can support an FTTSA-certified business and be assured that the business is run responsibly in social and environmental terms.FTTSA was established in 2002 and was the world’s first fair trade programme that awarded certification to the tourism sector. According to the organisation, it is still the world’s only fair trade certification programme for tourism.Like the fair trade initiative, it awards businesses that meet the stringent criteria – including fair wages and working conditions, commitment to skills development, and a respect for human rights, culture and the environment – with a special label which can be used as a marketing tool to take advantage of the growing global trend towards responsible tourism.Although application is done easily online, the certification programme is rigorous, said FTTSA CEO Kathy Bergs, and not all businesses succeed the first time around. But they can still use the detailed report, which assesses 14 key areas of their business, to make significant improvements to their operations.“We’ve spent the past decade developing the process of certification and raising awareness of the programme,” said Bergs. “Recently we signed an agreement with the Swiss government that will help us to scale up our operations and do intensive marketing.”Bergs mentioned that the organisation plans to expand its activities to the other countries in Southern Africa.FTTSA helps those who successfully achieve accreditation to market their business in various ways, including visibility at local and international travel trade shows, inclusion in the FTTSA directory, and networking opportunities.Businesses interested in applying for the FTTSA seal can download a brochure (PDF, 2MB) or visit the website for more information.Place of riversDinokeng (Setswana, meaning “place of rivers”) is an area in northeast Gauteng earmarked for eco-tourism, job creation and social upliftment by the provincial government.Dinokeng was formed when landowners in the area willingly took down their fences and merged their lands into the reserve, which currently covers about 18 500 hectares. It’s the only free-roaming Big Five game reserve in the province and is unique in that it is made up of individually owned properties. The initial stage comprised 12 000 hectares from 88 properties.Although the land was used mainly for farming in the past, recent years have seen a shift towards rehabilitating it for eco-tourism. Participants in the Dinokeng project have undertaken to stop any agricultural activity on their land and commit to tourism development.The greater Dinokeng area encompasses tourist-oriented areas such as Cullinan and Roodeplaat, and covers about 280 000 hectares.Most of the animals have been brought in from other areas. Besides the Big Five – lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard – the reserve is home to giraffe, zebra, kudu, eland, blue wildebeest, warthog, hartebeest, and many more, as well as more than 300 bird species.In August Dinokeng officially became a big five reserve when four buffalo bulls were released into the area. Earlier in September the first cheetah was introduced.Other Dinokeng activities to mark WTD included a visit to the local communities of Mandela Village and Steve Bikoville, where media were introduced to various upliftment projects supported by Kwalata, among them a flourishing plant nursery and an art school. A tree-planting ceremony took place in a children’s park in Steve Bikoville.In the game reserve, an Australian eucalypus tree was cut down as part of a clearing operation in Kwalata.“This tree has no natural enemies in South Africa,” said ecologist and Dinokeng deputy director Nico Grobler, who was on hand to witness the event, “so it grows uninhibited. It has a very strong and deep tap-root system and can consume up to 400 litres of water a day.”No indigenous plants will grow under a eucalyptus, said Grobler.The wood of the felled eucalyptus will not go to waste – it will be used for firewood, or given to local artists for carving.last_img read more

Early Intervention Matters: A Parent’s Perspective

first_imgBy Robyn DiPietro-WellsWhen I became pregnant with my first child I was full of hopes and dreams. I dreamt of all she would do, become, and accomplish. I envisioned her entire future and wondered which parent she might take after.  Would she love cheerleading and dance like me? Or would she take after her dad and play sports all her life? Maybe she’d play an instrument or be an artist. I dreamt dreams of all kinds. The future looked bright and I was excited. And isn’t that how a lot of moms feel during pregnancy?Photo Credit: Robyn DiPietro-Wells, August 7, 2005Lily was born full term and was presented to me as a picture of health. However, when she was about five months old I noticed she was a bit behind on several of her motor milestones.   She wasn’t rolling over yet. She favored her left hand and never really used her right hand. She wasn’t sitting up…not even when I helped support her. I used some of my background as an elementary school teacher to informally assess her. I knew developmentally what she should be doing…and in some areas she was behind.I initially went to our medical providers for help. I sought out a referral to a pediatric occupational (OT) and physical therapists (PT). At our very first assessment of Lily the PT and OT told me that Lily presented with symptoms typically found in infants who have had a stroke. It was as if all the air went out of the room. Never in all my life did I expect that! This was not a part of my dreams!An MRI and a visit to a pediatric neurologist resulted in an official diagnosis of cerebral palsy due to a stroke in utero.  At that time, the best piece of advice I received was from our pediatric neurologists. They stressed the importance of starting therapy early due to the neuroplasticity of the infant brain. They never said what she wouldn’t be able to do. They simply pointed me in the direction of therapies and information! They gave me back my hope and dreams for Lily’s future by stressing the importance of early treatment and intervention.In the first three years of Lily’s life we utilized both private therapists through our medical insurance, but also Part C Early Interventionists with the state of Virginia. Once Lily aged out of the Part C portion, at 3 years of age, we had her evaluated for Part B Special Education with our local school district. While she did not qualify for Part B, she continued to receive therapies through our medical insurance. She also participated in numerous special projects and programs at the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in their STEP Clinic.Photo Credit: Robyn DiPietro-Wells April 24, 2015Today Lily is almost 10 years old.  This spring she ran her first 5K and she loves to climb the rock wall at our local YMCA! She is a top-notch student at school and participates in nearly all of the same activities as her typically developing peers. I attribute all that Lily has accomplished to two things: One, her intense hard work and perseverance and, two, early intervention, both formal Part C Early Intervention, but also starting therapies of all kinds at an early age.It wasn’t easy. My husband was active duty Army until November 2012 and worked 125-140 hours a week. We have three children younger than Lily, one who also has special needs. I know the challenges of being both a military spouse and the mother of children with special needs. I know how hard it is to persevere with Tricare (military medical insurance) and to advocate for your child’s needs. I want MFLN readers to know that there are answers for parents, there are ways to help the children with which you work, there are ways to support the parents, and that ANYTHING is possible. Great things can happen. Great things happen when children with developmental delays receive help, therapy, and treatment early through both Part C Early Intervention and private medical insurance.The entire MFLN Family Development Early Intervention team is here to enable service providers to help military families with children with special needs reach their highest potential.   We are dedicated to, not only your success as a provider, but also the success of the families with which you work. Please feel free to reach out to us ( and utilize the resources found within the MFLN Family Development webpage.This post was written by Robyn DiPietro-Wells, & Michaelene M. Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.last_img read more

Lalu Prasad suffers from depression, say doctors

first_imgIncarcerated Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, who has been admitted to a government hospital in Ranchi, has slipped into depression.“The RJD chief’s behaviour has been abnormal since last Saturday. Doctors examined him and found symptoms of depression … he is not speaking much to anyone … we will seek psychiatric help from experts on Monday,” said R.K. Srivastava, director of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences.After Mr. Prasad surrendered before a special CBI court in Ranchi on August 30, with the Jharkhand High Court refusing to extend his provisional bail, he was admitted to the RIMS.Hospital psychiatrist Ashok Prasad will begin treatment on Monday.‘Worried for sons’On Wednesday Mr. Prasad was shifted to the pay ward of the hospital after he complained that barking dogs on the premises kept him awake all night and the bathroom was not clean.Meanwhile, RJD sources told The Hindu that Mr. Prasad had been worrying much about the political ambitions of his two sons.“Yes, I met him when he was in Patna in the last week of August and found him worrying much about his family facing charges of corruption…and, his two sons engaged in political oneupmanship against each other,” said an RJD leader, pointing to Mr. Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap’s proposed padyatra (foot march) on Tuesday from Patna to Sitab Diara, the birthplace of veteran socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan.“This padyatra is to counter younger brother Tejashwi’s bicycle yatra from Bodh Gaya to Patna in July,” said a senior RJD leader.last_img read more

Flipkart Board is Said to Approve $15 Billion Walmart Deal

first_imgThe board of Flipkart Online Services has approved an agreement to sell about 75 percent of the company to a Walmart-led group for approximately $15 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, an enormous bet by the American retailer on international expansion.Under the proposed deal, SoftBank Group will sell all of the 20-plus percent stake it holds in Flipkart through an investment fund at a valuation of roughly $20 billion, said the people, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Google-parent Alphabet Inc. is likely to participate in the investment with Walmart, said one of the people. A final close is expected within 10 days, though terms could still change and a deal isn’t certain, they said.That would seal a Walmart triumph over, which has been trying to take control of Flipkart with a competing offer. Flipkart’s board ultimately decided a deal with Walmart is more likely to win regulatory approval because Amazon is the No. 2 e-commerce operator in India behind Flipkart and its primary competitor. Amazon is out of the running unless Walmart hits unforeseen trouble.If completed, the deal will give Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart a leading position in the growing market of 1.3 billion people and a chance to rebuild its reputation online. The world’s largest retailer has struggled against Amazon as consumers increase their spending on the internet. India is the next big potential prize after the U.S. and China, where foreign retailers have made little progress against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.“Flipkart is key to a global e-commerce strategy,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of the New Delhi-based retail consultancy Technopak Advisors. “Walmart clearly doesn’t want to be left behind in the race as India is a critical piece.”SoftBank declined to comment. Flipkart, Walmart and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.Amazon has already been aggressively expanding in the country on its own. Founder Jeff Bezos has committed $5.5 billion to the country and his local chief, Amit Agarwal, has made progress by adapting the site to local conditions.Amazon has been gaining ground quickly on Flipkart and tried to derail the Walmart transaction at least in part because it will fortify the Indian rival. Walmart can aid Flipkart with deep pockets and decades of retailing expertise in skills from logistics to marketing. The U.S. retailer has been working to win over the Indian company since at least last year.Last month, Walmart agreed to cede control of its U.K. grocery chain, Asda, as part of a global strategy to prioritize faster-growing markets over some more mature ones. Walmart is merging Asda with the British retailer J Sainsbury Plc and will retain a 42 percent stake in the combined company.As part of the Walmart deal, Flipkart’s existing shareholders Tencent Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s Naspers Ltd. and Microsoft Corp. are expected to retain small stakes, the people said.A $20 billion valuation for Flipkart would be substantially higher than the $12 billion mark it hit last year. It is already the most valuable startup in India.SoftBank stands to make a tidy profit on a stake it took only last year. The Japanese company, through its Vision Fund, invested $2.5 billion at the earlier valuation, people familiar said at the time. That stake could be worth more than $4 billion at the Walmart deal’s valuation.(c) 2018, Bloomberg Related Itemslast_img read more