‘Scientific wellness’ study—and a famed biologist’s spinoff company—divide researchers Hood and colleagues identify a single participant that most obviously benefitted significantly from the study. The tests revealed that then 65-year-old Tayloe Washburn, who reported impaired mobility during his family’s hiking trips, had high blood levels of the iron-containing protein ferritin and a genetic risk for developing hemochromatosis, where high iron levels can damage cartilage in joints. Washburn was referred to his physician who linked his cartilage damage to the disease.Though Hood’s study deserves credit for taking “oodles of data” across multiple time points, the results are “a little soft” to conclude such tracking actually helps many people, because there is no control group to compare to, Topol says. He pointed out similar concerns with the battery of medical tests, including genome sequencing and a full-body MRI scan, done on presumably healthy people recently described in a study posted online from J. Craig Venter’s Health Nucleus company.Among the 108 participants in Hood’s study was Clayton Lewis, a friend of Hood’s who works at the venture capital firm Maveron. While monitored, Lewis was training for a triatholon. Although he expected “to be the healthiest person in this study,” the data indicated he was prediabetic, which his personal study coach linked to his metabolism genes and his training diet—low in carbs and high in fats and proteins. He also had the highest blood mercury level in the study, due to his decades-old dental filling. Lewis, who is now 58, resolved both issues by incorporating complex carbohydrates into every meal and getting his filling replaced. He went on to place 10th in his age group in the race. Seeing how the study participants loved “that the data was all about them,” Lewis joined with study leaders Nathan Price and Leroy Hood to launch Arivale, with Lewis as CEO.Now 2 years old, Seattle-based Arivale has already enrolled 2500 individuals for tracking and analysis similar to the pilot study, with 96% of these participants opting in to let their data be used in research, which Hood’s Institute for Systems Biology can pay to access through a licensing agreement. Arivale charges $3499 for the first year, which gets participants’ genomes sequenced; 30-minute monthly coaching sessions; plus blood, saliva, and microbiome (a tally of microbes in stool samples) tests—read every 6 months, instead of every 3 as in the pilot study—plus a Fitbit. Jennifer Lovejoy, Arivale’s chief translational science officer, describes the company as “a bridge to the medical community” that specializes in analyzing the data so that the personal coaches—all registered dieticians, certified nutritionists, or registered nurses—can create lifestyle and wellness recommendations. “Our coaches do not diagnose or treat. We are not providing medical care,” she says. As such, the company has not asked the Food and Drug Administration to review or regulate its offerings.The company’s formation has concerned some original fans of the 100K Wellness Project. “When you see a study like this, it is thrilling. But when you link it to companies offering this as a service, that is where we start getting into trouble,” says Jonathan Berg, a physician scientist that studies cancer and genetics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. “We don’t have any idea at all how this information should be used clinically,” he says, adding that scientists should be just as ready to reject their hypotheses as prove them.Such comments don’t deter Hood from his latest disruptive vision. “I think scientific wellness is here to stay,” he says. “And I think it is going to be a key part in the tipping point that is utterly going to transform the practice of health care and take it from a focus of disease to a focus of wellness.” Hood contends that the project’s value will increase with time as more data from a scaled-up study will uncover new signposts for forecasting disease.But Butte says more data alone is not enough. “We need the informatics people to come up with better ways to analyze it,” he says. Whether or not you are convinced such digital data sets will improve health and wellness, though, there’s no denying, Topol says, that “this whole deep dive into human information is really blossoming.” In the pilot project, reported this week in Nature Biotechnology, monthly coaching sessions aimed to help the participants understand the data and create plans to address any concerns. For instance, 95 people had low vitamin D levels, 81 had high mercury levels, and 52 were considered prediabetic. Of all the participants’ measured traits, those three improved most significantly across the study, as individuals were coached to change diets, take vitamin supplements, exercise, or consult their doctors for medical advice.The study also gave participants a Fitbit to track activity and sleep patterns. But only 64% of participants used their devices for 40 days or more, mirroring the dropoff seen in many studies. “This is the best possible cohort of early adopters, and even they couldn’t comply,” Butte says. He adds that’s a potentially foreboding indication of difficulties that lie ahead for the U.S. Precision Medicine Initiative, a National Institutes of Health study that will try to similarly track and analyze 1 million people. When you see a study like this, it is thrilling. But when you link it to companies offering this as a service, that is where we start getting into trouble. By Ryan CrossJul. 19, 2017 , 12:30 PM Leroy Hood knows a thing or two about disruptive technologies. One of biology’s living legends, the now 78-year-old scientist played an influential role in the development of the first automated DNA sequencer. He pioneered systems biology, the study of interactions of molecular networks, and still leads an institute devoted to it in Seattle, Washington. His latest vision is “scientific wellness,” which aims to improve health and prevent disease by combining personalized behavior coaching with DNA and blood testing, activity tracking, and other measures.Hood unveiled the concept 3 years ago, but a pilot study attempting to back it up has only now appeared. He and colleagues have compiled what Hood calls “personal, dense, dynamic data clouds” for 108 people after tracking them for 9 months. Included in the data clouds are their full genome sequences; blood, saliva, urine, and stool samples taken every 3 months that measured levels of 643 metabolites and 262 proteins; and physical activity and sleep monitoring. The massive data set may have helped people avoid diabetes and other health issues, the researchers suggest. Indeed, Hood intends to move forward with his previously proposed 100K Wellness Project, for which he hopes to recruit 100,000 people for by 2020. The study also spurred Hood to co-found a company called Arivale, which now offers similar services coupled to monthly coaching, with a first-year membership price of $3499.Yet not all researchers see the pilot study as a rousing success, or justification for people to spend such sums. They are taking the collection of personal physiological information “to new heights, or depths, depending on how you look at it,” says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego, California. Atul Butte, a computational biologist and director of the Institute of Computational Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, notes a “lack of sparkling findings” in the study. “All of these tests cost a lot of money, and it’s not exactly clear what we are getting out of them yet,” he says. 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Wesley Sneijder’s 53rd minute goal saw Netherlands through to the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2010. Netherlands defeated Japan by a solitary goal in the Group E match played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Full coverage: World Cup 2010Japan could hardly match the pace of the Dutch but a solid defence prevented Netherlands from scoring any goals in the first-half of the game. Watch match picsThe Dutch came back strongly in the second round and went all out against the tired Japanese. Sneijder’s shot at the goal from just outside the penalty area had so much pace in it that Japan’s custodian E Kawashima could not stop it. Kawashima got a touch at the ball but could only deflect it to far side of the goal post.Japan vs CameroonNetherlands vs DenmarkSneijder was also named the man of the match.With this win, Netherlands have two wins from two matches and are sitting pretty at the top of Group E with six points followed by Japan with three points.Denmark and Cameroon are the other two teams in the group.The loss means that Japan will have to beat Denmark in their next match and silently hope that Netherlands beat Cameroon if Cameroon is able to pull off a win against Denmark when they meet later tonight.
India’s Tinku Luka finished seventh in her heats to crash out of the women’s 800m competition on the fifth day of the World Athletics Championships here on Wednesday.The Kerala athlete recorded her season’s best time of two minutes 0.95 seconds to finish second last in the eight-runner field in Heat 1 at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.Also read: Bolt and Gatlin cruise into 200 metres semis Marina Arzamasova of Belarus won the heat with a time of 1:58:69. Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain was second with 1:58:98 while South Africa’s Castor Semenya (1:59:59) was third. All three have ensured direct qualification to the semi-finals.
Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina will get to test their fitness and form ahead of the South Africa series as the selectors today named them in India’ A squads for the upcoming home series against Bangladesh A.Left-handed opener Dhawan, who suffered a hand injury during the first Test against Sri Lanka and missed the remainder of the series, will lead the India A team in the three-day game against Bangladesh.Raina, who recently practised with the Dutch cricket team in the Netherlands, has been included in the One-day squad, which will be led by young Unmukt Chand.Prolific southpaw Raina has not played competitive cricket since Bangladesh ODI series in June.Bangladesh will play three ODI games and one three-day games against India A apart from playing a three-day game against Ranji champions Karnataka.The three ODIs (September 16, 18, 20) will be played in Bangalore and the three-day game will be played at the same venue from September 27th.The three-day game against Karnataka will be played in Mysore from September 22.ODI Squad: Unmukt Chand (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Kuldeep Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Karn Sharma, Rishi Dhawan, S.Aravind, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rush Kalaria, Gurkeerat Singh Mann.Three-day match Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Baba Aparajith, Naman Ojha, Jayant Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Ravindra Jadeja, Shreyas Gopal, Abhimanyu Mithun, Varun Aaron, Ishwar Pandey, Sheldon Jackson.
Name: Leander PaesDiscipline: Tennis (men’s doubles)Recent performances: Paes has been in a tremendous form, winning four of six Grand Slam mixed doubles titles since the start of 2015.Bio: Leander Paes shot to fame in 1996 when he won a bronze medal in tennis singles event at the Atlanta Olympics. One of the most celebrated Indian athletes, Paes will partner Rohan Bopanna at the men’s doubles event.
What KSU was doingAnyone who has followed Big 8/Big 12 football over the years knows a KSU offense when they see it—quarterback under center, fullbacks, one or two tight ends, etc.We see KSU employ a couple of these things for this play. The QB is lined up in a shotgun formation instead of being under center, but we can see a FB (Glenn Gronkowski), TE and three WRs lined up on this play.The ball is snapped and we can see the play is a QB run. With it being 1st-and-10 and KSU experiencing minimal success passing the ball in this game, a QB run of some sort was to be expected.The WRs, TE and FB are all blocking on this play.You’ve probably heard the phrase “pulling guard” before and KSU has one on this play. A pulling guard is an offensive guard that leaves his side of the line when the ball is snapped and runs to the other to provide the offense with a size and numbers advantage in blocking. On this play, it is the right guard that pulls and comes over to the left side.What OSU was doingAfter a couple weeks of seeing OSU in its 3-3-5 package, we’re back to a play where the Pokes are in the base 4-3 defense.It looks like there’s only three linemen but Jimmy Bean is in a stand-up 5-technique on the left side of the line. The reason Bean is the only lineman standing up is because he is playing spy/contain. KSU was having some success running with the QB so Spencer made the adjustment of having Bean stand-up and play spy on the QB to keep him from getting around that edge.Seth Jacobs, Chad Whitener and Burton are the three LBs, with Burton playing up on the line-of-scrimmage outside of Ogbah.Ashton Lampkin and Michael Hunter look to be the two CBs on the play. If you notice, both are two yards across from the WR’s they’re lined up on. This lets us know that they will be playing man-to-man coverage.As a side note, you’ll see a lot of talented defenses play man-to-man coverage on 1st and 2nd downs and then run a zone defense when they have the offense in 3rd and long. This forces the offenses to execute and make plays against an aggressive defense, rather than just giving them easier yards, which might happen if you start in a zone on 1st down. Of course, as with every scheme in football, this can easily change/be negated as different situations occur.It looks like Sterns and Flowers are the two safeties. Flowers is lined up about ten yards off the inside receiver at the bottom of the screen. With no one else available to cover him, the inside WR becomes Flowers man to cover. Sterns is playing back about 12 yards off the ball. With every skill player already accounted for, Sterns’ job is to prevent the big pass play or come up and provide run support.Why this worked for OSUNotice when the ball is snapped, the three linemen in three-point stances all fire off and go left. This sort of collapses the right side of the offensive line. This leaves all three LBs to hold down the right side of the line.We have the pulling guard, the TE and the FB left to block the three linebackers. KSU might have the size advantage here, but OSU has the definite speed one.None of those three blockers really get a good block on any of the LBs. Whitener uses his quickness to get around the TE. The TE is able to get a little bit of a block on Whitener and the guard comes over to help.Now, we have the FB blocking Burton and no one blocking Jacobs. Even though Burton and Whitener are the ones being blocked, they’re also the ones who make the stop.The best part about this play is Burton. Since he stepped on campus, we’ve been hearing about the hitting power of Burton and I think it was displayed in impressive fashion on this play.No, he didn’t lay out a 190-pound WR, but he did knock back a 6’3”, 240-pound GRONKOWSKI. Fullbacks LOVE running plays because it’s their chance to run and knock someone senseless. But Burton doesn’t shy away from the contact. Actually, he creates it. And not only does he knock Baby Gronk back, he also disrupts the running lane and it able to bring the QB down.It almost feels unfair to do a breakdown of this play because the Wildcats were so limited in what they could do and being backed up in its own 10-yard line causes KSU to become even more limited. Nevertheless, this was a big point in the game for both teams and it was important OSU come up with some stops.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!
Liverpool coach Achterberg: Alisson has changed Anfield mindsetby Ansser Sadiq15 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool coach John Achterberg has many positive things to say about the club’s no.1 goalkeeper Alisson Becker.The Brazilian joined last summer from the Reds on the back of high profile howlers from their top two keepers the previous season.He came in and immediately showed his quality, with the club winning the Champions League in his first campaign.And coach Achterberg believes Alisson’s presence has made the Anfield crowd positive about the team’s defence.”I was convinced that if we are going to spend money then Alisson was the No.1 I would sign,” he told the Liverpool Echo.”Obviously what he has done up to now, it has worked out. You’re looking around at the way we play and his movements and you have to say he is the No.1.”Looking at Premier League level, he has worked out this move himself with the qualities he has shown over the years. Obviously these moves need to come off, because you look at David de Gea (at Manchester United), it took one or two years before he was at his level and had the trust.”He only came back into the Manchester United side because the other goalkeeper got injured.”So you don’t have a lot of time to settle because the talking is there all the time and I think Ali and the boss have changed the way the crowd are really with the way they manage and play. Now the crowd is positive from the first second and are not worried if the ball is in the air or the box.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
Another day, another college football top 25 released. This time – it’s by the knowledgeable team over at Pro Football Focus, one of the most respected analytical football sites on the web. It won’t surprise you to hear that they’re going with Alabama, the reigning national champion, as the No. 1 team heading into 2016. Alabama is followed by another College Football Playoff participant from last year – Oklahoma. LSU, Clemson and Michigan round out the top five. Stanford is the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, at No. 7. Here’s the entire top 10. You can check out all 25 ranked programs over at PFF.1. Alabama 2. Oklahoma 3. LSU 4. Clemson 5. Michigan 6. Florida State 7. Stanford 8. Ohio State 9. Tennessee 10. Ole MissAll in all, there are six SEC teams, six Pac-12 teams, three Big Ten teams, three ACC teams, four Big 12 teams, one independent and two non-power five teams. College football fans – do they have it right?[Pro Football Focus]
WATERTON, Alta. – A family-run horse ranch that was gutted by a southwestern Alberta wildfire this week was a major fixture in Shelby Barrus’s childhood.Alpine Stables, which offered guided trail rides to visitors in Waterton Lakes National Park, was founded nearly a half-century ago by her great-aunt and great-uncle.Barrus, 22, recalls staying there as a girl and waking up in the morning to see bears ambling through the yard. At night she’d go to sleep to the sound of elk bugling.She has worked at Alpine Stables since she was 14, first helping to lead guided rides, now in the office.“Waterton has been a big part of my life, my family’s life,” she said.“It’s been really hard. It’s a tough loss for us all.”Some of her relatives were allowed in for an hour Friday morning to take stock of the damage. The house and barns were destroyed.“Nothing made it,” she said.Fortunately, all of the ranch’s 50 horses had been removed Sept. 5, when residents of Waterton were warned they might have to leave on short notice as the fire raged in British Columbia just outside the park.A mandatory evacuation order was issued three days later when the fire was about to cross into the park.Parks Canada leases the land for the stables to the Barrus family, so they have yet to sort out any rebuilding plans.The agency detailed the damage from the fire on Friday. It confirmed that homes and businesses within the park’s townsite were spared.But in addition to Alpine Stables, the visitor centre was razed as was the structure at the East Gate warden station, along with its equipment and vehicles.One of the largest campgrounds, Crandell Mountain, was also significantly damaged, and outlying infrastructure around the Parks Canada operations compound and a bison paddock was hit.The main building of the landmark Prince of Wales hotel, standing high on a bluff with a spectacular view of the lake and townsite, was unscathed, but some facilities surrounding the stately wooden 1920s railway hotel were harmed.The popular Red Rock and Cameron Lake day-use areas and facilities, including an Alpine Club of Canada hut, are fine. There was minor damage outside the golf course clubhouse.Parks Canada and utility company Fortis were working to restore power.Parks Canada said it will continue to assess the damage.“Due to the high intensity of the fire, there are a large number of danger trees, rock falls, and other hazards that remain throughout. Moreover, guardrails, signage, and other minor infrastructure were heavily impacted.”Damp, cool weather was helping firefighting efforts in the area and the wildfire had not grown larger than 360 square kilometres.Parks Canada cautioned that the fire was still out of control and risks remained.John Barlow, member of Parliament for the area, said he did a flyover of the park and surrounding area earlier in the week.“I have to say, the damage to Waterton is devastating,” he said in a Facebook video. “It looks like about 30 per cent of the park has been severely damaged by the fire, about 70 per cent of the forested area has been lost.”In addition to the Waterton townsite, a portion of the Municipal District of Pincher Creek just to the park’s north remained under an evacuation order.Residents have been allowed back into a larger area elsewhere in the Pincher Creek municipality and an evacuation order for Castle Mountain Resort has been lifted. Evacuees have also been able to return to parts of Cardston County and the Blood reserve, a First Nations community southwest of Lethbridge.— By Lauren Krugel in CalgaryNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A version Thursday said evacuation orders in all areas of the MD of Pincher Creek had been lifted
APTN National NewsThe Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations is wrapping up its winter legislative assembly.Although there were a number of important issues on the table and much talk centred around finding options to save the organization.APTN’s Larissa Burnouf has this story.
An official close to the plan says that includes possibly hiring a former senior judge, possibly a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice, to advise on what would constitute meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities to satisfy the conditions of the court.The Liberals intend to announce the next steps before the end of September.The government wants to have the pipeline’s fate decided within the next six to eight months before the next federal election and also before Alberta’s provincial election in May. OTTAWA, O.N. – A senior federal source says the Liberals are considering hiring a former top judge to guide a renewed consultation with Indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.The Federal Court of Appeal last month quashed the approval given to the project, saying the consultation with Indigenous communities wasn’t good enough and criticizing the lack of attention paid to the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia.The Liberals are still considering whether to appeal the decision, but are looking at how they can do what the court said was lacking in order to get the pipeline work back underway.
Darjeeling: “BJP just wants political strife and unrest in the Hills. They want to cash in on this and gather votes,” alleged Aroop Biswas, TMC Observer for the Hills. In a run-up to the campaign rally by TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling on Thursday, the party held a road show in Kalimpong on Tuesday.The road show, jointly organised by TMC and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, started from the Kalimpong Municipality. After passing through the major thoroughfares of the Hill town, the rally culminated at Triangular Park. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”He is a Prime Minister who lies day and night. He is a habitual liar. Everyone knows that he had promised Rs 15 lakh in every bank account and 10 crore new jobs. He had claimed that the dreams of the Gorkhas were his dreams. Mamata Banerjee is the one fighting for the identity of the Gorkhas. She is trying to take them forward. BJP just wants upheaval and political strife in the Hills. People have understood this. They will not get a single vote. They will be driven out,” retorted Biswas. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayHe stated that BJP will not get a single seat. “Bengal will lead India. She has emerged as a national leader. She will lead the country,” Biswas said, referring to the party supremo. Banerjee’s meeting will be held at the Darjeeling Motor Stand on April 11. It is expected to draw huge crowds, with GJM, TMC and the frontal organisations of both the parties joining in. “I would apologise beforehand to the schools and educational institutions as there are chances of traffic snarls owing to people from all over the Hills converging in Darjeeling for the election rally,” stated Binay Tamang, president, GJM. Tamang requested all coming for the meeting from the Hills and plains to arrive by 9 am. Elaborate arrangements have been made.
Rabat – The economic and political transformations Morocco has experienced in recent years have not been enough to change the World Bank’s mixed outlook on Morocco’s growth potential.In its latest bi-annual report on Morocco’s economic performance, the Washington-based institution offered a relatively bleak reading about the capacity of Morocco’s economic model to absorb the kingdom’s level of unemployment, poverty, and socio-structural disparities.Moroccan news outlet Aujourd’hui le Maroc wrote in an October 4 editorial that the World Bank is “particularly concerned about the vulnerability of Morocco’s economic model.” With an investment rate surpassing national GDP by more than 30 percent, Morocco’s challenge in the short to medium term will be to boost investments to increase national productivity and stabilize the country’s sporadically-performing economy, the editorial explained.Aujourd’hui le Maroc’s rendering of the World Bank’s report is in many regards in agreement with the institution’s misgivings about Morocco’s improving but fragile, “unsustainable, and vulnerable” economic performance.“In the absence of more decisive structural reforms,” the World Bank wrote in April, Morocco’s GDP is set to decline further while agricultural output—especially cereal production—is “projected to return to its historical average.”Silver lining: Employment-generating businessesDespite cautions about Morocco’s economic model, the report is confident that Morocco can reverse the clock of doom if “appropriate measures are implemented.” To prevent the fragile economic climate from worsening, generate inclusive growth, and reset to “a sustainable and strong economy,” Morocco needs to “lower corporate tax rates, improve public investment management, and better enforce tax payments by the self-employed and liberal professions.”The mixed view on Morocco’s economy is not a first-off in the body’s assessments of the internal structural and social contradictions holding back the North African country’s potential to be a better performer.During a three-day working visit in Morocco August 27-29, the World Bank’s vice-president for the MENA region, Ferid Belhaj, praised Morocco’s economic performance in recent years. Belhaj called Morocco a “country that is moving,” a “regional exception,” and a “bright spot in a dark environment.”The World Bank official stressed: “Over the years, there have been serious efforts in terms of reforms and infrastructure. That is why I see Morocco full of potential. But there is another Morocco that is facing enormous difficulties, namely of resource redistribution and social cohesion.… There is something a bit upsetting: there are so many possibilities and achievements that make Morocco a regional exception, but there are also some lapses. These need to be tackled at their roots.”
Rabat – Spanish media outlets have reported that young women conscripted into mandatory military service in Morocco will be subjected to a virginity test.The news has sparked outrage and controversy on social media.Moroccan youth were taken by surprise when the ministerial council approved a draft bill on August 20, to reinstate mandatory military service for young men and women, aged 19 to 25, for 12 months. The bill has not yet been approved by Parliament. The ministerial council said the bill aimed to “inculcate the spirit of citizenship in young people as part of a correlation between the rights and duties of citizenship,” triggering mixed reactions from citizens.However, Moroccans were even more surprised when several Spanish outlets, including Cadena Ser reported that women would be required to undergo a virginity test so “that families could not accuse a member of the army of rape.” Quickly, the rumor was shot down by the Moroccan government. Contacted by HuffPost Maroc, a parliamentarian said the rumor was an “unfortunate interpretation.” added that the ministry would never impose such a thing. According to the same source, no decree or internal note can be imposed until the law has been passed in Parliament. “The text relating to military service is general and simply evokes the bases that will be defined subsequently by decrees.” Contacted by Morocco World News for further explanation, Mustapha El Khalfi, government spokesperson, did not respond. A virginity test has previously been established for military services in other countries, such as Egypt and Indonesia, before it was abolish. In 2015, Human Rights Watch asked the Indonesian military to stop virginity testing for those who wished to become soldiers. In December 2011, Egypt banned the army from conducting “virginity tests” on candidates wishing to become a soldier.
24 June 2009The fragile livelihoods of millions of poor farmers in developing countries, often devastated by adverse weather conditions, have been fortified by an innovative insurance scheme, according to a United Nations-backed report released today. A variable and unpredictable climate can restrict income and limit development for many smallholders, as banks, for example, are unlikely to lend to farmers if a drought will cause widespread defaults, even if the farmers could pay back loans in most years. This lack of access to credit restricts farmers’ ability to buy improved seeds, fertilizers and other inputs needed to cultivate land, according to the Index Insurance and Climate Risk: Prospects for development and disaster management report launched at the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) in Geneva today.Index Insurance uses a measure of weather, such as the amount of rainfall, to determine payouts, resolving a number of problems that make traditional insurance unworkable in rural parts of developing countries, said the report.With Index Insurance contracts, there is no need to visit the policyholder to determine premiums or assess damages. Instead, if the rainfall recorded by gauges is below an agreed-upon threshold, the insurance pays out. Having this insurance allows farmers to apply for bank loans and other types of credit which was previously inaccessible, said the report, which was produced by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) in partnership with UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other governmental and non-governmental agencies.“Only the richest three per cent of people in the world are covered by insurance,” said Olav Kjorven, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy. “The world’s poor have been completely left out, even though they are the most vulnerable people most in need of protection.“Droughts, floods and hurricanes often strip whole communities of their resources and belongings,” he said, adding that Index Insurance could “finally enable millions of poor people to access financial tools for development and properly prepare for and recover from climate disasters.”A number of projects have shown that Index Insurance is affordable for people living on just $2 a day, an example being farming communities in Malawi which have been able to buy small insurance contracts to cover the purchase price of seeds in case of drought since 2005, according to the report.Nearly two million Indian farmers have also had access to Index Insurance programmes since 2003, but in order to achieve their full potential, applications of Index Insurance will need to scale up to reach many more people, the report stressed.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Daniel Bowen came to Alaska in 2011, looking for adventure and opportunity. He and his wife eventually settled on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, a salmon fishing haven calling itself “Alaska’s Playground.”But the Bowens, both teachers, recently returned to their native Michigan. After years of stress over delayed state budgets, their breaking point, he said, was Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed reductions to K-12 spending and health and social service programs.“We started to realize that Alaska isn’t turning out to be where we want to raise our kids,” Daniel Bowen said, adding later: “As much as we loved Alaska, we can only take so much, we can only take so much uncertainty.”The state has been roiled by a budget dilemma linked to its uneasy reliance on oil, bringing a reckoning that has scrambled traditional political alliances. For decades, Alaska binged on infrastructure and community projects when oil prices were high and cut spending and closed facilities when they weren’t. This time, prices haven’t boomed and after years of drawing down savings and cutting expenses, state leaders face tough decisions.The situation has politicians debating changes to the annual dividend paid to residents from Alaska’s nest-egg oil-wealth fund. The checks, seen by many as an entitlement, once were considered almost untouchable. But the budget reality, and differences over taxes and spending, has politicians and residents choosing between the size of the prized checks and public services many expect.The anxiety is tied to persistent low-to-middling North Slope oil prices. Prices topping $100 a barrel in 2014 went into a free-fall that worsened a budget deficit now in its eighth year. State revenue officials believe prices in the $60 a barrel range to be realistic long-term.This year, an average of about 508,000 barrels of oil a day has coursed through the 800-mile (1,288-kilometre) trans-Alaska pipeline, according to the pipeline operator. On the pipeline’s peak day in 1988, 20 years after oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay, 2.1 million barrels flowed.“Alaska needs to think about the new world we have today,” said Cliff Groh, a longtime political observer, adding later: “The cavalry” of high prices and booming production “does not seem to be coming.”Oil has been the economic lifeblood of Alaska, whose population of about 735,000 is less than Seattle’s. A 1969 oil and gas lease sale was a game-changer, said Eric Wohlforth, a state revenue commissioner in the early ’70s and a former Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board trustee.“Suddenly we were a place that the bankers looked on with envy rather than just the poor supplicant,” he said. The sale reaped $900 million that went toward infrastructure and other needs but was pretty well spent around the time the pipeline came online in 1977, he said.In 1976, voters approved creating the Alaska Permanent Fund and dedicating a portion of mineral wealth to it. The fund, grown through investments, was valued as of June at $66 billion, with the earnings reserve portion valued at $18 billion.The fund’s principal is constitutionally protected but its earnings are spendable. Lawmakers had long limited use of earnings to such things as fortifying the fund and paying dividends based on an average of fund income over five years.But last year, after going through billions of dollars in savings and at odds over taxes and further budget cuts, lawmakers began using earnings to help pay for government and sought to restrict what could be withdrawn for dividends and government.Alaska has no state sales or personal income taxes.Dunleavy, a Republican, says a longstanding dividend calculation that hasn’t been followed for three years should be followed until it’s changed. That would mean checks of about $3,000 this year. His support on the issue includes conservative Republicans and some Democrats, though other conservative Republicans and Democrats have resisted.He has indicated willingness to discuss formula changes but insisted on a public vote. He said Alaskans didn’t mind the size of their checks until politicians began tinkering. Checks in recent years ranged from $878 in 2012 to $2,072 in 2015, the year before they were capped.The Legislature, with a bipartisan House majority and GOP-led Senate, want Dunleavy to consider a roughly $1,600 check this year. Many lawmakers say the formula is unsustainable and have balked at violating the draw rate and setting a precedent of dipping deeper into the reserve.Higher-than-expected draws could reduce what’s available in earnings and at some point put pressure on the corporation to change its strategies to churn more money into the earnings reserve account, said Angela Rodell, the corporation’s CEO.Carl Davis, research director with the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said cutting the dividend is regressive, hitting lower-income families particularly hard. He sees no conflict between paying a dividend and taxing residents.While some Democrats want to debate oil taxes and whether companies are paying enough, Dunleavy has focused on cutting a budget he considers unsustainable.There would not be an “honest discussion” about spending if tax bills also were being introduced, said Dunleavy’s revenue commissioner, Bruce Tangeman.Dunleavy vetoed more than $400 million, riling critics who say it’s too much, too fast and prompting public outrage that is fueling a recall attempt. The Board of Regents, facing a potential 40% cut in state support for the university system, has taken initial steps toward consolidating its three accredited campuses into one.Lawmakers, unable to reach the higher threshold required to override Dunleavy’s vetoes, passed legislation seeking to reverse many of the cuts. Dunleavy has the option of cutting again.Larry Persily, a former deputy revenue commissioner, said the choices are painful.“These are a lot of different math problems made worse by the fact that we’ve lived two generations without taxes, two generations with free money and two generations of candidates who won if they could wrap themselves in the biggest dividend flag. As I’ve told some groups the last couple weeks, ‘Guys, we did this to ourselves,’” he said.Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
REUTERS/Toby Melville House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who played a key role in the Brexit crisis, took a veiled swipe at Johnson as he announced on Monday he would stand down from the role, issuing a warning to the government not to “degrade” parliament.Johnson, a former journalist who derided the EU and later became the face of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, has repeatedly promised to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 and has said he will not countenance any delay.IRISH BORDERIreland told Johnson on Monday that he must make specific proposals on the future of the Irish border if there is to be any hope of averting a no-deal Brexit, saying Dublin cannot rely on simple promises.“In the absence of agreed alternative arrangements, no backstop is no deal for us,” Varadkar, standing beside Johnson outside the Irish government, told reporters. “We are open to alternatives, but they must realistic ones, legally binding and workable and we haven’t received such proposals to date.”The blunt remarks by Varadkar indicate the difficulty of Johnson’s gamble of using the threat of a no-deal exit to convince Germany and France that they must rewrite an exit agreement struck last November.Johnson, who has no majority in parliament, is seeking an election just a few weeks ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline, though lawmakers have already refused that request once. Andrew Coyne: Boris Johnson’s defeat is a victory for the power of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s unlikely EU warrior, makes last stand on Brexit With Brexit gambit, Boris Johnson revealed not as a buffoon but a ruthless tactician He will put forward another motion in parliament on Monday to propose a poll, but it would require the support of two-thirds of lawmakers – and opposition parties have said they will not agree to an election until a no-deal exit is ruled out.Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn met other opposition party leaders on Monday and they agreed they would vote against his election bid.The bill seeking to block a no-deal exit will force Johnson to seek a three-month extension to the Oct. 31 deadline unless parliament has either approved a deal or consented by Oct. 19 to leave without one.“I want to find a deal, I want to get a deal,” Johnson said in Dublin, adding that there was plenty of time to find one before the Oct. 17-18 EU summit.A spokesman for Johnson said that parliament would be suspended from Monday evening, meaning that an election is very unlikely before Oct. 31 unless parliament is recalled early.Meanwhile two ministers said on Sunday that Johnson would not seek a delay at the EU summit next month – but notably declined to spell out how he would nevertheless obey the new law if no deal is agreed with the EU.Foreign minister Dominic Raab said the government would “test to the limit” what the law would require ministers to do.— Additional reporting by Paul Sandle Writing by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Kevin Liffey and Frances Kerry LONDON — A bill demanding that Prime Minister Boris Johnson delay Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on Oct. 31 if he cannot get a divorce deal became law on Monday but his office insisted that Brexit would happen by that date, “no ifs and buts.”Parliament was also likely to reject Johnson’s call on Monday for a snap general election, which he is seeking in order to break a deadlock over Brexit that has intensified since he took office in July pledging to get on with the departure.“The prime minister is very clear that he will take this country out of the EU on October 31st no ifs or buts, he will not sanction any more pointless delays,” Johnson’s office said after the bill became law.Johnson was due to suspend parliament for over a month from Monday after it votes on his latest demand for a snap election. Johnson had set up the suspension – called a prorogation – last month in what opponents cast as an attempt to sideline lawmakers over Brexit.The departure from the EU, the United Kingdom’s most significant geopolitical move in decades, remains in question more than three years since the 2016 referendum, with possible outcomes ranging from a no-deal exit to abandoning the whole endeavour.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.I’m absolutely undaunted by whatever may take place in parliamentBlackRock, a U.S. investment firm that manages $6.8 trillion of assets, said a no-deal Brexit or a referendum had become more plausible.An alliance of opposition lawmakers and rebels from Johnson’s own Conservative Party passed the bill that became law on Monday having received the assent of Queen Elizabeth, ordering the prime minister to delay Brexit to 2020 unless he gets a deal.It was unclear what Johnson’s next move would be: while the law will oblige him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal, EU leaders have repeatedly said they have received no specific proposals.“I’m absolutely undaunted by whatever may take place in parliament,” Johnson said in Dublin ahead of talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.“We must get Brexit done because the UK must come out on October 31, or else I fear that permanent damage will be done to confidence in our democracy in the UK,” Johnson said. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street from the rear entrance door, in London, Britain September 9, 2019.
Drawing participants from across the globe, the first ever United Nations World Urban Forum opened today in Nairobi aiming to explore innovative policies and best practices for sustainable urbanization and to chart strategies for easing the plight of the planet’s 100 million slum dwellers. Organized by the UN Human Settlements Programme, or Habitat, the five-day meeting will examine a wide range of issues related to the world’s burgeoning cities in an effort to formulate recommendations that will be considered at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, set to take place in Johannesburg later this year.In a video message, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette stressed the need to create cities that work for people and not against them.For her part, Habitat Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka underscored that the World Urban Forum would debate issues at the forefront of the “brown agenda,” and sustainable urbanization. “This is the place to generate innovative models of urban management, to test out new ideas and harness creative thoughts to make our cities healthy, safe, productive, equitable and democratic.”The pressing issues facing the Forum are evident in stark urbanization statistics: 50 years ago, New York was the only metropolis with a population of more than 10 million, while today there are 19 such cities, according to Habitat.For the first time in history, half of humanity – some 3 billion people – lives in cities and towns. The agency estimates that between 1990 and 1995 alone, cities in the developing world grew by 263 million people – the equivalent of adding one Los Angeles every three months.Ms. Tibaijuka cautioned that there is no “quick fix” for the problems facing cities. “The challenge for the international community is clear: to make both urbanization and globalization work for everyone through expansion that is socially equitable and environmentally sustainable,” she said. “This is why the World Urban Forum will focus on urban poverty eradication and sound environmental practices.”The World Urban Forum has been designated by the UN General Assembly as an advisory body to support governments and other partners in implementing the Habitat Agenda adopted during the Habitat II conference in 1996 in Istanbul.
Revenge porn threats should be made illegal after the murder of Alice Ruggles, a domestic homicide review has recommended.Ms Ruggles, 24, was killed by her jealous ex-partner Trimaan Dhillon in October 2016 after he had previously threatened to release intimate photos of her when she called off their relationship.Dhillon, a Lance Corporal at the time who trained with the Special Reconnaissance Service, was jailed for life following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court in April 2017.Revenge porn – which is the sharing of private, sexual photos with the purpose of causing embarrassment – became an offence in 2015 and those found guilty face a prison sentence of up to two years.According to the UK’s Revenge Porn Helpline, there has been a huge year-on-year increase in reported incidents, with the hotline receiving just over 500 reports in 2015 and more than 1000 in 2017. Trimaan Dhillon, 26, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend Alice Ruggles after he stalked her and then cut her throatCredit:Northumbria Police/PA Ms Ruggles had contacted Northumbria Police about Dhillon’s stalking in the days before he killed her. A Northumbria Police officer contacted his barracks in Edinburgh and spoke to a superior, but not Military Police or Police Scotland, and Dhillon was then told to stop contacting her or face arrest.But he ignored the warning from within the regiment, continued to contact her and eventually drove 120 miles to Tyneside to murder the bubbly and popular Sky employee.In the review, her parents Sue and Clive Ruggles said: “We believe that her death was preventable.”We find it difficult to comprehend that, although Alice described in her first phone call to the police that she was being stalked and provided ample evidence, the police and the army were unable to support and protect her.”Ms Ruggles’s sister Emma, herself a serving soldier, said she was “frustrated” by the Army’s response to the murder.She has had no contact from Dhillon’s unit, no response to questions she posed to the Royal Military Police nor a sense that lessons had been learned.The soldier had a history of offending against ex-partners and Emma could not believe the Army was unaware as he was serving at the time. She said: “Similar situations need to be taken far more seriously in the future by both the police and the Army. Alice’s parents, Sue and Clive Ruggles, believe their daughter’s death was preventableCredit:Geoff Pugh Now Ms Ruggle’s local authority, Gateshead Council, have published 20 recommendations in a domestic homicide review for the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence to act upon, including criminalising threats to release intimate pictures.Mr Ruggle’s family also said that the Army could have done more to protect her from her controlling ex-partner. “Failure to do so would show a blatant lack of regard for my sister, the nightmare she lived in her last few months and the sustained, painful, violent last few minutes of her life.”In a second call to Northumbria Police, as Dhillon’s stalking continued, a call handler asked Ms Ruggles if she wanted him to be arrested.The review found the police should have made the decision, and it should not have been left to the victim, who declined.Northumbria Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon said changes have been made nationally regarding the response to stalking and harassment in the light of this horrific case.She said: “With the help of Alice’s family we are now leading the way in training officers in the best way to deal with these types of offences, with their input vital in developing a video which is now also used by other forces and partners.”Commenting on the case, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Our thoughts remain with Alice’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”We are committed to tacking domestic abuse and last year launched a strategy to help prevent domestic abuse in all its forms.”This includes prevention of abuse in the home and providing support to the families of service personnel who may be affected.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedBerbice farmers predict major losses again from paddy bug infestationAugust 8, 2019In “Business”$1.5B lost to paddy bug infestation in Region 6April 22, 2019In “Business”Corentyne rice farmers suffering losses with crop infestationsMarch 9, 2018In “Business”,According to the GRDB, a visit to the area revealed that there is no outbreak of the worm associated with the water weevil as reported. The State rice entity stated that the pest was only found in one farmer’s field in the area.However, “several farmers contacted Nand Persaud and Company Limited on the infestation issue and have benefited from intense investigative field visits and follow-up plans conducted by their agronomist. This has resulted from significant recoveries made from the fields treated and arduous efforts are currently in progress to bring the pest infestation under control,” the rice milling company said.Nand Persaud and Company Limited, one of the largest rice mills in Berbice, on Tuesday said the presence of the pest was characterised by stunted plant growth and yellowing of leaves. These signs often cause confusion among rice farmers who mistakenly believe that there is a nutrient deficiency problem.In its release dated March 9, the GRDB listed seven chemicals, including Matador, to be used to deal with the pest.However, Nand Persaud and Company Limited has strongly objected to this. According to the company, the rice farmers should not utilise the pesticide Matador for the treatment of this pest or paddy bugs since it has been found to escalate the problem.The Plant Hopper is known to transmit a virus called Hoja Blanca which can result in 25-50 per cent loss in yield if the problem is not identified and treated early.Recently, brightly coloured leaves were observed on some of the paddy plants.According to some farmers, their fields have experienced stunted growth over the past month.One of the affected farmers is former Rice Producers Association (RPA) Extension Officer Ramlakhan Singh, who farms at Number 56 Village. According to the GRDB, a visit to the area revealed that there is no outbreak of the worm associated with the water weevil as reported. The State rice entity stated that the pest was only found in one farmer’s field in the area.However, “several farmers contacted Nand Persaud and Company Limited on the infestation issue and have benefited from intense investigative field visits and follow-up plans conducted by their agronomist. This has resulted from significant recoveries made from the fields treated and arduous efforts are currently in progress to bring the pest infestation under control,” the rice milling company said.Nand Persaud and Company Limited, one of the largest rice mills in Berbice, on Tuesday said the presence of the pest was characterised by stunted plant growth and yellowing of leaves. These signs often cause confusion among rice farmers who mistakenly believe that there is a nutrient deficiency problem.In its release dated March 9, the GRDB listed seven chemicals, including Matador, to be used to deal with the pest.However, Nand Persaud and Company Limited has strongly objected to this. According to the company, the rice farmers should not utilise the pesticide Matador for the treatment of this pest or paddy bugs since it has been found to escalate the problem.The Plant Hopper is known to transmit a virus called Hoja Blanca which can result in 25-50 per cent loss in yield if the problem is not identified and treated early.Recently, brightly coloured leaves were observed on some of the paddy plants.According to some farmers, their fields have experienced stunted growth over the past month.One of the affected farmers is former Rice Producers Association (RPA) Extension Officer Ramlakhan Singh, who farms at Number 56 Village. Affected rice farmers are refuting the contentions of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) which posited that there has been no outbreak of the worm associated with the water weevil on the Corentyne and have since turned to Nand Persaud and Company Limited for help.