News story: Foreign Secretary’s Ramadan message

first_img As Muslims at home and across the world begin the holy month of Ramadan I want to wish you all Ramadan Kareem. Ramadan is a time of self-reflection, but also of being part of something bigger; fasting together, prayer and the gathering of families. Ramadan is also about the values of compassion, charity and selflessness. Values that unite us all. I want to highlight the huge contributions that British Muslims make to all areas of British life. At this special time of year I say to you, your friends and your relatives, Ramadan Mubarak. Follow the Foreign Office on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn Follow the Foreign Secretary on Twitter @BorisJohnson and Facebook The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson said: Further informationcenter_img Media enquiries For journalists Email [email protected]last_img read more

Health progress for women

first_imgSpeaking quietly yet passionately, Julio Frenk, physician and dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, drew connections between the changing roles of women and the implications for global health during a speech Nov. 2 at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.“Health offers a window through which we can understand the most pressing challenges to women in our globalized world,” said Frenk, a former secretary of health for Mexico and a champion for women’s health during his government stintDelivering the 2009-10 Maurine and Robert Rothschild Lecture before a packed audience, he stressed the evolution of the perception of women’s health from “maternal” health to “reproductive” health to “women and health,” outlining a series of concentric circles that reflected growing gender equity globally. “In health matters, the world has become a single neighborhood,” he said.To put his remarks in context, Frenk sketched a few startling examples of how human health has shifted in a century: Life expectancy more than doubled, from 30 years in 1900 to 62 in 1985; in 2000, older people outnumbered younger ones; and by 2007 the urban population outnumbered the rural population.More significantly, the world achieved “replacement fertility” in 2003. “This means that the average woman started having just enough children during her lifetime to replace herself and the father in the following generation,” said Frenk, the T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development.Still, huge disparities exist between health in developed and developing countries. Moreover, health advances show how “the whole meaning of disease has been transformed.” Previously, disease, particularly among children, was marked by acute episodes from which either one recovered or died. Now many people spend much of their lives coping with chronic illnesses. People speak, Frenk said, of “living with AIDS” or “living with cancer.” Citing writer Susan Sontag, he said, “We all now have dual citizenship in the kingdom of the health and the kingdom of the sick.”Frenk also discussed the challenges of instituting health reform in Mexico from 2001 to 2006, after research showed that more than half of health expenditures for health there were paid out-of-pocket, despite the general belief that the Mexican health system was based on public funding. “We know that health is one of the most effective ways of fighting poverty, yet medical care can itself become an impoverishing factor for families,” he said.In an effort with some resemblance to the U.S. health reform debate, Frenk described instituting a federal and state funding effort to subsidize family premiums; by June 2009, 30 million had been enrolled. But Frenk also focused on women’s health, such as reducing maternal deaths, with increased supplies of drugs and safe blood. More controversial was his effort to provide birth control implants, female condoms, and the “morning after” pill, which faced opposition from the Catholic Church and from conservative groups.  Eventually, however, the decision was “backed by the majority of women, even with the most religious segments of the population.”Thus, Frenk argued, scientific evidence can create support for controversial policy decisions, even counteracting the pressure of conservative institutions.Also, Frenk said, new initiatives looked at women’s health overall, such as stiffening domestic violence laws and promoting diagnostic tools for breast and cervical cancer. In the last of Frenk’s concentric circles, he mentioned efforts to address the role of women as health providers — as family members, professionals, and traditional indigenous practitioners.“The concentric circles are meant to convey the complex connections between women and health, particularly in these times of profound globalization when, out of economic, security, and ethical considerations, we cannot afford to be oblivious to the fate of any person,” Frenk said.During the question-and-answer period, one woman, noting that the vast majority of Frenk’s audience was female, wondered if it was possible to move forward on some issues if only women were paying attention.Frenk acknowledged that “machismo” was a problem but that “we need to be very explicit” that equity in health is an issue of importance to both men and women.last_img read more

Dutch schemes left ‘disappointed’ by discount rate decision

first_imgBorgdorff responded: “Contrary to Knot and Koolmees, in our opinion pension arrangements offering less certainty may lead to a different discount rate.“If the discount rate were to take future returns into account, the coverage ratio would improve to a level at which we aren’t headed for benefit discounts in 2020 or 2021.” The Netherlands’ biggest pension funds have expressed disappointment that they will remain tied to the ultra-low risk-free interest rate as part of a new pensions agreement.Speaking on behalf of the country’s top five pension funds (ABP, PFZW, PME, PMT and BpfBouw), Peter Borgdorff, director of the €203bn healthcare scheme PFZW, said they had expected to avoid benefit cuts in the next few years as a consequence of the planned reforms.Klaas Knot, president of supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), argued in a recent letter that the risk-free interest rate should always be used to calculate nominal pension rights. Wouter Koolmees, the minister for social affairs, has supported this view. Peter Borgdorff, PFZWIn a recent opinion piece in Dutch financial newspaper NRC Handelsblad – written with colleagues from the other four large funds – Borgdorff called on the employers and unions discussing the Dutch reform package to reach an agreement quickly to avoid cuts to pension payouts.“It goes against any sense of justice, if we have to apply rights discounts when the economy is doing well,” the five pension fund directors wrote.Borgdorff and his colleagues had expected some leeway from DNB to change the discount rate, in part based on an earlier admission from Knot that the ECB’s quantitative easing policy had led to the low interest rate.Further reading: ECB’s policy could cause Dutch pension system ‘implosion’PGGM’s Agnes Joseph and Niels Kortleve explain how the European Central Bank’s policies affected Dutch pension funds, and the options for fixing the problems it created, in this column from April 2017“We assumed that, given this effect as well as the fact that we have to apply the lowest rate, DNB would show more flexibility,” Borgdorff said.Although the funding ratio of the five schemes has been improving, PFZW, ABP, PME and PMT were all still short of the required 105% minimum funding level at the end of the second quarter of 2018.Benne van Popta, trustee at the PMT, said the DNB’s position would not bring a new pensions contract any closer.“Moreover, Knot’s statement is at odds with what DNB has said earlier and what is accepted elsewhere in Europe,” he told Dutch newspaper FD.Elsewhere, Martin van Rooijen, MP for 50Plus, the party for the elderly, said he would put questions to finance minister Wopke Hoekstra regarding DNB’s position.He also noted that DNB had changed its earlier opinion about the discount rate.Despite recent signs of progress, the social partners are still discussing a new pensions contract – which will form the backbone of a new pensions system – in the Social and Economic Council (SER).last_img read more

College Tailgating

first_imgOur daughter, Gina, and her family had a wonderful tailgate experience at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, last weekend.  It gave them a chance to join family who live in Ames along with many of their cousins’ friends.The party was not on the tailgate of a truck.  The cousins had a large white tent set up with tables, chairs, and a TV for those who did not want to attend the game.  There was a smorgasbord of food and beverages.   There was an area with a bouncy house, basketball shooting contest, corn hole, and other activities for anyone interested.  It was like a festival!The American Tailgaters Association is an actual organization that helps sporting sites organize these events.  The tailgating experience is so large that at Iowa State there were trolleys to get people around the tailgating lot.  The practice of tailgating dates way back, but it has recently grown and become even more popular than some of the games themselves.  As I mentioned earlier, some people watch the game from the tailgating site and never go into the stadium.When you attend your next college football game, check with others going and see what kind of tailgating experience you might expect–and have fun!last_img read more

Rowdy group attracts local authorities

first_img– Advertisement – On the evening of July 12, Fort St. John RCMP responded to a call involving a group of disorderly individuals. On Tuesday night, a disruption of the peace led local authorities to Taylor. RCMP arrested the intoxicated group of four, who were eventually released from custody.center_img No charges were laid as a result of the event.     The incident, originally thought to be a break and enter, turned out to be a group of intoxicated people fighting and disrupting the peace.last_img read more

Bombers keep Eagles scoreless in 12-0 victory

first_imgArcata >> The last time the Humboldt B-52s and Humboldt Eagles met the game was played in Eureka at Bomber Field and, although the Bombers were victorious, they had to dig themselves out of a 4-1 deficit in the sixth to win.This time with a change of scenery, the B-52s took the lead and never let it go as they beat the Eagles 12-0 Wednesday at the Arcata Ballpark in seven innings.“That is kind of the way it is with baseball,” B-52s head coach Scott St. John said. “One day you are not so good, …last_img read more

Giants facing roster dilemma with Pablo Sandoval

first_imgSCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–The San Francisco Giants are planning a “Let Pablo Pitch” bobblehead giveaway for their home game May 11 against the Cincinnati Reds.As Opening Day approaches, a “Let Pablo Stay” bobblehead may be more appropriate.The roster status of popular infielder Pablo Sandoval is officially in question after the Giants completed a trade with the Cincinnati Reds to acquire utility player Connor Joe on Thursday.Joe, 26, is a Rule 5 draft choice who must remain on the Giants’ 25-man …last_img read more

New antenna for SA space ops centre

first_img8 October 2013 The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) on Friday inaugurated the latest addition to its expanding fleet of technologically advanced antennae as the country continues to position itself as one of the world’s reliable space nations. “The new antennae facility consists of a new 10m Ku-DBS band antenna and an equipment room, outfitted with IOT [in orbit test] equipment and infrastructure to assist clients to successfully commission new satellites,” Sansa Space Operations MD Raoul Hodges said in a statement. The R17-million limited-motion antenna was inaugurated at Sansa’s space operations facility at Hartebeesthoek, about 65 kilometres north-west of Johannesburg. “We have seen a steady growth in the market for IOT services, and with the existing KU-DBS facility carrying a high workload for normal transfer orbit operations, it made sense to develop a dedicated facility,” Hodges said. According to Sansa, South Africa is in an ideal position to assist satellite operators with the qualification and commissioning of their new satellites, as the country has a relatively radio-quiet environment and a good geographic position. Since 1984, the Hartebeesthoek facility has supported more than 450 successful launches, space craft supports and in orbit tests – the most recent being the launch last month of Nasa’s LADEE lunar probe. “Space is big business around the world, and South Africa needs to seize the opportunities we have to capitalise on the global market,” said Phil Mjwara, director-general in the Department of Science and Technology. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

16 Days: govt to engage with communities

first_img20 November 2013The government is set to do things differently during this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign by engaging more with communities, starting with the Diepsloot informal settlement north of Johannesburg.Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana said earlier this month that her department would be partnering with provincial and local authorities in raise awareness of the importance of responsible parenting in Diepsloot.The visit to Diepsloot will include a door-to-door visits and meetings with the community.“We will also go to the schools and early childhood development centres to educate our children not to follow strangers,” Xingwana said. “If they [are touched inappropriately], they must report that immediately to a teacher, parent, pastor or any community member they trust.”The department will work with local municipalities to look at the needs of children in Diepsloot. The area has no recreational facilities and lacks access to health, educational and sports facilities.“We believe that our children should have access to services,” Xingwana said. “Our department will continue to facilitate maximum participation of children in matters that affect them and their future. They must be given an opportunity to have a say on where they want to play and what their needs are.”The 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is a worldwide campaign that raises awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children and encourages people to act against abuse.The campaign runs worldwide from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).National Action Plan for ChildrenXingwana said the government would be working to implement the National Action Plan for Children. The plan, approved by the Cabinet in May, is a comprehensive guide for all government departments and agencies for realising children’s rights.It takes into account the Constitution‚ international and regional treaties‚ South African legislation‚ the UN Millennium Development Goals and the National Development Plan.“It is crucial that we invest more time and effort and exercise more vigilance to ensure that all our children are safe and protected,” Xingwana said. “Twenty years into our democracy, our democratic government has done a lot for our children, but we acknowledge that a lot more still needs to be done.“We must continue to build a South Africa where our children feel safe and secure, and that responsibility falls on us as government and also on families, parents and communities. Our children need support from all of us.”SAnews.gov.za, with additional reporting by SAinfolast_img read more

World Wide Webfeeds

first_imgA webfeed is a low-bandwidth XML stream available on the network that can be easily consumed by custom or special webfeed reader applications.  In a previous blog I discussed how webfeeds often form the raw data to support mashup applications and have the potential to support business communication within process workflows.Examples of publicly available webfeeds can be found at Amazon’s A9.com search and Yahoo! Feeds.  Webfeeds have many of the advantages of Web Services, but compared to Web Services, webfeeds are far easier to create and consume.  Actually, if your definition of a Web Service is simply a URL-based data source, webfeeds could be considered as a special type of Web Service. There are multiple formats for Webfeeds, but RSS 2.0 (Really Simple Syndication) has emerged as the most popular and best-supported format.  Tools are becoming available that make data syndication via RSS even simpler.  One example is freely downloadable product called RSSBus.RSSBus is a framework of tools and services for easily creating and consuming RSS feed data.  It is middleware that is billed as the “The Service Bus for the REST of us”.  It includes an XML-based scripting language called RSBScript.With RSSBus you can easily publish relational database queries, tables and view information, or information contained in spreadsheets and email.  It’s a very effective way to publish raw data.  One caveat is that RSSBus is only available in a Windows .NET 2.0 framework.  Also note that Microsoft plans RSS integration capabilities as part of the upcoming Vista release.Document publishing via RSS is an interesting application.  Within a document management context, being able to publish a webfeed channel of a specific type of release document, or to receive notifications about document changes or deletions are useful applications of webfeeds.But how secure are webfeeds?  If you’re behind a firewall and the data is hosted inside, there may not be much to worry about.  But for feeds exposed on the open Internet, more thought is needed.  Very simple access control is achieved by restricting the webfeed URL to only those people who need access, a technique used by Flickr.  But that kind of security policy is bound to keep you up nights if you are exposing any even remotely sensitive data. HTTP Authentication can also be used to secure the webfeed publishing.  But one problem is that while there are some webfeed readers that support HTTP Authentication, like NewsGator, there are a lot more, like the Google Reader, that don’t yet support it.  Although if the consuming application is under your control, that may not be an issue.  Another security option is to encrypt the data stream using SSL encryption.Webfeeds, especially those using RSS 2.0 technology, are important tools for giving consumer and corporate users a way to better be able to control the consumption and presentation of data, but security is one area that needs to be thought through carefully before deploying this technology.last_img read more