War is hell, but AIDS remains our deadliest foe

first_imgDarfur is headline news – but actually, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today is in southern Africa. I mean it. While the devastating effects of the three-year drought now appear to be receding, southern Africa is still crippled by a blight of cataclysmic proportions – the HIV/AIDS pandemic.So far, around a million people have died. This is the tip of the iceberg: with as many as one in three adults in some countries infected with the HIV virus, the deaths can only increase. There are already 11 million AIDS orphans in southern Africa; by 2010, this number is expected to swell to 20m. Imagine every child under five in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom losing their parents and you begin to get the picture.One of the worst aspects of HIV/AIDS is that it hits people at the most productive stage of their lives. Southern Africa is now losing teachers, doctors and civil servants at a faster rate than it can train them. The effect this has on social services is obviously devastating. In Africa as a whole, seven million farmers have so far died of AIDS – a much more lethal blow to agricultural production than any drought.Horrific as these statistics are, they do not seem to impress donors as much as the short-term, high-profile crises caused by conflict or natural disasters. There is, for understandable reasons, something of a fire-brigade mentality among donors. A big conflagration – such as Darfur – attracts generous donations. But getting funds for a long, smouldering, but far more destructive fire is a considerably more challenging task.So why is this so important for WFP? Because food aid can make a huge difference. For most people living with HIV/AIDS, drugs are still not available or affordable. But in the battle against HIV/AIDS, good nutrition can prolong their lives and keep them active and producing. And even for those fortunate enough to have access to anti-retroviral drugs, the medicine works better for the well nourished.There is also the fact that even in areas with the highest HIV prevalence, the vast majority of children between the ages of five and 15 are free of the virus. We need to do everything in our power to keep them that way. And while scientists continue to search for a vaccine and a cure for AIDS, the best hope we currently have is to keep children in school as long as possible. A recent World Bank study showed that young people with little or no education were twice as likely to contract HIV as those with a primary school education. The study also found that in comparison to children who do not go to school, those with an education were more likely to respond to HIV prevention campaigns and thus more likely to change behaviour that puts them at risk of contracting HIV. This is not to say that it is not serious – I saw for myself the horrendous plight of some two million people forced out of their homes, their livelihoods destroyed, women raped and whole families butchered. This dreadful injustice has rightly attracted the attention of the international press and world leaders.And WFP is there. So far, we are trucking and airlifting food aid to some 300,000 internally displaced people in the Darfur region and more than 100,000 refugees across the border in Chad. center_img There is, unfortunately, a tendency in some quarters to see Africa’s struggle with HIV/AIDS as “not our problem”. But we may soon encounter what amounts to societal meltdown. You can already see it in rural areas whose small communities are being abandoned and fields lie fallow. Children are raising other children and they are all lost and hungry.I therefore have one crucial message to our already generous donors and in particular to the newly expanded and booming European Union: thank you for the big donations for the emergencies that we all see on the evening news. But it is even more important to invest now in warding off this millennium’s most deadly scourge, before it is too late.James Morris is the executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme and the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for southern Africa.last_img read more

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Whose side are you on?

first_imgEuropean Union documents about relations with India are full of ritual invocations of the values the two sides supposedly share, starting with the fact that India is the world’s largest democracy. But on many questions of the day India has sided with the dictators rather than the world’s democratic caucus, much to the frustration of Western diplomats.  In recent months, this frustration has been boiling over as India – currently at the mid-point of its two-year turn on the United Nations Security Council, and hoping one day to join the Council as a permanent member – has sided with Russia in blocking any condemnation of Syria’s regime for its vicious crackdown on protesters. “This has created a poisonous atmosphere within the Security Council,” says Richard Gowan, associate director of the Center for International Co-operation at New York University. The motivations behind such behaviour are complex. Unlike Russia, India has no particular sympathy for or ideological affinity with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and no major economic interests in the country. But India has a deep-seated aversion to what it sees as Western moralising and double standards. It is still reeling from the experience of UN backing for the protection of civilians in Libya, which in its view (shared by Russia and China) was subsequently misused by the Western powers to engineer regime change in Tripoli. India is deeply sceptical of ‘humanitarian interventions’ on principle and has a deep attachment to a fairly absolute notion of state sovereignty and non-interference. Action by coalitions of the willing outside the UN – such as the French and British-led attack on Libya (later transferred to NATO) – is anathema; and as a country facing numerous local insurgencies, India is not a friend of insurgents abroad. Leading arms-buyer India’s location in one of the world’s most volatileregions, meanwhile, has turned it into the world’s leading arms-buyer in the five years to 2011, according to SIPRI, a think-tank based in Stockholm. Russia provided more than 80% of India’s arms imports during that time, and is expected to deliver military supplies worth €6 billion this year alone – more than 60% of Russian arms sales. Recent deals with the United States show that there is nothing ideological about the way India buys in its arms; the US now appears set to join Russia and Israel as India’s top arms suppliers. And on Tuesday (31 January), India became the first foreign buyer of France’s Rafale fighter jet, in India’s single biggest arms deal to date, worth €8.4 billion for 126 planes. For India, unlike the EU, issues of hard security are at the core of its foreign policy. Instinctively, therefore, its positions are closer to the non-Western powers on the Security Council – China and Russia – than to the EU’s liberal worldview. India has been a difficult partner to a European Union seeking to use its ‘soft power’ to affect the behaviour of foreign governments. In general, Indian diplomacy is driven by three overarching goals: to contain its neighbour and arch-enemy, Pakistan, especially in the divided province of Kashmir; to join the UN Security Council as a permanent member; and to secure India’s commercial interests, especially its energy supply, which in recent years has often put it in direct competition with China. In none of these is the EU a crucial or even relevant actor. In some, it is distinctly unhelpful. India worries that the rush by NATO’s allies to leave Afghanistan will give Pakistan even more influence in that country, allowing all manner of Islamist radicals to operate from there. “Have the Europeans done any calculations as to what pulling out of Afghanistan means for India and Iran? I don’t think they have,” says Gowan. “Most Europeans just want out of Afghanistan, and that’s going to leave India with a huge mess.” This has other implications for India. “From an Indian perspective, weakening Iran risks compounding the mess on their north-western border,” Gowan says. As a result, the best that the EU can hope for as it imposes an oil embargo against Iran is that India will not snatch up the surplus production. Even that minimal co-operation, however, appears doubtful. Pakistan Relations between Pakistan and India are less tense than during most of the two countries’ existence as independent (and separate) states; plans for joint energy projects suggest that the two governments recognise the potential of strategic co-operation (see box, above). But Pakistan’s volatility reduces the scope of any rapprochement; improved relations could be undone at once if there were regime change in Islamabad. Much of India’s attachment to countries in the ‘global south’, democracies and dictatorships alike, which are resisting Western preponderance in international institutions has to do with its colonial past – its domination by Britain, which ended 65 years ago. But this attachment has weakened in recent decades; India is no longer so sure that its future really lies in leading the non-aligned movement. It is now simultaneously pursuing, together with Brazil and South Africa, a reform of the Security Council that would allow it to join the big league of world powers. The EU is split on the issue, with Germany – as a direct beneficiary of future UN reform – in favour, and Italy and Spain leading a group against. A recent spat pitted India, which is seeking higher reimbursement rates for its UN peacekeepers – one of the largest contingents – against the Europeans, led by the UK, which have come to view everything that happens at the UN through the prism of the budget. Turkmen gas India and Pakistan are negotiating an agreement to build a 1,700 kilometre pipeline through Afghanistan to import gas from Turkmenistan’s Yolotan-Osman gas field. Asim Hussain, Pakistan’s energy minister, said on 25 January that the two sides were drafting a joint strategy and preparing to discuss transit fees with Afghanistan. The pipeline is projected to bring up to 33 billion cubic metres per year to Pakistan and India. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, was in Turkmenistan in January for talks on the pipeline project with Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, his Turkmen counterpart. Foreign Aid Traditionally a recipient of development aid, India has in recent years increased the aid it gives to other countries. According to annual reports by the foreign ministry, India’s aid and loan programme provided $488 million (€370m) in the fiscal year 2009-10, down from $610m (€465m) the previous year. Most of this aid goes to countries in India’s immediate neighbourhood, such as Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan is a special case, with Indian pledges of $2 billion (€1.5bn) in a bid to counter Pakistan’s influence. Aid to Bangladesh has a similar geopolitical dimension, with India extending a $1bn (€760m) credit line two years ago in the context of counter-terrorism co-operation. However, India also has plans to increase its aid to Africa, and last year set up a foreign aid agency that is supposed to disburse $11.3bn (€8.6bn) in the coming five to seven years, including $5bn (€3.8bn) for Africa. India had pledged a similar amount in 2008 for infrastructure development in Africa, where it competes with China for business opportunities. Fact Filelast_img read more

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Cases of COVID-19 in Port Arthur, Mid-County grow slightly over past week

first_imgCases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County jumped more than 50 in the past week, but the local increase in Mid-County and Port Arthur was considerably less.There were 327 coronavirus cases on May 3 in Jefferson County, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Emergency Operations Center. That number jumped to 381 over the weekend.Locally, cases in Groves jumped from seven to nine from May 3 to May 10.Over that same period, cases in Port Neches went from six to seven, cases in Port Arthur went from 46 to 48 and cases in Nederland stayed at 14. Texas health officials on Sunday reported more than 1,000 new cases of coronavirus and 39 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.A total of 38,869 confirmed cases and 1,088 deaths were reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services, an increase from 37,860 cases and 1,049 deaths reported on Saturday.The true numbers are likely higher, health officials say, because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. Barbershops and hair salons were allowed to start reopening in Texas on Friday. Restaurants and retailers in the state were allowed to begin reopening with limited capacity before last week.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.last_img read more

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Shumlin: A successful legislative session

first_imgAn act relating to court-approved absences from home detention and home confinement furlough An act relating to the transportation capital program and miscellaneous changes to transportation-related law H.531(link is external) H.363(link is external) 5/10/2016 H.548(link is external) H.854(link is external) An act relating to health insurance and Medicaid coverage for contraceptives An act relating to an exemption from licensure for visiting team physicians S.233(link is external) An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Village of North Bennington H.881(link is external) An act relating to establishing and regulating licensed dental practitioners 2016 Bill 5/10/2016 5/10/2016 An act relating to fiscal year 2016 budget adjustments An act relating to employment rights for members of the National Guard and Reserve Components of the U.S. Armed Forces H.886(link is external) An act relating to qualifications of judicial officers and judicial selection and retention S.243(link is external) An act relating to the practice of acupuncture by physicians and osteopaths An act relating to transportation funding 4/8/2016 An act relating to consumer protections for accountable care organizations 5/25/2016 An act relating to the Open Meeting Law S.116(link is external) H.559(link is external) 4/12/2016 An act relating to intermunicipal services An act relating to extending the moratorium on home health agency certificates of need S.260(link is external) 5/10/2016 H.640(link is external) 4/13/2016 S.256(link is external) 6/2/2016 5/17/2016 H.518(link is external) An act relating to aboveground storage tanks 5/31/2016 An act relating to expenses for the repair of town cemeteries 5/23/2016 5/25/2016 5/20/2016 5/15/2016 H.399(link is external) 5/4/2016 An act relating to hunting, fishing, and trapping 5/17/2016 H.853(link is external) An act relating to the classification of State waters An act relating to timber harvesting Bills Signed An act relating to setting the nonresidential property tax rate, the property dollar equivalent yield, and the income dollar equivalent yield for fiscal year 2017, and other education changes An act relating to limiting the liability of VAST arising from snowmobile operation outside the Statewide Snowmobile Trail System S.020(link is external) An act relating to public notice of wastewater discharges 4/8/2016 H.171(link is external) An act relating to establishment of a Pollinator Protection Committee H.608(link is external) H.183(link is external) An act relating to special education 5/25/2016 S.155(link is external) 5/10/2016 5/17/2016 An act relating to miscellaneous criminal procedure amendments An act relating to enabling the Vermont Department of Health to reach an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding authority over regulation and licensing of radioactive material An act relating to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing An act relating to designating the Gilfeather turnip as the State Vegetable 5/17/2016 H.524(link is external) An act relating to cataloguing and aligning health care performance measures 5/12/2016 S.183(link is external) 6/2/2016 5/10/2016 An act relating to breast density notification and education An act relating to the adoption of occupational safety and health rules and standards 5/25/2016 5/23/2016 An act relating to security in the Capitol Complex H.872(link is external) An act relating to the State Treasurer’s authority to intercept State funding to a municipality or school district in default from a Municipal Bond Bank borrowing 5/4/2016 S.224(link is external) 5/17/2016 5/10/2016 5/31/2016 An act relating to timber trespass An act relating to law enforcement, 911 call taking, dispatch, and training safety An act relating to miscellaneous revisions to the air pollution statutes 5/10/2016 5/17/2016 An act relating to solid waste management 4/19/2016 H.565(link is external) S.214(link is external) H.778(link is external) S.154(link is external) 6/2/2016 An act relating to Executive Branch fees An act relating to criminal record inquiries by an employer Vermont Business Magazine Below is an op-ed from Governor Peter Shumlin and a list of bills passed by the Legislature and signed or vetoed by the governor. All bills passed during the 2016 Legislative session have now been acted upon by the governor.by Governor Peter ShumlinWhen I came to office in January 2011, I pledged to work every day to help make Vermont a more economically secure place to live, work, and raise a family. Back in 2011 our state still faced serious headwinds from the Great Recession. Vermont had lost nearly 10,000 jobs in the previous three years. Our state’s General Fund revenues had fallen by nearly 15 percent and we faced a $176 million budget gap. And Vermonters were seeing their incomes grow more slowly than other Americans.LEFT, Governor Shumlin signs S260 June 13, 2016, the replacement of S230, the energy siting bill that he had vetoed. It is the final bill signed by Shumlin in his three terms in office. ABOVE, Governor Shumlin delivers his State of the State address January 7, 2016. VBM file.Five and a half years later, there is a different story playing out in Vermont. In addition to consistently having one of the lowest unemployment rates in America, we have seen Vermont employers add 18,000 jobs since January 2011. For the last five years, personal per capita income in Vermont, while not growing fast enough, has grown at or above the national average for the first time in our history. We have 38,000 more people with broadband internet access, thousands more children enrolled in Pre-K, and hundreds more kids getting a jump start on paying for a higher education by earning college credit for free while still in high school. We’ve cut in half the number of roads and bridges in poor condition, increased by ten times the amount of solar and by 20 times the amount of wind generation in this state, decreased electric bills for over 80 percent of Vermonters for three of the last four years, and expanded health care access to 19,000 Vermonters. We’ve reduced by 21 percent the number of Vermonters in prison while increasing by 65 percent the number in treatment for opiate addiction.That’s progress we’ve made together over these last five and a half years. This year, working in partnership with the Legislature, we continued to make Vermont an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. Here’s just some of what we did this session;·       Vermonters will no longer be faced with the decision of going to work sick or potentially losing their job because of a new law guaranteeing paid sick days.·       Our state will become the first to extend no-cost birth control coverage to cover vasectomies, making it easier for men to be involved in important family planning decisions.·       A new law will crack down on online dating scams after a number of Vermonters were ripped off for tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.·       Vermont is now the fifth state to ban the dangerous and absurd practice of conversion therapy because we know that LGBT kids are perfect just the way they are.·       The tens of thousands of Vermonters who have fallen behind on traffic fines and seen their licenses suspended now have a chance to get back on the road legally thanks to a law that corrects an unfair system that had adversely impacted many lower income Vermonters.·       We transformed our juvenile criminal justice system to take a smarter approach that seeks to avoid imposing strict penalties on young people, which can hamper their chances for success later in life.·       Our social workers will be better protected thanks to enhanced funding for security at state office buildings and a new law that creates stricter penalties for threatening or assaulting social workers.·       Vermont will be the first state to require greater transparency of drug manufacturers when they increase the prices of prescription medications, requiring them to justify the increase to the Attorney General’s Office.·       We now have additional tools to hold polluters responsible and help better control the use of potentially toxic chemicals in the state, which is especially important following the PFOA contamination of drinking water in Bennington, North Bennington, and Pownal.·       We’re beginning to put an end to the days where doctors send patients home with enough prescription opiates to set off a lifetime of addiction thanks to a new law that will limit the amount of pills that can be prescribed for minor procedures like getting a tooth pulled.·       We expanded the conditions that qualify for medical marijuana, giving doctors an alternative to highly addictive opiates when treating some conditions such as chronic pain. ·       We passed a state budget that for the first time in a decade eliminates reliance on one-time money for ongoing state expenses, brings spending in line with the rate of growth in the economy, and invests in our most vulnerable Vermonters.·       And we created a roadmap for how we continue to transform our energy system in Vermont while improving opportunities for our communities to have a say in the process, bring to conclusion a sometimes challenging but necessary discussion about how to best plan for the locally-produced clean energy we need as we battle climate change, grow jobs, and work to reduce power rates.At a time when gridlock hampers any progress in Washington D.C. and many other states seem to be more intent on limiting the rights of their citizens rather than working to make life better, Vermont is once again standing out as a beacon for progress and equality. We have more work to do, but we should be proud of the progress we have made over the last five and a half years.2016 Bill 5/17/2016 H.861(link is external) An act relating to regulation of treated article pesticides Bills Vetoed 5/17/2016 H.812(link is external) S.212(link is external) H.805(link is external) H.135(link is external) H.880(link is external) H.308(link is external) An act relating to transfer of Exchange plan administration to health insurance carriers 5/31/2016 5/25/2016 H.869(link is external) 5/23/2016 An act relating to United Methodist Church property 6/6/2016 5/17/2016 H.112(link is external) H.529(link is external) An act relating to judicial organization and operations 6/7/2016 H.367(link is external) H.864(link is external) S.066(link is external) 5/25/2016 5/12/2016 An act relating to the State DNA database 5/24/2016 5/17/2016 H.620(link is external) An act relating to eligibility for pretrial risk assessment and needs screening S.198(link is external) H.519(link is external) An act relating to approval of the adoption and codification of the charter of the Town of Brandon 5/6/2016 5/23/2016 5/24/2016 5/17/2016 6/8/2016 5/17/2016 An act relating to State enforcement of the federal Food Safety and Modernization Act H.611(link is external) An act relating to the membership of the Clean Water Fund Board H.562(link is external) 5/25/2016 H.829(link is external) An act relating to approval of the adoption and codification of the charter of the Town of Bridport An act relating to legislative review of certain report requirements An act relating to making miscellaneous amendments to Vermont’s retirement laws 5/12/2016 H.871(link is external) An act relating to potable water supplies from surface waters 6/2/2016 5/12/2016 H.261(link is external) 5/17/2016 H.575(link is external) 6/2/2016 5/23/2016 An act relating to voter approval of electricity purchases by municipalities and electric cooperatives 5/10/2016 H.111(link is external) An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the City of Barre An act relating to improving the siting of energy projects H.577(link is external) 5/25/2016 An act relating to amendments to the marijuana for medical symptom use statutes 6/2/2016 S.040(link is external) S.062(link is external) 5/17/2016 5/25/2016 An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Shelburne H.629(link is external) An act relating to extending the exemption from encumbrance on title of properties subject to a pre-transition storm water permit An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Village of Barton 4/28/2016 An act relating to agricultural exemption from Vermont’s sales and use tax An act relating to conservation easements H.873(link is external) An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the City of Montpelier H.860(link is external) 5/17/2016 S.245(link is external) An act relating to restrictions on the use of electronic cigarettes H.595(link is external) An act relating to privacy protection H.580(link is external) 6/2/2016 6/2/2016 An act relating to amending the State Board of Education rules on school lighting requirements S.255(link is external) An act relating to making miscellaneous tax changes 5/24/2016 An act relating to miscellaneous economic development provisions 5/4/2016 H.505(link is external) H.857(link is external) S.114(link is external) 6/6/2016 An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the City of Winooski An act relating to farm distilleries and Vermont barrel aged maple spirits H.690(link is external) S.091(link is external) An act relating to residential rental agreements An act relating to the Government Accountability Committee and the annual report on the State’s population-level outcomes An act relating to disclosure of health care provider affiliations H.761(link is external) An act relating to on-farm livestock slaughter An act relating to categorization of State contracts for service S.257(link is external) Date Vetoed H.539(link is external) H.065(link is external) 5/31/2016 4/12/2016 H.084(link is external) An act relating to consumer protection An act relating to automatic voter registration through motor vehicle driver’s license applications 5/12/2016 6/13/2016 S.230(link is external) 5/25/2016 5/25/2016 H.538(link is external) 6/6/2016 2/10/2016 5/25/2016 H.517(link is external) 5/23/2016 H.458(link is external) 5/25/2016 An act relating to licensing and regulating foresters H.876(link is external) H.765(link is external) An act relating to enhanced penalties for assaulting an employee of the Family Services Division of the Department for Children and Families and to criminal threatening 5/25/2016 An act relating to Vermont’s estate tax 6/1/2016 An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the City of Burlington 1/30/2016 An act relating to eliminating the role of town service officers in administering General Assistance benefits H.884(link is external) An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Brattleboro An act relating to rights of offenders in the custody of the Department of Corrections H.878(link is external) S.132(link is external) An act relating to the prohibition of conversion therapy on minors 3/9/2016 5/31/2016 5/17/2016 3/8/2016 An act relating to permanency for children in the child welfare system An act relating to surrogate decision making for do-not-resuscitate orders and clinician orders for life-sustaining treatment 5/10/2016 S.190(link is external) 6/1/2016 5/31/2016 6/2/2016 An act relating to warranty obligations of equipment dealers and suppliers H.674(link is external) An act relating to making appropriations for the support of government H.280(link is external) An act relating to extraordinary dividends for life insurers 5/12/2016 5/17/2016 5/28/2016 S.055(link is external) H.571(link is external) 5/26/2016 H.570(link is external) An act relating to the removal of grievance decisions from the Vermont Labor Relations Board’s website H.859(link is external) 5/25/2016 An act relating to driver’s license suspensions, driving with a suspended license, and DUI penalties An act relating to State aid for school construction repayment obligations An act relating to the administration and issuance of vital records 5/6/2016 5/3/2016 5/17/2016 5/4/2016 An act relating to the creation of a Vulnerable Adult Fatality Review Team S.123(link is external) Date Signed 6/2/2016 H.824(link is external) An act relating to captive insurance companies 5/12/2016 H.249(link is external) H.130(link is external) An act relating to absence from work for health care and safety An act relating to seeking a waiver to permit businesses to continue to purchase Exchange plans directly from insurers An act relating to jurisdiction over delinquency proceedings by the Family Division of the Superior Court An act relating to foster parents’ rights and protections S.171(link is external) 4/28/2016 An act relating to regulation of hospitals, health insurers, and managed care organizations An act relating to a model State policy for use of body cameras by law enforcement officers An act relating to victim notification 4/19/2016 S.157(link is external) H.625(link is external) H.187(link is external) H.868(link is external) 5/23/2016 H.355(link is external) 5/23/2016 An act relating to miscellaneous revisions to the municipal plan adoption, amendment, and update process S.216(link is external) 2/24/2016 2/24/2016 4/19/2016 H.074(link is external) An act relating to capital construction and State bonding budget adjustment 6/2/2016 H.533(link is external) An act relating to water quality on small farms 5/6/2016 S.010(link is external) An act relating to the Restitution Unit 5/17/2016 S.174(link is external) An act relating to technical corrections S.176(link is external) S.215(link is external) An act relating to the regulation of vision insurance plans H.610(link is external) An act relating to amending Act 46 An act relating to prescription drug formularies An act relating to maintaining prescription drugs outside the original prescription container H.858(link is external) H.877(link is external) H.248(link is external) H.863(link is external) H.883(link is external) An act relating to approval of the adoption and codification of the charter of the Town of Charlotte H.845(link is external) H.887(link is external) 6/6/2016 4/26/2016 H.885(link is external) An act relating to the Department for Children and Families’ Registry Review Unit An act relating to access to financial records in adult protective services investigations An act relating to an income tax credit for home modifications required by a disability or physical hardship H.530(link is external) 6/8/2016 6/6/2016 H.882(link is external) S.189(link is external) An act relating to combating opioid abuse in Vermont An act relating to standardized procedures for permits and approvals issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation H.875(link is external) H.095(link is external) 5/5/2016 5/4/2016 An act relating to safety protocols for social and mental health workers S.014(link is external) H.747(link is external) H.677(link is external) An act relating to the Petroleum Cleanup Fund An act relating to clarifying the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Water Pollution Control Grant Programs An act relating to professions and occupations regulated by the Office of Professional Regulation and to the review of professional regulation 5/23/2016 S.250(link is external) An act relating to improving the siting of energy projects 6/6/2016last_img read more

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SM East theatre department ready to take audience Far Far Away with Shrek musical

first_imgThe cast and crew are going through dress rehearsals this week.Coming Thursday, the SM East auditorium will be transformed into a land Far Far Away.The school’s award-winning music and theatre departments are putting the finishing touches on this school year’s musical, Shrek, which will run Thursday through Saturday.Director Brian Cappello says the production is a fun departure from some of the more traditional musicals SM East has produced in recent years.“We went with Shrek because it has a big cast—last year’s cast for Drowsy Chaperone was a bit smaller,” he said. ” Also, it’s just a fun show! It’s geared towards kids, but adults will love the humor too.”Cappello said the show has provided a fun challenge for the production’s technical crew as well as tech director Tom DeFeo. The production features multiple set changes — as well as a moving dragon, several puppets and Pinocchio’s growing nose, which was designed by Bray Hoefgen, a member of the school’s robotics club.Shrek’s crew has also been hard at work on the vibrant costumes needed to transform the cast into the fairy tale characters.“Because the show is so new, there aren’t any costume packages available,” Cappello said. “[Costumes designer Summer Finkelston] and the costumes crew have been working on this show since September.”(Find information about the performance times on the PVPost events calendar).last_img read more

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Study: Reducing our own pain reduces our empathy for pain in others

first_imgShare on Twitter Share Email Pinterest LinkedIncenter_img Share on Facebook In a follow-up study, the research group tested the involvement of the opioid system in the previously observed placebo-empathy effect in order to enable precise conclusions on the underlying neurotransmitter systems. Using a substance that blocks opioid receptors, Lamm and his team induced a blocking of the placebo-empathy effect in 50 participants.“This result strongly suggests an involvement of the opioid system in placebo-empathy, which is an important step to a more mechanistic understanding of empathy”, explains the PI Lamm.What about the direct influence of the opioid system on empathy?“We are now wondering whether the observed effects in the opioid system act directly on empathic processes or whether these are only carry-over effects of the manipulation of self-experienced pain”, explains Claus Lamm.The team is thus currently working on a follow-up study which will investigate direct effects of opioid administration on empathy.“The present results show that empathy is strongly and directly grounded in our own experiences – even in their bodily and neural underpinnings. This might be one reason why feelings of others can affect us so immediately – as we literally feel these feelings as if we were to experience them ourselves, at least partially. On the other hand, these findings also explain why empathy can go wrong – as we judge the feelings of others based on our own perspective”, explains Lamm.The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In a study with more than 100 participants, Claus Lamm and his interdisciplinary team used an innovative experimental trick, the so-called placebo analgesia effect, to close an explanatory gap in the understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of empathy. Experimentally manipulating self-experienced pain, they tested whether this manipulation also leads to an equivalent change in empathy for pain.“Only this trick enabled us to conclude with higher certainty that empathy relies on simulation”, explains Claus Lamm from the Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods at the University of Vienna.Participants in the placebo group reported significantly less subjective pain experience, which was associated with reduced brain activation in anterior insula and midcingulate cortex. “These brain regions are well-known major hubs in the neuronal empathy network. In addition they are central parts of the endogenous opioid system, which is involved in pain regulation”, says the psychologist.last_img read more

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ALE puts on the skids

first_imgIn total, the heavy lift and specialised transportation group, has built 48 of the 800-tonne skid shoes, 12 push/pull units with 83 tonne capacity and 190 five metre skid tracks. ALE’s fleet of skid shoes ranges in capacity from 150 tonnes to 1,200 tonnes, and the company says those with a capacity between 650 and 1,200 tonnes give its clients greater flexibility in their operations. “We believe skid systems have a great future,” explained Ronald Hoefmans, technical director. “The loads are becoming so heavy, but are still compact and need compact transport systems with high capacity to move them.”The system also has a new generation control system with stroke and pressure control, as well as a variable skidding speed to reduce acceleration and deceleration during start up and stopping of the movement.The system was designed in-house at ALE’s research and development facility in Breda, the Netherlands, and will increase ALE’s overall skidding capacity by 38,400 tonnes. These high capacity skid shoes are suited for site moves, load-outs and other heavy transport work globally. They have already been shipped to be utilised on their first projects. www.ale-heavylift.comlast_img read more

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Wheel slide protection tested in leaf-fall season

first_imgUK: Rolling stock leasing company Porterbook is planning to roll-out Knorr-Bremse’s MGS3 wheel slide protection system across its fleet of multiple-units following a successful trial during the autumn leaf fall season.Testing used a Class 156 diesel multiple-unit which was built in the 1980s when wheel slide protect was not installed as standard.Porterbrook Leasing owns around 250 Class 15x vehicles, so was keen to find a solution to the problem of wheel damage during the leaf fall season. It acted as lead organisation for the trial, with Knorr-Bremse Rail Services supplying and adapting the equipment, SNC-Lavalin leading system integration and Loram carrying out the installation. East Anglia franchisee Abellio supported dynamic testing.Porterbrook said the trial unit performed well, with the system activated multiple times when slippery tracks were encountered, automatically managing the traction and braking systems to prevent serious damage to the wheels. ‘The wheel slide protection system installed on the Class 156 provided a critical capability during our most operationally vulnerable and challenging period’, said Abellio East Anglia Engineering Director Colin Dobson. ‘We were also able to gather invaluable comparative data to show how the system both added operational resilience and protected service levels.’last_img read more

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Railway supply industry news round-up

first_imgFS Group has issued two bonds totalling €330m to finance investments in high speed infrastructure and the freight sector. UniCredit Bank and BNP Paribas acted as bookrunners.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# Indian rolling stock and construction equipment manufacturer BEML and construction firm Ircon International have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore opportunities to co-operate in export markets. Ircon said it had a ’strong International presence and proven capabilities’ in tracklaying, electrification and infrastructure construction, including current projects in Algeria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# The Indian cabinet has approved for a memorandum of understanding with the UK’s Department for International Development which aims to support energy efficiency and self-sufficiency at Indian Railways. This will includes co-operation on the solar and wind energy sectors, adopting energy efficiency practices, enabling fuel efficiency, electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment and battery shunting locomotives.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# Vossloh AG’s executive and supervisory boards have agreed to apply for a court to appoint former Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube as Chairman of the supervisory board. This follows Bernhard Düttmann’s decision to step down with effect from December 31 to focus on his role at Ceconomy AG. Supervisory board Chair Ulrich M Harnacke will chair the audit committee following the appointment of Grube. ‘With Prof Dr Grube we were able to win an outstanding expert in the railway industry for Vossloh and I am looking forward to future co-operation’, said Harnacke.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# The Greenbrier Companies received orders for 4 500 wagons valued at $450m in its Q1 to November 30 2019. Deliveries totalled 6 200 units, and the backlog was 28 500 units with an estimated value of $3·1bn. ‘Uneven performance in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 fell short of our expectations’, said Chairman & CEO William A Furman on January 8. ’Operating inefficiencies and component supply issues triggered lost production days and reduced production at one of our newly-acquired ARI facilities. Therefore, a higher proportion of quarterly railcar deliveries originated from our 50:50 joint venture at GIMSA in Mexico, which impacted net earnings. The operating inefficiencies and supplier issues are being addressed.’#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# Alín Campián has joined RJ Corman as Vice-President of Commercial Strategy & Yield Management. He has previously worked at Steel River Transport Ventures, Patriot Rail, Florida East Coast Railway and CSX Transportation.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# Railway certification body Belgorail has issued its first ISO 9001 certificate, as part of its strategy to provide combined audits to the railway industry, including ECM, VPI, ISO 9001 and NOBO certification and avoiding duplication of similar audits.last_img read more

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Farmington Hills August primary precinct locations change

first_imgBecause of construction at Farmington Public Schools buildings, residents in Farmington Hills precincts 1 and 10 will have different polling places for the August 7 State Primary Election.Voters in Precinct 1, who previously cast ballots at Warner Middle School, will move to Orchard United Methodist Church, 30450 Farmington Rd. Voters in Precinct 10, formerly at Kenbrook Elementary School, will move to Farmington STEAM Academy, 32800 W. 12 Mile Rd.Affected voters should receive postcards notifying them of the temporary change. To view a map and more information, visit fhgov.com.If you can’t get to the polls on Election Day, you may obtain an Absent Voter application by contacting the City Clerk’s office, 248-871-2410, or by downloading the application from fhgov.com. Reported by Farmington Voice Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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