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Obama brought attention to threatened Alaska villages, but little funding so far

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Arctic | Climate Change | Federal GovernmentObama brought attention to threatened Alaska villages, but little funding so farDecember 19, 2016 by Rachel Waldholz, Alaska’s Energy Desk Share:Waving goodbye to Kotzebue from the doorway of Air Force One. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)It’s been more than a year since President Barack Obama visited Alaska, and became the first sitting president to travel above the Arctic Circle.The trip was designed to draw attention to climate change in the lead up to last year’s international conference in Paris, and the president went out of his way to highlight Alaska villages threatened by rapid erosion.But as Obama prepares to leave office, most of those villages find themselves no closer to a solution.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.On September 2, 2015, Obama stepped up to the microphone in the Kotzebue school gym and greeted the loudly cheering crowd.Obama said he had come north for one big reason: to raise the alarm about the dangers of climate change in one of the places where it’s most obvious.  Places like the eroding village of Kivalina, which he flew over on his way to Kotzebue.For many Alaskans, he said, it’s no longer a question of if they will have to relocate, but when.“Think about it,” Obama said. “If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect it.”Climate change, he said, should be no different.“What’s happening here is America’s wake-up call,” he said. “It should be the world’s wake-up call.”Taking in the sights from Air Force One, Sept. 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)Maija Lukin was mayor of Kotzebue during the president’s visit. She also worked on climate change issues for the Maniilaq Association, the regional nonprofit.Lukin said personally, she was pretty excited about Obama’s visit. And professionally, she hoped it would draw attention to the issues facing rural Alaska. Which it did, she said. And she appreciates that.But, she said, attention isn’t enough.“When the president says something like ‘the United States would do anything in its power to make sure that these places aren’t wiped off the face of the Earth,’” she said, “you gotta put your money where your mouth is.”On that front, the response hasn’t matched the rhetoric.Five months after the president’s visit, the Obama administration released its major funding proposal, as part of its final budget request to Congress: $400 million over 10 years for issues including village relocation in rural Alaska.The money would have been part of a proposed $2 billion “Coastal Climate Resilience program” overseen by the Interior Department. But U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called that essentially a bait and switch. The program would have been paid for by taking revenue away from other oil-producing states, and had little chance of passing Congress. Murkowski accused the Obama administration of using Alaska as simply a “backdrop” for his climate change agenda.During his visit to Kotzebue, Obama also announced that the Denali Commission, which has historically built infrastructure in rural Alaska, would be the lead federal agency coordinating relocation efforts.Joel Neimeyer, co-chair of the Denali Commission, says that’s a pretty big deal.The view from Air Force One of Kivalina, as President Barack Obama flew to Kotzebue, Sept. 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)“There would be one federal agency that could marshal all the federal agencies together and then be responsive to the state and the individual communities,” he said.But the new assignment came with no new funding.The Obama administration requested an additional $4 million a year for the commission. But Congress has yet to appropriate it.Neimeyer says the Denali Commission is doing what it can within its small existing budget. But it’s frustrating.“All of Alaska now knows the Commission has this assignment,” he said. “My concern is, if in future appropriations there are no funds for this effort, that’s immaterial to rural Alaska. They’re still going to come to us and say, this is your assignment. See it through.”For awhile this year, Neimeyer says, he even had trouble getting a call back from the White House to clarify his agency’s new assignment.Obama, of course, has many fans in rural Alaska. They point out there’s only so much the president can do. It’s Congress that controls the federal purse strings.And Sally Russell Cox, a planner with the state who’s worked on relocation for about a decade, says the issues are clearly getting more attention.“The federal agencies are now engaged at a very high level,” she said. “So there’s a lot of high-level attention to how funding and other resources can be pooled to help these communities.”Agencies including the departments of Agriculture, Energy and Interior have made money available for things like water infrastructure, energy efficiency and planning. But nothing close to the amounts needed to move a whole village.The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated it will cost $80 million to $130 million just to move the 350 or so people in Newtok, one of the most threatened villages.Cox says the state will continue to do what it can. But, she says, the federal government has a special responsibility, because in many cases, villages are where they are because the federal government put them there — often by choosing the location for a school.With Obama on his way out the door, that federal responsibility now falls to Congress and the incoming Trump administration.Maija Lukin, in Kotzebue, says she hopes the next president will pay attention, because rural Alaska is running out of time.“We don’t call them climate change adaptation plans, we call them a survival plan,” she said. “So how are we going to survive, how are we going to ensure that our culture stays alive in our changing weather?”Share this story:last_img read more

Ask a Climatologist: Summer sea ice minimum near record low again

first_imgAlaska’s Energy DeskAsk a Climatologist: Summer sea ice minimum near record low againSeptember 12, 2017 by Annie Feidt, Alaska’s Energy Desk Share:Sea ice in Franklin Strait on Aug. 30, 2017 as a Canadian icebreaker clears a route for the cruise ship Crystal Serenity. (Photo courtesy of Prof. Christian Haas, York University)Each September, Arctic sea ice extent reaches it’s annual low before gradual refreezing begins. It’s a climate change marker scientists watch closely.According to climatologist Brian Brettschneider, with our Ask a Climatologist segment, this year’s Arctic sea ice retreat won’t break the record set in 2012, but it’s not too far behind. Brettschneider says it’s strikingly low compared to two decades ago.He says the ice extent is shaping up to be around the 7th lowest on record.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Interview Transcript:Brian: Based on the daily data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center it appears that we possibly have reached that annual minimum. They have to make that official call, but if it hasn’t already occurred in the last day or so, we’re within one or two days and the value isn’t going to change that much.Annie: But just last month things looked like they might end up much different, right?Brian: If you looked at the trend line of where we were heading, all the way running up through mid-August, we were running just slightly ahead of the lowest sea ice extent on record. So it looked like we were going to be neck and neck for possibly a new seasonal minimum. But what ended up happening is that the atmospheric conditions that promote melting or lack of melting in the high Arctic tilted toward protecting that ice in the last month. So all the things that could have gone wrong and sent us in a new record low, they didn’t happen. And the ice held on better than we normally would have expected. So instead of the lowest on record, or second lowest, we’re probably going to end up somewhere in the 6th to 8th lowest sea ice extent on record.Annie: But even the 6th or 8th lowest on record is pretty low, right?Brian: Right, so if you look at the lowest values. All of the 11 lowest values have occurred in the last 11 years. So it’s a different regime than we had decades ago, where the September sea ice minimum was in the 6.5 to 7.5 million square kilometer range. Now it’s consistently lower than 4.5 to 5 million. Every year, our sea ice minimum is that much different than it was as little as two decades ago.Annie: And why do scientists watch the Arctic Sea ice extent so closely.Brian: It really is a driver of a lot of the globe’s climate. The presence of the ice acts as a control on the temperature of the entire planet. When there is ice on the water, it acts like a mirror for solar energy. As soon as the sun’s energy hits that, it bounces back into space. It’s kind of like it never occurred. But when you take away that ice, you make it so the exact opposite occurs. That water absorbs that solar energy and then it heats up and that changes a lot of things as far as atmospheric patterns, ocean currents, positions of the jet stream- just many, many cascading effects, so when you remove that ice, the whole globe’s weather and atmospheric patterns can shift into a new regime. Share this story:last_img read more

Troubled Serco could be target for short-sellers

first_img Share Show Comments ▼ whatsapp Struggling outsourcing firm Serco is attracting attention from short-sellers, who are expecting further bad news from the company this year.Hampshire-based Serco revealed in November that it was to raise £550m through a rights issue, at the same time announcing a profit warning for 2014. The firm did not pay a dividend last year as part of its attempts to deal with its debt situation.Institutions and hedge funds including BlackRock, BlueCrest and JP Morgan are reported to be counting on a fall in Serco’s share price, which has risen by 25 per cent so far this year.Serco has been beset by a series of difficulties in the recent past. As well as its financial problems, the firm was investigated in 2013 for over-charging the government for the electronic tagging of criminals. Serco declined to comment yesterday. Express KCS Sunday 15 February 2015 11:42 pm whatsapp Read This NextBill Maher Pokes Fun at Joe Manchin: He’s a ‘Democrat Except on Matters ofThe Wrap’No Sudden Move’ Film Review: Steven Soderbergh Very Stylishly OverplaysThe WrapAzealia Banks Blasts Candace Owens’ Juneteenth Diss With Callback toThe WrapWATCH: Pittsburgh Pirates hold off Cleveland Indians to snap 10-game skidSportsnautFrom ‘Ratched’ to ‘Halston’: One Editor’s Literal Double TakeThe WrapDave Portnoy, Founder of Barstool Sports, Briefly Suspended From TwitterThe Wrap’Pride’ and Joy: How the FX Docuseries Examines LGBTQ+ Life Through theThe Wrap35 of TV’s Best Father Figures Who Weren’t Actually Dads, From Mr.The WrapHow ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Inspired Elisabeth Moss’s Directing inThe Wrap Troubled Serco could be target for short-sellers Tags: Company Serco Grouplast_img read more

Super-intelligent robots could soon fight our wars, but there’s a risk they’ll try and turn against us

first_img Tags: Artificial intelligence (AI) and robots whatsapp by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeMoneyPailShe Was A Star, Now She Works In ScottsdaleMoneyPailSwift VerdictChrissy Metz, 39, Shows Off Massive Weight Loss In Fierce New PhotoSwift VerdictMaternity WeekA Letter From The Devil Written By A Possessed Nun In 1676 Has Been TranslatedMaternity WeekGameday NewsNBA Wife Turns Heads Wherever She GoesGameday Newszenherald.comMeghan Markle Changed This Major Detail On Archies Birth Certificatezenherald.comEquity MirrorThey Drained Niagara Falls — They Weren’t Prepared For This Sickening DiscoveryEquity MirrorTheFashionBallAlica Schmidt Is The Most Beautiful Athlete To ExistTheFashionBallOpulent ExpressHer Quadruplets Were Born Without A Hitch. Then Doctors Realized SomethingOpulent ExpressBuzzdaily WinnersCasinos Don’t Expect You To Do This; But They Can’t Stop You.Buzzdaily Winners A swarm of robots approaches the front line, each gearing up its inbuilt guns and explosives as it prepares to launch an attack on the enemy – another, almost identical swarm of robots.But suddenly one of the robots turns on its comrades. It has been offered a better deal by the enemy, so long as it attempts to destroy its former friends. Since the machine has no sense of loyalty, it defects straight away. This might sound like a scenario stuck firmly in the realms of science fiction, but the possibility that artificial intelligence could soon fight wars for us is not out of the question, and nor is the risk it could be completely immune to human control.  Already there are autonomous combat vehicles scanning and attacking enemy soil in the form of drones, while the US Navy uses a Phalanx gun system to detect and automatically engage incoming threats. In Israel, the Harpy “fire-and-forget” unmanned aerial vehicle seeks out and destroys radar installations. It was given this name because, once it has been launched, it surveys the area and can make a decision about whether to fire on its own, allowing the humans who fired it in the first place to forget about it. Humans are becoming increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence for behind-the-scenes military purposes, too. “Many supercomputers are used in defence, since practices such as the testing of nuclear weapons have to be carried out by simulation rather than physical build and detonation,” Tim Stitt, head of scientific computing at The Genome Analysis Centre, tells City A.M. Stitt focuses on developing supercomputer technologies to condense and analyse huge quantities of information.   The benefits of giving artificial intelligence a bigger role in the military are obvious – on the front line, machines, rather than human lives, would be put at risk (in the case of the attacker, at least), and the potential damage inflicted by a highly efficient and powerful machine far exceeds that inflicted by a human. But with this impact comes greater risk. What if a robot is programmed incorrectly? It could result in thousands of human lives being ended by accident, or in the unintended destruction of expensive and crucial infrastructure. And we have seen examples of this – a recent study by human rights group Reprieve into the accuracy of US drone strikes revealed they often kill many more people than they intend to. As of 24 November, attempts to kill 41 men by the US military had resulted in the deaths of around 1,147 people, according to a report by The Guardian. There’s also the risk of machinery being hijacked and manipulated – over the last few days, North Korea has been accused by the US of hacking into Sony Pictures in order to leak private emails relating to a controversial film depicting the assassination on the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Un. Just as supercomputers used to run businesses can be hacked into by outsiders, so too can military machines. “Supercomputers get attacked many times a day by people trying to illegally access information, and many supercomputers are used in defence – people try to access details such as those related to the testing of nuclear weapons,” says Stitt.  “One of the worst case scenarios of a hack would be of classified military data. We have a large supercomputer at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the UK, which is used for the testing of atomic nuclear weapons. That contains highly sensitive and classified information, and could result in the security of the country becoming compromised if the information is accessed.”A MOVE TOWARDS AUTONOMYOne way of dealing with the risk of hacking would be to make the robots autonomous, since if they are completely in control of their own actions they are almost immune to this. Not only that, but autonomous machines would remove the need for human involvement and so lower operation costs. This means manufacturers sell more, so there is a clear commercial advantage for governments to develop and deploy these systems. The US has already started flying aircrafts without pilots (Source: Getty)  The point at which we send robots off to defend us with minimal human input seems to be drawing closer, with scientists trying harder than ever before to build intelligent technologies. These often have thought capabilities based on the human brain – a phenomenon known as “cognitive computing”.  Earlier this year, Google purchased the British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £400m, with the hope of “solving intelligence” and understanding the human brain for the advancement of artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, the European Union has invested billions of euros in the Human Brain Project – a 10-year attempt to map all the neurones in the human brain so computers with equivalent abilities can be developed. In terms of armed systems, Britain’s BAE Systems’ batwing-shaped Taranis and Northrop Grumman’s X-47B reveal how self-direction is already creeping in.  MORE POWER MEANS MORE RISKWhen machines are given the responsibility of defending a country without human intervention, they are also given an incredible amount of power. The risks then become whether the robots will do as they are told, and whether they can be trusted to make the right decisions in military combat.  Earlier this month, physics prodigy Professor Stephen Hawking warned technological progress could lead to a new kind of existential threat – one based on Moore’s law, which states that the rate at which technology improves is proportional to how good the technology is, yielding exponential – and unpredictable – improvements in its capabilities. What this means, according to Hawking, is that robots could eventually engineer themselves, develop their own goals and surpass humans in terms of understanding and control. In an interview with the BBC, he said: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” “Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” His concerns are also reflected in the comments of investor and Tesla founder Elon Musk, who recently described artificial intelligence as mankind’s “biggest existential threat”, warning that “we need to be very careful”.  In terms of armed forces, the risks associated with self-directed robots are viewed as being so significant that the United States military currently prohibits lethal fully autonomous robots. In the 2012 Department of Defense policy directive, it also says semi-autonomous robots can’t “select and engage individual targets or specific target groups that have not been previously selected by an authorised human operator”.EMBEDDING EMOTIONSSo when robots do gain self-direction, which inevitably they will, how do we stop them from becoming brutal killing machines that are only out to secure the best possible deal for themselves? According to Patrick Levy Rosenthal, founder and chief executive of Emoshape, a company concentrating on building emotions into technologies, the key lies in making robots feel like humans, as well as thinking like them.  “Intelligent machines must have empathy,” he says. “Sooner or later robots will replicate themselves, so we need to implement emotions and empathy before that happens and we are dealing with a terminator scenario.” “If we make sure our own positive emotions generate pleasure for them and our negative emotions generate pain, we can programme the robots to reproduce pleasure and avoid pain. Then they will always try to make us happy and will stop as soon as they make us unhappy.” And indeed, the US military has already cottoned onto this idea – in May 2014, the Office of Naval Research announced a grant of $7.5m dollars to help researchers find ways to teach robots “right from wrong” and develop machines that can understand moral consequence.SMALL BUT LETHALRosenthal says some of the most dangerous robots will be the ones we can’t see (Source: Getty) But according to Rosenthal, we all may be missing the point when we think of life-sized robots usurping humans and subjugating us within a terrifying dystopia. It’s what we can’t see that we should be really scared of. “I think the real threat for humanity comes from weaponised nanotechnology that can be spread in the air and is invisible to humans,” he says. “It is able to sniff your DNA and penetrate your body. You can shoot a robot and unplug a computer, but you can’t stop nano weaponised technology when it has been released.” whatsapp Friday 31 July 2015 12:12 pmcenter_img Share Super-intelligent robots could soon fight our wars, but there’s a risk they’ll try and turn against us Show Comments ▼ More From Our Partners White House Again Downplays Fourth Possible Coronvirus Checkvaluewalk.comKamala Harris keeps list of reporters who don’t ‘understand’ her: reportnypost.comPolice Capture Elusive Tiger Poacher After 20 Years of Pursuing the Huntergoodnewsnetwork.orgRussell Wilson, AOC among many voicing support for Naomi Osakacbsnews.comNative American Tribe Gets Back Sacred Island Taken 160 Years Agogoodnewsnetwork.orgKiller drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told tonypost.comAstounding Fossil Discovery in California After Man Looks Closelygoodnewsnetwork.orgInstitutional Investors Turn To Options to Bet Against AMCvaluewalk.comBrave 7-Year-old Boy Swims an Hour to Rescue His Dad and Little Sarah Spickernell last_img read more

News / Rhenus expands again, buying BLG Logistics freight forwarding network

first_img Last month it was LOXX Group; this month Rhenus is further cementing is position in Europe with the acquisition of BLG Logistics Group’s freight forwarding sites.BLG wants to focus on its contract, automotive and container divisions and is selling BLG International Forwarding to Rhenus, which has been acquisitive for some time in almost all parts of the globe. Rhenus will make its network available to BLG’s remaining business.Rhenus takes on BLG’s nine air and sea freight sites in April and will integrate them, along with some 100 staff, into its network of 12 branches in Germany. The new business will allow the company to handle greater volumes through its LCL hub in Hilden, as well as its air freight hub in Frankfurt.And it plans to expand its food business, as well as trade fair and event logistics, Rhenus said. “We’ve paved the way for the continual expansion of our air and sea freight activities during the last few years,” said Stefan Schwind, managing director of Rhenus Air & Ocean Deutschland.“Thanks to the additional business sites, employees and business activities, we’re consolidating our network in the Air & Ocean division in Germany. We’d also like to develop new lines of business, like transporting food using reefer containers and activities in the trade fair and event logistics sector.”BLG said it would retain its freight forwarding site in Bremen, which focuses on heavy and project goods, overland and sea freight traffic.Board member Jens Wollesen said: “Even if we’ll no longer be represented right across Germany, in terms of freight forwarding, we’ll continue to provide extensive international services in our contract, automobile and container divisions.”Last month, Rhenus said it was taking over LOXX Group, an LTL and FTL cross-border specialist, in a bid to strengthen its German and European activities, taking on five operational business sites in Germany and Poland. By Alex Lennane 16/02/2021last_img read more

U.S. consumer spending down in December

first_img U.S. consumer spending tumbled 0.5% in December, the biggest decline in nine years, as the holiday shopping season ended in disappointment. Meanwhile, incomes rose sharply in December but edged down in January.The fall in consumer spending followed sizeable gains of 0.7% in October and 0.6% in November, the Commerce Department reported Friday. December’s result means that spending for the quarter decelerated significantly, a primary factor in the slowing of the overall economy in the final three months of the year. Gross domestic product recorded a growth rate of 2.6% after a 3.4% gain in the third quarter. NFC - Near field communication mobile payment 123RF Related news Fast rise in consumer spending could speed up job market recovery, BoC deputy says Keywords Consumer spending Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Household consumption drops for first time since financial crisis: StatsCan U.S. consumer spending strong as incomes soar Share this article and your comments with peers on social media IE Staff Incomes jumped 1% in December, though slipped 0.1% in January. The government didn’t release spending data for January because of delays stemming from the government shutdown.In a report, BMO senior economist Sal Guatieri said the poor consumer spend was likely the result of “the confidence-shattering plunge in equities” in December, as well as the government shutdown.The weak result implies a downward revision to Q1 GDP growth to 1.2% from 1.6%, he said. On the positive side, consumers are expected to recover.“Spending should rebound nicely in coming months given the reversal in equities and confidence, and solid job and income support,” Guatieri said, noting that incomes dropped in January due to less dividend income. “Consumers will continue to drive the economic expansion at or above a potential pace for most of this year, despite the fading tax boost,” he said.The big fall in spending reflected sizeable declines in purchases of durable goods such as autos, as well as non-durable goods such as clothing during the all-important holiday shopping season. The result shows that consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of economic growth, was showing significant weakness heading into the current quarter.Inflation, as measured by a gauge preferred by the Federal Reserve, was up 1.7% for the past 12 months ending in December. That’s the slowest 12-month pace since a similar 12-month gain for the period ending in October 2017 and is below the Fed’s 2% target for annual price increases.Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress this week that with a number of economic risks facing the country and with inflation so low, the central bank intends to be “patient” in deciding when to change interest rates again.The move to a prolonged pause in further rate hikes, which the Fed had announced at its January meeting, has cheered financial markets that had been worried the central bank, which hiked its benchmark rate four times last year, could move rates up too quickly, raising the risks of an economic downturn.The spending and income report showed that the saving rate jumped to 7.6% of after-tax income in December, compared to 6.1% in November. That was the highest saving rate since January 2016, and is “a nice cushion for households to lean on,” said Guatieri.U.S. manufacturing slowsAlso released today was U.S. manufacturing, which expanded at a slower rate in February as the pace of new orders, production and employment each slipped.The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Friday that its manufacturing index fell to 54.2 last month, down from 56.6 in January. Readings above 50 signal growth in manufacturing, and the sector has been expanding for the past 30 months.The decline might have reflected the colder weather in February as well as the short month, rather than an outright deceleration, said Tim Fiore, chair of the ISM manufacturing business survey committee.Adjusting for those two factors, Fiore said, “It was a stable month. Nothing wrong with a stable month.” He suggested that the index pointed to overall economic growth of roughly 2.5%.The downside reading extended negative dollar momentum and saw yields fall slightly, said CIBC economist Katherine Judge in emailed commentary.U.S. factories appear to have downshifted recently. The Federal Reserve’s report on industrial production found that the manufacturing sector had contracted 0.9% in January, including a sharp 8.8% drop in the output of motor vehicles and parts.The companies surveyed for the ISM index suggested that the U.S. economy is healthy, although concerns exist about the trajectory of the global economy and any lingering impacts from the import taxes imposed by President Donald Trump.Of the 18 industries surveyed for the report, 16 reported growth in February. Textiles, computer and electronic products, primary metals, transportation equipment and wood products were among the sectors saying that they had expanded. Only non-metallic minerals reported an outright decline.last_img read more

RGD Satisfied Record Number of Clients Last Month

first_imgRelatedRGD Satisfied Record Number of Clients Last Month FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail A record 43,845 clients have used the services of the Registrar General Department’s (RGD) service in October. Speaking with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RGD, Dr. Patricia Holness, said that the agency satisfied these clients in the month of October, and that figure represented a vast increase in the number of applications this year, with an average monthly rate of 26,000 applications.Between April and October, the Agency satisfied a total of 214,566 applications surpassing the production level for the corresponding period last year by 35,380. With continued implementation of new strategies to maintain this growth, the agency is poised to significantly exceed last year’s output.According to Deputy CEO and Director of Operations at the RGD, Bryan Aikman, the agency was able to satisfy the more than 40,000 applications as a result of the implementation of a third shift in September.“Based on the increased intake which we anticipated from the Name the Child Project, we implemented a third shift to handle the additional applications which we would receive outside of our usual intake,” he said.The ‘Name the Child’ Project was an initiative undertaken in an effort to reduce the number of children, whose names do not appear on the RGD’s birth records. The project targeted some 18,000 children who were born between January 1, 2003 and August 31, 2004.So far, the RGD has satisfied some 1,000 applications of the 1,014 that were submitted under the Name the Child Project and officially recorded 9,733 names to birth records of children born between January 1, 2003 and August 31, 2004 outside of the Project.The third shift, which operated from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily, included the Print Room, Record Updating, and Production Departments as well as the agency’s call centre. This resulted in a 23-hour workday for the staff.Supervisor of the Record Updating Unit, Audrey Roper Elliott, explained that with the additional shift, the RGD also took the opportunity to revisit outstanding applications. “We were able to go as far back as the late 90’s and got in touch with persons who had outstanding information on their applications.they came in and we were able to satisfy some of the cases that were lagging,” she informed.The applications, Mrs. Elliot said, included birth, death, and marriage certificates as well as addition of father’s particulars, late entry of name, late registration, re-registration and correction of errors.“Not only were we able to produce the certificates but our 12 couriers delivered 96 per cent of these satisfied applications to customers across Jamaica,” Dr. Holness explained.The Agency is also reporting a significant reduction in the amount of money it had to refund to customers for the month. In October, the total amount refunded by the RGD was $186,900 compared with $260,900 in September. “Our total refund has decreased by between 50 and 60 per cent,” Dr. Holness told JIS News.She also informed that the RGD’s Application Tracking System showed that the agency’s 134 customer service representatives completed 20,550 of the 23,572 applications that they had received for the month of October.Clarifying the difference in the figures, Dr. Holness said that there was a possibility that the agency could have close to a 100 per cent satisfaction rate for October but the figures would not necessarily reflect this as some applications would be carried over into the following month based on the date of application.For example, if a client applied on the last day of the month, the certificates would not be due until the following month – some four to six weeks later.“There are some customers that would not be satisfied (within the month) because they had opted for a product which has a time-line of four to six weeks,” Dr. Holness said.One of the RGD’s main concerns, Dr. Holness pointed out, was that of persons making applications that the RGD could satisfy. “On average we have at least 200 such customers each month. These include applications for persons who were not born in Jamaica or for individuals who were not married in Jamaica,” she highlighted, adding that the agency received numerous requests for death certificates for Jamaicans who died overseas as well. “To date, we have received over 1,700 applications which we cannot satisfy. These cases we have had to close,” she said.The RGD is responsible for capturing all vital events – births, deaths, marriages and stillbirths – occurring in Jamaica for the purposes of providing timely statistics and analysis to support planning by the Government. RGD Satisfied Record Number of Clients Last Month UncategorizedNovember 22, 2006 RelatedRGD Satisfied Record Number of Clients Last Monthcenter_img RelatedRGD Satisfied Record Number of Clients Last Month Advertisementslast_img read more

Floating gardens as a way to keep farming despite climate change

first_imgFloating gardens as a way to keep farming despite climate change Bangladesh’s floating gardens, built to grow food during flood seasons, could offer a sustainable solution for parts of the world prone to flooding because of climate change, a new study has found.The study, published recently in the Journal of Agriculture, Food and Environment, suggests that floating gardens might not only help reduce food insecurity, but could also provide income for rural households in flood-prone parts of Bangladesh.“We are focused here on adaptive change for people who are victims of climate change, but who did not cause climate change,” said Craig Jenkins, a co-author of the study and academy professor emeritus of sociology at The Ohio State University. “There’s no ambiguity about it: Bangladesh didn’t cause the carbon problem, and yet it is already experiencing the effects of climate change.”Bangladesh’s floating gardens began hundreds of years ago. The gardens are made from native plants that float in the rivers – traditionally, water hyacinths – and operate almost like rafts, rising and falling with the waters. Historically, they were used to continue growing food during rainy seasons when rivers filled with water.The farmers – or their families – layer the plants about three feet deep, creating a version of raised-bed gardens that float in the water. Then, they plant vegetables inside those rafts. As the raft-plants decompose, they release nutrients, which help feed the vegetable plants. Those vegetable plants typically include okra, some gourds, spinach and eggplant. Sometimes, they also include spices like turmeric and ginger.Floating gardens are also in use in parts of Myanmar, Cambodia and India. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has named Bangladesh’s floating gardens a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System.But as climate change has affected the volume of water in those rivers – creating extreme highs and floods, along with extreme lows and droughts – floating gardens have become a way for rural farmers to keep producing food during unpredictable weather. Climate change increases weather extremes and the severity of flooding, and droughts as well.The researchers wanted to understand whether Bangladesh’s floating gardens could be a sustainable farming practice as climate change continues to cause floods and droughts, and to see whether the gardens bring better food security to individual households.“They’ve got to be able to grow specific crops that can survive with minimal soil,” said Jenkins, who is also a research scientist and former director of the Ohio State Mershon Center for International Security Studies. “And in Bangladesh, a lot of small farmers that had typically relied on rice crops are moving away from those because of the effects of climate change and better returns from alternative crops.”For this study, the researchers interviewed farming families who use floating gardens, and found strong evidence that floating gardens provide stability, both in the amount of food available to feed rural populations and in a farming family’s income, despite the instability created by a changing climate.They found that farmers typically use hybrid seeds, which must be repurchased each year, to grow a diverse range of vegetables in the floating gardens. The gardens are also susceptible to pests, so farmers end up spending some money on both pesticides and fertilizers. But even with those expenses, they found, benefits outweighed costs.Generally, entire families work on the gardens, the researchers found: Women, children and the elderly prepare seedlings and collect aquatic plants to build gardens. Men cultivate the gardens and protect them from raiders. Some families also farm fish in the waters around their floating gardens.One farmer told the research team that he earns up to four times as much money from the gardens as from traditional rice paddies.Still, the system could use improvements, the researchers found. Farmers often take out high-interest loans to cover the investment costs of building the beds and stocking them with plants. Lower-interest loans from responsible government or non-governmental organizations could alleviate that burden, they found. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Agriculture, Bangladesh, Cambodia, climate change, environment, Government, India, Investment, Myanmar, Ohio, Ohio State University, sustainable, sustainable farming, United Nations, university, vegetables, womenlast_img read more

Health Ministry Takes the Lead in Breastfeeding Campaign

first_imgRelatedHealth Ministry Takes the Lead in Breastfeeding Campaign RelatedHealth Ministry Takes the Lead in Breastfeeding Campaign FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail KINGSTON — The Ministry of Health is ramping up its campaign to not only have mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for up to six months, but also to encourage the entire family to support this critical process in the healthy growth and development of the nation’s children. As part of fulfilling the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) mandate to educate and communicate, the Ministry last week launched the country’s first breastfeeding video, which explores breastfeeding benefits, and demonstrates how to feed, and safely express milk from the breast. The video was released under this year’s national breastfeeding week theme: ‘Talk to Me! Breastfeeding a 3D Experience’. Speaking at the launch, which was held at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston, Director of Nutrition Services in the Ministry, Sharmaine Edwards, explained to the gathering of new mothers and health care stakeholders that the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Programme was one of several projects managed by the Nutrition Unit in the Health Promotion and Protection branch of the Ministry. The programme is guided by the global recommendations set by the WHO and supported by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The recommendations are also outlined in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. They include: initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth; breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months; thereafter provide nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods; and continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond. “These recommendations, if followed, will ensure child survival, and promote optimal nutritional status, health and development for all children,” Mrs. Edwards noted. The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding seeks to promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding, and addresses the needs of all children, including infants of mothers living with HIV, low-birth-weight infants and infants in emergency situations. The strategy specifies the responsibilities of governments, and international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders. In keeping with the global recommendations for child nutrition, under the National Infant and Young Child Feeding programme, the Ministry has set, and is implementing five targets, Mrs. Edwards tells JIS News. These include a policy and strategic plan, which involve the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes. “This component is actively being worked on, and we hope to submit our draft policy to Cabinet later this year. The international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes aims to ensure the proper use of breast milk substitutes, when they are necessary on the basis of adequate information, and appropriate marketing and distribution,” she explains. The second target, which is the baby friendly hospital initiative, seeks to promote institutions that offer alternative services and child care, and is hinged on the 10 steps to successful breast feeding. “Currently in Jamaica, 10 institutions have been certified as baby friendly. These were done between 1996 and 2001. Today, four new hospitals are being targeted for assessment, and 8 of the 10 previously certified are being prepared for reassessment,” Mrs. Edwards says. Additionally, 450 clinical staff across 12 facilities have been trained, and self assessments have been conducted in 12 institutions, with team leaders identified. “The third component, which involves child growth and development, has seen the introduction and training in use of new child growth standards, which led to the introduction of the new child health and development passport,” the Director adds. Also, approximately 2,000 health care workers of all categories have been trained in monitoring child growth and development. Mrs. Edwards tells JIS News that with this development, Jamaica can now report on exclusive breastfeeding at six months; breastfeeding up to one and two years of age, as well as the adequacy of the diets of the nation’s children, and the introduction of complementary food. The fourth component (education and communication) has also seen an improvement, with the training of health care workers, and the sensitisation of over 2,000 caregivers across the island with a heavy focus on communication. National Breastfeeding Week, which was observed from September 18 to 24, forms part of this component. The education and communication drive has also seen the development of posters on proper breastfeeding and child care nutrition. Additionally, exercise books for children, which have been launched, are also part of the thrust to get support for mothers to encourage breastfeeding more regularly. The final component – monitoring and evaluation – is carried out through child health clinics, which are held weekly, and children who are found with nutrition deficits or challenges are referred for specialist care at nutrition clinics. Meanwhile, Mrs. Edwards points out thatoperationalresearch is key in getting some of the answers needed to improve child care nutrition. For this, the Unit participates in special projects, such as its exclusive breastfeeding pilot project, which is sponsored by UNICEF. This is being conducted in the parishes of Clarendon and St. Catherine, with the aim of increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates at six weeks, by at least five percentage points. “We have seen some very good benefits…also we hope to develop a model that can increase our (overall) exclusive breastfeeding rates,” she says. This pilot will be completed soon. Another special project in being conducted in Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Thomas, with 2,000 children and caregivers across eight health centres participating. “For this project, we are trying to improve our complementary feeding practices. We have also involved the extended family, by including a training session for grandparents and great grandparents,” Mrs. Edwards informs. Underweight figures for children under three years old stood at 2.4 per cent in 2009, while for 2010, there was a marginal increase to 3.6 per cent. Children above normal rate moved from 6.9 to 6.8 per cent for those two years, respectively. In 2009, the exclusive breastfeeding rate at six weeks was 43.7 per cent, and in 2010, this increased to 47.8 per cent. However, the exclusive breastfeeding rate at threemonths registered at 33.7 per cent for 2009, but moved to 35.3 per cent for 2010. “Infant and young child feeding is everybody’s business. There are lots of benefits to be gained. The programme resides in the Ministry of Health, but it requires the partnership of other sectors,” Mrs. Edwards emphasises. The objectives of the Nutrition Unit are to: promote appropriate diet and healthy lifestyles, thereby minimising nutrient deficiencies or excesses; enforce policies, laws and regulations supportive of healthy eating and health care delivery; improve nutritional services and institutions offering maternity and child-health services; facilitate development of supportive environments outside of health; and strengthen food and nutrition surveillance. Health Ministry Takes the Lead in Breastfeeding Campaign Health & WellnessSeptember 26, 2011 By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter RelatedHealth Ministry Takes the Lead in Breastfeeding Campaign Advertisementslast_img read more

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is dead

first_imgVenezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is dead InformationMarch 5, 2013 RelatedArchives Critical to Jamaica’s History RelatedVenezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is dead FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has died. An emotional vice-president Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on Tuesday evening. Mr. Chavez had not appeared in public since he returned to Venezuela last month after cancer treatment in Cuba. Under the constitution, the head of Venezuela’s Congress, Diosdado Cabello, will assume the interim presidency before an election is held.center_img RelatedNo Let Up in NHT Housing Provisions Advertisementslast_img read more