Category: qqycjrpg

Students showcase robots

first_imgThe Compton Family Ice Arena was abuzz Sunday afternoon as more than 100 students and professors showcased their robots for the fourth annual National Robotics Week event.“This event is really great because it allows the community to come in and see the work and research being done at Notre Dame, so even though it looks like just a lot of robots, there are actually a number of areas that we focus on,” graduate student Cory Hayes said.Hayes worked on a robot which can interact with people using gestures, utilizing Microsoft’s Kinect program.“We’re really focused on the communications aspect of robots, and making communications between robots and humans a little more natural,” Hayes said.According to Hayes’s research, making communication smoother can lead to safer practices in healthcare, specifically when robotics are used in surgery.“There are a bunch of different subsets for robots, and we really like letting the community see the research we’ve been doing,” Hayes said.In another booth at Compton was a programmable ‘puppy,’ which was able to bark, come, sit and dance.“Our robot is named RoboPup, and it can do a variety of commands. Depending on where the kids are standing in relation to the robot, that’s how it knows what to do,” senior Nicole Mariani said.During Mariani’s demonstration RoboPup spun around the ‘pen’ until it detects a person. Upon detection, RoboPup mimics the action according to the programmed commands when facing the direction of the person in a the designated part of the pen.For example, if you wanted the dog to dance, you would stand in the ‘dance’ section of the pen and do any sort of dance, and the dog would dance with you, according to the information provided by the researchers.“This particular project actually took us about a couple of weeks, maybe a month to do,” Mariani said.Focused on making robots that were more humanlike to aid autistic children, juniors Carina Suarez and Xinhuan Ying showcased a robot they programmed from Aldebaran Robotics, a company that manufactures and markets humanoid and programmable robots.“Aldebaran gives us the robots, and then we program them. We basically had the semester to figure out how to do this … it’s a big task, but it’s really fun,”  Suarez said.Suarez said the robot’s ability to interact with people is a unique feature, and it’s particularly useful in programming the robots to work with autistic kids.“They look vaguely humanoid, obviously,” Suarez said. “They can hear, they can speak, they have touch sensors, so it’s really helpful for kids with autism so they can interact, which is really neat.”Tags: Compton Family Ice Arena, national robotics week, RoboPup, Roboticslast_img read more

Radon Poster Contest

first_imgGov. Brian Kemp recognized three students from northeast Georgia for their efforts to spread the word about the dangers of radon as part of the 2020 University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Radon Education Program Poster Contest.The contest, conducted by UGA Extension Radon Education Program, invites students from across the state to create posters highlighting the dangers of radon, an odorless, colorless, flavorless, radioactive gas present in some Georgia soils.All three of this year’s finalists met with Kemp on Jan. 17 to present their posters and thank him for his proclamation recognizing January as National Radon Action Month.Students submitted more than 200 posters to the state-level competition, with one selected to enter the National Radon Poster Contest, sponsored by the Conference of Radiation Control Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.“We had amazing entries from every corner of the state this year,” said Derek Manning, UGA Extension radon educator and contest coordinator. “These brilliant students made it hard for us to narrow it down to three winners”Gia Hoang, a fifth-grade student at Puckett’s Mill Elementary in Gwinnett County, placed first with her poster imploring Georgians to be bold and test their homes for radon.Caitlin Smith, a fifth-grade student in Athens-Clarke County 4-H, won second place with her poster of radon fighting superheroes.Emi Hoang, also a fifth-grade student at Puckett’s Mill in Gwinnett County won third place with her poster featuring a home in danger of being infiltrated by radon rising from the ground.Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can seep through home foundations and into homes, making the air unsafe for residents. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. In Georgia, homes in the northern counties are more likely to have high levels of radon, but all homes are susceptible.Radon can be extracted from homes, but only if families know that they need remediation services. Radon testing is not a part of basic home inspections that home buyers order when purchasing a home, but simple home radon tests are available from UGA Extension. To get a test kit, contact your local UGA Extension office or visit UGA Extension Radon Education Program celebrates student artwork while educating Georgians about the program through each January’s contest in honor of National Radon Action Month. Nine- to 14-year-olds across the state design posters to help alert the general public about the dangers of radon and how they can keep their families safe.The deadline for entries is usually in November. Teachers and parents can learn more about the contest at read more

AT&T expands mobile broadband coverage in Killington

first_imgAs part of its continuing network investment to support growing demand for advanced mobile devices and applications, AT&T today announced the activation of a new mobile broadband cell site at Pico Peak that will enhance coverage for area residents and visitors to the mountain. With mobile broadband speeds, AT&T customers can surf the Web, download files faster, and enjoy the very latest interactive mobile applications.The new cell site is one part of AT&T’s ongoing efforts to drive investment and innovation to deliver the nation’s best, most advanced mobile broadband experience for customers. With the nation’s fastestmobile broadband network, AT&T provides accelerated mobile data speeds and simultaneous voice and data capabilities.”We want you to have an extraordinary experience when you make a call, check e-mail or surf the Internet on your device ‘ even from the mountain top. Investing in Vermont’s local wireless network is just one way to accomplish this,” said Steve Krom, vice president and general manager, AT&T in New England. “In addition, our recently announced agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA will strengthen and expand our network in Vermont. If approved, this deal means that we’ll be able to expand the next generation of mobile broadband ‘ 4G LTE ‘ from our current plan of 80 percent of the U.S. population to 95 percent.”AT&T’s mobile broadband network is based on the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies that includes GSM and UMTS, the most widely used wireless network platforms in the world. AT&T has the best international coverage of any U.S. wireless provider, providing access to voice service in more than 220 countries and data service in more than 200 countries. AT&T also offers voice and data roaming coverage on more than 135 major cruise ships, as well as mobile broadband services in more than 130 countries.AT&T also operates the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network with more than 24,000 hotspots in the U.S. and provides access to more than 135,000 hotspots globally through roaming agreements. Most AT&T smartphone customers get access to our entire national Wi-Fi network at no additional cost, and Wi-Fi usage doesn’t count against customers’ monthly data plans.SOURCE AT&T Inc., April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/last_img read more

“Transnational and Transregional Threat Networks are the Biggest Threat to the Western Hemisphere”

first_imgBy Marcos Ommati/Diálogo April 19, 2017 U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) is headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and is U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Army service component. Its mission is to conduct and support multinational operations and provide security cooperation in 31 countries and 15 areas of special sovereignty in Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Major General Clarence K.K. Chinn assumed command of ARSOUTH on June 4, 2015. He is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and received a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. Diálogo visited Maj. Gen. Chinn to talk about the challenges he faces when countering transnational threats and strengthening regional security in defense of the homeland.Diálogo: Having been in the position of commander of ARSOUTH for almost two years now (since 2015), how has your perspective of the AOR changed since you first assumed command?Major General Clarence Chinn, U.S. Army South commander: I am really impressed with our partner nations, because we would not be where we are today without their great support. People don’t realize where we once were. I had lunch with a young officer (25 years old) the other day, and he said: ‘Sir, I don’t get it. I don’t see us making any progress. Don’t know if we’re having an effect.’ And one of the guys who had been in the military 40 years, said: ‘You don’t get it because you don’t know what it was like in the 80s, and the 90s. We had boots on the ground; we had soldiers in many countries. They were doing the fighting.’ We are not doing any of that today. Our partner nations are protecting their own sovereignty, and not only that, they have the vision. They are looking at transnational trends and transnational networks, and they are figuring out how they are going to disrupt them or defeat them. I think it is a very strong, stable region. The military leaders want the same thing we want: stability, security, and economic opportunity. They understand also that they cannot do it by themselves. They have to work with other nations, and they have to share information so that they can be fast and transparent to defeat the criminal networks that are operating in their countries.Diálogo: Do you think the values of democracy are stronger in Central and South America now, in comparison to what we have seen in recent years?Maj. Gen. Chinn: I do. I think, the military wants to have strong stability and security internal to their country, but that only happens because we have folks that went before us, and had the vision. In our country, this is what we want, and I think that is the key — that they value democratic institutions. So, take a look at what has happened there [in Central and South America] in a short period of time. A president was impeached [in Brazil]; another president resigned [in Guatemala]. In previous years, that would prompt a military coup. But, it didn’t happen after those two incidents, and it’s because they have strong institutions that have been built over time. Not only internal to the country, but also through the relationships, through the education, and through everyone’s understanding of what the democratic process should be. The role of the military is to provide security to let the democratic process continue.Diálogo: What do you see as your biggest challenge as the commander of Army South?Maj. Gen. Chinn: The big part for us is protecting our southern boundaries, as well as protecting the nation from transregional and transnational threats networks. Those networks are always going to be the challenge. We should always be focused on the different networks that are out there, because that is really the threat to the United States. And it’s fortunate that we have great partner nations that really believe in the same things we do, which is, they do not want these transregional, transnational threat networks operating in their countries either, because it affects their sovereignty and their security. If you cannot have security, then you are not going to get investment. Therefore, I think, across the board, what we are interested in is assisting our partners so they can continue to strengthen their ability to support their own sovereignty. Then, when necessary, they can disrupt or destroy networks that are operating within their countries.Diálogo: What kind of networks are you referring to?Maj. Gen. Chinn: We see networks that transit illicit goods, people, weapons, money, and drugs throughout the Western Hemisphere, for example, MS-13 [Mara Salvatrucha], which is a network that operates in El Salvador and other Central American countries. We have to understand the networks if we want to be successful, and it takes a strong network to defeat another network. So, with that understanding, and the support of our partner nations, we can create our own network in order to share information, and in turn, be more overt, more transparent, and faster. We can infiltrate the networks’ decision cycle, and individuals in charge – no matter who it is, or where the network is.Diálogo: What role does the Conference of the American Armies play in the fight against these networks, and other security and defense issues in the region?Maj. Gen. Chinn: A very important role, I would say. There are 20 partner army commanders that are part of it. They meet every two years, and as of right now, the United States Army is the host of that conference. The last time we hosted was 1991. That tells you a little bit about how we operate, as far as armies, about everyone having an opportunity to lead and host. So, we are hosting it this year, in addition to one of the conferences where we discuss the emerging threats of the 21st Century. There will be dialogue between the army commanders over what we believe the threats are, and then, each one of us goes back to our respective countries offering help, for example, to the police, because in some countries the police, as you know, are part of the military. In other countries they are not part of the military, they are separate. What happens when they have to work together and create that synergy, so they can share that information, while also being transparent and understanding? It is not a competition. It is about protecting our countries.Diálogo: But it’s key for people to understand that the army, in these instances, is not doing police work, correct?Maj. Gen. Chinn: Exactly. Many folks think the army is out there with the police, therefore, they are policing. No, they are not policing. They are not trained to conduct policing, but in contingency situations, they can support the police. They are not arresting people; they do not have that authority. Nor does their Constitution allow it. So, the real key is that there is no partner nation or country I have seen, or that I have worked with, who, first, doesn’t comply with their Constitution when it says that the army can support the police; and, second, their Constitution says if the president directs the army to support the police, they will support the police. That is subservient to civilian authority. If it is not illegal, immoral or unethical, if the president says to do it, then you have to do it. But, there is not a single commander I’ve spoken with that hasn’t turned around and said – when I asked them where they would like to be in two or three years – that they don’t want to be supporting the police.Diálogo: It’s not their mission…Maj. Gen. Chinn: Right, and they are worried about it, too. As a good army commander, they should be worried about it, because they know they aren’t necessarily trained to do it – supporting the police. But, that is what they tell me. That is their challenge.Diálogo: And they are probably concerned about human rights violations as well, right?Maj. Gen. Chinn: Right. They do not want to get caught up in any type of potential human rights violations, because they don’t want to lose the trust and confidence of the people. In every country, just like here in the United States, you see that the most trusted and respected institution is the military. In some countries, the police are right up there on the same level, while in others, the police are not as highly regarded as the military. But it doesn’t really matter either way. What is important to understand is that the military is one of the most trusted and respected. That’s because of the leadership, right? You don’t become the most trusted and respected in a society unless you are doing the right things. Meaning, you are not facilitating human rights violations. It is very impressive that they are so well respected. But part of that also goes back to why they are so well respected. When the president asks them to do something, they are usually very successful.Diálogo: Members of the military participating in disaster relief activities also give them a lot of respect and credibility with different populations, right?Maj. Gen. Chinn: Yes, because that is where they have the most interaction with the people. When there is a disaster, or something happens, and the civilian government does not have the capacity or capability to confront those sometimes overwhelming challenges alone, they need military assistance. Different from the United States, where we have a National Guard, they [most countries in Central and South America, and the Caribbean] don’t have a National Guard, and no reserves. So, the president doesn’t have the options that we have here. They have to call on the military. So again, you run into this problem of the military not being trained to do humanitarian assistance or disaster relief, but they end up doing it, and they do it pretty well. These are very tough missions that we ask of our military leaders in the partner nations, and they do it. I am really impressed with their capabilities.Diálogo: Lastly, what do you have to say about the history of the military in this region taking part in peacekeeping missions all around the world?Maj. Gen. Chinn: That is another interesting piece. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there are 14 different peacekeeping missions that our partner nations are involved in right now. That is a lot. I was surprised, but in many cases, they have been doing it for a long time. Colombia has been doing the Sinai mission since its inception. A lot of folks don’t realize that Colombia has been involved in that, because they are quiet professionals. They just go there and do it without a lot of fanfare. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti [MINUSTAH] is led by Brazil, and has Chile as the deputy. The United Nations’ peacekeeping missions are important because they put the partner nations on a global stage. They are not just regional, but global, and they are getting recognition for being a professional force. Additionally, folks don’t realize that El Salvador provides helicopters in Mali, Africa. Or that Peru is in the Central African Republic right now, on their second rotation, with an engineer company. But there are a lot of those types of things going on where folks just don’t really realize that we’ve got great partner nations down there, doing great things. El Salvador fought with us both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua all had forces in Iraq. Colombia has been with us in Korea, where they have suffered casualties, and once a year they perform a remembrance ceremony. Then, you look at the Brazilians who fought with us in WWII. In sum, we have a very strong relationship with a lot of our partner nations.last_img read more

Judicial Management Council panel rejects the abolition of PCAs

first_imgJudicial Management Council panel rejects the abolition of PCAs Rejecting a proposal to replace PCAs by a mandatory checklist of reasons for the decision. Developing a “suggestion for opinion writing” curriculum to be used regularly at the New Judges College and periodically at the Appellate Judges Conference as an educational tool. Discouraging the use of PCAs when there is a dissent in a case. Encouraging — but not requiring — PCAs be accompanied by a citation to authority. Amending Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.330 to allow, after a PCA, a motion to request an opinion. July 1, 2000 Associate Editor Regular News Judicial Management Council panel rejects the abolition of PCAs Mark D. Killian Associate Editor A Judicial Management Council panel has rejected a call to do away with per curiam affirmed decisions, but has issued a set of recommendations designed to limit their use. After two years of study, the JMC’s PCA Committee has concluded while there is some merit to providing a written explanation of every decision, there are legal and practical reasons “why such a course is not desirable or reasonable.” “From a legal standpoint, the PCA Committee believes that writing a brief opinion, even utilizing a citation or checklist, would add nothing to the jurisprudence of the state and possibly create confusion in the law,” according to the PCA Committee’s report, which was accepted by the full JMC in Tallahassee June 16 and forwarded to the Supreme Court. The PCA Committee also found the present caseloads facing district court judges would make such opinion writing a “significant burden,” in terms of judicial time, and could subtract from time available for writing opinions in more deserving cases. “When these considerations are combined with the fact that the majority of cases receiving a per curiam affirmance are not fully briefed and are frivolous in many cases, the PCA Committee believes the present mix of written opinions and PCAs is not inordinately skewed toward the latter,” the committee said. A minority of the committee, however, said the panel underestimates the gravity of the PCA problem and the recommendations “do not adequately respond to a widespread, increasing practice which undermines the quality of appellate justice in our state.” The minority also argued that bare PCAs not be used for fully briefed appeals, and appellate litigators should be able to discern the likely reasons an appellate court decided the case with a PCA. Second DCA Judge Monterey Campbell, who chaired the committee, said it disturbs him to see the issue of PCAs used as a vehicle to attack the integrity of district court judges. “I don’t believe there is any district court of appeal that deliberately per curiam affirms a case where they believe there is a conflict — they just won’t do that,” Campbell said. “Judges have integrity, and where there is conflict they will cite conflict. And often-times on petitions for rehearing where conflicts might be first brought to the court’s attention, that court will reissue an opinion and say this opinion is in conflict with another.” The PCA Committee’s recommendations include: The PCA Committee said each of its recommendations, while explicitly dealing with methods to limit PCAs, constitute an implicit endorsement of their use under various circumstances. The committee held the judicious use of the PCA “will have a beneficial effect on the jurisprudence of the state by eliminating the potential clutter its abolishment would heap upon an already voluminous reporter system.” The committee also declined to take a position on whether an alternative system of unpublished opinions should be developed, saying that was beyond its purview. The committee said PCAs perform a useful function when used properly and are appropriate in various situations, including when a case has not been fully-briefed and does not present issues necessitating a discussion; when the law is so well settled on the issues presented that no further explication is required; and when the principle of law upon which the decision rests is so generic — such as when the trial court decision is supported by competent substantial evidence — that even reference to a citation would add nothing to the jurisprudence. “The PCA Committee believes that the use of the PCA is a matter best left within the discretion of the individual panel, which can be expected to act in a manner consistent with general standards of judicial review,” the panel’s report said. “The PCA Committee does not believe, as some have charged without documented justification, that the PCA is used as a method to avoid either controversy or judicial labor.” Rule 9.330 The committee did recommend Rule 9.330 be amended to allow an appellant or appellee the opportunity to petition the DCA for a written opinion. The petitioning party would be required to establish that a written opinion would serve as a basis for further review. “The PCA Committee does not believe that this process would be abused if attorneys are required to sign the statement appended to the motion expressing their belief that such an opinion would provide a basis for further review,” the committee said. “Obviously, the court retains the authority to deny the motion if inappropriately filed.” Opinion Writing The committee also recommended the adoption of “suggestions for opinion writing” to be disseminated to appellate judges and be incorporated into judicial education programs. The PCA Committee said unless it commits itself to developing suggestions for opinion writing, any “good intentions” regarding PCAs will disappear. “The belief of the PCA Committee is that DCA judges, upon being regularly reminded of the various factors which may be appropriately considered in determining whether and what to write, will often choose the option of writing an opinion in those cases meriting a written opinion,” the report said. Citations The committee also rejected the concept of mandating citation PCAs, but encouraged the use of citation PCAs when appropriate. “The PCA Committee also believes that the use of citation PCAs would, in any case, be of limited use since the holding of any cited opinion may have only limited application to the instant case, which would usually involve issues not dealt with in the cited case,” the report said. “On the other hand, if the court wants to cite a case for a broad concept, for example, the decision of the trial court is supported by competent, substantial evidence, such proposition may be better spelled out in full rather than merely referenced in a citation.” Checklists The panel also rejected the notion of replacing PCAs without opinion by a mandatory checklist of reasons for the decision. The PCA Committee said it reviewed a rule with some of the attributes of a checklist. Rule 36-1 of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals lists five situations in which an affirmance without opinion would be appropriate, if any are found in conjunction with the fact that an opinion would have no precedental value. “The PCA Committee concludes that the use of such a checklist would demean the appellate function, create confusion if judges differ on the rationale for the decision, and provide little, if any, benefit to attorneys and litigants,” the report said. Dissent The committee also discouraged the use of PCAs when there is a dissent in a case. “First, the PCA Committee believes it tends to show disrespect for the dissenting judge who has taken the time to memorialize the reason or reasons for disagreement with the court’s decision,” the committee said, adding the writing judge should, as a rule, make an effort to establish the grounds upon which the decision rests, whether or not in direct rebuttal of the dissent. The PCA Committee also said PCAs with dissent present a less than desirable picture to the parties and the public, who may assume that the majority has somehow been intimidated into not writing an opinion for fear of presenting an untenable position. “While the PCA Committee certainly is not of the opinion that this is the case, it does believe that a legal explanation of the majority decision will at least identify the positions of the opposing sides,” the report said. “Finally, the PCA Committee believes that the writing of the majority opinion will clearly frame the dispositive issue or issues of the case. If such issue or issues are not the focus of the dissent, the losing litigant will at least have a better understanding of why the case was lost and not necessarily assume that the dissent’s unrefuted arguments should have been dispositive of the case.” Minority Report “We simply don’t feel the majority recommendations are sufficient to address the problem of PCAs,” said committee member Nancy Daniels, public defender for the Second Circuit. “We think that PCAs in Florida’s appellate court system thwart the confidence of the public,” she said. Daniels said PCAs now are being used as a dispositional tool to deal with very large caseloads. “I feel very strongly that we need more appellate courts and appellate judges so that the caseloads are more reasonable and judges can take the time to write more opinions in more cases,” she said. In his dissent, Third DCA Judge Gerald B. Cope, Jr., said PCAs should not be used for fully briefed appeals. “If affirmance in such a case rests on routine application of well-suited law, then there should at least be a citation to the authorities on which the affirmance is based,” Cope said. “If a citation to the applicable authorities does not suffice, then there should at least be a brief statement of reasons for the affirmance.” Raymond T. (Tom) Elligett, Jr., the only lawyer in private practice on the committee, said the key to reducing the number of PCAs is commitment from the state for more appellate judges. “This seems unrealistic today,” Elligett said. “Perhaps those who decry the large numbers of PCAs can work toward an enlarged appellate bench that would have the capacity to generate more written opinions.” Campbell, however, said lawyers and clients who lose in the trial courts and have that loss affirmed in the appellate courts are not going to have their “bad feeling” assuaged by significantly altering the use of PCAs. “Many of those who are unhappy with trial court decisions and who are unsuccessful in obtaining relief on appeal continue to complain about the `finality’ of district court of appeal decisions, whether PCAs or otherwise,” Campbell said. “To indulge in that type of complaint or to be disturbed by it is to ignore the fact that DCA decisions were, for the most part, intended to be final.”last_img

Tioga County Health Alert lists 4 establishments visited by people positive for COVID

first_imgTIOGA COUNTY (WBNG) — The Tioga County Public Health Department has sent a notification naming four public locations that have been visited by individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Those include: St. James Church in Waverly; Oct. 17 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Carol’s Coffee and Art Bar in Owego; Oct. 18 from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. Early Owego Antique Center; Oct. 18 from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. Bud’s Place in Apalachin; Oct. 18 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.center_img The health department asks anyone who was at these locations during the listed periods of exposure to self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure.last_img read more

Scaring people is scary

first_img(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) –We are all likeliest to take precautions when we’re frightened. But “fear of fear” is widespread—and a major barrier to pandemic communication.In February 2005 I had a chance to spend a day with many of the top pandemic people at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I made the strongest case I could for alerting the American public to the risk of an H5N1 pandemic—for shaking people by their collective lapels and persuading them that family and community preparedness should be a priority.I failed. The collective wisdom of the group was that, yes, pandemic preparedness was an important government priority. But trying to make it an important public priority would require frightening people . . . and that was simply too high a price to pay. The psychological toll and the economic impact could be incalculable.That summer US President George Bush read John Barry’s book on 1918, The Great Influenza. And a couple of months after that, Katrina led White House strategists to decide that, for a while at least, Cassandra’s doomsday predictions might provide a better role model than Pollyanna’s over-optimism. By the end of 2005, HHS and CDC were in the forefront of an orchestrated federal campaign to sound the alarm about pandemic preparedness.Have you noticed any signs of pandemic preparedness panic? Are your friends suffering from pandemic preparedness post-traumatic stress disorder? Has a massive pandemic preparedness market selloff hurt your share price? I don’t think so.The pandemic “fear campaign,” as its critics rightly called it, was modestly successful. It was a decent start on what will have to be a 5-year or 10-year effort to get the US public emotionally and logistically ready for a pandemic. (We hope we are given that much time.) As I write this in early December 2006, we’re in a lull. Pandemic preparedness is old news in the mainstream media. But when the story becomes newsworthy again—perhaps when the first bird with Asian H5N1 virus is found in the North America—we will start at a higher level of public awareness and concern than we started in 2005.Much of the private sector, meanwhile, is about where HHS and CDC were nearly two years ago: convinced that pandemic preparedness is important, but reluctant to frighten customers or employees. Client after client tells me that the company is busy getting ready for a possible pandemic—but quietly. Why quietly? Because they don’t want to “unduly frighten people.”What about duly frightening people?During consultations and presentations on pandemic risk communication, I typically draw a diagram representing the “fear dimension” of emotional arousal.When I ask the group where on the scale they want their stakeholders to be with respect to pandemic preparedness, the typical choice is “concern.” When I advocate for “fear” instead I get a lot of pushback. The group’s usual solution is to add another label, “high concern.”I think my clients are imagining a cowering fear; a paralyzing fear; a swarming mass-hysteria panic-fear. But for the most part people are sturdy—responding to fearful situations with initial anxiety and riveted attention, followed quickly by resilient response, and then by integrating the new fear into their daily lives. Pretty quickly—sadly, in a way—people adapt. Many people even become too apathetic again.On the diagram at right, the level of emotional arousal most conducive to precaution-taking is fear—proportionate fear. Concern is too low; terror is too high. Sustained fear would be optimal for preparedness (though not optimal for normal living). But fear isn’t sustainable. The best we can manage is an oscillation between fear (when something newsworthy is happening) and concern (when it isn’t).My wife was once a university psychiatrist. Students used to say to her, “I want to break up with my boyfriend, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” Her answer: “That isn’t one of the choices. When you tell him hurtful news, you can’t skip the part where he feels hurt.”Scaring people is scary. But if you want people to prepare for a possible pandemic, you can’t skip the part where they feel frightened.I’ll have more to say about the dynamics of fear in my next column.An internationally renowned expert in risk communication and crisis communication, Peter Sandman speaks and consults widely on communication aspects of pandemic preparedness. Most of his risk communication writing is available without charge at the Peter Sandman Risk Communication Web Site ( For an index of pandemic-related writing on the site, see For more on “fear of fear,” see (written with Jody Lanard).last_img read more

Malawi opposition leader sworn in as president after vote re-run

first_imgSome 6.8 million Malawians returned to the polls on Tuesday after the country’s top court found the first election had been marred by widespread irregularities — including the use of correction fluid to tamper with result sheets.Chakwera was pronounced the winner with 2.6 million votes, while Mutharika took 1.75 million and underdog candidate Peter Dominico Kuwani over 32,400.Voter turnout was just under 65 percent.In power since 2014, Mutharika had won 38 percent of the discredited vote last year, just ahead of Chakwera with about 35 percent.”Fellow Malawians, to stand before you is an honour. It’s an honour that fills me with unspeakable joy,” Chakwera said.”It is an honour forged in the furnace of your desire and your demand for change.”Addressing supporters in Lilongwe’s Freedom Square, Chakwera vowed to restore “faith in the possibility of having a government that serves” and “fights for you”.”There are many of you who did not vote for me in this election and perhaps the prospect of my presidency fills you with fear,” he added. “But… Malawi is home to you too… so long as I am its president, you too will prosper.”Chakwera leads Malawi’s oldest party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which is the main opposition party and ruled Malawi for three decades from 1964 to 1994 under Hastings Banda’s one-party rule.Mutharika, 79, has not yet commented on his defeat.On Saturday, he had argued that the election re-run had been flawed, citing violence and intimidation against monitors.The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) dismissed the allegations and said all complaints had been “resolved”.But Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called on the MEC to annul the results of the second vote and declare a third poll.Political analysts told AFP they highly doubted the possibility of a second re-run.Kenya’s former prime minister Raila Odinga — who lost to the incumbent in the country’s 2017 vote re-run — was among several politicians to congratulate Chakwera.”I commend the outgoing president Peter Mutharika for creating the environment for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” Odinga tweeted.”The election was followed keenly beyond Malawi and is a symbol of hope for those who support democracy in Africa and around the world.” Topics : Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera was sworn in Sunday as the southern African country’s new president after winning the re-run of a hotly disputed election.It was a dramatic reversal of fortune for the incumbent Peter Mutharika, whose victory in a May 2019 ballot was overturned by the Constitutional Court over fraud allegations.Chakwera, a former evangelist preacher, was declared the winner of the election replay held on Tuesday with almost 59 percent of the vote, according to results announced late Saturday.center_img Malawi is only the second African country south of the Sahara to have presidential poll results overturned in court, after Kenya in 2017.And it is the first time in the region that a vote re-run has led to the defeat of an incumbent leader. “I… do solemnly swear that I will well and truly perform the functions of the high office of the president of the Republic of Malawi and that I will preserve and defend the constitution,” the 65-year-old Chakwera said as took his oath before thousands of supporters.Opposition candidate Saulos Chilima was sworn in as vice-president.last_img read more

UK regulator warns on transfers out of DB schemes

first_imgThe UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) has written to trustee boards of defined benefit (DB) schemes urging them to consider reducing the transfer values offered to members when considering exiting the scheme.In a letter sent to a number of large DB funds – obtained by financial services group Royal London under the UK’s Freedom of Information act – TPR advised trustees to consult their actuaries regarding the effects of transfers out of their schemes.DB scheme members in the UK are permitted to transfer their benefits to a defined contribution (DC) scheme. This option has increased in popularity in recent years following a relaxation of the UK’s rules regarding DC retirement options.TPR said in its letter: “In light of recent events concerning your scheme’s sponsor(s), we would expect you to take advice from your scheme actuary about whether the basis on which [transfers] are calculated remains appropriate. “We would also expect you to consider whether a new insufficiency report should be commissioned from the actuary. This would allow you to judge whether a reduction or further reduction should be applied to [transfers] in light of their assessment of covenant strength.”Royal London warned that a scheme granting generous transfer values to members while running a deficit could worsen its funding position, even though it would be reducing its liabilities. Sir Steve Webb, Royal LondonSir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and a former UK pensions minister, said: “I would hope that well run pension schemes would be taking expert advice when deciding how much to offer to members wishing to transfer out.“But the regulator’s letter is a helpful reminder to all schemes that they need to be fair not only to those transferring out but also those left behind, especially where the scheme in question is in deficit.”The regulator said it had “sent letters on 12 occasions to trustees regarding transfer activity” in the year to 26 July.Other recommendationsTPR also recommended that schemes review their member communications, and outlined a number of issues for them to highlight to members.These included:An explanation of the risks of transferring out of a DB scheme, including an emphasis on the loss of a retirement income guarantee;The legal requirement for those transferring out more then £30,000 (€33,300) to seek professional advice from a qualified, authorised adviser;Information about the Pensions Advisory Service, a government-funded organisation that provides free guidance on pension issues; andThe risk of pension fraud.Trustees should also seek to improve their record-keeping to monitor transfer requests, and send the regulator monthly updates about transfer activity, TPR said.As DB to DC scheme transfers have increased, so has the number of reported pension scams – predominantly involving individuals being persuaded to transfer their savings into unauthorised investment funds. During the recent high-profile restructuring of the British Steel Pension Scheme, a number of people were targeted by unauthorised ‘advisers’ who directed them to expensive, inappropriate investments.UK regulators, including TPR and the Financial Conduct Authority, have reiterated that exiting a DB scheme – and forfeiting the guaranteed income stream it provides to retirees – is unlikely to be in the best interests of most members.The regulators have also joined forces to launch a multimedia advertising campaign to raise awareness of pension fraud.last_img read more

Siasia’s life ban appeal gets October date

first_imgOctober 6, 2020 has been picked by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to hear Samson Siasia’s appeal in the wake of his FIFA ban. Siasia wants Osaze to come up with evidence The request was initially billed for March 19, 2020 but this had to be adjourned owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The former Nigeria head coach was banned for life from football after the sport’s ruling body found him guilty of agreeing to take bribes to manipulate matches. The 51-year-old was also fined CHF50,000 (£42,000) for breaching Fifa’s code of ethics. In a letter to Siasia on Monday from CAS with registration number: CAS 2019/A/6439 Samson Siasia v. Fifa requested that: “Samson Siasia shall pay the total amount of CHF 100’000 (One hundred thousand Swiss francs) to the CAS bank account. “The estimate includes the CAS administrative costs and the costs and fees if the Panel. Accordingly, the first advance of costs in the arbitration CAS 2019/A/6439 Samson Siasia v Fifa shall be fixed at CHF 100’000 (One hundred thousand Swiss francs.) “If a party fails to pay its share, another may substitute for it, in case of nonpayment within the time limit fixed by CAS, the request/appeal shall be deemed withdrawn and the CAS shall terminate the arbitration, this provision applies mutatis mutandis to any counterclaims. Loading… It also clarified that: “Fifa does not pay any arbitration cost in advance when it acts as Respondent in a procedure before CAS, which is admissible to CAS pursuant to Article R 64.2 of the Code.” Fifa did not specify when Siasia’s alleged violations occurred but said in a statement: “The adjudicatory chamber of the independent ethics committee has found Mr Samson Siasia, a former official of the Nigeria Football Federation, guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the Fifa code of ethics. “The formal ethics proceedings against Mr Siasia were initiated on February 11, 2019, and stem from an extensive investigation into matches Mr Wilson Raj Perumal attempted to manipulate for betting purposes.” read also:Siasia threatens to sue Osaze Singaporean Perumal is a known former serial match-fixer who served prison time for past offences, and who has previously alleged to have influenced results involving Nigeria. Siasia had a 15-year career with the Super Eagles as a player and was head coach between 2010 and 2011, as well as in 2016. The former Nantes forward also had spells in charge of Nigeria’s U20 and U23 sides. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 last_img read more