An alternative jumble sale

first_imgOn Saturday supporters of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign gathered in Oxford to hold a “jumble sale with a difference”. Instead the traditional car-boot sale fare, the campaigners sold items synonymous with the expenses scandal of last year, such as rubber ducks and toilet seats. The jumble sale aimed to encourage an “out with the old” attitude, consigning such scandals to the past. Organisers hoped to raise awareness and encourage voters to support the referendum on adopting the Alternative Vote. The supporters believe the Alternative Vote will make it easier for voters to directly hold MPs to account, as they would have to get 50% support from their constituents to secure election. Chris Carrigan, Chair of the Yes to Fairer Votes Oxfordshire campaign said, “The New Year is here and voters have a historic chance to throw out the old politics of scandal and jobs for life.” Duncan Moore, an activist and Biochemistry student at Oxford, said, “The Alternative Vote may be a small change, but it will make a big difference to people like me who have to look at the electoral maths as much as the policies when we decide how to vote.” Andrew Mell, the group’s press officer, told Cherwell that among those campaigning, “there was very much a mix of town and gown”. He said they were looking to organise similar events in order to raise awareness before the referendum.last_img read more

Tesco triumphs in own-label awards

first_imgTesco came out top in the Grocer’s Own-Label Awards in the baked goods category – and went home with almost a third of the total awards.The supermarket giant’s Tesco Finest range took five awards in the baked goods sector, while its basic range took home two in the awards organised by British Baker’s sister title. It’s closest rival in baked goods was Asda, which scooped four awards with Today Lidl, Aldi and Sainsbury’s each going home with one.Tesco also swept the board overall with its Finest brand winning 22 of 74 gold awards, while its non-Finest products won a further seven golds, giving it a total of 27 – 10 more than nearest rival Lidl.Research conducted by Cambridge Market Research found that the award-winning Finest products were seen as “new and different” by 67% of consumers, compared with 51% for all other entrants. Finest lines were also considered to be good value, with 14 of the winning lines scoring higher than the category average.last_img read more

Plotting the demise of malaria

first_imgWatch your back, malaria.Authorities on the disease from around the world gathered at Harvard Medical School (HMS) for a three-day session focused on establishing new research priorities demanded by a shift in international anti-malaria strategy, from control to eradication.Experts speaking at a public session Thursday (Jan. 20) said the changed goals for international malaria efforts, adopted in 2008, necessitate a fresh focus and new research priorities. Authorities said past efforts to control malaria targeted reducing illness and death from the disease, but not necessarily on preventing transmission, since people build up natural immunities, though slowly and over many years.“You have to move away from thinking about how to reduce morbidity and mortality to thinking about how to interrupt transmission,” said Marcel Tanner, director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and co-chair of the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda.Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that causes intense fever, headache, and even death. It is widespread in regions where half of humans live. Last year, an estimated 225 million people contracted malaria. It took nearly 800,000 lives — the majority of them children — last year alone.Given malaria’s global distribution and complex life cycle — inhabiting first a mosquito and then a human host — the effort will have to be multipronged and collaborative, encompassing everything from active host regimes to nongovernmental organizations, health care facilities, and scientists. The effort will require strategies ranging from continued distribution of pesticide-impregnated bed nets to development of an effective vaccine, speakers said.“Looking at the disease alone is not enough. Looking at health systems alone is not enough,” Tanner said.The event, “Rethinking Malaria: The Science of Eradication Symposium,” was sponsored by the Harvard Institute for Global Health and the Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Among its speakers were HMS Dean Jeffrey Flier, Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk, John MacArthur of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Regina Rabinovich of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program.Dyann Wirth, chair of the HSPH Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, listens during “Rethinking Malaria: The Science of Eradication Symposium.” Wirth said the event brought together leaders not just from science, but also from business, the nonprofit sector, and charitable foundations, who brought a focus on policy to the discussion.Dyann Wirth, Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Infectious Diseases, chair of the HSPH Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and one of the symposium’s organizers, said the event brought together leaders not just from science, but also from business, the nonprofit sector, and charitable foundations, who brought a focus on policy to the discussion. With important strides already made against malaria in recent years, the event allowed attendees to take stock and set new priorities. Flier, who delivered introductory remarks, cautioned against any complacency that could reverse recent gains.Eradicating the disease will require not just research into malaria and its mosquito vector, but also into health systems and delivery methods to ensure that prevention and treatment programs, once developed, are distributed where needed and used properly.In the lab, developing new drugs to treat malaria and pesticides to kill mosquitoes is critical, Tanner said, because an increase in resistance by the parasite or the mosquito that carries it would be a significant blow to eradication. Efforts to develop a vaccine must continue, and a renewed focus is needed on the less-virulent strain of the malaria parasite, plasmodium vivax. Current efforts focus mainly on plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for most deaths.Also needed, Tanner said, are ways to control the Anopheles mosquitoes that infect humans with their bites and new tools to assess how widespread infections are. Detecting and eliminating those final pools of infection is important not only to achieve eradication but also to prevent the disease from spreading again.Pedro Alonso, director of the Barcelona Centre for International Health Research and chair of the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda, said that efforts toward a malaria vaccine are moving forward, with a candidate vaccine in clinical trials. A vaccine, he said, would be an important tool in fighting malaria, in part because vaccines can be distributed even in places with poor health care infrastructure.“Historically, they’ve been one of our best public health tools,” Alonso said. “Vaccines get to places where there are no functioning health services.”International health organizations have set a strategic goal to have a first-generation vaccine that provides 50 percent protection by 2015, and a more effective vaccine with 80 percent efficacy by 2025. The current vaccine is in a large, phase-3 trial to measure its efficacy. The trial involves 16,000 children in seven countries. By 2014, Alonso said, data from the trial should be analyzed.Other vaccines are in the works, Alonso said. Even if they don’t provide complete immunity, they can help to weaken the disease by reducing the reservoir of infection in an area and cutting the rate at which infections spread.The World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2010 shows that intensified efforts to prevent malaria by distributing millions of bed nets and interior spraying for mosquitoes have already borne fruit, reducing malaria cases and deaths from 233 million cases and 985,000 deaths in 2000 to 225 million cases and 781,000 deaths in 2009.A closer look at the statistics, however, shows potential pitfalls. While 11 African countries saw deep reductions in cases and deaths, three others saw a resurgence in the disease. Global eradication will require coordinated and sustained efforts to eliminate the parasite wherever it lurks.“You have to start everywhere,” Tanner said. “If you leave the tough part until the end, you won’t reach your goal.”Marcel Tanner (from left), Jeffrey Flier, Pedro Alonso, and Lachlan Forrow speak following the morning session of presentations.last_img read more

Significant Other’s Sas Goldberg on Falling for Aaron Tveit & More

first_imgSas Goldberg photographed at Designer Loft Bridal(Photo: Caitlin McNaney) Related Shows DesignsLong Lace Sleeve Ball Gown: Rosa ClaraBeaded Sleeved Gown: Eliza Jane HowellSlim Lace Sleeved Gown: Atelier Emelia Show Closed This production ended its run on April 23, 2017 Age: 31Hometown: New York, NYCurrent Role: Sas Goldberg brings the sass in her Broadway debut as Kiki, the blunt bridezilla whose walk down the aisle starts a love domino effect in her tightknit friend group in Significant Other.Stage & Screen Cred: Goldberg originated the role of Kiki during Significant Other’s off-Broadway run at Roundabout. She also appeared in the off-Broadway production of Stunning at Lincoln Center. Her other stage credits include The Best of Everything and The Urban Dictionary Plays. On screen, Goldberg was most recently seen on the second season of Bravo’s Odd Mom Out; her other screen credits include Showtime’s HAPPYish and the feature film Are You Joking?, which she co-wrote, produced and starred in. Catch her in the upcoming season of TBS’ Search Party, and don’t miss her video, “What’s the Deal with Aaron Tveit?” View Comments Significant Otherlast_img read more

Adani Faces Financing Gap on Unpopular Australian Coal Project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Wire:In September 2016, the Adani group decided to scale down the size of the mine from the initially proposed investment of $16.4 billion to $4.2 billion, with production being curtailed at 25 million tonnes of coal per annum in the first phase of operations, instead of the initially proposed 60 million tonnes per annum at peak production.“Between 2010 and now, things have changed drastically for the mine. It is now no longer financially viable, and that is why it has not been able to achieve financial close for seven years. On top of that, there are so many political and environmental risks associated with the project that it becomes toxic from a banking perspective,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia, within the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a pro-renewables energy research firm. As many as twenty-four Australian and international banks have either refused funding the project or have introduced rules that would make the Carmichael project out-of-bounds for them.To add to its woes, according to a recent report by the IEEFA, the Adani group will need to refinance $1.48 billion of debt on by November 2018 and a cumulative debt refinancing of $2.11 billion by 2020 on its Abbot point port terminal. This at a time when the port is only operating at 50% of its capacity and most of its ‘take-or-pay’ contracts, which currently earn revenue for the port, expire soon. “They have this situation where three-quarters of their debt on the port will have to be refinanced in the next 12 months. With the take-or-pay contracts progressively expiring, they will find it difficult to convince financiers that the port will be fully utilised in the future,” said Buckley, one of the authors of the report.“For them to convince financers that port capacity will be utilised in the future, they need to show that the Carmichael mine will be up and running soon because otherwise, the export volumes will not be enough. So it now makes the mine crucial for the future of the Abbot point port,” Buckley added.Jeyakumar Janakaraj, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Adani Australia, recently told the Economic Times in an interview that the Adani group still needs to tie-up $4.2 billion in finance for the Carmichael mine and rail project, and has a set a deadline of March 2018 to tie up funding.A surfer carries his board as he walks behind protesters participating in a national Day of Action against the Indian mining company Adani’s planned coal mine project in north-east Australia, at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in Australia, October 7, 2017. Credit: Reuters/David GrayAccording to John Quiggin, Australian Laureate Fellow in Economics at the University of Queensland, the project now relies heavily on financial support from the Australian government. “There has been a general move away from financing coal projects. It is increasingly difficult to get finance and this is a marginal project. It is low-quality coal and a long-way away from ports. There is no clear market for the coal. So the project is not very attractive commercially. They (the Adani group) are therefore looking mostly at government or quasi-government financing,” Quiggin told The Wire.The government financing, which the project now crucially hinges on, is a prospective concessional loan of up to $900 million from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) which was set up by the government of Australia in 2016 to ‘encourage and complement private sector investment in infrastructure that benefits northern Australia’. The prospective loan is concessional as it can be provided at an interest rate lower than commercial lending rates, and for a period longer than commercial lending periods.“The structure of the NAIF is very opaque. The interest rates could be as low as federal government bond rate, which is currently 2.75%. And the loan period could be 30 years, with the risk profile of the loan likely to be heavily subordinated terms. It would operate like quasi-equity,” said Buckley.In effect, tax-payers in Australia would be subsidising the Adani group’s coal mine, and Julien Vincent, executive director of the environmental campaign group, Market Forces, believes that the project is only possible through tax-payer subsidy. “This project is financially unsustainable. It only works if you are prepared to shift the risk on to the tax payers. So, the NAIF is critical for Adani,” he said.Even with the $900 million NAIF loan, the Adani group will need to secure another $3.3 billion in financing for the project. According to a recent report of the IEEFA, the Chinese state-owned enterprise China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) is one of the prospective financers that the Adani group has approached. According to a press release on the website of CMEC, in January, a top Adani Mining Private limited executive, Praveen Khandelwal, along with the CEO of Downer EDI group – a company which has a $2 billion contract with Adani Mining Private limited for the construction of the mine in Australia – met with the president of CMEC Zhang Chun. Chun said at the meeting that the CMEC “hoped to cooperate with Adani and Downer to take part in financing, construction and operation of relevant coal mines and railway projects”.“The CMEC is in strategic alliance with the China Construction Bank and the China Import Export Bank which are two state-owned enterprises. They could take equity stakes in the Adani project. They have a history of taking minority equity stakes in projects of this kind,” said Buckley.Aiding that theory is a statement that Janakaraj gave to Reuters in early October, where the CEO of Adani Australia said that the Adani group was ‘looking to sell minority equity stakes in the coal project’.Further fuelling speculation is a recent revelation that certain Australian government ministers wrote to the Chinese government assuring it that the Carmichael coal mine has been approved. The letter was written by the minister for trade, tourism and investment, and by the deputy prime minister, and addressed to the National Development and Reform Commission in China. The secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told Australian senators that Adani may have requested the letter to help it secure funding from the Chinese.According to Buckley, if the deal materialises, it could effectively mean that the Australian government is providing subsidies to a project owned by an Indian billionaire and a state-owned enterprise of the Chinese government.   However, Buckley argues that the NAIF loan remains critical even for this prospect. “The NAIF loan is absolutely crucial. I don’t think the Chinese state-owned enterprise would even contemplate doing a project in Australia without an explicit endorsement of the project by the Australian government. And there is nothing more explicit than being a key funder. If the Chinese knew that the NAIF wasn’t available, I don’t think they would even give it a moment’s thought. It is too controversial a project,” he said.Effectively, the NAIF loan – a federal government funded subsidy of almost $1 billion – would act as a signal of government support for the project, and would make it a more attractive investment proposition for prospective financers.But government funding in the form of the subsidised NAIF loan is hugely unpopular with the Australian people, with some arguing that it amounts to a bailout. It seems that the NAIF loan has become a double-edged sword for the Adani group, as the project is unlikely to find willing financers without it, and it could face even stronger opposition from citizens if the NAIF loan is provided.More: Adani’s Australia Story: As Financial Concerns Mount, A Fierce Battle for Funding is Underway Adani Faces Financing Gap on Unpopular Australian Coal Projectlast_img read more

More transparency = more credit union accounts

first_imgby: Henry MeierBy many measures these are both the best of times and worst of times for credit union membership.  On the one hand credit union accounts exceeded the 100 million mark and there has been a sharp increase in members identifying credit unions as their primary financial institution in the aftermath of the Mortgage Meltdown; on the other hand membership declined in 2014 at credit unions with $500 million or less in assets and an estimated 85% of credit union members also have accounts with banks.Two things are going on here: First, as I argued yesterday, the industry as a whole has not done a good enough job of distinguishing its brand from banks or of demonstrating the value of its brand.A second reason is that it’s harder to switch financial institutions than it should be. More should be done to let consumers seamlessly dump their bank for better service.  Our relatives in England are providing an example of how this might work and credit unions should push for adoption of a similar model in the U.S.In 2011 a UK Government commission on banking reform proposed making it easier for consumers to switch banks.  After an infrastructure investment of  more than a  billion dollars and  some arm twisting a system started in 2013 under which  It takes no more than seven business days to switch accounts to a new bank.  Members choose when they want the transfer to take place and the switch is handled between the two banks. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Bracknell Shedding the ‘new’ look

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

How the world reacted to Hong Kong’s new security law

first_imgAhead of the territory’s handover from Britain, authoritarian China guaranteed Hong Kong civil liberties — as well as judicial and legislative autonomy — until 2047 in a deal known as “One Country, Two Systems”.Here’s how the world has reacted to the new law: China’s sweeping national security law for Hong Kong has sharply divided opinion both inside the financial hub and beyond its borders.Beijing loyalists and China-friendly nations have hailed it.Many dissidents, rights groups and western governments have decried it as the end of the city’s free speech traditions and judicial autonomy. United Nations Twenty-seven countries — including Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan — issued a rare oral rebuke of China at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, describing “deep and growing concerns” over the new law.They urged China to reconsider, saying the law “undermines” the city’s freedoms.The signatories added that the law was imposed without the direct participation of Hong Kong’s people, its legislature or judiciary.Another 53 countries, led by China ally and fellow one-party state Cuba, announced support for the law at the Geneva meeting.”The legislative power on national security issues rests with [the] state, which in essence is not a human rights issue,” the statement said, according to Chinese state media. Hong Kong government and Beijing United States “Today marks a sad day for Hong Kong, and for freedom-loving people across China,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after the law was passed.”[China] promised 50 years of freedom to the Hong Kong people, and gave them only 23,” he said, adding further US countermeasures would be announced.Washington has previously announced Hong Kong no longer has sufficient autonomy from the mainland to justify special trade privileges.”Per President [Donald] Trump’s instruction, we will eliminate policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment, with few exceptions,” Pompeo added.In Congress, a group of bipartisan legislators tabled a bill that could provide refugee protection for Hong Kongers. Topics : BritainHong Kong’s former colonial master Britain described the law as a “grave step” and “deeply troubling”.But it said it needed more time to determine whether Beijing has breached its “One Country, Two Systems” promise.Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously offered to extend visa rights to millions of Hong Kongers if the law was pushed through.Chris Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, called the law “the end” of “One Country, Two Systems”. “It is a flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration — a treaty lodged at the United Nations — and Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the Basic Law,” he added. Pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong Criticism poured in from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy figures.The Democratic Party said the legislation marked the end of “One Country, Two Systems” and “completely destroys Hong Kong’s judicial independence”.The Labor Party said it feared dissidents would share the same fate as those on the mainland who are frequently jailed under Beijing’s own national security laws.The Civic Party said the legislation replaces “rule of law” with “rule of men”.”This rule of terror might create a false appearance of controlled social order, but it completely loses Hong Kong people’s hearts,” the party said. Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday described the security law as “the most significant development” since the city’s handover to China.Beijing described the law as a “sword” that would hang over the heads of lawbreakers after a year of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.On Wednesday, Zhang Xiaoming, deputy of Beijing’s Hong Kong office, described threats of sanctions by foreign countries as “gangster logic”. He added Beijing could have simply applied mainland law had it wanted to abandon “One Country, Two Systems”.last_img read more

Medco begins piping gas from offshore Meliwis field in East Java

first_imgMedco CEO Roberto Lorato said the company was able to safely complete the project in four years’ time “despite operational and logistical challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The company’s stocks, traded at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) with the code MEDC, has increased by 2.17 percent as of 12:52 p.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB), as the main gauge, the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), strengthened 1.01 percent.Medco initially planned to begin piping the gas in June, a month earlier than realized, according to Upstream Oil and Gas Special Regulatory Taskforce (SKK Migas) records.The Meliwis Field is one of 12 upstream oil and gas projects slated to begin operations this year, most of which are gas projects, similar records show.Raising domestic gas production is one of the government’s many efforts to boost Indonesian exports and subsequently curb the country’s widening trade deficit, which continues to put pressure on the rupiah exchange rate.Topics : PT Medco Energi Internasional, Indonesia’s second-biggest homegrown oil and gas company, has begun piping natural gas from the Offshore Madura Block in East Java.The publicly listed company piped 20 million metric standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of gas from the Meliwis Field in the Madura Block on July 13, Medco said in a statement on Monday. The gas will be channeled through an 11 kilometer underwater pipe to industries in East Java. last_img read more

Govt mulling merger of state-owned Islamic banks to unify power, VP says

first_imgVice President Ma’ruf Amin has said the government is mulling merging several state-owned Islamic banks – banks that offer services that are sharia-compliant – to unify their power and boost their global rating.The state-owned Islamic banks in talks to be merged are PT Bank BRI Syariah, a subsidiary of Bank BRI, PT Bank Syariah Mandiri, a subsidiary of Bank Mandiri, and PT Bank BNI Syariah, a subsidiary of Bank BNI. In early July, State-Owned Enterprise Minister Erick Thohir detailed plans to merge the Islamic banks by February next year to provide more options to customers seeking sharia-compliant funding. However, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) deputy commissioner for banking, Teguh Supangkat, said in late July that the minister had not discussed the merger in-depth with the agency.The Vice President also said the government would improve the country’s halal industry and other Islamic financial services to support the goal of making Indonesia the center of the global Islamic economy.He noted that while Indonesia had become a reference for halal product certification, homemade halal products still trailed behind the global competition. Additionally, he said that maximizing Islamic social fund services, such as for zakat and waqf, could also uplift the national economy.However, Ma’ruf said the country was a leader in global sukuk (sharia-compliant bonds), claiming that the country’s sukuk surpassed those offered by the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.Topics : The Vice President, who previously chaired the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), expressed hope the merger would also boost the national economy and speed up the economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”[The banks] have been in talks to strengthen [Islamic banks] because we don’t have a large Islamic bank that ranks in the top 20 internationally,” Ma’ruf said Thursday during a discussion hosted by news publication Media Indonesia.”We are also doing this so that we don’t have too many banks with small potentials,” he continued, expressing hope that a sizeable Islamic bank could also support the country’s domestic and foreign interest.Read also: Indonesia’s global bonds spike in popularity amid uncertainty: Mandiri Sekuritaslast_img read more