While soaring healthcare costs are draining the funding pool, education is often an efficient path to avoiding expensive healthcare problems. Increasing investment in a system that addresses resulting health problems in our society without addressing the root cause of many of these problems – poor diet and lack of access to fresh food – is like building an expensive house on sandy soil. By J. Scott Angle and Linda Kirk FoxUniversity of GeorgiaData released this week shows Georgia’s obesity rate is improving, but 28 percent of the state’s citizens still weigh in as obese. Growing health problems and rising healthcare costs are straining both the physical and economic wellbeing of America. Good health often begins with good nutrition, and good nutrition begins when you put a seed in the soil.Improving our food system by investing in research to enhance nutrition, increase yield and evenly distribute fresh food would go a long way toward solving long-term, underlying health issues in America. Finding a more holistic cure to troubling health trends through prevention and nutrition is more economically and physically sustainable than slapping a Band-Aid on the problem, offering only short-term treatment of the symptoms. Americans face two glaring related problems: obesity and inadequate healthcare. Both are especially prevalent in the South. While obesity cuts across all socioeconomic sectors, poverty in the South is likely a major factor. Many low-income areas are food deserts, large areas with limited access to healthy food.If you don’t have the means to get to a market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables or the space to grow them yourself, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a healthy diet. If the only store you can walk to is long on supplies of snack foods, soda and sandwich meat, but short on whole grains, vegetables or lean cuts of meat, then your options are limited. Education is a key component to solving this health crisis. Whether educating more healthcare workers in Georgia or delivering hands-on Extension health and nutrition education to local citizens, knowledge is power in the fight for a healthy life.In a recent speech to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Microsoft founder Bill Gates made a stark statement that struck at the heart of the problem. He said: “The rising share of both state and federal budgets committed to healthcare, broadly defined, leaves very little room for flexibility (to fund education). The mathematics are quite brutal.” Properly investing available funds in education and improved food systems can put Americans on solid footing and headed down a new road to better health. (J. Scott Angle is dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Linda Kirk Fox is dean of the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.)
A University of Georgia student’s survey of the cotton industry found that the crop, once “king” in Georgia, can compete with synthetic fibers and will continue to be economically and environmentally feasible into the future.For her master’s degree thesis, Shannon Parrish, a former graduate student at the UGA Tifton campus, set out to gauge the status of cotton production today and whether growers can improve the crop and minimize its impact on the environment. She set out to study how the Georgia cotton crop compares to the crop nationwide.“Cotton is a major commodity crop in the U.S.,” said Parrish, who studied under George Vellidis, a professor in the crop and soil sciences department in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “I don’t really ever see cotton not being grown here.”The research study was prompted by global consumer concern over cotton’s environmental sustainability, according to Don Shurley, UGA Cooperative Extension cotton economist, who also worked with Parrish on the project.“Over the past 10 years or more, we’ve lost market share in cotton to man-made fibers,” Shurley said. “Some people believe that loss in market share is, in part, due to the fact that there are consumers out there who think cotton production is not environmentally friendly.”With funding from the Georgia Cotton Commission, Parrish met with cotton producers across the state and gathered information about their management practices. She calculated data in the Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator when she had all the information for a specific cotton field.The Fieldprint Calculator assigns a sustainability rating for a specific field based on seven different metrics. Everything is based on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is the most sustainable, and 100 is the least sustainable. Once she had the sustainability ratings, she compared them to the national and state benchmarks that are in the calculator. Based on the results obtained from this research, Georgia cotton can be determined less resource intensive than the national benchmarks.“You consider all the elements that make up cotton farming: a producer’s land use; their energy use; their greenhouse gas emissions; if they’re irrigating; their water use; their water quality; soil conservation; soil carbon. That’s essentially what the calculator looks at,” Parrish said.The second part of her research was to fit producer management practices to the university’s cotton production budget, changing only what the producer told her they were doing in the field. For example, Parrish learned of the farmers’ pesticide sprays and fertilizer applications and changed those elements in the budget to determine if a relationship existed between profitability and the field print metric scores. She also explored the impact of tillage methods, variable costs, and fixed costs on profit.“Based on the numbers we have, I don’t feel like you could necessarily say cotton is not sustainable,” Parrish said. “Cotton is competing with synthetic fibers, so what’s to say production of synthetic fibers is 100-percent sustainable?”Cotton production in the United States has dropped in recent years. Cotton was planted on 8.56 million U.S. acres in 2015, down 22.5 percent from 2014 and the lowest level in 33 years, according to the UGA Extension 2016 Georgia Cotton Production Guide.UGA Extension also reported Georgia’s cotton acreage dropped 19 percent in 2015. Georgia cotton was worth $713.1 million in farm gate value in 2015, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.
The ELN had rejected those demands, but it has said previously it would be willing to release the hostage, Canadian mining engineer Jernoc Wobert, soon. The ELN, or the National Liberation Army, has on numerous occasions expressed interest in negotiating with the government. Wobert, 47, was abducted by ELN rebels in January along with two Peruvians and three Colombians also working for Toronto-based Braeval Mining, which has been prospecting for gold and silver in northern Colombia. By Dialogo August 05, 2013 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on August 1 he is willing to start peace talks with the leftist ELN rebels as soon as they release a Canadian hostage, held since January. Santos had previously insisted any talks would be conditional on the group releasing hostages and abandoning the practice of kidnapping in general. The South Americans were released a month later, but the ELN, the smaller of Colombia’s two leftist rebel groups, with about 2,000 fighters, has held onto the Canadian. This week, the rebels said the release was “closer”, after Wobert’s employer, Braeval Mining, announced it was giving up its mining rights in Colombia because of “unfavorable market conditions, and plans to refocus its efforts on its other projects.” The guerrilla group in recent years has targeted Colombia’s oil and mining industries, kidnapping workers and blowing up installations.
Today, Østergaard said the system in Denmark was generally good, but still resulted in ordinary families being hit by an effective marginal tax on pension savings.This is much higher in some cases than the rate they paid on their income, he said.Østergaard said there had to be security for pensioners who had the least, and added that the tax-financed public pension and labour-market pensions had to remain the basis for Danish pensions.He said the desire and ability of people to make pension savings should not be discouraged by the complexity of pension rules.“There are no easy solutions, and a thorough piece of analysis will be required to create a viable solution,” he said.“We should not throw ourselves into changes without a full and clear picture of the consequences.”The ministry said the pension commission’s work should involve key stakeholders and organisations, and will report to the government by Autumn 2016.Pensions and insurance industry association Forsikring & Pension (F&P) welcomed the decision to establish the commission and said it was important that it looked at the offsetting rules for public benefits, since this destroyed the incentive to save for retirement.But it said the real problem was that pensions were by far the most heavily taxed type of savings in Denmark. A year before retirement, pension savings were taxed at more than 170% and still at well over 100% five years before retirement, F&P said.Per Bremer Rasmussen, chief executive of the association, said: “For a broad group of citizens, it cannot pay to save when they get close to retirement.”According to Bremer Rasmussen, it paid to stop making pension payments and take an early exit from the labour market for some Danish citizens, adding that both of these actions were contrary to the government’s stated aims.He said it was not occupational pensions and individual pensions that made things complicated and destroyed incentives to save, but rather the rules for public pension contributions.“Therefore, we need to look at offsetting rules in the public system,” Bremer Rasmussen said, acknowledging that solutions were not simple. Denmark is to create a commission studying the country’s pension system to find solutions for complex rules and high taxation of pensions, the Ministry for Taxation has announced.The commission will be chaired by Torben Andersen, professor of economics at the University of Aarhus.Morten Østergaard, the minister for taxation, said: “Now we want to let a number of experts look at the system in detail, so we can get ideas for a more transparent pension system, which is attractive for everyone to save for retirement.”Last month, Østergaard revealed he was open to the idea of setting up a commission.
Henrik Henriksen, chief strategist at PFA Pension, said that while stock and bond markets in Denmark had started with a fall this morning, the Greek crisis was relatively isolated.“The European economy is in better shape than the last time the Greeks were in crisis,” he said.The latest growth indicators from European companies were at their highest level in four years, despite the fact the data was collected in the middle of June, when the Greek crisis had grown, Henriksen said.He said he was not nervous about the Greek referendum set for 5 July to vote on the aid package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission.“There will be financial turmoil for rest of the week, and the Greek opinion polls ahead of the referendum may have a central role,” he said. If Greeks do vote in favour of the creditors’ bailout, as figures now indicate they will, and shares start to recover, the market will then probably rally, Henriksen said.“But it requires a Greek government that can implement a yes,” he warned.Schelde said he agreed with the consensus there would be limited contagion in the event of a Greek exit from the euro.“I don’t think markets will start pricing contagion effects in any serious way, but, obviously, Greek assets are selling off sharply, and, combined with the increased uncertainty, that does raise the risk premium in other markets as well,” he said.Schelde said Nordea Life & Pension in Denmark, because the situation was so unclear and could go both ways, would not be making any tactical moves at the moment to protect its investments.“But should markets outside Greece start to sell off sharply for some reason anyhow, I would tend to see that as an buying opportunity,” he said.Henriksen said there was no prospect of the stock market falls seen earlier today escalating because of the positive trends in the European economy and also because private investors have positioned themselves defensively against the Greek turmoil.He also said the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme announced in January could be used to stem the turmoil in the markets. Danish pension providers PFA Pension and Nordea Life & Pension expect continued volatility on financial markets this week as the crisis over Greece’s debt repayments remains acute but believe it unlikely the situation will escalate to cause broader troubles in the EU economy.On Monday morning, banks and cash machines in Greece were closed as the Greek government imposed capital controls after talks broke down with its creditors.Anders Schelde, CIO at Nordea Life & Pension in Denmark, told IPE: “The situation is very unclear, so obviously there is a risk of further falls. But let’s not forget there could also be positive surprises that could send us in the other direction.“Thus, it is really anybody’s guess at this stage, and market volatility seems to be the only certainty.”
But, with interest rates continuing at low levels and no end in sight to the quantitative easing policies of central banks, he questioned the use of annuity rates in the minimum funding standard calculation.“Private sector DB schemes don’t have to go to the market to purchase annuities, yet we continue to assume they do, for the minimum funding standard calculation,” Moriarty said.“It would be a real tragedy if those schemes that have survived were to be forced to wind up because of the way in which we value the liabilities, rather than focusing on their ability to pay out benefits over the next 30 or 40 years.“It is now time to take a wider look at DB funding and the minimum funding standard basis.”Moriarty also called for action on the issue of universal pensions, the other key aspect of Ireland’s pension system he said needed urgent attention.“It has been parked for too long, and we owe it to future generations to start something now so we can pre-empt the challenges of changing demographics,” he said. But he cautioned against making any changes that would make it more difficult for the “many good employer schemes” that exist to continue to operate.“While there are many benefits to having greater scale,” he said, “it is also important engaged trustees and employers can continue to operate schemes that offer high contribution rates and very low charges.” The Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) has called for a rethink on the calculation of defined benefit (DB) pension scheme liabilities, given the financial climate.Speaking at the association’s annual benefit conference in Dublin, Jerry Moriarty, chief executive at the IAPF, said a big issue exercising trustees was the continuing increase in the valuation of the liabilities of DB schemes, as a result of historically low interest rates.“The DB schemes that have survived have generally done so because of tough decisions and considerable effort and pain for members and employers,” he said.“Many employees have seen their benefits reduced, and many employers have had to agree to significant increases in their contributions to those schemes.”
Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, has successfully completed the £63 million Rossall coastal defense scheme for Wyre Council, in partnership with the Environment Agency.To successfully complete the Rossall project, over 10,000 specially manufactured precast concrete units were lifted into position, alongside 86,342 tonnes of rock underlayer and 241,000 tonnes of rock armor sourced from 12 quarries across the north of the UK.Dean Banks, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive Officer for UK Construction Services, said: “We are delighted that the local community and visitors to the Fylde coast can now fully experience the extensive benefits of the Rossall scheme, which will protect thousands of nearby properties from the risk of flooding and offer a captivating promenade for people of all ages to enjoy.”“The project’s success is a testament to the skills and collaborative working relationship between the fully integrated delivery team, with Wyre Council and the Environment Agency.”Sir James Bevan, Environment Agency chief executive, added: “This is one of the biggest investments ever in a coastal flood scheme. It will reduce flood risk to 7,500 homes, create new green space and benefit the local economy, including by using locally sourced materials. It’s a great example of partnership: by working together the Environment Agency, Wyre Council, our other partners and the local community have helped create an even better place for people and wildlife.”The Rossall scheme forms part of the Fylde Peninsula Coastal Program, encompassing the Fairhaven to Church Scar Coastal Protection Scheme in Lytham and the Anchorsholme Coastal Protection Scheme in Blackpool which was recently completed by Balfour Beatty.[mappress mapid=”25198″]
The Christian Institute 5 May 2017Family First Comment: “….the BBC has shown again and again that it is only prepared to publicise one side of the debate.”Just like in New Zealand.The NZ media are the cheerleaders for transgender agenda – without asking the hard and necessary questions.The UK media has facilitated the harmful idea that children can be transsexual, a parental campaign group has warned.Transgender Trend, a group of concerned parents who challenge pro-trans propaganda, says the media – and the BBC in particular – are responsible for introducing and normalising the idea that children can be ‘trapped in the wrong body’.In an article published earlier this week, it set out the results of a study of media output from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.EndorsementTransgender Trend argues that the media has facilitated a rapid public acceptance, not just of transsexualism, but of “the completely new belief that children are ‘transgender’, together with the idea that invasive medical intervention is a necessity”.It says a quick search reveals that the “BBC alone has covered the subject of ‘transgender kids’ in at least 35 online articles, 23 radio broadcasts and 7 TV shows” in a twelve month period.Its examination of newspaper coverage also found that 114 UK-based articles on transsexual children were published between April 2016 and March 2017.After analysing the language in each of the articles, the group discovered an overwhelming tendency towards endorsing the trans lobby’s agenda.Trans languageIt identifies 25 articles that suggested a risk of suicide if a child does not ‘transition’, 67 mentioned drugs to help a child transition and 28 mentioned future surgery.There were 36 references to transsexual organisations and numerous references to gender-neutral language, gender-neutral toilets and gender-neutral school uniforms.However, across all the articles, the risks involved with childhood ‘transitions’ were only touched upon a total of 22 times.In the research, steps were taken to remove duplicates, and the group states the findings give an overall picture of press coverage.FiguresTransgender Trend was speaking after new figures emerged from the Tavistock clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service, an NHS trust which works with children diagnosed with ‘gender identity disorder’.Referrals to the clinic have risen from 1,419 in 2015/16 to 2,016 in 2016/17 – a 42 per cent increase.The figures show that referrals have been increasing at an alarming rate since 2009, when there were under 100.READ MORE: http://www.christian.org.uk/news/parents-uk-media-cheerleaders-harmful-idea-kids-can-trans/Keep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.
Otago Daily Times 12 January 2019Family First Comment: Amazingly, Otago University has a medical school, based (we hope) on Biology! “Whereas in the past students could choose female, male or X for indeterminate, students this year can identify as “gender diverse”, and, if they want to, specify whether they are a male or female, a transgender man, a transgender woman or non-binary transgender. There is also the option of calling themselves Mx or Id in addition to the titles Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms – and students can change their gender in their student details without having to provide any supporting paperwork.”A queer rights advocate is “really happy” gender-diverse students now have more options to identify when giving their enrolment details to the University of Otago. Whereas in the past students could choose female, male or X for indeterminate, students this year can identify as “gender diverse”, and, if they want to, specify whether they are a male or female, a transgender man, a transgender woman or non-binary transgender.There is also the option of calling themselves Mx or Id in addition to the titles Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms – and students can change their gender in their student details without having to provide any supporting paperwork.OUSA former queer support co-ordinator Hahna Briggs said she was “really happy” students could now use those options to express their identity.For about 18 months OUSA and the university had been discussing the possibility of having more options to choose from, and Ms Briggs said she had been in a number of conversations with staff and had supported someone who was pushing for the change.Ms Briggs, who also organised Dunedin Pride last year, has since left her position but is still active within OUSA as a senior student support advocate. In the past, the University of Otago had only male and female options on enrolment forms due to requirements set out by the Ministry of Education.READ MORE: https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/campus/university-of-otago/uni-adds-gender-optionsKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.
Sunderland new boy Vito Mannone has spoken of his excitement at joining a club with potential. The 25-year-old goalkeeper ended his eight-year stay at Arsenal when he accepted the Black Cats’ offer of a two-year contract, and he is ready to tackle the next phase of his career on Wearside. Mannone, who is understood to have cost around £2million, was the club’s sixth summer signing and he told the club’s official website, www.safc.com: “The potential [of the club] is incredible. I have come from a big club but to be honest, I don’t see any difference in the facilities.” He added: “From what I can see on my first day, they are brilliant. To have good facilities where you can work and improve is something every club wants to achieve. “The base is there and I am really happy to be here. I waited a long time for an opportunity like Sunderland, and for me it is a great one. I’m very excited. I am here to work hard and to show what I can do.” Mannone’s initial task will be to prove to Paolo Di Canio that it is he and not Republic of Ireland international Keiren Westwood to whom the challenge of keeping out the Barclays Premier League’s leading marksmen should be entrusted. He managed only 26 senior appearances for the Gunners, but four of them came in last season’s Champions League, a measure of the trust placed in him by Arsene Wenger. However, Westwood has had to wait patiently in line behind Belgium’s Simon Mignolet for a chance to regain his place as Ireland’s number on with manager Giovanni Trapattoni turning to David Forde because of his lack of club football, and he will be in no mood to pass up the opportunity handed to him by Mignolet’s £9million departure for Liverpool. Mannone walked through the door at the Academy of Light well aware of the challenge ahead of him, but ready to take it on. He said: “Of course, every player knows they have competition. We live in a world of competition. I will work and do my best to be in the first eleven, and then the manager will decide. All I can do is try to show what I am capable of.” Press Association