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Fatalistic Forecasts Aren’t Helping Ebola Efforts – Greater Positivity is Needed

first_imgDuring a recent telephone conversation with my aunt, who lives in Liberia, I could hear trepidation in her voice for the first time. At the same time, though, she remained typically stoic, her faith in God unshakable after surviving two armed insurgencies. “They are saying on the radio that before January [2015] thousands of us will die,” said Auntie Arinah. “This thing is getting very scary. We rebuke those numbers!”I couldn’t help feeling moved by my aunt’s tenacity in the midst of her anxiety. Ebola fatality projections seem to have created an atmosphere of psychological distress in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, nations still recovering from the trauma of conflict.The language of alarm has been conspicuous. Estimated casualty numbers are punctuated with conditional verbs such as “could” and “may”. In August, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that Ebola-related deaths could exceed 20,000 if there were no efforts to contain the disease. The projection seemed so far-fetched at the time that Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, publicly rejected them.Estimates have steadily increased. At a news conference in Geneva last week, the WHO estimated that there could be 10,000 new cases over the next two months. The scariest projection of all, referenced by my aunt, came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month: between 550,000 and 1.4 million people may be infected by January.I suspect that these forecasts are partly intended to speed up action, so that aid, medical supplies and health practitioners are deployed to the affected countries as quickly as possible. But there are unintended consequences. As a Liberian who has family, friends and colleagues in the country, fatality forecasts aren’t troubling only because they may come to pass. Announcements of probable deaths are affecting people right now.Isolated incidences of Ebola in Europe and the US have already caused hysteria. Africans across the world have been on the receiving end of xenophobia laced with racist venom more than ever before. Alarmist projections only add fuel to the fire.I’m not denying the threat Ebola poses if it is not contained. Yet I remain convinced that the grim statistics and apocalyptic framing of the outbreak are doing more harm than good.I fear the projections may be causing undue stress to people who need hope – healthcare workers battling the disease in hazmat suits; pregnant women on the verge of giving life; patients in Ebola treatment units who refuse to go gentle into that good night; and policymakers looking for solutions.For the countless individuals whose stories have been anonymised by the threat of Ebola, we must change the narrative around fuzzy, conditional statistics. Flip the script. Focus on the number of people who could survive if the response were faster. If we follow with precision the 70-70-60 formula developed by the WHO – treating 70% of infected patients while burying 70% of those who have died within 60 days – we should be able to predict how many lives will be spared. These numbers must replace the bleak headlines and become a new call to action.In an outbreak of this scale, speed and magnitude, accurate and reliable data is perhaps second only in importance to life-saving medical care. Probable, suspected and confirmed cases must be swiftly disaggregated to minimise over- or under-reporting. The underlying assumption that anyone exhibiting symptoms of Ebola has the virus is faulty and harmful, given the stigma attached to the disease. The recent establishment of mobile laboratories at two clinics in Liberia will enable diagnosis within hours, as opposed to days, so that people can seek appropriate medical attention for Ebola and non-Ebola ailments.The mantra so far – “it may get worse before it gets better” – seems rather defeatist. Instead of heeding fatalistic pronouncements, we need to shift our attention to the 400 people who had Ebola and came through, thanks to quality care in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The 11-year-old boy in Liberia of YouTube fame, Mamadee, comes to mind.I’d like to see alarming forecasts of death and doom give way to a more measured and positive approach to the Ebola outbreak. My aunt in Liberia wouldn’t have it any other way.This article was originally published on Theguardian.comShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘Donegal contractors at severe disadvantage over state contracts’ – Pat the Cope

first_imgThe issue of inconsistency in the employment of contractors by prequalification or shortlisting for state contracts has been raised in the Dáil. Pat the Cope Gallagher elevated the issue on Friday saying contractors based in Donegal were ‘being denied the right to even tender for a contract’.He said: “What I am requesting is a level playing field for Donegal contractors and firms, at present on many occasions due to different pre-selection criteria they are excluded on the basis of lower than required annual turnover. “Many of the criteria listed as required for pre-selection do not take into account the construction activity within the county.“The failure to take into account the relevant activity of the county is causing a severe disadvantage for Donegal firms,” he added,” Gallagher added.“These same firms’ employ local people in their companies and have the potential to create even greater employment within the county.“What I am asking for from the Government is for them to immediately put in place a policy which would be procedurally consistency right across the board,” he said. “That focuses on the contractors’ ability to deliver the contract, previous workmanship and ability to deliver the contract rather than on sky-high annual turnovers which bear no connection to the other criteria I listed.In creating equality of access for all contractors across the country, firms and contractors in Donegal will get a fair and equal opportunity to access state contracts and by extension of that a better opportunity to sustain and expand their companies and further create more employment within our county.”‘Donegal contractors at severe disadvantage over state contracts’ – Pat the Cope was last modified: March 30th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Jerusalem Cistern Found from First Temple Era

first_imgA huge cistern near the Temple Mount has been found that was part of Solomon’s Temple complex.While excavating a cardo (street) that passed from the City of David to the Temple Mount, a team broke into a huge cistern.  Dating from the time of Solomon based on inscriptions and the type of plaster used, the cistern helps explain where the priests and worshipers obtained the large quantity of water that were needed for the Temple.  The discovery is reported fully at Israel Hayom.  A short YouTube video shows explorers walking inside the huge cavernous water reservoir.  Live Science also reported the find, as did Bible Places Blog.The discovery solves a water logistics problem.  Historians had thought that Jerusalem’s only water supply was the Gihon Spring, some 800 meters away from the Temple.  But that would have required an implausible number of donkey trips to haul the water.  By catching rainfall from the Tyropoean Valley adjacent to the Temple, this cistern could have stored a vast water supply for the priests to use in the sacrificial ceremonies and for the large crowds coming to the Temple for holy days.  It could also have protected the city during times of siege.One of the discoverers was ecstatic about the find.  “There is nothing like this in Jerusalem. This is the first time that we can date a reservoir in Jerusalem, and two small cisterns beside it, to the First Temple era. We have never found anything like this in all the digs in Jerusalem, since the 19th century.”Archaeology is an intelligent-design science.  Researchers look for signs of intelligence: artifacts, inscriptions, or other material that bear the hallmarks of intention.  Intelligent beings are capable of organizing natural materials for purposeful uses.  We see it in archaeology; we see similar marks of purpose in living cells.  In addition, archaeologists are keen observers.  They don’t just model things in computers; they get out and dig (although there is a growing convergence of computer technology with old-fashioned shoveling techniques).This particular find shows, also, that contrary to “minimalist” interpretations of Biblical history, the people of Solomon’s time were highly intelligent, able to dig deep into the rock to store the water needed for the Temple.  Far from being simple tribal chieftans over nomadic clans, David and Solomon were city planners and builders par excellence.  Most likely the plans for this cistern and the entire Temple Mount complex were developed long before actual construction began.  King David was laying up materials and building contracts with neighboring kingdoms before his death (I Chronicles 22).  The cistern is another testament to their skill, and to the historical accuracy of the Biblical record. (Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

AgriHUB helps small-scale KwaZulu-Natal farmers

first_imgThe Partner Farmer AgriHUB programme gives small-scale farmers help with developing their land, subsidises seed and seedling purchases and helps with selling produce.AgriHUB mentors help to train small scale farmers, but success is dependent on the effort they put in on their own plots. (Image: Partner Farmer AgriHUBS, Facebook)Sulaiman PhilipA drought in the US, the world’s biggest maize producer, affects food prices across the world. In a globalised agricultural economy, extreme weather conditions that destroy crops on one part of the planet cause food prices to spike in others, as supply drops.And as climate change activists warn of rising temperatures and increasing droughts and heat waves, securing reliable food supply is becoming more important.South Africa is a net importer of agricultural products so the price fluctuations on a bag of maize meal are due to weather conditions in the US maize belts.A pilot project in Umbumbulu, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), funded in part by the eThekwini Municipality, is designed to reduce dependence on imported agricultural produce by helping small-scale farmers build commercially viable agri-businesses. The non-governmental organisation Newlands Mashu Community Development Centre developed and implements its Partner Farmer AgriHUB programme gives farmers help with developing their land, subsidises seed and seedling purchases and helps with selling produce.Subsistence to commercial farmingPaula Osborn, Partner Farmer project manager, joined the programme about eight months after it kicked off in September 2010.“The project is based on the open share principle. Anyone can become involved. We started with 50 small farmers. After the first few harvests we identify the most productive who we can help develop into commercial farmers. Developing from a subsistence farmer to one able to provide produce for your family and the market is dependent on your own efforts. The programme is designed to give farmers the tools to do that.”The community benefits from the harvest by buying fresh and healthy produce at lower rates. As the project has grown, farmers have been able to create jobs in a region where unemployment is entrenched.Theresa Mabhida, one of the 467 farmers in the Umbumbulu project, farms in Etsheni near Port Shepstone. “This project is doing away with unemployment and our healthy projects are curbing sickness,” she says. “My sense of self-worth is high. I wake up every day knowing I have something to do for myself and my community.”The farmers in the programme are trained to use organic methods to produce crops for local consumption. Soils managed with organic methods have better water-holding capacity and infiltration rates. They also produce higher yields during both droughts and an excess of rain.“The mentors we have at each project were trained at the Durban Botanic Gardens Permaculture Centre. They are trained in holistic, ecologically balanced permaculture farming methods.”The harvest includes vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, red onions, potatoes and avocado. In a good month Osborn estimates the farmers in Umbumbulu can harvest up to 10 tons of fresh produce based on the sales of seedlings and seeds supplied to farmers. Most of the harvest is sold to neighbours or used by the family, but one to two tons of that produce is sold to local restaurants and health food shops in KZN. What is not sold is packaged into “veggie boxes” that are sold to local schools, which sell them to students’ parents.‘This is real food’The farmers earn incomes through sales in their local communities and by selling excess to Partner Farmers, who pay close to retail prices. Schools earn an income as well. For Osborn there are two benefits to the system. “People are realising that saving is income. By purchasing local produce at reduced prices they are building wealth in the community. Second, parents tell us that kids who never eat vegetables are now chewing on fresh spinach leaves. Their bodies are telling them that these fresh organic vegetables are real food.”The programme’s success would be boosted if the yields could be accurately predicted. Ten tons of food is produced from 5 000 to 10 000 seedlings, but what is specifically available at harvest time is difficult to gauge. Mentors’ visits to the fields give an idea of the haul, but recording is manual, time-consuming and error-prone. The programme managers are developing a smartphone app to instantly record what has been planted and what is likely to be available at harvest.“If each farmer had a cell phone, and that is our hope, we could generate predictive reports that would allow us to sell the harvest before it left the field,” says Osborn.She believes that the programme in Umbumbulu will run at least until 2016 before the organisation feels comfortable handing the management, production, warehousing and distribution over to a farmers’ cooperative, while still providing mentorship where needed. Future programmes will run on average for just five years before handover.“Umbumbulu was the pilot; with the know-how and experience gained we can avoid mistakes made in the new projects we run.”Long-term fundingThe top-down funding system favoured by government and corporations does not work in agriculture, says Osborn. Agricultural projects need long-term funding, which does not fit in with government or business funding cycles. The Umbumbulu project, for example, will need funding for at least six years before Partner Farmers can hand the project over to the local community.“In Umbumbulu we would get municipal funding for six months because that fitted into their funding cycle, then no funding for three before funds were released again.”Now, with National Lottery funding and a five-year corporate sponsorship deal in place, Partner Farmers is able to fund day-to-day operations while the eThekwini municipality funds infrastructure development around two new projects.“Over the period of the project in Umbumbulu, and in our newer projects, we have demonstrated how the model works.”Including Umbumbulu (South Basin) there are three new projects to help small-scale KZN farmers; the Sterkspruit AgriHUB in Hammersdale-Shongweni in the outer west, and the Hambanathi-Greylands AgriHUB in in the north.As Osborn points out, “You start by building resilient self-sustaining communities. From there, you build a nation that can recover effectively from any setbacks.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Gilas Pilipinas joins Fiba Asia Champions Cup in China

first_imgLATEST STORIES MOST READ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ View comments Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next San Beda cruises to 8th straight; Bolick ejected after scuffle Roger Pogoy. Photo from Fiba.comGilas Pilipinas is set to compete in the 2017 Fiba Asia Champions Cup which runs from Sept. 22-30 in Shenzen, China.National team coach Chot Reyes announced Gilas’ participation in the tournament Tuesday on his Twitter account.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim “Breaking: Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas joins @FIBAAsiaCC. Games will be shown @TV5manila & @Sports5PH,” Reyes wrote.The tournament features some of Asia’s best club teams with China’s Xinjian Flying Tigers tipped to repeat as champions. The Flying Tigers will be led by naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingGilas, which finished in seventh place in the Fiba Asia Cup last month, will use the competition as part of its buildup for the Fiba World Cup Qualifying in November. Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his sidelast_img read more

We are improving, will be our best against Australia: Dhoni

first_imgIndia skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday admitted that losing quick wickets was still a concern but said his team was gradually improving and will be at its best against Australia in the World Cup quarterfinals in Ahmedabad on Thursday.India, who had lost nine wickets for just 29 runs against South Africa in their last outing, on Sunday slipped from 218 for three to 268 all out.”It (losing wickets) is a concern. But there is a gradual improvement (from seven for 29 to seven for 50) I am sure we will be at our best in the quarters. That’s the positive I will take out of this,” Dhoni said after India beat West Indies by 80 runs here.Dhoni said the turning point of the match was the wicket of opener Devon Smith, who was dismissed by pacer Zaheer Khan in the 31st over to trigger a collapse.”The game really changed once Zaheer gave us the breakthrough, until then Devon was batting really well. After that we could put pressure on both sides, and got more wickets than we needed and seize the game in the end,” Dhoni said.Asked about their quarterfinal match against Australia, Dhoni said they are focusing on the preparation rather than thinking about the result.”Australia are a very strong side and very expressive on the field. But it’s about how we prepare. Preparation is very important and we are just thinking about that particular day and match rather than think about the result,” he said.”Being in the present is a better option that thinking of the past or worrying about the future,” he added.advertisementMan of the Match Yuvraj Singh, who battled stomach cramps to score 113 runs and took two crucial wickets, said he was happy with the way he was middling the ball.”It’s been good, I went in and was middling the ball, so happy with the way it went. When you lose early wickets, you need a partnership going. Me and Virat took us to 220, very happy with the way it went,” he said.”I was getting stomach cramps since morning, but I wanted to bat till the end. I am Very happy with the team effort today. We have our batting plans. Our batting is going well, once we get the bowling and fielding going we should be ok.Asked about the quarterfinals match against Australia, Yuvraj said,”Australia have won five matches, we have also won five matches, so looking forward to the contest.” .West Indies skipper Darren Sammy said though they lost the match, there first objective of reaching the quarterfinals have been achieved.”We reached our first objective of reaching the knockout stage and we have to tighten our games quickly and produce our A game to beat Pakistan in the quarterfinals,” Sammy said.Sammy said he was happy with the bowling but said batting has let them down.”Rampaul was really good in his first game. He bowled tremendously, our bowing game good something which many felt were not our strong point. But we lost seven wickets in 30 odd runs and that is a concern,” he said.West Indies had beaten Bangladesh by nine wickets after bowling out the hosts for just 58 runs and Sammy hoped that they will carry the same confidence when they play in Dhaka on Wednesday.”We did well against Bangladesh at Dhaka and hopefully we will have the same confidence going in there on Wednesday,” he said.Sammy also hoped that injured players Kemar Roach and Chris Gayle will be fit for the match against Pakistan.”Knowing their commitment, I hope they will hopefully come out and give their best for West Indies,” he said.-With PTI inputslast_img read more