Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, July 17

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion“Sweeteners” help sell contract dealsHere’s a reaction to your editorial on sick day payouts, based on my experience in faculty negotiations.While these may seem extravagant viewed in isolation, such items often make sense from a broader perspective. Tweaking of such “sweeteners” such as deferred benefits can help bring about a deal in the case of an otherwise disappointing package. A little enriching here can make up for a much larger reduction in the big-ticket items, pay and major benefits. Likewise, the positives of sick day features such as incentive for fuller attendance, minimizing student disruption and reduced substitute cost can help management negotiators sell the full imperfect settlement to their masters.Paul BryantSchenectady Give e-car racing coverage it deservesI know Formula E is still a new form of car racing, but all electric cars are in our future and Formula E is here now.There were two races in Brooklyn, the final city race on July 13 and the championship race on July 14. A little coverage would help the sport grow. Nice you included results for Formula 1 and Indy car from foreign countries, but you missed another international racing sport right here in New York.As they say “there’s an app for that.” Check it out. The 2019/2020 season starts Nov. 22.Kenneth RupertRound LakeAre we wasting our recycling efforts?Increasingly, recyclables are buried in landfills (NPR Planet Money, Episode 926, July 12, 2019). Yet, governments continue to mandate the burdens and costs of recycling, particularly wasting water to clean plastics, fearing once the habit is broken, consumers will not recycle should the practice become planet-friendly in the future.Could The Gazette please investigate what happens to our recycled papers and plastics in Schenectady County? I would like to know if all the energy used to clean and collect recyclables is being wasted.Jerry MooreScotiaTrump cheated his way out of militaryI’m responding to William Young’s July 13 letter (“Trump not alone in no military service”). Mr. Young correctly pointed out how many former presidents of the United States had not served in the military. Apparently, the list was designed to point out that President Trump was actually no different than any of those former presidents or Gov. Cuomo for that matter.Trump is a draft-dodger who used his wealth to get a doctor to falsify his medical records. No other president did that. That seems like a breathtaking difference to me, and I think it’s a huge difference to most people. I’m surprised that it doesn’t matter to Mr. Young.He wants us to stop whining about a draft-dodging president based on comparison to other presidents who simply didn’t serve. They aren’t any more the “same” than lightning and a lightning bug.You shouldn’t have to be struck by lightning to perceive the difference.Glenn GraySchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesGov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img read more

Labouring to create more job prospects

first_imgWith low unemployment and high vacancy levels in many occupational groupings, it might seem strange that Training & Enterprise Councils (TECs) in north Wales and Cheshire worry about a relative lack of success in attracting inward investors. But they do.One reason for their concern is that the assisted area status of much of the region may change soon. Another reason is that several of the local economies seem to be performing below their potential, given the existing industrial structure. This is troubling at a time when the growth rate of the national economy is slowing and export markets are under renewed pressure.Assisted area status Most of Anglesey and the Wirral have development area status. Gwynedd, Flintshire, Wrexham and much of north and west Cheshire have intermediate area status. The definition of these areas may change early this year, in readiness for the new European Union designations of regional aid that come into force in January 2000.While Merseyside, including the Wirral, looks likely to retain its eligibility for maximum aid, other areas may well be downgraded.Between 1986 and 1995, the north-west region, which accounts for 14% of the UK GDP, attracted 11.5% of the inward investment by value from overseas. The region feels that it has lost out to Scotland and Wales, both of which have attracted shares of this inward flow well above their share of national output. Regional aid expenditure in the north-west was £24m in 1995-96, compared with £117m in Scotland and £98m in Wales.Within the region, the prime beneficiary of jobs created by inward investors has been Greater Manchester. Between 1986/7 and 1996/7, it accounted for 45% of the total compared with 29% for Cheshire and 17% for Merseyside.Within Cheshire, the prime benefit has been experienced in the Warrington area in the north of the county. Chester has received only 4% of the projects, while the Wirral and Ellesmere Port have attracted less than 4% of the regional total, with a limited number of small investments by companies in the manufacturing industry.In north Wales, projects have gone to the east rather than the west of the region. Inward investment in Wrexham and Flintshire has contributed strongly to the employment increase in north-east Wales of more than 15,000 jobs since1985. In these areas, there is a desire to retain this momentum, particularly in the manufacturing sector.Recent projects have included an expansion by the Japanese lens manufacturer Hoya, in Wrexham, and an investment in car components manufacturing by Baumeister and Ostler.Industrial performance If the change in employment or output of a local economy over time is compared with changes in the national economy on a sector-by-sector basis, then it becomes possible to distinguish an ‘industry effect’ on the overall strength or weakness of the change, from a ‘local effect’. This is a relatively crude way of seeing whether a local economy is performing well or poorly, on the basis of how each local industry is doing against a national standard.The results have to be interpreted with care. The local industry may not fit the output mix of the sector nationally. A slow growth in employment in an industry locally, compared with the national growth rate, may be due to a successful performance in raising labour productivity that causes output to grow more strongly than employment.Given the caution, it is interesting to note that, while the negative growth in employment in the north-west between 1991 and 1995 was more than twice the rate of decline experienced nationally, more than two-thirds can be attributed to a local or regional effect, rather than the region’s industrial structure.Attracting inward investors Areas such as west Cheshire and north-west Wales look to inward investment to introduce a stronger representation locally of employment sectors that are growing strongly, nationally and internationally.In both areas, the evidence of new firm formation and the growth of smaller enterprises shows relative weakness. So it is difficult to encourage local economic expansion to be home-grown, even with the many policy aids that are available in both areas.At the same time, west Cheshire and north Wales suffer disadvantages in the competition for mobile investment, even with government regional aid. The skill base, for example, is poor. This is especially true among manual grades of worker.In terms of infrastructure, the local provision has improved vastly compared with 20 years ago. Port and airport facilities are good in Liverpool and Manchester. However, the road links with the rest of the country are getting worse. They suffer from heavy congestion, although the north Birmingham relief road will greatly help access to London, the south-east and the Channel ports. And, along with the rest of the north-west region, the areas share the limitations of the west coast main rail line.More tenuously, the external perception of the areas is not very positive compared with other locations an inward investor might consider. The town of Chester is the notable exception to this. It could be the marketing bridge to build on for the whole area.last_img read more

Disney calls the toon on Welsh theme park

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Industrial evolution

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Mann’s space search ends in W1

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Former H&B pair get Down in the City

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Tuning in to the Channels

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Iraq has confirmed thousands more COVID-19 cases than reported, medics say

first_imgThe new coronavirus has hit Iraq’s neighbor Iran worse than any country in the region. Iraq has close trade and religious ties with Iran and a large border, which Iraq shut in February over fears of the spread of the infection.Iraq’s healthcare system, among other infrastructure, has been stretched by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, one among several problems that spurred mass anti-government protests in recent months.Pilgrims Governments across the world have struggled to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States, Italy and Spain are the countries worst hit by the disease, which has infected nearly a million people worldwide and killed nearly 47,000.The three Iraqi doctors and the political official said national security officials have attended health ministry meetings and urged authorities not to reveal the high figures because it could create public disorder with a rush on medical supplies, and make it harder to control the disease’s spread.The health ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on any such discussions.One of the doctors said the death toll was also likely higher than the official toll, but not by much. “On Saturday last week alone, about 50 people were buried who died from the disease,” he said. At that time the official death toll was 42.Testing facilities are limited and Iraq has publicly acknowledged that the actual number of cases must be higher than the number of confirmed cases.Many doctors blame the accelerating spread of the disease on people refusing to be tested or isolated and on the flouting of a nationwide curfew, including by thousands of pilgrims who flocked to a Shi’ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad last month.The three doctors and the health official said many new cases were from eastern Baghdad where those pilgrims live.Separately, some Shi’ite pilgrims returning to Iraq from Syria have tested positive for coronavirus, a senior Iraqi official and health officials said on Sunday. The ministry said in its latest daily statement on Thursday that the total recorded confirmed cases for Iraq were 772, with 54 deaths.But the three doctors, who work in pharmaceutical teams helping test suspected COVID-19 cases in Baghdad, each said that confirmed cases of the disease, based on discussions among fellow medics who see daily results, were between about 3,000 and 9,000 although they each gave different estimates.The health ministry official, who also works in testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, said that there were more than 2,000 confirmed cases from eastern Baghdad alone, not counting the number in other areas or provinces.The political official, who has attended meetings with the health ministry, also said thousands of cases were confirmed. Iraq has thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than the 772 it is has publicly reported, according to three doctors closely involved in the testing process, a health ministry official and a senior political official.The sources all spoke on condition of anonymity. Iraqi authorities have instructed medical staff not to speak to media.Iraq’s health ministry, the only official outlet for information on the COVID-19 disease, could not immediately be reached for comment. Reuters sent voice and written messages asking its spokesman if the actual number of confirmed cases was higher than the ministry had reported and if so why.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Message of hope shines out from mighty Matterhorn

first_imgTopics : ‘Honest’ toil Hofstetter, 58, refuses to reveal where he is projecting from, but says he and an assistant are hunkered down at a camp high in the mountains above Zermatt, having set out with enough food to last for a month.Speaking to AFP by telephone, he said the messages would be meaningless if he was not making sacrifices of his own to project them.Every other day, he walks three hours through the snow to haul up 45 liters of water for drinking, washing and cleaning, with temperatures at times plunging to minus 22 degrees Celsius (minus eight Fahrenheit).”We are really making an effort,” he said, “through living here and trying to survive — this message is honest.”The light projections are due to last until April 19, when Switzerland’s emergency measures are set to expire.However, if they are extended, there is no going home for Hofstetter.”Imagine we give out such a strong sign of hope, and its prolonged, and on the 19th we switch off. That will give a sign that even the Matterhorn doesn’t believe in hope anymore,” he said”We will stay.”  ‘Light is hope’ Dominating the skyline, Hofstetter said the Matterhorn stands out like a lighthouse, which triggered the idea of beaming out messages.”Light is hope. So if you do a message with light in such a situation as we are in now, you give that hope — especially with this iconic, standalone, pyramid-shaped, incredibly strong mountain,” he said.”The Matterhorn was here before mankind was.”You can go back in history, two, three or four thousand years; when they had disease, it was art that brought people together for hope and looking for a brighter future once again. Only art can do this.”The Matterhorn overlooks the ski resort of Zermatt deep down in the valley below. The normally-bustling town is devoid of tourists, hotels and holiday homes largely empty. The starry night is eerily quiet.Switzerland, which has registered more than 18,000 cases and 430 deaths from COVID-19, has shut schools, bars, restaurants and non-food shops in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.Around the world, nearly a million people are known to have been infected, while nearly 50,000 lives have been lost in the pandemic.”We want to show solidarity,” said Daniel Luggen, director of the Zermatt tourist office.”We are fortunate here to live in a very beautiful area and we also want to share it with the world, to give people courage to help them to overcome this difficult period,” he told AFP. The flags of other badly-affected nations will be projected onto the mountain in the coming days and weeks.The projections can be seen on live high-definition webcams.center_img “We started with a Swiss flag, because it speaks to the mountain and our nation,” said light artist Gerry Hofstetter, known for transforming buildings around the world with his displays.The words “hope”, “solidarity” and “stay home” have since been projected onto the peak, along with a giant red heart on a white background — in the Swiss national colors.The flags of Switzerland, Italy and the Swiss region of Ticino were also beamed onto the mountain on Wednesday night.The southern Ticino canton, which borders stricken northern Italy, has been the hardest-hit in Switzerland. As the world reels from the coronavirus crisis, a beam of light is illuminating Switzerland’s Matterhorn mountain with a message of hope for a time of darkness.Every night from sunset, the 4,478-meter high national symbol is splashed with words and images to inspire solidarity as people face up to the alarming spread of the deadly pandemic.The light projections, nearly 800 meters high, have been beamed for more than a week from four kilometers away onto the north and east faces of the mountain, which straddles Switzerland’s southeastern border with Italy.last_img read more

France, Spain move toward reopening as global virus cases top 4 million

first_imgFrench health officials have warned that “the epidemic remains active and is evolving”, and that social distancing must be kept up even as restrictions are eased.In Spain, about half the population will be allowed out on Monday for limited socialization, and restaurants will be able to offer some outdoor service as the country begins a phased transition set to last through June.Fears lingered, however, of a resurgence, and authorities excluded Madrid and Barcelona — two COVID-19 hotspots — from the first phase.Belgium is also easing some restrictions on Monday, and in some parts of Germany, bars and restaurants reopened on Saturday with further easing set for Monday.Overall, the situation in Europe was still far from normal.Britain is reportedly planning to announce on Sunday that all overseas visitors will face a mandatory two-week quarantine, and the European Union warned against opening borders to travelers from outside the bloc.Across Europe, commemorations marking 75 years since Nazi Germany’s surrender were cancelled or scaled down.And Poland’s election on Sunday will be one for the history books as polling stations remain closed and turnout will clock in at zero due to a political crisis set off by the pandemic — the presidential ballot is formally neither postponed nor cancelled because the government and opposition were unable to agree on a constitutional and safe solution.’Phenomenal’ recovery? South Korea’s capital Seoul shut all bars and clubs on Saturday after a burst of cases were tracked to one of the city’s busiest nightlife districts.Even as the country eased virus restrictions, officials warned against carelessness after the new cluster of infections, highlighting the challenge of containing the spread of the deadly disease while pursuing an economic revival.Global economic figures are pointing to the most acute downturn in nearly a century with businesses forced to shut and supply lines badly disrupted, and pressure is growing on leaders around the world to find a way out.In the United States, the country with the world’s highest death toll, President Donald Trump faced sharp criticism from his predecessor Barack Obama, who said on a leaked tape that Trump’s handling of the crisis was an “absolute chaotic disaster”.Facing re-election in November, Trump has insisted that next year would be “phenomenal” for the US economy, urging reopening in a country where the virus continues to claim well over 1,000 lives daily.The United States lost an unprecedented 20.5 million jobs in April, driving the unemployment rate to 14.7 percent — the highest level since the Great Depression.’Life costs money’ Health experts have cautioned that while the growth of cases may be slowing in some European and Asian countries, other nations — many of them impoverished — are only in the first phases of their outbreaks.In Iran, the Middle East’s virus epicenter, many were taking advantage of loosened restrictions despite worries about a spike in infections.”Life costs money,” said Hamed, a 22-year-old out on the streets of the capital Tehran without a mask. “People have to go to work since this virus has been with us for about three months now.”And in neighboring Pakistan, the world’s fifth most-populous country, the government ended the lockdown on Saturday and locals streamed into markets and shops, despite still-high infection rates.Tehmina Sattar, shopping with her sister and sons in Rawalpindi, said: “We are happy with this decision, but at the same time I have a fear in my heart that if this disease spreads it could be devastating.”Topics : Amid the barrage of deaths, some European countries have cited signs of progress that they said justified cautious steps towards a sense of normality.Officials in France on Saturday said the day’s death toll of 80 was the lowest since early April, while nursing home fatalities also fell sharply as the nation prepared to relax curbs on public movement imposed eight weeks ago.The easing, to begin Monday, has brought mixed reactions.”I’ve been scared to death” about the reopening, said Maya Flandin, a bookshop manager from Lyon. “It’s a big responsibility to have to protect my staff and my customers.” The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped four million as some of the hardest-hit countries readied Sunday to lift lockdown restrictions, despite concerns about a second wave of infections.Governments around the world are trying to stop the spread of the disease while scrambling for ways to relieve pressure on their economies, which are facing a historic downturn with millions pushed into unemployment.But with the death toll already past 277,000, nations are keen to avoid second waves of infections that could overwhelm their healthcare systems, with a new cluster of cases in South Korea raising fears about the virus hitting back rapidly.last_img read more