College receives service honor

first_imgWith 80 percent of students participating in community service prior to graduating, Saint Mary’s was nationally recognized as a member of the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll on Feb. 25, a College press release said.The Honor Roll is the highest achievement that a college or university can accomplish for its dedication to community service. The College has received the award in each of the past four years, said Carrie Call, director of the Office of Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE).“This is a national designation awarded yearly to institutions of higher education that meet certain requirements for community engagement and volunteer service,” Call said. “We gained it by the extensive involvement of our students.”Call said OCSE hopes to continue the tradition of service on campus by offering a variety of opportunities for student engagement at many different levels within the community. “The opportunities have grown in the past years for our students and we want to continue that,” Call said.Call said the College believes it is important for students to participate in service.“It helps students come to understand what their passions and what they want to do in their lives,” she said. “Another important reason is that it gives us the opportunity to give something back to our communities. Catholic Social Teaching tells us that we are ‘all really responsible for all’ and so our service in the community allows us to act out that sense of responsibility and solidarity.”Call said she was excited about the award because it reflects the actions of the students.“Awards like this are important because they are a public recognition of our students’ dedication to the common good,” Call said.The level of student participation at the College is higher than the national average, Call said. OCSE plans to offer several community service opportunities within the next few weeks, including Walk for the Hungry on March 28 and Rebuilding Together on April 17.Call said OCSE offers a variety of other opportunities throughout the academic year for student involvement in community service.last_img read more

Easier access

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaFarm crops worldwide have a tough time getting enough phosphorus for healthy growth. An international guest scientist at the University of Georgia is looking to solve this problem with a common food item.To grow, plants pull elements from the soil through their roots. Phosphorus is one of the hardest elements for their roots to soak up, especially in acidic tropical and subtropical clay soils, like those of Georgia and Kenya.This is due to chemistry and how phosphorus interacts with other elements in the soil, said Charles Gerroh, a soil scientist from Kenya conducting research at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Science campus in Tifton, Ga.Common concern”Phosphorus availability to plants is considered a major soil fertility problem around the world,” he said.Gerroh is head of the horticulture department at Maseno University in Kenya and a Fulbright scholar working with Gary Gascho, a UGA CAES crop and soil scientist.The Fulbright grant program was established in 1946. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, its mission is to increase understanding between the United States and other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills.Phosphorus, Gerroh said, is essential for healthy plant growth, especially when the plant is young. Phosphorus helps roots develop and gives a plant a good head start.It’s one of the three major fertility elements, along with nitrogen and potassium. Depending on conditions, it’s the most expensive fertilizer element farmers apply.FixedThe study of soil fertility can be complicated. But to put the phosphorus problem simply, it doesn’t move through the soil as other elements do.Phosphorus can become fixed in a form that’s not easily accessible to plants. If it’s not applied directly around a plant’s root area, the plant has little chance of getting it into its system.”Only about 5 to 10 percent of the phosphorus in low-pH soil is able to be used by plants,” Gerroh said. Plants can access and use 50 percent to 60 percent of the nitrogen applied in the soil.But another element, silicon, holds the answer, Gerroh said. Silicon can interact in the soil to make phosphorus more available to a plant.UnfixedUsing silicon this way is nothing new, he said. Several Asian countries are doing it. The difference is Gerroh’s silicon comes from rice.Rice hulls, generally considered trash after rice processing, have a large concentration of silicon. Gerroh is working to find the best way to get and apply this form of silicon as a soil amendment to fix, or unfix, the phosphorus fertility problem.Gascho has worked in the Southeast using silicon as a potential solution to the fertility problems here. This is one reason the two soil scientists have joined forces through the Fulbright program.last_img read more

Dairy Food Safety

first_imgThe University of Georgia has received a $700,000 grant from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety to help improve food safety in Senegal’s rapidly growing dairy industry.The project is part of a larger $2.9 million parent grant from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, based at Cornell and Purdue Universities and funded by USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.Led by Manpreet Singh, professor in the UGA Department of Poultry Science and interim head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, the project will raise awareness of food safety issues, create training programs for dairy operators and coordinate comprehensive food safety regulations in the country.While Senegal relies on importing dairy products to meet the country’s needs, there is significant potential to enhance economic development in rural areas by organizing small dairy producers — who are predominantly women — and providing research and training to support and strengthen food safety in the value chain and to overcome barriers to the adoption of food safety practices, Singh said.“Prioritizing food safety in Senegal will enhance public health and empower youth and women via capacity-building efforts. This collaborative project will enhance existing dairy processing technologies and their adoption for safety and improving market access, strengthen the capacity of food safety research related to the dairy value chain, and build strong public/private partnerships in enhancing food safety and reducing foodborne illnesses,” Singh said. “It also will empower women and increase youth participation in processing and safety of the dairy value chain, and ultimately increase access to safe dairy products.”Co-principal investigators on the project include UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences poultry science Professor Harshavardhan Thippareddi, Coordinator of International Programs Victoria Collins McMaken and Postdoctoral Research Associate Jessica Marter-Kenyon; Gopal Reddy and Woubit Abebe at Tuskegee University in Alabama; Cheikh Ndaye of the Institut de Technologie Alimentaire (ITA) as the lead co-principal investigator in Senegal; Younoussa Diallo at ITA; and Mamadou Bocar Thiamat at the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research. Momar Thiam is the Senegalese government representative on the team with the Unit for the Fight Against Malnutrition.“Like any food, dairy products are only nutritious if they are safe. We see a timely opportunity to support Senegal’s dairy sector in the early stages of its economic growth, so these grassroots efforts in food safety can develop into long-term, sustained food safety practices and policies in this important, nutrient-dense food,” said Haley Oliver, Food Safety Innovation Lab (FSIL) director and professor of food science at Purdue University.For more information on the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology, visit foodscience.caes.uga.edu.About Feed the FutureFeed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.last_img read more

Can we have too little inflation?

first_imgby: Henry MeierYes we can and it’s the most important metric that the Fed will look at as it moves closer to a likely decision  to start raising short-term interest rates by the middle of the year. That is my main takeaway from the recently released minutes of the Fed’s Open Market Committee, the group that decides what short-term interest rates should be.Falling energy prices are pushing inflation further below its 2% objective. Falling pump prices keep more money in people’s wallets but they also make a wide range of products cheaper to make and sell.  Normally this is good news but a downward spiral of prices-of the type Europe is seeking to avoid-can have just as pernicious an impact on economic growth as inflation can. Margins get so squeezed that companies can’t cost effectively grow. So you can bet that the Fed won’t raise rates until it knows that inflation is on the way. As the minutes explained:“A number of participants emphasized that they would need to see either an increase in market-based measures of inflation compensation or evidence that continued low readings on these measures did not constitute grounds for concern”.Here is a link to the minutes for those of you having trouble sleeping, continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Long Island Advocates Launch Voter Registration Drive

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Eight community groups are joining forces in an effort to register thousands of working-class voters of color on Long Island to encourage more people to cast their votes on Election Day, organizers said.Those behind the initiative have nine weeks to enlist as many potential voters as possible before Wednesday, Oct. 19, the New York State voter registration deadline, so they can be eligible to vote in the 2016 general election.“Power belongs to the people, and we exercise it by voting,” said Shadley Hobour, an organizer with The Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET), a nonprofit committed to increasing civic participation in immigrant and communities of color across LI.Voter turnout typically spikes in presidential election years and has nowhere to go but up since the 2014 mid-term elections, which saw the lowest turnout nationwide in 72 years. Congressional and New York State legislative races are also on ballots this fall.RELATED STORY: Hofstra University to Host 1st Trump-Clinton Presidential DebateAlthough New York has historically been a liberal stronghold and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is reportedly beating GOP rival Donald Trump in the state in recent polls, Empire State results will be closely watched, since both candidates call New York home.Besides LICET, the Long Island voter registration drive coalition includes Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, SEPA Mujer, Choice For All, New York Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, and the League of Women Voters of Nassau County. In addition to immigrants’ rights, the groups separately advocate for a variety of issues, including women’s equality, affordable housing, workers’ rights and the environment.“The right to vote is fundamental to the integrity and durability of our democracy,” said Jason Starr, Long Island director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.“Public participation in voting is crucial in our democracy,” added Nancy Rosenthal, president of the League of Women Voters of Nassau County. “This partnership helps the League strive to register and educate as many people as possible.”last_img read more

While the Pandemic Wrecked Some Businesses, Others Did Fine. Even Great.

first_img“So that gives us a lot of confidence that they have come in, they are enjoying their experience and they’re coming back,” Mr. Lynch said.But there are winners and losers even within industries. Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and other brands that are more reliant on in-restaurant dining, reported a 28 percent decline in sales in the three months through the end of August. Its stock price is down 6 percent this year. – Advertisement – This has been a boon for companies that initially feared a deep recession. General Motors and Ford Motor, for example, rushed to borrow billions of dollars early in the year, expecting that car sales would tumble and stay low for a while. The auto business did struggle and automakers had to close their factories for about two months, but sales started picking up this summer. For the third quarter, G.M., Ford and other automakers reported big profits.Some large restaurant chains, after pressing for a federal bailout, have done much better than expected as drive-through customers, delivery and takeout orders bolstered sales. On Thursday, Papa John’s, whose stock is up 32 percent this year, reported surging sales, profits and cash flow and announced a new stock buyback program. Its chief executive, Rob Lynch, said the company had added “over eight million” customers this year.Asked on a call with financial analysts Thursday if the company can hold on to such gains, Mr. Lynch said that many of the new customers were dining more frequently and that the average spending per order was larger than before the pandemic.- Advertisement –center_img Mr. Cooper, a mortgage company, believed that it might face a financial squeeze in the spring when some homeowners were unable to make monthly payments. But a federal regulator provided relief to mortgage lenders, and then business was helped by a surge in refinancing. Mr. Cooper’s revenue in the first nine months of the year was up 40 percent, and its stock has climbed 341 percent from its low in April.During recessions, consumers often decide to pull back and avoid large outlays. But this year, something different happened. Many Americans who did not lose jobs but were also not spending on travel and entertainment found themselves with more disposable income. The $1,200 stimulus payments from the government also helped.- Advertisement –last_img read more

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

Hong Kong Tiananmen activist says locked out of Zoom

first_imgThe May 22 talk contained no speakers from mainland China, according to Lee. But Zoom can be used on the mainland and Lee said the Hong Kong Alliance had always sought ways to reach people beyond China’s sophisticated “Great Firewall”.Asked about Lee’s statement that his account had been locked and his requests for information, Zoom sent AFP a statement that matched the temporary blocking of the account used by US activists.”Just like any global company, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions where we operate,” a Zoom spokesperson said in the statement, without referring to Lee’s account specifically.”When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws.”We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters.”AFP asked Zoom in a follow-up email for clarity on why Lee’s account remained suspended. The closed American account belonged to US-based Humanitarian China, which said its Zoom account was shut down one week after hosting a discussion involving participants from China.Zhou Fengsuo, a co-founder of Humanitarian China who was number one on Beijing’s most-wanted list after the Tiananmen crackdown, told AFP that the Zoom account was reactivated on Wednesday. The organizer of Hong Kong’s annual vigil for the victims of China’s deadly Tiananmen crackdown told AFP Thursday his Zoom account was suspended after trying to host an online discussion about Beijing’s global influence.  His statement came after Zoom said it temporarily closed a US account used by activists who tried to connect more than 250 people to remember Beijing’s crushing of the pro-democracy movement June 4, 1989.That revelation sparked concerns that the American video conference app, which has soared in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, is bowing to authoritarian China. Topics :center_img Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance, told AFP he has been locked out of Zoom since May 22 when his group tried to host an online discussion on China’s influence around the world.”The account was suspended before the talk started. I’ve asked Zoom many times whether this is political censorship but it has never replied to me,” Lee said. The group had held two previous talks on Zoom without an issue, according to Lee. Once locked out they broadcast on Facebook and YouTube, which are allowed in Hong Kong but banned in China, he said.The alliance is based in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city that has free speech liberties unseen on the mainland but has been upended by a year of pro-democracy protests that have infuriated China. last_img read more

Consumer confidence reaches historic lows amid layoffs

first_img“Consumer optimism about job availability dropped as companies laid off their employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” the central bank stated in the report, which was released on Friday.As of May 27, more than 1.79 million people had lost their jobs as many nonessential businesses shut down to comply with government restrictions, according to data from the Manpower Ministry.The low consumer confidence may signal that consumer spending, which normally accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP, will contract this year. Consumer spending grew by just 2.84 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the first quarter, a far cry from 5.01 percent growth recorded in the same period last year.Meanwhile, the country’s economy grew by only 2.97 percent in the first quarter, the weakest since 2001, because of cooling household spending and investment during the pandemic. Indonesian consumers grew deeply pessimistic in May as pandemic-related layoffs eroded people’s confidence in the economy, a Bank Indonesia (BI) survey has shown.Indonesia’s consumer confidence index (IKK) has dropped to its lowest level in nearly 15 years, weighed down by negative perceptions of the current economic situation and a dearth of jobs, according to the survey.The index fell to 77.8 in May, falling further from 84.8 in the previous month, indicating consumer pessimism about the domestic economy’s prospects. An IKK value above 100 reflects general hopefulness, while a value below 100 signifies pessimism. “For the next six months, however, consumers remain upbeat about economic conditions supported by the prospect of job availability and higher income as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides,” the report reads.To support the country’s economic recovery, the government will widen the budget deficit to 6.34 percent of GDP this year to cover a stimulus package of Rp 677.2 trillion (US$47.7 billion) aimed at jump-starting economic recovery. This month, the government has gradually reopened the economy in a bid to minimize job losses and boost economic activity, but observers see the move as risky, and the number of new cases has continued to soar over the past few days.The government confirmed 1,111 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the government tally of confirmed cases to 36,406 nationwide.“The survey paints a bleak picture as consumers have yet to see a robust economic recovery,” Bank Central Asia (BCA) chief economist David Sumual told The Jakarta Post. “The impact of government and BI policies will be small if consumers remain pessimistic.”David said that a recovery of consumer confidence would depend on the trajectory of the health crisis, adding that spending habits would not return to normal if the virus threat still loomed.“We expect household spending to decline this year, but the severity of the shock will depend on whether the government’s decision to reopen the economy is effective,” David said. He expected household spending to shrink between 1 and 6 percent in 2020.Indonesia’s economy is expected to grow 1.8 percent this year if reopening the economy does not trigger a second wave of the virus. It may contract 2 percent under the worst-case scenario.Recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicted that Indonesia’s economy would shrink by 3.9 percent if it was hit by a second wave of COVID-19.“If the labor market rebound is weaker and slower than expected, higher unemployment may weigh on domestic demand and delay the recovery,” the OECD report read.Center of Reform on Economics (Core) Indonesia research director Piter Abdullah said the low consumer confidence was a result of weakening purchasing power.”The government should first reassure public that the COVID-19 outbreak will be contained in the near-term,” Piter told the Post. “Furthermore, it must ensure that the economic stimulus will be effective at accelerating economic recovery.” Topics :last_img read more

BLOG: Celebrating One Year of Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania

first_img February 08, 2016 By: Ted Dallas, Secretary of Human Services SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Healthcare,  Human Services,  Medicaid Expansion,  The Blog Last February, Governor Wolf announced his decision to expand Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act, allowing individuals who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to obtain health care coverage.The expansion of the HealthChoices Medicaid program alleviated confusion, removed unnecessary red tape, and streamlined the system so that people can see a doctor when they are sick and healthcare professionals have more time to concentrate on providing quality care.One year later, more than half a million Pennsylvanians who were not previously covered now have healthcare coverage thanks to Pennsylvania’s expansion of its Medicaid program. The commonwealth’s uninsured rate has dropped from 14 percent in 2013 to below 8 percent today, and state General Fund costs have been reduced by more than $500 million.This number of new enrollees is so significant, that if this group were a city, it would be the second largest city in Pennsylvania. That is a staggering amount of Pennsylvanians who did not have healthcare before.Because of the expansion of Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people have a brighter future and better potential health outcomes.This greatly enhances the fiscal well-being of our state. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, states that expanded Medicaid experienced substantially slower Medicaid spending growth (3.4 percent) than non-expansion states (6.9 percent).Since his first days in office, Governor Wolf planned to transition Pennsylvania to a simple, traditional Medicaid expansion plan, in order to simplify a previously complicated process and ensure hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians would have greater access to the health insurance they need.The federal government will assume 100 percent of the Medicaid costs of covering newly eligible individuals for the first three years. After that, states are required to contribute a percentage match, reaching the maximum 10 percent in 2021.The overwhelming response to Medicaid expansion further proves the significant pent-up demand and need for health care in the commonwealth. Access to health care means Pennsylvanians can take charge of their health by receiving preventive services at the right time, in the appropriate place, avoiding costly trips to the emergency room.My department is thrilled to see the success of this expansion in the one year since its announcement. We are excited to enroll even more Pennsylvanians in our next outreach efforts.For more information on HealthChoices, visit www.HealthChoicesPA.com.center_img Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf BLOG: Celebrating One Year of Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvanialast_img read more