January 21, 2021

Congressional panel agrees to increase Irene emergency funding $150 million

first_imgA significant hurdle for Vermont getting more aid from the federal government for Tropical Storm Irene recovery was cleared yesterday. Congressional House and Senate conferees Monday afternoon agreed to extend and increase transportation funding in the wake of damage done to roads and bridges. Without the extra $150 million, Vermont would have to use regular transportation funds to pay for the emergency repairs, thus taking money away from ongoing tranportation needs. Governor Peter Shumlin has put Irene-related repair costs at $175-250 million. The Senate on November 1 approved a transportation budget bill that included the cost waivers included in the bill by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The vote on the bill in the Democratic Senate was 69 to 30. But the Repbulican House had not passed a similar amendment, so the language had to be approved by conferees on both sides to be included in the final bill. The final bill still needs general approval by the full House and Senate, which typically would go along with the conference committee; that action is expected by the end of the week. If approved, the bill would then go to President Obama to be signed into law. ‘This is outstanding news,” Representative Peter Welch said in a statement. “Vermonters have never complained about their tax dollars going to help others in the country caught up in a natural disaster, whether it be a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in the Midwest, or flooding along the Mississippi River.   ‘This time, Vermonters are in need. Across the state, we are working together to help ourselves, but we can’t do it alone. Today’s news means Vermont will get a much-needed helping hand from the rest of the country. ‘I am grateful that House Republican and Democratic leaders alike listened carefully and responded to the needs of Vermont ‘ proving that Congress can, in fact, work together to get the job done. My hope is that the efforts of the bipartisan Hurricane Irene Coalition will serve as a model for how we can accomplish difficult tasks in the future.” Governor Shumlin also applauded the news. He said the congressionial action likely will ensure up to that $250 million will be available in aid for repairing the state’s transportation infrastructure damaged by Irene. ‘I cannot overstate how critical this bill is to our state,” Shumlin said in a statement. “This is the difference between a financial calamity for Vermonters already facing tough times and our ability to now rebuild Vermont better than Irene found us, which I am bound and determined to accomplish. Vermont’s Congressional delegation fought hard to secure this aid.’Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) issued the following statement: ‘This is an important step toward providing Vermont the help it needs and deserves to rebuild roads and bridges washed out by Hurricane Irene.  I hope Congress will now finish its job this week so communities in Vermont and other states devastated by the flooding may continue their recovery.’Leahy worked to add $1.7 billion to the depleted Federal Highway Administration emergency fund, upon which Vermont will depend for help in repairing and rebuilding roads washed away or damaged by Irene-related flooding.  The emergency highway account is nearly empty. The negotiators agreed to:· Restore funding to the depleted FHA emergency fund to help states with infrastructure repair from the Tropical Storm;·  Remove a $100 million cap on federal assistance, enabling the state to receive aid from Washington for between $175 million to $250 million of repair costs depending upon the state-federal match for work, which has yet to be determined;·  Authorize 100 percent reimbursement for emergency repairs beyond the current limit of 180 days ‘ meaning projects that extend into the spring and beyond will be eligible for full coverage from Washington. Shumlin said the federal assistance will ensure Vermont can afford Irene-related repair work, building projects in a way that reduces the likelihood of future weather-related damage, as well as transportation projects already on the books and unrelated to storm damage. The negotiations also pave the way for heavy trucks to move off smaller state roads and instead use the Interstate highways, which will reduce damage on state and local roads. Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy‘Meeting Vermont’s Disaster Recovery Needs’Senate FloorTuesday, November 15, 2011″Mr. President, I would like to take some time now to talk about the positive impact next year’s Transportation-HUD Appropriations Bill will have on my home state of Vermont ‘ particularly as we continue rebuilding from Hurricane Irene’s destructive forces back in August.  I commend Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Susan Collins for their hard work and dedication in ensuring that the final bill filed last night both provides appropriate funding for disaster relief accounts, and moves heavy truck traffic out of historic downtowns in Vermont and Maine.  As I have recounted here on the Senate Floor many times, Irene was devastating to our small state of Vermont.  Record rains and flash flooding simply washed away homes, farms, businesses, roads, and bridges all over the state.   Of all the body blows we suffered when Irene raked our state from border to border, repairing the damage to our roads, bridges and rail lines is one of our most urgent priorities.  The huge expense of mending our transportation network is well beyond the ability of a small state like ours.  As we tallied the destruction, it quickly became clear that Vermont will need far more federal help than is now in the pipeline.  The same can be said of other states ravaged by Irene.With many federal aid disaster programs underfunded, I am especially pleased that this bill contains $1.662 billion to replenish the Federal Highway Disaster Relief fund, which will help Vermont and other states rebuild their vital roadways and bridges.  These connections are crucial to distributing aid, rebuilding our economy and serving as the lifelines to small communities. In working with Governor Shumlin, Senator Sanders, Congressmen Welch, and community leaders across Vermont, it became clear right away that given the mammoth destruction of this storm, certain waivers were going to be needed to allow states to access these emergency funds without unnecessary burdens or delays.  Adjustments to this cap also have been made after other major natural disasters, like Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew and tornadoes in the South. I appreciate the inclusion of those waivers in the final bill.  They are essential to ensuring that Vermont can promptly begin work on emergency and permanent repairs sooner rather than later.  It is now the middle of November, and severe winter weather is right around the corner in Vermont, which will make these rebuilding efforts nearly impossible until the spring thaw next March or April. The bill also includes another high priority for Vermont ‘ moving heavy trucks off the state’s secondary roads and onto our Interstate highways.  Overweight truck traffic in our villages and downtowns poses a threat to the state’s infrastructure and an unnecessary safety risk to motorists and pedestrians.  The Leahy-Collins provision in this bill will end the steady parade of overweight trucks in Vermont and Maine from rumbling through our historic downtowns on small, narrow roads that come within a few feet of schools, houses, businesses, and town greens.  This provision also will help Vermont businesses and communities struggling even more right now because of the large number of state and local roads heavily damaged during the recent flooding disaster. Vermonters have continued to draw from their deep reservoirs of resiliency and resolve in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  This storm will enter the history books alongside the horrific floods of 1927 in our state.  The national government then also helped our state’s recovery, as it should.  We are the UNITED States of America.  The American people come together in times like this, just as Vermonters have always been among the helping hands extended to other states in their times of need.The progress this bill makes in helping Vermont and other states meet their urgent needs is a testament to the determination of many in this body who have been willing to set aside ideological tensions and partisan differences to accomplish the work that the American people expect from their Government.  I think we would all agree that we need more of that here in Washington these days.”last_img read more

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How a loan officer can increase engagement with empathy

first_img 40SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Alison Barksdale Alison Barksdale is the Assistant Vice-President of Marketing for CU Members Mortgage and has worked in the field of marketing since 2000. Her various positions within the field of marketing … Web: www.cumembers.com Details Imagine you are driving down the highway and see a major accident.  Sirens are going off as the police, ambulance, and firefighters arrive to assist in the catastrophe.  The horrific incident takes up several lanes across the highway and your car inches by the scene down the one open lane. You slow even more as you see the crunched vehicles that look like they are made of paper.  You keep watching as you want to see if everyone is okay, but are frustrated as your view is blocked by a fire truck.  You can’t see anyone.  You keep looking.  You keep driving. Suddenly you are too far to see the accident.  A few car links past the scene and you’ve cranked up the radio and continue on your commute.  That’s it.  Never a second thought. This isn’t to start a debate about if you should stop and help or not.  It is however a call to ask yourself, how much empathy you apply to your everyday member and your everyday loan file.  When a member tells you they’ve had a rough experience with their previous lender, how do you respond? When a member explains they are scared or nervous, do you listen? Do you empathize with their situation?When a member buys a home, they are providing all of their financial information. Every last detail of their financial failures and successes.  Every deep dark financial secret in the closet.  As a loan officer, you see it all.  And, you have the opportunity to drive right pass their fears and concerns or you can comfort them and show them you understand and care about their well-being.  A recent Gallup poll states that only 22% of mortgage buyers are fully engaged with their lender.  That leaves a lot of consumers out there very uncommitted to their lender.  An engaged member during the home loan process, is emotionally and psychologically attached to the lender they do business with and become loyal, vocal brand ambassadors and give the lender more of their time and business according to Gallup.If loan officers can find ways to empathize with their members, they will build trust and grow engagement.  Growing engagement is good for the loan officer and for the credit union’s long term business growth.  How do loan officers empathize with members?Empathy is simply put as understanding the feelings of another individual.  It may not be stopping the car for every stalled car, but it does mean stopping the conversation and expressing how you understand what the member is sharing with you.  Here are some tips to help you as a loan officer engage with empathy.Validate the member’s experience or feelings.If your member is sharing with you a personal experience or detail of their lives, ask questions and listen.  The member needs to believe they are the only person that matters at that very moment.  Ask them how it made them feel.  Ask them about the details.  Give them the validation they need to feel you care about them.  Educate them Financial matters are a very personal action for most people.  Buying a home heightens the emotion because every decision made either gets them one step closer to their dream in the home or farther from it.  However, an educated member can apply logic to the scenario and suddenly a hyper emotional situation can become a logical transaction with a schedule of steps. For example, explaining to them that taking out new credit causes adjustment to their credit score and could possibly cause them to delay or even cancel the loan it gives the member the opportunity to control that end result.  Education helps the member control the situation and make decisions that will get them closer to their dream.  Teach them and they will appreciate you and your brand.Communicate Finding the best communication with each member shows you care about meeting their needs.  Find out how they want to be communicated with and when, and follow through. It shows you care about what their preferences are and are listening to even the littlest of details. It also increases their satisfaction on the entire process by making it easy to talk with you.Empathy is key to encouraging a positive loan experience for your members and ensuring a high level of satisfaction.  It shows members they are more than a file to you and that you are looking out for their best interest.  last_img read more

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Daisy’s Doggie Daycare announces open house tailgate party

first_imgBatesville, In. — Daisy’s Doggie Daycare will hold an open house tailgate party and ribbon cutting Friday, October 19 at 3:30 p.m. at their facility at 471 North Huntersville Road.There will be dog training demos, essential oils, hot dogs, chips and water. All proceeds benefit Ripley County 4-H Bow-Wows Club.last_img

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FDA: Mammography Services at the Breast Institute at JFK Medical Center “Below Standard”

first_imgPatients of the Breast Institute at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis are left with lots of questions after being notified of the “serious concerns” regarding the quality of mammograms they’ve received. A letter sent to patients stated that the exams performed between October thirty-first of 2017 and October 2019 “failed to meet the clinical image quality standards established.” The letter is from the Breast Institute at JFK North. The Breast Institute has released a statement saying they have stopped providing mammography services while they look to improve. The letter focuses on the time between October 2017 and October 2019. The hospital is notifying patients. The letter says the FDA asked the facility to stop performing mammography.Local doctor, Dr. Maureen Whelihan, says patients should not panic.“The good news whatever the problem is it’s being resolved so what do we do with those individuals in the middle of services, ” he said.“If you are uncomfortable with this letter, and you don’t want to proceed with followup at a JFK facility, then you would want to get your records and either have a conversation with a breast surgeon or have your images re-read or re-done somewhere else.”JFK Medical Center released this statement:The Breast Institute at JFK Medical Center North Campus has stopped providing mammography services while we implement a comprehensive plan to improve these services. We are notifying patients who have received scans at our hospital. For patients who had a mammogram during the review period, we are working diligently to have these re-read or re-done, if necessary, at no cost to patients.It’s important to note that this change only affects mammography services; the hospital remains accredited by the Joint Commission, and we’re working closely with the American College of Radiology to improve our mammography services.last_img read more

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World Championships 2017: Usain Bolt & Mo Farah headline London event

first_imgJamaican sprint great Usain Bolt and British distance legend Mo Farah will attempt to sign off with gold at the World Championships which begins in London on Friday.The pair, who have 28 world and Olympic titles between them, will both retire from the track by the end of the season.Elsewhere, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson and Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers renew their sprint rivalry, while Britain’s Laura Muir will attempt a formidable 1500m-5,000m double.With Bolt not defending his 200m title, 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk will attempt to double up and establish himself as one of the new figureheads for the sport.I can emulate Bolt – Van NiekerkFellow South African Caster Semenya is also fighting on two fronts, stepping up to 1500m as well as attempting to regain the 800m title she won in 2009 and 2011. The Championships begin on Friday, five years to the day since Great Britain won three Olympic gold medals in less than an hour on ‘Super Saturday’ at the same venue.Bolt draws curtain on careerBolt’s 100m world record of 9.58 seconds came in the 2009 World ChampionshipsBolt originally intended to retire in the wake of Rio 2016. However he reconsidered that plan after his sponsor suggested a London farewell a year later instead.Now 30, the Jamaican had a slow start to the season, dipping under 10 seconds for the first time in Monaco a fortnight ago. Do you remember the first time you saw Bolt?He is only the joint-seventh fastest man over 100m in 2017, but has a history of rising to the big occasion.Only once in seven major 100m finals has Bolt failed to win gold, and that was after a false start at the World Championships in Daegu in 2011 took him out of the race.Coleman, one of Bolt’s foremost rivals, is still a student at University of TennesseeTwenty-one-year-old American Christian Coleman – who ran a world-leading 9.82 in June – a 35-year-old Justin Gatlin and 2011 world champion Yohan Blake may be Bolt’s biggest rivals for gold in the final on Saturday. Bolt’s final race before retirement is likely to be the 4x100m relay final seven days later. A homecoming farewell for FarahFarah’s 5,000m and 10,000m double was one of the defining memories of the London Olympics five years ago.Since then the 34-year-old has repeated the feat at World Championships in Moscow and Beijing as well as last summer’s Rio Olympics, and is favourite to do so once again before shifting his focus to marathon.However he is facing a crop of young pretenders with Ethiopian teenager Abadi Hadis the fastest this year over 10,000m and 23-year-old compatriot Muktar Edris leading the 5,000m time charts.Farah’s preparations have been at times sidetracked by questions over training methods however. Mo Farah won his first World Championship gold medal in Daegu in 2011Computer hackers released documents in July that showed Farah’s blood tests initially raised suspicion before later being cleared. His coach Alberto Salazar is under investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency, while UK Athletics staff may have failed to properly record infusions of a controversial supplement given to Farah.Both Farah, who has refused to speak to newspaper journalists going into the championships, and Salazar have denied any wrongdoing.Farah’s 10,000m final headlines Friday’s opening day of competition with Wednesday’s 5,000m heats deciding the line-up for the final on Saturday, 12 August.Home Hopes Beyond Farah, Britain has more medal hopes than expectations.Muir broke Dame Kelly Holmes’ 1500m record at London Stadium last year, but found the pace of Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon and Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba too hot to handle over the final 800m in a tactical Olympic final in Rio.Kipyegon and Dibaba are both in the field in London along with the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan, who has the three fastest times of the year, and Semenya.British Athletics performance director Neil Black gave Muir only “a 1%” chance of adding the 5,000m to her schedule after she suffered a foot injury in June, but Muir is determined to pursue the longer distance after breaking the British indoor record in January.Katarina Johnson-Thompson will attempt to fill the void left by Jessica Ennis-Hill’s retirement in the heptathlon, taking on Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam. Tom Bosworth broke the racewalking mile record in July and will aim to improve on his sixth-place finish in the 20km in Rio.last_img read more

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49ers 26, Seahawks 23: First win in 11 meetings comes in OT

first_imgDRAFT STATUS: The Raiders and Arizona Cardinals each fell to 3-11 and thus leapfrogged the 49ers (4-10) atop the 2019 NFL Draft board. The 49ers are at No. 4 between the New York Jets (4-10) and Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) based on strength of schedule.WINNING DRIVE: Trent Taylor’s 15-yard punt return to the 49ers’ 38-yard line gave them their best starting field position of the game. Matt Breida opened with carries of 4 and 7 yards before aggravating an ankle injury on a 5-yard loss. Dante Pettis (5 catches, 83 yards) then drew a pass-interference penalty, and Jeff Wilson Jr. followed runs of 16, 3 and 4 yards to set up Gould’s winner with 3:06 left.Taylor said of his return: “I just needed a little crease and did what I could to give us good field position. Little stuff like that adds up.”DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE DAY: Buckner produced a huge, third-down sack after Solomon Thomas and Ronald Blair pressured Russell Wilson out of the pocket, forcing the Seahawks to settle for a tying field goal (23-23 with 5:21 to go).That was Buckner’s 11th sack this season. No. 10 set up a third-and-18 scenario in the third quarter, and he led the 49ers with  11 tackles, four for loss. Buckner also sacked Wilson twice two weeks ago.“Shoot, four times in one year? That’s a great year,” Buckner said. “He’s a hard man to get with his low center of gravity and quickness. It’s definitely a relief.” He also called it “gratifying” to reach his preseason goal of becoming the first 49er with double-digit sacks since Aldon Smith (19 1/2 in 2012).OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE DAY: Mullens opened a fourth-quarter drive by dropping a perfect pass over Dante Pettis’ shoulder for a 30-yard gain to the Seattle 45. “That was absolutely insane, a heck of a pitch-and-catch by those two,” George Kittle said.BEST SPECIAL-TEAMS PLAY: Gould’s winning field goal deserves its own category. So let’s recognize Richie James’ 97-yard kickoff return, a swift response to the Seahawks’ opening-series touchdown. James benefited from terrific blocks by Tarvarius Moore, Mark Nzeocha and James Onwualu, and a not-so-great tackle attempt by kicker Sebastian Janikowski.Said James: “When I saw the kicker on the left, I was like, ‘I’ve got to make him miss and then I’m going to keep running.” It was the 49ers’ first kickoff return for a touchdown since Ted Ginn Jr. in the 2011 opener against the Seahawks at Candlestick.TURNOVER TREND: The 49ers failed to record a takeway for the sixth consecutive game, and incredibly they are 3-3 in that span. They have a league-low five takeaways on the season. Mark Nzeocha did force a Wilson fumble but the Seahawks retained possession for an ensuing punt.WORST INJURY: Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (right knee) got hurt on the defense’s opening series, and he will undergo an MRI on Monday for what the 49ers initially are calling a sprain; they haven’t ruled out torn ligaments. Tarvarius Moore replaced him and played quite well through a rib injury.CELEK TIME: Tight end Garrett Celek delivered his second touchdown this season and first since the home opener, scoring on a 41-yard catch-and-run past Seahawks safety Tedric Thompson, who slipped on the play. That gave the 49ers a 14-6 lead.“I’ve been waiting all year (because) Celek Time is just infectious. It’s so much fun,” Kittle said. “The whole sideline and stadium just loves it.”Celek Time ⌚️#SEAvsSF pic.twitter.com/gTTuBMFUxp— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 16, 2018KICKING IT: Gould’s first point-after kick gave him 1,500 career points, and then came more work. His third field goal of the game, a 45-yard attempt, put the 49ers ahead 23-20 with 9:51 to go. He is 29-of-30 on field-goal attempts this season, a contract year. Shanahan said he wants to re-sign him, and Gould said of that: “I”m not worried about that. What’s it matter if I get signed today, or two days from now, three months from now? It hasn’t been much of a conversation,” Gould said. “… I’d love to be here.”MULLENS STOCK: Mullens (20-of-29, 275 yards, 1 TD) improved to 3-1 at Levi’s Stadium. Sherman said of him: “He’s shown he can play in the league. I just hope we keep him because teams need a quarterback. This guy isn’t just playing conservative football.” Mullens refrained from patting himself on the back, adding: “If you want to look at a textbook, collective team win, I believe that was it.”BEST RALLY: Jeff Wilson Jr. rallied to set up the winning field goal with a 16-yard run to the Seahawks 25. That helped make up for a lost fumble on his first carry, reminiscent of his lost fumble two weeks ago at Seattle. He lost a yard on his his next carry, dropped a third-quarter screen pass and also drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for flipping the ball at a Seahawks lineman. Wilson got a chance at redemption, and, “It was awesome the way it ended, because it should give him confidence and make him ready for next week,” Shanahan said.TOUGHEST RUN: Seahawks rusher Chris Carson (22 carries, 119 yards) bulled his way in for a tying touchdown on fourth-and-1 to make it 20-20. He slipped out of D.J. Jones’ grasp, lunged from Elijah Lee’s ankle tackle and slammed into D.J. Reed at the goal line.SECOND-BEST DRIVE: Starting at their own 2-yard line, the 49ers marched 98 yards for a second-quarter touchdown and 14-6 lead. Clutch, third-down completions to Taylor and Pettis set up Celek’s 41-yard touchdown reception 9:29 before halftime.WORST DEFENSIVE PLAY: Free safety Antone Exum whiffed in the open field on Doug Baldwin’s 35-yard touchdown catch, trimming the 49ers’ lead to 14-13 with 5:19 until halftime. Could Exum’s form been impacted by the $53,482 fine he drew last game for unnecessary roughness?Sidenote: Adrian Colbert, the opening-game starter at free safety, is recovering well from a season-ending leg injury and a stabilizing screw soon will be removed from his right ankle.KITTLE COUNT: Coming off last Sunday’s 214-yard outing (first half), tight end George Kittle had catches of 21, 20 and 10 yards, and he also drew a pass-interference penalty in the fourth quarter.WORST DRIVE: The 49ers got the ball with 2:37 remaining at their own 20, and after completions to Matt Breida (9 yards) and Pettis (8 yards), Mullens got sacked twice by Jarran Reed, and those were sandwiched around a Taylor drop.WORST PENALTY: Linebacker Fred Warner draws a Clay Matthews-esque roughing-the-passer penalty to open a fourth-quarter series, as officials ruled he drove Wilson into ground after Wilson threw away the ball.BEST PENALTIES: Pettis’ ability to draw pass interference on the winning drive was huge, but let’s go with Taylor’s down-field block that provoked a retaliatory strike and subsequent unnecessary-roughness penalty on cornerback Justin Coleman in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks got penalized 14 times for 148 yards.TOUGHEST CATCH: Bourne lined up in the left slot, went over the middle, jumped to grab Mullens’ pass, got upended by the shoulder of Griffin and still came down with the 12-yard catch at the 49ers’ 29-yard line. It helped spark the 98-yard, second-quarter drive.FIELD POSITION: The 49ers first three offensive series began inside their 10-yard line: at the 8, 1 and 2.Related Articles Two weeks after losing 43-16 at Seattle, the 49ers have won two in a row for the first time since last December’s 5-0 finish with then-quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.“They flat out embarrassed us two weeks ago. … It was a long two weeks, for sure,” said DeForest Buckner, who had 11 tackles and raised his season sack total to 11 with Sunday’s pair. “Everyone wanted to get out there and redeem themselves.”Left tackle Joe Staley and tight end Garrett Celek are the only 49ers left from the 2013 team that last beat Seattle, to which Staley said of Sunday’s result: “It feels good, but it stinks that we had to go through a streak like that. I just wish we had more to play for this year.”Let’s get to the highs and lows from the 49ers’ penultimate home game, with the NFC North-winning Chicago Bears due in next Sunday: 49ers Deebo Samuel helping key playoff run as respected rookie (CLICK HERE, if you are unable to view this video or photo gallery on your mobile device.)SANTA CLARA – It took 5 years and 10 straight losses to the Seattle Seahawks before the 49ers finally beat their NFC West rival again, doing so in overtime Sunday 26-23.The 49ers (4-10) won it on Robbie Gould’s fourth field goal, a 36-yard attempt amid rare rain at Levi’s Stadium, where the Seahawks (8-6) had won all four of their previous visits.“Obviously it means a lot beating Seattle for me,” former Seahawk Richard Sherman said. “But it’s the way guys showed up and kept battling. … We’re out there with an incredibly young team. I’m guessing we’re putting out the youngest guys in the league at this point.” Kurtenbach: The 49ers need a new identity — it’s up to Jimmy Garoppolo to provide itcenter_img Roger Craig, high-kicking 49ers running back, has 50-50 chance for induction to Hall of Fame NFL picks Week 16: 49ers rebound, Raiders fall, Patriots clinch 49ers vs. Rams: 5 keys to winning on Saturday night stage last_img read more

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Africa: Serious about food

first_imgA boy smiles for the camera at EvaOrango school in Orango Island of BijagoArchipelago in Guinea-Bissau.(Image: Manoocher Deghati, Irin Photo)MEDIA CONTACTS• Ousmane BadianeAfrica director for the International FoodPolicy Research Institute+1 202 862 5600o.badiane@cgiar.org• Dr Andrew KanyegirireCAADP Communications Manager+27 11 256 3615AndrewK@nepad.org The record prices of staple grains in 2008 made investment in agriculture an attractive proposition for countries exporting as well as importing food. The African Union (AU), with its mix of producers and buyers, has been steadily gearing up for self-sufficiency.Shortly after Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika became AU chair in 2010, he announced a plan to make Africa food secure in the next five years.Martin Bwalya, head of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) said the AU’s seven-year roadmap to put the spotlight on farming so as to promote food security and economic growth, and reduce poverty, was set in motion five years ago.By the end of 2010, the agriculture development plans of 18 African countries had undergone a rigorous independent technical review and were being rolled out.Over 60% of Africa’s people live in rural areas and most depend on farming for food and income. Agriculture contributes between 20% and 60% to nations’ gross domestic product.In a document called The African Food Basket, Mutharika spelt out the details of his plan, which requires countries to allocate a substantial portion of their budget to agriculture, provide farming input subsidies, and make available affordable information and communications technology.This would be possible with the help of a new strategic partnership between countries, donors, aid agencies and the private sector.CAADP, initiated in 2003, covers all the main aspects of Mutharika’s plan, including African governments’ commitment to devote at least 10% of their budgets to agriculture.Under the programme, countries draw up comprehensive investment plans that include the four CAADP pillars: sustainable land and water management, improved market access and integration, increased food supplies and reduced hunger, and research, technology generation and dissemination.“We expect the countries to contribute at least 10% of the annual expenditure budget demonstrating local ownership and responsibility,” said Bwalya.He added while development aid financing remained important, it was also crucial that countries consider measures to attract direct private sector financing to agriculture.Uganda, one of the 18 states to undergo the review process, has met about 65% of its funding requirements from its own budget.The AU’s development agency, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), which runs CAADP, helps countries to mobilise funds.Is achieving food self-sufficiency in five years a realistic goal? It would be a tough call, said Ousmane Badiane, director for Africa at the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute.He noted that the AU had 53 members with varying degrees of agriculture investment, development and needs, and some countries did not have the structural capacity to reach the target of food self-sufficiency for many reasons including civil conflicts.Going regionalA more realistic option, Badiane said, would be for countries with the potential to improve food production to produce enough to feed their less productive neighbours. This called for expanding regional trade and investment in transportation, including ports, railways and highways linking countries.AU members have begun to take regional economic integration “seriously”, noted Calestous Juma, professor of international development at Harvard University in his recently released book, The New Harvest.He lists regional markets as one of the three opportunities that could fortify Africa’s food security against the rising threat of climate change.There are at least eight regional economic communities, “that are recognised by the AU as building blocks for pan-African economic integration”; these include the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or Comesa, and the East African Community. However, “Regional cooperation in agriculture is in its infancy and major challenges lie ahead.”Regions could become food secure “by capitalising on the different growing seasons in different countries and making products available in all areas for longer periods of time”, he wrote.Both Mutharika and CAADP emphasise the development of regional markets. Mutharika listed 12 regional trade corridors identified by the various regional economic communities and suggested the AU draw up an institutional framework for each corridor.Science and technologyIn his book Juma lists advances in science and technology as another factor that could propel Africa towards food self-sufficiency, and called for more investment in the creation of regional hubs of research and innovation.Research is being carried out by groups created under Nepad, such as the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa Network, which has been leading research on food crops, including banana, teff, cassava, sorghum and sweet potatoes. More investment in networks, especially agriculture-related ones, could produce far-reaching results.Fertiliser and subsidiesUnderuse of fertilisers has often been cited as a major cause of low production in Africa. Only four countries – Egypt, Malawi, Mauritius and South Africa – have exceeded the 50 kilograms per hectare target set by the AU, Mutharika noted in his plan.Fertiliser use in Africa accounts for less than 10% of the world average of 100 kilograms per hectare. “Just five countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria) account for about two-thirds of the fertiliser applied in Africa,” Juma said.Mutharika, who promoted the provision of subsidised fertiliser in Malawi, makes a strong case for this approach. At present 19 African countries are implementing various programmes providing fertiliser.Juma sees leaders like Mutharika, who has prioritised food security as the third factor that could set Africa on the path to food security. The Malawian government devotes 16% of its national budget to agriculture.Yet Badiane of the International Food Policy Research Institute sounded a note of caution on subsidies and cited the case of Senegal. After independence the West African country put in place an agriculture subsidy programme in the 1960s that was even more comprehensive than Malawi’s. “It had a dramatic effect on agriculture in Senegal, but by 1979 one of its [agriculture] agencies had worked up a deficit amounting to 98% of the national budget.”Carefully managed subsidies, run for a short term, and aimed at strengthening existing markets and agricultural infrastructure, were a lot more effective, he said.The Rwandan government provided free fertiliser to farmers for four years after 1994. In 1998 it wanted to hand over importing and distribution to the private sector, which unfortunately lacked capacity, so the government continued to procure and import fertiliser but left distribution and selling to the private sector.Since then, aid from financial institutions has helped the private sector build capacity to import, and at least 20 bodies now import several hundred metric tons of fertiliser, Badiane said.Way forwardThe AU’s plans for agriculture also tackle other major issues affecting food security, such as irrigation (only 4% of Africa’s crop area is irrigated, compared to 39% in South Asia); improving soil fertility (more than 3% of agricultural gross domestic product in Africa is lost annually as a direct result of soil and nutrient loss); post-harvest storage loss (sub-Saharan Africa loses about 40% of its harvest per year, against 1% in Europe); setting up databanks to share early warning information and energy.There is a high level of engagement between countries on agriculture. “They meet regularly and we support them in building evidence-based information,” CAADP’s Bwalya noted.If they stayed the course in implementing CAADP, Badiane said in five years a large number of African countries, if not food secure, would be in a much better position to feed themselves.Source: Irin Newslast_img read more

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Algoma Tankers Buys Its Youngest Vessel

first_imgAlgoma Tankers Limited (ATL), an operating unit of Canadian shipping company Algoma Central Corporation, has purchased a 2010-built product tanker.The 16,512 dwt tanker, to be renamed the Algoterra, will become the eighth ship in Algoma’s Great Lakes-based product tanker fleet, according to the company.Apart from Algoterra, the company’s tanker fleet comprises seven small clean tankers, built between 1998 and 2008.“We expect to take ownership of the Algoterra in mid-March in Europe and she will join our fleet in early April. The ship will be the youngest tanker we operate and as our newest ship, she will be the workhorse of the ATL fleet for many years to come,” Gregg Ruhl, President and CEO of Algoma, commented.We are pleased to announce the purchase of an additional product tanker! The Algoterra is expected to begin operations in April, becoming the eighth vessel in the Algoma Tankers Limited fleet! For more details please go to https://t.co/uAVfdcIEZi#excitingtimesatalgoma pic.twitter.com/MV9sPmZytt— Algoma Central (@AlgomaCentral) February 21, 2019The acquisition comes just over three months after the purchase of the 2008-built tanker Ramira. As explained, these investments are part of Algoma’s efforts to meet the growing needs of its customers for marine-based transportation of petroleum products.“With a long-term contract in place with a strong counterparty, we expect this acquisition to be accretive to earnings upon the ship’s arrival in Canada,” Peter Winkley, Algoma’s Chief Financial Officer, said.Algoma continues to invest in fleet renewal for its domestic fleet. The company also recently announced the delivery of the Algoma Conveyor, a 740’ self-unloading dry-bulk carrier that is currently en route from China and which will join the 18 vessels of Algoma’s dry-bulk fleet early in the 2019 navigation season.Algoma operates a fleet of dry and liquid bulk carriers on the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Waterway, including self-unloading dry-bulk carriers, gearless dry-bulk carriers and product tankers. The company also owns ocean self-unloading dry-bulk vessels operating in international markets and a 50% interest in NovaAlgoma.last_img read more

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