COVID live updates: South African variant found in Maryland

first_imgSamara Heisz/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, EMILY SHAPIRO and IVAN SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 102.5 million people worldwide and killed over 2.2 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Latest headlines:Jan 30, 9:41 pmBoston Marathon director tapped for Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium mass vaccination sitesDave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, has been selected by the state of Massachusetts to run the mass vaccination operations at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park.McGillivray owns DMSE Sports, which organizes and manages dozens of outdoor events every year. To help keep DMSE Sports afloat, McGillivray connected with CIC Health — which operates the mass COVID-19 vaccination sites at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium — through the state of Massachusetts.Now, McGillivray is running logistics for both sites.“For me, the feeling is so good that the thing that knocked us to our knees is now the thing that is allowing us to do good: that we’re keeping people healthy, we’re saving lives and we’re even bringing our own industry back,” McGillivray said in an interview with Boston ABC affiliate WCVB().Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox, while Gillette Stadium, located in Foxborough, is the home stadium for the New England Patriots. The Gillette Stadium site opened two weeks ago, with Fenway officially opening Monday. Both sites are expected to administer 5,000 doses per day once fully up and running.The Boston Marathon, usually held in April, has been postponed to October. The in-person event was canceled in 2020, though it was held virtually.ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.Jan 30, 3:15 pmPentagon ‘pausing’ plan to vaccinate Guantanamo Bay detaineesAssistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby tweeted that the Pentagon is “pausing” the plan to move forward with vaccinations for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.“We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols,” Kirby said. “We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.”No detainees have been vaccinated yet, he said.ABC News’ Molly Nagle contributed to this report.Jan 30, 2:26 pmCalifornia surpasses 40,000 deathsHard-hit California has surpassed 40,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.At least 40,216 people in the Golden State have lost their lives, which equals about 1 in every 1,000 Californians.ABC News’ Matt Fuhrman contributed to this report.Jan 30, 2:12 pmNashville’s Music City Center opens as mass vaccination siteNashville’s Music City Center opened Saturday as a mass vaccination site.Those 75 and older who already have an appointment booked can get vaccinated at the concert venue, according to ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN.“We think that we’ll be able to do up to 1,000 first doses here and up to 1,000 second doses here a day, once we receive enough vaccine for that,” Metro Nashville Health Department Interim Medical Director Gill Wright told WKRN.Jan 30, 12:43 pmSouth African variant found in MarylandOne case of the South African B.1.351 variant has been confirmed in the Baltimore metro region, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.“The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely,” Hogan’s office said. “Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined, and tested.“The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other variants. The variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains,” Hogan’s office said. “Additional research is still required to determine the effectiveness of available vaccines against the B.1.351 variant. However, initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant.” The United States’ first cases of the South African variant were confirmed this week in two people in South Carolina.Jan 30, 11:23 amSouth Carolina confirms its 1st case of UK variantAn adult in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region has become the state’s first confirmed case of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control said.The person “has an international travel history,” the department said.The U.S. has confirmed at least 434 cases of the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant across 30 states, South Carolina officials said.“Experts agree that existing vaccines work to protect us from this variant, even if we don’t know just how effective they are,” the South Carolina officials said. “At this time, there’s no conclusive evidence to prove that the B.1.1.7 variant causes more severe illness.”ABC News’ Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.Jan 30, 9:21 amCoachella, Stagecoach canceledThe Coachella Valley Music and Arts and Stagecoach Country Music festivals, set for April, were canceled on Friday by Dr. Cameron Kaiser, health officer for Riverside County, California.Riverside County’s positivity rate stands at 20%. The county has 0% bed availability in its intensive care units.Jan 30, 6:30 amUS surpasses 90,000 deaths in JanuaryJanuary has been the deadliest month since the pandemic began, with 90,844 total deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.The U.S. coronavirus death toll stands at 436,810 — with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention projecting that more than 77,000 deaths could be reported by Feb. 20.Jan 30, 4:50 amBrazil variant detected in CaliforniaCalifornia is now the second U.S. state with known detection of the Brazil P.1 variant.Minnesota health officials confirmed earlier this week the nation’s first known COVID-19 case associated with the variant.Inside Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory, Dr. Benjamin Pinsky and his team found two strains of the virus: the Brazil strain and the U.K. strain, KGO-TV reported Saturday morning.“It’s in about 17% of the samples that we’ve sequenced,” Pinsky told KGO.Jan 30, 12:44 amCDC issues federal transportation mask mandate starting FebruaryThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a federal transportation mask mandate Friday night which will be effective starting Feb. 1. The mandate states that people traveling within or out of the United States must wear face masks while on conveyances and at transportation hubs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.This includes airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares, as well as subway stations, airports and other transportation hubs.Drivers, conductors, and other workers involved in the operation of conveyances must also wear masks at all times, the CDC says.“Conveyance operators must also require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel,” the mandate states. “Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.”Jan 29, 7:15 pmMore cases in past 2 weeks than 1st 6 months of pandemic: WHOThere have been more COVID-19 cases reported globally in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.Almost exactly a year ago, there were fewer than 100 confirmed cases of the virus outside of China, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted during a media briefing Friday. This week, the number of reported cases globally surpassed 100 million. “Now, vaccines are giving us another window of opportunity to bring the pandemic under control. We must not squander it,” Tedros said.At the same time, Tedros warned that vaccine hoarding will be a “catastrophic moral failing” that will ultimately “keep the pandemic burning” and hinder economic recovery.His comments come after the European Union publicly fought with AstraZeneca this week over how many doses it can expect of the drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccine. After regulators approved the vaccine Friday, the EU enacted an export restriction on doses produced in the bloc. WHO officials called the move “concerning” and part of a “worrying trend.”“Vaccine nationalism might serve short-term political goals, but it’s ultimately short-sighted and self-defeating. We will not end the pandemic anywhere until we end it everywhere,” Tedros said. “My message to governments is to vaccinate your health workers and older people, and share excess doses with COVAX, so other countries can do the same.”ABC News’ Kirit Radia contributed to this report.Jan 29, 4:19 pmCDC extends moratorium on evictions through MarchThe CDC is extending its moratorium on housing evictions through March 31, citing the health threat it poses. The order had been set to expire on Jan. 31.Bluu Davis speaks outside of City Hall about being served an eviction notice as she joins the Me…Read More“Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings — like shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement.ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.Jan 29, 1:26 pmFauci: UK variant will likely become ‘dominant’ in USAt Friday’s White House press briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United Kingdom variant will likely become more “dominant” in the U.S. toward the end of March or early April. There are 379 confirmed cases across 29 states of the B117 strain of the coronavirus, according to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.Fauci indicated that the evolving nature of the virus is something the medical community will have to continue dealing with going forward.“Even though the long-range effect in the sense of severe disease is still handled reasonably well by the vaccines, this is a wake-up call to all of us, that we will be dealing, as the virus uses its devices to evade pressure, particularly immunological pressure, that we will continue to see the evolution of mutants,” he said.Fauci also indicated that the fight to contain the new variants will impact the vaccine response. “We, as a government, the companies, all of us that are in this together, will have to be nimble to be able to just adjust readily to make versions of the vaccine that actually are specifically directed towards whatever mutation is actually prevalent at any given time,” he said.Jan 29, 11:59 amLimited indoor dining can resume in NYC on Valentine’s DayIndoor dining will return to New York City on Valentine’s Day at 25% capacity, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.Indoor dining was shut down in New York City in December.On March 15, in-person weddings can resume in New York at 50% capacity, or up to 150 people, he said.Jan 29, 11:00 amUS numbers still high but trends are encouraging: CDC expertsDr. Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. has seen a decline in the last two weeks of new cases and hospitalizations, which is “encouraging,” but he added, “the numbers nationally are still high.”“The pandemic is not yet over yet,” Butler told the Infectious Diseases Society of America on Friday. “By the time we end our 45 minutes together, roughly 100 more Americans will have died of COVID-19.”Butler stressed that the vaccines are safe and effective and that mild side effects are normal.“The available data tells us that more than half of people have reported some degree of tiredness and pain at the injection site, although most are able to continue normal daily activities,” Butler said. “Many also report symptoms such as headache muscle pain or chills after getting their shots, particularly in the first couple of days. These data also suggest that it may be more common among younger persons, and after the second dose, but again this is expected based on some of the data that were available from the clinical trials.”Jan 29, 10:47 amEU approves AstraZenecaAstraZeneca’s vaccine on Friday was recommended for conditional marketing authorization in the European Union for people 18 and older. The two doses should be administered four to 12 weeks apart.This is the third vaccine, following Pfizer and Moderna, to be approved by the European Medicines Agency. The AstraZeneca vaccine now awaits final say from the European Commission.Jan 29, 8:43 amJ&J single-shot vaccine 85% effective against severe COVID-19 diseaseIn another promising development for vaccine science, Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its COVID-19 vaccine — a single shot tested against a complex barrage of newly emerged variants of the virus — is 66% effective at preventing symptomatic disease and 85% effective against preventing severe illness.The U.S. pharmaceutical giant said the vaccine is also safe to take. Volunteers experienced mild reactions after the shot, with less than 10% experiencing fever, according to a company press release.The full data package will be made publicly available and will be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee sometime in mid- to late February.The FDA has said it will consider a vaccine that’s more than 50% effective, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine exceeds this threshold. An emergency use authorization could be given and people could start receiving shots before the end of February.Jan 29, 8:26 am‘We should be treating every infection as if it’s a variant,’ CDC director saysAmericans should now assume there’s already more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus circulating in their communities, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“I think we should be treating every infection as if it’s a variant,” Walensky told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.“That is the way we’re going to control this pandemic,” she added. “Quite honestly, we know that these viruses are going to mutate. They generally mutate to the advantage of the virus and that’s how we get these more dominant strains.”Walensky’s remarks come a day after the United States confirmed its first cases of the B1351 variant, which was first identified in South Africa and has since spread to dozens of other countries.“We had always been worried that they were here and we hadn’t yet detected them,” she said.The B1351 variant was discovered in two people in South Carolina who were not in contact with one another and haven’t traveled recently, which concerns Walensky.“So the presumption is here that they became infected from other people in the community and that there’s community spread of this variant,” she said.Walensky explained that it “takes a while” for scientists to detect a variant.“From the time of symptoms to somebody getting a test to that test being positive and to us being able to sequence it, that turnaround time could be up to 10 to 14 days,” she said.Although the CDC has “done an enormous amount of scaling up of our surveillance of these variants,” Walensky said researchers are essentially starting from the ground up because “there has not been a public health infrastructure to track these variants.”“There has not been money, resources to be able to do mass sequencing at the level of infection that we have in this country right now,” she said. “That is part of the American Rescue Plan, is to be able to use resources to finance a mass scale-up of surveillance for these variants.”There are concerns that the variants wield increased transmissibility and mortality, or that existing treatments and vaccines won’t work as well against them.“The current vaccines we’re still studying against these variants,” Walensky said. “What I will say though is we have a 95% efficacious vaccine against the current strain. Even if we have some diminution of that efficacy against the South Africa strain, I still think we need to really go ahead, push the vaccination, because this just is still yet another tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic.”Jan 29, 7:24 amRussia says it can supply Europe with 100 million doses of its vaccineRussia said Friday it will be ready to supply Europe with enough doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, for 50 million people in the second quarter of this year.The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for worldwide marketing of the vaccine, announced via Twitter that 100 million doses can be provided to the European Union — pending regulatory approval — once most of Russia’s population has been vaccinated.After being developed by the state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Sputnik V was controversially registered by the health ministry in August before starting crucial Phase 3 trials, with Russia declaring itself the first in the world to register a COVID-19 vaccine.The RDIF said the vaccine is now registered in 15 countries and that documents have been submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for “rolling review,” which would mean that the drug regulator is reviewing clinical trial data on a rolling basis. However, last week, the EMA said in a statement that “currently Sputnik V is not undergoing a rolling review.”Jan 29, 6:25 amMexico overtakes India for third-highest COVID-19 death tollMexico now has the third-highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world.According to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has registered 155,145 fatalities from the disease since the pandemic began, overtaking India’s count of 154,010 deaths.Mexico, a country of 127 million people, has confirmed more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19. Whereas India, home to some 1.3 billion, has confirmed over 10.7 million cases, the second-most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins data.Jan 29, 3:49 amUS reports over 164,000 new casesThere were 164,665 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Thursday’s case count is far less than the country’s all-time high of 300,282 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.An additional 3,872 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Thursday, down from a peak of 4,466 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.A total of 25,766,735 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 433,195 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. More than 24 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Job vacancies in property rise as political uncertainty clears

first_imgFollowing upbeat official employment figures for the final three months of last year, it has also been revealed that the number of vacancies within the property industry has increased on a quarterly basis.Employment data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that the UK employment rate is 76.3%, a record high, helped by increasing number of women and freelancers joining the workforce.There are now just 1.31 million people without a job in the UK, 7,000 fewer than during the preceding three months.The number of vacancies within the property industry is 11,000, an increase of 16% compared to the previous quarter but down by 2% year-on-year. At this level, the figures suggest, the property sector jobs market in the UK is healthy; the annual average over the past 20 years is 8,000 vacancies.But the uncertainty over the past three and a half years following the EU Referendum also reveals itself within the data.During the months prior to the vote in 2016 up to 15,000 job vacancies were being advertised within the property sector, but after the EU vote it dipped to just 9,000 as many firms reined-in their recruitment.Resilient“The creation of so many jobs in a period that was crippled by political uncertainty is perhaps evidence that UK businesses are more resilient than many had thought,” says Ayush Ansal, chief investment officer at Crimson Black Capital.“By the end of last week, the chances of a rate cut at the end of this month had increased materially, but now the MPC’s decision looks set to be on a knife edge.”Read more: How to get a job as an estate agent.   Ayush Ansal chief investment officer at Crimson Black Capital. job vacancies ONS Office for National Statistics (ONS) January 22, 2020Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Agencies & People » Job vacancies in property rise as political uncertainty clears previous nextAgencies & PeopleJob vacancies in property rise as political uncertainty clearsNumber of vacancies within sector rises by 16% quarterly figures show, although annual comparison reveals damage to property industry by Brexit.Nigel Lewis22nd January 20200556 Viewslast_img read more

County Renovates, Upgrades Courthouse

first_imgA formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated third floor of the Cape May County Courthouse is scheduled for Friday, May 3 at noon.There will be a tour of the third floor after the ribbon-cutting. The public is invited to attend the event at the courthouse at 9 N. Main Street in the town of Cape May Court House.The event coincides with National Law Day and marks positive changes for judiciary services in the county, according to a county press release Tuesday.The Cape May County Surrogate’s Office will be housed on the third floor and will gain needed space. The space vacated by the Surrogate’s Office will create more room for the Prosecutor’s Office.Cape May County Sheriff Bob Nolan will have an office on the third floor, providing a better presence for him and his officers who are assigned to the courts.The new space will also provide a new court room, meeting a critical need for ongoing court functions. Criminal Case Management will also be moved to the third floor, allowing for much needed space for the performance of its duties.The courthouse, built in 1927, has had the first and second floor renovated with upgrades over the past several years.Recent changes, such as bail reform and the handling of drug-related cases, have created a demand to provide more court rooms and offices.The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders decided to take a look at the top floor of the courthouse to determine a cost-effective plan to provide necessary space and meet the growing mandates.The completion of the third floor will improve the operation of the court system, the press release said. Cape May County Courthouselast_img read more

BB OPINION: VAT changes will still affect some

first_imgNev Clarke, VAT consultant at BDO’s Leisure & Hospitality Team, gives an update on the government’s stance on VAT and hot food.The takeaway industry was brought into the spotlight at the last Budget, when the Chancellor announced that perceived loopholes, used by some takeaway food outlets and supermarkets to allow their products to be sold effectively “VAT free”, would be closed.The existing law applies the standard rate of VAT (currently 20%) to supplies of hot takeaway food sold for the purpose of being consumed hot – i.e. it deems such products to be catering, which is a VAT-able service.Where a takeaway food product is sold hot, but only as a result of being “freshly baked”, this is simply a supply of food, a good, which is, in most cases, zero-rated.Under the original budget proposal, all sales of food above ambient air temperature would have been standard-rated, regardless of the reason that the item was sold hot. This would have affected profits for many retailers of freshly baked goods as it would have brought many more products, such as pasties and sausage rolls, within the standard rate.So the Chancellor lobbed this bombshell of a hot potato out into the public domain, only to immediately receive back a blisteringly hot, outrage-filled pasty of public opinion. In all seriousness, in the current economic climate, having to account for a sixth of takings to HMRC could very well be the death knell for some businesses, so it was understandable that they made their feelings known.After running his hands under the cold tap for a good long while, the Chancellor has come back with a fresh proposal, which would apply the standard rate where food is (in addition to the existing rules) kept hot prior to sale, advertised/marketed as being hot, cooked/heated to order, or sold in heat-retaining packaging.The changes come into force on 1 October 2012 and will not be applied retrospectively, meaning they will only affect future income and profits.Retailers of ‘freshly baked’ or other ‘hot’ food products should review the new VAT rules to see which of their products will be affected. It is important to bear in mind that, in certain instances, it may be possible to maintain and safeguard the zero-rated VAT status of products with only minor changes to current business models.If all else fails…If the revised proposals don’t help you out, there is still hope in the form of an upcoming case in the UK courts. A household name sandwich retailer is taking on HMRC regarding the UK legislation surrounding the VAT liability of hot takeaway food.By way of some background, Manfred Bog (and others, albeit with names less interesting to the UK VAT world) challenged the German tax authority’s view, arguing that supplies of hot sausages and chips and similar hot takeaway foodstuffs from snack bars and kiosks were simply supplies of prepared food and not supplies of catering services. The fact that prepared food carries a lower rate of VAT in Germany made this an attractive proposition.The matter eventually made its way to the ECJ, where the court essentially found in favour of Bog and friends. As a result of the ruling, the way has been opened for similar businesses in Germany to lodge claims for recovery of VAT incorrectly paid over to the authorities over a number of years.The UK’s current position on hot takeaway food is similar to that of the previous German position, in that ‘catering services’ attract a higher rate of VAT than the supply of most foods. As such, the UK takeaway industry has effectively taken up the baton and is now challenging the perceived error in law in the UK courts.HMRC is obviously not keen to encourage claims or litigation due to the vast amounts of money that they could potentially have to pay out. They consider that “the ECJ judgement has no implications for the UK treatment of supplies of hot food and businesses should continue treat their supplies in accordance with published guidance”.As a guide to how much money could have potentially been overpaid to HMRC, a business turning over £250,000 of hot takeaway sales per year could be looking to potentially recover around £150,000 looking back four years. For these purposes “food” includes drink, which opens up the possibility of claims for sales of takeaway teas and coffees, as well as other foods and BDO has led the way in advising on protective claims in this area.This opportunity for a potential windfall has resulted in many parties submitting refund claims to HMRC in order to protect their position in the event that the courts do agree that supplies of hot prepared food are not catering.The smart money is on this matter taking some while to resolve, and as there is a four-year cap looking back to make a claim for VAT over-paid, not submitting a claim now could potentially result in missing out on a substantial refund of VAT. For example, if the litigation is settled in 2015, any claim submitted at that time could only go back to 2011, with VAT over-paid in 2008, 2009 and 2010 being time-barred from any adjustment.Although there is no guarantee that the courts will give a favourable ruling, you do have to be in it to win it. Do you want to be the one to miss out?* This article first appeared in M&C Report, a sister title of British Baker.last_img read more

Senate reviews OrgSync

first_imgSaint Mary’s student senate met Tuesday night and discussed all the possibilities available on OrgSync, the website used to facilitate club registration at Saint Mary’s.  The student involvement and multicultural services office (SIMS) conducted the presentation on OrgSync. Stephanie Bridges, director of SIMS, said the purpose of the SIMS office is to help and support Saint Mary’s students. “We provide support for 70 plus student organizations on campus, which is a huge, huge job,” Bridges said.  The SIMS office is in charge of OrgSync, which was created at Saint Mary’s last year to give electronic support for student organizations. Bridges said SIMS wanted to make things as paperless as possible and make it easier to manage all the different things for which the SIMS office is responsible. “It has been tremendously helpful for our offices to navigate the processes that we have,” she said.  Assistant director of SIMS, Bianca Tirado, explained what OrgSync is and how to operate it.  “OrgSync is a way to help students connect with your organization. It’s also a way to create online communication so that it hits a broader audience,” she said. “The belle tower is the home page of OrgSync which is accessible to everyone in the SMC community.  “It’s a great way for you to access your organization portals. If you’re a part of more than one club you can access those additional portals as well.” Not only is there an internal website, but there is also an external website of OrgSync, which allows students to control what the external world can see. Student organizations can create their own external websites by creating a portal, and every new club can have a new portal on Belle tower.  Students can also register events for their organization on OrgSync, Tirado said. In order to create an event, a student would need to fill out the event request form under the SIMS portal. This event registration spurs the merchandise request process as well. “It’s best you make sure you do have a table [for your merchandise] and do it in a timely fashion,” she said. “If you want to sell something next week, it’s better you get it in as soon as possible.”  Tirado said, when selling merchandise, anything with a French cross symbol has to be approved by the SIMS office as well. The French cross is a religious symbol, so it cannot be obstructed by anything.  SIMS assistant director Graci Martsching said OrgSync is new but has already had a lot of success. She said SIMS hopes to raise awareness about the opportunities OrgSync and their office offer for students.  “The most important thing to remember is we are your advocates, we are here for you guys,” Martsching said. “You can always come and knock on our doors.” Contact Alaina Anderson at [email protected]last_img read more

Klau Center hosts speaker on Islamophobia

first_imgThe Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights hosted Dalia Mogahed, Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) in Washington D.C., to speak about Islamophobia on Friday as a part of their Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary lecture series.The weekly series, held on Zoom, features different guest speakers every week who speak on issues such as the Black Lives Matter syllabus, allyship and health inequity.Islamophobia, Mogahed said, is “anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination based on an irrational hatred and fear of Islam, and it is both individual and institutional.”Many people assume that terrorist attacks by Muslims are to blame for spikes in Islamophobia, she said. However, the data contradicts this assumption. Mogahed shared figures that show spikes in anti-Muslim sentiment are more heavily concentrated around elections, rather than terrorist attacks.“Islamophobia is a manufactured phenomenon, not an organic response to terrorist attacks,” Mogahed said. “The idea that Islam encourages violence more than other religions is refuted with evidence.”However, the media often spins terrorist attacks, focusing heavily on their association with Islam, she said. Mogahed cited one headline that said the majority of fatal attacks on US soil were carried out by white supremacists, not terrorists. This sort of language, she said, can further Islamophobia and intensify the public’s belief in a direct link between Islam and terrorism.Islamophobia does not only affect Muslims, Mogahed said. Efforts to restrict the rights of Muslims, via anti-Sharia or anti-foreign law bills, overlap 80% with efforts to restrict rights of other minorities via voter ID laws, breaking unions or anti-immigration laws, she said.“Even if you’re not a member of a minority group, even if you’re the victim of a hate crime, even if you think all of these things don’t affect you, they affect you because fear erodes freedom,” she said. “Fear makes us more accepting of authoritarianism.”The effects of Islamophobia, Mogahed said, make everyone less free and less safe. Her research with the ISPU proves that there are ways to combat Islamophobia.Any kind of bigotry, she said, tries to make the victim feel isolated. In order to address victim’s isolation, allies should build coalitions with people who want to fight Islamophobia, she said. People should also try to have meaningful conversations across the political divide. And another key factor, she said, is to demystify Islam as a faith.“According to our research, knowing about Islam is one of the strongest protective factors against Islamophobia,” Mogahed said.Mogahed’s lecture fell on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Three days after the attack, Mogahed said she was afraid to go to the mosque, assuming that there would be protests or backlash. Instead, she said, people of other religions and non-religious people showed up in solidarity to support the Muslim community.“I really mark that moment as a turning point in my life where it inspired me to dedicate my life, to dedicate my career, to building bridges, rather than building bunkers and isolating ourselves,” Mogahed said. “It’s really in this spirit that I do my research, that I do the work that I do. And this topic specifically, Islamophobia, is one that I think is absolutely critical to young people, especially during the time we live in now, especially during an election season.”For those who want to continue educating themselves on Islam and Islamophobia, Mogahed recommends taking a class on Islam, checking out the resources on the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding website or reading the book she co-authored with John Esposito, “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.” And, she said, get to know a person who is Muslim and accept the real Muslim in the room as the norm and the fanatic on TV as the exception.“The main message that I hope you will walk away with today is that Islamophobia is a threat to every American,” Mogahed said. “We can all think about it, of course, as something that impacts Muslims. But Islamophobia is a threat to every single American who cares about freedom and democracy.”Tags: Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary, Islam, Klau Center for Civil and Human Rightslast_img read more

CVPS, IBEW agree to five-year contract

first_imgThe International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300 and Central Vermont Public Service have agreed to a new five-year contract, the longest in company history, following interest-based negotiations.The new contract, affecting 216 unionized employees, was approved this morning and takes effect at midnight tonight, when the existing contract expires. The signing of a five-year agreement between the union and the company secures further benefits on both sides to expand upon, while strengthening the working relationship that presently exists, Local 300 Business Manager Jeff Wimette said.  The union and the company have varied interests, of course, but we struck an agreement that is good for both sides, as well as our mutual customers.CVPS President Bob Young praised negotiators on both sides, as well as employee Ross Schifo, who served as a neutral facilitator in the negotiations. Schifo, who has an extensive background in facilitation, mediation and organizational development, served as an independent party in the interest-based talks, designed to elicit workable solutions rather than divisiveness. Over the past several contracts, the union and the company have been able to move beyond our self interests and really look at things from each other s side, Young said.  That has allowed us to focus on customer needs together and ensure competitive benefits, working conditions and pay.The five-year contract is the longest in company history, the fourth reached through interest-based negotiating, and the fourth straight contract approved on the first vote of the union.  In order to approximate the market, some specific jobs will receive base salary adjustments of 10 to 60 cents per hour, and all union job classification wage rates will increase by 3.35 percent in the first year of contract.  In the second, third and fourth years, the increase will be 3.3 percent, and 3.25 percent in the fifth year.  To help control long-term costs and volatility, the parties agreed to end CVPS s traditional pension for new hires, and to replace it with an enhanced 401k program, pending approval of the CVPS board of directors.  The pension will remain in place for existing employees.  The parties agreed to maintain employee contributions for health care at about 20 percent of company costs. We are proud of the work CVPS s employees do every day, and pleased to reach an agreement that serves their needs, and our customers, Young and Wimette said in a joint statement.  As we demonstrated yet again in the recent ice storm, we are all committed to providing top-notch service, and a five-year contract will allow us to continue to focus on that together.last_img read more

UVM Hosts: ‘Sustainable Business: Practices in Support of People, Profit & Principles’

first_imgUniversity of Vermont,For decades, Vermont has been known for growing businesses that are worldwide innovators in clean energy and environmental stewardship. The state is also an epicenter for businesses, outside of typical “green” industries, that lead the way in social and environmental best practices while remaining highly profitable. The University of Vermont Continuing Education offers the opportunity for people to learn from these experts in one of the leading places for sustainability studies through its summer institute “Sustainable Business: Practices in Support of People, Profit and Principles,” a five-day summer program at its Burlington, Vermont campus, that takes place July 11-15.Attendees learn the design, organization and management principles, and practices that have made Vermont enterprises sustainable and profitable from the very entrepreneurs and business leaders who have forged the way. More importantly, they can apply what they learn to their own careers and businesses.”The primary goal of the Sustainable Business program is to bring business leaders together in Vermont so they can connect directly with the thought leaders at the university and throughout Vermont who are helping pioneer the redesign of business for the twenty-first century,” said Matt Sayre, director of UVM’s Institute for Global Sustainability. “UVM helps students establish a supportive network of like-minded professionals, and then return to their companies and communities as knowledgeable champions of positive change.”The program is led by Jon Erickson, Ph.D., president of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, Managing Director of the Gund Institute and professor at the Rubinstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Program at UVM. Featured speakers include Jeffrey Hollender, founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation and co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council; David Blittersdorf, founder of NRG Systems and president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables; as well as professors and practitioners from the University of Vermont, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Rhino Foods, Gardener’s Supply, Green Mountain Power, Ben & Jerry’s and more.Attendees go on to transform their careers. Program alumnus Brendan LeBlanc came to the program because he wanted to open one of the nation’s first CPA firms to conduct audits of businesses’ sustainability and corporate social responsibility practices. He had the background with positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fidelity Investments, Control Solutions International and Accume Partners. At UVM, he gained the knowledge, credibility and certification he needed to open his firm, LeBlanc & Associates. Now, he is at the forefront of measuring the financial impact of sustainable business initiatives and practices, working with clients, like Ben & Jerry’s and Stonyfield Farm, who he opened relationships with during his time at UVM.Like no other school, UVM leads the way in integrating green and environmentally responsible practices and has received numerous high rankings in ratings of green colleges by organizations that include Forbes Magazine, the Sustainable Endowment Institute, and Kaplan College Guide. The state of Vermont has ranked at the top of “greenest state” lists for several years running, including Forbes Magazine in 2007, by a Pitney Bowes Business Insight survey in 2009, the website 247wallst.com in 2010 and again by website Greenopia.com in 2010.For more information, visit http://learn.uvm.edu/sustainable-business(link is external). For questions regarding registration or fees, please call University of Vermont Continuing Education at (802) 656-2085, or toll free at (800) 639-3210.About University of Vermont Continuing EducationContinuing Education (CE) helps thousands of non-traditional students continue their education at the University of Vermont. Through collaborations with the various colleges and schools, CE offers courses and programs to help students explore their options to advance or change their careers. BURLINGTON, Vt., Jun. 08 /CSRwire/ –last_img read more

Decline in Asian coal prices a big threat for U.S. exporters, analysts say

first_imgDecline in Asian coal prices a big threat for U.S. exporters, analysts say FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The price on thermal coal sold into Pacific markets recently dropped below $75/t, signifying headwinds in a region home to several of the recent top growth markets for U.S. coal producers.While pricing on steam coal sold into Europe declined in the first quarter and has remained low, Asian thermal coal prices have started to drop as well due to high inventories, weaker Chinese demand for coal imports and lower natural gas prices, analysts told S&P Global Market Intelligence. Should Asian steam coal prices remain low, it could affect U.S. miners’ ability to sell into the Pacific market as contracts roll off.Gregory Marmon, a Wood Mackenzie senior research analyst, said the Newcastle prompt month pricing, which tracks the price on thermal coal sold from Australia’s Port of Newcastle, is at its lowest level since June 2017. He projects pricing will remain low for about the next six months, which means U.S. producers will struggle to compete in the Asian markets until winter demand heats up.U.S. coal exports to Europe have been “out of the money for some time,” Marmon said, and low Asian pricing will affect Powder River Basin shipments out of the West Coast and any Gulf Coast exports that move through the Panama Canal. Lower-cost miners in Indonesia, Colombia and South Africa, though still affected by the drop in pricing, will out-compete the U.S.“So, this is going to further limit U.S. exports,” he said.Domestic miners’ contracts in the region will be rolling off this month and next, resulting in “significant drops in exports,” Marmon said. Wood Mackenzie expects U.S. coal exporters to average about 1.2 million tonnes less per month in the second half of the year from the first six months.More ($): Pacific thermal coal prices drop to 2-year low, limiting export options to Asialast_img read more

JFK Ebola Screening Begins as Death Toll in W. Africa Hits 4K

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York U.S. border agents on Saturday began screening travelers entering John F. Kennedy International Airport from West African countries hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus.U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to perform health checks and identify anyone who may show signs of a communicable disease, officials said.The enhanced screening measures comes as the official death toll in three Ebola-impacted countries—Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—has eclipsed 4,000.“The expanded screening measures provide an additional layer of protection to the already established protocols to minimize the risk of another case of Ebola in the United States,” CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske’s said early Saturday.The fist person in the United States known to have been infected by the disease, Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia, died in a Dallas hospital on Wednesday.Kerlikowske outlined the enhanced protocols on Saturday. He said each passenger arriving from the affected countries will be escorted to a private area and have their temperature taken. If the the test indicates a fever, and if the traveler is visually showing other symptoms, border agents will then refer the person to the CDC for a public health assessment.From there, CDC health workers will determine whether the person:can continue to travelshould be hospitalized for further evaluation and testingis referred to local health department for monitoringBorder agents will also screen travelers entering Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dulles International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Newark International Airport. Screening travelers at the five selected airports allows authorities and the CDC to evaluate 94 percent of people entering the US from the three Ebola-stricken countries.The CDC said it began working with airports and health officials from Ebola-impacted countries since the beginning of August.American health officials have stressed that a deadly outbreak such as the one in West Africa is highly unlikely to occur in the US.The virus does not travel by air. The disease is only passed on through physical contact or when direct contact is made with an infected person’s bodily fluids, health officials have said.Health officials on Long Island in the coming days will hold Ebola training courses for emergency responders and health care professionals.last_img read more