Fighting words from former EPA leader

first_imgSpeaking at Harvard this week, former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy urged an audience of climate scientists and health experts to stop sulking over the Trump administration’s anti-climate-science stance, to get to work, and to speak out.“Get the mopes off your faces and pull up your big-boy pants,” she said.The long-term nature of climate change ensures that the efforts of one administration will have little impact, McCarthy said, listing several reasons why momentum for addressing the crisis will be difficult to slow. Chief among those reasons, she said, is work at the state and local level.McCarthy, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 until January, addressed an audience of about 100 at Jefferson Hall as part of Climate Week at Harvard. In a talk that was by turns humorous, grim, and hopeful, she insisted that the country is in a different place than it was when President Obama took office eight years ago. More citizens — business leaders among them — accept climate science, and supporters of action on the issue are finding their voices, she said.The average cost of wind power, meanwhile, fell 61 percent between 2009 and 2015, while that of solar declined 91 percent, meaning that clean energy has gotten cheap enough that even unfavorable government policies can’t kill it, McCarthy said. The real threat of such policies, she said, is that the U.S. risks losing a leadership position in the energy technology of the future.Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Director Michael VanRooyen spoke on the first panel regarding the mass migrations that will result from the effects of climate change. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer“The clean energy train has left the station. It’s not going back,” McCarthy said.To those scientists who fear politicizing their work, McCarthy warned that staying silent will make things worse. Recent proposals would add industry voices to the EPA peer review process and bar scientists who’ve received EPA grants in recent years. In effect, she said, opponents of climate action are moving beyond ignoring research and trying to block the science from even being conducted.“Your only way of not being political is to get in the fray because what these bills do is make your world political,” McCarthy said, urging scientists to talk in their role “as a public citizen who is well informed.”“Talk, as one human being to another, about what the science tells you and what you want to have done to protect your children and your children’s future,” McCarthy said. “If it’s important to you, it should be important to the person next to you who doesn’t know what you know.”McCarthy, who is on campus for fellowships at the Kennedy School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, spoke at an event titled “Human Health in a Changing Climate,” sponsored by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the Climate Change Solutions Fund. President Drew Faust offered introductory remarks, calling skepticism about science in Washington, D.C., “unfounded” and “unwarranted.”“This permeates public discourse across our country,???? Faust said. “Research that is essential to national and human progress is under assault, and the expansion and perpetuation of knowledge, for the first time in my lifetime, seems to be something that none of us can take for granted.”In addition to McCarthy’s talk, the event featured panels on climate change and human migration, climate from a physician’s point of view, and ways to communicate the health impact of climate.In the discussion on migration, Jennifer Leaning, the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, and Michael VanRooyen, head of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and a professor of emergency medicine, talked about ways in which climate effects — longer droughts, flooding, stronger hurricanes — force people to move.Leaning offered Syria as an example of that process. Internal migration was prompted by a severe drought, one that scientists say was exacerbated by climate change. Farmers moved to a part of the country less affected by drought and already hosting refugees from Iraq. The subsequent strains led first to protests and then to the violence that drove millions of Syrians out of the country and into neighboring nations.FXB Center for Health and Human Rights Director Jennifer Leaning discussed how the Syrian Civil War grew out of a severe drought that scientists believe was exacerbated by climate change. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerIn her talk, McCarthy struck a hopeful note, reminding listeners that states have significant power to enact climate-related solutions. California — with the world’s fifth-largest economy — has enacted a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, and the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative uses a cap-and-trade system for the region’s power industry.The president’s executive orders will have little effect on environmental rules that have been finalized, McCarthy said, as undoing those rules is as time-consuming as proposing them. In addition, she said, regulations that have been supported by sound science in the rule-making process can’t be undone without opposing science — and, if presented, that science will have to be explained in court.“I know what it takes to put those rules together. They ain’t got it,” McCarthy said. “We have not lost, they have just set a stage for a battle in a different location.”McCarthy acknowledged that Trump’s proposed EPA cuts would devastate significant functions of the agency. If adopted, the cuts would reduce the agency budget by a third, and the money for science by half. Though the rationale would be to return responsibility for regulating pollution to the states, the proposal would also cut state funding by 45 percent, McCarthy said. A possible bright spot, she said, is that Congress has a long history of ignoring presidential budget requests as it drafts its own spending priorities.last_img read more

Read More →

AP analysis: Federal executions likely a COVID superspreader

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — The executions at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, completed in short windows over a few weeks, likely acted as a superspreader event. That’s according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. It was something health experts had warned could happen when the Justice Department insisted on resuming executions during a pandemic. By the end of 2020, 70% of death row inmates were sick with COVID-19. Guards were ill. Traveling prisons staff on the execution team had the virus. So did media witnesses, who may have unknowingly infected others when they returned home because they were never told about the spreading cases.last_img

Read More →

Termite Time

first_img Scott Bauer, USDA, contact the USDA photo unit for high-res images Termite alaltes, also known as swarmers Swarming termites aren’t a signal to be frantic, says a University of Georgia scientist. It’s a time to make deliberate, careful termite control decisions. Many pest control companies are pushing termite baits as a new, easy way to kill termites. But they’re not a silver bullet, Forschler said. “There are no silver bullets when it comes to termite control,” he said. Forschler has tested termite control tactics, including the bait systems, in his labs. From what he’s seen, he’s not comfortable with relying solely on the popular baits or any other single control method. He tells homeowners to ask their pest control operator to use a combination of methods. Use all the tools available Scott Bauer, USDA, contact the USDA photo unit for high-res images Scott Bauer, USDA, contact the USDA photo unit for high-res images Termite fighting tactics Safety is important “Most termite damage is not sudden and catastrophic,” Forschler said. “Talk to several pest control firms. Weigh the control options, and look at price and contracts.” Termite control, he said, is more art than science. “Despite the best intentions, termite damage can still occur,” he said. “Read your contract carefully. Be sure of what kind of warranty is offered. And try to lock in a renewal rate for future years.” Termite society “If you see a swarm in your house, don’t panic,” said Brian Forschler, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Most termites native to Georgia will be swarming from now until early June, he said. They swarm when a percentage of the termites within a population become adults and fly away to start a new colony. Controlling termites DEFENDING THE NEST Damage to a nest of formosan subterranean termites brings hoards of workers and soldiers scrambling to repair the hole. Termites shown are four times actual size. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for pesticide registration, is playing catch-up with the new technology, he said. The EPA has ruled the baits environmentally safe. The agency hasn’t ruled on how well they work. “By the end of this year they will issue a standard for efficacy testing of termite baits which will be required by all termite bait registrants,” Forschler said. “The currently registered termite baits will have to meet this new standard of efficacy to keep their current registrations.” MAKING A MEAL OF PAPER Formosan subterranean termites are shown feeding on sudan-red stained filter paper. “Termite control professionals have a variety of tools in their toolbox,” he said. There are wood treatments, soil treatments, baits and moisture control. The best control involves all four.” Forschler said companies began marketing the new termite baits several years ago, and the pest control industry has quickly adopted this new technology. “Termite baiting tactics are less time-consuming to install, compared to conventional soil treatments,” Forschler said. “And they’re often less intrusive to the homeowner.” The termite baits appeal to homeowners, too, because they’re promoted as being environmentally friendly, he said The product literature provided with some termite baits, he said, contains misleading information on termite biology. And he should know. Forschler has been studying termites in Georgia for the past eight years. “The complex social structure of termites and their hidden lifestyle make them hard to study,” he said. “Yet, every year, termite researchers around the country are making new discoveries concerning termites.” Forschler said the way a home is built may contribute to termite problems. “A hundred years ago, houses were built off the ground so the wood was dry, and builders used wood termites don’t like to eat,” he said. “In the ’50s, chemicals were trusted so much that home builders didn’t worry about building in ways that protect the house from termites.” That trend, he said, has gotten worse. “Houses today are built of materials that make great termite food. And they’re often built in ways that invite termites,” he said.last_img read more

Read More →

Academy, FMA square off over amendments

first_imgThe FMA’s proposed amendment is titled “The medical liability claimant’s compensation amendment.” The ballot summary states: “Proposes to amend the State Constitution to provide that an injured claimant who enters into a contingency fee agreement with an attorney in a claim for medical liability is entitled to no less than 70 percent of the first $250,000.00 in all damages received by the claimant, and 90 percent of damages in excess of $250,000.00, exclusive of reasonable and customary costs and regardless of the number of defendants. This amendment is intended to be self-executing.”Justice Fred Lewis noted the ballot summary doesn’t reflect “that citizens of Florida may not be able to obtain counsel and have access to court because you’re going to limit it in such a fashion that no one will become involved in these kinds of cases, which is really the underlying purpose here, it seems.”Grimes responded: “I submit that’s an argument that could be made. But on a facial assertion of that, I don’t think it would be such that would be cognizable in this case.”Grimes said the amendment would benefit clients because it will allow them to keep more of the recovery.But Chief Justice Anstead said it also could be argued that it doesn’t benefit claimants at all “because now they may not be able to find counsel to represent them in these cases because of this compensation limitation. Is that not an alternative argument?”“I think it is an argument that you could present to the voters if it gets on the ballot,” Grimes said.Buddy Jacobs, representing the Bar’s Trial Lawyers Section — which is made up of both plaintiff and defense lawyers — said the amendment is “almost seductive” in the way it is worded.“We are on behalf of claimants; we want to make sure claimants get this amount of money and that amount of money,” Jacobs said. “But still you’re restricting the rights of the claimants or the persons who are the victims of malpractice; you’re restricting their rights to pay lawyers. Well, the folks that aren’t here today are going to see this on the ballot, and they’re going to say, ‘Well gosh, this is wonderful.’ It is almost seductive, says we are going to guarantee people to have these kinds of percentages and recovery. Doesn’t talk about whether they can pay their lawyer, hire their lawyer, or how much they get paid.”Mills contended the amendment violates the single subject provision and that the ballot and title are substantially misleading.“I don’t think there is any dispute that this amendment supercedes and affects totally for the future the area of medical malpractice and perhaps other things.. . ,” Mills said. “It also has effects in areas such as, potentially, comparative liability, joint and several liability. There are some broad potential impacts. The most important impact is I think the impact on the court.”Mills said the most dangerous precedent would be for the court to approve an amendment which has declared itself self-executing because Art. V, Sec. I, states that the courts operate the judiciary. Academy, FMA square off over amendmentsMark D. Killian Managing EditorThe Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments in what Justice Barbara Pariente described as “tit for tat” proposed constitutional amendments being advanced by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and the Florida Medical Association.The academy has proposed three amendments, being sponsored by its political committee Floridians for Patient Protection. One would revoke the license of any doctor who loses three malpractice or disciplinary judgments; the second would give patients access to confidential peer reviews and adverse incident reports (which now are immune even from subpoenas); and the third would require doctors to charge the same rate for the same services for all patients.Working through its political committee – Citizens for a Fair Share – the FMA’s proposed amendment would limit how much money lawyers can make in a medical liability case.Over two days of arguments June 7-8, the court reviewed each of the four amendments to ensure that they do not contain more than one subject, and that the ballot title and summary accurately reflect the content of the amendment.Late on the second day of arguments, Justice Pariente marveled that the lawyers involved advanced the same arguments on consecutive days, depending on whose amendment was before the court. Each side represented their amendments as simple and straightforward while characterizing the other’s as ambiguous or misleading.“I am having trouble distinguishing the argument today from the argument yesterday, as far as this seems like four amendments that are going to perhaps cause a great deal of litigation if they are passed,” Pariente said.Three Strikes Academy, FMA square off over amendments One of the AFTL’s amendments would amend the constitution to bar licensure of any physician found to have committed three or more incidents of malpractice. The ballot title reads “Public Protection from Repeated Medical Malpractice.” The ballot summary states: “Current law allows medical doctors who have committed repeated malpractice to be licensed to practice medicine in Florida. This amendment prohibits medical doctors who have been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice from being licensed to practice medicine in Florida.”Justice Charles Wells asked if that meant that if a doctor who had three “friendly suits” go to judgment 40 years ago and had no subsequent malpractice incidents would lose his or her license if the amendment passed. And in contrast, if a doctor who settled three malpractice cases in 1990s, without going to judgment, would be allowed to continue to practice.“That is correct, your honor,” said Timothy McLendon of Gainesville, representing Floridians for Patient Protection. He added that the measure is intended to remove discretion from the state agency that deals with licensing doctors and conceded, “it may inflict some hardship on certain people.”Justice Wells noted the ballot summary says doctors “who have been found to have committed three or more incidents” of malpractice would lose their license.“I think I would reasonably believe that, if a doctor settled three cases for $1 million each, that that person would be covered by this amendment,” Wells said. “But he is not.”That’s the point, said Tallahassee’s Stephen Grimes, a former justice representing the FMA, who argued the summary is misleading.“The voters could not conceive of the fact that maybe his family doctor is going to get disenfranchised,” Grimes said.McLendon said in order for past cases to count against doctors today, those old cases must meet the current definition of malpractice and, if passed, the measure would only apply to a “minuscule” number of doctors.Patients’ Right to Know Another AFTL amendment would give patients the right to see adverse incident reports relating to doctors and health care facilities they use, including those that could cause injury or death. The ballot title is “Patients’ Right to Know About Adverse Medical Incidents.” The ballot summary reads: “Current Florida law restricts information available to patients related to investigations of adverse medical incidents, such as medical malpractice. This amendment would give patients the right to review, upon request, records of health care facilities’ or providers’ adverse medical incidents, including those which could cause injury or death. Provides that patients’ identities should not be disclosed.”Justice Wells said he is concerned that voters reading the summary would be led to believe the amendment gives patients the right to review records of health care facilities “and that would leave the connotation that it is the health care facility that I was at, as opposed to it just opening it up to the world.”McLendon responded that, combined with the title, the summary makes it clear that “we are talking about consumer information and that it is meant more broadly than simply the acquisition of your own records.”“Why didn’t they simply say that then?” Wells asked. “Why didn’t they simply say.. . ‘all medical records are public,’ period? And that is what it says, right?’McLendon contended “the average voters of reasonable intelligence” will understand the chief purpose of the amendment is to make medical records available.Justice Peggy Quince asked who determines if the records being sought are adverse records.“This tracks the Patients’ Bill of Rights in the Florida Statutes, and in the Patients’ Bill of Rights it explains the type of incidents that would be adverse medical incidents, and our summary also makes it clear when it speaks about incidents such as would cause injury or death,” McLendon said.Wells, however, said nowhere in the amendment is the Patients’ Bill of Rights mentioned.McLendon noted the amendment also does not call for the creation of new records, just making records that already exist available to patients.Harold R. Mardenborugh of Tallahassee, representing the Florida Dental Association, attacked the proposed amendment, saying it should be stricken because it would substantially impact more than one branch of government.“The most fundamental impact is that it will effectively overrule the work product privilege that this court has put in place,” Mardenborugh said.“But isn’t that what all constitutional amendments do — override some pre-existing law in virtually every case?” Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead asked.“This requires only the disclosure of that which is already collected as a matter of law,” said Jon Mills, representing Floridians for Patient Protection. “This is a simple amendment directed to overruling an exemption.”Same Fee July 1, 2004 Managing Editor Regular News The third AFTL-proposed amendment would require doctors to charge the same rate for the same services for all patients and is titled “Physician Shall Charge the Same Fee for the Same Health Care Service to Every Patient.” The ballot summary states:“Current law allows a physician to charge different prices for the same health care provided to different patients. This amendment would require a physician to charge the same fee for the same health care service, procedure or treatment. Requires lowest fee which physician has agreed to accept. Doesn’t limit physician’s ability to provide free services. A patient may review the physician’s fee and similar information before, during, or after the health care is provided.”“I guess the question is whether, if a physician charges certain patients $1,000 for a service but ends up accepting from some patients, after the invoice goes out, accepting $800 for that service from one patient, does he then have to accept $800 from other patients, or can he accept more or less, as long as the invoice says $1,000 for everyone?” asked Justice Raoul Cantero.McLendon said the question hits at the prime problem that amendment is intended to address: “The practice of cost shifting, under which physicians discriminate between patients, in terms of allocating the cost, the changing of the fee for their services, and, yes, this amendment is intended to stop that practice.”“So if a physician accepts from Medicare, reimbursement that some may argue is less than the cost of providing that service, this would require a physician to accept the Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement schedule for all services rendered, regardless of the client’s ability to pay?” Justice Kenneth Bell asked.To which McLendon responded: “The doctors would have absolute ability to value their services. Once they have done so, in a context, whether it be Medicare or somewhere else, they could not charge anyone else a lower fee.”Bell, however, noted the individual physician does not set Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement rates, but are instead required to accept the reimbursement rate established by the government.“There is a rate that is set,” McLendon said. “But the participation by doctors is voluntary.”“So they would have to choose not to participate in Medicare or Medicaid if they did not want to be bound by this amendment, correct?” Bell asked.“If that rate was too small, then that would be one of the choices they could make,” McLendon said.Justice Peggy Quince also noted the amendment says nothing about HMOs or other third-party payers.Malpractice Feeslast_img read more

Read More →

Suffolk Pols OK Ban on Drones With Cameras

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County lawmakers passed a ban on taking photos or video from unmanned aerial vehicles known as drones flying over county parks and facilities in an effort to prevent violations of privacy.County legislators voted 15-2 on Tuesday in favor of the ban, which prohibits camera-equipped drones from flying over county parks and county buildings such as police precincts, courts and other Suffolk-run facilities. Violators would face fines from $250 to $500 fine.“It’s just like car insurance; you just want to have it in case,” said Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), a former Suffolk County police officer who co-sponsored the bill with Legis. Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport).Three drones were spotted near John F. Kennedy International Airport at the Queens-Nassau County line last year. Federal law prohibits drones from flying near airports.“Look at the forest fires in California where they were trying to fight the fires but couldn’t have the aircraft in the air because there were photography drones,” said Spencer. “Firefighting helicopters couldn’t go … because they would risk crashing.”Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has 30 days to decide whether to sign the ban into law or veto it.If enacted, camera-equipped drones would specifically be banned over county beaches from May 15 to Sept. 15.“People expect a certain experience on these public lands,” said Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue). “I think it would be very intrusive if people fly drones with cameras on a public beach.”“I’d love to see those skinny legs in shorts,” joked Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville).“You can see them, you just can’t record them,” Krupski replied.If enacted, those wishing to get around the ban on flying a camera-equipped drone over a county facility would need permission of the Department of Public Works commissioner. Anyone flying such a device over a county park would need a permit from the county parks department. Drone operators with a current Suffolk County police-issued press pass would be exempt from the ban.The ban is not without its critics.“I think this is treading on some constitutional issues,” said Majority Leader Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue), one of the two who voted against the bill. “You’re telling someone you can’t take a photo in a public place.”“I think there needs to be more definition on enforcement,” said Legis. Sara Anker (D-Mount Sinai), the other detractor opposing the bill. “This is limiting the ability to enjoy our parks.”Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) abstained from the vote. As someone who owns a drone himself, he reasoned that those actually involved in legitimate aerial photography over a couple of acres should not have to go through the laborious process of obtaining a permit.Spencer, too, said he received a drone as a Father’s Day gift and flies it regularly.“I see why enthusiasts are really enjoying this hobby,” he admitted. Still, he remains concerned “that someone can just pull up to any of our county buildings and be able to fly these things.”last_img read more

Read More →

Freeport Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Wounded

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A shooting left a 35-year-old man dead and a 40-year-old man hospitalized in Freeport this week, Nassau County police announced Friday, three days afterward.Jonathan Isaac and the second victim, whose identity wasn’t released, were shot on Fredrick Avenue at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, police said.Both victims were taken to local hospitals, where Isaac died and the second victim remains hospitalized.Homicide Squad detectives ask anyone with information regarding this crime to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.  All callers will remain anonymous.last_img

Read More →

Covid-19 may limit Saudi Arabia tourism expansion | News

first_imgGlobalData forecasts that Saudi Arabia’s international arrivals will reach 21 million by 2024. Ben Cordwell, tourism analyst at GlobalData explains that does not mean that Saudi Arabia cannot become a dominant force in the Middle East destination market.“The Red Sea Project is looking to establish Saudi Arabia as a luxury tourist destination which could attract many of the tourists that travel to Dubai each year, particularly high-spending travellers from the UK and China. – Advertisement – OlderMSC Magnifica suspends sailings until late December “Meanwhile, the capital city of Riyadh has the potential to establish itself as a premium luxury destination to rival Dubai.”Religious attractions and celebrations is already the main source of tourism in the country with millions of international visitors arriving to take part in the Hajj and Umrah. A more accessible Saudi Arabia could attract a greater number of Muslim visitors to these events each year.Cordwell continued: “Saudi Arabia is also home to historical sites dating back thousands of years, and so the country could become a hub for cultural tourism to the Middle East thereby diversifying the type of tourist that the country attracts.”Sports tourism is another area that Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in, recently hosting Anthony Joshua’s world title fight against Andy Ruiz. Hosting major sporting events provides Saudi Arabia with a major opportunity to market itself as a prime tourist destination.Cordwell concluded: “Saudi Arabia offers much that can attract a high number of international visitors each year. “The country has a number of initiatives in place to help achieve its ambitious tourist targets to 2030, but it remains to be seen how much of a limiting factor Covid-19 has on international arrivals over the coming years.”Image: KAEC NewerChile leads winners at 2020 Latin America World Travel Awards Saudi Arabia can become a regional tourism powerhouse, according to new analysis of the region. However, the country is unlikely to reach its optimistic annual visitor goals as the Covid-19 pandemic hits global travel. – Advertisement – The Middle Eastern destination is seeking to welcome 100 million guests annually by 2030, Fahd Hamidaddin, chief executive of the Saudi Tourism Authority, recently stating the country remained on track. However, this would mean a near six-fold increase in tourist arrivals over the next 11 years, from the 17 million visitors the country welcomed in 2019, argues GlobalData, a data and analytics company.An increase on this scale now appears overly ambitious, with the massive impact that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had on global travel and tourism. – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

Read More →

Bank Indonesia strikes $60b repo facility deal with US Fed as forex reserves drop

first_imgRead also: Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic“The Fed only works with a few emerging countries including Indonesia on such deals,” he added. “This shows a vote of confidence in Indonesia’s economic prospects.”The rupiah dropped around 15 percent against the US dollar in March, as investors pulled money out of emerging markets and fled to the safe-haven assets, triggering dollar liquidity shortages.On Tuesday, the currency appreciated 1.3 percent to Rp 16,200 per US dollar, while the yield on 10-year government bonds fell 4 basis points to 8.16 percent, the first decline in seven days, according to Bloomberg data. Bank Indonesia (BI) has reached a repurchase agreement (repo) worth US$60 billion with the United States Federal Reserve to boost dollar liquidity supply following a fall in Indonesia’s foreign exchange reserves in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Forex reserves dropped $9.4 billion last month to $121 billion as the central bank stepped up market intervention to stabilize the rupiah exchange rate amid heavy capital outflows, it announced on Tuesday.“This will be the second line of defense other than bilateral currency swaps in case we need dollar liquidity,” BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said in a teleconferenced meeting later on Tuesday, adding that the current forex reserves level was “adequate” for further market interventions and the central bank would use the second line of defense if necessary. BI has a $30 billion bilateral swap agreement with China, $22.7 billion with Japan, around $7 billion with Singapore and an undisclosed amount with Australia and other central banks to buffer the nation’s economy in the COVID-19 battle.Furthermore, the central bank has also sealed a $2.5 billion repo line agreement with the Bank of International Settlements and another $3 billion with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.Read also: BI to dominate ownership of ‘pandemic bonds’ as debt burden grows“Going forward, we see a higher risk of foreign reserve outflows mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bank Mandiri chief economist Andry Asmoro wrote in a research note.The ongoing pandemic, he went on to say, caused uncertainty in the financial markets, which made investors dump Indonesian assets and delayed the inflow of foreign direct investment into the country as the global value chain has been seriously damaged.“It is also causing a global recession that weakens major commodity prices, disrupting Indonesia’s export performance,” Andry said, adding that the health crisis had heavily impacted Indonesia’s tourism.“We expect the current account deficit to widen to 2.88 percent of GDP and the financial account balance to notably decline,” he said. “If the pandemic keeps getting worse, we see the balance of payments in 2020 booking a huge deficit.”A group of economic researchers at the University of Indonesia’s Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM UI) said that massive capital outflows during the COVID-19 crisis had an impact on slowing money supply growth in the economy as liquidity dried up.Read also: Indonesia’s COVID-19 stimulus worth 2.5% of GDP, lower than Singapore, Malaysia“Considering banks’ liquidity is a central factor in the money circulation cycle, particularly in terms of loan creation, the threat of liquidity shortages needs to be addressed immediately,” the researchers wrote.”Looking at the trend of capital outflows, which suppressed forex liquidity during the pandemic, the rupiah will still be under pressure until the COVID-19 pandemic tapers off,” the LPEM researchers said, projecting that the rupiah would hover at around Rp 16,500 to Rp 17,500 against the greenback this year.Topics :last_img read more

Read More →

First homebuyer rush to secure $20,000 grant by June 30

first_imgBeau and partner Lucy who are first home buyers. Time is running our to secure the $20,000 first homeowners grant which will revert back to $15,000 on July 1.IT’S a race to the finish line for first home buyers looking to secure the $20,000 Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant, which has assisted more than 250 locals since July 1.The popular building grant will be cut by $5000 on June 30, reverting back to its original sum of $15,000.So far, 258 first home buyers in Townsville have successfully applied for the grant, which has helped inject close to $5.2 million into local building and construction.With 512 dwellings approved by Townsville City Council between July, 2016, and April this year, first homeowners accounted for more than half of all new builds.Statewide, there have been 4100 grants approved, totalling $82.5 million, with Townsville figures accounting for 6.3 per cent of approved applicants.With 85 dwelling approvals between July and April this year, North Shore attracted the largest number of first home buyers. North Shore project director Andrew Astorquia said the last few months had been particularly busy.“We’ve noticed a big increase in first home buyers, more than last year, who realise that going from $15,000 to $20,000 makes a huge difference when buying a home.“Most of us don’t have a spare $5000.“There’s no doubt the grant has helped more first home buyers get their foot through the door.“I think it’s also important to note that the grant not only helped keep people in Townsville but keeps our builders and tradies working.”Townsville soldier Beau Gordon and wife Lucy are among the 258 Townsville locals spurred on by the $20,000 Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant.More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 2020“This is my second posting to Townsville and we decided that we wanted to own our own home, instead of renting,” Mr Gordon said.“We wanted to have a house we could come back to and live in if I get posted to Townsville again or leave the army. “Finance definitely played a part in actually getting the house sooner rather than later and the $20,000 grant definitely helped. With the grant reverting back to $15,000, we didn’t want to risk it.”Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the grant had helped keep the region’s building and construction industry afloat.“It’s hard to know what will happen after June 30, whether there will be the same uptake but with so many jobs on the horizon for us and all the green shoots we’re going to see, there’s no doubt that it will positively affect our building and construction industry well into the future,” Mr Stewart said.With just over a month left till the June 30 deadline, Mr Astorquia said it was not too late to secure the $20,000 grant.“All you need is a signed land and building contract which can be done overnight,” he said.“Of course those contracts are subject to finance so you have to make sure they are approved by the bank.“But besides that, it’s a pretty quick process.“So even though there are only few days left, you absolutely can still get it done and get approval before June 30.”last_img read more

Read More →

World’s first successful Penis transplant in South Africa

first_imgStellenbosch University doctors perform the world’s first successful penis transplant in Cape Town, South AfricaThe world’s first penis transplant performed in South African has been declared a success.The 21-year-old patient had his  original organ amputated after undergoing a traditional circumcision which left him with life threatening health complications.The patient received a new Penis after a grueling 9 hour surgery at the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town on December 3rd and three three months later Doctors say the man has regained all his urinary and reproductive functions.The organ he received was from a deceased donor, however Doctors had a difficult time trying to  get a perfect  donor, only once they fashioned a penis for the donor did they get approvals.Doctors at the Stellenbosch University say the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, has made a full recovery since the operation on December 11 and had regained all his urinary and reproductive functions.Circumcisions are performed on boys and young men as a rite of passage to adulthood in some rural parts of South Africa ans most parts of Africa.Experts estimate that there could be as many as 250 penis amputations a year in South Africa because of botched circumcisions.The university said it was planning for nine more patients to receive penis transplants.In 2006, a Chinese man had a penis transplant but his doctors removed the organ after two weeks due to “a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife”.last_img read more

Read More →