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Cleaning agents

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Refugees to the rescue? Germany taps migrant medics to battle virus

first_imgFive years ago the arrival of a wave of refugees caused much consternation and fuelled support for Germany’s far-right. Now, the country is turning to its migrant community to plug an anticipated shortage of medical staff battling the coronavirus.The German government says it can double its number of intensive care beds, and even produce more ventilators but a medical staffing crunch is shaping up as the Achilles heel of its strategy to fight the coronavirus.In Saxony, the heartland of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), the regional medical board is advertising for migrant doctors to help tackle an expected rise in cases. Topics : But the coronavirus epidemic means medics of all backgrounds are in demand.Saxony’s regional medical board reported on Monday that 300 volunteers had responded to its appeal for help, including “many foreign doctors whose licensing procedures are not yet completed, whose help is very welcome.”As of Tuesday, there were 31,554 cases of coronavirus in Germany, with 149 deaths, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said. The government says Germany is still at the beginning of the epidemic.Shadi Shahda, 29, is one migrant medic ready to help.He came to Germany last April on a visa for highly-qualified job seekers and with three years’ experience as an ENT (ear, nose, throat) medical resident in Syria. But a language exam he needed to take this month to work as a doctor in Saxony was cancelled due to the coronavirus.He jumped at the medical board’s Facebook post and says: “I am waiting for their call … I was very happy when I saw that I could do something in the country where I am living.”center_img “Foreign doctors who are in Saxony but do not yet have a license to practice medicine can help with corona[virus] care,” read a Facebook appeal. The push to tap migrant medics in Saxony comes despite the AfD enjoying a surge in support in a regional election there last year, harnessing voter anger over refugees to come second behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.Merkel’s 2015 decision to open Germany’s borders to some 1 million migrants fleeing war in the Middle East – the defining moment of her chancellorship – was widely criticized by the AfD and even many of her own conservatives.A new film, ‘Merkel – Anatomy of a Crisis’, also takes a critical look at her handling of the refugee influx.last_img read more

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US to spend $625 million on super-computing research centers

first_imgThe US on Wednesday said it will spend $625 million over the next five years on centers to research artificial intelligence and quantum computing.An additional $340 million will be contributed by the private sector and academic institutions, bringing the total planned investment close to $1 billion, according to a release by the Department of Energy.The money will go to establishing a dozen research institutes focused on artificial intelligence and quantum computing, the DOE said. During a presentation at that time, DOE officials issued a report laying out a strategy for the development of a national quantum internet, using laws of quantum mechanics to transmit information more securely than on existing networks.The agency is working with universities and industry researchers with the aim of creating a prototype within a decade.”The foundation of quantum networks rests on our ability to precisely synthesize and manipulate matter at the atomic scale, including the control of single photons,” David Awschalom, a University of Chicago professor and senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, said at the time.Not included in the US announcement Wednesday were Google and Honeywell, which have claimed strides in quantum computing research.US manufacturing and technology group Honeywell earlier this year said it would bring to market “the world’s most powerful quantum computer” aimed at tackling complex scientific and business challenges.The company said it had achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing, which uses subatomic particles to speed up processing.Quantum computing is based on the use of quantum bits or qubits, which can perform trillions of calculations per second and in some cases outperform the fastest traditional supercomputers.The Honeywell announcement came after Google claimed last year to have achieved “quantum supremacy” by developing a machine outperforming the world’s fastest supercomputers.Google said that its Sycamore quantum processor solved a computing problem within 200 seconds which would have taken 10,000 years on a traditional computer.IBM  runs its own quantum computing program. “These institutes will be world-class hubs for accelerating American innovation and building the 21st century American workforce,” said US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.The US invests more than $500 million annually in AI research and is building on that effort to “advance American competitiveness,” according to National Science Foundation director Sethuraman Panchanathan.A Google official warned in January that in a technological race to the future, China could pour “enormous resources” into developing super-computers with quantum technology. US officials and scientists in July began laying the groundwork for a more secure “virtually unhackable” internet based on quantum computing technology.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Real assets, bonds boost performance at Swiss pension fund APK

first_imgIt also argued that the lifting of the euro/Swiss franc peg at the beginning of the year and the introduction of negative interest rates on banks’ deposits by the Swiss Nationalbank (SNB) had made a challenging investment environment even more difficult.“The challenge to generate the necessary interest rate at a justifiable risk level has been further exacerbated,” the fund said.Meanwhile, the CHF2.5bn Schaffhausener Pensionskasse (PKSH) published its first annual report as an independent entity.The Swiss government recently forced cantons to sever ties with their pension vehicles to increase transparency on the financing of retirement provision, and some of these new entities have struggled to achieve full funding.But the PKSH has already reached a 105.8% funding level, boosted by a 10.5% return last year – well above the market average of approximately 7%.At the beginning of the year, the SNB’s surprise move to cut the peg to the euro cost the fund 350 basis points in funding, although strong equity markets helped to make up for the losses by the end of February.In the Pensionskassen’s annual report, Rosmarie Widmer Gysel, chairwoman of the supervisory commission, drew attention to a “much graver” problem than the SNB’s decision.She warned that, “after a fat bond year, we are now looking at many lean years, as bonds have already realised the major part of their performance over the remaining duration in 2014”.Swiss government bonds returned around 9% in the PKSH’s portfolio last year.For 2015, the pension fund wants to continue to sell certain assets from its real estate portfolio in order to exploit the “very good” market environment.Additionally, further purchases “at competitive prices” are to be made.For more on how other Swiss pension funds are reacting to negative interest rates, click here The CHF9.3bn (€8bn) Aargauische Pensionskasse (APK) has reported an “unexpected” return of 5.3% for last year, pushing the funding level further towards 100% after the 97% reported in 2013.In a statement, the fund said it was surprised to see all asset classes, except commodities, make a positive performance contribution over 2014, given the market environment.At the APK, bonds returned almost 8%, making them the third highest performing asset class, just behind infrastructure (10.4%) and equities (12.9%).The pension fund said it was able to “profit from booming equity markets as much as our risk-bearing capacity allowed”.last_img read more

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PensionsEurope defends financial-stability role of pension funds

first_imgPensionsEurope has mounted a robust defence of the role of pension funds in the global financial system in response to claims from asset managers that they pose a risk to international financial stability.The association was responding to the consultation paper from the Financial Stability Board (FSB) on proposed policy recommendations to address structural vulnerabilities for asset management activities.In its paper, the FSB made a number of recommendations to address what it sees as four main ways in which asset managers are structurally vulnerable, with two of the four – liquidity mismatch and leverage – considered the most important.             But a fifth area – which the policy proposals do not address – concerns the potential risks to financial stability that stem from pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. Previously, BlackRock, Vanguard and industry groups had suggested pension funds should not be exempt from being classed as ‘global systemically important financial institutions’ (SIFIs).And the FSB has hinted that pension funds could yet be considered systemically important.But PensionsEurope, in its response to the policy proposals, said: “We agree with the FSB statement that pension funds contribute to the stability of the financial system thanks to their long-term horizon and due to the fact their investment choices are not significantly affected by temporary fluctuations of the markets.”It said some asset managers seemed to “generalise or overestimate” the risk that pension funds could pose to the financial system, in requesting the FSB/IOSCO to also include pension funds in the NBNI-work.And it noted that pension funds – as opposed to asset managers – were subject to extensive regulatory (prudential) oversight, based on the European IORP Directive, and on national regulations.“Controlling the assets does not mean pension funds reallocate assets in a non-prudent manner or are a source of systemic risk,” PensionsEurope said.It added that the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) – in its first European IORP Stress Test Report of 2015 – recognised that IORPs posed no systemic risk.On the contrary, “they are able to mitigate financial shocks and work as a stabilising factor for the financial sector,” PensionsEurope said.In terms of specific investment risks, the industry group dismissed references to “unproved potential for liquidity risk in some types of defined contribution (DC) pension funds”.Apart from a situation where the IORP allows a member to transfer the capital value of the accrued benefit to another IORP or insurance company, it said, “the member cannot withdraw his benefits from the plan – moreover, there is a requirement for the assets of an IORP to be invested predominantly on regulated markets”.And in relation to the use of derivatives by IORPs, PensionsEurope said: “We would like to reiterate that pension funds can only use derivatives to hedge risks and not to speculate – hence, the potential build-up of leverage is limited.”It concluded with a stern warning for regulators.“Regarding the use of less liquid assets, we recommend to authorities to refrain from over-regulating the pension funds sector, as requirements decrease the liquidity in the markets, making them more rigid,” it said.“A more rigid market may prove not to be resilient in times of crisis.”last_img read more

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Largest UK pension scheme names new investment chief

first_imgSimon Pilcher, incoming USS investment chiefBill Galvin, USS group CEO, said: “The CEO role at USS Investment Management is critical to the success of our investment strategy and in ensuring we continue to deliver financial security and flexibility in retirement to our members.“I am delighted to welcome Simon to USS, who not only comes to us with deep expertise of leadership at the highest level in asset management, but also with a firm emphasis on building a strong culture of inclusion as well as a focus on innovation.”Pilcher added: “I am pleased and honoured to be joining USS, the leading pension scheme in the UK. USS has a long history of progressive thinking and an outstanding record of delivering strong risk-adjusted returns.” The majority of USS’s assets are invested in-house on behalf of more than 400,000 members. The scheme recently put forward a range of new options to try to break a deadlock in discussions over the future of the fund, but these were criticised by the trade union for higher education staff. The UK’s pension scheme for the higher education sector has announced the appointment of M&G Prudential’s former head of institutional fixed income as the new chief executive officer of its investment management business.Simon Pilcher will formally join the £64.4bn (€74.4bn) Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) in October, subject to regulatory approval.He will replace Roger Gray, whose intention to retire after a decade as chief investment officer was revealed earlier this year.Pilcher will be joining USS – the UK’s largest defined benefit pension scheme – after more than 30 years in the asset management business. The bulk of this was at Prudential, which he joined in 1998, a year before it acquired M&G Investments. He had previously been at Morgan Grenfell for more than 10 years. At M&G Prudential, Pilcher led the fixed income and alternatives businesses for two decades, adding on the role of chairman of M&G Real Estate early last year. He stepped down from these roles earlier this year in connection with structural changes to pave the way for M&G Prudential’s demerger from its insurer parent.last_img read more

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Greensburg clergyman nominated to national board

first_imgWashington D.C. — Reverend Dr. Michael Layne has been selected to serve on the 2018 National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives, Board of Governors. Layne will help refine, improve and strengthen the second edition of New Guidelines for Tomorrow’s Nonprofit.National Director, Tracy Ebarb, said, “Dr. Michael has joined a working group that will peer-review a new set of capacity-building guidelines rooted in principles of moral agency, stewardship, freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, ethical practice, and transparency that supercharge charity. Dr. Michael is one of society’s guardians who use their expertise to ensure everyone experiences a life worth living.”Dr. Layne is the senior pastor at the FaithPoints Church, Diocese of East Indiana, Lutheran Orthodox Church.The National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives is the only nationwide membership organization in the country for executives seeking credentials in the art of nonprofit capacity-building. The organization is dedicated to developing new ways to advance the common good.last_img read more

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Joanne Marie Dever

first_imgJoanne Marie Dever, age 78 of Sunman, Indiana passed away on February 22, 2019.  The daughter of John and Mary (nee: Bergman) Cochran was born on January 6, 1941 in Reseda, California.Joanne attended Oxnard Union High School in Oxnard, California.  She married George R. Dever on January 6, 1957 and they were married for 62 years. Together, they raised four children. She worked as a secretary for the Carpenters Union 2042 and the Electricians Union 952 until she retired.  She was a member of New Testament Baptist Church, in Penntown, Indiana.Joanne enjoyed spending her days quilting with her quilting group at church and sewing.  She enjoyed reading her favorite books and had a talent for baking and decorating cakes. Most of all, she loved spending time with her family and friends.She is survived by her husband, George; children, John (Hiromi) Dever of Camarillo, CA, D. George Dever of Batesville, Douglas (Melinda) Dever of Brookville and Patricia Hinton of Orange Park, FL; 9 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Cecil Cochran and sister, Elizabeth Roach.A Memorial Service will be Sunday, February 24, 2019 starting at 6pm at New Testament Baptist Church in Penntown.Memorials may be given to New Testament Baptist Church.  Meyers Funeral Home is assisting the family.  Online condolences www.meyersfuneralhomes.com.last_img read more

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CWI Women’s T20 Blaze

first_imgGuyana register first win in second roundAFTER suffering a five-wicket defeat at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday, Guyana rebounded nicely, to thrash the Leeward Islands by 23 runs in game one of the second round of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Women’s T20 Blaze yesterday at Guyana National Stadium, Providence.Captain Shemaine Campbelle was in prime form once again and top-scored with a run-a-ball 31, with two boundaries, as the home team posted 146-7 in their 20 overs.Spirited bowling efforts by player-of-the-match Erva Giddings (3-12), Plaffiana Millington (3-15), Sheneta Grimmond (3-19) and Mandy Mangru (1-23) then ensured that the Guyanese did not disappoint the handful of spectators, including students, parents and teachers from Mortice Nursery School.Player-of-the-match Erva Giddings celebrates after bowling Shawnisha Hector. (Adrian Narine photos)After being set a target of 147, the visitors made a complete mess of the chase as they gave away their wickets easily. The home team bowlers piled on the pressure and, barring a last-wicket stand of 47 runs, did not allow the Islanders to score runs easily for most part of the run chase.In the first six overs, the visitors were reeling at 32 for 4 and the Guyanese bowlers kept picking up wickets, eventually bowling out the Islanders for 123.In a disappointing batting display, Rozel Liburd top-scored with 41 off 34 balls, while Terez Parker (26), Davanna Claxton (18 not out) and Shawnisha Hector (13) were the other batters to have reached double digits.Earlier in the day, the home team were dealt a quick blow – opener Grimmond was dismissed by Melicia Clarke for 13, at 16-1. However, the 26-year-old Campbelle then shared 39 runs for the second-wicket with Tremayne Smartt, who made 20 off 24 balls, with three fours.Rozel Liburd is bowled by Mandy Mangru (not in picture).She then stitched together another vital partnership with Shabika Gajnabi (13), worth 44 runs for the third-wicket. But after those solid partnerships, the home team failed to keep the momentum going and lost wickets at regular intervals.Campbelle, who has been in tremendous form recently, fell while trying to up the scoring rate.The Leewards bowlers then dried up the runs significantly. Such was the situation that after Campbelle’s dismissal at the start of the 14th over, the Guyanese could manage only 47 runs from 41 balls.Towards the end of the innings, Cherry Ann Fraser (15), and Melanie Henry (12 not out) propelled the team past 140.Claxton (2-2) was the pick of the bowlers and was ably supported by Clarke, Amanda Edwards, Saneldo Willett and Liburd, who claimed one wicket each.Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago beat Windward Islands by seven wickets.The tournament continues tomorrow with Guyana playing Jamaica from 09:00hrs. In the other two games, Barbados will clash with Windward Islands from 14:00hrs while Trinidad & Tobago and Leeward Islands will oppose each other from 19:00hrs.last_img read more

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Softball escapes with split against Huskies

first_imgWisconsin senior pitcher Letty Olivarez was a hard-luck loser in eight innings in game one of the Badgers\’ series against Northern Illinois. Olivarez gave up five runs, though none were earned in the 5-4 extra-innings loss, but earned the win in UW\’s comeback in the second game, a 4-3 victory.[/media-credit]With a single run deciding both games, the Wisconsin softball team split a double header against Northern Illinois yesterday at Goodman Diamond, bringing their record on the season to 12-26.The Huskies won the first game in extra innings, 5-4, and the Badgers battled back in the second game, scoring three runs in the sixth to win 4-3.In softball, each extra inning begins with a runner on second base, and the difference in the first game was that Northern Illinois was able to score that runner while the Badgers’ runner was thrown out at home plate. Although Wisconsin didn’t respond to a late deficit in the first game, the team responded in the second, rallying in the sixth. It was the bottom of the order that contributed, despite having been extremely unproductive up until last night.The two heroes in the second game were left fielder Kendall Grimm and backup catcher Dana Rasmussen. Rasmussen came into the game after Maggie Strange hurt her hand and struck out in her first at bat. She started the Badgers’ two-out rally with an RBI single and was driven in by Grimm, who had been hitless in her last nine at-bats. Grimm was then driven in by a Letty Olivarez triple to deep center to cap the three-run inning.“I’m really proud because I got it started,” Rasmussen said. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but everybody kept hitting behind me, and that’s what we need. We need people to hit behind each other.“It’s very important for me because I can hit the ball hard and far and I need to be able to show that in a game, not just practice so it means a lot to me to get that chance during a game.”Grimm felt the same way.“It was really big, it was a big hurdle for me to get over so I’m glad I got through it and I was just trying to hit the ball through, trying to get an RBI,” Grimm said.The Badgers’ No. 1 pitcher Olivarez took the loss in the first game, but she was awarded the win after coming on in relief in the second game, moving to 8-20 on the year. Olivarez went eight innings in the first leg and gave up five runs, though none were earned. She then went 1 2/3 innings in the win, conceding only one walk.The starter for the Badgers in the second game, freshman Meghan McIntosh, started off strong, putting away 14 of the first 19 batters she saw. However, a two out rally in the fifth gave the Huskies a 3-1 lead.“I’m sure they just caught on to her,” Olivarez said. “They waited a little bit, they didn’t hack at those high pitches that she threw. Sometimes that happens later in the game.”UW’s lineup went through a few changes as second baseman Whitney Massey left the first game due to illness. Massey actually started in the designated hitter’s position with Karla Powell on first, Katie Soderberg on second, Shannel Blackshear at shortstop and Molly Spence at third. For everyone but Powell, the defense was in positions they haven’t played at all this year, and that may have shown in the second inning of the first game when two errors led to four Husky runs.The first two batters reached base on errors from Blackshear and Spence, and Olivarez almost got out of the jam relatively clean before a two-out double cleared the bases and gave Northern Illinois a lead.Olivarez said the poor start on defense had more to do with nerves than anything else.“I mean we just let things get to us, it was one [error] right after another, and then I gave up a hit so it kind of just bit us in the butt,” she said. “But I think we need to settle down a lot sooner than that. We didn’t come ready and aggressive, each one of us.”The Badgers felt they could’ve done better in both games, especially the first, but they were happy with their resolve to come back in the second game.“The first game was basically a heart-breaker,” Rasmussen said. “You never want to lose, especially in the bottom of the eighth. We talked about it in the locker room, we really need to come out and make a statement, and that’s what we tried to do.”Head coach Chandelle Schulte was unavailable for comment, but the players were optimistic Strange and Massey would be available for today’s series. The Badgers will end their homestand today against South Dakota with another double header that starts at 3 p.m.last_img read more