Cabinet has approved the merger of the National Youth Service (NYS) and the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), a move that is expected to increase the budget of both agencies to a total of $561 million.Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who made the disclosure while contributing to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 18, said 62 per cent of the expected budget will be allocated to projects that will impact an estimated 21,000 youth directly.She noted that the joining of the agencies is also aimed at reducing the overlap and duplication of work, as well as administration costs.“The truth is that when we got into office we found that the NYS had departed from its core mission and objectives,” Miss Hanna said.She said that unfortunately, the NYS’ sole role had become the placing of young persons in ‘internships’ at a range of state organisations, with the intention that they would, at the end, be assessed and achieve certification from HEART/NTA.“The reality is that only 20 per cent of these participants achieved certification, and less than five per cent of them were retained in the jobs they were placed in,” she said.She noted that over the last few years, she has been working to ensure that the NYS sought to fulfill its existing commitments, while reviewing its strategic focus to encourage among young people, the spirit of voluntarism and civic pride.Among the core objectives of the NYS is the creation of opportunities for self sustainability among youth; the preparation of youth for transition to employment and entrepreneurship; the creation of lessons and opportunities for voluntarism; being a catalyst for fostering of respect; and building social skills, a positive attitude, civic pride, a sense of responsibility and good citizenship among youth.The NCYD was established in 2000 as the Government department with responsibility for young people aged 15 to 24 years. It is responsible for facilitating the co-ordination and integration of programmes, service and activities geared towards youth development, and recommending and designing programmes to enhance and propel youth development.Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker
Story Highlights He said that Jamaica is at a critical juncture in its history where “all hands are needed” to take the country to “where we know we can go”. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is committed to working with the voluntary sector in shaping the future of the country. “We need these kinds of partnerships to leverage the incredible talents and skills… and resources. We need this to make Jamaica a better place,” he said. “Volunteerism is an important part of national development,” the Prime Minister added. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is committed to working with the voluntary sector in shaping the future of the country.He said that Jamaica is at a critical juncture in its history where “all hands are needed” to take the country to “where we know we can go”.He noted that strong partnerships involving Governments, private sector and the voluntary sector are the things that are needed right across the region.“We need these kinds of partnerships to leverage the incredible talents and skills… and resources. We need this to make Jamaica a better place,” he said. “Volunteerism is an important part of national development,” the Prime Minister added.He was addressing the opening of the Kiwanis Eastern Canada and the Caribbean’s three-day Convention at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, on May 17.Emphasising the role of the voluntary sector, Mr. Holness said that hardly anything of significance can be accomplished without its support.“Not because it is a philanthropic endeavour; not because it is voluntary… that doesn’t mean that it is free. What it means is that someone chooses to absorb the cost so that those who are in need can benefit. It is the ultimate expression of selflessness,” he pointed out.The Prime Minister noted that the Kiwanis Club has mastered the art of volunteerism, leaving an indelible mark on societies across the world.He said the organisation’s commitment to service is being felt throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica, especially in social and community-related programmes.Mr. Holness said it would be impossible to put a value on what the Kiwanis Club has managed to do over the years in Jamaica, noting that “the millions of lives that you have touched has not gone unnoticed”.“I would have seen basic schools… infant schools being repaired. I would have seen the health fairs and the number of students being assisted with scholarships,” he noted.The Prime Minister further cited the valuable leadership training provided from as early as primary school through the Kiwanis Builders Club, and in high school through the Key Club.“You have given opportunities to our people in both social and human capital development,” he said.
LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Advertisement “Hey Shomis,” said Shomi general manager David Asch. That jingle marked the start of every team meeting at the jointly-owned Rogers-Shaw streaming service, but former Shomi employee Cassandra James, noted something different in his voice that afternoon.“It was almost like he told us that our pet had died,” she remembered. She strolls into our meeting with her hands in the front pocket of her hoodie. After she reaches across the table to shake my hand, she recalls the day she found out that Shomi was shutting down.“I actually left. There’s this thing with my anxiety that I don’t like people witnessing my emotions,” said James. She left the room immediately after hearing the news and headed to the washroom to wipe away the tears and splash cold water on her face. Upon leaving, she noticed several colleagues lined up outside the bathroom for what she presumed to be the same reason.If content rules, Netflix is King At this point, Shomi had been operational for two years and was the first English-language streaming service to launch in Canada after Neftlix. Login/Register With: Advertisement Facebook Twitter
New Delhi: What is the reason behind child abuse? To find out the answer, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) will conduct a survey in the country including Delhi. The child rights body is developing an online system through which they can easily avail the report of cases related to crime against children from different stakeholders.According to NCPCR, whether pornographic is the reason or drug addiction led to the crime all these factors will be taken into consideration during the survey. According to sources in the recently held meeting among the senior officials of the child rights body a decision was taken to conduct the survey. “Our main aim is to know why children being assaulted and also the reason behind the increase in the cases. We will also create awareness regarding the laws meant for the safety of minor children,” said an official. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsThe survey will also focus on proper registration of the cases. Commission had found that in some cases the victim child did not inform his or her family regarding the crime. Sharing one such incident a member told Millennium Post that a girl studying in 10th class informed them about the incident of sexual abuse happened with her at the relative’s house. “She reported the case through POCSO e-box and told us not share the information with her family members,” said official adding that after rigorous follow-up from the commission an FIR got registered in the case against the accused who was girl’s relative. Yashwant Jain member from NCPCR told this newspaper that they are putting their all-round efforts in ensuring the safety of children. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe commission is also developing an online system through which they can easily get the report of the case from different agencies like the police. “Earlier we used to write to different stakeholders about the status report in the case and then they used to send the report. It was the lendy process now with the help of online platform the concerned authority will send us the report,” said an official. Priyank Kanoongo chairperson NCPCR confirmed the news regarding the online platform.
United Nations: The reform of the UN Security Council has been the most important and yet stagnating processes of the General Assembly, India said calling for action towards early reform of the UN organ that rightfully accords a “central and leading” role to Africa to ensure the Council reflects the world of today and not of 1945. Addressing a high-level plenary meeting to commemorate the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace here on Wednesday, Sanjay Rana, Director General of the UN Division Government of India, emphasised that multilateralism is in crisis today, at a time when the world needs it the most. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”Like every crisis, this crisis in multilateralism, presents an opportunity for all of us to reinvigorate our efforts. We should redouble our efforts not only in preserving what we have achieved but also in reinventing it as we move forward,” he said. Rana said the “reform of the peace and security pillar of the UN, i.e, the Security Council has perhaps been the most important and yet stagnating processes of the General Assembly”. The international community must take action towards early reform “so that Africa is given a central and leading role in an internationally formed new order especially in a reformed and expanded Security Council and so that the Council reflects the world of today and not of 1945,” he added. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KRana said this is essential to enable nations to effectively deal with the myriad of new challenges and threats facing the world today but also to do justice to the young generation who will inherit the fruits of our action or inaction. He noted that the conversation on multilateralism has not been easy and will continue to be challenging in the future as well but the international community will need to commit itself at every step of this process.
Gurugram: Ever since the voting process first began in Gurugram in 1952, the South Haryana region has always registered healthy voting percentage that has always been beyond 60 per cent. In 2014 for the third time, the Gururgam region registered a voting percentage beyond 70 per cent and there were expectations from the electorate the voters will break the previous record. Though there was a slight dip Gurugram on the final count registered an impressive voting percentage of 67.37 per cent. It was however tough for the officials of the election commission to collate the final data as there was a late surge in the voters trying to cast their votes. Till 8:00 pm on Sunday Gurugram had registered a voting percentage of 62. This was then revised to 67 per cent. There were also reports that the final voting percentage in Gurugram was recorded at 68.45 per cent but in the end, the figure was reduced to 67.37 per cent. Maximum voting was registered from the regions of Bawal at 75.64 per cent, Rewari at 70.64 per cent. At 64, Badshapur registered the lowest voting percentage in the nine Vidhan Sabha areas which are there in Gurugram. Interesting the areas of Mewat that had led the polls in 2014 was left behind the areas of Rewari and Bawal. Despite new schemes the voting percentage from these two sets of residents did not increase and much to the disappointment of election commission officials, a lot of glitches prevented the voting percentage picking up.
Redshirt-junior tight end Nick Vannett carries the ball into the end zone during a game against Maryland on Oct. 4 in College Park, Md. OSU won, 52-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorWith all the success the Ohio State offense has had in recent weeks, there is one spot where the Buckeyes aren’t up to par: the red zone.Coach Urban Meyer said his team’s play inside the opponent’s 20-yard line simply isn’t on track with the expectations at OSU.“It’s not very good at all,” Meyer said Monday. “For what we expect, it’s not good.”Overall this season, the Buckeyes have put points on the scoreboard 23 times in 28 trips to the red zone, coming out to a conversion rate of just 82 percent. Of those 23 scores, just 19 have been touchdowns. Those numbers compare to a 92 percent success rate for opponents, who have scored 10 touchdowns and added one field goal in 12 red zone tries against OSU this season.In 2013, the Buckeyes scored 60 times in 63 attempts — a 95 percent success rate — including 53 touchdowns in the red zone. That means the 2014 Buckeyes are putting points on the board in the red zone less often than last year’s counterparts were able to come away with touchdowns alone. Their opponents, meanwhile, were held to a 79 percent rate of success inside the 20 last season.OSU’s success rate was just over 71 percent in its most recent game — a 52-24 win against Maryland on Oct. 4 — as it went just five for seven in the red zone.Meyer said the success — or lack thereof — near the goal line comes down to coaching and not the ability of the players on the field.“It’s not the players’ fault, it’s our fault,” Meyer said. “It’s coaching errors, whether it be tempo, we just have to do a better job.”OSU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said he agreed the team’s red zone offense isn’t rolling at the necessary level, but noted the expectations are high when it comes to putting the ball in the end zone in Columbus, especially considering the success the Buckeyes have had since he and Meyer arrived in 2012.“I think our red zone, goal line or scoring touchdowns in the red zone is certainly not where we want it to be,” Herman said Monday. “Now we’ve set the bar pretty high finishing first in the country, I think second in our first year, first last year in touchdown percentage in the red zone.”The Buckeyes’ struggles in the red zone have them ranked all the way down at No. 72 in the country for red zone scoring percentage and No. 42 in the nation in red zone touchdown percentage. OSU was ranked in the top five for both scoring and touchdown percentage last year and 16th and second, respectively, in 2012.Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer said he has noticed the Buckeyes’ less-than-expected success in the red zone so far this season.“On offense, we’ve got to try to make sure that we’re capitalizing in the red zone,” Spencer said Monday. “We had a few times — last week I’m not sure, but I know the week before — we had a few times we got stalled in the end zone. Granted we’re putting up a lot of points at the same time, but there’s little small things that we can do personally and as a team.”Herman said one of the problems OSU has had near the goal line this season is making sure it takes advantage of soft spots in the opposing defense.“We don’t care what those weaknesses are,” Herman said. “We just need (to do) a better job of exploiting those weaknesses and not trying to beat our head against the wall into their strengths.”As players and the coaching staff have taken notice of the need to convert more often inside the 20, there has been more of an emphasis on it in practice — especially during OSU’s recent bye week.Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said the coaching staff focused on red zone offense more often than normal last week after the less-than-stellar showing against the Terrapins.“We obviously had three days of practice, I think we did red zone two of the three,” Heuerman said Monday. “We usually only do red zone once a week.”He said the Buckeyes also practiced “some live short yardage situations” that they wouldn’t normally.Herman said improvement on that part of OSU’s game will be key going forward, and added he believes it can happen if the Buckeyes continue to work toward executing every play throughout the game.“I think we’re capable now and moving in the direction of, ‘Hey, you need to play with great technique for 80 plays in a row,’” Herman said. “And I think that’s a fair expectation given the point in the season that we’re at.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to the field Saturday against Rutgers at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) holds the ball during a game against Wright State on Dec. 27 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 100-55. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorIn its last game before opening conference play, the No. 21 Ohio State men’s basketball team flexed its muscle in a 100-55 rout of intrastate foe Wright State.The Buckeyes built on a 47-18 halftime lead, outscoring the Raiders by 16 in the second half, as freshman guard D’Angelo Russell scored 11 points in a less than nine-minute stretch to help propel OSU in the blowout win.The Buckeyes (11-2) scored 22 of their 47 first half points in the paint as the Raiders (8-6) could not stop OSU senior center Amir Williams who posted 11 of his career-high 21 points in the opening frame.Williams said after the game that because of Wright State’s lack of size, he, along with his teammates, were able to take advantage of the size discrepancy.“The guy guarding me wasn’t as tall as I was,” Williams said. “So D’Angelo saw the mismatch right away and gave me a couple of early post feeds and we just played off of that.”OSU coach Thad Matta added that getting Williams involved in the offense early was planned as the Buckeyes head into Big Ten play.“Amir has practiced the last couple days just like he played there (tonight),” Matta said. “It was good to see him get the success and finish around the basket. He did a tremendous job for us.”Williams scored the first five Buckeye points as OSU started the game on a 10-0 run, capitalized by a three-point make from Russell.OSU’s defense stood tall alongside its inside offensive game, as the Buckeyes held the Raiders to just 20.6 percent shooting in the first half and allowed just six points in the paint.The Buckeyes also tallied nine blocks in the contest, four from Williams.Despite his big game, Williams said that whether or not he has the size advantage in a game doesn’t matter to him once the game starts.“I just like playing whether it is a mismatch or not,” Williams said. “Doing what I do in the post or on the defensive end…I think we just do a good job of staying within the offense and finding ways to score.”While it was inside in the first half, OSU used its outside game to its advantage in the second half as the Buckeyes hit seven of their 11 three-point makes in the second frame, three of which came from Russell.Every Buckeye that took the floor scored at least two points, aside from walk-on Jake Lorbach who checked in with less than three minutes to play.Redshirt-senior forward Anthony Lee did not play for the Buckeyes as he injured his ankle during OSU’s 93-55 win over the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks on Dec. 22.Matta said after the game against the Raiders that he is not sure how long Lee will be out.Russell led all scorers with 24, tallying 12 in each half. Russell finished six of eight shooting from the floor and made all of his six three-point attempts.Wright State coach Billy Donlon said after the game that it was Russell’s demeanor that impressed him at first.“What I am incredibly impressed with is, for a freshman, the amount of poise he plays with,” Donlon said. “He has a scoring mentality, but understands how to distribute.”Donlon added that ultimately it was Russell’s shooting that hurt the Raiders and even gave the freshman guard his own title.“His ability to make shots. He made three straight three’s on us in the second half,” Donlon said. “He is an absolute assassin out there.”The Raiders were led by freshman guard Grant Benzinger who scored 12 points to go along with six rebounds.With the first conference game of the season looming, Russell admitted he is not sure of what is coming down the road.“I don’t know what to expect. I am just trying to prepare the best way I can for it,” Russell said. “I am definitely looking forward to it. I just don’t know what to expect.”Matta said he has pulled Russell aside to let him know that Big Ten play has arrived.“One of the biggest things for freshmen is they have to learn how to take care of their bodies throughout,” Matta said. “It (Big Ten play) just keeps hitting you. He is going to work on his game.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to open Big Ten conference play Tuesday at home against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Tip is set for 1 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
FansEight people have been sued for attacking a young man and his wife in Khulna over their support to two different Latin American football teams.The police said an attempt to murder case was registered with Daulatpur police station on Tuesday, implicating eight Brazil fans, reports UNB.According to the case statement, clashes took place between Argentina and Brazil supporters over the ongoing Russia World Cup after both Argentina and Brail ended their first respective matches with draws.When Argentina’s first match ended in a draw on Saturday, Brazil supporters from Mashsherpara started to ridicule the Argentina supporters.And the next day, when Brazil too ended up with a draw as well, their supporters were met with a similar response.The statement said on Monday morning, Brazil supporters swooped on Argentina supporter Shukur Hawlader with sharp weapons. When his wife Minu tried to come to his aid, she was injured in the struggle as well.The victims were then admitted to Khulna Medical College Hospital.Dhalu Sheikh, a relative of the victim, filed the case with the police early Tuesday, said Kazi Mostak Ahmed, officer-in-charge of Doulatpur police station.The accused are: Liton, 25, Kalam, 32, Mona, 22, Rony, 24, Firoz, 22, Yeasin, 22, Bacchu, 30 and Roky, 24, of Maheshwarpara in the upazila.However, no one was arrested till filing of this report on Wednesday, said investigation officer of the case Sub-inspector Shahinur Rahman.
To celebrate 25 years of Dakshin in India, the restaurant is going to showcase some of the signature dishes and masterchefs’ talks about their wonderful journey so far. Dakshin opened in Chennai on 14 April 1989, on the Tamil New Year’s Day. The restaurant is offering a 10-days celebration that offers three course meal.Dakshin is the result of years of research and trials across the foursouthern states of India, by the team of chefs and culinary experts. This team sourced information and ingredients from noted and celebrated cooks in the region. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Gourmet experts from traditional south Indian communities were invited to sample the dishes as they were being developed resulting in some of the most delectable dishes from the region. The same day is also celebrated as Vishu festival in Kerela which is considered as the festival of lights and fireworks. However, Vishu feast or Sadya, which consists of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items is also the most enjoyed part of the festival. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixFor enjoying this delicacies by the Malayalees who stay away from their native place, WelcomHotel Sheraton presented the Vishu special thali for lunch. Starting with a welcome drink- more kachiyathu, the thali included kai uperi, chakkarai varatti, saivam payaru thoran, avial, olan, kalan, erussery, parippu thalichathu, kuthari choru (kerala red rice), plain rice, maduram, parippu pradhaman parippu thalichathu and a lot more was also offered.
Kolkata: A five-year-old boy sustained facial injury after an app cab hit him while he was returning from school on Darga Road near Park Circus Maidan. The driver was intercepted by police and taken in to custody. The cab was also seized.According to police, on Wednesday around 2:35 pm, Aditya Shetty was returning home from his school situated near Park Circus Don Bosco island along with his elder sister and mother. Their car was parked opposite school. The south-bound vehicles were given a green signal to go ahead. At the same time Shetty’s mother was moving towards the car with him and his elder sister. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeSuddenly her phone rang and she answered the call while moving towards the road from footpath.Just as she stepped on the road, an app cab coming from the side of Don Bosco island and moving towards Park Circus number 4 bridge hit Shetty.Though Shetty was the only one who was hit, his mother and sister also fell on road due to the impact. Seeing the incident, locals and other guardians gathered. The driver of the cab, Kailash Raut, immediately applied emergency break and stopped the vehicle. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedAccording to some locals, if driver did not stop, the girl would have run over as she was very close to the front wheel of the cab. Immediately, traffic sergeants posted took Shetty and others to a private hospital near Minto Park, where Shetty was admitted. According to the police, Shetty sustained facial injuries. Later Raut was detained. He and the cab were handed over to Beniapukur police station for further course of action.Sources informed that a case has been initiated against Raut for driving dangerously causing injury to public.
Register Now » Susan Bennett, 68, has an iconic voice, but most people don’t know her name.In an interview with Typeform, Bennett shared the story of how she became the first voice of Siri — and how she handled the news when she found out.You should check out the full interview, which includes audio clips and a timeline of human-computer interaction, but below are 10 interesting highlights.1. A different kind of vocal performance.Bennett started her career in music. She was a back-up vocalist for Burt Bacharach and Roy Orbison in the 1960s and ‘70s, and she sang TV and radio ad jingles. Today, she and her husband are in a band and perform together.2. Building trust in machines.In the mid-’70s, when ATMs first appeared, people did not feel secure withdrawing money from a machine. They were used to human bank tellers. So an advertising firm called McDonald & Little hired Bennett to give ATMs a persona called Tillie, voiced by Bennett.Related: How Siri Saved a Man’s Life3. For checking, press 1.In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bennett voiced GPS and automated phone systems. If you checked your bank balance or made flight reservations over the phone back then, you may have heard her voice.4. A month of gobbledygook.In 2005, she landed a gig voicing nonsense phrases for a company called ScanSoft — strings of words and sounds such as “Malitia oi hallucinate, buckry ockra ooze.” The company was working on a text-to-speech service, but Bennett said she thought she was recording scripts for phone systems. She did this for a month, then declined a five-year contract with the client. Meanwhile, ScanSoft merged with Nuance Communications, which later partnered with Apple.5. Interim success.Between 2005 and 2011, Bennett worked with clients such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Ford and Delta Airlines.6. The surprise of her life.She didn’t know she was the voice of Siri until after the feature was added to iPhone 4S devices on Oct. 4, 2011. Engineers were able to take the gibberish phrases she recorded, cut them up and form them into the entire English language. Still, Bennett kept her identity hidden for two years, until a video by The Verge got people wondering.7. Where credit is due.Because Bennett never recorded the actual phrases that Siri delivers today, she’s not responsible for any of the sassy responses the voice assistant is famous for. “It all has to do with the programmers,” Bennett told Typeform.8. The Her effect.Bennett has received thousands of phone calls and emails from people who say they’ve formed an emotional relationship with Siri. In creating Siri’s personality, engineers worked to make her sound more human than previous robotic-sounding voice interfaces, programmed sassy comebacks and avoided making her too persistently helpful to the point of annoying users.Related: How Important Is Siri’s Personality?9. Sidestepped.Apple not only never admitted that Bennett was the voice behind Siri, but it also never paid her beyond the hourly wage she received from ScanSoft in 2005.10. Fame without responsibility.The iOS 7 software and all subsequent iOS systems do not feature Bennett’s voice. “I kind of got the best of both worlds because I was the original, and I do get to promote myself,” she told Typeform. “When Siri starts leading us all into the sea it won’t be my voice.” 3 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. April 14, 2017
Spanish cable operator ONO has successfully completed a US$1 billion (€760 million) bond issue. Proceeds from the issue will be used to repay existing debt due in 2012 and 2013.Chief financial officer Carlos Sagasta said the bond issue was a critical step in strengthening the company’s capital structure.
The BBC has launched the first of a string of planned ‘virtual’ local radio stations, as part of a plan to share infrastructure and equipment across multiple sites and save money.BBC Radio Northampton is the first of four initial virtual station launches, with the studio’s underlying equipment and infrastructure moved to a central, shared, location. This will allow audio files to be stored, streamed, mixed and processed in a remote data centre, in real-time, said the BBC.The scheme is part of the BBC’s Virtual Local Radio (ViLoR) project, developed by BBC Technology, with BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Essex and BBC Three Counties Radio to follow as the next three virtual studio launches.“This is an excellent example of BBC innovation helping us find new, lower cost and more flexible ways of providing the technology our programme makers need to deliver great Local Radio to our audiences from the local community. Northampton is a first, but significant, step toward us proving the potential for a fully virtualised BBC Local Radio network, and I’m sure we’ll see the industry begin to adopt a similar approach,” said BBC interim CTO Peter Coles.
Global skinny bundle and direct-to-consumer revenues are set to grow eightfold to reach US$24 billion by 2023, according to Digital TV Research.According to the research outfit’s vMVPD and D2C TV Forecasts report, direct-to-consumer revenues are set for growth from US$1.3 billion last year to US$5.2 billion by 2023, while virtual MVPD or ‘skinny bundle’ revenues – will grow more three times more rapidly, up from US$2.8 billion last year to US$18.5 billion in 2023.Digital TV Research points out that vMVPD and D2C services are not mutually exclusive, with many vMVPD services providing access to direct-to-consumer platforms for an additional fee.According to the research, based on a study of 17 countries, the US will take the lion’s share of vMVPD revenues in 2023, accounting for US$12.34 billion or two thirds of the total. The only other country where skinny bundle revenues will pass the US$1 billion mark will be the UK, according to the research outfit.Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “We forecast 77 million vMVPD subscribers by 2023, up from 21 million at end-2017. The US will contribute 28 million to the 2023 total, with India supplying 16 million.”Regarding direct-to-consumer OTT TV services, Digital TV Research predicts that such services will have 44 million subscribers by 2023, up from 14 million at the end of 2017. The US will account for 25 million D2C subscribers by 2023.
In This Issue. * Greeks call for a June election… * Sterling losses safe haven status… * Chock full of data here in the U.S… * Major investors are favoring Gold… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Greeks are forced back to the polls… Good day. Another busy day on the desk yesterday, as the increased volatility in the currency markets had the phones ringing. Many of the clients calling the desk were worried about the recent drop in the currencies and metals. Some are wanting to bail out, while others are seeing the fall in prices as a good buying opportunity. We continue to remind callers that diversification is the key to long term investing success, and the best strategy is to make an investment plan and stick with it. But before I get in trouble with the lawyers, I better get back to the purpose of this letter which is to give readers a recap of what is going on in the currency markets. The Greek crisis jumped back onto all of the trading screens last night after the Greeks finally admitted they couldn’t form a coalition government, and planned another election in June. The problem with these new elections, are that there is a high risk that leftists opposed to the terms of an EU bailout will sweep to victory in this next election and send the euro-zone into a deeper crisis. Both of the parties who won the largest percentage of the last vote want to remain in the Euro, but promised to ‘renegotiate’ the terms of the bailout agreement. The second round of elections could shift the results further left, making the withdrawal of Greece from the Euro a higher probability. In addition to the Greek crisis, yields on both Spanish and Italian bonds rose yesterday as investors sold and sought safer havens. Moody’s Investor services downgraded 26 Italian bank ratings, citing Italy’s recession and increasing bad debt. It also warned that Spanish banks face additional challenges. And there is probably more bad news to come from the rating agency, as a Moody’s official said the rating agency is postponing possible downgrades on more than 100 banks worldwide as it assesses the fallout from JP Morgan’s trading losses. None of this was good for the euro, and the single currency unit approached the 12 month low of 1.2624 which it reached on January 13th. Bad news for the euro corresponded to an up day for the US$ which is being seen as the only ‘safe haven’ in the most recent crisis. The UK economy fell into a second recession, while Europe has avoided the double dip according to official numbers released yesterday. The pound sterling was being seen as a safe haven from the euro crisis, but the pound weakened the most in a month vs. the US$ after the BOE said the UK economic growth was likely to remain ‘subdued’ in the near term. Central bank Governor Mervyn King admitted the UK faced threats from the euro crisis as he released the quarterly report on inflation. “Concerns about the possibility of a disorderly resolution” in the euro area have “adversely influenced asset prices, bank funding costs, and confidence,” the BOE said in the report. “The MPC judges it likely that the possibility of such extreme outcomes crystallizing will continue to weigh on UK activity for some time, even if these outcomes do not actually occur.” . Shifting to the US, markets will be eagerly awaiting the release of the minutes from the last FOMC meeting, scheduled to be released early this afternoon. Chairman Bernanke said after the most recent meeting that he is prepared to ‘do more’ to boost economic recovery which the markets took to mean another round of quantitative easing. Investors will be analyzing the minutes of the last meeting to try and get a sense of whether or not QEIII is in our future. If there is any indication that another round of easing is in the offering, the equity markets would run higher and the dollar would get sold. But before we get the minutes this afternoon, we will also get a boatload of other data releases here in the US. Housing starts are expected at 685k, a slight increase from last month’s 654k, and the MOM increase is expected to be a much better 4.7% increase compared to last month’s dismal 5.8% fall. We will also get a report on building permits which is a more ‘forward’ looking report. Permits are expected to have fallen in April, down 4.5% from March levels. We will also see Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, both of which are expected to show a slight increase during April. Yesterday was chock full of data with the release of the CPI and Retail sales data. The inflation data showed consumer prices here in the US rose at an annual rate of 2.3% in April, just as a majority of economists had predicted. Readers know neither Chuck nor I put much faith in this ‘official measure’ of prices, and would rather look at John William’s Shadow Stats which pegs the price increases to a more realistic 10%. The retail sales numbers weren’t as encouraging, as sales slowed to a .1% increase during April, down from a .8% gain in March. Other data showed the NY state manufacturing activity improved, mostly due to falling energy prices, and business inventories were up a bit at a .3% increase. One of the most important pieces of data released yesterday didn’t get any press in the main stream media (no surprise there). Data showed the Total net TIC flows dropped $49.9 billion in March, but the newsies chose to focus on China’s increase in its holdings of US Treasuries in March. Our friends over at The 5 Min. Forecast had some interesting things to say about the increase: “Yes, China beefed up its holdings of U.S. Treasuries in March, according to figures out this morning from the Treasury Department. But if you widen the scope and go back six years, a couple of interesting things happen. First, the increase in March was so small as to barely show up on the chart… And second… China’s holdings peaked last July. Coincidentally, that was the last month before Uncle Sam lost its AAA rating. The numbers declined markedly through the end of 2011, and stabilized in the first three months of 2012. This is especially interesting when you consider how Chinese imports of gold grew at the same time Chinese purchases of Treasuries were shrinking.” You really need to see the charts to appreciate what our friends at the 5 are saying. You can see the full article at the following link. They point out that China is slowly accumulating Gold, but you wouldn’t know that by the recent price movements. The shiny metal dropped again yesterday, to a new low for 2012 at $1,526.97. It has bounced back up from its lows, but is still trading in the $1,540 range. I pointed out my thoughts that Gold is an excellent place for investors seeking a safe haven, but the recent trading patterns show that most investors feel it is more of a ‘risk’ asset. The correlation between gold and the dollar has been moving closer to -1 which would indicate a perfectly negative correlation (a negative correlation indicates gold moves down as the dollar moves higher). The 30 week correlation coefficient between the greenback and bullion is now at -.66, compared with -.24 in September. But some of the biggest investors feel gold will rebound from its current levels. Bloomberg reports that the median estimate of 11 analysts who track gold indicates the price will average $1,740 in 2012. Goldman Sachs commodity research team believes the Fed will start a third round of QE in June, which will push the value of gold higher. Billionaire George Soros raised his stake in gold according to a filing yesterday reflecting first-quarter holdings. Central banks are buying bullion at the fastest pace in five decades adding 439.7 tons in 2011, and they will probably purchase a similar amount this year according to the World Gold Council. Sounds like a good opportunity to increase metals holdings at good prices! Chuck is working out in Las Vegas this week, giving a couple of talks to packed rooms as usual. I miss attending these shows with Chuck, who is treated a lot like a rockstar at them. Fans constantly drop by the booth to shake his hand and pick his brain on the markets. He sent me the following reflections from the floor of the Las Vegas Money show: Most people here at the L.V. Money Show, believe like I do, that the back side of the storm is about to hit the U.S. … But then again, 250 of them were Pfennig Readers in this humongous room I was in yesterday! I said something to the people there when talking about the Pfennig… and it hit me like a brick! I’ve been writing the Pfennig in one shape or form for 20 years now! WOW! Who would have thought that those hand written notes to salesmen each morning would turn to this 20 years later! Shoot Rudy, even when I was “retired” after Mercantile performed ethnic cleansing on Mark Twain Employees, I wrote the Pfennig from home… Back then, Alex was only 3, and used to sit on my lap an pound away on the keyboard so that portions of the Pfennig looked like this : )*%PLKE#&^)*! Alex is almost 17 now… amazing how time flies, eh? But the point here is that long time readers that go back to Mark Twain Bank days, have been with me through a lot… I’m thankful for your loyalty… Chris again. Yes, I remember back 20 years ago when I would find a hand written note from Chuck on my desk when I arrived each morning. Back then we didn’t have the internet, so he would jot down his thoughts and leave copies on everyone’s desk. We started passing these notes along to the investors we were talking to via fax, and eventually Chuck switched to passing it out electronically. Then there was this. I haven’t commented on JP Morgan’s $2 billion trading loss, which really put egg on the face of Jamie Dimon, the outspoken CEO of the company. Dimon was one of the loudest voices protesting the additional banking regulations working their way through Washington. Yesterday I read a story which I immediately thought would be a great story for this morning’s “Then there was this”. The story which appeared on Bloomberg and was also picked up by our local paper was titled ‘Fed Conflict raised for JPMorgan’. The article points out that Dimon is one of three bankers sitting on the board of the New York Fed, as required by law. That’s right, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 actually mandated that three of the nine seats on the regional reserve bank board be occupied by bankers. The article quotes Senator Bernard Sanders who sees an obvious conflict in Dimons two roles. “It is an obvious conflict of interest for Jamie Dimon, the CEO of the largest bank in America, to serve on the NY Fed’s board of directors,” Sanders said in an emailed statement. “This is a clear example of the fox guarding the henhouse.” To recap. Greeks will be returning to the polls in June, and the currency markets are worried about the outcome. The Euro dropped again, both on the new Greek elections and a cut to Italian bank ratings by Moody’s. The Pound Sterling dropped, and may not be the ‘safe haven’ which some investors thought. We got a boatload of data released yesterday, and will get even more out this morning. Most of the data showed the US economy continues to ‘muddle through’. China is continuing to increase its gold holdings, along with some very influential investors. And I ended today’s Pfennig with a note from Chuck who is speaking to the masses out in Las Vegas. Currencies today 5/16/12. American Style: A$ $.9917, kiwi .7653, C$ .9903, euro 1.2710, sterling 1.5919, Swiss $1.0583, . European Style: rand 8.3487, krone 6.0015, SEK 7.167, forint 233.26, zloty 3.4336, koruna 20.1805, RUB 30.9695, yen 80.45, sing 1.2690, HKD 7.7695, INR 54.49, China 6.3218, pesos 13.8781, BRL 2.0019, Dollar Index 81.426, Oil $92.40, 10-year 1.78%, Silver $27.30, Gold $1,535.03, and Platinum $1,425.75. That’s it for today. Congrats to Mike Meyer who passed another securities exam with flying colors. The beautiful weather continued yesterday, and I got to spend some time with the kids outside in the backyard last night. Both of them beat me in a game of PIG, which meant I had to run out and buy them both frozen custard. I definitely need to work on my ‘over the back board’ shot which was my signature PIG winner! Hope everyone has a Wonderful Wednesday, and thanks again for reading the Pfennig! Chris Gaffney, CFA Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 www.everbank.com
In This Issue. * Pfennig problems. * China is not a currency manipulator. * India imports Gold! * China’s reserves fall, no worries. And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts. After A Down Day, The Dollar Rebounds. Good Day! And a Tub Thumpin’ Thursday to you! What an awful day, and I didn’t have to deal with most of it, poor Chris, who was in Miami for a conference did. So, front and center this morning, I apologize for the tardiness of the Pfennig delivery yesterday. Remember, in the letter yesterday, when I said, if I can get through the letter without breaking my laptop it would be a good thing? Well, I done broke it! And there I was in a remote location, and my backup was traveling to Missouri, and his back up is out this week, and I thought. OH NO! So, it eventually got out, thanks to Chris, and the people in Jacksonville, that had to figure out what it is a I do every day. So, our IT Guru, Jeremy, met me this morning, yes, that early, and got me going with a new laptop, and now he’s attempting to salvage what he can from my old one. So, all my funny words that I use, will have to be told to accept them with the new laptop, and so on. The Temptations are singing: The way you do the things you do, on the IPod, which is always a happy song, and a good one to get me going this morning, as I bumming from the Cardinals loss last night. Now that you’re all up to date with the goings on in my life, we can get to business. At the top of the agenda this morning, is the performance of the dollar VS the currencies. For the most part, the dollar has the conn this morning, pretty much like most mornings lately, eh? The dollar doesn’t have the conn over the Chinese renminbi, or Gold, but the rally in Gold is not much and could be turned around in a heartbeat. It’s not like we haven’t seen that happen even in the face of huge rallies. right? But yesterday was a different story, as the currencies, led by the euro once again like in the “old days”, pushed the dollar down. U.S. stocks got whacked, and the Treasury market rallied. Get this. 10-year Treasury yields are now below 2%!!!! BELOW 2%!!!! Let me tell you something about this HUGE rally we’ve seen in Treasury yields this past month. The bond guys (& girls) have their fingers on the pulse of the U.S. economy. They always have, and didn’t like having the conn in bonds taken away from them by the Fed, during their 5 years of Quantitative Easing / QE. For instance, for more years than I care to mention, it was a given that an inverted yield curve for Treasuries, indicated that a recession in the U.S. was on the way. And when Bond traders rally bongs, which means bond prices go up, and yields go down, it simply means they don’t see good things for the economy. So, what are the bond traders telling us now? Well, unless there’s outside interference from the Fed, which I don’t believe there is, except for their remaining tid-bits of QE that will be wiped clean at the end of this month, according to the Fed, what we have here in the U.S. is an economy that’s going nowhere, despite what the Fed members, the economists, and flag wavers for the Gov’t, tell us, the bond traders are not buying it. Of course I never did buy it. The bond guys could have just checked with me and I could have saved them the losses they incurred when Treasury yields rose from 1.80% to 3%… Because look at them now? They’re back below 2%… And that all plays nicely in the sandbox with my call last year that the Fed will not be away from the QE table very long, before they come back to administer more QE to this going nowhere economy. And when they do that, I feel that the markets will come unglued. They will feel as though the Fed mislead them, and will take away credibility the Fed had built up. That won’t be a good thing for the dollar in my eye. But for now, we deal with the Clingons. You know those clinging on to the idea that this is going to be a multi-year rally for the dollar. That’s OK, we’ve had to deal with these Clingons in 2005, 2008, 2011, and again now. And they pack a powerful punch when they have the conn, like they do now. And will continue to have until the rest of the markets catch up with what the bond guys are telling us. And what Chuck has told you for some time now. Well, the price of Oil is another indicator to me that the economy is in dire need of a blood transfusion. The price of Oil has dropped $10 in the past week and now appears to be ready to slide below $80. This drop has been swift and deep, and has my head spinning. Yesterday, I told you about my old Navigator, and how much I love driving that car, well, if the price of Oil keeps falling, thus the price of gas keeps falling, I’ll have to seriously consider getting rid of what I have, and going back to a Navigator! Go Big or Go Home! HA! And please don’t send me nasty emails about me wanting to drive a gas guzzling SUV. I don’t put 7,000 miles on a car in a year! So, I didn’t see it, because I was in airplanes and airports yesterday, but the currencies and metals rallied, with the euro about 3/4’s of a cent, but that’s all be wiped out this morning. strange happenings, eh? The U.S. Retail Sales data for September, was, as I told you to expect it would be, disappointing. With the headline Sales falling -.3%… And when you back out car sales, Sales fell-.2%, and when you back out car sales and gas Sales fell -.1%… And when you back out. no, I’m just kidding, but you get the picture I’m painting here, right? The data collectors just keep making adjustments until they get a number they like. Pretty soon, we’ll see something like this: Retail Sales, minus cars, gas, TV’s, stereos, cell phones, and fast food restaurants, were.. And no one will complain, and point out the ridiculousness of this. no one but me! Well, I told you above that the Chinese renminbi / yuan is the only folding currency with a gain VS the dollar this morning. I guess the Chinese breathed a sigh of relief, when the U.S. Treasury announced that China was a “currency manipulator”, and therefore allowed the renminbi / yuan to appreciate. The U.S. Treasury folks were feeling their oats a bit when making this announcement, and decided to go further and say that “China has shown renewed willingness to let their currency strengthen.” They also decided to say that they “believe the currency remains significantly undervalued.” Well, I have to say that I agree with the second part of the comment, but the first part. Hmmm. Well, if the Chinese told the U.S. Treasury that they are willing to let the currency strengthen then so be it. But I doubt the Chinese told them that. The Chinese are in no mood to share their thoughts on what the renminbi / yuan will do, as they have no idea what the global economy is going to do. If the Global economy is going great guns, then the Chinese will have no problem allowing the renminbi to appreciate along with the global growth. And vice versa, should the global economy slowdown, which, by the way, I believe is going to be the case for 2015. Why did I say that? Well. you know how I explained the bond markets above and its relationship with the economy? Well, the Aussie dollar (A$), to me, has always been the proxy for global growth. As the A$ goes, so goes global growth. And I’ve been very disappointed in the A$’s downward move in the past few months. And we can blame the Central Bank influence around the world. I talked at end about this Central Bank influence yesterday, so won’t spend a lot of time going through it again, but the CFA just printed their latest survey, which asked, “Over the next few years, will Central Banks succeed in reducing their involvement in markets while enabling economies to flourish on their own?” And 64% of the respondents said “NO”, while 18% said “yes” and 18% weren’t sure. These CFA guys are smart cookies folks. Our Chris Gaffney is a CFA, and that’s how I get to see these notes from the CFA. I tell you about the CFA guys just so you get the picture that these guys think like me, that this Central Bank influence is not going away. Speaking of Central Bank influence, I would have to think that the risk of intervention to sell the N.Z. dollar/ kiwi by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), is still high. and that’s why kiwi just can’t seem to catch a bid these days, even though we all know, well, at least I think we all know, that the RBNZ is still looking at 2 to 3 more rate hikes next years. Usually knowing that would get market participants all lathered up, and buying on any dips. But having this RBNZ threat of intervention hanging over kiwi like the Sword of Damocles is too much for the currency buyers to handle right now. And the Queens of Central Bank influence (The U.S. Fed is King) the Bank of Japan (BOJ) and its Gov., Kuroda, was out last night letting the markets know that he’s not happy with yen strength. Of course he camouflaged that by saying that “volatility in either direction is FX markets is not welcome.” He doesn’t fool me, and I know what he’s talking about. yen has rallied from 110 just 10 days ago to a 105 handle, that’s a cool 4.5% increase. And that’s not what the BOJ, or the Japanese Gov’t want to see the yen doing. Remember, they want a weak yen to introduce inflation into their economy. Same B.S. that most Central Banks are pulling so they can run away from deflation. Japan remains a basket case to me folks, and therefore this rally to 105, is just window dressing, or curb appeal, or even better yet, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic! There was some other news out of China overnight. China’s currency reserves were reported to have fallen below $4 Trillion, to $3.89 Trillion This is the biggest QTR to QTR drop on record. But before you go acting like Chicken Little, let me tell you how this is all calculated. You see, when you hold currencies in reserves or in your account, the value of the account will fluctuate with the value of the currencies you hold, you may or may not add or subtract any money but your value will go up or down, and that’s what probably is the bulk of the move down in Chinese currency reserves, that the currencies they hold have lost value. And so their balance slips downward. So, move along, these are not the droids you’re looking for. Germany’s Central Bank, The Bundesbank, and its President. Weidmann, will speak today on something that is quite up to date and of mind. “The Changing International Monetary System”. Remember Weidmann has been European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi’s biggest nemesis. So, look for Weidmann to take this opportunity to take a shot at all-out QE, which Draghi wants to implement in the Eurozone.. The A$ has lost a full cent this morning. The move is huge and crazy.. It was reported overnight that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) sold 910 Million A$’s last month, but the RBA says it was a part of their normal Gov’t dealings to iron out trade flows. Hmmm. I think the markets don’t believe them and believe that this was nothing more than FX intervention, and therefore decided that if the RBA is selling A$’s then they should too! There’s another story this morning on the A$’s weakness that is interesting. The Bloomberg has a story on how Japanese household investors are losing their appetite for A$ bonds. And looking elsewhere for yield differential, and guess where they have been going? You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you. According to the Bloomberg story this morning, “investors are rotating out of A$ bond into the Turkish lira. That’s right. Turkey! I think that plays nicely in the sandbox with what I printed the other day from my good friend, Dennis Miller, as he talked about how seniors here in the U.S. have had to switch out of safe investments into risky stocks and bonds. Well, isn’t that the same thing the Japanese household investors are doing? Why, yes it is! The U.S. Data Cupboard is chock-full-o-data today, and has two of my fave prints, Capacity Utilization and Industrial Production. These two might recover a bit from the August print which was negative, but the risk here is that they don’t. We’ll also see the TIC Flows, which is a pulse of how much foreigners are buying U.S. bonds. which the last time this printed it was a negative number! And then there are a bunch of 2nd and 3rd tier reports that will print that the markets will shrug off. And Gold. Well, I’ve been on track getting you the import numbers of China and India this past week, and today, I received word that India’s Gold imports jumped 450% to $3.75 Billion in September. VS $682 Million a year ago. The thing to think about here is that India’s Trade Deficit which had been falling because of the lack of Gold Imports is on the rise again. And that’s not a good thing, for India, but that’s not what I wanted to highlight here, I wanted to highlight the that India still desires physical Gold. yes, the price has dropped tremendously in the past couple of years, but does that mean we should forget about all the risks in the markets and throw our Gold out? I don’t think so, folks. For What It’s Worth. I hate to beat a story to death folks. but this is something I’ve been harping about for a year now, and if finally appears that others are catching on. Today’s it’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard over at the U.K. Telegraph. You can read the whole article here, I have a couple of snippets for you that touch on what I want. you can read it all here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11165982/World-economy-so-damaged-it-may-need-permanent-QE.html “Combined tightening by the United States and China has done its worst. Global liquidity is evaporating. What looked like a gentle tap on the brakes by the two monetary superpowers has proved too much for a fragile world economy, still locked in “secular stagnation”. The latest investor survey by Bank of America shows that fund managers no longer believe the European Central Bank will step into the breach with quantitative easing of its own, at least on a worthwhile scale. Markets are suddenly prey to the disturbing thought that the five-and-a-half year expansion since the Lehman crisis may already be over, before Europe has regained its prior level of output. That is the chief reason why the price of Brent crude has crashed by 25pc since June. It is why yields on 10-year US Treasuries have fallen to 1.96pc, and why German Bunds are pricing in perma-slump at historic lows of 0.81pc this week. We will find out soon whether or not this a replay of 1937 when the authorities drained stimulus too early, and set off the second leg of the Great Depression.” Chuck again. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But I love to be the one to tell you there is going to be bad news before it hits, so you can take precautionary measures to heart. Or you can laugh at me, and call me the boy who cried wolf. But this lack of liquidity is coming folks. I can feel it in my bones. even the titanic one that acts as my femur! To recap. Chuck goes through a long explanation of why the Pfennig was so late yesterday, but thanks to Chris, and others it finally got out. And then the currency rally yesterday, has ended badly overnight and this morning with the dollar back in control. The dollar fell yesterday on the very disappointing U.S. Retail Sales report.. China was not named a currency manipulator, and Chuck thinks they breathed a sigh of relief (NOT!) but allowed the renminbi to appreciate overnight. And India is back to importing, at least for one month, large sums of Gold. The physical metal is still in demand, folks.. Currencies today 10/16/14. American Style: A$ .8705, kiwi .7905, C$ .8825, euro 1.2740, sterling 1.5990, Swiss $ 1.0565, . European Style: rand 11.1635, krone 6.6445, SEK 7.2185, forint 242.37, zloty 3.3175, koruna 21.6045, RUB 41.10, yen 105.85, sing 1.2750, HKD 7.7565, INR 61.83, China 6.1395, pesos 13.63, BRL 2.4865, Dollar Index 85.30, Oil $80.39, 10-year 1.98%, Silver $17.35, Platinum $1,241.50, Palladium $745.75, and Gold. $1,238.59 That’s it for today. Well, backs up against the wall for my Cardinals. 2 years ago, we had the Giants at 3 games to 1, and had Game 5 at home and allowed them back in, and they went on to win in 7. Time to reverse the tables, eh? Again I want to thank Chris for all his work getting the Pfennig out yesterday while he was in Miami (but I don’t want to go to Miami HA!) and the Jacksonville folks who also made it finally happen. We’ll see in a couple of minutes if I can get it out the door. I brought the sunshine from Florida back to St. Louis with me yesterday, a little warmer temps, as the St. Louis area has been weather fit for a duck, they tell me! Glad I missed that! I had a present waiting for me when I came in today. Thank you Jane for the wonderful gift and nice note to me! Always nice to return to gifts! A few of the people, Suzan and April Showers have stopped by to tell me Welcome Back. They didn’t say they missed me though, so I guess I wasn’t gone long enough! Next time, I’ll take care of that! HA! So, let’s go out and make this a Tub Thumpin’ Thursday, eh? The sun is coming up, it’s going to be a glorious day! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets
The medieval plague known as the Black Death is making headlines this month.In Mongolia, a couple died of bubonic plague on May 1 after reportedly hunting marmots, large rodents that can harbor the bacterium that causes the disease, and eating the animal’s raw meat and kidneys – which some Mongolians believe is good for their health. This is the same illness that killed an estimated 50 million people across three continents in the 1300s. Nowadays, the plague still crops up from time to time, although antibiotics will treat it if taken soon after exposure or the appearance of symptoms. Left untreated, the plague causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and open, infected sores — and can kill a person within a few days.The ethnic Kazakh couple died in Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia’s westernmost province bordering Russia and China. It is not clear what treatment they received, if any.The incident prompted local panic. The government ordered a quarantine for six days for the region, preventing scores of tourists from leaving the area. At least one aircraft was examined by health officials in contamination suits. After no new cases appeared by Monday, the quarantine was lifted.Every year, according to the U.S. National Center for Zoonotic Disease, at least one person in Mongolia dies from the plague, usually after coming into contact with marmots.But they probably don’t contract the disease from eating the animal’s flesh, says David Markman, a researcher at Colorado State University. A person’s stomach typically kills a lot of harmful bacteria before the germs are able to cause an infection, Markman says. Yersinia pestis, the bacterium causing the plague, lives in infected animals, particularly rodents, and is usually spread by fleas. “The vast majority of human cases are a result of contracting it from a flea bite,” Markman says — just as mosquitoes transmit malaria from person to person.A Plague PrimerThe plague swept Europe 700 years ago, killing a third of the population. It was called the Black Death, possibly for dark patches caused by bleeding under the skin.It killed millions in China and Hong Kong in the late 1800s before scientists began associating the illness with rats and eliminating rodent populations.The plague comes in three forms. If a person gets bitten by an infected flea, they’d most likely develop bubonic plague, named for the painful lumps, or “buboes,” where the bacteria multiply. The bacteria can also get into the bloodstream, causing septicemic (or blood poisoning) plague, and can also spread to the lungs, causing pneumonic plague. The World Health Organization considers this variant to be one of the deadliest infectious diseases because it is highly contagious – spread by coughing — and the fatality rate is 100 percent if untreated.Early symptoms of the plague can mimic the flu — including lethargy and swelling or stiffness in joints and lymph nodes. If someone begins exhibiting these symptoms after coming into contact with rodents or with pets in regions where the plague exists among animal populations, they should seek medical care immediately, Markman says.Transmission TechniquesThe bacterium that causes the plague will hook onto the lining of a flea’s gut and stomach, growing into a film that can clog the insect’s digestive passage. The next time the flea goes for a blood meal, it pukes into whatever animal it’s feeding on (usually a rodent), spreading the bacteria.Once a rodent is infected, the illness can spread to other wild animals as well as cats, dogs and people within flea-jump range. “What we see in the West is the fleas will crawl up to the entrance of the burrow and wait for a host to come by,” says Ken Gage, who studies vector-borne diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If they get on another rodent that they can live on, then they’ve been successful. But they can also jump on humans or on dogs or coyotes or cats.”Sometimes, that new host can transport the fleas a few miles away and spread them to other animals.Cats, which are highly susceptible to the disease, can also pass the infection to humans directly by coughing, biting and clawing.The 21st Century OutlookIn modern times, the plague periodically pops up across the globe — though at minor levels compared to its heyday. Between 2010 and 2015, there were more than 3,000 cases reported, with 584 deaths.The bacterium thrives in dry, temperate areas like the American Southwest and in North and East Africa, South and Central Asia and parts of South America.The U.S. tends to see between one and 17 human cases a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease likely hitched a ride to the U.S. in 1900 on flea-infested rats, which had boarded steamships in Asia. Since then, infected fleas have taken up residence on rodents including chipmunks, squirrels and prairie dogs across the southwest.Between 2015 and 2017 in New Mexico, there were 11 cases of the plague in humans, including one death. Paul Ettestad, a public health veterinarian for the New Mexico state health department, says prairie dogs are particularly vulnerable to plague. If a whole colony gets the illness, the bacteria amplify.”It’s like putting a match to a grass prairie,” he says. “Whoosh.”In places with poor access to health care, the illness can be deadly on a larger scale. That’s what happened in Madagascar. The country sees between 280 and 600 infections annually. But in August 2017, health authorities began seeing an uptick in cases — particularly in pneumonic plague. After more than 200 deaths, the outbreak was contained by late November 2017. Medical teams confirmed suspected cases, treated patients quickly, advised the use of face masks to prevent infection and monitored international travel.But it’s hard to declare a permanent end to an outbreak.The plague can persist in rodent populations, especially wild ones, for decades without affecting humans – and then can re-emerge.Markman’s research indicates that the plague bacterium can survive and multiply in microbes in soil and water. Markman hypothesizes that when ground-dwelling rodents, like marmots and prairie dogs, dig in the soil, they may encounter the bacterium, then spread it through fleas. But he cautions that more research needs to be done, saying there are likely many reasons why the plague is still around in 2019.Melody Schreiber (@m_scribe on Twitter) is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
The Arts Council has announced that it is to spend more than £2.5 million on a programme that aims to increase the number of disabled people in senior leadership roles in England’s arts and cultural organisations.The £2.57 million Change Makers programme, which is also aimed at black and minority ethnic potential leaders, will provide bursaries to fund training placements for nine disabled leaders.Arts Council England (ACE) hopes the bursaries will allow them to gain the necessary experience, knowledge, skills and confidence to compete for future posts as artistic directors, chief executives or other senior positions.One of the disabled people who has secured a grant is artist and arts leader Jess Thom, already well-known through her performing alter ego Touretteshero.She will work with Battersea Arts Centre on an 18-month senior leadership training and development placement, where she will pilot a “relaxed venue” that will take “an inclusive approach at every level”, work on a major new production that will premiere next autumn, and curate a week-long “relaxed festival” at the arts centre in spring 2018.Amit Sharma, currently associate director of the disabled-led theatre company Graeae, will join The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester as associate artistic director for 18 months, where he will direct two productions, and join the theatre’s senior management team.Hannah Kayi Mason, an emerging black and disabled leader in the visual arts, will work with The Art House and other artists and arts organisations on a series of co-productions and solo projects.Another of the nine is James Rose, who has secured a training placement at Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO), with the help of a private donation.Over 18 months, from June 2017, he will create, curate and direct a new ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians, which he will conduct, and which will deliver a series of performances and workshops across the region.Rose (pictured), who uses a head-baton to conduct, said: “The prospect of developing a new ensemble for the BSO comprising of players with and without disabilities is an exciting one.“This will not only provide a platform for new talented musicians, but it will also be used as a vehicle to inspire those who have disabilities to engage with classical music – whether it be playing or listening.”Abid Hussain, ACE’s diversity director, said: “We’re committed to ensuring the diversity of England is better reflected at a leadership level across the arts and cultural sector.“Through our Change Makers programme, these 20 disabled and black and minority ethnic leaders will have an inspiring and transformational opportunity to realise their leadership potential, giving them the confidence and the experience to take their next step into a senior leadership role, helping to shape the future of our sector.”Picture by Hanazushi Rhodes, Royal Academy of Music
A disabled woman who took her own life after being told she had lost a benefits appeal had written a letter to civil servants describing the unfairness of the face-to-face assessment that had led to her losing her support.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) took just six days to decide her initial appeal, not long enough for Susan Roberts (pictured) to submit any evidence that could have backed up her claim for personal independence payment (PIP).A DWP civil servant even told her – in a letter dismissing this initial appeal, known as a mandatory reconsideration – that there was no evidence that she could have submitted that would have changed her mind.Two months later, she received another letter, this time telling her that a tribunal had also rejected her appeal.The body of Susan Roberts was discovered the following day by a care worker at her warden-assisted flat near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, surrounded by letters telling her that she would not be entitled to PIP.She had also placed a note by her side that informed healthcare professionals that she did not want them to attempt to resuscitate her.An inquest into the 68-year-old’s death did not record a verdict of suicide, but her daughter is convinced that she took her own life, because of the way she died, and because her body was discovered surrounded by her PIP paperwork and the “do not resuscitate” notice.Hayley Storrow-Servranckx is convinced that her mother would still be alive today if it was not for the flawed PIP system, and the assessment she had been given by an Atos healthcare professional. Disability News Service (DNS) first reported on the case last week but has now seen the letters Susan Roberts left beside her when she died.She had previously received an indefinite award of disability living allowance, at the higher rate of mobility and the low rate of care, but the documents show that she was told by DWP on 19 February 2016 that she was not entitled to PIP.She scribbled several notes on this letter, showing where she disagreed with the conclusions that had been reached following her face-to-face assessment.The documents suggest that the assessor – and then the DWP decision-maker – decided that she could wash and bathe unaided, manage her own toilet needs without any help, express and understand verbal information and engage with other people unaided, walk more than 200 metres, and plan and follow the route of a journey without help, and could do all of these things safely, reliably and repeatedly.But she said that she could not do any of these things.Among the documents seen by DNS is a letter she wrote on 29 February. It appears that she had intended to send it to the DWP decision-maker who was considering her mandatory reconsideration.But a DWP notification that told her that the mandatory reconsideration had already been rejected appears to have arrived before she had a chance to send her letter.DWP had taken just six days to reject her appeal, with a civil servant telling her that “it was not felt any further evidence we received would change the findings based on your assessment”, and again giving her zero points for every single PIP criteria.In her letter, she had written: “I request that you read this through carefully – this is my life after all, and I am in a considerable state of depression at the moment, after receiving your decision about my claim for PIP.”She describes the impact of ME on her daily life, which she said provided a window of just two or three hours every day in which she was free of symptoms such as exhaustion, dizziness and inability to concentrate.She says she has chronic, progressive ischaemic heart disease, and was experiencing “excruciating pain” from a gall bladder that could not be removed because of her heart condition.Her letter also describes how a care worker visited her every day to provide painful rectal irrigation and then give her a shower, how she was deeply depressed and had been so “for a long time”, and that her doctor knew that she wanted to die.It also says that she would be “virtually housebound” without her Motability vehicle – which she had had to return after losing her higher rate mobility benefits – and that she had been considered too ill to work since 2001.She says in the letter: “The over-riding problem I have is that my ME – for 80 per cent of every day of my life – renders me incapable of all else except deep and prolonged sleep!!“When I first had a DLA car, I had good days and bad days – I do not have anything but bad days every day now.”It is not clear whether this or any other similar letter were ever posted, but she asked the tribunal to hear her appeal based only on written documents, and she was told, in a letter sent on 17 May, that that appeal had been rejected.The tribunal had granted her six points for her daily living needs, not enough to claim even the standard daily living rate of PIP, and zero points again for mobility. By this time she had had to return her Motability car.She took her own life on 19 May, which it is now believed was just a day after she received the letter from the tribunal.There have been many cases involving deaths connected with claims for out-of-work disability benefits and the work capability assessment (WCA) system, but this appears to be the first time a death has been closely linked to someone losing their support in the move from DLA to PIP.DNS has now collected many more than 100 cases of PIP claimants who have raised serious concerns about their assessments, following a two-month investigation that suggests an institutional problem that spreads across DWP and the two private sector contractors – Atos and Capita – that assess PIP eligibility on its behalf.Last week, a DWP spokeswoman insisted there was “no evidence to suggest any link” between the death of Susan Roberts and her benefit claim, and that neither DWP nor Atos believed they had made any mistakes in this case, pointing out that the independent tribunal had “upheld the original decision”.It had failed to comment on the latest information by noon today (Thursday).Atos does not currently respond to requests to comment on stories from DNS.