Anopen letter to Oxford University Admissions is calling for all 2020 offersto be made unconditional. “Once we reach our maximum intake of undergraduates in 2020, we will have to defer entry to 2021 for any additional candidates who appeal successfully and whose place is then confirmed. Our primary concern must be the health and safety of our students, staff and community and it will not otherwise be possible for us to meet ongoing social-distancing restrictions and other challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Oxford is facing pressure to admitoffer-holders who missed their grades, amidst controversy over A-level results. Unfortunately, we cannot commenton specific figures until places have been confirmed.” TheUniversity previously committed to using its clemency policy if there wasevidence students from disadvantaged backgrounds were unfairly affected by thegrading system. Oxford SU Class Act Campaign backs calls for A-Level grades to be disregarded. A statement said: “Offer holders have found themselves losing their places at Oxford despite having been awarded the grades needed to attend Oxford by their teachers, or having already achieved them in mock examinations. These students have been judged on their socio-economic backgrounds over what they have shown they can achieve to their teachers and their schools.” TheCollege said: “Many members of our college community and beyond haveexpressed their concern for the potential impact of yesterday’s A Level resultson this year’s incoming students. At Worcester we madeoffers in 2020 to our most diverse cohort ever, and in responseto the uncertainties surrounding this year’s assessment, we haveconfirmed the places of all our UK offer-holders, irrespective of their A-level results.” Almost 40% of teacher assessments were downgraded due to a standardisation process based on schools’ previous exam performances. Analysis has shown that students from disadvantaged were hit hardest by the downgrades. A University spokesperson said: “Weintend to take every student who meets their offer grades as well as thosewhere we consider there are mitigating circumstances for them missing theirgrade. As we do every year when grades are remarked, some students may beoffered a deferred place. TheUniversity announced yesterday that unsuccessful offer-holders who appeal theirgrades will not start in 2020. They will have to wait a year beforebeginning their course. Ofqual, the examination regulator,defended its policy, saying: “Without standardisation there was the potentialfor students to be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged, depending on theschool or college they attended and the approach they took.” The College tweeted: “Following detailed work on a case bycase basis, we’re pleased to have accepted the majority of those who didn’tmeet their offers. Consequently, we’re admitting our largest ever cohort with81% of UK students from state schools.” Hertford College has accepted a record number of offer-holders, with 81% of UK students having attended state schools. This is up from their three-year average of 70%. Over 2,500 people have also signed a petition calling for Oxford to reverse the decision to “take places away from state school ‘near misses’”. “In this extraordinary year, the simplest way forward would be to provide places for all offer holders, as Worcester College has already been able to do. We urge all colleges to consider doing the same.” Worcester College has confirmed that it will accept alloffer-holders regardless of A-level results. It says: “As graduates of Oxford, we write to plead with admissions tutors acrossthe university to show kindness and generosity to the many pupils whosepredicted A Level results were unexpectedly and unfairly ‘downgraded’ by analgorithm.” The letter, signed by nearly 3000 Oxford graduates and students by the evening following A-Level results day, continues: “We are particularly concerned by the disproportionate impact this has had on students from poorer backgrounds. Across the country, 40% of pupils saw their grades lowered by a system which takes into account their school and region in determining the mark they ‘should’ have earned (had they sat an exam). This approach simply reproduces and amplifies the inequalities already baked into our system.” “A key motivation for the designof the approach to standardisation that we took was to remove this potentialinequality and, as far as possible, ensure that a grade represents the samestandard, irrespective of the school or college they attended.” “The University already has detailed plans for students’ arrival to ensure they have a safe and successful year ahead, regardless of their background, personal circumstances, or how they have been directly affected by the pandemic. In all circumstances, the University’s first priority is the health and welfare of our students and staff.
Image Credit: Pixabay. The full list of areas going into tier 4 are: Oxford is to remain in tier 2 despite much of the South-East being placed under new, stricter tier 4 measures. The new tier 4 restrictions will resemble those imposed during the second national lockdown, with all non-essential shops closed and the public ordered to stay at home. Christmas bubbles are no longer permitted and travel in and out of the area is banned, with individuals only able to meet one other person from outside their household at a time in an outdoor public space. The new rules will affect about 17.7 million, with 17 million remaining in Oxford’s tier 2 level. The new restrictions are being introduced following the discovery of a new, more infectious strain of the virus, which has seen cases and hospitalisations rise most dramatically in the south east over the last weeks. The measures are an attempt to contain the spread of the new mutation across the country and suppress the rate of infections locally, and will be reviewed by the government every two weeks. It is not known precisely where the novel strain of coronavirus emerged from. However it continued to spread particularly quickly across the south east despite the lockdown measures taken in November to try and curb rising cases. Initial data suggests it could be up to 70% more infectious, although there is no evidence to suggest that it causes a more severe form of the disease. In an announcement on Saturday afternoon the Prime Minister said that there was “no alternative” to the new measures and that “without action the evidence suggests that infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives “It’s with a very heavy heart we can’t continue with Christmas as planned”. Professor Whitty, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, added that individuals who left tier 4 regions to spend Christmas elsewhere would mean a “significant risk” of the new mutation of the virus spreading to areas where it is currently less prevalent. KentBuckinghmashireBerkshireSurreyThe boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and HastingsLondonBedford and BedfordshireMilton KeynesLutonPeterboroughHerefordshireEssex Oxford will still be subject to tier 2 restrictions, as only areas in the South-East which are currently in tier 3 will be moved into the new tier 4. However, the neighbouring counties of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire will be living under the tougher rules. However, new rules for the festive period will apply to Oxford, with only one day of household mixing allowed on Christmas Day itself, rather than the five days originally proposed. Three different households are still able to meet for the day in areas outside of Tier 4.
(Photo supplied/Indiana Department of Natural Resources) The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has adjusted services, events and operations to protect Hoosiers and prevent further spread of COVID-19. Here’s what’s open and free, as well as what’s closed, as of Saturday, March 21:What’s openAll DNR properties including state parks, state forests, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves and state recreation areas. Entrance fees at properties have been temporarily suspended.Campgrounds, cabins, inns. Meeting rooms remain open for groups within current State gathering guidance.All Indiana DNR-managed facilities at Brookville, J.E. Roush, Salamonie, Mississinewa, Cecil M. Harden, Cagles Mill, Patoka and Monroe lakes (campgrounds, wildlife areas, and boat ramps) remain open. However, public facilities managed directly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at or below the dams at these lakes (tailwater areas, observation mounds, etc.) are closed.As noted, campgrounds, inns and cabins remain open at this time, but for those who would prefer to cancel or reschedule due to COVID-19, we are committed to waiving fees for cancellations or transfers of reservations and to issuing refunds as requested for inn rooms, campsites, cabins, group camps or other facilities held through April 30, 2020. This time frame may be extended as the COVID-19 status evolves.What’s closedAll property offices, while remaining open, will have restricted public access. For service at an office location contact information will be provided at the main entrance to the office.Nature Centers, Historic Buildings and Visitor Centers, Forest Education Centers, Recreation Buildings and enclosed picnic areas.State Park Inn pools and the aquatic center at Abe Martin Lodge until further notice.The exhibit gallery at Falls of the Ohio State Park’s Interpretive Center. The park remains open. The interpretive center restrooms and information desk are available.All group camps, youth tent and rally tent areas through April 30, 2020. Any groups with reservations have been contacted and fees will be refunded.Rentable recreation buildings are closed through April 30. Those with reservations have been contacted and rental fees are being refunded.Tri-County FWA Shooting Range.The DNR Customer Service Center in downtown Indianapolis is closed to public visits.EventsOutdoor interpretive events will continue while following the guidance for gatherings as established by the Indiana State Department of Health.Indoor public interpretive programs will be rescheduled to outdoor locations or cancelled if appropriate outdoor locations are not available at least through April 30, 2020.We will implement recommendations from the Indiana State Department of Health and will follow other directives from the State of Indiana regarding any future closures or cancellation and rescheduling of events. Notifications of any changes will be provided directly to guests and groups with reservations, and added to the DNR calendar.Online and phone optionsWe urge the public to do business with us by phone, email, or online. Here are your options:Indiana Fish & Wildlife Online License System.Make or change camping and cabin reservations online or by phone at 866-622-6746.Make or change State Park Inns reservations online or by phone at 877-LODGES1 (1-877-563-4371). Call center open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.The DNR Customer Service Center staff can answer questions at 317-232-4200 or 877-463-6367. It is open 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.Hours and Information for State Park Interpretive Centers can be found here. Facebook By 95.3 MNC – March 23, 2020 0 252 WhatsApp Pinterest Twitter WhatsApp Entrance fees to Indiana DNR properties suspended during health crisis Twitter CoronavirusIndianaLocalNews Google+ Facebook Google+ Previous articleSouth Haven marina closing due to high water levelsNext articleTriple digit speeder arrested for OWI on I-80/94 95.3 MNCNews/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel is your breaking news and weather station for northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan. Pinterest
Last Wednesday, I was in Asni, a small village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains at one of the Education for All dormitories. Those of you who have read my blogs before will know about EFA, but for those who have not, a quick explanation.In many rural communities, girls stop going to school at the age of 12, as secondary schools frequently have ‘gaps’ in their daily timetable (so a pupil may have classes from – for example – 0830 – 1000, but then no classes until 1300). Whilst it may be OK for a boy to roam the streets whilst they are not in classes during those ‘gaps’ it is less socially acceptable for a girl to do so. This results in many girls not going to school. EFA is tackling this problem by building dormitories for the girls near to their schools. The dormitories are run by house mothers who make sure that the girls get well-fed, schooled and looked after.But life is hard for the girls. When the first EFA dormitory was established 10 years ago, it was hard to persuade families to allow their girls to go. Now demand far exceeds supply as the benefits of education all the way up to the age of 18 become increasingly clear (83% of EFA girls go on to university – a strikingly high figure!) so EFA have had to apply very strict criteria to their intakes. Only the girls from the poorest families in the poorest villages are admitted to the dormitories.Two months ago, I was sitting in Chef Moha’s restaurant in Marrakesh chatting to him about another project, when it occurred to me that if he were to offer a cooking Master Class for the girls, it would be a ray of light in their lives. Chef Moha did not even hesitate. “Yes. When?” was his immediate reply.Fast forward to last Wednesday.I stayed in the Kasbah Toubkal on the Tuesday evening, a fabulous hotel which is beautiful at the best of times. But in the snow, it takes on a magical aura. You feel as if you are cut off from the rest of the world, perched on an outcrop at the end of the valley. To the right, higher up into the Atlas, the shoulders of Toubkal himself jut up into the sky, white-clothed and robed in snow, he is a wonderful mountain – I look forward to climbing him soon. To the left, the valley has a wonderful Spartan feeling – like something out of Ten Years in Tibet. The air is pure and clean and the night skies something else. If you haven’t yet been: go!On the Wednesday morning, we drove down to Asni, arriving before the lorry bringing the provisions, tables, cookers and plates. Chef Moha rang to say he was en route. Though the dormitory was sleepy, you could sense the anticipation rising. The lorry arrived and the girls, Embassy team and Dar Moha employees formed a line, like ants scurrying back and forth from the entrance to the kitchen. Soon the kitchen was full to overflowing and still the provisions rolled in.A cheer went up: Chef Moha had arrived. The Dormitory filled like the tide coming in – imperceptibly until you looked and the room was full to bursting. The tables were laid out – 10 girls had been chosen as the Master Class pupils. I was chef Moha’s sous-chef. The girls were so excited, it was absolutely wonderful.I was very nervous. Although I bake bread and croissants and enjoy cooking, I would not call myself a chef. Cooking with such a luminary was very scary!But Chef Moha made light of it all. Barking out instructions. Laughing and joking with the girls. Twirling ingredients and dropping dollops of magic onto the food. Before I had a chance to really take it all in, the food was cooked and ready.Food for 150 girls and a dozen or more hangers-on appeared. Tables were laid. Plates and glasses brought. Food was served. It was all so slick and beautifully done, that I didn’t really even notice how it was done.The girls and guests sat down to the most wonderful food.But it was not the food that I will take away – delicious though it was. There were two other things which had a bigger impact on me. Chef Moha gave us a lesson in much more than cookery. He is a mega-star in Morocco. Everyone I speak to has heard of him. Yet never, not for one second, did he exude any of the prima-donna type behaviour we have come to expect from mega-stars. He was modest, down-to-earth. Humble. He took selfies with the girls. Put up with my mindless banter with great good humour. He laughed, joked and set the whole dormitory on fire with happiness. That is real leadership. He is a true Ambassador for Morocco. A person to be proud to know and be humbled by his selfless generosity.And the other thing was the happiness of the girls. I have never seen 150 people look so utterly blissed-out happy for such an extended period of time. They loved it. When they burst into a spontaneous song of thanks to the Chef, it brought tears to my eyes – literally. It was such a simple thing to do, but it brought so much pleasure and enjoyment to so many people who don’t have many joys in their lives: they brushed shoulders with a mega-star and he embraced them with his warmth. It was glorious and it reminded me of how much in our daily lives we take for granted.And that brings me back to EFA. Many of us take universal education for granted: we should not. We should remember how lucky we are.What could possibly be more important than ensuring that girls get a decent education up to the age of 18? Giving them that enables them to realise their own potential. Failing to do so risks locking them into a cycle of poverty, early marriage and lost potential, potentially robbing a country of the economic potential of 50% of its population.EFA offers girls a route out of that cycle. The lives of the girls at EFA have been and will be transformed by the power of education. EFA offers them and their communities an exciting, new and different future, releasing their potential for the benefit of Morocco. That is why I am proud to support EFA and why I was so happy to have been able to bring a little bit of joy and happiness into the hard lives of 150 young people yesterday.The British Embassy is proud of its ongoing association with EFA. We will be entering a team into the Marrakesh Atlas Etape on 22 April which is raising funds for EFA. More details are at: https://www.marrakech-atlas-etape.com/. We look forward to seeing you on the course!More generally, helping girls to continue their education is essential for Morocco’s economic development, so if you have ideas about how we can help, please get in touch and let us know!
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and former Police frontman Sting has announced plans for an upcoming 16-date residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV.The upcoming shows are dubbed, Sting: My Songs, and will look to “present a compendium of Sting’s songs with dynamic, visual references to some of his most iconic videos and inspirations,” according to a press release.The 16-night run of shows will open up with a performance on May 22nd, 2020, and runs through September 2nd, 2020, though it is possible that additional concerts will be added depending on ticket demand and sales.Rolling Stone notes that, although Sting has yet to release complete info on ticket prices, ticket costs are speculated to begin at just $59 and there will be “a limited number of VIP meet & greet packages.” To give a frame of reference of what tickets may wind up costing, Journey is charging $109 for the worst seats at their own Vegas show at Caesars Palace, and $1,080 for the second row. James Taylor is a little more affordable, with his cheapest seats going for $87.16 and the best for $750. The high price seats often include meet & greets.Tickets for Sting’s upcoming Las Vegas residency go on sale Friday, May 3rd at 10 a.m. (PST). Head to Sting’s website for more information.
Anson Chan outlined her hopes for her country on Thursday during remarks that included both harsh criticisms of China and what she called its “potential to be a force for tremendous good in the world.”Chan, the former chief secretary for administration for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, delivered the Rama S. Mehta Lecture at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.Chan, who earned the moniker “Iron Lady” of East Asia during her government tenure, has long been a champion of democracy and gender equality. (She was one of the first two women to join the Hong Kong civil service in 1962.) During her talk, she criticized a number of China’s programs and policies, including its 1979 one-child procreation policy, an initiative she said fostered the country’s “deep-seated prejudice for male children,” and led to “a dangerous gender imbalance.”“My first hope,” said Chan, “is that all Chinese women and girls will soon enjoy the rights and benefits and opportunities available to their wealthier, urban-dwelling sisters,” and that the “birth of a baby girl will be celebrated as warmly as that of a boy.”While many countries, including the United States, worry that China’s rapidly expanding economy is also “driving growth in its military power,” Chan said she hoped future U.S.-China relations would be characterized “more by trust and less by suspicion.”“The fact that China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. securities should not be seen as a threat,” she said. “It speaks for China’s confidence in U.S. government institutions, and the long-term reliability of the U.S. dollar as the world’s leading convertible currency.”Chan called for “constructive engagement” between the nations, founded on strong cultural and economic ties. She pointed out that the United States is China’s second-largest trading partner after the European Union, and the thousands of Chinese graduate students studying in U.S. universities have become important contributors to “post-graduate research in many fields.”Chan urged the two nations, the world’s leading producers of greenhouse gases, to combat global warming. We need “enhanced, bilateral cooperation to protect the environment,” she said.But Chan acknowledged that her pride in China, and its commitment to “hard work” and inherent “entrepreneurial spirit,” hasn’t blinded her to the country’s troubling social and political record.Greed and corruption are rampant in local and regional government, she said, and while the booming economy has lifted millions out of poverty in recent years, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.Harsh limits on freedom of speech and severe punishments for dissent are the norm, and power rests firmly in the hands of a few hundred privileged families, said Chan.“One of my most cherished hopes for my country is that, over time, China can evolve peacefully to a nation where basic human rights are guaranteed and where every individual has an equal right and opportunity to influence how and by whom he or she is governed,” she said.Radcliffe Dean Lizabeth Cohen (from left) speaks with Anson Chan and Harvard President Drew Faust prior to the lecture.Part of that evolution includes fostering close economic and cultural ties with democracies. Hong Kong, with its rule of law, independent judiciary, freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and zero tolerance for corruption, can and should be an example for China, said Chan.Chan addressed the concern of many Hong Kongese who fear that officials in Beijing will take an increasingly hard line in the administrative region. The area has operated under a “one country, two systems” agreement since 1997, when Great Britain relinquished control to China. Since then, Hong Kong has maintained a significant degree of autonomy, including control of its own economic and political systems.Recently, however, Beijing has tried to impose stricter reforms, including a failed attempt to implement a national education program in Hong Kong’s primary and secondary schools last year. Young students and concerned parents took to the streets and protested by the hundreds of thousands, successfully blocking the initiative, said Chan. “They do not wish their children to be brainwashed and indoctrinated in schools, because, in their view, education is the last line of defense.”Chan said she trusts that spirit would prevail as Hong Kong pushes for universal suffrage in 2017, a move that she hopes will inspire greater openness in China.“There is no doubt in my mind that Hong Kong can play a key role in helping to chart a course toward a more democratic government on the mainland,” she said.The annual Mehta lecture, established by the late Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife, Catherine, brings to campus “outstanding women leaders in the arts, public affairs, or science, who possess a deep understanding of the problems faced by women in the developing countries,” said Radcliffe Dean Lizabeth Cohen, who introduced the talk.
In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Harpers Ferry, W.Va. is defined by its confluences. Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of two of the main arteries of the mid-Atlantic, the Potomac River and the Shenandoah River. The town is also located at the intersection of three states: Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. This unique location – two major rivers, Mason Dixon Line, etc. – also made Harpers Ferry a flashpoint during the Civil War and was the scene for John Brown’s famous raid on the armory there. Today, the tiny hamlet of around 300 permanent residents is part living museum of centuries of historic impact, part modern outdoor recreation hub. What was once the launch point for settlement of the Shenandoah Valley – the only ferry across the mighty Potomac – is now a center for active pursuits ranging from white water rafting to mountain biking to rock climbing. The Appalachian Trail also runs right through town, and is the location of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters. Obviously, the town has not lost its touch of being a central part of United States history.All of these pursuits come together at the annual Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival, happening this weekend June 14 and 15. Although the focus of the festival is primarily paddling oriented – it is summer after all! – all outdoor recreation activities are celebrated and encouraged, with the aim of promoting the healthy and peaceful enjoyment of the natural environment. To that end, all proceeds are donated to conservation groups including Friends of the Shenandoah, Save the Blackwater, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and the Friends of the Cheat. Organized activities include the Tim Gavin Down River Race, Whitewater Rodeo, 5k trail race, whitewater film extravaganza, raft race, and kid friendly activities. There will also be a coordinated river cleanup and live music each day from local bands. Plus, you’ll be right outside downtown Harpers Ferry, where you may learn a thing or two about the robust history of the area and the town. It really is like stepping back in time, in a good way.The best part of this event may be the price: $10 gets you a day pass for either Friday or Saturday ($20 for both), but that includes free camping on site. So hit up the Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival this weekend to give a little back and have a whole lot of fun along the way.View Larger Map
The first Canadian BSE case prompted the United States to ban imports of all Canadian cattle and beef products. The border was later reopened to meat from younger cattle, but live cattle and meat from older cattle are still banned. About 18,000 cattle were shipped into the United States from “the Alberta region” in 1997 and 1998. These cattle “could represent another group of higher risk animals,” in the view of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the report states. However, an age-distribution model for US cattle suggests that fewer than 3% (540) of them remain in US herds now. “This MBM source similarity is extremely difficult to dismiss or ignore,” the report says. The fourth cow was not clearly connected to MBM from the same renderer, but a link couldn’t be ruled out, the report says. All four cases occurred within a 280-mile-wide area of north-central Alberta. The one previous BSE case in North America—discovered in 1993 in a cow imported from the United Kingdom, where BSE was widespread—was in the same area. “Some of the data suggest that the Northwest region of the United States could be considered within a broadly defined movement area that could be at higher risk of exposure to BSE,” the report states. The report says that 29 cattle from the “birth cohorts” of the four BSE-infected cattle were shipped to the United States, and a total of about 18,000 Alberta cattle were sent to the United States in 1997 and 1998, the period when the four cattle were calves and probably contracted BSE by eating contaminated feed. The view that the northwestern United States may have an increased risk is based on the CFIA’s analysis of the flow of cattle and feed materials within Canada and from Canada to the United States before the BSE cases, the report explains. Shortly after the last two BSE cases surfaced, the USDA sent two technical teams to study the epidemiology of all four cases as well as Canada’s ban on feeding ruminant animal protein to ruminants (cud-chewing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and deer). May 11, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The Pacific Northwest could have a higher risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) than the rest of the country because of past cattle imports from western Canada, where all four BSE cases in North America originated, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported recently. Because cattle contract BSE by eating feed containing protein from infected animals, both the United States and Canada banned the use of ruminant protein in feed for ruminants in 1997. The report says the four infected cows were all born between Oct 5, 1996, and Mar 21, 1997—either before or shortly after the feed ban took effect. The team concluded that all four cows contracted BSE by eating contaminated feed early in their lives. In a USDA news release about the report, John Clifford, deputy administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said, “Our technical team has completed its review and found that Canada’s epidemiological efforts were not only appropriate but exceeded levels recommended by an international team of BSE experts. Canada’s animal identification program allowed for a successful, comprehensive epidemiological investigation.” That assessment is one of the findings in a USDA report on the causes and implications of the four BSE (mad cow disease) cases and on Canada’s epidemiologic investigation of them. The 27-page report was released Apr 29. “While this region has historically imported a substantial number of cattle from western Canada, and a small portion of high-risk meat and bone meal was shipped to the area, the U.S. feed ban and other mitigations have effectively minimized the risk of transmission or amplification of the BSE agent.” North America’s first BSE case in a native-born animal was identified in an Alberta cow in May 2003. The following December, the first American BSE case was found in a cow that had been imported into Washington state from Alberta. Two more cases were found in Alberta in January 2005. In tracing the birth cohorts of the four infected cows, investigators identified a total of 853 cattle that came from the same herds of origin and were born within a year before or after an infected cow. Most of those had already been slaughtered or were euthanized. Of 29 cattle that were believed to have been shipped to the United States, 18 were found and were either euthanized or confirmed to have been slaughtered, USDA says. Canadian investigators also determined that the Alberta renderer that linked three of the BSE cases shipped two loads of MBM to the United States in February 1997. US investigators traced this material further and found that none had been made into cattle feed; most of it was exported to Asia, and the rest was used in poultry feed. The report also says that BSE probably was introduced into Canada by cattle imported from the United Kingdom early in the British epidemic, between 1986 and 1988. Although the investigators didn’t find a single source of potentially contaminated feed connecting all four cases, they did find strong evidence that three of the cows ate feed containing meat-and-bone meal (MBM) that one Alberta rendering plant shipped to local feed mills on Feb 28, 1997. The MBM would have been produced before the feed ban took effect.
Mar 8, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Albania today became the latest European country to confront H5N1 avian influenza in birds, while US officials reported plans to greatly expand testing of wild birds for the virus in Alaska and on the West Coast this spring.Albanian officials first detected H5N1 in a chicken in a southern village on Feb 23, according to their Mar 7 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The OIE reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, confirmed the finding yesterday, the report said.The infected chicken was found near the coastal town of Saranda, about 31 miles north of the Greek border, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report. The OIE notification said 60 birds died of the disease. An agricultural official said about 1,000 birds in the area would be tested.Albania becomes at least the 18th European country to have H5N1 outbreaks in birds, judging from the OIE chart of affected countries. Most of those countries have reported their first cases since the beginning of February.In the United States, federal officials concerned that the H5N1 virus will reach North America described plans to test nearly eight times as many wild birds this year as have been tested in the past 10 years, according to a USA Today report.Starting in April, samples from 75,000 to 100,000 birds in Alaska and along the West Coast will be tested by the departments of Agriculture and Interior and by state wildlife agencies, the report said.Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and other officials told the newspaper they expect the virus to arrive on the continent.That assessment was echoed by OIE Director General Bernard Vallat, according to an AFP report today. He told a French parliamentary commission, “The probability of this strain appearing in Australia is very high. The possibility is also very high for the United States and Canada.”H5N1 could reach the United States via infected birds that spend the winter in Asia and migrate to Alaska in spring, Frank Quimby of the Department of the Interior told USA Today. During the summer, the birds from Asia could pass the virus to birds that migrate south in the fall, said Nicholas Throckmorton of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He said he wouldn’t expect the virus to move south until August or later.Scientists will test birds by capturing them in nets and taking swabs from the throat or cloaca, the story said. Birds killed by hunters will also be tested in Alaska this spring and in West Coast states in the fall.In other developments concerning H5N1 in animals:Two more dead cats in Germany were found to be infected, according to an AFX News report last night. The cats were found on the same Baltic island where the first infected cat was discovered last week.The virus reached poultry farms in three more states in Nigeria, according to Bloomberg News. Local tests confirmed the virus on commercial and backyard farms in Anambra, Benue, and Rivers states. The latter is in the oil-producing Niger delta region. An Italian lab will run confirmatory tests, the report said.See also:Albania’s report to the OIEhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2006_AI.php
Topics : “The effects of the [COVID-19] pandemic continue to be felt, impacting prices and demand in some of our markets,” Srivastava said in an official statement on Monday.The miner’s coal sales volume rose 3 percent to 21.5 million tons in the first quarter, but higher sales were offset by a 6 percent drop in prices to US$49 per ton, said Srivastava. Prior to the pandemic, Bumi expected coal prices to remain between $51 and $53 per ton.Bumi booked a $35.1 million loss in this year’s first quarter, down from $48.5 million in profit in the same period last year, the company’s latest financial report shows. To alleviate the impacts of the pandemic, Bumi is also looking into metal mining and chemical production. Through subsidiary PT Bumi Resources Minerals (BRMS), the company plans to intensify its gold mining in Palu, Central Sulawesi, and zinc mining in Dairi, North Sumatra, starting next year, according to Srivastava.The firm also plans to become one of the coal suppliers to a multi-billion dollar coal-to-methanol processing plant in East Kalimantan. Methanol is commonly used in biodiesel production.The plant, being developed by affiliated financing firm Bakrie Capital Indonesia (BCI), is estimated to require 6 million tons of coal each year once operational in 2024.“There is strong momentum for this project, which will produce high-value methanol from abundant, low-value coal reserves,” said BCI chief executive officer Adika Nuraga Bakrie, in a joint statement on May 15.Developing downstream mining industries is part of the government’s vision to capitalize on Indonesia’s underground wealth.The government, through the new Mining Law, even plans to guarantee mining permit extensions for coal miners that develop downstream operations.Bumi recorded a 97 percent drop in profit last year, one of the steepest among coal miners publicly listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).The company’s profits this year were also pinched by rising production costs, as the company raised its strip ratio – the volume of waste material removed to obtain a given volume of coal – to produce higher quality coal. Production costs rose 38 percent year-on-year (yoy) to $238.17 million in the first quarter. Raising its strip ratio contrasts with Bumi’s competitors PT Adaro Energy and PT Bukit Asam, Indonesia’s first and second most profitable coal miners last year, which lowered their strip ratios to cut costs. Indonesia’s most productive coal miner PT Bumi Resources has lowered its sales target for 2020 after its profits dipped into the negative in the first quarter this year, amid continued global market pressures.The publicly listed firm aims to sell up to 90 million tons of coal this year, down from an initial target of 93 million tons, the firm’s corporate secretary Dileep Srivastava told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.The lower sales target follows weakening coal prices and demand, particularly from partially-locked down India, Indonesia’s second largest coal buyer.