Three held for killing rival gang member near court

first_imgNew Delhi: Delhi Police on Monday said that they have arrested three persons who killed the member of their rival gang while he came to the court for attending his case. Police identified the accused as Badal (27), Satender (26)and Asfak Ahmed (24).Police said one of the accused arrested when he came to cast his vote. Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime) Dr G Ramgopal Naik said that on May 6, one person Prince was murdered near court in South Delhi. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehicles”Prince had come to the Delhi for attending his case. He was fired upon indiscriminately by the assailants near court,” said DCP crime. The victim was taken to hospital, where he was declared brought dead. Police further said that Prince was a known criminal and was involved in more than five cases. Preliminary investigation and modus operandi was indicative of rivalry between two gangs. This incident of firing and murder in open place in South Delhi had created panic. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: JavadekarTo apprehend the criminals, a team of SIU-I, Crime Branch was deputed. Activities of the gang involved in the crime was closely monitored and it surfaced that gangster Rohit Choudhary along with his associates based in UP and Delhi had committed this crime. “Badal was arrested from village Khanpur, near DTC Depot when he came to cast his vote,” police said. In pursuance of the disclosure statement of the accused Badal, two of his other associates were also arrested. Police further said that there is rivalry between one Rohit Choudhary and Prince . In the recent past, the deceased had abused and threatened Choudhary publicly. Choudhary was trying to eliminate Prince. In earlier two attempts, the victim Prince had escaped from their clutches. But on May 6 they killed Prince. “Badal is a permanent resident of Samalkha in Panipat. Last year in November, while his marriage ceremony was going on, he was fired upon by his rivals. In this incident, he sustained bullet injury,” added police.last_img read more

Closing Bell TSX lower amid heavy slate of corporate earnings news

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed lower Wednesday amid a slew of earnings news and negative moves in commodity prices.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,775.28 -13.74 -0.11%S&P 500 — 1,520.33 +0.90 0.06%Dow — 13,982.91 -35.79 -0.26%Nasdaq — 3,196.88 +10.39 0.33%The S&P/TSX composite index declined 13.74 points to 12,775.28 while the TSX Venture Exchange was up 5.28 points at 1,204.23.The Canadian dollar gained 0.09 of a cent to 99.82 cents US.U.S. indexes were mixed as January retail sales met expectations, with the Dow Jones industrials down 35.79 points to 13,982.91.The Nasdaq was 10.39 points higher at 3,196.88, supported by Inc., which has struck a deal with CBS Corp. to expand the networks’s content made available to Amazon’s Prime video streaming service.Amazon stock ran up 4.16% to US$269.47. The S&P 500 index edged up 0.9 of a point to 1,520.33.U.S. retail sales ticked up 0.1% last month after a 0.5% rise in December. January’s increase was in line with expectations and was the smallest in three months after higher taxes cut into the wages of Americans.“However, given continued job gains through the start of this year, we are assuming that this slowing in sales will prove temporary and that greater strength will emerge going forward,” said RBC assistant chief economist Paul Ferley.Analysts think that trading is taking place amid rising caution as a March 1 deadline looms that would see steep automatic spending cuts take effect to the tune of US$85 billion.“I think there is some reluctance to do much. I think that’s why our market has more or less, the last couple of weeks or so, hasn’t done a darned thing,” said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at Scotia Capital.“It’s teaching everybody to have a little bit more patience than they would like to have.”On Wednesday, Jacob Lew, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, urged Congress to avoid those cuts, warning they would impose “self-inflicted wounds to the recovery and put far too many jobs and businesses at risk.”Talisman Energy Inc. recorded US$367-million or 37 cents per share in quarterly net income, beating forecasts of 16 cents a share. But the gain was mainly due to disposal of some assets and the company continued to feel the effects of low natural gas prices. Talisman posted revenue of $1.6 billion, which was $300 million less than what was expected. Its shares erased early losses and gained 26 cents to $12.82.Thomson Reuters posted US$497-million of adjusted earnings, or 60 cents per share in the latest quarter, compared with US$445-million or 54 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2011. Net income attributable to common shareholders was US$372 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of US$2.6 billion. Thomson’s overall revenue, including discontinued operations, fell to $3.4 million from $3.6 billion, a five% decline. The company’s shares fell 70 cents to $30.02 as the company also forecast slow growth and tightening profit margins in 2013, and announced plans to cut 2,500 jobs.Cheese, dairy and bakery company Saputo Inc. had $130 million or 65 cents per share of net income in the latest quarter, a penny short of analyst estimates. Revenue at $1.8 billion also missed estimates by $100 million and its shares fell $1.12 to $49.70.In the U.S., farm and construction equipment maker Deere & Co. says its first-quarter net income jumped 22% to US$649.7 million or $1.65 per share. Revenue rose almost 10% to $7.42 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.39 per share on revenue of $6.73 billion and its shares lost $3.29 to $90.68.The information technology sector was the leading decliner, down 3.5% with CGI Group down $1.21 to $27.12 while BlackBerry dropped $1.25 or 8.2% at $14. The stock has lost about 20% since Jan. 24, days before the company unveiled its new BlackBerry 10 product line. However, the stock had rallied almost 200% from its low of $6.10, chalked up late last September.The gold sector fell about 1.65% as April bullion on the Nymex declined $4.50 to US$1,645.90 an ounce, its lowest close since last August. Eldorado Gold shed 35 cents to C$10.68.Consumer and telecom stocks also pressured the TSX.The utilities sector led advancers, up 0.39% as TransAlta (climbed 16 cents to $16.35.The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gave up early gains to move down 50 cents to US$97.01 a barrel despite a much less than expected rise in U.S. inventories. The U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said supplies rose by 560,000 barrels.A survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., showed crude stocks were expected to have risen by 2.5 million barrels. However, other data released Tuesday had showed inventories declined last week.The energy sector was ahead 0.3% while Canadian Natural Resources gained 25 cents to C$31.80.March copper backed off from early gains and was unchanged at US$3.74 a pound. Still, the base metals sector was up 0.2% and First Quantum Minerals gained 16 cents to C$20.26.Here’s the news investors were watching today:Smart money says it’s time to buy AppleCan the new BlackBerry topple Apple’s iPhone?BCE ranks high in the 17 best stocks for big fat dividendsPrecious metals ruled the fund worldON DECK THURSDAYG20 finance ministers and central bankers meet in Moscow ECONOMIC NEWSBank of Japan announces interest rate decision UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect CORPORATE NEWSCANADABarrick Gold Q4 earnings: Analysts expect $1.06 Goldcorp Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 46¢ CI Financial Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 35¢ Encana Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 31¢ Precision Drilling Q4 earnings: Analysts expect $1.15 Cenovus Energy Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 54¢ Canfor Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 14¢ UNITED STATESPepsiCo Q4 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.05 a share CBS Corp Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 71¢ Molson Coors Brewing Co Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 64¢ Campbell Soup Co Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 66¢ The J.M. Smucker Co Q3 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.39 Apache Corp Q4 earnings: Analysts expect US$2.30 read more

Maldives dismisses UN views insists former President a fugitive

“The Government accepts the conviction of Nasheed as lawful and final. The conviction has reached finality after the decision of the Supreme Court on 27 June 2016. The Government notes with concern that although a detailed submission was filed in response to the complaints, very little, if any, consideration has been given to those submissions,” the Maldives Foreign Ministry said. The Maldives Government has rejected the views adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the complaints filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed alleging the violation of his civil and political rights.The Maldives Foreign Ministry said that the Government of the Maldives is committed to promoting and protecting the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Maldives and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as per it’s international obligations, and it wholeheartedly refutes that any of these rights have been violated in the case of the former President Nasheed. “The Government also maintains that the former President Nasheed’s political standing had no bearing, whatsoever, on the charges against him and his subsequent conviction, and reaffirms that the process was free of any and all political influence. As Nasheed has been convicted lawfully, the restrictions on his political participation and association are justified and reasonable under the laws and regulations of the Maldives as well as the rulings of the courts of the Maldives,” the Maldives Government said.The Government notes that Article 109 of the Constitution of the Maldives details the qualifications a person elected as President must hold, and as such, Article 109 (f) states that such a person shall not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or pardon for the offence for which he was sentenced. The UN Human Rights Committee had concluded in a finding made public that the Maldives must restore ex-President Mohamed Nasheed’s right to stand for office, including the office of President. The finding of violations of human rights was made in response to two individual complaints by Nasheed filed in 2013 and 2016. The Maldives Government said that since Former President Nasheed was convicted on 13 March 2015 and sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment, he would not be eligible to run for the Office of the President unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release or pardon.The Government also notes that the Former President was granted permission to travel abroad to seek medical treatment and that following expiry of the medical leave, he has not returned to serve his sentence and therefore remains a fugitive. read more

Canadian lumber producers say higher demand in China US should boost prices

MONTREAL – There’s no sign that China’s appetite for lumber is waning despite its somewhat slower economic growth, according a top executive of West Fraser Timber who sees demand remaining strong not only for his company but for other producers as well.West Fraser (TXX:WFT) vice-president Chris McIver says the Vancouver-based company has shifted its sales efforts inland from China’s coastal markets because it believes there’s still plenty of demand for lumber.“There’s tremendous need for lumber, whether it’s from us or from elsewhere in the world,” McIver said in a recent interview.“So (China’s) overall economic growth may slow, but we don’t see demand for our product slowing. In fact we see it growing.”Analysts expect West Fraser’s adjusted profit for the third quarter will increase six per cent from a year ago to $1.35 per share, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.The company issues its earnings after markets close Monday. Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP) and Acadian Timber Corp. (TSX:ADN), also based in Vancouver, issue their results Wednesday after markets close.West Fraser, one of Canada’s largest lumber producers, began exporting more of its production to the Asia-Pacific region after 2007 — when U.S. demand collapsed along with that country’s housing market.About 30 per cent of its Canadian production is currently exported to China, Japan and Korea, compared with just five to eight per cent in 2007, when Japan was West Fraser’s main Asian market.Although U.S. housing industry has finally begun to recover from one of its deepest recessions on record, West Fraser Timber doesn’t foresee a drop in Canadian shipments to China.The world’s second-largest economy grew by 7.8 per cent in the third quarter and the central government in Beijing aims to keep growth above 7.5 per cent.That’s barely half of the 14.2 per cent China’s expansion in 2009, but far above what’s expected in the Canada, the United States, Europe or Japan.McIver said challenges remain in central B.C. because of mountain pine beetle infestations but the industry is in better shape than it was five or six years ago.“It was pretty much a depression in our industry but we are very encouraged about the future and the future for our employees and the future for prospective employees.”Shipments of B.C. softwood lumber to China are on track to set a new record in 2013. For the first eight months through August, shipments were running 2.4 per cent higher than 2012.Paul Quinn, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, notes that the U.S. was slapping a 10 per cent duty on Canadian softwood in August but those charges have since fallen.They are now down to five per cent and are expected to drop to zero in November because of higher prices for Canadian lumber.The Vancouver-based analyst expects prices will increase from US$350 per thousand board feet this year to US$380 in 2014 and to US$425 in 2015.Tembec Inc. (TSX:TMB) vice-president Dennis Rounsville says the Quebec-based producer sells little wood to China but believes increased demand from Asia and a U.S. recovery will boost prices.“If we look out over the next two or three years, we see a strong arrow up. How steep the arrow up is dependent on how quickly the housing market comes back,” said Rounsville, the retiring head of Tembec’s forest products group.American housing starts remain well below the two-million level of 2005 but have risen over the past three years, with Rounsville saying he expects them to reach 950,000 in 2013 and up to 1.3 million by 2015. by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Oct 27, 2013 4:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Canadian lumber producers say higher demand in China, U.S. should boost prices read more

In the land of Westeros Game of Thrones production helps Northern Irelands

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Giants, dragons and vengeful queens have for generations populated Northern Ireland’s folk tales. Now, such creatures are visiting the land in a different version — on the sets for the hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” But rather than spells and destruction, they’re bringing an economic boost to this British province still healing from its past of political violence.Fans of the HBO fantasy drama would recognize here the landscapes from the fictional land of Westeros — the castle of Winterfell, the seaside cliffs of the Iron Isles and the King’s Road leading to the north. About 75 per cent of the show is filmed in Northern Ireland, both in natural settings and in the Titanic Studios in Belfast.Since the pilot episode began filming in 2009, attracted by the local government’s financial incentives, the show’s presence has helped foster a film industry that is catching the eye of other Hollywood productions. And Northern Ireland is taking advantage of the attention by promoting the filming locations as tourist destinations.The latest — and perhaps most illustrious — visitor is Queen Elizabeth II, who will tour the studio sets on Monday. But thousands have already been visiting from across the globe.Cara and Tom Collins from Springdale, Arkansas, were in Ballintoy Harbour recently to see the rocky coastal setting used in the show for the ‘Iron Isles,’ a kingdom of rugged sailors.“You can just close your eyes and picture everybody there,” said Tom.The season four finale of “Game of Thrones” last week was watched by 7.09 million viewers in the United States according to prime-time viewership numbers complied by the Nielson Co. That makes it HBO’s most-watched program since “The Sopranos” in 2007.But the numbers are likely higher since TV audience habits have changed since 2007 and “Game of Thrones” has fans globally who watch on local networks and via DVD or streaming services.For Northern Ireland’s tourism industry, that represents a huge pool of potential visitors. The province hopes to use the show’s popularity to increase the number of tourists to over 2 million annually by 2016, from 1.8 million in 2013 — more than the region’s population of just 1.8 million.Coach operators have created “Game of Thrones” tours, for which demand hit a record as the show reached its season finale this month.“They are using some of our most iconic scenery in ‘Game of Thrones’ which is excellent,” said Arlene Foster, minister for enterprise, trade and investment.Beyond tourism, the direct employment of local workers has been very important for the local economy, she said.At the end of series four, HBO is estimated to have spent about 87.6 million pounds ($149.11 million) in the local economy making the show. The benefits are likely much higher when including other factors, such as the knock-on benefits from higher employment.“This is a sector that we think has the potential to really grow” said Foster. “Around the HBO facility and studios will grow a skills base that others can use.”Holywood — pronounced the same as California’s ‘Hollywood’ — is a small seaside town near Belfast that may lack the glamour of Beverly Hills, but is gaining a movie-making reputation of its own. Yellow Moon, a production facility based there, has enjoyed strong growth and doubled its workforce by being involved with “Game of Thrones.”“HBO were a big catalyst in changing perceptions of what could be done in Northern Ireland. As the Americans say, it was a game changer,” said Managing Director Greg Darby.Five years ago, 80 per cent of Yellow Moon’s work was for local broadcasters, and just 20 per cent for productions based in the U.K. or further afield. Now, 70 per cent of their work is commissioned outside Northern Ireland.“‘Game of Thrones’ are directly or indirectly responsible for 80 per cent of the people that we have taken on in the last three years, because if they didn’t come we wouldn’t have the other work,” said Darby.Scott Ferguson’s story illustrates what “Game of Thrones” means for young creative people in Northern Ireland.He dreamt of being a film editor, but his first experience in the industry failed to lead to more work, so he took a job in a bank. Then five years ago a government training scheme lead to a placement at Yellow Moon and he is now a colorist on the show, adding mood and tone to the images in post-production, and on his way to becoming an expert in his field.Ferguson is confident that people like him will no longer need to emigrate to seek work in film and TV, now that Northern Ireland’s reputation as a production hub is growing.“We have world class facilities, and we now have a world class crew. We have a shooting crew and we have a post crew who have worked on the biggest, most watched, most successful TV show that has been around for a while,” he said.Statistics can’t do justice to the “Game of Thrones” effect on Northern Ireland’s economy, said economist Graham Brownlow, from Queens University Belfast. He says the show is helping to improve the province’s international image, which for decades had become synonymous with political violence and economic stagnation.“The real benefits that Northern Ireland secures are the things that are most difficult to measure” he explained. “By creating a critical mass for film and TV productions it creates a good image for Northern Ireland, which stimulates further production in Northern Ireland, which improves the image of Northern Ireland,” Brownlow said.That ‘critical mass’ now includes ‘Dracula Untold’, a Universal Pictures movie with an October 2014 release date and Ridley Scott’s new ‘Halo’ feature, which is also expected to be released before the end of the year.These and other features will need best boys, wardrobe assistants, carpenters, camera operators and colorists and Northern Ireland’s new local talent pool will be only too happy to oblige. by Siobhan Starrs, The Associated Press Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:18 am MDT In the land of Westeros: ‘Game of Thrones’ production helps Northern Ireland’s economy, image read more

OSC to hold hearing on settlement agreement with former SinoForest executive

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Canadian Press Posted Jul 15, 2014 12:53 pm MDT OSC to hold hearing on settlement agreement with former Sino-Forest executive TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission has reached a proposed settlement with the former chief financial officer of Chinese forestry company Sino-Forest Corp., which collapsed under allegations of being a massive fraud.David Horsley is accused of not complying with Ontario securities law and acting contrary to the public interest.Details of the tentative settlement will not be made public unless it is approved at a hearing on July 21.The allegations against Horsley were first brought by the Ontario regulator in the spring of 2012.Horsley stepped down as chief financial officer at Sino-Forest in April 2012 and parted ways with the company in September 2012.Five other executives — Allen Chan, Albert Ip, Alfred C.T. Hung, George Ho and Simon Yeung — are also accused of lying to investors and misleading investigators by engaging in a “complex fraud scheme to inflate the assets and revenue of Sino-Forest,” according to OSC documents.The OSC said a hearing will be held in September regarding the other five accused.From June 2006 to March 2011, the Toronto-listed forestry company saw its stock price soar by 340 per cent from $5.75 a share, to $25.30. At its peak, Sino-Forest’s market capitalization was worth more than $6 billion.But in 2011, Sino-Forest was accused of being a fraud by U.S. firm Muddy Waters Research, prompting investigations by the OSC and the RCMP. The allegations sent the company’s share price plummeting.A year later, the company said that investors should no longer rely on the accuracy of its previous financial statements or audit reports.Its auditors resigned in April 2012. A month later, the company’s shares delisted on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Last year, the Ontario Superior Court approved a $117-million class-action settlement involving Sino-Forest and its former auditor, Ernst & Young. The agreed deal saw the accounting firm pay towards into a fund to compensate shareholders after the firm was accused of fraudulently overstating its assets. read more

UN health agency warns Ebola outbreak in West Africa has a very

Dr. Bruce Aylward, Special Representative on Ebola Response for the World Health Organization (WHO), made those remarks at a press conference in Geneva, following his return from the “hot spots” of the epidemic in Guinea and Sierra Leone.He said that despite the “ferocious rainy season” in West Africa, the number of Ebola cases has remained in the single digits for six consecutive weeks in Guinea and Sierra Leone. In addition, there are only three active chains of transmission in those countries, a development he described as a “major milestone in all three countries [Liberia being the third] in the march towards zero” cases.“Our goal is zero transmission in the human population and that remains very possible within 2015,” he said.The senior WHO official said that the focus of the current Ebola response was what he called Phase 3 aimed at ensuring that the residual risks are managed and guarding against the re-emergence of the disease, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives, mostly in West Africa.Dr. Aylward described the remaining challenges as residual risk surveillance, sustaining rapid response teams, and survivor engagement and care, which includes the risks of transmission through semen by male survivors of Ebola.Testing for the status of semen is underway, he said, but other precautions are also being looked into such as the vaccination of sexual partners or family members to reduce the risk if someone tests positive.“This virus has a very nasty sting in its tail,” he said.Separately, WHO released guidance on the care of pregnant women with Ebola. The agency said that there is no evidence to show that women who survive Ebola and subsequently become pregnant pose a risk for Ebola virus transmission. However, pregnant women with active Ebola, pregnant women who survive the disease with an ongoing pregnancy and pregnant women who are contacts of confirmed Ebola cases pose a potential risk.WHO’s latest weekly update on Ebola showed there were 2 confirmed cases of the disease reported in the week to 6 September: 1 in Guinea and 1 in Sierra Leone. read more

Violence in Myanmars Rakhine state could amount to crimes against humanity –

The scale of violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state documented in a recent United Nations human rights report is a level of dehumanization and cruelty that is “revolting and unacceptable,” the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide said today, underlining the Government’s responsibility to ensure that populations are protected.In a statement, Special Adviser Adama Dieng said the flash report issued last week by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) gave further credibility to allegations that security forces were committing serious human rights violations against civilians in northern Rakhine state from the very beginning of the recent escalation of violence, which was precipitated by attacks on border posts in early October 2016 and the ensuing operations by those forces. According to the findings contained in the OHCHR report, human rights violations committed by the security forces include mass gang-rape, extra-judicial killings – including of babies and young children, brutal beatings and disappearances. “If people are being persecuted based on their identity and killed, tortured, raped and forcibly transferred in a widespread or systematic manner, this could amount to crimes against humanity, and in fact be the precursor of other egregious international crimes,” said Mr. Dieng. “This must stop right now!” he declared. Current panel not a credible option to carry out new investigationMr. Dieng also expressed concern that the commission previously appointed by the Government to investigate the allegations and which, despite having unhindered access to the region, found no evidence, or insufficient evidence, of any wrongdoing by Government forces. “[However,] OHCHR, which was not given access to the area, found an overwhelming number of testimonies and other forms of evidence through interviews with refugees who had fled to a neighbouring country,” the Special Adviser added. “The existing Commission is not a credible option to undertake the new investigation.” “I urge that any investigation be conducted by a truly independent and impartial body that includes international observers,” he noted, welcoming the Government’s commitment to open an immediate probe. “If the Government wants the international community and regional actors to believe in their willingness to resolve the matter, they must act responsibly and demonstrate their sincerity,” Mr. Dieng said. “There is no more time to wait. All of this is happening against the background of very deeply rooted and long-standing discriminatory practices and policies against the Rohingya Muslims and a failure to put in place conditions that would support peaceful coexistence among the different communities in Rakhine state,” he concluded. read more

Isco and Asensio lead Madrid into Copa del Reys last 16

MADRID — Marco Asensio and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon both scored twice to lead a second-string Real Madrid team to a 6-1 win over third division Melilla in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.Javi Sanchez and Vinicius Junior also netted as Madrid advanced to the last-16 stage 10-1 on aggregate after having won the first leg 4-0 in the small Spanish enclave in Africa.It was an important outing for Asensio and Isco, who haven’t been getting many chances in the first team under new coach Santiago Solari.Isco was a starter for the first time under Solari and was named captain at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.Levante also defeated second division Lugo 2-0 to advance 3-1 on aggregate. Jorge “Coke” Andujar and Raphael Dwamena scored late goals for the hosts at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium.Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla went through on Wednesday.___More AP soccer: and /The Associated Press read more

FLSmidth to supply equipment for Bozshakol copper mine in Kazakhstan

first_imgFLSmidth has won a contract worth approximately $63 million from the Kazakhstani company, Kazakhmys PLC, to design a 5 Mt/y copper concentrator and supply all the process technology for a plant to be built at its Bozshakol copper mine in Kazakhstan, 220 km north of the capital Astana. The order includes the basic and detailed engineering for the plant in addition to the supply of FLSmidth’s proprietary technologies for crushing, milling, flotation, thickening, filtering, cycloning, pumping as well as regrind mills and material handling conveyors and feeders. FLSmidth will also procure auxiliary third party items for the plant on behalf of Kazakhmys and provide erection supervision, start-up and commissioning services.“This order was awarded to FLSmidth as a consequence of our One Source approach which secures faster start-up, efficient operation and reduced environmental impact. FLSmidth has previously delivered equipment to Kazakhmys, which as the world’s eleventh largest copper producer is a very well established player in the industry,” Group CEO Jørgen Huno Rasmussen comments.last_img read more

IN FULL Michael Noonans Budget 2014 speech

first_imgTHE DEBATE HAS started in the Dáil, with opposition parties responding to the announcements made by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and his colleague Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin earlier this afternoon.If you missed it, here is Noonan’s speech in full: Focus on Employment The shadow economy causes distortions in the real economy because it puts legitimate and compliant business at a competitive disadvantage. I am introducing seven measures designed to further support the Revenue Commissioners’ work targeting VAT fraud, illegal tobacco selling, unlicensed trading in alcohol products, and fuel laundering.I believe that compliant taxpayers should have an independent, fair and efficient appeals process open to them, and that is why I am announcing a reform of the Appeal Commissioners in 2014. PartnershipsFor reasons of equity, I have decided to abolish the tax relief that was available for acquiring an interest in a partnership.Tobacco Products TaxWith effect from midnight tonight, excise duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes is being increased by 10 cent with a pro-rata increase on the other tobacco products.Alcohol Products TaxAlso with effect from midnight tonight, excise duty on a pint of beer or cider, and a standard measure of spirits is being increased by 10 cent, the duty on a 75cl bottle of wine is being increased by 50 cent. I understand that this increase will impact on vintners but it must be considered in the context of the retention of the 9 per cent VAT rate on food and hospitality services, which are an ever increasing proportion of vintners’ revenue.Tax on SavingsWith effect from 2014, I am introducing a new higher single unified rate of 41 per cent for DIRT and the exit tax that applies to life assurance policies and investment funds. The previous differential rates based on payment frequency will no longer apply. This measure will incentivise investment and spending in the economy, which is vital for the creation of jobs.Levy on Domestic BanksThe Government has decided that the banking sector should make an annual contribution of €150 million to the Exchequer for the period from 2014 to 2016. We will introduce the levy on the same basis as the one that yielded over €100 million each year from 2003 to 2005. The contribution from each institution will be broadly based on the amount of tax paid on deposit interest in 2011 and reflects the significant role played by the banking sector in the crisis. Similar levies are in place in other EU Member States including France, the Netherlands and the UK and full details on the measure will be set out in the Finance Bill. In addition, and to level the tax position of all banks, I am removing the restriction on the use of deferred tax assets for NAMA losses.Pensions Pension LevyI wish to confirm that contributions to pension schemes will continue to attract income tax relief at the marginal rate of tax. I wish to confirm that the 0.6 per cent Pension Levy introduced to fund the Jobs Initiative in 2011 will be abolished from the 31st of December 2014. I will however, introduce an additional levy on pension funds at 0.15 per cent. I am doing this to continue to help fund the Jobs Initiative and to make provision for potential State liabilities which may emerge from pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties. The levy within the existing legal framework will apply to pension fund assets in 2014 and 2015.High Earners Report Banking and credit Conclusion The agri-food and fisheries sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry employing some 150,000 people, producing an annual output of €24 billion and exporting €9 billion worth of goods to over 160 countries. It is entirely appropriate that the sector has been the recipient of significant tax relief and incentives over the years, but these have grown over time and there is now a significant information gap about their cost and effectiveness. Therefore, I am announcing, in conjunction with my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, that an independent cost benefit analysis will be undertaken in this area. The objective of the review is to identify what works and what doesn’t, and redirect the existing level of tax expenditure towards activities of maximum benefit to this sector of the economy. This review follows recent reviews of property, film and R&D tax expenditures. Any recommendations will be considered in the context of Budget 2015.However, I do wish to announce that the farmers’ flat rate addition is being increased to 5 per cent from 4.8 per cent with effect from the 1st of January 2014. This scheme compensates farmers for VAT incurred on their farming inputs.In addition, I am also extending Capital Gains Tax retirement relief to disposals of long-term leased farmland in certain circumstances. The purpose of the change I am introducing in this area is to encourage older farmers to lease out their farmland on long term leases to younger farmers, in circumstances where the older farmers have no children who are willing to take up farming.The eligibility for Young Trained Farmers relief is also being extended by adding three more qualifying courses to the list of relevant qualifications required for the 100 per cent rate of stock relief and for the Stamp Duty relief for the purchase of agricultural properties, which I am maintaining. NAMA is delivering and is committed to delivering additional significant investment in the Irish economy right now. NAMA expects to have approved €2 billion in funding for Irish projects between 2011 and 2015. This level of investment could be increased depending on the pace of economic recovery. The investment will include the construction of 4,500 new houses and apartments in Dublin, in addition to much-needed office accommodation in the city centre and investment in commercially viable retail projects.NAMA is also willing to make €2 billion in vendor capital available to purchasers of commercial properties in Ireland. It has already lent €375 million of this across six major transactions. In the last Budget I abolished Top Slicing Relief on all ex-gratia lump sum payments made in respect of retirements, or terminations of employment, where they were €200,000 or over. I have decided to go further this year and abolish this relief entirely, given that it operates to provide additional relief to those who may be in receipt of very significant ex gratia lump sum payments.In relation to medical insurance relief, I have decided to cap the amount of premium on which tax relief will be available to €1,000 per adult and €500 per child. This will restrict the exposure of the Exchequer in relation to premiums paid for ‘gold plated’ medical insurance policies, while not affecting the majority of individuals who avail of more standard levels of medical cover. For example, a family of two adults and four children will still receive tax relief on premiums of up to €4,000 per annum. Only the portion of any premium that exceeds the new thresholds will not qualify for tax relief. I will deal now in more detail with the financial targets I referred to earlier in my Statement.The forecast deficit for 2013 is 7.3 per cent, for 2014 4.8 per cent and for 2015 2.9 per cent. We have beaten our deficit target during each year of our programme, and a deficit at 4.8 per cent will beat the target again next year.I am pleased to announce that this is the first Budget speech since 2007 which is taking place against the background of an increase in employment. Data for the second quarter of this year suggest that employment grew by 1.8 per cent over the year, a rise of 34,000 jobs, with full-time employment up as well as part-time. I would also like Deputies to note that employment is now expected to grow by about 1½ per cent both this year and next year.My Department is forecasting GDP growth of 0.2 per cent this year, strengthening to 2 per cent next year. This forecast is better than the 1.8 per cent growth forecast endorsed by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council because it takes account of the budgetary measures that I and Minister Howlin are announcing today.Total voted and non-voted expenditure will be €64.9 billion in 2014. Voted expenditure along with expenditure funded by the Social Insurance Fund and the National Training Fund, defined in the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2013 as the Government Expenditure Ceiling, will be €52.9 billion in 2014. Government has decided that the Government Expenditure Ceilings for 2015 and 2016 will be €51.5 billion and €51.9 billion respectively.Minister Howlin will provide information on expenditure in his Statement immediately after my Statement. Full details on 2014 expenditure will be set out in the Expenditure Report he is publishing today.Ireland’s debt is forecast to peak at 124 per cent of GDP at the end of this year. This debt ratio is very high and reducing it must be a key priority. The first step is to reduce the amount being borrowed and ultimately to cease borrowing particularly for day to day spending. The effectiveness of the steps we have taken since entering office, including in this Budget, are visible from the small primary surplus that is forecast for next year; in other words, excluding the interest burden, we are paying our own way again.I would stress that one reason for the current high debt ratio is the policy decision to ensure that the State is well funded as we leave the EU/IMF Programme – we have built up a large stockpile of cash to ensure that the State has sufficient funding at the end of the year to meet its financial commitments into early 2015. In the coming years, the NTMA will manage down the level of the State’s cash reserves to significantly lower but still prudent levels. Property/Construction Sector Foreign Direct Investment Today, I am publishing the Report of the Revenue Commissioners on their analysis of the High Earners Restriction in 2011, which covers the latest figures available and relates to measures to limit the use of certain tax reliefs and exemptions by high-income individuals. The yield is down when compared to the report for the tax year 2010 due to the income of these individuals falling and to the closure of tax reliefs, such as the abolition of the patent and stallion fees exemptions and the capping of the artist’s exemptions.This has resulted in many of these individuals moving into the regular income tax system. The report shows that the effective tax rates for different categories of high earners are around 30-40 per cent. This confirms the restriction is working to improve the balance between promoting tax equity in relation to those on high incomes, whilst maintaining the incentive effect of the various tax reliefs introduced to achieve a particular public good.Apart from the measures that I have just announced Deputies will be pleased to hear that:there will be no increases in income tax or the Universal Social Charge in 2014;there will be no increases in the 9 per cent, 13.5 per cent or 23 per cent VAT rates in 2014; andthere will be no increases in excise duty on petrol, diesel or on home heating oil and gas.EU/IMF Programme exit strategy Public finances and economic forecasts Home Renovation Incentive (HRI)I am introducing a home renovation tax incentive scheme. The Home Renovation Incentive will provide an income tax credit to homeowners who carry out renovation and improvement works on their principal private residences in 2014 and 2015. The incentive is payable over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out. The credit will be calculated at a rate of 13.5 per cent on all qualifying expenditure over €5,000 up to a maximum of €30,000. Qualifying works include extensions and renovations to the home, window-fitting, plumbing, tiling and plastering. This incentive will support fully tax compliant builders and will move activity out of the shadow economy into the legitimate economy as all expenditure and relief claims will have to be registered electronically with the Revenue Commissioners.Living City InitiativeLast year I announced the Living City Initiative for Limerick and Waterford. Following further consideration including a cost benefit analysis that I am publishing today, I have decided to extend the initiative to Cork, Galway, Kilkenny and Dublin and broaden the eligibility criteria to include all buildings built prior to 1915. The initiative should assist the regeneration of retail and commercial districts and encourage families to live in the historic buildings in our city centres. It will be commenced after EU state-aid approval is secured.Capital Gains Tax ReliefIn Budget 2012, I announced an incentive that exempted property purchased by the end of 2013 from Capital Gains Tax if held for at least seven years. I am extending the purchase period to the end of 2014.Real Estate Investment TrustsFollowing the successful launch of the Real Estate Investment Trusts in Ireland, as provided for in the Finance Act 2013, I have agreed with my cabinet colleague, Minister Shatter, to propose the addition of REIT investments to the 5 investment options already in place under the Immigrant Investor Programme launched last year by the Department of Justice. This would be subject to conditions placed on the minimum level of the investment and withdrawal of funds, to ensure alignment with the overall purpose of the programme.Nama Investment Entrepreneurship, innovation and investmentcenter_img This Budget will bring the deficit to 4.8 per cent, again ahead of the required target. It will move us to a small primary surplus. This will give the financial markets the confidence to continue lending to us. This is essential for a state to be able to provide the vital public services demanded by its population. The reality, as this country is now all too familiar with, is that if a state cannot borrow funds at sustainable rates then it cannot provide a definitive level of public services. Pro-Jobs Tax MeasuresThis Government is continuing to focus its policies on creating and maintaining jobs in all sectors of the economy. I will now set out the tax measures that will support job creation and then Minister Howlin will set out the public expenditure measures that will support job creation.Tourism Agri-food and fisheries While the Government was, over the last two and a half years, focused on implementing and ultimately exiting the EU/IMF programme, we have also been following another parallel programme. This parallel programme took the economy sector by sector and the Government built on the strong sectors of the economy and repaired those sectors which were damaged. The objective of this parallel programme is to support businesses to create jobs and get people back to work.For example:In the tourism sector, I reduced VAT to 9 per cent from 13.5 per cent within the first 100 days of this Government; an initiative that boosted the tourist industry.I introduced a number of measures to support Irish farmers and to help those farmers who are preparing for the ending of milk quotas in 2015.Last year I introduced a 10 Point tax plan to support the SME sector.I introduced over 20 measures in Finance Act 2012 to support the financial services industry.A range of initiatives were introduced over the past 2 years to support the recovery in the property and housing market.I have also introduced measures to enhance the attractiveness of Ireland as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment and we have continually defended our 12.5 per cent tax rate.While many of these initiatives on their own may be small, taken together they have played a significant part in the recovery in the jobs market. In line with the commitment I made in Budget 2013 to restrict the subsidisation by taxpayers of pensions that deliver income up to €60,000 per annum, I am reducing the Standard Fund Threshold from €2.3 million to €2 million from the 1st of January 2014. I am also changing the current single valuation factor of 20 used to value Defined Benefit pension entitlements to a range of higher factors which vary with the age at which the pension is drawn down. This will improve the equity of the Standard Fund Threshold regime as between Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution pension arrangements, and between those who retire at an early age and those who retire at older ages. Tax MeasuresThe deficit target and the initiatives to support jobs that I announced have to be paid for. In total, some €1.2 billion of additional revenue is required in 2014. Measures introduced or announced in Budget 2013 have resulted in an estimated carry-over of over €500 million and I am announcing close to €700 million of new measures today. Equity and transparency were taken into account in devising these measures, the full details of which will be contained in the Finance Bill to be published shortly.Income Tax Shadow Economy Ireland’s corporate tax strategy has three key elements: rate, reputation and regime.The tax rate is settled policy. We are 100 per cent committed to the 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate. This will not change.But increasingly tax reputation is also a key factor in winning mobile foreign direct investment. Over the last 12 months, the international rules for taxing multi-national companies have been a focus for much debate across the globe. Global challenges require global action. This is now happening through the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project in which Ireland is playing an active part.Let me be crystal clear. Ireland wants to be part of the solution to this global tax challenge, not part of the problem. That is why today I am publishing a new international tax strategy statement which sets out Ireland’s objectives and commitments in relation to these issues. I will also be bringing forward a change in the Finance Bill to ensure that Irish registered companies cannot be ‘stateless’ in terms of their place of tax residency. All economic sectors have a vital role to play in our economic recovery. However, to create additional jobs, we need to support the creation of new businesses, which are effective job generators. At present in Ireland the aspiration to set up a new business is lower than the EU and OECD averages. Too many people in Ireland see themselves as employees for life. We must encourage people to start their own businesses.To do this we need three things: entrepreneurship; innovation; and investment. Today I am announcing a series of measures under the “Build Your Business Initiative” which focus on these factors:To promote entrepreneurship, from next year, I am giving a Capital Gains Tax relief to entrepreneurs who reinvest the proceeds from the disposal of assets, on which CGT has previously been paid, into a new investment in productive trading activities. The relief will be a tax credit equal to the lower of the CGT paid on the previous asset disposal or 50 per cent of the CGT due on any gain from the future disposal of the new investment. EU state-aid approval is required for this measure.To encourage innovation, I am implementing the key recommendations of a review of the Research and Development tax credit that I am publishing today. These improvements relate to the outsourcing of R&D, qualifying expenditure in relation to the base year and the key employee provision.I am introducing a new Start Your Own Business scheme to assist individuals who have been unemployed for at least 15 months start their own unincorporated businesses by giving them a two year exemption from income tax. This scheme, in combination with the Home Renovation Initiative, will assist construction workers to return to work.To stimulate investment, inspire entrepreneurship and support and protect jobs, I am removing the Employment and Investment Incentive from the high earners restriction for a period of 3 years. This will encourage investors to invest up to the annual limit of €150,000 under the scheme. Additional equity will enable SMEs to expand and enhance the credibility of their credit applications.Furthermore, I propose to exempt share transfers on the Enterprise Securities Market of the Irish Stock Exchange from the 1% Stamp Duty that would otherwise apply.I am bringing forward the start date of the new Film Relief scheme to 2015 from 2016 and extending it to include non-EU talent in order to help attract additional major film productions to these shores. These productions are job rich and can often give a knock-on boost to the tourism sector. This extension will be subject to EU state-aid approval and it will be coupled with the introduction of a withholding tax.Building on a measure in last year’s 10 point plan to help SMEs, I am increasing the cash receipts basis threshold for VAT from €1.25 million to €2 million with effect from the 1st of May 2014. This overall increase in the threshold of €1 million since 2012 will assist cash-flow and reduce administration in a larger number of SMEs.Magdalene LaundriesThe Government has decided to give effect to one of the main recommendations of Mr. Justice Quirke, in relation to his report on the individuals who worked in Magdalene Laundries. To this effect, I am announcing that all lump sum payments to claimants will be tax exempt. The banking sector has a very important role to play in supplying credit at competitive rates to support economic growth. As shareholders in the main banks, our objective is to manage them commercially to create and protect value for the taxpayer as the shareholder, but they must also supply the credit lines necessary to sustain and grow the economy.Credit unions also have a key role to play in providing access to credit and other important services in local communities throughout the country. The Government is a supporter of credit unions. We have provided significant funding and we will continue to work closely with the movement so that credit unions can continue to play a full part in Ireland’s recovery.We must continue to ensure that businesses, particularly SMEs, have access to credit from a diverse range of sources. Sources of alternative funding continue to rise. These include the National Pension Reserve Fund, the European Investment Bank and private providers such as Silicon Valley Bank.At European level, we are leading the debate on non-bank funding models for business as we promote the jobs and growth agenda both home and abroad. Given the importance of the export sector to sustainable economic growth and employment, we are in discussions with the European Investment Bank on the feasibility of an EIB-supported trade finance initiative which would proactively support Irish exporters in growing their businesses abroad.The Credit Review Office fulfils an important role in assisting borrowers who have been refused credit by the banks. I am announcing an increase in the limit for loan applications that can be appealed to the Credit Review Office from €0.5 million to €3 million to facilitate requests from a broader range of SMEs.The level of awareness amongst SMEs and entrepreneurs of the full suite of developmental business supports remains low. In order to address this, a comprehensive communication strategy will be rolled out in the coming months.To improve the framework of credit supports available to SMEs, I am also announcing a subsidised financial training programme for small businesses consisting of two days dedicated offsite training together with expert mentoring support. This programme will be carried out in conjunction with the Skillnets Management Works Programme and is designed to improve the financial capability of SMEs.The banking sector also has a key role to play in supporting customers who are in mortgage arrears. We have put in place a comprehensive suite of measures to help mortgage holders, the personal insolvency regime has been overhauled and the insolvency service is now up and running. The banks have been set targets by the Central Bank.Within the next twelve months I expect that the vast majority of customers who are currently in arrears will have been offered and accepted a sustainable solution. Homeowners in mortgage arrears must be given the opportunity to address their problems, to move on with their lives and to fully re-engage with the real economy. This is important not just for the homeowners involved but for the entire economy. A Cheann Comhairle,The story of insolvent Ireland is familiar to all our people and the sacrifices people have had to make in recent years are well known. Reckless policies were pursued by the Fianna Fáil led Government. This continued until Ireland was no longer able to borrow on the international markets and the Government had to turn to the lenders of last resort.The help from the IMF and the European authorities came at a high price. Hundreds of onerous conditions were attached to the loans. Ireland lost its sovereignty and the Troika came to Ireland. The Fianna Fáil led Government collapsed in a shambles and a Fine Gael/Labour Government took office with a mandate to sort out the disaster, to stabilise the economy, to get people back to work and to restore the sovereignty of this Republic.The new Government immediately set about this task and renegotiated the bail-out programme. Among the more notable achievements were the extension of the maturities and the reduction in interest on the European loans, the Promissory Note changes, the liquidation of Anglo Irish Bank, the restoration of the minimum wage, and agreement that half of the proceeds from the sale of State assets will be used for capital investment.This Government has reduced the deficit and controlled the national debt. We have reduced interest rates to levels below those that pertained during the so called boom, the economy is in its third successive year of growth and 3,000 net new jobs are being created each month.The purpose of this Budget is to continue the progress we have made; to reinforce policies that grow the economy; to establish the conditions which will create jobs; and to prepare for exiting the bail-out programme.To this end the Government has designed this Budget. We will bring in a deficit of 4.8 per cent in 2014, we will bring in a small primary surplus, demonstrating that our national debt, which has been rising for so many years, is under control. We will achieve these targets by an adjustment of €3.1 billion, €2.5 billion of which will consist of expenditure cuts and tax increases.As W.B. Yeats said in Easter 1916 “too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart”. I know that there is a view that the consolidation should go further, but people have already made many sacrifices.One of the primary tasks of this Budget is to lay down the conditions for a successful exit from the bail-out programme at the end of this year or to put it another way to fund ourselves fully through the international markets in a sustainable way at competitive interest rates. We are well on course to do this and as the economy continues to grow and jobs continue to be created, we have a fair wind on our backs to achieve our objectives and restore our sovereignty. In recognition of the importance of the tourism sector to the overall economy and as a major source of jobs, I reduced VAT in this sector to 9 per cent in the Jobs Initiative in May 2011. As I outlined earlier, this initiative has proved to be a major success, helping create over 15,000 new jobs as well as protecting existing jobs. As Deputies will be aware, the rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality sector and the other sectors to which it applies is due to revert to 13.5 per cent at the end of this year. However, it is important that we reinforce success when possible, so I have decided to continue the 9 per cent rate of VAT for these vital sectors. This will support the increased number of jobs already in place and accelerate the creation of new jobs. In my previous Budgets, I have included important measures that have begun to return growth to the construction sector. I introduced these, as I have continually stated, with the objective of helping the construction and development sector return to sustainable levels in line with most economies. No sector has been hit harder since 2008 and a return to a normalised construction and development sector is needed to provide jobs for the thousands of unemployed construction workers. By the time the majority of the measures that I have announced today become law on the first of January next, I am confident that Ireland will have left the EU/IMF programme. We will have closed this chapter of Ireland’s history that began for most of us with the Governor of the Central Bank announcing to the Irish public that the country would be forced to turn to the lenders of last resort.There will be no promissory notes, there will be no Anglo Irish Bank and there will be no bank guarantee. We will have exited the programme and Ireland will have been handed back her purse.We will still have difficult choices to make and further actions will be required to meet our targets in the years ahead. The recovery is well underway but there are still risks. However, there are also many opportunities that must be embraced.This Budget has been carefully calibrated to support the growth in jobs that we have seen in the past 18 months, and to keep Ireland on the path to sustainable public finances and economic growth.We are well along the recovery path and it is time now, as a nation, to begin to look forward. For all the latest updates on the Budget, follow our Liveblog.Related: German Finance Minister: ‘Ireland did what Ireland had to do. And now everything is fine’>last_img read more

A double scoop of success

first_imgRoyal Copenhagen ice-creamery franchise owner and manager, George Karamalis, took over his father’s ice-cream shop in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. “In 1993 my dad bought the Glenelg Royal Copenhagen franchise and I’ve been managing it ever since,” he said. After buying the Glenelg franchise from his father in 2006 he opened a second franchise in Adelaide’s Henley beach in late 2009.The Henley beach store, though branded Royal Copenhagen ice-cream, is also a licensed dessert bar offering wine, crepes, fondues, waffles and coffee. “This was just a new concept of mine and I’ve incorporated it in the brand, I have the South Australian rights to that concept,” Karamalis said. “We designed the whole menu. As far as Copenhagen is concerned we only really pay royalties for the name, we pretty much brand everything ourselves, it’s all our own concept”.The possibility of taking the concept to national heights is definitely on the cards, Karamalis said. “We’d like to take it nationally but it’s still quite new to us, we’re still seeing if the concept works but it has proven such a success. So maybe in the years to come we’ll definitely be looking at expanding,” he said.The two shops offer different services with location contributing 50 percent to the business, Karamalis said. “Our Glenelg store is walk in, walk out; the customer contact at Glenelg is 30 seconds whereas at Henley Beach we have table service, a fire place, we light candles on the tables at night, we have good music, it’s a really good atmosphere, a really good bar, and definitely more of a location to come down, sit down, and have a glass of wine with dessert,” he said.While the Glenelg store works on an 80 percent summer trade, 20 percent winter trade formula, the Henley beach store has weathered both the proverbial and literal storms, Karamalis said. “The reason for me bringing in and introducing a dessert line, seating area and table service was to bring in a winter trade. We’ve been open now for ten months now but we find that our winter trade is just as successful as our summer trade, it’s a really good concept because you’ve got both seasons,” he said. Karamalis said he grew up in family owned cafes and restaurants and while his father is now retired he will continue to carry on the tradition. “I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else to be honest…I’ve grown up eating ice creams and desserts; sweets are my forte,” he said. Karamalis has also targeted Adelaide’s cyber generation with a Face Book page for his business. “It works really well, but it’s something that the younger generation really sort of acknowledge not really the older generation, and you need to be on it all the time and you need to update it all the time. For free advertising it’s perfect,” he said. With about 30 staff members at both stores, Karamalis employs lots of juniors and trains them on the job. “The training is a week long on the job, you don’t have to have hospitality skills, it’s all about personality really,” he said.Karamalis is also a patron of the arts, with an arts corridor at his Henley beach store exhibiting works from local artists. “We support the local artists, we don’t take anything from them, a lot of cafes or restaurants will take a percent from the local artist in selling their artwork, but for me it’s just about helping and promoting local artists,” he said. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Oregon jobless rate drops to 37 percent

first_imgPORTLAND — Oregon’s record-low jobless rate has fallen again.The state Employment Department said Tuesday the unemployment rate for April was 3.7 percent, a slight drop from March’s record-low rate of 3.8 percent.The agency said gains were widespread among major industries, with government among the few sectors to shed jobs.The unemployment rate at this time last year was 5 percent. Over the past year, construction has been the fastest-growing industry, followed by transportation, warehousing and utilities.Another unemployment measure, known as U-6, fell to 8 percent in April — down from 10.4 percent a year ago. The figure includes discouraged workers who stopped looking as well as part-time workers who want but can’t get full-time jobs.last_img read more

Landing denies starting Manila IR construction but 2022 opening date remains

first_imgLanding International Development Ltd has denied reports it has already begun construction work on its proposed US$1.5 billion Philippines integrated resort, but the company says it is still aiming to open by 2022.In a written statement sent to Inside Asian Gaming on Monday, a Landing spokesperson insisted that, “Other than site hoarding and clearing of the land, we have not commenced any construction works since our ground breaking on 7 August. The construction equipment that the news article referred to including the bulldozers, cement mixers and batching plant belong to another adjacent site, which is unrelated to us.” China gives Philippines iGaming reprieve but POGOs not safe yet Load More Manila diplomat rejects China’s call to ban online gambling Philippines rejects China’s call to ban online gambling RelatedPosts The Philippine Star had previously reported that work had begun on the IR, to be named NayonLanding, last week with “bulldozers, backhoes, graders, cement mixers and dump trucks” in use, “about 50 workmen, some uniformed … busy with tools” and a concrete batching plant running “full-blast onsite.”Landing’s 7 August groundbreaking ceremony was overshadowed by the news that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had fired the entire board of the company’s local partner, Nayon Pilipino Foundation, over what he described as a “grossly disadvantageous” land lease deal said to be costing the government around Php517 million per year over the course of the 50-year lease.Duterte has subsequently ordered the Department of Justice to review the deal and stated last week he would not allow any new casinos to be built in the Philippines.Despite the President’s stance, Landing told IAG on Monday that it “still maintains the target to open the project in 2022.”last_img read more

Nikiski Woman Killed In Collision On Kenai Spur Highway

first_imgFacebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享A Nikiski woman was killed in a motor vehicle collision at mile 18 Kenai Spur Highway on Tuesday around 2:20pm. The Alaska State Troopers and Nikiski Fire Department responded to the collision. according to the online Dispatch,  George Delano, 82 of Nikiski, was driving a 2007 Chevy Silverado which crossed over the center lane and struck a 1994 Ford pick-up that was driven by Kim Lee, 73 of Nikiski. Impairment does not appear to be a factor in the crash. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts. Next of kin has been notified. Lee was pronounced deceased on scene.  Delano was transported to Central Peninsula Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. According to Troopers, the investigation is still ongoing.last_img read more

SELECTMEN NEWS 5 Things That Happened At Mondays Meeting

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below are five things that happened at Monday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting:#1) SELECTMEN BACK VEERMAN: At the beginning of the meeting, Selectman Chair Kevin Caira announced that the Selectmen declined to enter into an Executive Session to discuss complaints brought against Board of Appeals Chair Dan Veerman. According to the Lowell Sun, Selectmen Michael McCoy & Greg Bendel voted in favor of entering Executive Session, with Selectmen Kevin Caira & Ed Loud voted against. Selectman Jonathan Eaton rescued himself from the vote due to a previous professional dealings with Veerman. The complaints were submitted by members of the Concerned Citizens of Wilmington, a group opposed to the location of a proposed detox facility at 362 Middlesex Avenue. The complaints were submitted after Veerman voted in favor of a special permit to allow a detox facility at 362 Middlesex Avenue. The motion to enter Executive Session failed for lack of a majority, according to Caira, who said no further action would be taken on the matter.#2) HULL BACKS BOARD OF APPEALS: Town Manager Jeff Hull read a brief letter he had sent to members of the Board of Appeals:“At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on January 28, 2019, a member of the public raised allegations of conflict of interest involving the proposed development at 362 Middlesex Avenue. No specific circumstances were provided so no conclusion may be drawn from those allegations.The Town has full confidence in its volunteer boards and commissions and appreciates the services provided by all individuals serving on those boards and commissions. Each member is responsible for taking the State Ethics Commission conflict of interest exam in order to demonstrate understanding of the Conflict of Interest Law. Compliance with that law is a personal obligation for each member and is of paramount importance when decisions are being made that impact the Town. The Town is confident that all members adhere to the legal requirements applicable to their service.Your cooperation in this regard is greatly appreciated as is your service to the Town of Wilmington.”Later in the meeting, Selectman Chair Kevin Caira noted that Town Counsel will be offering a training to members of the town’s commissions, committees and boards on the state’s conflict of interest law.#3) SAVE THE DATE: Selectmen unanimously approved the request of the Wilmington Recreation Commission to use the Town Common to conduct the Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 11am.#4) SAVE THE DATE PART 2: Selectmen unanimously approved the request of Wilmington Elderly Services Director Terri Marciello to use the Town Common to host a World Tai Chi Day celebration on Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 8:30am to 12:30pm.#5) THANK YOU, ED: Selectman Ed Loud submitted his letter of resignation, effective February 12. He’s taking his “dream job” in Baltimore. (And he won’t become a Orioles, Ravens, Redskins, Capitals, or Wizards fan.) Loud promises to still be around, however, as he’ll continue to own his home in Wilmington and keep his residency there. He plans on traveling back for certain Wilmington events, including Annual Town Meeting. Loud thanked his wife, children, mother-in-law, friends, supporters, and colleagues on the board. “This board is very special to me… It was a lot of fun. The decision to take this job was hard… I do love this town. I always will.”Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedDETOX NEWS: 10 New Developments Heading Into Tonight’s Board Of Appeals MeetingIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: McCoy Calls For Special Town Meeting In Response To Detox Center Zoning ConcernsIn “Government”SELECTMEN RACE Q&A: Candidates Discuss The Detox Facility Proposal At 362 Middlesex AveIn “Government”last_img read more

500yearold gurdwara in Pakistan opens doors for Indian Sikh

first_imgLAHORE: A 500-year-old gurdwara in Sialkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province has now opened its doors for Indian Sikh pilgrims, a media report said Monday. Earlier, Indians were not allowed to visit the Babe-de-Ber gurdwara which is situated in Sialkot city, about 140 kms from here, The Express Tribune reported. Several religious sites in Punjab are frequented by Sikhs from several countries including India. Pilgrims from Pakistan, Europe, Canada and the US were allowed to visit the gurdwara. Also Read – National Herald case: Officer bearers of Congress were cheats, Subramanian Swamy tells court Advertise With Us Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar directed the province’s Auqaf department to include Sikh pilgrims from India to the list, so they can visit the Sialkot gurdwara, the report said. Every year, thousands of Indian Sikh devotees visit Pakistan on the birth and death anniversaries of Guru Nanak — the founder of Sikhism and the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus — the martyrdom of Guruwar Jin Devji and the Besakhi festival and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Also Read – Dehydrated elephant being given treatment Advertise With Us According to the Sikh tradition, when Guru Nanak arrived in Sialkot from Kashmir in the 16th century, he stayed under the tree of Beri. Sardar Natha Singh then built a gurdwara in his remembrance at the site, the report added. In November 2018, India and Pakistan agreed to set up a border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Guru Nanak – to Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. Advertise With Us The Kartarpur corridor is expected to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to the gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib — a small town in Narowal, four kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life. Pakistan will build the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border will be constructed by India.last_img read more

Countrys first Ybridge ready to be launched

first_imgThe first-ever Y-shaped bridge of the country, which is being built over the Titas River in three upazilas of Comilla and Brahmanbaria, is now waiting to be inaugurated and has already started attracting onlookers, reports news agency UNB.The construction work of this bridge started on June 16, 2011 under the supervision of Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and Navana Builders.The 771.2-metre bridge over the river, costing in total of Tk101.65 crore, will boost the communication and economy of the region.The bridge will ease the travel across Comilla, Brahmanbaria and Dhaka while locals are being hopeful that it will create a source of recreation for the people around the bridge.According to locals, after the inauguration of the bridge, education, business and medical sectors of the region will experience more development.It will also be used as a bypass road connecting to the Chittagong-Dhaka highway.Earlier, the only means of communication between Homna, Muradnagar and Bancharampur upazilas was boat. So, the y-shaped bridge was a long cherished dream of the local people which is soon going to come true.Now the people of Comilla are eagerly waiting for the inauguration of the bridge.last_img read more

Malaysia migrant boat death toll reaches 12

first_imgTwo more bodies washed ashore in Malaysia Tuesday after the sinking of a boat overloaded with illegal Indonesian immigrants, raising the death toll to 12 with about 25 still feared missing.The bodies were found on Tanjung Leman beach near the southeastern town of Mersing, said Saiful Lizan Ibrahim, local head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.”Security forces found the two bodies — both men — believed to be Indonesians,” he said, adding that a sea search has been suspended due to bad weather.The boat was believed to be carrying about 40 Indonesian illegal immigrants when it capsized in rough seas off Mersing.Two passengers were rescued and taken to hospital.The 27-foot (nine metre) boat, designed for only 15 people, was travelling from Indonesia’s Batam Island to Malaysia, Saiful said.Some 45 officers were combing the shore in search of survivors.Indonesian illegal migrants often make the perilous journey in small rickety boats to Malaysia in search of work, mainly in construction and agriculture.Last November a speedboat believed to be carrying illegal Indonesian migrant workers returning from Malaysia sank near Batam. More than 40 people were missing.last_img read more

Dangerous Deliveries Is Texas Doing Enough To Stop Moms From Dying

first_imgIn the photos flashing on the projector screen, Michelle Zavala had a look of serenity.In one, her eyes were closed as she smiled with her newborn daughter Clara nestled under her chin. Another showed her kissing her husband Chris on vacation. Another captured her laughing while stomping grapes at a vineyard, radiating the positivity that people loved about her.Below the screen, Michelle lay in a casket, surrounded by bouquets of flowers. The Pflugerville woman died in July — just nine days after giving birth to Clara — from a blood clot in her heart. She was 35.Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.But researchers were stunned by Texas, where the maternal mortality rate had apparently doubled between 2010 and 2012. That year, 148 women died as the state’s mortality rate hit its highest level since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started recordkeeping with its current disease codes in 1999.The study’s authors called the increase troubling and difficult to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.”But the state’s real maternal mortality rate is now a matter of debate. Although the Department of State Health Services website shows that Texas’ maternal mortality rate was 35.2 per 100,000 births between 2012 and 2015 using CDC data, agency officials now say that the number of mothers who died during that period is actually more than 30 percent lower — 24.3 deaths per 100,000 births — thanks to a new methodology the state recently began using to calculate deaths. While state officials say the new, lower mortality rate is more accurate, they stopped short of calling it the official maternal mortality rate because the new methodology is still being refined.Meanwhile, a study published in the medical journal Birth this month analyzed CDC data from 2006 to 2015 and found that the state’s maternal death numbers are inflated. The study’s authors said that while CDC’s data isn’t reliable, “the fact that maternal mortality increased in Texas is not in dispute.”Maternal deaths on the rise in TexasThe maternal mortality rate in Texas peaked in 2012, according to the CDC. However, a new study says the rates from 2011 to 2015 were likely inflated because of misreporting on death certificates. The Texas Department of State Health Services has begun using a new methodology for 2012 onward, which it says produces a more accurate rate.Marian MacDorman, a research professor with the Maryland Population Research Center and the Birth study’s lead author, said she was surprised by “just how bad the data was.” She said the new methodology the state is developing is also flawed because it omits women who died after miscarriages or other complications that prevented them from giving birth.“This has a direct impact on women’s lives,” MacDorman said. “If an accurate maternal mortality rate is not available, prevention efforts are scattered and unfocused, and more women die if you can’t figure out what the problem is.”Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, which focuses on public health issues, said the state expects to continue refining and improving the accuracy of maternal mortality data.“Our position is that it’s an improvement in the numbers,” Van Deusen said. “It’s more accurate than the numbers that have been out there, and we’re using that to guide our decisions on maternal mortality … until there’s a more reliable maternal mortality rate that we can go on.”The Texas Tribune has heard harrowing tales of mothers enduring medical nightmares: They bled out, had strokes and heart attacks, lost babies during delivery. Dozens of experts and advocates say maternal deaths are a symptom of a bigger problem: Too many Texas women — particularly low-income women — don’t have access to health insurance, birth control, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and other services that could help them become healthier before and after pregnancy.Survivors reported being afraid to get pregnant again, choosing instead to put their family plans on hold or swear off of having more children. They were often diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety. Families of women who died have been left wondering what went wrong and how their loved ones’ deaths could have been prevented.Faced with alarming public health statistics that drew national attention, Texas lawmakers created a Task Force on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity in 2013 to study the problem and make recommendations to curb the state’s rising rate.In October, the task force released a report showing that the Texas women most at risk of dying after giving birth include black women over 40; unmarried women; women who use Medicaid, pay for insurance out of pocket, or have no insurance; and women who give birth through cesarean delivery. They’re also more likely to enter pregnancy with health problems like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking habits.The Tribune’s investigation found that lawmakers have squandered opportunities to help more women access services that could save their lives:Hundreds of thousands of low-income women who, under federal law, would be eligible for publicly funded health insurance do not qualify for coverage in Texas because state leaders rejected a coverage expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act.State legislators’ decision in 2011 to change how Texas offers women’s health services has left thousands of women without crucial health care before, during and after pregnancy. That included a $73.6 million cut to family planning services that led to roughly 100,000 fewer people being served the following year.The same year, Republican state leaders moved to exclude Planned Parenthood — a top women’s health provider in the Family Planning Program at the time — even though its participating clinics were not performing abortions.Overall, black mothers are at the highest risk of dying as a result of pregnancy, according to the task force report: While they delivered only 11 percent of the babies in Texas from 2012 to 2015, they made up 20 percent of maternal deaths. White women delivered 34 percent of the state’s babies over the same period and accounted for 39 percent of deaths, while Hispanic women accounted for nearly 48 percent of the state’s births and 38 percent of deaths.Even though Hispanic and black women have similar rates of chronic health issues like obesity, diabetes and heart disease, task force members and researchers say they can’t explain why Hispanic mothers are more likely to survive pregnancy complications. Share Curbing Texas’ maternal mortality rate “isn’t going to be a situation where there’s a single cause and single solution,” said Lisa Hollier, who chairs the state task force. She said it’s “increasingly complicated” to care for pregnant Texas women because more of them have chronic health problems; they’re getting prenatal care late or not at all; and they’re having babies at a later age than Texas women in recent generations.“We’ve got all of these things that start to add up,” Hollier said. “I imagine all of these things come together to impact what we are seeing.”Zavala’s pregnancy was a complex one. She had to keep her hyperthyroidism under control and take progesterone to prevent her from giving birth prematurely. During her pregnancy, she developed gestational diabetes and had to have her blood tested six times a day.Still, Clara was born healthy and the couple was able to take her home right away. But that weekend, Michelle’s right foot swelled.“Clearly, everything was not OK,” Chris Zavala said.A couple of days later, Michelle suddenly couldn’t breathe. Chris rushed her to the hospital, where doctors took X-rays and told him she needed to be moved to the trauma care unit.“When they wheeled her into that trauma room, I went and held her hand and told her everything was going to be okay, and that was the last thing I said to my wife,” Chris said.Changing Texas Women’s Health ProgramsSable Swallow could hear her brain bleeding in the Walgreens parking lot as she waited in the car with her newborn son in March 2014.The then 25-year-old was having a stroke.Swallow had been released from a McAllen hospital just 30 minutes earlier, and her husband had gone inside the pharmacy to pick up her prescriptions. On the way there, she told him something didn’t feel right. By the time he came back to the car, Swallow couldn’t talk and her right side was numb.“It was bizarre,” Swallow said. “I could feel my heart beating into my head.”Swallow had high blood pressure after giving birth — a condition known as postpartum pre-eclampsia. She said she repeatedly told nurses she had a terrible headache but they discharged her anyway.Photo by Reynaldo Leal for The Texas Tribune.Sable Swallow watches her son, Luke, play with his toys at the dinner table in their home in McAllen, Texas.After her stroke, doctors put her into a medically induced coma for two weeks. She had to relearn how to walk and talk.“I should probably be dead, honestly,” she said.In the end, she navigated a patchwork state system to help cover her hefty medical bills.When Swallow found out she was pregnant, she was uninsured and working as a server in a McAllen restaurant. “There was no way I could afford health insurance,” she said.She was told by a state worker to apply for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. She qualified for Medicaid for Pregnant Women, which  covers doctor visits, lab tests, drugs and delivery. More than half of Texas births are covered by Medicaid, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the state’s health agency.Swallow said she had to apply for the program twice before she got in at four months pregnant. When her Medicaid coverage ended two months after she gave birth, she and her husband were able to get health insurance through the federal health exchange at was lucky compared with other pregnant Texas women who have to pay out of pocket for prenatal care and other health needs before giving birth — or forgo care until they deliver.Texas has the highest uninsured rate for women ages 19-64 in the country at 19 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health policy group based in Washington, D.C. A lack of insurance makes it harder for women to manage long-term health issues — and for women of child-bearing age to get the prenatal care that can help prevent maternal deaths.Kami Geoffray, CEO of the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, an organization that works to increase access to family planning programs, said lawmakers haven’t gotten serious about addressing shortcomings in the state’s health care programs for women.“They have this notion that being uninsured is not a problem,” she said.Reproductive rights advocates say Texas women are still feeling the effects of legislators’ decision in 2011 to chop $73.6 million from the state’s $111.5 million budget for the Family Planning Program, which offers birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling on spacing out births and screening for cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. The number of people the program served dropped from more than 195,000 in 2011 to fewer than 83,000 the following year.That same year, state leaders moved to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, a joint federal-state program that for years provided preventive care — including pap smears, breast exams and contraception — to 105,000 Texas women per year. When the state barred clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood from participating, the Obama administration kicked Texas out of the program altogether, citing Medicaid patients’ right to choose any provider they want.The state created its own replacement, called the Texas Women’s Health Program — and from 2011 to 2013, the number of women it served dropped 25 percent, according to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission report from January 2015. In 2016, the state replaced that program with yet another one, Healthy Texas Women — which aims to provide low-income women with pregnancy tests, birth control, screening and treatment for postpartum depression, plus annual exams to screen for breast and cervical cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.Today, more than 240,000 women are enrolled, according to the state’s health agency. Enrollment in the program has increased more than 118 percent since its launch in July 2016.Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an emailed statement that enrolled women “now have access to a broader array of services.”The state’s other major option for providing health care to low-income women — expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act — has been a nonstarter in the GOP-dominated Texas Legislature. An estimated 1.1 million low-income Texans would be eligible for coverage under a Medicaid expansion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.Advocates argue that expanding Medicaid eligibility would allow more uninsured women to be covered for much-needed primary care, as well as prenatal and postpartum care if they get pregnant. Uninsured women without access to primary health care before getting pregnant may not be able to control chronic diseases that could cause pregnancy complications.Republican leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and former Gov. Rick Perry, have argued that expanding Medicaid would increase health care costs for the state — especially if the federal government ever breaks its promise to help pay for the surge of newly eligible people.And they argue they’re making their own strides at reducing maternal mortality in Texas. In 2017, Abbott signed several bills focused on it: One requires the Department of State Health Services to publish best practices and protocols for reporting pregnancy-related deaths. Another will allow more than 200,000 mothers to receive postpartum depression screening.Legislators also passed a bill requiring the maternal mortality task force to study why so many Texas women are dying; health and socioeconomic disparities among Texas mothers; what other states are doing to curb their maternal mortality rates; and how Texas health providers can improve pregnancy outcomes.State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said in an emailed statement that the Legislature’s maternal mortality bill “contained comprehensive policies for improving maternal health.” She added that Texas needs “to be smarter with our current state resources and better coordinate services for women.”“I strongly believe we can better utilize current resources and programs to improve women’s health in Texas,” Kolkhorst said. “When we spend health care dollars more efficiently, more people can be served and better outcomes can be achieved.”But not all proposed legislative solutions made it through in 2017. Lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would’ve extended a mother’s eligibility for postpartum depression screening and treatment for a year through the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program-Perinatal — a program for pregnant women who can’t get Medicaid and don’t have any other health coverage. Another bill to extend full Medicaid benefits for mothers for a year after delivery — instead of only two months — also failed.“The obstacles to these remedies are a social agenda that involves a definition of life that doesn’t include women, and it only includes a fetus up until the point it’s born,” said state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, chairwoman of the Texas House Women’s Health Caucus. “People want to err on the side of life, and here we are where women are dying and the state is not addressing it.”Fewer Black Women Get Crucial Prenatal CareIn 2015, 62.2 percent of Texas mothers received prenatal care during the first trimester, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, an agency focused on public health issues. That’s well short of the 77 percent goal that Texas public health officials have set under the Healthy People 2020 initiative, a federal program to improve various public health outcomes over a decade.Prenatal care helps doctors monitor pregnant women’s health over the course of a pregnancy, monitoring high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, which can lead to complications.“If a woman can get in prenatal care early, she’s most likely to go to postpartum visits and more likely to have a healthy pregnancy,” said Kim Baker, a member of Harris County’s Reducing Maternal Mortality Research Team, a local group focused on studying why women in the county have pregnancy complications or die from pregnancy. “If you don’t seek prenatal care, then you’re much more at risk or you may deliver at a state where your body is that much more unhealthy.”According to statistics from the Department of State Health Services, nearly half of black mothers in Texas — 46.2 percent — did not get prenatal check-ups within their first trimester of pregnancy in 2015. Hispanic women were close behind at 42.8 percent, while 29.7 percent of white mothers didn’t attend first-trimester prenatal appointments.Hollier, chairwoman of the state Task Force on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity, said Texas needs to find ways to get more women into prenatal care in that critical first trimester.She said the state must more quickly process applications for Medicaid for Pregnant Women and that health care providers must get high-risk women in for prenatal appointments faster.Other states have been more aggressive than Texas in trying to reduce maternal deaths. California lowered its maternal mortality rate by 55 percent between 2006 and 2013.California is one of 15 states that have adopted a national model for improving care for pregnant women through 10 “bundles” — collections of proven strategies hospitals use to prevent and manage pregnancy complications such as hemorrhaging and high blood pressure.The state also launched a “Maternal Quality Care Collaborative” that brought state agencies, hospitals and professional health care associations together to prevent pregnancy complications and deaths. It’s seen whopping success with how hospitals now handle two potentially lethal conditions: pre-eclampsia and hemorrhaging during and after labor.The 126 California hospitals that began using the new procedures reduced pregnancy complications by nearly 21 percent between 2014 and 2016.Texas Department of State Health Services officials say the state is implementing two bundles: one for hemorrhaging and another for hypertension. They’re also working with other states to develop another bundle for opioid abuse.George Saade, chair of the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies, and a doctor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said it may be difficult to convince hospitals — especially smaller ones that often don’t have the staff or budget to try new things — to give the bundles a shot. He pointed out that maternal mortality “is very sad” but “fortunately, it’s also very rare.”“It’s not like [hospitals] don’t want to save lives, but they have so many different things they could spend their money on to save lives,” Saade said. “At some point, they have to prioritize what they are going to spend money on.”Too Many New Moms Skip Postpartum VisitsIn Houston, Syreeta Lazarus was thinking about how she needed to go grocery shopping and get her car washed as she sat in the hospital getting her blood pressure checked.Photo by Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune.Syreeta Lazarus, 36, looks over her family while her husband, Tim Lazarus, helps his daughter put on her shoe in preparation for the park. Turner has suffered postpartum pre-eclampsia on three separate occasions after delivering her daughters.It was 2012 and Lazarus, then 32, had given birth to her daughter Zoila a little more than a week before. Her stomach and head hurt, her back felt funny and she was a little dizzy. She noticed the nurse press a blue button as she left the room but didn’t think anything of it. Minutes later, doctors and nurses were peppering her with questions about her blood pressure history, her diet and her urine.Not long after, Lazarus was getting strapped down to a bed. She was having an episode of postpartum pre-eclampsia, where a recently pregnant women’s blood pressure rises rapidly.“They basically said, ‘We’re going to get you some magnesium immediately because you’re about to have a stroke or seizure at any moment,’” Lazarus said. “That’s when I started crying.”She was released after a couple of days, but had to be readmitted for the same problem within a week.Her doctors and nurses told her she needed to keep calm until her blood pressure stabilized. Lazarus remembers they were afraid even the headlines would upset her. It was the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.“They said, ‘You can’t even watch the news,’” Lazarus said.Postpartum care is arguably as important as prenatal care. Federal data shows that more than half of maternal deaths happen after a woman gives birth, most often caused by cardiovascular disease, infections and hemorrhages.But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found in 2016 that as many as 40 percent of women didn’t get postpartum care.“So many of our patients don’t take care of themselves in the postpartum period because they are taking care of their newborn,” said Sean Blackwell, president-elect for the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and a doctor in Houston. “Mom will commonly skip her visits to take care of her babies. Or, she’s taking care of her other kids and family, and sacrificing her own health, which is going wacky.”Meanwhile, Texas’ infant mortality rate dropped 7 percent between 1999 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.A baby’s first pediatric visit usually takes place three to five days after birth, but a mother typically won’t see her doctor until four to six weeks after delivery, if at all — and serious complications often emerge in the first few days and weeks after delivery.Saade said in an ideal world doctors wouldn’t just have one postpartum visit with their patients. They’d have a series of them so they could check a new mother’s glucose levels and blood pressure and offer nutrition counseling.“That’s where we fail when we do one visit,” Saade said. “It’s a wellness program. We have to bring them back to healthy lifestyle changes, screenings, medication and treatment.”Experts have said postpartum visits are also an important time to talk to mothers about spacing out their pregnancies and finding the best birth control option for those who want it. According to Texas’ 2015 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, which surveys thousands of recently pregnant Texas women, nearly 35 percent of women who gave birth had unintended pregnancies.That puts more women at greater risk of death, said Janet Realini, chair of the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, a group of organizations focused on access to preventive health care.Advocates say many uninsured Texas women can’t afford to pay for birth control out of pocket and often don’t qualify for Medicaid or the state’s other women’s health programs. Realini said the state should invest more money into the Family Planning Program and Healthy Texas Women to offer more family planning services so more low-income women have access to affordable birth control.“If someone does not want to be pregnant, then avoiding that pregnancy avoids that mortality risk, that amount of physical and mental taxing of the person that could make their (existing health) problems worse,” Realini said.There’s a racial divide in postpartum care in Texas, too. Hispanic women in Texas skip postpartum visits at a rate of 18.9 percent; 10.1 percent of black mothers don’t get postpartum checkups, nor do 9.6 percent of white women, according to the 2015 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System.Insurance coverage also matters. For women who gave birth and paid out of pocket for care or didn’t specify how they paid, 27.7 percent didn’t show up for their postpartum visit, versus 16.6 percent of women covered by Medicaid, according to Monitoring System data.“With the low rates of women who attend postpartum visits, we’re missing an opportunity to talk to women about their future health,” Hollier said.Lazarus was lucky; she was released after a two-day hospital stay. But black mothers in Texas like her are twice as likely to die after a pregnancy-related hospital stay than any other group of women.Lazarus said there’s not enough information about which signs and symptoms new mothers should look for after delivery.“I didn’t know that you can have all of these problems or reactions or issues,” Lazarus said. “I know that you need to be careful, stay healthy all that you can, but no, ‘This can happen, do you know the signs?’ I had no clue. I had my mom’s stories to go on, but formally from a doctor? No.”‘I Needed Michelle’The parking lot of the Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Funeral Home in Pflugerville was packed the August morning of Michelle Zavala’s funeral. The guestbook had more than 180 signatures in it by the end of the service.During Chris’ eulogy, he wore the same suit from his wedding day and spoke of how her death is “a wound that threatens to never heal.”“One day I realized I didn’t just love Michelle, that I didn’t just want want to be with Michelle, that I needed Michelle,” Chris said. “I needed Michelle like a tired man needs rest, like a drowning man needs air.”Photo by Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune.Chris Zavala Jr. gives the eulogy for his wife, Michelle Zavala at her funeral service at Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Funeral Home, in Pflugerville, Texas on August 5, 2017.Later in the ceremony, as guests lined up to give condolences to the family, he stepped away to his wife’s casket as he watched the photo slideshow. He gently caressed the top of her head before turning back to his family and the rest of the guests.Minutes later, the casket was closed.last_img read more