Schizophrenia: Time to Flush the Meds?

first_imgSchizophrenia and related mental illnesses can have a devastating effect on people who suffer from them, often making it impossible for them to work or maintain normal social relationships. Antipsychotic drugs are usually the first line of defense, but they can have serious side effects. A new study concludes that psychological approaches could be an alternative for patients who either can’t or won’t take medication, although some critics continue to question the effectiveness of these interventions.Schizophrenia, which can involve hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, emotional problems, and severe difficulty focusing on daily tasks, affects about 1% of populations worldwide. More than 20 antipsychotic medications, such as risperidone, haloperidol, and clozapine, are now on the market, and they are often effective in temporarily relieving the worse symptoms. But when taken for extended periods, such drugs can cause uncontrollable muscle movements, serious weight gain, and higher risk of heart attacks. In recent years, a number of psychiatrists and psychologists have begun to advocate psychological approaches, including an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), as an adjunct to antipsychotic drugs.With CBT, which has long been shown to be effective for depression and anxiety disorders, a therapist takes the subject through a series of guided steps designed to explore alternative interpretations and explanations of what he or she is experiencing, with the goal of changing both outlook and behavior. A schizophrenic patient who is having hallucinations might be encouraged to stop trying to fight them off or suppress them, for example, or to stop engaging with voices in his or her head, to test how strong such symptoms really are and how much control they exert over the subject’s life. The technique also involves what practitioners call “normalization”: The patient might be reassured that hearing voices and seeing things that are not there is an experience that many normal people have from time to time, thus reducing some of the anxiety that makes sufferers feel distressed and isolated.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In recent years, researchers have conducted several dozen clinical trials for treating schizophrenia with CBT. Most of them, including a number of so-called meta-analyses that look at many trials at a time, have claimed modest success in reducing psychotic symptoms. As a result, health authorities in the United Kingdom, where the use of CBT for psychosis has been most studied, have been recommending for a number of years that it be offered to all people suffering from schizophrenia. Nevertheless, some skeptics question these recommendations: In the January 2014 issue of The British Journal of Psychiatry, for example, a research team published a new meta-analysis, concluding that past trials showing CBT’s effectiveness for schizophrenia were seriously flawed.In the latest study, published online today in The Lancet, a team led by Anthony Morrison, a clinical psychologist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, conducted a randomized controlled trial of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and related disorders who had chosen not to take antipsychotic drugs. The team started with 74 such individuals, who were randomly assigned by a computer to receive either “treatment as usual” (TAU)—meaning regular monitoring by mental health services, sympathetic face-to-face contact with doctors and nurses, crisis management as needed, and other such interventions that are standard in the United Kingdom—or TAU plus 26 weekly sessions of CBT over 9 months, plus as many as four additional CBT sessions over the next 9 months, for a total of 18 months.The study began with 37 patients in each group, although over the course of the trial a number of subjects dropped out of both groups for various reasons—including two deaths in the TAU-only cohort that appeared to be unrelated to their mental illness. The researchers ended up with final tallies of 25 subjects in the TAU-only group and 26 in the TAU-plus-CBT group. Every 3 months during the trial, the subjects were given a standard battery of tests to measure their psychotic symptoms, along with tests designed to measure their levels of emotional distress and social functioning.The team found that at the end of the 18-month trial, the group given CBT had lower overall levels of psychotic symptoms than the TAU-only group, although the differences were modest: The overall “effect size,” a statistical measure of the differences between two groups in a clinical trial, was 0.46 (on a scale where 0.2 is considered low, 0.5 is considered moderate, and anything over 0.8 is considered to be high). Nevertheless, the researchers argued, the effect size they found was equivalent to that typical of most antipsychotic drugs when compared with placebos (dummy pills that contain no medication).The authors caution that despite what they see as encouraging results, the findings should not be interpreted to mean that all patients suffering from schizophrenia can or should go off their meds; the two groups they studied were comparatively high-functioning patients who were not hospitalized and posed no danger to themselves or their communities. Nevertheless, Morrison says, other studies have shown that up to 50% of schizophrenia sufferers fail to take drugs over the long term, and that this figure can rise to more than 70% over any particular 18-month period. “It seems that offering people choices” about whether to take drugs or not “is a sensible thing to do,” he says.The results are “utterly convincing,” especially in light of recent studies suggesting that some antipsychotic drugs are actually less effective than placebos in children and young adults, says Max Birchwood, a psychologist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K. But he adds that the sample studied by the Morrison team is small and needs to be expanded to a larger population, something the authors themselves advocate.Kate Hardy, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who treats schizophrenia patients with CBT—one of only a small number of practitioners in the United States using the technique in treating psychosis—says that the results may give more choices to patients about their own treatment. Up to now, Hardy says, the only choice psychosis patients have had is whether “to take medications or not.”But Keith Laws, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, U.K. and a co-author of The British Journal of Psychiatry meta-analysis critical of CBT for schizophrenia, questions the team’s analysis of its own data. He argues that there was no real difference between the CBT and control groups at the end of the 9 months of intense CBT treatment and that the differences at the end of 18 months were only marginal. “They are not in a position to make grand claims,” Laws says. He also says that the number of “adverse events” during the trial—several patients in both groups got worse and a few had to be hospitalized—were much greater than in other CBT trials in which patients were also given medications, making such drug-free approaches “very risky.”last_img read more

Nikki Haley Says She Wll Vote For Trump

first_imgSouth Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley has said this year’s US presidential election has turned her stomach upside down as she is not happy with either of the choices for the president, but she still plans to vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Related Itemslast_img

Marlins Hard Rock Niese, Mets, 9-5

first_imgNEW YORK — Jonathon Niese is surprised at how poorly he’s pitching. By the looks of it, his pitches aren’t surprising opponents at all.Giancarlo Stanton homered twice and Christian Yelich snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run single, sending the Miami Marlins to a 9-5 victory over the New York Mets on May 30.J.T. Realmuto and Jeff Baker also went deep as Miami dinged a struggling Niese, who lasted only four innings.“All my mistakes are getting hit. They just seem to be barreling everything I throw up there,” he said. “It’s very surprising. It’s frustrating more than anything because my arm feels great, my body feels great and it seems like I’ve been trying to execute my pitches instead of actually executing them. It’s going to change. I’m going to keep working.”After getting off to a solid start this season, Niese is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four outings.“I’m concerned because I have yet to see him, in my time here, ever pitch where he makes the number of mistakes he’s made,” Manager Terry Collins said. “So if there’s no injury there we have to look at the mechanics side and some of the other things.”The Marlins had lost 14-of-17 before taking the first two games of this series, giving them four straight wins against the NL East rival Mets after dropping the first five meetings this season.Six members of Miami’s maligned bullpen combined for 5 2-3 shutout innings of two-hit ball, and the Marlins won consecutive road games for the first time since April 22-23.Ruben Tejada hit a three-run double for the Mets, who fell to 20-8 at home and 12-5 in day games. New York went 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 overall.Stanton launched his 15th homer in the ninth an estimated 455 feet deep into the second deck in left-center. Baker connected on the next pitch from Alex Torres.It was Stanton’s 15th multi-homer game and second this season. He has five home runs against the Mets this year.“I wish I could tell you we haven’t seen him like this before, but we have,” Collins said. “There’s nobody with more power in all of baseball.”Mike Dunn (1-3) escaped a sixth-inning jam by striking out Lucas Duda and retiring Daniel Murphy with runners at the corners.A.J. Ramos got four outs for his fourth save.Donovan Solano hit an early two-run double off Niese, and Stanton lined a sizzling shot to right-center in the third that was barely high enough to clear the fence.“I didn’t think that was gone off the bat. I had to watch the trajectory a little bit,” Stanton said.Realmuto added a two-run drive in the fourth for his second career homer.Miami loaded the bases in the seventh with the help of a double that Martin Prado chopped off the glove of a leaping Tejada at third base. Two outs later, Yelich singled to right off rookie Hansel Robles (0-1) to give the Marlins a 7-5 lead.“He kind of just hung a slider there and I was able to get a piece of it,” Yelich said.(MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

DU Cut Off List 2019: St Stephen’s cut-offs out, interviews to begin on this day

first_imgDelhi University’s St Stephen’s College has announced its cut-offs for various courses on Monday, June 24, 2019. The college has a least 50 percent of seats reserved for Christians and follows separate admission criteria.Delhi University’s St Stephen’s cut-offs For the Bachelor of Arts (BA) programme, candidates from the general category need to have at least 98 per cent as their ‘best of four’ marks if they are from commerce and science streams. Humanities students need to have a best-four percentage of 96.5Commerce students need to have the best of four percentage of 98.75 for applying to the BA (Honours) in economics, while humanities and science students need to have 98.5 and 97.75 per cent, respectively.Commerce and science students need to have a best-of-four percentage of 98.75 and 98.25 per cent for those applying for BA (Honours) in EnglishFor BSc (Honours) in mathematics, commerce, science and humanities students need to have a best-of-four percentage of 97.5, 97.75 and 96.75 respectively.Science and commerce students applying for BA (Honours) in history need to have 98.5 per cent, while humanities students need to have at least 97.25 per cent.Commerce and humanities students need to have at least 97 per cent in order to be eligible for admission to BA (Hons) in Philosophy and science students at least 96.5 per cent.Students need to have at least 65 per cent for admission for BA (Hons) in Sanskrit, 96.33 per cent for BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and 96.66 per cent for Physics.Candidates applying for admission to the BSc programme with chemistry need to have the best of four percentage of 95 and 96.66 per cent for admission to BSc programme with computer science.There are separate cut-offs under the quota for the applicants from the Church of North India (CNI).advertisementDelhi University’s St Stephen’s applications According to the college, a total of 19,862 applications were received this year. Of these applicants, 59.2 per cent were female and the rest male.Humanities had a total of 13,089 applications and sciences had 6,773 completed applications.Christian applications were 1,105. English got a total of 3,505 applications, followed by economics with 3,418 applicants. Mathematics got 2,231 applications.As many as 682 applications were received from men and women for the nine sporting disciplines encouraged in college.St Stephen’s College got over 100 applications under the differently-abled category this year. The total number of vacancies in college are 400, excluding the mandatory person with a disability (PWD) and sports categories.Delhi University’s St Stephen’s interview Interviews begin on Friday. Applicants may download their interview call letter, if selected, from the college website after Wednesday, the college said. Three members of the governing body of St Stephen’s College has objected to the inclusion of a member of its supreme council in the interview panel for selection of students, saying it is a violation of the college constitution.The supreme council is a subset of six members of the governing body (managing committee) and comprises all members of the Church of North India. The three members had even approached the Delhi High Court, but it had refused to stay the interview process for admission of Christian students in the college.Read: MHT CET 2019: Fresh application for BE, BTech counselling begins today, check detailsRead: IIT and IIM alumni join hands to give students top ranks at Giraffe Learninglast_img read more

15 days agoMan Utd to try again for Benfica defender Ruben Dias

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd to try again for Benfica defender Ruben Diasby Paul Vegas15 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United are ready to try again for Benfica defender Ruben Dias.United may have to splurge up to £80million to prise the 22-year-old away from the Portuguese capital, says The Sun.They made moves for the Portugal international in the summer but missed out.Now with Benfica set to offer the centre-back improved terms, his release clause will rise dramatically from £60m.Benfica are desperate to keep hold of their star man and are believed to be willing to pay him big money in a new deal.But the lure of Manchester United could prove tough to resist for the player. last_img

Richard Pybus named Windies interim head coach, Darren Sammy hopes it is fake news

first_imgRichard Pybus named Windies interim head coach, Darren Sammy hopes it is fake newsRichard Pybus was announced as the West Indies coach until September of this year but Former Windies skipper Darren Sammy said “please tell me that’s fake news.”advertisement Reuters AntiguaJanuary 5, 2019UPDATED: January 5, 2019 07:44 IST Richard Pybus will be the West Indies Coach for the 2019 World Cup (@ICC Photo)HIGHLIGHTSRichard Pybus has been announced as the West Indies interim coachThe appointment comes with less than two weeks before England’s tourPybus was the West Indies director of cricket from 2013 to 2016English-born Richard Pybus has been appointed interim head coach of West Indies cricket and will guide the team in a busy 2019 that includes the World Cup and a home series against England.Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced the news on Friday, less than two weeks before England arrive for a winter series in the Caribbean.Pybus, 54, will hold the head coach role until September, when a replacement will take over, CWI said.The head coach job became vacant when Australian Stuart Law resigned in September to take over at English county side Middlesex.”Richard comes into the role with previous international experience having worked with both Pakistan and Bangladesh,” said CWI director of cricket Jimmy Adams.”Due to his current and previous involvement in CWI, he possesses a good working knowledge of both players and coaches.”Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy though was not happy with the appointment.”Please tell me that’s fake news.. somebody please. After the mess in 2014 he can’t be back.. I refuse to believe that’s true,” he tweeted.https://t.co/XQzuypXIb6 please tell me that’s fake news.. somebody please. After the mess in 2014 he can’t be back.. I refuse to believe that’s trueDaren Sammy (@darensammy88) January 4, 2019Pybus was West Indies director of cricket from 2013 to 2016 and returned as high performance director from last February.England will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and one Twenty20 against West Indies starting with the first Test in Barbados from Jan. 23.India will tour the Caribbean in July and August, shortly after the 50-over World Cup in England and Wales.advertisementAlso Read | Mohammad Azharuddin on Rishabh Pant: India have a batsman like Adam GilchristAlso Watch | I don’t think of hundreds, team’s needs my only focus: Rishabh PantFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Tags :Follow Richard PybusFollow west indiesFollow interim head coachFollow Darren Sammylast_img read more

Stena Line Lays Keel for New RoPax Ship

first_imgChina’s shipbuilder AVIC Weihai Shipyard has held a keel-laying ceremony for a new RoPax vessel being built for Swedish ferry company Stena Line.The traditional maritime event, which took place on February 2, 2018, marks the start of the construction phase of the hull and the exterior parts of the vessel.“This is an important milestone in our exciting new ship building project,” Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line, said.Stena Line’s new RoPax vessels will be deployed on the Irish Sea. The new vessels, which will be 50% bigger than today’s standard RoPax units, have a planned delivery timetable during 2019 and 2020.“Our overall target is that these vessels will be the absolute state-of-the-art when it comes to energy efficiency, flexibility and customer service. In particular, we are placing heavy emphasis on developing a range of exciting new digital features which will provide our customers with unique additional services connected with their journey as well as developing a new, integrated digital onboard experience,” Mårtensson added.Featuring a length of 214.5 meters and a breadth of 27.8 meters, the new ships are capable of carrying 1,000 passengers.Image Courtesy: Stena Linelast_img read more

Port Esbjerg to Expand with New MultiTerminal

first_imgzoomIllustration; Source: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license Denmark’s port of Esbjerg is to expand its eastern port area as it plans to construct a new, 40,000-m2 multi-terminal in response to increased demand.The new terminal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the port said, adding that it can see increasing demand for areas with access to quays and cranes.The new multi-terminal would be set up west of the existing multi-terminals in the eastern port. It would have direct access to the three ramps already established at the quay, the port informed.“We can see increased demand for sites for the storage and shipping-out of cargo, cars and, containers, as well as components for the wind turbine industry. The new terminal is intended to meet that demand, giving our customers the best possible conditions for running and developing their business,” Dennis Jul Pedersen, Port Director at Port Esbjerg, said.The costs of establishing the terminal are expected to run to a total investment of around DKK 15 million (USD 2.26 million).An invitation to tender for the construction of the new terminal will be announced during the new few weeks.The terminal is expected to be completed in November 2019 and will be located adjacent to the two existing multi-terminals at the port, which are operated by Blue Water Shipping and Scandinavian Auto Logistics.In 2018, Port Esbjerg handled 4.4 million tonnes of cargo, as a hub for RoRo traffic, with six fixed liner services and connections to more than 25 ports.last_img read more

Energy Business Deputy to Retire

first_imgMurray Coolican, deputy minister of both the Business and Energy departments will retire at the end of the month, Premier Stephen McNeil announced today, Dec. 4. Mr. Coolican became deputy minister of Energy in 2010 after holding leadership positions in the non-profit, government, political and private sectors. He was appointed deputy minister of Business in 2016, in addition to the Energy portfolio. “Murray has contributed to the growth of our province as a civil servant, as a business leader and as a volunteer. He has worked with business, industry and post-secondary education on policy and innovation, to the benefit of all Nova Scotians,” said Premier McNeil. “I am particularly grateful for his leadership in ensuring Nova Scotia remains a leader in Canada in combatting climate change.” Mr. Coolican served as senior vice-president at Maritime Life and vice-president at a number of companies including Nova Scotia Power, Corporate Communications Limited and National Sea Products. He also held senior positions with the Government of Ontario and served as special assistant to former premier and federal Opposition leader Robert Stanfield. The process to replace Mr. Coolican will begin immediately.last_img read more

Officials Deny Need for IMF Liquidity

Rabat – The Moroccan government has announced that it will not renew its IMF Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL). The deal, signed in 2011, will end in July 2018.According to the IMF, the PLL “provides financing to meet actual or potential balance of payment needs of countries with sound policies, and is intended to…help resolve crises under wide-ranging situations.”Morocco appealed to IMF’s financial and structural support in 2011, when, in the feverish and uncertain political situation marked by the Arab Spring, the country sought to maintain investor trust , particularly that of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). From PLL to the Flexibility LineAccording to La Tribune Afrique, Morocco, feels confident enough to decline IMF’s offer to extend the PLL deal, in part due to the new exchange rate initiated by regime on January 15. It should be noted that although Morocco contracted the USD 3.47 billion included in the PLL in 2011, renewing it twice in order to readily face any eventual economic crisis or market shock, the government reports that it actually never used the allowance. On Sunday, 21 January, IMF Managing Director  Christine Lagarde arrived in Morocco, where she was due to chair a conference on IMF economic policies in the MENA region. Lagarde, it was reported, came to Morocco hoping to address alleged frustrations brought on by IMF policies in the region andfind common ground with MENA government representatives. The two-day conference was titled “Opportunities for All: Growth, Employment and Inclusion in the Arab World,” with the aim of assessing IMF policyand deriving new pathways for MENA growth.Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Marrakech conference, Moroccan Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid explained that the efficiency and the effectiveness with which the country’s current exchange rate regime is implemented are such that the liquidity and precautionary line is no longer needed.“There is no need to renew it [PLL]. The macroeconomic situation and the present indicators are satisfactory,” Boussaid said, adding, however, that “this does not mean that our good relationship with the IMF should not continue.”For his part, the governor of Morocco’s Central Bank reiterated the government’s stance on the PLL, underlining that Morocco’s economy is now moving toward a more “flexible line” for “stronger economies,” rather than the “liquidity line” intended for economies in crisis or transition. He added that Morocco’s objective is to maintain eligibility for the IMF’s Flexible Credit Line (FCL), conceived for countries with strong policy frameworks and well-performing economies; this credit line was designed for crisis mitigation or prevention.As for the IMF delegates, they saluted Morocco’s handling of the PLL. They also praised Morocco’s current exchange rate regime. Jihad Azour, the IMF director for the MENA region, reported, “It is a reform that is doing well. It allows Morocco to attract investors and fully play its financial role in the MENA region.” read more

Djibouti Voices Total Support for Moroccos Decision to Cut Ties with

Rabat – After the support of the Arab League, Romania, and Gulf Cooperation Council, Djibouti has voiced its “full” solidarity and “total” backing of Morocco’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran due to its interference in Morocco’s internal affairs.Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and spokesman of the government Mahmoud Ali Youssouf sent a letter today to his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, to emphasize Djibouti’s support for Morocco’s decision to cut ties with Iran.Commenting on the Moroccan move, Youssouf reaffirmed his country’s support “for all measures taken by your country to guarantee its security and stability and to face any attempt to undermine its territorial integrity and the safety of its citizens.” On May 1, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the diplomatic break, confirming the presence of “tangible evidence” of Iran’s involvement in delivering military equipment to the Polisario and training its militias.In response to the Moroccan statement, Djibouti’s official denounced Iranian interference, stressing the importance of respect for the principles governing relations between states, especially “respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”The decision to cut ties with Iran followed the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2414, which urges Polisario to withdraw from the Guerguerat buffer zone and to stop their illegal operations in Western Sahara. The country’s announcement represents further evidence of Polisario’s involvement in illegal actions, which have deemed destabilizing for the region as a whole.Polisario and Iran have denied their connection, while Algeria has attempted to distance itself from the regional conflict over Western Sahara.On Wednesday, Algeria summoned Morocco’s ambassador to Algiers and condemned Bourita’s comments accusing Hezbollah of providing military training and weapons to the separatist group through Algeria.Reacting to Algeria’s action, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the Algerian declaration, reframing the public condemnation in terms of Algerian embarrassment over the repeated instances documenting Algeria-Polisario collusion. read more

UN relief official sees security improvement in crisisridden eastern DR of Congo

Under-Secretary-General Jan Egeland was able to visit Mutambala Bridge, which used to be the front line between the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD-Goma) and Mayi-Mayi militia during prolonged fighting. A water and sanitation supervisor and 10 water committee workers were abducted and killed in the area earlier this year.At the bridge, the two sides promised full freedom of movement for the civilian population and said they were pleased with their reconciliation.The DRC’s eastern region is the location of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 3.5 million people having been displaced and thousands of girls and women having suffered torture and violation.The visit to Baraka is part of Mr. Egeland’s broader goals of increasing the humanitarian access to and presence in previously difficult to reach areas of the Great Lakes region, OCHA said.He was scheduled to go to Goma, a town of 400,000, later today and to Bunia in Ituri district tomorrow. read more

UN agriculture agency stresses role of trade in food security and climate

“Low food prices reduce the incomes of farmers, especially poor family farmers who produce staple food in the developing countries. This cut in the flow of cash into rural communities also reduces the incentives for new investments in production, infrastructure and services,” said José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at a high-level meeting on agricultural commodity prices in Rome. The Director-General noted that globally, food prices are believed to be back to their long-term downward trend in real terms, as supply growth outpaces demand. This follows the price surges experienced during 2008-2012, and a prolonged period of volatility in food markets. He underscored the need to consider the current decline in agricultural commodity prices in the context of the international community’s efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In a video address to the meeting, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said that under the right circumstances, trade provides people with opportunities to join global markets and helps to create incentives for producers to invest and innovate. The “historic decision” struck in Nairobi in December 2015 by WTO members to eliminate agricultural export subsidies will “help level the playing field in agriculture markets, to the benefit of farmers and exporters in developing and least-developed countries,” according to Mr. Azevêdo. Wide view of the opening session of the fourth Ministerial Meeting on long-term commodity price trends and sustainable agricultural development, at FAO headquarters Plenary hall, Rome. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano For his part, Mr. Graziano da Silva pointed to the potential of trade in contributing to global food security and better nutrition, specifically underlining its potential role as an “adaptation tool” to climate change – countries that are projected to experience decreasing yields and production due to climate change will have to resort to the global markets to feed their populations. But the Director-General also noted that increased openness to trade can also bring risks. If not well managed, it “can undermine local production and consequently the livelihoods of the rural poor,” he said. The elimination of agricultural export subsidies that affect prices in global markets could be one way to improve trade so that it benefits small farmers in developing countries and creates prosperity in rural areas, he added. With demand representing one of the most powerful drivers of food prices, an essential way to make these more remunerative for producers, yet affordable for consumers, is to promote and strengthen targeted social protection programmes and other schemes such as food vouchers, the FAO Director-General said. “The aim of these policies is to build a virtuous cycle of local production and local consumption,” said Mr. Graziano da Silva. To succeed, such measures need strong collaboration between the institutions responsible for agriculture, rural development, trade, the environment, nutrition, health and social security, he noted. To better develop future scenarios on the long-term behaviour of agricultural commodity prices, he highlighted that FAO seeks to boost its modelling systems to better understand possible price swings and changes in trends and assist countries to formulate appropriate policies. The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, a joint publication of FAO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), points out the high probability that over the next 10 years, some abrupt price surges may occur, mainly as a result of climate change. read more

Greek Community of Melbourne takes to the streets to protest against FYROMs

first_imgMembers of Melbourne’s Hellenic clubs gathered in a meeting organised by the Pan Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria in Clifton Hill last Thursday evening to decide the Greek Community’s next actions regarding the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute. In the meeting, the community representatives discusses the suggested names for FYROM by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, the relations with Greece’s Balkan neighbours, and the ongoing conversation between Athens and Skopje.Mr Nimetz said on 1 February that he was “optimistic Balkan neighbors ‘Macedonia’ and Greece could resolve a name dispute that has strained relations between the two countries for more than a quarter of a century”.After talks with FYROM:s leadership in Skopje, Nimetz told reporters that officials in both countries appear highly motivated to reach a solution over the name within the next couple of months, with the new FYROM name most likely being a modifier to the word ‘Macedonia’ by adding ‘Upper’, ‘New’, or ‘North’ to it.More than 250 community members attended the meeting in a tense atmosphere which led to several verbal conflicts and embarrassing incidents with some members calling themselves ‘more patriot’ than others. Several fanatics booed Professor Christos Fifis, one of the community’s key supporters. Mr Fifis is known for devoting his life to Greece, the Greek Australian community, and Hellenic studies. He was not allowed to share his opinion when he asked to speak, and he was forced to withdraw by those who disagreed.One of the attendees demanding the diaspora’s support verbally offended all of the elderly members of the community calling them “old”.The climate was divisive, as members that had attended the previous FYROM name rally in Melbourne ended up quarrelling with the Pan Macedonian Association’s president Peter Iassonides who called their protest “faceless”. By the end of the meeting, however, most representatives agreed that the protest was welcomed by the community. President of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Bill Papastergiadis, also asked everyone to support this year’s Lonsdale Street Festival as it will also have a “Macedonian colour”, promising to give a call-out to all Greek Australians asking them to attend the 4 March rally. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Government Successful at Issuing a Benchmark US750 Million Bond Issue

first_img Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Bahamas, November 18, 2017 – Nassau – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest gave details in the House of Assembly of the Government’s recent success at issuing a benchmark US$750 million bond issue, which has been opened to the markets and priced, and is expected to close on November 21, 2017.    He made the statement on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.DPM Turnquest also took the time to set the record straight in response to numerous reports in the Press and social media about the transaction, which characterised it as “lacking in transparency and fiscal prudence.”“Nothing could be further from the truth.    There was absolutely nothing devious, surreptitious or imprudent about this transaction or the manner in which it was handled.    There are certain ways these transactions are handled in the international market, and we are appropriately guided by our investors in this regard,” he told the Members of Parliament.DPM Turnquest explained that all of the Government’s financing activities are conducted within the constraints of its approved borrowing authorities, and shaped and informed by pragmatic debt management strategies.“These strategies, for example, take into consideration the size and currency composition of the Government’s financing requirements; the identification, analysis and preferences of potential funding sources—whether it is best to source the debt in domestic or foreign currency; and, of course, with due consideration to market liquidity, cost and risk factors.“To be sure, such analysis and evaluation requires interaction with other agencies—especially our bankers, and most certainly the Central Bank.   As is customary, we collaborate very closely with the Central Bank, which manages the issuance of government paper in the domestic market, for advice on domestic liquidity conditions—how much excess loanable funds are in the system, and what is the appetite of the main investors in government paper—the banks and institutional investors (pension funds and the insurance companies) to increasing their holdings.”He said these factors, including foreign reserves considerations, not only influence the timing and size of potential issues, but also determine decisions on whether borrowings are undertaken in domestic or foreign currency.    Such decisions involve serious and considered deliberations by the Government in managing the country’s debt.   The DPM noted that during the 2017/18 Budget Communication, two borrowing resolutions were approved by the House.The first covered the additional funding approval of $400 million to settle the outstanding arrears for FY2016/17 and the second was in respect of FY2017/18, and provided for financing to cover the overall budget deficit, estimated at $322.3 million, and refinancing/debt repayment obligations, which are now projected at $600.2 million.He said, “Therefore, while the total borrowing envelope under these two approved resolutions totaled approximately $1,322.7 million, the increment to the outstanding debt was and remains $722.3 million, as the $600.2 million in refinancing/debt repayment would have a neutral impact on debt levels.”DPM Turnquest also noted that it is instructive to mention, that, at the beginning of each Fiscal Year, one of the first things that the Government sets out to do, through its Treasury Department, is to develop monthly cash flow projections—based on how it perceives the evolution of revenue performance and the timing of its outlays.“These projections are calibrated, on an ongoing basis, to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to meet the Government’s budgetary requirements, as and when needed.“It is now common knowledge that there were pressing funding needs at the end of the past fiscal year and the outset of the current period, which placed an urgent requirement on policymakers to identify immediate funding sources to meet these obligations.”He said after an evaluation of the funding options, the Government moved expeditiously to source several short-term bridging facilities, which included US Dollar bank credits ($450 million) and domestic treasury bills and bank advances ($300 million).“I want to emphasize that these facilities were always contemplated to be short-term in nature, with a subsequent “terming out”, i.e., lengthening of the maturities to achieve a more favourable debt servicing profile. And having considered conditions in the domestic market, and the number of significant rollovers contemplated, the intention was to explore the possibility of rolling up these short-term credits into an international bond issue.”The bonds, characterized as a 10-Year weighted average life bond, was priced at a coupon or interest rate of 6.00 per cent, which is some 250 basis points above the pricing obtained in the Government’s last bond issuance in 2014 when it enjoyed investment grade credit status.It is to be repaid in three equal annual installments, commencing on November 21, 2026, and with a final maturity on November 21, 2028.   T he 6.00 per cent yield is equivalent to a spread of 362.1 basis points above the US Treasury’s 10-year benchmark bond.The Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, LLC. managed the offer as joint book runners.By: Llonella Gilbert (BIS) Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img read more

Veteran Republican US Rep Doc Hastings to retire

first_imgSEATTLE — Veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, who represented central Washington for two decades and was a key voice in public lands and energy policy, announced Thursday he’ll retire at the end of the year. As chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Hastings recently took on the Endangered Species Act, calling for an overhaul of the law to curtail environmentalist lawsuits and give more power to states. Hastings and other GOP critics contend the 40-year-old law has been abused by environmental groups seeking to restrict development in the name of species protection.“The biggest problem is that the Endangered Species Act is not recovering species,” Hastings said at a news conference last week where 13 GOP lawmakers proposed “targeted reforms” for the law that protects imperiled plants and animals.“The way the act was written, there is more of an effort to list (species as endangered or threatened) than to delist” them after declaring they are no longer threatened, Hastings said.Born in Spokane, the Pasco-based lawmaker was first elected to the U.S. House in 1994 after beating then-congressman Jay Inslee, the current Washington governor. Before his career in the nation’s capital, Hastings served in the state House from 1979 to 1987.last_img read more

House Beautiful Introduces Television Partnership With HSN

first_imgHearst’s House Beautiful is taking to the small screen this year—the publication is launching a partnership with HSN, formerly known as the Home Shopping Network, to raise awareness about the brand and foster commerce and consumer interaction.“This partnership represents the future, moving commerce in a modern direction,” says Newell Turner, the publication’s editor-in-chief. “It’s an opportunity to marry our brand’s editorial authority with retail. House Beautiful has a distinct point of view that our readers love. HSN has deep expertise in creating and sourcing product for retail. Now together we are enabling consumers to access great taste and design in a whole new way. We have readers at every stage of life and income, and HSN is making it possible for all of us to have a more beautiful home.” Turner defines the House Beautiful Marketplace as a place consumers can visit to shop for furniture, lighting, rugs, decorative accessories and art for their homes. The House Beautiful Marketplace will debut on HSN TV and Turner himself will be appearing in episodes and online to offer his take on the latest trends in home design. The website for the marketplace (HSN.com/HouseBeautiful, pictured right) gives Web visitors information on House Beautiful picks, and expert decorating advice from editors and writers.“There is going to be some cross-promotion between HSN and House Beautiful, but in the end it’s really all about shopping for things to make your home more beautiful and a reflection of your personal style,” says Turner. “I’m now involved with all the media platforms, so when I’m going to be a guest on an HSN show, I’ll definitely be tweeting that I’m on air. Think of it as taking the magazine to TV. We’re going to be part of HSN’s broadcast design week three times a year. I or one of my editors will be the guest of shows devoted to home design. We’ll be there to talk about what we see happening in the world of interior design. Online at HSN.com, some of our shopping columns will be extended with more home furnishings available through HSN.”Going forward, some monthly columns in the magazine will include products seen on the House Beautiful Marketplace program. Turner says the partnership can be looked at as a content source for the magazine on different furnishing offerings and services. The editorial will remain largely independent, though there will be some intersections between editorial content and television programming. HSN approached the publication about this collaborative effort, though Turner declined to comment on whether or not this represented a paid partnership.“Our partnership came out of our desire to reach the consumer wherever she is—on her mobile device, on her computer, watching television—and offer her ease of access to great style for her home, beyond the pages of the magazine,” says Turner. “We were interested in what they were doing—making great design available to everyone.”last_img read more

US steps up threat to quit UNHRC

first_img.The United States warned Friday that it was losing patience and again threatened to quit the UN Human Rights Council after the Geneva-based body adopted five resolutions condemning Israel.US ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that the council was “grossly biased against Israel,” noting that it had adopted only three resolutions separately targeting North Korea, Iran and Syria.”When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name,” said Haley.”Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights,” she said.Haley has over the past year repeatedly warned that the United States was ready to walk away from the 47-member body established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide.The five resolutions were presented by the countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation under the council’s “agenda item 7” which concerns Israel.Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item at the council, a mechanism that the United States and some European countries view as inappropriate.The latest threat to quit the council came after President Donald Trump appointed UN-skeptic John Bolton as his national security adviser.Since Trump took over at the White House, the United States has quit the UN cultural agency UNESCO, cut UN funding and announced plans to quit the UN-backed Paris climate agreement.last_img read more