Steps against poverty

first_imgOn Friday, two weeks after the World Bank Governors approved a major push to end poverty, Jim Yong Kim, M.D. ’91, Ph.D. ’93, president of the World Bank Group, described the plan to a Harvard audience in the Asia Center’s annual Tsai Lecture at the Science Center.Within 17 years, the bank seeks to reduce the proportion of people living on $1.25 a day or less to 3 percent, the lowest possible figure given natural disasters.“It’s the first time in history that the world has said we can end poverty as we know it,” said Kim, co-founder of Partners In Health, the Boston-based nonprofit working with the poor on four continents.Kim is a former president of Dartmouth College and also served as director of the World Health Organization’s HIV-AIDS department, where he led a successful effort to treat 3 million new HIV-AIDS patients in developing countries with antiretroviral drugs.In the hourlong lecture, co-sponsored by the Korea Institute, he blended wide-ranging policy with encouragement to a supportive audience; several students voiced their aspirations to follow Kim’s path into international development.Never permit yourself to think that any country in the world or any people is a basket case. If you come in with cynicism it is deadly for the poor people.” — Jim Kim, president of the World Bank GroupA sophomore asked about his proudest moment in his tenure at the bank, which started in July 2012. “Keeping my mouth shut” in the first six months on the job, answered Kim. When he did talk, it was to ask questions — about process at the bank, the programs it supports, and whether ending poverty was a reasonable goal.A persistent challenge to calculating progress was the fact that the bank always worked with data that was at least two years old. So Kim proposed that the bank measure poverty every year, and stressed a focus on investment in human capital such as education and health care. Changes and tumult around the world demand that focus, he said. Economic growth must be measured in conjunction with gauging the extent to which a society’s bottom 40 percent participate in that growth, he said.“Growth that’s not inclusive has potential to build instability into your system,” he said.Also, climate change is a major challenge. If the World Bank supports only clean energy, he said, poor countries with gaping energy needs say they are being punished.“My job is to walk that balance,” he said — a difficult task.For instance, he said, economic growth in China has raised 600 million people out of poverty, and the country has led the world in investment in green development. Yet it also has 363 coal plants in the pipeline.The easier fixes toward ending poverty have already been made, he said.Kim knows firsthand how perceptions affect development. Born in Korea in 1959, he remembers when experts expressed pessimism about development in his homeland because it was “wracked by the ravages of a strict Confucian culture.” Twenty years later, as the country prospered, the view changed: “The secret to Korea’s development was its Confucian culture.”The lesson underscored Kim’s encouragement to students to pursue international development with open minds.“Never permit yourself to think that any country in the world or any people is a basket case,” he said. “If you come in with cynicism it is deadly for the poor people.”The World Bank is full of optimists, he said, even though they know the challenges are great. But, he said, “Optimism is a moral choice.”last_img read more

Romania: Protesters want reprisals for fatal hospital fire

first_imgBUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Hundreds of people have protested outside Romania’s Health Ministry the day after a fatal fire at one of the country’s main hospitals for COVID-19 patients. The protest on Saturday was organized by a right-wing political party. Protesters called for the resignations of the president, the health minister and the emergencies chief. At least five people died in the fire that broke out Friday on the ground floor of the Matei Bals hospital in Bucharest. It was the third hospital fire in Romania in as many months. The health minister says the cause is not yet known and an investigation is ongoing, He agreed Romania needs new hospitals.last_img read more

Winter Pruning

first_imgThe calendar says January, but the weather for the last few weeks has been screaming March.The unseasonable warmth means a lot of folks are getting in their yards, looking for something to keep them outdoors a little longer. It’s the perfect time to prune summer-blooming shrubs and trees like crape myrtles and tea olives.There’s no one-size-fits-all pruning rule; it’s as much a science as it is an art. There are, however, some basic techniques that can help novice gardeners avoid mistakes that can cause their shrubs lasting damage.”The keys to proper pruning are timing, technique and the right equipment,” said Bob Westerfield, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist.Go slow, be selective and don’t prune angry.It can be cathartic to start lopping off tree limbs left and right, but pruning is not the time to work out your anger issues. Gardeners need to know what to prune and what to leave alone until spring.The time to prune summer-blooming plants and most woody ornamentals is January through early March. These include:BeautyberryCamelliaChaste tree (Vitex)Cranberrybush (Viburnum)Crape myrtleFloribunda rosesFragrant tea oliveGlossy abeliaGoldenrain treeGrandiflora rosesJapanese barberryJapanese spireaMimosaNandinaRose of Sharon (Althea)Sourwood‘Anthony Waterer’ spireaSweetshrubYou need to prune spring-flowering plants like azalea, forsythia and dogwood soon after they bloom.”Of course, if you see dead plant material, you can prune that off any time of year,” Westerfield said.Pruning is often necessary for your plants’ health. It’s a way to remove disease and keep your plants looking good. It can also rejuvenate older, overgrown shrubs.Proper tools are a key to successful pruning.”Steer away from gas-powered pruners,” Westerfield said. “Hand-operated shears work wonderfully as long as you keep your instruments sharp so they cut the plant instead of tearing it.”Hand pruners are perhaps your most essential pruning tool.”Buy the best quality you can afford and you won’t have to keep going back to the store for a new pair every year,” he said. “The draw-cut, or scissor, type is the most useful.”The anvil-type hard pruners tend to crush limbs rather than cut them.Use lopping shears to prune small trees or shrubs, like crape myrtles, with a branch diameter of up to 1.5 inches. For plants with branches more than 2 inches thick, use a pruning saw.Heading or thinningNow that you have the proper tools, you’re ready to start pruning. There are two methods: heading and thinning.”Heading is when you shear across the plant nonselectively,” Westerfield said. “This method is normally used on boxwoods to give them that formal look.”Use heading sparingly, as it causes new growth to grow back too thick, choking air and light from the interior branches of the shrub.Thinning is more useful and will lead to a healthier shrub in the spring. Gas or electric hedge trimmers are notorious for causing thick growth at the tips of branches.”Use thinning to prune out sections of the plant to allow more light and air inside,” he said. “The increased air reduces diseases and insects like spider mites.”How you prune determines the shape of your plant.”If you leave buds on the outside, it causes the plant to grow outward and spread,” he said. “If you leave buds on the inside it causes the plant to fill out from within.”Let in air and light.Westerfield reminds home landscapers to always leave the bottom of the plant larger than the top while pruning so that the plant forms a pyramid shape. “If you don’t, you’ll cause a canopy effect, and no light will get in,” he said.Make your cuts at a slant, too, and at a fraction above the bud. The slant will allow water to roll off the newly cut surface.Don’t use pruning paints.”They’re unnecessary and may slow the cuts’ healing,” Westerfield said.Complement pruning by going easy with the fertilizer. You want your plants to put any stored energy they have into healing, not into sending new shoots.UGA Extension will offer an in-depth pruning workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on February 10 at the UGA Griffin Campus. The cost of the workshop is $59 and includes lunch, snacks and printed materials. For more information, email Beth Horne at or call 770-228-7214.UGA Extension has a number of free, online publications with diagrams that can help gardeners figure out which plants need pruning, when pruning is necessary and what techniques are needed for each shrub. Visit and search “pruning” or call your local Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.last_img read more

Sara Burczy joins Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont

first_imgSara Burczy joins Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermontas the new Wellness and Community Outreach CoordinatorBerlin, VT Sara Burczy is the new Wellness and Community Outreach Coordinator at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT). She has responsibility for the day-to-day management of the three-year Vermont Worksite Wellness Project sponsored by BCBSVT and the University of Vermont. This exciting research study is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Protection Research Initiative. The project will test the effectiveness of various types of wellness programs in the workplace. The project will offer a randomly selected group of 32 BCBSVT employer accounts with between 51 and 249 employees free worksite wellness programming in four areasnutrition and weight management, physical activity, stress reduction, and smoking cessationfor a period of 24 months. As project manager, Ms. Burczy will oversee the collection of outcomes data at regular six-month intervals.Ms. Burczy has extensive experience helping Vermonters from all walks of life to adopt healthier lifestyles. As a UVM Extension Professor and Nutrition & Food Specialist, she developed and implemented nutrition and health education programs throughout the state for over twenty-five years. Working with other UVM faculty, she also previously conducted research related to worksite wellness and nutrition (including obesity prevention and weight management). In addition, she served on the committee that created the University of Vermont employee wellness program in the 1990s. Prior to joining UVM Extension, Sara was the Marketing Assistant at the Burlington Savings Bank.Ms. Burczy earned her Master of Extension Education degree at the University of Vermont, where her concentration was community nutrition and health education. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Nebraska, where she graduated with high distinction with a dual major in journalism and family and consumer sciences. Ms. Burczy has received several national professional awards for her teaching, research and media work in the areas of nutrition and wellness.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest private health insurer, providing coverage for about 180,000 Vermonters. It employs over 350 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and branch office in Williston, and offers group and individual health plans to Vermonters. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.(End)last_img read more

St. James Man Pleads Guilty in $17M Ponzi Scheme

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 62-year-old investment fund manager pleaded guilty at federal court in Central Islip on Monday to securities fraud after operating a nine-year Ponzi scheme that netted more than $17 million.James Peister agreed to pay $9.6 million in restitution to dozens of victims and to forfeit $17.9 million in assets, including his St. James home and a Hummer, prosecutors said.“For nearly a decade, rather than make sound investment decisions as he had promised, James Peister fleeced dozens of investors and used their money to fund his own lavish lifestyle,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.Prosecutors said Peister ripped off at least 74 investors through several investments funds—Northstar International Group Inc., North American Globex Group, and North American Globex Fund, LP—between January 2000 and June 2009.Victims believed they were investing in stocks, futures and fixed income instruments, prosecutors said. Instead, Peister used their money to pay out existing investors, finance his business and pay for his home and Hummer, prosecutors said.He was able to maintain the fraud by providing phony financial statements to investors and auditors that overstated the value of his clients’ assets, prosecutors said.The scheme fell apart when the economy collapsed in 2008, prosecutors said. Peister was arrested in June of this year.Peister is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2015. He faces up to 20 years in prison.last_img read more

Emergency fund accounts & other resources to improve member’s financial health

first_imgIt’s no secret that the current state of American’s and emergency savings is not good.  American’s today have a hard time coming up with the funds to cover an everyday emergency, such as a car repair, medical bill, etc.  As financial institutions, we have the opportunity to provide tools and resources to help members to better prepare for unforeseen expenses.When I first came to Financial Health Federal Credit Union, about 21 years ago, we were a struggling little credit union trying to compete with banks and large credit unions for the same customers and we were not doing that very well.  We lacked the expertise, the marketing budget, the branch structure – all of that.  We consciously decided to focus our attention on people most banks and credit unions do not want to serve; people who are typically taken advantage of by payday lenders, buy here/pay here car lots, etc.  Over the years we have gotten increasingly passionate about that mission.One of our main areas of focus is helping members who are having trouble setting up an emergency fund.  According to a Federal Reserve Survey, about 46 percent of Americans said they did not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.  We want to help, which is why we have offered an emergency fund account for a few years now.There are different concepts for how much money a person should have in their emergency fund.  Our concept is that it should be at least one month’s worth of expenses.  We offer members planning tools to help them estimate how much they should have in their emergency fund, and then help them determine how much they should save every month or every payday to build that emergency fund.  Since we started the emergency fund accounts, members have opened 324 of these accounts and balances are $66,500, an average of $205 per account. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Consumer experience and employee experience? Best practices with Rio Grande Credit Union

first_img 38SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr We live in a hyper-saturated competitive environment when it comes to financial products and services. Just think about all the other banks, credit unions and non-traditional providers all looking to grab a slice of your consumers’ market and wallet share. One of the strongest ways financial institutions can compete is by establishing a truly unique consumer service experience.A great example of this comes from Rio Grande Credit Union (Albuquerque, NM; $316 million assets; 30,000 members). Looking to create a truly differentiated and memorable member service experience, they first decided to invest in their overall employee experience. As it turns out, employee experience and member experience are directly related.“What we’ve discovered is that our Employee Engagement survey (done in April) is predictive of our Annual Member Satisfaction survey (conducted in August),” shared Bill Daily, VP of Marketing and Member Experience. “We’ve made the local ‘Best Places to Work’ the past two years in a row. Our 2016 member satisfaction survey generated the highest score in the 15 years we’ve been tracking it.” continue reading »last_img read more

HR Answers: Should you rehire a previous employee?

first_img continue reading » 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr It’s not uncommon when sorting through a pile of résumés to come across a familiar name. If a former employee applies for a position with the organization they once left, is rehiring them a stroke of luck or a terrible mistake?One of the biggest advantages to hiring a previous employee is that they are a known commodity: You know their personality, work ethic and skills. That knowledge goes both ways: They know the company’s procedures, culture and goals. If a good fit for rehire, they can offer significantly reduced retraining cost. But how do you decide if they are a good candidate? We offer some criteria to evaluate.1. What was their past performance? The single most important thing for you to consider is their previous track record. What was their performance while at your credit union? Did they bump along the bottom or continually exceed expectations? Did their coworkers enjoy working with them, or did they sow workplace strife and frustration?last_img read more

On a roll: The psychology behind toilet paper panic

first_imgTopics : Taking control Economists have also suggested people may be trying to eliminate one risk that is relatively easy and superficial, rather than doing something more costly that may reduce their risk a greater amount.This is known as “Zero risk bias.””My guess is we want to feel in control and have limited budgets,” said Farasat Bokhari, a health economist at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.”So we go buy something that is cheap to buy, that we can store, and we know at the back of our minds that we are going to use anyway,” he said. A more expensive but necessary item to stock might be non-perishable food — but if frozen meals, canned foods and ramen aren’t exactly your favorites, you could be stuck with a big bill for items you eventually throw away, should the worst fail to materialize.According to Taylor, many of the behaviors we see now also occurred in previous pandemics, including the Spanish flu in 1918, which killed almost 700,000 Americans and sent panicked citizens to stores and pharmacies to hoard goods.Some at the time even floated the conspiracy theory the virus may have been a bioweapon devised by Germany. The new coronavirus has been called a Chinese weapon and an American bioweapon, depending on who is making the accusation.One key difference between the current pandemic and those before it is the ubiquity of social media — the swine flu pandemic of 2009 happened when the medium was still relatively new —  and Taylor sees both pluses and negatives.”That’s enabled the reverberations of dramatic images and videos throughout the world, inflating people’s sense of threat and urgency,” said Taylor.On the other hand, “Social media can be great for social support, particularly if you’re in self isolation.”So are we destined for a breakdown in social cohesion if the pandemic stretches out? History says no, said Taylor.”Rioting and bad behavior in previous pandemics has been relatively uncommon — it has happened, there have been outbreaks, but the main response has been one of order, of people coming together, of solidarity, helping each other out and doing their best as a community to deal with this.” “And so I think this is one reason they latched on to the toilet paper, because it’s a means of avoiding disgust.” But this doesn’t explain it entirely — toilet paper can’t save you from infection, and we haven’t yet seen the same level of hoarding for more key items like canned foods — so something else is clearly afoot.”I think it probably stuck out in the dramatic images in social media because it was quite clear, the packets are quite distinctive and it’s become associated in the minds of people as a symbol of safety,” Steven Taylor, author of “The Psychology of Pandemics” told AFP.”People feel the need to do something to keep themselves and their family safe, because what else can they do apart from wash their hands and self-isolate?” added the psychiatry professor at the University of British Columbia.Another theory Taylor put forward is rooted in our evolutionary aversion to things which disgust us, heightened when people feel threatened with infection. It’s a scene that’s become familiar around the world: From the US to France to Australia, rows of empty supermarket shelves where toilet paper used to be, the result of coronavirus-induced panic buying.What exactly is it about the rolls of tissue that has caused mayhem across cultures, including at times violent clashes that have reverberated on social media?At its most basic, say experts, the answer lies in game theory: If everyone buys only what they need, there will be no shortages. If some people start panic buying, the optimal strategy will be for you to follow suit, to make certain you have enough squares to spare.last_img read more

Glimmer of hope: Indonesians optimistic, likely to spend more

first_imgIndonesians are relatively more optimistic on the outlook of the economy and will spend more in the future as businesses are forced to adapt to changing consumer behavior to endure the economic effects of the pandemic, several surveys show.More than half of Indonesian respondents say they are optimistic that the economy will rebound within two to three months, faring better than most countries around the world, according to a new McKinsey & Company survey on Indonesia consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis.Another McKinsey article titled “A global view of how consumer behavior is changing amid COVID-19” states that optimism correlates with an increase in spending. “Chinese consumers’ optimism results in a net increase in expected future spending, a situation also observed in Indonesia, Nigeria and India,” reads the report. “Most European consumers are less optimistic and, as a result, expect to spend less”.Indonesia’s consumer-driven economy relies on household spending, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).The economy is expected to grow 2.3 percent this year, the lowest since 1999, or contract by 0.4 percent under the worst-case scenario as businesses and workers, consequently households, are paralyzed during the pandemic, government calculations project.Business sectors that rise and fall in stay-at-home economy. (Inventure/”30 Consumer Behavior Shiftings”) Another report from market research firm Kantar Indonesia points to manageable concerns over COVID-19 from the perspective of Indonesians. Based on a sample of 6,428 people on March 25, 68 percent of Indonesians were concerned but said they knew what to do, while 10 percent were very concerned and did not know what to do.“We see that Indonesians are concerned but assured,” Kantar Indonesia wrote. “Indonesia and Malaysia are the only countries in the region that have maintained a net-positive sentiment in their social media chatter about COVID-19.”While the reports point to consumer optimism in the future, spending will remain cautious and targeted with a big shift in consumer needs, requiring businesses to adapt to changing consumer behavior.“Think of now as the new normal. We must take action,” said branding and marketing expert Yuswohady on April 13, during a webinar series hosted by Inventure Knowledge on COVID-19 and its impact on businesses. He urged businesses to be quick in adapting to the crisis, saying that “agility is key”.Inventure released a briefing document titled “30 Consumer Behavior Shiftings” as a navigation guide for businesses to survive amid a spike in layoffs, poverty and bankruptcy that the government has forecast.As the government tries to soften the economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic through tax breaks and cash transfers, businesses are urged to play their part in adapting to recent trends. Here are several major consumer behavior shifts that could present as business opportunities amid the pandemic, based on Inventure’s new report.center_img Digital channels, delivery services and subscription models matterRegardless of the product or service, there are three common areas that companies can work on to build up their resilience amid the pandemic: strengthening delivery services, bolstering digital channels and considering a subscription model. The last one will work well when the first two have already been established.“COVID-19 will become a catalyst to the development of the subscription business model,” concludes the Inventure report, explaining that the trend in routine online purchases will be accommodated well under the model as the consumer will attain cheaper prices while companies can be certain that there will be a steady flow of demand.‘”Jamu” is the new espresso’Aside from a turn to self-sufficiency, consumers are increasingly focused on health and well-being as a result of the pandemic. This has resulted in a spike in the consumption of vitamins, online fitness programs and online health consultations.More than three out of four consumers in Australia, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand that McKinsey & Company surveyed for their report — titled “Reimagining food retail in Asia after COVID-19” — say that they are “focusing on boosting immunity through more exercise and healthy living”.As part of consumers’ pursuit of immunity boosts, many are turning to traditional remedies, according to a report from global market research firm Mintel titled “How COVID-19 is impacting food and drink markets in Southeast Asia”.For Indonesian consumers, that traditional remedy is the traditional herbal drink, jamu.“The COVID-19 pandemic is making jamu into a lifestyle. Jamu is the new espresso,” the Inventure report says, noting that a number of jamu producers have seen an increase in revenue of up to 50 percent. It predicts that the habit of drinking jamu will be “a new normal” and that jamu cafes will be more common in the future.Read also: ‘Pay attention’, ‘transform’: Pandemic shifts business landscape, strategyEmerging virtual social activitiesIn order to stay connected with friends and family members, many consumers are opting for “virsocial” (virtual social) activities, which means that they do activities in the comfort of their own homes but connected to their peers with the help of teleconferencing platforms.Inventure’s report suggests that this behavior is driven by the desire to reduce the monotonous day-to-day life in quarantine. Businesses can tap into this growing market by replicating what DOOgether, an online platform for sports and activities, did in the midst of the pandemic, Inventure noted.The platform launched two new features #dirumahaja (#stayathome) exercise by DOOgether and DOOlive, which enables consumers to follow live classes as well as numerous videos-on-demand in partnership with local wellness studios to guide consumers’ daily exercises.“DOOlive helps local studio partners, as well as the trainers teaching live classes, with income,” DOOgether chief executive officer Fauzan Gani said in a statement published on April 7, as quoted by also: Three stages of emotion on COVID-19 journey: Where are you now?‘Zoom-able’ workplace at home“The work-from-home trend will give birth to a new industry that is the home office industry, which includes furniture, interior design, office devices and housing property designs that have workspaces,” the Inventure report reads.Regions across Indonesia have implemented large-scale social restriction (PSBB) measures that include public area, school and house-of-worship closures, except for essential needs. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has also urged Indonesians to work, study and pray from home.This has led to corporate meetings being facilitated by teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts. In relation to the recent mass adoption of the platforms, data from Google Trend show an increase in searches for home office equipment keywords, for example, “best computer monitor”, in early March.Furniture store IKEA and electronics goods chain BestBuy have seen an increase in sales of office furniture as well, the Inventure report says.Read also: Online groceries thrive as customers avoid supermarketsHome-cooking makes a comebackConsumers are starting to build on the habit of home cooking due to the implementation of social-distancing measures. Based on research by Moz, a software as a service (SaaS) company, among the most searched items on Google during the social-distancing period are family recipes and home baking.“We’re seeing growing interest in at-home cooking, which presents challenges and opportunities for brands looking to engage with those preparing and enjoying tasty meals at home,” Mintel’s Asia Pacific food and drink analyst Tan Heng Hong said. The behavior is driven by more time being spent at home, he added.Relevant business opportunities include instant seasoning, food preparation, “ready to serve” cooking such as frozen food, as well as running a cooking and recipes platform, as noted by the Inventure report.Topics :last_img read more