Iowa legislature suspends session, gives governor new powers for COVID-19 response

first_imgDES MOINES — The Iowa Legislature has suspended its 2020 session for at least 30 days and given Governor Kim Reynolds new authority to use nearly $20 million from the state’s Economic Emergency Fund to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, said suspending the legislature follows the advice of public health officials about avoiding large gatherings.“We also think it’s prudent at this time to pause our normal legislative business so that the governor, legislators and government employees can focus exclusively on the coronavirus outbreak,” Whitver said.In addition, lawmakers voted to lift all limits and let the governor shift money around within the current state budget, if needed.“We’ll give the governor the authority to do what she needs to do while we’re not in session to make sure that there’s confidence that government will function appropriately at this time,” Whitver said.As an added precaution, the plan sets aside enough money to keep state government operating until September 1st, two months into the next state fiscal year.“Hopefully, we can be back as soon as possible,” said House Speaker Chuck Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford. “If not, we need to be prepared and making responsible decisions so that the government will continue to operate.”Republicans and Democrats uanimously voted for these moves.“We all can agree that we need to give the governor the powers to take decisive action,” said House Minority Leader Todd Prichard, a Democrat from Charles City.If the governor decides more than $20 million is needed from the Economic Emergency Fund, Grassley indicated the 20-member Legislative Council made up of leaders will convene to approve that withdrawal.“We made sure that the legislature was still involved as much as we could be without bringing everyone back into the building,” Grassley said.Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, said the Legislative Council could also decide to reconvene the full legislature earlier, but she’s hoping lawmakers stay out of the Capitol for at least 30 days.“Setting a good example for Iowans by not gathering in a germ-infested building like this one,” Petersen said, “and making sure that we’re abiding by a quarantine as well.”Part of the plan means schools do not have to make up missed days that occur between now and April 12, but some districts may accumulate more than that. Petersen has a son who’s scheduled to graduate this spring, but that timing could be in doubt in his district and in others, depending on how many days are missed“The state wants to do what’s in the best interest of families,” Petersen said. “…Safety first and health first.”Pay for teachers and other school staff is determined by local district officials, but advocates say it’s unlikely districts will withhold pay over the next month since school budgets aren’t being cut.The legislature convened early Monday afternoon. Following hours of private negotiations and meetings, senators began voting on the plan at about 10 p.m. The House ended the legislature’s marathon day at 12:13 a.m  on Tuesday.“Be well. God bless,” House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, said to his colleagues in conclusion.last_img read more

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Two Ministers, ‘TOP HEAVY ‘Regional Health management, failing National Ophthalmology Hospital

first_imgDear Editor,At last statutory meeting of the Regional Democratic Council of Region Six, held last Thursday, a number of important issues were highlighted, the most important being the National Ophthalmology Hospital at Port Mourant, which is being managed by the Ministry of Public Health, failing the people of Region Six.After numerous pleadings by the RDC and the media, both Ministers of Public Health and a ‘top heavy’ regional management are unable to ensure that the National Ophthalmology Hospital perform cataract surgeries. Both Ministers promised the residents of Region Six, three months ago, that the situation would be resolved.Unfortunately, the Public Health Ministry failed, and as such, the Regional Health Committee is recommending that the RDC manage the National Ophthalmology Hospital to ensure that these problems are resolved, to ensure efficient delivery of health care.The RDC is presently managing the day-to-day running of the National Psychiatric Hospital. Likewise, the Regional Democratic Council should manage the National Ophthalmology Hospital.This situation exposes the level of incompetence that exists in the APNU/AFC Coalition Government. The People of Region Six are calling for the resignation of both ministers for failing to fix a critical issue that has been existing for the last three years.Regards,Zamal Hussainlast_img read more

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Giants win behind impressive rookie, flip switch on Padres who suddenly look different

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — When the Giants traveled to Petco Park for the first series of the 2019 season, they helped the San Diego Padres inspire hope in the local fan base.The young, exciting Padres turned heads with their energy, their raw talent and three wins in four games over a Giants squad that appeared slow, flawed and behind the times.The Giants (28-38) haven’t exactly turned the tables over the last two months, but they managed to flip a switch against San Diego in this week’s two-game …last_img

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Vocational training can help South Africa

first_imgVocational training gives people options other than studying at a university. Increased efforts from the government in this sector could help to empower people with skills development and contribute positively to employment rates. Vocational training could help South Africa to reach its goals, as outlined in the National Development Plan, to reduce unemployment. (Photo: Brand South Africa)• The National Development Plan• South Africa gets a mixed reaction in Africa• Anzisha Prize offers a million to African entrepreneurs• Social assistance & your taxes: how many people do you support? • How much do you know about the ocean? Compiled by Priya Pitamber A survey of South African chief executive officers found that 36% were extremely concerned about the availability of key skills, compared to a global average of 17%, stated a recent report on vocational education and training in four countries: South Africa, the UK, India and the USA.The report, from the global skills development company, City and Guilds Group, highlighted how vocational education and training (VET) could have a substantial influence on global economies.Vocational training is generally for a career in the technical or practical fields and includes a diverse range of careers, such as carpentry, plumbing, and beauty therapy. VET could significantly benefit individuals and businesses, but it was not getting the traction and recognition it needed to attract a large number of students, the report found.In South Africa in particular, VET could help the country to reach its National Development goal of decent employment, as well as help to develop the skills necessary to create a capable workforce to support inclusive growth.“The report indicates that vocational education can help to fill skills gaps, boost productivity, enhance industries and increase employment – all of which have a significant impact on individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole,” said Mike Dawe, the director of international at the City and Guilds Group.See more about vocational training here:“However, there is an ongoing challenge in South Africa, where vocational institutions and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges find it difficult to attract large numbers of students,” Dawe noted. “People still see university study as the first prize and vocational options as second-choice at best – or they don’t even know what vocational options are out there.”The report also acknowledged the progress South Africa had made, however. The country has one of the highest rates of public investment in education in the world. According to Brand South Africa, approximately 7% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 20% of total state expenditure is spent on education.Apart from the more than R640-billion that would be allocated to basic education over the next three years, in his budget delivered on 25 February 2015, then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said that allocations to post-school education and training would exceed R195-billion over the medium term, increasing at an annual average of 7.1%.“University operating subsidies will amount to R72.4-billion. Transfers to universities for infrastructure of R10.5-billion are proposed, including R3.2-billion for the new universities of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje.“We are mindful of the pressures on student financing at our higher education institutions. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is projected to spend R11.9-billion in 2017/18, up from R9.2-billion in 2014/15. This will support a further increase in university enrolments and in technical and vocational colleges.“Progress in the quality of post-school education programmes is clearly critical. Under (Higher Education) Minister (Blade) Nzimande’s direction, the 21 sector education and training authorities and the National Skills Fund will continue to provide work placements for students and graduates.“Raising the number of trainees who qualify as artisans is a special priority. Options for improving the skills funding system will be reviewed in the period ahead,” Nene said in his budget.In an effort to increase VET, the South African government also plans to increase workplace training, starting with government agencies and departments who will be encouraged to offer workplace training for vocational students. VET can help South Africa to reduce unemployment figures. Click on the image for a larger view. (Image: Supplied) “Even though there is a lack of data proving the benefits of vocational education in many contexts around the world, national governments have realised the significant role vocational education and training plays in their countries’ futures,” added Dawe.“The commitment from the government is encouraging and South Africa has a huge opportunity ahead of it.”Click here to read the full report.last_img read more

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Skydiving in South Africa

first_imgIf you’re a skydiver, you know all about adrenaline addiction and the pull of gravity – so don’t miss out on the chance of a quick jump while you’re on holiday (or a business trip) in South Africa.South Africa boasts numerous long established and reputable skydiving clubs close to Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, on the Wine Route, along the scenic Garden Route, and in some of the smaller university towns, such as Grahamstown. (Image: Cape Town Tandem Paragliding)With it’s excellent climate, largely clear skies and spectacular scenery, skydiving is a very popular sport practiced throughout the year, right across South Africa.ParaglidingIf you’re into paragliding or hang gliding, the sky’s the limit in South Africa!Parachuting history in South Africa started with the formation of the historic Pietermaritzburg Parachute Club back in 1954 – making it one of the oldest parachuting clubs in the world, from the era when skydiving as recreational and competitive sport activity began.Today South Africa boasts numerous long established and reputable skydiving clubs close to Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, on the Wine Route, along the scenic Garden Route, and in some of the smaller university towns, such as Grahamstown.If you’re a skydiver already then you know all about adrenaline and the pull of gravity – so don’t miss out on the chance to jump at the numerous drop zones scattered throughout South Africa!Tandem introductory skydiveIf you have never skydived before, a tandem introductory skydive will see you strapped to an experienced instructor for the ride of your life. It will give you a birds-eye view of some of South Africa’s fantastic scenery, will definitely get your adrenalin pumping, and will certainly give you an experience to remember forever.You might also like to consider enrolling in the internationally recognised Accelerated FreeFall Program (AFF) while in South Africa. Over the 10-jump programme you learn to skydive on your own. Once graduated, you will be signed off to jump at any registered drop zone, anywhere in the world.AffordableWith the favourable exchange rate, excellent climate and spectacular scenery, South Africa is a great place to experience skydiving. You will find it cheaper than in most other countries, and it’s an excellent view from up there!Drop zones in South Africa operate within rigidly defined and enforced safety parameters set out in the Parachute Association of South Africa’s Manual of Procedures. Safety and training standards are on a par with, or better than, international standards.As they say on the drop zones “Blue Skies & Great SkyDives”.Travel and Planning InfoWhether you are an experienced sports skydiver, a first time jumper, or wanting to do beginner through to advanced skydiving training, SkyDiversity – http://www.skydiversity.co.za – provides up to date advice and information on skydiving and skydiving events, as well as facilitates enquiries and bookings for all drop zones in South Africa.Tandem Introductory skydiving packages range from R 1 750 for a basic tandem skydive, through to R 2 850 with all of the camera options.Accelerated FreeFall (AFF) Ground School, Training and Level 1 will cost you between R 2 000 and R 2 500. From there the AFF Levels get cheaper as you progress through the course. On average the 10 level, 10 jump programme will cost you between R 1 400 and R 1 700 per jump.Sports skydiving slot rates for experienced skydivers with their own equipment range from R 300 to R 400 per jump, depending on which drop zone you are jumping at.What to wearWear athletic/comfortable casual clothing suited to the weather conditions of the day.Bring a pair of pants and a long sleeve top (not a hoodie) to maybe wear for your actual jumps.You will need nice fitting, comfortable lace-up footwear/running shoes.Big boots with hooks, high heels and loose open slops are not acceptable.If you have long hair bring a couple of decent hair ties.If you wear contact lenses or prescription glasses, let your tandem instructor know and you will be provided with goggles that will protect your eyes/contact lenses, and /or will fit over your prescription glasses.Most drop zones will give you a jump suit to wear over your clothing.What to packAll skydiving equipment will be provided by the drop zone.Just bring your sense of adventure along.Parachute Association of South Africa (Pasa)The Parachute Association of South Africa is the governing body for skydiving in South Africa – www.para.co.zaPasa Registered Drop ZonesGauteng (Johannesburg/Pretoria and surrounds)SkyDive Rustenburg – www.skydiverustenburg.co.zaSkyDive Parys – www.skydiveparys.co.zaPretoria SkyDiving Club (Wonderboom) – www.skydivepretoria.co.zaJohannesburg Skydiving Club (Carltonville) – www.jsc.co.zaCape TownSkydive Cape Town – www.skydivecapetown.za.netSkydive Robertson (start of the Wine Route) – www.skydive.co.zaMother City SkyDiving – http://www.mothercityskydiving.co.za/Garden RouteSkydive Knysna – www.skydiveknysna.comSkydive Mossel Bay – www.skydivemosselbay.comSkydive Plettenberg Bay – www.skydiveplett.comSkydive Oudtshoorn – www.skydiveoudtshoorn.co.zaEastern ProvinceEP Skydivers (Grahamstown) – www.epskydivers.co.zaKwaZulu-NatalDurban Skydive Centre (Eston) – www.skydivedurban.co.zaSkydive Ballito – www.skydivedurban.co.zaFree StateSkydive Central (Tempe – Bloemfontein) – www.skydivecentral.co.zaMpumalangaWitbank Skydiving Club – www.dropzone.co.zaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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India banking on crowd support to win hockey gold

first_imgAlready assured of their maiden medal in the Commonwealth Games, a confident India will be hoping to ride on home support to seek a major upset against world champions and three-time gold medallists Australia in the final of the men’s hockey event at the Commonwealth Games, in New Delhi on Thursday.The Indians have already scripted history by ensuring themselves at least a silver medal since hockey’s introduction in the Games in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur edition after beating England 5-4 via tie-breaker in a dramatic second semi-final on Tuesday.Thursday’s title clash also gives India a great opportunity to avenge their identical 2-5 loss to the mighty Kookaburras during the pool stages as well as during the World Cup held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here, earlier this year.A win on Thursday will not only give eight-time Olympic champions India it’s first-ever Commonwealth Games gold but will also do wonders for the national game, which is battling hard to redeem its lost pride.The Indians are also on a roll as, after being piped to the corner in the preliminary stage, they made a remarkable comeback and defeated Pakistan 7-4 in their must-win final pool match to make it to the semis.In the semifinal against ever-improving England, India displayed a lion-hearted performance and came back from two goals deficit to win the encounter 5-4 in the penalty shoot out.In both the crucial matches against Pakistan and England, the Indians were helped by a packed, vociferous crowd who screamed their heart out to support the home team. And Australia too, India would be hoping a similar atmosphere if not less which will give them that extra advantage.advertisementEven India coach Jose Brasa admitted that crowd support will play a big role in deciding India’s fortune in this tournament.”It is incredible to play in front of such a crowd.People here understand their hockey. They know when to cheer and shout,” Brasa had said.England captain barry Middleton after their semofinal defeat had said, “Crowd or no crowd, Australians are too strong for any other teams in this competition.”When Brasa was told about English captain’s remark, he gave a curt reply. “I don’t agree with him.”Talking about the Australia game, Brasa had said yesterday, “We take one match at a time and cross the bridge when it comes.” .However Brasa was quick to caution after England victory that it’s too early to say that Indians are right up there among the top nations.”Our first aim is to be among the top six hockey playing nations in the world. And yes, we are improving and climbing up the ladder gradually,” Brasa said.In both their last two matches, the Indians displayed smart, fast-paced hockey with their midfield and forwardline combining well to create chances.The Rajpal Singh-led side also used the flanks to perfection in both the matches. However, defence still remains a major concern.In a nutshell, India will have to dish out a far-more improved performance against the Kookaburras, who, if given a chance, will not waste a single opportunity to kill their opponents.What is most heartening for India is that against England India?s all three goals came from field play. But star-dragflicker Sandeep Singh once again disappointed with short corners and against Australia, he cannot afford to misfire.But all said and done, Australia belong to a different league and are enjoying a dream run under coach Ric Charlesworth as they have won every major international tournament this season, including the World Cup held at the same venue and Champions Trophy in Germany.The Kookaburras are the hot favourites to clinch the gold and their dominance can be gauged from the fact that they have not lost a single match in the Commonwealth Games since hockey’s debut in 1998.And going by their reputation, Australia would be determined to make it four gold in a row, which will stamp their authority among the Commonwealth nations which plays hockey.With a mixture of youth and experience in their ranks, the Australians sailed into the final of the Delhi Games with comfortable victories over their opponents, barring a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Pakistan in the pool stages.However, one thing which might go against the Aussies in the summit clash is heat. To the dislike of Australia coach Charlesworth, the gold medal match would be played during the daytime under sweltering weather conditions.”India have got fair amount of rest compared to us. We have played four matches in five days time under these extreme conditions but India is yet to play during the day time,” Charlesworth had said.advertisement”It is very hard to be consistent in those conditions but we have the fitness to counter these conditions,” he concluded.- With PTI inputslast_img read more

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Rep Cole Feds overstepped the line with alcohol ban

first_img08Feb Rep. Cole: Feds overstepped the line with alcohol ban Categories: Cole News State Rep. Triston Cole today pushed back on a new federal rule banning the use of alcohol on three popular Michigan rivers.Cole said the ban on alcohol oversteps federal authority and can only have negative consequences for Michiganders and tourists who enjoy the state’s rivers.“The State of Michigan has a plethora of laws to protect our water ways,” said Cole, of Mancelona. “Everything from cussing in a canoe to littering and public nuisance is covered. We don’t need redundant rules passed down by a federal bureaucracy to help us take care of the land and water that has been in our state’s care for over 180 years.”Cole noted that Section 8902 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, MCL 324.8902, already makes littering in a river or water way illegal.The Huron-Manistee National Forest announced the decision to ban alcohol on the National Wild and Scenic River sections of the AuSable, Manistee and Pine rivers on Wednesday.Cole criticized the new rule as a misguided, overbearing and ineffective attempt to ensure river health and boater safety, which the state already governs.“As a state legislator and an avid outdoorsman, I do not appreciate the federal government telling the people of the State of Michigan where a legal adult can enjoy an adult beverage,” Cole said. “Enjoying our waterways is a privilege and this privilege includes allowing visitors to enjoy public waterways in the manner they choose as right and is in accordance with state law. This new rule can only damage our state’s tourism.”According to a 2017 economic impact study of Michigan’s tourism industry, 5.6 million people made trips to Michigan from outside the state that year and spent $2.1 billion in communities and at local businesses across the state.“We absolutely need to be good stewards of the sensitive shore lines and ecosystems so they can be enjoyed for generations to come, but micromanaging our state government from Washington is not how to do it,” Cole said. “We have pure, pristine and public waterways all across this state. I believe this new rule sets a dangerous precedent.”last_img read more

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The current flu season is still getting worse fed

first_imgThe current flu season is still getting worse, federal health officials said Friday. And it continues to take a toll on children.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an additional 16 flu deaths among children, bringing the nationwide total this season for youngsters to 53.About half of those children apparently had been healthy and had no special vulnerability to this viral disease, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC. And the risk is not going away.”Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicate flu activity is still high and widespread,” Schuchat said at a weekly briefing. The report is from data as of one week ago, the 10th week of this flu season. Seasons typically last 11 to 20 weeks.Hospitalization rates are the highest since the CDC started tracking these figures in 2010.One glimmer of hope: There are early indications that flu activity may be peaking in the West, “but we are by no means out of the woods,” said Schuchat, noting that the disease continues to increase in the East and remains largely unchanged in the South.Regarding the deaths of children from the flu, only about 20 percent of those children who died had been vaccinated, according to Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC’s influenza division. Even though this year’s vaccination is not very effective, health officials say it still offers some protection. And they say it’s not too late to get vaccinated.Most deaths from the flu this season have occurred in people over 65 and among children, as is often the case.Schuchat said parents should be especially concerned if their child has a high fever. In that case, parents should call their doctor to see whether a child needs to be seen or taken to an emergency room. “Worrisome signs are a very high persisting fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat or shallow rapid breathing, or significant tiredness or confusion.”Another concerning sign, for adults as well as children, is if a patient appears to be getting better but suddenly starts getting worse. That could be a sign of a secondary infection, which can itself be dangerous. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2031/IMG17637.jpg” alt=”last_img” /> read more

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