United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials have confirmed a new MERS-CoV case, the second in under a week, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) statement today.The agency also provided new details on three cases in Saudi Arabia, whose health ministry also noted the death of a previously reported patient today.The new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves a 65-year-old male expatriate living in the UAE’s Eastern region. He developed symptoms on May 31 and was hospitalized on Jun 6. He tested positive 2 days ago.He has preexisting disease but no known exposure to other MERS patients or other risk factors. He is listed in critical condition in an intensive care unit (ICU). His contacts are being traced as part of routine public health investigations, the WHO said.The illness raises the UAE’s MERS count to 76 cases, 6 of which were reported this year, according to a list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board.The WHO said it has now been notified of 1,293 MERS-CoV infections worldwide, but FluTrackers’ case list includes 1,340.Some risk factors noted in Saudi casesThe Saudi MERS cases reported by the WHO today were confirmed from Jun 8 to 11. They involve a 77-year-old man and 60-year-old woman in Hofuf and a 73-year-old man in Turubah.The man in Hofuf developed symptoms on May 26 and was hospitalized the next day but was discharged May 31 without MERS-CoV testing. His symptoms reappeared on Jun 10, however, and he was hospitalized at a second hospital that day but died the next day. His exposure history is under investigation.The 60-year-old woman in Hofuf developed symptoms Jun 2 but was not hospitalized until Jun 8. She had visited her daughter between May 26 and Jun 7 at a hospital that is experiencing an ongoing MERS-CoV outbreak. The daughter did not contract MERS. The 60-year-old is in stable condition.The 73-year-old man in Turubah developed symptoms on May 23 and was admitted to a hospital in Jeddah on Jun 1. He has no history of contact with camels but has a history of frequent contact with sheep and of consuming raw sheep milk. He is in critical condition in an ICU. His case was first reported by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) on Jun 10.The man who died recently in Saudi Arabia was a 50-year-old national in Hofuf, the MOH said in its update today. The statement also noted that a 58-year-old foreigner in Riyadh has recovered from the disease. Neither is a health worker, and both had preexisting disease.The country has confirmed 1,034 MERS-CoV cases since 2012, including 457 deaths. Six patients are still receiving care, and 1 is in home isolation, the MOH said.See also:Jun 16 WHO statement on UAE caseFluTrackers MERS case listJun 16 WHO statement on recent Saudi casesJun 16 Saudi MOH update
East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee co-chair Karen Kooi. Independent/Desirée Keegan“Decisions about East Quogue should be made by the people of East Quogue for the people of East Quogue elected by the people of East Quogue,” said Karen Kooi, co-chair of the East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee. “We are proposing a village that is sustainable.”At an informational meeting held at the elementary school September 24, the committee unveiled a provisional budget to be able to do so, revealing residents would keep their current services and related taxes and add $.06/$1000 of assessed value — seeing a $30 a year increase in taxes per $500,000 of assessed value if choosing to incorporate.Kooi said the group accumulated hamlet history over the last few years and coupled that with data from other villages running a similar-style government, mainly Sagaponack, but pointed to other successful hamlet incorporations like North Haven, to get plan and a budget in place.“We’ve compiled facts, figures, actual financial history, and village law,” Kooi said. “The time for this momentous decision is now.”The vote on incorporating will be Thursday, October 17. Voting will take place from noon to 9 PM at the East Quogue Elementary School, located at 6 Central Avenue.Pursuant to Village Law Article 2, on Friday, October 11, between the hours of noon and 9 PM, a registration list of those qualified to vote at said election will be available for review by the public at the town clerk’s office, located inside Southampton Town Hall at 116 Hampton Road in Southampton. At that time, persons claiming to be qualified to vote whose names are not on said list may, upon presentation of proof of qualification, have their names added. Registering to vote can also be done prior voting day.As per a 2006 court decision, committee member Jessica Insalaco said, absentee ballots will not be accepted. “That’s not our call,” she said. “We prefer to have them.”“Incorporation is the best option to keep our community the way it is while providing opportunities to improve our quality of life,” said Kooi, pointing to the hamlet’s lack of representation in town government as East Quogue residents make up eight percent of the 56,790 people in the town. “We want to protect our school, our business district, and our taxes. We want to improve and grow in an appropriate and balanced way. Change is inevitable, but how we change is not.”The committee’s main objective in getting that done was to come up with a thin layer of government at the lowest cost possible. There will be a mayor, trustees, and a local architectural review board made up of volunteers. The only paid position, required by law, will be the village clerk. As asked for by the town, the village would also oversee planning, zoning, and code enforcement, but will rely on the town for police coverage and public works to keep expenditures down.This means that encompassed in the total expenses will be a full-time village clerk, a full-time building inspector, part-time code enforcement, two full-time administrative supporters, rent, office supplies, utilities, a contract attorney, planner, engineer, insurance for volunteer boards, membership fees, and grant fees. Some of these will be offset with new revenues, along with money the town has been receiving, like from mortgage taxes, building department permits and fees, franchise fees from Cablevision, sales tax, and property tax. New sources of funding would be state aid, and Water Quality Improvement Fund project money from the town’s Community Preservation Fund, which is generated through a two percent tax on real estate transfers.During a question-and-answer portion at the end of the committee’s presentation, several asked what would happen if the village can’t find volunteers, or if those serving start to demand salaries. Many also wanted to know details such as how their homes will be assessed, and if the village would own East Quogue beaches. One person questioned why signs state incorporating will keeps taxes low when on the committee’s website — www.eqvillageexploratorycommittee.com — it says taxes will increase.“The only way to keep taxes low in the long run or get them lower is to control your territory,” Insalaco said. “If you don’t, who knows what will happen. That’s the point. It’s a short-term cost to help you protect the long game.”Kooi said beaches like Hot Dog would still be owned by the town, but that if a purchase is something residents would like to pursue, the village would look into it. Trustee properties would remain that way.The committee co-chair said she doesn’t foresee any issues getting volunteers.“We have a volunteer fire department, we have volunteer school board, citizens advisory committee, civic, chamber . . . I’m sure there’s a handful of volunteers in this room,” Kooi said. “There are people on the committee who would like to volunteer.” As conversations grew heated and audience and committee members began to change their tone and talk over one another, residents were still convinced the idea to form a village is over The Hills planned development district. The town is expected to decide on Discovery Land Company’s luxury housing development and private golf PDD this month, and Southampton is still tied up in a $100 million lawsuit on the matter. While committee members rejected the idea The Hills decision is the driving force behind incorporation, and even said they rejected money from the company to help in their cause, those in East Quogue against the development do not like the idea that incorporation would give Discovery Land another bite at the email@example.com Share
Members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) ratified a new collective agreement with officials at the Ports Auckland, thus settling their long-running industrial dispute that goes back to 2011.The union’s National President Garry Parsloe said a new collective employment agreement was passed in a unanimous vote at a stopwork meeting on Wednesday, February 18th.According to him, the new agreement was a positive step for workers at the port and should ensure the continued success of the port going forward.Parsloe expects for the agreement to be signed off with the employer shortly.“It’s great to see that common sense has prevailed. This is a victory for the good guys,” International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin commented.“There were rallies in Australia and around the globe including outside NZ embassies and consulates in support of the MUNZ struggle and it’s terrific that this dispute has finally been resolved,” MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said.Image: MUA
Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have known a human right if he had found one nibbling on his breakfast pumpernickel. We’re all agreed on that. The British people, on the other hand, are upstanding citizens who champion the weak and whose love of cricket embodies our profound devotion to fair play.Except a lot of us wouldn’t recognise a human right if we found it drowning in HP Sauce on a plate of bacon and eggs, either. How else to explain the widespread ignorance of what human rights mean to us? There’s a whole urban mythology around the subject. There’s the jailed sex offender who was allowed hardcore pornography because of his human rights. (He was refused.) How about the criminal lurking on the roof who was fed chicken and chips by the police because of his human rights? (They fed the guy to get him on their side, then talked him down.) Or you can pick ‘n’ choose from the terrorists or benefit cheats or bogus asylum seekers or single mothers with children from five different men who jumped the social housing queue because of their human rights. (Some losers believe anything.) So let’s get back to basics and remind ourselves of what human rights should really mean to us. Now is a good time to be doing this, because last week was wall-to-wall human rights. Thursday 10 December was not only International Human Rights Day, it was also the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And not to be left out, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg that day marked 50 years of hearing claims against Council of Europe states that had contravened their citizens’ fundamental rights. The University of Westminster School of Law hosted an afternoon event: Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in the UK. The speakers were all manning the barricades on behalf of human rights. Justice minister Michael Wills fired a broadside at ‘feral backbenchers’ in the Tory party who opposed the Human Rights Act (HRA), a piece of ‘motherhood legislation’ to which surely nobody could object. Wills also referred to the leader of the Third Reich. ‘Hitler was democratically elected,’ he said. ‘He and his judges believed they were acting within the rule of law. They were wrong. There are fundamental rights to which we are all entitled simply because we are human. These include the right to life, to liberty and security, to a fair trial, and to freedom of thought and peaceful assembly. They are basic and immutable rights and they transcend all other laws.’ And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what human rights should really mean to us, except an unholy alliance of Europhobes and alarmist media commentators have skewed public perceptions. This angers Andrew Dismore MP, chairman of parliament’s joint committee on human rights, who also spoke at the event. He conceded that the British people were largely ignorant of human rights, vaguely thinking they were something to do with Europe, but lashed out at ‘Tories backed by the Daily Mail’ who aimed to scrap the HRA and take us out of the EU. ‘Changes of attitude can happen,’ Dismore said, ‘as they did to overcome resistance to the breathalyser, for instance. We must to do more positively to promote the good that human rights have done and are doing.’ He gave examples of how they had assisted the elderly, the mentally ill and other vulnerable individuals, as well as helped counter human trafficking and the abuse of power by big business. Justice director Roger Smith also slammed the Daily Mail’s campaign against human rights, but added the Sun and the Express newspapers for good measure. He warned delegates not to see the HRA too much in terms of being a direct descendant of the Magna Carta, which ‘protected the rights of noblemen only, and discriminated against Jews and women’, or of the Bill of Rights 1689, which was ‘anti-Catholic’. The HRA genuinely protects the fundamental and inalienable rights of all human beings, Smith said, simply on the grounds that they are human beings. It’s as simple as that.
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Why would any business invest its hard-earned cash on a promise of reduced operating costs and better service for customers but then omit to check if it actually delivers? Well bizarrely, it is pretty much standard operating procedure across the built environment when managing assets.Yet to professionals working in the complex aerospace, automotive or manufacturing sectors, the concept of outcome-based contracting is nothing new.Whether it is via the sophistication of aircraft engine manufacturers providing power by the hour or simply through car parts suppliers providing consistent quality and just-in-time delivered components, these industries not only understand what they need from their contractors but have invested in the capability of checking.Fortunately for the built environment sector, life is about to get easier in this department as data and modelling starts to radically impact our world. The digital twin really does hold the key to securing a future of outcome-based delivery.The National Infrastructure Commission’s latest report “Data for the Public Good” puts it very succinctly: “A national digital twin would enable the UK to develop a richer understanding of the way our infrastructure works and optimise it, so government and industry can make more informed decisions about the future.”The use of data science, machine learning and predictive analytics, it adds, will contribute to each model of an infrastructure asset, network or system to power predictive asset maintenance, support planning decisions and enable performance optimisation. In short, we will be able to check – in real time – whether or not our assets are delivering to plan and, crucially, take steps to improve the outcomes.It is this richer understanding of how our infrastructure assets perform which has been sorely missed across the sector for too long. Failure to grasp the concept of outcomes across the infrastructure lifecycle has led to the chronic underperformance that we routine now see across the UK infrastructure – underperformance that continues to act as a catastrophic brake on the economy.Traffic congestion, train delays, flooding disruption, increased illness from poor quality housing or energy inefficient housing and offices are all the result of our failure to focus on outcomes when we contract to construct, operate or maintain infrastructure. Understanding the costs and impacts of this inaction is critical to prompting change and the use of digital twins is set to revolutionise our ability to make better decisions.Tools such as GeoConnect+, which was developed recently by PCSG with Ordnance Survey and BC Group, help bring data sets together and underpin concept of digital twins. The cloud-based platform is designed to help large asset owners and operators manage large, disparate estates by providing a better context for digital models.Rather than creating a single centralised model, GeoConnect+ gathers and links data to allow quick and accurate interrogation of the data by connecting asset information with other geospatial datasets such as mapping, land and property data, flood, river, and road network data.As the NIC explains, being able to effectively access this data gives us the ability to ask questions and run simulations to test and optimise outcomes from investment decisions on transport use, energy consumption or urban planning. It enables us to integrate the maintenance of assets with the need to minimise disruption to consumers.Ultimately the digital twin enables us to manage our infrastructure with vital outcomes not only firmly in mind but tested, evaluated and measurable during operation. It provides a platform to move swiftly and inevitably towards outcome-based contracting and provides a long-awaited opportunity to raise the industry’s bar in terms of delivering value for public and private investment.
Clifton Beach Clifton Beach Tokai artist Andrew Cooper is presenting his first solo exhibition at The Studio Art Gallery, in Simon’s Town until Wednesday December 18. Unspoilt attempts to capture the true essence of natural gems such as Clifton Beach, Table Mountain, Oudekraal Cove, Sea Point tidal pool, he says.“The driving theme behind my work is to remind viewers how precious and fragile our natural environment is, hence the title of this exhibition Unspoilt. My paintings have generally showcased the beauty and splendour of our mountains and sea, especially in the Western Cape.“My wish is for us all to cherish and protect these unspoilt areas.”But many of these attractions, he warns, are threatened by population growth and human activity, and he dreams of seeing them restored to their former glory.“We live in a beautiful country, let our children and visitors enjoy it as we have done for generations to come.” According to his bio on the gallery’s website, Cooper tries to draw the viewer into his work through his use of “fine detail, rich colour and expansive vistas”.He paints from memory and photographs that he has taken himself. Apart from a few childhood years in Scotland and England, Cooper calls Cape Town home. He has been painting professionally since 1987. Cooper has participated in many group exhibitions, often at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden over the years andhas donated paintings at auction fund-raisers for causes such as Shark Spotters in Muizenberg, Cape Leopard Trust, Baboon Matters and Parkscape. In 2017, Cooper saw the publication Edition 1, a hard-cover coffee table book of his workVisit his website at https://cooperart.co.za/index.php for more about his work.The studio Art Gallery at the Harbour Bay Centre on the corner of Main Road and Dido Valley Road,Simon’s Town, is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9am to 5pm. Call 021 786 945 or email firstname.lastname@example.org The afternoon sparkle at Scarborough. 1 of 2
US retail giant Walmart, which owns UK supermarket chain Asda, has taken its first tentative steps into legal services by inviting a law firm to offer will-writing to shoppers.The Toronto Star reports this week that fixed-fee provider Axess Law has opened its own outlet near the entrance of a new Walmart in the city.The firm, which operates seven days a week until 8pm, promises simple wills for $99 (around £53.50), with notarised documents from $25 (around £13.50).Founders Lena Koke (pictured, right) and Mark Morris (pictured, left) have pledged to open another three outlets in Walmart stores in Toronto by the summer, with further additions in the state of Ontario by 2016 and the rest of Canada by 2018.‘A lot of people are intimidated by lawyers. This is a non-intimidating setting,’ Koke told the newspaper.The lawyers say evenings and weekends are their busiest times, with Morris adding: ‘That’s when most lawyers have shut down their operations – that’s when we fly.’The Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates legal services in Ontario, is currently consulting on different models of non-lawyer ownership, including alternative business structures.Their proposed models include allowing non-law firms to offer legal services and to wholly own law firms – which could in theory allow a company such as Walmart an entry route into the profession.Law Society treasurer Thomas G Conway said at the start of the consultation that ABSs could provide ‘more options and choices for consumers, thereby improving access to justice’.Walmart is ranked by the Fortune Global 500 list as the world’s largest public corporation, with more than 2m employees.But it is unlikely to have the opportunity to offer legal services in the US in the near future, with the American Bar Association model rules of professional conduct – the direct basis for professional conduct rules in every state except California – not permitting non-lawyer ownership.In 2011, QualitySolicitors announced it would open staffed ‘access points’ in up to 500 WH Smith stores in the UK, but ended the deal last summer.
Australian litigation funder Bentham has made its biggest entry yet in the European market by agreeing to fund a class action against supermarket giant Tesco.The European subsidiary will fund legal action on behalf of shareholders who are claiming for compensation for losses caused by Tesco’s recent overstated profits announcement.London firm Stewarts Law will allege breaches of the Financial Services and Markets Act after the announcement triggered a stock market collapse and more than £2bn was wiped off the Tesco share price.In October, Tesco told the stock market that its previous profit announcement to investors was overstated by £263m.The supermarket has denied deliberately misleading shareholders and has stated that nobody in the company has gained financially as a result of the overstatement of performance.The class action is open to all current and former shareholders who acquired at least 10,000 Tesco shares between 17 April 2013 and 22 October 2014, and who had not sold all their shares by the time of the market announcements.The claim will only proceed if a sufficient number of shareholders join the action.The investment is expected to run into millions of pounds if the anticipated number of claimants come forward.If the shareholders’ case loses, Bentham has said it will pay for the costs of the claimants in pursuing the case and not recoup these and also cover any adverse costs orders made against the claimants.Lawyers will argue that Tesco has made misleading statements to the market and omissions in relation to its profits for recent financial periods.John Walker, managing director of Bentham Europe, said: ‘Shareholders ought to be able to allocate capital on the London Stock Exchange assuming earnings are not being misstated.‘When there has been a material misallocation of capital due to misstated earnings, compensation ought to be paid.’Stewarts is already acting for more than 300 shareholders in a litigation with Royal Bank of Scotland.The Tesco announcement is already subject to an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Serious Fraud Office, but the firm has opted to act immediately.Partner Sean Upson said: ‘We expect to issue proceedings against Tesco in the High Court in London within six months. We do not intend to wait for the outcome of the SFO investigation which may take some years.’Bentham Europe founded this year and is a joint venture between IMF Bentham Limited, a publicly listed company which funds litigation and arbitration claims in Australia and other jurisdictions, and subsidiary entities of funds managed by Elliott Management Corporation, a US-based advisory firm.
Accountants scrutinising law firm figures should be given reporting guidance to avoid the ‘considerable’ confusion that has arisen for compliance officers on reporting material breaches, the Law Society has said.The Society was responding to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s consultation on reporting accountant requirements, which closed on 28 January.In the consultation the regulator set out a list of accounting issues that would need to be ‘substantive deficiencies’ to require accounts to be sent to the SRA. Warning signs include the lack of segregation of client and office monies, controls and checks to protect against fraud and effective oversight by management.The Society said in order for the proposal to be effective, accountants would need guidance on what might qualify as a ‘serious deficiency’.In its response, the Society said: ‘Lack of guidance for COLPs (compliance officer for legal practice) and COFAs (compliance officer for finance and administration) on reporting material breaches has led to considerable confusion and a variation in reporting practices. We would not want to see this repeated for reporting accountants.’The SRA also needs to carefully consider the potential costs to firms of changes, the Society said – both in terms of the cost of the report to firms and any wider costs for firms in gearing up to comply with changes. It was ’essential’ the SRA undertakes, and publishes, an impact assessment on the likely level of costs.The Society described the current Accounts Rules as ‘complex’, with the lack of flexibility causing difficulties for firms, and said it would welcome the opportunity to work with the SRA on a forthcoming review of the rules as a whole.The consultation is part of SRA reforms to ensure proportionate and targeted regulation, and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens.Last October the regulator implemented new rules to ensure that only qualified reports – those flagging up a mistake or concerns – need to be sent in for further analysis. The rule applies to all firms except those 100% funded by legal aid.Firms are still required to commission accountants’ reports within six months of their financial reporting period.But experience to date has revealed that many qualified reports do not reveal any significant risk to client funds.