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Sign of the times

first_imgFront-of-pack nutritional labelling is one of the few catering legislations that bakery retailers usually don’t have to worry about. And with food hygiene, staffing, taxes and other legal paperwork to deal with, it’s an issue few would voluntarily add to their tasks.Legally, any pre-packed food product comes under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, which denote that “all food which is ready for delivery to the ultimate consumer or to a catering establishment, [should] be marked or labelled.” The requirements stipulate foods must contain a list of ingredients with a quantity indication for certain items, alongside information on storage and a best-before date.But bakery retailers are often exempt from this rule, because they frequently make a good proportion of their stock on-site, to be sold fresh on the day it was made. This means many products are also exempt, as the regulations “do not apply to foods which are not pre-packed when sold to the ultimate consumer; foods pre-packed at the request of the purchaser; or foods pre-packed for sale to the end-consumer.”Labelling benefitsThis being the case, it’s tempting to allow your unlabelled foods to enjoy a reprieve from bureaucracy, but before you dismiss labelling as unnecessary, consider also its benefits.”I believe strongly about food labelling on packaging – perhaps controversially, I believe everybody should be made to label their products responsibly,” says marketing manager Alistair Toal, of Northern Irish bakery Grahams. The family-run outlet has recently taken the move to label its products using the traffic-light system – despite the fact that many are in the red and amber range. This was part of a top-to-bottom corporate social responsibility programme. “We looked at everything from sustainability to our responsibility to the consumer,” he says. “I believe the FSA’s traffic-light system is the clearest and easiest way for the consumer to ascertain the levels of salt and fat and that’s why we chose this format.” Since labels were added to a new line, the effect on sales was difficult to quantify, but PR was positive. “Bakery items have always been seen as a treat, so we don’t think it will stop anyone buying our products,” he reasons.Grahams is urging others to follow its lead and, across the country, a number of weight-loss groups and nutritional information resources are also pressing for information on baked goods to become more widely available.Availability of dataPat Wilson, communications director of online service Weightlossresource.com (WLR) says, “It’s quite frustrating for WLR and its members to be continually told, ’Data is not available for products bought from bakeries’, while most manufacturers and brands are leading the way, giving complete information for their products.”We receive about 50 queries weekly from members asking for the calorie count of bakery products from individual bakeries and supermarket bakeries,” he adds. “We have to find the most similar item we have data for, yet we are in a position where certain outlets and products do not give basic information.”It mystifies us how supermarkets can provide very comprehensive information on their own-brand products, but not their bakery products. People do want to know the nutritional data of foods they eat.”In fact, researchers at Wilson’s have cited bakery pro-ducts as a constant bugbear to maintaining the comprehensive nature of its service, with chains such as Greggs not bothering to reply to requests, and others simply stating “no data available”.With feelings running high, it is little wonder that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has stepped in and is currently looking at how to approach the issue with bakery retailers. But for the time being, it seems bakery retailers may be caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to labelling products.”At the moment I wouldn’t advise bakeries to label nutritional values until we have more information from the FSA,” advises Jim Winship of the British Sandwich Association (BSA). “Labelling products correctly is actually quite complicated, and bakeries who put information on labels which is incorrect risk falling foul of Trading Standards.”Unfortunately, it seems that while accurate pack labelling might be easy enough for large supermarkets or sandwich packers, smaller outlets are likely to have a much harder time ensuring consistency – particularly as even a few grams’ discrepancy on an ingredient like salt could turn a well-intentioned practice into a legal risk.”Smaller outlets don’t usually have the facility to monitor what goes into their products as closely as is necessary,” says Winship. “From a large facility, such as a factory, it’s not as difficult to regulate what happens in your products. You’re also more able to offset the costs. At the moment it’s quite expensive to make the kind of nutritional analysis needed for accurate food labels.”So while consumers might be in favour of labelling nutritional content, the industry advice is to hold fire for now. The good news is that the BSA is in liaison with the FSA to introduce new regulations that will afford more leeway to bakery retailers, enabling them to list amounts as more of a guideline, rather than set quantities. Talks are also under way to formulate a ’nutrition calculator’ to calculate what to put on their labels, without having to resort to expensive ingredient analysis.All this might be a few years off, but meanwhile, the BSA is petitioning for guideline nutritional contents in poster form, which can be displayed by retailers. While these won’t list the nutritional quantities of products for specific retailers, they will provide a guide to the type of nutrients consumers might find.It seems likely that if bakery retailers are allowed to label products on nutritional content, how they are labelled will be the next topic. Subway grasped the bull by the horns this month by introducing nutrition guides at counters (see opposite). With supermarkets and the FSA battling over whether the traffic-light system or Guideline Daily Amounts are best, perhaps it’s time bakery retailers involved themselves in the debate, before the choice is made for them.—-=== Food Labelling Regulations 1996 ===Do you know how the labelling law affects you? The current regulations require that: all food which is ready for delivery to the ultimate consumer or to a catering establishment, subject to certain exceptions, [should] be marked or labelled with:l the name of the foodl a list of ingredientsl the appropriate durability indicationl any special storage conditions or conditions of usel the name and address of the manufacturer or packer or of a seller.Exceptions are defined as anything which doesn’t come under the class of pre-packed. So if you bake your own bread on the premises, it need not be labelled. But shipping in packed sandwiches from an external kitchen might subject you to these requirements.last_img read more

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Letter

first_imgI joined The Bakery School online with a year’s subscription, and also registered three of my staff members to complete the training. I would like to say what a good learning tool this has been for us. We are situated relatively remotely, so attending a college is fairly unrealistic for us, but the online school has definitely filled the void, and more. Not only have the modules been informative and helpful, the support offered by the school has been fantastic.I have sent photos in to them of my mistakes and emailed details of recipes that were not working well for me and, every time, they have delivered fast and accurate answers to resolve my problems, and I have been able to correct my products to achieve great results.It is a great scheme and I would recommend it to anyone. We were originally butchers, but moved into pies four years ago, and bread two years ago, so we have had a lot to learn and really needed all the help we could get. The Bakery School has helped with any issue I have raised and I don’t think there is anything they couldn’t help me with. I really love baking you never stop learning, and with resources like these, the learning happens so much faster.Angela Danskin, Pearsons of Ingletonlast_img read more

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Speech: Commonwealth Standards Network: Statement by Ambassador and Permanent Representative Julian Braithwaite

first_imgThank you for inviting me to join this first meeting of the Commonwealth Standards Network. It is good to be here today with you at your inaugural meeting to make sure we make the most of this exciting initiative and its potential to grow trade across the Commonwealth.As you know, the UK Prime Minister launched the Commonwealth Standards Network at the Commonwealth Business Forum in April. This network is integral to the UK’s ambition to promote prosperity in the Commonwealth and tackle non-tariff barriers to trade.And it will work alongside other UK-funded programmes promoting trade facilitation and women’s economic empowerment in the Commonwealth to deliver maximum impact.Today, it is fantastic to see this ambitious project taking shape and to welcome so many of you from across the Commonwealth to this meeting. Many thanks to BSI for all their hard work in making this a reality.Why is facilitating trade such an important focus of the UK’s two-year Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth? Because trade is a vital driver of economic growth and prosperity. It creates jobs, helps raise incomes and allows people to lift themselves out of poverty.Within the Commonwealth, the scale of trade opportunity is staggering. Intra-Commonwealth trade is already worth $560 billion per year. The costs of trade between Commonwealth partners are 19% lower than between non-members, and this is supported by our shared language, values and similar political and legal systems. This existing advantage is something we can build on. By working together, we can stimulate intra-Commonwealth trade to an even greater extent, boosting economic development.At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting back in April, governments committed to resist protectionism and champion a fair and inclusive multilateral trading system. They signed up to an ambitious Connectivity Agenda, which sets out a pathway to increased intra-Commonwealth trade and investment, by encouraging members to reduce trade barriers, strengthen links, and support each other to prosper.The work done here in the international standards development community is crucial to supporting the multilateral trading system and delivering fair, safe trade worldwide.Over recent decades, the WTO has made significant progress in reducing tariffs worldwide. That makes it all the more important that we now work together to tackle non-tariff barriers, in order to further stimulate trade flows.International standards provide an unparalleled tool for reducing these barriers. They ensure that businesses in different countries speak a common language, enhancing trust in supply chains and giving consumers and businesses alike confidence that goods and services meet their expectations. They improve business productivity and efficiency, increase competitiveness, and offer opportunities for economies of scale.The aim of the Commonwealth Standards Network is to boost trade between our nations by increasing use of existing international standards. By providing a platform for collaboration, the network will allow all members to share their knowledge, try out new approaches and create vital links between our economies.The Commonwealth is the perfect forum to advance this work, given our longstanding connections and similarities. But we must not forget our responsibility to bring our learning back into the wider international standards community and use it to strengthen trading relationships with non-Commonwealth partners, too.Growing intra-Commonwealth trade must have benefits for all. For developing countries, increasing use of international standards can support developing economies in entering global value chains and improving the business environment, helping attract investment.But making these changes isn’t easy, which is why the Commonwealth Standards Network will provide direct support in a number of developing countries to help them realise the benefits of standards for trade, investment and development.Technical assistance work in five countries – Uganda, Zambia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and St Lucia – has already begun. These projects will provide on-the-ground support for development of national quality infrastructure; they aim to empower national standards bodies to participate actively in the international standards community.National standards bodies and businesses in many more countries will receive training on use of standards to make sure the network’s benefits reach those most in need.In her speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum, the Prime Minister spoke about the importance of making the Commonwealth an organisation which works for all of us, and which shapes a future that we can all be proud of.Today we make an important step towards doing that. The Commonwealth Standards Network must work for all members, developed and developing. It must promote open and inclusive dialogue about how use of standards can best support increased trade between our nations.We would like to see this exciting initiative to continue beyond the UK’s two-year Chair-in-Office and deliver long-term benefits for trade and prosperity across the Commonwealth.So I encourage you all to participate actively in today’s discussions, make your voices heard and let us know how standards can support your trade objectives. We need all of you to ensure that the Commonwealth Standards Network achieves its aims and becomes a lasting legacy of the 2018 Heads of Government meeting.If we are to meet the ambition of the Commonwealth Regulatory Connectivity Agenda we must work together to make this a reality.I look forward to seeing the Commonwealth Standards Network grow and develop over coming years.last_img read more

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moe. Performs Intimate Acoustic Set At Garcia’s [Full Audio/Gallery]

moe. spent their weekend at Port Chester, NY’s The Capitol Theatre, celebrating the holiday season with their first-ever, two-night Famoe.ly Holiday Concert series. “Two night” may not be the best phrase, because yesterday’s performance was actually played during the light of day, as an acoustic brunch set at Garcia’s – the smaller venue adjacent to the main Cap room.After a night spent in the main hall debuting new originals and dusting off tunes from their Seasons Greetings album, the band brought out the acoustics and worked through a very fun performance. They opened with some classics, “Not Coming Down > Wormwood > Okayalright,” and included a few holiday tunes in their setlist with “Hey It’s Christmas” (a debut), “Together at Christmas” and “Blue Christmas.” There was also time for an acoustic “Chromatic Nightmare,” as well as the show’s finale, an acoustic version of their new favorite cover song, “Jump Around.”Listen to the full audio below, courtesy of taper Brian V. You can also see a full gallery of the two night stand below, courtesy of Capacity Images.Setlist: moe. | Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 12/4/16Set: Not Coming Down > Wormwood > Okayalright, Hey, It’s Christmas#, Shoot First, McBain, Together At Christmas*##, Dead Flowers, Nebraska, Chromatic Nightmare, Blue Eyed Son, Blue Christmas^, Tambourine, Faker > MothEnc: Jump AroundNotes:# FTP## LTP > 12/12/13^ LTP > 12/08/12 Load remaining images read more

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Phil Lesh & Friends Recreate Classic Dead Show From 1987 At Terrapin Crossroads [Full Video]

first_imgPhil Lesh and his ever-evolving cast of bandmates took the stage inside the Grate Room at his Terrapin Crossroads venue last night to recreate one of the Grateful Dead‘s classic shows. The performance on Wednesday at Lesh’s family-friendly venue was a full-set recreation of his former band’s 1987 concert originally held at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California on the same date, November 14th.Wednesday’s concert was the first of three “On This Day In Dead History” shows that Lesh has planned for this week, with the next two scheduled for Friday, November 16th, and Sunday, November 18th. Lesh was joined on Wednesday by Anders Osborne and Stu Allen on guitar, Steve Molitz on keys, and Nathan Graham holding down the rhythm section. Thankfully, by the power of Nugs.net, the entire show was streamed live from the San Rafael venue for Deadheads around the country to turn on, tune in and enjoy.Phil Lesh & Friends – Terrapin Crossroads – 11/14/18[Video: Nugs.net]The show begins right at the video’s 10:41 mark with that infamous, bold D-minor chord of “Shakedown Street” powering its way through the speakers. The lengthy opening jam provided the lineup with an immediate opportunity to stretch their group-mind abilities and take the title track from their 1978 Shakedown Street LP for a walk through the woods, just as the Dead used to do it. The first set continued after some solid jamming with “Little Red Rooster”, “Althea” and a cover of Bob Dylan‘s “When I Paint My Masterpiece”. The set would come to a close with the band playing through a fun version of The Meters‘ “Hey Pocky A-Way” followed by the always lively “Deal”, with Stu Allen leading the way on vocals for the dance-friendly song. To make for an even better free show stream experience, fans were encouraged to stick around at setbreak to tune into a performance from Colonel & The Mermaids.Set two started out hot with the galloping rhythm of “Maggie’s Farm” before the band quickly transitioned into “Cumberland Blues”. The second set was then off and running with an extended “Playing In The Band” > “Terrapin Station” segment, the latter featuring Phil trading off vocal duties with Allen. “Drums” > “Space” followed, as was customary by the Dead’s nightly setlists at that point in their career. The band continued with a stretch of Dead favorites (“I Need A Miracle” > “Stella Blues” > “Throwing Stones”) before ending with Bobby “Blue” Bland classic “Turn On Your Love Light”, best known to Deadheads as a quintessential Ron “Pigpen” McKernan live tune. Phil and company returned to the stage (following his organ donor rap) to close out the night with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)”.Below, fans can also tune into the original audio from the Dead’s 1987 Long Beach performance below to hear to how well Phil and his new band did at revisiting the old show.Grateful Dead – 11/14/87 – Full Audio[Audio: Uploaded by Johnathan Aizen]Fans hoping to attend the next “On This Day In Dead History” show on Friday can click here for tickets. Although Phil Lesh has yet to announce which historical show his band will be revisiting, we do know that it was a show played on November 16th. If we had to guess, we’d bet they’ll be pulling out the setlist from the Dead’s performance at the Fillmore East on 11/16/70.Setlist: Phil Lesh & Friends | Terrapin Crossroads | San Rafael, CA | 11/14/18Set One: Shakedown Street, Little Red Rooster, Althea, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Hey Pocky A-Way, DealSet 2: Maggie’s Farm > Cumberland Blues, Playing In The Band > Terrapin Station > Drums/Space > I Need A Miracle > Stella Blue > Throwing Stones > Turn On Your Love LightEncore: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)last_img read more

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Brazilian Defense Minister Warns about Multiple Perceptions in the Continent

first_img The creation of an Inter-American defense system is threatened by the existing “multiple perceptions” in the continent, Brazilian Minister of Defense Celso Amorim told AFP on October 8. The official added that cooperation must be based on “new premises.” “We can cooperate on issues of health, defense, and natural disasters, always with the intervention of civil authorities. However, the idea of an Inter-American defense system, first conceived after World War II, has no connection with today’s multi-polar world, threatened by several dangers, and where there is not even an homogeneous continent,” he indicated. “We think that we should move away from considering an Inter-American defense system, while we should approach defense cooperation mechanisms between countries in the Americas, for which there is an urgent need,” explained Amorim, who participated in discussions during the 10th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas on October 8, hours before returning to his country. The effectiveness of the Inter-American defense system was one of the main issues discussed at the conference – in which 29 out of 34 countries participated . Amorim highlighted that his country’s priorities are the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the South American Defense Council. The official stated that Brazil’s and other regional countries’ main defense concerns have to do more with natural resources, such as the capacity for food production, and main water and energy reserves, than external threats from countries. However, he said, international terrorism, illegal immigration and the proliferation of weapons, are not an issue for the region. Brazil’s current defense minister and former minister of foreign relations said that he considered unlikely the approval of an initiative promoted by Chile and supported by the United States to create a coordination mechanism for humanitarian assistance in natural disasters. “There might be progress in understanding how to cooperate in natural disasters, without creating a unique and unified system,” he said. “We can also keep moving forward in peacekeeping cooperation alternatives, without forgetting that United Nations and the Security Council are the rightful institutions to approve the initiatives,” he concluded. It is important to consider that there are different perceptions, besides that it is very difficult to achieve similar perceptions. However, a great effort should be always done to get a general agreement, respecting the different and supreme countries’ interests. Hobert By Dialogo October 10, 2012last_img read more

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Honduran Military Students Develop Bomb-Dismantling Robot

first_imgBy Dialogo November 09, 2015 The example given to us by the Brazilian Army regarding the abundance of wildlife or jungle life that exists in Brazil is magnificent. We, the Hondurans, should learn about this experience to apply it, as appropriate, in our country, Honduras. Jorge Arturo Reina Idiáquez The military students’ work is helping the country meet modern-day security challenges. Students and military authorities will continue adjusting the robot before it’s used in the field. Before working on the robot, UDH’s military students developed drones, known as “weevils,” for reconnaissance and to record images authorities are using in forest areas to monitor the impact of climate change. A versatile device “These drones will enable us to monitor what is happening. They have a flight range of four to five kilometers, so they could also be used if there’s a fire,” said Rear Admiral Ramón Cristóbal Romero Burgos, UDH’s vice chancellor. In 2014, the students started designing the robot, which functions as a steel-armored vehicle, similar to a combat tank, but with an infrared camera system to record movements from up to 100 meters without difficulty, according to engineer León Rojas, chairman of UDH’s Technology Innovation Department. The prototype, which is about 1.5 meters wide by 2 meters long, will feature brushless motors with power regulators to give it the stability to traverse obstacles. Commander Mario Vázquez, chief of UDH’s Research and Development Department added: “The intent is for the Honduran Army, Navy, and Air Force to provide us with their projects or subjects to be developed to improve any instrument they have to halt the so-called new threats, thus benefiting the country’s security. It would also be a great experience to contact and have a scientific exchange with other international research universities to bolster our programs.” The UDH is renowned for its excellence in educating and training Military professionals and select civilians. Military mechatronic engineers educated there are professionals with a solid base of training and knowledge in basic military scientific technology and managing computer tools, as well as in the design and automation of mechatronic systems, control systems, industrial electronic systems, and the manufacturing of materials. A record of technological innovation “Honduras and its Armed Forces will reap benefits from this project,” Rojas said. “We expect a positive impact on deterrence of any sort of contingency or attempt to locate a bomb, knowing the Army, Navy, and Air Force have a response.” Twenty-four military students majoring in mechatronics engineering at Honduras’s Defense University (UDH) are designing a bomb-dismantling robot as part of a Ministry of National Defense’s effort that encourages them to develop technological innovations to modernize the Armed Forces’ equipment. In addition to improving public safety, the robot could become profitable. The Military is expected to use it as a reconnaissance vehicle; an automated greenhouse; to assist and aid victims of disasters, such as oil spills and earthquakes; and to control the operation of a conveyor belt or elevator. “This innovation could place the domestic industry in a good position to compete in the international market,” Rojas said in remarks reported by Infodefensa on September 1. “The goal is to sell it.” “Through the military majors of Honduras’s Defense University, the Ministry of Defense intends to provide bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist students in mechatronics with the knowledge they need to conduct research to update the equipment used by the country’s Armed Forces,” Rear Adm. Romero explained. “The goal is to create a wireless, remote-controlled robot to deactivate bombs so we do not expose people to the process of neutralizing an explosive,” said Captain Cobia Fugon, a member of UDH’s Research Department. “The students are working in a synchronized fashion. The specific tasks are divided among groups of three students.” “Honduras must be prepared to meet the threats facing the world today, such as chemical attacks, bombs, arson at refineries, possible anthrax incursions, and drug trafficking,” said Colonel Uriel Cantor Galeano, the National Port Protection Commission’s executive director. “There are many tests being conducted to build the mechanical part,” Capt. Fugon explained. “We have conducted three field tests and achieved the best possible results. There are two or three tests left before we reach our goal.” last_img read more

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Guidance offered for protecting vulnerable groups in flu pandemic

first_imgApr 16, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Acting on the premise that “disasters discriminate,” the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and several partner groups yesterday released a lengthy set of proposed guidelines for protecting the most vulnerable people during an influenza pandemic.The 105-page document posted on the ASTHO Web site contains recommendations on how state, local, territorial, and tribal health agencies can prepare to help “at-risk” groups—such as people who can’t afford to stockpile food, don’t speak English, or need assistance with daily activities—get through a pandemic.”In the face of a pandemic we have to recognize that some of those services that serve them [vulnerable groups] today may be able to expand to meet the need, but some of them will break down,” ASTHO Executive Director Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, told CIDRAP News. “How will we provide basic services to people who are homebound, for example, making sure they have food and water and care? This won’t happen by accident.”The guidance document, called “At-Risk Populations and Pandemic Influenza: Planning Guidance for State, Territorial, Tribal, and Local Health Departments,” was developed with input from representatives of the groups the recommendations are intended to help. ASTHO and its partner organizations held public engagement meetings recently in Boston and Kansas City to gather those groups’ suggestions.”The At-Risk Populations Project is a ground-breaking endeavor for the nation,” Jarris said in a news release. “The process is being brought directly to the at-risk populations who will be affected, as well as to the public health planners and other experts who will have responsibility for implementing the policies. Their vital feedback will help to ensure that those facing the most danger during a pandemic are protected.”ASTHO’s partners in the project are the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publisher of CIDRAP News; the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO); and The Keystone Center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposed the project and funded it with a grant to ASTHO.ASTHO seeks public commentsASTHO is inviting the public to comment on the guidance document for 30 days. After that, plans call for editing the document and releasing the final version by May 31, according to Anna DeBlois, ASTHO’s senior director for immunization and infectious disease. The project has been on a tight schedule because of CDC budgetary considerations, said Jarris.The guidance consists of five chapters that discuss how to identify and collaborate with at-risk populations, communicate with and educate them about pandemic flu, provide clinical and non-clinical services to them, and how to test, exercise, measure, and improve their preparedness.At-risk groups are defined as those that have the highest risk of suffering severe consequences from a pandemic or from measures used to fight the pandemic, such as community mitigation strategies. Examples include those who can’t afford to stockpile food or stay home from work for even a short time; those who have no support network, such as homeless people and those who are socially or geographically isolated; and those who need help with daily activities because of physical disabilities, blindness, hearing impairment, medical conditions, or other factors.Each chapter offers detailed background information and a list of recommendations for public health agencies. For example, a section on communicating with at-risk groups discusses potential barriers to communication, the need to develop audience-appropriate messages, possible message content, and the need to find “trusted messengers.” The chapter suggests a wide variety of potential message vehicles, ranging from church bulletins and radio announcements to cars with loudspeakers and “telenovelas,” described as Spanish television mini-series that can be powerful health education vehicles.A few other examples of the many recommendations in the guidance:To identify at-risk groups, use data from transportation and mass-transit planners to find local groups who need help to use public transit.To build collaborations, reach out to community leaders without formal roles, such as elderly people or hairdressers.Offer mini-grants to community-based and faith-based organizations for pandemic preparedness planning, if budgets permit.Provide preparedness workshops for people who support at-risk individuals, including family, friends, and paid caregivers.Encourage community-based and faith-based organizations to develop contracts or memoranda of understanding to provide essential services and supplies during a pandemic.Consider the pros and cons of developing a community registry in which at-risk groups would describe the services and equipment they would need during a pandemic, and work with first responders to make sure the registry provides them useful information.Each chapter also includes a chart of existing tools and resources—most of them accessible online—that may be helpful in carrying out the recommendations.Developing federal guidance outside the governmentASTHO officials credit Toby Merlin, MD, deputy director of the CDC’s Influenza Coordinating Unit, for coming up with the idea for the At-Risk Populations Project, which they describe as unique because it is federal guidance developed by non-federal groups.”Toby Merlin came to us to ask ASTHO to organize, with CIDRAP and Keystone, a process for developing guidance outside the federal government, and also including the very important component of community engagement,” said Jarris. “We’ve had community engagements around pandemic community mitigation measures and vaccine prioritization before, but what was really new was moving the engagement outside the federal government.”ASTHO set up an advisory panel of experts to guide the project and organized five working groups consisting of about 70 people, including academicians and public health practitioners, from around the country to develop the chapters. To get at-risk groups involved, public engagement meetings were held Mar 8 in Boston and Mar 15 in Kansas City, drawing a total of more than 100 people. In addition, a stakeholders meeting was held Mar 20 in Washington, DC, to gather input from groups ranging from the CDC to volunteer organizations that serve vulnerable people.Comments gathered at the meetings led to various additions and adjustments to the guidance, according to Caroline Barnhill, MPH, ASTHO’s senior analyst for infectious diseases. One important point influenced by the feedback was the definition of at-risk groups.”We asked if the groups we had identified were sufficient, and they had some thoughts on the words we used,” Barnhill said. “We took that information into consideration and changed some of the wording to reflect their feedback. It was very helpful.”Overall, the comments didn’t prompt any big changes in direction, but they “enhanced what we were already doing,” Barnhill said. “We got a lot of good anecdotes and points that we hadn’t thought of.”Public engagementOne of those who attended the Boston public meeting is David Mortimer, a Sudbury, Mass., resident who has been in a wheelchair since he was injured in a car accident in 1993. He chairs the city’s disability commission and represents that group on the city emergency planning committee.”My intent [in attending the meeting] was hoping I would find people similar to myself and find out what success they were having in convincing commissions to be more inclusive in their emergency planning,” Mortimer told CIDRAP News.He said the Boston meeting, held at Boston University, drew at least 50 people, consisting mostly of people with limited mobility, those with hearing impairments, and people working with the homeless and those with mental health problems.After being briefed on the project, those attending broke into subgroups and, with the help of facilitators, came up with the suggestions for things to include in the guidance. “There was something in the neighborhood of 15 recommendations that were brought to the full group for comment and feedback,” Mortimer said.He said he was impressed by “the willingness to work from the ground up, not coming in and dictating what people need but going out and asking the affected groups what are their major needs regarding treatment in a pandemic. The process is remarkable and hopefully will be a model.”Mortimer also attended the Washington stakeholders meeting after he was asked to report there on the Boston meeting. In the wake of the meetings, he said, “I think I’ll be bringing a lot more focus to our local emergency planning people about pandemic flu.”He said it was hard to tell how well local planners would heed concerns about pandemic preparedness, since Sudbury is small and has no public health department. “It’ll get added to the many things that I’m a voice crying in the wilderness about,” he said.Filling a needVarious groups have recognized a need for guidance to help protect vulnerable people during a pandemic and have worked on aspects of the problem, but there has been no comprehensive effort until now, according to Jarris and DeBlois.”There’s a recognition that there’s a huge need, but there’s been a real gap in planning guidance for state and local agencies,” said DeBlois. “This project really fills that gap and provides consistent guidance to all the states as to what the best practices and key recommendations are.”The large number and variety of groups that serve vulnerable people made development of the guidance a complex challenge, said DeBlois.”There’s such a huge network of organizations and individuals that serve at-risk populations that it all works together right now like a web of different agencies that are truly the most connected to these folks,” she said. “Understanding how that works and what would need to happen to ensure that at-risk populations continue to be served in such an intense public health emergency was really challenging.”Jarris said he couldn’t predict to what extent public health agencies will use the guidance, but he expressed hope that it would induce them to build relationships with vulnerable groups.”I think there are people who are very hungry for guidance around this [issue],” he said. “So much of this work is building relationships with people in the community and those who are serving them that guidance is only the beginning. . . . There’s no substitute for getting out there and building those relationships.”See also: Full text of “At-Risk Populations and Pandemic Influenza: Planning Guidance for State, Territorial, Tribal and Local Health Departments”http://www.astho.org/Programs/Infectious-Disease/At-Risk-Populations/At-Risk-Pop-and-Pandemic-Influenza-Planning-Guidance-Executive-Summary/ASTHO’s At-Risk Populations Project sitehttp://www.astho.org/Programs/Infectious-Disease/At-Risk-Populations/At-Risk-Populations-Project-Methods,-Timeline,-Advisory-Panel-Members,-and-Project-Staff/last_img read more

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GOP tax plan will hurt all but rich

first_imgWhat we are seeing instead is the elimination of tax Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. This has always been a middle-class benefit which helps young adults afford a home by offsetting the costs of mortgage interest, school, state and local taxes, unexpected high medical costs, and job and educational expenses. Not having this support available will kill the hope of homeownership for our middle-class children.The children of the rich have their educations provided by their parents and already have the benefit of receiving up to $5 million of tax-free inheritance.The GOP tax plans now propose to eliminate the tax on inheritance all together. Reducing corporate taxes only benefits the investors and the CEOs, COOs and CFOs that already are receiving ridiculous salaries and bonuses.Further, how specifically are small, family-owned businesses being helped? The GOP tax plan is going to increase by over a trillion dollars the national debt, which already has reached critical proportions do to the cost of 16 years of GOP sanction wars.Bill SmithMechanicvilleMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationPolice: Schenectady woman tried to take car in Clifton Park hours after arrest, release in prior the…EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionThe Republican Party has consistently stated that cutting taxes and reducing the national debt are high priorities.We are now getting a clear picture of what the party of the rich really intends to accomplish now that they have the full power of our government. Republican tax plans make no mention of closing any loopholes that the rich have been using to become ever-more affluent and powerful.last_img read more

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Talk of the towns

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