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News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.ictsd.org

19 May, Geneva, Switzerland, and online. TALKING DISPUTES LIVE | THE RUSSIA – PIGS (EU) DISPUTE. This event is being jointly organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and WTI Advisors (WTIA). This event will focus on the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body ruling in the Russia – Pigs (EU) dispute, presenting the key findings and engaging in a discussion of the legal and policy implications, particularly regarding trade and regulatory cooperation. This event will also be livestreamed online from 12:45 PM Geneva time as an interactive webcast, with viewers able to submit questions for the panel. To learn more and to register, or to watch online, please visit the ICTSD website. 19-20 May, Singapore. THIRD CONFERENCE ON GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS, TRADE, AND DEVELOPMENT. This conference is being organised by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the World Bank Group and will feature as its guest speakers Shang-Jin Wei from the Columbia Business School and CEPR and David Chor from the National University of Singapore. The aim of this conference will be to foster new ideas and research on the subject of global value chains. To learn more, please visit the World Bank website. 19-21 May, Dead Sea, Jordan. WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ON THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA. This conference, hosted by the World Economic Forum and the government of Jordan, among other partners, will focus on how to promote long-term stability and peace in the Middle East and North Africa through collaboration. Specifically, the conference will focus on public-private collaboration, as well as shifting investment and trade priorities, to address humanitarian and sustainability challenges in the region. To learn more, please visit the World Economic Forum website. 22 May, Geneva, Switzerland. REFORMING FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES THROUGH THE WTO AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS. This workshop is being organised by Climate Strategies, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). This workshop will feature a panel of representatives from IISD, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), SEI, SWP, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to discuss the varied nature of fossil fuel subsidies and what this means for agreements of different configurations. For more information, please visit the ICTSD website. 22-26 May, Barcelona, Spain. INNOVATE4CLIMATE: FINANCE AND MARKETS WEEK. This event, hosted by the World Bank with the support of the governments of Spain and Germany, as well as FIRA Barcelona, focuses on the role of climate change within the sustainable development agenda. Topics on the docket include the potential benefits from increased private sector financing, along with different options for transitioning toward lower-carbon policies and projects. To learn more, please visit the event website. 23 May, Stockholm, Sweden. TRADE AND CLIMATE ACTION POST-PARIS: LEVERAGING SYNERGIES. This event is being organised jointly by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and Sida, Sweden’s development policy agency. The event will examine the relationship between trade, sustainable development, and climate action in the context of the UN’s Paris Agreement on climate change. The objective is to have a discussion over ways for trade policy to support climate action, along with ensuring that efforts to support the latter objective do not have overly trade-distorting effects. For more information, including an event programme, please visit the ICTSD website. An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted here. Please bear in mind that dates and times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the WTO does not always announce the important informal meetings of the different bodies. Unless otherwise indicated, all WTO meetings are held at the WTO, Centre William Rappard, rue de Lausanne 154, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland, and are open to WTO members and accredited observers only. 30 May – 5 June, Geneva, Switzerland. EUROPEAN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WEEK 2017. This week will feature an array of activities aimed at promoting sustainable development and fostering discussion. Key themes this year include the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Various events with thematic links are being hosted across Geneva to raise awareness of the Agenda and engage local stakeholders. To learn more, please visit the Geneva European Sustainable Development Week website. 31 May – 12 July, online. MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE: GREENING CONSUMPTION & PRODUCTION. This six-week facilitated course is being offered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) Forum and the Nature Conservancy. Topics for the course will cover green consumption and production, including greening key production sectors, sustainable commodity supply chains, and mainstreaming biodiversity into development planning. The course is aimed at policymakers and practitioners working in the area of sustainable consumption and production. It will be available in English, Spanish, and French. To learn more and to register, please visit the Nature Conservancy website. 5-8 June, Manila, Philippines. ASIA CLEAN ENERGY FORUM 2017. This event is being jointly organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Korea Energy Agency. The aim of this forum is to share best practices in policy, technology, and finance regarding clean energy, energy efficiency, and energy access, with the event having as its theme “The Future is Here: Achieving Universal Access and Climate Targets.” To learn more, please visit the event website. 7-9 June, Geneva, Switzerland. INNOVATE 4 WATER: A MATCHMAKING FORUM FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BRINGING TOGETHER INNOVATORS, INVESTORS, AND EXPERTS. This two-day forum is being organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) GREEN, WaterVent, and WIPO GREEN partner Waterpreneurs. The aim of this forum will be to bring together individuals and organisations working in the water sector and related areas for discussion and collaboration. To learn more and to register, please visit the WIP GREEN website. 26-28 September, Geneva, Switzerland. WTO PUBLIC FORUM 2017. This year’s edition of the WTO’s outreach event will have as its theme “Trade: Behind the Headlines.” The meeting will aim to look at the real-life implications of trade, as opposed to rhetoric, and will also look at how trade can support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related issues. A call for proposals is currently open for those who wish to organise sessions at this year’s forum, with a due date of 4 June 2017. To learn more, please visit the WTO website.


Young African leaders from 13 countries, including Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda attended the East Africa Regional Conference as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. During the conference, Fellows showcased their projects and ideas to potential business partners like GE Africa, @ibizafrica, Rendeavour, Nairobi Garage, M-Kopa and Novel Technologies E.A. Ltd. Fellows also presented what they are doing to tackle community problems related to peace and security, agriculture and development, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). "The conference and the Fellowship have provided me with a platform to share my work, networking and form potential partnerships. Winning the pitch competition in particular has provided me with courage to continue to expand my work with Apps and Girls, to ensure that a generation of girls in Tanzania pursue STEM," said Carolyne Ekyarisiima, a Mandela Washington Fellow from Tanzania. Funded by the United States government, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought 2,000 young African professionals from across the continent to U.S. universities for six weeks of leadership training since 2014. An additional 1,000 Fellows will be traveling to the United States in 2017. The Fellows are competitively selected and represent the continent's emerging generation of entrepreneurs, community leaders, and public officials working to shape the future of Africa. At the conference, these young leaders shared solutions for deepening engagement with youth and communities to improve government services, strengthen civil society, and build businesses in Africa. Discussions incorporated ideas for increasing youth employment, promoting transparency and civic engagement, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and advancing sustainable energy solutions. Fellows also engaged with industry experts, and youth activists to learn more about how to tackle sustainable development in their communities. Keynote speaker Victor Ochen, the youngest African to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the African Youth Initiative network, challenged Fellows "to be a generation of peace, and serve as a bridge to a great and prosperous African society." Fellows were also invited to a partner reception hosted by Rendeavour, featuring a keynote from Ambassador Robert F. Godec who encouraged Fellows "to bring back what you learn in the United States, and serve as an example" to others. The U.S. government supports the initial fellowship as well as follow-on activities. USAID, with its partner IREX, assists with continuing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking, and training to advance these young leaders along their professional endeavors as they build a brighter future for Africa and forge deeper bonds with counterparts in the United States. "The fellowship program is creating an enduring network of leaders committed to transforming their own societies," said Kristin Lord, President and CEO of IREX. "Not only is that beneficial to communities on the continent, but it's an investment in future business relationships and long-term people-to-people and government-to-government relationships that will benefit both the US and Africa." Photos and video from the conference are available online.


The country is one of the most forested in Southeast Asia, providing habitat for endangered species The loss of intact forest cover in Myanmar has accelerated over the last decade, according to a study published May 17, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Peter Leimgruber from Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, United States of America; Ned Horning from American Museum of Natural History, United States of America; and colleagues. Due to its long political and economic isolation, Myanmar has retained much of its original forest cover but much of the intact forest is unprotected and is increasingly subject to pressures from rapid political and economic changes in the country. Areas that were inaccessible due to armed conflicts between the government and ethnic groups, for example, are starting to open up for timber production and commercial plantations. To investigate changes to forest cover, Leimgruber, Horning and colleagues used Landsat satellite images to map forest cover in Myanmar between 2002 and 2014. The researchers found that in 2014 63% of Myanmar was covered by forest (more than 42 million hectares), making it one of the region's most forested countries. However, in terms of conservation efforts and protection of endangered species, intact (un-fragmented) forests are the most valuable. In Myanmar, 38% of forest cover is intact forest and during the study period the authors found that this intact forest declined by 11% (more than 2 million hectares) with an annual loss of 0.94%. Through their analyses the authors also identified 9 township hotspots of deforestation of intact forests and a large area 6.1 million hectares of intact forest in Northern Myanmar. The authors suggest that protection of intact forests should take priority but other ways of improving forest management could include encouraging forest restoration, and reclaiming degraded forestlands for plantations and sustainable agriculture. Co-author Dr. Qiongyu Huang states: "We found that forests cover 42,365,729 ha or 63% of Myanmar, making it one of the most forested countries in the region. However, severe logging, expanding plantations, and degradation pose increasing threats. Only 38% of the country's forests can be considered intact with canopy cover >80%. Between 2002 and 2014, intact forests declined at a rate of 0.94% annually, totaling more than 2 million ha forest loss." In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: http://journals. Citation: Bhagwat T, Hess A, Horning N, Khaing T, Thein ZM, Aung KM, et al. (2017) Losing a jewel--Rapid declines in Myanmar's intact forests from 2002-2014. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176364. https:/ Funding: EU FLEGT--Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Provided funding for mapping forest condition and change from Landsat satellite imagery. Website: http://www. Role: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Website: http://helmsleytrust. Supporting Integrated Protected Area Land and Seascape Management in Tanintharyi. The funder supported salaries for trainers and senior remote sensing analysts based in Myanmar. Role: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. USAID Burma Program Website: https:/ Provided funding to support local GIS/remote sensing analyst as well as capacity building. Role: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) website: https:/ Provided funding to support Myanmar GIS/RS analysts to help with mapping. Role: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies global health priorities in light of current and emerging challenges and makes 14 recommendations for the U.S. government and other stakeholders to address these challenges, while maintaining U.S. status as a world leader in global health. "The increased interdependency of countries, economies, and cultures resulting from tremendous growth in international travel and trade over the last several decades has brought improved access to goods and services, but also a variety of health threats," said Jendayi Frazer, co-chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report and adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States must preserve and extend its legacy as a global leader, partner, and innovator in global health through forward-looking policies, country and international partnerships, and, most importantly, continued investment. Doing so will not only lead to improved health and security for all U.S. citizens but also ensure the sustainable thriving of the global population." "By investing in global health over the next 20 years, there is a chance to save the lives of millions of children and adults," said committee co-chair Valentin Fuster, physician-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital and director of Mount Sinai Heart. "The health and well-being of other countries both directly and indirectly affect the health, safety, and economic security of Americans. The U.S. government should maintain its leadership position in global health as a matter of urgent national interest and as a global public benefit that enhances America's international standing." While prioritization of resources for each issue or disease is necessary, it is also essential to embrace a systems-focused approach to capacity building and partnership to achieve results more comprehensively. The committee identified four priority areas encompassing the 14 recommendations for global health action: Achieve global health security. In the last 10 years, outbreaks of potentially pandemic influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Ebola, and Zika have threatened populations around the world. In each case, global and national responses, including those of the United States, have been reactionary, uncoordinated, ineffective, and expensive, the report says. The presidential administration should create a coordinating body within the U.S. government with the authority and budget to develop a proactive, cost-effective, and comprehensive approach to preparedness for and response to international public health emergencies. The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Agriculture, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should continue investments at the national level and increase investments at the international level to improve capabilities to confront the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. In addition, the administration also should strengthen preparedness and response capacity in low- and middle-income countries through training and information exchange efforts. Maintain a sustained response to the continuous threats of communicable diseases. Dedicated efforts over the last few decades have resulted in millions of lives saved from AIDS, TB, and malaria, yet these three diseases continue to pose immediate and long-term threats to the health of populations around the world, the report says. For example, more than 36 million people are living with HIV, with 2 million infections occurring yearly. The committee recommended a sustained focus on HIV/AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with continued emphasis on accountability, efficiency, and measurement of results. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and USAID should conduct a thorough global threat analysis of rising TB levels and execute a plan of action for developing new diagnostics, drugs, vaccines, and delivery systems. In addition, relevant U.S. government agencies should continue efforts against malaria through the President's Malaria Initiative and collaborative work with partners toward elimination of the disease, the report says. Save and improve the lives of women and children. Although child and maternal mortality rates have decreased, each year nearly 6 million children die before age 5, and more than 300,000 women die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, the vast majority of which are preventable. The report calls for increased funding to augment USAID's investments in ending preventable maternal and child mortality to include priority interventions supported by rigorous monitoring and evaluation. In addition, USAID, PEPFAR, their implementing partners, and other funders should support and incorporate proven, cost-effective interventions into their existing programs for ensuring that all children reach their developmental potential and become healthy, productive adults. This includes interventions such as providing adequate nutrition for optimal cognitive development and detecting and managing postpartum depression and other maternal mental health issues. Promote cardiovascular health and prevent cancer. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer result in 40 million deaths globally each year, almost three-quarters of which are in low- and middle-income countries. The costs of managing these diseases are rising as well, with CVD alone projected to cost the world $1 trillion annually in treatment costs and productivity losses by 2030. Many health systems in these countries are not adequately equipped to care for patients with NCDs, due to historical focus on infectious diseases. The committee called for USAID, the U.S. State Department, and the CDC to support improved mobilization and coordination of private partners at the country level to implement strategies targeting CVD risk factors, early detection and treatment of hypertension and cervical cancer, and immunization against cancer-causing viruses, such as HPV and hepatitis B. To maximize the returns on investments in these four priority areas, achieve better health outcomes, and use funding more effectively, the report says the U.S. should: The study was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, U.S. Agency for International Development, Rockefeller Foundation, Medtronic, Merck Foundation, and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company).


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New report recommends priority actions to achieve global health security, protect US position as global health leader, and safeguard billions of dollars in health investments WASHINGTON - A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies global health priorities in light of current and emerging challenges and makes 14 recommendations for the U.S. government and other stakeholders to address these challenges, while maintaining U.S. status as a world leader in global health. "The increased interdependency of countries, economies, and cultures resulting from tremendous growth in international travel and trade over the last several decades has brought improved access to goods and services, but also a variety of health threats," said Jendayi Frazer, co-chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report and adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States must preserve and extend its legacy as a global leader, partner, and innovator in global health through forward-looking policies, country and international partnerships, and, most importantly, continued investment. Doing so will not only lead to improved health and security for all U.S. citizens but also ensure the sustainable thriving of the global population." "By investing in global health over the next 20 years, there is a chance to save the lives of millions of children and adults," said committee co-chair Valentin Fuster, physician-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital and director of Mount Sinai Heart. "The health and well-being of other countries both directly and indirectly affect the health, safety, and economic security of Americans. The U.S. government should maintain its leadership position in global health as a matter of urgent national interest and as a global public benefit that enhances America's international standing." While prioritization of resources for each issue or disease is necessary, it is also essential to embrace a systems-focused approach to capacity building and partnership to achieve results more comprehensively. The committee identified four priority areas encompassing the 14 recommendations for global health action: Achieve global health security. In the last 10 years, outbreaks of potentially pandemic influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Ebola, and Zika have threatened populations around the world. In each case, global and national responses, including those of the United States, have been reactionary, uncoordinated, ineffective, and expensive, the report says. The presidential administration should create a coordinating body within the U.S. government with the authority and budget to develop a proactive, cost-effective, and comprehensive approach to preparedness for and response to international public health emergencies. The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Agriculture, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should continue investments at the national level and increase investments at the international level to improve capabilities to confront the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. In addition, the administration also should strengthen preparedness and response capacity in low- and middle-income countries through training and information exchange efforts. Maintain a sustained response to the continuous threats of communicable diseases. Dedicated efforts over the last few decades have resulted in millions of lives saved from AIDS, TB, and malaria, yet these three diseases continue to pose immediate and long-term threats to the health of populations around the world, the report says. For example, more than 36 million people are living with HIV, with 2 million infections occurring yearly. The committee recommended a sustained focus on HIV/AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with continued emphasis on accountability, efficiency, and measurement of results. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and USAID should conduct a thorough global threat analysis of rising TB levels and execute a plan of action for developing new diagnostics, drugs, vaccines, and delivery systems. In addition, relevant U.S. government agencies should continue efforts against malaria through the President's Malaria Initiative and collaborative work with partners toward elimination of the disease, the report says. Save and improve the lives of women and children. Although child and maternal mortality rates have decreased, each year nearly 6 million children die before age 5, and more than 300,000 women die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, the vast majority of which are preventable. The report calls for increased funding to augment USAID's investments in ending preventable maternal and child mortality to include priority interventions supported by rigorous monitoring and evaluation. In addition, USAID, PEPFAR, their implementing partners, and other funders should support and incorporate proven, cost-effective interventions into their existing programs for ensuring that all children reach their developmental potential and become healthy, productive adults. This includes interventions such as providing adequate nutrition for optimal cognitive development and detecting and managing postpartum depression and other maternal mental health issues. Promote cardiovascular health and prevent cancer. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer result in 40 million deaths globally each year, almost three-quarters of which are in low- and middle-income countries. The costs of managing these diseases are rising as well, with CVD alone projected to cost the world $1 trillion annually in treatment costs and productivity losses by 2030. Many health systems in these countries are not adequately equipped to care for patients with NCDs, due to historical focus on infectious diseases. The committee called for USAID, the U.S. State Department, and the CDC to support improved mobilization and coordination of private partners at the country level to implement strategies targeting CVD risk factors, early detection and treatment of hypertension and cervical cancer, and immunization against cancer-causing viruses, such as HPV and hepatitis B. To maximize the returns on investments in these four priority areas, achieve better health outcomes, and use funding more effectively, the report says the U.S. should: The study was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, U.S. Agency for International Development, Rockefeller Foundation, Medtronic, Merck Foundation, and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit http://national-academies. . A committee roster follows. Copies of Global Health and the Future Role of the United States are available from the National Academies Press on the Internet at http://www. or by calling 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a trilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida and Korean Foreign Minister Yun, Friday, April 28, 2017, at the United Nations. (Bryan R. Smith/Pool Photo via AP) WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proposing to eliminate 2,300 jobs as part of a plan to cut more than a quarter of the State Department's budget for the next fiscal year, officials said Friday. The plan will almost certainly meet resistance from lawmakers opposing President Donald Trump's proposal to shrink the size of the federal government. Tillerson's proposal reduces the number of new diplomats being hired and includes the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development's possible consolidation, according to officials briefed on the proposal. The staff cuts would amount to about 3 percent of the department's roughly 75,000-strong workforce. The proposal is a response to the Office of Management and Budget's call to slash the State Department and USAID budgets by 31 percent through deep cuts to foreign aid and other programs, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly about the as-yet unreleased plan and requested anonymity. Tillerson's plan would entail a 26 percent budget reduction, they said. In an interview with NPR that aired Friday, Tillerson said he intended to reorganize the department to make it more efficient and focused. "What we really want to do is examine the process by which the men and women — the career foreign service people, the civil servants, our embassies — how they deliver on that mission," he said. "We want to hear from them, we're just about to embark on a department-wide listening mission," he said, adding later: "I look forward to hearing their ideas. Because I know there's going to be opportunities to allow them to be more effective. Now, out of that we'll determine what the State Department looks like." Cutting more than a quarter of State Department's current $50.1 billion budget would require dramatic reductions in programs and staffing, cuts that many in Congress and elsewhere oppose. Tillerson's proposal includes 700 job cuts through buyouts and 1,600 from attrition. The job cuts were first reported by Bloomberg. Buyouts would be offered first to staffers over the age of 50 with at least two decades of government service, the officials said. The State Department declined to comment on the job reductions, and officials cautioned that plans are tentative until the budget is submitted to Congress next month. But Tillerson has spoken publicly of the need to streamline the agency. He will outline plans to State Department staffers next week, officials said. Tillerson hasn't addressed State Department workers since his first day on the job in February. As part of the plan, a high-level panel will explore the consolidation of USAID into the State Department this summer, officials said. An outside consultant will be brought in to survey staffers about additional areas where savings might be found. The officials briefed on Tillerson's proposal this week said the plan also calls for cutting back on hiring new diplomats, from as many as five classes of incoming foreign service officers per year to one or two. It also envisions less hiring of civil service employees, who comprise about 15 percent of the department's workforce. Numerous members of Congress as well as current and former senior military officers have said they are opposed to massive cuts to the diplomatic budget, which accounts for just over 1 percent of the total federal budget. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of 43 senators urged "robust funding" for the State Department and USAID. "At a time when we face multiple national security challenges around the world, deep cuts in this area would be shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous," they said in a letter to Senate appropriators. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Marcel Ngué’s new book Farewell to Marriage, Long Live Marriage ($17.99, paperback 9781498491242; $8.99, eBook, 9781498491259) aims to raise awareness among parents, teachers and young people, in an era where marriage is going through the most critical period in its history. It appeals specifically to couples who are about to call it quits and are looking for ways to rebuild and save their marriage. It is an extremely topical book, dealing as it does with the death and resurrection of marriage, a hot topic which is at the center of the marriage for all policy. It is a practical book that offers case studies and a questionnaire through which married people could assess their performance and take corrective measures. Ngué says, “This book comes at the right time as a contribution to redeem marriage, an endangered institution. It enhances the blue-print of biblical marriage. Above all, men and women are dealing, among other things, with the beam which is in their own eyes, and not the speck in their spouses' eyes. The book teaches young people how to reserve their purity for marriage. It appeals to parents, teachers, churches and matrimonial counselors, inviting them to join their forces to challenge marriage predators.” As a Development Economist, Marcel Ngué worked for almost three decades as Project and Liaison Officer for many Christian institutions in Africa, Europe and North America, as well as with international development agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Cameroon-Canada Cooperation Center (CCCC). As a Linguist, he held bilingual positions as a Translator and Language Teacher. He is a writer. Many of his publications deal with development issues. Farewell to Marriage, Long live Marriage, The Shadow of reality and the Reality of Shadow, reveals another layer of his vision. He is a lifetime Student of the Scriptures. Marcel and his wife Madeleine live in Maryland. They have four children, two girls (Anne-Estelle and Françoise-Olive) and two boys (Ivain-Zacharie and Philippe-Edgar). Xulon Press, a division of Salem Media Group, is the world’s largest Christian self-publisher, with more than 12,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order Farewell To Marriage, Long Live Marriage! through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors. The book is available online through xulonpress.com/bookstore, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com.


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in partnership with Excella Consulting and the National Technical Information Service, won this year's Igniting Innovation Award for their Verification Program that is used by the private sector, and federal and state governments to determine eligibility for government benefits and to enable work authorizations for individuals across the country. The system is being rapidly modernized using agile, DevOps, cloud services, and data science best practices to regularly deliver new features that make it easier for thousands of individuals to start jobs and obtain public benefits and credentials. USCIS also won last year's Igniting Innovation award for their myUSCIS program. USAID won the award for the innovation with the greatest impact for their Global Innovation Exchange, an online platform to connect innovators, funders, and experts working on development innovations around the world. INADEV Corporation won the award for the most disruptive innovation for the Immersive Multi-Dimensional Experience. This application provides a virtual tour of the World War II Memorial and guides visitors through experiences of people impacted by the war. It engages and informs all age groups through narrative, games, video, audio, stories and images in seven languages and accommodates a broad range of disabilities. AEGIS.net, Inc. won the award for transforming or extending existing capabilities for the Developer's Integration Lab (DIL), an automated conformance and interoperability test lab. This revolutionary cloud-based system facilitates secure, reliable electronic data exchange in accordance with national standards while protecting information integrity and confidentiality. USDA Food and Nutrition Service won the award for the innovation with the greatest potential to enhance services to citizens with its Web-Based Prototype Application for School Meals. This application makes it easier to apply for reduced or free lunches for millions of children while streamlining the process and increasing the integrity of the program. Over the last four years, ACT-IAC received several hundred nominations showing that governments at all levels across the country, in partnership with private sector companies, are working hard to innovate. If we can sustain and grow those efforts, then all Americans stand to benefit from the promise of innovation. The American Council for Technology (ACT) is a non-profit educational organization established to improve government's service delivery and operational performance through the effective and innovative application of technology.  ACT-IAC provides a unique, objective and trusted collaborative forum where government and industry executives are working as partners to address critical issues, apply best practices and pioneer innovative solutions.   ACT-IAC also provides high-quality learning and educational opportunities to improve the knowledge and expertise of the government workforce – both public and private.  Further information about ACT-IAC can be found at www.actiac.org. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/innovation-in-government-is-thriving-300447404.html


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Ticked Off! Here's What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease Zika Virus - What You Should Know The fight against tropical diseases has had major successes in the last few years, and goals to control or eradicate them by 2020 are right on track, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in Geneva. Alongside WHO, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation also hailed several record-breaking achievements that ramp up efforts to fight these neglected tropical diseases. However, the health organization believes drug companies need to step up donations of medicines, as millions of people still require cures and treatments. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that neglected tropical diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, leprosy, rabies, and trachoma affect 1 billion people and kill about 534,000 every year. In 1999, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation began a campaign to fight these illnesses, and these investments have improved millions of lives, said Gates. "None of these diseases are getting worse," the philanthropist said. "We're behind on some of the very ambitious goals which were set in London for 2020, but the burden from all these diseases is getting better." Indeed, Gates told BBC News several major achievements in recent years in ensuring that these tropical diseases are eliminated. For illnesses such as lymphatic filariasis, which is a mosquito-borne worm that causes swelling in the limbs, there has been a reduction in the patient population. From 1.5 billion people, the number of cases has gone down to 1 billion, he said. One illness that was close to being fully eradicated is the Guinea worm, which had 25 cases in 2016, although Gates said the unrest in Sudan is making the work more difficult. Meanwhile, the WHO has cited progress in the treatment of river blindness, which is a parasitic disease transmitted by black flies. Data showed that more than 60 percent of patients or 114 million people with river blindness have received treatment. These major successes are the result of partnership between governments, non-government organizations, and companies, said Gates, but several issues remain. Before the Geneva conference, Gates met up with CEOs of big pharmaceutical companies to discuss efforts to fight against these tropical diseases. "Good progress, some of these diseases are on track to be done (eliminated) by 2020, some by 2025," said Gates. "Some will take longer than that." In 2012, the Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement known as the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases to eradicate these illnesses by 2020. Drug companies have been donating drugs for these diseases for years, but the lack of effective distribution systems has prevented people from securing treatments. The USAID has attempted to fix this issue by funding NGOs that make sure workers in remote towns use the proper tools they need. More than 1.6 billion treatments have now reached 31 countries. Dr. Dirk Engels, director of WHO's Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said he hopes neglected tropical diseases could be part of history by 2030. "There are still gaps," said Engels. "I hope in the next few years, we will be able to fill in those gaps." © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.fastcompany.com

For Michel Nischan, the CEO of nonprofit Wholesome Wave, which runs the country’s largest prescription program for fruits and vegetables, and provides matching subsidies for fresh produce to those already receiving governmental assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the fix is simple: “That whole notion of investing in [better] food at the front end, instead of paying for treatment at the back end is a real economic opportunity,” he says. “If you start tapping into the half a trillion dollars a year that is being spent on expensive medicines and treatments . . . you could actually say there’s the potential that our country could eat its way out of the national debt.” That’s because unhealthy eating has so many hidden costs. Sick people miss work, which affects both their own income and the productivity of our workforce. They may also die early, leaving their family with more financial issues. Wholesome Wave, which started in 2007, wants to address all of this proactively by enabling doctors to write prescriptions for free produce for the people most at risk for diet-related diseases like hypertension, obesity and type-2 diabetes. And by setting up programs to ensure many others in impoverished circumstances never reach that point. The group’s devotion to such dramatic change has earned them the top spot among food projects in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards. (You can read more about the other finalists below). The group offers services in 700 locations across 46 states. A recent prescription program, which launched in Los Angeles this summer, reaches 500 at-risk kids (average age: eight years old) and their families, who are encouraged to make similar dietary changes to ensure proper meal planning and role model behavior. All told, that will affect how 2,400 people eat. As Fast Company has reported, Wholesome Wave also recently awarded over $200,000 in grants to other groups within their National Nutritional Incentive Network, who are sharing lessons and collecting data about how well similar approaches in other communities are working. Nischan, a chef who has won James Beard awards for his own cookbook, TV show, and documentary work around healthier eating, began thinking more critically about how food can prevent and control health issues about two decades ago, after two of his children were diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. To help control his children’s symptoms, his family altered its own eating habits, which inspired a shift in the kind of food that Nischan wanted to be serving to other people too. Nischan had started out as a breakfast cook at a truck stop (it gave his rock band time to play at night), and worked his way up to become an industry force within the fine dining world. In 1997, he opened Heartbeat, a local, organic, and sustainable restaurant with no processed foods in New York’s first W Hotel. (He also managed the food and beverage programs and was executive chef at a half-dozen other locations.) The impetus for Wholesome Wave came after joining a healthy eating think tank at Harvard Medical School, where he realized that another strain of diabetes (type-2) was completely preventable with the right dietary changes. Not only that but if left unchecked, he realized, America’s unhealthy eating habits might eventually hurt those with little or no choice in the matter. “[That] eventually led to the awareness that the majority of people with type-2 diabetes are at income levels that disallow them from being able to afford the types of food they need to consume to prevent the disease in the first place. That’s where I hit the wall,” he says. Nischan realized there was no real meal plan to help those with extremely low incomes to eat smartly. (The average SNAP allotment is just $29 per person each week.) That inspired a career shift. “I could do Heartbeat because people could afford $40 for an entrée, but I was kind of patting myself on the back for nothing because I was reaching kind of the 1 to 5%,” he says. “It just wasn’t feeling right to me to be an upscale chef in a world where millions of people can’t afford a fucking tomato.” To counter that, Nischan launched Wholesome Wave, which included Paul Newman, a partner in another restaurant venture called The Dressing Room, and Betsy and Jesse Fink, the co-founder and first COO of Priceline, as original donors. The group’s work has since been backed by the Kresge Foundation, Target, and the Sampson Foundation. Losing weight isn’t the only signal of success, but early results show that nearly 50% of those who receive prescriptions end up reducing their BMI. More importantly, the level of interest in these programs proves that those most in need “value very similar things to a Wegmans or a Whole Foods consumer—quality of produce, selection, freshness, things like that,” Nischan says. That dispels equally unhealthy stereotypes that people eat poorly because they may lack nutritional education or consumer preference. The biggest problem is the price. Here’s more about the finalists in the food category: by PepsiCo Since 2010, PepsiCo has used smarter farm tech—a web-based platform hitched to precise field measuring equipment—to manage crop irrigation on a plant-by-plant basis, reducing potato growers’ water usage by 50% in some areas of the United Kingdom. It’s also doing something similar with greenhouse gasses, calculating how different plant varieties, crop-storage techniques and running operations with renewable energy and fuel-efficient vehicles can lead to lower emissions. Eating chips may be a guilty pleasure, but not because of their environmental impact. by Kashi Currently, farmers equate going organic with short-term losses, part of why the sector makes up just 1% of the agricultural landscape. That’s because it takes three years to convert, during which time farmers are paying more to grow their crops in eco-friendly ways without the seal that would allow them to charge more, too. Kashi’s “certified transitional” process, which debuted in May 2016, changes that by telegraphing which farms—those who upon inspection are hitting all the right benchmarks toward that changeover—might be worth a little more investment. Farms who are certified transitional can charge a little more for their harvests, while companies who use those ingredients get to affix a seal showing where their food was sourced. That allows Kashi (and soon other companies) to share why their Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits are so worth it. by World Food Programme The WFP Innovation Accelerator considers itself an “activist” Y-Combinator for curing global hunger. To do that, the Munich, Germany-based group seeds startups with cash (between $50,000 and $100,000), coaching (for three to six months), and most importantly access to the deployment network of its chief affiliate, the United Nations. Since launching in 2016, more than 20 concepts across 14 counties have been deployed largely through the UN’s existing field offices without any of the workforce shortages or cultural disconnects that groups parachuting into new places might face. It’s a ready-baked way to test and scale. by DeepLook Weed control accounts for a huge share of the chemicals used in farming. And weeding farms by hand is costly, difficult and increasingly unpredictable work because of federal crackdowns on undocumented workers. The good news: Engineers from MIT and Stanford have combined forces to create droids that’ll do it for us. DeepLook’s autonomous fleet of robots use specialized visual interface to both identify what’s in each field and show the farmer exactly what the robo-field-hand is pulling. The bots use learning algorithms to get smarter over time and are already being tested at some fields in California. Method’s soap making plant has wind turbines and solar panels to produce its own clean electricity and keep everything from manufacturing (including making soap bottles from post-consumer resin) to warehousing and distribution services in-house to reduce its carbon footprint. Fittingly, it’s crowned by a 75,000 square foot greenhouse by Gotham Greens, which runs on renewable energy and recycled irrigation water to produce fresh food year-round for the Chicago area. Another positive attribute: The facility has created 130 jobs for those around Chicago’s revitalizing Pullman neighborhood. by Colorado State University and Philips Lighting For most brewers, the availability of hops is a real buzz kill. The flower, a key ingredient in most recipes, is freshly available only during the April harvest season, after which the only alternatives are wilting or dried alternatives that are far less flavorful. But Colorado State and Philips Lighting are testing ways to make hops available locally and year round through vertical farming methods with artificial light. Early tests show that some LED-based illumination formulas (there are variables like what light spectrum, intensity, position and exposure rate you use) can actually yield danker hops. by Sasaki As Chinese major cities grow, they’re gobbling up arable land, while ever more gets destroyed by various forms of pollution. That means the country has more mouths to feed and less growing space to do it. Shanghai is breaking ground on a novel solution. Sunqiao will be a vertical farming district located between the city’s airport and downtown. The development, which will break ground in 2017, should grow vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, arugula, mustard greens, bok choy and watercress—all regional staples—in soaring glass skyscrapers that double as tourist-worthy attractions. That should take the fresh food supply for the 24-million-person metropolis to literally a whole new level. by New Wave Foods Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in the U.S. We eat about four pounds of it per person each year. But that appetite has led to some unsavory procurement practices, including fishermen netting massive piles of “by-catch” (other fish they’re not trying to catch) that die and go to waste. In the absence of cheap labor, some fishermen have even become trapped themselves, working as slaves aboard vessels in Southeast Asia. San Francisco-based New Wave Foods frees the supply chain of both issues with its  PopShrimp, a popcorn shrimp recipe that mimics the flavor, texture, and protein of the real thing, but with no cholesterol–because it’s made entirely from algae. The company, which his done taste tests at pop-up restaurants and Google’s cafeteria, is angling to hit grocery stores and restaurants in 2017. by Bionicraft This countertop decoration turns food waste into fresh soil with a sleek ergonomic design and it’s own, er, workforce—the polite way to say worms and microbes—to naturally compost your leftovers. Because it’s sealed, self-contained, and designed to work quickly there’s no stink or fruit flies. The design also has different ports, which can be used at different times, so today’s leftovers can be dropped in to digest on one side while last week’s are ready-to-use soil on the other. by USAID and the Kaizen Company Scientists and entrepreneurs trying to grow food with less water, create novel water-storage concepts, or do more with saline and soil tech, can now tap into a consortium of companies willing to offer funding, expertise, or even lab space. That’s the role of Securing Water for Food’s Technical Assistance Facility, which, instead of being a single institution, works more like a decentralized support network matching groups in more than 30 countries with funding and nearby resources. The initiative is led by the Kaizen Company, a human and institutional capacity development firm, and funded by USAID and the governments of Sweden, South Africa, and the Netherlands. Within the last two years, the group has worked with over 80 concepts, helping save billions of gallons of water while producing hundreds of tons of food each year. by Dig Inn The food at Dig Inn’s fast casual restaurants is driven by what’s locally available at nearby farms. While that means the menu has plenty of seasonal veggies, it also means that Dig Inn’s chefs actually have to cook raw ingredients, which isn’t always the case at other chains that source from centralized distributors or prep kitchens. Now the company, which has over a dozen locations in Boston and New York, is trying to grow in a way that supports both their knowledge of what can be harvested and how it can be best used. In 2017, they’re launching a training and teaching facility at their own farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. by Flow Hive This invention takes the sting out of honey harvesting, transforming a once complicated process into an operation that’s easier on farmers and their bees. Rather than separating the bees from the hive, cracking it open, and running honeycomb through a centrifuge, Flow Hive users start their colonies on a frame that’s transparent on one side (so you know when to tap it) and has an internal mechanism that with the turn creates channels within the hive’s hexagonal, interlocking comb, so the spoils can drip freely without separating the bees from the hive. After a 2015 Indiegogo campaign raised $12 million, the company has sold more than 40,000 systems. The sweet part: As more hobbyists become hive masters, there should be a little more local food and a lot more pollinators for others growing other things, especially in urban areas. by Ripple Most alternative milks promise to be lactose-free and have a low eco-footprint. What’s missing is comparable calcium or protein. But Ripple’s pea-based formula covers everything. It also uses far less water in production than traditional dairy or almond operations and provides the same amount of protein as 2% options, with more calcium, and half the sugar. That does a body (and the world) good. by Terreform ONE Pound for pound, crickets offer twice the protein of beef, and require 300 times less water than typical livestock production. They can also be milled into a somewhat easier-to-stomach flour. To eat well, though, you’d still have to raise a whole lot of them in sanitary conditions. Cricket Shelter, a modular insect farm, by Terreform ONE, a nonprofit for philanthropic architecture and urban, ecological designs solves that issue by creating a cool, modular and hygienic space from readily available off-the-shelf parts. A prototype at the Brooklyn navy yards, which would be easy to throw up in disaster zones, is arch-shaped to double as an emergency shelter and can yield 22,000 bugs, which would sleep separately in modular locked cubbies. by Beyond Meat Fittingly, Beyond Meat’s latest release, the plant-based Beyond Burger isn’t available beyond the usual faux-food aisle of the supermarket. When it debuted in the spring of 2016, Whole Foods agreed to put the pink ready-to-cook patty alongside its true beef competitors in the meat aisle. That’s a big win that might change how consumers classify such products. With patties that have 20 grams of protein and half that saturated fat per patty compared their cow-based counterparts, the company isn’t trying to change how Americans eat. It’s arguing that there’s a healthier more sustainable way to do so. by Everytable If you can get the people who can afford it to pay a little more for their meals, then a lot more people will be able to eat elsewhere, too. That’s the model for Everytable, a Los Angeles-based chain that charges people eating at stores in more affluent areas higher prices than those who are dining in spots located in less well-off neighborhoods, many of which are food deserts, in order to make more nutritious meals available cheaply. To do so, it uses central kitchens and grab-and-go style packaging. The company has three spots around LA, with a fourth coming soon, proving the model works and is ready to expand to other metros. by Impossible Foods To win over eaters with the Impossible Burger—another eco-friendly, fake-meat marvel— Impossible Foods has focused on just one thing: taste. First, they developed a new way to manufacture meat’s not-so-secret key ingredient, heme, an iron-rich molecule that’s found in blood and makes meat pink. (They do that with a specialized yeast instead.) Second, they recruited all-star chefs like David Chang, Traci Des Jardins, Chris Cosentino, and Tal Ronen to actually cook their plant-based burgers in top New York, San Francisco, and LA eateries. The goal is to create a burger so good even meat eaters can’t help but order it—and potentially want to cook it at home, if the company decides to go that route. by Hop Compost Restaurant food waste ends up in the trash because current reclaiming processes are also pretty wasteful and disgusting. Industrial scale compost operations smell so bad they’re often located far from cities, costing food providers time, money, and lots of fuel-burn to ship there. The waste itself then rots slowly—it can take up to two years to biodegrade while offering up more harmful greenhouse gasses. Canada-based Hop Compost uses modular, computerized containment vessels to do the same thing in less than two weeks through a carefully monitored and sealed process that yields no odor and especially nutrient rich soil. Without the big footprint and stink factor, the company can locate closer to its clients. Since February 2015, it has repurposed 3 million pounds of food waste at urban centers in Vancouver and Calgary while selling the resulting soil to Whole Foods garden centers.

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