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Taking the plunge

check-for-shallow-water

Maybe that’s the problem.

Perhaps it’s better to commit to wading instead.

Ship, sure. Not the giant life-changing, risk-it-all-venture, but the small.

When you do a small thing, when you finish it, polish it, put it into the world, you’ve made something. You’ve committed and you’ve finished.

And then you can do it again, but louder. And larger.

It’s easy to be afraid of taking a plunge, because, after all, plunging is dangerous. And the fear is a safe way to do nothing at all.

Wading, on the other hand, gets under the radar. It gives you a chance to begin.

 

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Its not that easy to transmit Ebola

Transmission

LStopping the Ebola Outbreak Infographic

Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses has not yet been identified, the manner in which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, researchers believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal.

When an infection does occur in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
  • infected animals
  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.

During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves and eye protection.

Dedicated medical equipment (preferable disposable, when possible) should be used by healthcare personnel providing patient care. Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate sterilization of the instruments, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.

Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. Abstinence from sex (including oral sex) is recommended for at least 3 months. If abstinence is not possible, condoms may help prevent the spread of disease.

 

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Modern slavery and the role of business

By

Anti-Slavery Day is celebrated on October 18th. Yet, over 200 years since William Wilberforce was responsible for its abolition, 29.8 million people are still estimated to be enslaved world-wide. Slavery in corporate supply chains conflicts with running a responsible business, one that is based on ethical values such as dignity, justice, fairness, equality, integrity, respect, and responsibility.

Those in modern slavery are ‘owned’ by their employers. They may also be controlled through a variety of means including large recruitment debts that they are unable to pay back, or threats of harm if they try to leave. Victims are frequently moved from one country to another, in a practice known as ‘human trafficking’, an equivalent of the slave trade of the past. This sometimes involved being deceived into believing that they are heading towards a better life, whereas the reality is cruelly different. The business role in slavery

There are many NGOs which work to combat the slavery and human trafficking, especially of children. But business has a role to play. While slavery is illegal globally, evidence suggests that it still occurs in every country, with certain sectors of even developed economies remaining particularly vulnerable. The risks affect most industries, however electronics and high-tech, steel and automobiles, agriculture and seafood, mining and minerals, garments and textiles, and shipping and transportation are all especially vulnerable.

Underpaying workers can encourage slavery

The ILO estimates forced labour leads to $150 billion in profits every year – more than the annual profits of the entire US banking industry or Google. And while certain countries are more at risk to slavery than others no country is immune to the problem, with the Global Slavery Index 2013 suggesting that “between 4,200 – 4,600 people in modern slavery in the United Kingdom alone”.

Business has a role to play in negating the tolerance of slavery. Complex labour supply chains can allow forced labour to thrive. Whether knowingly or not, some companies with significant presence in the UK, rely on people working in slavery to produce the goods they sell, or have supply chains that can encourage traffickers. Complex sub-contracting and supply chains managed by agents often obscure this involvement.

Of course, no company condones slavery. Many have a human rights policy or a code of ethics (or equivalent) specifically for their suppliers which gives guidance on the expected behaviours based on ethical values. This often formalises the requirement that they do not support slavery or forced labour.

However, a written commitment is not enough. When companies with long supply chains do not make sufficient checks or ask enough questions far enough down the system, it is more likely slavery will go undetected. Supply chain audits are one possible solution for increasing supply chain transparency. But even when auditing does occur, it can be insufficient. One problem is that audit pathways follow products, not people, so they tend to miss the areas of the labour supply chain that pose the most risk.

Business is culpable

The way in which companies operate can affect the likelihood of slavery. For example, a large order combined with a short turnaround time, beyond the supplier’s capacity, could increase the risk of slavery as they may feel forced to subcontract work to factories or workers not regulated by the same standards as themselves. Such time-sensitive situations are most evident with agricultural harvest or imminent construction deadlines.

Underpaying workers in the supply chain can also encourage slavery practices. In 2014 the Guardian released a documentary revealing the working conditions on tea plantations in India that supply Tata Global Beverages, producer of Tetley in the UK. The report claimed workers who were paid significantly below the local minimum wage were consequently vulnerable to being targeted by traffickers who would lure them with promises of a better life whereas the intention was to sell them into slavery.

Slavery by its very nature is a covert practice, and so may be difficult to uncover in formal audits. But there are circumstances where it may be wise to dig deeper. The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply states that modern slavery is more likely to flourish in the following instances:

  • Workers have fewer protections through inadequate laws and regulations, weak or non-existent enforcement, and poor business and government accountability
  • There are high levels of poverty among workers
  • There is widespread discrimination against certain types of workers (e.g. women and ethnic groups)
  • There is widespread use of migrant/ casual workers
  • Conflict zones
  • In some specific high risk industries (typically industries involving raw materials).

The risk to business

The reputational damage which organisations face if exposed as having slavery within their supply chain has been well documented. Companies risk losing consumer confidence and market share if they are found to be sourcing from suppliers which use exploitative labour. It has been suggested that such consumer action against companies linked to slavery costs those implicated £2.6bn a year.

Forced labour is more common in conflict zones

Companies and individual employees may also face legal repercussions if their suppliers are involved in illegal conduct, even if it happens abroad. With the Modern Slavery Bill, the UK government is creating new responsibilities for businesses to ensure that their supply chains are free of forced labour. This means that businesses could be required to disclose steps they have taken to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains.

A track record which indicates that procurement is based on ethical as well as commercial considerations can encourage investment in a company. It can also improve employee morale as well as exceed legal requirements. Beyond the reputational and legal risks, companies need to address this problem for ethical reasons: it is the right thing to do. No brand wishes to include bonded labour as its USP.

An ethical approach

NGO Anti-Slavery International suggest that rather than focusing solely on auditing and compliance, companies should work with their suppliers and take a genuine approach to partnership. An ethical approach would be to make it clear to suppliers that if forced labour is identified at their sites the contract will not necessarily be terminated immediately. Instead companies could offer to work with their suppliers to build their skills in identifying and addressing forced labour issues. This would help combat the problem rather than just pushing it deeper underground.

Customers – whether large businesses or consumers – have a responsibility to those enslaved. Our desire for more, cheaper, quicker and ‘no questions asked’ products may mean someone, somewhere, loses their right to freedom.

 

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IEEE Technology Time Machine: Symposium on Technologies Beyond 2035

IEEE TTM 2014

Conference Overview

The IEEE TTM 2014 is the third organized Symposium on future technologies to globally predict the interplay science, technology, society, and economics may have on one another. Multiple future technologies will be discussed interactively between attendees and speakers. IEEE is bringing world renowned experts to present a 2035 vision for each of the six areas described below. Two expert challengers will further examine the vision and provide a discourse that extends to participant roundtable discussions followed by an interactive readout for all to partake in. The participant conclusions reached will be edited to create a series of formal white papers through the assistance of experienced science and innovation journalists.

IEEE TTM 2014 flyer (PDF, 185 KB)

For inquiries, please contact ttminfo@ieee.org.

 

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Apple, Facebook To Women Employees: Keep Working, We’ll Pay To Freeze Your Eggs

53a049b474dbf_-_cos-01-freezing-eggs-deFacebook and Apple AAPL -1.06% have both announced an uncommon program to help their women employees lean all the way in. The tech giants will now cover the cost of egg-freezing treatments for women (and their male partners) who want to delay their family plans in favor of advancing their careers.

Facebook began their program in January of this year, and Apple will begin offering the perk in early 2015. The oocyte cryopreservation procedure currently costs an estimated $10,000, with an average additional cost of $500 per year to maintain frozen egg storage. The companies, NBC News reports, will each offer up to $20,000 for the procedure under their health benefit programs for fertility and surrogacy.

The earlier a woman undergoes egg freezing treatments, the greater chance she has at harvesting fertile eggs, which is why women under the age of 30 tend to have greater success in becoming pregnant. As more women choose to pursue careers over families in their late twenties and early thirties, however, they face the obstacle of their diminishing potential to become pregnant later in life. In highly-competitive and thriving Silicon Valley in particular, young women are steadily becoming a larger part of the workforce and are choosing to dedicate their young adulthood to getting ahead in their careers. One cited reason for America’s gender pay gap is that women fall behind men in their careers when they take time off to raise children. This often happens during a point in their lives when their earning potential is about to climb much higher, which puts women at a disadvantage when they re-enter the workforce. Facebook and Apple, then, are providing an opportunity for women have more choices for family planning and therefore rise up more easily within company ranks.

A Bloomberg Businessweek cover story earlier this year pondered the benefits of freezing one’s eggs in order to free one’s career. Author Emma Rosenblum posited, “Imagine a world in which life isn’t dictated by a biological clock. If a 25-year-old banks her eggs and, at 35, is up for a huge promotion, she can go for it wholeheartedly without worrying about missing out on having a baby. She can also hold out for the man or woman of her dreams.”

There is undoubtedly a huge corporate benefit to this program as well, as Apple and Facebook are less likely to temporarily lose young, hungry female employees to child-rearing. In the fierce competition for talent in Silicon Valley, Facebook and Apple were already winners, but this new move to support the family and career goals of its employees may put them even farther in the lead for attracting career-driven women.

 

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Energy Industry Eyes U.S. East Coast For Offshore Drilling

By EMERY P. DALESIO

NORTH CAROLINA COAST

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Fossil fuel and wind power companies are focusing on America’s East Coast as a coming energy hub and industry representatives said Thursday they want politicians to ease up regulatory restraints in return for the promise of jobs and tax revenues.

Oil companies looking for new sources are blocked from West Coast drilling due to political opposition, while politicians in the Southeast are welcoming, said API offshore policy adviser Andy Radford.

The Democratic governors of California, Oregon and Washington this summer stressed to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel that they oppose drilling off their coasts. The federal agency is updating which federal waters would be open for companies to explore and drill for oil and gas starting in 2017. Drilling was not worth the risk of another disaster like the 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara, California, the West Coast governors said.

“The political realities are that there’s going to be no opportunities for drilling in that area in the near future,” Radford said at an energy conference in Wilmington. “Here on the Atlantic coast, the reason for industry interest is because the elected officials in these states, it’s bipartisan up and down the coast.”

A coalition of governors along the Gulf Coast and Southeast who support offshore drilling is chaired by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory said besides the prospect of good jobs and business profits, more states should contribute to building American energy independence from foreign imports by allowing drilling.

“We are hypocrites in North Carolina if we expect to get all our energy from somewhere else and just expect that our hands are clean in this whole thing,” he said.

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said big increases in fossil fuel production in recent years already have lowered U.S. gasoline prices despite wars and instability in the Middle East. He wants favorable regulations, permission to drill on federal land, undersea seismic testing to find promising oil and gas deposits and the inclusion of underwater fields off the Southeast in the Interior Department’s coming five-year offshore leasing plan.

“Will we invest out there? Won’t we invest out there? How big is the resource? Today we don’t know,” Gerard said.

Outside the convention center, protesters demonstrated against the pollution risk of oil drilling. Comments by Gerard and McCrory inside were interrupted by protesters.

The petroleum industry’s promise that it can operate alongside existing tourism and fishing industries is undercut by the continuing effects of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, said Andrew Menaquale, an energy analyst for the conservation group Oceana in Washington, D.C.

“I think they should take a trip down to the Gulf Cost and talk to people who were employed in fishing, who were employed in tourism, and see how that oil spill is affecting them four-plus-years later,” he said. “The fact of the matter is it only takes one accident to cost a lot of people jobs and billions of dollars in damages.”

He thinks politicians should encourage offshore clusters of wind farms. Waters more than 10 miles off the North Carolina coast are projected to have among the country’s highest potential for profitable wind energy generation. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management two months ago identified one ocean tract off Kitty Hawk and two others off Wilmington where wind turbines can be built.

 

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Obama’s ‘myRA’ Accounts This Fall May Alter Your Retirement Plans


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3 Factors to Consider When Planning for an IRA

Important changes are coming this fall for what’s become one of the biggest concerns of the era: affording retirement.

Those who are saving for retirement and meticulously troubleshooting tax obstacles may want to restructure their plans. While members of Congress continue to battle over the budget, the Obama administration is preparing to roll out “myRA” savings accounts – IRA accounts – for those who do not currently have access to one.

When the “myRA” account reaches a certain amount, fledgling savers can roll it into a regular IRA account; different states will have their own guidelines. However, some of the benefits of existing savings options could be in peril, says financial advisor Jake Lowrey, president of Lowrey Financial Group, (www.lowreyfinancial.com).

Those include some of the tax advantages of retirement accounts currently enjoyed by higher-income workers. Some Roth IRA owners may also lose their exemption from required minimum distributions, or RMDs, while IRAs totaling less than six figures could see RMDs disappear.  

“There will be many people who’ll be unhappy about the changes and that’s understandable, but some may help our country avoid an avalanche of retirees facing poverty,” Lowrey says.

In just 15 years – 2030 – the last of the baby boomers will have reached 65. That means one of every five Americans will be of retirement age, according to the Pew Research Center’s population projections.

“Most people simply don’t know how to plan for retirement, and that’s made even more challenging with the changing government policies,” says Lowrey.

He offers guidance on choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA as a retirement savings vehicle.

•  Traditional IRAs and Deductibility: For either traditional or Roth IRAs, it’s all a matter of how one prefers to be taxed. Generally speaking, the money you deposit in a traditional IRA isn’t taxed that year, and whatever earnings you have on your contributions won’t be taxed until you withdraw that money as a retiree.  So, if you earn $40,000 in one year and put $3,000 of it in an IRA, your taxable income drops to $37,000. The deposit will grow tax-free through the years. If you withdraw any before age 59½, you’ll face a penalty. After that, you can withdraw and the money will be taxed as earned income.

•  Roth IRAs, Exemptions and No RMDs: Roth IRA contributions are never deductible. You pay taxes on the money when you earn it, just like any other income. The benefit of a Roth is that when the owners decide to withdraw from it after age 59½, they will not be faced with any taxes. In other words, the Roth offers tax-exempt rather than tax-deferred savings. Also, traditional IRA rules include required minimum distributions (RMDs). With a traditional IRA, you must begin to take RMDs by April 1 of the year following the year you reach age 70.5, but that isn’t the case with a Roth IRA.

•  The Best of Both Worlds? Naturally, IRA owners want to chart a path in which they’re penalized with taxes the least. It may be possible to cushion one’s retirement savings against future tax increases by converting some of an IRA to a Roth and earn tax-free gains going forward.

“Converting to a Roth will make sense for many people, and if you’re eligible to contribute to both types of IRAs, you may divide contributions between a Roth and traditional IRA,” Lowrey says. “But the total contributions to both must not surpass the limit for that tax year.”

About Jake Lowrey

Jake Lowrey is a financial consultant and president of Lowery Financial Group, (www.lowreyfinancial.com), an ethical and professional firm that guides clients to retirement success, including planning for long-term care needs. As a relationship-driven organization, Lowrey and his team educate clients about the newest, most progressive retirement and long-term care planning strategies to assure a brighter financial future.

 

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