ASA investigates agent over number of homes sold

first_imgA recent complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has highlighted the perils for agents of incorrectly using sales data taken from Rightmove’s Intel tool.The case involves an estate agent in Leicestershire who was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for using a ‘misleading’ leaflet that used Rightmove data to claim that it had sold six properties in a specific postcode.Sales and letting agent CHQ Properties, which is based in the town of Shepshed just outside Loughborough and was set up two years ago, came to the attention of the Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards Services after it used a flyer distributed to homes in the LE11 central Loughborough postcode that included the claim ‘after selling six properties last week surely the best way of selling your property is with us’.Within its complaint to the ASA, CHQ Properties was challenged on whether it had really sold that number of properties in LE11 between 27 October and 2 November last year, as claimed.Trading Standards believed the flyer was misleading because it did not make clear which postcodes were included in the comparison, and that CHQ had not sold any properties in LE11 during that period.CHQ was told that in future it must provide more details about the data used when it made claims  of this sort, particularly when and which postcodes data related to, and that it should attribute a source, which in the original case was Rightmove. The case was closed on an informal basis.advertising standards authority CHQ Properties Trading Standards March 2, 2017Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Agencies & People » ASA investigates agent over number of homes sold previous nextRegulation & LawASA investigates agent over number of homes soldFlyer published by Leicestershire sales and letting agent is reported to watchdog by Trading StandardsNigel Lewis2nd March 20170809 Viewslast_img read more

Four key conveyancing firms are revolting!

first_imgHome » News » Associations & Bodies » Four key conveyancing firms are revolting! previous nextAssociations & BodiesFour key conveyancing firms are revolting!The four suppliers of conveyancing information and services have set up a breakaway industry association.Nigel Lewis7th January 202001,317 Views The usually quiet world of conveyancing is changing after the four main players within the industry revealed that they have set up a new industry association.Groundsure, Landmark, Tide (part of Anglian Water) and Searchflow have jointly established the Conveyancing Information Executive (CIE) and left the two other organisations, the Council of Property Search Organisations and The Property Codes Compliance Board.The breakaway may sound like a storm in a teacup to many agents, but the four companies involved in setting up the executive say they believe the industry needs a new organisation as technology rapidly takes over the delivery of conveyancing in the UK.Several government initiatives including the Land Registry’s Digital Street initiative and the ongoing digitisation of local searches, mean ‘big data’ is now a key issue within conveyancing.Data standardsIn a statement to The Negotiator, the organisations involved said: “CIE Directors share a belief that the future of property data due diligence lies in the application of technology to big data, more robust data standards, transparency and openness around data integrity and working with the wider industry to deliver the solutions of the future.”The four go on to say that all members will adhere to the Conveyancing Information Executive Standards as its member’s regulatory guide, and will also be required to use The Property Ombudsman to deal with any consumer redress matters using Conveyancing Information Executive Standards in just the same way as they may have done historically for the Search Code.“The CIE is currently in discussions with a number of organisations and look forward to announcing additional new members in due course,” they have said.All four companies involved are giants within the conveyancing world. Groundsure provides environmental searches; Landmark is the key mover in land and property data; Anglian is the largest water company in the UK by coverage and Searchflow is a major online supplier of conveyancing quotes and other services.    Anglian Waters Tide Conveyancing Information Executive Landmark Searchflow January 7, 2020Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021last_img read more

Faster sales loom as Land Registry green lights electronic signatures

first_imgThe Land Registry has given the green light to faster property sales after making the historic announcement that it is to accept electronic signatures across a wide range of property transactions.This includes for property sales, leases, mortgages and other property dealings.Talked about for years, the tech has been brought forward by the needs of Covid and social distancing, the organisation says.Electronic signatures will have to be ‘witnessed’ by someone present at the time it takes place, and the process requires a conveyancer to upload the deed or lease to an online platform which sends a link to the signatories.Once they have completed the necessary authentication checks, they then ‘sign’ the document electronically in the physical presence of the witness who then also signs.The conveyancer is then notified that the signing process has been concluded and, once they have completed on the deed, submits the completed document to HM Land Registry with their application for registration.Strict requirement“What we have done today is remove the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction,” says Simon Hayes, Chief Land Registrar.“This should help right now while lots of us are working at home, but it is also a keystone of a truly digital, secure and more efficient conveyancing process that we believe is well within reach.”Adam Forshaw (left), MD at leading tech-driven conveyancers, O’Neill Patient, says: “his is a significant step forward for homebuyers, as it means that in principle the entire homebuying journey can now be conducted electronically.“Even before the advent of Covid-19 and social distancing, there was significant demand for a more tech-driven process.  But one of the biggest problems facing the property sector in lockdown was the ongoing requirement for ‘wet-ink’ signatures.”Read more about electronic signatures.adam forshaw O’Neill Patient Simon Hayes covid Land Registry July 28, 2020Nigel LewisOne commentAndrew Stanton, CEO Proptech-PR Real Estate Influencer & Journalist CEO Proptech-PR Real Estate Influencer & Journalist 29th July 2020 at 7:57 amSlowly, slowly the wheel of change moves, Covid-19 has awoken all to the fact that digital is all, and the efficiency it brings is second to none. Yesterday co-incidentally, I was going online and reading through legal publications / digital blogs, Todays Conveyancer, Inside Conveyancing, Legal Futures, Law Gazette etc, all had articles on the end of ‘wet ink’ signatures, but I was struck by how antiquated and closed up the legal industry still is.There were debates about how safe it was to move away from pen and paper, the dangers of identity theft caused by digital, it was for me very disappointing, and I think this sector is about to be hit by a tidal wave of problems as it is so entrenched on ‘doing things’ slowly.Luckily, the click click, I want it now movement the maturing 26 year old plus Gen-Z will just push this old school mentality aside, hunting out digitally good legal practices who have invested and modernised.After all a digital signature at land registry at the end of a conveyancing matter is all well and good, but if the sale took three months to go through as the solicitor or conveyancer works in an office reminiscent of days gone by, then progress will remain slow. Time for some joined up thinking and action.Log in to ReplyWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Home » News » Faster sales loom as Land Registry green lights electronic signatures previous nextProptechFaster sales loom as Land Registry green lights electronic signaturesLand Registry says needs of Covid led it to take historic decision to bring forward electronic signatures for a wide range of different property transactions.Nigel Lewis28th July 20201 Comment1,364 Viewslast_img read more

Gordon Brown to deliver Romanes lecture

first_imgNumber 10 has confirmed that Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be giving the auspicious Romanes lecture in Oxford on Friday.The lecture is delivered annually by a figure of high public note and has been running since 1892.More detail soon.last_img

EPA Administrator Wheeler and White House CEQ Chairman Neumayr Honor Over 200 Teachers And…

first_imgFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailShare U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman Mary Neumayr announced the 2019 awardees of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) during an awards ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.“The Presidential Environmental Education Awards Ceremony is a day I look forward to each year because it is a time when we honor some of the best and brightest in environmental education and stewardship,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This year, CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr joined me in celebrating our 200 student and teacher winners who represent excellence in environmental protection. Congratulations and thank you to all our winners for their dedication to protecting human health and the environment.”“It was a pleasure to join Administrator Wheeler today as we recognized the achievements of students and teachers from across the country who are promoting environmental stewardship and furthering environmental education in their communities and schools,” said CEQ Chairman Neumayr. “These students are our nation’s next generation of leaders and are doing outstanding work.”From across the country, 19 educators and 200 students were recognized for their remarkable efforts that promote environmental education and stewardship. Eleven educators received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and eight educators were recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Additionally, the 200 student award recipients – who worked as a team or individually on 17 projects – received the President’s Environmental Youth Award.  Altogether, EPA received 162 project applications from 26 states.Teacher and student awardees presented their projects at a poster session for attendees and EPA leadership, and EPA program offices hosted the “EPA Student Information Fair,” during which students and teachers interacted with staff to learn more about the agency’s work.Established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, the PEYA program promotes local environmental awareness among our nation’s youth and encourages positive community involvement. EPA Headquarters works with staff located in EPA’s 10 regional offices in the selection of award recipients across the country.Also established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, PIAEE supports, encourages and nationally honors outstanding kindergarten through high school educators who integrate environmental and place-based, experiential learning into school curricula and school facility management across the country. Under the act, the White House CEQ assists EPA in administering the awards program.The PIAEE program seeks to recognize, support and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects performed by these innovative teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning. The program recognizes up to 20 elementary and secondary (K-12) education teachers, school administrators, and their local education agencies and provides funding to help support those educators in their environmental education work.PIAEE Winners:Region 2Aaron BakerHigh Point Regional High SchoolSussex, New JerseyAnnMarie MillsIslip Middle SchoolIslip, New YorkRegion 3Brittany L. BauerWyoming County East High SchoolNew Richmond, West VirginiaJared FritzingerOld Donation SchoolVirginia Beach, VirginiaRegion 4Nancy PlattJames B. Edwards Elementary SchoolMount Pleasant, South CarolinaCarrie Settles LiversBrookwood High SchoolSnellville, GeorgiaRegion 5Jennifer A. HeyerCedar Ridge Elementary SchoolEden Prairie, MinnesotaRegion 6Ryan D. BeelerSpring Woods High SchoolHouston, TexasRegion 8Amy R. WilliamsPolson Middle SchoolPolson, MontanaRegion 9Jacqueline OmaniaOxford Elementary SchoolBerkeley, CaliforniaRegion 10Anne K. McHughFranklin High SchoolPortland, OregonThe following teachers were recognized as PIAEE honorable mention recipients:Region 3Matthew SturdivantOdyssey Charter SchoolWilmington, DelawareRegion 4Missy EasonPine Grove Elementary SchoolValdosta, GeorgiaElaine FioreBeachside Montessori VillageHollywood, FloridaRegion 6Isabel AnayaCharles L. Kuentz, Jr. Elementary SchoolHelotes, TexasAllison AdkinsonTarver-Rendon Elementary SchoolBurleson, TexasRegion 8Caitlin WebbDixon SchoolDixon, MontanaRegion 9Rachna NathArizona College Preparatory – Erie CampusChandler, ArizonaKelly PorterEdison High SchoolHuntington Beach, CaliforniaPEYA Winners:Region 1Award Category: Grade 6-12  Generation GrowersTeam Members: Ava, Ella, Lila, Claire, Amelia, Madeleine, Beckett, Teaghan, Colby, Isabelle, Teddy, Lydia, Michael, Keigan, Annie, Carina, Emma, Sinead, Evan, Spencer, Lucy, Addison, Joey, Melanie, Gabby, Stella, Brooke, Ellie, Natalie, Olivia, and NellMassachusettsRegion 2Award Category: Grade 6-12Light and Hope for Puerto Ricoby SalvadorPuerto RicoRegion 3 Award Category: Grade 6-12  Friends of the EarthTeam Members: Sebastian, Hannaha, Destany, Zoe, Myranda, Emily, Hailey, Taylor, David, Nathan, Hailey, Brenda, Amy, Angela, and BryceWest VirginiaRegion 4Award Category: Grade K-5 Bobcat Up! Reduce, Reuse, RecycleTeam Members: Ben, Kayla, Eva, Gabriela, and SabrinaFloridaAward Category: Grade 6-12 The Fishes Wishesby RyanFloridaRegion 5Award Category: Grade K-5Recycling Trailblazer by LaneOhioAward Category: Grade 6-12Aquatic Robotics/Invasive Species EducationTeam Members: Robert, Zakari, Brooklyn, James, Jack, Arnold, Ernest, Kevin, Carly, and KirbyMinnesotaRegion 6Award Category: Grade K-5Harveyville Recycling TeamTeam Members: Ahmad, Reyna, Marley, Jayleen, Jamie, Sophia, Evelyn, Aiden, Mario, Zevin, Kaitlyn, and EstrellaTexasAward Category: Grade 6-12Northern Bobwhite Quail Reintroduction Project by TrevorTexasRegion 7Award Category: Grade K-5Getting Markers Out of Landfills by JoslynNebraskaAward Category: Grade 6-12Pollinator ParadiseTeam Members: Drake, Evan, Zachary, Peyton, Abigail, Riley, Katherine, Wyatt, Carlei, Elaine, Lucas, Makayla, Calvin, Zoe, Grant, Lindy, Alexander, Elijah, Zachariah, Carson, Evan, Madison, Cohen, Katie, Alexandria, Haley, Josephine, Joseph, Cale, Rose, William, Chase, Eliana, Peyton, Ashton, Alexander, James, Gwendolyn, Gavin, Caiden, Colby, Jack, Elsa, Jane, James, Hope, Liam, Landry, Sawyer, Sierra, Katelyn, Jackson, Karter, William, Bryson, Alex, Will, Henry, Audri, Abigail, Isaac, Dakota, Jillian, Vincent, Lilian, Landon, Kyah, Joshua, Hallie, Henry, Noah, Cohen, Emma, Gage, Cason, Liliana, Caiden, Kalie, Gracie, Annabelle, Mason, and ConnorMissouriRegion 8Award Category: Grade K-5Green Team SuperheroesTeam Members: Aiden, Brady, Henry, Jackson, Alyssa, Madison, Annikah, Reagan, Samuel, Campbell, Julianne, Dillon, GenevieveColoradoAward Category: Grade 6-12Development of a Novel Tool for Monitoring Soil Health and Contamination by KylanColoradoRegion 9Award Category: Grade K-5Whalemanji: Welcome to the Ocean – an integrated project to help support the Humpback WhaleTeam Members: Electra, Luke, Rocco, Robert, Tej, Kinsey, Samantha, Kadence, Emilia, Luc, Isabelle, Izaak, Madison, Cisco, Cavan, Elyse, and NashCaliforniaAward Category: Grade 6-12The Healthy Freedom CampaignTeam Members: Lila, Zion, Felix, Kohana, and NikitaCaliforniaRegion 10Award Category: Grade K-5Worm Soup and Growing GreenTeam Members: Kamryn, Samantha, Aaron, and EmelynWashingtonAward Category: Grade 6-12Restoration and Preservation of Deer Creek in the Aftermath of the Beaver Creek Fire by HunterIdaholast_img read more

Design course opens students’ eyes to ‘plant blindness’

first_imgJust beyond the old iron gates of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, a creative experiment in pedagogy has been bringing the concept of plant sciences to growing, changing life.For three years now, master’s degree candidates in “Field Methods and Living Collections,” led by Rosetta S. Elkin of the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Arboretum’s William “Ned” Friedman, have used social theory and a methodology that examines plant evolution, morphology, built neighborhoods, and landscape design to address “plant blindness” — the human tendency to take plants for granted, reducing them to a green fuzz in the background.“There is quite a history of human exceptionalism, and that we are the absolute species. On Maslow’s ladder [the hierarchy of needs] … plants were so low they barely made the rung. The whole class hinges on this diagnosis of plant blindness, that people assume that plants are just there, and they will always be there,” said Elkin, an associate professor of landscape architecture and faculty fellow at the Arboretum.Yet, “We’re an entirely plant-dependent species. Plants were here way before we were; they will be here way after. They move, grow, communicate, behave, and adapt in magnificent ways and have a very different relationship with time. Once you start to appreciate that, the world around you does become a little more articulated,” she said.,Plants can be bellwethers of environmental risk, which often is overlooked by urbanists or architects focused on parcels of land whose confines are determined by economics or politics. High risk from and to the environment, such as drought, transcends manmade boundaries, however. This means that studying the effects of climate change requires acknowledging that where ecology is at risk, so is all of the area that the local environment defines, Elkin said.Plants, as living, growing, slowly mobile life forms, are in both harmonious and conflictual existence with humans. It’s a complex dichotomy that is constantly shifting, said Friedman, the director of the Arnold Arboretum and Arnold professor of organismic and evolutionary biology. But the relationship goes beyond the barriers of our intentions — reducing plants to objects of food, or shade, or decorative beauty.“One of the most important goals of the course is to break down the dangerous assumption that plants are an extension of the human condition — that we can relate to plants if we humanize them, make them seem like us or exist merely to serve us,” Friedman said. “The goal is for students to begin to meet plants on their terms and initiate a lifelong process of understanding these non-human living organisms through the repeated acts of observation and reflection. They are going to spend their professional lives doing things that involve the use of plants in design, but they don’t necessarily have a relationship with plants.”,The course not only helps shape the careers of design students, but uses the Arboretum in a new way. Friedman said he hopes that years from now the collaboration will successfully reflect, through the designers’ work, personal and deep relationships with plants that began at the park.The class is also specifically geared to both master’s in design students (M.Des.) in the risk and resilience concentration and students in the Department of Landscape Architecture. As a collaboration, it grew in part from the way Elkin’s interests resonated with Friedman’s scientific studies.The Arboretum’s living collection is an important teaching tool for Elkin. For five years, she brought students from her introduction to ecology class to the Arboretum, and that ignited her desire to create the field methods course.“We walked, and I showed them the real thing, instead of them just using a Google image,” she said. “Students can’t just google the generic idea of a maple. There is a world-renowned maple collection right here, it’s amazing. They are alive and changing like we are. You can experience more than 60 species of maples in the world any time of year.”One day each week during the fall term, students went with Elkin and Friedman into the Arboretum and examined the habitat. Discussions and experiments centered on research and theory both in the field and in on-site classrooms and laboratories. Arboretum staff, including keeper of the living collections Michael Dosmann, propagation manager Tiffany Enzenbacher, horticulture manager Andrew Gapinski, and horticulturalist Conor Guidarelli, also shared their expertise.Elkin said that for students raised in a technological age, the act of seeing, touching, and even smelling plants can be life-changing.“We are out on the grounds excavating a root system of a tree and they’re just mesmerized,” Friedman said. “Many of them have never held a root in their hand, never looked at a flower very carefully, never even thought about tree architecture the study of plant form. We’re opening their eyes.”Students were also encouraged to maintain abstract ideas by looking at what appear to be chaotic elements of nature — such as intertwined root systems through which members of the same species communicate, what instructors referred to as a “perfection of complexity.”Pablo Escudero took the class in 2017 and was so inspired by the interdisciplinary interests that he became Elkin’s research assistant. Last fall, he was the teaching fellow.“What I’ve been trying to ask ever since I took the course is, what would design look like if we acknowledge the importance that plants play in the making of our environment?” he said. “When a class allows you to ask questions that shake disciplinary foundations, that means it is relevant.”The other strength was moving the class from the GSD to the Arboretum, Escudero said.“The setting is very relevant to the learning experience,” he said. “It is the only class I have taken at the GSD that has this type of collaboration. It’s awesome, it’s completely outside of the world of GSD and campus, it’s amazing to be out there.”,For the final class, students presented their group projects to reviewers including Richard Forman, GSD research professor of advanced environmental studies emeritus; Sharon Harper, Harvard professor of visual and environmental studies; Margaret Grose, senior lecturer of landscape architecture at the University of Melbourne; and Loeb Fellow Michiel Van Iersel from the GSD.Using multimedia, drone videos, photography, visual scanning, soil and root analysis, excavation, mapping, models, and even a bucket truck that took them to the treetops, students looked at variability and the connection between observation and meaning. Their projects examined the impact of microclimates on organisms; the science of encounter and collaboration between humans and plants; and even plant mortality, using “smell boxes” to explore tree forensics.“Death is provocative, there is so much aliveness in it,” said Elkin. “The notion of living collections can be applied to so much of what we do. That a collection is not a static artifact, it is very much alive, as it ought to be, even in death.”GSD student Amy Thornton is interested in design scientifically informed by partnerships between humans and the natural environment. She said the field methods class was a small window of opportunity for full-sensory learning outside of the classroom space or computer-based learning environment.“I welcomed this opportunity and wonder how many faculty in the natural sciences and in landscape architecture crave that hands-on, land-based study, which we seem to be losing,” she said. “It’s important to be out in the natural world, experiencing it intimately, and making discoveries.”last_img read more

NY Announces New Visitation Guidelines For Adult Care Facilities

first_imgAnn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 ALBANY — New York State announced a revision to its visitation guidelines for assisted care facilities.Under the new guidance, visitation will be allowed in adult care facilities after a 14-day period following no new confirmed staff or resident COVID-19 cases.Nursing homes still require a 28-day period without COVID-19 cases before visitation is allowed.Stephen Hanse, who heads the state health facilities and assisted living associations, called the new policies thoughtful and a true safeguard for residents, staff and visitors. He also said he is hopeful that a similar plan will soon be implemented for skilled nursing facilities.Nearly 6,500 residents have died or likely died of COVID-19 at nursing homes as of this week, according to state Department of Health data. The state’s data also includes at least 177 deaths among residents of adult care homes.The state hasn’t reported how many nursing home and assisted living residents have died at hospitals, or how many residents tested positive for COVID-19. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

SOUTHCOM honors, bids farewell to Peruvian Liaison Officer

By Dialogo December 20, 2013 Peruvian Army Colonel Carlos O. Rios was honored on December 19 by SOUTHCOM Commander, Marine General John F. Kelly, with the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his contributions to the United States Southern Command community during his tenure as Partner Nation Liaison Officer for Peru, from February 2012 – February 2014. Gen. Kelly congratulated Col. Rios for his “very successful tour” in Miami, and highlighted the importance of his leadership and devotion to duty as “instrumental” to strategic-level meetings in Peru and the United States during visits from the Peruvian Secretary of Defense, the Peruvian Ambassador to the United States and the Joint Chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces, among other achievements. “His Partner Nation insight contributed to different viewpoints, allowing for better understanding among partners,” read the award. But the Commander also reflected on the fact that it was an opportunity to say goodbye to good friends and wish them well in their next assignments. “We especially want to congratulate Col. Rios on his selection for promotion to Brigadier General of the Peruvian Army,” he said. For his part, the colonel, who was accompanied by his wife, his baby daughter and his mother –who traveled from Peru to attend the ceremony– expressed his thanks to the entire SOUTHCOM staff, but specifically to Gen. Kelly; U.S. Air Force Major General and SOUTHCOM Chief of Staff Mark C. Rowland; his colleagues, the Partner Nation Liaison Officers for Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Canada; and his family. “I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to you and all your staff for the hospitality and all your support provided to me, my country and my family during my time in this important command,” he said. Col. Rios recounted some of the memories he takes back, which include the excellent professional teamwork shown in achieving common goals, SOUTHCOM’s extraordinary solidarity and support, and the rich and positive relationships built with members of different sections within and out of the Command. SOUTHCOM’s Partner Nation Liaison Program was set up in 1998, with the focus of establishing links with United States’ partner nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean as a conduit to foster a better understanding of missions and tactics, facilitate the ability to integrate and synchronize operations, assist in the transfer of vital information, enhance mutual trust, and develop an increased level of teamwork read more

Pew report critiques Salmonella outbreak response

first_img The PSP’s findings and recommendations are based on an extensive view of outbreak-related public records, including those of the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and congressional hearings. The authors of the 32-page report said in a press release that their goal was to frame questions for public health officials who will review the response to the outbreak, a probe that congressional leaders and produce industry representatives have requested. The PSP is based at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Problems with coordination and capacityAnother shortcoming that came to light was a lack of organization, capacity, and coordination that hurt the effectiveness of the outbreak response, the PSP authors report. They state that their review of the outbreak raises questions as to whether public health agencies shared data in a timely manner and whether poor communication between the agencies could have delayed the identification of peppers as the vehicle for Salmonella contamination. At a House subcommittee hearing on the Salmonella outbreak in late July, David Acheson, MD, the FDA’s associate commissioner of foods, said that the FDA, in proposing its Food Protection Plan last fall, asked for 10 specific legislative authorities, according to a previous report. Of those, “probably the one that’s most important is the one that requires preventive controls [in food production and processing]. That’s absolutely critical across the board,” he said. Jim O’Hara, director of the PSP, said in the statement that the problems identified in the report are nothing new. “Many of these problems have been identified for years by expert body after expert body,” he said. “If we pass up this opportunity to learn from this most recent outbreak, we will keep repeating the same costly mistakes—for public health and industry alike.” However, the document also notes that the FDA’s attempts to enact produce safety regulations as part of its 2007 Food Protection Plan, using its existing authority, have been ignored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Problems with coordination and capacity showed up in the CDC’s epidemic curve (“epi curve”), the report maintains. When the FDA issued its nationwide advisory about tomatoes on Jun 7, officials originally reported that 145 people had been infected at that time, but the epi curve they issued later showed that more than 800 people—55% of the outbreak total—had illness onsets before that date. Also, the CDC acknowledged that the delays in reporting cases were a sign that response capacity was strained. According to the report, state public health departments acted quickly to respond and inform the CDC, but the CDC could have acted more quickly to inform the FDA, which is responsible for leading multi-agency and trace-back investigations. Also, big, multistate investigations such as the S Saintpaul outbreak reveal a disconnect between the epidemiological and trace-back efforts. Nov 17 Produce Safety Project press release Who has power to mandate produce safety?During the outbreak, FDA officials said mandatory safety controls for produce were needed, but they were waiting on Congress to give them the authority. However, the PSP report says the FDA has used its existing statutory authority before to set Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations: in 1995 for seafood and in 2001 for juice. The report says the FDA has also proposed on-farm safety measures for shell eggs. Nov 17 Produce Safety Project reporthttp://www.producesafetyproject.org/admin/assets/files/0015.pdf The epi curve showed a normal bell shape, which suggested that the FDA’s interventions could have been too late or off target, the authors write. See also: The PSP authors write, “The lack of federal action has resulted in a patchwork-quilt approach to fresh produce safety. Moreover, federal inaction may well be eroding public confidence in the safety of the food supply.” Mixed and confusing messagesIn reviewing the public health messages that came from various agencies during the outbreak, the authors concluded that messages were frequent but inconsistent, pointing toward a need for officials to establish risk-communication strategies before an outbreak occurs. For example, a lack of detail about early case clusters hampered the tomato industry’s efforts to determine if there was a connection between illnesses and tomato distribution patterns. Nov 18, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – This past  summer’s nationwide Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak exposed several gaps in the nation’s food safety system, including poor organization and confusing risk communications, the Produce Safety Project (PSP), an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, said in a report yesterday. O’Hara called on the incoming Obama administration to make mandatory, enforceable safety standards for fresh produce a food-safety priority and to take steps to fix the nation’s broken outbreak response system. “Both actions will go a long way toward safeguarding public health and protecting farmers,” he said. “Because these investigations are conducted by two separate agencies, they tend to be treated as separate processes rather than being seen as two sides of the same coin, needing significant integration,” the report states. As another example, the report says that the CDC changed the way it graphically portrayed outbreak information at several points during the outbreak. “It is troubling that this determination was not made beforehand; it might have minimized the confusion and frustration experienced by state officials, the produce industry, and consumers,” it states. The outbreak, first reported in early June, sickened more than 1,400 people and badly hurt the fresh-tomato industry before authorities determined several weeks into the trace-back investigation that tainted jalapeno and Serrano peppers were the culprits. Jul 31 CIDRAP News story “State models cited as ways to improve outbreak response”last_img read more

Australia sets plan to end most COVID-19 restrictions by July

first_img“You can stay under the doona forever. You’ll never face any danger,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra, using an Australian word for quilt. “But we’ve got to get out from under the doona at some time.”Morrison said it will be up to Australia’s various states and territories to decide when to begin implement each stage. Each step will likely be separated by four-week transition.Several states, including Queensland and South Australia, said they will ease restrictions from Monday. The country’s most populated states, which have the most COVID-19 cases, said looser restrictions would not be adopted for several more days at least.Despite the staggered easing, Morrison warned the country should still expect further outbreaks. Flattening unemployment While the lockdown measures have successfully prevented local hospitals being swamped by coronavirus patients, they have taken a devastating toll on the economy.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg estimated the lockdown is costing A$4 billion ($2.6 billion) a week.Australia’s central bank on Friday predicted the country is facing its biggest economic contraction on record, despite pledges from it and the government of A$320 billion ($203 billion) to cushion the economic blow.In its quarterly statement, the Reserve Bank of Australia forecast the A$2 trillion ($1.3 trillion) economy would shrink by 10% in the first half of the year, marking the first recession in three decades.Despite the government subsidizing the wages of about 6 million Australians that keeps them out of unemployment statistics, about 10% of the country’s labor force is also expected to be without a job this year.Morrison, however, said once the three-stage process is implemented, his government expects about 850,000 people will return to work.”We’re now ready to take the first steps forward,” Ross McEwan, CEO of National Australia Bank said in emailed statement.”We’re now also planning for and working through when our colleagues can gradually return.” Australia has had fewer than 7,000 confirmed cases of COVD-19 and fewer than 800 people are still sick with the disease. Almost 100 people have died. Slow and cautious Under the first stage of the plan, restaurants and cafes currently limited to takeaway services will be allowed to reopen, but with a maximum of 10 patrons at a time.”Step 1 is tentative, baby steps into normalization,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told the briefing.If no major outbreaks are recorded states and territories will move to stage two where gyms, cinemas and galleries will be allowed to re-open, although businesses will only be able to have 20 customers at a time.At this point, states that have closed their borders would start to allow some interstate travel, Morrison said.When implemented, stage three will permit gatherings of up to 100 people, allow employees to return to their offices and see the re-opening of nightclubs.All interstate travel will be allowed, along with some limited international travel, including flights between Australia and New Zealand.International students would also potentially be allowed to return to Australia, but would face two weeks in quarantine.center_img Australia will ease social distancing restrictions in a three-step process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as Canberra aims to remove most curbs by July and get nearly 1 million people back to work amid a decline in coronavirus cases.Australia in March imposed strict social distancing restrictions, which coupled with the closure of its borders, are credited with drastically slowing the number of new infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.With fewer than 20 new infections each day, Morrison said Australian states and territories on Friday agreed a road map to remove most of the curbs. Topics :last_img read more