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    University of Iowa considers three models to change approach to campus safety – UI The Daily Iowan - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Born of a summer of racial-justice protests calling for systemic change at the University of Iowa, the universitys Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee is moving forward on its goal to rework the UIs approach to campus safety.

    The committee held two town hall meetings in February to gather feedback on three potential plans depicting how campus safety could be tweaked or overhauled. The plans were designed with specific attention to how safety affects people of color and other communities that have been historically harmed by police.

    UI Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen, who chairs the committee, said the group will compile input from the town halls and other avenues, and she hopes to present a recommendation to UI President Bruce Harreld by mid-March.

    The first model is focused on recruiting a diverse campus police force and heightening anti-racism and implicit bias training for campus officers.

    UI Interim Co-Director of Public Safety Mark Bullock, who sits on the committee, said these forums have given the UI Police Department a chance to highlight steps that he believes many community members dont know the university has taken.

    A lot of things that we do are behind the scenes, developing programs in our community and working with community partners, campus partners to create opportunities for non-law enforcement responses, Bullock said.

    The committee suggested the creation of a campus wellness division as part of the first model that would respond to less imminent safety threats, such as mental health crises and substance abuse. Emergency dispatchers would decide who should handle calls for service.

    The second model, the holistic approach, suggests a more dramatic overhaul of the universitys approach to campus safety. It would minimize UIPD presence on campus and divert service calls to other professionals, such as crisis and health care workers.

    Under this model, the UIPD would only respond to more serious crimes and wouldnt be on campus unless requested.

    The third approach suggests the creation of an oversight committee focused on police accountability and considers past actions from the campus police department and makes recommendations. It would be overseen by a presidents cabinet member.

    Hansen said the three models are tentative, and the committee could combine any number of approaches in its final recommendation to Harreld.

    One of the most important things is that even though theyre presented as unique, discrete models, there are elements of the potential models that could be broken down and reconstituted in different iterations, she said.

    RELATED: Reimagining Campus Safety committee holds first town hall, unveils three prototypes for changing campus safety

    Hansen said Harreld will most likely share feedback and discuss the effectiveness of each model with the cabinet, which includes the universitys vice presidents. She said the university could begin acting on those changes by this summer.

    The committee developed the three prototypes in response to initial feedback from the universitys cultural centers and diversity councils, Hansen said. Its also seeking campus feedback through a survey on the Division of Student Life website, she said, and it plans to give presentations to the presidents cabinet, staff council, and faculty senate in the near future.

    She said the committee has focused on feedback from diverse groups that are more negatively impacted by law enforcement.

    That was something that we felt was very important, knowing that certain individuals in our community are impacted differently by systems such as law enforcement, she said. So, we purposely started with those populations in order to make sure that their feedback was really heard.

    The majority of students who attended the two town halls showed favor for the holistic model, which suggests drastically reducing police presence on campus.

    Felicia Pieper, a graduate research assistant in the UI College of Public Health, said she favors the holistic model that is close to where we need to be going.

    The thing about policing is its a structural problem, and so I dont think these reformist or add-on policies are going to do anything to actually get at the root causes of the problem that were facing, Pieper said. And so, the holistic approach gets to that by completely restructuring what safety looks like.

    Pieper said the holistic approach could provide more opportunities for crime prevention by funneling funding into improving health and well-being on campus.

    We know the police dont prevent crime. Police come after crime has happened thats the nature of policing, Pieper said. Social determinants of health, like good housing, fair working conditions, safe neighborhoods, along with strong communities, actually are what prevents crime, and thats what we see in this model.

    While Bullock said UIPD supports what the university decides, he said he prefers a plan that keeps the campus police department involved in campus safety without cutting funding or staff.

    When we talk about cutting staff, especially internally here, at the university Department of Public Safety, theres faces behind these numbers, he said. Theres families behind these numbers and the people that would be impacted.

    He added that, first and foremost, the UIPD wants to serve the community and it would be disheartening to not have officers and public safety employees included in the process to make change and get on the right side of history.

    Pieper said it was frustrating that UIPD did not mention its involvement in Iowa City protests that occurred on June 3, after the OIR Group, a California-based firm specializing in police oversight, released a report about it in late January. The lack of transparency within the committee is concerning to those who are wanting to see real change, Pieper added.

    Its really frustrating that this is now the only point where the university is reaching out to the university community for input at the very end of the process, she said. They chose a hierarchical, bureaucratic response to that by creating an academic committee that was appointed Its not just something to be sour about, but I think thatll have direct impacts on how our community trusts this process.

    Caleb Klipowicz, a Ph.D. candidate in the UI Department of Anthropology, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that he had never thought much about policing until last summer and he started educating himself and learning from the Iowa Freedom Riders speeches at marches.

    He wrote that, as a Resident Assistant during undergraduate, he ever had an experience where police presence in the dorms unannounced made him feel safer.

    For me, a safe campus is one where every student is cared for, he wrote. The holistic model was the only one I felt could make a real difference. The other two options either increased the budget for police (the opposite of what I believe we need) or created a worthless committee to give the appearance of reform.

    UI fifth-year Jacob Heid said that he felt the UIPDs inappropriate response to protests last summer was not something they could just make up for with more trainings and oversight.

    Theyll issue statements on saying what they stand with the black community. Theyll issue statements saying they stand with people of color with LGBTQ individuals, but then theres no action to substantiate those claims, Heid said. Theres been no desire to right the wrongs. Until there are actual attempts to apologize to reconcile to, you know, recognize that maybe police arent always going to be an appropriate option for whatever issues that may arise.

    He added that the committees decision to give Harreld the final say in selecting an approach does not make sense to a lot of students who attended the meetings.

    I would just hate for everyone to think that the holistic model is the best option. but then for it to be just sort of discarded because Bruce [Harreld] and his cabinet dont want to put in the work and dont want to allocate the resources, he said. So, I think there was really a big concern about that as well, which I guess we will see what happens, but I hope that good decisions are made.

    Read the original here:
    University of Iowa considers three models to change approach to campus safety - UI The Daily Iowan

    3 winter storms in 7 days: Beshear says to stay home as more snow, ice arrives – WHAS11.com - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The entire state is expected to see several inches of snow Monday in a two-part winter storm.

    FRANKFORT, Ky. A State of Emergency is still in effect as officials prepare for more snow, sleet and freezing rain across Kentucky this week.

    Governor Andy Beshear said people should limit travel as much as possible Monday and Tuesday, both to keep drivers safe from dangerous road conditions and allow for crews to clear out major roadways.

    "We did not make it through almost a year of a pandemic to lose people to a snow or ice storm," Beshear said.

    Most of the state is under a Winter Storm for Monday. Areas around Louisville are expected to get anywhere from six to 10 inches of snow from this storm. The heaviest snowfall is expected before rush hour Monday afternoon, with accumulation rates around one to two inches per hour.

    "This storm will impact most of our counties, and should be considered a very dangerous system," said Michael Dossett, executive director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.

    Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said the upcoming snow, sleet and freezing rain will not only impact roadways, but bring more cases of downed power lines and trees. Gray said crews took the break between winter storms to restock salt supplies and clear off roads and debris.

    "What we're facing is three winter storms in seven days," Gray said.

    The National Guard has been alerted, and Beshear said one unit is currently working in Ashland to check on some of the areas most rural residents who lost power.

    Crews with KYTC worked overnight Sunday to prepare for the Monday morning commute. Road conditions varied across the Commonwealth as some areas, including Eastern Kentucky, saw more freezing rain and sleet than snow.

    Gray said crews will continue to work throughout the week to clear up roads, but echoed Beshear's push to remain home if possible.

    The governor also announced the regional vaccine site in Frankfort will be closed Tuesday due to weather. He said the state believes all vaccines will be fine as appointments get pushed back one week.

    Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. ForAppleorAndroidusers.

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    View post:
    3 winter storms in 7 days: Beshear says to stay home as more snow, ice arrives - WHAS11.com

    Government wary of rushing reopening schools as reports kids would make phased return to classrooms from – The Irish Sun - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    THE Government is wary of rushing the reopening of schools after last night denying reports that kids would make a phased return to classrooms from March 1.

    The National Public Health Emergency Team led by CMO Dr Tony Holohan will brief the Government on Thursday about the Covid-19 health risks surrounding reopening schools.

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    The Irish Sun understands that the Government is extremely concerned about the new coronavirus variants when it comes to schools with any reopening plan set to be slow and steady.

    The Leaving Cert classes will be the first to return to school followed by the early year of primary school such as junior and senior infants.

    But no date has been agreed.

    Education Minister Norma Foley briefed the Cabinet on the confidential talks with stakeholders to try and reopen schools but no date has yet been set to start the reopening.

    Reports yesterday suggested that Minister Foley told the Cabinet that the plan would commence on March 1st however, this was later dismissed by a Government official who said no final date was given to Cabinet.

    A full plan to reopen schools on a phased basis is expected to be published later this week.

    Leaving Cert students are set to get clarity today on whether they will sit exams this summer with a plan for the phased reopening of schools due by the end of the week.

    It comes as the Government were last night preparing to publish draft legislation to enable mandatory quarantine for people coming into Ireland with travellers set to foot a 2,000 bill for their two week stay in a designated Covid hotel.

    Officials from the Department of Education remained locked in talks with trade unions representing teachers last night about whether to push ahead with the traditional leaving cert or switch to a predicted grades system.

    The Government wants to give students the choice to sit an exam or take a predicted grade but unions are concerned about how to assess predicted grades as students have missed large parts of the past year and have not sat Christmas or summer exams.

    The Cabinet Sub Committee on Education, which includes Education Minister Norma Foley, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris and Childrens Minister Roderic OGorman will hold a crunch meeting today to make a final decision regarding this years leaving cert.

    The Government are also expected to make an announcement on the phased reopening of schools by the end of the week.

    Opposition parties yesterday slammed the Government for continuing to leave students in limbo and delay decisions on the leaving cert and reopening schools.

    Labours Aodhan ORiordain said he was disappointed that there has been no mention of the Junior Cert or Leaving Cert Applied during the exams discussions.

    He said he does not expect the practical and oral exams to take place this year and claimed if schools reopen next month they should not close again.

    He said: If we are opening on the 1st of March then we want it done in a safe manner but we can not divorce the school reopening discussion from the wider discussion about suppression of the virus.

    The decision on schools reopening doesnt happen separately from the wider debate but we have to open schools and then ensure that they can remain open.

    Thats the key because it will be very disappointing if we open schools for a short period of time and then have to close them again for a prolonged period of time.

    Everybody wants to get back to school. Its profoundly damaging for young people not to be in school. Labour has proposed a fund of 100 million that will go towards addressing some of the damage thats been caused by people being out of school.

    Social Democrats education spokesman Gary Gannon said the Government could fall into the mistakes of the past by setting a reopening date for schools instead of using Covid metrics.

    He said: In the past weve been let down by dates, we give a date and then we dont meet the date.

    What I would like to see from the Department of Education and the Minister is a metric of at what level of numbers can our schools reopen.

    That would give much more certainty. On March 1 we dont know where we will be with the numbers but we know that at a certain point we will be able to reopen our schools.

    I fully except the Ministers intentions are honourable in this but I think were repeating the mistakes of the past so Im no longer interested in dates, Im interested in metrics.

    The Social Democrats are calling for a taskforce to be set up to address the mental health issues facing young people following the school closures during the pandemic.

    It comes as the Cabinet last night held a virtual meeting to sign off on new draft legislation for hotel quarantining with travellers set to foot a 2,000 bill for their two week stay.

    Ministers held a full Cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon where the department of healths quarantining legislation was discussed but some fine tuning had to be done before it could be officially signed off at a second cabinet meeting last night.

    The legislation will now go before the Dail and Seanad before being signed into law by President Micheal D Higgins in a process that is expected to take between two to three weeks.

    All people arriving from 20 listed countries where new variants are spreading will be forced to undergo two weeks of quarantine at a hotel which will be run by a private security company.

    The travellers will be locked in an en suite room for the two weeks and will have all their meals and laundry looked after by the hotel.

    The travellers will also undergo regular Covid-19 testing during their quarantine and will be forced to pay for their stay which is expected to cost around 2,000.

    The HSE are still working to secure a number of hotels to use for quarantine facilities however it is expected that this will be finished by the time the new legislation passes.

    People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett yesterday said the Governments mandatory quarantine system will not stop the virus being reimported into Ireland unless it applies to all travellers from every country.

    He said: Its full of holes because its going to be a sort of cherry picking of countries from which people will have to quarantine rather than just quarantining anybody who is coming into the country.

    Unless the quarantine is across the board that anybody coming into this country is quarantined, it will not have the desired effect.

    I think thats symptomatic of the governments failure to really deal with the Covid crisis and its unwillingness to take the sort of measures necessary to actually end this really grim situation that were facing.

    I think its worth emphasising really how grim it is. Really the situation, the lockdown, the cases, the fatalities are really taking their toll on peoples mental health and that would not be necessary if the government were willing to embark on a serious strategy to crush Covid-19.

    That would require mandatory quarantine for all incoming travellers but also critically it would involve actually stopping non essential work.

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    Government wary of rushing reopening schools as reports kids would make phased return to classrooms from - The Irish Sun

    Beshear urges caution with multiple winter storms reaching Kentucky – Appalachian News-Express - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    With several inches of snow expected to fall today and into the night throughout much of the commonwealth, Gov. Andy Beshear said Feb. 15 that Kentuckians should avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.

    The governor said the Kentucky National Guard has been activated to go door to door to check on residents in Ashland and transport people to warming stations if necessary. The National Guard is on alert with more soldiers standing by with equipment ready to assist if necessary.

    Gov. Beshear said with three winter storms with snow, ice and freezing temperatures reaching the commonwealth in less than a week, Kentuckians should be extremely cautious and make plans to keep their families safe and warm.

    The governor said two Kentuckians were lost to winter weather during last weeks storm and possibly another overnight.

    We dont want to lose anybody else. We have been through too much. We have sacrificed too much, Gov. Beshear said. We have the ability to work virtually and stay off the roads more than ever before, so take care of one another.

    The first wave of the storm hit much of Kentucky overnight, with the heaviest snow expected today during the afternoon rush hour.

    The greatest potential for significant snow accumulations includes much of Central Kentucky, with some areas projected to receive up to eight inches of snow. The heaviest snowfall will take place in a period between 3 p.m. EST today through 1 a.m. EST Tuesday.

    Following the governors media briefing, the Personnel Cabinet notified state employees that Executive Branch buildings will be closed beginning at 1 p.m. EST, except for employees who provide essential service operations to the commonwealth. Executive Branch agencies will continue to provide services to the citizens of the commonwealth remotely. State employees with questions regarding this closure should contact either their agencys management or human resources office.

    Another system, beginning Wednesday night into Thursday night, wi ll bring an additional wintry mix across Kentucky.

    The Kroger vaccination site in Frankfort will be closed on Tuesday. Those with appointments are being rescheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 23.

    The governor said a decision would be made later in the day on other vaccination sites.

    This weather is going to slow our vaccinations some, but we believe we will be able to pick right back up, Gov. Beshear said.

    Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett said Kentucky is experiencing an extremely unusual dynamic for severe weather in the state with three severe weather events in very close proximity.

    Demonstrating the resilience of Kentuckians, we navigated the most recent severe storm event last week with your continued awareness of surroundings and diligence in checking the safety of your friends and neighbors, said Director Dossett. Lets redouble our efforts in this next challenge, with special attention for all of our state and local emergency responders who will be assisting in this dangerous storm event.

    Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews have been out in force to proactively pretreat roads where conditions allow and respond to snow and ices damaging effects on roadways.

    Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said travel could become difficult to impossible.

    What were facing is three winter storms in eight days, said Secretary Gray. This next round of winter weather will bring varying conditions across the state, but what remains constant is our crews commitment to maintaining mobility along critical routes and our plea to the public to avoid unnecessary travel.

    Crews are out plowing and treating routes across the state. Snowfall rates are expected to exceed one inch per hour causing roadways to be blanketed with snow shortly after being plowed. In Western Kentucky, light, powdering snow has been blowing into roadways.

    Yesterday evening began with some freezing fog in Southern and Southeast Kentucky. Roadway conditions quickly worsened, resulting in several crashes along the Interstate 75 corridor in Rockcastle and Laurel counties. This morning, a crash shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 in Carter County, which reopened to traffic several hours later.

    Ice on roadways and bridges remains the greatest challenge as frigid temperatures create slick road surfaces, and ice can cause more downed trees and power lines for crews to remove. Ice accumulations of more than half an inch are still expected in Southern Kentucky. This will significantly impact the I-75 corridor in Madison, Rockcastle, Laurel and Whitley counties.

    Crews add calcium chloride to salt to help melt snow faster when temperatures are below the freezing point. While the solution is helpful, it is less effective after dark and when traffic volumes are reduced.

    The National Weather Service warns travel will become difficult this afternoon into tonight. Transportation officials urge Kentuckians to avoid being on the roads as much as possible. Ice poses hazards to all vehicle types, and drivers must slow down and exercise extreme caution. Traffic signals may become dark due to power outages and should be treated as a four-way stop by motorists.

    Snow and ice resources, including traffic information, priority route maps and highway district news updates, are available at snowky.ky.gov.

    If you experience a downed power line or power outage, please contact your local utility company. If possible, prepare for the need to use an alternate source of heat. Be aware of the dangers of alternate heat sources and carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm for more information.

    Last Wednesday, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management activated its State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to monitor earlier storm systems and coordinate with critical Emergency Support Function partners in transportation, law enforcement, power and utilities. The SEOC is currently activated at Level 4, but will transition to Level 3 at noon today.

    Last Thursday, Gov. Beshear closed state offices due to dangerous road conditions and issued a State of Emergency, which remains in effect, as an initial winter storm blanketed much of the commonwealth in a wintry mix of snow and ice. Since Thursday, freezing temperatures and ice have remained throughout much of the commonwealth.

    Originally posted here:
    Beshear urges caution with multiple winter storms reaching Kentucky - Appalachian News-Express

    Gov. Beshear urges caution with multiple storms reaching Kentucky – ABC 36 News – WTVQ - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) With several inches of snow expected to fall today and into the night throughout much of the commonwealth, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentuckians should avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.

    During an emergency weather update Monday, the Governor said the Kentucky National Guard has been activated to go door to door to check on residents in Ashland and transport people to warming stations if necessary. The National Guard is on alert with more soldiers standing by with equipment ready to assist if necessary.

    Gov. Beshear said with three winter storms with snow, ice and freezing temperatures reaching the commonwealth in less than a week, Kentuckians should be extremely cautious and make plans to keep their families safe and warm.

    According to Gov. Beshear, two Kentuckians were lost to winter weather during last weeks storm and possibly another overnight.

    We dont want to lose anybody else. We have been through too much. We have sacrificed too much, said Gov. Beshear. We have the ability to work virtually and stay off the roads more than ever before, so take care of one another.

    State officials reporting the first wave of the storm hit much of Kentucky overnight, with the heaviest snow expected today during the afternoon rush hour.

    The greatest potential for significant snow accumulations includes much of Central Kentucky, with some areas projected to receive up to eight inches of snow. The heaviest snowfall will take place in a period between 3 p.m. EST today through 1 a.m. EST Tuesday, according to state officials.

    Following the Governors media briefing, the Personnel Cabinet notified state employees that Executive Branch buildings will be closed beginning at 1 p.m. EST, except for employees who provide essential service operations to the commonwealth. Executive Branch agencies will continue to provide services to the citizens of the commonwealth remotely. State employees with questions regarding this closure should contact either their agencys management or human resources office.

    Another system, beginning Wednesday night into Thursday night, will bring an additional wintry mix across Kentucky. State officials shared maps from the National Weather Services 5:30 a.m. EST briefing and can be viewed here.

    The Kroger vaccination site in Frankfort will be closed on Tuesday. Those with appointments are being rescheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 23.

    The Governor said a decision would be made later in the day on other vaccination sites.

    This weather is going to slow our vaccinations some, but we believe we will be able to pick right back up, said Gov. Beshear.

    Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett said Kentucky is experiencing an extremely unusual dynamic for severe weather in the state with three severe weather events in very close proximity.

    Demonstrating the resilience of Kentuckians, we navigated the most recent severe storm event last week with your continued awareness of surroundings and diligence in checking the safety of your friends and neighbors, said Director Dossett. Lets redouble our efforts in this next challenge, with special attention for all of our state and local emergency responders who will be assisting in this dangerous storm event.

    Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews have been out in force to proactively pretreat roads where conditions allow and respond to snow and ices damaging effects on roadways.

    Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said travel could become difficult to impossible.

    What were facing is three winter storms in eight days, said Secretary Gray. This next round of winter weather will bring varying conditions across the state, but what remains constant is our crews commitment to maintaining mobility along critical routes and our plea to the public to avoid unnecessary travel.

    Crews are out plowing and treating routes across the state. Snowfall rates are expected to exceed one inch per hour causing roadways to be blanketed with snow shortly after being plowed. In Western Kentucky, light, powdering snow has been blowing into roadways.

    Yesterday evening began with some freezing fog in Southern and Southeast Kentucky. Roadway conditions quickly worsened, resulting in several crashes along the Interstate 75 corridor in Rockcastle and Laurel counties. This morning, a crash shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 in Carter County, which reopened to traffic several hours later.

    Ice on roadways and bridges remains the greatest challenge as frigid temperatures create slick road surfaces, and ice can cause more downed trees and power lines for crews to remove. Ice accumulations of more than half an inch are still expected in Southern Kentucky. This will significantly impact the I-75 corridor in Madison, Rockcastle, Laurel and Whitley counties.

    Crews add calcium chloride to salt to help melt snow faster when temperatures are below the freezing point. While the solution is helpful, it is less effective after dark and when traffic volumes are reduced.

    The National Weather Service warns travel will become difficult this afternoon into tonight. Transportation officials urge Kentuckians to avoid being on the roads as much as possible. Ice poses hazards to all vehicle types, and drivers must slow down and exercise extreme caution. Traffic signals may become dark due to power outages and should be treated as a four-way stop by motorists.

    Snow and ice resources, including traffic information, priority route maps and highway district news updates, are available atsnowky.ky.gov.

    If you experience a downed power line or power outage, please contact your local utility company. If possible, prepare for the need to use an alternate source of heat. Be aware of the dangers of alternate heat sources and carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Visithttp://www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htmfor more information.

    Last Wednesday, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Managementactivated its State Emergency Operations Center(SEOC) to monitor earlier storm systems and coordinate with critical Emergency Support Function partners in transportation, law enforcement, power and utilities. The SEOC is currently activated at Level 4, but will transition to Level 3 at noon today.

    Last Thursday, Gov. Beshearclosed state officesdue to dangerous road conditions and issued aState of Emergency, which remains in effect, as an initial winter storm blanketed much of the commonwealth in a wintry mix of snow and ice. Since Thursday, freezing temperatures and ice have remained throughout much of the commonwealth.

    Watch the full briefing HERE.

    Originally posted here:
    Gov. Beshear urges caution with multiple storms reaching Kentucky - ABC 36 News - WTVQ

    Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko: Our main scenario is cooperation with the IMF – UNIAN-Economy - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Serhiy Marchenko took the lead of the Ministry of Finance on March 30, 2020, at the onset of a challenging coronacrisis period. In an interview with UNIAN, the minister spoke about the progress in negotiations with the IMF, his vision of pension reform, the ministry's plans for the year, and features of the latest affordable mortgage program.

    Photo from UNIAN, Viktor Kovalchuk

    How would you assess the situation with public finances today? Are there any risks of non-fulfillment of the national budget?

    The situation with public finances remains stable. In case no force majeure happens, we will meet the revenue target. Active negotiations with the IMF are underway. I hope that in the near future we will finalize talks and reach a common understanding of how we should move forward.

    In terms of revenues, the budget is rather tight, but at the same time realistic. Our January results confirm this point. After all, the actual revenues to the general fund exceed the target by UAH 3.5 billion. The overfulfillment is due to the tax service (UAH 3.4 billion), while the main thing is domestic VAT. Revenue growth off this tax in 2020 stood at 132.4% on year. That is, we have significantly increased VAT inflows. This positive dynamic is our main result, which has been strengthening Ukraine's public finances since last year. The base for this is de-shadowing. I emphasize that, if no unexpected decisions are taken, I see the end of the year quite optimistic, because we started the year with a record high balance in treasury accounts compared to the corresponding periods in recent years (UAH 71 billion). We'll be seeing the peak of public debt payments in September this year. The situation is completely under control and does not cause concern.

    The Cabinet recently approved the annual rise in pensions for all categories, starting 2022. This year, additional payments are provided for retirees over 75. The prime minister also announced higher salaries for medics and teachers. At the same time, the increase in utility tariffs provokes higher subsidies. Is the budget ready to cover such expenses?

    Indexation of pensions is being discussed. It is desirable that this be within budget allocations, so as not to create additional risks. As for educators expenditures have been laid down in the budget. As for medics, quarterly results will m clarify the situation. COVID-19 designates the current trend toward medical funding. Last year it was quite chaotic, but we boosted medical expenses by more than UAH 85 billion. And we support this pace.

    As for the subsidies Following this heating season, we will draw preliminary conclusions. We're seeing no critical issues for the time being.

    Is it already possible to assess the impact of the January lockdown on Ukraine's economy?

    We are inclined to partner estimates: the NBU estimates such impact at 0.1-0.2% of GDP. Most economic agents have adapted. Meanwhile, December payments yielded a positive effect on the situation. The main consumer demand was actually met prior to lockdown. The actors had the opportunity to prepare in advance, while the government offered a certain safety cushion.

    Let's return to negotiations with the IMF. Is it possible to make any predictions about the next tranche? How do international partners assess progress in the implementation of structural beacons?

    Negotiations are calm. New issues arise, including government regulation on the gas market. The parameters of how this should be agreed with the IMF are now being worked out. There are still some older issues anti-corruption structure, NAPC [National Agency for Prevention of Corruption], NABU [National Anti-corruption Bureau], and judicial reform.

    There are some structural beacons unresolved from last year regarding the law on banks and banking. Instead, the government ensured transition of tax and customs agencies to operations from single HQs from January 1. This beacon has been checked. The decision was made to liquidate tax police, so this point has been fulfilled as well, so to speak. We are in discussion with the IMF on 2022 budget parameters: how to consolidate the budget to get to 3.5% of the budget deficit.

    Are there any deadlines for Ukraine to receive the IMF tranche, after which we could face problems? How will this affect this year's debt payments?

    We were supposed to receive the tranche in August last year. We did everything possible to this end. For reasons beyond the control of the Finance Ministry, this never happened. Nevertheless, we have fully complied with our commitments, first and foremost to service and repay our debts. These are protected expenditures, and there is no reason to believe that this will affect the government's ability to service its debts.

    But, of course, our main scenario is cooperation with the IMF. This course allows us to expect continued cooperation with the World Bank and the European Commission. It's a question both of receiving credit assistance and of a more loyal attitude to Ukraine in general. This will allow borrowing at lower yields, increasing the value of our bonds and, accordingly, reducing the country's debt risks. The Ministry of Finance is ready for any scenario, but we confidently hope to minimize any risks. The Stand-By Arrangement is designed for 18 months, due to complete in December this year. Therefore, by year-end, we plan to receive funds from the IMF under the current arrangement.

    Photo from UNIAN, Viktor Kovalchuk

    What other international partners are expected to help the country in case things work out with the IMF?

    The second tranche of EU macro-financial assistance (EUR 600 million) is linked to our continued cooperation with the IMF.

    Since last year, we have also been expecting two $350 million DPL tranches from the World Bank. The other day I talked to the World Bank chief representative in Ukraine. We discussed the terms of allocations. As for the first tranche, it is a staff level agreement with the IMF. And for the second tranche, it's the adoption of a package of agriculture-related laws, which, in principle, is realistic. The Verkhovna Rada will meet for a plenary session in a week. Therefore, there is a chance these bills will be considered so that we could get the two tranches worth $700 million from the World Bank.

    You have previously announced plans to cease borrowing from the International Monetary Fund in the coming years. Is it really possible? At whose expense?

    It's about lending to the budget. This is a realistic situation, as the option of the IMF lending to the budget is not typical for the Fund. It is more understandable and acceptable to move to the situation where IMF funds replenish NBU reserves, being mostly aimed at maintaining the balance of payments. We have calculations at hand to consider the possibility of abandoning in 2023 loans directly to the budget. We will do everything necessary to this end throughout 2021 and 2022.

    What is the situation in customs and tax agencies? Are there any success stories in the fight against smuggling and VAT evasion, which were high on the agenda last year?

    We are satisfied with the performance of tax authorities over the last year target indicators were exceeded by almost UAH 50 billion despite decline in economic dynamics. Due to de-shadowing and the fight against fraud, the agency managed to cope with their task.

    The situation with customs is more complicated. Personnel reshuffles took place. We weren't happy with their leaders' work due to the fact that the requirements for the implementation and even overfulfillment of budget indicators were not fully met. And at the same time there are also requirements to reform the agency, which is highly sensitive to corruption. In particular, it's about eradicating smuggling. I'm not going to cover up these negative things and say that everything's fine there.

    There is a fairly objective indicator to assess customs performance the ratio of incoming turnover and revenues to the budget. There were times when such indicators were just fine. But they were unstable. This proved that changes were needed there. And we pursued, despite the fact that it was politically difficult. But facts are out there and we only need to look at the result whether it's egood or bad.

    Indeed, this is our zone of responsibility, in particular with regard to staff rotations. Now a new leader has come in, a team has been formed, and there is hope that they will succeed.

    Are you now satisfied with the new customs chief?

    It is too early to assess his work. In January, the targets were met in full. Let's see how things will go in February and March. Everything is in their hands.

    Recently, President Zelensky stressed the need to accelerate customs reform. How is this reform going on right now, what has been done, and what are further plans?

    The customs reform plan has been agreed with international partners. This is actually a strategic document drawn the Ministry of Finance our roadmap for the transformation of customs authorities. First of all, it is about launching the format of a single legal entity from January 1. We've already done that. An experimental project on testing qualifications and integrity of customs officers has been launched. A mechanism for unifying import duty rates on light industry goods has been developed. The program of the authorized economic operator (AEO) has been launched the first application for granting AEO authorization has already been accepted from one of the enterprises.

    A pilot test of the national electronic transit system has been underway since November 16. From November 7, the possibility of submitting a general declaration of arrival by carriers has been introduced, as provided by the Customs Code of Ukraine and the EU Customs Code. A pilot project on automatic clearance has been in place since May, which allows for the automated release of goods under the appropriate customs regime without physical participation of a customs official.

    We are experimenting, implementing various innovations, but I'll say this again this is just the beginning. The requirements for customs are quite serious. They are not only on the part of the government the president has taken the issue of customs under personal control.

    Photo from UNIAN, Viktor Kovalchuk

    The government is set to introduce next year the second level of pensions. Many experts criticize the decision due to the lack of tools for effective investment of long-term savings, as well as people's distrust of private pension funds. On the other hand, there's the perpetual deficit of the Pension Fund and the growing number of retirees. How do you assess the chances of this reform? Will it work in Ukraine?

    All bills currently registered in the Rada fail to solve the key task. Pension reform cannot be fragmentary where some offer a third tier of the savings system and some talk about the second. That's besides the fact that we have an unresolved issue of what to do with the solidarity system, with pension supplements, with various current formats of pension accrual. Therefore, I'm skeptical of the existing innovations and proposals.

    The team of the Ministry of Finance, together with the World Bank, is working out a systemic solution. We need to understand how to get an effective cumulative element in 2030-2040, when to implement it, and what needs to be done with existing systems. In addition, we have to index pensions and ensure decent payments to current retirees.

    Besides, we have a deficit of the Pension Fund at UAH 195.6 billion, and constantly growing as some are willing to raise pensions at the expense of the national budget. So this is a comprehensive solution that we will discuss with the public and experts. We have to offer an option for which we will find compensators, for example, of the second tier. It is possible, for example, through government bonds financing instruments. We are not considering other options yet.

    It should be understood that the savings system is not for current retirees. We have to protect them and provide them with decent pay. But to say that current retirees or those who have to retire in the next 10 years may be interested in the cumulative element would be self-deception. Such a mechanism should be of interest to today's most active economic category. But a significant part of it, unfortunately, is not ready to pay a single social contribution, they don't understand why it is necessary, and in general, they don't see themselves as future retirees.

    How do you plan to implement the new "Affordable Mortgage" program? Who will have access to it?

    It was decided to introduce a mortgage at 7% in parallel lines with the current business "5-7-9" lending program at the expense of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund. We are currently discussing the issue, because, unfortunately, we don't have a mortgage market yet, only creating its certain segments.

    It is important to create some economic dynamics, to introduce incentives the development of new housing construction as a key project idea. We understand that we have to give a certain impetus and resource to the current mortgage system, too. The configuration can still be changed, various options are on the table. But the key markers include the 7% rate, mortgage cap at UAH 2 million, the term of up to 20 years, and down payment of 15% of the value. There is a regulatory area given the number of family members. We consider the primary and secondary housing markets. We are ready to discuss the issue with the banking community, so that the first soft loans could be issued in the near future.

    We strive to create conditions to have part of the risks transferred from banks to government. This is a realistic project, we have enough resources, so we're moving in this direction.

    Will this mortgage be available to any family or are there any criteria?

    The criteria are provided by the current resolution. First of all, we are talking about internally displaced persons, teachers, doctors, public sector workers, young families in need of better living conditions, residents of dormitories and houses in emergency condition. But in the future we strive to abandon categorization and provide an opportunity for all citizens to take advantage of affordable mortgage.

    In general, we see global challenges in the development of affordable mortgage. This, in particular, is about the introduction of new financial instruments, stimulating competition among financial service providers, which will affect further reduction of interest rates.

    The Verkhovna Rada passed a law establishing the Bureau of Economic Security. What will it bring Ukraine?

    The idea is to minimize pressure on businesses. This body will be coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers. By the way, establishing a financial investigation body is part of Ukraine's international obligations, including before the IMF. It is envisaged to optimize the structure of law enforcement agencies, their material and technical base, to introduce new analytical approaches to combating financial crimes in order to prevent them, not to allow budget losses, as well as to minimize unfair competition.

    But the main thing is not to create another monster that would investigate crimes in the economic sphere, while maintaining the influence of other existing law enforcement agencies. This is the biggest risk we must avoid. I expressed my opinion publicly prior to the adoption of the new law we supported the creation of an analytical department in the system of the Ministry of Finance. But this is no longer relevant, because the law has been passed. Now we have to eliminate tax police.

    How do you assess the situation on the foreign exchange market? Now the hryvnia is strengthening, but for how long will the trend prevail?

    This is a typical seasonal strengthening of the hryvnia. Before the sowing campaign, we usually exchange currency to buy fuel, fertilizers, and seeds. Remember, two weeks ago there was another trend.

    I recommend that people not pay attention to small fluctuations. There is every reason for the rate to be stable. It was just as stable last year, despite crisis. There was a speculative attack in March, before the introduction of quarantine, but it was a temporary phenomenon. National Bank reserves are sufficient to maintain the exchange rate. I see no reason for the deterioration of exchange rate dynamics.

    Photo from UNIAN, Viktor Kovalchuk

    What are the main plans for the Ministry of Finance for 2021?

    We are currently updating the ministry's Strategy we've developed last year. Many tasks have already been completed, but now we're facing new challenges. Among this year's main tasks is to search for a conceptual vision of pension reform with budgetary compensators, recalibration between local and state budgets, and finding a formula of when, how, and for whom we're doing it.

    An important element is the creation of the National Debt Agency. I'm proud to acknowledge that we have the best debt market specialists in Eastern Europe. Almost every public transaction with which Ukraine enters international capital markets receives the highest recognition from reputable international outlets. The National Debt Agency will be able to apply public debt management tools more comprehensively and effectively and, as a separate central executive body, won't be dependent on political factors, which is important for increasing investor confidence and predictability of public debt management processes in the long run.

    We will also continue to implement our medium-term budget planning we are already working to draft the Budget Declaration for 2022-2024 as a strategic paper that will become the basis of the national budget for 2022. Besides, we're creating a basis for developing medium-term local budget forecasts.

    In the first half of the year, we will come up with a package of initiatives to amend the Tax Code. First of all, they will be aimed at addressing legislation gaps that still allow tax evasion. But rest assured that we plan no innovations that would be too drastic.

    We harbor plans to boost budget funds efficiency: we will change approaches to funding higher education and social support. Our task is to protect budget funds from risks of misuse. To this end, we have a mechanism for preventive verification of government payments, aimed at ensuring that the ultimate recipients are precisely those who really need help. The State Audit Office will also check the use of COVID Fund disbursements.

    In addition, we plan to create at the Tax University a modern scientific and educational hub based on the best world models. We want this university to become one of the flagships of changes in the educational environment. This is a quality field for successful transformation. We must create conditions for graduates to form the core of human resources for the finance ministry, tax, customs, and other government agencies.

    Kateryna Zhyriy

    Author: Kateryna Zhyriy

    Excerpt from:
    Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko: Our main scenario is cooperation with the IMF - UNIAN-Economy

    Changes expected to local fees for cannabis sector early next month – Antigua Observer - February 17, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Cultivation is only one of the many business components to be regulated by the Medicinal Cannabis Authority. The rest include processing and extraction, transportation and import/export. (Photo by Tim Platt for Kent Online).

    By Orville Williams

    After raising the alarm over the disclosure of a more than quarter-million-dollar cannabis licensing fee, residents may welcome the news of an adjustment to fees specifically for locals set to come early next month.

    A post-Cabinet report in late January stated that the fee for a licence within the local cannabis sector was US$325,000 and that there was an agreement by Cabinet members for no waivers to be granted.

    This almost immediately drew the ire of many residents, who argued that the costly fee would prevent the average man from entering the industry, in favour of wealthier, more privileged individuals or foreign investment.

    However, the CEO of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority, Algernon Roberts, sought to quell those fears during an Observer AM interview this week, assuring that changes are afoot.

    [At] this parliamentary session, the major changes to the Substances Act will be made [and] once that is complete, the regulations will then be signed off by the [Legal Affairs] Minister. So, hopefully by lets say the first week in March, you will see significant changes to the fees in relation to the local population

    Roberts explained further, that understanding the concerns from residents a genuine attempt was being made to ensure that they have fair access to a slice of the pie.

    What were trying to do with the new fees I couldnt really disclose it [in the past], because parliament had not done what they were supposed to do as yet to [make it] different than what it is [now] for the locals.

    The fees are going to change more so for the locals. There are also some adjustments on the foreign investor, but most of the changes [are for] the local population and theres a reason for that; [its to] make more local individuals become involved in the whole [medicinal cannabis industry] process.

    Local ownership is pivotal to the whole process. You cannot have [for example] King Frank-I and [the Rastafari community] that suffered so much over this period, and then you have total outside investors coming to take the whole market, Roberts explained.

    In reinforcing his point about the importance of local investment, the CEO disclosed that the provisional licence that was previously reported to have been issued, was given to a local group from right here in Antigua, for cultivation purposes. He added that, were about to issue a next one the decision is already made and this is also a local group.

    While the post-Cabinet report stated that the US$325,000 was a licence fee, Roberts also clarified that the figure was actually in reference to the application fee, which is different from a licence fee.

    For each one of the [business components], there is a separate fee. The US$325,000 is the application fee for an integrated business [that is] one that seeks to do multiple medicinal cannabis business activities [and] it also took into consideration a nominal amount of staff.

    For that example, when we add the licensing fees with a nominal amount of staff, it came up to US$405,000, [so] when you add those two [fees] you get US$730,000.

    Within the Caribbean, other countries have issued [combined] licence and application fees of US$1 million it means that we have a competitive advantage when you compare [us] to some of our neighbours.

    The adjustment to the fees for locals will likely be of the most importance to the public, but there are some other changes meant to be made that will disturb the reported operations of some already existing businesses.

    In relation to the amendments, what happened is that even though there was agreement by Cabinet based on our recommendations that were going to bring down the fees, there were several other things in the law that the authority believes should have been [included].

    For example, we have these massage places within Antigua and we all know that theyre also using medicinal cannabis products to do the massages. In other societies, those are regulated by the medicinal cannabis authority. So, we are moving toward regulating those individuals [as well], Roberts disclosed.

    More information on the changes to local fees will probably not come for another few weeks and until then residents will still be sceptical, given the state of the economy and the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

    Roberts explained that the reason for the high fees is due to the need for adherence to international standards, which require significant investment on a global scale. He issued a bit of advice, however, for those locals who remain concerned about the substantial financial requirements.

    One of the issues that were facing as a people is that were not [readily] willing to get into partnerships and as soon as we see something, we will say that that is prohibitive for us to get into the business.

    Partnership is the key to success in this business, because even if the government brings down the fees [for] the local population, it is [still] an expensive enterprise to get involved in. Unless one man has a very deep pocket, he is going to have significant hurdles to overcome.

    The Antigua and Barbuda Medicinal Cannabis Authority was established under the Cannabis Bill 2018 and is tasked with overseeing and regulating the medicinal cannabis industry in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as overseeing research and development that is critical to advance the industry.

    Link:
    Changes expected to local fees for cannabis sector early next month - Antigua Observer

    Cabinet Refacing vs Painting | Which Should You Choose? - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    If youre in the middle of designing a new kitchen or you just want to spruce up an old kitchen design, you might be considering a new look for your kitchen cabinets. If you want to save money by not replacing your cabinets with brand new ones, then you have a couple of options available to you refacing cabinets or painting them.

    Both cabinet painting and refacing have pros and cons to consider, and you must choose the method which best suits your existing kitchen cabinetry. Ultimately, youre trying to make the most out of your old cabinets, so you need to choose your new kitchen look based around their condition and style.

    Our Kitchen Infinity staff is going to help explain the difference between cabinet refacing vs cabinet painting and answer your most common questions!

    Cabinet refacing is when you give your kitchen cabinets a new look by replacing the front-facing hardware but leaving the cabinetry framework in place. The cabinets frames and internal shelves remain the same, but you get brand new cabinet doors, hinges, handles, and fixtures.

    Basically, youre replacing the parts that people can see.

    If youre choosing a very different color scheme to your old cabinets, you might use a wood veneer (or possibly paint) to change the color of the old cabinetry framework so it matches the new cabinet doors design. This way, you can give the illusion of brand new cabinets, even though the core of the refaced cabinets hasnt really changed.

    Refaced cabinets are ideal if youre happy with the layout of your kitchen and the storage space you have, but you just want a fresh look. Refaced cabinets might have new doors and drawer fronts, as well as new hinges, door handles, and other pieces of hardware.

    Painting

    The real difference between painting (or refinishing) and refacing your cabinets is relatively straight forward. Painting your cabinets gives your existing cabinetry a fresh look, whereas refacing them gives your cabinets almost an entirely new look. Cabinets refacing should not be confused with resurfacing or refinishing. A resurface cabinet is an old cabinet which has been sanded down (assuming its wooden) to create a new design, but this is not always possible because lots of existing cabinets will not be thick enough to be sanded down into new styles.

    You cant salvage everything!

    Refacing

    On the other hand, refacing your cabinets is when you replace the doors and drawer fronts entirely you dont try to salvage the old ones. The idea is that youre giving a new face to the existing cabinet framework. However, with refinishing or resurfacing, youre polishing up or sanding down the existing front-facing doors.

    Its easy to get this mixed up when every term starts with re.

    Basically, you should reface cabinet designs if the front-facing doors are ugly and you want to change them entirely. However, if the cabinet front-facing doors are in good condition and you just want to modify their style, refinishing or resurfacing could be the way to go.

    Obviously, cabinet painting is when you repaint your existing cabinet doors with new paint. You can always paint your unfinished cabinets yourself. Although this sounds like the better option, its not always the case. Painted cabinet boxes can easily flake, peel, or fade in a kitchen environment, especially if youre cleaning them frequently. The more you clean them, the easier it is for the paint to fade away over time.

    They can also look a little drab if youre not careful, so beware.

    Also bear in mind that painted kitchen cabinet naturally attract dust, dirt, and grime, so youre going to need to clean more often and just generally get more maintenance done on them. It becomes a vicious circle because the paint attracts dust, so you need to clean them a lot, but then you remove the paint by cleaning them.

    Not ideal.

    While its very possible to paint your unfinished kitchen cabinets yourself, especially if youre good with DIY, I wouldnt recommend that most people do this. Although painting cabinet doors and drawer fronts looks easy, its easy to have streaky, splotchy, and uneven finishes if youre not a professional painter.

    Its not as easy as it looks!

    Painting around the sides of hinges and door handles is very intricate work, as it will look incredibly sloppy if you dont do it right. Also, if youre not careful, its easy to get drips of stray paint on your expensive granite countertops or other pricey pieces of kitchen equipment. In general, its just not worth the risk. Hire a professional if youre going to paint your kitchen cabinets. And if youre going to DIY think about the best finish for your kitchen cabinets.

    Replacing cabinets requires you to buy completely new cabinetry from top to bottom, while cabinet refinishing requires some maintenance so its usually cheaper. When you reface cabinets, youre only replacing hardware for the doors (and possibly a veneer for the framework) but when you replace the cabinets, youre buying EVERYTHING new again the doors, the frames, the shelves, everything.

    So yes, refacing cabinets is almost always cheaper than replacing them entirely.

    The only exception would be if you wanted to replace your old kitchen cabinet with VERY basic and cheap cabinets rather than refacing them with a more luxurious front-facing design. Ultimately, it all depends on the condition of your current kitchen cabinets and how you want them to look when the redesign is complete. Kitchen renovation is an expensive task so if you could save some bucks by refinishing cabinets, then go for it!

    Generally speaking, cabinet refacing does add significant value to your home when it comes time to sell. Although the ROI is hard to measure accurately, there are estimates that homes with refaced kitchen cabinets see profits of 50% for the work completed when it comes time to sell.

    Quite an impressive way to add value!

    On the other hand, people who replaced their kitchen cabinets entirely only see around a 30% profit when it comes time to resell because theyve had to spend a lot more money on installing brand-new cabinets from top to bottom. If your old kitchen cabinets are in a decent condition, refacing just makes more financial sense. We are that by now the difference between cabinet refacing vs painting is becoming more apparent.

    If you like your cabinets but you just want to freshen them up or update their color scheme, then painting could be a decent option for you. However, bear in mind that paint will only last so long before it begins to fade, chip, peel, and require maintenance work. The life expectancy of cabinets depends on whether you do them yourself or not.

    If you paint the cabinets yourself (assuming that you do a good paint job) then the paint should look decent for at least a couple of years before it might start to need maintenance. Painting cabinet doors not only adds freshness to your kitchen look but also saves the face frames, base cabinets and cabinet boxes from water damage. Its useful to know how to repair water damaged cabinetry. But obviously regarding the paint on your cabinets, this is very subjective and depends on your kitchen and how much you use it regularly.

    We dont all have time to cook every night!

    On the other hand, if you get a professional team to paint your kitchen cabinets, they could easily last for 8-15 years on average, though they may require maintenance work from time to time. Painted wood cabinets will last for a while, but refaced cabinets will undoubtedly have a longer life expectancy in your kitchen.

    So, you dont know whether painting or refacing is right for your cabinets. Well, the choice ultimately comes down to the condition of the cabinetry, the overall feel youre going for, and what youre trying to achieve with the kitchen design.

    Here are some tips to help you decide between painting and refacing:

    You should reface your kitchen cabinets if they meet the following criteria:

    You should be painting your kitchen cabinets if they meet the following criteria:

    I know its not always easy to decide, but hopefully these tips have given you some food for thought (no kitchen puns intended).

    I hope youve enjoyed this guide to cabinet painting and refacing. Redesigning your kitchen can be difficult at the best of times, so its essential to work with reliable contractors and interior designers who have your best interests at heart, as well as the homes future resale value.

    While painting cabinets may seem like the cheaper and easier option, refacing your cabinetry is a very cost-effective way to give your home a significant facelift without breaking the bank in the process. If youre happy with the layout and condition of your existing cabinetry, refacing can be a very sensible idea.

    Either way, we wish you luck!

    Read the original here:
    Cabinet Refacing vs Painting | Which Should You Choose?

    On-The-Air (05/02/2021) – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Every Friday, SAfms radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Fridays At the Coalface transcript:

    Kamwendo: South Africas mining industry is at the ready to make big investments into electricity generation.

    Creamer: This was made very clear this week at the ENSafrica conference when the head of Eskom Andre de Ruyter said he would support red tape being removed to allow the private-sector to self-generate 50 MW of electricity unrestricted. At the moment, if you dont want red-tape, you do 1 MW, which is hopelessly inadequate. Now, they want the nod to be given to 50 MW without red tape.

    I personally got 12 responses immediately from organisations saying they were ready now to invest and move in with renewable energy, particularly mining companies, because theyre facing higher upcoming Eskom power tariffs. Theyre going to have to pay more for electricity. There are so many mining companies around that want renewable energy on their mine sites.

    The mines dont even have to set it up themselves; all they have got to do is agree to buy the electricity from an independent power producer at a certain price, which is always below the Eskom price. So, a huge surge, which could mean about 5000MW of new electricity, is likely, which would help to take the strain off Eskom. This needs to go ahead and were looking to the Cabinet to give the nod, fast.

    Kamwendo: The Northern Cape this week received another boost with the announcement of a new mining development.

    Creamer: Its amazing that a company with a primary listing in Australia, secondary listing in Joburg, can pave the way for new mine development, junior mining development, like no other company in South Africa. The South Africans seem unable to do it. Now, Orion Minerals has come in with a second big base metals hub.

    They are just about to release the Prieska hub, which is a magnificent project for them, because its an existing but closed mine and they found so much new copper and zinc and base metals around it. Now, probably in 18 to 24 months time, they could well come in with a second one. This time at Okiep, near the town of Springbok, 450km away, which is also very rich in available resources information, also has ready-built infrastructure, and also has an existing but closed mine there to build on, and then expand, because there is so much more scope around there.

    These two hubs could be a major boost to the economy of the Northern Cape. We know that the Northern Cape is very prospective, but South Africans have been so slow in turning this great mineral endowment to positive account. South Africans dont explore, and here you get Orion Minerals coming in with a primary listing in Australia, showing us the way, how to do these things, because were really not good at junior mining.

    Kamwendo: This weeks Mining Indaba saw Botswana going all out to attract new investment in exploration.

    Creamer: Its very good that the country next door, Botswana, is also showing us how fast they can move, and how slow we move here. We still havent come out with our exploration strategy, and the President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi was full of life at the Mining Indaba.

    He was saying Botswana is ready to go ahead at full steam. Botswana has got new geoscience information, new digitising techniques, and intends using these to attract international investors and local investors, and President Masisi is opening the way for them. Already Botswana has shown that it can attract exploration investment, but it wants to do so even more intensely, because its far too heavily linked to diamonds, and it needs to move into the other metals and minerals.

    President Masisi also pointed out that Botswana is endowed with copper, for which there is significant upcoming demand, gold, nickel, soda ash and other metals and minerals. President Masisi also indicated that Botswana has got potential in new-era metals, the rare earths and lithium. We know in Namibia they found lithium. We know that Botswana has already attracted exploration investment and I think that it is setting a very good example for us to follow, with President Masisi determined to attract more foreign investment into Botswana, to do exploration, a low-hanging investment fruit.

    Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.

    Read the rest here:
    On-The-Air (05/02/2021) - Creamer Media's Mining Weekly

    How to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re facing trouble – Yahoo News - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Telegraph

    Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who hasnt been seen in public for several weeks after criticising Chinas financial regulatory system, has now disappeared as a judge on a TV talent show that he created. Mr Ma was absent from the final of The Apprentice-style Africas Business Heroes, a show that offers budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a share of US$1.5 million (1.1 million) in prize money. Mr Ma was originally due to be part of the panel that judged contestants business ideas. But he was replaced as a judge by an executive from Alibaba, the ecommerce company that he founded, in the November final. His photograph has also been taken down from the judging webpage and he was left out of a promotional video, according to the Financial Times, which also reported that broadcast of the final has been delayed until the spring. The paper cited a spokesperson for Alibaba as saying that Mr Ma could no longer be part of the judging panel due to a schedule conflict. One of Chinas most successful entrepreneurs, Mr Ma appears to have fallen foul of its leaders after he criticised the countrys regulators and its state-owned banks in late October. In a speech in Shanghai, he called for reform of the regulatory system, which he said was stifling innovation. About a week later, the Shanghai Stock Exchange ordered a US$37 billion initial public offering of Ant Group, a financial technology firm co-founded by Mr Ma, to be suspended. Mr Ma reportedly hasnt been seen in public since then. In late December, Chinese authorities announced an investigation into Alibaba for suspected monopolistic behaviour, and ordered Ant Group to restructure its operations to meet regulatory guidelines. Chinese authorities are trying to tighten oversight of the countrys financial sector, but are also seen as wanting to rein in the huge influence of private tech giants. Mr Ma is a popular figure in China, and one of the countrys best-known businesspeople abroad. Formerly an English teacher, he founded Alibaba in 1999, which became Chinas biggest online ecommerce company. He stepped down as the companys chairman in 2019, but is still one of its largest shareholders.

    Continue reading here:
    How to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you're facing trouble - Yahoo News

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