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  • Women suffer as lockdown worsens Latin America’s ‘domestic hell’

    first_imgIn Argentina, 18 women have been killed by their partner or ex-partners during the first 20 days of a mandatory quarantine instituted by the government from March 20. Appeals to helplines in Argentina are up nearly 40 percent.The country is still reeling from the shocking murder of Cristina Iglesias and her seven-year-old daughter Ada, killed by her mother’s partner in the early days of the lockdown. Their two bodies were found buried in the backyard of their home in a town in Buenos Aires province.Elsewhere, police — alerted by neighbors — arrived in the nick of time to save a woman whose husband attacked her with a hammer. Living in fear A staggering 3,800 women were murdered in Latin America in 2019, an 8 percent increase on the previous year, according to preliminary data from the Observatory for Gender Equality at CEPAL, the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.”Unfortunately, many women and girls are particularly exposed to violence precisely where they should be protected, in their own homes,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who issued a call for a domestic violence “ceasefire” as lockdowns extended into April.”You live in fear of turning your back on him. It is only later, when the bruises appear, that you realize that he could have killed you,” Luciana, a 25-year-old victim of domestic violence, told AFP. She was badly beaten by her ex-husband.”Every day, a women is abused, raped or beaten at home by her partner or her ex,” said Ada Rico, from the NGO La Casa del Encuentro.”In normal times, we would help her to file a complaint. These days, the urgency is to get her out of the house as quickly as possible.”The situation is similarly grim in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and elsewhere, where measures taken by the authorities often fall far short of properly protecting victims.In Mexico, “emergency calls have increased” since the start of the lockdown on March 24, said Nadine Gasman, head of the National Women’s Institute in Mexico City.Maria Salguero, who researches violence against women and created a “femicide map” around the country, estimated that around 200 women have been murdered since quarantine measures began. Rape and murder The sordid murder of Ana Paola, a 13-year-old who was raped and beaten to death by a burglar in the northeastern state of Sonora in early April, provoked widespread disgust and anger in Mexico.Emergency calls to the National Refugee Network, an NGO which caters to women victims of violence, have increased by 60 percent since the beginning of the confinement period. The number of women taken into care by the organization is up 5 percent.With more than 1,000 femicides in 2019, two recent brutal murders — one of a seven-year-old girl — once again highlighted a lack of action by authorities.Mexican feminist activists have demanded more effective policies from President Andres Manuel Lopez to combat the wave of violence.It’s a similar case in Peru, where 2019 femicides were the highest in a decade.In Sao Paulo, the epicenter of Brazil’s virus outbreak, reports of domestic violence have risen by 30 percent since the state government imposed a stay-at-home order.A group of 700 volunteers have formed a “vigilante network” to provide victims with medical, legal and psychological assistance through a WhatsApp messaging service.In Chile, which has opted for selective confinement in the most affected areas plus a nighttime curfew, complaints of domestic violence are up 500 percent in Providencia, an upper class neighborhood in the capital Santiago.The crisis has resulted in “increased alcohol consumption, mental health effects, increased anxiety, depression and violence within families,” said senior health official Paula Daza. Topics : Weeks of confinement imposed by the coronavirus pandemic is taking a chilling toll on women and girls across Latin America, where the number of calls to helplines have soared, made by victims of domestic violence who cannot flee. Appeals to help women experiencing violence in the home have redoubled in recent weeks, from the United Nations to Pope Francis — Latin America’s first pontiff. “The confinement is plunging thousands of women into hell, trapped with an attacker who they are more afraid of than the coronavirus,” said Victoria Aguirre from the Argentine NGO MuMaLa, which campaigns against violence related to macho culture.last_img read more

  • Champions League ready to resume, at long last

    first_imgAfter an enforced hiatus of almost five months, the UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week in order to clear up the last remaining business in a troubled season.Both competitions were frozen in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the continent, and while European football’s governing body acted swiftly to move Euro 2020 back a year, for a long time it was unclear how it would manage to complete its two landmark club competitions.In the end the solution was to set up two mini tournaments bringing all teams together in one place from the quarter-finals onwards, with all ties being decided in one-off matches behind closed doors. And so the Champions League will move to Lisbon for the ‘Final Eight’ starting on August 12 and ending with the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on August 23.The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played to a conclusion at a series of venues in western Germany, with the last eight beginning on August 10 and the final in Cologne on August 21.”I believed it from the first moment,” said the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin recently when asked if he ever doubted it would be possible to play the tournaments to a conclusion.”You should always be optimistic, and if something like this crisis happens, you must have a plan ready. “At the present time, we will be playing matches without spectators until further notice. We will not take any risks.”UEFA not worried There is, though, no question of further changes being made to the formats despite concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases in and around Lisbon, and more recent worries in Germany about a rise in cases there.UEFA also recently insisted it was “confident” there would be no more delays despite cases of coronavirus emerging among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla.It is, in any case, now or never.Indeed, the preliminary round of next season’s Champions League begins next Saturday, the same day Bayern Munich entertain Chelsea and Napoli visit Barcelona in their outstanding last 16 second legs.Before that, Manchester City defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at home against Real on Friday as Pep Guardiola’s side target Champions League glory on the back of the club’s success at getting a two-year ban from the competition overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.The winner of that tie will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals in Lisbon.Wolves’ longest year It is the Europa League which is first up, though, with the last 16 being completed on Wednesday and Thursday.Two ties — Inter Milan against Getafe and Sevilla against Roma — will go ahead as one-off ties in Germany as the first legs were never played.Six second legs will also be played with the winners heading to Germany for the last eight.Among the ties to be completed is Manchester United’s against Austrian side LASK, which will be a formality for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team after they won 5-0 in the first leg in March.Their form since the Premier League resumed in mid-June has been excellent and they have already sealed a place in the 2020-21 Champions League, but now they want to finish this never-ending season with a trophy.”Now our focus is on the Europa League because this is a really good trophy and we want to win,” Bruno Fernandes told MUTV.”I came to Manchester to win trophies. We need to play every game to win. If we go into the Europa League and win every game, we know we’ll win the trophy.”United, Europa League winners in 2017, could yet find themselves facing Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-finals in Cologne on August 16 should both teams get there.Wolves entertain Greek champions Olympiakos on Thursday having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.Their campaign started more than a year ago now, with a 2-0 win over Northern Irish side Crusaders in the second qualifying round on July 25, 2019.Extending it by another couple of weeks would do them no harm.Topics :last_img read more

  • Fed-up feds demand end to subway shambles

    first_imgCONTROVERSY has never been far from the Red line metro in Los Angeles. Tunnel collapses, frequent delays and rows with contractors have all attracted attention. Things went from bad to worse in Decem-ber, and when LA Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Joseph Drew announced his resignation, it was a sure sign of more trouble.On December 16 outgoing Transportation Secretary Federico Peña and Federal Transit Administrator Gordon Linton summoned MTA board members to a private meeting. They were given an ultimatum to complete Red line projects in hand and quickly finalise plans for other schemes, as well as adopt a ’code of conduct’ to end their meddling in day-to-day operations. A statement issued by Linton said that ’these projects are vital to the nation as well as the immediate Los Angeles community’, but what he did not say was that the govern-ment is worried about its 50% share of funding the $5·9bn project.MTA board members next discovered that Executive Director of Construction Stanley Phernambucq had resigned too, citing ’the dysfunctional relationship that exists between and among board members and our public works programme.’ At the board’s meeting on December 18 it was politics as usual – members postponed consideration of budget cuts and delayed the award of a politically sensitive con-struction management contract for the segment of the Red line to East LA. It so happened that a criminal investigation was under way into possible attempts to exert improper influence on the contract award. ’This is not the kind of signal we want to send to Washington’, said Board President Larry Zarian.January 8 saw MTA staff propose a revised metro and light rail con-struction plan that would see Phase 1 of the East LA line completed in 2004 instead of 2001 and the mid-city segment by 2009, around seven years late. Opening of the Pasadena Blue line would be delayed to 2003.On January 10 the MTA board voted to approve the revised Red line schedule. This complied with a January 15 deadline set by the FTA for the board to reaffirm its commitment to getting the line built. The meeting also adopted a code of conduct banning contractors from contacting board members before or after submission of their bids.Linton said the Red line reaffirm-ation was a move in the right direction, but he stopped short of saying it met the government’s criteria for confirmed funding. olast_img read more

  • AlpInvest takes over management of life science funds of funds

    first_imgAlpInvest – formerly owned by the large Dutch asset managers APG and PGGM – is Carlyle’s private equity branch and among the world’s largest private equity investors.Carlyle manages €132bn of alternative investments worldwide.Last week, AlpInvest announced that its Secondaries Program (ASP) reached more than €3bn, including its secondaries fund V (ASF V), which closed at its hard cap of more than €548m – 50% over its target.According to AlpInvest, ASP includes commitments from not only APG and PGGM but also 18 other institutional investors.The private equity investor said it had issued €6.6bn of commitments through 84 transactions over the past 11 years.A 22-strong team in Amsterdam, New York and Hong Kong are managing the company’s investment. The €35bn private equity investor AlpInvest Partners and alternatives asset manager Carlyle Group have assumed the management of two life science funds of funds in Indiana.They said their combined assets in the Indiana Future Fund (IFF) and its successor, the Inext Program (INext), amounted to €95m.The IFF was established in 2003 to invest in venture capital funds looking to invest in life sciences in Indiana.AlpInvest and Carlyle already have an office in Indianapolis, where a two-strong team of investment professionals manage €223m on behalf of the state pension fund INPRS, aimed at direct investments, co-investments and fund commitments in the state.last_img read more

  • Denmark asks pension funds for traffic-infrastructure financing proposals

    first_imgSo far, none of the pension funds invited has submitted a proposal to the ministry.The idea of building a motorway ring road that would connect motorways north and south of Copenhagen, involving an undersea tunnel, has been under discussion for more than seven years.The harbour tunnel (havnetunnelen) proposal – also known as the Eastern Ring Road or Østlig Ringvej proposal – has been seen as a way of relieving inner-city congestion and improving air quality for the city’s inhabitants. A 2013 analysis by the ministry estimated the cost of building the underground road system could be DKK15bn (€2bn), and that user tolls could bring in around DKK3.5bn a year.In a recent interview in the Danish publication Ingeniøren (The Engineer), Schmidt said: “If anyone wants to build a Copenhagen tunnel and says they will pay in exchange for the money earned from drivers going through it, they are very welcome to do that.”Schmidt said in the interview he had asked the pension funds to submit proposals for road and rail projects, although he acknowledged the harbour tunnel was uppermost in his mind.The first step is to finance a feasibility study into the building of the tunnel, he said, which is part of the government’s programme.But this work cannot begin without the involvement of the municipality of the city of Copenhagen, as well as companies developing the harbour island of Refshaleøen and the Nordhavn area (north harbour), he said.Schmidt stressed that, in contrast to the 18km Femern Tunnel project linking Denmark and Germany, the traffic investments now in question would not be guaranteed by the state.Private investors would be the ones shouldering the risk in return for receiving income from motorists, rail companies or passengers, he said. Danish pension funds have been invited to work on financing proposals for traffic infrastructure projects in the country by the Ministry of Transport and Building (Transport- og Bygningsministeriet), including the ambitious Copenhagen harbour tunnel plan.The minister for transport and building Hans Christian Schmidt met representatives of several Danish pension funds a few months ago, a spokeswoman for the ministry confirmed.“He has asked pension funds to come up with proposals for financing new infrastructure projects,” she said, adding that the meeting had been an informal one in which Schmidt told the institutional investors they could send propositions to the ministry.Although no specific projects have been laid on the table, the spokeswoman said it was possible one of the pension funds could be interested in finding a way to invest in the suggested harbour tunnel idea.last_img read more

  • Dutch pension sector cautiously positive about reform agreement

    first_imgAs their coverage ratio stood at 101.6% and 100.5% at April-end, respectively, they had been facing benefit cuts no later than next year, which would have affected 2m workers and pensioners.However, both schemes highlighted that such discounts would not be entirely off the table, as funding levels could still be short of 100% at the end of this year.Coverage ratios have decreased since April, following a fall in interest rates – causing pension funds’ liabilities to increase – combined with declining equity markets. Peter Borgdorff, PFZWPeter Borgdorff, director of the €217bn healthcare scheme PFZW, also warned that the danger of pension cuts hadn’t disappeared yet, citing persistently low interest rates.PFZW’s funding stood at 100.4% at April-end. However, the healthcare scheme has to meet the minimum funding level by December 2020, rather than 2019 as is the case for the metal sector schemes.Borgdorff added that trade union members still had to approve the agreement, and that several elements of the accord, including the new pension contracts, still had to be fleshed out.The €431bn civil service scheme ABP praised the “real steps” that had been made towards a better and mor sustainable pensions system that still included the valuable elements of the current system, such as the collective approach.Corien Wortmann-Kool, ABP’s chair, offered the scheme’s expertise to the groups responsible for establishing new discount rules and the transition to a new pensions system.ABP’s coverage ratio stood at 102.1% at the end of April.The Pensions Federation described the result as a “breakthrough” after almost 10 years of negotiations for system reform, highlighting the importance of keeping the concepts of collectivity and risk sharing.Shaktie Rambaran Mishre, chair of the industry organisation, urged social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees and the social partners to provide sufficient space for tailor-made solutions.The association of Dutch insurers (VvV) described the agreement as “a good basis for pensions reform”.The only negative response to the pensions agreement came from 50PLUS, the political party for the elderly.It said that it was completely unclear who was going to pay for the costly transition from average to degressive pensions acrual.The party feared that pension cuts would still be possible as long as the “artificially low” discount rate for liabilities remained unchanged, and made clear that the temporary freeze of the retirement age rise was insufficient.Elsewhere, commenting on the agreement, Koolmees said that the work on the two future pensions contract options and the plan for the transition to a new pensions system was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.He added that the cabinet aimed to complete the legal framework for system reform by the start of 2022. The Dutch pensions sector has responded positively to the pensions agreement reached by employers, workers and the government.The parties earlier this week agreed in principle that the planned official retirement age increases would be slowed down and that workers in physically demanding jobs would get the option of early retirement.A new steering group has been tasked with fleshing out two new variants for a pensions contract as well as the transition from average to degressive pensions accrual.The two large metal and engineering pension funds PMT and PME said that they were particularly pleased, as the agreement also included a cut in the minimum required funding level from 104.3% to 100%.last_img read more

  • Australia’s top court recognises ‘neutral’ third gender

    first_imgNZ News 3 April 2014 Australia’s highest court on Wednesday recognised the existence of a third “non-specific” gender that is neither male nor female, in a landmark ruling campaigners said will help end years of discrimination.The High Court ruled that not everyone should be forced to identify as a man or woman when dealing with officials, saying some people could legitimately describe themselves as gender neutral.“The High Court… recognises that a person may be neither male nor female, and so permits the registration of a person’s sex as ‘non?specific’,” it said in a unanimous judgement.The decision ended a long legal battle by sexual equality campaigner Norrie to overturn a New South Wales state edict that gender is an inherently “binary” concept involving only men or women.“I’m overjoyed,” the Sydney-based activist said. “It’s been a long time from start to end but this has been a great outcome.“Maybe people will understand now that there’s more options than just the binary. So while an individual might be male or female, not all their friends might be and maybe they might be more accepting of that.” read more

  • Cech prepared for Courtois battle

    first_img Belgium’s highly-rated World Cup stopper Thibaut Courtois joins the Blues squad next week having completed a successful three-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid. Courtois has been described by Blues boss Jose Mourinho as the “best young goalkeeper in the world”. The 22-year-old was outstanding last season when he helped Atletico win the Spanish league title and reach the Champions League final, eliminating Chelsea at the semi-final stage in the process. Cech has accepted the challenge by telling Mourinho he is ready to prove he should still be first choice. “I always give my best. That’s all I can do,” Cech told reporters on the club’s pre-season tour of Austria. “I will do my best and I will do everything I can to be as ready as possible for when the season starts. “Jose Mourinho will make the choice how his team is going to look for the first game. “It’s up to us players to show that we are ready to play and make him pick us. I’m not different, I’m doing everything to make him pick me. “I don’t want to be on the bench and as I said I will do everything not to be. “I don’t want to talk about ifs or buts though, let’s see. I’m going day by day and we will see what is going to happen. Press Association Petr Cech is determined to fight for his place as his decade-long reign as Chelsea’s preferred goalkeeper comes under threat for the first time. “All I have in my control is my performance on the pitch and the way I prepare. Anything else is not in my hands.” Cech made his first appearance since dislocating his shoulder in April when Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw with WAC in Austria. “It was great to be back. I’m further ahead than what we thought it might have been which is another positive thing,” Cech said. “The third positive thing is that I felt like I never stopped. “When you play your first pre-season game you get used to the space again and the pace of the game but I felt fit.” last_img read more

  • Improved Jangoo rues inability to reach triple figures

    first_imgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CMC) – Trinidadian Amir Jangoo says he is disappointed at failing to notch his maiden first class hundred, despite twice flirting with the landmark during the current first class championship.The left-hander, who plays for Leeward Islands Hurricanes, fell for 90 against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the sixth round and also perished for an identical score in the seventh round against Guyana Jaguars.“I studied the opposition and their bowlers,” the 22-year-old told the Express newspaper here.“Obviously, I knew Trinidad and their bowlers, having been on the same team as those guys in the past. So I think I had a good understanding of my game and what I had to do going into the match, and I just had to execute on the field.”He added: “It was disappointing not getting triple figures because those two innings came when the team was in very bad positions and getting to triple figures would have helped the team even more, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be as yet.”Jangoo has scored three half-centuries overall this season en route to 373 runs at an average of 31 from his 12 innings. Last season, he featured in just three matches for his native Red Force, managing only 92 runs.His best season came in 2017-18 when he gathered nearly 500 runs for Red Force with three half-centuries.After a slow start to the current season, his consistency has gradually improved and Jangoo said that was down to becoming more knowledgeable about his own game.“I am not really changing much with my batting,” he said.“But I understand my game better and [I am] understanding more about batsmanship in terms of 50-over and four-day cricket, so I really think it has helped me improve my game.”Having joined Hurricanes, Jangoo has found himself playing alongside the likes of West Indies players Alzarri Joseph, Rahkeem Cornwall and Kieran Powell.And as the only “foreign” player, Jangoo said he was aware of the pressures to produce sustained performances.“I think it is just a relaxed environment. Obviously as an overseas player getting picked for another team, you always have to perform, so there is that added pressure,” he pointed out.“I think the franchise understands that so I guess I just have to go out there and do what I have to do and once I do my part, everything else will take care of itself.”Jangoo has a career average of 28 from 22 first class matches.Hurricanes have struggled this season and currently lie bottom of the table with a single win from eight matches.The championship was last week suspended for 30 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.last_img read more