Protecting those who have protected us

first_imgDavid Shulkin, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will deliver the 2017 Disabled American Veterans Distinguished Lecture at Harvard Law School (HLS) on Thursday. This is the fourth annual event in the DAV Distinguished Speaker Series, which provides a forum for national leaders to address critical issues facing America’s disabled veterans and to engage in conversation with the local community. The series is co-hosted by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of HLS and the HLS Armed Forces Association.  In advance of his visit, Shulkin answered a few questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs and the services it provides.HLS: A VA study found that 20 veterans commit suicide each day. What is the Department of Veterans Affairs doing to increase the availability of mental health services for all our veterans? And what is being done to increase the availability of these services for individuals who — due to PTSD or other mental health issues incurred during their service — may have left the military with less-than-honorable discharges and therefore may not be eligible for benefits?SHULKIN: Nothing is more important to me than making sure that we don’t lose any veterans to suicide. Twenty veterans a day dying by suicide should be unacceptable to all of us. This is a national public health crisis and it requires solutions that not only the VA will work on, but all of government and other partnerships in the private sector and nonprofit organizations.Within weeks of becoming secretary, I authorized emergency mental health services for those who were less-than-honorably discharged. That is a population of veterans at very high risk for suicide. Under this initiative, former service members with an OTH [other than honorable] administrative discharge may receive emergency mental health care for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential, or outpatient care. During this time, the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.HLS: How is the VA responding to the changing nature of warfare and science and its effects on veterans’ health?SHULKIN: Advances in emergency, trauma, and general medicine at the Department of Defense have improved the survival of seriously injured service members. It starts with the training of an entire team, from combat medic to the surgeon and those providing care during and after evacuation. It is truly an amazing system. As a result, many veterans from the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home with multiple and more severe long-term injuries. In addition, these veterans are experiencing some injuries at higher rates than seen in past wars, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amputations, and traumatic brain injuries. The VA has in turn improved its ability to better diagnose and treat these conditions in veterans who fought in previous wars, such as the case of PTSD in Vietnam-era veterans. Advances in prosthetics, medical, and mental health treatments have also improved the quality of life for veterans with these conditions.HLS: The effects of environmental toxins on service members are much better understood today than they were years ago. How is the VA addressing these challenges? SHULKIN: The VA works closely with its counterparts at the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control for a synergistic approach to care and for sharing of information, joint campaign efforts, and studies on environmental exposures. We have a better understanding of the implication of environmental toxins such as Agent Orange, burn pits, and environmental hazards. The VA is a leader in efforts to research, diagnose, monitor, and treat these exposures, and this will likely have implications for civilian environmental exposure concerns as well.HLS: As secretary of Veterans Affairs, you head the largest integrated healthcare system in the U.S. Coordinating the safety, availability, and quality of care in such a large system is complex. Recent news stories report serious incidents of substandard care, including at the VA hospital in Bedford, Mass., and at a facility in New Hampshire. How will you address these issues?SHULKIN: I have made clear that the VA will hold employees accountable when the facts demonstrate that they have failed to live up to the high standards taxpayers expect from us. In May, I established the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to help protect employees who expose problems and assist in using all available authority to discipline or terminate any VA manager or employee who has violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out his or her duties.In June, the president signed into law the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This is an important step forward for our modernization of the VA. It allows us to hold ourselves accountable for the work we do for our veterans. Recently, the VA became the first agency to post information on employee disciplinary actions online. The VA is posting weekly online wait times for every one of our 168 medical centers across the country. No other health system in the country has done anything like that, and no one is as transparent as we are.Regarding the Bedford facility, once I heard of the incident I reminded Veterans Health Administration leadership that I expected them to make decisions involving employee accountability independently in the interests of veterans. Since I was made aware, the VA has taken a number of actions on this issue.This interview has been lightly edited.The 2017 DAV Distinguished Lecture event will be held Thursday (Nov. 2) at noon in Milstein East B on the second floor of Wasserstein Hall on the Harvard Law School campus. The event is open to the public.last_img read more

Saint Mary’s professor of economics dies

first_imgProfessor of business and economics Jerome “Jerry” L. McElroy, who taught at Saint Mary’s for 32 years, died Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. He was 77 years old.McElroy was deeply invested in the life of the community at Saint Mary’s, vice president for college relations Shari Rodriguez said. When asked what he wanted to tell his colleagues and students, McElroy said, “Tell them I love them.”Rodriguez said students, alumnae and faculty loved McElroy right back, as expressed by College President Carol Ann Mooney.“Jerry was the consummate Saint Mary’s faculty member. A man of deep faith, this was not a job for Jerry, but a true vocation,” Mooney said. “He loved his students and colleagues and often demonstrated that love by sharing his beautiful poems with us. None of us will ever forget his warm smile and the countless contributions he made to generations of Saint Mary’s women.”McElroy began teaching at Saint Mary’s in the fall of 1982, and continued to teach through the fall 2014 semester. Jerry was honored with two faculty awards recognizing his excellence in teaching, the Maria Pieta Award in 1989 and the Spes Unica Award in 1997, Rodriguez said.McElroy was also a poet. He hosted annual readings at the College on themes of nature, the supernatural world, childhood on his grandfather’s farm and meditations on themes of grace. Most recently, McElroy offered a reading in October 2014 from his latest published chapbook, “Hidden Graces,” which was published by Finishing Line Press.At the reading, professor emeritus of religious studies Keith Egan introduced McElroy, stating that in McElroy’s lifetime, he has published more than 140 poems, published or co-published 17 books and monographs and produced nearly 142 scholarly papers, which resulted from McElroy’s research into the economies of the islands of the Caribbean.Beyond his admirable accomplishments, McElroy influenced many in the College’s community on a personal level, as shown by the hundreds of letters, notes and e-mails received by his wife of 43 years, Birdie Maria Rossow McElroy.“Each of those who wrote or called felt he [McElroy] knew them well, and they him,” Birdie McElroy said. “He was a spirit that transcended mere cursory knowledge: as one former student said, ‘He saw us.’ That is a rare gift and one that flowed naturally from Jerry, from a large heart, sharp mind, all encased in a soft demeanor and humor that delighted.”Birdie McElroy said although her husband’s five books of published poetry that contain some of her own artwork may not have eclipsed his economic research, his poetry helps distinguish McElroy as a true “Renaissance Man.”“His gift to me as my husband was an abiding love, a kindness that enveloped me, a support for my every endeavor and surely the greatest gift from one human being to another; the gift of knowing me deeply and accepting everything I am,” Birdie McElroy said.Close friend and colleague Richard Measell, who is the chair of the department of business and economics, said that besides being a true family man, McElroy was also a professional and reliable professor, who always sought excellence but not perfection, and handled others with grace and understanding.“Saint Mary’s has many truly outstanding people who have dedicated their lives to working here, but Jerry is part of the very few who definitely are the ‘best of the best,’” Measell said. “Throughout his years here, he demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.“He loved his students dearly and always wanted them to learn as much as they could. … Jerry knew how to relate well to others and his rapport with his students was remarkable — leading many to stay in touch with him after graduation.”One of these former students, Courtney Parry, class of 2009, said she grew especially fond of McElroy, as the two worked together researching, conducting data analyses and writing reviews of several publications.“We worked well as a pair — he would identify a hypothesis (often in an area of island research, his specialty) and I would run the data to prove or disprove the hypothesis,” Parry said. “I would identify the needed datasets, clean the data and run the models.”The research Parry conducted for her senior thesis was used in an article Parry and McElroy co-published her senior year. Parry said she also helped McElroy with a second article after she had graduated.Parry said she will remember McElroy as a wonderful teacher and mentor along with his family who she grew close with over the years.“In many ways, they [the McElroy family] ‘are Saint Mary’s’ — kind, generous in spirit, faithful and supportive.”Tags: jerome mcelroy, jerry mcelroy, professor of economics, saint mary’s professor dieslast_img read more

Panel discusses gender and politics in the Andes

first_imgSubject of the documentaries “Soy Andina” and “Soy Andina II: The Return,” Nelida Silva spoke alongside associate producer of both films, Doris Loayza, and associate political science professor Guillermo Trejo in a panel discussion that examined local politics and gender in rural Peru.Silva said she was born and raised in the rural Andean town of Llamellin, Peru but moved to New York when she was young and lived there for 20 years. In New York, Silva said she worked as an accountant before eventually returning to her hometown.“I decided to back to my village to teach women, so they could earn some money,” she said.Silva said she was proposed as a candidate for mayor of Llamellin, though she initially struggled to decide whether or not to run for office.“I wasn’t sure,” she said. “Candidates are seen as corrupt people.”The documentary “Soy Andina II: The Return” details Silva’s campaign to be mayor. Silva said she ran on a platform of economic development and ultimately lost the election.Traditional gender roles often deter women from becoming involved in politics, but her candidacy demonstrates women’s capabilities, Silva said.“Despite the macho system, which is dominated by males, there is more space for women,” she said. “However, there were more receptive young people — some men, too, but not those who had a [stake] in politics.”Loayza said producing a movie featuring Silva’s political campaign was an arduous task that presented constant challenges, especially in terms of objectivity.“My role was not easy,” Loayza said. “We had to be objective.”Loayza said making two films about the same place brought about some challenges, especially concerning the locals’ perceptions of the documentaries.“The townspeople were developing the idea that the footage from the town was going to be big and disseminated internationally, which made it hard,” she said.Trejo said the film almost never discusses the country of Peru at large because Peruvian politics has a “more local dimension.”“There’s this idea that you leave but you never leave,” he said, “We are living in a reality with the question of universal citizenship. We are not trees. You don’t belong to one place.”According to Trejo, Silva’s gender played an integral role in the success of her campaign.“[Silva] was facing two enemies: political machines and the question of gender,” Trejo said. “It was interesting and infuriating. It is hard for a woman to be heard — not to speak up, because she was, but the audience wasn’t listening. It doesn’t matter if you have the [microphone].”Tags: Documentary, Peru, soy andinalast_img read more

President-elect Michel Martelly Promises “A New Era” in Haiti

first_img On 5 April, Michel Martelly promised the arrival of “a new era” in Haiti, the day after his victory in the presidential election, but his rival, Mirlande Manigat, said that she was “indignant” about the result of the balloting. “People of Haiti, a new era has begun,” the 50-year-old former pop singer declared during his first press conference as president-elect. “I’m proud of having been called to serve my country. I, the bad boy, have received your trust.” “You’ve decided to entrust me with the country, in order to bring it to a safe harbor, to leave aside the old demons and the old quarrels of Haitian politics in order to lead the country in a different way. I want to work with everyone; I’m the president of all Haitians, without exceptions,” he insisted. Michel Martelly, much better known until recently by his stage name of “Sweet Micky,” won the presidential election with 67.57% of the vote, compared to 31.74% for his rival, academic Mirlande Manigat, according to preliminary results from the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), announced on the evening of 4 April. “I love my country, I love Haiti, but I’m legitimately indignant,” Manigat affirmed from her campaign office, although she did not clearly say whether she is going to contest the results. “I will keep fighting,” promised the former first lady, who complained of electoral paralysis. The CEP announced last week that the voting on 20 March was tarnished by fraud and that hundreds of returns submitted by various polling places had been annulled. Definitive results will be announced only on 16 April, following a period during which both candidates may submit appeals, as Martelly did after the first round on 28 November. In a historical irony, the singer had been relegated to third place, behind the ruling-party candidate, Jude Célestin. His supporters held violent demonstrations throughout the country before the Electoral Council approved him to go on to the second round. The international community expressed its satisfaction with the conduct of the second round, which contrasted with the chaos of the first. The United States greeted “the people of Haiti” as they “move forward to rebuild their country,” while France paid homage to “the patience and maturity of the Haitian people, who clearly showed their respect for the electoral process.” The European Union also welcomed the results: “This is an important step (…) and should lead to greater political stability,” said the chief EU diplomat, Catherine Ashton, who is from Great Britain. “The European Union will continue to support Haiti in its endeavors to promote democracy and the rule of law and further the process of reconstruction,” she added. As René Preval’s successor, Martelly will head a government reduced in size following the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010, without a majority in Parliament, and threatened by instability because of the return of exiled former presidents Jean Bertrand Aristide and Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. “The fact that there’s no majority in Parliament could give Martelly the possibility of maneuvering as he likes,” AFP was told by Robert Fatton, a professor of political science at the University of Virginia (in the eastern United States) and a specialist in Haiti. “The problem is that we don’t have any idea of his capacity to confront this kind of political challenge,” he added. “We don’t have any precedents. This guy is totally new, and his party is almost non-existent in terms of representation in Parliament.” “His first priority is forming a government. After that, he will need to manage all Haiti’s problems: reconstruction, displaced populations, security.” The current president, René Preval, will turn over power to Martelly on 14 May, since his presidential term, which was to end in February, was extended by Parliament because of the electoral uncertainty. By Dialogo April 11, 2011last_img read more

The law made simple

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

COVID-19: PKS pushes for lockdown as Jokowi demurs, again

first_imgTopics : Earlier on Tuesday, Jokowi once again said that his administration would not implement a nationwide lockdown and cautioned regional heads who sought to impose stricter movement restrictions in their respective regions.“I have gathered data about countries that have imposed lockdowns and after analyzing them, I don’t think we should go that way,” he said on Tuesday.The COVID-19 outbreak was labeled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. Indonesia, which announced its first two positive cases on March 2, declared COVID-19 to be “a non-natural national disaster” on March 14. The country has so far recorded 686 positive cases, with 55 deaths.Twenty-four of the country’s 34 provinces had reported COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday. Jakarta is the worst affected area with 424 cases and 31 deaths. It is followed by the neighboring provinces of Banten and West Java, with 65 and 60 cases respectively. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has called on the government to implement a lockdown in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, even as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reiterated his opposition to such a policy.”The party has called for a lockdown on various occasions, at least partially, in areas that are the most affected [by the outbreak],” PKS spokesperson Ahmad Fathul Bari said in a statement seen by The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.He said that such a measure was regulated in the 2018 Health Quarantine Law, which specifically states that a lockdown “is an effort to ward off a disease that can potentially cause public health emergencies.”center_img “It’s clear that the current state of the coronavirus can already be categorized as ‘a public health emergency’, so this is the time to implement a lockdown in some of Indonesia’s regions,” Fathul said.Read also: Jokowi must make case for lockdown as COVID-19 may spark social unrest: ReportThe implementation of the lockdown should also be followed by the fulfillment of citizens’ basic needs, including medical and food needs, as stipulated in Article 8 of the law, he added.”If [the Health Quarantine Law] is not carried out, the President is potentially violating the Constitution,” he said.last_img read more

Statements both bold and subtle hit the mark

first_imgThe self-contained living wing.“As soon as Brad walked in he knew by moving a few walls around and knocking a few walls out we could turn this into something special,” Mrs Welten said. “It was always a huge house but it had no flow, so we’ve basically just made it flow.”Feel mesmerised by the sheer space from the moment you step through the front door with the water vistas of Lake Hugh Muntz instantly grabbing your attention. “Brad is all about that wow factor when you walk in and see the water,” Mrs Welten said. As soon as you step inside you can see the water.The lounge area leads out to the deck and new pool as well as the lawn with lake access.“It’s a priceless lifestyle here,” Mrs Welten said. “All the kids in the area have kayaks, so on a weekend there could be 10 kayaks out in the middle of the lake and people swimming.” Also on this level are two bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry and a self-contained living wing complete with a bedroom, bathroom, lounge and kitchen. “The beauty of the granny flat is it has its own separate entry,” Mrs Welten said. “I feel like family accommodation is really important these days.” Upstairs has also been tastefully renovated — what was one bedroom and a large lounge has been transformed into a luxury master suite with ensuite, living area, balcony, two bedrooms and a bathroom. 51 Barrier Reef Drive, Mermaid Waters. The kitchen features are mermaid tiles, spotted gum timber on the walls, Smeg appliances and a walk-in pantry. The pool overlooks Lake Hugh Muntz.More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach Northless than 1 hour ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa20 hours agoThe void is the perfect place for a quirky chandelier, while the timber floating staircase is set off by a large render feature wall. In front is just as inviting with the dining, lounge and kitchen providing space to relax or entertain. “We transformed a bedroom into the kitchen,” Mrs Welten said. “We wanted to create a house where if you’re in the kitchen you can see the kids and the pool and also look out to the water.” Among the kitchen’s standout features are mermaid tiles, spotted gum timber on the walls, Smeg appliances and a walk-in pantry.Subtle touches of timber on the cabinetry also show Mr Welten’s attention to detail. Soak up that view! 51 Barrier Reef Drive, Mermaid Waters is set to go to auction later this month.WIDE water views, earthy vibes and an urban industrial twist.Welcome to 51 Barrier Reef Drive — a six-bedroom north-facing masterpiece in sought-after Mermaid Waters.The edgy design is the work of Brad and Tracey Welten, who spent four months transforming an ’80s brick house into a statement property. 51 Barrier Reef Drive, Mermaid Waters. 51 Barrier Reef Drive, Mermaid Waters.All bedrooms offer stunning water views with floor to ceiling windows. “We wanted to have the layout so you go upstairs and see the water again,” Mrs Welten said. “At night time it’s really nice, you can even see the Q1.” The pair, who have three children, Sunny, 7, Bentley, 4, and Harvey, seven months, said they would be sad to leave. “We did actually renovate this to make it our forever home,” she said. “We have put a lot of heart and soul into this. We wanted to do something that wouldn’t date either.” Nicky Cunningham of Harcourts Broadbeach — Mermaid Waters is marketing the property.It’s scheduled to go to auction on January 20.last_img read more

Live above the treetops and wake up to nature in this tranquil family home

first_imgThe home at 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills.Mr Van Der Giessen said they instantly fell in love with the seclusion and surrounding bushland. “As soon as we walked into the living room and saw the view over the treetops and hills, that was it,” he said. Above the treetops at 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills.On the same level, there is a foyer that leads to the three car lock up garage and self-contained guest house, tennis court and in-ground swimming pool.Above the foyer on the top level, there is an art studio. On the lower level, there is a bedroom with ensuite and covered deck area, rumpus room, kitchenette, laundry and storage. There is also a stand-alone cottage or home office with storage on the property. A bird’s eye view of the home at 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills.The impressive three-level home sits on 1.87ha of land.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus21 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market21 hours agoOn the ground level, there is three bedrooms with built-in-robes plus a master suite with walk-in-robe and ensuite. There is also a family room, open-plan kitchen, living and dining room, study, bathroom, two separate toilets and covered deck areas. The home at 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills.Mrs Van Der Giessen said along with the peacefulness of the bushland, buyers would enjoy the multiple living quarters.“It allows you to have privacy when you need it,” he said.Mr Van Der Giessen said he will miss the location and lifestyle. center_img Inside 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills.“You can’t beat walking up to the sounds of nature,” he said.“I ride my bike to work and I love arriving home at the end of a long day.“The closer I get to home, the more the city sounds disappear and the birds and insects take over.” 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills.This home is a nature lover’s haven.Owners Rose and Maaren Van Der Giessen bought the property at 312 Bielby Rd, Kenmore Hills in 2011.last_img read more

Dutch REITS to grow in competitiveness after change to tax regime

first_imgRonald Wijs, a member of EPRA’s tax committee, said the changes to legislation came about after EPRA and the industry consulted the government on the system’s negative impacts.“This legislation is a major improvement,” he said. “It should allow Dutch REITs to manage their property portfolios in a more dynamic way and to meet the changing demands from investors and tenants.”However, the changes to the tax regime came with several stipulations, EPRA said.The government will only provide tax allowances if the ancillary activities take place in a legitimate subsidiary, and if the activities directly relate to the core investment.It also said the total value of shares in the subsidiary may not exceed 15% of the value of the FBI as a whole, while turnover may not exceed 25%.In line with this, the subsidiary providing the ancillary activities may only be financed by equity.The government said this was to prevent companies from keeping their value artificially low. Changes to the tax regime for Dutch real estate investment trusts (REITS) will see them grow competitively within Europe, according to the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA).The organisation said the changes, which came into force in 2014, would now allow the Dutch funds, known locally as FBIs, to compete against other REITS.It said the changes would allow FBIs’ ancillary services – such as providing meeting space, in-house catering or energy to tenants – to qualify for the same special tax regime as their core activities.This falls in line with the structure elsewhere in Europe and now sets Dutch funds on a level playing field, EPRA said.last_img read more

Regulator responds to call for ‘swift action’ over UK media group sale

first_imgFor example, the PPF has said that it did not “understand why there was an apparent rush to complete the pre-pack administration” and that it had been led to believe that the publisher had “more than adequate cash reserves”, including to pay the next pension contribution of around £800,000 (€895,000) that was due on 18 November.Commenting on this, Field yesterday said: “It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a company that dumps its pensions liabilities just days before it has to put £800,000 into the pension fund might be up to no good.“It’s clear that the PPF, which is left to foot the bill, has serious doubts about this pre-pack deal.”A spokesperson for TPR said it was looking closely at the circumstances of the Johnston Press pre-pack deal, including timing of the company sale.However, pre-packs could happen at short notice and “it is not possible to launch an investigation into a pre-pack that has not taken place”.“Regulating the process leading to a pre-pack is a matter for the other agencies,” added the spokesperson.“Our role is to focus on a pre-pack’s impact on an employer’s pension scheme.”TPR did not have the power to stop a pre-pack taking place, as there was no requirement for either it or the PPF to pre-approve it. The UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) is investigating the bankruptcy of media company Johnston Press amid pressure from politicians over the fate of the company’s defined benefit (DB) pension scheme.TPR did not have the power to stop the ‘pre-pack’ deal, it said in a response to influential MP Frank Field, who had raised concerns about the sale of Johnston Press after it was put into administration. This meant its DB scheme automatically entered the Pension Protection Fund’s (PPF) assessment period, with some members set to have their benefits reduced.In a statement issued yesterday, Field, the chair of the UK parliament’s work and pensions committee, said: “The Pensions Regulator has promised to be quicker and tougher — now would be a good time to start.”The politician had already challenged about the sale of Johnston Press and the offloading of the DB scheme, but followed up on this yesterday after “worrying details” about the circumstances of the sale had come to light.last_img read more