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Read Full Story Paying up to 40% more for organic food is worth the investment, wrote Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in a Wall Street Journal article on June 16, 2013.While researchers have yet to provide a definitive answer about whether more costly and harder-to-find organic food, such as produce, milk, and meat, is healthier than conventional foods, “It only makes sense that food free of pesticides and chemicals is safer and better for us than food containing those substances, even at trace levels,” Lu wrote.What’s more, he wrote, “Some convincing scientific does exist to suggest that an organic diet has its benefits.” In 2006 Lu led a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives that showed that within five days of substituting mostly organic produce for conventional produce in children’s diets, pesticides disappeared from the children’s urine.Both Lu and a University of Florida physician, who countered Lu’s view on buying organic, advised those on limited budgets to consider buying organic versions of foods on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, or focus on organic versions of foods eaten most frequently. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less processed foods remains the goal, they wrote. read more
The government is facing mounting pressure to postpone the regional elections this December amid concerns about greater COVID-19 transmission across the country, as officials prepare even stricter curbs.Indonesia saw another daily high for new COVID-19 infections on Monday, with the 4,176 new cases recorded adding urgency to calls to postpone the elections to prevent the virus from spreading further among the population.The two largest grassroots Islamic organizations in the country, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, are among the latest civil society groups to call for a delay to the simultaneous elections, in order to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. The two groups expressed concerns that the election process, particularly campaigning, would inevitably involve a large number of people and would therefore pose a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission around the country.“At every stage of organizing the election, even with stricter health protocols, it is difficult to prevent concentrations of people in large numbers,” said NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj and secretary general Helmy Faishal Zaini in a statement.They also asked the government to divert funds allocated for the elections to be used instead to contain the spread of COVID-19.Muhammadiyah, meanwhile, urged the General Elections Commission (KPU) to hold talks with the Home Ministry and the House of Representatives to review their decision to hold the December elections. “The KPU will do well to carefully deliberate whether to delay the 2020 elections until it’s possible [to hold the poll]. The safety of the people takes precedence compared with organizing the elections, which could potentially act as [a means of] COVID-19 transmission,” Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nashir and secretary general Abdul Mu’ti said in a statement.The postponement of an election during a health crisis, which is regarded as a non-natural disaster, is justifiable, according to the Regional Elections Law, if the government, the KPU and the House agree to do so.At the moment, all three sides still insist on going through with the December polls.In addition to NU and Muhammadiyah, former vice president Jusuf Kalla has also called for a postponement of the elections, pointing out that at least 71 countries have already taken similar actions.In an op-ed published by Kompas daily on Monday, Kalla said that countries like Australia, France and Iran, which eventually allowed their citizens to cast their ballots, had invariably recorded low voter turnout.“The best way, in the interest of the people, is to postpone the regional elections until next year after vaccines have been discovered and proven effective in containing the spread of COVID-19. We could hold [the regional elections] in 2021,” Kalla wrote.The government has already once postponed the regional elections, but is intent on holding them on Dec. 9, during which 270 regional leadership posts will be contested, comprising nine governorships, 224 regencies and 37 mayorships.Officials have argued that the electoral process could be used as an opportunity to spur administrations into acting on the COVID-19 outbreak in their respective regions.“This is the moment, if we can set it right, to encourage the regional administrations to seriously tackle COVID-19,” said Home Minister Tito Karnavian in a virtual discussion on Sunday. “The next regional elections, if the regulation is not amended, will be in 2024, which means that they [regional leaders] will have less than four years [in office]. If [the pandemic] still lasts into 2021 and 2022, they will eventually face the same issues [as at present].”The wider public, on the other hand, appears to be in support of a postponement.A July survey held by Jakarta-based pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia found that 63.1 percent of respondents preferred to have the elections postponed. A similar poll by Charta Politika revealed that 54.2 percent of the respondents disagreed with the decision to hold the December elections.Riris Andono Ahmad, an epidemiologist at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, one of the regions holding an election this year, recommended that simultaneous elections be postponed until the government could take control of the outbreak. Otherwise, the number of COVID-19 cases would only soar higher, putting the healthcare system at risk of collapse.Expecting candidates and voters to follow health protocols to reduce transmission risks was almost impossible as had been observed so far, he said, especially after the relaxation of restrictions saw people’s mobility increase and cases spike.”When there are crowds, transmission risks will increase. It’s not only about the number of people there; there are also ventilation, duration and distance factors that need to be taken into account,” Riris said.The latest KPU regulation allows candidates to host physical campaign events that could attract crowds, including general meetings, concerts, art performances, festivals, competitions, bazaars, blood donation drives and commemorations of party anniversaries, all with no more than 100 attendees and by following health protocols. Specifically, for general meetings, they must be held outdoors and commence from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the latest.Of the total 309 regencies and cities holding elections, including 39 regencies and cities in nine provinces where voters will elect governors, 45 are in red zones at high risk of COVID-19 infection, according to government data on Sept. 10. Among them are Medan, North Sumatra, where President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s son-in-law Bobby Nasution is running for mayor.Meanwhile, three KPU commissioners have contracted COVID-19, and the KPU discovered earlier that 46 prospective candidates across the country had tested positive for the illness.Furthermore, a total of 243 prospective candidates were found to have violated health protocols earlier this month.The election watchdog the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), which has consistently called for postponement over concerns about public health since March, has urged the government to heed the calls by NU and Muhammadiyah.“The government’s insistence on holding elections in December despite opposition from the vast majority of the public will only result in people becoming politically apathetic. It will discourage people from voting,” Perludem executive director Titi Anggraini said.Tito said the government was now considering issuing either a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) specifically regulating sanctions against those who violate health protocols during regional elections or an all-inclusive Perppu covering everyday public compliance with health protocols.But Titi said: “The blueprint of regional elections was based on the situation before the pandemic, therefore, any adjustment to sanctions for health-protocol violations will not deter cavalier behavior.”“The only adjustment we need is for the government, the House and the KPU to postpone the elections until the pandemic shows signs of abating, or at least until mid-2021,” she said.She suggested the government issue a Perppu to push back the elections.Topics : read more
Trips to Essentuki (Super Eaglesâ€™ Base Camp), Kaliningrad, Volgograd, St Petersburg, Moscow and Kazan, have really given this reporter more insight about the Russian than his first time out here. And St Petersburg, with its beauty and warmth to foreigners, appeals more to me to warrant my making the place my base. Imposing four-star Park Inn by Radisson Pribaltyskaya was first home for a couple of days before opting for a more manageable accommodation in an apartment building in Pulkovskoe area of St Petersburg.Unlike the Park Inn, the Salut Apartments are three imposing 15-story buildings overlooking the Mercedes Centre on the highway from the Pulkovo Airport. Apart from its alluring facilities that make the place home away from home, it is less than 20 minutes drive away from one of the busy airports servicing Russiaâ€™s second biggest city.But our love for the place almost turned sour with an early morning alarm signal thursday. Few minutes after the alarm, a voice in Russian boomed through the speakers in each of the apartments. We were lost of what was happening until another voice whipped the three Nigerian journalists, (Vanguardâ€™s Tony Ubani, Christian Okpara of The Guardian and my humble self) into panic mode. The voice simply said: â€œVacate the building there is fire.â€ Fire? How, where? The three of us sprang out of our rooms into the lobby of the 8th floor. While one dashed towards the lift, another started screaming no use of lift in time of fire like this. Funny enough, the two exit points were written in Russian language but we had to use our initiatives to follow the direction of the arrow which ultimately led us to the staircase. In what appears to be race for life, we hopped several steps to ensure we beat other nationals also trying to get out of the building which is the Block A. In less than three minutes we were down at the reception try to catch our breath. Five other Nigerians who came in from the UK but also resident in the building also joined us in safety at the designated points.We looked out for where the fire was burning in any of the floors, but there was none. Most staff of the apartment were going about their duties as if nothing was amiss. Then, one lady who appears as the Manager of the Salut Apartments came to address us that what we have just experienced was routine for their guests. She said it was meant to keep everyone in the high-rise building in check and to know what to do in case of an emergency. Did we feel angry? Your guess was right: â€œThis Oyinbo people dey craze, why dem go dey play with something like fire?â€ muttered my colleague Ubani of Vanguard.Reminded that it was good that we have known our ways round the emergency exit points in building, that sort of quelled the early morning false fire alarm. It was worth all the stress as I now know what to do in case of similar situation next time. No panic is the watchword that we learnt.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram FIRE IN THE BUILDING, EVACUATE!Those who have never experienced an emergency situation of fire alarm in a 15-story building will not understand what some of us (Nigerian journalists) went through this morning here in St Petersburg, Ruassia. Let me give you the preamble.On arrival here in Russia for the World Cup three days to the June 14 kick off date at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, one was filled with excitement of going to tour at least eight of the 11 Russian cities designated to host the 2018 Mundial. Of course, having visited Moscow as first time visitor in 2013 for the IAAF World Championships where Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor equaled Nigeriaâ€™s best outing at the competition, winning a silver and bronze in the 200m and long jump, I truly wanted to know and feel the rest of the Russian cities. read more