Immediate life insurance website launched, first in world

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The first website in the world allowing consumers to buy life insurance online instantly has been launched today, targeting specifically New Zealanders.

The website, run by life insurance company Pinnacle Life, allows New Zealanders in many countries in the world to buy life insurance online without the need for a medical examination. Once the application has been approved, which is done immediately, the consumer can receive a $500,000 life insurance policy via an automatic e-mail. However, if certain conditions have been highlighted, then person to person contact is required to finalise the process.

Ed Saul, senior partner and architect of the new website, says, “We’re giving consumers a quicker and easier way to buy life insurance. Instead of submitting an application form and waiting days for a policy to be approved and issued, we do it online and we do it immediately.”

“The revolutionary website gives consumers complete control over the buying process whilst eliminating the previously obligatory involvement of people and paper. This is a global test case eagerly watched by the insurance industry around the world,” Mr Saul said.

When applying online, a few typical questions are asked on personal information and if the applicant has had any previous illnesses or diseases.

The countries where New Zealand citizens are allowed to apply are UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the USA.

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US Defense Secretary evaluates Iraq and the political climate

Friday, April 6, 2007

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned that limiting funding for the United States efforts in Iraq could lead to more bloodshed in the Middle Eastern country. In an interview with radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, he said it might even lead to ethnic cleansing in Bahgdad and elsewhere in Iraq.

Gates’ comment followed a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to end most spending on the Iraq war in 2008, limiting it to targeted operations against al Qaeda, training for Iraqi troops and U.S. force protection.

Sec. Gates also said that the duration of the troop increase is not clear and that evaluating whether the Administration’s new strategy was working will have to wait till mid-summer. The Army general charged with day-to-day operations has suggested that the increased deployment may extend to early next year.

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Fitness Equipment

How Does A Physiotherapist Help Maintain Players Fitness At Rugby League Clubs

By Adrianna Noton

A physiotherapist has become an integral part of the so-called backroom team of most kinds of contemporary professional sports club. The term ‘being in the physio room’ is often used as a kind of shorthand for being injured in some sports. The role is especially important in a contact sport such as rugby league, but what does a physio do besides rub damaged muscles and strap up painful joints?

One of the most important factors in managing the injuries likely to occur at a rugby league club is make sure that the chances of them happening are reduced. This kind of process is known as ‘pre-hab’ these days, an adaptation of the term ‘rehabilitation, which is what a physio helps players do after they are injured. Pre-hab focuses on making sure that players are less likely to need rehabilitation.

A physio should play a part in shaping each individual player’s individual strengthening and stretching programmes are part of this ‘pre-hab’ process. Stretching helps the muscles to recover from the demands of training and playing as a professional rugby league player. Other techniques to stretch and strengthen have been borrowed from disciplines such as yoga and pilates in recent times.

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Physios will tailor a stretching and strengthening programme to the requirements of specific players, who may have a history of certain types of injury. The way a player’s body functions and is structured may also affect how they need to train. A physio needs to identify potential vulnerabilities and work to minimize the risk that occurs as a result of them.

In these cases, it is important to build core strength in the body. Additionally, any vulnerable areas, such as the muscles around the knee or the ankle, need to be stronger and more flexible. This is especially important for players with a history of previous injury.

If this process of stretching and strengthening is being carried out effectively then their bodies should be able to cope more effectively with the demands that their sport places upon them. Of course, in a game which is so fast and involves such intense physical contact, injuries are still bound to occur on a regular basis, especially with the number of games modern professionals have to play. A physios main job may be to handle to consequences of an injury occurring, but increasingly, they are also expected to prevent injuries occurring.

Working as part of an effective backroom team along with conditioning coaches and nutritionists has also become a crucial part of a physios tasks these days. A nutritionist can tailor a player’s diet so that their health is kept at a high enough level to cope with the demands of playing and training. Hydration and refuelling in order to stay fit and compete are vital for players in today’s game.

Maintaining an effective body weight for their position in the team is crucial for players. Carrying extra fat around, or having too little muscle to protect vulnerable areas means that the chance of injury is increased. A physiotherapist must therefore work very closely with other health professionals at the club in order to ensure that players are kept in the best possible condition at all times.

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Judge delays exit exam decision until Friday

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A California judge has delayed until Friday his decision on whether to stop the state from requiring high school students to pass the California High School Exit Examination in order to graduate.

On Monday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert B. Freedman said he would issue an injunction against the high-stakes test, which was taken Tuesday by thousands of seniors in danger of not being graduated unless they pass, unless the state’s attorneys came up with an otherwise convincing argument by 2 p.m.

Instead, Freedman said he would wait until Friday to issue his decision.

The San Francisco law firm Morrison & Foerster filed the lawsuit on behalf of Richmond High School senior Liliana Valenzuela and others. It contends that the test violates the “equal protection” concept of the law in that poor students and English-language learners don’t have access to equal education.

The ruling would affect about 47,000 California high school seniors, and dozens at James Logan High School, who have yet to pass the exam and would be barred from being graduated if they don’t.

Thirty-two James Logan students were scheduled to take the second half of the two-day test Wednesday, along with thousands of others throughout the state.

Last week, state Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell said that about 47,000 California high school seniors still needed to pass the test or face the prospect of completing four years of schoolwork without receiving a diploma. O’Connell wrote the law requiring the test while serving in the state legislature.

The statistics O’Donnell cited also show that, while nearly 90 percent of seniors have passed the test, only 71 percent of seniors who are English learners have passed, and 83 percent of those classified as low-income have passed.

Of the 50 taking the first part of the test at Logan High on Tuesday, only 13 were native English speakers.

Cynthia O’Brien, who is coordinating the administration of the exit exam at James Logan, said she’d like some certainty about whether the test is going to be required or not.

“The politicals in STATE and our judicial system need to get together and do the right job by the students. If the Exit Exam is going to go forward, then it needs to go forward. If not, then it needs to be cancelled completely,” she said after a long day of testing Tuesday.

“It is not fair to the students to work their hearts out and agonize over something that has such a large impact on them and then find they didn’t need to work so hard. I know there are probably students who have not taken the exam seriously, but the vast majority of Logan students have. They deserve better than to not know from one day to the next what they need to do to be granted a diploma. Most of our students who are taking the exam this go around have given up electives, lunches or time after school to prepare for the test,” she said.

“I am afraid that the message we are giving our students is that you don’t need to care,” O’Brien continued, “Then, one day, the system will pull the rope tight, and students will be caught not having what they need. Yes, they should all be doing their best, but when the system cries WOLF too often, people tend to ignore the message.”

O’Donnell, in a statement released on Monday, said he would try to make sure the test counts.

“Recognizing that today’s ruling is not final, I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that at the end of the legal day we maintain the integrity of the high school exit exam, and that all graduates in the class of 2006 will enter college or the workforce with a diploma that reflects their mastery of critical academic skills,” he said.

“Independent research shows that because of the High School Exit Exam, students are working harder and learning more, and those who are struggling are getting the help they need to succeed,” he said.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Delaying the exam’s implementation does a disservice to our children by depriving us of the best tool we have to make sure schools are performing as they should be. We must increase our efforts to help all students meet the minimal bar set by the exam, not lower our standards or expectations of them.”

“I am disappointed in the Court’s tentative ruling to stop implementation of the California High School Exit Exam this year but I remain hopeful this will not be their final word,” he said.

If Freedman grants the injunction, the state’s lawyers say they’ll appeal.

Whatever happens with Valenzuela vs. California, the battle isn’t over. Next week, Freedman is scheduled to hear arguments in another suit that seeks to block the test. Lawyers for Public Advocates claim the department failed to hold until December a public hearing to consider alternatives to the test, six years after the Legislature approved it.

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20-horse field for Derby dash

Saturday, May 7, 2005

The 131st run for the roses in Louisville, KY is set for Saturday at Churchill Downs. Post time is 6:04pm EDT under what should be partly sunny skies and a fast track. The 20-horse field contains 10 strong contenders in what promises to be a fast pace out front in the Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Nick Zito, the 2-time derby winner boasts 5 stable horses running the race, and has the odds-on favorite Bellamy Road. The George Steinbrenner owned horse won convincingly in 4 of its last 5 trips. At its #16 post position, it will have to get out quickly, or be on the outside going into the first turn where it would have to fight for position. Given the early starting speed of Spanish Chestnut, it seems unlikely that any horse will easily set the pace.

Showing strong closing in its last 4 races is Bandini, ridden by top New York jockey John Velazquez, a 6-time Breeder’s Cup winner. If this horse can hold onto the pace, watch for him at the finish line.

For today’s 1 ¼ mile race, Jeremy Rose on Afleet Alex looks dangerous, where both horse and jockey are experienced. But it was Wilko who prevailed in their meeting at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last October.

A Chicago Tribune computer analysis predicts a win for High Fly, based on its “lack of flaws”. In that prediction they note criteria on which it was calculated, but nothing accounts for the race day excitement of roaring crowds in these 3-year-old thoroughbreds.

Last year the jammed Churchill Downs drew 140,000 people on a rainy Saturday to watch Smarty Jones win. The Derby run is the first leg in USA horse racing’s Triple Crown. The last horse to win the triple crown was Affirmed in 1978.

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Personal Injury Lawyer

Why Do Your Hire An Expert Wage And Hour Attorney In Los Angeles?

Disputes with employers on wage and hour are possibly among the most vital employment law topics experienced by workers. The reason naturally makes them interested to ensure that they’re fairly paid with the minimum wage for the time they spent for the employer. Unfortunately, often employers deprive their employees by paying them less than their legitimate with various tricky techniques. So, if you suspect that you are disposed of getting your lawful compensation by your employer, talk to an experienced wage and hour attorney in Los Angeles for a necessary assessment of the matter with their insight and knowledge.Determine the Ways How You Can Be Deprived Minimum Wage Rule To avoid paying minimum wage and bypass overtime laws, crooked employers often misclassify their full-time works as independent contractors. If you work for an employer under federal law, you are supposed to get the federal minimum wage @$7.25 each hour, which is a standard rule. On contrary, if you are working for State-level employers since the minimum wage standard varies among states, be well aware of the current wage and hour rule of your state before you join the place of work (currently, California minimum wage stands to $12 to $13/hr).It is important to note that since independent contractors like vendors are not treated as an employee, they don’t come under minimum wage rule. So, being a worker if you are not paid the minimum wage, without any delay – talk to a knowledgeable wage and hour attorney in Los Angeles to get back your lost wages with compensation. Working Hour Rule When it comes to the working hour rule, there is no difference between Federal and State Labor Laws. The standard rule is 8 hours per day (a break time for a meal for 15-20 minutes is included in 8 hours) and thus 40 hours per week. Accordingly, employers focus on the number of hours worked by the employee to decide how much they need to pay the employee. Although, the process of calculating wages looks easily understandable but often employers manipulate in calculating the hour and pay less to employees. Here are some examples: • Waiting period Often employees wonder whether or not they are eligible to receive minimum wage for hours spend due to waiting. Thankfully, according to the labor law that – whereas an employee is ‘engaged to wait’; they are supposed to get paid for the waiting period according to the minimum wage rule. For instance, machine breakdown is a common incident in a workshop. Thus, being the machine man, if you are kept waiting during the machine downtime and wait till it’s repaired by the service technician; your employer needs to pay you a wage for your waiting period. • Time spend on training Often employees need to participate in job-oriented advanced training courses to make them aware of the emerging technologies and operational know-how of new machineries and tools. Also, employers sponsor various training sessions to improve the skill and performance level of their employees. The time you need to devote for these training courses must be paid, and if violated, you can contact an expert wage and hour attorney in Los Angeles to get your lost wage with compensation. • Breaks for meals Workers are eligible to get a maximum of 20 minutes of break for meals which is required to be paid according to the hours worked law. On contrary, if it’s a longer break time say for 30 minutes, paying for that extra break time is not obligatory for employers. • Traveling hours Although you don’t have eligibility to get wages for the time you spend reaching your workplace, however, whereas your job needs to travel frequently from one site to another, you should be paid for that traveling hours according to the wage rule.

20,000 Californian state workers may lose their jobs

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Tuesday, the US state of California announced it is ready to notify approximately twenty thousand state workers that they are being laid off. The announcement was made by a spokesman for California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The cuts would begin at the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

This comes after California lawmakers voted down a budget worth US$40 billion last weekend.

“In the absence of a budget, the governor has a responsibility to realise state savings any way he can,” said Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman. “This is unfortunately a necessary decision.”

The state is also planning to put all remaining public work projects on hold, which could cost thousands of construction workers their jobs.

California has the world’s eighth largest economy. It has suffered from unemployment and the housing crisis, with Schwarzenegger declaring a fiscal emergency last December.

“We are dealing with a catastrophe of unbelievable proportions,” said Alan Lowenthal, a Democratic state senator from Long Beach.

The budget plan consisted of $11.4 billion in borrowing, $14.4 billion for temporary increases in taxes, and $15.1 billion dedicated for program cuts. The package initially appeared to have enough support to reach the two-thirds majority needed to make the bill a law, but fell short by a single vote. The Assembly was at one point in session for thirty hours, breaking the record for the longest legislative session in the history of the state.

Many Republican lawmakers say they disagree with the tax increases that are included as part of the budget package.

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“People don’t realize where California is at — people are losing homes, people are losing jobs,” said Republican state senator Abel Maldonado.

“You’re not going to go back to the people’s pocketbooks to fuel that spending,” added Republican state senator Dennis Hollingsworth from Temecula.

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg wants another session on Tuesday, saying that he would put up the tax provisions of the budget proposal for a vote. “Bring a toothbrush, bring any necessities you want to bring, because I will not allow anyone to go home to resume their lives […] as long as we know […] that 20,000 people will be laid off,” he warned.

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Skeletons found under home in Hertfordshire

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Catherine McGuigan, a resident in South Mimms, Hertfordshire, UK, found skeletons from over a century ago buried under her dining room.

She had hired builders for an extension for her cottage, where she has lived for eleven years, and at the beginning of April they found human bones in the ground.

Her cottage was built over a burial ground; from 1697 to 1820 the land was owned by the Religious Society of Friends. In the 1600s, members of the society, better known as Quakers, were persecuted for their beliefs and so were not allowed to be buried in consecrated church grounds. Instead burials, which were also sometimes for others not recognised as parishioners – such as homeless people, often took place in the countryside.

The Daily Mail states in its April article that the Religious Society of Friends have advised McGuigan that she “must cremate” the bodies, however Quakers have written an open letter to the Daily Mail, informing that for Quakers, there is “no specific advice on the disposal of bodies”, and that they had never expressed an opinion on how the discovered skeletons should be buried.

The cremation was rumoured to cost up to £32,000 – an £800 quote for cremation of a single body multiplied by 40, however as yet only ten bodies have been discovered.

The builders originally thought the bones were pieces of pipe, and McGuigan has now ordered coffins and is looking to holding a mass cremation or a burial in a nearby field.

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Sports

Missouri Fox Trotter The Versatile Gaited Horse From The Ozarks

Submitted by: Crystal A. Eikanger

The Missouri Fox Trotter is a breed of naturally gaited horse from the Ozarks that is most famous for its fox trotting gait of walking with its front feet while trotting with its back feet in a broken, yet gliding motion. Trail riders are rapidly discovering what U.S. Forest Rangers have known for years — Missouri Fox Trotters have no equal when it comes to an easy, sure-footed ride on hazardous or mountainous terrain. They are especially common in their native Missouri, but have world-wide appeal. Missouri Fox Trotters are very versatile horses found in a wide variety of disciplines, including jumping, pleasure and equitation. These horses are historically tied to the grazing cattle industry of the Ozarks and continue to be used on working ranches and farms. In 2002, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse became the Official State Horse of Missouri.

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was developed in the rugged Ozark hills during the 19th century out of a desire to have a sure-footed, smooth-gaited horse that could travel long distances through this mountainous region quickly. They also needed the ability to do whatever was needed such as plowing, hauling logs and working cattle; yet be able to double as a stylish buggy horse or riding horse.

Their pedigrees can be traced to the horses of early settlers coming to the Ozarks from neighboring states of Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas. Bloodlines from several other gaited horses, such as the American Saddle Horses and the Tennessee Walkers along with the American Quarter Horse are in their ancestry. It soon became apparent that horses with the, broken, sliding gait were the most useful in the rocky hills, and selective breeding for the fox trot gait began. Later the horses became known as Missouri Fox Trotters, though other names have been used such as Missouri Fox Trotting Horse or simply, Fox Trotter.

A breed association was formed in 1948 by fifteen men who were concerned with preserving this unique breed before it was irretrievably lost and maintaining an accurate stud book. Much progress was made, but in 1955 the Secretary’s home burned and with it the stud book and all the records they had. In 1958, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) was reorganized and reincorporated as a stockholder company. In 1973 the corporation was changed from a stockholding company to a membership organization. It became a “closed book” registry in 1983 and foals have to have both parents registered in the MFTHBA. This is designed to preserve the breed standard and history of this American horse. Currently, over 90,000 horses have been placed in the Official Record with more than 42,283 registered Missouri Fox Trotters living in the United States and Canada.

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In May of 2004, MFTHBA Board of Directors recognized the need to specifically register and record Fox Trotting horses that were between 44″ and 56″, and The Missouri Fox Trotting Pony Registry (MFTPR) was created as a part of the MFTHBA. No further information is available at this time on what the ancestry of these smaller Fox Trotters may have been.

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse comes in a wide range of colors; and. generally stands between 14 and 16 hands in height, with a pony version between 11 and 14 hands. Individuals may average 900 to 1200 pounds. The neck should be graceful with a neat, clean, symmetrically shaped head of medium length; pointed ears; large, bright, wide-set eyes; and a tapered muzzle with large nostrils. The back should be reasonably short and strong, the body deep and the ribs well-sprung. The foot should be well made, strong and in proper proportion to the size of the horse. Good conformation permits their special gaits to be performed in the proper manner.

Unlike a lot of gaited horses, the Missouri Fox Trotter is not a showy horse with high-stepping flashy gaits, but rather a steady, dependable, sure-footed animal which often nods its head in time with the pleasant gait. The head and tail are slightly elevated and the rhythmic beat of the hooves along with the nodding action of the head give the appearance of relaxation and poise. The movement is smooth and consistent with no noticeable up and down motion. No special shoeing or training is required for these 3 natural born gaits.

The breed’s signature Fox Trot is a broken diagonal gait performed by walking in front and trotting behind, with reach in each stride. The rhythm begins at the tip of the nose with a characteristic headshake and continues back through the ripple of the tail. There is no excessive animation, nor exaggerated knee motion but the back feet have a sliding action resulting from the horse breaking at the hocks. The front hoof of the diagonal pair strikes the ground just before the rear hoof, and one front hoof is on the ground at all times in the correct fox trot. The head is slightly elevated with a rhythmic motion matching the rear foot movement. The raised tail emphasizes the rhythm naturally. The gait is extremely comfortable and surefooted, and the horse can maintain it for long periods of time with little fatigue.

The Flat Foot Walk is a rapid flat, four beat gait performed in a square, stylish manner. It is distinctly different from the fox trot which has a broken rhythm. A correctly performed flat foot walk has the sound of an equal four beat cadence produced by the hooves. The head shake is more animated than in the fox trot and it gives a smooth ride.

The Canter is a three beat gait and is performed in a straight, collected manner with head and tail slightly raised. The three-beat gait is has a rocking, or rolling, motion, starting from the outside rear foot, to the inside rear-outside front landing together, and then to the inside front foot. The head is at its lowest point when the inside front foot is on the ground. It is not fast moving gait, and the horse should appear relaxed.

Missouri Fox Trotters make excellent mounts for children and beginning riders because of their friendly, quiet, gentle dispositions and willingness to please. A person who is inexperienced with horses can ride a Missouri Fox Trotter with confidence since these horses are quite attuned to their riders and the smooth gait makes them easier to ride than the hard-trotting gait of a standard horse.

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UN says more investment in agriculture needed to tackle world hunger

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for more investment in agriculture in the developing world to tackle the problem of food insecurity. Jacques Diouf told Parliamentarians attending the 121st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that more than one billion people are going hungry because of under-investment in agriculture during the past two decades.

A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program finds most of the more than one billion hungry people in the world live in developing countries. It says no region is immune and hunger is expected to increase everywhere, even in the developed world.

Jacques Diouf, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, says 30 countries were in a situation of grave food crisis, requiring emergency assistance. He says 20 of them are in Africa and 10 in Asia and the Near East. “The events of the last three years, triggered by soaring food prices and followed by the financial and economic turmoil, have demonstrated how fragile our global food system is. This year’s increase in hunger is not the result of poor harvests or a shortfall in supplies, but rather is caused by the economic crisis which has reduced the incomes and job opportunities for the poor,” he said.

Diouf says under-investment in agriculture and rural development is one of the root causes of the recent global food crisis and the difficulties encountered by the majority of developing countries in dealing with it effectively.

“If people go hungry today it is not because the world is not producing enough food but because it is not produced in the countries where 70 percent of the world’s poor live and whose livelihoods depend on farming activities. The challenge is not only to ensure food security for the one billion hungry people today, which is certainly an enormous task, but also to be able to feed a world population that is expected to reach 9.1 billion in 2050,” he said. He has urged nations to increase food production by 70 percent by 2050, and remarked that “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The FAO chief says studies show GDP growth originating in agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth originating in other sectors of the economy. He says the solution to food insecurity lies in boosting agricultural production and productivity in poor countries where food shortages are chronic.

Diouf says production has to be increased in the most needy areas, by the most needy people. These are smallholder farmers in rural households.

He says investment in agriculture in developing countries would amount to $44 billion in official development assistance a year. He says the returns from that investment in tackling world hunger would be enormous.

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