first_imgFROM THE FISHBOWL Day 1 The 2005 ASICS NTL has had an outstanding start with some early favourites already emerging from the pack. The FISHBOWL has identified the Sharks, Mets and Cobra’s Women’s as early favourites with The Hornets likely to cause a few upsets. It’s too early to call at this stage but the fishbowl will make some bold predictions at the end of day 2. In the Men’s it appears to be the old foes Sharks, Mets, Scorpions and Cobras going hard at it, but the emergence of the Rustlers certainly has some astute tongues wagging. The Qld Cow cockies have traded well at the sales with some superb young steers making their mark in the top grade. Top shelf beef, some may say! Sharks mixed open have also dominated early proceedings with a real family flavour adding to the success of the team. The brothers Hipperson, Jeb and Tory have teamed up with their little sister Tiffeny and are having a ball. Add to this some excellent young players in Adam Falzon, Brad Davids and Amy Fong and they are sure to excite. The FISHBOWL is prepared to go out on a limb early and predict a Sharkies victory in the Mixed Open. Spectators have been treated to some entertaining touch with our junior players in the 20’s divisions really raising the razzle dazzle factor. Watching the men’s 20’s is akin to seeing gazelles sprinting and bounding on the National Geographic channel. These kids have more steps than Sydney Tower and more pace than the 11.40pm XPT to Coffs. This division is so wide open that it would be silly to name even the rough chances. If the boys are National Geographic then the girls surely are the Fashion Channel. Aside from their fantastic ability to play our game, many must have a uni degree in accessorising and makeup. The FISHBOWL was taken back to the 70’s with some huge sunnies and headbands appearing frequently around the grounds. Here it would appear that the Sharks, Mets and Cobras are the big 3 to beat. Play of the Day goes to the spectator that found a crisp $20 note and handed it to the FISHBOWL. This type of honesty will always be rewarded. Rumour of the Day has to be that a certain ATA Event Manager, No names here, stopped a game after only 7 minutes because he thought he heard the timer beeping. The quick thinking but very embarrassed gentleman remedied the situation with aplomb and minimal damage. It’s hard to get good help in the FISHBOWL folks. Keep an eye on the FISHBOWL reports daily for the more obscure stories from the NTL. **Adam Collins and Kane Weeks are not only controlling the tournament from the ‘Fishbowl’ (tournament control box) but are entertaining the crowd at the same time. Great work boys. The 2005 Asics National Touch League Sporting Pulse website contains the final draws, results and also statistics such as touchdown scorers. Please use the following link: 2005 NATIONAL TOUCH LEAGUE DRAWS & RESULTS All feature articles will be placed on the www.austouch.com.au homepage and also on the above Sporting Pulse page as often as possible.last_img read more

first_imgBy BEN HARRISThere is more to the 2013 X-Blades National Touch League than winning the title.Spots in state and national representative teams are also up for grabs.For Touch NSW general manager Dean Russell, the NTLs and its showpiece event, the Elite Eight Series, is a chance for NSW to reinforce their dominance over the rest of the states, in particular Queensland.At the State of Origin Series last September, the Maroons and Blues went head-to-head in a thrilling three-game series across 13 divisions.NSW won the overall series seven divisions to six but Queensland had the last laugh.The Maroons won two of the three opens divisions – the men’s and women’s – two games to one.It left a bad taste in the Blues’ camp, a taste that won’t go away until the two states meet again next year.“To be honest we were pleased to get the win but we weren’t happy with the way we performed as a state,” Russell said.“We have now reviewed that, we will be looking at putting together stronger teams again next year and this Elite Eight process is part of that.”Four teams in the Elite Eight Series are from NSW, while three are from Queensland and a combined side featuring players from outside of those states called the Alliance.NSW teams won the inaugural biennial series in both the men’s and women’s opens divisions in 2011.Russell is hoping history can repeat itself.“It is the best of the players in NSW who are available. Unfortunately not all of our players are available this year but we still have a great calibre of players here,” he said.“Both in the men’s and women’s categories we will be looking at both the Mets teams and the Country Mavericks teams. They are both pretty solid and have strong players, they have some excellent attacking and defensive options both ends of the field. “In the women’s, don’t be surprised if the NSW Scorpions cause a few upsets along the way, they have a really strong line-up of up and coming players and the Rebels teams are both development teams.”You can keep up-to-date with all of the latest news and information from the 2013 X-Blades National Touch League in the following ways:Websiteswww.ntl.mytouchfooty.comwww.austouch.com.auSocial MediaFacebook – www.facebook.com/touchfootballaustraliaTwitter – www.twitter.com/touchfootyaus (be sure to use the hashtag #NTL2013)Instagram – search for ‘Touch Football Australia’YouTube – www.youtube.com/touchfootballausRelated LinksState versus statelast_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Automobile dealers’ body FADA Wednesday said retail sales of passenger vehicles (PV) in February declined by 8.25 per cent to 2,15,276 units as compared to the same period last year, hit by lower offtake by end customers. According to Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA), PV sales stood at 2,34,632 units in February 2018. Two-wheeler sales declined by 7.97 per cent to 11,25,405 units last month as compared with 12,22,883 units in year-ago period. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”After a month of spike in PV sales in January which was largely due to year-end stock clearance getting extended and few new launches which generated some excitement, the industry is once again witnessing downward trend as February turned out to be one of the slowest month for auto retail during this financial year,” FADA President Ashish Harsharaj Kale said in a statement. Domestic auto sales are experiencing a prolonged slowdown as it is already been six months of downturn with no positive triggers visible in near term, he added. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”Starting with the huge hike in insurance costs in September, we have seen a lot of negative factors come together in the past few months, leading to major postponement in purchase decisions and overall weakening of consumer sentiment,” Kale said. Auto dealers across the country are in a high stock situation across all categories and inventory levels of passenger and commercial vehicles, which had seen partial correction in the past two months, but are now back to the unsustainable levels seen in November 2018, he added. “FADA has been highlighting the high level of inventory amongst the two-wheeler dealers and would like to express serious concern that it has now reached alarming proportions and in some geographies has breached the unheard level of 100 days of stock,” Kale said. Dealers are already facing a substantial increase in operational costs in recent times due to various factors as well as increased working capital needs, and would be urgently looking to reduce their inventory in the months of March and April, he added. Retail sales of commercial vehicle during last month declined by 7.08 per cent to 61,134 units as compared with 65,789 units in February 2018. Three-wheeler sales also declined by 10.32 per cent in February at 50,263 units, as compared with 56,045 units in the year-ago period. Total automobile sales during February declined by 8.06 per cent to 14,52,078 units as compared with 15,79,349 units in February 2018. Last week, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had reported 1.11 per cent drop in wholesale PV sales in February. It was the seventh decline in PV sales in last eight months. The continued spell of weak sales has prompted the auto industry body to suggest that passenger vehicles will miss even the scaled down forecast of 6 per cent for the ongoing fiscal.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: The executive council of Jadavpur University on Monday accepted in principle the ‘domicile policy’ for admissions at undergraduate level at Jadavpur University.The faculty council of engineering and technology of the varsity on March 6 had adopted a resolution calling for reservation of 90 percent of the engineering seats in the general category for home students, the ones who pass their plus-II exams from Bengal. “The domicile policy has been accepted in principle by the executive council which is the highest decision making body in the varsity. A committee has been formed which will talk with students in this regard,” a member of the council said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe member said they would soon communicate the matter to the Directorate of Technical Education, state Higher Education department and West Bengal Joint Entrance Board as this is a major policy change. It may be mentioned that 13 of the 16 departments of Engineering and technology had communicated to the dean of engineering and technology that they want to back the system. The other three departments at the faculty council meeting did not oppose the system. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayAccording to the member, seven departments had proposed that 85 percent of the seats in the general category be reserved, while the remaining nine had rooted for 90 percent. The Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, and the NIT, Durgapur, have reserved 50 per cent of their seats for candidates from Bengal. A student from Bengal can be admitted as a home student or as a non-home student at both these institutes. The Council also deliberated upon the admission process to be adopted this year for undergraduates. After there were disparity in marks in admission tests for six arts subjects— JU had formed a two-member committee to enquire into the irregularities. The committee had submitted its report last month.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: In a big bang election promise, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that 20 per cent families belonging to the poorest category will be given Rs 72,000 each annually as minimum income if his party comes to power. Making the announcement at a press conference here, Gandhi said five crore families and 25 crore will directly benefit from the scheme. “Final assault on poverty has begun. We will wipe out poverty from the country,” he said Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Gandhi said the Congress has studied the fiscal implications of the scheme and consulted renowned economists and experts before finalising the scheme. “It is an extremely powerful, ground-breaking and well-thought through idea. We have consulted many economists on the scheme,” he said. “People have suffered in the last five years and we are going to give justice to them,” he added.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: England’s Joe Root said that the omission of batsman Alex Hales has had a unifying effect on the team. Hales had been named in the preliminary squad for the World Cup, that starts on May 30, despite serving a 21-day suspension following an “off-field incident”, which The Guardian later reported was a positive test for recreational drugs. After the matter went public, Hales was subsequently dropped from the team. Captain Eoin Morgan said that the incident had led to a “complete breakdown in trust” and that all the senior players of the team agreed that dropping Hales was the best decision. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: Rijiju “Yes, absolutely,” Root is quoted as saying in a BBC Sport report. “Now we’re back playing cricket, that is really good for the group. We can concentrate on our full focus being on the cricket going into the World Cup.” Root, who is England’s Test captain, also said that Joffra Archer can still make a late entry into the World Cup squad. The Barbados-born pacer was impressive during the little play that was possible in England’s washed out first ODI against Pakistan. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai Masters “He’s been extremely impressive so far,” said Root. “It’s early days, but the way he bowled yesterday was particularly good. “When guys come in and perform well, that is good for the squad. If guys are performing at the best of their ability, that will improve the standard of the group.” Root also clarified that Archer’s potential late entry won’t cause any disharmony in the team. “I don’t think he’s created any rifts, uncertainty, or problems in the team, it’s purely providing competition and that can only be a good thing,” he said.last_img read more

first_imgA horrific tropical cyclone making landfall in the midst of election cacophony is not a good idea. It captures headlines briefly and makes for good politics — who did what and who did not. But the fact is that the impacts of Cyclone Fani, which devastated large parts of Odisha and then hit West Bengal and Bangladesh, have not gone away. It has left behind a trail of massive destruction. But what needs to be acknowledged in this tragedy is that there were far less fatalities than ever before. Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyThe incredible efforts of scientists, who predicted the path, and the state administration of Odisha — which ensured over a million people were evacuated — deserve praise. The state lost 10,000 people in the 1999 super cyclone. This time, even when wind speeds reached 204 kilometre per hour, the loss of human life was contained to 41. This is no small feat. However, what we need to understand is what Fani means in an increasingly climate-risked world. Every time there is a similar natural disaster, attribution is made to climate change. And every time, there is a pushback, with climate sceptics arguing that there have always been cyclones. But emerging climate models predict increasing intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones. The logic is fairly clear: As oceans warm, there is more moisture and ocean storms will build up to lash the land with devastating wind and rain. Also Read – The future is here!Sceptics will say there is no absolute count, over time, to show that the number of tropical storms have increased. There is some change, but the timescale is not long enough to account the difference. The 2018 Climate Assessment by the World Meteorological Organization found tropical storms in the Northern Hemisphere were up from 63 in the previous year to 74 in 2018; and were roughly the same, 22, in the Southern Hemisphere. So, if you want, at your risk, you could argue that storms will come and go. Why blame climate change? The fact is that there is a big difference, as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is finding out. These storms have become increasingly and crazily unpredictable. In recent years, IMD had nearly perfected the science of cyclone forecast, but now it is learning, in real time, to change its methods and to advance its technology to keep pace with this erratic creature of the oceans. The first shock was Ockhi — which hit the Kerala coast in late 2017 and took away many lives. Ockhi transformed from a deep depression to a cyclonic storm in a matter of six hours. We must realise then that the failure to predict and warn was not just human. It was because of the unnatural characteristics — never seen before — of such a tropical storm. It changed direction; it gathered steam when least expected; and, became more intense and more virulent at speeds never seen before. One reason for this changing “nature” of the storm, as scientists later found, was the intense heat pockets in the ocean, which changed the direction and speed of the cyclone. This time, IMD was prepared. They used even more sophisticated equipment and improved their prediction models with this learning. But the speed of change is so rapid that this learning of 2017 was already outdated. Fani intensified from severe to very severe in no time; it also made landfall much ahead of schedule. Then, Fani moved inland — it reached Bhubaneshwar — and there it did not weaken in its wind speed. This is surprising as storms need moisture on land to gather intensity and to lash the land with rain. It is peak summer now — a time when ocean storms never hit in any case. How did it move inland? Why? How can we predict in the future? Fani tells us many things: one, we must invest in the science of weather and in our capacity for governance. Two, we must not count the number of tropical storms to conclude whether the world is risked or not. But most importantly, Fani teaches us that the future is even more risked and even more unpredictable than we imagined. It is time we woke up to this reality. There is no time to lose. (The author is Director General of Centre for Science and Environment and the Editor of Down To Earth magazine. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

The Ohio State field hockey team will now be waiting on the edge of its seat Tuesday night when it will be finding out if it claimed one of the at-large bids into the 2011 NCAA Championships. The Buckeyes (12-8, 4-2) fell to the host-school, Penn State, 1-0 in a defensive battle on Friday afternoon. By losing in the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes will now need their season resume to make their case as they now stand on the bubble of being a tournament team. The Scarlet and Gray advanced to the semifinals after they defeated Michigan State, 2-1, just the day before when they scored two second-half goals against the Spartans to pave their road to their eventual loss to the Nittany Lions in the next round. The Buckeyes’ play was hindered by the strong Nittany Lions defense, which ranks at the top of the conference. “It’s tough when you are going against a goalie like theirs (Ayla Halus), who was just selected as First Team All-Big Ten this season,” senior captain Ally Tunitis said. “They are a really good team, but we played to the best of our ability.” It was clear heading into the Big Ten tournament that the team truly needed to capture the title as the No. 2 seed and a frontrunner to make it a lock to be in the NCAA Championships. “The automatic bid is what we are going for,” head coach Anne Wilkinson said prior to the tournament. All the Buckeyes can do now is sit and wait as they will be unsure of the future of their season until the selection show, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, with a live stream on NCAA.com. “It was unfortunate it had to end on one stroke,” Tunitis said. “If we don’t get the bid to the tournament, we will still be proud of how we played.” Penn State will now face top-seeded Michigan at 2 p.m. Sunday in the championship game as the Buckeyes will await their destiny. read more

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below is a recent Wilmington Little League game summary:Single A: Cardinals vs. Astros on Monday, May 14 at Glen Road FieldThe Astros came out swinging in a single A game vs the Cardinals.  Jake Gryglik and Jackson Cipolle led the game off with two big hits to get the Astros offense going. They set the pace for a strong offensive performance by the Astros.  On the defensive side, CJ Morad made his season debut behind the plate and did a fine job defensively. Dylan Costantiello  pitched the final inning handling the big bats of the Cardinals by striking out the side to end the game.  The Cardinals looked sharp throughout the game, getting a great pitching performance by Patrick Moriarty and gold-glove caliber defense from Spencer Walker, Zach Maiella, and Sean Theodos. The Cardinals offensive charge was led by leadoff hitter Josh Lopez, who was followed by a series of screeching hits and great at bats from Brendan Cohen, Griffin Crowe, Tommy MacGilvary, and Matthew Norton. Meanwhile the defense was anchored by great defense behind the dish from Justice Eutsay, Max Glazer, and Tommy Demers. (NOTE: Summaries provided by the Wilmington Little League.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedWilmington Little League’s Latest Game SummariesIn “Sports”Wilmington Little League’s Latest Game SummariesIn “Sports”Wilmington Little League’s Latest Game SummariesIn “Sports”last_img read more

first_imgA red alert has been issued in Coimbatore where the suspected terrorists might be holed up.IANSThe Tamil Nadu Police has sounded a high alert across the state after information was received that a group of six Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists have infiltrated into Tamil Nadu through Sri Lanka.There was an intelligence input that a group of terrorists, including a Pakistani national and five people from Sri Lanka, were planning to carry out a possible terror attack. Security has been beefed up at all important installations and public places like bus stands, railway stations, temples, markets, malls and all government offices.With a heavy deployment of patrolling forces at every nook and corner of prominent places in Tamil Nadu, extensive checking was carried out using a metal detector and sniffer dogs. Police personnel across all-district in the state have been asked to stay vigilant to prevent any untoward incident.A red alert has been issued in Coimbatore where the police suspect the terrorists might be holed up. The Coimbatore police are scanning the city railway station with the help of sniffer dogs and also checking all departing trains. It has been reported that the Coimbatore city police have released photographs of two possible terrorist suspects who have intruded Tamil Nadu. The Coimbatore city police have released photographs of two possible terrorist suspects.ReutersSpeaking to news agency IANS, Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan confirmed that an intelligence alert has been received that six Lashkar terrorists have entered Tamil Nadu, adding that storming operations may be carried out to nab the infiltrators.Based on the alert, the Chennai Commissioner of Police has said that deployment of police personnel have been increased and necessary precautions have been put in place. Jaish terrorist, Mudasir Ahmad Khan who masterminded Pulwama attack killed in Tral encounter Closecenter_img IBTimes VideoRelated VideosMore videos Play VideoPauseMute0:01/0:59Loaded: 0%0:01Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVE-0:58?Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedSubtitlessubtitles settings, opens subtitles settings dialogsubtitles off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window. COPY LINKAD Loading …last_img read more

first_imgDamage is seen at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, after bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels on Easter, in Negambo, Sri Lanka 22 April, 2019. Photo: ReutersAuthorities lifted a curfew in Sri Lanka on Monday, a day after a string of bombings at churches and luxury hotels across the Indian Ocean island killed 290 people and wounded about 500, but there were warnings more attacks were possible.There was still no claim of responsibility for the Easter Sunday attacks on two churches and four hotels in and around Colombo, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka, and a third church on the South Asian nation’s northeast coast.A government source said President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday. Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.Sri Lankan military who were clearing the route from Colombo airport late on Sunday in preparation for Sirisena’s return found a homemade bomb near the departure gate, an air force spokesman said.They disposed of the device in a controlled explosion, the spokesman said.There were fears the attacks could spark a renewal of communal violence, with police also reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.Sri Lanka was at war for decades with Tamil separatists but extremist violence had been on the wane since the civil war ended 10 years ago.The South Asian nation of about 22 million people has Christian, Muslim and Hindu populations of between about eight and 12 per cent.The U.S. State Department issued a revised travel warning that said “terrorist groups” were continuing to plot possible attacks.”Terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” it said in the revised warning, which was dated Sunday U.S. time. The warning level was set at two on a scale where four means do not travel.Possible targets included tourist locations, transportation hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, airports and other public areas, it said.ARMED GUARDSThe island-wide curfew imposed by the government was lifted early on Monday, although there was uncharacteristically thin traffic in the normally bustling capital.Soldiers armed with automatic weapons stood guard outside major hotels and the World Trade Centre in the business district, where the four hotels were targeted on Sunday, according to a Reuters witness.Scores of people who were stranded overnight at the main airport began making their way home as restrictions were lifted.The government also blocked access to social media and messaging sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp, making information hard to gather.Wickremsinghe acknowledged on Sunday that the government had some prior information about possible attacks on churches involving a little-known Islamist group but said ministers had not been told.Sri Lankans accounted for the bulk of the 290 people killed and 500 wounded, although government officials said 32 foreigners were also killed. These included British, US, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.A British mother and son eating breakfast at the luxury Shangri-La hotel were among those killed, Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper reported.One Australian survivor, identified only as Sam, told Australia’s 3AW radio the hotel was a scene of “absolute carnage”.He said he and a travel partner were also having breakfast at the Shangri-La when two blasts went off. He said he had seen two men wearing backpacks seconds before the blasts.”There were people screaming and dead bodies all around,” he said. “Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don’t know if they were dead or not, just crazy.”There were similar scenes of carnage at two churches in or near Colombo, and a third church in the northeast town of Batticaloa, where worshippers had gathered for Easter Sunday services. Pictures from the scene showed bodies on the ground and blood-spattered pews and statues.Dozens were killed in one of the blasts at the Gothic-style St. Sebastian church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo. Police said they suspected that blast was a suicide attack.Three police officers were also killed when security forces raided a house in Colombo several hours after the attacks.Police reported an explosion at the house.last_img read more

first_imgListen at WEAA Live Stream: http://amber.streamguys.com.4020/live.m3uBaltimore City officials, including the mayor, city council president, comptroller and city council members are all receiving a pay raise next year. Yet, some argue they haven’t earned it. We’ll talk to Sun reporter Luke Broadwater and community activist Elder C.D. Witherspoon about the issue. And we’ll open the phone lines for the opinions of our listeners: 410.319.8888These stories and more coming up this evening on AFRO’s First Edition with Sean Yoes.last_img read more

first_imgHoly cow!!! Delhi this weekend made this expression towards a philanthropic cause (which was saving our Indian desi cow). How? By organising an exhibition plus fest centered on a conscious awakening towards going back to nature and preserving nature for our own happy and healthy future.Organised at Select City Walk, Saket, the Ahimsa Bazar or Holy Cow Music Fest, was organised by Holy Cow Foundation.  It had stalls opened from 11 am till 10 pm aimed at promoting products made from cowdung (manure, dhoopbati, agnihotra samidha, air purifier kit etc) and urine (ark, pesticide, phenyel etc.); the foundation is working towards enabling sustainability of the cow and creating awareness about apathetic condition of our domestic animals. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Visitors could select from a sumptuous menu consisting of vegetarian and vegan food and vegan ice-cream. Also, there was choice of organic vegetables and products as well as ayurveda and Holy Cow panchgavya health products. For the nature conscious, there were stalls on home composting units and organic compost and for those with literary interest, there were books on display by Indological book store. The festival also had some entertainment value to it with scintillating performances by the snake charmers sans the live snakes and kajri sangeet. For the classically attuned, there were breathtaking jugalbandi on table and the lion dance of the north east. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe music extravaganza continued till late in the evening with rock Kirtan by Vraj Vadhu group of ISKON, including street plays and several other performances.Covered with glee and fun, the event had an underlying message which highlighted the following points- Stop cow slaughter. Stop any kind of animal slaughter for food and pleasure and respect all forms of life and live with nature. Encourage farmers to produce organic products by creating a demand for them and use cow milk, curd and ghee in your homes since these are ambrosia for humans amongst others The major concern marked was indiscriminate slaughter of cows to export meat (in our country everyday 50,000 cows are being slaughtered) and excessive use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture (today Punjab is known as the cancer  capital of India) have become the major cause of growing instance of women becoming barren and men becoming impotent, rising graphs of diseases, mental stress and disorders, disorientation of youth and growing aggression in our society.This is the second time the festival is being held and the response was quite heartening.last_img read more

first_imgPeople who received bite count feedback ate less and reduced their overall intake during a meal, the findings showed. “It was found that the presence of bite count feedback led to a reduction in overall consumption. This finding is consistent with current literature that shows feedback on consumption leads people to consume less,” explained Phillip Jasper from Clemson University in South Carolina, US. The results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For the study, investigators recruited young adults to consume a meal in the laboratory.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’In one of the experiments, some participants were outfitted with bite count feedback devices and given either a small or large plate. The group that received bite count feedback significantly reduced their intake regardless of plate size, although, those given larger plates still consumed more than those given smaller plates. “We want people to be mindful of what they’re doing. That’s what’s really important. We want them to be mindful of their eating, and bite count feedback is a way to keep people mindful of their eating behaviours,” Jasper said.Knowing the number of bites is much less abstract than knowing the number of calories. “Self-monitoring is one of the cornerstones of successful weight loss,” Jasper said.last_img read more

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1a6ad/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X While largely being a domestic US ski destination over the last two years Telluride Ski Resort has also seen growth in interest from international markets, and this year at the annual ski expo, it’s committed to its own dedicated stand.“It’s a great time to reintroduce the Telluride brand internationally,” remarks Estrella Woods, Telluride Ski Resort International Sales Manager.  “Right now 5-6% of our visitors are international travellers.”“We’ve found that the biggest international market is Australia,” she continues.  “Due to interest Telluride had its own stand at this year’s Snow Travel Expo [in both Sydney and Melbourne].”Attending the show for the second time, last year under the Colorado banner, Telluride Ski Resorts also has a raft of travel trade centric promotions scheduled, with agent seminars including the Ski USA event as well as the Tourplan educational evening coming up next week.A 2011 travel agents famil is also in the works, with more information to come in the next few months.“There are a few new products that we’ve recently introduced… one of the major projects has been the Revelation Bowl on the back of the mountain.”Others include new properties both in ski-in/ski-out Mountain Village as well as the township, and new terrain.One of the key messages of this year’s trade mission will be highlighting the ease of access from Australia’s east coast with United Airlines, connecting at Los Angeles and flying to regional airport Montrose, from which the ski village is a one and a half hour shuttle.last_img read more

first_imgOctober 26, 2009 After a week of intensive composing and rehearsals, Difference Skies delivered their final performance on Saturday October 24, 2009. On the night of the performance, the Colly Soleri Music Amphitheater was illuminated under the night sky and the audience huddled together around the amphitheater. The musicians and visual artists together created a stunning tapestry of improvised and composed space music, ambient, experimental, and electronic, mixed with interactive video synthesis, for the audience. [photo: Alfonso Elia & text: Anna Tran] After the formal part of the program and a brief intermission, the artists played numerous spontaneously improvised pieces, stirring the awe and imagination of the audience. [photo: tt & text: Anna Tran] The Different Skies performance was absolutely astounding. Thank you and congratulations to all who helped bring this wonderful performance together. We hope to see you all again next year! [photo: Alfonso Elia & text: Anna Tran]last_img read more

first_imgAndrew BarronGerman cable operator Primacom has named Com Hem chairman and former Virgin Media COO Andrew Barron as chairman, replacing Wolf Waschkuhn.Waschkuhn will stay with the company and remains a member of the board. Barron is the third senior cable network executive to join the primacom Board in recent months with Marcel Nijhoff, previously the Chief Commercial Officer of Ziggo, joining in January 2015 and Renaat Berckmoes, the former Chief Financial Officer of Telenet, joining in November 2014.Joachim Grendel, primacom CEO, said: “We are delighted to welcome Andrew as the new Chairman of our Board. His extensive experience of the European cable media sector will complement that of our newest Board members Renaat and Marcel and be of great benefit to the business as we continue with our successful growth strategy. Our ability to attract three such senior cable media executives to the Board reflects the significant strategic progress made by primacom over the last few years, as demonstrated most recently in the publication of our results for 2014 which showed accelerated growth in revenues, earnings and customer numbers.”last_img read more

first_imgHealth care in the U.S. Virgin Islands remains in a critical state, five months after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria pummeled the region. The only hospital on St. Thomas, the Schneider Regional Medical Center, serves some 55,000 residents between the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. Schneider’s facilities suffered major structural damage, forcing a decrease in its range of services, mass transfers of its patients, staff departures and significant losses in revenue. Only about one-third of the beds are currently available for patient care.In early September, when Irma hit the Virgin Islands, most of Schneider’s staff members were on duty. At the height of the storm, a large window on the hospital’s top floor gave out. “You had winds of 175, 180 miles per hour whipping through here,” says the hospital’s Vice President Darryl Smalls.The screws holding the window in place failed. The window itself, made from hurricane impact glass, remained intact. It’s here, leaning against a nursing station that’s now in shambles. Ceiling panels are gone, exposed pipes and ducts are damaged and sagging in places. A large plywood barrier covers the window opening.When the window tore off, Smalls says the staff worked quickly to evacuate some 20 patients to a safer part of the hospital. They couldn’t use the elevator in the middle of the storm, so staff transported patients from the fourth floor to the third floor using the emergency stairwells. “We literally took the patients on the mattresses, slid them down the stairs, down to the third floor, across the building and up onto the other side,” Smalls says. “We have a surgical unit which was not compromised and capable of handling patient care.”Eventually, all of the patients who were at Schneider during the storm were evacuated off of the island. But even as staff dealt with a host of problems, the hospital remained open. In the emergency room, which flooded badly from a leaky roof, Smalls says, “You probably had about 3 to 4 inches of water on the floor in here. I had pumps. I think we probably had 50 people in here at any given time just trying to evacuate as much water out of the facility.”Today, the hospital continues to provide surgery, labor and delivery care, radiology and lab services. But its cancer center, a $28 million facility, remains closed because of extensive storm damage. The hospital can now only provide limited services for patients requiring dialysis. Meanwhile, Schneider Medical’s sister center, the only hospital on St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ other major island, suffered even more extensive damage to its operating rooms.Without adequate medical services available, Schneider Regional CEO Bernard Wheatley says most patients who evacuated St. Thomas have not been able to return. “It’s over 400 that have been transferred off island,” Wheatley says. “And to this day, we’re still transferring some patients, especially the ones requiring extensive length of stay.”Along with the lack of facilities, another major problem is staffing. Wheatley says he’s lost 150 of the hospital’s 600 employees — many of whom left the island after the storms destroyed their homes. “The sad part of it, we’ve lost a lot of nurses,” he says. “If you ask me right now, what’s my key entity in terms of shortages, from a clinical standpoint it would be the nursing staff.” Shanique Woods-Boschulte, who directs Schneider’s foundation says, “Every day we get one or two resignations.” After five months, Woods-Boschulte says, the daily struggle is wearing down many staff members. “The morale was really high after the storm because we saw what we were able to accomplish — no patients hurt,” she says. “But now things are trickling down and everyone is leaving a broken hospital and going home to a broken home.”Adding to the woes, the hospital is in desperate financial straits. Revenues are half of what they were because there are far fewer patients. The government-supported hospital is projecting a $7 million loss.With all the competing problems on the islands, CEO Bernard Wheatley says it’s not clear how much help the local government can provide. “The territory itself is projecting a $400 million loss,” he says. “They don’t have the hotel rooms, tourism is down. It’s just not the same island.”The U.S. Virgin Islands is now looking to Congress to help decide what to do about its battered hospitals. The local government is in talks with FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether the hospitals can be rehabilitated, or if new facilities will be needed. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

first_imgMarilyn Bartlett took a deep breath, drew herself up to her full 5 feet and a smidge, and told the assembled handful of Montana officials that she had a radical strategy to bail out the state’s foundering benefit plan for its 30,000 employees and their families.The officials were listening. Their health plan was going broke, with losses that could top $50 million in just a few years. It needed a savior, but none of the applicants to be its new administrator had wowed them.Now here was a self-described pushy 64-year-old grandmother interviewing for the job.Bartlett came with some unique qualifications. She had just spent 13 years on the insurance industry side, first as a controller for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, then as the chief financial officer for a company that administered benefits. She was a potent combination of irreverent and nerdy, a certified public accountant whose smart car’s license plate reads “DR CR,” the Latin abbreviations for “debit” and “credit.” Most importantly, Bartlett understood something the state officials didn’t: the side deals, kickbacks and lucrative clauses that industry players secretly build into medical costs. Everyone, she had observed, was profiting except the employers and workers paying the tab. Now, in the twilight of her career, Bartlett wanted to switch teams. In her view, employers should be pushing back against the industry and demanding that it justify its costs. They should ask for itemized bills to determine how prices are set. And they should read the fine print in their contracts to weed out secret deals that work against them. The way health care works in America, most employers cede control of costs to their health insurers, the hospitals that treat their employees and the companies they pay to manage their benefits. The costs are a dense thicket that few employers feel equipped to hack through. So they don’t.This failure helps explain why Americans pay the highest health care costs in the world — and why the tab continues to increase, year after year. Employers fund these costs through employee compensation packages, so the math is typically bad news for workers: Rising health costs mean fewer wage increases and less take-home pay. Montana was no different.And so Bartlett pitched a bold strategy. Step 1: Tell the state’s hospitals what the plan would pay. Take it or leave it. Step 2: Demand a full accounting from the company managing drug costs. If it won’t reveal any side deals it had with drugmakers, replace it.Bartlett’s strategy would expose a culture in which participants fail to question escalating costs and the role each part of the health care industry plays in them. These little-seen aspects of the health insurance industry and the way Americans pay for medical care are the focus of an ongoing series from ProPublica and NPR. As Bartlett laid out her plan that day in July 2014 in a conference room in Helena, Sheila Hogan, then-director of the state’s Department of Administration, liked what she was hearing. They needed something radical. To her knowledge, no one had ever tried anything like this. Bartlett would be taking on some of the state’s power players: hospitals and health insurers — and their politically connected lobbyists. If her plan didn’t work, the state and its employees were in trouble. If it did, it could create a blueprint for employers everywhere.Bartlett knew employers have negotiating power that few of them use. The health care system depends on the revenue produced by the surgeries, mammograms, lab tests and other services it provides, and it can ill afford to lose it. Bartlett got the job. She would call the industry’s bluff.Ballooning medical costsEmployer-sponsored health benefits are almost as old as America itself. In 1798, John Adams, the second U.S. president, signed a law that took 20 cents per month from the paychecks of U.S. seamen to fund their medical care. After the Civil War, lumber, mining and railroad companies in the American West withheld money from employee paychecks to pay for doctors and hospitals.After World War II, such plans became mainstream. Today, about 150 million Americans get their health benefits through their employers. The industry is dominated by what some call the “BUCAH” plans ­– Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Aetna and Humana. Half a dozen health insurers currently sit near the top of the Fortune 500, with combined annual revenue of about half a trillion dollars. Despite the money at stake, many employers have, wittingly or not, deferred to the industry. Decisions about health benefit plans are usually made by midlevel human resources managers who may not understand the forces in the medical industry operating against them. They’re often advised by insurance brokers, who are traditionally funded by the industry. And they’re trying to keep the peace for employees — who demand convenient access to the care they need. It’s a recipe for inertia.The conventional wisdom is that insurance companies want to reduce health care spending. In reality, insurers’ business plans hinge on keeping hospitals and other providers happy — and in their networks — often at the expense of employers and patients. Employers often feel caught between rising costs and concern that changes they make will be bad for their employees, says Michael Thompson, president of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, which represents groups of employers who provide benefits to more than 45 million Americans. And, he says, they rely on the advice of industry experts instead of digging into the details.”We have got to get control of this thing or it’s going to bring down the economy, our personal bankrolls and our wages,” he says. “It’ll cost jobs in the United States and it’ll bring down our public programs. This is not a small issue. It’s a huge issue.”But Bartlett soon discovered that it was easier to talk about pushing back than to do it. A showdown with Montana’s hospitalsBartlett arrived in Helena, the state capital, in fall 2014 as an outsider navigating a minefield of established relationships. From the start, she knew she would have to tackle the staggering bills from the state’s hospitals, which made up the largest chunk of the plan’s expenses. It wouldn’t be popular because they also made up a significant chunk of hospitals’ profitsMontana, like many large employers, self-funds its plan. That means it pays the bills and hires an insurance company or other firm to process the claims. More than half of American workers are covered by self-funded plans. As the boss in this arrangement, Bartlett assumed she would have access to detailed information about how much the plan, which was managed by Cigna, paid for procedures at each hospital. But when she asked Cigna for its pricing terms with the hospitals, Cigna refused to provide them. Its contracts with hospitals were secret, Cigna representatives told her. That didn’t sit well with Bartlett, she recalls. “The payer cannot see the contract,” she says, “but we agree to pay whatever the contract says we will pay.” A cumbersome querying process set up by Cigna allowed her to get individual claims and other limited information. But the company would only give her aggregate data, with things lumped together, to show what she paid each hospital. It was like telling a family trying to reduce its grocery spending that it could only see what it spent in a year, not a breakdown of what bread and fruit and other items cost at each market. When Bartlett continued to demand information, Cigna balked; it needed to balance what she wanted with keeping the hospitals happy. “I don’t see the need for a balance,” she recalls telling them. “I am representing the payer.” Cigna declined to answer questions about its relationship with Montana’s plan, but it said in a statement that it had prioritized the plan’s preferences and needs. Bartlett ultimately settled on a radical solution: The plan would set its own prices for the hospitals.In the illusory world of hospital billing, the hospitals typically charge a high price for a procedure, then give insurers in-network discounts. These charges and discounts might be different for each procedure at each hospital, depending on who has more leverage during negotiations. The discounts, however, are meaningless if the underlying charges aren’t capped. When Bartlett looked at a common knee replacement, with no complications and a one-night hospital stay, she saw that one hospital had charged the plan $25,000, then applied a 7 percent discount. So, the plan paid $23,250. A different hospital gave a better discount, 10 percent, but on a sticker price of $115,000. So, the plan got billed $103,500 — more than four times the amount it paid the other hospital for the same operation. Bartlett recalled wondering why anyone would think this was OK. Under Bartlett’s proposed new strategy, the plan would use the prices set by Medicare as a reference point. Medicare, the federal government’s insurance for the disabled and patients over 65, is a good benchmark because it makes its prices public and adjusts them for hospitals based on geography and other factors. Montana’s plan would pay hospitals a set percentage above the Medicare amount, a method known as “reference-based pricing,” making it impossible for the hospitals to arbitrarily raise their prices. Fed up, Bartlett ended the plan’s relationship with Cigna. Her battle to upend the status quo riled some employees of her own office, who complained that she was demanding too many changes. Some quit. Bartlett didn’t let up. That Christmas, the Cigna representative sent each employee in Bartlett’s office a small gift, a snow globe. Bartlett didn’t get one. But her ideas were exciting to Ron Dewsnup, the president of Allegiance Benefit Plan Management, a Montana-based subsidiary of, ironically, Cigna. Allegiance had been studying variation in hospital prices for years and had twice sent reports to Montana hospitals showing how their prices for the same procedures differed significantly. The company had also considered a reference-based pricing model, but it “didn’t have any employers that were serious about taking a stand,” Dewsnup says. Allegiance got the state contract and began by comparing what the plan paid the 11 biggest hospitals in the state with the Medicare rates. The cheaper ones averaged about twice the Medicare rates, the most expensive one about five times the Medicare rates. No one wanted to stiff the hospitals, but this was ridiculous, Bartlett recalls thinking. She determined the new rate for all hospitals would be a little more than twice the Medicare rate — still a lucrative deal, but a good starting point to get prices under control. The contracts would also prohibit a practice called “balance billing,” under which hospitals bill patients for whatever charges a health plan refuses to pay. It would mean a boost for some lower-cost hospitals. Now, she had to persuade the more expensive hospitals to take less. “You’re in or you’re out”Kirk Bodlovic, the chief financial officer of Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, remembers the day an entourage from the state health plan, including Bartlett and Hogan, arrived at his hospital. Bodlovic knew from Allegiance’s reports that St. Patrick’s prices were on the high side. But he wasn’t prepared for the ultimatum: If St. Patrick’s wanted to treat state employees, the hospital would have to accept lower rates. If it didn’t, the state would pay for its employees to travel to other hospitals. “You’re in or you’re out, basically,” Bodlovic says.The state’s demand set off a series of meetings within the Providence chain, which also operates in California, Alaska and the Northwest. It didn’t have a lot of leverage because Missoula is a two-hospital town. Its competitor, one of the lower-priced facilities, had already agreed to the deal. St. Patrick’s considered rejecting the deal. Bodlovic says that thought gives him heartburn to think about now, envisioning the wrath of doctors if some 3,000 state plan members had ended up at a rival hospital. And the hospital would have lost about $4 million in annual revenue. “That’s a good chunk of business,” he says. In their final analysis, he says, St. Patrick’s officials decided it was the “lesser pain” to accept the new contract than to be left out of the deal. While the state worked to get hospitals to sign new contracts, their CEOs and lobbyists plotted end runs, scheduling meetings with the governor’s office to propose alternative solutions. When they arrived for the meetings, they found that Bartlett had also been invited. She effectively blocked their ideas. Still, Bartlett had to get all the hospitals on board — or else. The new pricing was set to go live on July 1, 2016, and, with a month to go, six of the major hospitals were holding out. “I started to panic,” Bartlett recalls. During sleepless nights, Bartlett imagined thousands of state employees being forced to zigzag across the state for medical care or running up massive bills at noncontracted hospitals. She put together communication plans for members describing how they would need to travel to avoid certain hospitals.With her stomach in knots, she went on the offensive. She took a graph showing the variation in hospital prices to state legislators. Then she threatened to go public. She couldn’t name names because of contract restrictions, but she could tell the media that some hospitals’ prices were three times as high as others and let reporters figure out which ones were which. Five of the holdouts surrendered and signed the contract. “The hospitals didn’t want that out there,” she says. Only Benefis Health System in Great Falls, one of the higher-priced hospitals, refused. The hospital’s CEO told the local newspaper that “it was business for them and it was business for us.” The new plan went into place July 1, without Benefis as a contracted hospital. Bartlett ratcheted up the pressure one more time, calling in the Montana Federation of Public Employees. The union has hundreds of members in the Great Falls area, including Keith Leathers, who works as an investigator with the state’s child support enforcement division. Leathers has a young daughter with scoliosis, and he didn’t want to drive long distances to get her the care she needs. He readily engaged in the fight.”We have a regional medical facility here that’s supposed to be able to handle almost any medical problem, period,” he recalls thinking. “And I got to go out of town to get care because they want to charge more than anyone else?”Union leaders launched a campaign against the hospital. Leathers says he sent a postcard and made a phone call every day to the hospital CEO, the board members — anyone he could find in leadership. He urged them to accept the new rates. Hundreds of other employees from across the state did the same. Within a month, Benefis agreed to join the health plan. The hospital declined to comment for this story.Leathers says employers and workers should be protesting health care costs “over and over again” all over the country. “Are we going to wait until the health care system just crashes?” he says. When Bartlett took over the state health plan, it spent about $200 million a year. Bartlett’s team estimated that the new hospital pricing schedule saved the plan more than $17 million in the second half of 2016 and all of 2017 — almost $1 million a month. By 2017, a plan that state officials had predicted would go broke had turned itself around. And it’s projected to save an additional $15 million in 2018 without cutting benefits to employees or raising their rates. Exposing hidden drug dealsBut Bartlett had one more target in her sights: prescription drug costs. Health plans contract with separate companies, middlemen entities known as pharmacy benefit managers, to get members their medication. And everyone assured Bartlett the state’s pharmacy benefits deal was “state of the art.” But just like with Cigna, she insisted on examining it herself. That wasn’t easy because the pharmacy benefits were run through a cooperative arrangement with other health plans, including those of universities, school trusts and counties. The state plan anchored the co-op, and the other partners were happy with the arrangement. Bartlett knew that pharmacy benefit managers are notorious for including deals that boost their profits at the expense of employers. One of the common tricks is called the “spread.” A pharmacy benefit manager, for example, will tell an employer it cost $100 to fill a prescription that actually cost $60, allowing the pharmacy benefit manager to pocket the extra $40. The fine print in the contracts often allows it. The spread is widespread. A recent report by the Ohio state auditor noted that the spread on generic drugs had cost that state’s Medicaid plan $208 million in a single year — 31 percent of what it spent.Sure enough, when she got the contract, Bartlett found that the state plan had fallen victim to the spread. Pharmacy benefit managers also rake in dollars through rebates paid by pharmaceutical companies. Most health plans would assume that because they’re paying for the drugs, they should get any rebates. But pharmacy benefit managers often don’t disclose the size of the rebate, which allows them to keep some or most of it for themselves. When Bartlett pressed, she discovered the state wasn’t getting the full amount of its rebates. Montana was getting taken, but it put Bartlett in a touchy political situation. The co-op needed the state as a partner or it wouldn’t survive. Bartlett decided her allegiance was to the plan’s bottom line. She pulled out of the deal. “She wasn’t afraid of ruining her career or making people angry,” says Scott McClave, a consultant with Alliant Insurance Services who helped analyze the pharmacy benefit contract. Bartlett says it helped that she was near the end of her career and didn’t need to please people. “I’m 67, so I could give a s***,” she says. “What are they going to do, fire me? I’m packin’ a Medicare card.” Bartlett found a pharmacy benefit manager, Navitus Health Solutions, that would not take any spread and would pass along all rebates in full. The next year, the plan saved an average of almost $16 per prescription. It purchased a similar mix and volume of drugs in 2016 and 2017. But it saved $2 million on the spread. And its revenue from rebates jumped from $3.5 million to $7 million, Bartlett said. The savings continue to this day.In July of this year, her mission accomplished, Bartlett left her position as administrator of the state employee health plan. She now works for the office of the Montana insurance commissioner, which is taking on pharmacy benefit managers in a bigger way. But Bartlett also has a side gig as a guru to other employers across the country seeking to pay less for their health benefits. Her advice boils down to pushing back. “You’ve got to get in there and do it,” she says. So how are Montana’s hospitals after the price cut? Just fine, it appears. Bob Olsen, vice president of the Montana Hospital Association, says he has not heard hospital leaders say they are struggling under the new state contract. They have had “reasonable financial performance,” he says. But Bartlett’s legacy may be even greater. With the state’s model in mind, St. Patrick’s Bodlovic said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, the state’s largest insurer, recently came calling. Now it wants a similar pricing arrangement. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom based in New York. Sign up to get ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.You can follow Marshall Allen on Twitter: @marshall_allen. Copyright 2018 ProPublica. To see more, visit ProPublica.last_img read more

first_imgDoctors who are opposed to abortions don’t have to provide them. Since the 1970s, a series of federal rules have provided clinicians with “conscience protections” that help them keep their jobs if they don’t want to perform or assist with the procedure. Religious hospitals are also protected. Catholic health care systems, for example, are protected if they choose not to provide abortions or sterilizations. Doctors who work for religious hospitals usually sign contracts that they’ll uphold religious values in their work. But as the reach of Catholic-affiliated health care grows, these protections are starting to have consequences for doctors who do want to perform abortions — even as a side job.Religious hospitals often prohibit their doctors from performing abortions — even if they do so at unaffiliated clinics, says Noel León, a lawyer with the National Women’s Law Center. León was hired about two years ago to help physicians who want to be abortion providers. They have little in the way of legal protection, she says. “Institutions are using the institutional religious and moral beliefs to interfere with employees’ religious and moral beliefs,” León says. This kind of legal argument, León says, may prevent doctors from providing care they feel called to offer. And since many clinics that provide abortions rely heavily on part-time staff, it may also prevent these clinics from finding the doctors they need to stay open. Dr. Kimberly Remski sought help from León when she was job hunting. She is a primary care physician but had always been interested in women’s health. When she first set foot in a clinic that provides abortions, she realized it was her passion. “A lot of the things we spend our time doing in training are monotonous, or you’re getting swamped in work,” she says. “I just remember leaving the clinic feeling like I was doing something really important.”She interviewed for a job as a primary care doctor with IHA, one of the largest physician groups in Michigan, in 2017. She says she was clear about her desire to work one day a week in an independent clinic that provides abortions. Part-time work is common for outpatient physicians, and Remski says the doctors she interviewed with were receptive. “I was very upfront. I told that them that was a special interest of mine. I wanted to be able to pursue it,” she says. She signed a contract, and started preparing for her move. Then she got a call that the offer was off. Remski learned that her potential employer was actually owned by a larger Catholic hospital network called Trinity Health, and it requires physicians to “provide services in a manner consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” according to her contract. And, she says, she was shocked to learn Trinity Health would also have had a say over how she spent her free time. IHA officials told her that she couldn’t work on the side as an abortion provider if she took the job, Remski says. Trinity Health had merged with IHA in 2010, part of a wave of mergers that has led to a net increase in Catholic ownership of hospitals. According to a 2016 report from MergerWatch, an organization that tracks hospital consolidation, 14.5 percent of acute care hospitals are Catholic-owned or affiliated. That number grew by 22 percent between 2001 and 2016, while the overall number of acute care hospitals dropped by 6 percent. And as Catholic-affiliated health care expands, says León, doctors increasingly encounter morality clauses that prohibit them from performing abortions.León says she has worked with at least 30 physicians and nurse practitioners from 20 different states who faced problems similar to Remski’s when they disclosed to their employers, or potential employers, that they planned to provide abortions. “They’re being told, ‘We can’t provide the care we went into medicine to provide,’ ” León says. “We shouldn’t be putting providers in the position of caring for their patients or keeping their jobs.”Representatives of IHA would not agree to a phone interview about Remski’s situation, but spokesperson Amy Middleton explained in an email that IHA “works hard with our physicians to enable them to pursue other positions.” But, she added, “outside work that interferes with a physician’s ability to serve patients or contradicts the organization’s practices could present a conflict of interest.”IHA physicians follow Catholic health care guidelines, Middleton wrote, which requires that physicians “not promote or condone contraceptive practices.” Dr. Barbara Golder, the editor of the Catholic Medical Association journal, Linacre Quarterly, says that language about morality is ubiquitous in contracts — and that it is reasonable that religious institutions might not want to be associated with abortion providers. “The person is seen primarily as Dr. X of Catholic hospital Y, and then it turns out that Dr. X of Catholic hospital Y is doing abortions on the weekends,” Golder says. “There’s sort of a cognitive dissonance about that. It’s in opposition to what Catholic health care is.”According to Lance Leider, a Florida attorney who has reviewed hundreds of physician contracts, it is “exceedingly common” for contracts, not just at religiously affiliated hospitals, to include language about the reasons an employer can fire a doctor, including but not limited to morality clauses.”There’s always a laundry list of things the employer can terminate the contract for,” Leider says. “There’s usually a catch-all. Anything that calls into question the reputation of the practice.” These clauses tend to be vague, León adds, which means employers can invoke them to prevent a wide range of activities, like political activity, controversial posts on social media or, in religious hospitals, physicians spending time at clinics that provide abortions. The restrictions may have ramifications not only for physicians but for many clinics that provide abortions. Smaller clinics may be staffed almost entirely with part-time doctors, and when they can’t find enough, they’re sometimes left unable to meet the demand for services. “We don’t have full-time doctors,” says Shelly Miller, the executive director of Scotsdale Women’s Center in Detroit, one of the clinics where Remski worked. “We really cannot afford to have a provider sit here all day and wait for patients to come in.” Through her involvement with the National Abortion Federation, Miller often talks with other directors of small clinics that provide abortions and sometimes other women’s health services. She says that many of her counterparts say they exclusively hire part-time physicians because they simply don’t need somebody full time. If more physicians are prohibited from part-time abortion work, it may put some smaller clinics out of business, Miller worries.It’s hard to know exactly how many of these clinics primarily use part-time staff, according to Rachel Jones, who studies the demographics of U.S. abortion services at the Guttmacher Institute, a family planning research organization. Ninety-five percent of abortions take place in clinics as opposed to hospitals, Jones notes, which may be more likely to utilize a team of part-time staff. León doesn’t have data to show how common it is for physicians to be threatened with termination for providing abortions. She guesses that doctors will either give up on providing abortions — or, like Remski did, look for a different job that allows them to. León spends much of her time speaking to groups of doctors about how to approach contract negotiation if they want to provide abortions. Ultimately, Remski says, she parted amicably from IHA, since “it felt like the wrong place for me.” She ended up finding a job at an urgent-care clinic in Michigan, which allowed her to work part time at three separate clinics that provide abortions. She has since moved to Chicago, where she also splits her time between providing abortions and primary care. “I was providing a service that was needed and necessary,” Remski says. “I realized it was something I really needed to do.” Mara Gordon is a family physician in Washington, D.C., and a health and media fellow at NPR and Georgetown University School of Medicine. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more