13 November 2006The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has partnered with Korean state institution KRIBB to form the South Africa-Korea Biotechnology Research Centre, to be based at the CSIR in Pretoria.The centre will promote collaborative research projects and training within a joint biotechnology research centre.CSIR CEO Sibusiso Sibisi and KRIBB president Sang ki Rhee signed a memorandum of understanding in Pretoria on 3 November, establishing the partnership for an initial five-year period.According to the CSIR, the Korean organisation will provide the starting capital needed to establish a joint biotechnology research laboratory and facilities, while the CSIR will provide basic infrastructure, laboratory space and the necessary facilities.“The collaboration will in due course receive public and private funding,” the CSIR said in a statement.CSIR biosciences executive director Gatsha Mazithulela said the partnership reflected the strength of the CSIR’s biosciences research. “The challenge is maintain and grow our capabilities to keep up with the fast-changing biotechnology environment,” Mazithulela said.Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Rhee said he was confident that the agreement would enhance the development and prosperity of South Africa and Korea.“As KRIBB, we will also do our best to facilitate this cooperation so that researchers will be encouraged to achieve excellency in research and lead advancement in the biotechnology field,” Rhee said.KRIBB’s key areas of research and development are bio-pharmaceuticals, bio-nanotechnology, bio-materials and bio-informatics.SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
Monday is Ada Lovelace’s 197th birthday. You can thank her for the idea of reprogrammable computers and for publishing the first algorithm. Two centuries later, there are massive, world-changing companies whose beating hearts are algorithms like the ones Lovelace described.The computer algorithm as we know it was invented by a woman. But due to a confluence of political, economic, social and religious forces, today’s algorithm companies are staffed disproportionately by men. So are the media outlets that cover them. That inevitably leads to a skewed history.“Diversity in the workforce is important for building a product that caters to the needs of everyone,” says Tamar Yehoshua, director of product management for search at Google. “That’s really important for building a product that everybody can use.” Suffice it to say, tech is not there yet. “When I was in college, I was one of two math majors in the whole school who are female, and I was very cognizant of it,” Yehoshua says. “But it didn’t deter me in any way because I loved what I was doing.”That’s the rub with institutionalized discrimination, though: It’s an extra cognitive load on people.As part of pondering this problem, I visited Google, arguably today’s most influential algorithm company, to ask three women, all engineers and managers, about their careers. I learned that Googlers are very lucky. Not everyone who works in technology has a support systems as robust as Google offers.Here are some lessons they shared about how to preserve social power for any outnumbered group in a tech company.Formal Support SystemsGoogle’s biggest asset is its ability to understand huge amounts of data. This is as important to Google’s human technologies as it is to its computer technologies.When Google looked at the data this year and realized that it could retain 50% more women employees by extending the length of maternity leave to five months, it did so. It wasn’t just a human decision that this was the right thing to do. Google looked objectively at the situation and decided it was good for the company. As I joked with the Googlers, it’s as though reality has a pro-motherhood bias.That doesn’t mean Google always knows how to apply its big data skills intelligently. When Susan Wojcicki, in whose garage Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google itself, returned from maternity leave, the founders built a day care center on campus in order to help Googler parents. But later, Google ran the numbers on its day care program and its (male-dominated) leadership decided it had to raise rates by 75%. By treating this human resource as an economic experiment, Google freaked out many of its parent-employees.So data-driven programs are important, but they’re no substitute for human-driven ones. Fortunately for Googlers, Google pays attention to both sides of the equation.Groups Are Key For Payal Patel, a product manager at Google, organized groups for support and problem-solving are the key. Underrepresented people in a big-company culture need backup.“I grew up in small-town Iowa,” says Patel, who saw few options for getting out beyond studying math and physics. When she got to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to get her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, she noticed the gender imbalance for the first time. “Less than 20% of the students were female.”She counteracted that force by joining mentorship groups and larger organizations like the Society of Women Engineers. “It is true that people tend to connect easier to people who are similar,” she says. “Creating a strong peer network through [college] with upperclassmen, as well as out in the industry, helped me a lot,” Patel says.After school, Patel went to work as an engineer at John Deere and Northrop Grumman “That was very different from Google,” she says today. “I was a software engineer for a little over four years. I did have the strong technical background, but I wanted to get into product management, more of the business side.” So she went to MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2011, then started at Google as a product manager.Her friends in the business and finance world “know for a fact that they won’t last two or three years because of the lifestyle, but yet they want to have that challenge. What really attracted me to Google was, I love the technology, I love a challenge, I want to have an impact, yada yada yada. But when I’m a mother, I can dial in from my meeting, and it’s very normal.”Google offers and supports employee resource groups (ERGs) for women, Gayglers, Greyglers, different ability levels, and geographic, cultural and ethnic groups of all kinds. Patel has participated in the ERG for women, and she’s on an internal Google Group for expectant moms, a status she has recently attained for the first time. “My experience as an expectant mom is amazing at work,” she says. “I think this support network helps Google retain women a lot better. Both my husband and I love Google for that.”But what about people who don’t work at a place as supportive as Google? The strategy for finding support is similar, but it can take more effort to build informal groups yourself.Informal Support Systems “From a numbers perspective, I don’t think there’s any question” that men dominate tech, says Pavni Diwanji, an engineering director at Google running spam-fighting efforts as well as Profiles and Pages on Google+. “It’s just there. I don’t think it’s very interesting to keep thinking about the problem. I think what’s more interesting is to think about what I can do about it.”“I’m not part of a formal mentor program, though one does exist at Google,” Diwanji says. “I do what I call informal, need-be mentoring. I try to have at least a few women to help when they need help.”Diwanji was the only woman in computer science at her university in Western India, “which didn’t really surprise me,” she says. She didn’t have any preconceived notions about tech, so she attributed the imbalance to issues in Indian society.Then she went to Stanford for her master’s degree, “and now we’re talking about a few women.” It wasn’t much different. She started her career as a software engineer at Sun Microsystems, which was “slightly better again.” How did she climb through all that to get to such a great position at Google? Beyond her own talents and ambitions, she adds, “I’ve always been very lucky. I’ve had good mentors.”Her father was her first tech mentor, taking her to work with him at IBM twice a week and letting her play with the punch cards. While she was at Sun, she volunteered outside of work for legendary computer scientist Anita Borg, a huge role model. Groups can be a great help, says Diwanji, but “I think the large impact is one-on-one.”By sharing experiences with trusted figures, women (like any other minority group in tech) can compare notes on the way they handle challenging experiences day to day. “The place where women sometimes fall through is they’re not proactive about their problems,” Diwanji says. Having the support of a mentor helped her through crises, so now she helps others in turn.“You have to find someone who’s going to put a little bit of time into you,” she says. “If you can’t, then go outside of your workplace.”Yehoshua agrees. “Sometimes you need someone who is objective.” She participates in a mentorship program for younger project managers, and she also provides mentorship informally. “I’ve always, at every step of the way, had a mentor. They’re going to give you feedback, and they’re going to help you pursue your career goals.”Is Google A Utopia? HardlyEven Google has not been known as a friendly environment for women at its highest levels. In the CEO transition from Eric Schmidt to Larry Page, Google took heat for pushing women out of the inner circle, most famously employee number 20, Marissa Mayer, who left this year to become CEO of Yahoo.Google spokespeople explained that change as a coincidence. Schmidt’s operating committee was organized around functions: legal, HR, engineering, marketing and so forth. Page’s is organized around products. Mayer and others got caught outside of the product columns. There are other powerful female Googlers who don’t buy the simple gender explanation. “I think all tech companies are a meritocracy,” says Yehoshua, who is a product management director on Search, arguably Google’s most important product. Speaking specifically about Google, “I have never seen an issue bringing up in any way the fact that I’m a female, or that I’m a mother, or anything like that.”Patel thinks there are some cultural factors that make Google special in this regard. “It has to do with the company and their recruiting standards,” she says. “I feel like Google has a high standard from the beginning. I definitely think there’s less bias” among Google-caliber people. She believes a place with high standards will attract more women compared to “more traditional” companies.Diwanji says “Sun had a very different culture to it. It was a very aggressive culture. I wouldn’t call it a male-dominated culture, but you had to eat or be eaten, so to speak. Google doesn’t have that.”Cultures preserve and enforce biases. In a more hostile company culture, it’s critical for disempowered people to create informal networks to support each other. Even in the Googles of the world, formal structures are necessary to make sure that an idyllic perception of the place doesn’t give way to complacency.We’ll need these support systems until our whole society can get to the root of the problem: a formal and informal educational system that teaches children that their gender (or sexual orientation, or race, or religion) determines in any way the kinds of careers they can have.Lead image – of Madeleine Albright with women at Google – courtesy of Google. Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Tags:#Google#women in tech 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now jon mitchell Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…
Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Security was tight at the arena as a SWAT team stood guard outside.“We’ve already undertaken a lot of preparation, and with the way the world looks today this type of incident (Monday’s attack) is the kind of thing we have to prepare for. So it has been part of our planning all along,” Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said.United manager Jose Mourinho said Tuesday he and his players were finding it hard not to think about the attack, which targeted fans leaving a pop concert by the American singer Ariana Grande and left 59 people injured.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ For Mark, a 19-year-old Manchester fan living in Stockholm, this was no ordinary match. “It was very special because of the events that happened in Manchester and now they qualify for Champions League,” he said. Vijay Patel, a 29-year-old Manchester fan from the UK, said the team came out even stronger in the aftermath of the attack. “It should motivate them… they’re not just winning for the team they’re winning for the city,” he said. Team supporters were celebrating hours earlier at a fan zone in Stockholm’s leafy Kungstradgarden park where they played football and took photos.ADVERTISEMENT Heat’s Big 3 era ends as deal struck for Bosh to go—report ‘Coming Home For Christmas’ is the holiday movie you’ve been waiting for, here’s why More than 5,000 measles deaths in DR Congo this year — WHO LATEST STORIES South Korea to suspend 25% of coal plants to fight pollution SEA Games: PH beats Indonesia, enters gold medal round in polo Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students PLAY LIST 01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes LOOK: Vhong Navarro’s romantic posts spark speculations he’s marrying longtime GF Shaun Payne, a 29-year-old United supporter, said Monday’s attack undoubtedly scarred the team, but he was optimistic that they would win.“They have nothing to lose tonight. They’ll go for it,” he told AFP.“It’ll provide extra motivation to represent the city and to hopefully bring the trophy back with us,” he says. Tight securityRob Coppen, a 28-year-old Ajax fan from Amsterdam donning the team’s kit, said the terror attack took the joy out of the final. “(The attack) has taken the spark off the game. It’s been a while since Ajax has been in a Euro final so it’s a pity.“But what can you do? Nobody asked for this, neither Manchester nor Ajax,” he said. Amy Edwards, a Manchester fan, was worried about safety at the final, but said she refused to let fear control her life. “I’m worried a little bit in case something happens tonight, but I guess it’s always a risk you take anyway and go to high profile games,” she said.“But you can’t stay inside,” she added. “Obviously the events in Manchester has put a dampener on everything but hopefully we can win and bring the trophy back tonight.” Manchester’s Wayne Rooney holds the trophy after winning 2-0 during the soccer Europa League final between Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester United at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)A crowd of Manchester United fans were cheering outside a Stockholm stadium on Wednesday as their team won the Europa League, a relief for the supporters after the Manchester terror attack 48 hours earlier.“It’s fantastic to see them winning. We were always confident that we would win,” said George Malloy, a 69-year-old from Dublin. ADVERTISEMENT View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cayetano dares Lacson, Drilon to take lie-detector test: Wala akong kinita sa SEA Games “I think it will be a good lift for the people of Manchester,” he added. Manchester fans were screaming and whistling in joy, while their Ajax counterparts were biting their nails as the English club won 2-0. FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingOutside the entrance of the modernly decorated Friends Arena in the Stockholm suburb of Solna, fans were upbeat and cheerful under sunny summer skies, but nervous about both the outcome of the match and security issues.Ahead of Wednesday’s match, players held a minute’s silence in honour of the victims of Monday’s suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena which left 22 people dead. Lakers win 9th straight, hold off Pelicans
Art Briles is no longer the head coach at Baylor, and if the latest report by Joe Schad is true, it looks like some of his assistants may be out soon too. Schad, formerly of ESPN, posted a long note to Facebook Tuesday afternoon, reporting that a former Baylor student named Dolores Lozano claims she was assaulted by former football player Devin Chafin and that both Briles and assistant Jeff Lebby knew about it. She even alleges that she and Lebby exchanged texts about the situation. She says that she brought allegations to the Waco Police, but Chafin was allowed to continue playing. She says the school never had a formal hearing either.Schad also reports details of the alleged assault and includes photos of the injuries Lozano reportedly suffered from the incident. Here is a photo provided to me by former Baylor student Dolores Lozano pic.twitter.com/lHAwUnI0g3— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) June 7, 2016Jeff Lebby, currently the Baylor passing game/RBs coach, did not have immediate comment about Lozano’s claims— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) June 7, 2016The fallout at Baylor does not appear to be over just yet. Obviously, this is awful. Expect more repercussions here.
Since its rather hazy inception at Burlington Central High School in Burlington, Ontario, in 1989, people from all over the world have attempted the beer mile: a four-lap, four-beer testament to just how insane elite runners really are. As the beer mile migrated south from Canada, the event gained traction on college campuses in the United States as an unofficial tradition to celebrate the end of track season, when young runners were in peak physical shape and seeking reprieve from a notoriously regimented sport.Seanna Robinson, the former women’s beer mile world record-holder, went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, when the beer mile rules were still being ironed out. The competition still operates on the “Kingston Rules,” which outline the penalty lap that is incurred if a runner vomits before finishing. “The naked run, the Timbits challenge and the beer mile were just some of the many things we did that played at running and celebrating,” Robinson said. When Robinson started running beer miles at Queen’s University, women were only required to drink three beers, skipping the first. She argued for the beer mile to be the same for men and women.At around the same time Robinson was pioneering for four-beer gender equality, and setting her longstanding record, Patrick Butler — at the time a member of the Wesleyan University track team — purchased the domain BeerMile.com. He’d seen the Kingston Rules online and wanted to adopt them in the U.S., as well as to create a place to aggregate and keep track of “official” beer mile results from all over the world. That was in 1998, and there were 452 beer miles logged on the site that year. Now there are about 40,000 total races — 4,439 of them coming this year (as of Dec. 3).Butler knows the database isn’t complete — he estimates that less than 10 percent of beer mile results are actually submitted to the site. But it’s prominent enough that some competitors want out. “I probably get five or six emails a week from people saying, ‘Can you take my name off of your site? I’m trying to get a job,’” said Butler, who maintains the database himself as a passion project.Nick Symmonds, an Olympic middle-distance runner, isn’t concerned about being associated with the beer mile. If anything, he’s a proponent of the sport. “Most people don’t know what a 1:42.9 in the 800 means — which is what I did at the Olympics — but they understand what a 5:19 beer mile is,” he told me in Austin. Symmonds runs professionally for Brooks and definitely does not need to run beer miles in his spare time — for the prize money or the notoriety — but he schlepped to Austin from Seattle to create continued interest in track and field. When asked why he came to the World Championships, he said, “There’s a chance they’ll continue to watch us in two years [at the 2016 Olympics].” “Who’s got the legs, lungs and stomach to hold it all down?”The bald announcer was trying to get the crowd going before the races began. The event was meant to be held at Yellow Jacket Stadium, a proper 1,600-meter indoor running track. But last-minute concerns from the track’s owners about the imminent binge-drinking forced the race to move to a motor-racing track on the outskirts of Austin. Beneath an empty grandstand with seating for thousands, what would be the homestretch of a Formula 1 race had been transformed into a makeshift track — an oblong oval marked off by orange construction cones. The turns were too tight and the straightaways too long, but for an event that is as much about drinking as it is running, it was good enough.On the final straightaway loomed the party zone, straddled by two tables with beer lined up in rows of four. Each of the 117 participants got to choose his or her own beer, and the best runners could drink the night’s special “Beer Mile Brew.” Hops & Grain, a local Austin brewery and event sponsor, brewed the German-style blonde ale to contain only 2.2 volumes of CO2, down from a typical 2.6 volumes. Chuggability is critical in a beer mile.The women were up first, adjusting track shorts-wedgies with one hand and holding their first beers with the other as they waited to start. When the gun fired, the group of twelve toned, lean women cracked open their cans. While drinking, they waddled like drunk penguins from the back of the party zone to the front, then took off running. In the crowd, some people were sporting shirts reading, “You just got beat by a mother of six.” They were the friends and family of Chris Kimbrough, a 45-year-old Austin local, who broke the women’s world record in October on her first attempt with a time of 6:28.6.At the World Championships, though, Kimbrough was struggling; by the third beer she was doing that pre-vomit shiver that a body does when it wants to stop — and it would take her 32.3 seconds to finish beer No. 4. She stood no chance against Elizabeth Herndon, a 29-year-old professor and marathoner who came out of beer mile obscurity (and Ohio) to down her fourth beer, a New Belgium Fat Tire, in just 21.4 seconds. Herndon smashed the world record with a time of 6:17.8. Kimbrough placed fourth.Just minutes after organizers rinsed away the liquid vomit from the women’s race, 10 tank-top wearing men lined up at the same starting line for the elite men’s final. One guy was wearing jorts.James Nielsen, the highly contentious current world record-holder with a time of 4:57.0, was not among them. Nielsen said he “physically could not make it that week.” Others interpreted his absence as a clear indicator that he couldn’t defend his world record because it wasn’t legitimate.In a video he posted to YouTube, Nielsen downs his second beer in less than four seconds — a feat that other beer milers say is physically impossible. Symmonds and fan-favorite Corey Gallagher were both vying to break the elusive sub-five minute beer mile, if only to put Nielsen in his place.Bud Light Platinums featured heavily in the men’s elite race, and when the starting gun fired, iridescent blue bottles tilted skyward. Gallagher, wearing a single glove on his beer-chugging hand, downed the first in an astonishing 6.1 seconds, but coasted through lap one in 67 seconds (6 seconds slower than his final lap), allowing the guy in jorts to take the lead. But no one could drink like Gallagher. It didn’t take him longer than 10 seconds to finish any one beer, and with the final lap in sight he demolished his fourth beer faster than his previous two — in just 7.3 seconds. He rounded the last turn well ahead of the pack, the crowd screaming as he looked on pace to break 5 minutes. But he crashed through the finishing tape without breaking the threshold: 5.00.23.“This is the world record, James Nielsen is a cheat and a fake,” Gallagher declared post-race, swigging a replenishment drink from his silver plastic trophy.Nielsen vehemently denies all accusations of cheating. “I think people can drink beers even faster than me,” he said when reached by phone. “I am definitely not the human limit on how fast a beer can be drank out of a can — I’ve seen faster.” Canadian Corey Gallagher heads down the straight away trailed closely by Australian Jack Colreavy at the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin Josh Baker for Flocasts AUSTIN, Texas — Beer miles are won and lost in the “party zone.” When participants in the world’s most athletic binge-drinking event cross into it, they stop running, hastily down a minimum 5 percent ABV beer and then take off again. The zone is only 10 meters long.The best male beer-milers spend somewhere between 4 and 6 seconds in their first stop in the party zone; the best women stay for about 11 seconds. By their fourth time through — the beer mile requires four laps of running, four beers of chugging — the competitors slow. With shaky legs and winded lungs, these same men average about 14 seconds and the women about 31 seconds.1For this calculation, I did not include the final beer split of Kelly Williamson at the Beer Mile World Championships because the time was such an outlier at 1 minute and 30 seconds.But things are different at the Beer Mile World Championships, which were held here for the first time in early December. The champions drank their final beers almost twice as fast as the average elite runner in the competition — 7 seconds and 21 seconds for the male and female winners, respectively. In a race with the motto: “Chug, Run, Repeat,” the fiercest competitors guzzle through the party zone as fast as Olympic triathletes put on their post-swim socks. Members of the Women’s Elite race chug beers at the starting line of the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin Kirby Lee for Flocasts Athletes competing in the open heat of the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championship crack open their first beers at Circuit of the Americas in Austin Kirby Lee for Flocasts “This thing has been going on for 30 years with thousands of results and no one’s really paid attention, and then all of a sudden it’s on national news and people are noticing,” Nielsen said. The video of his world record-setting mile has been viewed 1.35 million times.Some of the participants at the World Championships admitted to running the beer mile in part to dispel the myth that elite runners are some strange breed of nutrition-obsessed freaks. “People think we hang out in a cabin eating chia seeds,” said 42-year-old Luis Armenteros, who placed third in the men’s sub-elite division with a time of 6:03.2. “I can’t drink everyone under the table, but I can drink a lot.”“There is the perception that elite runners are machines whose bodies are temples, but we have our vices,” said Jack Colreavy, a 25-year-old runner who traveled from Sydney, Australia, to race in the elite men’s group, but who was unable to finish. “And mine is drinking beer.”
Maurizio Sarri’s constant brushes with Italy’s football authorities may probably cost him the chance of ever becoming Chelsea’s next boss, Sky Sports believes.A 20k Euro fine and two-game ban in January for a reportedly homophobic abuse of Roberto Mancini seem to be taking the west London club away from appointing him. The 60-year-old Sarri, however, denied being homophobic but was still banned for “directing extremely insulting epithets at the coach of the opposing team”.There are indications that Chelsea has so far refused to pay the £7m release clause being demanded by Napoli’s owner. But it’s his growing list of transgressions that could end Sarri’s chances of replacing Antonio Conte.There have been a series of transgression incidents involving Sarri, including an obscene gesture to supporters of Juventus in Turin, oral abuse of his own players and sexist remarks about female journalists.Maurizio Sarri satisfied despite Juventus’ draw at Fiorentina Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Maurizio Sarri was satisfied with Juventus’ performance on Saturday afternoon after finishing a tough game at Fiorentina 0-0.Even after his recent touchline spat with Mancini, the former Manchester City manager, when asked what happened, said:“You have to ask Sarri what happened. Men like him shouldn’t be in the world of football.“He is 60 years old and must be ashamed.”
AC Milan are a long way off from being in any position to challenge Juventus right now, admits club icon Paolo MaldiniThe Rossoneri are only 14th in the Serie A standings with just one win in their first three games of the new season.And Maldini, who returned to Milan this summer as a Sporting Strategy & Development Director, admits that it will take time to get the club back into a position to challenge Juventus.“Projects are important, but you can’t yet compare Milan to Juventus,” he told Sky Italia.“The anti-Juventus? Let’s be serious, we’re still a long way off being that,Juventus confirm Mario Mandzukic could leave this month Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed reports that Mario Mandzukic could leave Juventus for a move to an unnamed Qatari team.“We’re aiming to reach the top four in the league and have a great run in the Europa League.“This is a serious project, we want to take Milan back to the highest levels.”Milan last won the Serie in the 2010/11 season and have been unable to finish higher than sixth in the past five years.Gennaro Gattuso’s side will take on Dudelange in the Europa League on Thursday before another league fixture against Atalanta on Sunday.
Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo Some of the actions Aung San Suu Kyi has taken as Myanmar’s civilian leader are “regrettable” but her Nobel Peace Prize will not be withdrawn, the head of the Nobel Foundation told Reuters in an interview in Stockholm on Friday.Lars Heikensten, speaking days before the awarding of this year’s peace prize, said it made no sense to withdraw awards in reaction to things that happened after they were given, as judges would constantly have to discuss laureates’ merits.UN investigators issued a report in August accusing Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent” in an operation that drove more than 700,000 refugees across the border to Bangladesh.Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for campaigning for democracy and now leads the Myanmar government, was accused in the same report of failing to use her “moral authority” to protect civilians.“We see what she’s been doing in Myanmar has been questioned a lot and we stand for human rights, that’s one of our core values,” Lars Heikensten, the head of the Nobel Foundation, said.“So of course to the extent that she’s responsible for that, that is very regrettable,” he added.Government spokesman Zaw Htay did not answer phone calls seeking comment on Monday. He said last month he would no longer speak to the media over the phone, only at a biweekly conference.Myanmar has rejected the UN findings as “one-sided”. It says the military action, which followed militant attacks on security forces in August last year, was a legitimate counterinsurgency operation.Suu Kyi said last month that in hindsight her government could have handled the situation in Rakhine state better, but did not acknowledge any major crimes.“We don’t believe it would make sense to try to withdraw prizes … it would involve us in constant discussions about the merits about what people are doing afterwards, after they have received the prize,” Heikensten said.“There has always been and there always will be Nobel laureates that are doing things after they’ve been awarded the prize which we do not approve of or which we don’t think are the right things. That we cannot avoid I think,” he added.The Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation oversees the administration of all the Nobel Prizes, which are awarded by different organizations in Sweden and Norway.The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the Peace Prize, said in August that its rules did not allow awards to be withdrawn.The laureate of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday in Oslo.
X Listen Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Courtesy of Greater Houston PartnershipGreater Houston home sales increased by 23 percent year-over-year in November. In November, Realtors sold 5,706 single-family homes, 1,055 more than the same month a year ago, according to a monthly report from the Houston Association of Realtors. That’s a 22.7 percent increase.Tim Surratt, a real estate agent with Greenwood King Properties, said that’s great news, “but if we go back two years, it’s really only a 10 percent increase. In 2015, we were still having some instability for the oil prices and all of that. And so it looks like our market is very stabilized here in Houston.”He said the recovery is also finally having an effect on the sales of homes above $500,000.They jumped 32.5 percent from November 2015 – the first time this category saw an increase in sales in more than a year.“People are just feeling confident to get back into the market,” Surrat said. “They kind of sat on the sidelines to see if prices would come down, and they absolutely have not come down. And because of that, they couldn’t put off those purchases any longer.”The median price for a single-family home in Greater Houston went up by 8.3 percent from a year ago, to $222,000, a record for a November. 00:00 /01:01
Share Creative Commons ImagesA Federal Court has ordered the IRS to repay Texas for an ACA tax on State Medicaid programs.A U.S. District Court decision has ordered the Internal Revenue Service to repay Texas and five other states more than $839 million because of an unlawful Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax on state Medicaid programs, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday. A news release from Paxton’s office detailed that Texas stands to be repaid $304 million.In October 2015, Paxton led a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government over the Obama-era regulation that threatened to curtail Medicaid funds unless Texas taxpayers paid a portion of the Health Insurance Providers Fee to help fund the ACA. The court’s decision also means that Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin also stand to be repaid ACA fees by the IRS.Texas and Wisconsin will argue at a hearing on September 5 that the ACA, as amended by the recent tax bill, is unconstitutional in its entirety.