[INVNT GROUP]™ Launches Globally With Four-Discipline Offering To Help Brands Drive Deeper Audience Connections Around The World

NEW YORK, NY, June 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today marks the launch of [INVNT GROUP], THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT, a portfolio of complementary disciplines that serve clients at every and any stage of the storytelling cycle, with an offering that enables organizations to weave a consistent, meaningful, well–articulated BrandStory through every interaction with their audiences in personalized, regionally specific ways irrespective of platform.

The portfolio, poised to expand and available to clients across the globe, currently comprises FOLK HERO, a modern brand strategy firm, HEV', a branded content and digital marketing studio, INVNT, the global live brand storytelling agency, and MEANING, a creative–led culture consultancy, which also launches today.

Scott Cullather, who as CEO of INVNT grew the company into an internationally recognized live brand storytelling agency, will assume the role of President and CEO of [INVNT GROUP], with a focus on continuing the growth and expansion of the Project, which has already seen integrated campaigns with globally renowned brands including General Motors, Merck, Genesis, PepsiCo and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

He explains: "Every organization we meet wants less layers, fewer gaps, less big agency red tape, and a higher caliber of consistent, integrated storytelling across every audience. So, we're building and investing in an offering that enables forward–thinking brands everywhere to drive deeper relationships with the audiences that matter most to them, anywhere.

“[INVNT GROUP] is structured for clients to build a tailored solution where they can work with one, some or all of our disciplines as an integrated team,” adds Cullather.

[INVNT GROUP] is led by a Board of Directors in Cullather and McCoobery, Paul Blurton, Chief Creative Officer, Wolf Karbe, Chief Financial Officer, Jerry Deeney, Chief Client Officer, and John Wringe, Non–Executive Chairman. They have named Laura Roberts Managing Director for [INVNT GROUP] in APAC, overseeing its rapid expansion""an essential role as demand for the GROUP's services continues to increase in the region.

In addition to her COO role, McCoobery has been named CEO of INVNT, the GROUP's largest and most profitable business. She explains: "In recent years, we've seen an increase in brands and organizations wanting to connect with their audiences beyond the "big event,' and seek out more integrated marketing and messaging strategies.

“With the launch of [INVNT GROUP], INVNT will continue to develop and deploy events that excite and unite physical and virtual audiences; and at the same time, provide clients with access to a much broader suite of services, ensuring consistency of BrandStory across the board.”

MEANING, led by newly appointed Chief Culture Officer, Allan Fair, who will also retain his role as Executive Creative Director at INVNT, is dedicated to helping companies win the war for talent and drive productivity through a more refined focus on culture, purpose and the shifts in consciousness required to lead people and teams today.

Fair says: “We've identified a gap in the marketplace and an opportunity when it comes to corporate culture services. While there will always be a market for traditional consulting, MEANING is a creative–driven, storytelling–based alternative designed to ignite a human connection to consultative data and metrics. This enables companies to define and breathe life into a purpose that moves stakeholders and employees to transcend the transactional, for the good of individuals, organizations, and even society.”

Cullather adds: “We're working with some of the most progressive thought–leaders in the culture consulting space, merging behavioral theory with neuroscience and experience design to offer an IP that companies can leverage to transform themselves and lift their values and purpose off the page.”

Commenting on the future of the GROUP, he explains: “We have intentionally named [INVNT GROUP] The Global BrandStory Project because that's exactly what it is: A Project that will evolve and take shape""becoming even more effective and robust in the process""over time. We will be announcing additional updates and strategic acquisitions in the coming weeks and months as we continue to expand the offering to ensure our clients are able to meet and move their audiences when it matters most, wherever and whenever that may be.”

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For company logos and leadership visuals visit: https://bit.ly/2NCuCGV


About [INVNT GROUP]
[INVNT GROUP] was established in 2020 with a vision to provide consistent, meaningful, well–articulated BrandStory across all platforms. Headed up by President and CEO, Scott Cullather, [INVNT GROUP], THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT represents a growing portfolio of complementary disciplines designed to help forward–thinking organizations everywhere, impact the audiences that matter, anywhere. The GROUP consists of modern brand strategy firm, FOLK HERO; creative–led culture consultancy, MEANING; branded content and digital marketing studio, HEV', and the global live brand storytelling agency, INVNT. For more information about [INVNT GROUP] visit: https://www.invntgroup.com/

Attachments

Komet Provides Update on Filing of Q1 2020 Financial Disclosure and Announces Delayed Holding of AGM

MONTREAL, June 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Komet Resources Inc. ("Komet" or the "Corporation") (TSX–V : KMT) provides an update with respect to filing of its interim financial statements and related MD&A for the three months ended March 31, 2020 (the “Required Q1 Filings“). The Corporation is providing this update in accordance with Decision No 2020–PDG–0023 of the Autorit des marchs financiers (Qubec) (the “Exemption“). The Corporation intends to make the Required Q1 Filings on or prior to July 14, 2020.

Blackout in Effect for Management and Other Insiders

Until such time as the Required QI Filings are completed, Komet's management and other insiders are subject to a trading blackout that reflects the principles contained in section 9 of National Policy 11–207 "" Failure–to–File Cease Trade Orders and Revocations in Multiple Jurisdictions.

Business Developments

Since June 12, 2020, when the Corporation filed its financial statements and MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2019, there has been no material business development for the Corporation.

Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Komet further announces that it is relying on the exemptions provided in Decision 2020–PDG–0034 of the Autorit des marchs financiers (Qubec) and similar exemptions provided by members of the Canadian Securities Administrators in each of the provinces and territories of Canada, to delay the filings of its executive compensation disclosure for the year–ended December 31, 2019 and to delay the requirements to send copies of its annual or interim financial statements and MD&A to investors that have requested so. All required disclosure and documents will be provided in advance of December 31, 2020.

The Corporation intends to hold its annual meeting of shareholders in September 2020.

Investor Relations/information:

Mr. Robert Wares, Chairman and interim President: 514–951–4235 / r.wares@kometgold.com

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Komet Provides Update on Filing of Q1 2020 Financial Disclosure and Announces Delayed Holding of AGM

MONTREAL, June 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Komet Resources Inc. ("Komet" or the "Corporation") (TSX–V : KMT) provides an update with respect to filing of its interim financial statements and related MD&A for the three months ended March 31, 2020 (the “Required Q1 Filings“). The Corporation is providing this update in accordance with Decision No 2020–PDG–0023 of the Autorit des marchs financiers (Qubec) (the “Exemption“). The Corporation intends to make the Required Q1 Filings on or prior to July 14, 2020.

Blackout in Effect for Management and Other Insiders

Until such time as the Required QI Filings are completed, Komet's management and other insiders are subject to a trading blackout that reflects the principles contained in section 9 of National Policy 11–207 "" Failure–to–File Cease Trade Orders and Revocations in Multiple Jurisdictions.

Business Developments

Since June 12, 2020, when the Corporation filed its financial statements and MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2019, there has been no material business development for the Corporation.

Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Komet further announces that it is relying on the exemptions provided in Decision 2020–PDG–0034 of the Autorit des marchs financiers (Qubec) and similar exemptions provided by members of the Canadian Securities Administrators in each of the provinces and territories of Canada, to delay the filings of its executive compensation disclosure for the year–ended December 31, 2019 and to delay the requirements to send copies of its annual or interim financial statements and MD&A to investors that have requested so. All required disclosure and documents will be provided in advance of December 31, 2020.

The Corporation intends to hold its annual meeting of shareholders in September 2020.

Investor Relations/information:

Mr. Robert Wares, Chairman and interim President: 514–951–4235 / r.wares@kometgold.com

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Sudan’s Partners Pledge almost $2Bn but Is it Enough?

The Sudan Partnership Conference, which took place via teleconference, pledged $1.8 billion to support the transitional government as well as facilitating access to loans and partial or total debt relief by some countries. Courtesy: CC by 2.0/Nina R

The Sudan Partnership Conference, which took place via teleconference, pledged $1.8 billion to support the transitional government as well as facilitating access to loans and partial or total debt relief by some countries. Courtesy: CC by 2.0/Nina R

By Reem Abbas
KHARTOUM, Jun 26 2020 – This week, when Sudan’s Minister of Energy and Mining Adil Ibrahim addressed the country, stating that households will face power-cuts for up to seven hours a day, people had already been sitting on plastic chairs outside their homes, scouring the internet to purchase battery-operated fans. This Northeast African nation has seen temperature highs of up to 41 degrees Celsius recently.

Ibrahim attributed the power cuts to foreign engineers who had been working to build the country’s energy industry but left because of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the situation is more complicated.

“The government does not have money to buy the gasoline needed for the energy sector, the country does not have foreign currency and the reserve at the central bank of Sudan is very minimal,” an anonymous source at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning told IPS.

Sudan has barely emerged from the 30-year long dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown by a revolution in April 2019. Currently, the transitional government — a civilian and military government — is too broke to finance Sudan’s transition.

The military has controlled Sudan for almost 50 years through dictatorships and it continues to have a tight grip on power.

But yesterday, Jun. 25, the Sudan Partnership Conference, which took place via teleconference, pledged $1.8 billion to support the transitional government as well as facilitating access to loans and partial or total debt relief by some countries.

The conference, hosted by Germany and supported by the Friends of Sudan, brings together the European Union (EU), the United States, the United Kingdom and several Gulf and African countries. Senior figures in the EU, the Sudanese government as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres addressed the conference.

In total, 40 countries and institutions took part in the pledge that Sudan’s Prime Minister Dr. Abdallah Hamdok called “unprecedented”. 

But Shawqi Abdelazim, a veteran journalist in Khartoum, says that the conference was not only about meeting financial targets.

“The conference had political targets and it has put Sudan back on the map and signalled its return to the international community. Many countries asked for Sudan to be removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list which is very important for economic recovery,” Shawqi Abdelazim, who works for Sudanese and German publications, told IPS.

  • Sudan remains on the United States’ State Sponsor of Terrorism list.
  • As a result, the country cannot access to funding from international financial institutions.

Shawqi Abdelazim added that by working with Sudan, the international community made a decision, “it is either they work with us to save the transitional period or they leave us to face our own fate; to fight off the military leaders or self-isolate in an attempt to re-build our economy with humble means”.

A recent report by the European Council on Foreign Relations states that the military generals “control a sprawling network of companies and keep the central bank and the Ministry of Finance on life support to gain political power”.

The civilian wing of the government led by Hamdok needs reassurance as it continues to solidify civilian rule to make way for democratic elections in three years as well as fight the deep state control of the former ruling party, the National Congress Party (NCP).

“The conference gave legitimacy to the civilian government, they made it clear that they are supportive,” Mayada Hassanein, an economist in Khartoum, told IPS.

But this does not mean that the financial pledges would keep the civilian government afloat for a long time.

“The amount pledged, $1.8bn is less than what is needed for cash transfers for the ministry of finance program to support families,” said Hassanien.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had been keen to secure at least $1.9 billion to support its family assistance programme, which aims to allocate $5 per family to support them with the ever-increasing living costs.

The programme was inspired by similar successful programmes in Brazil, but in the Sudanese context, it could have its flaws.

“It is fair to support vulnerable families, but this money is better spent on public services that can protect families from the volatility of the market. There is no point in having money in my pocket if I can’t find medicine or take my children to school,” Mayada Abdelazim, an economist in Khartoum, told IPS.

Sudan has serious medicine shortages and the crisis was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

Previously there were only ‘partners’ not donors

On the ground, the reality is dire. The transitional government, with all the external and internal support it garnered, was unable to fund the ambitious democratic transition the Sudanese people fought for.

  • The country’s foreign debt stands at $62 billion.
  • And even though the U.S. ended a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017, sanctions have not been fully removed.

Things looked promising in the first months after Hamdok was sworn in. In October, the European Union (EU) pledged €466 million in development assistance and various EU countries pledged funds for development and technical support. But this was not enough to help the government stand on its feet.

A report by the European Council on Foreign Relations explained that “international donors blame their reluctance to assist the Sudanese government on its inaction regarding subsidy reform”.

The International Crisis Group says that fuel subsides have damaged Sudan’s economy. They currently take up 40 percent of the country’s annual budget. “As part of the subsidies policy, fuel importers can buy dollars at a price far below market price, leaving room for corruption”.

Local economists paint a similar picture, but the government is cozying up to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“One reason Sudan is unable to get loans is its significant debt, however, the IMF and the World Bank are clear gateway to accessing international funds. The IMF is now in agreement with the government to send technical experts to support with the reforms, but this was not a clear promise to give Sudan money,” Mayada Abdelazim said.

The IMF’s structural adjustment programmes mandate lessening or lifting subsidies all together and in recent months, a familiar process is underway in the country.

“The government has already lifted fuel subsidies by offering commercial fuel (which is another word for unsubsidised) in addition to subsidised fuel. But currently, you can only find fuel at the gas stations that offer unsubsidised fuel, they basically lifted subsidies without entering into a direct confrontation with the public,” said Mayada Abdelazim.

Rising inflation impacts the population

During Al-Bashir’s tenure, Sudanese people endured numerous wars (some of which are only in the process of being resolved), severe economic impoverishment, and the oppression of all dissent and a total deterioration of all aspects of their welfare.

For years, 70 percent of Sudan’s budget was invested in the security and military sector leaving very little for healthcare and education, which were further destroyed through privatisation policies and incessant corruption by the ruling party.

A few weeks ago, the government increased the minimum wage by up to 700 percent to match raising inflation. However, inflation increased from 98.81 to 114.33 percent between April and May.

The new salaries have now become redundant as the prices of basic food items increased from 200 to 300 percent and the Sudanese pound (SDG) continued to plummet, reaching 145 SDG to the U.S. dollar in the black market versus 55 SDG to the dollar.

“Any money you give people will get eaten up as prices increase due to volatility. Business owners do not know how much they would have to pay for rent or stock next month, they have to push up their prices based on expectations,” said Mayada Abdelazim, who has been working on a paper on the partnership conference.

Outside Khartoum, the situation is even worse for ordinary citizens.

Hanan Hassan, a civil servant who lives in Damazin in Blue Nile state, over 500 kms from the capital, Khartoum, told IPS that businesses have taken advantage of the salary raises to increase their prices.

“Transportation costs inside the city went up by 300 percent, food items are increasing on a daily basis which makes it impossible to come up with a monthly budget. Traders are taking advantage of people because there is no monitoring by the authorities and others are arguing that they have to purchase fuel at commercial rates,” said Hassan.

In the meantime, the government has a dilemma, currently it has no money to pay salaries or to import basic food items.

“The Minister is opposed to financing from the Central Bank, but the bank has to print money to finance the remainder of the 2020 government budget,” said the source at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Reclaiming what can be reclaimed

In November 2019, the transitional government passed a law establishing the Empowerment Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee, which is tasked with ridding the country of the legacy of the former regime and reclaiming Sudan’s embezzled resources.

The committee has held numerous press conferences to announce the confiscation of land, companies and financial resources from old regime. All the resources will revert to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, which is supposed to integrate them into the annual budget.

“The government expects that the confiscated land and property would bring in 77 billion SDG in profit,” said the source at the Ministry of Finance.

In May, the committee announced that it now controls $3.5 to $4 billion worth of assets from the former president. This is not yet cash. Observers believe that the government will have a hard time liquidating the assets as the cronies of the former regime are the only ones with the money to buy them back.

In the meantime, there is optimism that the international community will use this conference to make up for the lost opportunities that were pointed out in recent reports indicating that the international community have wasted time and delayed much-needed support to Sudan.

“Sudan’s revolution gave people around the world hope that change can happen, it is our responsibility to support this transitional process,” German Ambassador Ulrich Klöckner told IPS.

 


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How Deforestation Helps Deadly Viruses Jump from Animals to Humans

The coronavirus pandemic, suspected of originating in bats and pangolins, has brought the risk of viruses that jump from wildlife to humans into stark focus. These leaps often happen at the edges of the world’s tropical forests, where deforestation is increasingly bringing people into contact with animals’ natural habitats

Small-scale slash-and-burn agriculture is one of the deforestation problems in Brazil’s Amazon jungle. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

By External Source
Jun 26 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic, suspected of originating in bats and pangolins, has brought the risk of viruses that jump from wildlife to humans into stark focus.

These leaps often happen at the edges of the world’s tropical forests, where deforestation is increasingly bringing people into contact with animals’ natural habitats. Yellow fever, malaria, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Ebola – all of these pathogens have spilled over from one species to another at the margins of forests.

As doctors and biologists specializing in infectious diseases, we have studied these and other zoonoses as they spread in Africa, Asia and the Americas. We found that deforestation has been a common theme.

More than half of the world’s tropical deforestation is driven by four commodities: beef, soy, palm oil and wood products. They replace mature, biodiverse tropical forests with monocrop fields and pastures

More than half of the world’s tropical deforestation is driven by four commodities: beef, soy, palm oil and wood products. They replace mature, biodiverse tropical forests with monocrop fields and pastures. As the forest is degraded piecemeal, animals still living in isolated fragments of natural vegetation struggle to exist. When human settlements encroach on these forests, human-wildlife contact can increase, and new opportunistic animals may also migrate in.

The resulting disease spread shows the interconnectedness of natural habitats, the animals that dwell within it, and humans.

 

Yellow fever: Monkeys, humans and hungry mosquitoes

Yellow fever, a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, famously halted progress on the Panama Canal in the 1900s and shaped the history of Atlantic coast cities from Philadelphia to Rio de Janeiro. Although a yellow fever vaccine has been available since the 1930s, the disease continues to afflict 200,000 people a year, a third of whom die, mostly in West Africa.

The virus that causes it lives in primates and is spread by mosquitoes that tend to dwell high in the canopy where these primates live.

In the early 1990s, a yellow fever outbreak was reported for the first time in the Kerio Valley in Kenya, where deforestation had fragmented the forest. Between 2016 and 2018, South America saw its largest number of yellow fever cases in decades, resulting in around 2,000 cases, and hundreds of deaths. The impact was severe in the extremely vulnerable Atlantic forest of Brazil – a biodiversity hotspot that has shrunk to 7% of its original forest cover.
Shrinking habitat has been shown to concentrate howler monkeys – one of the main South American yellow fever hosts. A study on primate density in Kenya further demonstrated that forest fragmentation led a greater density of primates, which in turn led to pathogens becoming more prevalent.

Deforestation resulted in patches of forest that both concentrated the primate hosts and favored the mosquitoes that could transmit the virus to humans.

 

Malaria: Humans can also infect wildlife

Just as wildlife pathogens can jump to humans, humans can cross-infect wildlife.

Falciparum malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people yearly, especially in Africa. But in the Atlantic tropical forest of Brazil, we have also found a surprisingly high rate of Plasmodium falciparum (the malaria parasite responsible for severe malaria) circulating in the absence of humans. That raises the possibility that this parasite may be infecting new world monkeys. Elsewhere in the Amazon, monkey species have become naturally infected. In both cases, deforestation could have facilitated cross-infection.

We and other scientists have extensively documented the associations between deforestation and malaria in the Amazon, showing how the malaria-carrying mosquitoes and human malaria cases are strongly linked to deforested habitat.

 

Another type of malaria, Plasmodium knowlesi, known to circulate among monkeys, became a concern to human health over a decade ago in Southeast Asia. Several studies have shown that areas sustaining higher rates of forest loss also had higher rates of human infections, and that the mosquito vectors and monkey hosts spanned a wide range of habitats including disturbed forest.

 

Venezuelan equine encephalitis: Rodents move in

Venezuelan equine encephalitis is another mosquito-borne virus that is estimated to cause tens to hundreds of thousands of humans to develop febrile illnesses every year. Severe infections can lead to encephalitis and even death.

In the Darien province of Panama, we found that two rodent species had particularly high rates of infection with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, leading us to suspect that these species may be the wildlife hosts.

One of the species, Tome’s spiny rat, has also been implicated in other studies. The other, the short-tailed cane mouse, is also involved in the transmission of zoonotic diseases such as hantavirus and possibly Madariaga virus, an emergent encephalitis virus.

While Tome’s spiny rat is widely found in tropical forests in the Americas, it readily occupies regrowth and forest fragments. The short-tailed cane mouse prefers habitat on the edge of forests and abutting cattle pastures.

As deforestation in this region progresses, these two rodents can occupy forest fragments, cattle pastures and the regrowth that arises when fields lie fallow. Mosquitoes also occupy these areas and can bring the virus to humans and livestock.

 

Ebola: Disease at the forest’s edge

Vector-borne diseases are not the only zoonoses sensitive to deforestation. Ebola was first described in 1976, but outbreaks have become more common. The 2014-2016 outbreak killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa and drew attention to diseases that can spread from wildlife to humans.

The natural transmission cycle of the Ebola virus remains elusive. Bats have been implicated, with possible additional ground-dwelling animals maintaining “silent” transmission between human outbreaks.

While the exact nature of transmission is not yet known, several studies have shown that deforestation and forest fragmentation were associated with outbreaks between 2004 and 2014. In addition to possibly concentrating Ebola wildlife hosts, fragmentation may serve as a corridor for pathogen-carrying animals to spread the virus over large areas, and it may increase human contact with these animals along the forest edge.

 

What about the coronavirus?

While the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak hasn’t been proved, a genetically similar virus has been detected in intermediate horseshoe bats and Sunda pangolins.

The range of the Sunda pangolin – which is critically endangered – overlaps with the intermediate horseshoe bat in the forests of Southeast Asia, where it lives in mature tree hollows. As forest habitat shrinks, could pangolins also experience increased density and susceptibility to pathogens?

In fact, in small urban forest fragments in Malaysia, the Sunda pangolin was detected even though overall mammal diversity was much lower than a comparison tract of contiguous forest. This shows that this animal is able to persist in fragmented forests where it could increase contact with humans or other animals that can harbor potentially zoonotic viruses, such as bats. The Sunda pangolin is poached for its meat, skin and scales and imported illegally from Malaysia and Vietnam into China. A wet market in Wuhan that sells such animals has been suspected as a source of the current pandemic.

 

Preventing zoonotic spillover

There is still a lot that we don’t know about how viruses jump from wildlife to humans and what might drive that contact.

Forest fragments and their associated landscapes encompassing forest edge, agricultural fields and pastures have been a repeated theme in tropical zoonoses. While many species disappear as forests are cleared, others have been able to adapt. Those that adapt may become more concentrated, increasing the rate of infections.

Given the evidence, it is clear humans need to balance the production of food, forest commodities and other goods with the protection of tropical forests. Conservation of wildlife may keep their pathogens in check, preventing zoonotic spillover, and ultimately benefiting humans, too.

The Conversation

Amy Y. Vittor, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Florida; Gabriel Zorello Laporta, Professor of biology and infectious diseases, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, and Maria Anice Mureb Sallum, Professor of Epidemiology, Universidade de São Paulo

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

African Governments Failing Survivors of Child Sexual Exploitation

A mother and daughter in Kenya. The daughter was a victim of sexual violence. Credit: Tara Carey, Equality Now

By Tsitsi Matekaire
LONDON, Jun 26 2020 – In Malawi, Mary* was only 14 years old when she was recruited and trafficked to the city of Blantyre and sold for sex in a bar. A man had arrived in her village looking for girls to work as domestic helpers for families.

He appeared genuine and for Mary – and many girls who are out of school and living in poverty – this seemed a way out and a chance to earn money to support her family. She was living with her grandmother, who had hardly enough to buy food.

When Mary arrived in Blantyre, the promised work never materialized. Instead, the man sold her to a bar owner who in turn sold her for sex to his customers. Isolated and traumatized, Mary was trapped for over three months, and only escaped when the bar owner went away one night.

Although it has now been over two years since his arrest, the case is still pending in court. With no fixed time limit, the legal process has dragged on, leaving Mary waiting indefinitely and stuck in limbo. Meanwhile, the man who recruited her from the village has never been arrested.

Mary would have abandoned her fight for justice long ago had it not been for the support of Equality Now and our partner People Serving Girls at Risk, who have been providing psycho-social assistance to help Mary rebuild her life and navigate the difficult legal process.

This includes covering her transport costs and accompanying her to numerous court hearings that to date have resulted in only postponements, disappointment, and upset.

Worryingly, the many legal obstacles faced by Mary are neither uncommon in sex trafficking cases, nor are they unique to Malawi. Across Africa, traffickers who recruit, abuse, and sexually exploit vulnerable and impoverished women and children are going unpunished because governments and criminal justice systems are failing in their duty to hold perpetrators to account.

Take for instance, the horrific case of German national Bernhard Glaser, who was arrested in Ugandan in February 2019 and charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking and abusing girls aged 10 to 16 who were living at an unlicensed shelter Glaser had established ostensibly to “help” vulnerable children.

The story made international headlines and caused huge public uproar amongst Ugandans who were appalled at how this predator had betrayed the community’s trust and abused his position of power to sexually exploit many girls over a long period of time.

Despite widespread public outrage, more than a year after Glaser’s arrest, the case was still pending, delayed by multiple adjournments, with Glaser yet to even enter his plea. He died from cancer in April 2020, a day after being granted bail.

The girls never got their day in court. Nor has the Ugandan state addressed the issues making them vulnerable to exploitation or provided assistance to help them overcome their ordeal, instead leaving them at risk of further abuse.

Meanwhile, 61-year-old American Christian missionary Gregory Dow has pleaded guilty in a US court to sexually abusing girls in Kenya. Back in 1996, he was convicted in America for assault with intent to commit sexual abuse against a teenager and was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to register as a sex offender.

He later travelled to Kenya and in 2008 established a home for orphaned children where he violated girls in his care.

In 2017, Dow fled back to the United States after Kenyan authorities attempted to arrest him. He was eventually taken into custody after being located by FBI agents and US police.

A statement by the US Department of Justice said: “The defendant purported to be a Christian missionary who cared for these children and asked them to call him “Dad.” But instead of being a father figure, he preyed on their youth and vulnerability.”

Sexual exploitation is both a cause and a consequence of discrimination and the unequal status of women and girls. Adolescent girls are in an especially disadvantaged position, which is underpinned by multiple layers of discrimination directed at them for being young, female, and sexualized by society.

These structural inequalities exist across Africa, as they do in all the regions of the world. High levels of poverty alongside harmful cultural practices make girls particularly susceptible to sexual predators and traffickers, who take advantage of shortcomings in social safety nets, local child protection systems, law enforcement, and judicial processes.

The current pandemic exposes and exacerbates deep-rooted structural inequalities that run along the cultural fault lines of gender, sexuality, race, disability, and class. In the wake of COVID-19, an economic crisis is placing further burdens on underprivileged communities, with many suffering severe financial hardship.

The United Nations has warned human traffickers are becoming increasingly active, targeting impoverished women and children who have lost their income as a consequence of lockdown and social distancing measures introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, school closures have interrupted the education of over 1.5 billion students worldwide, and protection systems have been severely disrupted. Predators are seeking to take advantage of youngsters spending more time unsupervised on the internet.

Across Africa, the expansion of inexpensive, high-speed internet and the growth in smartphone, tablet, and laptop ownership is swelling the number of children who can be targeted in the digital realm. Girls are particularly vulnerable to online grooming, sexual coercion, and sextortion, accounting for 90% of those featured in online child abuse materials.

Coupled with this is a disturbing global surge in demand for child abuse content. The worldwide impact of COVID-19 means people have been spending more time online, fuelling what was already a vast and rapidly expanding form of cybercrime intersecting national boundaries.

Exponential growth in the volume of digital content is making the cybersphere harder to police, and emboldened distributors of child sexual exploitation material are targeting mainstream platforms to reach wider audiences.

It is commendable that numerous African governments, including those in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda, have enacted anti-trafficking and child protection laws that can be used to safeguard children and punish offenders. It is an important step. However, implementation is often very weak. Sex trafficking and sexual exploitation cases are not prioritized.

In many African countries, courts have closed, reduced, or adjusted their operations, making the situation even worse for girls seeking justice. Mounting backlogs of legal cases will further prolong judicial and administrative proceedings.

Without functioning judicial oversight, girls’ access to justice and protection from sexual exploitation will be undermined to an even greater extent.

It is more urgent than ever that the justice system responds to the realities of children whose rights have been violated. States must put in place measures to ensure that girls have access to protection and justice in meaningful ways during and after the pandemic.

Governments need to do more to ensure survivors of sexual exploitation are protected and supported in their recovery. When victims and their families cannot trust the courts to deliver justice, it undermines the power of the law and emboldens offenders to continue exploiting and abusing with impunity.

 


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Graduate Management Admission Council Announces New Incoming Chairperson of the Board and Four New Board Members

RESTON, Va., June 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a global association of leading graduate business schools, today announced a new board chairperson and the addition of four new members to its board of directors. The terms will begin on July 1, 2020.

Martin Boehm, Dean and Professor of Marketing at IE Business School has served on the GMAC board since 2017 and will represent GMAC as its new board chairperson for two consecutive years, replacing William Boulding who concludes his two–year term on June 30. Professor Boehm has held several roles within IE Business School including Dean of Programs and Associate Dean of Master in Management Programs. He teaches across the School's Master in Management, MBA, Executive MBA, and PhD programs. Prof. Boehm's research provides managerial implications on how to build profitable and long–lasting customer relationships. His primary concern is to quantify the impact of various customer management activities on a customer's lifetime value.

"I am excited to build upon my experience with GMAC in this new role as chairperson," said Boehm. "The business school value proposition is strong, and that doesn't change in a COVID–19 environment. In fact, it's essential, now more than ever, that we help today's students prepare for the unforeseen challenges of tomorrow, through flexible and adaptive learning in and out of the classroom. The industry has an impactful story to tell across a number of different indicators and I'm excited to help lead that discussion."

The new board members include: Ranjan Banerjee, Dean, Professor of Marketing, S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research; Soojin Kwon, Managing Director, Full–Time MBA Admissions and Program, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; Enase Okonedo, Dean, Lagos Business School, Pan–Atlantic University; and Jay Nibbe, EY Global Vice Chair "" Markets as an independent director.

"We're excited to engage and collaborate with some of the brightest minds in Graduate Management Education from regions across the world," said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. "Enhancing diversity and global perspective on our board better enables GMAC to bring solutions and ideas to the marketplace that help address the unique challenges and opportunities associated with our industry."

New GMAC Board Members

Dr. Ranjan Banerjee (Dean Director), Dean, Professor of Marketing, S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research

Dr. Ranjan Banerjee holds an engineering degree from IIT Bombay, an MBA from IIM Calcutta and a PhD in Marketing from the Carlson School, University of Minnesota. He is an internationally renowned teacher, speaker, researcher, and consultant. His consulting clients include Vodafone, BASF, Philips, Legrand, etc. His areas of interest and expertise include marketing channels and incentives, design thinking, change management, learnability, and innovation in education systems. He has recently begun a second term as Dean and Professor of Marketing at S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, one of India's premier business schools. During his first term, a number of significant changes have been implemented at the institute. He has co–authored a bestselling book on the "Made In India Manager."

Soojin Kwon (Representative Director), Managing Director, Full–Time MBA Admissions and Program, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Soojin Kwon is the managing director for full–time MBA Admissions and Program at Michigan Ross. She joined Ross in 2004, became director of MBA Admissions in 2006 and launched the team exercise as part of their admissions process. In 2016, she became managing director of the full–time MBA Admissions and Program, overseeing admissions, academics, and student experience for 800+ students. Soojin is also a lecturer of Business Communication and has taught in Ross' BBA and MBA Programs and Executive Education. Prior to Ross, Soojin was a manager in Deloitte's strategy and operations practice. She has also served on the Senate Budget Committee, House Appropriations Committee, and at the Department of Commerce as a presidential management fellow. Soojin is a frequent presenter at GMAC's Annual Conference and Leadership Conference and has served as the faculty in residence and instructor in GMAC's Admissions Institute for New Professionals. She was previously on the board of the Forte Foundation. Soojin holds an MBA from Ross, a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelor's in conomics and Political Science from Yale

Jay Nibbe (Board Elected Director), Global Vice Chair "" Markets, EY

Jay Nibbe has 35 years' experience serving a wide variety of clients and filling numerous leadership roles. He joined EY in 1985 and became a partner in 1994. Currently, he serves as EY Global Vice Chair "" Markets and as a member of the EY Global Executive. He oversees all accounts across all EY service lines, sectors and geographies. As part of this role he is responsible for leading Global Industry, Global Solutions, Alliance Partnerships, Managed Services, Business Development and the EY global alumni programs. He was a board member at the Minnesota State University Moorhead Alumni Foundation (from 2007 to 2009) and is currently a member of the US–Russia Business Council, and the SKOLKOVO International Advisory Board (Moscow). He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master's degree in business taxation from the University of Minnesota.

Enase Okonedo (Dean Director), Dean, Lagos Business School, Pan Atlantic University

Enase Okonedo, FCA is a professor of management and an accomplished professional with over 30 years' experience in the financial services and management education sectors. In 2009, she became Dean of Lagos Business School where she has the responsibility for setting the strategic direction for the school. Under her leadership, the school achieved international accreditations from AACSB International and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). As Dean, Lagos Business School has sustained its Financial Times of London ranking becoming one of the top 50 global providers of Open–Enrolment and Custom Executive Education programs in 2020. In 2018, the Lagos business School Executive MBA was ranked as one of the top 50 EMBA programs by The Economist magazine. She has served as a board member and chairperson of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS) and a member of the board and Secretary–Treasurer of AACSB International. She currently serves on the board of the Global Business School Network (GBSN); is a member of the International Advisory Board of Porto Business School, Portugal; as well as a member of the Academic Advisory Board, Blatnavik School of Government, University of Oxford. She is President of AIFA Reading Society; Nigeria, a member of the Panel of Advisors, Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) and also serves on the boards of several other companies.

GMAC also recognizes its outgoing board chair, William Boulding, Dean of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Among Dr. Boulding's many accomplishments as GMAC's board chairperson, he oversaw the creation and launch of GMAC's Early Warning Signals white paper, bringing issues associated with student and talent mobility to the forefront of public policy discourse. As part of that work Dr. Boulding noted that, "Aspiring students who want to cross national borders to attend business school are a critical economic resource; over the course of their careers, these graduates will guide companies through complicated but lucrative foreign markets, provide overseas contacts for their classmates, provide top–tier talent for global companies, and stitch together the global economy." While Dr. Boulding's two–year term as GMAC board chairperson expires on June 30, he will continue to serve as a Dean Director on the GMAC board until June 30, 2022.

Also leaving the GMAC board as of July 1 are Ellen J. Glazerman, Executive Director, Ernst & Young Foundation, Ernst & Young LLP; D. Eric Hirst, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and King Ranch Chair for Business Leadership, McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin; Xiongwen Lu, Dean and Professor of Marketing , School of Management, Fudan University; and Sri Zaheer, Dean and Elmer L. Andersen Chair in Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. GMAC thanks them for their service to our organization and contributions to the graduate management education community.

About GMAC

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is a mission–driven association of leading graduate business schools worldwide. Founded in 1953, we are committed to creating solutions for business schools and candidates to better discover, evaluate, and connect with each other. We work on behalf of the schools and the graduate management education community, and guide candidates on their journey to higher education, to ensure that no talent goes undiscovered.

GMAC provides world–class research, professional development opportunities and assessments for the graduate management education industry, designed to advance the art and science of admissions. Owned and administered by GMAC, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) exam is the most widely used graduate business school assessment, recognized by more than 7,000 programs worldwide. Other GMAC assessments include the NMAT by GMAC (NMAT) exam, for entrance into graduate management programs in India, Nigeria, the Philippines, and South Africa, and the Executive Assessment (EA), which supports the admissions needs of more than 160 programs around the world.

Our flagship portal for graduate management education resources and information, www.mba.com, receives over 7 million visits a year and features the Program Finder matching tool and GMASS search service, a data–driven technology that helps connect candidates and business schools. These platforms are part of GMAC Connect, a suite of services that help schools attract students through recruiting solutions that marry our market intelligence, data, reach and candidate touchpoints.

Subsidiaries of GMAC include UK–based online publishing company BusinessBecause, a content–rich destination that helps students identify the right–fit business schools during the critical consideration and selection phases of their journey, and The MBA Tour, which supports business schools' global recruiting efforts by organizing business education–focused events virtually and around the world.

GMAC is a global organization with offices in China, India, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States. To learn more about our work, please visit www.gmac.com.

Media contact:
Geoffrey Basye, Director of Media Relations, GMAC
+1 (202) 271–1529 or gbasye@gmac.com

Virgin Hyperloop and Spirit AeroSystems Announce Collaboration Agreement

LOS ANGELES and WICHITA, Kan., June 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Spirit AeroSystems [NYSE: SPR] has joined in partnership with Virgin Hyperloop as it prepares to move towards a commercial product. The collaboration will help to solidify the hyperloop prototype utilizing Spirit Aerosystems engineers, fabricators, builders, supply chain and certification experts, and technicians.

"As one of the most credible aerospace–grade structures companies in the world, Spirit Aerosystems provides a strong fit for our team as we look to build out strong partners in the hyperloop ecosystem," said Josh Giegel, Chief Technology Officer of Virgin Hyperloop.

Hyperloop is a new mode of transportation designed to eliminate the barriers of distance and time for both people and freight. It can travel at speeds approaching 700mph, connecting cities like metro stops — and it has zero direct emissions. With hyperloop, vehicles, called pods, accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low–pressure tube. The pod floats along the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra–low aerodynamic drag.

The hyperloop supply chain is unique in the way it integrates existing technology with proprietary innovations to deliver a completely new transport experience. The pod is similar to an airplane fuselage in a low pressure environment, the columns similar to those of a pipeline, and the pressure management system similar to those used in industrial operations such as manufacturing semiconductors.

"As a new form of mass transportation, hyperloop opens up a new segment of diversification for us in the transportation space. Our collaboration with Virgin Hyperloop is a prime example of our belief that this burgeoning industry is a game changer," said Keith Hamilton, Spirit Executive Director of Programs & Business Development. "Through leveraging our values and core competencies of designing and manufacturing aerostructures, many of the skills are transferable to produce the hyperloop bogie."

This new transit mode will unlock exponential growth opportunities for cross–industry manufacturing and development jobs – across construction, aerospace, rail, automotive, aviation, electric vehicles, and autonomous control. As Virgin Hyperloop looks to create the first Hyperloop Certification Center in the United States, it will bring thousands of jobs for first movers of the technology and its partners.

About Virgin Hyperloop

Virgin Hyperloop is the first company in the world that has successfully tested its hyperloop technology at scale, launching the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years. The company successfully operated a full–scale hyperloop vehicle using electric propulsion and electromagnetic levitation under near–vacuum conditions, realizing a fundamentally new form of transportation that is faster, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable than existing modes. The company is now working with governments, partners, and investors around the world to make hyperloop a reality in years, not decades. They currently have projects underway in the US, India, and the Middle East. Learn more about Virgin Hyperloop's technology, vision, and ongoing projects here.

About Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

Spirit AeroSystems designs and builds aerostructures for both commercial and defense customers. With headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, Spirit operates sites in the U.S., U.K., France and Malaysia. The company's core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components for the world's premier aircraft. Spirit AeroSystems focuses on affordable, innovative composite and aluminum manufacturing solutions to support customers around the globe. More information is available at www.SpiritAero.com.

On the web: www.spiritaero.com
On Twitter: @SpiritAero

Contacts:

Media:

Ryan Kelly
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
(610)–442–1896
Ryan.kelly@virginhyperloop.com

Keturah Austin
(316) 523–2611
keturah.austin@spiritaero.com

Lifting Livelihoods by Lifting Water

A pump invented by a young Nepali engineer uses the natural flow of water and doesn’t need fuel: it can transform Nepal’s farms

By Sabina Devkota
DOLAKHA, Nepal, Jun 25 2020 – While growing up in Lele village in southern Lalitpur, Pratap Thapa watched his parents plant maize on their terrace farm and wait for the rains. He often wondered how much of their drudgery could be reduced if water could be brought up from a nearby river.

Thapa went on to study engineering at Delft University in The Netherlands, where he obsessed about how to solve the problem of irrigation for his family in the mountains of Nepal in a cheap and sustainable way.

With his Dutch classmate, he invented a unique pump that derived its energy from the kinetic energy of the flow of water, and used it to pump water up. Like all breakthroughs, it was the sheer simplicity of the technology that made it so applicable.

Called Barsha Pump (after the Nepali word for ‘rain’) Thapa’s invention won him several awards, including the Phillips Innovation Award and Bearing Point Award. This was followed by the registration of the company aQysta in the Netherlands in 2013 to promote the pumps.

It quickly caught on in Europe, but despite success there, Thapa had designed it with Nepal in mind. So, six years ago he brought a couple of prototypes and successfully tested them to irrigate nearly 130 hectares of flats above the Indrawati, Trisuli and Tama Kosi rivers.

 

 

“It’s ironic that almost two-thirds of Nepal’s farms depend on the rains when we are a country of 6,000 rivers,” says Thapa, who studied industrial engineering in India and did his Masters at the Institute of Engineering in Lalitpur.

Today, 131 Barsha Pumps have been deployed across 30 districts with subsidies to farmers from the government’s Agriculture Engineering Directorate, District Agriculture Development Office, and international agencies. Depending on capacity, the pump costs between Rs160,000 – 280,000.

The beauty of the Barsha Pump is that it uses the natural flow of water and doesn’t need fuel. Therefore it does not emit greenhouse gases, and has zero operating cost.

The pump has a special spiral pipe where the water helps compress the air, which in turn lifts water up to a maximum height of 20m or a distance of 2km.

Yuvaraj Shrestha owns a one-hectare farm on a flat above the Tama Kosi River in Ramechhap, and used to make Rs500,000 a year selling vegetables. His main problem was dependance on the rains, even though a glacier-fed river flowed just below the farm.

But in the year after he installed a subsidised Barsha Pump, he made more than Rs3 million in profit from his farm. The pump brings up 12,000 litres of water a day from the Tama Kosi. The flats along the Tama Kosi that used to be fallow in the dry season are now lush green all year round.

“It all started with this pump, this is the key to my success,” said Shrestha.

In Sindhuli district, Arjun Kumar Khatri from the village of Ratomate was practicing subsistence rain-fed agriculture. Now, he is lifting water from Sun Kosi River, 14m below his farm, with a Barsha Pump. “I didn’t believe a pump could lift water without electricity until I saw one myself, our lives are transformed,” he says.

Barsha Pumps are now bringing this miracle to 12 countries including Indonesia, Spain, Turkey and Zambia. Thapa keeps modifying the design with feedback from farmers.

 

 

This story was originally published by The Nepali Times