Zoom Appoints Cindy Hoots to Board of Directors

SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) announced that it has appointed Cindy Hoots, Chief Digital Officer and CIO of AstraZeneca, as an independent director on Zoom's Board of Directors effective immediately.

"Zoom has changed the way companies around the world do business and is ushering in entirely new ways to transact business internationally," said Hoots. "Global leaders have the responsibility to ensure our ecosystem of employees, partners, customers, and our community can connect and collaborate seamlessly in a sustainably responsible way. I am thrilled to join Zoom's Board and CEO Eric Yuan, an inspirational leader with a strong vision. I believe this company has an important role in making a meaningful impact on people's lives."

"On behalf of Zoom's Board of Directors, I am excited to welcome Cindy to the team," said Zoom Founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan. "Cindy's experience leading large global companies in highly regulated and complex industries will bring tremendous value to our company. As Zoom continues to grow and innovate within the healthcare sector, we look forward to Cindy's perspectives and contributions."

About Cindy Hoots
Ms. Hoots has served as the Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Officer at AstraZeneca PLC, a pharmaceutical company, since January 2020. From January 2018 to December 2019, she served as Global Vice President of Technology of Unilever PLC, a multinational consumer goods company. Prior to joining Unilever, Ms. Hoots served as Vice President of Next Generation Products, Commercial, and Digital Transformation at British American Tobacco plc from 2016 to 2018. She also spent 16 years at Mars, Incorporated. Ms. Hoots received a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from DeVry Institute of Technology.

About Zoom
Zoom is for you. Zoom is a space where you can connect to others, share ideas, make plans, and build toward a future limited only by your imagination. Our frictionless communications platform is the only one that started with video as its foundation, and we have set the standard for innovation ever since. That is why we are an intuitive, scalable, and secure choice for individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises alike. Founded in 2011, Zoom is publicly traded (NASDAQ: ZM) and headquartered in San Jose, California. Visit zoom.com and follow @zoom.

Zoom PR
Colleen Rodriguez
Head of Global PR

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8724219)

Remitly Completes Acquisition of Rewire

SEATTLE and TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Remitly Global, Inc. (NASDAQ: RELY) ("Remitly"), a leading digital financial services provider for immigrants and their families in over 170 countries around the world, today announced the successful completion of its previously announced acquisition of Rewire, an Israeli–based remittance and financial services platform for migrant workers, on January 5, 2023.

"Today marks an exciting milestone as we enter a new phase of Remitly's journey," said Matt Oppenheimer, Co–Founder and CEO, Remitly. "We are thrilled for the Rewire team to join Remitly, bringing with them a strong account based remittance product in complementary geographies and a track record of product innovation and execution. Our combined expertise and strategic alignment will serve us well as we continue executing on our vision to transform the lives of immigrants and their families by providing the most trusted financial services on the planet."

For more information about Remitly, please visit www.remitly.com.

About Remitly

Remitly is a leading digital financial services provider for immigrants and their families in over 170 countries around the world. Remitly helps immigrants send money home in a safe, reliable and transparent manner. Its digitally–native, cross–border remittance app eliminates the long wait times, complexities and fees typical of traditional remittance processes. Building on its strong foundation, Remitly is expanding its suite of products to further its mission and transform financial services for immigrants all around the world. Founded in 2011, Remitly is headquartered in Seattle and has several global offices, including London, Cork, Krakow, Singapore, Manila and Managua.

Kendall Sadler

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8724333)

Duck Creek to acquire Imburse Payments, a modern payments platform

Boston, MA, Jan. 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Duck Creek Technologies (NASDAQ: DCT) ("Duck Creek"), the intelligent solutions provider defining the future of property and casualty (P&C) insurance, today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Imburse Payments ("Imburse"), a Swiss–based modern payments platform.

Imburse's cloud–native software–as–a–service (SaaS) payment solution is built for the insurance industry. The modern payments platform brings greater ease and efficiency into end–to–end insurance transactions. Imburse enables insurance carriers to quickly connect to the entire payments ecosystem at a lower cost, seamlessly integrate with existing finance infrastructure and processes, and manage multiple partners for collections and disbursements, all in one place. The platform is consumer friendly and provides policyholders with both an easy–to–use, flexible payments experience and the ability to quickly and securely direct payments.

As part of Duck Creek, Imburse will continue to serve its existing client base and markets, while accelerating expansion plans for new clients across Europe and into North America and Asia–Pacific. The Imburse platform will continue to be available on a stand–alone basis and will also be fully integrated with Duck Creek's suite of technology solutions, further enabling carriers' digital transformation goals with modern tools.

"Imburse has developed a great product for the global insurance industry that is not only easy to integrate and implement, but also gives carriers incredible flexibility and payment choices," said Mike Jackowski, CEO of Duck Creek Technologies. "Imburse has a strong team that embodies Duck Creek's core values. They have deep expertise across the payments ecosystem and will help to broaden Duck Creek's insurance industry leadership."

"Being part of Duck Creek will further accelerate our mission to simplify how businesses around the world access the global payments ecosystem," said Oliver Werneyer, CEO of Imburse. "We are excited to be part of Duck Creek and to work jointly to deliver modern technology innovations that transform the insurance industry for the future."

The acquisition remains subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the second fiscal quarter of 2023.

Conference Call Information

Duck Creek Technologies will host a conference call today, January 5, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) to discuss Duck Creek's financial results and business outlook, as well as the proposed acquisition of Imburse Payments. A live webcast of the call will be available on the "Investor Relations" page of the Duck Creek's website at https://ir.duckcreek.com/. To access the call by phone, please go to this link (registration link), and you will be provided with dial in details. To avoid delays, we encourage participants to dial into the conference call fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled start time. A replay of the webcast will also be available for a limited time at https://ir.duckcreek.com/.

About Imburse Payments

Imburse is a modern payments platform built for insurers. Via a single connection, directly or through a current core system provider, insurance carriers can access the entire global payment ecosystem to collect or pay–out using any technology, any provider, in any market.

About Duck Creek Technologies

Duck Creek Technologies (NASDAQ: DCT) is the intelligent solutions provider defining the future of the property and casualty (P&C) and general insurance industry. We are the platform upon which modern insurance systems are built, enabling the industry to capitalize on the power of the cloud to run agile, intelligent, and evergreen operations. Authenticity, purpose, and transparency are core to Duck Creek, and we believe insurance should be there for individuals and businesses when, where, and how they need it most. Our market–leading solutions are available on a standalone basis or as a full suite, and all are available via Duck Creek OnDemand. Visit www.duckcreek.com to learn more. Follow Duck Creek on our social channels for the latest information "" LinkedIn and Twitter.


GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8724246)

Minovia Therapeutics appoints Maha Radhakrishnan, Chief Medical Officer at Biogen, as board member

TIRAT HACARMEL, Israel, Jan. 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Minovia Therapeutics (Minovia), a clinical–stage company focused on developing novel Mitochondrial Augmentation Technology (MAT) to fight mitochondrial diseases, has announced a Board appointment.

Maha Radhakrishnan, M.D., joins the board at a time in which the company advances clinical programs in primary mitochondrial diseases and hematological disorders associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. As a trained physician, Maha is a senior leader with extensive pharmaceutical and biotech experience covering clinical development, post–marketing regulatory activities, medical affairs, safety, and reimbursement requirements. Maha is the Chief Medical Officer of Biogen, and in her previous roles, she served as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Medical, Primary Care Business Unit at Sanofi, Senior Vice President and Head of Worldwide Medical at Bioverativ Therapeutics Inc., and Head of Europe & Canada Medical and US Medical at Biogen. She has also worked at Bristol Myers Squibb, Cephalon, and United Health Group before first joining Biogen in early 2013.

Maha has significant experience across a broad range of therapeutic areas and disciplines, including the central nervous system (neurology and psychiatry), rheumatology and immunology, rare blood disorders, ophthalmology, cardiology, diabetes, and internal medicine.

Natalie Yivgi Ohana, Co–Founder and CEO Minovia Therapeutics, said, "Mitochondrial diseases are often fatal and currently viewed as untreatable, something we are working relentlessly to change. So far twelve patients suffering Primary Mitochondrial Diseases were dosed with our Mitochondrial Augmentation Technology, both through compassionate use program and a Phase 1/2 trial in Israel. Minovia Invested greatly in research and development in the last two years, establishing strong scientific and GMP foundations, which will enable us to seek approval for Pearson Syndrome and expand to other disease areas. As board member at Minovia, we will be able to draw on Maha's considerable medical, regulatory and drug development expertise and experience in bringing successful treatments to patients with primary and secondary mitochondrial diseases."

Maha added: "Minovia is changing the way we look at mitochondrial therapies. They are on the precipice of meaningfully and measurably improving the lives of patients in need. I look forward to providing oversight and helping Minovia achieve its goals to approve their novel mitochondrial cell therapies in multiple disease areas."

The appointment of Maha as a board member follows on from Minovia's recent partnership with Astellas Pharma to develop novel Mitochondrial Cell Therapies, as well as the initial data publication in Science Translational Medicine (https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.abo3724).


About Minovia Therapeutics
Minovia Therapeutics is a clinical stage company and the first to use a cell therapy approach to treat patients affected with mitochondrial diseases through its Mitochondrial Augmentation Technology (MAT) platform. MAT is being developed as a robust and scalable therapeutic platform targeting the root cause of diseases generated by mitochondrial dysfunction. The lead product, MNV–201 is composed of autologous hematopoietic stem cells enriched with healthy allogeneic mitochondria. Minovia's initial clinical focus is on rare mitochondrial diseases for which there are no approved treatments in the United States and the unmet medical need is immense. After completing an IND enabled phase I/II clinical trial in Pearson Syndrome, a fatal pediatric disease, Minovia is planning to accelerate the clinical development for Pearson Syndrome and expand the pipeline to other Hematological/Mitochondrial–related diseases. Harnessing the power of mitochondria, Minovia is committed to exploring the full potential of its proprietary platform to address mitochondrial diseases ranging from orphan indications to more common and age–related diseases.

For more information, please visit"http://minoviatx.com/.

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8724390)

Call for Restraints in US Arms Transfers to Ukraine

F-16A fighter aircraft. Credit: US Air Force photo

By Natalie Goldring
ARLINGTON, Virginia, Jan 5 2023 – More than 10 months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its allies continue to seek the most effective military, humanitarian, political, and economic means of assisting Ukraine.

In his December 2022 visit to Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly reiterated his desire for advanced US weapons; Ukraine’s wish list includes Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter aircraft. Fulfilling President Zelensky’s request for US combat aircraft and tanks would be a significant escalation of the US military commitment to Ukraine and could further increase the risks associated with that commitment.

The situation is fraught, with threats of conventional war beyond Ukraine’s borders and even possible nuclear weapons use, as well as uncertainty about weapons suppliers’ ability to ensure that the weapons transferred reach their intended users and are not retransferred.

Danger of transferring weapons and munitions that could be used to attack Russia

The US weapons that have been transferred to Ukraine so far have been largely defensive in nature; these include anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems. The US has reportedly not provided the munitions with the longest range for systems such as rocket launchers, making it more difficult for Ukrainian forces to strike far beyond the Ukrainian-Russian border.

In contrast, weapons such as battle tanks and fighter aircraft can be used in offensive roles that may increase the likelihood of Russian reprisals against the United States and our European allies. In particular, providing weapons that can reach deep into Russian territory may increase the likelihood of escalation, with Russia potentially responding by attacking countries in Europe that have assisted with Ukraine’s war effort.

Through its actions, the US government implicitly seems to assume that the Russian government will perceive these transfers the way that the US government wants them to — as defensive in nature. There’s no guarantee that this will be the case. And even if the Russian government does not deliberately choose escalation, it may still occur because of accident, mistake, or miscalculation. Focusing US aid on defensive weapons and shorter-range munitions is likely to decrease this risk.

Insufficient accountability for weapons transfers

Far too often, the US government transfers weapons and ammunition without putting sufficient systems in place to ensure accountability for their storage, deployment, and use. Without robust controls, these weapons can be stolen and sold to the highest bidder or transferred to other conflicts.

The capture of US weapons by Russia would present a particular threat — the potential disclosure of US technology through Russian reverse engineering of US weapons systems.

The hurried nature of transfers to Ukraine further increases the likelihood of diversion. Continuing to expand the number and capability of US weapons provided may also exacerbate these risks.

In addition, even if US military forces are not deployed in Ukraine, in the future they could still face US weapons that were diverted to other conflicts.

The risk of diversion can be reduced by verifying that only authorized users receive US weapons and ammunition, that they carefully track the deployment and use of the weapons, and that weapons and their ammunition are securely stored when not deployed. In addition, diversion to other conflicts can be reduced by destroying the weapons and ammunition that remain when the conflict ends.

US even more dominant in assistance to Ukraine than in global conventional weapons transfers

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States continues to be the world’s largest supplier of conventional weapons, supplying nearly 40 percent of the global value of weapons transferred from 2017-2021. This was virtually identical to the total value of weapons transferred by the next four countries during the same period (Russia, France, China, and Germany). US dominance in aid to Ukraine is even more pronounced.

In conjunction with President Zelensky’s visit to Washington, the US Department of Defense announced the 28th drawdown of US defense stocks to aid Ukraine since August 2021. The press release acknowledging the latest commitments indicated that the US has provided more than $21 billion in security assistance since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The omnibus spending bill that President Biden signed in late December 2022 contains $47 billion in additional military, economic, and humanitarian assistance.

In contrast, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) issued a press release on 30 December 2022 stating that the UK had provided £2.3bn of military aid in 2022, and that this was second only to the United States. The MOD also indicated that they planned to provide the same level of funding in 2023. This commitment is a small fraction of US assistance.

As with other US transfers of conventional weapons, transfers to Ukraine risk diversion to other countries and other conflicts. US dominance of the supply of weapons means that it also holds a disproportionate responsibility for the use and potential misuse of the weapons.

Danger of nuclear weapons use

During the Cold War, one of the most significant concerns was that a conventional war might escalate to the nuclear level. Analysts and political leaders alike recognized while this could take place because of deliberate action, it could also occur because of accident or miscalculation.

This likelihood of nuclear use persists today, and is arguably higher as a result of Russian President Putin’s threat to use all means of military force in the conflict in Ukraine.

If Russia is losing the conventional war, they may decide to turn to nuclear weapons to try to change the war’s outcome. The US providing Ukraine with weapons designed primarily for offensive use may increase this risk.

The continued use of nuclear threats is yet another illustration of the danger of nuclear weapons. As long as nuclear weapons exist, this danger continues. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons provides a roadmap for escaping this existential threat.

Danger of ignoring long-term risks in favor of potential short-term gains

Taken together, these risks highlight the danger of giving priority to potential short-term political and military gains over longer-term negative consequences.

Further weapons transfers to Ukraine need to be subjected to rigorous analysis of potential long-term consequences before the transfers occur. Saying yes to Ukraine may be the easier response from a short-term perspective.

For example, saying yes is likely to enhance the political connection between the US and Ukraine, and military contractor’s profit from weapons sales. However, that response may well endanger US security interests in the longer term.

Dr. Natalie Goldring, a Visiting Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, also represents the Acronym Institute at the United Nations on conventional and nuclear disarmament issues.

IPS UN Bureau


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European Energy Crisis Hits Roma Populations Hard

Roma community protest in the Serbian city of Nis after dozens of families in a settlement in the city had their electricity cut off. Credit: Opre Roma Srbija

Roma community protest in the Serbian city of Nis after dozens of families in a settlement in the city had their electricity cut off. Credit: Opre Roma Srbija

By Ed Holt
BRATISLAVA, Jan 5 2023 – As European households brace for energy shortages this winter and leaders draw up support packages to help people heat homes in the coming months, experts fear that the largest minority on the continent, the Roma, will be left behind.

Many of the 12 million Roma in Europe have a low standard of living, and even before the energy crisis, energy poverty was rife among their communities.

Roma leaders and rights organisations say the current crisis has only deepened the problem and are calling for governments to ensure that one of the continent’s most vulnerable groups gets the help they need this winter and beyond.

“EU leaders and policymakers must ensure that energy policies already agreed, or any agreed in future, must be tailored and implemented in such a way that the most vulnerable, including the Roma, can access and benefit from them,” Zeljko Jovanovic, director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), told IPS.

Roma living in Europe are among the most discriminated and disadvantaged groups on the continent. In many countries, significant numbers live in segregated settlements where living conditions are often poor, and extreme poverty is widespread.

Energy poverty is also common. It is estimated that at least 10% of the roughly 6 million Roma living in EU countries have no access to electricity at all.

Roma protest after electricity supplies to 24 families in the ‘12 February’ Roma settlement in the southern Serbian city of Nis were cut off over unpaid bills. There are calls for the European countries to take into consideration the plight of the Roma during the energy crisis. Credit: Opre Roma Srbija

Roma protest after electricity supplies to 24 families in the ‘12 February’ Roma settlement in the southern Serbian city of Nis was cut off over unpaid bills. There are calls for European countries to take into consideration the plight of the Roma during the energy crisis. Credit: Opre Roma Srbija

Meanwhile, where utilities are available, many struggle to afford them.

Rising energy prices this year have exacerbated the problem. But while governments have rolled out help in the form of one-off payments and other support for families and businesses to pay energy bills, this aid is often not filtering through to Roma despite the minority being among those most in need, say rights activists.

Unemployment in Roma communities is often high, with only one in four Roma aged 16 years or older reporting being employed, and many earn money working in the grey or black economies. But because of this, they often struggle with accessing state support schemes. This is especially true for measures approved to provide financial aid during the energy crisis.

“Even before the energy crisis, there was a problem with energy poverty in Europe, and for the Roma, this was even more so because so many were not in the formal system.

“Measures [approved] for the energy crisis are made for those in the formal system. Many Roma are not in that system – they are unemployed, or not formally registered, or earning money and paying into the social welfare system – so they cannot access those measures,” explained Jovanovic.

Roma NGOs working in some countries say they have already seen these problems.

In Romania, which has a Roma population of 1.85 million according to the Council of Europe, a programme to help the vulnerable with energy payments has been launched.

But Alin Banu, Community Organiser at the Aresel civic initiative, told IPS some Roma are unable to access it precisely because “they work in the grey or black economy and don’t have the right documentation of social insurance payments, wages etc.”.

Meanwhile, even those who are eligible for help are often being denied it, he claimed. He said that some municipalities had put conditions on receiving help to pay energy bills – for example, evidence of historical tax debt, or car ownership, makes an individual ineligible for the help.

The group says this is illegal.

“We have solved this problem in some cases, but most Roma will not complain about this because often they simply will not know it is illegal,” Balu said.

There are also concerns that other measures already adopted will actually make things worse for Roma.

Last year European leaders agreed on a non-binding goal for EU countries to reduce overall electricity demand by at least 10% by 31 March 2023, and a mandatory reduction of electricity consumption by 5% for at least 10% of high-demand hours each week.

Jovanovic fears that politicians’ first steps to save on energy consumption could involve simply cutting off power supplies to those not formally connected to the energy grid.

“Countries’ reductions in energy demand might come from cutting energy to those who do not have formal access to it, like the Roma,” said Jovanovic.

Nicu Dumitru, a Community Organiser at Arsesel, agreed – “the Roma would be the first to be cut off in that case,” he told IPS – but said that even if that does not happen, many Roma are already struggling with soaring energy costs.

Information collected by his group suggests that a fifth of all Roma households have had their electricity cut off since the start of the crisis because they cannot afford to pay. They are then connecting informally to the grid – usually through one person in their community who has a connection and who then charges high prices for others for use of that power – often borrowing money to do so, and worsening their already precarious financial situation.

There are an estimated over 400,000 people informally connected to the power grid in Romania, many of them Roma.

“The situation is getting critical for Roma,” Dumitru said.

Meanwhile, Roma activists in other countries are worried that politicians will use the energy crisis as an excuse to ignore long-term problems with energy poverty among the Roma or even as a justification to allow Roma settlements to be cut off from supplies.

In May this year, electricity supplies to 24 families in the ’12 February’ Roma settlement in the southern Serbian city of Nis were cut off over unpaid bills. The families claim this debt pre-dates their time living there, but the local power distributor demanded proof of house ownership from the families before reconnection.

People in many Roma settlements often lack such documents as the process for obtaining them is costly and difficult for many to navigate without expert legal help, and none of these families was able to provide the required proof.

It was only after both local and nationwide protests by members of the community themselves and negotiations between the families, who were represented by the Opre Roma Serbia rights group, local authorities, and the local distributor Elektrodistribucija Nis, that in December, limited supplies of electricity were restored to the families involved.

Jelena Reljic of Opre Roma Serbia said she was pleased those affected could now access electricity again but warned “the situation in this settlement is an example of a much wider systemic problem” which politicians are not doing enough to solve.

“The last cut off in this settlement was because of historic debt, but the problems with electricity [there] have been going on for a decade. Politicians are relying on being able to cut Roma settlements off from electricity during the energy crisis without too much public outrage or resistance. Around 99% of the reaction we have seen to the problem in this settlement has been of the type ‘oh, no one should be getting energy free during this crisis, we pay, so why shouldn’t they?’” she told IPS.

“Politicians are using the energy crisis to cover up the fact that they have never dealt with the problem of energy poverty for years and years,” she added.

The OSF’s Jovanovic wants European policymakers to review their proposed help during the crisis, including not just the approved reductions in energy demand but plans for energy price caps and a solidarity levy on the profits of businesses active in the oil, natural gas, coal, and refinery sectors.

He said the 5% reduction must not lead to electricity cuts for those already in energy poverty and that public revenues from the energy cap and solidarity levy – estimated at €140bn within the EU – should be redistributed along principles that are both morally and macroeconomically justified.

He has been involved in high-level EU committee meetings on energy crisis support policies, but, he told IPS, at those meetings, there seemed to be “little idea of the perspective of Roma and other vulnerable groups and how they would cope in the crisis”.

Now he and other activists are trying to arrange further talks with EU and national policymakers to urge them to address shortcomings in current policies affecting vulnerable groups, including Roma.

“We want to raise these issues,” he said.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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