Lavish ceremonies and a £37k lunch – the cost of Oxford’s honorary degrees revealed

first_imgThe university has spent thousands of pounds conferring honorary degrees on the wealthy and famous, new figures obtained by Cherwell reveal.Following last week’s revelations over the vice chancellor’s expenses, Cherwell can reveal Oxford spent £143,562 on exclusive events for university VIPs and the university’s chief benefactors – a fee significantly higher than other UK universities. It includes £37,701 spent on a single lunch for the Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi at St Hugh’s after she collected her honorary degree in 2012.Overall, £4,000 has been spent on trumpeters, £6,950 on choirs and £2,662 on gown hire since 2012. £41,844 has been spent paying for international flights and travel expenses for the honorands.Last year, the University spent £23,846 organising the events, the highest amount in three years. The price included £5,387 on an honorands’ lunch and £9,795 on honorands’ travel expenses.The figures were obtained by a freedom of information request.The expenditure was criticised by Oxford SU president Kate Cole, who told Cherwell: “In a time of increasing pressures on budgets of student services we would want to see as much money as possible being spent on developing the student experience and the quality of education.“We would question whether spending the equivalent of four undergraduates’ tuition fees for the year on a single lunch was value for money”The Encaenia celebrations involve a number of lunches and garden parties. Photo: Karen Carey/Twitter.The Encaenia ceremony, which was first held in the eighteenth century, occurs in ninth week of Trinity term each year. It involves closing off the Bodleian Library for a ceremony in which the chancellor confers honours on distinguished figures. Speaking to Cherwell, president of the Oxford University and Colleges Union (UCU), Garrick Taylor, said: “Oxford UCU recognises the importance of Encaenia and understands that, like any international event with highly distinguished individuals, the cost will run into thousands.“We do have concerns about how much money was spent on a single lunch in 2012 and feel that the University should further explain and justify this, especially at a time when pay was being restrained and pension benefits cut.”A University spokesperson told Cherwell: “Oxford and many other universities around the world believe honorary degrees are an important and appropriate way to publicly recognise and celebrate excellence and achievement across all walks of life.” After the ceremony, the honorands are invited to a lavish lunch held in All Souls College, before finishing their day at the annual garden party for benefactors and VIPs. In recent years the ceremony has been viewed by some as a publicity stunt, with mounting costs spent on security barriers.Attendance is limited to senior university figures, including the proctors, the professor of poetry and the public orator.The figures come at a time of increasing attention on extravagant spending by senior university figures. Last week, Cherwell revealed that vice chancellor Louise Richardson spent £38,339 on expenses last year alone, with £56,522 spent on air travel since she took her position in January 2016.Figures awarded honorary degrees in recent years include Shirley Williams, Hillary Mantel, and Tom Stoppard.last_img read more

Transparency data: DHSC: spending over £500, December 2019

first_imgThe Department of Health and Social Care publishes details of all spending over £500 using an electronic purchasing card solution (ePCS) on a monthly basis. The ePCS has replaced the government procurement card (GPC).last_img

Video: Best of Garage Cam — Nationwide

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Exercise may help make heart younger

first_imgDoctors, health organizations, and the U.S. surgeon general all agree that exercise is good for the heart. But the reasons why are not well understood.In a new study performed in mice, researchers from the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) uncovered one explanation for why exercise might be beneficial: It stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.Just published in the journal Nature Communications, the findings have implications for public health, physical education, and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.The human heart has a relatively low capacity to regenerate itself. Young adults can renew around 1 percent of their heart muscle cells every year, and that rate decreases with age. Losing those cells is linked to heart failure, so interventions that increase cell formation have the potential to help prevent it.The two first authors on the study were Ana Vujic of HSCRB and Carolin Lerchenmüller of MGH and HMS. Vujic said, “We wanted to know whether there is a natural way to enhance the regenerative capacity of heart muscle cells. So we decided to test the one intervention we already know to be safe and inexpensive: exercise.”To test its effects, the researchers gave one group of healthy mice voluntary access to a treadmill. When left to their own devices, the mice ran about 5 kilometers each day. The other healthy group had no such gym privileges, and remained sedentary.To measure heart regeneration in the mouse groups, the researchers administered a labeled chemical that was incorporated into newly made DNA as cells prepared to divide. By following the labeled DNA in the heart muscle, the researchers could see where cells were being produced. They found that the exercising mice made more than 4.5 times the number of new heart muscle cells as did the mice without treadmill access.The results were significant, but were they relevant? To find out, the researchers brought the experiment a little closer to home.“We also wanted to test this in the disease setting of a heart attack, because our main interest is healing,” said Vujic.After experiencing heart attacks, mice with treadmill access still ran 5 kilometers a day, voluntarily. Compared with their sedentary counterparts, the exercising mice showed an increase in the area of heart tissue where new muscle cells are made.The conclusion was that in mice, exercise means regenerating heart tissue — a lot of it.The two senior authors behind the study were Richard Lee, Harvard professor of stem cell and regenerative biology and a principal faculty member of HSCI, and Anthony Rosenzweig, Paul Dudley White Professor of Medicine at HMS, chief of the cardiology division at MGH, and a principal faculty member of HSCI.“Maintaining a healthy heart requires balancing the loss of heart muscle cells due to injury or aging with the regeneration or birth of new heart muscle cells. Our study suggests exercise can help tip the balance in favor of regeneration,” said Rosenzweig.“Our study shows that you might be able to make your heart younger by exercising more every day,” said Lee.It’s all very well to say that exercise is good for the heart, but how does that actually work? The researchers plan to pinpoint which biological mechanisms link exercise with increased regenerative activity in the heart.“If we can turn on these pathways at just the right time, in the right people, then we can improve recovery after a heart attack,” said Lee.This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Leducq Foundation, and the German Research Foundation.last_img read more

Saint Mary’s student government tickets face off in debate

first_imgFor the first time ever, candidates running for president and vice president at Saint Mary’s College had a chance to debate each other, instead of simply making speeches before a crowd. Saint Mary’s interim president Nancy Nekvasil acted as moderator for the four candidates. The current president and vice president for the Saint Mary’s student body — seniors Madeleine Corcoran and Kathy Ogden — were also present for the debate.Ann Curtis and Lina Domenella | The Observer The candidates — junior ticket Emma Schmidt (president) and Andrea Ruiz-Montoya (vice president) and junior ticket Terra Nelson (president) and Olivia Allen (vice president) — were given two minute-rounds to give introductions, make closing remarks and answer questions from the crowd.Five questions were submitted by graduate and undergraduate students at Saint Mary’s College. The questions included challenges on student diversity, the Catholic faith and the future goals of the College. Both tickets said they have plans to implement more diverse programs and create a space for diverse students to feel more comfortable. “We plan to implement a preview day for students of all minorities,” Nelson said. “If you’re passionate and excited, you have a place at Saint Mary’s and we want you here.” Emphasizing the need for minority students to feel more at ease in choosing Saint Mary’s, Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya said dialogue is important to make the College a better place for minority students.Schmidt said “we believe communication and collaboration is key in making students feel at home.” A question was posed about how the candidates will strengthen the Catholic identity of the College.In response, Nelson said they want to focus on the growth of Campus Ministry and to dive back into tradition. Nelson and Allen also said they wish to put a focus on non-Catholic backgrounds, so that students of other faiths might feel more comfortable and at home at Saint Mary’s. Nelson said approaching students when they first arrive on campus is vital to bringing them into the Catholic tradition. “A lot of freshmen who come to college may enter with a strong faith, but they tend to turn away from it with the everyday busyness of college life,” she said. “It’s not really something that is talked about, but I want to focus on it for the years to come.”Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya said they agreed with their opponents and raised another point about the Saint Mary’s identity. “We want to help students view Saint Mary’s as a place to grow as a woman in faith,” Schmidt said. Looking toward the future of Saint Mary’s, Nelson and Allen said they want to reconstruct freshman orientation with a new focus on sexual assault, while Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya said they want to put a new focus on campus security and mental health resources. In order to make students feel safer on and off campus, Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya said they are campaigning for two new policies. “We want to set up a mental health emergency line so that we can have on-call representatives to help students through crisis,” Ruiz-Montoya said. “We also want to have Blinkie run on Sundays, because there are many students who go to Mass on Sundays at the Basilica and it can be hard to go over there, especially during the winter months.”Although the candidates did agree on many points, in some cases they emphasized their different views on the Saint Mary’s experience. Nelson and Allen have worked within student government at Saint Mary’s, including with the current student body president and vice president, and Nelson said their experience with the College’s governing bodies is analogous to that of a wedding caterer.“If you want someone to cater your wedding, you want someone who has catered before,” she said. “And metaphorically, we have catered that wedding by previously being on student government.” Though Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya have not worked on student government before, Schmidt said this allows them to understand the needs of “normal” students.“We give the perspective of a normal student, having not been on SGA before,” she said. ”I believe that is our strength.”Several students were eager to share their perspectives on the debate following the event.Saint Mary’s freshman Colleen Dunn said it was interesting to hear both sides.“I wasn’t sure what to expect, because I’ve never seen a smaller debate like this,” Dunn said. “I am happy with what I did see, and I liked that both platforms focused on inclusivity.”At the end of the night, both campaigns left the students with their words of wisdom.Schmidt said she knows even in the event of a win, change will likely come slowly.“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” she said. “We understand that it will take time to have real change here at Saint Mary’s.” Nelson and Allen said they were glad to have the chance to improve the place they love so much.“We care about this college and we want to improve it,” Nelson said. “We have been a team from the beginning, and we are humbled to represent our favorite place and second home,” Allen added. Tags: 2019 election, 2019 student government, saint mary’s, Student government, Student government electionslast_img read more

Save the Date! See What’s Got the Editorial Staff Stoked for November

first_img View Comments November 17 – Dead Poets Society OpensScreenwriter Tom Schulman won an Oscar in 1989 for penning the semi-autobiographical Dead Poets Society, which starred the late Robin Williams. Schulman has adapted his screenplay for this world premiere stage version, headlined by Jason Sudeikis. It plays off-Broadway’s Classic Stage Company through December 11. Managing Editor Beth Stevens“I have a soft spot for the film Dead Poets Society, so I’m psyched to see Jason Sudeikis take on Robin Williams’ role. With Tony winner John Doyle directing, I’m confident audiences will be yelling, ‘Carpe diem!’”November 25 – Gilmore Girls ReturnsReady for copious amounts of coffee, Friday night dinners and the arrival of stage faves in Stars Hollow? Gilmore Girls is returning to the small screen for four hour-long episodes, and Broadway stars Sutton Foster, Christian Borle and Kerry Butler are set to appear in a show within a show composed by Tony winner Jeanine Tesori.  National Editor Ryan Gilbert“My mom and I liked to imagine that Lorelai and Rory were our prettier but just as caffeinated and chatty TV counterparts. Adding Foster and Borle is just a bonus. Happy ThanksGilmore!”Other events to mark on your calendar this month:November 1 – Todrick Hall begins performances in Kinky BootsNovember 4 – Women of a Certain Age starts previewsNovember 6 – Last chance to catch Lorenzo Lamas in The FantasticksNovember 9 – Ride the Cyclone begins previewsNovember 10 – In Transit starts performancesNovember 13 – Last chance to catch Kristin Chenoweth’s Love Letter to BroadwayNovember 15 – Tiny Beautiful Things begins previewsNovember 16 – Broadway Loves Britney at 54 BelowNovember 21 – This Day Forward opensNovember 22 – Judy Kuhn bows in Fiddler on the RoofNovember 23 – Moana hits theatersNovember 27 – Laura Osnes at 54 BelowNovember 29 – Lin-Manuel Miranda on Drunk History November means feasts, football and a slew of fantastic New York stage offerings. It can be tough to keep track of everything you want to see! That’s where we come in. On top of already keeping you up to date on all the latest theater news (and shenanigans), the Editorial staff is sharing what we’re looking forward to each month, so you can save the date. Whether you’re planning a night out at the theater or want to watch stage faves on TV while snug under your covers, here are the must-sees for November, in our humble opinions, of course.November 2 – Sweet Charity Begins Two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster is returning to the New York stage in this stripped-down production of Sweet Charity, which marks the Cy Coleman tuner’s 50th anniversary and has already been extended—twice. With Leigh Silverman at the helm and Joshua Bergasse choreographing, there’s probably nothing better than this.Editor-in-Chief Paul Wontorek“Sutton Foster has explored darker roles with Leigh Silverman in Violet and The Wild Party, so I’m curious to see where this bright musical about tarnished New Yorkers takes them.”November 3 – A Bronx Tale Starts Tony nominee Nick Cordero, Richard H. Blake and newcomer Bobby Conte Thornton are teaming up with a starry creative team that features Chazz Palminteri, Robert De Niro, Jerry Zaks, Alan Menken, Glenn Slater and Sergio Trujillo to bring this story of one kid navigating the mean streets of the Bronx to the Great White Way. Opening night is scheduled for December 1 at the Longacre Theatre. Video Producer Lisa Spychala“The story is already a moving classic. Now it’s a musical that combines the creative team of Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks with Sergio Trujillo, Glenn Slater and Alan Menken? I’m there!”November 7 – Adam Pascal in Rotten!Tony nominee will be welcomed to the Renaissance as Something Rotten!’s Will Shakespeare, following in the swaggering steps of Will Chase and Christian Borle. With a Broadway resume that includes Disaster!, Memphis, Aida and, of course, Rent, Pascal has the experience and the golden pipes to bring audiences to their feet at the St. James Theatre. Editorial Assistant Lindsey Sullivan“Adam Pascal is so much more than one blaze of glory; I can’t wait to see him flaunt his comedic chops. Come on—the quintessential theater dork crush playing a sexy William Shakespeare? Sign me up!”November 11 – The Band’s Visit BeginsComposer David Yazbek (known for The Fully Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) collaborated with Itamar Moses for this stage adaptation of the acclaimed 2007 film. The musical stars John Cariani and Tony Shalhoub as members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, which gets lost in Israel on the way to a concert and taken in by locals. News Reporter Ryan McPhee“This is the guy who wrote a love ballad about legs; David Yazbek is the perfect choice to capture both the quirkiness and poignancy of the film. I can’t wait to see how that dynamic plays out onstage.”November 14 – Dear Evan Hansen Starts A pitch-perfect Ben Platt stars in the new musical that had off-Broadway buzzing last spring. Get the tissues ready for a moving high school-set story scored by music duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The cast also features Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Laura Dreyfuss, Michael Park and more. Opening night is set for December 4 at the Music Box Theatre. Senior Editor Imogen Lloyd Webber“I saw Dear Evan Hansen off-Broadway; it truly touches the soul. The show’s definitely going to be a leading contender at the Tony Awards in June.”center_img (Photo: AFP, Angela Weiss, Caitlin McNaney, Getty Images, Matt Murphy, Netflix, Robert Voets & Valerie Macon)last_img read more

Colombian Army and Police Destroy Coca Operation

first_imgBy Marian Romero/Diálogo August 22, 2017 On July 18th in the rural municipality of Los Andes Sotomayor, the Colombian Army discovered a coca processing complex with the capacity to produce one and a half metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride per month. Inside the structure were different instruments and machinery used to produce the drug, as well as 220 gallons of coca paste used in the manufacturing process. “In the past few months, we have dealt heavy blows to drug trafficking structures since we found the place where the alkaloid is produced, and we destroyed the merchandise when it was ready for sale,” said General Sergio Alberto Tafur García, the commander of the Pegaso Task Force of the Colombian Army’s Third Division. “It is possible this way to affect the finances of criminal organizations.” In June, the Army and National Police located another cocaine hydrochloride processing plant in the rural municipality of Tumaco. Days later, they found another mega laboratory in the municipality of La Llanada with the capacity to produce seven metric tons of cocaine monthly. The complex was divided into 11 structures and had 50 kilograms of cocaine warehoused and ready for sale. The building housed materials and industrial equipment used for processing coca paste. Twenty-five beds and 700 kg of food were also inside. Nariño, concentrated drug trafficking area According to information from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Nariño is the Colombian department with the highest concentration of coca cultivation. One of the biggest obstacles to discovering the processing centers is their improvised character in remote areas, making it difficult for them to be identified from the air. The laboratories are structures made of plastic embedded in the thick jungle, where the small-scale cocaine hydrochloride manufacturing process requires more specialized machinery such as microwave ovens, industrial stoves, and centrifuge machines. They are located in areas precisely like this one, remote and difficult to reach due to their geographic conditions, with flat or slightly hilly terrain, sources of flowing water, thick jungle vegetation, and a wet climate. “The permanence of drug trafficking in the country has allowed criminals to find ingenious ways of processing coca with things that are cheap and easy to get. They build the distillation towers themselves and organize a laboratory with basic implements that are found in any home. They also use gasoline, acetone, lye, and other legal substances,” Gen. Tafur explained. Results of the Pegaso Task Force The priority of the Pegaso Task Force is to impede the illegal economy in this part of the country. Since establishing the Strategic Operations Center (CEO, per its Spanish acronym) in the municipality of Tumaco in January, it has been possible to integrate the operations of the military, police, government, and civilian institutions to eradicate the illicit crops. So far this year, the Armed Forces have destroyed 22 cocaine hydrochloride laboratories in Nariño and 80 laboratories for processing coca paste. They have arrested 21 individuals, seized 4,000 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride and 215 kilograms of coca paste, and destroyed 6,800 gallons of coca paste in the process of boiling and decanting. They have also confiscated 650 kilograms of “creepy” marijuana for export. To prevent planting and replanting, they have destroyed 114 seedbeds with over one million coca plants, seized 33 metric tons of coca leaves, 18,700 gallons of liquid inputs, and 23 metric tons of solid raw material. Strategy against the drug trafficking production chain “The system of permanent threat in Nariño is special. It is one of the areas where there is the highest concentration of coca plants, and the organized armed groups are persistent; so we had difficulties at first in establishing CEO, and there were violent protests by the population,” said Major General Ricardo Jiménez Mejía, chief of the Joint Staff of the Colombian Army. “With time, the joint operations of the Army and police managed to eradicate more than 3,300 hectares of illicit crops in this part of the country.” The Comprehensive Plan to Fight Drug Trafficking in Colombia carried out by CEO is focused on eradicating illicit crops, criminal interdiction, the destruction of the alkaloid production chain, the transformation and development of communities and affected territories, and consumption. In Tumaco, the efforts are focused on the first three areas. “Establishing CEO in Tumaco has been crucial for strengthening our narcotics strategy. Before the work that was done was uncoordinated, each institution had its own results according to its specialty. For example, in all of the last year [2016], we eradicated 1,800 hectares of illicit crops in Nariño, and this year [2017] it was 2,700 [hectares] just halfway through the year,” Maj. Gen. Jiménez said. On the issue of crop substitution and development in places affected by drug trafficking, Nariño is making progress in accordance with the national government’s agenda and promoting the voluntary eradication and substitution of coca plants with legal crops. There are various agreements in various government agencies to implement the change. The agreements have been established with farmers who own two hectares or less of coca plants. Larger areas are considered industrial crops.last_img read more

10 money leaks you might be overlooking

first_imgMoney leaks come in as many shapes and sizes as there are people, and can include items as small as water bottles to as large as multiple restaurant meals in a week when you don’t feel like cooking. Clamping down on them can only happen after you pinpoint just where your weaknesses lie.“Spending money on energy drinks is a bad habit of my own,” says Kerry Sherin, a marketing associate at and contributor to the U.S. News Frugal Shopper blog. (She’s trying to replace those purchases with more water consumption, as well as the free coffee provided by her job.)Whatever money leaks are draining cash from your budget, here are 10 to be on the lookout for, along with tips for how to trim them:1. TransportationWhether you opt for cabs or Uber, paying to get from point A to point B can often eat a big hole in your budget. “Cab and Uber rides definitely sneak up on my clients’ budgets,” says Pamela Capalad, a financial planner at her Brooklyn-based Brunch & Budget firm. Even Capalad admits that in the winter her cab budget goes up. To keep it in check, she suggests leaving early for appointments, giving yourself enough time to walk or use public transportation. continue reading » 29SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Disclosures are key in overdraft protection litigation

first_imgGood morning folks.  With everyone seemingly so happy that Tiger Woods won his first tournament in five years yesterday, I could ponder what it is about this country that makes us love seeing people strive to succeed; take perverse pleasure in seeing people fall once they succeed; and ultimately take pride in watching them succeed yet again.  But, alas, this is not why you read my blog.Instead, you read my blog to help get a heads up on some of the issues that are either confronting your credit union or might be in the near future.  Overdraft opt-in litigation certainly falls into this category, but I am not sure exactly why.  Here’s why I am confused:First, no one disputes that members have to affirmatively opt in to receive overdraft protections on their debit card transactions.  Second, no one disputes that for purposes of calculating a person’s balance there are two common approaches a financial institution can use.  First, they can calculate based on all the funds in a person’s account when a debit transaction is made.  This is called a ledger balance.  Or, they can calculate using an available funds method, which subtracts from a member’s account funds, which include payments that have not yet been drawn but are committed, such as account holds placed by hotels for incidental uses. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Return statue to gateway to the city

first_imgI would like to comment on the possible relocation of the Statue of Liberty replica that stood for decades in Liberty Park.Let me point out that Schenectady was settled by immigrants, primarily the Dutch, in the mid-1600s. It encompasses so much history — the survival of the Stockade District, the former Hotel VanCurler (now SCCC), the obvious name of the Western Gateway Bridge and the Glen Sanders Mansion to name a few. Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion That area of State Street has light posts chosen a number of years ago to replicate older-style lighting. Even the college suites housing for SCCC students was designed to blend into the neighborhood.It astounds me that anyone familiar with this part of New York state could possibly say that the statue “doesn’t seem to fit anymore” but chose to rename the park Gateway Plaza.Personally, what I feel doesn’t fit into such a historic area is light saber pillars. Why would you install something that resembles a fictional energy sword from a Star Wars futuristic movie in a city over 300 years old?As much as I appreciate my Italian heritage, I also appreciate my Dutch heritage and believe the statue should be returned to the “gateway” of the city where all who enter can appreciate it.Sharon TrumplerScotiaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img read more