The Ebola virus is taking a deadly toll on the northern county of Lofa where the deadly disease initially crossed over from neighboring Guinea. More and more people in that county continue to be victimized by the virus.In a statistical report provided by the Lofa Health Team on the status of the situation in the county, made available to the Daily Observer Wednesday, August 13, there were 38 deaths recorded in three days. These include confirmed Ebola cases, probable and suspected. This report covers the three-day period August 8 to 11, 2014. The number of new contact cases within this period (August 8-11) stands at 81.The total deaths in the county since May 29, 2014 to date stands at 221. Lofa is so far one of the most highly affected counties.The update also disclosed that the number of patients presently at the Foya Care Center (August 8-11), one of the two Ebola centers in the country, stands at 81.New reported death amongst health workers (August 8-11) is one, totaling 12 deaths since the outbreak in May.During this period, 45 specimens were taken and tested: 15 were positive, 8 negative and the rest are still pending.President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently said she is saddened by the fast pace at which the virus is spreading in the country, especially to other communities that were not previously affected. “And what this means is that our people are still not listening to the pieces of advice and instructions that are being given.” Such instructions include constant hand washing; avoiding handshakes and touching in general; immediate reporting of cases of high fever, vomiting and bleeding; and avoiding touching anyone suspected to have the virus.Meanwhile it is being reported that nine members of a single family of 15 were being removed from the Macenta road community, in the capital Voinjama, to the Foya Care Center. This is, however, another worrying concern for the people of Voinjama City, as it wrestles in the grip of the virus.Macenta road community is located just after the Mandingo quarter where eight persons died few days ago, and is also a predominantly Mandingo community.According to sources, six members of this family of 15 had already died from the virus. The nine remaining family members were being taken to the Foya Care Center.President Sirleaf, while declaring a State of Emergency last week, said the Ebola threat continues to grow as a result of ignorance, poverty as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices. She indicated that these continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease, especially in the counties.The Liberian President added that actions allowed by statute under the public health law are no longer adequate to deal with the Ebola epidemic, as comprehensively and holistically, as the outbreak requires.The President noted that the scope and skills of the epidemic now exceed the capacity and statutory mandates of any one government agency or ministry. The Ebola virus disease, and the ramifications and the consequences thereof, now constitute an outright national calamity.Health authorities in Lofa County said due to the influx of suspected cases, patients are now being transported in pickup trucks, which have no sirens, rather than the ambulances, whose sirens are causing a lot of trauma for residents.Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Ebola Situation Report (SitRep) has recorded that since the outbreak of the virus in March to August 11, at least 149 confirmed deaths from 166 confirmed positive victims.Among the 149 have been 37 health workers out of 86, who now fallen prey to the virus.However, the SitRep lists total deaths in confirmed, probable and suspected cases as 355, for the record.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
APTN National NewsAfter a year and a half of detailed testimony and tens of thousands of documents, the fate of a discrimination complaint against Canada is now in the hands of the three commissioners charged with making a decsion on the case.The case was first launched seven years ago by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.Each claim the federal government pays less for First Nations children on reserve in care than the provinces do off reserve.Amnesty International and the Chiefs of Ontario are both intervenors.After months of delays and attempts by government lawyers to derail the process, the hearings finally got underway.APTN National News covered the hearings and all testimony and evidence can be found at aptn.ca/news/tag/kids-in-care/APTN’s Annette Francis reports on the final day.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, TCI, July 6, 2016 – The Turks and Caicos has recruited a 30 year police investigator to guide and teach investigative skills on the royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police. He is now the Assistant Superintendant and his name is Stephen Snow of the UK.A media release from the force explains that Snow has, “significant experience in the investigation of serious and organized crime which includes major drugs importations, kidnapping, rape and armed robbery. He has reportedly been overseer of some 70 homicides and suspicious death cases in the United Kingdom. Snow has earned as many as 16 commendations for outstanding detective work and has received the Prestigious Police Award for 30 years service to the CID.”Also from the Police our female officer Kedkrizia Missick shot by two bandits who got away with a woman’s purse outside of Petro Plus gas station on Monday, is doing fine and her commanding officer, Superintendant Darron Williams hails her bravery and wishes her speedy recovery. “This goes to show the dangers police officers face each day, I am happy that her injuries were not serious.”Officer Missick was struck by a random bullet which pierced the police vehicle and caught her in her right leg, just about the knee.
Ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has hit back at the Tatas after he was abruptly sacked from his position on Monday.Mistry wrote a letter to the directors of Tata sons blaming his mentor Ratan Tata for all the wrong foreign strategies taken up by the firm and also for the company’s resultant debt accumulation. A copy of of the letter has gone viral on social media.In the letter, Mistry said that he was “shocked beyond words” as he was not aware of the sacking and was removed from his position without any explanation. He also said that he did not get an opportunity to defend himself before the board.Mistry, in his letter, questioned a lot of deals undertaken by the firm and also added that they should not have continued with the production of the Nano as it was bringing losses to the firm. He said that the project was being continued for purely emotional reasons.The letter has dealt a huge blow to the image of the company.Here’s the full text of the letter:From Cyrus P. Mistry Date: 25 October 2016 at 22.05: 41To: Directors of Tata SonsLtd.I was shocked beyond words at the happenings at the board meeting of October 24, 2016. Apart from the invalidity and illegality of the business that was conducted, I have to say that the Board of Directors has not covered itself with glory.To “replace” your Chairman without so much as a word of explanation and without affording him an opportunity of defending himself in a summary manner must be unique in the annals of corporate history. The suddenness of the action, and the lack of explanation has led to all manner of speculation and has done my reputation and the reputation of the Tata Group immeasurable harm.At the outset, I have to say that I have great respect for the Tata Groupand the thousands of employees who are working hard despite the challenges. I am writing this letter to the Board to emphasise the total lack of corporate governance and to point out the failure on the part of the directors to discharge the fiduciary duty owed to stakeholders of Tata Sonsand of the group companies. All of this does not augur well for the future of the Group. All that is said here is well known to many among you, but I would like to put in one place my journey as Chairman of Tata Sons. It is important to emphasise the enormity of what has transpired in the Group and what corrective action is to be taken. Each of you is already in receipt of and familiar with the Strategy 2025 document that I presented to you, and in which I had articulated our growth strategy for the future.In 2011, after some exploration by a search committee, I was approached by both Ratan Tataand Lord Bhattacharya individually to be a candidate for the position. I politely declined. I had myself built a business which I would continue to run. However, as the search process progressed and the committee was unable to find a suitable candidate, I was asked to reconsider. After consulting my family and in the broader interests of the Tata Group, I took courage to overcome my initial reluctance and agreed to consider the position.Prior to my appointment, I was assured that I would be given a free hand. The previous Chairman was to step back and be available for advice and guidance as and when needed. After my appointment, the Articles of Association were modified, changing the rules of engagement between the Trusts, the Board of Tata Sons, the Chairman, and the operating companies. Inappropriate interpretation indeed followed, and as elaborated below, it severely constrained the ability of the group to engineer the necessary turnaround.I am not sure if the individual board members and the trustees truly appreciated the extent of the problems I had inherited. I cannot blame them, for I myself, as a non-executive director, did not have a clear grasp of the gravity of the issues involved. Without meaning to air a laundry list, let me outline some of the major challenges faced at the time of my entry.As is public knowledge, the foreign acquisition strategy, with the exceptions of JLR and Tetley, had left a large debt overhang. The European steel business faced potential impairments in excess of USD 10 billion, only some of which has been taken as of date. Many foreign properties of IHCLand holdings in Orient Hotels have been sold at a loss. The onerous terms of the lease for Pierre in New York are such that it would make it a challenge to exit. Tata Chemicals still needs tough decisions about its UK and Kenya operations.IHCL, beyond flawed international strategy, had acquired the Searock property at a highly inflated price and housed in an off balance sheet structure. In the process of unravelling this legacy, IHCLhas had to write down nearly its entire networth over the past three years. This impairs its ability to pay dividends.Tata Capitalhad a book that required significant clean up on account of bad loans to the infrastructure sector. The loan to Siva was under the strong advice of Executive Trustee Venkatraman, which has turned into a non-performing asset. All of this resulted in Tata Capital having to recognise abnormal size of NPAs.Of all the companiesin the portfolio, the telecom business has been continuously haemorrhaging. If we were to exit this business via fire sale or shut down, the cost would be USD 4-5 billion. This is in addition to any payout to DoCoMoof at least a billion plus dollars. The original structure of the DoCoMo transaction raises several questions about its appropriateness from a commercial or prudential perspective within the then prevailing Indian legal framework. In light of all of this, our strategy over the past three years has been to increase the EBITDA from Rs. 400 crores to Rs. 2,500 crores, in the hope of being a potential player in consolidation of the industry.Tata Poweraggressively bid for the Mundraproject based on low-priced Indonesian coal. As regulations changed, the losses in 2013-14 alone amounted to Rs. 1,500 crores. Given that Mundra constitutes Rs. 18,000 crores of capital employed (40% of’ the overall company’s capital employed), this substantially depresses the return on capital for Tata Poweras well as carries the risk of considerable future impairment.An even more challenging situation arose in Tata Motors, both on the commercial and passenger vehicles. Before 2013, in order to shore up sales and market share, Tata MotorsFinance extended credit with lax risk assessment. As a result, the NPAs mounted to being in excess of Rs. 4,000 crores. Historically, the company had employed aggressive accounting to capitalize substantial proportion of the product development expenses, creating a future liability. Beyond this, the Nano product development concept called for a car below Rs. 1 lakh, but the costs were always above this. This product has consistently lost money, peaking at Rs. 1,000 crores. As there is no line of sight to profitability for the Nano, any turnaround strategy for the company requires to shut it down. Emotional reasons alone have kept us away from this crucial decision. Another challenge in shutting down Nanois that it would stop the supply of the Nano gliders to an entity that makes electric cars and in which Mr. Tata has a stake.On the performance of the portfolio, as you are aware from my presentations to you in the recent past, if we look at the aggregate data between 2011 and 2015 and limit the analysis largely to the legacy hotspots (IHCL, Tata MotorsPV, Tata Steel Europe, Tata PowerMundra. and Teleservices), it will show that the capital employed in those companieshas risen from Rs. 132,000 crores to Rs. 196,000 crores (due to operational losses, interest and capex). This figure is close to the networth of the group which is at Rs. 174,000 crores. A realistic assessment of the fair value these businesses could potentially result in a write down over time of about Rs.118,000 crores.In the face of the above challenges, I had to take many tough decisions with sensitive care to the group’s reputation as well as containing panic amidst internal and external stakeholders. Despite bad press, impairments were taken to clean the books but substantial exposure remains. Dividends were reduced (e.g. Tata Motors, IHCL) to conserve cash for needed investments in the the teeth of shareholder fury.Apart from hotels, the group made several exits in the fèrtilizer business, UK steel operations, and of course in smaller companies such as the logistic company, DIESL. I had to ease out hangers-on who are prone to flaunt their proximity to power. On the more positive side, Kalinganagar, the largest domestic capital investment of the group was completed overcoming significant obstacles that had left the project in doubt previously.Early in my tenure, our foray into the aviation sector began when Mr Tata ushered me into his office and handed me a report on Air Asia by Bain & Co. He had concluded negotiations to partner with Air Asia and wanted the proposal tabled at the forthcoming Tata Sonsboard meeting. My pushback was hard but futile. However, I was able to extract a promise of no debt to be raised at the level of the JV as well as limiting Tata Sons investment to 30% of the USD 30 million equity. A few months later, I was surprised to be confronted with a similar situation requiring me to execute a fait accompli JV with Singapore Airlines. Without the benefit of time and experience to fully evaluate the proposal, I had to accept that Tata Sons would take a 51% stake in a USD 100 million joint venture. The passion for the airlines sector has led Mr Tata to continue his involvement with the strategy of the two airlines. It is on his advice that the Tata Sonsboard has increased the capital infusion in the sector at multiple levels of the initial commitment.Board members and trustees are also aware that in the case of Air Asia, ethical concerns have been raised with respect to certain transactions as well as the overall prevailing culture within the organization. A recent forensic investigation revealed fraudulent transactions of Rs. 22 crores involving non-existent parties in India and Singapore. Executive Trustee, Mr. Venkatraman, who is on the board of Air Asiaand also a shareholder in the company, considered these transactions as non-material and did not encourage further study. It was only at the insistence of the independent directors, one of whom immediately submitted his resignation, that the board decided to belatedly file a first information report.Despite all of the above, during my term, the operating cash flows of the group have grown at 31% compounded per annum. The Tata Group valuation from 2013 to 2016 increased by 14.9% per annum in rupee terms as against the BSE Sensexannual increase of 10.4% over the same period. The Tata Sonsnetworth has increased from approximately Rs. 26,000 crores to Rs. 42,000 crores, after considering the impairments. This has significantly strengthened our balance sheet, enhancing our ability to absorb further shocks from restructuring in the companiesTo come back to the amendments in the Articles of Association, as feared, the inappropriate implementation created a flux in the decision-making process. I have often presented to the trustees, before and after Tata Sonsboard meetings. This created alternative power centres without any accountability or formal responsibility. Invalidating the very governance role of nominated directors, who I would assume would use their own independent judgment and discharge their fiduciary duties, were reduced to mere postmen.As an example, once, the trust directors (Nitin Nohriaand Vijay Singh) had to leave a Tata Sons board meeting in progress for almost an hour, keeping the rest of the Board waiting, in order to obtain instructions from Mr. Tata. Such a work pattern has also created the added risk of contravening insider trading regulations and exposed the Trust, apart from exposing the trustees to potential tax liabilities. These circumstances forced me to circulate a note on corporate governance in order to clarify the distinct roles of Tata Trusts, Tata SonsBoard, and the Boards of the operating companies.I cannot believe that I was removed on grounds of non-performance. As you are aware, the Nomination and Remuneration Committee comprising Vijay Singh, Farida Khambata and Ronnen Sen, independent directors (two of whom have voted for my removal now), had only recently lauded and commended my performance.In keeping with Tata Groupvalues, to engage employees and have a favourable impact on the communities we operate in, we launched a volunteering programme, challenging group employees to volunteer a million hours in 2015 and the result was volunteering of 1.2 million hours, making it one of the top ten global volunteering programmes.I hope you do realize the predicament that I found myself in. Being pushed into the position of a “lame duck” Chairman, my desire was to create an institutional framework for effective future governance of the group. I believe I had to be true to myself and the best interests of the organization. While I would be lying if I said I am not disappointed, I have a sense of pride and dignity intact in the efforts I have taken to professionalise and institutionalise, regardless of the outcome of effort, I now witness.Since the developments at the Board Meeting were purported to have been initiated at the instance of the Trusts, I am copying the Trustees.Sincerely, Cyrus (Cyrus P Mistry) C.C. Trustees of Tata Trusts
Rain brings fears of landslides againThe inhabitants of Rangamati are in fear of fresh landslides as it rained again on Thursday evening. Drizzling started from the night and has continued till Friday morning, when this report was being written.The people in the hill areas were taking refuge in the shelters. The local administration used megaphones to caution the people and helped them reach the shelters. A total of 12 shelters were opened with a capacity of housing around 2000 people.Shabana Khatun, one of the inhabitants of the hilly area who took shelter at the shelter house said she feared landslides would resume any moment.Rabi Mohan Chakma, the councilor of Bhedbhedi ward no 6, said people are in fear after rain resumed.Meanwhile, members of the fire service have resumed rescue operations in the BhedBhedi area where three people are reportedly still missing.
Scarves are summer must haves, they not only save your skin from the scorching heat but can also act as a style statement, say experts. Here are some styles that you can flaunt with a scarf.4Knot at the end: The conventional way to style a scarf is to loop it around your neck bringing the ends to the front side. Tie the ends together in a knot for a refined look.4The shrug look: This would work with a larger scarf. Fold the scarf diagonally making a triangle shape of the scarf. Drape the scarf around your neck keeping two ends of the triangle in front. Wear a stylish high waist belt over the scarf at your waist to accentuate the look. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf4The airhostess bow knot: In case you want to go for a more subtle look, the best way is to fold the scarf until it becomes a two to four inch rectangle. Loop it around your neck and with the ends, tie a big bow on the right hand side of your neck for that sexy-yet-professional style statement.4Choker style: Fold a long scarf in half, lengthwise. Grab the diagonal ends and knot them together. Put it over your neck as a necklace and then twist it and loop again.4Bandana style: Fold your scarf in a triangle shape and put the biggest side over your head like a headband. Now tie the ends together behind your head.4Tie style: Drape the scarf evenly around your neck and let it hang. Cross and tie the two ends in the centre. Adjust so that one is layered over the other to give it a tie look.