Feb 8, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The H5N1 virus has materialized deep in Africa, killing about 40,000 poultry on a commercial farm in northern Nigeria, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).Tests at an OIE reference laboratory in Padova, Italy, yesterday confirmed the presence of H5N1 as the culprit in an outbreak that began nearly a month ago, on Jan 10, the OIE report said.The virus was found in samples drawn Jan 16 from a farm in Jaji, in the northern state of Kaduna, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The Italian Health Ministry said the strain confirmed there is similar to strains found in Siberia and Mongolia in 2005, the AP said.The Jaji farm is the only confirmed outbreak site so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement today. “Investigations are urgently needed to determine whether the outbreak, which began almost a month ago, has spread from the farm to affect household flocks,” the agency said.”Poultry deaths in the adjacent province of Kano have been reported, but the cause has not yet been determined,” the WHO added.Although published reports conflict, the AP quoted Salihu Jibrin, head of the Kano state’s livestock department, as saying that at least 60,000 birds have died there in recent weeks. Testing was being conducted, but officials told the AP today that no signs of avian flu had been found.Another source, South Africa’s Independent Online, reported yesterday that poultry began dying in unusually high numbers last weekend at the Sovat farm in Danbare village in Kano.The OIE is sending a team to Jaji in Kaduna state to assist in government quarantine efforts, Bloomberg News reported today.The arrival of H5N1 in Nigeria realizes one of the worst fears of experts, who have long warned that the spread of the virus into Africa could greatly complicate containment efforts. Backyard poultry live in close contact with people in many parts of Africa.”In Nigeria, as in other parts of Africa, most village households maintain free-ranging flocks of poultry as a source of income and food,” the WHO said. “Close human contact with poultry is extensive.”The primary public health need is to reduce the risk of human infections by preventing contact with diseased or dead household poultry, the WHO said. If the virus has spread to household flocks, people will need to be warned to avoid risky behavior, such as slaughtering sick poultry.The WHO said no clear information about the source of the Nigerian outbreak was available, but the country lies along a route for birds migrating from central Asia.Full sequence information about the outbreak virus is expected later this week, the WHO said. The information should help authorities assess the risk to human health and may shed light on the source of the outbreak.Authorities have expressed concerns about paying for and coordinating outreach, education, and other responses to avian flu in resource-strapped African countries, many of which are already battling hunger, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.Nigeria, which has 124 million people, has an average healthy life expectancy at birth of only 41 years, according to 2003 data from the WHO.See also: Feb 8 WHO statement on outbreak in Nigeriahttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_02_08/en/index.htmlOIE report on Nigerian outbreakhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2006_AI.phpWHO profile of Nigeriahttp://www.who.int/countries/nga/en/
Italian pension fund associations have attacked shock plans to raise the tax rate for pension fund investment income from its current level of 11.5% to 20%.The government had already increased the rate from 11% last July, officially as a “temporary” measure, but now intends to hike it up by nearly three-quarters. And pension funds for professional groups (casse di previdenza) will see their tax rate on investment gains go up from 20% to 26%.The new plans are included in the Parliamentary Bill for Italy’s 2015 fiscal Budget, the so-called Stability Law. The draft budgetary decree was agreed by the Cabinet on 15 October, and presented to Parliament on 24 October.The Bill also includes proposals to include employee severance pay – Trattamento di Fine Rapporto (TFR) – in the individual’s annual income, if part of this is paid to them before they actually leave their jobs.Last month, prime minister Matteo Renzi announced that workers could choose to receive severance benefits directly each month rather than being held back until the end of their employment.If they opt to take the cash in this way, it will be taxed at their marginal rate in the year it was received.Marco Abatecola, general secretary at Assofondipensione, the association of collective negotiation-based pension schemes said: “We are opposed to the tax increase because it will reduce future pensions, and it risks creating instability in the system, alienating workers from pension funds.”Assofondipensione has started separate talks with the government and Parliament, and has sent a position paper to the Chamber and Senate finance committee that sets out Assofondipensione’s position and the changes it would like to see in the Stability Law.It will also soon be starting a communication and information campaign to promote the advantages of complementary pension schemes to workers, urging them to enrol in these schemes.Laura Crescentini, technical coordinator at Assoprevidenza, the Italian association for supplementary pension provision, said: “We are against these measures because we have a pure defined contribution system, so the increase will directly affect future pension levels and discourage people from joining pension funds.“Moreover, it would create problems in moving towards an EET system [exempt contributions, exempt investment income and capital gains of the pension institution, taxed benefits], which is used by most countries in the European Union.”Claudio Pinna, head of consulting at Aon Hewitt in Rome, said: “We were very surprised by these changes because they go against all the reforms of the pension system that have been carried out in the recent past. This is no way to incentivise saving by employees.”He added: “They will create a lot of problems. But it is very likely these changes will happen.”Pinna warned that the proposals could lead to an exodus of pension savings out of Italy.“If the changes happen,” he said, “it might be better for Italian employees to transfer their pension provision in Italy to another pension fund operating under the EU cross-border directive, assuming you get the same investment returns in all countries. At present, the obvious host country would be Belgium.”Pinna said there was also a need to clarify when the changes would be implemented, and warned the changes could be enforced retroactively, from 1 January 2014.The government has said the proposals could be reversed if it can find an equivalent source of revenue.But Pinna considers this unlikely.Meanwhile, the same Budget package also includes a tax increase on investment returns of Italian foundations, including foundations of banking origin, whose net assets amounted to €40.9bn as at 31 December 2013.The draft Stability Law 2015 would reduce the amount of exemption on dividends received from 95% to 22.26%, while in contrast, it remains unchanged at 95% for profit-making private entities.It means the tax base on dividends received by foundations rises from 5% to 77.74%.Consequently, the taxation increases by 20 percentage points, with retroactive effect from 1 January 2014.Acri, the Italian association representing foundations of banking origin and savings banks, said the Stability Law would tax foundations of banking origin far more than for-profit private entities and was “incomprehensible to those who want to enhance the role of the voluntary sector”.It said the move could have a grave impact on support for activities already planned.The European Foundation Centre has calculated that the tax burden on foundations of banking origin alone has risen nearly four-fold since the €100m that was levied in 2011, to reach €360m in 2015.
Indianapolis, In. — Plan to Step Right Up to the Greatest 17 Days of Summer, August 3-19 at your Indiana State Fair! In addition to the “World’s Greatest Comic Daredevil” Bello Nock, the fair has announced additional performers who will delight fairgoers at The Big Top Circus presented by Bee Window.Newly added circus acts include Ringmaster Kevin Venardos, Alanian Cossack Riders, Urias Motorcycle Riders (who perform motorcycle stunts in a “globe of death”), and Juggler Noel Aguilar. Click here to view a video compilation of these performers.The Big Top Circus presented by Bee Window is being custom built and programmed for the Indiana State Fair. This family-friendly circus features acrobats, clowns, trapeze artists and will be presented daily at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. in a single-ring big top tent. The circus will not feature exotic animals and will be open to the first 1,600 people per show. There will be no show at 1 p.m. on Thursdays.Tickets to the Indiana State Fair are now available online at a discounted rate of $8 (plus a convenience fee) on the Indiana State Fair’s website or can be purchased at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Box Office during normal business hours. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate for $13.