Turfgrass battle plan

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first_imgOn cold winter days, you may dream of summer and the return of cookouts or flag football games on soft, springy lawns. Or you may just long to sit and admire your beautiful turfgrass with a cold, sweet tea in hand. There are several steps you can take now, in the cold of winter, to help you enjoy a beautiful lawn in the summer.Turfgrass battle planBecause of past droughts and resulting legislation, outdoor water use will continue to be an issue in Georgia. Water usage is something every homeowner must seriously consider and plan for. How much water did you use last summer to keep your lawn green? If the water regulations tighten, how will you irrigate your lawn? By planning ahead you will be able to support a lush lawn by making wise use of limited water resources. A few simple things can make a big difference in your water bill and our state’s water usage. Don’t block sunlightFirst, rake up the leaves leftover from the fall. Leaves can trap moisture and block out sunlight. Both are bad for turfgrass, especially cool-season grasses like tall fescue. Moisture trapped between the leaves and grass encourages disease. Blocking sunlight is detrimental for grasses. The warm-season grasses are actually active after we think they are dormant for the season. They still need sunlight and good airflow. If you don’t want to take the time to rake the leaves, shred them with a lawn mower. Keeping grass as healthy as possible prepares it for summer stresses like heat and drought. Test your soil and check your mower, irrigationNext, get a soil test. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers soil testing for a small fee. The soil is tested for fertility and pH. Information from a soil test will help you develop an efficient liming and fertilization program that will result in the healthiest lawn possible. Contact your local UGA Extension office for more information on soil tests.Now, take a look at your lawn mower. Replace the oil and clean or replace the oil filter. Check all nuts and bolts to make sure they haven’t become loose. Most importantly, sharpen mower blades. Dull mower blades actually tear grass leaves and injure the plant. Next, inspect your irrigation system. Hopefully, the system has been shut down and the water has been drained out and turned off. Replace broken irrigation heads and position the heads so they don’t water the sidewalk or road. Now you are ready to test and calibrate your system come spring.Simple things like raking leaves, testing soil, performing mower maintenance and inspecting your irrigation system can make a big difference for your lawn this summer. For more information on managing turfgrass in Georgia, see the UGA turfgrass website at www.GeorgiaTurf.com.last_img

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Ministering to health

first_imgMore than a dozen serving health ministers from Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean gathered at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) this week for a three-day gathering that is a key part of a broader program to enhance the effectiveness of such officials in developing and middle-income countries.The aim of the Ministerial Health Leaders’ Forum, jointly convened with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), is not to improve the ministers’ technical knowledge of health topics, but to help them become more effective leaders. The sessions, which ran through Wednesday, were participatory, allowing attendees to share their experiences and learn from each other as well as from faculty.“The principal purpose is to enhance leadership effectiveness of serving ministers of health with the goal of enabling them to carry out health reform in their countries in order to strengthen national health systems,” said Michael Sinclair, executive director of the HSPH’s Ministerial Leadership in Health Program and director of global programs for HSPH’s Division of Policy Translation and Leadership Development.Sinclair said that a health minister’s role is complex. To be successful, the official must be an astute political operator, has to understand health systems, and needs to be an effective administrator. Most such ministers are highly educated but come from health care backgrounds; they may not be well-versed in how to be effective in a national political environment.The forum was part of a larger focus on health leadership at HSPH. Dean Julio Frenk, a former minister of health of Mexico and the host of the event, said Monday that one of the School’s goals is to ensure that knowledge is translated into practice. One way to do that, he said, is to engage with nations’ top health leaders and ensure they have the tools to enact necessary health reforms.“Part of our core mission is to ensure that knowledge is translated into policy,” Frenk said. “Effective leadership is a crucial link in that chain.”Frenk said when he was Mexico’s health minister from 2000 to 2006, he lacked a support network of people in the same position. One goal of the workshop is to create such a network that participants can tap into after they leave Cambridge.The sessions were immersive, Sinclair said, starting with working breakfasts at 7:30 a.m. and running through working dinners. The topics included transformational leadership, policy analysis, priority setting and political strategy, allocating resources, working with finance ministers, and prioritizing maternal and child health. The sessions, which were held in the Taubman Building at HKS, were co-sponsored by HKS and HSPH, in association with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.In addition to the ministers and Harvard faculty members, the forum drew on an “expert resource group,” made up of former health or finance ministers from around the world who could offer advice drawn from their own experiences.The participants were asked to focus on one key health reform needed in their systems and to think about ways to change it as they proceeded through the workshop. When the ministers return to their home countries, organizers will offer technical support in carrying out the reform.Hussein Ali Mwinyi, the Tanzanian minister of health and social welfare, said Monday that he hoped not just to get knowledge from Harvard faculty members, but to acquire best practices from his colleagues.“It’s an opportunity to learn,” Mwinyi said.Tanzania, he said, needs to transition from programs focused on one disease or condition to an overall strengthening of the health system. The nation is seeing a rise in non-communicable diseases, he said, even as it continues to fight infectious diseases and to work on basic health indicators such as maternal and child health.Florence Guillaume, Haiti’s minister of public health and population, said her biggest challenge is reaching the 40 percent of Haitians not covered by basic health care even as the nation gets its health system back on its feet after the devastation of the 2010 earthquake that destroyed, among other things, Haiti’s largest hospital. She also wants to better coordinate the many different nonprofit aid programs that have been operating in the Caribbean nation since 2010.The leadership challenge, she said, is coordinating the work of the many private actors so that collectively, together with the government’s efforts, progress is made toward national health goals.“It has been frank, candid, and objective,” Guillaume said of the early sessions. “It’s amazing. This is a really good initiative.”last_img

Echoes of war, seeds of hope

first_imgEven decades after the Vietnam War, the United States and Vietnam are still surveying the conflict’s aftermath, seeking understanding and healing of wounds physical and spiritual, individual and widespread, Harvard President Drew Faust said today during a visit to the Southeast Asian nation.Faust, a historian of the American Civil War, spoke at Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, offering her audience an at-times personal view of the conflict and how it affected her and others of her generation. She also suggested lessons that could be applied from the U.S. Civil War, and shared her sense that historians are critical to the two nations’ journey through the aftereffects.“What you know as the War of National Salvation against the Americans — what we call ‘Vietnam’ — indelibly shaped those of us coming of age in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s,” Faust said. “Even though I never came within 8,000 miles of your country during those years, its names and places have reverberated in my mind for decades: Khe Sanh, Pleiku, Ap Bac, Dien Bien Phu, Gulf of Tonkin, Da Nang, Hue, Saigon, Hanoi.”President Drew Faust delivers her speech, “Aftermath: War, Memory and History,” at Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Vietnam. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerFaust is on a tour of the region that took her through other parts of Vietnam, including a visit to a rural school in Tan Phu, and to Singapore, where she met with academic officials and Harvard alumni.During her university speech, Faust spoke about how the Vietnam War not only familiarized her with a place she’d never seen, but also sparked an interest in war’s impact on society that would lead to her becoming a scholar of the U.S. Civil War.“I was shaped by the war in ways I am still not sure I fully understand. But one influence I can clearly identify has been upon my work as a historian,” she said. “Coming of age in the 1960s produced in me an enduring fascination with war, with the way its terrible demands can define individuals and societies, with war’s inevitable refraction of ideas and ideals, with the extremity of its pressures. War often proves to be the quintessential ‘moment of truth’ for both individuals and their societies.”That impact is reflected broadly among Americans of her generation, she said, a fact reflected in plans for a special remembrance being organized by members of the Class of 1967 for the upcoming Harvard Commencement.“Members of the Class of 1967, both men and women, will devote a segment of their time together to remembering the way the war defined their College years, and to discussing how what they call ‘Vietnam’ has affected them for over half a century,” Faust said. “As one class member who served in the Marines writes, ‘Many in my … generation made choices about Vietnam that … have haunted us, in dreams and awake, for the rest of our lives.’”As heavy as the war’s toll was on the United States, with 58,220 killed, Faust acknowledged it was dramatically greater on Vietnam, which had an estimated 3 million dead. A difficult part of war’s aftermath, she said, is mourning and accounting for the deceased, a task made much more difficult when a loved one’s fate is uncertain. The American Civil War’s enormous death toll and lack of an organized system of identification left an estimated 300,000 missing at its end, a number similar to that in Vietnam.In the United States, the uncertainty about the missing prompted changes like the routine use of military dog tags and ongoing efforts to find and identify the remains of those still unaccounted from past conflicts.“Both of our societies live with ghosts, with memories, and with legacies. And with the aftermath,” Faust said.During her visit, Faust also traveled to Fulbright University Vietnam to discuss Harvard’s role in developing academic collaborations. The university grew out of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, a public policy master’s program established in 1994 by Harvard Kennedy School’s Vietnam Program in collaboration with the University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City. The private, nonprofit university was established less than a year ago on land donated by the city government with the help of U.S. government funding.Faust visited the battlefield of Ap Bac, where the Viet Cong won a major battle in 1963. The site today is a military cemetery and memorial.She also traveled south of Ho Chi Minh City to the village of Tan Phu in Tien Giang Province to talk with ninth-graders about education’s importance and its ability to serve as a vehicle that “brings us to places we cannot yet imagine.”“I have wanted to make Vietnam into a place in my mind, not the name of a conflict that overtook my generation of young Americans, but a society and nation with all its complexity, its beauty, its history, its vibrancy, and its promise,” Faust said in her remarks.Faust’s overseas trip began Sunday in Singapore, where she met with academic leaders, including Tan Chorh Chuan, the president of the National University of Singapore, and joined approximately 400 alumni at a Your Harvard Singapore event.That evening featured a faculty conversation about the importance of creativity in generating breakthrough ideas on the complex issues facing the world today, including human migration, environmental degradation, and age-related diseases. The conversation was moderated by Geraldine Acuna-Sunshine ’92, M.P.P. ’96. The event also featured University faculty members Sunil Amrith, the Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, and Tobias Walther, professor of genetics and complex diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health and of cell biology at Harvard Medical School.Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanity is a branch of one of Vietnam’s largest universities, Vietnam National University, and an important center for historical study. Faust closed her remarks there by emphasizing the important role that historians can play in helping individuals and society negotiate a war’s aftermath.“We write and we talk and we remember because we struggle to understand how war has made us,” Faust said. “History is indispensable in that effort. It helps us confront the ghosts and the demons that the tragedies of the past leave as their legacy to the present. It illuminates the blindness and cruelties that enable war. It equips us to imagine and to strive for peace.”last_img

17 nations partner for PANAMAX 2010 Exercise

first_img The base was again the scene of a massive relief effort in Latin America this week as Airmen worked with sister services, non-governmental organizations, 17 partner nations and local governments to speed aid to a hurricane-ravaged island. The only difference between this operation and previous efforts is the island doesn’t exist and the natural disaster is playing out on computer screens at the 612th Combined Air Operations Center — the whole scenario is part of Exercise Panamax, a multi-national exercise led by U.S. Southern Command. Panamax is a yearly exercise focused on the defense of the Panama Canal, ensuring free trade and commercial traffic through the vital waterway. In addition, Air Forces Southern is also simulating a full-scale relief operation in the fictitious country of Centralia, an island near the canal suffering from a massive hurricane. Airmen from 17 partner nations including Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay are working together within the scenario. In addition, the United Nations World Food Program is working within the coalition command center to practice the integration of non-governmental organizations into the simulated relief operations. The international cooperation within the Panamax exercise is found at every level; in fact, a general officer from Chile is working as the deputy combined forces air component commander alongside Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander. Maj. Gen. Cesar Mac-Namara expressed his thanks and admiration for the level of integration found among the Airmen working in Tucson. “We’re very grateful for the invitation and this exercise is an opportunity for Air Forces to work together, learn together and prepare for the future together….I’m honored to be a part of this event,” said the general. The chief air transport officer with the United Nations World Food Program, Alvaro Gonzalez Peña, is working at the fictitious Regional Air Movement Control Center with Panamax participants to coordinate the integration of non-governmental organizations, foreign nations and military aircraft into a synchronized plan to maximize aircraft throughput into Centralia. The native of Uruguay is no stranger to working with the AFSOUTH team; he was on the ground in Haiti after the January earthquake and is a veteran of dozens of relief operations. “This is a realistic simulation — it’s on time….while the experiences of Haiti are fresh in our minds we are able to have training that will improve the close contacts between the military and civilians,” explained Mr. Peña. “One of the most important things to come out of this event is that we will know the person on the other end of the phone for the next time.” Maj. John Sedlacek, the deputy chief of the 612th CAOC Air Mobility Division, echoed his newfound compatriot’s sentiments — he’s sure the men and women working within the Panamax scenario will likely be alongside his team again in the future. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons from our work in Haiti and Chile earlier this year,” said Major Sedlacek. “By practicing and building on these multi-national relief operations, we’re ready for the inevitable next natural disaster — we have to practice together to ensure we’re able to react quickly in the future….not as strangers, but as friends who shared common experiences and training.” By Dialogo August 30, 2010last_img

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