Press release: Leader of the Commons to Chair Ministerial Group on Family Support from Conception to the Age of Two

first_imgThe review will build on recent government policy in this area including NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme, expanding provision for perinatal mental health care, building parents’ confidence to begin the learning process from the home, and supporting thousands of families with access to free childcare.This includes: I am delighted the Prime Minister has asked me to explore what more the government can do to ensure we act early to help every child get the best possible start in life. The vital importance of supporting the first 1,001 days from conception to the age of two has been a long-standing passion of mine. A baby’s earliest experiences determine their lifelong emotional health, so a secure early start can protect young people from later mental health problems and contribute significantly to reducing major social harms. I am greatly looking forward to exploring with ministerial colleagues what more the government can do to improve the cradle-to-grave effects that result from better outcomes in this critical period of our lives. Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP (Lord President of the Council, Leader of the House of Commons) Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) Justin Tomlinson MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance) Nadhim Zahawi MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families) Jackie Doyle-Price MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities) Rishi Sunak MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Local Government) Notes to editorsThe membership of the cross-party working group will be: The Prime Minister has asked Andrea Leadsom MP to chair a cross-government ministerial group, which will seek to identify gaps in available provision and make recommendations on how coordination across departments can be improved.Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP said: record investment in early years education and childcare support of around £6 billion by 2020 £365 million investment to enable 30,000 more women to access appropriate, high-quality specialist perinatal mental health care by 2020/21 15 hours per week of free early education for disadvantaged two-year-olds – nearly 750,000 children have benefited from this support ensuring parents in this critical period can benefit from up to £39 million being invested to reduce parental conflict through evidence-based intervention For media enquiries, please contact [email protected]last_img read more

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Laying some groundwork for environmental protection

first_img A soft touch Related Pneumatic digital logic eliminates the last hard components from robots Army of micro-robots could inspect complex machines without dismantling them In many scenarios for environmental protection or restoration, the opportunity for action is limited by the availability of human labor and by site access for heavy machinery. Smaller, more versatile construction machines could provide a solution. “Clearly, the needs of many degraded landscapes are not being met with the currently available tools and techniques,” said Melenbrink. “Now, 100 years after the dawn of the heavy equipment age, we’re asking whether there might be more resilient and responsive ways to approach land management and restoration.”“This sheet pile driving robot, with its demonstrated ability to perform in a natural setting, signals a path on which the Wyss Institute’s robotics and swarm robotics capabilities can be brought to bear on both natural and man-made environments where conventional machinery, manpower limitations, or cost is inadequate to prevent often disastrous consequences,” said Wyss Institute Director Donald Ingber, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the vascular biology program at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as professor of bioengineering at SEAS. “This robot also could address disaster situations where walling off dangerous chemical spills or released radioactive fluids make it difficult or impossible for humans to intervene.” Along developed riverbanks, physical barriers can help contain flooding and combat erosion. In arid regions, check dams can help retain soil after rainfall and restore damaged landscapes. In construction projects, metal plates can provide support for excavations, retaining walls on slopes, or permanent foundations.All of these applications can be addressed with the use of sheet piles, elements folded from flat material and driven vertically into the ground to form walls and stabilize soil. Proper soil stabilization is key to sustainable land management in industries such as construction, mining, and agriculture; and land degradation is a driver of climate change and is estimated to cost up to $10 trillion annually worldwide.With this motivation, a team of roboticists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has developed a robot that can autonomously drive interlocking steel sheet piles into soil. The structures it builds could function as retaining walls or check dams for erosion control. Their study will be presented at the upcoming 2019 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.Conventional sheet pile driving processes are extremely energy intensive. Only a fraction of the weight of typical heavy machinery is used for applying downward force. The Wyss team’s Romu robot, on the other hand, is able to leverage its own weight to drive sheet piles into the ground. This is possible because each of its four wheels is coupled to a separate linear actuator, which also allows it to adapt to uneven terrain and ensure that piles are driven vertically.From a raised position, Romu grips a sheet pile and then lowers its chassis, pressing the pile into the soil with the help of an onboard vibratory hammer. By gripping the pile again at a higher position and repeating this process, the robot can drive a pile much taller than its own range of vertical motion. After driving a pile to sufficient depth, Romu advances and installs the next pile such that it interlocks with the previous one, thereby forming a continuous wall. Once it has used all of the piles it carries, it returns to a supply cache to restock.The study grew out of previous work at the Wyss Institute on teams or swarms of robots for construction applications. In work inspired by mound-building termites, core faculty member and Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) Radhika Nagpal and senior research scientist Justin Werfel designed an autonomous robotic construction crew called TERMES, whose members function together to build complex structures from specialized bricks.,Further work by Werfel and researcher Nathan Melenbrink explored strut-climbing robots capable of building cantilevering truss structures to address applications like bridges. However, neither of these studies addressed the challenge of anchoring structures to the ground. The Romu project began as an exploration of methods for automated site preparation and installation of foundations for the earlier systems to build on; as it developed, the team determined that such interventions could also be directly applicable to land restoration tasks in remote environments.“In addition to tests in the lab, we demonstrated Romu operating on a nearby beach,” said Melenbrink. “This kind of demonstration can be an icebreaker for a broader conversation around opportunities for automation in construction and land management. We’re interested in engaging with experts in related fields who might see potential benefit for the kind of automated interventions we’re developing.”The researchers envision large numbers of Romu robots working together as a collective or swarm. They demonstrated in computer simulations that teams of Romu robots could make use of environmental cues like slope steepness in order to build walls in diverse locations, making efficient use of limited resources. “The swarm approach gives advantages like speed-up through parallelism, robustness to the loss of individual robots, and scalability for large teams,” said Werfel. “By responding in real time to the conditions they actually encounter as they work, the robots can adapt to unexpected or changing situations without needing to rely on a lot of supporting infrastructure for abilities like site surveying, communication, or localization.”“The name Terramanus ferromurus (Romu) is a nod to the concept of ‘machine ecology,’ in which autonomous systems can be introduced into natural environments as new participants, taking specific actions to complement and promote human environmental stewardship,” said Melenbrink.In the future, the Terramanus “genus” could be extended by additional robots carrying out different tasks to protect or restore ecosystem services, which are the direct or indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. Based on their findings, the team now is interested in investigating interventions ranging from groundwater retention structures for supporting agriculture in arid regions to responsive flood-barrier construction for hurricane preparedness. Future versions of the robot could perform other interventions, such as spraying soil-binding agents or installing silt fencing, so that a family of these robots could act to stabilize soil in a wide range of situations. Robots with sticky feet can go where humans can’tlast_img read more

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NIGERIA’S FAMILIAR POST WORLD CUP BLUES

first_imgDURO’S RUSSIA NOTES…How can one begin to explain to foreigners that what is going on in our country about the purported sack of Amaju Melvin Pinnick through Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung’s interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment has become a ritual every four years at the Nigeria Football Federation? Since the story hit the airwaves, some of the African journalists here in Russia for the World Cup have been asking Nigerian sportswriters what was going on in our country? Are we ashamed? Of course, we are not only ashamed of the developments back home but no longer know what to say each time we come in contact with these our colleagues. There is this particular Ghanaian reporter who came in from the USA for the Mundial but is equally feeling bad that Nigeria like her country, Ghana has become the butt of jokes amongst our colleagues from Europe who we all hang out in the same section of the Media Centre of the St Petersburg Stadium.“Every four years since 2006, Nigeria is always in the news for the wrong reason. Each time your team returns from the World Cup, it is always, war, war, war. Are you people never tired of playing politics with your football?” queried the lady as none of us have any answer to her query. How do I begin to tell her that instead of genuine football administrators, what we have in Nigeria are men (and women) who think of their stomach alone? Though she admitted that Ghana has problems with Kwesi Nyantakyi who has been forced to step down from the GFA job but quickly stressed that what made the CAF vice president to quit was no related to the kind of intrigues that have plaqued Nigerian football since 2005 when Ibrahim Galadima was forced out of the Glass House for dare telling stakeholders that Eagles qualification for the 2006 World Cup was not a birthright but through hard work. Ever since, Nigeria football has known no peace since then as new personnel are always (forced?) on the Glass House immediately Super Eagles return from a misadventure at the Mundial. It was like that in 2010, 2014 and now 2018. Instead of doing a post-mortem of why Eagles failed to achieve the dream of 180million Nigerians, a tiny fraction of the stakeholders who have access to the seat of power in Abuja, always seize the rein of office from incumbent NFF presidents through trumped up charges to force their exits. It was like that in the case of Galadima (Eagles never made it to Germany 2006, anyway), Sani Lulu Abdullahi (2010), Aminu Maigari (2014) and now Pinnick (2018).To answer my Ghanaian colleague here in Russia on her inquiry on whether our stakeholders will never get tired of intrigues, I want to say here that so long as we have never fully abrogated the NFA Decree 101 that makes the federation an arm of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and by extension, the sitting minister the ‘Oga in Charge’ there will never be peace. And also, so long as the government keeps appointing men who do not know how many players make up a basketball team as sports ministers, we will keep having the type of situations we now finds ourselves after Russia 2018.It is no ordinary that the NFA bill has been ‘stuck’ in the National Assembly for decades. The will to take Nigerian football away from government interference is lacking in the country. Football is seen as the ‘king of sports’ and that the Ministry of Sports will become uninteresting for whosoever that is appointed to oversee the place without football. The money in football is too tempting for any minister not to get involve in the affairs of football.Instead of seeing football as business and allow the Beautiful Game to flourish as it is happening in saner climes, only ‘politically corrected’ elements are fostered to govern it. For once, an individual like Pinnick who has brought some elements of business into the administration of the NFF by attracting multi-nationals and big corporate players to partner it, is been hounded out of the place through unnecessary litigations. I truly share the sentiments of those angry that Eagles failed to fly in Russia despite the quantum of support extended to the team.I am also of the opinion that unless we allow the structures put in place now to take proper roots, Nigeria may never truly realize her potentials in global soccer. A change of guard now will not only take our football back by over a decade, we may just be on the edge of a lengthy sanction from the world governing body, FIFA. And the rest of the world will not wait for Nigeria to do the catch up. Who wanna take a bet that this situation will play out again (that is if Eagles qualify) when we return from Qatar 2022 World Cup?Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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