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Solvency II is currently one of the most sophisticated insurance regulatory regimes in the world. It is built around the principles of market consistency and embedding strong risk management and governance within insurance companies. For business with long-term guarantees, the original basis produced outcomes that were unacceptable to the member states. The original design was amended through Omnibus II. The working party has looked back at the outcome of the final regulation and comments on how well Solvency II has fared, principally from a UK perspective, relative to its initial goals of improved consumer protection, harmonisation, effective risk management and financial stability. We review Pillar 1’s market consistent valuation (including the risk margin and transitional measures) as well as the capital requirements (including internal models). We look at the impact this has on asset and liability management, pro-cyclicality and product design. We look at Pillars 2 and 3 in respect of the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment, liquidity and disclosure. Finally, we stand back and look at harmonisation and the implications of Brexit. In summary we conclude that Solvency II represents a huge improvement over Solvency I although it has not fully achieved the goals it aspired to. There are acknowledged shortfalls and imperfections where adjustments to Solvency II are likely. There remain other concerns around pro-cyclicality, and the appropriateness of market consistency is still open to criticism. It is hoped that the paper and the discussion that goes with it provide an insight into where Solvency II has taken European Insurance regulation and the directions in which it could evolve.
With respect to human health, nutritional guidelines emphasise on increasing the ratio poly-unsaturated/saturated fatty acids (P/S) (> 0.7) and reducing the n-6/n-3 ratio (< 5). Beef is generally characterised by a low P/S ratio (0.1), while the n-6/n-3 ratio may vary between 2 and 10 depending on the feeding strategy. Hence, the provision of n-3 fatty acids by the diet is crucial for optimising the fatty acid composition of meat. However, PUFA are hydrolysed and subsequently hydrogenated in the rumen to more saturated fatty acids and intermediates that are absorbed from the intestinal tract and transported to the tissues. Lipolysis and hydrogenation may thus affect the meat fatty acid composition. For ruminants, important sources of linolenic acid (C18:3n-3) are linseed and fresh grass. Prior to use in animal nutrition, linseed needs physical treatment like extrusion or crushing. The aim of the present in vitro experiment was to study lipolysis and biohydrogenation of linoleic acid (C18:2n-6) and C18:3n-3 in fresh grass and extruded or crushed linseed products.
Belgian beef production is mainly using double-muscled Belgian Blue animals finished indoors on all-concentrate diets or high-concentrate/maize silage diets. In relation to consumer health and in order to improve the “functional food” value of beef, it is attempted to increase its n-3 PUFA content using linseed or grass and grass silage in the fattening diet. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of feeding grass or linseed at different stages of the production period on the intramuscular PUFA content of Belgian double-muscled beef.
We explore the implications of sequential presidential primary elections for turnout in selecting the presidential party nominees. Drawing from a micro-level theory of participation in sequential elections, we develop a set of aggregate-level hypotheses that tease out different ways that candidate mobilization efforts as well as the legal and institutional structures within a sequential contest influence turnout in presidential nomination contests. Using data from all state primary elections from 1972–2016, we find that electorates facing winnowed candidate pools, and those with contests after the effective endings to presidential contests have substantially reduced turnout that effectively disenfranchises voters in many states. Sequenced primary elections lead to lower overall turnout and less meaningful participation for many voters during presidential nominations contests.
This study describes epidemiological trends for acute rotavirus gastroenteritis (RVGE) in Belgium in children aged ⩽5 years during the period June 2007 to May 2014 after the introduction of routine rotavirus (RV) vaccination. This period encompassed the switch from lyophilized to the liquid formulation of Rotarix™ (GlaxoSmithKline, Belgium) in August 2011. Uptake of RV vaccine remained consistently high throughout the study period with Rotarix the brand most often used. RV was present in 9% (1139/12 511) of hospitalized cases with acute gastroenteritis included in the study. Epidemiological trends for hospital admissions for RVGE remained consistent throughout the study period, with no evidence of any change associated with the switch from lyophilized to liquid formulation of Rotarix. This suggests both formulations perform similarly, with the liquid formulation not inferior regarding ability to reduce hospital admissions for acute RVGE in children aged ⩽5 years. A strong seasonal effect was observed with most RVGE occurring in the winter months but with some variability in intensity, with highest incidence found in those aged 6–24 months. The main observation was the decreased number of hospital admissions for RVGE in Belgium that occurred during winter 2013/2014.
Indigenous Australians have high rates of chronic diseases, the causes of which are complex and include social and environmental determinants. Early experiences in utero may also predispose to later-life disease development. The Gomeroi gaaynggal study was established to explore intrauterine origins of renal disease, diabetes and growth in order to inform the development of health programmes for Indigenous Australian women and children. Pregnant women are recruited from antenatal clinics in Tamworth, Newcastle and Walgett, New South Wales, Australia, by Indigenous research assistants. Measures are collected at three time points in pregnancy and from women and their children at up to eight time points in the child’s first 5 years. Measures of fetal renal development and function include ultrasound and biochemical biomarkers. Dietary intake, infant feeding and anthropometric measurements are collected. Standardized procedures and validated tools are used where available. Since 2010 the study has recruited over 230 women, and retained 66 postpartum. Recruitment is ongoing, and Gomeroi gaaynggal is currently the largest Indigenous pregnancy-through-early-childhood cohort internationally. Baseline median gestational age was 39.1 weeks (31.5–43.2, n=110), median birth weight was 3180 g (910–5430 g, n=110). Over one third (39.3%) of infants were admitted to special care or neonatal nursery. Nearly half of mothers (47.5%) reported tobacco smoking during pregnancy. Results of the study will contribute to knowledge about origins of chronic disease in Indigenous Australians and nutrition and growth of women and their offspring during pregnancy and postpartum. Study strengths include employment and capacity-building of Indigenous staff and the complementary ArtsHealth programme.
Weed infestation is a major yield-reducing factor that also decreases crop water productivity. Yet weeds are often neglected in crop productivity simulation studies, because existing empirical equations and mechanistic models are not widely applicable or have a high demand for input data and calibration. For that reason, AquaCrop, a widely applicable crop water productivity model, was expanded with a weed management module which requires only two easily obtainable input variables: (i) relative leaf cover of weeds, and (ii) weed-induced increase of total canopy cover. Using these inputs, AquaCrop directly simulates soil water content, crop canopy development and production as it is observed in weed-infested fields. Despite this simple approach, AquaCrop performed well to simulate soil water content in the root zone (relative root-mean-square error (RRMSE) of 5–13%), canopy cover (RRMSE of 15–22%), dry above-ground crop biomass during the season (RRMSE of 21–39%) and at maturity (RRMSE of 5–6%) and yield (RRMSE of 11–25%) of barley and wheat grown under different weed infestation levels and environments. The current study illustrates that the AquaCrop model can be used to assess the effect of weed infestation on crop growth and production, using a simple approach that is applicable to diverse environmental and agronomic conditions, even in data-scarce regions.
Most crop models make use of a nutrient-balance approach for modelling crop response to soil fertility. To counter the vast input data requirements that are typical of these models, the crop water productivity model AquaCrop adopts a semi-quantitative approach. Instead of providing nutrient levels, users of the model provide the soil fertility level as a model input. This level is expressed in terms of the expected impact on crop biomass production, which can be observed in the field or obtained from statistics of agricultural production. The present study is the first to describe extensively, and to calibrate and evaluate, the semi-quantitative approach of the AquaCrop model, which simulates the effect of soil fertility stress on crop production as a combination of slower canopy expansion, reduced maximum canopy cover, early decline in canopy cover and lower biomass water productivity. AquaCrop's fertility response algorithms are evaluated here against field experiments with tef (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) in Ethiopia, with maize (Zea mays L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in Nepal, and with quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) in Bolivia. It is demonstrated that AquaCrop is able to simulate the soil water content in the root zone, and the crop's canopy development, dry above-ground biomass development, final biomass and grain yield, under different soil fertility levels, for all four crops. Under combined soil water stress and soil fertility stress, the model predicts final grain yield with a relative root-mean-square error of only 11–13% for maize, wheat and quinoa, and 34% for tef. The present study shows that the semi-quantitative soil fertility approach of the AquaCrop model performs well and that the model can be applied, after case-specific calibration, to the simulation of crop production under different levels of soil fertility stress for various environmental conditions, without requiring detailed field observations on soil nutrient content.
Shocking moments in society create an extraordinary political environment that permits political and opinion changes that are unlikely during times of normal politics. Strong emotions felt by the public during catastrophes - even if experienced only vicariously through media coverage - are a powerful motivator of public opinion and activism. This is particularly true when emotional reactions coincide with attributing blame to governmental agencies or officials. By examining public opinion during one extraordinary event, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Lonna Rae Atkeson and Cherie D. Maestas show how media information interacts with emotion in shaping a wide range of political opinions about government and political leaders. Catastrophic events bring citizens together, provide common experiences and information, and create opinions that transcend traditional political boundaries. These moments encourage citizens to re-examine their understanding of government, its leaders and its role in a society from a less partisan perspective.