A Donegal TD has claimed that medical staff recruited up to nine months ago have not been allowed to start work in the health service because of an ongoing embargo. Independent TD Thomas Pringle said that in April the HSE had “to all intents and purposes” implemented a recruitment embargo that was supposed to end in mid-July but was still in place.He said the Government continued to deny the embargo but had introduced “interim controls” and “meanwhile the HSE is spending millions on agency staff to cover the recruitment freeze”. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar denied an embargo was in place as he told the Dáil that there were 317 patients on trolleys on Tuesday afternoon after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) released figures that there were 679 patients on trolleys in the morning, according to the Irish Times. Mr Varadkar said that since September 2018 there had been an increase in staffing levels with 125 more consultants, 189 more registrars and 301 more clinical nurse managers along with 143 more nurses and midwife specialists and 1111 more staff nurses and midwives.But Mr Varadkar insisted there had been more recruitments but added that “what is no longer permitted is HSE managers taking on staff if they do not have the budget to pay them”.Mr Varadkar acknowledged to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald that there was still a severe overcrowding problem in Irish hospitals but he said the number of beds had been increasing every year since 2014 and was now back at pre-recession levels. Medical staff unable to work due to “ongoing embargo”, Donegal TD claims was last modified: November 6th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Deputy Thomas PringleLetterkenny University Hospital
A fly eye made the cover of Science this week.1 It’s not that the compound eye is interesting to entomologists; MSNBC News picked up on the real message: “Animal eyes inspire new technology – Researchers learn optics lessons from biology.” The cover story is about biomimetics, or reverse-engineering nature. Scientists are looking for ways to imitate the energy-efficient, densely-packed, space-saving technologies exhibited in animal eyes to improve artificial sensors, microscopes and cameras. The authors of the cover story explained their mission:Observing systems in nature has inspired humans to create technological tools that allow us to better understand and imitate biology. Biomimetics, in particular, owes much of its current development to advances in materials science and creative optical system designs. New investigational tools, such as those for microscopic imaging and chemical analyses, have added to our understanding of biological optics. Biologically inspired optical science has become the emerging topic among researchers and scientists.From the ten kinds of visual systems featured among living animals, scientists will have to start easy. They won’t attempt to model the complex retinal eyes of mammals or cephalopods, but will start with the prism-like compound eyes of insects. In the article, the eyes of various animals are described, as well as properties of our own human variety. Lobster eyes might help us build better X-ray telescopes. Brittlestars might help us focus light with liquids. Beetles might help us build better infrared sensors. The possibilities seem endless; improvements in cameras and sensing devices are just some examples of benefits to be gained from searching “nature’s wisdom.” The authors conclude that the time is ripe for a creative synergy between man and beast:Imitating nature is a complex endeavor, and a blind biomimetic approach is not the best methodology. Instead, molecular-level studies of the biological development of natural vision systems are key. For example, current infrared sensors can distinguish more than what human eyes can see, but they require a sophisticated cooling system to work. Somehow, insects have this same ability without the limitation of temperature control. This is but one example of how it is primarily nature’s designs that are superior to man-made equivalents. However, if we are able to decode the designs, then the combination of our creativity in materials and nature’s wisdom is [a] synergistic one with incredible potential.In another article in the same issue,2 George Mayer (U of Washington) discussed efforts to mimic the rigid composite materials found in molluscs and sponges. The biological materials are enviable because of their viscoelastic properties, ability to resist the propagation of cracks, and ability to sustain loads without strain. Mimicking those properties are challenging enough, but living systems have abilities far more interesting. Mayer ended: “Of immense significance, too, are features that have been observed, but researchers have thus far been unable to replicate in synthetic systems, such as the ability for self-repair and the exceptional tenacity at interfaces.”1Luke P. Lee and Robert Szema, “Inspirations from Biological Optics for Advanced Photonic Systems,” Science, 18 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5751, pp. 1148 – 1150; DOI: 10.1126/science.1115248.2George Mayer, “Rigid Biological Systems as Models for Synthetic Composites,” Science, 18 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5751, pp. 1144 – 1147, DOI: 10.1126/science.1116994.There was no mention of evolution in thess papers; not even of natural selection, Darwin, or millions of years. Who needs it? This is the cutting-edge of science and technology for the 21st century: a design-inspired approach to science that not only will bring exciting new benefits to society but will help us “understand and imitate biology.” This is exactly the kind of “methodological engineering” that William Dembski predicted in The Design Revolution (IVP, 2004, p. 312) would show that ID has the power to generate fruitful research. If you are a tired Darwinist reading this, here is your way out. Kick the Charlie habit and get in on the leading edge of biomimetics. No more need for storytelling or fantasizing – just real-world research with “incredible potential” – and it looks incredibly fun, too. It will push technology to the limit. Field biologists can still go out and collect species for study, but now with a new vision instead of force-fitting everything into imaginary phylogenetic trees. Lab technicians can devise new ways to measure and study phenomena. Profs and grad students can stay gainfully busy. It’s the cure for overspecialization: think of the new interdisciplinary labs that could be built (10/29/2005). Dollars and research papers will flow. The government would love to fund this kind of research. If you can propose spin-offs for the military, antiterrorism, medicine, or “green” technology, your future is secure. It will take the pressure off the origins battle. Politicians, theologians, teachers and the public will love you for it. It’s a complete win-win situation for science and for humankind, while old worries about Darwinism, like dead autumn leaves, will simply drop off and wither away for historians to sweep up.(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Bob Kroeger grew up in Youngstown and spent his career as a dentist in a Cincinnati suburb. So why is he interested in the old barns of rural Ohio?“It was like an epiphany. My wife and I were on vacation in Licking County. We drove down an old country road toward our bed and breakfast. There at the intersection on top of a little hill was an old gray barn. There were boards missing and the roof was sagging and it was like a thunderbolt hit me right between the eyes and a voice came to me. I don’t know where it came from. It said, ‘You’re going to paint this barn and write about it,’” Kroeger said. “The next morning we went to the farmhouse and an old man came to the door. I tried to explain what I wanted to do. Eventually he loosened up and told me the history of the barn. That was the start of it. That was in 2012.”Kroeger had done a fair amount of writing, but never painted much, though his father had been a commercial artist.“I started painting when I was four with my father. I remember I got spanking after I had played with my father’s paints and left them open,” he said. “I hadn’t really done much painting since then, though. So after I saw that barn, I started a lot of drawing — you have to be able to draw to paint. I took some workshops and practiced drawings. My main ambition was not to do this from a commercial standpoint but rather a historic preservation standpoint.”For his painting, Kroeger uses palette knives and oil paint in the oil impasto technique on canvas or Masonite panels.“Impasto oil is thick and the painting must be completed in one or two sittings, as long as the second is close behind the first,” he said. “Unlike traditional oil painting, the thickness of impasto makes the paint harden relatively quickly, meaning that the artist can’t return and continue or change it a few days or weeks later like with traditional oil.”The thick paint reflects light in different ways because it protrudes from the canvas and it can change in appearance at different times of day or in different lighting. When possible, he uses wood from the barn to frame its painted image.“I make the frame and cut the Masonite to fit the frame and paint on it. I learned how to trim the old wood, cut the rabbet, and assemble a frame and, after mistakes and incorrect measurements, I gained respect for this craft,” he said. “Since I’m trying to preserve Ohio history in this project, the barn’s own wood adds another dimension to the painting. Actually, even though it takes a long time to make a barn wood frame from rustic lumber, it gives me a lot of joy, which I didn’t expect at first.”Kroeger painted a picture of that old barn he calls Granville Gray and he has gone on to preserve many other barns through his oil-painted portraits.“My goal is to go to each of Ohio’s 88 counties, paint some barns and preserve history,” he said. “I have never been much of a history student, but I now appreciate what the pioneers in Ohio did. They were very courageous in coming out here looking for new lands. Sometimes they lived in the barn. The barn was the moneymaker so to speak. They cleverly constructed the barns using correct woods and putting up barns that hold together to this day. They knew a lot more than people today think they did. Without them we wouldn’t have Ohio. It is part of the past I’d like to preserve.”At first, Kroeger would set out into the wilds of rural Ohio searching for barns to document on his own, but found that it was not a very efficient way to operate.“I started driving around looking for barns and stopping to talk to the owners. It was difficult to do it that way and, technically, I was trespassing,” Kroeger said. “So I started to send out feelers to historic societies. Then Highland County connected me with a ‘barn scout’ — she worked for USDA and knew everyone in the northern part of the county.”It was in Highland County where Kroeger decided to add another layer to his art. He had been looking for a way he could give back to the communities he was getting to visit through his new endeavor. He decided he wanted to sell his paintings at an event in the community with a portion of the proceeds going to a local charity.“I didn’t know much about 4-H, having been a suburban kid. I went to the county fair and watched the goat show competition. I saw kids who were clean cut and wholesome-looking and they weren’t glued to their smart phones. It was like going in a time machine back to 1955 when I was kid. I decided to do it for them,” he said. “I did a dozen paintings of Highland County barns. The next spring we did a fundraiser for them and half the proceeds went to 4-H. We raised about a third of their annual auction and it made me feel good. And, when my essays about the barns were in the local paper, people in the county found out things about their neighbors’ barns they never knew and they really enjoyed that.”He has painted between 300 and 400 barns. With some experience now, Kroeger has a fairly set process. It starts with a non-profit to benefit from the proceeds and the help of a “barn scout.”“I’ll come to your county and do paintings of your barns if there’s a person in your community, someone passionate about old barns, who can help me,” he said. “The barn scout locates about eight to 12 old barns.”The barn scout needs to:• Contact the barn owners for permission to paint a picture of the barn.• Get pictures of the barns and send them to Kroeger.• Ask the barn owners about the barn’s history or some interesting stories.• See if the barn owners can supply some wood siding.• Spend a day with Kroeger touring the county while he does sketches, takes photos and make notes.• Help identify a local charity.Kroeger especially likes barns with weathered siding, bowed roofs, warped and missing boards, and hand-hewn beams built prior to 1930.“I have learned that people love their barns and they hate to see them go. Some of them get converted to other uses but some can’t do that,” he said. “I want it to represent what the barn is. Especially if it is torn down soon after, I feel like I am preserving a memory. I love every painting that I do. I meet new people and most of the people I meet are very good, hardworking, trustworthy people. I enjoy that part of it too. But mostly, I just want to preserve these barns before they are gone.”His paintings and contact information can be found on two websites: barnart.weebly.com and robertkroeger.com.
China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera Creamline tests Adamson-Akari Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next San Miguel Beer clamped down hard on TNT KaTropa in the second half on Friday night to complete a rally from 15 points down and move within a win of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title after a 111-102 triumph that highlighted the talent of a franchise working on building a modern-day dynasty.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games Alex Cabagnot scored 12 points in the fourth period, Arwind Santos had 20 of 27 in the second half and the San Miguel defense held the Texters to just 41 points in the final two quarters at Smart Araneta Coliseum.“This game proves the saying that defense wins championships,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “They worked together on defense. That’s the character of this team, the character that gave us our first championship together.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsAfter allowing Ranidel de Ocampo 19 first-half points that powered the Texters to a 61-46 lead at the half, the Beermen held the many-time national team member scoreless in the final two periods while also making life hell for Jason Castro in the same stretch.San Miguel now has two chances to wrap this thing up and snap a 17-year title drought in this tournament—starting with Game 6 on Sunday. View comments MOST READ Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena What ‘missteps’? Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. But, more importantly, a title here puts the Beermen in line for a second Grand Slam.“This is not over yet,” Austria warned, even as TNT coach Nash Racela is looking at one key statistic that did them in.“We have to limit our turnovers,” Racela said after his charges committed 24 total blunders. “Again, the goal is to get to a Game 7. Our emotions cannot be dictated [by the result] of this game. We have to be focused on the next game.”ADVERTISEMENT
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netAfter Letran finished the first round with a 5-4 slate, coach Jeff Napas said there was still a lot to be desired with the way his team is playing this NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament.“I’m still not satisfied because I feel that we still lack effort. We’re still not giving a total team effort. That’s going to be our focus in the second round,” the Knights mentor said in Filipino.ADVERTISEMENT Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR “We shouldn’t use that as an excuse. It’s a matter of stepping up from whoever I pull from our bench,” he said.As disheartening as the defeat was, Napa said that the Knights’ final game of the first round should serve as a lesson for his bench.“My bench players didn’t step up. We still depend on our main guys to play heavy minutes and that’s where we suffered,” he said. “But the players are still positive. We just have to adjust and check the mindset of our players, especially the ones on the bench, for them to recall their roles.”Napa ended: “Every game, we learn a lot. It’s all a matter of executing our game plan. That’s what we want to achieve, that for our bench players to compliment our main guys.”ADVERTISEMENT Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games LATEST STORIES Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Calisaan shocked by ejection, rues missed chance to play on home floor Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim MOST READ Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Down at the cellar at one point of the season at 1-3, Letran has went on to rack up four straight victories before Lyceum halted that run, 75-68, on Friday.It was undeniable that Jeo Ambohot’s wrist injury, which he got in the Knights’ last game against San Sebastian, may have had a hand in the recent loss as the team scampered to fill up the hole left in the middle.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games opening“It’s a big factor that we lost Jeo because he’s part of our rotation. We’re losing eight points, eight rebounds, and three blocks from him,” said the multi-titled coach.However, Napa argued that it wasn’t an excuse for Letran to be in disarray, as evidenced in the defeat to the Pirates where big men Daryl Pascual and Irvin Mandreza both fouled out of the game. View comments
She has been the bridesmaid for some time now, but not anymore.In a display which went beyond her expectations, qualifier Arundhati Pantwane came up with a gritty show to enter the final of the Senior National Badminton Championships here on Sunday.Down a match point against Tata International Open winner PC Thulasi, the tall 22- year-old showed resilience to put it across her much fancied opponent as she scripted a 21-14, 19-21, 24-22 victory. Arundhati who hails from Nagpur but trains at the Gopi Chand Academy in Hyderabad has had a brilliant run in these championships. In fact, she has not lost a single match in the open events and the team championships. This run also includes her win over top seed Trupti Murgunde.In the other semi-final, defending champion Aditi Mutatkar overcame Neha Pandit 21-15, 18-21, 21-13. The men’s singles final will be played between Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Periapalli Kashyap and veteran Arvind Bhatt. Kashyap showed his fighting quality as he made light of the loss in the opening game to the up and coming Andhra Pradesh youngster Sai Praneeth. In fact, it was the experience of Kashyap which made all the difference as he won 18-21, 21-14, 21-19.Arundhati’s decision to arrive here on December 31 in a bid to acclimatise with the cold conditions seemed to have worked in her favour as she showed that her will to win was strong as she saved a couple of match points in the second game. Earlier, Arundhati caused the upset of the tournament when she beat top seed Trupti Murgunde in the quarter- finals.advertisement”It is a great feeling right now. I had come here to give a good account of myself. Now I find myself on the threshold of winning my maiden National title. The feeling is yet to sink in,” she said. She added that there was still some work to be completed.” I have got one more match to win.So there is no time for celebration. I will have to be at my best against Aditi,” she said. In the other semi-final, defending champion Aditi Mutatkar had to fight hard before putting it across Neha Pandit.In the men’s semi-final Periapalli Kashyap had to dig deep before prevailing over practice partner Sai Praneeth. Praneeth scored repeatedly with his smashes and deceitful dribbles at the net. Once he won the opener 21- 18, he raised visions of a great upset.But Kashyap worked his way out of trouble with some flat flicks and hard smashes. He won the second and third games to enter his maiden National final. In the other semi- final, Arvind Bhatt made it to his fifth National final quelling the it to women’s challenge of a gritty Saurabh Verma.Results: Men’s ( semi- finals): 8- Arvind Bhatt bt 5- Saurabh Varma 21- 15, 13- 21, 21- 9; 13- P Kashyap bt 16- P Sai Praneeth 18- 21, 21- 14, 21- 19; ( quarter- finals): Varma bt 1- Chetan Anand 16- 21, 21- 7, 22- 20; Bhat bt Pratul Joshi 21- 18, 21- 7; Kashyap bt 7- Ajay Jayaram 21- 10, 21- 14; Praneeth bt 15- Guru Sai Dutt 21- 14, 21- 19.Women’s singles ( semifinals): Arundhati Pantawane bt 1- Trupti Murgunde 21- 14, 19- 21, 24- 22; 7- Aditi Mutatkar bt 3- Neha Pandit 21- 15, 18- 21, 21- 13; ( quarterfinals): Arundhati bt 6- PV Sindhu 9- 21, 24- 22, 21- 18; Thulasi bt 5- Anita Ohlan 21- 19, 21- 16; Neha bt Gauri Ghate 21- 12, 21- 18; Aditi bt 2- Sayali Gokhale 21- 15, 21- 17.
TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Alaba backing Bayern Munich move for Atletico Madrid defender Lucasby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBayern Munich wing-back David Alaba is backing their move for Atletico Madrid defender Lucas Hernandez.Even though Alaba plays at left-back, a position where the France international could earn minutes, the Austrian would be keen to see him sign.”He is certainly a good player,” he told BILD.”If he wasn’t then Bayern wouldn’t be interested in him.”I am sure he would be capable of helping us.”Addressing the potential competition for left-back minutes that this signing could provoke, Alaba explained that he isn’t worried.”I know that left-back works for me, but at this time I wouldn’t be worried about changing to a midfield position,” he stated.
Screening will be conducted under the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme (JCECP), at several health facilities in St. Elizabeth, between June 3 and 7, beginning at 9:30 a.m.Persons will be screened for cataracts, pterygium (fleshy growth on the eye), and diabetic eye disease.The tests will be done at the Balaclava Health Centre on June 3; Lacovia Health Centre, June 4; Black River Health Centre, June 5; Southfield Health Centre, June 6, and the Junction Health Centre, June 7.“Persons are asked to visit the health centres prior to the screening dates to pre-register,” stated Co-ordinator of the JCECP, Gregory Thomas, in an interview with JIS News.Mr. Thomas noted that no screening will take place at the National Chest Hospital in Kingston, during the period June 3 to 7.“The public is advised that the programme is not in a position at this time to provide assistance to persons seeking treatment for conditions not listed, nor those seeking treatment for children. Persons are also asked to take along a referral from a public health facility and a valid identification (passport, driver’s licence, national ID, or a certified passport size photograph with TRN),” he said.The Co-ordinator said persons selected through the screening process will be asked to provide two contact telephone numbers.He pointed out that the public will receive notification on other upcoming screening sessions, and that persons can get more information at the health centres, at the offices at 948-0017/ 924-9287, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Since the inception of the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme in January 2010, over 17,500 persons have been screened for cataracts, pterygium and diabetic eye disease at over 50 locations across the island.Just under 5,000 surgeries have been performed on approximately 4,000 persons, with cataract removal accounting for over 50 per cent of the surgeries. The Ophthalmology centre based in Kingston, has received more than 44,000 since 2010.“I want to remind members of the public that the services offered by the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme are free to all. Persons who have been previously screened, but are awaiting appointments need not visit the screening sessions slated for St. Elizabeth in June. They should instead await a call from our programme officer to inform them of their appointment date. If any of our current patients have changed their telephone numbers since registering under the programme, they should call our office to update their records,” Mr. Thomas said.Contact: Garfield L. Angus
zoomIllustration. Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license Containership charter owner Global Ship Lease has secured a term loan of up to USD 37 million from Hellenic Bank Public Company Limited.The facility agreement was signed on Many 23, 2019, and would be used to partially finance the acquisition of three 7,849 TEU containerships, according to the company.The Hellenic Bank Facility is available in three tranches, that have a final maturity date of the earlier of November 30, 2024 and the fifth anniversary of the utilization date of such tranche. The loan is repayable in equal quarterly installments with a bullet payment of USD 4 million at its maturity.Once fully drawn, the Hellenic Bank Facility will be secured by first priority ship mortgages on the three acquired vessels, assignments of earnings, insurances and charters exceeding 11 months, as well as pledges of certain bank accounts and membership interests of each subsidiary acquiring a secured vessel.To remind, Global Ship Lease agreed to expand its fleet with the three 2004-built Post-Panamax containerships earlier this month. The company would pay USD 48.5 million for the trio, being acquired from Bremen-based ship owner Zeaborn GmbH, according to VesselsValue data. The vessels in question are the MSC Ningbo, E.R. Montecito and E.R. Santa Barbara.Upon delivery at the end of May, the first vessel commence a five-year charter with Danish shipping major Maersk Line. The two other vessels are expected to join their new owner during the third quarter and will commence three-year charters with Maersk Line, with two consecutive one-year extensions at the charterer’s option.
WASHINGTON – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates are up for the fourth consecutive week, with the key 30-year rate reaching its highest level since May.Costs for would-be homebuyers continue to climb. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.65 per cent, from 4.60 per cent last week. The average rate has increased from 3.83 per cent a year ago.The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.11 per cent this week from 4.06 per cent last week.The primary factors driving rates higher include the strong economy, trade tensions between the U.S. and other countries, and the U.S. government stepping up sales of its debt, according to Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater.The expanded U.S. debt sales suppress Treasury bond prices and push their interest rates higher. The yield on the key 10-year Treasury note has been running above 3 per cent, approaching a seven-year high. The yield jumped to 3.08 per cent Wednesday, from 2.96 per cent a week earlier. It held at 3.08 per cent Thursday morning.The higher mortgage rates “represent continued affordability challenges for prospective buyers — especially first-time buyers,” Khater said.To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year mortgages also remained at 0.5 point.The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages edged down to 3.92 per cent from 3.93 per cent last week. The fee rose to 0.4 point from 0.3 point.