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Young critics of Venezuela government put hope in elections

first_imgOpposition candidate Jose Guerra, center, prepares his mobile for a selfie with supporters during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. According to Venezuela’s constitution, elections for the National Assembly must be held by year’s end. Although no date has been set, polls show the opposition would coast to victory if the vote were held today. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Rico is working to persuade voters to turn out on Sunday, but like many in the opposition, he doubts the upcoming elections will be fair and fears Maduro will curtail the National Assembly’s power if the ruling party loses its majority. If he can’t achieve the change he wants through the ballot box, he knows what he’ll do.“We have to show our discontent in elections. And if they don’t respect the vote, we’ll be in the street again,” he said.___AP Writer Fabiola Sanchez contributed to this report.___Follow Hannah Dreier on Twitter: Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies This year’s opposition primaries are actually slightly more open than usual. In 2010, coalition leaders pre-selected candidates for all but 22 congressional seats. Just 10 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in those primaries. Turnout this time is expected to be even lower because of a lack of publicity.By contrast, the socialist party will hold primaries for nearly 100 seats this June, and has mandated that half of candidates be younger than 30, capitalizing on the power of the youth vote in a country where four out of 10 registered voters are younger than 35.Opposition legislator Enrique Marquez said the opposition is too broke to hold more primary contests. The coalition already is asking each candidate to contribute 150,000 bolivars, about $500 at the widely used black market exchange rate, to cover election costs.The opposition has also been battered by a steady government crackdown on its leaders and the closure or sale of combative media outlets. Some candidates in Sunday’s primaries are still jailed on charges related to last year’s protests, including Daniel Ceballos, the former mayor of the restive city of San Cristobal. In a quirk of Venezuelan law, a win could be a get-out-of-jail card for the 31-year-old politician because legislators receive immunity from prosecution during their terms. But positive polls don’t guarantee an electoral victory. The opposition mostly has benefited from discontent with the ruling party, and has not won its advantage through its own campaigning, said Luis Vicente Leon, director of local pollster Datanalisis.“The opposition’s opportunity is potential energy, and its challenge is to make it kinetic energy,” Leon wrote in a newspaper column this week, warning that the coalition won’t see results unless it works hard.The opposition might have fielded many more young candidates if it hadn’t decided to forgo primaries in most districts, a choice that upset emerging leaders like Rico who now must fight their way to the general election.The coalition is made up of dozens often disagreeing parties, and insiders hand-picked 125 candidates from their own political cliques to run against the socialist party in the general election, leaving just 42 slots up for grabs for the 109 candidates competing in Sunday’s primary.It’s another example of the discord that has hobbled the country’s opposition for years.“They could have said, ‘We’re going to go to full primaries across the country, we want to bring in students who were fighting for democracy last year,’ but they didn’t do that,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America. “It’s because they have a lot of politicians there who have a sense of entitlement. There are a couple dozen parties in the coalition, and they all have leaders and some want to be candidates.” 5 treatments for adult scoliosiscenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Last year, Rafael Rico was covering his baby face with a vinegar-soaked rag and dodging tear gas canisters as he clashed with Venezuelan riot police.This week, the 23-year-old engineering student is canvassing on the resort island of Margarita as he campaigns to represent the South American country’s opposition coalition in upcoming legislative elections.Rico is the youngest of a crop of new candidates who raged in the streets against Venezuela’s socialist administration last spring, but now are putting their faith in the ballot box as the best way to force President Nicolas Maduro from power. More than a third of the candidates running in the opposition coalition’s primary elections on Sunday are younger than 40. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   “You have to protest, but you also have to vote,” Rico said, borrowing from his stump speech. “The repression and human rights violations that we saw in 2014 showed that just going into the streets without also winning elections doesn’t give you the results you need.”Last year’s sometimes bloody demonstrations against the country’s mounting economic chaos petered out after a government crackdown. But the problems young people protested — including severe shortages and the world’s highest inflation — have only worsened amid a plunge in oil prices. Oil revenues fund almost all of Venezuela’s government spending.The country’s opposition coalition, which holds a third of the legislature, now has a shot at dominating an election for the first time since the late President Hugo Chavez launched his socialist revolution 16 years ago. If the coalition wins, it’s expected to use its legislative power to mount a recall referendum against Maduro.Elections for the National Assembly are scheduled every five years and must be held by the year’s end. The head of elections said last week that this year’s contest will be in late November or early December. Polls show the opposition coalition would win if the vote were held today. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Sydney waterfront hotels in foreign crosshairs

first_imgThe Ovolo Group, who bought the 1888 Hotel through property company CBRE group last weekend for AUD $33 million are also enquiring about buying the Blue Sydney, a hotel with prime waterfront views in Woolloomooloo. A number of foreign hotel groups including the Hong Kong based Ovolo Group are buying up Sydney’s waterfront hotels to strengthen their Australian presences. Source = ETB News: Tom Neale At one time, it was branded a W Hotel but the property has been on and off the market since Taj Group bought the hotel in late 2005 for AUD $36m, rebranding it the Blue Sydney.center_img 1888 was built by Michael Teplitsky and Darren Williams with design inspiration from Paul Fischmann, founder of 8Hotels. CBRE is currently marketing $200 million worth of hotel stock, particularly to interested Asian and Chinese buyers. last_img read more

Ocwen Awarded Top Servicing Performance Rating from Fannie Mae

first_img Ocwen Financial Corporation, a financial services holding company based in West Palm Beach, Florida, has announced that the company was named a Fannie Mae Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards (STAR) Performer for 2017. The STAR Program recognition is reserved for top performing servicers within one or more of three STAR Performer categories: general servicing, solution delivery, and timeline management. For the 2017 STAR Program year, Ocwen received a STAR Performer for general servicing, solution delivery, and timeline management.“We are extremely proud to receive the STAR award from Fannie Mae across all three categories,” said Scott Anderson, EVP and Chief Servicing Officer of Ocwen. “This recognition is another proof point of our team members’ high standards, accountability, and commitment to service excellence as well as the company’s focus on continuous improvement in our systems and processes.”The STAR Program is based on a continuous improvement model designed to consistently “raise the bar.” STAR Performers are identified using operational assessment results based on Servicer Capability Model ratings across each key functional area, including a review of relevant people strategies, processes, and applicable metrics.According to Fannie Mae’s official website for the program, the STAR Program is a performance management and recognition program based on a consistently applied framework to clearly define industry standards and leading practices. The program seeks to align servicer performance with Fannie Mae’s goals, provide a consistent methodology for measuring servicer performance, reduce Fannie Mae’s credit losses by setting targets/expectations, understand and communicate leading practices across the servicing community, and identify and recognize our highest performing servicers. in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, journal, News, Servicing Company News Fannie Mae Fannie Mae Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards Fannie Mae STAR Ocwen Ocwen Financial Corporation STAR program 2018-04-26 David Wharton April 26, 2018 580 Views center_img Ocwen Awarded Top Servicing Performance Rating from Fannie Mae Sharelast_img read more

Australia ups efforts against Queensland fruit fly

first_img Australia ups efforts against Queensland fruit fly … AUS: Proposed Great Barrier Reef regulations ‘igno … Water flowing through the lower pipes is charged by the soil’s stable temperature. The heated (or cooled) water is pumped through the pipes installed in the root zone, where the heat (or cold) is discharged.”These results highlight the many benefits of root zone cooling in modern agriculture including enhanced plant growth, improved quality, shorter growing cycles, greater growth uniformity as well as energy savings compared with traditional greenhouse cooling systems,” said Dr Sharon Devir, Roots CEO.”Cooling the roots of lettuce plants in summer not only significantly increases crop yield but also reduces the growing cycle duration and increase yield uniformity. These benefits together could help farmers plan for increased annual crop production and, therefore, increased income.”He said this latest pilot complements a previous trial reported in July where the RZTO technology was used in collaboration with NFT technologies created by Teshuva Agricultural Projects to cool the nutrient temperature of hydroponically grown lettuce. The results are consistent with previous open field lettuce cooling experiments, he said.”Our RZTO systems are versatile and can be used to cool the roots of crops in open fields, grow bags, hydroponic and in soil,” he said, adding the technology has so far been also effective in stabilizing the plant roots of basil, apricots and medicinal cannabis.”We are the only company in the world with a commercial root cooling technology. We are therefore optimistic about our ability to generate increased sales, as the results of these pilots conducted in areas that experience weather extremes are analysed by farmers in various markets.”Headline photo: Shutterstock.com You might also be interested in Australian table grape season in China “outstandin …center_img An Australian company says its root-zone cooling technology has resulted in a huge increase in greenhouse lettuce yields and faster growing times.Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Limited (ASX: ROO) carried out a pilot trial of its proprietary RZTO cooling technology at its research site in central Israel over the summer.It found that cooled lettuces had an average fresh weight of 502g compared to an average weight of 216g for non-cooled plants – marking a 132% increase.It also said this was achieved in 27 days, compared to seed manufacturer data showing a normal growing cycle range of 30-50 days.Using the hybrid ground source heat exchange version of Roots’ RZTO system, lettuce roots were cooled to remain relatively stable around 24ºC despite air temperatures in the greenhouse frequently topping 34ºC. In comparison, roots of control plantings fluctuated between 28ºC – 34ºC.The technology involves a closed-loop system of pipes. The lower part are coils installed at a depth where soil temperature is stable and not affected by weather extremes, and the upper part in the target crop’s root zone just below the soil surface. Australia expecting best quality almond crop in a … September 25 , 2018 last_img read more

Related Flights to Copenhagen to be launched by Qa

first_img RelatedFlights to Copenhagen to be launched by Qatar AirwaysFlights to Copenhagen to be launched by Qatar AirwaysFlights to Copenhagen launched by Qatar AirwaysFlights to Copenhagen launched by Qatar AirwaysNew flights to Amritsar launched by Qatar AirwaysQatar Airways has launched new flights to Amritsar from Doha ahead of this year’s Diwali celebrations. Qatar Airways introduced its first flights to Ankara’s Esenboga Airport from Doha this week.Four non-stop weekly services will operate to the Turkish capital, with the inaugural flight having been met by an impressive water salute and a party of senior airport officials and local dignitaries.Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ chief executive officer, said the route will increase the airline’s presence in Turkey following its 2004 launch of flights to Istanbul.”We are confident that our new service to Ankara will be equally as successful helping facilitate travel to and from this wonderful city and beyond for both the business travel community and leisure travellers,” he commented.Mr Al Baker went on to say that the launch of the route comes as Qatar and Turkey have established strong trade links, while the two countries also enjoy political ties.On March 30th, Qatar Airways commenced four weekly flights to Copenhagen from its hub in the Qatari capital.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Maplast_img read more

Record amount of rubbish collected during Lets Do It event

first_imgThe clean-up campaign Let’s do it Cyprus announced a new record on Tuesday, saying that 5.5 per cent of the population, more than 46,000 participants, took part in this year’s campaign.The aim was to surpass 40,000 and prior to the event the organisers said 43,000 had registered.In 2012, when the campaign was launched for the first time, just 0.4 per cent of the population, roughly 4,000 people, helped to clean the island and since then the numbers have increased every year.During the April 29 event volunteers were divided into more than 500 teams which collected a total of 4,456 bags of mixed garbage weighing 31,194kg and 2,661 bags of PMD recyclable waste weighing 18,627kg.In total, 18 per cent of educational institutions took part, 46 kindergartens, 102 primary schools and 29 secondary schools.Among the volunteers were 16 companies, more than 80 non-governmental organisations and other groups, more than 50 groups of scouts, more than 60 teams of the national guard, and seven teams of divers.Let’s do it Cyprus is part of the global clean-up campaign Let’s Do It World, the largest volunteer programme aimed at getting rid of rubbish around the world.It started in 2008 in Estonia, where 50,000 volunteers gathered to clean 10,000 tons of rubbish from roads, beaches and in towns and forests and managed to clean up their entire country in just five hours.By 2017, more than 16 million volunteers in 113 countries were participating in Let’s do it campaigns.More than more than 120 tonnes of rubbish have been collected since Cyprus got involved in 2012.You May Likeadviceher.comReasons Why Women Should Eat Bananas Every Dayadviceher.comUndoDebt Consolidation | Search AdsDebt Consolidation Programs in California Could Surprise YouDebt Consolidation | Search AdsUndolikedbuzzHere Is Why You Should Stop Skipping BreakfastlikedbuzzUndo Mayors lobbying president to prevent local govt mergersUndoLimassol police investigating attempted murderUndoLED-lighting the way by 2020Undoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

Price local police officers take part in House ceremony honoring first responders

first_img Categories: News 11Sep Price, local police officers take part in House ceremony honoring first responders, military Rep. Amanda Price (center) stands with Sgt. Valerie Weiss and Deputy Michelle Sampson of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department in the state Capitol rotunda today. Price invited Weiss and Sampson to a special House session honoring first responders and members of the military who lost their lives in the line of duty during the last year. The annual ceremony also commemorated the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.last_img

Rep Brandt Iden ROshtemo Local School Funding

first_img12Aug Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo: Local School Funding Categories: Featured news,Iden News,News Tags: #SB, education foundation allowance, Iden, local school funding, most education funding in Michigan history, Oakland Academy, Portage, Schoolcraft, Vicksburg last_img

Rep Maturen testifies in support of bills to assist military spouses who

first_imgState Rep. Dave Maturen, left, testifies Thursday in front of the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs in support of House Bills 5288 and 5289, bipartisan legislation he introduced with Rep. Robert Wittenberg, right.State Rep. Dave Maturen spoke Thursday before the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs in support of bipartisan legislation he introduced with Rep. Robert Wittenberg to ease professional restrictions for spouses of active military members stationed in Michigan.House Bills 5288 and 5289 would allow spouses of active-military members to be admitted to the Michigan Bar, given they meet Michigan’s requirements and are licensed as an attorney in another state.“While these brave men and women serve our country their families are frequently asked to relocate. If they move to Michigan, spouses who are lawyers cannot currently practice law until they pass the Michigan Bar Exam, even if they have successfully practiced in other states,” said Rep. Maturen, R-Vicksburg. “The Michigan Bar is only offered twice a year, and in the time it takes for someone to study, take the exam and wait for results, it’s not unfeasible that the family would already be getting relocated to another state.“Our legislation will help military spouses avoid the time and expense it takes to complete multiple bar exams, and make life a little less stressful for these families who are already asked to make a lot of sacrifices to our country. I think we owe them this.”The lawmakers were joined Thursday by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra, who also spoke in support of their legislation.“The bottom line is it’s time for Michigan to join the 18 other states that have similar licensing accommodations for military spouses,” Justice Zahra said during his testimony. “We can never do enough to thank the women and men who serve in America’s military, but these bills are a step in the right direction to show how much we appreciate not just their service and sacrifice, but also the service and sacrifice of their families.”### 09Sep Rep. Maturen testifies in support of bills to assist military spouses who practice law Categories: Maturen Newslast_img read more

Chatfield introduces resolution to declare March 2017 as Donate Life Month

first_img State Rep. Lee Chatfield, of Levering, who serves as speaker pro tempore, introduced a resolution yesterday to declare March 2017 as Donate Life Month in the state of Michigan.Chase Fairbairn’s life was changed at just 11 years old when he suffered a cardiac arrest on the soccer field in his hometown of Harbor Springs. Thankfully, his father was there to perform CPR and save his life. Initially, medical professionals were unable to determine the cause, but after his heart stopped a second time, it was determined that he had an extremely severe form of cardiomyopathy, a disease that attacks the muscles of the heart.“I hope that Chase’s story and this resolution bring much-needed awareness to the people of Michigan to sign-up and become life-saving donors,” said Chatfield.As a gifted athlete, Chase was told that he could no longer play sports and that due to the severity, he would need a heart transplant. Thankfully last year in April, he and his family received the phone call they had been waiting for. Seventy-five days after his heart transplant, he returned home to Michigan. And in September of that year, Chase was healthy enough to return to playing soccer for the first time in five years.“It’s important that all citizens are aware of the life-saving opportunities we have through the simple act of becoming an organ donor,” Chatfield said.There are currently about 3,592 people in the state of Michigan waiting courageously to receive an organ donation. Fifty-four percent of Michigan adults are on the registry, up from 27 percent in 2010. Nearly 2 million names have been added to the registry since 2011 and 4.1 million names are currently on the donor registry.Becoming an organ donor is easy. People can opt to be donors when renewing their driver’s licenses at the Michigan Secretary of State office. Follow this link to find out how: http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-34786—,00.html.Organ and tissue donation from one individual can save or enhance the lives of more than 100 people. It is possible to transplant approximately 25 different organs and tissues, such as liver, bone, bone marrow, cartilage, cornea, hearts, kidney, lung, and pancreas.### Categories: Chatfield News 01Mar Chatfield introduces resolution to declare March 2017 as Donate Life Monthlast_img read more

Rep Albert welcomes residents to May office hours

first_img16May Rep. Albert welcomes residents to May office hours State Rep. Thomas Albert of Lowell encourages residents to attend his local office hours on Monday, May 22.Office hours provide an informal setting for community members to discuss state issues.“Hosting office hours is just one way I seek feedback from the people I was elected to represent,” said Albert. “I enjoy hosting office hours because listening and understanding the concerns of residents in the district helps me better serve them.”The first-term legislator will be available at the following locations:10 to 11 a.m. at Biggby Coffee, 6426 100th St. SE, Caledonia; andNoon to 1 p.m. at Biggby Coffee, 2331 S. State Road, Ionia.No appointments are necessary for office hours. Anyone unable to attend, but wanting to voice a question or concern to the representative can contact his office at (517) 373-0846 or ThomasAlbert@house.mi.gov. Categories: Albert Newslast_img read more

Landmark school retirement reforms approved by Michigan House

first_img15Jun Landmark school retirement reforms approved by Michigan House The Michigan House today approved landmark reforms for the state’s school employee retirement system, clearing the path for more funding to go directly to the classroom.“This vote is a giant step in the right direction for Michigan,” said Rep. Thomas Albert of Lowell, sponsor of the House legislation. “It keeps our promises to retirees and current school employees, and it also moves us toward a better future.“This legislation will free up more money directly for the classroom, investing in the next generation of teachers and the students who will depend on them,” Albert said. “Our great public school employees will have more control over their own financial future, while we protect taxpayers from a growing liability.”The legislation provides an improved 401(k)-style plan for current and new public school employees. It also gives employees an annuity option through the 401(k), if they desire a guaranteed portion of retirement income. The plan will give new school employees more control and freedom to manage their own retirement savings because the money will follow them throughout their careers, even if they change jobs or professions.New school employees will have the option of selecting a revised hybrid plan – with elements of a 401(k) and pension — that is more stable, predictable and less risky than the current version. The current hybrid plan created in 2010 will be closed to new entrants.Benefits for retired and current workers in Michigan’s public schools do not change, except in one category where the benefits improve. Current school employees who already have opted for a 401(k) plan will get the new, more lucrative defined contribution plan along with new hires.Michigan’s broken public school employee pension and retiree health care system is buried in debt, with an unfunded liability approaching $40 billion – including $29 billion on the pension side alone. The debt costs the state and local schools nearly $2,000 per student annually, and the debt has been rising each year.“Too much of our school funding has gone to paying pension liabilities for too long,” said Albert, who worked as an investor for the state pension system before his election to the Legislature. “With this vote today, we are saying we will no longer tolerate passing along debt to our kids.”The legislation affecting the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System advances to the Senate.###The legislation is House Bill 4647. Categories: Albert News,Newslast_img read more

Rep VanWoerkom announces first set of indistrict office hours

first_img18Jan Rep. VanWoerkom announces first set of in-district office hours Categories: VanWoerkom News State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, of Norton Shores, will meet with Muskegon County residents during several scheduled office hours in the upcoming weeks.“I am committed to being open and accessible to residents at all times,” VanWoerkom said. “I encourage my constituents to visit office hours to share their ideas or seek assistance.”Rep. VanWoerkom announced three separate dates where he will be available to meet directly with residents.Monday, Jan. 28 at the following times and locations:8 to 9 a.m. at Holton Township Hall, 6511 E Holton Whitehall Road in Holton; and10 to 11 a.m. at Ravenna Round Table, 12396 Stafford Street in Ravenna.Friday, Feb. 1 at the following times and locations:8 to 9 a.m. at Fruitport Township Hall, 5865 Airline Road in Fruitport; and10 to 11 a.m. at Dalton Township Hall, 1616 E. Riley Thompson Road in Muskegon.Monday, Feb. 4 at the following times and locations:9 to 10 a.m. at Moorland Township Hall, 12416 Apple Avenue in Ravenna; and11 a.m to 12 p.m. at Montague City Hall, 8778 Ferry Street in Montague.No appointments are necessary. Those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times, but would like an opportunity to talk with Rep. VanWoerkom may call his office at (517) 373-3436 or email GregVanWoerkom@house.mi.gov.###last_img read more

Bridge Closing in Boston Evicts Nonprofits and Homeless en Masse

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares November 27, 2014; WGBH News Long Island is one of the islands in Boston Harbor pressed into government use to house the dispossessed. It is accessible by bridge, and for decades a portion of the city’s homeless population, transported by bus, have bedded down there, some participating in on-site treatment programs.The bridge, however, was deemed critically unsound and closed abruptly on October 8th, stranding almost a thousand residents, many of whom had left their few personal belongings there. Since then, service providers and the city have struggled to find placements for all of those displaced by the move, to reunite people with their belongings—something happening only now, after eight weeks—and consider longer-term plans.The repairs to the bridge are expected to require somewhere in the area of $80 million and will take many years.James Shearer, who is a founder of the city’s newspaper of the homeless, Spare Change News, says the problems with the bridge are longstanding and that the city should have had public meetings and worked with the 700 residents of Long Island to make plans. Caregivers report that the incident has resulted in some contacts between themselves and homeless people being lost and that this puts people at serious risk going into the winter.On the eve of Thankgiving, the mayor’s office released the following statement, which provides a sense of the reorganization that needs to be completed. We have reprinted it in full to shows its complexity, but it cannot come anywhere near to expressing the human toll:On October 8th, Mayor Martin J. Walsh—under the advisement of various City departments, agencies and leaders, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)—made the decision to close the Long Island Bridge and evacuate the programs located on Long Island. “This was a difficult, but necessary, decision that was made in the interest of public safety. This bridge has been a source of grave concern for many years, and I was not willing to risk the possibility of disaster for one more night, with the data presented to us about the serious condition of the bridge,” said Mayor Walsh. “In the weeks following the bridge closure, a light post fell down and crashed onto the bridge, directly where vehicles traveled to and from the Island. My team made a series of tough judgment calls in the interest of public safety, and we are confident that we made the right decision.” There was not one incident, injury, or any bridge collapse that led to this decision. The decision to close the Bridge was made in an abundance of caution, following long-running concerns about the structural integrity of the Bridge. Following the decision to close the Bridge, the City activated its Continuity of Operations Plan to ensure that all needs of the clients who utilize the programs at Long Island are met while the Bridge is closed. Since the bridge closure, the City and partners have maintained an equal, or greater, number of beds for our homeless and recovery guests.The following is a comprehensive update on the status of the Long Island Bridge, programs, and operations.Community OutreachOn Wednesday, November 12, the City of Boston co-hosted a community meeting at the Blackstone Community Center. Over a period of four hours, representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Health & Human Services cabinet, the Public Works Department, the Boston Public Health Commission, and City Council engaged in discussion with advocates, displaced clients, and concerned community members. On Wednesday, November 19, representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Health & Human Services cabinet, and the Boston Public Health Commission met with elected officials from the Boston delegation to discuss the bridge closure, current status, and upcoming plans.The City will be holding two community meetings: Tuesday, December 2, at 6:00 p.m. – Mildred Ave Community Center Auditorium, 5 Mildred Avenue, MattapanThursday, December 4, at 6:00 p.m. – Trotter Elementary School, 135 Humboldt Ave, DorchesterMayor Walsh has met directly with members of the BPHC service provider network, and with residents in the Roxbury and South End neighborhoods. Constituents are always welcome to reach out to the City through the Mayor’s 24-Hour Hotline, 617-635-4500, or by emailing mayor@boston.govClient BelongingsAny emergency shelter guest seeking to retrieve their locker items should call 617-823-7676 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Callers should be prepared to provide a name, locker number, and a contact number. City staff have traveled to Long Island and retrieved all client items, returning them to the Mattapan campus, where they will be stored. When a guest requests their belongings, those possessions will be brought to Woods Mullen Shelter at a pre-determined time when guests can pick them up. If guests are unable to pick up items during those times, alternative options will be made available by contacting 617-823-7676. Current Programs On a typical night, Long island is home to approximately 450 shelter guests as well as approximately 250-300 individuals who receive services through the Boston Public Health Commission and other nonprofit organizations that operate programs on Long Island. Approximately 150 people work on Long Island during a typical day.BPHC operates four programs on Long Island:Wyman Re-entry Center is a transitional housing program for 30 individualsTransitions is a 30-day stabilization program for 45 individualsProject SOAR is a transitional housing program for 20 individualsSafe Harbor is a transitional housing program for 20 individuals living with AIDSOur homeless population is currently being served at a number of City-run and independent community programs, providing over 500 beds across Boston. In addition, the BPHC provider network is working to expand capacity based on needs for the cold weather. They include:South End Fitness Center – capacity 250 men’s bedsWoods Mullen – capacity 60 men and women’s bedsBoston Healthcare for the Homeless – capacity 45 women’s bedsNew England Center for Homeless Veterans – capacity 50 men’s bedsPine Street Inn – capacity 90 men and women’s bedsValentine Street – capacity 5 women’s bedsSt. Francis House – capacity 25 women’s bedsChildren’s Services of Roxbury – capacity 30 men’s bedsBoston Rescue Mission – capacity 30 men’s beds A number of privately-run programs also call Long Island home. They include: Hello House, a residential treatment program for 28 individualsJoelyn’s Family Home, a women’s residential recovery program for 47 individualsAndrew House / Bridge to Recovery, a detox program for 60 individualsRebound, a youth-focused recovery program for 15 individualsThe City is committed to working with each program to find temporary services for their clientele.Temporary FacilitiesThe City has explored a number of options for a temporary, long-term facility to replace the Long Island homeless shelter during the time period needed for bridge repairs. Each facility had to meet certain criteria to be considered a possible location, with attention paid to size, access to water and electricity, timeframe for availability, ownership status, and current zoning status. In the interest of stability and consistency, the location also must be available until the close of bridge construction, which is estimated to take approximately 36 months.Two facilities are currently under restoration to replace some of the recovery programs. They include:BPHC Building N in Mattapan – 74 beds; approximate cost $91,000; operational in the beginning of December 2014.The BPHC’s food pantry was previously located at this site. It has been relocated to a different area on the Mattapan campus, nearby.BPHC Adult Daycare Building in Mattapan Campus – 50 emergency beds or 20 program beds; approximate cost $22,500; operational January 2015. The City is in the final stages of confirming a location for homeless clients, and a location for the recovery programs. In addition, shelter and program guests have indicated that the locker system on Long Island was a valued resource. Our Homeless Services staff, in partnership with Property Management, is examining the feasibility of reinstating this service once a new facility is established.Bridge ReplacementThe Long Island Bridge was opened in 1951 and has been in a state of limited operational use for over a decade. In August 2014, the City of Boston issued a Request for Proposals for a design of a new bridge. The design is expected to cost $9 million; funding has been allocated, with half provided by the City of Boston and half from MassDOT. The design process can take an estimated 12 months. Construction on a replacement bridge is likely to cost approximately $80+ million, and—if expedited, given emergency circumstances—can be completed in an estimated 24 to 36 months. In examining long-term plans for the programs on Long Island, the City carefully evaluated two ferry options to replace a bridge. These options would require significant infrastructure investments, equipment and vehicle purchases, and maintenance and operational costs. Walsh showed up to carve turkey at the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Pine Street Inn, and was quoted there as saying, “We’re going to take this opportunity to really improve services and truly deal with the issue of homelessness in the city of Boston.” But in the short term, many who used to seek shelter on Long Island are crammed into temporary facilities where there is barely room to stand between cots.Noting that the city also plans to open two facilities on Boston Public Health Commission property in Mattapan for people who were in recovery programs on Long Island, Walsh said, “I also think we have an opportunity here to deal with the issue of addiction. At the end of the day, the closing of Long Island could be a blessing for the homeless community in the city of Boston and the recovery community in the city of Boston. I think we’re going to come back stronger with programs.” Meanwhile, a facility providing twenty beds for women with substance abuse issues was closed completely by the bridge closure. Re-siting programs like this will take time on the mainland.Walsh is, of course, Boston’s new mayor and is himself a self-described recovering alcoholic. The closure of the bridge effectively cut access to about half of all available substance abuse treatment beds.Some are looking at this situation as a test of Walsh’s capacity to handle or potentially avert crises. Advocates and homeless activists in Boston have pledged to keep the heat on the city until adequate resolutions are reached.—Ruth McCambridge ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Are Nonprofit Insurers Legal Fictions Too

first_imgShare26TweetShare2Email28 SharesJanuary 1, 2016; San Antonio Express-NewsAs NPQ readers know, in a recent court ruling, a New Jersey judge dubbed the modern nonprofit hospital a “legal fiction,” which brought its property tax status into immediate question. This ruling highlights the question, “When is a nonprofit not a nonprofit?”Another category of nonprofit increasingly in the spotlight for its corporate behavior comprises nonprofit insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which have been under scrutiny for years but are now showing their true colors under fire. We have covered the case against the tax status of Blue Shield of California extensively.The Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp. is the parent corporation of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Montana, and it says that its reserves are not for such uses as smoothing out the transition to care under the ACA. Instead, in Texas, the company is cutting off its PPO customers and raising its rates by 20 percent.HCSC in 2015 bested its previous year’s revenue by 22 percent and is now sitting on $9.9 billion in surplus funds, so why not reward the CEO with a $10 million bonus? Maybe because it is a mutual benefit corporation. It operates through nonprofit insurers, but as Rick Cohen described here in 2013, it in no way shows as a nonprofit.“Our reserves serve a different purpose, and that is to remain in place to protect our nearly 15 million HCSC members and ensure anticipated and unanticipated claims by our members,” said Carl McDonald, the company’s divisional senior vice president of treasury and business development.“That’s why companies have reserves, for a rainy day. Well, guess what? It’s raining,” said John Rowe, a health policy professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and former CEO of Aetna, Inc.Founded in 1936, HCSC holds an independent license from Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and operates as a “mutual legal reserve company.” However, a suit filed against HCSC in 2014 claims the company has broken its promise to “operate on a nonprofit basis for the mutual benefit of its members.”Part of what is at question in that suit is the fact that when the company does well, it does not reward its member/stakeholders, instead providing top executives with compensation rates that suggest that common cause is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Patricia Hemingway Hall, the now-retired CEO of HCSC, earned around $11.7 million in 2014 all by herself, including $10 million in bonuses. That pay was around four times what any other CEO in a multistate nonprofit or mutual Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurer made, and she was the sixth-highest-compensated insurance CEO in the nation. All of those earning more headed for-profit corporations.The lawsuit notes, “The more money HCSC accumulates, the more money its executives got paid. This has resulted in a perverse incentive system that favors the continued accumulations of excess profits and expansion of HCSC’s business operations at the expense of its policy-holder members.”This, alleges the suit, violates HCSC’s own bylaws, which provide that “no person or entity shall receive, directly or indirectly, any profits from the corporation.”In a statement, HCSC says it “remains strongly committed to a not-for-profit structure.”“We do not measure success by how much money we make. Instead, we set our sights on meeting the health care needs of our members and facilitating their use of the health care system,” the statement said.The HCSC divisions in New Mexico and Illinois also eliminated coverage rather than dip into reserves. This, says Michael Johnson, the whistleblower in the California Blue Shield case, should be where the rubber hits the road on nonprofitness.“A [health insurance] nonprofit exists, not to make money, but to make health care affordable,” he said. “It should use its reserves to smooth out the ups and downs.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare26TweetShare2Email28 Shareslast_img read more

ScaledBack Amazon Tax to Address Seattle Homelessness Passes Unanimously

first_imgShare35Tweet29ShareEmail64 SharesImage Source: mitchell haindfieldMay 14, 2018; New York Times, Seattle TimesAt NPQ, we have written often about cities offering to throw tax dollars at Amazon to become the company’s second headquarters. But as we have also noted before, “Seattle, home of ‘HQ1’ is less than enthusiastic about the company,” as a new story from Seattle attests.On Monday, the city voted unanimously “to tax the city’s largest employers to help address homelessness,” write Daniel Beekman and Matt Day in the Seattle Times, but the unanimous vote did not come without considerable strife. Tensions are still high. As Nick Wingfield writes in the New York Times, “The council had originally considered an annual ‘head’ tax of $500 per full-time employee for Amazon and other large employers, but the amended measure that passed reduced that figure to $275…The council also included a sunset provision that would require the tax to be reauthorized in five years.”According to Beekman and Day, the original tax would have raised $86 million a year; however, that measure passed 5-4 in a preliminary committee vote, and a mayoral veto that would require six votes to override was likely. Amazon contributed $350,000 to a group that supports current Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, who threatened to veto the higher tax rate because she said it was too risky to the local economy. The lower rate is expected to generate $47 million a year.While the politics may be fractious, the gravity of Seattle’s housing crisis is well understood. Seattle declared a homelessness state of emergency in late 2015. The Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness found that in the 2015-2016 school year, one in 16 children in Seattle were homeless.“We have community members who are dying,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda before the 9-0 final vote. “They are dying on our streets today because there is not enough shelter.”Beekman and Day add, “Along with the tax Monday, the council approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for spending 66 percent of the new money on affordable housing, 32 percent on emergency shelter, trash pickup, raises for service workers and other needs, and two percent on administration. The plan says the revenue could help build 591 units of low-income housing over five years—down from 1,700 units slated under the $500-per-head tax.”The tax has been dubbed the ‘Amazon Tax’ by locals. But about 585 businesses—not just Amazon—are affected. “Technically,” comments Bryan Menegus in Gizmodo, the tax is “calculated by multiplying working hours by about 26 cents for full-time employees (defined as 480 or more hours per quarter) at Seattle businesses generating over $20 million in revenue per year.”According to Beekman and Day, Amazon, based on its 45,000 employees, is expected to pay $10 million of the expected $47 million total. Other prominent firms that are affected include Starbucks, The Seattle Times, and longtime, family-owned supermarket Uwajimaya.For a company that earned a record quarterly profit of $1.9 billion in the last three months of 2017, a tax of ten or twenty million dollars might not seem a big deal, but Amazon fought the tax tooth-and-nail, even temporarily halting two major expansion projects to oppose it. With the smaller tax increase, Amazon says it will “restart the planning process for one of its new buildings.” Wingfield adds that Amazon is “still exploring the possibility” of leasing rather than owning the second building.Amazon vice president Drew Herdener said, “We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here.” Starbucks, which had fourth-quarter profits last year of $788.5 million, was also loud in its opposition. Beekman and Day write,In a biting statement, a Starbucks spokesman accused city leaders of failing to spend effectively on homelessness and ignoring children sleeping outside.“If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction,” says Starbucks’ John Kelly, a top public-affairs executive.Amazon’s hardball tactics have garnered concern among cities bidding to host Amazon’s planned second headquarters. Robin Kneich of the Denver City Council remarked, “I absolutely find it unacceptable to see politically threatening behavior as is occurring there. It certainly doesn’t send a message that you expect to be a part of the community.” Denver is one of the 20 cities still in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters.Kniech joined more than 50 local lawmakers who sent an open letter to Seattle leaders and residents on Monday, supporting the tax and criticizing Amazon’s resistance. The letter said, “By threatening Seattle over this tax, Amazon is sending a message to all of our cities: we play by our own rules.”—Steve DubbShare35Tweet29ShareEmail64 Shareslast_img read more

The Cleveland Plan for Poisoning of its Children is No Plan

first_imgShare12Tweet3ShareEmail15 Shares“do nothing.” Photo: medithITJanuary 6, 2019; Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)No one has forgotten the story of Flint, Michigan, where toxins in the drinking water spread their negative impact across the city. But as NPQ has reported before, this problem is not solely Flint’s. It’s found across the nation, including Ohio, Michigan’s neighboring state.Thousands of children enter kindergarten at Cleveland Public Schools already poisoned by lead. The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve completed a research study that shows that more than 93.5 percent of children entering kindergarten had been exposed to lead. More than a quarter of the children screened, 25.7 percent, had a history of lead poisoning at or above the level where action is required. The report looked at 10,397 kindergartners enrolled from 2014 through 2017 and included only the Cleveland district, not charter, parochial, or private schools. Nevertheless, these are staggering numbers.Lead poisoning can have long lasting effects on children, from their health, to their behavior, and their ability to learn. “Lead inhibits the bodies of growing children from absorbing iron, zinc and calcium, minerals essential to proper brain and nerve development,” according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which operates within the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children exposed to lead are more likely to have issues that demand heightened attention from the teachers in the schools and additional resources from the school district. And, as Steve Dubb pointed out back in October, discussing the poisoning of children through the use of lead paint in Syracuse, “Evidence is mounting that lead exposure increases violence.”So, what is being done? There is no set plan just yet. While many cities that must deal with the aftereffects of large amounts of lead—like Toledo, Ohio—recognize the need for both remediation and lead prevention as a solution to the problem and had no hesitation in passing ordinances to prevent its children from being poisoned at home, Cleveland struggles to garner support for just remediation. As the Plain Dealer reported in July 2017, “City legislation introduced in 2017 that would require rentals be ‘lead safe’ never got a hearing, and a plan to fund remediation in 10,000 homes in neighborhoods with the highest levels of lead poisoning failed to garner widespread support.”The issue appears to be funding. A Cleveland Foundation-funded feasibility study showed that Cleveland community stakeholders, including the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals, could not unite around a remediation strategy paid for with social bonds. Social bonds, also known as pay-for-success bonds, are contracts in which a payor pays for improved social outcomes to an external organization. According to the study, “Despite enthusiasm to address this issue, it is unclear if it is enough of a priority to solicit shared ownership and allocations of funding.”Cleveland continues to take up reactive, rather than preventative methods, training school nurses and psychologists on how to follow up on lead results and how to identify the behavioral signs of lead poisoning. But is that enough? Lead exposure doesn’t automatically trigger evaluations; evaluations are usually triggered by teacher or parent concern. The hesitation, again, seems to come down to cost. If classroom interventions do not work and a disability is identified, the student can then receive special education services, which can cost up to $8,500 per student. Last year, 575 students qualified to receive special education services in the district.Still, as Rachel Dissell, writing for the Plain Dealer, points out, “If upfront costs loom large, research shows they are even more enormous down the road as students struggle to learn, drop out, or are expelled and end up in the criminal justice system or in low-wage jobs.” Or, as Theodore Lidsky, a retired neuropsychologist who served as an expert in the Flint, Michigan lawsuit, sums it up, “Pay now, or pay a lot more later.” But who really pays? It seems that this cost will be left to successive classes of infants on a lifelong installment plan.—Diandria BarberShare12Tweet3ShareEmail15 Shareslast_img read more

Kenya is to ban the importation of analogue TV set

first_imgKenya is to ban the importation of analogue TV sets by June this year in order to take forward the country’s digital switchover plan.Kenya needs to end analogue broadcasting by the end of 2015 to meet the deadline set by the ITU. Kenyan government officials are also in discussions to remove taxes on digital set-tops, which currently retail for about KES5,000 (€45), according to local reports.Kenya plans to spend about KES3 billion rolling out digital broadcasting.last_img

Dailymotion has been named as the official streami

first_imgDailymotion has been named as the official streaming partner for the Wimbledon tennis championships.All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Limited will use Dailymotion’s platform to deliver live tennis and off-court coverage on the wimbledon.com site, via official mobile apps and on the Dailymotion site.The Live@Wimbledon service, presented by Annabel Croft and Mats Wilander, will air throughout the two weeks of the championships. Viewers will also be able to enjoy pre-packaged content such as behind the scenes interviews, previews and reviews, match highlights and archive footage.last_img

Telenor Satellite Broadcasting has successfully de

first_imgTelenor Satellite Broadcasting has successfully de-orbited its Thor II satellite to a so-called ‘graveyard’ orbit.In a six-day manoeuvre that was completed on January 10, Telenor Satellite moved the 15-year old satellite to an orbit 350km above its geosynchronous orbit, eliminating the risk of collision with operational spacecraft.Thor II was the first communications satellite that Telenor Satellite specified, commissioned and launched. It was replaced by Thor 5 in 2008 but continued to offer services in inclined-orbit until late last year.last_img