On top of the world at Chirripó

first_imgThanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Love, sweat and humility atop Chirripó The following is an excerpt from a Tico Times feature on Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica’s tallest mountain.Indigenous groups who lived in the shadow of Chirripó allegedly referred to the peak as “the magic mountain.” On a clear day at the summit, it is said that you can see both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Momentarily, you are hovering above Costa Rica, looking down at the layers of rolling mountains as they descend toward the sea.The mountain’s magic, as I interpreted it, is its geographical distinction from the rest of tropical Costa Rica. Jagged mountain formations, thin cold air, oak forests and fern groves are not traditionally associated with this country, where surfboard shorts significantly outnumber winter parkas.Formed by glaciers that melted tens of thousands of years ago, the park’s ashen rock cliffs spiral and jut from the earth above small lakes and marshes in the valleys below. Clouds frequently roll through and cover the peaks. At night, stars glow just beyond the mountains. And if you watch the sky for a few minutes in the early morning, you’re likely to see stars cascade across the atmosphere.Once you hit base camp, the bulk of the climb is behind you. Cerro Chirripó’s summit is an additional two-kilometer ascent, preceded by a four- to five-kilometer hike across the Valle de los Conejos (Rabbit Valley).The final trek up to the peak is difficult, requiring some all-fours hand-and-foot climbing up the side of the ridge, but once you’ve gone that far, turning back is no longer a viable option. Plus, there’s a log book at the summit to write your name, securing your place in the illustrious society of Central American mountaineering legends. If that isn’t motivation to finish, I don’t know what is.Most hikers summit Chirripó in two days. A first-day, 14-kilometer hike to the albergue, or base camp, is the first step. After a night at the base camp, with Spartan barracks, cold water and a kitchen for guests to prepare meals, most set out early the following day to scale the peak in the morning hours before heading back down to the small towns outside Pérez Zeledón, the region’s largest city.Read our 2012 feature story on the climb: center_img Related posts:Three days of mountain biking through Costa Rica Pic of the Day: Costa Rica from the air Tico Times Pic of the Day: The stunning Nauyaca Waterfalls Pic of the Day: Costa Rica’s underwater wildlifelast_img read more

EUskeptic Finnish party joins Cabinet for 1st time

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Four benefits of having a wireless security system The Finns’ maverick leader, Timo Soini, was appointed foreign minister and deputy prime minister, and the justice ministry went to the party’s Jari Lindstrom. Two other party members were handed responsibility for defense, social and health affairs.The anti-immigration Finns Party was the second biggest in Finland’s April election, ahead of the conservative National Coalition Party, which led the previous government. It has become known for the many controversial statements by its members.In 2011, European Parliament member Jussi Halla-aho suggested a military junta was needed in the financially-troubled Greece “to rein in the strikers and demonstrators … with tanks.”On Thursday, Lindstrom said he believed the death penalty should be used in “some circumstances” in Finland for “extremely heavy crimes, such as against small children.” He stressed that it was a personal view and not on his political agenda.The death penalty has been banned in Finland since 1949 and is abolished in all EU countries.Soini on Thursday said being in the government “won’t be an easy ride.”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 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement HELSINKI (AP) — The populist, EU-skeptic Finns Party, known for its opposition to bailing out Greece and its political gaffes at home, on Friday joined the Finnish government for the first time.President Sauli Niinisto appointed the Nordic country’s new center-right Cabinet, a three-party coalition made up of the Finns, the pro-EU conservatives and the Center Party, whose leader Juha Sipila was named Finland’s new prime minister. Sponsored Stories Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Check your body, save your life Comments   Share   New Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, centre, Finance Minister Alexander Stubb, left and Foreign Minister Timo Soini his cabinet attend a press conference in Helsinki, Finland on Friday May 29, 2015. Finland’s new three-party coalition government took office on Friday. ( Antti Aimo-Koivisto/LEHTIKUVA via AP) FINLAND OUTlast_img read more

Indias top court orders investigation into job scam deaths

first_imgMore than 2,500 people have been accused in connection with the scandal and around 1,900 of them have been arrested.Dozens of people, either witnesses or accused participants in the scam, have died over the last five years in inexplicable circumstances. Congress leaders have alleged that some top state bureaucrats and politicians accepted millions of dollars in bribes to facilitate the admissions.The scandal has come to be known in India as the “Vyapam scandal,” after the Hindi language acronym for the state-run employment agency in Madhya Pradesh. For the past couple of weeks, Indian media have given wide coverage to the sudden deaths of a number of people connected to the scam.The scandal hit the front pages of newspapers once again last weekend after the death of an investigative journalist who had gone to Madhya Pradesh to speak with witnesses.The following day, the body of a medical college dean was found in a New Delhi hotel. The official, Arun Kumar, headed a medical college in Madhya Pradesh that was involved in the admissions scandal. Kumar was helping the state police in its investigation.The many suspicious deaths of people linked to the scam have raised concerns among civil society groups who feel the deaths were in some way connected. Many of the dead were younger than 40 and autopsy reports in most cases were inconclusive. Top Stories NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court Thursday ordered a federal investigation into a multimillion-dollar college admission and government job recruitment scandal in central India said to be linked to dozens of mysterious deaths.The Supreme Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s FBI, to take over from the state police the investigation into the alleged irregularities in job recruitment and college admissions as well as the deaths of nearly 50 people associated with the scam. Police have arrested hundreds of parents and students for paying bribes and officials for allegedly rigging eligibility tests for admission to medical colleges and recruitment for jobs in the police force, schools and banking sector in Madhya Pradesh state.The court also directed the Madhya Pradesh government to respond to a petition demanding the removal of the state’s federally appointed governor after questions were raised about his involvement in the scandal. Gov. Ram Naresh Yadav’s son Shailesh Yadav died mysteriously in May after the younger man was alleged to have accepted bribes in the governor’s house.Opposition Congress party leaders had been demanding a federal inquiry into the scam, accusing the Madhya Pradesh government of trying to influence the outcome of the inquiry by the state police.Congress leader Digvijay Singh demanded the resignation of Madhya Pradesh’s top elected official, saying Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan should step down to allow for a free and fair investigation.“Students who have been arrested in connection with the scam should be made witnesses for the state,” Singh said. “Isn’t it strange that hundreds of students and their parents are in jail, while those who took the bribes are roaming free,” he told reporters Thursday. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous ofcenter_img Sponsored Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Madhya Pradesh home minister Babulal Gaur dismissed the opposition’s charge that witnesses and whistle-blowers were being targeted to shield top politicians and bureaucrats. He said most of the deaths were due to natural causes.The scam dates to 2007, but investigations began only in 2013 after details emerged that many unqualified and undeserving candidates had been admitted into medical and engineering colleges. Medical school entrance test papers were leaked before the examination, impersonators were allowed to appear for exams, or the marks of undeserving candidates were enhanced — all for a fee.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

The men of Hulus Handmaids Tale make a stand o

first_imgThe men of Hulu’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ make a stand on season 2 by Lynn Elber, The Associated Press Posted Apr 24, 2018 12:41 pm PDT Last Updated Apr 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email This image released by Hulu shows Ann Dowd, left, and Elisabeth Moss in a scene from the series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” returning for a second season on April 25. (George Kraychyk/Hulu via AP) center_img LOS ANGELES, Calif. – In the new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” there are tantalizing flashbacks to what preceded the Republic of Gilead, the bleak shredding of a flawed but free society. There also are suggestions that a fight is brewing against the oppressive state and its enslavement of women.If the awards-lavished Hulu drama is indeed poised for an explosive second season, it will be in part because the male characters — some of them — step up their rebellion against the hellish Gilead drawn from author Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel.“This season expands from the original (story) and also in pace and stakes. There seems to be a volatility underlying everything that happens this season, bubbling anarchy and resistance that brings out a lot of tension,” said O-T Fagbenle, who plays husband Luke to Elisabeth Moss’ June, dubbed Offred in this dystopian future world.June remains the hero of the saga, one of the handmaids forced to bear children for the state’s ruling class bedeviled by infertility. When season two arrives Wednesday, June’s refusal to join in stoning a rebellious handmaid inspires a small but brave stand.The consequences appear dire, with a ghostly, abandoned stadium that’s set for a mass hanging and representative of a wrenching season. Central to it: June’s determination to break free from Gilead and the household of Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski).But who will help her to fight Gilead, which some have deemed a metaphor for our time? Her husband, who managed to flee the East Coast republic to the safe zone of Canada? Better positioned is Nick (Max Minghella), who was tapped by infertile Serena to stand in with June for the apparently sterile Fred. The now-pregnant June and Nick form an emotional bond.Luke and Nick resist in “very, very different ways,” said executive producer Bruce Miller. “One from the inside, pulling strings to keep (June) alive, the other from the outside. And they’re both at some times thwarted in frustrating ways as the season goes on.”But neither can shake “the dogged nature of hope,” Miller said.Holding back spoilers, the men of “The Handmaid’s Tale” weighed in on what they see for their characters and the story’s direction over season two’s 13 episodes on the streaming service. How many seasons to come remains to be determined, Miller said.PREPARE TO BE SUPRISED“We are now very far away from the novel, and so there is an unpredictability which as a viewer and a reader I found to be very satisfying,” said Minghella. “I didn’t, however, anticipate where we were going to go next and I was often wrong in my predictions.”Minghella’s Nick is “somebody who’s trying to control an uncontrollable circumstance, and he can’t. He has to face some obstacles that are not surmountable,” he said. “That’s true of all the characters in the show, so we’re all thrown into the drama.”In Canada, Fagbenle’s Luke is grappling with the loss of his family and in the company of escaped handmaids Moira (Samira Wiley) and Erin (Erin Way), both deeply traumatized.“He’s trying to manage that dynamic to some extent, deal with impotency and his lack of ability to get back to his wife,” Fagbenle said. “And then things unfold during the series which reinvigorate his drive and determination to make a difference, no matter the cost.”Fiennes said that with Fred, a window opens into where he stands in the hierarchy of the commanders’ world amid the pressure to be recognized and promoted.“When he feels his masculinity amongst other men is being questioned or lessened, he invariably comes back into his own household and inflicts his feelings against the women,” said Fiennes, calling it “one of many complicated roots causes to the way people and men behave” in the quest for power.BRUTAL HONESTYWhile the handmaids gut it out under horrific conditions, including in the environmentally toxic Colonies, the men of Gilead must come to grips with their own nature. The truth isn’t always pretty.Fiennes sees his character and his wife as “architects of their own demise.”Fred fell in love with a “strong-voiced” woman and brilliant writer in Serena, one who shared his principles and philosophies, Fiennes said. “What’s fascinating is that Fred never stood up for her when he was given an opportunity to be a commander,” accepting power in a society in which he knew she wouldn’t be allowed to “have that voice.”For his part, Fagbenle is reluctant to accept June’s husband as “a good guy.”“If in the face of such repression (the reaction) is to do nothing, is to give lip service, is that good? I don’t know if I could give Luke that much credit. … He’s a guy who loves his wife but in terms of what’s been faced, did he step up early enough and did he step up actively enough? In my estimation, I don’t think he’s done enough.”Nick is a worthy man, Minghella said, but in an impossible spot.“He’s a spy on a spy on a spy. As a result he ends up often being complicit in actions that are morally reprehensible. But to say that he personally endorses them, that would be a misrepresentation.”Among the many failed men of Gilead, Fiennes gives Nick and Luke a shout-out as “wonderful components of the male psyche as husband and lover and supporter.”___Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.last_img read more

Afendoulis opens Lansing office announces contact information

first_img06Jan Afendoulis opens Lansing office, announces contact information Categories: Afendoulis News State Rep. Chris Afendoulis announced the opening of his Lansing office, along with important contact information for residents to reach out to him.Afendoulis will continue to utilize former Rep. MacGregor’s toll free phone number at 1-855-347-8073 to ensure a smooth transition for residents in the 73rd District. He can also be reached at his Lansing office at (517) 373-0218, via email at ChrisAfendoulis@house.mi.gov, and by mail at P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7514.“It is important to me that the hard-working taxpayers who sent me to Lansing know I’m here to serve them,” said Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township. “I encourage people to reach out to my office with their thoughts and concerns so that my staff and I can be of assistance at any time.”Legislative staffers Ben Greene and Trevor TenBrink will join Afendoulis in his Lansing office. Greene was previously employed by Rep. MacGregor and has served in the House since 2012. TenBrink is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and has experience interning in U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga’s office.Rep. Afendoulis’ office is located at 124 N. Capitol Ave., Room 1092, Lansing, MI 48933. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.###last_img read more

Hoitenga People deserve more transparency from state government

first_img Representative lauds plan to subject governor’s office, Legislature to FOIA rulesState Rep. Michele Hoitenga, right, joined her colleagues in the House today to announce a bipartisan bill package to increase government transparency.State Rep. Michele Hoitenga today praised the introduction of a bipartisan plan that makes state government more accountable to the people of Michigan.Hoitenga, of Manton, joined her colleagues today to unveil a reform plan that makes the governor and lieutenant governor subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and creates a set of similar rules for state representatives and senators called the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).“Michigan is one of just two states that still exempt the governor, lieutenant governor, senators and state representatives from open records rules,” Hoitenga said. “I was more than happy to be open and transparent when I served as mayor, and I should be held to the same standard of accountability as a state representative.”### 01Feb Hoitenga: People deserve more transparency from state government Categories: Hoitenga Newslast_img read more

Rep Hornberger backs plan to invest more in local veterans services

first_img09Feb Rep. Hornberger backs plan to invest more in local veterans services Categories: Hornberger News Grant program will help build, maintain county veterans service officesState Rep. Pamela Hornberger co-sponsored legislation introduced this week providing financial incentive to encourage Michigan counties to establish and maintain veteran service offices.Currently, 11 counties do not have a local veteran support department and many others are understaffed.“We need to do more to connect our veterans here in Macomb County to the services and benefits they sacrificed so much to earn,” said Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township. “This legislation will make sure all military families have access to an expert in their community who can help them with benefit claims and make sure they’re getting all of the benefits they’re entitled.”Under the bill, each county with a veteran service office that satisfies the requirements outlined in the bill will be eligible to receive a $25,000 grant, plus additional funding based on the number of veterans in the county.In order to receive funds a county must:Maintain a county veteran service office;Have an accredited veterans benefit claims employee on staff;Provide at least 20 hours of service each month assisting veterans;Maintain the previous year’s county funding level for the veteran service office;Report to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and Legislature regarding the amount of claims completed throughout the year.House Bill 5536 was referred to the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.###last_img read more

Rep Afendoulis makes historic vote to lower car insurance rates for Michigan

first_img Categories: Lynn Afendoulis News House approves overhaul reforms after decades of gridlockThe Michigan House today approved a landmark plan to fix our state’s much-maligned car insurance system and reduce rates for all Michigan drivers, state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis announced.Afendoulis voted in favor of a plan that has features designed to end Michigan’s long-standing tenure as the state with the costliest car insurance rates in the nation.“This historic reform has been over 40 years in the making, and I’m honored to have played a role in making sure it finally happened,” Afendoulis said. “The reality is that West Michigan families need more affordable car insurance rates, and that’s what this plan provides.“The reality also is that key players in the health care arena – hospitals, acute care facilities and insurers, among them – will be critical in the success of this reform and we have been encouraged by their willingness to participate in the solution,” Afendoulis said. “Change this big creates uncertainty and having so many at the table helps us ensure that we have created the best solution possible and that it will be implemented in the best manner possible.”Afendoulis has been a lead advocate for reforms and was also a member of the House Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates Committee – the special panel solely dedicated to crafting a long-lasting solution that cuts down drivers’ rates.Michigan’s costs are high largely because it’s the only state mandating unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. The plan allows those currently using the coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it – while providing more affordable options.The plan:Guarantees lower personal injury protection rates for all Michigan drivers;Gives drivers a choice on car insurance policies;Stops price gouging on medical services for car accident victims; andCombats fraudulent claims to help lower costsThe sweeping legislation now advances to the Senate for consideration. 09May Rep. Afendoulis makes historic vote to lower car insurance rates for Michigan driverslast_img read more

Rep Brann Memorial highway signs put in place honoring local fallen servicemen

first_img09May Rep. Brann: Memorial highway signs put in place honoring local fallen servicemen Portions of U.S. 131 renamed in the city of WyomingState Rep. Tommy Brann’s law memorializing three Wyoming fallen servicemen went into full effect this week with the posting of highway memorial signs along U.S. 131.The portion between exits 78 and 79 will be known as the Army Spc. Eric T. Burri Memorial Highway. The portion between exits 79 and 80 will be known as the Marine Cpl. Ross A. Smith Memorial Highway, and the segment between exits 80 and 81 will be the Army Pfc. Nicholas H. Blodgett Memorial Highway.“All three servicemen who grew up in Wyoming will be honored back home for their ultimate sacrifice and bravery,” said Brann, of Wyoming. “We will never forget them.”House Bill 6025, now Public Act 568 was signed into law last December by former Gov. Rick Snyder.#### Categories: Brann Newslast_img read more

Shady Sandy Charitys Funds are Redistributed

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares June 5, 2014;Asbury Park PressAt the end of the day, the founders of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund have walked away from that endeavor without being indicted for anything, a year after the couple who founded the—as it turns out, unregistered—group agreed to shut down the charity.The Asbury Park Press, which wrote this article, investigated the charity in 2013, finding that John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino who founded HSRF had not registered it with the state’s Charities Bureau and didn’t have the federal tax-exempt status they claimed on the group’s website. The couple also had claimed to be victims of Sandy, which was likewise untrue. According to reports, Sandberg had started buying more than 100 domain names for the charity before the storm even hit. In the end the charity took in more than $600,000 in donations.As a result of the scrutiny, the Division of Consumer Affairs and the New Jersey Division of Law filed a civil lawsuit. A settlement reached in June of 2013 had the organization placed under the supervision of court-appointed administrator Nancy E. Kelly, an accountant, in order to close it responsibly. Kelly put out a request for proposals and basically either gave back or redistributed among aligned charities the money that had been raised—the last $100,000 of that has just been granted. The money refunded to donors last April was made up of approximately 2,000 contributions totaling $250,000 that were made through PayPal.Sandberg and Terraccino are disallowed under the agreement from ever operating a Superstorm Sandy charity and barred for two years from serving in leadership positions in any other nonprofit in New Jersey. They were also required to repay more than $13,000 they spent of the proceeds.NPQ has been watching as some states, like Florida, California, and New York, realize that they must get a grip on and fund the regulatory environment for nonprofits precisely because of this kind of stuff. It makes donors skeptical and cautious in their generosity—something none of us want to see happen.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Detroit Bankruptcy Judge Rejects Extended Water Shutoff Moratorium

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesSeptember 29, 2014;Detroit Free PressThe continuing tragedy of Detroit’s practice of turning off running, potable water on households who are seriously delinquent on their water bills has reached a new pinnacle: The judge overseeing the Detroit bankruptcy process has ruled that he doesn’t have the authority to stop the shutoffs.Or did he say that? It isn’t really clear. He actually said that there is no constitutional right of citizens to running, potable water. Clean water may be a necessity for health and wellbeing, but it isn’t a right. People who have their water shut off can presumably use public toilets, find drinking fountains, or access water for hygiene elsewhere.There may not be a constitutional right to water in Judge Steven Rhodes’s view, but the United Nations believes (and has a resolution indicating) that water is a human right. The UN General Assembly:“Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights; [and]“Calls upon States and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, through international assistance and cooperation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all”But Judge Rhodes also introduced a financial issue that may have been as much a factor in his thinking as the question of his constitutional prerogatives. In his ruling from the bench, Judge Rhodes suggested that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department would be financially harmed by an extension of the water shutoff moratorium. In light of the city’s bankruptcy and the efforts of all parties to eke every nickel they can out of any source they might find, the judge said that an extended moratorium on shutoffs would be “the last thing [Detroit] needs” as a “hit to its revenues.”Alice Jennings, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, which included 10 residents as well as nonprofits like the People’s Water Board and the National Action Network, pointed out that her clients were not advocating for free water, but for affordable water. Moreover, the cutoffs could adversely negatively impact people least able to cope with the lack of running water, such as homes with children or with disabled persons. Witnesses from the Water Department testified that they didn’t possess “specific data” on how many of the shutoffs had affected households with vulnerable people, though one department spokesperson suggested without elaboration that they had “a fairly good handle on this.”Since the shutoff moratorium ended in August, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been turning off water for as many as 400 accounts a day. According to Darryl Latimer, the department’s deputy director, DWSD was “on pace to collect $1.5 million” in July, but during the month of the moratorium, the Department only got $200,000. If you were a bankruptcy judge trying to hammer out an equitable arrangement between the city and its multiple creditors, you might be disinclined to pass on maximizing available funds—even with the potential cost of human lives.The result is that even with the moratorium and with programs generated by foundations and other donors, some 22,000 homes lost water due to shutoffs between March and August. Subtract the 15,251 who had service restored through payments or agreeing to payment plans, and that leaves nearly 7,000 homes shut off, with more on the way.{loadmodule mod_banners,Ads for Advertisers 5} The judge’s decision may have been even more than an issue of scraping for every potential coin in Detroit. The press cited Aaron Renn, an urban affairs analyst who blogs under the name “The Urbanophile,” to the effect that, “If city officials don’t have the stomach to collect long-overdue [water] bills, how will they undertake tougher reforms?”Judge Rhodes could have said that widespread water shutoffs in Detroit were a health and safety threat to Detroit’s predominantly low-income population, but instead he said it was outside of his legal purview. His ruling could have laid the groundwork for a thoughtful discussion of what aspects of public services—or how much of public services—should be treated as human rights and not subordinate to the financial needs of a municipal department whose history of managerial miscues and bad investments led to the Detroit water crisis.That’s what’s really at issue: What parts of modern life should be treated as necessities, as rights to be protected? Access to healthcare? Access to decent and safe housing? Access to clean running water? In this instance, perhaps only a narrow one, Judge Rhodes has ruled that the rights of Detroit’s creditors who are trying to get paid back for their investments and expenses, trump the rights of Detroit’s legacy residents who are simply trying to live. – Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

NJ Lawmakers May Mandate Paid Sick Leave Statewide

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares October 9, 2014; CBS New YorkNew Jersey lawmakers gathered last Thursday to discuss whether the paid sick leave law already in effect for Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and a few other cities should be expanded statewide. The vote has been postponed.According to the current city laws, which took effect in Jersey City this past January, employees with 10 or more employees are required to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an individual works. Workers for small employers can accrue up to 40 hours annually of sick leave, or five days, and up to 72 hours for individuals at larger employers.The Labor Department reported last year that as of 2012, while three in four full-time workers had access to paid sick leave across the country, only one in four part-time workers did. The discussion of the proposed bill was met vigorously in the crowded room with both support and opposition, even after the vote had been postponed.As when some cities originally passed the mandate, supporters believe the expansion of the law would be helpful for the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of lower income workers, who often cannot afford to take days off when they are ill. “An earned sick day standard will boost our state’s working families’ economic and personal health,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the NJ Citizen Action group.Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has been enthusiastic about the positive effects the law has had in the community. “There are countless examples of families it has helped, working families,” Fulop said. Jersey City’s passing of the law inspired other cities with prominent low-income communities, like Newark and East Orange, to adopt similar laws.On the other hand, conservative business groups still oppose the law as detrimental for the state’s economy, as they believe businesses looking to avoid the mandate and its added responsibility will relocate to a different state. “It is not that AFP is against [the concept]. We are against the mandate of it. It is mandates like these that make me question opening a business of my own in New Jersey,” said Danielle Cyr of the New Jersey branch of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group.Fulop noted that the anticipated negative effect on businesses had not been observed in Jersey City. “Despite what people said, that the business community would suffer, our unemployment rate…has dropped faster than any other urban area in the region.”As noted by NPQ, the discussion comes a few weeks after California passed a statewide law requiring all employers—including nonprofits, regardless of size—to provide paid sick leave for their employees beginning on July 15, 2015.While cities elsewhere in the nation, including Washington D.C., New York City, Seattle, and Portland have passed similar mandates, if this bill passes, New Jersey would become only the third state behind California and Connecticut with a statewide law. Massachusetts’s residents will be able to vote in the upcoming midterm elections on Ballot Question 4 to pass a nearly identical law.Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel’s in-depth look at the reality of not having paid sick time gives credence to Mayor Fulop’s enthusiasm for the law in his city. Clawson and Gerstel found in their report for WBUR that those whose employers do not provide paid sick leave as a benefit often face difficult situations, having to choose between their health or caring for a loved one and keeping their jobs. The report found one instance at a nonprofit nursing facility where workers were fired after one absence from work, regardless of the circumstances. Worse yet, the report found this practice is prevalent in the healthcare industry—one of the fastest growing industries in the country.As discussion goes on in the New Jersey Senate, as it undoubtedly will in cities across the country, Trenton and Montclair, New Jersey, will be deciding whether to implement paid sick leave laws in their cities next month.—Shafaq Hasan ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Was Mayor Flashing Gang Sign or Was KSTP Having a Slow News

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesNovember 7, 2014;KSTP-TVThe silly season of electoral politics is not quite over in Minneapolis. Take the case, as reported by KSTP Eye Witness News, of the recently accused gangbanger, Mayor Betty Hodges. During a neighborhood get-out-the-vote effort prior to last week’s midterm election, Hodges posed for a photo with a young man who was working as a canvasser. In the photo, Mayor Hodges is pointing at the young man and he is pointing at her. It turns out the young man is on probation for drug possession and selling, as well as possession of a firearm. If her being in the same photo was not bad enough, the pointing gesture—gasp—was actually a gang sign, according to KSTP.But the photo was actually taken while a video was being recorded, and if you watch it—at least until the 30 second mark—you will see how completely absurd the issue becomes.The photo was brought to the attention of KSTP by unspecified law enforcement after it was spotted on the young man’s Facebook page. The intrepid KSTP reporter found a retired Minneapolis police officer, who assessed the photo as “disappointing, because it puts police officers at risk.” The KSTP reporter also interviewed the head of the Minneapolis police union, who similarly chastised the mayor, saying, “When you have the mayor of a major city, with a known criminal, throwing up gang signs, that’s terrible.”What neither the KSTP reporter nor the news team could seem to uncover, however, was that this may have been nothing more than a move in an ongoing political game between the mayor and the police department. Mayor Hodges has recently been calling for tougher actions against police misconduct.According to TalkingPoints Memo:“The television station also neglected to mention that Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau was there with Hodges and at that very moment, off camera. In a tweet that has apparently since been deleted, the Minneapolis Police Department posted a photo on Saturday of Harteau at the scene next to Hodges and the volunteer.”Here’s a screengrab of the tweet, posted by Daily Kos:As in all such games, though, the real losers are often the people caught in the middle—like Navell Gordon, the young black man in the photo with the mayor, and the nonprofit that employs him. Mr. Gordon, 22, does have a criminal history to be sure, but he is also trying to turn his life around. For the past two years, he had been employed as a canvasser for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC). His three-year probation ends in June 2015 and he has not had a single violation. The executive director of NOC, Anthony Newby, acknowledging the potential damage to his organization, described the report as a “slanderous hit piece.”While it is not clear if Mr. Gordon was convicted of his crimes as a juvenile, Hennepin County has a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) that seeks to redirect young offenders from detention and other forms of incarceration. When young men like Mr. Gordon try to turn their lives around and they get an assist from nonprofits like NOC, a civil society needs to applaud both, not make the way more difficult for either. The response to the Eyewitness News report was immediate, strong, and overwhelmingly negative toward KSTP. On social media, it was dubbed “Pointergate” as people took aim at the story. At #pointergate, hundreds of Tweets and photos have been posted that show a wide variety of famous people, including New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former presidents Reagan and Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Darth Vader and Captain Kirk, and even a painting of God in the Sistine Chapel, pointing in the same manner as Mr. Gordon and Mayor Hodges.By the way, what does a pointed finger, like the one Mayor Hodges and Mr. Gordon are “flashing,” really mean? According to a retired Minneapolis police officer and the head of the police union—but not the police department, which had no comment—it is a gang sign. According to the leader of the Minneapolis chapter of MADDADS, a national organization that works against inner-city violence, it is not. According to the American Sign Language University, it is called “indexing,” aka “pointing,” to indicate a person is merely present.—Tom KlausShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

AP Gates Foundation Marches to Its Own Drummer—Right Through our Schools

first_imgShare59Tweet36ShareEmail95 SharesBy Jacklee [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia CommonsMay 16, 2018; ABC News (Associated Press)Size matters in the world of philanthropy; it changes the rules in troubling ways. The Associated Press recently looked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s ongoing efforts to “reform” American public education, a topic about which NPQ has often written, coming away with many of the same observations. The model the AP applies to its examination offers some insights into the growing number of organizations established by a new generation of wealthy donors to manage their resources as attempt to improve the world. The independence their size provides allows them to fund needed services and intervene in matters of public policy at the same time through the use of media and other influence.Formed 18 years ago, the Gates Foundation now has assets of more than $50 billion. With the addition of a sizable contribution from Warren Buffett, it combines the assets of two the nation’s wealthiest families within an organization that is closely controlled by Bill and Melinda Gates. A primary focus of the Foundation has been “ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and have an opportunity to earn a post-secondary degree with labor-market value. The Foundation is particularly concerned with improving access to quality educational opportunities for lower income and minority students.”From its very beginnings, the Foundation has put its significant resources behind this objective. According to the AP, the foundation has “contributed more than $6 billion toward reshaping American schools” since 2001, with as much focus on system change as specific programmatic projects. In a sector with chronic funding shortages, the Foundation’s grants have been major drivers of the effort to make public schools more competitive and choice-based. The Foundation supported the creation of a standard curriculum and national testing system so student progress could be measured through standardized tests. It made major investments in efforts to improve the effectiveness of teachers, which included tying student test outcomes to teacher evaluations. It supported experiments in restructuring schools that included the creation of “small schools” and the growth of independent charter schools. While many of these efforts proved ineffective, the Foundation’s size allows autonomy that, unlike most nonprofit organizations, lets it continue with its vision unchanged.For example, the Gates Foundation was a major supporter for the creation of the Common Core Curriculum, an effort to establish a standard against which all students, teachers, and schools could be measured. Despite significant Foundation support, the effort to implement the CCC proved highly controversial and unpopular. In 2015, it lost federal government support when President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a reframing of nation educational legislation that explicitly removed the Department of Education’s ability to require states to mandate the CCC.Many organizations, faced with little proof that their goals were being reached and a high degree of external opposition, would shift focus here. The Gates Foundation saw this as a spur to refocus and manage the political environment more effectively. Using more than $44 million in new grants, the Foundation continued to support organizations that could serve as policy experts to state policymakers and others who could change the public’s perception of the preferred solution. One of these grantees, Achieve, Inc., according to the AP, “collaborated with local leaders to compile information about new state education plans.” Mike Cohen, Achieve’s president, told the AP, “Our focus has always been about standards, about helping states set the right expectations for students in terms of what they need to know so that they’re prepared for success after high school.” The Foundation also funded The 74 Media, Inc., “which last year published an exclusive story featuring the analysis of state plans done by the Collaborative for Student Success and quoting an expert voice from the Council of Chief State School Officers. Gates gave all three groups money to work on Every Student Succeeds Act.”From the Foundation’s perspective, this new approach to implementing a struggling strategy represents effective organizational learning. Allan Golston, president of the Gates Foundation’s US work, told the AP, “It’s necessary to take a multidimensional approach to play at the system-wide level. We’re thoughtful about the programmatic dimensions and advocacy and communications dimensions. That’s just the nature of being in education and we’ve learned over time that you have to be thoughtful.”For critics, this approach is just a way to stay above outside influence; with no dependence on outside funders, accountability is only an internal process. “They’re doing it in a quiet way because they don’t want the general public to know they’re still meddling in education policy,” said Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education.If nonprofit organizations, including charitable foundations, are granted their special status because of the public benefit they provide, the ability of large foundations to operate with little or no public oversight is troubling. The lessons we learned in 2007 and 2008 about the dangers of large financial institutions operating without appropriate oversight may now apply to large philanthropic organizations as well. As Erin Rubin, writing recently in NPQ, observed, “If we are truly in an ‘age of philanthropy,’ perhaps it’s time for an ‘age of self-examination’ in the sector as well. The civil sector was largely built to support democratic action, but are big philanthropy’s current narcissistic habits mostly a thwarting of it?”—Martin LevineShare59Tweet36ShareEmail95 Shareslast_img read more

The Right to Discriminate Grows with the Blessing of Congress

first_imgShare34TweetShareEmail34 SharesPhoto: William MurphyJuly 16, 2018; Rewire and LGBTQNationWith all the turmoil and angst that has been pulling the attention of the American people from one critical issue to another, it is easy to lose track of some important issues. Slipped into a Health and Human Services funding bill and passed on an almost totally partisan vote (with one Republican “no”) was an amendment that would allow social service agencies that receive federal funds to discriminate in adoptions and foster care placements based on an agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. Heron Greenesmith, writing for Rewire, describes it aptly.The amendment, proposed by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) would prohibit federal, state, or local agencies from taking any action against a child-welfare organization, agency, or staff member who “decline[s] to provide, facilitate, or refer for a child welfare services that conflicts with…the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The double negatives are confusing. More clearly: This bill would allow the federal Department of Health and Human Services to dock states up to 15 percent of their foster-care funding if they prevent discrimination in foster care or adoption services.The ramifications of this amendment are many and far-reaching. They touch on the rights of LGBTQ families to adopt and foster children; they touch on the rights of non-Christian families to adopt and foster children; they touch on the rights of single persons (who might be perceived to be gay or lesbian) to adopt or foster children; and there could be implications for family members seeking custody of children who have been removed from parents.Of even greater concern is what this amendment means for the children themselves. Many of the children in these agencies are homeless or the children of incarcerated parents, and some percent are themselves in one of the LGBTQ categories. This law could put them and their well-being at risk.In her comprehensive Rewire article, Greenesmith references a report from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), “Kids Pay the Price: How Religious Exemptions for Child Welfare Agencies Harm Children,” which details some of the possibilities for harm.Children…cannot choose which child placement agencies take their cases. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that every child serving agency is showing the strictest duty-of-care; that each agency receiving state funding is doing everything in its power to ensure the well-being of children in its charge. Yet these laws allow individual workers and agencies to impose their own religious views on the children in their care, forcing children to pay the price of the discrimination. For example, under such a law, an agency could decide that LGBT children in their care should undergo harmful, discredited conversion therapy—and the agency and worker would still maintain their state license.The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) covers similar territory in its own report, “Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate in Child Welfare Services.”To be clear, these laws are about discrimination—they permit taxpayer-funded programs to pick and choose to whom they provide services they have been paid by the government to deliver. Proponents of these bills have been very forthright that the bills are a lingering reaction to marriage equality—their purpose is to enshrine discrimination into law by granting state contractors and grantees who provide taxpayer-funded child welfare services the ability to discriminate with impunity in the provision of those services against qualified same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals who want to adopt. However, some of the exemptions are so broad they’d also allow agencies to object to placement with single parents, parents of another faith or an interfaith couple, and others. Some of these bills are also drawn in such a way that there are implications around the agencies being able to responsibly care for LGBTQ youth, and some would implicate youth’s reproductive rights as well.The Daily Beast quoted Texas adoption attorney James Greenberg, who labeled this issue a children’s rights issue rather than an LGBTQ one. Greenberg says, “If you’re a child at an agency that won’t place kids with LGBT people, single women, a Muslim family, that really restricts the options for the vulnerable child in your care because there may be plenty of qualified parents willing to take those children in.”According to MAP, as of July 10, 2018, ten states—Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia—have “religious exemption laws [to] permit child placing agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBT people and same-sex couples, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.” With Congress and states eagerly passing laws that enshrine discrimination in the name of religious belief and religious morality, who will speak out and stand up for the vulnerable? How will you answer that question?—Carole LevineThis article has been altered from the original to address an editing error that did not clearly attribute a quoted section.Share34TweetShareEmail34 Shareslast_img read more

Modern Times Group is expected to take market shar

first_imgModern Times Group is expected to take market share in the free-to-air broadcasting business in Scandinavia and grow it subscription pay TV services in the region, according to analysts. Investment bank Morgan Stanley has noted that the broadcast group is a strong medium-term investment option and is one of the most well positioned broadcasters in Europe. 
The bank expects the company to increase its free-to-air share in Sweden by 1% this year. “As the FTA commercial challenger across the Scandinavian region, MTG still has room to grow at the expense of the incumbents. MTG has taken audience and market share in Sweden and Denmark in 2011 and we expect this performance to be reflected in its share of the TV advertising market in 2012,” it noted. 
Morgan Stanley also noted that its pay TV services would grow. “In pay TV the investments in new TV channels and sports rights over recent years should allow MTG to grow subscribers numbers, particularly on non-DTH platforms and gradually increase operating margins to 20% in this division.”last_img read more

Twitter and media measurement company Nielsen are

first_imgTwitter and media measurement company Nielsen are creating a ratings system based on the amount of Twitter conversation around TV shows.The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of TV conversation on Twitter. Nielsen said the system aims to give TV networks and advertisers real-time metrics to help them understand TV audience social activity.It is expected to launch during Q3 next year, initially in the US.The launch follows Neilsen’s recent acquisition of SocialGuide, which captures Twitter TV activity for all US programming across 234 TV channels in English and Spanish, covering more than 36,000 programmes.“Our users love the shared experience of watching television while engaging with other viewers and show talent. Twitter has become the world’s digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time. Nielsen is who the networks rely on to give better content to viewers and clearer results to marketers,” said Chloe Sladden, Twitter’s vice-president of media. “This effort reflects Nielsen’s foresight into the evolving nature of the TV viewing experience, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Twitter ecosystem partners on this metric to help broadcasters and advertisers create truly social TV experiences.”last_img read more

Russian pay TV operator NTV Plus plans to increase

first_imgRussian pay TV operator NTV Plus plans to increase its reach by providing an over-the-top TV service and is in talks with device manufacturers, according to local reports.NTV Plus marketing director Alexey Zhuravlev was reported by the Digit.ru website as saying that its entry into online TV would enable the broadcaster to expand its audience and launch new services. He did not disclose a launch date.NTV Plus, which broadcasts via satellite, previously launched an IPTV version of its service on the Citycom network in Smolensk at the end of 2011, and also teamed up with Vick Telecom to offer a similar service in Murom in west-central Russia.NTV Plus’s satellite TV rivals Tricolor TV and Orion Express are also reportedly looking to develop online offerings to complement their satellite services.last_img read more

HBOs Game of Thrones Pay TV operator Sky Deutschl

first_imgHBO’s Game of ThronesPay TV operator Sky Deutschland has seen over one million views for HBO series Game of Thrones on its Sky Go TV anywhere service since April.Sky Deutschland is currently showing new episodes from the third season of the show in synchronised and English versions on its Sky Atlantic HD channel.last_img

SES successfully launched its Astra 2E satellite i

first_imgSES successfully launched its Astra 2E satellite into orbit on board an ILS Proton Breeze M booster last night at 3.38 am local time in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.The Proton rocket released the satellite into geostationary transfer orbit after nine hours and 12 minutes. Astra 2E will be deployed at the 28.2/28.5 degrees orbital arc and is designed to deliver next generation broadcast and broadband services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.The satellite was built for SES by Astrium of France and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform. It carries 60 Ku-band transponders, including 12 incremental transponders for delivery of services outside Europe, as well as 4 Ka-band transponders.“We would like to thank Astrium and ILS for the successful ASTRA 2E mission. The 54th satellite in SES’ global fleet provides significant capacity expansion at a strategic orbital neighborhood over Europe. In combination with ASTRA 2F which was launched in September 2012, and the upcoming ASTRA 2G due for launch next year, ASTRA 2E is an important part of our fleet renewal programme at the 28.2/28.5 degrees orbital arc,” said Romain Bausch, president and CEO of SES.last_img read more