Commonwealth chief expresses concern for victims of landslides in Sri Lanka

“The focus now must be on the recovery effort to help the families and communities who have been caught up so terribly in this tragedy. The entire Commonwealth family offers its thanks and appreciation to the rescue workers who are performing heroic acts in very challenging conditions. “Our thoughts are with all those in Sri Lanka who have been affected by the devastating landslides caused by heavy rainfall. On behalf of the Commonwealth I offer our condolences and deep sympathy to the Government and people of Sri Lanka, particularly to families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, and all who are suffering physical and mental trauma as a result of this catastrophe.” the Secretary-General said in a statement. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland today expressed her profound concern for the victims of landslides in Sri Lanka, following torrential rain.More than 200 people are reportedly unaccounted for, several bodies have been found, and thousands have been displaced, following mudslides in the country’s central Kegalle district. “As we extend our deepest sympathies to the Sri Lankan people and its government, we recognise that the effects of this disaster will continue to have an impact for many months and years to come. I am calling on the Commonwealth family to provide support to Sri Lanka through coordinated assistance in the aftermath of this tragedy.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

World record 109 terabits per second over single optical fibre

first_imgImagine being able to download three-months-worth of HD video in one second. If it sounds implausible, it’s not. Two different research groups have been working on a way to speed up fiber optic technology to record-setting broadband speeds.When the first commercial fiber-optic communications system was developed in 1975, it operated at a bit rate of 45 Mbps. Today, we have speeds of 109Tb per second which is drastically improved. New Scientist said that the route between New York and Washington D.C., which is one of the highest trafficked routes in the world, outputs “a few terabits per second.” So, relatively speaking, having a way to deliver 100 terabits per second is quite desirable for the future of data communications.AdChoices广告The 109 terabit per second speed was achieved by the National Institute of Information and Communications in Tokyo. The group developed a fibre that uses seven “light-guiding cores,” instead of the normal single core. Each core was able to carry 15.6 terabits per second, which totaled 109 terabits combined.The second record-setter came from NEC’s Dayou Qian, who achieved 101.7 terabits per second. His method did not use more cores, but instead created the pulse sent down the line from 370 separate lasers. Each laser contained a small packet of information, but combined to form a massive amount of data transfer. He used 165 kilometers of fibre to demonstrate this super-fast transfer rate.Though we probably wont’ be seeing it in our homes anytime soon, huge data centers, like those of Amazon, Facebook, and Google would be smart to start using these techniques for faster speeds. But high traffic on the web thanks to services like Hulu and Netflix, coupled with more people hooking up to the Internet every day, means we’ll definitely need these ridiculously high speeds in the near future.via New Scientistlast_img read more

Snapshot Volcano at rest on a sunny afternoon

first_imgMount St. Helens looms large above the Lewisville Highway north of Battle Ground on a sunny Friday afternoon.It’s been a quiet summer geologically at the Cascade Range’s most active volcano. This week, there was no unusual seismic activity at Mount St. Helens, which most recently erupted in 2008.On March 8, 2005, it sent a cloud almost 7 miles into the air, causing dustings of ash to fall in Ellensburg, Yakima, and Toppenish. Its most famous eruption was in May 1980.last_img

NIMSME celebrates Independence Day with pomp

first_imgYousufguda: The National Institute for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (ni-msme) celebrated the 73rd Independence Day at the ni-msme Yousufguda campus with great pomp. D Chandra Sekhar, director unfurled the national flag. He said, “The sacrifice of the freedom fighters is the foundation this Independent India is born on. He shared his plans for ni-msme contributing in the country’s development” The ni-msme family comprising of the employees, faculty members, students were present.last_img

Stock markets rebound Sensex gains 400 points rupee recovers from Thursdays low

first_imgIndian stock markets rebounded on Friday, tracking positive global cues and a strengthening rupee, reversing Thursday’s losses. The S&P BSE Sensex gained 401 points, or 1.64% to close at 24,870.69, while the NSE Nifty ended at 7,563.55, up 138 points, or 1.87%.The rupee opened at 68.09 against the dollar, up from the previous day’s closing of 68.23, according to a note by IFA Global. It had plunged to a new 29-month low on Thursday.”Today the rupee opened higher against the dollar after Bank of Japan adopted negative rates and kept stimulus unchanged,” the note said.The Sensex rally was led by Coal India, Hero Motocorp, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s, Bajaj Auto and Hindustan Unilever, while State Bank of India, Tata Steel, NTPC and ICICI Bank were among the major losers.ICICI Bank shares hit a 52-week low of Rs 216, a day after the largest private-sector lender announced a spike in gross non-performing assets (NPAs) to 4.72% of total advances as of 31 December, 2015, up from 3.77% in the September 2015 quarter and 3.40% in the quarter ended 31 December, 2014.The bank’s provisioning for bad loans climbed to Rs 2,844 crore in the third quarter, from Rs 980 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal.Net NPAs, as at 31 December, 2015, were Rs 10,014 crore ($1,514 million), compared to Rs 6,828 crore ($1,032 million) as on 30 September, 2015.”The increase in non-performing assets was primarily due to the decline and continuing weakness in the global steel cycle; and RBI’s objective of early and conservative recognition of stress and provisioning, pursuant to which RBI has asked banks to review certain loan accounts and their classification over the two quarters ending December 31, 2015, and March 31, 2016,” the bank said in a statement on Thursday.last_img read more

Bullying boss reduces employees productivity

first_imgIf you are a bullying boss, your employees are more likely to be less committed to their work, take longer breaks or come in late without notice, finds a study. The study led by researchers from the Portland State University in Oregon, US, showed that a bullying boss can decrease “organisational citizenship behaviour”, or the voluntary extras one does that are not part of the job responsibilities. On the other hand, the study also reveled that he/she increases “counterproductive work behaviour”, such as sabotage at work, coming into work late, taking longer-than-allowed breaks, doing tasks incorrectly or withholding effort, all of which can affect the team and co-workers. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf”The findings highlight the consequences of abusive supervision, which is becoming increasingly common in workplaces,” said Liu-Qin Yang, Associate Professor at the University. The study, published in the Journal of Management, attributes negative work behaviour to either perceptions of injustice or work stress. In response to perceptions of injustice, the employees are more likely to purposely withhold from the unpaid extras that help the organisation, like helping co-workers with problems or attending meetings that are not mandatory. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveHaving an abusive boss can also lead to work stress, which reduces an employee’s ability to control negative behaviour or contribute to the organisation in a positive way. “Stress is sometimes uncontrollable. You don’t sleep well, so you come in late or take a longer break, lash out at your co-workers or disobey instructions,” Yang further added. “But justice is more rational. Something isn’t fair, so you’re purposely not going to help other people or when the boss asks if anyone can come in on a Saturday to work, you don’t volunteer.” The researchers of the study have highly recommended that organisations should take measures to reduce or curb abusive supervision. Regular training programmes to help supervisors learn and adopt more effective interpersonal and management skills, implementing fair policies as well as conducting stress management training can help employees, they suggested.last_img read more

LogMeIn retires cloud storage service Cubby

first_imgLogMeIn retires cloud storage service Cubby by Martin Brinkmann on October 18, 2016 in Internet – Last Update: May 22, 2018 – 16 commentsLogMeIn announced today that it will retire the cloud storage service Cubby starting November 16, 2016 for free users of the service.Cubby was introduced to the cloud storage scene back in 2012 introducing then unique features such as direct syncing of data between devices bypassing the cloud.The second feature that set Cubby apart from most solutions was that it allowed users to select folders from any location on the system for synchronization.The service introduced new interesting features later that year. This included options to turn off cloud sharing to use Cubby only for local data sharing. Another new feature was Cubby Locks. It enabled you to encrypt files using the account password.LogMeIn introduced Cubby Pro accounts back at the end of the year 2012 which made features such as DirectSync or Cubby Locks Pro exclusive.Cubby retirementEmails sent out to Cubby customers inform them that Cubby is being shut down.Today, LogMeIn is announcing plans to retire Cubby from its current line of products. We understand this may present challenges for you, but you don’t have to go just yet – your Cubby account will remain active until November 16, 2016, but after this date your account will expire.The expiration date depends on the account type. Free accounts expire on November 16, 2016 for instance, while Pro and Enterprise accounts will remain active for the length of the subscription period plus 30 days. LogMeIn created a video that demonstrates how to move files from Cubby to Dropbox.The company operates LogMeIn Pro which offers 1 TB of cloud storage and more, and recommends it as an alternative especially to Cubby Pro and Enterprise customers.LogMeIn Pro has a plan for individuals, but it comes at a price of €149 per year which is quite expensive if file storage is all that is required. It does add remote access functionality and a LastPass Premium license to it on top of that.The company has created a FAQ for Pro and Enterprise customers that answers several pressing questions including how to migrate files to third-party services or LogMeIn Pro, or how LogMeIn Pro differs from Cubby in functionality.LogMeIn Pro includes 1TB of file storage for all users, regardless of which Pro subscription package you choose. With Pro, you can also share files and folders with an unlimited number of users.LogMeIn Pro includes user level access controls to share files and folders only with specific users, however Pro does not include offline syncing.Cubby Enterprise customers will lose certain functionality with Pro, including the admin activity log, policy management, MSI deployment, domain-based administration, and ADFS integration, but they will have unlimited users, which was an additional cost with Cubby.DirectSync and Cubby Locks functionality is not supported as well. LogMeIn stated already that it won’t bring back DirectSync functionality, but that it may add a security feature to protect files from being accessed by anyone but the file owner.Closing WordsCubby supported several interesting features, DirectSync especially, but it never managed to gain much traction in the cloud storage niche.Free users should not have any issues migrating away from Cubby, considering that most storage providers offer 5 Gigabyte or more of online storage as well.Those who used Cubby for direct syncing capabilities may want to check out BitTorrent Sync Resilio Sync which offers that functionality.Now You: are you affected by Cubby’s retirement? Did you use the service in the past?SummaryArticle NameLogMeIn retires cloud storage service CubbyDescriptionLogMeIn announced today that it will retire the cloud storage service Cubby starting November 16, 2016 for free users of the service.Author Martin BrinkmannPublisher Ghacks Technology NewsLogo Advertisementlast_img read more

China announces 23 arrests in US gun scheme

first_img(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories BEIJING (AP) – Chinese police on Tuesday announced the arrests of 23 people as part of a joint U.S.-Chinese investigation into a gun trafficking ring that smuggled dozens of firearms into the country.The arrests announced by the Ministry of Public Security follow the detention of three men in the United States last month in connection with the scheme. They included Joseph Debose of North Carolina, a staff sergeant in a U.S. National Guard special forces unit, along with two Chinese nationals. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Debose was arrested on May 20 in a sting operation when he arrived with another shipment of guns for export to China and had been armed with a loaded .45-caliber pistol, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.The smuggling ring defaced serial numbers on the guns to disguise their origin, but U.S. investigators working with Shanghai police were able to trace some of them to Debose.“This level of cooperation between American law enforcement officials and authorities inside mainland China is a sign of optimism and could lead to even greater law enforcement cooperation in the future,” the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement Tuesday.The Chinese ministry said the latest arrests took place in 16 different provinces and cities and led to the seizure of 93 weapons, large amounts of gun parts and more than 50,000 bullets.It said the investigation stemmed from the detention in August last year of a 32-year-old Chinese man, Wang Ting, at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport after he attempted to claim an overnight delivery package that was labeled as stereo equipment but actually contained nine handguns and additional parts.Firearms are tightly controlled in China and private ownership is for the most part illegal. Periodic campaigns aim to round up trafficking rings and seize and destroy illegal weapons. Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

Ramadan fast imposes difficult choice on diabetic Muslims

first_img 0 Comments   Share   AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — For years, diabetic Shawkat al-Khalili ignored his doctor’s orders not to fast during the holy month of Ramadan when most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset.Islam exempts the sick from fasting, but the 70-year-old al-Khalili said he couldn’t bring himself to violate one of the five pillars of his religion, even after he lost a toe to diabetes. Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Despite the hardships, compliance with Ramadan rules is widespread. Those who don’t fast usually eat and drink in seclusion out of respect. Ramadan is also a time of increased religious observance and socializing, with families sharing rich meals after sunset, followed by gatherings with friends or neighbors.In this climate, devout Muslims with diabetes say it’s very difficult to be the odd one out.Al-Khalili said he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes 30 years ago and kept fasting. About 10 years ago, doctors told him he had to stop, but he wouldn’t.He kept ignoring his doctors even after his left toe was amputated four years ago. Finally, two years ago, he stopped fasting.“I don’t feel good because I’m not practicing a major pillar of Islam, but it’s … necessary for protecting my health and stop the deterioration,” al-Khalili said during his pre-Ramadan checkup Sunday at Jordan’s National Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics. “I hope God will forgive me.”Dr. Nahla Khawaja, an endocrinologist, said it’s the busiest time of the year at the center, with most patients asking for Ramadan guidance. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Under the center’s rules, Type 1 diabetics — whose bodies don’t make the blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin — should not fast. For many Type 2 diabetics, or those whose bodies don’t make enough insulin, the no-fasting recommendation also applies.This includes those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, those suffering from frequent sharp drops in blood sugar and those with advanced complications, such as damage to eyes, kidneys or limbs, Khawaja said.Those who ignore the advice can face a range of risks, from fainting and dizziness to a diabetic coma and stroke.“It’s a great struggle” to persuade patients to not fast, particularly the elderly who often become more devout with age, Khawaja said.However, other Type 2 diabetics can fast safely under supervision, and some, including recently diagnosed obese patients, might actually benefit from fasting, said Egypt-based Dr. Adel el-Sayed, the MENA chair of the International Diabetes Federation. He said diabetics who insist on fasting need to have their treatment adjusted and blood sugar closely monitored to mitigate the risks.Sawsan Abu Amireh, a patient at the Jordanian center and a Type 1 diabetic, said she stopped fasting in 2010 on her doctor’s orders. “I’m very upset when I see my children fasting and I’m not fasting,” said the 46-year-old. “I even take my medication out of sight of my children (during Ramadan).” Like the retired teacher in Amman, tens of millions of diabetic Muslims struggle each year with such stressful choices. Increasingly, physicians team up with preachers or look for new methods to educate and protect the faithful.The stakes are rising, particularly in the Arab world, where diabetes is spreading rapidly because of growing obesity caused by a more sedentary lifestyle and easy availability of processed food.The Middle East and North Africa, which are overwhelmingly Muslim, have the world’s highest comparative prevalence of diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation. In 2014, some 38 million people in the region, or one in 10, were diabetics, a figure expected to double in a generation, the federation says. Another 18 million suspected sufferers have yet to be diagnosed.In recent years, the fast has also become more challenging for diabetics and their physicians as Ramadan — a lunar month that moves through the seasons — now takes place in summer. In many parts of the Mideast, temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) and daylight lasts for 15 hours, increasing risks of low blood sugar and dehydration.This year, Ramadan is to begin on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober In this Sunday, June 14, 2015, photo, a nurse takes blood from a patient at Jordan’s National Center for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan. The center is particularly busy ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when diabetics seek advice on whether they can observe the sunrise-to-sundown Ramadan fast. (AP Photo/Khaled Al Odat) In some areas outside the Middle East, physicians have teamed up with imams to get the message across.A leading diabetes charity, Diabetes UK, publishes information on fasting and Ramadan on its website, including talking points for Muslim preachers.Newham University Hospital, in a heavily Muslim neighborhood of London, offers pre-Ramadan programs where diabetics can hear the religious and medical views on safe fasting. They also are counseled to avoid the common excesses of Ramadan, such as consuming large amounts of fatty and sweet foods in the evening.The hospital’s imam, Yunus Dudhwala, said his job is to make sure doctors and nurses understand the religious importance of the fast.“If medics don’t understand that, the only advice they will usually give is that, ‘Oh, you’ve got diabetes, don’t fast,’” he said. “I think that’s the wrong message.” Still, he added: “Islam does not say you should fast and become a martyr.”El-Sayed is trying to persuade mobile phone companies to help him target diabetes patients and deliver information through text messages. He’s also working with international experts on detailed guidelines, to be published next year, on who can and cannot fast. Doctors said they don’t have detailed figures about the health damage suffered by diabetic patients because the most severe cases end up in emergency rooms, not in specialty clinics. But some patients won’t be deterred.Nayel Thnaibat, 65, has failed to manage his diabetes since being diagnosed in 1982. He has lost most of his sight and is bedridden, with one leg amputated above the knee.Still, he says he’ll fast again this year, despite the risks.“God will protect us,” said the retired civil servant who lives with his 60-year-old wife Nofeh, also diabetic, in the southern Jordanian town of Karak. “I will not violate the fast even if I die.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

Ministry of Tourism focuses on strengthening of facilities at tourist destinations

first_imgThe Ministry of Tourism (MoT) is focusing on integrated development of tourist circuits and destinations in the country. Following two new schemes have been launched in 2014-15 for this purpose:1. Swadesh Darshan for Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits around Specific Themes.Under Swadesh Darshan, integrated development of theme based circuits is taken up in order to provide engaging and complete tourism experience to both domestic and foreign tourists.Twelve theme based circuits i.e. North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit and Ramayana Circuit have been identified for development under Swadesh Darshan.2. National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to beautify and improve the amenities and infrastructure at pilgrimage centres of all faiths.The PRASAD Scheme integrated development of identified pilgrimage destinations is taken up in a planned, prioritised and sustainable manner to provide complete religious tourism experience to the tourists.Under PRASAD, initially 13 cities have been identified namely Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Dwarka, Gaya, Kamakhaya, Kanchipuram, Kedarnath, Mathura, Patna, Puri, Varanasi and Velankanni.last_img read more

Bank of Cyprus appoints new CEO

first_imgThe Bank of Cyprus’ board of directors on Monday announced it had appointed Panicos Nicolaou as the group’s chief executive officer to succeed John Patrick Hourican.Nicolaou’s appointment is subject to subject to approval by the European Central Bank (ECB) and he will formally take up his duties once his appointment is approved.Nicolaou joined the bank in 2001 and his career has been mostly within the corporate banking division. He was promoted to the position of director of the corporate banking division in June 2016 and has been an executive committee member since then.He has been responsible for managing the corporate banking centres throughout Cyprus, the international corporate banking centre and international operations, as well as the bank’s factoring unit. Under his supervision, corporate banking serves over 2,500 corporate clients across key sectors of the economy.Nicolaou holds a BSc in financial services from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) School of Management, UK, a BSc in mechanical engineering from National Technical University of Athens (Metsovio), Greece and an MSc in mechanical & industrial engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. He is also an associate member of the UK Chartered Institute of Bankers since 2004.In the months ahead Nicolaou as CEO-designate will work closely with Hourican to help ensure a smooth transition.“After a thorough international search process, I am delighted that Panicos has emerged from a strong field as our choice to lead the Group in its next chapter,” said the bank’s chairman Dr Josef Ackermann. “Panicos comes from the Bank of Cyprus family, with a long and successful career and notable contributions in strengthening business relationships with our major corporate clients. My board colleagues and I are fully confident that the Bank of Cyprus will remain in good hands with Panicos at the helm.”You May LikeCalifornia Earthquake AuthorityMake earthquake insurance a family priorityCalifornia Earthquake AuthorityUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Our View: Argaka mukhtar should not act as if he owns the beachUndoA grotesque choice of prime minister for Britain?UndoTales from the Coffeeshop: Lies, lies and holy revelationsUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

Rep Marino joins Midwest legislators urging the release of invasive species plan

first_img State Rep. Steve Marino (R-Harrison Twp.) joined with 65 members of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus in requesting the federal government release a report on combating invasive species in the Great Lakes.“I joined my colleagues across the Midwest because the Great Lakes are an invaluable natural resource that millions of people in our country rely on every day for business, tourism and recreational activity,” Marino said.In April 2015, the U.S. Army of Engineers started work on a plan to control the transfer of invasive species, including Asian Carp, from the Mississippi River Basin into the Great Lakes ecosystem. This plan, named the Brandon Road Project Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP), was initially scheduled to be released for review on Feb. 28, 2017, but was delayed. After receiving numerous bipartisan requests from all levels of government, including the letter from Rep. Marino and his colleagues, the TSP has been scheduled for release on August 7th.“The risks to our state and local communities was too great to continue this delay,” Marino said. “The potential damage to our lakes and businesses that rely on them increases exponentially each day.”The Great Lakes Legislative Caucus is a nonpartisan organization of state and provincial legislators from the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces that are home to the Great Lakes. Their goal is to protect and restore the Great Lakes ecosystem. For more information please contact Rep. Marino’s legislative office at (517) 373-0113, or by email at Categories: Marino News 31Jul Rep. Marino joins Midwest legislators urging the release of invasive species plan to protect the Great Lakeslast_img read more

Rep LaFave votes in favor of reforms to protect retiree benefits for

first_img State Rep. Beau LaFave of Iron Mountain today voted in favor of reforms to help protect the retirement benefits of police, firefighters and other local government employees.The legislation approved by the Michigan House will help identify local governments most at risk of bankruptcy or severe financial hardship due to underfunded retirement plans. The legislation sets up a system to help guide local governments to solid financial footing, so they can continue to pay for promised retiree benefits and public services.“The last thing I want is a federal bankruptcy court to cut retiree benefits, like what happened with Detroit,” LaFave said. “This plan will shine a spotlight on the financial health of local government retirement plans and help preserve benefits. It provides a framework to allow locals every opportunity to assess and improve their own budgets. That’s the best way to preserve retirement benefits for police and firefighters, and protect funding for public services.”Michigan’s local government employee retirement systems have unfunded liabilities fast approaching $20 billion, including a surprising amount in the Upper Peninsula. The legislation working its way through the Legislature aims to help communities improve their plans’ finances.The plan is identical to recommendations from a task force assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year, which enjoyed broad support of local governments and police and fire unions.The legislation creates a reporting system with uniform, realistic financial and accounting standards for local government retirement plans. An early detection system will help identify potential funding problems and allow local governments to act quickly to mitigate them. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities aren’t meeting set criteria to alleviate their debts.“We want local governments to have the opportunity to fix things on their own, without the state or federal government coming in on their high horses and forcing changes down our throats,” LaFave said. “I believe in shining a light on these systemic problems and helping communities make their own changes when they’re needed.”House Bill 5298 and companion legislation advance to the Senate for consideration.##### 07Dec Rep. LaFave votes in favor of reforms to protect retiree benefits for Michigan police, firefighters Categories: LaFave News,Newslast_img read more

Rep Victory votes to bring tax relief to Michigan families seniors

first_img State Rep. Roger Victory, of Hudsonville, today approved legislation giving Michigan families and seniors broader income tax relief.The legislation continues and increases personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on their state income taxes. Other bills in the package provide additional tax relief for senior citizens.“Michigan families and seniors will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money because of this legislation,” Victory said. “This is a good step towards providing Michigan residents the tax relief they deserve.”One of the bills ensures Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes after federal tax reforms signed into law last month. The bill increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,800 by the 2020 tax year.The legislation also provides a tax credit for those 62 and older — $100 for single filers and $200 for joint filers – in addition to the personal exemption increase. A third bill would allow taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax to continue to claim exemptions.The House specifically added a provision to make sure public school funding is not negatively affected by the proposal.House Bills 5420-22 advance to the Senate for consideration### 25Jan Rep. Victory votes to bring tax relief to Michigan families, seniors Categories: Victory Newslast_img read more

COLUMN Eliminating red tape for rehabilitated individuals

first_img Categories: Iden News,News 27Aug COLUMN: Eliminating red tape for rehabilitated individuals By state Rep. Brandt Iden of Oshtemo TownshipFor far too long, our definition of ‘rehabilitation’ regarding criminal justice has been the bare minimum.People are released from incarceration every day in Southwest Michigan and around the nation, but are they prepared to succeed in society? Shouldn’t our justice system ensure that those released get back into the workforce responsibly, are able to better their lives and are equipped to support themselves and their families?A responsible and accountable government should work to improve that process, not hamper individuals with additional burdens. Those with little to no prospects upon release may struggle day to day on minimal government assistance or may even return to crime to get by. That is why I have offered a number of proposals during my time in Lansing that would enhance the ability of those individuals to obtain employment and become successful and self-dependent.One of those measures, House Bill 6110, grants discretion to approve an application for an occupational license where one with a criminal record has demonstrated change in their life and a development of good moral character.Another one of my efforts, HB 4117, lifts a requirement of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to automatically deny insurance agent license applications if the applicant was convicted of particular felonies. There is no time limitation on the current law, meaning someone trying to begin a career could be penalized for something that occurred decades ago. That’s unfair and unnecessary when individuals have already paid a price for what they’ve done and have shown renewed responsibility in their community. Further, my legislation, HB 5882, allows for supplier licenses to potentially be granted in instances where a felony occurred more than 10 years prior to the application.In April 2017, I visited the Vocational Village at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia – a first-of-its-kind skilled trades program aimed at preparing offenders for jobs upon release. It was a powerful experience to listen to individuals about the impact that job prospects and employment can have on their lives. Confidence in knowing you can do the job and provide for yourself and a family is pivotal, and I have voted for budget funding for this program and steadfastly support its mission.The Scales of Justice have long been a symbol of equality. Let’s make sure it’s not tipped too far in one direction at the state level due to overregulation and preclusive punitive action.Rep. Brandt Iden, of Oshtemo Township, is in his second term in the Michigan House serving the 61st District, which encompasses the city of Portage and townships of Oshtemo, Prairie Ronde, Schoolcraft and Texas.last_img read more

Rep Albert votes to approve landmark Raise the Age legislation

first_img Categories: Albert News,News 28Nov Rep. Albert votes to approve landmark ‘Raise the Age’ legislation Plan will treat 17-year-olds as minors for most criminal offenses A bipartisan move to change the age at which individuals are considered adults for the purposes of prosecuting and adjudicating criminal offenses was supported today by state Rep. Thomas Albert in a vote by the House Law and Justice Committee.Michigan is one of just five states in the country that automatically consider a 17-year-old to be an adult in criminal offenses. Societal, behavioral and psychological analysis has showed this practice creates a dangerous situation for young people who are in an older prison population and housed with adult inmates.“The bills advanced today will improve Michigan laws related to young offenders,” said Albert, of Lowell. “While protecting young offenders from problems associated with living in an adult prison population, the plan seeks to gradually reduce recidivism and the amount of state taxpayer dollars spent on Michigan’s prison system.”Other states have pursued legislation changing age thresholds for juveniles over the last several years. Connecticut passed similar proposals in 2007 and saw a 21-percent decrease in juvenile court referrals over a seven-year period. The rearrests rates dropped by 7 percent and the costs associated with the change ended up being less than what was originally budgeted.“This is an issue that has a lot of support from the communities I represent in the Michigan House. These bills will go a long way in protecting the young people that we are trying to rehabilitate through the criminal justice process,” Albert said. “I am proud to support ways we can positively reform our criminal justice system – so we can see fewer repeat offenders, more individuals making a positive impact on society upon release and a safer, more prosperous state.”The Michigan House plan, which will still allow for 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in violent criminal offenses, advances to the House floor for further consideration.last_img read more

Looking for Saviors in Bankrupt Detroit

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares August 15, 2014; Washington PostThe planned revival of bankrupt Detroit has taken a twist that contrasts with the history of previous municipal turnarounds in the United States. There is plenty to debate about what constitutes a municipal turnaround and how deep some of the major touted turnarounds of U.S. cities have been, but many people point to places like Providence, Portland (Oregon), Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and others as cities that have made significant advances out of their longstanding socio-economic doldrums. The mix may be different in each, but they all had elements of governmental and civic leadership charting the cities’ pathways up and out of some of their problems.Although Detroit has had a well-publicized commitment from the region’s philanthropic community focused on the nexus between the valuable collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the city’s billions in debt to public employee’s pensions, the distinctive story about Detroit’s future has been focused on corporate saviors, notably Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. It’s not just that Detroit is welcoming private investment. City leaders seem to be leaning on these corporate leaders to guide the city through the post-bankruptcy thicket back toward prosperity.With all but no expectations of federal intervention and limited resources available from the state, Detroit is counting on the private plans of Gilbert and Dimon for the future, with little or no local government constraint, much less direction.One of the nation’s most prominent scofflaw banks, having recently paid a $13 billion federal fine for selling seriously flawed mortgage-backed securities plus $1.7 billion for its role in the Bernie Madoff scandal, JPMorgan Chase has now committed all of $100 million toward blight removal, redevelopment, home loans, and job retraining in Detroit.The Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley says that Detroiters have multiple theories to explain JPMorgan’s investment, such as its being part of its settlement with the Department of Justice or that the money counts as a corporate charitable deduction—or that “it’s a plot to privatize municipal infrastructure.”“The working theory at JPMorgan, from [Aaron] Seybert [JP Morgan’s “point person” in Detroit] up to the executive suite, is that spending $100 million in America’s most famously bankrupt city is a good investment,” Tankersley writes. “Good for Detroit, yes, but also good for JPMorgan. Best case, good for America.”Tankersley cites Dimon as coming to the realization while on a trip to Africa that bank investment can and should help a community like Detroit “bend its path toward greatness.” It’s not clear whether Dimon’s enlightenment occurred before or after the bank was slapped with billions in federal fines. A hundred million dollars from JPMorgan Chase isn’t much from a company with $2.29 trillion in assets shown on its balance sheet and another $1.66 trillion “off balance sheet.” Nonetheless, Dimon and JPMorgan are being lauded for their commitment of $25 million for renovating abandoned homes, $12.5 million for job training for local residents, $12.5 million “to grow small businesses and improve city infrastructure,” and $50 million for two community lending groups.One of the two lending groups is Invest Detroit, with Dave Egner of the Hudson-Webber Foundation as the most prominent representative of Detroit’s nonprofit and philanthropic community on its board of directors. Its mission is investment in commercial and residential developments that demonstrate the investment potential of the city.As viewed by the bank, the $100 million isn’t charity, but investment. “The hope is that JPMorgan, by galloping into the market with a big investment, can help attract a lot of other investment,” Tankersley explains. “That the market will view the bank’s spending not as charity, but as a sign of confidence in the revival, a signal that, yes, these neighborhoods are on the mend, middle-class incomes are poised to move in, and there will be money to be made.”“Bank capital is shareholder capital,” Seybert says. “We’re not a foundation here…Community development needs to be sustainable, and we expect a return on our investment.”The Columbia Journalism Review’s Anna Clark writes about Dan Gilbert as something of a George Bailey come to life to invest in downtown Detroit, except that unlike the humble character played by Jimmy Stewart thanking an angel for saving him in It’s a Wonderful Life, the press characterization of Gilbert seems to be “savior” or “superhero.” In roughly four years, Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, has purchased through his network of companies some 60 major downtown buildings in Detroit.It is undoubtedly a risk to sweep up nine million square feet of commercial office space in downtown Detroit, but it is difficult to imagine that Gilbert faced too many competing bidders for the properties. Clark reports that the local press treats every Gilbert acquisition with boosterish hosannas and virtually no critical commentary.Unlike the attention paid to JPMorgan Chase, there seems to have been relatively little coverage of investigations into Quicken’s lending problems, in part because not many have hit the courts or resulted in penalties beyond a tiny fraction of the charges slapped on Dimon’s firm.The challenge that both Dimon and Gilbert represent is a question, believe it or not, of democracy. Detroit is so desperate—and, according to Jeff Wattrick, the managing editor of Click on Detroit, so prone to a “savior complex”—that the press and others feel compelled to be positive about downtown development and developers, else they risk “upsetting the apple cart.” Some critics worry that the corporate assumption of many municipal functions—for example, the private police force employed by Gilbert that patrols Quicken’s downtown commercial office holdings—is something of a corporate takeover under the guise of “public-private partnerships.” While Gilbert is by far the most prominent of the corporate saviors, and while the city is hardly protesting having players with capital take over the provision of services that the municipal government had been doing poorly or not at all, there is little discussion in Detroit or elsewhere as to what the long-term implications of this trend might mean.Moreover, for the residents of Detroit dispersed throughout its often-struggling neighborhoods, there is another set of questions. To what extent are Gilbert, Dimon, and other corporate saviors (Mike Ilitch of Little Caesars comes to mind) working on broad-based solutions for Detroit or solutions with a primary or exclusive impact on the small parts of the city where they have, or will have, a stake? Tankersley says that JPMorgan’s $100 million is targeted on a tiny “sliver” of the huge city (in landmass); “vast stretches of the city…won’t see a dime of that redevelopment money.” Clark and others intimate that Gilbert is fundamentally focused on his downtown enclave that some have recently taken to calling “Gilbertville” and caution not to read more into his investment and redevelopment strategy than he has actually said he would do. Detroiters might be imbuing their hopes for a savior into the words and plans of Gilbert and Dimon when they actually don’t have the whole city, or even much of the city at all, in their sights.Wherever all these plans to save Detroit might lead in terms of investment and redevelopment, whether for Gilbert’s downtown complex or the Detroit Institute of Arts, the revival of Detroit’s grassroots democratic infrastructure seems to be getting short shrift. When a city looks for a savior (or saviors) to vault it from the depths of despair like a miracle de dieu, it has to have a great deal of faith in those saviors’ motivations and a willingness to cede them, it appears, substantial control over aspects of the city’s own affairs.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Report Finds 18 Years of Paper Classes for UNC Athletes

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesOctober 23, 2014;International Business TimesEmployees at the University of North Carolina were, this week, implicated in a cheating scandal that has spanned nearly two decades and involved 3,100 students, about half of whom were student athletes.Allegedly, students had been enrolled in “paper classes” that had no required attendance and no faculty involvement. The only assignment students received for the course was a research paper graded by a non-faculty member. In these classes, the average GPA was 3.61. In other classes, the average for the same students was 1.917.“In the case of 329 students, the grade they received in a paper class provided the GPA boost that either kept or pushed their GPA above the 2.0 level for a semester,” a report released by the university on Wednesday said. Of those students, 169 were athletes: 123 football players, 15 men’s basketball players, eight women’s basketball players, and 26 athletes from other sports.The repercussions of the scandal could cause the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to force the University of North Carolina (UNC) to forfeit wins or give out fewer scholarships.The UNC incident at UNC isn’t the first academic scandal involving student athletes. According to USA Today, in 1999, former Minnesota academic advisor Jan Gangelhoff admitted to writing over 400 papers for at least 20 basketball players. In 2001, former Georgia basketball head coach Jim Harrick and his son were caught paying players’ expenses and providing higher grades to athletes in classes they rarely attended. In 2013, former Oklahoma State players accused the school of several NCAA violations involving student benefits, academic fraud, drugs, and sex. BusinessWeek has also reported on eleven additional academic scandals involving student athletes.The NCAA mission statement, according to President Mark Emmert, is “to be an integral part of higher education and to focus on the development of our student-athletes.” As reported by Fox Sports, all of the promotional material that the NCAA puts out reinforces that academics should be the foundation of a college athlete’s experience.The question becomes whether or not student athletes are held to a different standard than that of non-athletic students. A New York Times blog post opined, “When colleges lower standards of academic excellence in order to increase standards of athletic excellence, they implicitly support the popular marginalization of the intellectual enterprise.”When the NCAA makes the determination on a disciplinary action, if any, that UNC will face, it will set precedent for all academic institutions and give insight into how diligently universities should monitor the academic standards for student athletes. The focus of the results will not only determine the consequences for UNC, but ideally will prevent similar circumstances from occurring anywhere else.—Erin LambShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Health Insurer Sues for Billions in Lost Federal Payments

first_imgShare6TweetShare6Email12 SharesFebruary 24, 2016; Portland Business JournalOregon-based Health Republic Insurance Company has filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government, seeking to recover as much as $5 billion in “risk corridor” payments promised to insurers in 2014 as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare.Health Republic was one of 23 health insurance “consumer-oriented and operated plans,” or CO-OPs, established under the ACA as a nonprofit, “public option” alternative insurance provider on the health insurance exchanges. The organization’s homepage now features stark “Goodbye and Good Luck Oregon” and “No Health Republic Insurance Company health policies remain in effect” messages. It continues to operate to pay claims made against policies issued during 2014 and 2015.Risk corridors were included in the ACA as a three-year transition strategy to assure insurance companies they wouldn’t lose money by offering policies through the new healthcare exchanges established under the law. The transition strategy was deemed necessary because there were no actuarial bases for determining the cost of insurance using the new terms established for the exchanges under the ACA. However, rather than covering all losses, risk corridor payments fell short by more than $2.5 billion in the first year, and the shortage is expected to be even higher in 2015. The payment shortage, coupled with the severe losses experienced by many health insurance companies, have caused some to cease offering policies in the exchanges.The risk corridor payment shortages can be blamed on insurance companies miscalculating the true cost of providing policies in the exchanges, resulting in higher losses and fewer profitable insurers making payments into the risk corridor fund. Another reason for the shortfalls was Congress passed legislation in 2014 forbidding the federal government to use funds other than risk corridor revenues to make risk corridor payments.Health Republic is seeking full payment for itself and all other insurance companies that were eligible for risk corridor relief in both 2014 and 2015. Proceeds from the lawsuit could be used to discharge debts owed by the insurance cooperatives to the federal government, including $60 million in loans owed by Health Republic.—Michael WylandShare6TweetShare6Email12 Shareslast_img read more