(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)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 paths
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 drywall
The 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.
The 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 Taboola
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 RepMarino@house.mi.gov. Categories: Marino News 31Jul Rep. Marino joins Midwest legislators urging the release of invasive species plan to protect the Great Lakes
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,News
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 News
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 â€“ 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.
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.
ShareTweetShareEmail0 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 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 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 Shares
Share6TweetShare6Email12 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 Shares
Share26Tweet20Share19Email65 Shares“toxic.” Credit: wetribeJuly 12, 2017; New York TimesA New York Times article from last week describes how severe ongoing stress can affect a child’s brain. The article focuses on the treatment of children for whom the toxic stress of day-to-day survival results in learning disabilities, behavioral abnormalities, and possibly metabolic and immunological impairments.Mounting research on potential biological dangers of toxic stress is prompting a new public health approach to identifying and treating the effects of poverty, neglect, abuse and other adversity. While some in the medical community dispute that research, pediatricians, mental health specialists, educators and community leaders are increasingly adopting what is called “trauma-informed” care.Clearly, the focus of the Times piece is on medical efforts to diagnose and treat these young victims. One hopes, however, that a public health approach to toxic stress might also examine and treat the root causes of the problem. Waiting for children to be damaged by poisonous environments and then providing them with remediation treatments seems remarkably similar to the strategy used to address lead poisoning for the past several decades.Toxic stress is not a new diagnosis. A 2013 op-ed from the NYT “Opinionator” blog roundup column identifies the role of the parent in creating a safe environment for the child and spotlights the work of Child First, a program pioneered in Shelton, Connecticut, that focuses on improving parenting skills. Alas, asking families to build stable homes for at-risk children is unrealistic when those families are overwhelmed by the challenges of toxic neighborhoods. Lack of community supports like affordable and reliable daycare, living-wage jobs, and safe housing can quickly defeat the most carefully prepared parents.A brand new study reported in Science Daily shows that since the Great Recession, a higher percentage of children are living in economically impacted neighborhoods—the kind that generate toxic stress. One of the study authors, Rachel Kimbro, expresses the hope that “the research will shed light on the impact of neighborhoods on academic success and will allow educators and policymakers to design interventions to help underperforming students.” It’s another example of remedial treatment instead of prevention.In each of these reports, the challenge is seen to be developing new ways to diagnose and treat children who suffer from toxic stress. Much less attention is given to prevention. While the Times article acknowledges the sociogenic roots of toxic stress, the social interventions recommended are modest and post-diagnostic. The article cites a 2016 study that urged “pediatricians to routinely screen families for poverty and to help those affected find food pantries, homeless shelters and other resources.” One has to ask, how’s that treatment working?While there’s a growing movement among medical professionals to prescribe real social treatments, the pace of change is glacial and the threat of healthcare “reform” is ever-present. Social activists working in non-medical, nonprofit settings must poke, prod, cajole, and shame the medical establishment to “prescribe housing.” The moment calls for social activism among housing providers, social service providers, and advocates for the poor. The evidence of the connection between location and toxic stress could not be clearer. It is the political will to end social and economic inequality that is lacking.Scattered examples of collaboration among housing advocates and medical professionals are promising, but the collaborations are still dominated by medicine’s treatment model and medical providers capital investment interests. Politico this week offers a profile of efforts by the Cleveland Clinic to transform its neighborhood by supporting a new transportation corridor through its inner city neighborhood and new business development on the periphery of the medical campus. Meanwhile, their low-income neighbors are suffering from lead poisoning and toxic stress at alarming levels.Here’s what we know can make a difference: universal rental assistance and universal legal representation in eviction court. Think of it as the Matthew Desmond prescription. For seasoning, add in source-of-income protections for tenants with federal assistance, and home search supports for geographic mobility. None is perfect, but even modest changes in the household housing supports can make a profound difference. The time to start is now.—Spencer WellsShare26Tweet20Share19Email65 Shares
Share46TweetShareEmail46 SharesBy Tulsa world – , Public Domain, LinkOctober 11, 2018; Washington PostEarlier this month, Tulsa Republican mayor, G.T. Bynum, announced that the city would reopen an investigation into whether Black victims of the city’s 1921 massacre, often called the Tulsa Race Riot, were buried in mass graves. “I always thought, if I am ever mayor…that I would do something about it. Because I think if there are mass graves there, the citizens of Tulsa deserve to know, and the victims and their families deserve to know it.”As DaNeen Brown writes in the Washington Post, “Witnesses to the massacre recalled seeing white mobs looting homes of Black people, pulling out finely carved furniture, pianos, mink and leopard coats, before setting the houses on fire. There were reports that hundreds of bodies were thrown into the Arkansas River or buried in mass graves.”The Tulsa massacre remains, according to the nonprofit Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, which opened a 25,000-square-foot museum in 1995, “the single deadliest and most destructive act of racial violence and domestic terrorism in United States history.”As Brown details:The massacre began on May 31, 1921, when white mobs descended on Greenwood, burning houses and shooting Black people. Some people were burned alive, and 40 square blocks of business and residential property—valued then at more than $1 million—were destroyed.The rampage, which lasted 48 hours, left more than 10,000 Black residents of Greenwood homeless and as many as 300 Black people dead. The original reported death toll was 36. However, a 2001 commission estimated the death toll to lie between 100 and 300.For decades, however, as A.G. Sultzberger writes in the New York Times, “The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.” It was only in 2012 when the public schools in Tulsa began to teach about the riot in history classes.The Tulsa riot was the nation’s largest, but it was hardly unique. As Sultzberger explains, “a string of violent riots were started by whites in the years after World War I.” This timing is not coincidental. As Chad Williams, now a Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Brandeis University, writes, during World War I, “Over one million African Americans responded to their draft calls, and roughly 370,000 Black men were inducted into the army.” After the war, “the return of Black soldiers spawned a nationwide surge in violence, much of it directed at African Americans.” Other prominent cities, Williams notes, to have similar white riots after World War I include Chicago and Washington, DC.Commonly, as was the case in Tulsa, riots would start with an accusation that a Black man had sexually assaulted a white woman. A headline in one paper in Tulsa, was “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator.” The same paper ran an editorial disturbingly titled, “To Lynch Negro Tonight.”What was considered “assault” in 1921 Tulsa? According to Brown, there was an interaction involving Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old Black shoeshiner, and Sarah Page, a white elevator operator, in which the Oklahoma Historical Society indicates that “the most common explanation is that Rowland stepped on Page’s foot as he entered the elevator, causing her to scream.”Notably, the site of the Tulsa race riots, the Greenwood District, was one of the most prosperous Black communities in the United States at the time, widely known as “Black Wall Street.” Brown explains, “Before the massacre, Greenwood had a population of more than 100,000 Black people, according to the Greenwood Cultural Center’s history of the community. It was home to luxury shops, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, a hospital, a savings and loan, a post office, three hotels, jewelry and clothing stores, two movie theaters, a library, pool halls, a bus and cab service, a nationally recognized school system, six private airplanes, and two Black newspapers.”The approaching 100th anniversary of the Tulsa riots, which is only two-and-a-half years away, may have helped motivate the mayor’s action to search for mass graves.“We owe it to the community to know if there are mass graves in our city,” says Bynum. “We owe it to the victims and their family members. We will do everything we can to find out what happened in 1921.”—Steve DubbShare46TweetShareEmail46 Shares
Russian satellite operator Tricolor’s subscriber base has passed the nine million mark.The operator said it has an audience reach of 30 million, meaning a fifth of the country uses its services.According to Paul Basov, general director of Tricolor owner the National Satellite Company, the operator has attracted customers by launching new channels and services, including multiroom and satellite radio. “Tricolor TV” is not going to stop here,” Basov said.
TV software company ANT has warned that revenue and profit for the year are expected to fall short of expectations.In a trading statement, ANT said that despite benefiting from a “significant royalty payment from a customer toll out” would not compensate fully for the fact that “licence bookings are significantly down on the prior year”.
Google is launching a new upgrade of its Google TV offering, beginning with LG devices this week.The new update adds voice search to the service. Google has also renamed its TV & Movies app as PrimeTime and upgraded it, allowing users to browse for one show while watching another, see TV shows you recently watched, and find other suggestions based on what they enjoy watching.Google has also updated the YouTube app for Android and Google TV, enabling users to play any YouTube video from an Android device or TV with just one button.The updates will roll out on LG devices initially. First-generation Google TV devices will receive the PrimeTime and YouTube updates.
Belarusian IPTV provider Beltelecom has added cultural and education channel Belarus-3 to its Zala TV line-up.The channel broadcasts in two languages - Russian and Belarusian – and airs documentaries, historical shows, talk shows, religious TV programs and programs for children and students.
Netflix has expanded its share of the UK market in the last six months as Amazon’s recently rebranded LoveFilm service has suffered a decline, according to new research by Decipher Media.The digital consultancy’s Mediabug report claims that in the past six months Netflix has grown its membership among UK web users from 10% to 14%. In the same time period, Amazon Prime Instant Video’s share has dipped from 8% to 6%.“After a year of high quality original content, and announcements of more to come in 2014, Netflix has also grown its paid base. In the last six months, those only on a free trial has reduced from 39% to 25% of their base,” said Decipher Media.The twice-yearly report also said that Sky On Demand has the largest usage share of all TV VoD services in the UK at 24%. This is followed by the BBC’s iPlayer which has a 16% share across its different platforms.In terms of OTT device, Decipher estimates that 2% of the UK’s online population now owns a Now TV box, while Google’s recently launched Chromecast streaming stick has notched up predicted sales of “more than 100,000.”The research also claims that tablets have now overtaken smartphones in terms of the number of consumers who use them to watch video regularly.“Tablet ownership has been growing steadily for a number of years,” said the report. “Smartphones, in the meantime, have flatlined and there is no indication that tablets are slowing down, having also passed the 50% mark in general ownership.”
The former chief digital strategy officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Mitch Singer, has joined Canadian software development firm General Harmonics as vice president of digital business development. Singer, who also becomes special advisor to the board, will contribute to the strategic direction of the firm, including product development, marketing and business development/strategic alliances.General Harmonics provides encoding technologies and its GH ‘DynamicMedia Platform’ offers mobile and terrestrial delivery of audio, video and related media.