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Archive of posts published in the category: pksqecjz
Aug
19

Costa Ricas tourism sector expects a boost in visitors but not in

first_imgSix out of 10 tourism businesses expect this year’s high season to be better than last year’s, according to a study released Wednesday by the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR).Yet greater demand won’t necessarily translate to new jobs. Some 70 percent of surveyed tourism business owners said they would not be hiring new workers this season, which began in December and ends in March.CANATUR said that 59 percent of employers believe the high season will be “much better” or “better” than the same period last year, while 34 percent expect tourism business to remain unchanged.Only 7 percent of respondents said tourism demand would be “worse” or “much worse” than last year’s high season.“This season represents a big opportunity, as a bigger flow of tourists entering the country is expected, and they will be requiring a lot of services. However, the country must address challenges like increasing investment in security, infrastructure and other areas in order to maintain Costa Rica’s status as an attractive destination that offers a unique experience for our visitors,” CANATUR President Isabel Vargas said.The chamber study also indicates that job creation in the tourism sector has stagnated.“Our industry has been hit hard by high energy bills and operating costs, so employers now are very cautious about creating new jobs,” Vargas added.CANATUR surveyed 205 business owners from hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, car rentals and restaurants. The study was conducted from the last week of November through early December. Facebook Comments Related posts:Delta to add new Minneapolis-San José flight New Costa Rican airline, Ticos Air, now hiring Avianca-Taca drops five nonstop flights to Costa Rica, lays off 261 employees Costa Rica to promote adventure tourism at fairs in Los Angeles and Bostonlast_img read more

Aug
19

Free press accuses Daniel Ortegas dictatorship of wanting to impose a reign

first_imgOn Saturday, Sept. 8, while reporters around the world were celebrating the International Day of Solidarity of Journalists, reporters, and directors of independent media organizations in Nicaragua stated that Daniel Ortega’s government is a “dictatorial regime” that considers “those fighting for freedom are enemies.”The journalists spoke out at the end of a forum of independent journalists, where they also debated the state of the press in relation to the crisis provoked by state repression.“The dictatorship wants to impose a reign of silence, so that you can only hear government’s voice and its wild version of the facts, especially concerning the events of the last five months,” the journalists stated.Since last April, due to the violent repression against peaceful demonstrations, somewhere between 322 and 481 people have died, including a journalist from Bluefields, Ángel Gahona.The International Day of Solidarity of Journalists is celebrated in honor of Julius Fucik, a Czech journalist arrested by the Gestapo and executed 75 years ago.In Nicaragua, that day is commemorated in the midst of aggression against journalists. The panel consisted of Danilo Lacayo, from Canal 12, Wendy Quintero, Elízabeth Romero from La Prensa, Miguel Mora from 100 % Noticias, Mauricio Madrigal from Canal 10, and Patricia Orozco from Onda Local.Watch the Tico Times’ video featuring Elízabeth Romero:The third statementSaturday’s statement was the third by independent journalists. The first one was read on May 9, and the other on July 28. Since the beginning, they condemned the massacre and asked that the right to inform be respected. Later they denounced the violent attacks against critical journalists and mentioned the specific cases of 100 % Noticias, as well as the burning of facilities of the official government stations, Radio Ya and Radio Nicaragua.In June, while he read the position of the independent media, the director of La Prensa, Jaime Chamorro Cardenal – who signed the document – compared the current moment with the Somoza dictatorship.“I believe what’s happening today is worse than what happened under [Anastasio] Somoza because he was fighting against armed people and now they’re fighting against children and teenagers, who are disarmed,” explained Chamorro Cardenal.Constant assaultThe new statement by journalists explained that during the months of crisis, started by the repression of the civil protests, media organizations have faced government harassment.Because of the courage journalists demonstrated when reporting during the crisis, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) recently presented the 2018 Press Freedom Grant Prize to Nicaragua’s independent journalists.The statement on Sept. 8 claims that the attacks by Ortega’s government are “a blow to the freedom of the press” and a “blow the freedom of information for the people of Nicaragua.”The forum of independent journalists denounced every single one of the attacks by Ortega’s dictatorship against the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and the freedom of information.The case involving the Acción 10 team was also presented. Mauricio Madrigal, the channel’s head of information said they “confronted the channel’s management, who, for the first days of protests, opted – because of its policy – to ignore news that was considered political.”Canceled sit-inIndependent journalists decided not to conduct a sit-in in the Journalist’s Roundabout in Managua, which was occupied by government media.These party militants were guarded by a strong contingent of police that stayed near the roundabout, close to the hotel where the independent journalists read their statement.Read the original story in Spanish at La Prensa, first published on Sep. 8 2018.This story was translated into English and republished in The Tico Times as part of a partnership with La Prensa to help bring their coverage of the Nicaraguan crisis to an English-speaking audience. Facebook Comments Related posts:Threats against independent journalists in Nicaragua continue Soy pico rojo: the new form of protest in Nicaragua Three brothers jailed in Jinotepe for supporting protests with music Álvaro Conrado, the young martyr of Nicaragua’s protestslast_img read more

Aug
17

Drunken women divert BA flight

first_imgTwo women reportedly deciding they would meet the captain.  Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Two middle-aged women are reportedly facing a life-ban from British Airways after their drunken behavior forced the carrier to make an emergency landing this week. According to reports, the 50 and 43 year-old women were swearing in front of children, refusing to take their seats, threatened cabin crew and even forced their way into the cockpit on the BA flight from Gatwick to Tunisia, The Daily reported. A passenger on board the flight said the two women also hid in the 737-400’s toilet and lit up a cigarette before deciding they would “march towards the cockpit” and meet the captain.  The pilot was then forced to divert the place to Lyon, where French police arrested the disruptive passengers and put them on a return flight the following day.“Our customers and flying crew deserve a safe and enjoyable flight experience,” a BA spokesperson said. “We do not tolerate any disruptive behaviour on board our flights.”last_img read more

Aug
15

The Real Estate Agents Role in the Digital Age

first_img The proliferation of technology in the real estate space has been slower than in other industries, but in recent years the traditionally analog industry has started to embrace digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive data modeling. With more millennials joining the industry than ever (and also becoming a demographic with the most purchasing power) it’s a necessary advancement. But what does this shift toward tech mean for real estate professionals and those who would use their services? If you’re a millennial, you might be asking, “What exactly will an agent do that I can’t do myself online?According to a recent survey from Clever, millennials are 93% less likely than other generations to use a real estate agent, and are twice as likely to believe that agents are “unimportant” or “not important at all to the home selling process.” Approximately half of the sellers responding to the survey said they would be willing to use an AI platform to find potential buyers, while 37% think that AI could outperform a human agent, and 15% would try to sell their homes on their own without the help of an agent.The millennial habit of choosing digital tools over people is a common trend in many industries. Why hail a cab, when you can order an Uber? Or walk three blocks to your local pizzeria when you can just order said pizza off GrubHub? Many believe that using apps and digital services is quicker and cheaper than handling things through a human. In many cases, they are probably right. But in some industries, you can’t replace the human touch. Millennials looking to buy or sell real estate might be inclined to try to save the fees and commissions associated by taking the DIY route. Sure, finding properties online might be easy, but that’s just one piece of the real estate puzzle next to contracts, negotiations, closing deals, etc. In many cases, those fees are nominal in comparison to the extra profit or savings that the help of an experienced agent can deliver.The most successful real estate deals happen when human professionals work in sync with technology, using it to create more efficiency, better accuracy, and overall improved experience for the client. Machine learning and AI can enhance and enrich themselves over time at a much faster rate than any human mind can achieve. This constantly updating and improving systems is invaluable to real estate pros whose job it is to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. However, another huge part of the job description is the art of negotiation, which is something that can’t be taught to a machine. The machine can churn out all the insights an agent needs to come armed to the table, but it can’t learn intent and nuance. At the end of the day, the deal gets done by humans.We tend to think about things in extremes, but AI isn’t really sci-fi, it’s simply data processing at a level that humans can’t approach. This next wave in real estate won’t see agents being replaced by AI entities accessible via an app, but rather top performing agents harnessing tools and data to build their deals. Many digital tools use AI and machine learning to provide real-time notifications and targeted geolocation so that agents can focus their marketing and networking efforts, gain experience and insight, and improve their services.Sure, there are agents out there who could probably be replaced by Zillow, but that’s not because the role of agents is obsolete; it’s because the lowest performing agents aren’t taking advantage of tools that could help them provide better service and close more deals. If you’re an agent simply performing a property search that could be done by anyone online, then you’re not adding value and there would be no reason for a seller to pay your fees. As more millennial buyers enter the market (and eventually Gen Zers too), they will naturally gravitate toward digital solutions. A real estate professional who knows how to align with those tools and use them to enhance their offerings will be the most in demand. Agents of all experience levels should prioritize learning about emerging technologies and finding ways to implement them. The competitive edge cannot be underestimated. AI Digital Mortgage Home Sellers Homebuyers homes HOUSING machine learning property real estate Real Estate Agents SetSchedule technology 2019-04-29 Radhika Ojha in Commentary, Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News April 29, 2019 1,712 Views center_img The Real Estate Agent’s Role in the Digital Age Sharelast_img read more

Aug
13

You might also be interested in

first_img You might also be interested in Cherry trees have bloomed across multiple regions in Canada, with full blossom occurring on April 24 in South Okanagan, May 1 in North Okanagan, and May 5 in Creston Valley, leading to Global Fruit Brokers Ltd.’s forecast that 700,000 of their 800,000 20-pound cases (each being equivalent to 9 kilograms) will fall in August.The company says growing conditions have been favorable, which should be beneficial to this season’s harvest.”Weather for pollination and cell division has been wonderful and the coming week looks terrific as well. Tentative pick dates are predicted to begin June 23rd and finish September 1st.”The company plans to continue shipping until mid-September and says they are excited about the late start to their season and are looking forward to Labor Day Canadian Cherry promotions.Last year, the country’s cherry season ended at the end of August, earlier than what was originally predicted, following a summer heat wave that compressed its window. ‘New NAFTA’ fails local growers, says Florida Farm … Canada’s cherry industry suffers 50% drop in seaso … May 09 , 2019 center_img Mexico becomes first nation to ratify trade deal w … The global blueberry industry gathering in British … Still, even with a shorter time frame, Canada saw an incredibly successful season in 2018. With the tensions and resulting trade war between the U.S. and China escalating, Canada had a greater opportunity to export to the Asian market.According to Statistics Canada, Canada boosted its exports to China in by 82% in 2018, reaching a total of 2,914 metric tons (MT).Beyond the increase in export volumes to the Eastern nation, the FOB values for its China shipments rose by double that rate, increasing 152% to US$25.8 million.Time will tell if Canada can match last year’s lucrative season with this year’s crops.last_img read more

Aug
9

President of local business joins Rep Iden at the Capitol for governors

first_img20Jan President of local business joins Rep. Iden at the Capitol for governor’s State of the State address State Rep. Brandt Iden (left), R-Oshtemo, with Amicus Management President Dan Yeomans on the House floor prior to the State of the State address. Iden invited Yeomans to Lansing for a special joint session of the Michigan Legislature, during which Gov. Rick Snyder discussed his key goals for the year.### Categories: Iden News,Iden Photoslast_img

Aug
9

Rep Kahle on State of the State Focus on car insurance roads

first_img12Feb Rep. Kahle on State of the State: Focus on car insurance, roads, schools and the vulnerable State Rep. Bronna Kahle of Adrian tonight issued the following statement after the governor’s State of the State address:“Government needs to be transparent and accountable to the people it serves. I am committed to listening and making life better for our families, friends and neighbors here in Lenawee County and across Michigan. That’s why we must work together to solve problems and get things done for everyone. We are setting clear priorities to reduce the cost of car insurance, invest in our classrooms and roads, ensure clean drinking water, and lift up our most vulnerable residents, so we all can share in our state’s success and look to an even brighter future.“Michigan drivers pay the highest car insurance rates in the nation. It’s time to make changes that will help you and your family save money while also ensuring accident victims are covered.“We are investing more in K-12 education than ever before in our state’s history. This is money going directly into Lenawee County classrooms, helping put children on the best possible path for success in a career and in life.“We are investing more than ever in Michigan’s roads. It’s important that we continue this effort because it increases safety on our streets and highways, improves quality of life in our communities, and attracts economic development and jobs. We need and deserve roads and bridges that are efficient, effective, and accountable to the people who pay for them.“We also must ensure clean water is available for the health and safety of residents in all communities. I am dedicated to protecting our families and friends from PFAS and other contaminants, and those efforts must continue and evolve.“Michigan must also do more to protect the vulnerable. I am leading efforts to provide senior citizens with the care and resources they need, including critical in-home services such as Meals on Wheels. We are also finding solutions to help human trafficking victims rebuild their lives, and lift up those suffering from mental illness or addiction.”### Categories: Kahle News,Newslast_img read more

Aug
9

Some Big Nonprofits Like Harvard Stiff City of Boston

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares October 26, 2014;Boston GlobeThree years ago, when Boston asked the biggest nonprofits in the city to pitch in a certain amount twice each year to help offset the cost of the basic services provided, all involved agreed upon a graduated formula that would have each institution paying 25 percent of what it would have had to pay if it were not exempt. All agreed to comply, but according to the Boston Globe, although more than half of the higher education institutions have begun to pay more than before the agreement, 15 of the 19 colleges and universities did not pay what was agreed upon for 2014. (For example, Northeastern University paid nothing against the $2.5 million it was asked to contribute.) This extends on some disappointing early results.In the 2014 fiscal year that ended in June, 49 nonprofits were asked to pay a combined $34.6 million, but only $24.9 million was received. This amount, however, was an increase of 64 percent over fiscal 2012.City Councilor Stephen J. Murphy, who was a member of the task force that in 2011 recommended the formula, said, “They were all in the room, and they all agreed to this.”“You made commitments; you gave your word,” he added, as if he were speaking directly to the campuses. “Is your word any good?”However, Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, said that “everyone understood these were going to be voluntary payments.”“The city has recognized that these institutions make contributions far above what the formula might recommend in terms of community benefits—scholarships to Boston residents, partnerships with the schools and community centers, partnerships regarding athletic fields and facilities and arts facilities,” he said. But the payment formula actually includes a measure that would allow such writeups through a community benefit scheme.In contrast, 11 of 16 large medical nonprofits did satisfy their payment benchmarks in each of the past three fiscal years. Partners HealthCare alone has four hospitals that own a combined $2.9 billion worth of tax-exempt property, and it paid the city the $8.2 million in fiscal 2014.“Partners’ commitment to the PILOT program really reflects the tremendous value that we place on the services that the city provides,” said Partners spokesman Rich Copp.Boston University, which owns the most tax-exempt property of any university at $1.9 billion, did pay the city what it requested during the first two years of the program—but in the third, although its payment comprised a full half of what was received by educational institutions, it fell a half million short of the $6.5B that was requested. Spokesman Colin Riley said, “BU’s willingness to increase its voluntary payment…is premised on other institutions doing so as well.”Harvard University was asked to contribute $4.3 million in 2014—it owns $1.5 billion worth of tax-exempt property in Boston—but paid only $2.2 million. But, then again, the world’s wealthiest university is having a tough time, its endowment only having grown to $36.4 billion.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
9

Danger Sign AGs Succumb to Special Interest Lobbying

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares October 28, 2014; New York TimesThis long but very important read from the New York Times doesn’t directly address nonprofits, but the import for nonprofits is evident. Eric Lipton, one of the best of the New York Times investigative journalists, describes how attorneys general get lobbied by corporations and others that find themselves facing investigations:“Attorneys general are now the object of aggressive pursuit by lobbyists and lawyers who use campaign contributions, personal appeals at lavish corporate-sponsored conferences and other means to push them to drop investigations, change policies, negotiate favorable settlements or pressure federal regulators.”The problem, Lipton points out, is that “unlike the lobbying rules covering other elected officials, there are few revolving-door restrictions or disclosure requirements governing state attorneys general, who serve as ‘the people’s lawyers’ by protecting consumers and individual citizens.” That means that the lobbyists may well be former colleagues and associates of the AGs and their staffs, and the former representatives of the “people’s lawyers” may be functioning as the lawyers for corporate special interests. In fact, one group of former attorney generals, now organized under the name Society of Attorneys General Emeritus (SAGE), is notable for most of its members now functioning on retainer for corporate clients.“The current and increasing level of the lobbying of attorneys general creates, at the minimum, the appearance of undue influence, and is therefore unseemly,” Lipton quoted James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine, to say. “It is undermining the credibility of the office of attorney general.” Tierney runs the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia University, where Cindy Lott, a frequent speaker and writer on nonprofit accountability issues, serves as executive director and lead counsel to the Program’s Charities Project.For nonprofits, one of the significant achievements of the Program has been to increase mutual understanding of the pressures and constraints facing both charities and regulators and to build bridges of communications and exchanges of information. Through Lott, the Columbia University program has been an immense contributor to a more positive dynamic of state government oversight of nonprofit behavior and accountability. But it has to be galling at a minimum to capacity-building efforts like the Columbia University program to see the credibility of AGs undermined by their enlistment by corporate special interests and AGs’ decisions second-guessed as the products of high-priced lobbying. That applies double to nonprofits, which are likely to be significantly under-resourced in this new game of lobbying at the AG level and might themselves lose faith in AGs’ oversight.“An attorney general is entrusted with the power to decide which lawsuits to file and how to settle them, and they have great discretion in their work,” said Anthony Johnstone, a former assistant attorney general in Montana. “It’s vitally important that people can trust that those judgments are not subject to undue influence because of outside forces. And from what I have seen in recent years, I am concerned and troubled that those forces have intensified.”The AGs’ power of discretion is particularly important regarding nonprofits. Think about the roles of attorneys-general in Michigan questioning whether the New York-headquartered Ford Foundation was devoting enough attention and support to Michigan issues or the intervention of the Missouri AG in the controversy concerning the power of the former CEO of the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City to modify policies of the foundation. Much of their activity was “jawboning” rather than litigating. In other states, official investigations conducted by AGs, such as that in Montana concerning Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute, revealed significant latitude in the remedies AGs recommended or omitted.At the federal level, a number of former directors and senior staff of the IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities divisions are already working as legal counsel or lobbyists for nonprofits that sometimes look more “special interest” or self-interested than concerned about the general welfare of all nonprofits, large and small. With the reputational collapse of the division due to the Lois Lerner imbroglio, many nonprofits have increasingly looked to the state AGs and their charity officers as bulwarks of reliable oversight, trying to balance regulation and accountability in a way to boost the nonprofit sector without an impression of special interests lobbying one way or the other. Eric Lipton’s article might send a chill up many a nonprofit leader’s spine as they contemplate what might happen with state AGs’ discretionary oversight of nonprofits of dubious provenance or of entities like benefit corporations and L3Cs that might want to do what nonprofits do, but with much less evidence of nonprofit-like transparency and accountability.Lipton’s article is worth a close read whether you are concerned about AGs’ interactions with nonprofits or not. But if the credibility of AGs is being chipped away as they become increasingly entangled with special interest lobbyists, nonprofits had better step up to monitor the slice of government that monitors them—and be sure to keep a special eye out for AG actions that suggest that they are falling prey to special interest lobbying.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
9

Gates and World Bank Back Tech Aided Access for the Underbanked

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares November 5, 2014;Christian Science Monitor and Wall Street Journal, “Moneybeat”Imagine living without a connection to a bank or financial institution. Your check from your employer must be cashed at a check-cashing store, where they charge 5 percent of the check amount. You cannot shop online, do not have access to credit, and are likely terrified of being robbed. If you need to send money to a child living in another state or family member living in your country of origin, you are charged 5-8 percent to send funds to them, and they then pay another 5-8 percent to cash the money order. Luckily, new technology is on the horizon to help millions gain monetary protections and increase credit opportunities, leading to small business expansion and more hope for those trying to climb out of poverty.The number of people living in the United States and in the developed world without access to the convenience and safety measures banks provide is staggering. In the U.S., an estimated 9.6 million adults live without a bank account. Internationally, an estimated 2.5 billion adults, including 59 percent of people in the developing countries, live in a cash-only society without access to credit or other opportunities to grow their small businesses. Access is particularly limited for women in these countries: 63 percent, compared to 54 percent of men, do not possess an account. The numbers increases to more than 75 percent for adults living in extreme poverty.In the United States, the end of the recession and the onset of new technology have created new avenues for the poor to access banks and financial institutions. According to the Federal Reserve, 25 million Americans built a relationship with a bank or other financial institution for the first time in 2013. Of those, more than a third opened an account because their new employer required direct deposit.Unfortunately, for far too many, this new relationship is limited. The same report identified one in five, or over 67 million, underbanked Americans; this number remained constant from the previous year. The report defines the underbanked as those using a check cashing or other “alternative” service at least once in the last year.For many, the relationship with their bank is limited due to a growth in bank fees and prior negative bank history due to the recession. A 2013 Bankrate.com survey found bank fees rose for the fifteenth year in a row. This limited relationship constrains the poor’s ability to exit poverty. According to The Cost of Cash in the United States, a Tufts University report, the unbanked and underbanked throw away more of their money on fees and spend more time waiting in line to receive their funds than those with full access to financial services.Internationally, people remain unbanked because of lack of documentation, arduous regulations, and ineffective and obsolete financial infrastructure. They are unable to prove their assets, identity, or reputation, crippling potential business opportunities and leaving developing countries with little opportunity to grow. Fortunately, digital technology is changing access to money nationally and internationally, but in different ways.In the U.S. and other developed countries, digital technology is creating a stronger connection between people and their money. New mobile applications allow people to deposit checks without visiting a teller. Text alerts provide notice of potential insufficient funds or low balance penalties before fees are accrued. Although these features are available to all account holders, low-income individuals tend to use them more. In the long run, they can turn the underbanked into full access consumers, but they do little to connect the unbanked.{loadmodule mod_banners,Ads for Advertisers 5}Internally, technology is developing innovative financial systems that lead to new relationships with banks for millions of people. The epicenter for this growth is in Africa, where a partnership between the World Bank and the Gates Foundation is encouraging the creation of a digital payment system. One of the companies leading the way is M-Pesa. M-Pesa transmits funds via SMS or digital messaging. It was launched in 2007, and currently two-thirds of the Kenya adult population uses it, transferring funds with minimal fees of one to three percent. It is also available in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Fiji, India, Lesotho, Mozambique, Romania, South Africa, and Tanzania.The system is on the verge of tremendous additional growth, with last week’s partnership between M-Pesa and MoneyGram. The new system will connect funds between people in ninety countries using their mobile devices. Continued expansion of these services will open up $9.6 trillion in assets, according to controversial Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto.We would love to hear from readers on this and similar projects.—Gayle NelsonShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
9

Citizen Activism Helps Fend off Privatization of St Louis Water

first_imgShare9TweetShareEmail9 Shares November 19, 2014; St. Louis AmericanIn the midst of the Detroit water crisis, there were active and credible suspicions that the city was thinking about privatizing its water system by selling to a corporate entity. Organizers placed the potential privatization of Detroit Water in the public spotlight, which may have ultimately compelled the department to abandon those ideas in favor of converting to a regional but still public water system, at least for the moment.A new report from Corporate Accountability International, “Troubled Waters: Misleading Industry PR and the Case for Public Water,” addresses the privatization juggernaut to describe how some cities have dealt with corporate pressure, especially since some of it is predicated on the needs of U.S. water systems for as much as $4.8 trillion in investment in the next 20 years, as private companies, such as the French multinational Veolia Water North America, hinting that privatization would help create the needed capitalization.The report describes elements of Veolia’s strategy in St. Louis. One example is their offer of consulting services (through Veolia’s Peer Performance Solutions) that would cut public water system costs, but in reality would be a foot in the door toward privatization. After years of pitching, Veolia got the city, including Mayor Francis Slay, to approve a Peer Performance Solutions contract with Veolia, but community activists and nonprofits challenged the idea. Activists formed the St. Louis Dump Veolia coalition to oppose the contract. The Great Rivers Environmental Law Center did its own analysis of the proposed contract, finding that the “contract will have the effect of privatizing the city’s Water Division, and will make city residents captive to Veolia.” According to the Corporate Accountability International report author, Emanuele Lobina, the terms of the Veolia contract would make Veolia “the private owner of all ideas for improving the St. Louis Water Division.”Slay did everything he could to get the Board of Alderman to approve the contract with Veolia, but the aldermen didn’t go along, and ultimately, Veolia withdrew. Maybe the St. Louis alderman were cognizant of the number of U.S. cities—currently 33—that have “re-municipalized” their water systems after being disappointed with the performance and follow-through of the private water companies.Just outside of St. Louis is the suburb of Ferguson, where privatization has been in full swing for some time. Mark Ames of PandoDaily reported in September that Ferguson has been implementing privatization schemes designed and promoted by the Reason Foundation’s Bob Poole, a longtime associate of the Koch brothers, who provided the support for the Foundation’s creation. A number of members of the Ferguson Commission do not appear to be diehard opponents of privatization, and may actually support it in a reflexive way, as some people almost always think that private sector activity is somehow more efficient and effective than nonprofit or public. In light of the St. Louis Water story and Ames’s detailed description of the influence of Poole’s ideas in and around Ferguson, activists had better be prepared to watch out for and confront unnecessary or inappropriate municipal privatization as Ferguson fixes.—Rick CohenShare9TweetShareEmail9 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
9

After a 3Year Wait IRS Releases List of Groups Targeted in Scandal

first_imgShare18Tweet2Share38Email58 SharesJune 6, 2016; Fox NewsIn response to a class action lawsuit, the IRS released a list of 426 organizations it says were singled out for special scrutiny beginning in 2010 in what became known as the IRS scandal. The list is larger than the 298 overwhelmingly conservative groups identified by U.S. Treasury Inspector J. Russell George in his May 2013 report that first brought the scandal to public attention.The IRS resisted releasing the list, citing taxpayer privacy and confidentiality protections included in Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. However, the judge hearing the case decided any 6103 issues should not be used by the IRS to stop the suit’s plaintiffs from securing information they could use to recruit additional targeted nonprofits to their class action.Most people have lost track of the IRS scandal, and some even deny to this day that there ever was a scandal. Paul Caron, a law Professor at Pepperdine University, is continuing to keep count of the days. (June 7, 2016 is Day 1125.) The House Judiciary Committee is considering the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but this is widely seen as a partisan exercise by Republicans—even by those who believe others, especially former Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, should be held accountable for their actions in the IRS targeting scandal.One observation NPQ has made in the past bears restating as the political and judicial processes continue: The public disclosure of much of what we have learned over the past year or more has come as the result of nonprofit advocacy and the access of nonprofit advocates to support from federal courts. Groups such as Judicial Watch and Cause of Action have peppered executive agencies with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and sued in court when their requests were refused or ignored.  The class action lawsuit is led by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit and one of the groups targeted by the IRS. Judicial Watch and Cause of Action are also aggressively pursuing other issues associated with political conservatives, including Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails and the Obama administration’s enforcement of immigration laws. There is a developing appearance that nonprofit advocacy groups, with judicial support, are having better success than Congress in investigating the executive branch of the federal government and securing the release of documentary evidence.—Michael WylandShare18Tweet2Share38Email58 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
9

Black Lives Matter Groups Release 6Point Policy Platform as General Election Kicks

first_imgShare42TweetShare3Email45 SharesBlack Lives Matter / Johnny SilvercloudAugust 2, 2016; New York TimesOn Monday, a collective of more than 60 groups associated with the Black Lives Matter movement presented a policy platform that has been in the works for a year. Its unveiling occurs only a week before the second anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.We will present that platform to you now, but will follow up in greater depth over the next few days.The platform, which BLM will advocate for in the run-up to the general election and beyond, contains six constellations of issues that the network will pursue locally and nationally: Ending the war on black peopleReparationsInvestment and DivestmentEconomic JusticeCommunity ControlPolitical PowerEach of these planks comes with complexities, diverse beneficiaries, and potential partnerships. Under “Economic Justice,” the groups speak to a new tax code and “policy that subsidizes and offers low-interest, interest-free or federally guaranteed low-interest loans to promote the development of cooperatives (food, residential, etc.), land trusts and culturally responsive health infrastructures that serve the collective needs of our communities.”Protections for workers in industries that are not appropriately regulated including domestic workers, farm workers, and tipped workers, and for workers—many of whom are Black women and incarcerated people— who have been exploited and remain unprotected. This includes the immediate passage at the Federal and state level of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and extension of worker protections to incarcerated people.Under “Political Power,” the platform calls for, among other things, “Public financing of elections and the end of money controlling politics through ending super PACs and unchecked corporate donations.”Election protection, electoral expansion and the right to vote for all people including: full access, guarantees, and protections of the right to vote for all people through universal voter registration, automatic voter registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, same day voter registration, voting day holidays, enfranchisement of formerly and presently incarcerated people, local and state resident voting for undocumented people, and a ban on any disenfranchisement laws.As we said, we will follow up as things progress. but the platform in and of itself and the attention it is receiving testifies to the movement’s values and persistence.—Ruth McCambridgeShare42TweetShare3Email45 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
9

Nonprofits Facing Challenges in Opioid Battle

first_imgShare17TweetShare4Email21 Shares“addicted.” Credit: rickMay 23, 2017; New Hampshire Union LeaderBy many counts, the Northeast has been ground zero for the nation’s opioid crisis in recent years, putting nonprofit organizations on the front lines of the battle against addiction. In New Hampshire, one of the agencies leading a new initiative called Safe Stations says it’s facing a large deficit, and in Boston, advocates for safe injection sites continue to face pushbackHeroin use more than doubled among young adults over the past decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 45 percent of heroin users were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. Since 2010, heroin overdose death rates have more than quadrupled.As the crisis has progressed, states and local communities have approached the problem in different ways. A federal bill passed last year was widely criticized for inadequately funding new efforts to treat addiction, and although President Trump pledged to solve the opioid crisis on the campaign trail his approaches have faced criticism from many advocates on both sides of the aisle.Politico reported on the recent proposal by the administration to gut the Office of National Drug Control Policy: “The office’s staff of 70 would essentially be cut in half and help support a temporary White House opioids commission established by executive order and led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Public health advocates have warned that Trump’s new commission is duplicative, given that the surgeon general’s office in November released a months-long study on how to combat addiction.” The presidential commission is scheduled to expire 30 days after submitting its final report, planned to take place on October 1, 2017 unless the commission seeks a delay.In New Hampshire, a groundbreaking initiative puts firehouses to use as “safe stations” where addicts can be quickly connected to nearby resources, 24 hours a day, without the fear of reprisal. The program connected more than 1,300 people to treatment options during its first year and didn’t rely on new funding.As Kimberly Houghton reported for the Union Leader, one of the nonprofits involved in the new initiative highlighted the financial toll the program is taking at a recent city council meeting:The executive director of Harbor Homes, a non-profit organization assisting with Nashua’s new Safe Station initiative, told aldermen this week that his organization is running a deficit of up to $400,000, with nearly $100,000 of the shortfall due to its efforts with the Safe Stations program.Although Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess was originally asking aldermen to transfer $20,000 to Harbor Homes for its help battling the heroin epidemic in the Gate City, he is now seeking $50,000 to help offset some of the costs the agency has incurred…According to Police Chief Andrew Lavoie, there were 332 overdoses reported in 2016 in Nashua, and 44 drug fatalities. While overdoses are down about 34 percent from last year, fatalities are up slightly, he said.Meanwhile, a different New Hampshire nonprofit came under fire from former employees, prompting an NHPR investigation:Over the past two years, the nonprofit organization HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery has expanded from a single modest space in Manchester to seven drug recovery centers statewide, making it the largest such organization in New Hampshire.But Hope for New Hampshire’s growth hasn’t gone smoothly.Several employees quit claiming they were mistreated. There are allegations that staffers used and at times sold drugs at work. One center has closed.Former employees spoke with NHPR about what they call serious problems for a key player in the state’s fight against opioid addiction.HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery fired back with a statement questioning the timing of the allegations and the story:It is regrettable that at a time when New Hampshire is in the middle of a health crisis of historic proportions that HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery must take time away from getting people well to address several inaccurate statements published in a recent story regarding our organization… No organization has helped more New Hampshire residents find hope and achieve recovery. We look forward to responding to the complaints filed against a staff member that were referenced in the story. We believe that these allegations will withstand neither scrutiny nor the facts. We are also troubled about the timing of these complaints, the timing of this story, and the motivations of the sources (both cited as well as those not identified) given that it would appear to be a concerted effort to denigrate HOPE in an effort to deny funding for the work that we do.Meanwhile, in Boston, a call for the establishment of safe injection sites for opioid addicts remains controversial. As the Boston Herald reported:Wary city councilors are looking to get in front of building momentum to create so-called “safe injection sites” for opioid addicts, where users can inject drugs under the watchful eyes of medical pros and prevent overdoses.But the controversial idea—which is being pushed by state lawmaker and advocacy groups—is being greeted by skepticism, including from Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Walsh said that while he was not outright opposed to the sites, better efforts were needed.“The solution to drug addiction by having a safe place to shoot drugs is not the response,” the mayor said. “The response is funding (recovery) programs… come up with creative solutions on how we can come up with ways of getting people into recovery.”[…]The Massachusetts Medical Association has urged the state to open one or two pilot facilities and state Sen. William N. Brownsberger filed legislation that would legalize the facilities…Safe injection sites, which would require federal approval, would not supply opioids but instead would let users bring their own supply. They exist in countries like Canada and Denmark, but not in the U.S.When NPQ reported on the proposal way back in 2015, we noted the success of the programs outside the United States: “This is not a new idea; nine other countries have places where people can even use illegal drugs under the guidance of a nurse or other medical professional. Those spots are known as supervised injection facilities, or SIFs. A relatively large body of research about such facilities indicates that SIFs reduce overdoses and facilitate the use of treatment options.”However, the pace of the process is concerning at a time when innovative approaches are necessary to combat the crisis, as in the case of “safe stations” in New Hampshire, which started at the city level in Manchester.With uncertainty over federal funding and the Trump administration’s approach to the epidemic, it’s unfortunate that the nonprofits on the ground will continue to face challenges.—Anna BerryShare17TweetShare4Email21 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
7

Womens Foundation to Help Kansas Address Culture of Harassment

first_imgShare11Tweet12Share1Email24 Shares“Street Sign 3” by Jeffrey ZeldmanNovember 2, 2017; Kansas City StarThe Kansas legislature made headlines recently after a string of allegations shed light on the rampant harassment occurring within the statehouse. A former intern at the Kansas statehouse sums up how many interns likely feel and why they may not report harassment:It’s a regular occurrence, hearing comments. It’s like, “Oh my gosh, why would you say that? It’s super inappropriate and you’d never say that to a male intern.” But you’re also like, “Okay, I really like this internship and it’s a good opportunity,” so you’re willing to ignore things that were said, which sucks because you shouldn’t have to.In light of these allegations and the barriers interns face in reporting harassment, the Kansas legislature has asked the Missouri-based nonprofit Women’s Foundation to review their sexual harassment policy and recommend updates to the decades-old document.Women’s Foundation has a long history in this space, most recently working with the Missouri legislature to combat the pervasive harassment occurring in that capital. In partnership with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and Partners in Prevention, the collaboration took a two-pronged approach to addressing harassment. First, they developed a system called the Intern Resource Network, which offers a safe space for interns to report harassment. The site provides interns with such information as how to identify harassment, what protections are available to them under Title IX, and how to seek immediate assistance in the case of harassment, as well as with advocates that are available across the state to help. Second, the groups provided education to employers and policymakers surrounding best practices in preventing and reporting sexual harassment.Beyond the collaboration, the Women’s Foundation has several initiatives that address the dearth of female leaders in male-dominated fields, which can contribute to creating a culture of harassment both inside and outside of government.Two years after seeing some success with the Missouri legislature, Wendy Doyle, Women’s Foundation’s president and CEO, is ready to take on the Kansas statehouse. In a public comment addressing the legislature, Doyle said, “This is now a national issue, and it needs to be addressed…This can be an opportunity to not only update policies but restore employee and public confidence.”—Sheela NimishakaviShare11Tweet12Share1Email24 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
7

In Historic Fruit Belt Buffalo Moves Forward with CommunityLed Plan and Land

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesMay 29, 2018; Buffalo News and Next CityLast January, Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen announced that the city government would support the development of a community land trust in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt later. Now, Buffalo has taken the next step, after approving “a strategic development plan for the largely low-income neighborhood abutting the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” writes Susan Schulman in the Buffalo News.Included in the vote was the transfer of “four of what could be 20 or more vacant lots the Fruit Belt land trust,” writes Schulman. Schulman adds that the Council’s action also moves forward the redevelopment of “an historic but run-down vacant property.” The City is also offering existing homeowners the option of acquiring adjacent vacant lots, as a tool for reducing the number of vacant lots in the neighborhood.As Alexis Lipsitz Flippin writes in Next City, the Fruit Belt neighborhood is named for “the flowering fruit orchards planted there by German immigrants.” As Flippin notes, the neighborhood “has struggled since the 1950s, when construction of the Kensington Expressway split the area in half, destabilizing what had been a peaceful district, decreasing property values and driving out long-time residents.” In the past few decades, neighborhood population has plummeted from more than 11,000 as of 1970 to an estimated 2,670 people today.According to Pridgen, plans for many of the remaining 200 vacant Fruit Belt parcels will be discussed in coming weeks. Pridgen has also pledged that residents will have a voice in how those parcels are developed. According to Pridgen, development plans will be reviewed by a resident body known as the Fruit Belt Advisory Council, which in turn will make recommendations to the Common Council.“I’m very happy,” Pridgen says of the strategic development plan. “This is one of my crown jewels in my term as councilmember. To save some of the city-owned land in the Fruit Belt for low-income and working class who want to stay, it’s a good day.”India Walton, a co-founder of the F.B. Community Land Trust, praised the agreement. “I’m very excited. We’ve been able to find a way to work in concert with the city, so we see development happen, but see it in a way that benefits the people who have been caring for this community for so long.”Harper Bishop, director of equitable development with Open Buffalo, which has been advocating for a land trust in the Fruit Belt, says that his group will work to ensure that an inclusive decision-making process prevents displacement and preserves housing affordability.For its first four lots, the land trust is looking to partner with Habitat Buffalo and Belmont Housing. But beyond housing, the larger goal, both Walton and Pridgen agree, is community revitalization. Pridgen notes that, “People want retail and services back. They don’t want to have to drive across town for goods and services.” The Fruit Belt community, Walton adds, also is looking for more opportunities for jobs and wealth generation in their community.For her part, Annette Lott, a resident who has lived in the Fruit Belt for more than six decades, emphasizes the importance of community control over development that the community land trust and resident advisory committee, it is hoped, will bring. “We want development, we want businesses, we need businesses in our community, but we don’t want to do it at the expense of dismantling what has been a viable, community spirit that we have built for many, many years.”—Steve DubbShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
7

Washington State Democrats Step Back from Reproductive Rights for All

first_imgShareTweet9ShareEmail9 Shares April 18, 2019; RewireWhen legislators worry about getting a somewhat controversial bill passed, they look for what they can amend to placate the opposition. And what works most often will do harm to those who are most vulnerable and least able to speak out.This was the case in Washington’s House of Representatives when state Democrats passed a version of the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA) that did not include the provisions from the Senate version (SB.5602) that extended reproductive rights to vulnerable communities like undocumented immigrants. In spite of a 16-seat majority, the Democrats feared backlash from their GOP colleagues on this bill and chose to deny reproductive health care to undocumented women.The outrage, as expected, was swift and furious. Not only did this action remove the health care for undocumented people, it also removed gender-neutral language and anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents.Speaking to Rewire News, Tiffany Hankins, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said, “I’m furious that the so-called pro-choice Democrat majority…in the Washington state house cannot summon the courage to hold together a community-driven reproductive health equity bill. It is an appalling injustice that these communities face barriers to accessing health care at all, and that marginalized communities are then the first to be sacrificed.”Advocates have withdrawn their support and are seeking to get the removed sections reinstated. It will now go back to the state senate, and if there is no agreement, it will go to a joint committee. It is unlikely that Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, presidential candidate, and supporter of reproductive rights, would sign this bill in its present form. But the real question is why Washington state lawmakers took a cowardly step backward on an issue where they could have taken the lead.—Carole LevineShareTweet9ShareEmail9 Shareslast_img read more

Aug
7

UEFA has granted French media rights to the Euro 2

first_imgUEFA has granted French media rights to the Euro 2012 and 2016 tournaments to TF1, M6 and beIN Sport.TF1 and M6 will share the free-to-air coverage of 19 live matches for the 2012 tournament and 22 live matches in 2016. These matches will include the opening match, all French national team matches, knock-out stage matches and the final for both tournaments.Al Jazeera’s French sports channel beIN Sport will cover both competitions in their entirety. Magazines and highlights programmes will also be broadcast on the channel.All matches will also be available online.Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of UEFA Events said, “We are delighted to extend our agreements with leading commercial broadcasters TF1 and M6 and to further consolidate our partnership with beIN Sport in France for UEFA Euro 2012 and UEFA Euro 2016. TF1 and M6 have experience in broadcasting national team football and UEFA European Football Championships while beIN Sport will offer a wide and qualitative coverage of both tournaments.”last_img read more

Aug
7

Unitymedia KabelBW will launch Horizon in the lat

first_imgUnitymedia KabelBW will launch Horizon in the “late summer”, according to Daniel Hesselbarth, director, CPE and product innovation at the Liberty Global-owned operator. However, the operator had to deal with a number of outstanding issues before launching.Speaking at the Multi-Network Solutions in the Real World event organised by content security specialist Verimatrix alongside the ANGA COM event in Cologne this morning, Hesselbarth said the company needed to implement Germany’s use protection rules, data protection rules and local signaling requirements before launching the device.“Broadcasters in Germany have high requirements in terms of what can be done with their signal,” he said. Broadcasters had forbidden fast-forwarding of their services through advertising breaks, for example. “That requirement needs to be put into the box as well,” he said. “This not only needs to be put into the set-top boxes but also all other devices [that we address].”Hesselbarth said broadcasters were protective of their EPG data, which they regarded as their own intellectual property. “With some broadcasters it’s difficult to get EPG data to enhance it with images and things like that,” he said.Speaking about delivering services to multiple devices generally, Hesselbarth said that discussions with content providers to deliver multiscreen services were “intensive”. He said that German broadcasters increasingly were developing their own apps and online services that made discussions of this sort more complex.last_img read more

Aug
7

Sky Sports in the UK has agreed a new fiveyear br

first_imgSky Sports in the UK has agreed a new five-year broadcast partnership with The Football League.The deal extends the pair’s existing deal by a further three years, until 2018, and will also see Sky broadcast 37 more live games per season than it did previously.From the 2015/2016 season, Sky said it will air a total of 148 live games from the Football League, Capital One Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – giving coverage of 72 clubs from the three non-top flight English football leagues.The agreement includes television, broadband internet, video-on-demand and mobile services and will also see Sky Bet become the title sponsor of The Football League“We place huge value on the commitment Sky has made to our competitions and our clubs over many seasons and we are delighted that they wish to extend our relationship in this way.  Supporters will also welcome this news given the outstanding breadth of coverage delivered by Sky Sports,” said Football League Chairman, Greg Clarke.last_img read more