Xi to visit Italy France as Rome joins New Silk Road

first_imgBeijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Italy, Monaco and France this week, the foreign ministry said Monday, with Rome expected to join his global trade infrastructure programme despite reservations in other European countries. Xi will pay state visits from March 21 to March 26, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement, without providing more details about his itinerary. An Italian official said last week that Rome would sign a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Beijing to officially support Xi’s massive 1 trillion Belt and Road initiative, also known as the New Silk Road.last_img read more

Amid water shortage MCG to levy fines on those wasting water

first_imgGurugram: The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has announced action against those who are found wasting water. Officials said in an attempt to stop people from wasting water, the department has decided to levy fines on violators.For residential units, the maximum limit for the fine would be Rs 1,000, while for commercial units it will be Rs 5,000. When asked as to what would they consider as water wastage, an official said, “Wasting water while washing cars, turning a blind eye to overflowing of water, misusing water for gardening among others, are a few of the categories that the department would consider while taking action.” In residential units, a defaulter will be charged Rs 500 for the first time and Rs 1,000 if he repeats it. In commercial units, for the first time, the defaulters will be charged Rs 2,000 for the first time and Rs 5,000 if he/she repeats it. “To curb the practice of extravagant use and wastage of water and to meet the increasing demand apropos the supply and consumption, a person or institution found wasting water by way of car washing, overflowing wilfully and negligently misusing/wasting of water, will be put under the ambit of action mentioned under Section 180 and 181 of Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994,” the MCG order states. “If a person or institution does not mend his or their ways and continues to wastewater, the water connection of such person or institution may be disconnected,” the order further states.last_img read more

Denigrating democracy

first_imgThe AAP-BJP pamphlet imbroglio transformed into a defamation war with both parties denigrating each other over an issue largely blemishes the democratic polity of India. While it may be hard to ascertain who is responsible for this condemnable act, parties to the controversy are clearly embroiled in a heated dispute when elections are knocking on the door. Campaigning got an ugly twist when Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was slapped during AAP’s roadshow. Incidents like these leave a disappointing remark on society’s part. And, while that somehow enraged a dispute between BJP and AAP, the pamphlet incident only aggravates it. AAP’s accusation on BJP was natural and so was BJP retaliation. Political parties often indulge in ugly public spats, denigrating the other, sometimes severely. Take Rahul and Modi for instance. Both have left no stone unturned to denigrate the other throughout elections. And, in their witty ways, they have ensured that their words find the audience. Proxy war of words outlines the difference of opinion but it does not have to be unfair and severe. It can be a simple statement of thoughts and that would suffice. It does not have to transform into a daily soap from Indian Television where drama is the viewer-centric element necessary to keep the viewership intact while simultaneously entertaining them. Political campaigning with the right words, where one does not necessarily denigrate the other, is feasible and ethical. A candidate’s show of strength through promises for the country, thoughts over development, remedies to adversities and solutions to gaps is essentially an effective form of campaigning. That is, after all, what society wants to hear before they provide their mandate. Mentioning Rahul Gandhi’s father was nowhere relevant to the current situation and neither was Rahul’s remark of ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ which attracted legal attention. The two stalwarts of the two biggest parties of the nation have definitely set a precedent, if not done by those before them. A precedent of public denigration at the cost of retaliatory action attracting criticism as a byproduct and yielding public consonance, which in all likelihood is linked to an assured mandate. Nowhere has thought been spared whether their actions may deteriorate the democratic polity of the nation. Stooping low to procure advantage, and that too on the biggest platform where millions can hear, has been a historic low for democracy in this country. One wonders if campaigning for your party invariably means denigrating others’ for the underlying objective then seems to eliminate choices and remain as a solitary option for consideration. How is that a competition then? Democracy envisages a healthy competition between parties which comprise the very people and a representative government of people. Also Read – A strong standpointWhile no restraints have been exercised by candidates, EC also has been a quiet cat. MCC violations have been more or less like spelling mistakes, that too in non-language papers. While MCC enjoys a wide purview with Constitutional powers as vested in the Election Commission, it is not reckoned as a deterrent. If it had been so, we would have not been treated to so many MCC violations and pertinent sub-judice instances of same. And while we had to cope with verbal violations across communal lines and hate crimes, slanders entered the fray. There was no reason for slandering any candidate yet Atishi’s reputation was damaged through the pamphlet incident when it is a matter of pride that we have more and more women entering the political fray. Instead of appreciating her candidature, vested interests have made attempts to damage her rep. And for what? Does damaging her image through sexist remarks help reduce her popularity? That has been the ambition because there is no other explanation for such a cowardice move. It also apprises the nation of how women are treated in the political fray. While this incident reinvigorates Atishi’s resolve to enter politics and change things as the most optimistic takeaway from such a miserable incident, it also asks people whether they approve of this sort of behaviour irrespective of the perpetrator. After all, sidelining the mind that stooped so low to think of this act, it is the people who aided in facilitating the act and more who laughed while the majority who kept silent. Collectively, they gave Atishi the most miserable welcome while an apprehensive Gambhir threw the defamation card to safeguard himself while declaring that he’d withdraw his candidature should his involvement be proven. Democracy has witnessed ugly spats and all in pursuit of appeasing people to be voted to power. Such a mindset is not familiar to people’s government; it rests more on personal whims.last_img read more

Bell Media sells off Juicebox three Much specialty music services to Stingray

TORONTO — Bell Media is selling the Juicebox service for kids and three Much specialty music services to Stingray Digital Group.BCE Inc.’s media arm says the divestiture will allow it to focus on other services, including the coming launch of iHeartRadio in Canada.Financial terms of the deal with Montreal-based Stingray weren’t announced. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.Canadian entertainment and media sector in for a rough five years: PwCStingray Digital Group Inc plays to a bigger crowd with first acquisition since IPOStingray will rebrand the services, which are distributed through various TV distribution services from Bell, Rogers, Telus and others across Canada.Juiceboxtv.ca is a music video channel that promotes itself as a parent-approved place for kids.The other three services in the deal are MuchLoud, MuchRetro, and MuchVibe.Much hosted the iHeartRadio MMVA awards on Sunday. iHeartRadio, launched in the United States in 2011, has partnered with Bell Media to deliver digital content through a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and automotive entertainment system. read more

UN chief condemns explosion at election rally in Zimbabwe that injured dozens

The President, who also leads the ruling party, Zanu-PF, reportedly described the bombing in Bulawayo as an attempt on his life, and appealed for peace and national unity ahead of elections due to take place on 30 July. He vowed that the explosion would not derail the vote.Mr. Mnangagwa took over the Presidency last November, following the resignation of Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years. The country’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change, also condemned the attack, saying that any political violence was “totally unacceptable”, according to media reports.In a statement released by his Spokesperson on Sunday, UN chief António Guterres said he was “disturbed” by news of the attack“The Secretary-General condemns such acts of violence and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.  He wishes the injured a quick recovery,” said the statement.Two of the country’s Vice Presidents was among the more than 40 reportedly hurt by the blast, as well as the Zanu-PF chairperson, together with members of a television crew from the state broadcasting network, and security personnel. read more

Scientists find that athletes dont really need all of those drinks

New research by scientists at Brock University has debunked the widely-held belief that dehydration saps the strength of athletes performing in hot conditions.It is common to see distance runners or cyclists gulp water and other drinks during long races, trying to replenish fluids and avoid the loss of strength that has long been accepted as a consequence of dehydration.But the Brock study, published this month in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, concludes there is no such impairment.Stephen Cheung won’t be drinking a sports drink or water while cycling anymore. His research has found it’s not necessary.Lead researcher Stephen Cheung, a renowned kinesiologist whose research subjects have ranged from Olympic athletes to offshore oil workers, said his team’s findings refute the long-unquestioned tenet that water loss hinders a competitor’s performance.This particular research involved 11 trained racing cyclists who wore IV drips while riding stationary bikes under competition-like conditions. Some cyclists had IV drips containing a saline solution to replenish fluids lost through sweat, but others had IV drips that were shams, providing no rehydration at all.The cyclists were not told which type of IV drip they were wearing, and the researchers found there was virtually no difference in their performances.Cheung, himself a long-distance cyclist, is the Canada Research Chair in environmental ergonomics. His research team took an unprecedented approach in gauging the impacts of hydration on human resilience.“We’re the first study to separate the conscious awareness of hydration status to truly test that by itself,” said Cheung. “This includes all the studies used to develop current hydration guidelines.“All existing studies manipulate hydration by giving or not giving water, so that manipulates both the physical state of hydration and also the perception of drinking and thirst. In other words, ‘I’m thirsty or upset that I don’t get to drink, so I’m not going to ride as hard.’“What we’ve found was really novel. Even at up to three per cent body mass dehydration, no impairment was seen in exercise in the heat.”Cheung said current guidelines repeatedly emphasize that athletes need to keep hydration within two per cent of body mass, or pay the price in terms of performance and health effects.“We’ve just proven that it’s not so. This also supports why elite marathoners, even in the heat, rarely drink if at all.” read more

Mary Berry eyes gardening show with Mel and Sue after Bake Off

first_imgMary Berry has said she will work with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins again, but joked that a future project may involve gardening instead of baking.The Great British Bake Off judge also promised that tonight’s episode of the popular BBC One show is “the most difficult one we’ve ever had”.The finale of the seventh series will be the last time it airs on the BBC before it moves to Channel 4 next year.Berry, Giedroyc and Perkins will not move with the show, with co-judge Paul Hollywood the only member of the original team going to Channel 4. Berry told Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 that her decision to stay with the corporation was made “straight away”.She said: “It was a gut feeling and I made it straight away for myself, having discussed it with my family and others. I’m very happy I’ve stayed with the BBC. Everything I’ve done has been with the BBC and I wanted to stay with them.”I’m sure the programme will go on to be a little bit different, but it will still be wonderful.”The remaining contestants – Andrew Smyth, Jane Beedle and Candice Brown – are hoping to rise to the occasion and be crowned the series winner.Rolls-Royce aerospace engineer Smyth, garden designer Beedle, and PE teacher Brown withstood the heat of the kitchen against nine other cake creators to reach the showdown for the title of 2016’s best baker. Berry said of the finale: “It really is the most difficult we’ve ever had, because you know, (it is) series seven and the showstopper is… we are wanting sheer perfection and they will be very nervous because they have watched every series.”The baking doyenne said of Perkins and Giedroyc: “We have made no decisions whatsoever, we haven’t actually all three got together, but we will do something because we’re good pals, and who knows what it would be?”Well, it may not be baking, you never know, it could be gardening. I’m a very keen gardener you know.”Tasks for the final BBC episode include a return to meringues for the signature bake, a technical challenge set by Berry that will ask the contestants to complete a British classic after being given just one instruction and no measurements, and a showstopper that is said to be the most complex set in the competition, with the most bakes requested for a challenge.As usual, the winner will be announced at a celebration attended by the family and friends of the three finalists, as well as the bakers they knocked out in previous rounds.The Great British Bake Off final airs tonight on BBC One at 8pm.center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Heart attacks fell by more than 10 per cent after the workplace

first_imgUpdated 12.46pmThere was a more than 10 per cent fall in heart attack rates since the introduction of the workplace smoking ban, according to the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF).Today marks the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the ban, which made the Republic of Ireland the first country in the world to implement a ban smoking in all enclosed workspaces.The ban came into effect the following Saturday, the 29th of March.In a statement today, Minister for Health James Reilly called the ban a “ground-breaking initiative”.“Recent research found 3, 726 fewer smoking related deaths than would have been expected if the smoking ban had not been brought in,” he said.This is indisputable evidence that the ban is saving lives, and improving our overall health as a nation.He added that recent research published in PLOS One found:an immediate 13% decrease in all-cause mortalitya 26% reduction in ischaemic heart diseasea 32% reduction in stroke, anda 38% reduction in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Similar research in Clinical Cardiology shows that in the year after the ban, there was a 12 per cent reduction in the number of acute coronary syndrome hospital admissions.A further 13 per cent fall was witnessed between March 2006 and March 2007.Similar trendIHF notes that research from the United States, Italy, Canada, and Scotland shows a similar trend following the implementation of workplace smoking bans.“The rapid reduction in heart attacks after the introduction of the workplace smoking ban may be surprising to the general public but it makes sense when we consider the immediate effect tobacco smoke has on the body,” Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of IHF, said.Sudden blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes can be triggered by tobacco smoke. This means that just sitting in a smoke-filled bar would raise a person’s chances of a heart attack.The IHF is advising smokers to mark the anniversary by quitting smoking.Originally published 10.14amPoll: Has the smoking ban changed your attitude to smoking? >Read: Almost 7 per cent drop shows smoking ban is working, insists Cancer Society >last_img read more

Malfunction causes traffic delays on West 79th Street Causeway bridge

first_imgNORTH BAY VILLAGE, FLA. (WSVN) – A malfunction on the West 79th Street bridge has caused major traffic delays in the cities of Miami and North Bay Village, Tuesday.North Bay Village Police confirmed that a malfunction closed the bridge before 3:45 p.m. 7SkyForce HD flew over the scene at around 4:15 p.m., when the bridge could still be seen stuck in the upward position.At around 4:30 p.m., the bridge was back in the down position. However, officials were alternating the flow of traffic, allowing both eastbound and westbound traffic to utilize the westbound lanes at certain points.However, as of 5:19 p.m., the bridge was open and traffic was flowing normally in both directions. Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Google DeepMinds AI could give doctors a head start on saving lives

first_img Tags 1 Sci-Tech Comment Artificial intelligence (AI) Google Acute kidney injury causes around 500,000 deaths annually in the US. Roy Scott/Getty Images Artificial intelligence is frequently heralded as the future solution to many of the world’s biggest problems, and for many experts developing the technology, health comes top of the list. London-based DeepMind, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, is working on a number of health care-based projects, and on Wednesday it published its latest research showing how doctors may be able to predict a quick-onset, deadly condition to save more patient lives. As if it’s not bad enough being admitted to hospital for one illness or injury, in-patients in medical facilities are also at risk of developing secondary conditions that can pose serious threats to their health. Among them, acute kidney disease claims the lives of 500,000 US patients every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Acute kidney injuries can be deadly, and they pose a real problem for physicians. Not only are they incredibly difficult to detect, but they can also cause patients to deteriorate rapidly.  But using AI, DeepMind has a solution that could help doctors spot potential kidney injuries 48 hours before they occur, giving them valuable time to get ahead of the problem and potentially allowing them to prevent the condition in up to 30% of patients. In a study published in the journal Nature, DeepMind outlined work it conducted with the US Department of Veterans Affairs in which it used anonymized data to develop machine learning tools that correctly predict nine out of 10 patients who later went on to require dialysis. In future, DeepMind hopes to combine this technology with its Streams system — a medical mobile assistant that flags patient deterioration to doctors, as well as enabling communication between clinical teams and the review of medical information that allows them to make more-efficient treatment decisions. DeepMind also announced on Wednesday that researchers at University College London had successfully peer reviewed Streams, which has been used in a local hospital since 2017. They found it saved doctors up to two hours per day, as well as allowing them to review the most urgent cases within 15 minutes. “These results comprise the building blocks for our long-term vision of preventative health care, helping doctors to intervene in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner,” said the company in a blog post. DeepMind’s work on detecting kidney injuries follows similar work the company did last year, in which it used AI to detect over 50 sight-threatening eye conditions. In the long run, it aims to combine these AI detection tools with its Streams system to improve detection and reduce the costs of treating a whole variety of diseases and illnesses. Share your voicelast_img read more

Aorus creates 8200dpi mouse for MMOs with 16 programmable buttons

first_imgIf you had to name the genre of game that requires the most buttons to play, MMOs would come out on top. A keyboard and mouse are the preferred input methods, but even then there’s an issue of speed and performing set actions as quickly as possible. Aorus aims to help in that regard with a new, extremely fast mouse that somehow manages to incorporate 16 programmable buttons into the casing.The Aorus Thunder M7 USB mouse combines a laser sensor with a report rate of 1000Hz and on-the-fly DPI switching through 800/1600/3200/5600/8200dpi. All the buttons use Omron switches and are guaranteed for 20 million clicks.The available 16 buttons are spread across the left, right, and top of the mouse, but 8 of them fall just above where your thumb rests. Looking at the images I’m having a hard time identifying all 16 buttons. There’s 8 on the left, 5 on top, and 1 on the right. That only makes 14 so there’s 2 more on there somewhere.As this video demonstrates, it’s certainly not a quiet mouse:The included Aorus macro engine allows you to pre-program each button and switch between 5 different gaming profiles at any time. In total, that allows for 70 macros to be stored in memory, which should be enough for even the most avid MMO player.The M7 isn’t wireless, but does ship with a 1.8m USB cable. There’s no pricing stated yet, but I can’t see it being cheap. It’s also a mouse you really need to try out before you buy. Those 8 buttons right next to your thumb may be a revelation, but could just as easily end up being really annoying and easy to hit by accident. If this mouse interests you, search it out for a demo before spending the cash. VIEW PHOTO GALLERY Aorus Thunder M7Aorus Thunder M7Aorus Thunder M7Aorus Thunder M7Aorus Thunder M7last_img read more

Williamson Starc reach milestones in Perth Test

first_imgNew Zealand batsman Kane Williamson and Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc joined elite company as bat continued to dominate ball on the third day of the second Test against Australia at the WACA Ground on Sunday.In reply to Australia’s formidable 559 for nine declared on a placid wicket, the Kiwis were 510 for six at stumps, trailing by just 49 runs.Ross Taylor had emerged from a form slump and scored his second Test double century to be a career-best 235 not out, with Mark Craig on seven. Also Read – A league of his own!Williamson became one of the four youngest players to reach 12 Test centuries when he made 166, while Starc bowled what is believed to be the fastest recorded delivery in Test cricket.Williamson rarely looked troubled in posting his second century in as many matches, before mistiming a pull shot off Josh Hazlewood and was caught at mid-on by Mitchell Johnson to end a record 265-run stand with Taylor, a new benchmark for New Zealand in Tests against Australia. Also Read – Domingo named new Bangladesh cricket coachHe faced 250 balls in 390 minutes and hit 24 boundaries. The 25-year-old made 140 and 59 in the first Test at the Gabba, which New Zealand lost by 208 runs, and continued that form in Perth.It was his 12th Test century and only three other players have scored as many centuries at the same age — the others being Sachin Tendulkar (16), Don Bradman (13) and Alastair Cook (12).Williamson has made centuries in five of his last seven Tests against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England and Australia, and in that time he has scored 1,118 runs at 111.80. Taylor was a little less sure at the crease and flirted with disaster on a couple of occasions, but recovered to post his 13th Test hundred and looked increasingly comfortable during his innings. It was a welcome performance for the classy Taylor, who has been struggling with form for some time and had not scored a Test century since November last year.In a game where records have been tumbling with incredible regularity, Taylor posted a new benchmark for visiting players at the WACA and also became the first New Zealander to score a Test double century against Australia.Starc raised the home crowd from its run-fuelled stupor when he sent down a 160.4 kilometres per hour (99.7 miles per hour) thunderbolt to Taylor before tea.It was part of a fiery spell from the left armer and was the fourth-fastest delivery ever recorded, with Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar holding the record with 161.3 kph.Australian duo Brett Lee and Shaun Tait both once clocked at 161.1 kph, and seventies firebrand Jeff Thomson is the only other player recorded at over 160 kph. However, none of that group performed the feat in Test cricket.Fellow paceman Mitchell Johnson moved into fourth on the all-time list of Australian Test wicket-takers when he removed Doug Bracewell late in the day to claim his 311th scalp, passing Brett Lee.Australia did not help their own cause with some dropped catches, while there was embarrassment for local officials early in the day, with play halted for 17 minutes by a malfunctioning sightscreen.last_img read more

Selfrando improves Tor Browser security

first_imgSelfrando improves Tor Browser security by Martin Brinkmann on June 28, 2016 in Security – 2 commentsSelfrando is a new protective feature of the Tor Browser that improves the web browsers defense against hacking attempts and the de-anonymization of users.Tor browser is a popular tool for remaining anonymous on the Internet. It is used by journalists and activists, and regular users as well to do things on the Internet anonymously.This makes the browser a high profile target for nation states and hackers. While the Tor Browser’s user count is relatively small compared to popular web browsers like Chrome or Firefox, it is based for the most part on Firefox code which is used by hundreds of millions of users.SelfrandoResearchers from the German university of TU Darmstadt and the University of California Irvine have created a new protection for Tor called Selfrando.Selfrando randomizes the code of the Tor browser to make it harder for attackers to know where code is on the computer the program is executed on.The researchers mention the attack used by the FBI against Tor users specifically in the research paper.In this paper, we present selfrando—an enhanced and practical load-time randomization technique for the Tor Browser that defends against exploits, such as the one FBI allegedly used against Tor users.The defensive security feature attempts to prevent code-reuse exploits. These exploits use existing code for malicious purposes and are usually not stopped by common anti-exploit features such as ASLR, or Write or Execute.The researchers have published a research paper, Selfrando: Securing the Tor Browser against De-anonymization Exploits, that goes into great technical detail.It is a good read if you are interested in the security concept used by Selfrando, and its implementation in the Tor browser.Selfrando is a framework that randomizes the program binary on load time.For these reasons, we decided to develop a framework which makes the program binary randomize itself at load time.Rather than modifying the compiler or linker, we developed a small tool which wraps the system linker, extracts all function boundaries from the object files used to build the binary, then appends the necessary TRaP information to the binary itself.The new security feature is not yet available in stable builds of the Tor web browser. It is being tested in the latest nightly hardened builds which are only available for Linux currently. A version for Linux is in development but it is not clear right now when it will be available.Selfrando may make it into Tor Browser 6.5 if testing goes well, but the more likely release version is Tor Browser 7.0 which will be out next Spring.It is interesting to note that Selfrando could come to the Firefox web browser as well as it is not a Tor specific framework. If that happens, security of the Firefox web browser would improve as well as a consequence.SummaryArticle NameSelfrando improves Tor Browser securityDescriptionSelfrando is a new protective feature of the Tor Browser that improves the web browsers defense against hacking attempts and the de-anonymization of usAuthor Martin BrinkmannPublisher Ghacks Technology NewsLogo Advertisementlast_img read more

Representative Garcia honors Black River Public Schools commitment with state tribute

first_img Categories: Garcia News,News State Representative Daniela R. García, of Holland, recognized Black River Public School’s 20 years as an outstanding public charter school in Holland with a state of Michigan Tribute on Monday.“Black River Public School combines a Montessori elementary school with a college-prep middle school and high school to provide an education that is second to none,” said Garcia in the tribute. “The school features some of the highest test scores in the state and annually ranks among the best high schools in the country. In 2011, Black River Public School was named the No. 1 high school in the state by The Washington Post.”Representative García presented the tribute to Shannon Brunink, the head of school at Black River, Monday. 24Feb Representative Garcia honors Black River Public School’s commitment with state tributecenter_img Black River Public School is a publically-funded school chartered by Grand Valley State University and works with students in kindergarten to 12th grade.The tribute was also signed by State Senator Arlan B. Meekof, of West Olive, and Gov. Rick Snyder.last_img read more

Rep Howell bill prohibiting gun ordinances in violation of state law passes

first_img09Jun Rep. Howell bill prohibiting gun ordinances in violation of state law passes House committee Categories: Howell News,News A House bill introduced by state Rep. Gary Howell of North Branch that would penalize local officials who knowingly enact or enforce gun ordinances which violate state law passed on Wednesday in the House Committee on Local Government.No one testified against the bill when it came before the committee for a vote.“This legislation simply enforces a state firearms preemption law that has been on the books since 1990. I would note that this is not a partisan issue. The 1990 firearms preemption law was passed by a Democrat House and signed into law by Democrat Governor James Blanchard. Twenty-seven years is far more than enough time for municipalities to come into compliance with the law,” Howell said. “This bill will protect the pivotal right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms as spelled out in the Constitution of the United States, and will help them defend themselves and their families.”Added Howell: “Without the penalty provisions contained in this bill, local officials could continue to enact ordinances in violation of state law and the Michigan Constitution. I am pleased to report that I am not aware of any Lapeer County municipalities that have adopted such illegal ordinances.”Howell explained support for the bill has flowed in from residents.“I have received a significant number of phone calls and emails from residents of my district in support of this legislation. I am very proud that it has the full support of both the Michigan State Police and the National Rifle Association,” Howell said. “I am also pleased to report that I have received a high volume of positive comments and feedback as I have conducted my office hours in the district.”House Bill 4616 would protect law-abiding gun owners who comply with state law from being forced to defend themselves in court at their own expense in order to prove that ordinance citations issued against them are invalid.The measure provides that municipalities will have 60 days after the effective date of the bill to repeal all remaining invalid ordinances. Any local unit of government refusing or neglecting to repeal such ordinances could then be sued by the Attorney General or any citizen in circuit court.Under Rep. Howell’s bill, anyone proposing to sue a municipality would have to give 90 days written notice to the municipality in order to provide the local unit of government a final chance to repeal an invalid ordinance.The bill stipulates that a court would be obligated to issue an injunction against further enforcement, order that such ordinances be repealed, and assess costs and attorney fees against the offending municipality. In addition, any local elected official who knowingly and willfully enacts or enforces such ordinances would be subject to fines between $500 and $2,500.“The Michigan Constitution in Article I, Section 6 clearly states that ‘every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state’,” Howell said. “To force law-abiding citizens to defend themselves in court and also pay the costs, especially when one considers they are simply defending themselves in court to exercise their basic American rights, is a slap in the face.”Howell added: “I will not allow our citizens’ Constitutional rights to be infringed upon by illegal local ordinances.”HB 4616 now moves to the House floor for further consideration, where it could come up for a vote as soon as next week.PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Gary Howell, member of the House Local Government Committee, provides testimony in favor of House Bill 4616, which was recommended to the House floor on Wednesday for further consideration.last_img read more

Rep Webber tours autonomous vehicle lab to focus on new transportation

first_img23Aug Rep. Webber tours autonomous vehicle lab to focus on new transportation Categories: Webber News State Rep. Michael Webber, of Rochester Hills, this week toured the autonomous vehicle facility at Mcity in Ann Arbor. The Michigan House and Senate Transportation and Infrastructure had a joint committee meeting Tuesday to discuss the importance of new transportation technology.State Rep. Jeff Noble (left), State Rep. Michael Webber, State Rep. Julie Alexander and Senator Phil Pavlov with an autonomous vehicleHuei Peng and Carrie Morton of Mcity discussed research and outlined the vision of how autonomous vehicles will revolutionize transportation.Laurel Champion, COO of the American Center for Mobility (ACM), discussed the focus on testing and connectivity of autonomous vehicles.“Autonomous vehicles will reduce vehicle fatalities and injuries by as much as 90 percent,” said Rep. Webber, who is vice chair of the House committee. “Drivers will be warned of emerging dangerous situations and prevent accidents from occurring. New technological advancements will help keep Michigan drivers safe.”Mcity has created a public-private partnership to work on connected and automated mobility systems. There are more than 65 industry partners with $16 million invested in research and over 100 students involved in Mcity activities on the University of Michigan campus.The American Center for Mobility is a non-profit testing and product development facility for future transportation development. The facility is located at the historic 335-acre Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township in southeast Michigan.An automated vehicle uses a variety of sensors to collect data about the surrounding environment. Maps and GPS help guide the vehicle. Onboard computers analyze the data collected by the sensors, as well as the mapping data, to determine the best course.###last_img read more

Rep Afendoulis announces December office hours

first_img State Rep. Chris Afendoulis welcomes residents to join him for upcoming office hours during the month of December.“I invite all residents to attend my office hours,” Afendoulis said. “Meeting with my constituents and learning from their feedback is one of the most important parts of my job. I look forward to another opportunity to connect with our neighbors.”Rep. Afendoulis will be available at the following time and location:Monday, Dec. 117:30 to 9 a.m. at Mr. Burger, 5181 Northland Dr. NE in Grand Rapids. Categories: Afendoulis News 28Nov Rep. Afendoulis announces December office hourscenter_img No appointments are necessary. In an effort to serve all who come to office hours, Rep. Afendoulis asks residents to be prepared and keep their meeting to 10 minutes in length. If residents are unable to attend, or may have an issue that could take longer to discuss, they may contact Rep. Afendoulis’ office to schedule a separate meeting. Rep. Afendoulis may be reached at (517) 373-0218 or by email at chrisafendoulis@house.mi.gov.last_img read more

Connecticut and 40 Other States Get an F in Doctor Quality Information

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares Nisakorn Neera / Shutterstock.comFebruary 22, 2014; Darien NewsA vital role for nonprofits is in the area of consumer advocacy. In Connecticut, for example, a nonprofit called the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute just released a comparison of states on the transparency of physician quality.Forty-one states received a failing grade for providing insufficient information about the quality of medical care by doctors. Connecticut, where the Institute is based, earned itself a grade of F.It isn’t like the states were being graded on arcane minutia, either. The scoring criteria in the study were as follows:Scope of transparent quality information: Percentage of physicians and supporting healthcare professionals in each state with publicly available quality informationScope of measures: Outcome, process, and patient experienceAccessibility of information: Can a consumer find the information, understand the information, and use the information?While Nutmeg State residents may be shocked by their F grade, the truly shocking thing is how very few states got a D or above. Minnesota and Washington earned A grades, California got a C, and Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin garnered D’s.As might be expected, a couple of medical professionals quoted in the Darien News report expressed misgivings about the ratings. Dr. Robin Oshman, president of the Fairfield County Medical Association, asked, “How do you define quality? It’s very hard to do.”“What constitutes as quality for one insurer, provider, or consumer may be completely different for another,” added Matthew Katz, the executive vice president and CEO of the Connecticut State Medical Society. He went on to suggest that current sources of performance or quality data on doctors compiled by government, insurers, and nonprofits are frequently “inconsistent, incomplete, invalid and inaccurate.” It’s not hard to imagine that other sectors might feel the same way about qualify reviews by their consumers.Why, in a period of new attention to healthcare costs, coverage, and outcomes, would states be so lackluster on making information available about the quality of medical treatment? Perhaps it is an issue of empowerment. In dealing with the men and women who don white coats, patients are often passive about challenging diagnoses and treatments, too timid to question what they are being told and too frightened to wonder if they are getting the quality treatment they need.One would hope that a new national law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would help change the cultural dynamic of patients in terms of their right to be knowledgeable consumers. Until government gets fully into that arena, it will be up to groups like HCI3 to advocate for protecting patients as consumers of what the U.S. considers medical care.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

A No More Vote on Massachusetts Charters

first_imgShare5TweetShareEmail5 SharesNovember 8, 2016; Boston GlobeOn Tuesday, Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly not to lift the cap on charter schools, preventing the growth or expansion of current charter school networks across the state. The expectation pre-election was that the final numbers would be closer but perhaps that was informed by the overwhelming amount of money that had been poured into the “yes” side.The issue has been a very divisive one in this election season. Spending on the campaigns for and against the cap broke spending records across the state.The charter school issue is a complicated one. It touches on issues of race, class, taxes, redlining, government size, testing standards, and union strength, among others. There are currently over 30,000 students on the waitlists for 70-odd charter schools in the Massachusetts, out of nearly a million students enrolled in the district for the 2015–2016 school year.The students on wait lists are overwhelmingly in poor minority areas of Boston, where charters tend to outperform traditional public schools. In the suburbs, where the cap has not yet been hit, charters do not have this same performance advantage. (Results vary across the country.) Studies have shown that charters serve a particularly disadvantaged population. Many of them have explicit social justice agendas. John King, U.S. Secretary of Education, founded a Massachusetts charter network called Roxbury Prep that works to empower racial minorities to improve their communities.This overt commitment to social justice is one thing that makes charters stand out from public schools; many charters view themselves as instruments of change as well as centers of learning. Interestingly, the NAACP opposes privately funded charter schools, believing that equitable public education is a better solution.The way that charters are funded in Massachusetts is another part of what makes them unique. In Massachusetts, all charters are nonprofit organizations and they receive funding from foundations or individuals the same way most nonprofits do. In addition, they receive a fixed sum of money from municipalities based on the number of students they have; the money follows the child, wherever they go. (This varies by district, but in Boston, it averages about $15,000.)George W. Bush, Donald Trump, and other conservative politicians have supported this “money follows the child” policy, saying it gives parents a choice. Opponents to this funding system say that school costs do not follow a per-student formula: Whether a school has 40 students or 400, it still needs a principal and a cafeteria; whether a math class has 15 kids or 35, it still needs a teacher. In an effort to keep traditional public schools from suffering sudden funding drops as money follows students to charter schools, the state runs a scaled aid program, whereby it reimburses schools for the money they lose for a few years. Unfortunately, state budget shortfalls have meant that in recent years, the money did not come through, and Boston was forced to move money from other parts of its municipal budget to make up the difference.The other thing that makes charters unique is the greater degree of autonomy they exercise with respect to things like curriculum, teacher salaries, and disciplinary policy. Charter school teachers do not belong to unions, and schools are not obligated to follow the Common Core or any other district curriculum. Charter students still have to take all the same state tests as traditional public school students, but what other exams or standards they follow is up to each individual school, the same way it would be in a private school.The lack of union membership for charter teachers is one of the things that magnified this fight during the election. The Massachusetts Federation of Teachers has vocally opposed lifting the charter cap. Charters argue that policies like teacher tenure are detrimental to student welfare and inefficient when it comes to cost. Opponents argue that non-union teachers are overworked and that the lack of certified teachers is detrimental to students. (Charter teachers, like private school teachers, are not required to have teaching degrees or certifications.) Charter teachers are paid, on average, about $20,000 less than public school teachers. They do tend to be younger, but they also tend to teach more classes and work longer hours and longer school years. Charters suffer a high teacher turnover rate, which is partly attributed to “burnout.”Many have said that the state’s focus should be on strengthening traditional public schools. We hope that is where the focus will be now that the charter cap has been maintained.—Erin RubinShare5TweetShareEmail5 Shareslast_img read more

National Nonprofit Meets Growing Demand for Worker Ownership

first_imgShare31Tweet27ShareEmail58 Shares“HIRE OURSELVES: worker-owned cooperatives,” Alyce SantoroMay 21, 2018; Fast CompanyAt NPQ, we have broadly covered the growing pace of conversions to employee ownership, prodded in part by the retirement of Baby Boom–generation business owners. Now, the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI), a nonprofit created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, is seeking to step up its efforts to reach small businesses who might benefit from selling their businesses to their employees.On a website called Becoming Employee Owned, DAWI profiles a number of businesses that have successfully become worker cooperatives, including 10 short video stories and more than 40 written case study profiles.Among the video profiles are stories on A Child’s Place, a New York City childcare provider; a landscaping company in Massachusetts called A Yard & A Half; and a company called Metis Construction in Seattle. Each video highlights the role of workers—and how becoming owners increased their sense of responsibility and enthusiasm for their work.Eillie Anzilotti in Fast Company writes that in addition to the demographic challenge of the Baby Boom generation hitting retirement age and looking to exit their businesses, another driver is simply the challenging atmosphere facing small business in the US. “As banks have consolidated, capital for small businesses has grown scarce,” Anzilotti notes. In making this statement, Anzilotti was referred to a report released last year by the Washington, DC-based Economic Innovation Group, which found that more small businesses were closing than opening, “revealing a stark reversal from decades of growth,” according to Mike Maciag in Governing.Melissa Hoover, executive director of DAWI, says the videos were created with the goal that “local outlets and local service providers use these resources to demonstrate that this can be done.” According to Hoover, DAWI is already seeing an uptick in queries as a result. “This is not a hard sell,” Hoover says. “What we’ve found is it makes intuitive sense to people.”Hoover also outlines the steps involved in the conversion process, which share some elements with a model in Maine covered by NPQ earlier this month. The first step is simply to educate business owners about the idea, which is where the videos come in. A second step is to determine economic suitability for the conversion. Anzilotti writes that, “Generally, co-ops tend to form from businesses with a minimum of 20 employees, and no more than a few hundred (though there are exceptions—Cooperative Home Care Associates in New York is the country’s largest worker-owned cooperative and employs nearly 2,000 workers). The relatively manageable size ensures that each employee can purchase a share of the company that’s large enough to be meaningful, but not so expensive as to be prohibitive. Longevity in the community is also a benefit.”The third step is to identify a source or sources of capital. Hoover concedes that, “We don’t have the kind of values-aligned capital that understands how to finance conversions, understands the risks, or understands the upsides of cooperatives.” That said, financing options do exist and are growing. Anzilotti notes that Child’s Place took out a loan from The Working World, a New York City-based community development financial institution (CDFI) that manages a $5 million loan fund specifically for worker-owned businesses.The last critical step is, as Anzilotti puts it, “learning how to effectively structure and govern a collectively owned business.” To this end, DAWI has developed the School for Democratic Management, which provides both in-person and online education for new co-op managers and worker-owners.Having an extended transition period can help. For example, A Yard & A Half Landscaping started convening a group of employees to prepare for the transition a full five years before the conversion; since it became a co-op in 2014, revenues have climbed from $2 million to $3.2 million, while wages increased from $17.02 an hour to $19.29 an hour.Supportive policy for worker co-ops is also becoming more common and makes conversions easier. For example, in August 2016, the US Department of Agriculture’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program added new financing vehicles that “specifically support the transition to worker-owned businesses, like financing models staged over five years to support a more distributed sale,” notes Anzilotti. As NPQ has covered, there is also legislation that has passed committee votes in both the Senate and the House that if enacted into law could make it far easier for worker co-ops to access US Small Business Administration guaranteed loans and other resources.Hoover says that even though “Co-ops are not whiz-bang businesses that are going to get anybody rich,” DAWI has seen “growing interest” in worker cooperatives in both rural and urban communities. “Business retention makes more sense than trying to attract Amazon’s HQ2,” she adds. “Why don’t we invest in our local ecosystem and retain what’s already here?”—Steve DubbShare31Tweet27ShareEmail58 Shareslast_img read more