Police on Monday were continuing to investigate the provenance of an email containing a bomb hoax that led to the evacuation of two malls, an aircraft at Larnaca airport and a casino in Nicosia on Sunday.The first evacuation occurred at around 3pm at the Kings Avenue Mall in Paphos. In order not to cause panic, mall security initially told the public that they should step outside due to a ventilation malfunction. Sniffer dogs and the bomb squads combed the mall, and after nothing was found the all-clear was given at about 6pm.At Larnaca airport, around 4pm airport authorities and police evacuated an aircraft following information that a suspicious item was on board.Passengers disembarked so that the plane could be searched. The flight departed for Moscow later in the afternoon.Meanwhile after similar information was received by authorities, the My Mall in Limassol was likewise evacuated around 4pm The premises were searched, and the all-clear was sounded at about 6pm.The evacuation went smoothly, with loudspeakers and security personnel instructing the public to head for the exits.Lastly, at about 7pm police received a call about a bomb at the casino in Engomi, Nicosia. After the casino was searched, it resumed normal operation at 8.30pm.The call was placed from a payphone somewhere in Nicosia, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said.Angelides said a crisis centre was set up immediately after the information came through.“As you know, the searches that were conducted with the involvement of numerous departments, found nothing in connection with a suspicious item,” he said.According to Angelides, the information on the three prior sites – the airport and the two malls – had been received via email, around 1.30pm.The message was sent to a Larnaca airport email address, the spokesman said. It did not mention bombs, but referred to the presence of “suspicious items.”What is curious is that the same email referred to suspicious items at three separate sites – the aircraft as well as the two malls.The provenance of the email is being investigated, Angelides said.Reports said the email came from abroad with the sender being a Russian businessman living in Limassol. A second Russian man, a lawyer, who visits Cyprus frequently was also named in the email.Police questioned the two men but nothing untoward came up and reports suggested the two might have been the victims of a hacker.The police spokesman declined on Monday to discuss details regarding the sender. He said a statement will be issued when the force had concrete leads.“Some questions have been answered regarding this information but we should await the conclusion” of the investigation, Angelides said. You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides will on Tuesday depart for Paris for a working visit, during which he will have a series of meetings, focusing on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Republic of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), bilateral relations and energy issues.According to a press release, Christodoulides will have a private meeting and talks at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with his counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, during which they are expected to discuss Turkey’s illegal actions in Cyprus’ EEZ, review the whole spectrum of bilateral relations and exchange views on how to further strengthen cooperation, with emphasis on energy issues. They will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest.Christodoulides will then hold separate meetings with Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin and Secretary of State to the Minister of the Armed Forces Geneviève Darrieussecq.In the framework of his visit, Christodoulides will also be meeting with Senator Christian Cambon, President of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces.Christodoulides will be wrapping up his visit with a meeting with Stéphane Michel, President of Middle East, Exploration & Production Division at Total SA, active in Cyprus’ EEZ.He will be returning to Cyprus on Wednesday morning.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoModernizeIf Your Home Has Old Roofing, Read ThisModernizeUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar has asked to hold meetings with the two leaders to listen to their views on the current situation as regards the Cyprus problem.UN spokesperson in Cyprus Aleem Siddique told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday that Spehar has requested to meet President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in light of the recent UN Security Council meeting and the forthcoming report of the UN Secretary General on the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp).Spehar “usually sees both leaders before and after every report on Cyprus,” he said.After her meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Tuesday, Spehar will in due course hold a meeting with Anastasiades, Siddique said, adding that no date has been confirmed yet for this meeting.Spehar’s meetings with the leaders are not related with the UN Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute’s mission but to issues regarding Unficyp and the confidence building measures (CBMs), he said.Lute is currently engaged in an effort and has been holding contacts with the parties involved with the aim of agreeing on the terms of reference as to the methodology of a new negotiating process.In a statement issued after its meeting on Cyprus at the beginning of May, the UN Security Council urged the sides to agree terms of reference as a basis for meaningful results-oriented negotiations, mindful of the natural window of opportunity presented by the current electoral cycle.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoModernizeIf Your Home Has Old Roofing, Read ThisModernizeUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Cypriot banks kept their lending standards unchanged in the first three months of the year and they are expected to continue to do so also in the second quarter, the Central Bank of Cyprus said.Banks will maintain their standards in all categories, i.e. corporate loans, mortgages, and consumer credit, after having done so in the first quarter, the central bank said in its quarterly bank lending survey, published on its website on Wednesday.Demand for corporate loans, mortgages, and consumer credit increased in the first three months of the year and is expected to rise further in April to June, both in Cyprus and the euro area, the central bank said.Euro area banks relaxed their standards in all credit categories in the first three months of the year and are expected to keep them unchanged this quarter for mortgages and consumer loans, and tighten them for corporate lending, the central bank said.You May LikeSUVs | Search AdsThese SUVs Will Take Your Breath Away. Research 2019 Luxury Crossover SUV DealsSUVs | Search AdsUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) is set to confer in the coming week to decide its next step following an announcement on Friday that Turkey has granted access to 30 suspected burial sites in military areas in the occupied north of the island.There is no time constraint attached to the decision and the excavation planning will be decided by the CMP.Leonidas Pantelides, the Greek Cypriot member of the CMP told the Cyprus News Agency on Saturday that the access to burial sites in military areas is very helpful for the work of the Committee, adding that this week the members will get together to plan their next steps.He said that they will look into maps of the specific areas and will decide how the excavations will take place. Pantelides clarified the Greek Cypriot side had asked for access to these 30 areas which include a total of 33 sites, following credible information.He said that some sites are in military areas, some close to the buffer zone and therefore a thorough study of the maps is needed. Pantelides added that there is reliable information that the remains of at least one person are buried in each of these sites.He highlighted the fact that there is no time constraint as to when the excavations should take place, or how many per year.“Therefore,” he said, “we plan to include these 30 sites in the excavation schedule of this year, taking into account various factors such as the weather conditions, if the remains are located in a well, or near water.”After years of efforts by the CMP and the Cypriot government to get Turkey to grant access to such areas, Friday’s announcement that the Committee had been granted access restored hope that the 1,510 Greek Cypriots and 492 Turkish Cypriots that are still missing may still be found and returned to their families for a proper burial.In March, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had urged Turkish authorities to assist the CMP in any way it could.In addition to requesting that Turkey ensures that the CMP has unhindered access to all areas of interest located in the northern part of Cyprus, Turkey was also called to hand over its military archives, which are believed to contain information on mass graves, as well as on the collection of bodies from battlefields in the summer of 1974, particularly around Kyrenia on the northern coast of Cyprus.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoSmart Tips DailySeniors With No Life Insurance May Get A $250,000 Policy If They Do ThisSmart Tips DailyUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides has welcomed ExxonMobil’s intention to accelerate procedures ahead of scheduled offshore drillings in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.Asked about his recent meeting with ExxonMobil’s Vice President, Tristan Asprey, in the presence of Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, where they discussed geopolitical developments, Christodoulides said that energy planning was going as planned. He added that during the meeting, the company expressed its intention to speed up the process.ExxonMobil’s Vice President for Europe, Russia Caspian and Asia Pacific / Middle East region, Asprey was in Cyprus on Friday for contacts with officials. The company plans two drillings in block 10, in the island’s EEZ starting in the fourth quarter of 2018.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoSmart Tips DailySeniors With No Life Insurance May Get A $250,000 Policy If They Do ThisSmart Tips DailyUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Howell News State Rep. Gary Howell testified in support of his bill that penalizes local officials who knowingly enforce a gun ordinance in violation of state law.State Rep. Gary Howell (R – North Branch) testified on May 24th before the House Committee on Local Government in support of his bill that penalizes local officials who knowingly enact gun ordinances in violation of state law and the Constitution.“The Michigan Constitution, in Article 1, Section 6, provides that ‘every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state’. This language is very clear and unequivocal, and accordingly, it is unacceptable for any local government to impede those rights,” Howell said. “My common-sense legislation will help protect and safeguard our important constitutional rights as well as the lives of people.”Rep. Howell further stated that “despite the fact that Michigan law has for decades prohibited local units of government from adopting firearms ordinances contrary to state statute, some cities, villages, and townships have continued to enact, maintain, or enforce such illegal ordinances. This places an unfair burden on gun owners who would have to defend themselves in court at their own expense in order to prove that any citations issued against them are invalid.”“If we don’t take steps now to address these infringements upon our constitutional rights, the gun-grabbers could go after our hunting rights next. Saying and doing nothing is to give tacit approval. I will not allow that to happen on my watch.”HB 4616 provides that municipalities will have 60 days after the effective date of this bill to repeal all remaining invalid ordinances. Any local unit of government which refuses or neglects to repeal such ordinances can then be sued by any of its taxpayers in circuit court. The court will 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 up to $7,500.It is anticipated that the House Committee on Local Government will take further testimony on the Howell bill at a meeting scheduled for noon on Wednesday, June 7th in Lansing. The bill is supported by both the National Rifle Association and the Michigan State Police. 25May Rep. Howell bill prohibits gun ordinances in violation of state law ###
25Apr Rep. Allor votes to increase funding for northern Michigan schools, protecting natural resources Rep. Sue Allor this week voted in favor of a Michigan House plan investing a record amount in the state’s public schools with a special emphasis on preparing students for high-demand jobs.The budget plan also will improve roads, protect natural resources and boost rural health care while forcing state government to live within its means and become more accountable to taxpayers. The proposal also fights PFAS contamination on several fronts.“This plan focuses on what northern Michigan needs, wants and deserves,” said Allor, of Wolverine. “We’re placing a priority on programs that will lead to better-paying jobs, preserve our natural resources, protect the health and safety of families, and preserve our way of life.”The House plan for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 focuses on:More than a quarter of the House’s overall budget proposal goes to K-12 schools, with $14.8 billion establishing a new state record for K-12 investment – including the largest annual per-student increase in 15 years, ranging from $120 to $240 per student. Early literacy and support for academically at-risk students are priorities. School security would receive a significant investment. Savings for taxpayers. Budgets for several state departments would decline as state government becomes more efficient and eliminates waste. Overall, the House plan spends less money next budget year – continuing a trend of spending less annually while prioritizing what’s most important. Health care. New doctors would have incentives to work in underserved rural areas. Access to mental health services will be improved so residents can live healthier, happier and more independent lives, reflecting the House CARES initiative. The effort includes more services for military veterans. Road repairs. Funding will rise to the highest levels in Michigan history as the state addresses one of its most urgent needs. Overall, the state will have pumped more than $2 billion in additional funds into roads and bridges over a three-year period by the upcoming budget year – with more money coming in the future. Categories: Allor News,News Allor fought for funding to boost winter tourism through a pilot program aimed at developing a more efficient groomer for state snowmobile trails. Natural resources. An additional $2.6 million will combat chronic wasting disease and other illnesses to protect the deer population. Allor chairs a House budget subcommittee focused on natural resources. PFAS contamination. Allor has been a leader in addressing this toxic pollutant, and the House plan attacks it on several fronts. Funding is added in many areas including budgets related to natural resources, environmental quality and public health. Examples include expanded funding for contamination response in communities, and for studying the impact on wildlife. Workforce development. More than $100 million is added to talent development and workforce preparation programs at the K-12 level. Significant investments in other programs such as Going PRO also will help prepare more residents for high-demand jobs. House Bills 5578-9 advance to the Senate as work to finalize the next state budget continues.###
State Rep. Brad Paquette voted this week in favor of a plan to expand the Grand Beach Nature Preserve.The legislation approved by the House, with Paquette’s support, includes $2.4 million to acquire an additional 42 acres for the Grand Beach Nature Preserve and develop the land to include a non-motorized trail system.“We’re incredibly blessed to have a beautiful park right here in our backyards – we must do all we can to preserve and make accessible this wonderful natural recreation spot,” said Paquette, of Niles. “Grand Beach Nature Preserve is already a great part of our community, this acquisition and development project will make it even better, and further contribute to our booming tourism industry.”The full Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) plan includes $26 million for 34 recreational development projects and 30 land acquisition projects statewide, including the Grand Beach Nature Preserve project. The project investments outlined in the proposal were recommended by the NRTF Board in December.The trust is funded by money acquired by the development of minerals on state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments.House Bill 4244 next advances to the state Senate for further consideration.### 07Mar Rep. Paquette supports plans to improve Grand Beach Nature Preserve Categories: Paquette News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares June 2, 2014;Mother JonesIn light of the recent self-exposé by Google regarding its lack of diversity, here is a kind of anthropological essay on progress at Apple in two photos. These were tweeted by Dan Ackerman from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. This one was taken and broadcast last June:And this one below is from this year:He asks whether this can be seen as progress.NPQ welcomes other such visual documents from readers as measures of change (or not).—Ruth McCambridge ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share22TweetShare6Email28 SharesSeptember 16, 2015; Seattle TimesThere are 449 active and retired Catholic bishops in the U.S. overseeing 195 dioceses and archdioceses (plus one apostolic exarchate and one personal ordinariate). Four cardinals (Daniel DiNardo, Timothy Dolan, Sean O’Malley, and Donald Wuerl) lead archdioceses in Boston, Washington, New York, and Galveston-Houston. Over 38,000 priests, nearly 50,000 religious sisters, and more than 4,000 religious brothers served almost 17,500 parishes plus nearly 5,400 Catholic elementary schools, 1,200 Catholic secondary schools, and 225 Catholic colleges and universities, among other venues of religious activity, as of 2014.That is only part of the picture of the large, diverse, and often unwieldy U.S. Catholic community that will greet Pope Francis in his visit to Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. John McCoy, the author of a biography of Seattle archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, a predecessor for the kind of religious thinking that Pope Francis has been bringing back to the church, suggests that American bishops have been largely “tone deaf” to the Pope’s focus on global issues of poverty. Writing for the Seattle Times, McCoy finds the U.S. bishops, “all of them appointed under the traditionalist papacies of Francis’ two predecessors…mired in the culture wars of the past three decades.”McCoy takes special pains to note how few American Catholics are aware of the Pope’s encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home” (Laudato Si’), and the role on the part of the bishops in doing little to talk about or promote it.It might be that the language and concepts that Pope Francis is using in the encyclical challenge the bishops in ways that are entirely new and, given the environmental focus of the document, earth-shaking. “On Care for Our Common Home” includes thoughts that not only disrupt the thinking of traditionalist bishops, but also many in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors:On climate change, the Pope completely accepted the manmade origins of the problem and proposed solutions that powerful business interests often reject: “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it…The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system.”On the “breakdown of society,” the Pope condemned the creation of pleasant oases for the wealthy that are closed off to the rest of society: “In some places, rural and urban alike, the privatization of certain spaces has restricted people’s access to places of particular beauty. In others, ‘ecological’ neighborhoods have been created which are closed to outsiders in order to ensure an artificial tranquility. Frequently, we find beautiful and carefully manicured green spaces in so-called ‘safer’ areas of cities, but not in the more hidden areas where the disposable of society live.”Like the LEAP Manifesto issued by Canadian environmental activists, the Pope wrote that “we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (italics in original)In a manner not heard from the Vatican since Pope John XXIII, Pope Francis took on the capitalist system:There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.… Consequently, the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.… In the meantime, economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment.The Pope’s conclusions sounded much like a document issued by Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, containing a major challenge to the dominant economic system of the West:“Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy…Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery…It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.”McCoy finds the bishops largely preoccupied with the culture war issues of same sex marriage, abortion, and the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. “Their priorities virtually ignore the global issues that Francis has championed since his election as pope 2½ years ago,” he writes, adding that the Pope “has radically shifted the church’s emphasis from sexual and reproductive issues to social-justice issues, such as immigration, poverty and a living wage. This is an emphasis not being heard in the pews because most pastors haven’t caught up with the pope.”McCoy doesn’t expect the Pope to lecture his American audiences on the culture war issues that get the lion’s share of attention in religious discussions and, with a possibility of bringing the U.S. government to a budget stalemate, in Congress. Rather, McCoy writes, Pope Francis is “looking at the big picture of humanity challenged today by immigration, care of God’s creation and the growing inequality that impoverishes human dignity.” That is a theme worthy of being heard not only by America’s bishops and the 80 million or so Americans who self-identify as Catholic, but all of us, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and all others, who have a stake in changing our nation’s blind rush to economic and environmental oblivion.—Rick CohenShare22TweetShare6Email28 Shares
Share9TweetShare5Email14 SharesOctober 5, 2016, Courthouse News ServiceIn March 2016, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry named Islamic State atrocities against Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria acts of genocide. This finding does not legally obligate the U.S. to take any particular action. However, the force of the U.S. government using the term “genocide” gives weight to lawmakers, humanitarian groups and others to take action.A California-based group that works with refugees sued two banks in the Middle East and a Kuwaiti sheikh for allegedly financing ISIS acts of genocide against Assyrian Christians. But when the nonprofit group, St. Francis of Assisi, faced difficulty in serving one of the defendants, Kuwaiti-born Sunni cleric Hajjaj al-Ajmi, it asked the U.S. courts for assistance.In a September 30th ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the Northern District of California invoked Rule 4(f)(3) to order that the plaintiff be allowed to use Twitter to serve process on the Kuwaiti national. The case is St. Francis Assisi v. Kuwait Financial House. The Analysis section of the four-page opinion begins this way:Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f) establishes three mechanisms for serving an individual in a foreign country: 1) by an internationally agreed means of service that is reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those provided by the Hague Convention; 2) if there is no international means or no means specified then by means reasonably calculated to give notice; or 3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f).Courts have applied Rule 4(f) to allow the order of any means of service as long as it comports with due process and: 1) it provides “notice reasonably calculated, under all circumstances to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford[s] them an opportunity to present their objections”; and 2) it is not prohibited by international agreement.The St Francis group will tweet at al-Ajmi with a link to the summons where the complaint can be obtained. According to Courthouse News Service, Twitter was the social media channel of choice because Al-Ajmi used Twitter to launch campaigns to help fund the Islamic State’s genocidal acts. Courthouse News Service notes that “finding al-Ajmi’s current Twitter handle could prove challenging because many of his previous accounts have been disabled by the social media platform.”Normally, papers are served in the state where the lawsuit is filed. You cannot sue someone in a California court and serve papers on the defendant in Oklahoma. When the accused is overseas, it gets more complicated. Beeler’s ruling cited cases wherein federal courts have approved serving foreign nationals with lawsuits via Facebook and other social media platforms: “In 2014, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia authorized serving a Turkish defendant with a lawsuit through email, Facebook and LinkedIn in the case WhosHere Inc. v. Gokham Oran.”Beeler concludes her ruling by stating, “Al-Ajmi has an active Twitter account and continues to use it to communicate with his audience. Service by Twitter is not prohibited by international agreement with Kuwait.”This NPQ newswire observes a new and innovative use of Twitter to serve justice. While that legal action is described in technical and sometimes perhaps cute terms, this newswire never forgets the unspeakable horror of the Islamic State committing genocide and other war crimes against Yazidis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims. Investigations detail mass killings of those who refuse to convert to Islam. They are shot in the head or their throats are slit, often in front of their families. Reports describe in harrowing detail the trauma experienced by women and girls sold into slavery. Whether or not the clever and determined used of social media is successful in bringing a few financiers of this genocide to justice, a much larger battle is at hand and much more mightier tools than Twitter will be required to end this madness.—James SchafferShare9TweetShare5Email14 Shares
Share32Tweet14Share2Email48 SharesOctober 30, 2017; The NationBy now, those of us who have been tracking the developments in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, and perhaps since the fiscal crisis, have heard about the Federal Oversight and Management Board, the seven-person team appointed to restructure the island’s debt. But we may not know Clayton Gillette of New York University Law and David Skeel Jr of University of Pennsylvania Law, the legal theorists behind “Dictatorships for Democracy,” an approach which advocates takeover boards for bankrupt communities.As Simon Davis-Cohen, writing for The Nation, observes, the theories being applied to Puerto Rico have also been applied at the municipal level to Detroit, Flint, and Atlantic City, “where elected local governments have been suspended in favor of financial overseers tasked with imposing regimes of economic austerity.” Davis-Cohen notes, “The effect of financial oversight after Hurricane Maria is that the elected Puerto Rican government can neither spend money to revitalize the island’s public services nor can it provide basic disaster recovery or a rigorous jobs program without the board’s approval.”Puerto Rico’s humanitarian catastrophe is caused by a federal government that encourages debt (by allowing people to lend money to the island, but not allowing the island to collect taxes without which it’s practically impossible to pay the debt), poverty (created and maintained by an extraction economy), and population decline (people leaving the island looking for economic opportunity on the mainland). At the root of the antidemocratic approach outlined by Gillette and Skeel is “the idea that the elected government in any given crisis is to blame for the economic distress.”In Methodology of the Oppressed, Chela Sandoval breathes life into one of communications theorist Roland Barthes’ last essays, in which he proposes a “rhetoric of supremacy” that revolves around seven principles. This framework reveals the dominant ways of thinking through which oppression operates. One of these principles is “the privation of history,” which “works by distancing all objects in culture from the material history of what has made them what they are, an estrangement that deprives (Western) consciousness of any responsibility for what has and will become.” We are seeing this in Puerto Rico, and it conveniently leads to conditions where the causes of the problem are also the solution. In this case, the investor takeover of Puerto Rico is “solved” with more investor takeover.Gillette and Skeel began to outline their legal argument in a 2014 paper, published in 2016 in the Yale Law Journal, titled “Governance Reform and the Judicial Role in Municipal Bankruptcy.” In it, they propose that “governments ought to be treated like private corporations when they go bankrupt” because they are both “vehicles for providing goods and services.”When a private corporation goes bankrupt, judges can make permanent reforms to the corporation’s governing structure…But judges don’t have the same power to restructure bankrupt cities and towns.[…]Creditors, they argue, should be able “to dislodge the current governance structure” during times of fiscal crisis. Skeel and Gillette offer judges, financial overseers, and politicians a new language that they can use; pensioners become “shareholders” of the local government, and are treated the same as profit-motivated creditors.Underlying their thinking is the assumption, stated by Skeel, “that when a public entity is in deep financial distress there is almost always some government dysfunction connected with it.”In a 2015 op-ed in the New York Times, Gillette and Steel advocated for the federal government to create a control board to turn around Puerto Rico’s finances. Nine months later, Obama signed the act that created the fiscal control board and “effectively removed the financial powers of the Puerto Rican government and the autonomy of its 78 municipalities.” Two months later, Skeel himself was appointed to the board. It is important to note that the supremacy principles outlined by Barthes “tempt, inhabit, and shape not only the most obedient and deserving citizen-subject, but also the most rebellious agent of social change.” We may recoil at Trump’s response to Puerto Rico’s collapse, but Obama helped lay the political and legal foundation for it.In another 2014 essay by Gillette titled “Dictatorships for Democracy: Takeovers of Financially Failed Cities,” he argues that such boards can “catalyze reform that makes the entity more democratic and responsive…but you go through a process that is not democratic.” This makes no logical sense, but it exhibits another one of the seven supremacy principles: “tautology,” or speech that operates behind a badge of authority, where rationality is hidden. Sandoval writes, “This redundant, superficial figure depends for its influence on power itself, which it uses to freeze meaning into place, thereby protecting and legitimizing what is.”One of the undemocratic moves the fiscal control board took was the dismantling of the Banco Gubernamental de Fomento para Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Government Development Bank), “the ‘financial nerve center’ of the island, providing key financial services to the island’s cities and government agencies.” San Juan fought back with a lawsuit that claimed,The way the GDB is being dismantled disempowers local governments by lumping them in with the rest of the bank’s creditors. The municipalities—given one vote each—are being outvoted. As a result, millions of dollars of municipal-tax revenue that the GDB held in trust will be taken from the municipalities “to pay all of GDB’s creditors, including public bondholder.”However, a federal judge recently rejected San Juan’s claim. But, as David-Cohen points out,Even laying aside the undemocratic nature of oversight boards, the solutions they impose on populations are often painful and ineffective… According to local-government expert Michelle Wilde Anderson of Stanford University Law, when fiscal problems are caused by chronic poverty, population decline, and the federal government’s encouragement of debt, the situation won’t be fixed “with better spreadsheets or fiscal tools.”[…]When poverty, postindustrial decline, and population loss (or a hurricane) are the sources of economic crisis, you can’t blame the government, and therefore suspending it becomes less justified.Davis-Cohen concludes, “Puerto Rico should be a cautionary tale for the mainland Unites States…Gillette told me, ‘Puerto Rico’s municipalities are facing the same issues that confront cities [on the mainland].’” Melissa Mays, Flint resident and founder of the group Water You Fighting For?, offers a retort: “The more democracy we lose, the more lives are lost.” Don’t let this happen in your town!—Cyndi SuarezShare32Tweet14Share2Email48 Shares
Share31Tweet19ShareEmail50 SharesBy Sam Bobko (originally posted to Flickr as Avenue) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsFebruary 14, 2018; Energy News Network and Ohio Citizen ActionIn 2009, the city of Cleveland, Ohio, developed a climate action plan called Sustainable Cleveland 2019 in response to rising concerns about climate change. The goal of the 10-year initiative was to create a “Green City on a Blue Lake”—Lake Erie, that is—through plans to prevent, mitigate, and adapt to climate change impacts.Their plan involves nine action areas identified as vital to creating a “resilient and thriving Cleveland.” Each year was assigned an action area, from Energy Efficiency in 2011 to Engaged People in 2019. These action areas involve everyone in the city, from individual inhabitants, to businesses, to local government. Each contributor brings distinct ways to engage in more sustainable and more equitable behavior. For example, a Climate Action Advisory Committee (CAAC) engaged stakeholders to develop and utilize an equity lens to guide their implementation of the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, an initiative of the 2013 Renewable Energy action area, to make sure the 2013 action plan was effective and equitable.There’s almost universal agreement that climate change is already happening and its impact hits communities of color at a disproportionately high degree. The communities that are most vulnerable to these impacts are also, sadly, the least culpable. In addition to ample examples of this worldwide, this is evident in Cleveland, where recent studies found urban heat islands concentrated in poor neighborhoods with high amounts of pavement and little tree canopy to provide temperature-lowering cover.Cleveland has the country’s second-highest big city poverty rate after Detroit, at 35 percent living below the poverty line. Climate advocates and the mayor’s office recognize that a huge percentage of their population is particularly vulnerable to climate change and are therefore developing plans that consider poor communities’ added susceptibility to climate change-related diseases, like asthma.Advocates have called out four ways to help the city become more resilient to climate change and simultaneously promote social justice: increase access to renewable energy, strengthen communities, make homes more energy-efficient, and plant trees.Planting trees in particular provides ample benefits to city residents. Beyond cleaning the air and providing mental health-boosting green space, trees reduce the heat generated and trapped in densely populated areas. “Heat islands,” where the temperature is higher than in other areas, tend to be populated by lower income people and are characterized by low-rise architecture, lots of paved spaces, and sparse trees. Planting trees in these “ecologically deprived” areas can also promote social equity. Environmental social scientist Juan Declet-Barreto of the Union of Concerned Scientists reported in 2016 that neighborhoods with high percentages of Latinxs and people without a high school diploma were among Cleveland’s hottest areas.Where trees can mitigate climate change by dispersing heat, home weatherizing serves its dual environmental and equity purposes by saving energy and money. Targeted energy efficiency brings huge savings on utility bills, contributes to grid reliability and energy access, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation. A report by the Environmental Defense Fund on the benefits of expanding energy efficiency programs for low-income families indicates that renewable energy should be made more accessible and affordable for vulnerable groups.The transition to renewable energy cannot leave poor communities behind, reminds NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson in his announcement of the organization’s new solar energy initiative. Mike Foley, director of the Department of Sustainability for Cuyahoga County, who sees sustainability as a moral obligation, also adds, “We have to think through how to mitigate and adapt to climate change in a way that recognizes that the personal economics of people play a role in how someone can be green.”Building resiliency in the face of climate change calls for interventions both technologically complex and simple. Another suggestion is to improve community connections, which leads neighbors to help one another in emergencies like a heat wave. This is part of the Cleveland 2019 action area of engaged people, which identifies a city’s inhabitants as key contributors to change.Cleveland is among thousands of cities worldwide that are developing their own climate action plans to build resiliency in their own regions, as well as joining collaborations such as the C40 global network of “megacities” or the ICLEI global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns, and regions committed to building a sustainable future. Climate change is real, happening, and unstoppable, so cities must be realistic in preparing for and adapting to climate change impacts, as well as continuing to mitigate and prevent them, especially for their most vulnerable inhabitants.—Mi LovejoyShare31Tweet19ShareEmail50 Shares
Share41TweetShareEmail41 SharesAugust 6, 2017; Politico and TruthoutThe leadership of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) rejoiced on Friday when a US District Court judge’s ruling invalidated a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to dark money groups (and others) to remain anonymous. The impact on campaign finance reform and on the many 501c4 nonprofits who have populated this arena could be huge. Brent D. Griffiths at Politico writes,Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled the FEC’s current regulation of such groups, including 501c4 nonprofits, fails to uphold the standard Congress intended when it required the disclosure of politically related spending.“The challenged regulation facilitates such financial ‘routing,’ blatantly undercuts the congressional goal of fully disclosing the sources of money flowing into federal political campaigns, and thereby suppresses the benefits intended to accrue from disclosure,” wrote Howell, an Obama appointee to the DC district court. The decision is likely to be appealed.The suit was brought by CREW against the Federal Elections Commission after Crossroads GPS, a 501c4 offshoot of Karl Rove’s Crossroads Super PAC, would not disclose donors after spending $6 million in an unsuccessful campaign to defeat Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in 2012. With this ruling, those donors will no longer be anonymous. It may mean that any donor giving more than $200 to a nonprofit to influence a federal election would need to be disclosed.What happens from here will be important. The FEC will need to write new regulations based on this ruling, and the public will know just who is giving funds to influence an election. Within the next 45 days, the FEC must produce interim regulations that will support this broader disclosure standard. The FEC also has 30 days to reconsider its original decision to dismiss a complaint about Crossroads GPS’s spending in Ohio, which precipitated this lawsuit and was disputed within the FEC.In order to appeal the decision of the court, the FEC needs a unanimous vote of all the commissioners remaining (there are two vacancies). It is unlikely to get that vote, given the Commission includes some members who are pleased with this court outcome. Crossroads could also file an appeal, which is more likely.This. Is. Huge.It’s hard to exaggerate how big of a deal this @CREWcrew victory is. If it stands, it could fundamentally change the role dark money plays in elections (if it has a role at all). https://t.co/OKftf17I7f— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) August 4, 2018Responding to the importance of this decision on Twitter, Robert Maguire from the Center for Responsive Politics said it “could fundamentally change the role dark money plays in elections (if it has a role at all).” Continuing his Twitter exchange with CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder, Maguire added, “Consider that dark money groups have spent more than $733 MILLION (!) on independent expenditures—the type of spending the case was concerned with—since Citizens United. A huge portion of their activity.”The Citizens United decision gave birth to a plethora of “social welfare nonprofits” bankrolling funds from anonymous donors for use in campaigns for federal elections. This ruling puts a dent in the secrecy that surrounds some of the organizations that came from that ruling. Will it hold up on appeal? Will it cut down on the vast sums of money that are spent on these campaigns? As we look down the road to the not-too-distant mid-term elections, and to those that will follow, perhaps a statement from Bookbinder is appropriate: “Major donors are now on notice that if they contribute to politically active 501c4 organizations, their contributions will have to be disclosed and if they are not, CREW will pursue enforcement cases with the FEC and, if necessary, in court.”—Carole LevineShare41TweetShareEmail41 Shares
Pay TV operator Sky Deutschland is to add AXN HD from Sony Pictures Television to its line-up in Germany and Austria.The launch will bring shows including the fifth season of Breaking Bad to Sky Deutschland subscribers. The channel will be a part of the Sky World package from October 4 and will be available to all Sky HD subscribers.
Liberty Global reported a net loss of US$12 million (€9.09 million) in its second quarter and a drop in operating income, though received a customer boost thanks to its recent acquisition of Virgin Media. Liberty said it had a 41% or 13.7 million year-on-year increase in revenue generating units (RGUs), largely driven by the acquisition of Virgin Media in June 2013 and by 1.3 million organic subscriber additions during the last twelve months.Commenting on the results, Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries said: “The highlight of our second quarter was the successful acquisition of Virgin Media. This transaction marks an important milestone in our efforts to consolidate what remains a very fragmented European cable market. Virgin Media significantly enhances both the scale of our business and our levered equity growth strategy.”At the end of June Liberty provided 24.5 million unique customers with 47.5 million services. These consisted of 21.9 million video, 13.9 million broadband internet and 11.8 million telephony subscriptions. Some 13.5 million customers, or 55% of its customer base, subscribed to more than one product.On an organic basis, Liberty said it added 191,000 RGUs in Q2, mainly driven by subscriber growth in Germany, where it added 129,000. In the “highly competitive” Dutch market, however, it lost 7,000 RGUs.Liberty said that it’s next-generation web-connected TV service, Horizon TV, now has more than 270,000 subscribers in the Dutch and Swiss markets as of the end of July.“We will continue to grow our Horizon TV reach with roll-outs planned for Ireland and Germany in the coming weeks. In addition, we finished the second quarter with 1.7 million TiVo subscribers in the UK,” Liberty said.The firm’s US$12 million the loss compared to a net profit of US$702 million for the same period last year when its results were boosted by a US$924 million gain on the disposition of its interest in Australian telco Austar.Operating income was US$445 million in the quarter, down 7% year-on-year, though Liberty said that the impacts of the Virgin Media deal “more than offset operating cash flow during the three-month period.” Consolidated revenue was up by US$637 million year-on-year to US$3.16 billion.
Set-top box and wireless networking specialist AirTies has launched a new portable wireless set-top box (STB), designed to be small enough to fit into a handbag.The Air 7205 miniature STB measures 10 by 10 centimetres and is one of a number of products that the firm is demoing at the TV Connect event in London this week.Airties said the 7205 attaches wirelessly to the IP gateway, features remote control and home automation capabilities and can easily be moved from room to room.“The STB wirelessly connects to the home gateway and works on any unmanaged internet connection, effectively unbundling the provision of the pay TV service from the broadband service offering and opening up new revenue-stream opportunities,” said the firm.AirTies is also launching a new family of HEVC/4K set-top boxes, designed to offer satellite-quality live and on-demand video to any subscriber with a broadband connection.The Air 7410 line of set-tops consist of an OTT/IPTV STB and a hybrid DVB-T/OTT version that is available to trial quantities.All versions will include an HEVC decoder, 4K TV display, USB 3.0 and will use the latest Broadcom 7251 System-on-a-chip. The boxes will be on display for the first time at TV Connect.In addition, AirTies is using the event to launch two new versions of its next generation wireless video access points, targeted at both broadband and pay TV operators.The AirTies Air 4820 and Air 4920 feature the latest 802.11ac wireless chipsets and are designed to “simultaneously solve two of the most critical issues facing operators today: the cost of installing a pay TV service and the problem of consumers not getting the internet speeds they are paying for when connecting multiple devices in different rooms or on different floors,” said AirTies.
‘Programmatic buying’, also known as automated media buying, will account for 20% of US TV advertising spend by 2018, according to Strategy Analytics. The research firm claims that traditional TV ad buying practises, which have been “fairly static for decades” will start to shift in the coming years, as firms try to improve operational efficiencies.Strategy Analytics defines programmatic buying as the use of data, technology, and software to drive better media buying decisions, and says this has already become “entrenched” in online advertising and is making “significant inroads” in online video.Programmatic buying has already been introduced in a number of television services, notably Sky TV’s Adsmart platform in the UK, said Strategy Analytics.“There are challenges ahead, notably in industry education, technological limitations and control over pricing. But we believe that the benefits of programmatic buying are beginning to outweigh perceived obstacles to its wider adoption in television,” said Michael Goodman, associate analyst at Strategy Analytics.
BBC World News is offering a new suite of video on demand (VoD) content to its international distribution partners.The content package includes more than 120 hours of the World News channel’s best-known long-form content strands, including HARDtalk, Click, The Travel Show, One Square Mile and Our World each year.Partners can also choose to include specials and thematically grouped content, specifically commissioned for international audiences.“The fact that we have award-winning long form content that sits alongside our world class news and current affairs has always been one of the things that makes BBC World News stand out against our competitors,” said BBC Global News’ director of distribution, Colin Lawrence.“We know from the quantity and quality of our social media engagement that these programme brands are widely recognised and appreciated around the world. As consumers increasingly demand content on their own terms, we’re pleased that we can now offer our partners a suite of programmes of this quality and range to serve their needs.”