A 50-year-old Vancouver man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of dealing and possessing child pornography, according to Vancouver police.Mark A. Brown, 50, of the 9800 block of S.E. 18th Circle in Vancouver was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of two counts of dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and 10 counts of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.Brown’s arrest stemmed from a long investigation by the Vancouver police Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit. Police served a search warrant at Brown’s home nearly a year ago.“Sometimes (the time of arrest) depends on the amount of evidence and the sheer amount of time it takes to go through that,” said Vancouver police Sgt. John Chapman. “That’s why there was a significant delay in the time of the warrant and the time of the arrest.”
ACLU-Alaska Applauds SCOTUS Marriage DecisionLisa Phu, KTOO – JuneauIn a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court today declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. That means the status quo will continue in Alaska, where same-sex marriage was legalized in October.Efforts Underway to Recover 9 Plane Crash VictimsLeila Kheiry, KRBD – KetchikanRecovery efforts were under way early this afternoon (Friday) for nine people killed yesterday (Thursday) when a floatplane crashed into the side of a steep mountain in Misty Fiords National Monument outside of Ketchikan.Budget Cuts Sideline 3 of Alaska’s 11 FerriesEd Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – JuneauThe Alaska Marine Highway System plans to lay up three of its 11 ferries for most of the next year.Senator Calls on Governor to Expand MedicaidAnnie Feidt, APRN – AnchorageA prominent Democrat in the state Senate is calling on Governor Bill Walker to expand Medicaid in Alaska without approval from the legislature.How David Holthouse Decided to Out the ‘Bogeyman’Lisa Phu, KTOO – JuneauA high profile case about an alleged child rape from 1978 is at an impasse because of Alaska’s old statute of limitations.Juneau Soccer Camp Grooms Players for the International FieldElizabeth Jenkins, KTOO – JuneauAs the U.S. team heads to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals this weekend, a Juneau soccer camp is teaching kids all about the global sport.AK: The Journey to Bristol Bay’s Fishing GroundsMolly Dischner, KDLG – DillinghamEvery year dozens of boats travel back to Bristol Bay. Some ride on tenders or cargo ships, and some steam themselves around False Pass, a journey of more than 1000 miles that can be treacherous. But about 60 boats, most from Homer and Kodiak, take a different route across the Chigmit Mountains on the Alaska Peninsula. Dillingham’s Molly Dischner tagged along with a captain and crew bringing their 32-foot drift boat back to the Bay after a winter of maintenance in Homer.49 Voices: Will Ross from AnchorageJosh Edge, APRN – AnchorageThis week, we’re hearing from Will Ross, an Anchorage resident who was born and raised in Alaska. From Mount Marathon to Johnson Pass, he’s constantly pushing himself in the state’s great outdoors. Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.Download Audio
Hyderabad: Six days long Students Induction Programme (SIP), organized by Dean Student’s Welfare (DSW), Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), for newly admitted students, concluded today. The programme was inaugurated on 1st August. The programme began with the presentation of activities by the fresh batch of students in the auditorium at Directorate of Distance Education. Also Read – Hyderabad: Wall collapse in Kukatpally damages four cars Advertise With Us Dr. M.A. Sikandar, Registrar, MANUU presided over the valedictory session. Dr. Sikandar while addressing students as a resource person said that there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Information can be obtained from anywhere – books, Google etc., but only teachers tell us whether that information is right or wrong. That is why Institutions have their importance. He also gave a detailed presentation about the National Cadet Corps (NCC) established in the University. He elaborated the aims and the very larger national purpose of the establishment of NCC in India. Dr. Sikandar encouraged the young minds and souls of the fresh batch to show their interest in attending extra-curricular activities. The NCC officer of the university gave information that students enrolled in three years long course are eligible to join NCC unit in the University. Also Read – Man tied up to a tree and thrashed in Nalgonda for harassing woman Advertise With Us Earlier, Dr. M. Vanaja, Director, Directorate of Admissions welcomed the students and shared her happiness to see the huge turnout of the students as a fresh batch of students from all over the country. Prof. Siddiqui Mohammad Mahmood, Coordinator, Induction Programme presented a brief report of the programme. Dr. Mohammad Kamil, Additional Controller of Examinations provided extensive information about the examination pattern, the process of choosing courses at IUMs portals, and all related information about evaluation, internal assessments, and use of IUMS, online software for all purposes. Advertise With Us Prof. Syed Alim Ashraf, Dean, Student’s Welfare proposed the vote of thanks whereas Dr. Sami Siddiqui, Asst. Dean welcomed all the guests and students. Dr. Karan Singh Utwal, Deputy Dean and Assistant Deans – Dr. Khwaja Mohd Ziyauddin, Dr. Shabana Kesar, Dr. M. Sami Siddiqui and Dr. Mohd Akbar including Ms. Najamunnisa-Counsellor and entire office staff were present in the programme as the organizing team of the Student Induction Programme. The role of Public Relations Officer, Abid Abdul Wasay was crucial in organizing the event and disseminating the information in the media.
IBTimes VideoRelated VideosMore videos Play VideoPauseMute0:01/2:06Loaded: 0%0:01Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVE-2:05?Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedSubtitlessubtitles settings, opens subtitles settings dialogsubtitles off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window. COPY LINKAD Loading … Meet Consolata, a woman who benefitted from the programme ambulance taxi in Tanzania Close A first-of-its-kind ambulance taxi service created by the Vodafone Foundation to save the lives of high-risk pregnant women in two Tanzanian districts the size of Belgium. Consolata is one of the women who benefitted from the programme that helped reduce the maternal mortality by 27%.
Regardless of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice having some passionate fans and holding the number three spot on the highest grossing films of 2016 list, the reshuffling of Warner Bros. and DC Comics film production structure is best described as fallout.The hits have been coming fast and hard ever since Batman v Superman opened. The first step was to squeeze all the juice out of the lemon by promoting an Ultimate Edition of the movie via a deleted scene showing Lex Luthor communing with a CGI alien. That happened soon after the film’s release.Suicide Squad, the next DC superhero team-up movie to be released this year, was the next property to get some post-BvS attention. Director David Ayer and Jai Courtney (who will appear as Boomerang) both denied rumors that the reshoots were part of a plan to “lighten up” the movie, which had ended up much more grim than the well-received trailers had portrayed it. Whatever the truth may be, Warner Bros. spent a few million dollars shooting new material for the film.As Zack Snyder booted up production on Justice League, Warner Bros. realized that Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman in Dawn of Justice was well-liked. Besides getting him locked down to write and direct a solo Batman movie with DC Comics bigwig Geoff Johns (no Zack Snyder credit to be found), he was promoted to Executive Producer of Justice League. This signals that Affleck’s Oscar-winning story sense could help re-direct the film, or at the very least that’s what we’re supposed to think.The Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman movie was already deep into production when the shake-ups started happening, but the big screen adaptation of The Flash slated for 2018 lost director Seth Grahame-Smith to “creative differences” after the Dawn of Justice release. There were also (thus far unsubstantiated) rumors that James Wan, who is slated to direct Aquaman, was also frustrated with the pre-production process on his DC Cinematic Universe installment.All of these moves could have happened regardless of Batman v Superman’s performance, but this newest attempt to right the boat is addressing a core problem that the DCCU’s production structure has struggled with since Man of Steel.It was announced this week that Warner Bros. is changing the way its highest executives interact with their films. Instead of having a handful of executives with approval over a project, Warner is splitting its suits into specific tracts. For example, Courtenay Valenti (Executive Producer, Mad Max: Fury Road) is now in charge of all the Lego and Wizarding World of JK Rowling movies. For superheroes, WB has created DC Films, which will be run by Executive VP Jon Berg and DC Creative Operations Officer Geoff Johns.Behold: the new official DC logo, for use in comics, TV, and movies.This puts two people in charge of deciding the future of the DC Universe, rather than whoever is making the current movie (usually Zack Snyder) and a room full of executives who don’t read comic books. The inclusion of Geoff Johns in a top position for making DC movies is key — since he already knows how all the properties operate in the comics, he can bring some of that sensibility over to the Warner Bros. slate of movies (could we see an end to “Batman wouldn’t do that!” arguments?).This new approach is Warner Bros. reacting not to the critical reaction of Batman v Superman, but purely the financial reality that their movies haven’t been performing like they’d want them to across the board. The Hollywood Reporter article that broke this story mentions some producers and filmmakers complaining about “a murky greenlight process,” and this would theoretically fix that problem.Apparently, this isn’t the end of the changes in Warner Bros. movie-making decision process, but this is the first step the DCCU — I’m sorry, DC Films — has taken towards centralizing its decision-making power since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy ended, opening up the company to try an “Avengers-like” shared universe. DC went through the Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice production process without a roadmap, and sees both of those films as underperforming. Maybe it’s time for a steady set of hands on the wheel?This news comes right on the heels of rumblings that Margot Robbie might return as Harley Quinn in a movie featuring female DC characters (that she’d also produce). It could be that Harley’s newfound freedom is the first indication that DC Films is finally going to be the director-friendly production company they’ve always claimed to be.
Kolkata:The Special Task Force of the Kolkata Police seized 60 semi-finished improvised firearms, ammunition and arms making equipment and arrested nine persons during two separate raids, an official said on Tuesday. The raids were conducted in Kolkata and North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, a senior officer said. While three arms dealers were arrested with semi finished guns and Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) from Kolkata’s Maidan area during a raid on Monday, another six persons were arrested from an illegal arms factory in North 24 Parganas district’s Jagatdal later on that day, police said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life “The anti-FICN team of the Special Task Force arrested three persons named Suku Seikh, Md. Azimuddin and Md. Shamim from near the Kolkata Police Paddock in Maidan area on Monday. Forty semi-finished improvised firearms were seized from them,” the officer said. “Apart from the guns, a bundle of fake Rs 500 notes of the value of Rs 1 lakh was also seized from the three accused,” he added. Acting on a tip-off from one of the arrested accused, the STF team then raided an illegal arms factory at Choto Sreerampur village in Jagatdal area and arrested another six persons working in the factory. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed “Twenty pieces of semi finished fire arms, one lathe machine, two drilling machines and several parts of improvised firearms were seized from the factory. Six persons working in the illegal workshop were arrested,” the officer said. According to STF, seven of the nine arrested persons are from Bihar while two others are from Maharashtra and Bengal, respectively. “All the arrested accused have been prosecuted under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 489B,C (possession of counterfeit currency) and various sections of the arms act. They will be presented in the court today (Tuesday),” the officer added.
DisclosureEvery product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.Uber riders now have a minimum rating requirement to use the service.Image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Johnny Lieu2018-09-05 03:20:20 UTC It’s long-known that Uber drivers who fall under a certain star rating face getting kicked off the platform, and now that threat will extend to riders.The ride-hailing company announced a new minimum average rating requirement for passengers in Australia and New Zealand, as per its update on its community guidelines.Those changes will go into effect Sept. 19, and riders who veer too close to the minimum will be alerted before they sink below the requirement.Once a rider drops below the minimum rating of 4.0, their account could be deactivated if they fail to improve after multiple notifications. Riders can reactivate their account after taking a “short educational exercise.” Uber said its minimum rating for drivers and riders varies from city to city. For drivers in the U.S., the minimum requirement is 4.6, while for Australian counterparts this is reportedly lower.“This policy is for Australia and New Zealand and will be reflected in our local community guidelines,” an Uber spokesperson told Mashable via email.“Australia/NZ is the second country globally to roll this out, and we think it’s an important update to help ensure every Uber journey is enjoyable and comfortable for both riders and driver-partners.”Actions that could lower your rating include drinking alcohol, damaging the car, not tidying up, and just being a general jerk, according to the community guidelines.Previously, riders with lower ratings (even at 4.23) faced not getting picked up, but weren’t deactivated from the system.Fans of Black Mirror will probably find Uber’s new policy a little too familiar.UPDATE: Sept. 5, 2018, 1:55 p.m. AEST Added comment from Uber.
On Monday, the team at OpenAI launched at Neural MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online Games), a multiagent game environment for reinforcement learning agents. It will be used for training AI in complex, open-world environments. This platform supports a large number of agents within a persistent and open-ended task. The need for Neural MMO Since the past few years, the suitability of MMOs for modeling real-life events has been explored. But there are two main challenges for multiagent reinforcement learning. Firstly, there is a need to create open-ended tasks with high complexity ceiling as the current environments are complex and narrow. The other challenge, the OpenAI team specifies is the need for more benchmark environments in order to quantify learning progress in the presence of large population scales. Different criteria to overcome challenges The team suggests certain criteria which need to be met by the environment to overcome the challenges. Persistence Agents can concurrently learn in the presence of other learning agents without the need of environment resets. The strategies should adapt to rapid changes in the behaviors of other agents and also consider long time horizons. Scale Neural MMO supports a large and variable number of entities. The experiments by the OpenAI team consider up to 100M lifetimes of 128 concurrent agents in each of 100 concurrent servers. Efficiency As the computational barrier to entry is low, effective policies can be trained on a single desktop CPU. Expansion The Neural MMO is designed to update new content. The core features include food and water foraging system, procedural generation of tile-based terrain, and a strategic combat system. There are opportunities for open-source driven expansion in the future. The Environment Players can join any available server while each containing an automatically generated tile-based game map of configurable size. Some tiles are traversable, such as food-bearing forest tiles and grass tiles, while others, such as water and solid stone, are not. Players are required to obtain food and water and avoid combat damage from other agents, in order to sustain their health. The platform comes with a procedural environment generator and visualization tools for map tile visitation distribution, value functions, and agent-agent dependencies of learned policies. The team has trained a fully connected architecture using vanilla policy gradients, with a value function baseline and reward discounting as the only enhancements. The team has converted variable length observations, such as the list of surrounding players, into a single length vector by computing the maximum across all players. Neural MMO has resolved a couple of limitations of previous game-based environments, but there are still many left unsolved. Few users are excited about this news. One of the users commented on HackerNews, “What I find interesting about this is that the agents naturally become pacifists.” While a few others think that the company should come up with novel ideas and not copied ones. Another user commented on HackerNews, “So far, they are replicating known results from evolutionary game theory (pacifism & niches) to economics (distance & diversification). I wonder when and if they will surprise some novel results.” To know more about this news, check out OpenAI’s official blog post. Read Next AI Village shares its perspective on OpenAI’s decision to release a limited version of GPT-2 OpenAI team publishes a paper arguing that long term AI safety research needs social scientists OpenAI’s new versatile AI model, GPT-2 can efficiently write convincing fake news from just a few words
The Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) on Friday expressed its thanks to Ireland for its donation of €25,000.This brings the Irish financial assistance to the CMP to a total of €325,000 over the past ten years.“This donation to the CMP Project on the Exhumation, Identification, and Return of Remains of Missing Persons in Cyprus will contribute to the Committee’s goal of identifying and returning as many remains of missing individuals as possible in order to bring an end to the uncertainty which has affected so many families for so many years,” the CMP said in a statement.So far, 801 missing persons from both communities have been identified and returned to the families for a dignified burial. The CMP relies on donor support to alleviate the suffering of the concerned families, it added.You May LikeFigLeaf Beta AppHow to Become Fully Anonymous Online in Less Than 3 Minutes?FigLeaf Beta AppUndoFigLeaf Beta AppFigLeaf brings You 3 Easy Steps to Privacy on Your Terms…FigLeaf Beta AppUndoSenior Living | Search AdsGorgeous Senior Apartments in Rowland Heights Are Turning HeadsSenior Living | Search AdsUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
27Jan Rep. Johnson introduces resolution calling for Affordable Care Act repeal State Rep. Steve Johnson has introduced House Resolution 13, which calls on Congress to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.“The Affordable Care Act has been an unprecedented violation of personal liberty and a burden on state governments, health insurance providers, employers and individuals,” said Johnson, R-Wayland. “It created unfunded mandates and has damaged relationships between physicians and their patients. With new federal leadership in place, it is time for the Affordable Care Act to be repealed.”House Resolution 13 has been referred to the Health Policy Committee for further consideration. Categories: News,Steven Johnson News
11May Rep. Iden announces economic grant to create 45 jobs Categories: Iden News State Rep. Brandt Iden today announced a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund has been awarded to Zoetis LLC, a global leader in animal health pharmaceuticals.The company is investing $64.5 million to renovate its global manufacturing and supply facilities and to add production capacity in the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage. The grant allows for 45 local jobs with the potential for 15 additional jobs in the future. Michigan was chosen over competing sites in other locations.“I want to personally thank Zoetis for their continued investment in our community,” Rep. Iden said. “This grant helps create local jobs and contributes to economic growth here in Portage and Kalamazoo.”For further information, please contact Rep. Iden at 517-373-1774 or via email at BrandtIden@house.mi.gov.
05Jun Rep. Lilly Announces Summer Reading Challenge Categories: Lilly News State Rep. Jim Lilly announced the kick-off of his first annual summer reading challenge for students throughout the community. The “Rep for a Day” contest is designed to encourage children to read over the summer months and win a chance to join Rep. Lilly in Lansing for a day with their family.“In this age of technology, children often resort to screens during their free time,” Rep. Lilly said. “Reading is a fundamental, lifelong skill. My hope is that this program will create a fun, interactive activity for students and inspire them to dedicate time to reading over summer vacation.”The contest is open to any child in first through fifth grades. Participants should complete a Rep. Lilly Summer Reading Contest bookmark for every 10 books they read and drop it off at the participating libraries before Friday, Sept. 1. More than one entry is welcomed.Additional bookmarks with contest rules can be found at RepJimLilly.com. The winners and their families will be invited to “Rep. for a Day” with Rep. Lilly in the fall.“I look forward to seeing all the entries of children using their free time to enjoy a good book,” Rep. Lilly said.Participating libraries include:Spring Lake District Library – 123 E. Exchange St. in Spring Lake;Grand Haven Loutit District Library – 407 Columbus Ave. in Grand Haven.For more information on the contest, contact Rep. Lilly’s Lansing office by phone at 517-373-0838 or email at JimLilly@house.mi.gov.
Categories: Annette Glenn News,News 11Jun Rep. Glenn named to task force focused on state IT spending Special panel will probe cost overruns, inefficiency within departmentsState Rep. Annette Glenn has been appointed to a special task force charged with examining information and technology systems used by the state.The bipartisan task force was recently announced by state Rep. Shane Hernandez, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.“Rep. Glenn has shown an attention to detail when reviewing the budget that will be an asset to a task force charged with reviewing the state’s IT spending and finding every opportunity for more efficient practices,” Hernandez said. “Her experience on the Department of Health and Human Services subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will lend itself well to this task force, considering that nearly half of the state’s IT spending is within the DHHS budget.”“This committee will serve as a needed watchdog for hardworking taxpayers when it comes to state systems they pay into,” said Glenn, of Midland. “This is a consumer protection effort that will dive into how we spend tax dollars in IT and look at how we can make improvements for the sake of efficiency. There are systems with millions of cost overruns for programs, still not working.”IT is often used to describe computers and computer networks, but also includes all layers of systems within an organization – such as physical hardware, operating systems, applications, databases, storage and servers.State departments have implemented IT projects that cost more and perform worse than expected. A Department of Health and Human Services system related to tracking child abuse and neglect cases, for example, has received $231 million in the past several years and still has persistent and significant defects. About 40,000 Michigan residents were victimized and wrongfully accused of fraud between 2013 and 2015 by a faulty computer system used by the Unemployment Insurance Agency. A failed Secretary of State computer system overhaul started in 2005 resulted in service issues, lawsuits and cost overruns. The project is still not completed.The panel will be chaired by state Rep. Mark Huizenga, of Walker. Also joining Glenn are state Rep. Mary Whiteford of Casco Township, state Rep. Terry Sabo of Muskegon and state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud of Dearborn.
Share1TweetShareEmail1 Shares June 25, 2014; New Orleans AdvocateEarlier this year, NPQ wrote about inBloom, one of the more expensive failed foundation initiatives ever. With grants from Gates and Carnegie of $100 million, inBloom managed to get and lose any number of contracts with public schools in just 15 months. In so doing, they did the country a favor by surfacing the fact that information about individual students may be at risk of being shared far more broadly than is justifiable.As Stephanie Simon wrote for Politico, the outcome was exactly the opposite of what Gates had been trying to accomplish. “Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy—an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring—to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming.”And legislators are listening. In Louisiana, a state that at first touted and then cancelled a contract with inBloom, Governor Bobby Jindal just signed House Bill 1076, which prohibits local public schools from collecting some student data without parents’ permission and requires that the state develop a system for unique student identification numbers to replace social security numbers. State Rep. John Schroder (R-Covington) sponsored the bill.Simon’s article attributes the demise of inBloom to a parent privacy lobby that is supported both by the right and the left. She writes that the effort has moved along to take on a national system promoted by the Obama administration that would track children in state databases from “as early as infancy through the start of their careers.” The total cost of this would be more than $1 billion and they would store information on tens of millions of young people, complete with names, birthdates, addresses, and even in some cases Social Security numbers.But even just since January 14, states have instituted stronger privacy protections for students with bipartisan support, and as these move ahead, they are becoming more inclusive of the range of concerns that parents have.Simon writes that the billionaire ed reformers and public servants always just “assumed parents would support their vision: to mine vast quantities of data for insights into what’s working, and what’s not, for individual students and for the education system as a whole.”Maybe they should have asked.It is perhaps ironic that this initiative’s most powerful legacy may be in the spawning of a movement against big-data-at-the-expense-of-our-privacy. The fact that some proponents of the effort remain confounded about why their subjects do not want something so clearly “in their best interests” implies that they are convinced that refusal to comply is mere ignorance and recalcitrance. The backers of these ideas have plenty of money at their disposal, so the parents better be in this for the long haul.—Ruth McCambridgeShare1TweetShareEmail1 Shares
Share3TweetShareEmail3 SharesJune 22, 2015; Chicago TribuneThe crisis facing Chicago’s public schools is no closer to being solved in the wake of the state legislature’s failure to pass a short-term delay in the due date of a $600 million pension payment that is currently due on June 30th. That bill’s defeat further complicates a very complex situation that will require cooperation between the state government, the city of Chicago, the Chicago Public School District, and the Chicago Teachers Union if schools are to open for the new school year in September without major disruption.Currently, the governor and legislature of Illinois are at an impasse and have not agreed to a state budget for the year beginning on July 1st. Unresolved at a state level are the actions needed to balance a budget that is currently $4 billion out of balance. Without a budget in place, the level of funding for local schools for the coming year is not yet known, and the state will not be able to begin making its payments to local school districts, which are set to begin on August 10th. With no approved budget, CPS will be without any state funding to help meet current cash needs.The legislative proposal to defer the pension payment would have provided short-term cash flow relief but done nothing to solve the overall budget problems being faced. According to the Chicago Tribune, “A series of internal CPS reports indicated that even if CPS drained its checking account, maxed out its credit card, and burned cash set aside for other debts, it still would not be able to make the pension payment, cover payroll, and pay other bills.”And its current cash needs are great. CPS is finishing the current fiscal year with its bank balances almost at zero. According to the Tribune, “Chicago Public Schools officials are set to authorize $200 million of new borrowing to manage a cash crunch through the end of June while also taking out a separate line of credit to borrow nearly a billion dollars to get through the coming fiscal year. Those measures, set for a vote Wednesday by the Chicago Board of Education, represent short-term fixes that officials acknowledge won’t solve the district’s ongoing financial crisis.” A decision on whether to proceed with these borrowings will be made on June 25th.With a new budget and school year beginning, CPS is currently projecting a deficit of $1.1 billion, including the required pension payment, for the coming year. No proposals have yet surfaced for how this gap will be closed. Any increased personnel expenses that might arise from the new contract currently being negotiated with the Chicago Teachers’ Union will increase that hurdle. (With so much uncertainty about the district’s finances, both sides appear to be working toward agreeing on a one-year contract.)With the state, city, and CPS’s strained if not broken finances, and with a political system gridlocked, it is hard to see how any long-term solutions will be found. More likely, leaders will find a way to kick the can down the road again, and Chicago’s schoolchildren will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis.—Marty LevineShare3TweetShareEmail3 Shares
Share10TweetShare12Email22 SharesDenver, Colorado / Geoff AlexanderAugust 13, 2015; Colorado IndependentDenver’s regional approach to arts and culture funding was lauded when it was introduced in 1988, but today’s cultural leaders are upset about the inequity between Denver’s five heavyweight arts bodies and the rest of the region’s nearly 300 cultural organizations, reports the Colorado Independent.Presently, the city allots one-tenth of one percent of sales-and-use taxes to the Denver Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, or SCFD. This money is then divided among three tiers, with tier one institutions (the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Zoo) receiving the majority of the funding. In fact, if voters approve new recommendations from the SCFD Reauthorization Task Force in 2016, these five organizations could receive 57 percent of the estimated $52 million in annual SCFD revenues. This would leave 26 percent of SCFD revenues for 27 groups in Tier II. The remaining 17 percent would be split among the 247 groups that make up Tier III.Unsurprisingly, Tier II and III leaders are opponents of the recommendations and have made sound arguments for a stronger reallocation of funding. These arguments center on location, diversity, and accessibility.First, critics of the proposed plan take issue with the fact that more than half of the funding will be presented to five cultural organizations in Denver. Because the SCFD receives contributions from seven counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson), it seems unfair to funnel the majority of tax revenues to one city. Susan Honstein, chair of a cultural group, notes that the population in the region has shifted, and that other counties have grown and subsequently deserve more of the money.Second, Tier III members have raised concerns about the institutions that benefit from most of the money. Tony Garcia, one of the Reauthorization Task Force board members and the director of a Tier III organization serving Latinos in Denver, calls the funding “a civil rights issue.” Garcia dismisses the Tier I organizations as irrelevant to the Latino community, which comprises about one third of the total Denver population. In the words of the Colorado Independent, the new recommendations “tilt too much toward white city folks with money.”Finally, the accessibility of the Tier I organizations has been questioned. A family of four would pay $50 or more to attend the Denver Zoo or Denver Museum of Nature and Science. To see a play at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, families of four would be shelling out at least $120. Broader accessibility considerations include accessible transportation (a thorn in Boulder’s side, after their rail system was deferred to 2040 due to lack of funding) and cultural accessibility. Many in the Denver region want to support cultural organizations that are more reflective of Latino and African American residents.Voters will decide on the fate of SCFD funding in 2016. In the meantime, Northern Colorado cultural organizations, which recently announced a plan to follow Denver’s lead in providing tax funding to scientific and cultural institutions, may want to press pause until this dispute has been resolved.—Maggie Hodge KwanShare10TweetShare12Email22 Shares
Share2TweetShareEmail2 SharesJanuary 25, 2016; BuzzFeed NewsNPQ has followed the recourse and outrage in the aftermath of the October 3rd bombing of an Afghan hospital run by medical humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, known internationally by their French name, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Since then, there have been several more publicized airstrikes and bombings of MSF’s facilities, including the most recent on January 21st in which an ambulance in Yemen was hit by an airstrike. It is the fourth attack in Yemen on MSF in the past few months.Now, the British government has come under attack by human rights groups for helping a Saudi-led coalition’s efforts in Yemen’s civil war, in part by helping identify targets. The product of such efforts could be the multiple bombings at MSF facilities, including a January 10th bombing at a hospital. However, two weeks ago, the British government said though assisting the coalition, there was “no evidence of deliberate breach of international humanitarian law.”In response, the medical charity issued a heated statement to BuzzFeed for UK’s diminishing the possible effects of its role in the civil war.The UK is assisting in the deliberate construction of a narrative that creates a climate of impunity by just dismissing these attacks as mistakes. MSF is calling on the UK government to reiterate its full support to international humanitarian law (IHL), including within any coalition that it supports. We are urging the UK government to support full and transparent investigations into any possible breaches of international humanitarian law.In part, the charity’s anger is placed on the contention that the bombings were accidental, absolving the UK of any possible complicity. “This implies that mistakenly bombing a protected hospital would be tolerable. This logic is offensive and irresponsible,” said Raquel Ayora, MSF director of operations. Readers may remember the United States delivered a similar the verdict after the Afghan bombing, yet other evidence also later emerged that the officers knew the building they were bombing was a hospital.In an investigation commissioned by nonprofit Amnesty International and Saferworld, an independent research organization, of the UK’s exports to Saudi Arabia, the report found the country was breaking national, EU, and international laws in its transfer of weapons to the Middle Eastern country.The charity is asking International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) for an independent investigation in the January 10th bombing of the Yemen hospital. “Is this the new normal: an MSF hospital bombed every month?” asks Joanne Liu, international president of MSF. “How many other hospitals are being attacked in Yemen and other conflict zones, run by medical staff who do not have the platform that MSF does to speak out?”—Shafaq HasanShare2TweetShareEmail2 Shares
Share104Tweet28ShareEmail132 SharesFebruary 15, 2018; PoliticoThe aftermath of mass shootings has become rote—the “thoughts and prayers” throwaways and the go-to lines redirecting us all to mental health as the real issue (not guns—never guns!), generally voiced by those for whom issues of mental health treatment accessibility have never been and will never be a policy priority.And once again, yesterday, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, largely comprising family members of people with mental illness, urged the public to reject the putative link between violence and mental illness as a replacement for action on the one correlate we know exists—that is, free and easy access to guns.But yesterday, Trump tweeted, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” later claiming that his administration would address “the difficult issue of mental health.”Ron Honberg, senior policy adviser at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, comments, “It feels like mental illness is being used as a political football to deflect attention away from some other important issues, like whether we need sensible gun control laws in this country.”Perhaps this is more than just a feeling. Our stories about this deflection go back a ways to 2011 and 2012 right after the Sandy Hook shooting. More recently, right around this time last year, House Republicans voted to overturn an Obama-era regulation designed to keep people diagnosed with mental illness from obtaining guns.At that time, Erin Rubin observed that, in fact, the NRA has managed to come down on both sides with regards to mental illness and violence.In 2012, they said that shooters were “so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can even possibly comprehend them.” In 2017, however, the NRA and their Republican allies became the underdogs’ champions, defending their Second Amendment rights.And, although in an unusual and revealing feature of our federal laws, federal funds cannot be used for research on the link between guns and violence, it is crystal clear from information compiled by the Harvard Injury Prevention Research Center that more guns means more homicides—of all kinds.—Ruth McCambridgeShare104Tweet28ShareEmail132 Shares
TV technology company Vianeos has released a new HbbTV middleware platform which it says is compatible with all HbbTV devices including TVs and set-top boxes.The October HbbTV Edition is available as a standalone appliance, software only or cloud access, according to Vianeos. It covers corporate, hospitality, healthcare and education applications and offers access to features including IPTV, video-on-demand, digital signage, multilingual portal, hotel guide and hospitality features modules, OTT content, EPG, mosaic, network DVR and timeshifting, according to the company.
Mozambican public broadcaster TVM is launching a second channel.The network is launching TVM-2, a channel that will focus on news and entertainment series.“We are sure that TVM’s second channel will broadcast content that enriches our knowledge, thus creating opportunities for us to have more and better information for development,” said Mozambican president Armando Guebuz. “Our expectation is that the new channel will increase the content that shows the role of the knowledge of our people in dealing with the challenges imposed by life.”