Comments Share Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home “We have passports. We are citizens of Ukraine,” he said. “That should be enough to get through.”A previous version of this story identified Pyotr Vladimorovich on second reference as Vladimirovich, which is not his surname.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. With fighting surging again near the main separatist stronghold, only one of the corridors has been left open in the two separatism-plagued regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Things are arguably harder in the Luhansk region, where the irascible governor, Hennadiy Moskal, has decreed that no civilians are any longer allowed to travel between government and rebel-controlled areas.“Why should I let people go through, just so they can get fired at with grenade-launchers and machine guns?” Moskal said. “I have responsibilities before the president, the government and the people of Ukraine to preserve lives.”As the eponymous regional capital of Luhansk is held by separatists, Moskal is forced to run his office out of the relative backwater of Severodonetsk, where livelihoods have revolved since Soviet times around the local chemical factories. Only 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the front line, the town is blissfully somnolent and thoughts of war appear distant.Children tug at the branches of mulberry trees whose fruit otherwise drops to the ground to stain the sidewalks layered in fluffy poplar seeds. A pedestrian area along Lenin Street is a magnet for young mothers pushing buggies. In the early summer midday sunshine, few stay outside for long though. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies FOR STORY UKRAINE NO MAN’S LANDS – In this photo taken on Thursday, June 11, 2015, a boy rides a bicycle past the sign reading “Severodonetsk” in the town of Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian sympathies have historically been strong in a region where Ukrainian identity has tended to be much weaker than elsewhere in the country. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)n “Katerynivka is nominally the territory of Ukraine, but for the time being it is just a buffer zone where there could be bandits and separatist militants,” said Pavlo Petrovich, known to fellow soldiers by the code-name Papa, a border guard service volunteer from the western region of Chernivtsi. Like others in the town, he declined give his surname, using only his first name and patronymic.What Ukrainian troops call a buffer zone is a village of a few hundred people stretched along a corrugated dead-end country lane hemmed in by heaving trees. Most of the young, fit and able have long left, as one nervous resident explained.“I lived here with a son, a daughter-in-law and their child,” said Pyotr Vladimirovich, dabbing sweat from his sun-roasted brow. “I am the only one left. I can’t just abandon everything.”For groceries, residents venture to the village shop, which remains open only until lunch.After then, few dare to brave the outdoors.“I just take care of the property, there’s nothing else to do,” said Pyotr, who worked as a bus driver before the war broke out.Water is drawn from wells, while electricity is still provided without interruption. Sponsored Stories Top Stories KATERYNIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — A single crack of an automatic rifle shattered the tomb-like silence of this no-man’s-land village in east Ukraine. The gunshot, fired in error by a jumpy soldier, sent government border guard troops on patrol this week scrambling to brace against the ambush they expect every time they venture into Katerynivka.The men said that four of their fellow soldiers were killed in a recent clash with separatist rebels. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center But if formal control over Severodonetsk is more clearly defined, uncertain popular loyalties make it no less an ambiguous quantity than Katerynivka.The town came under the sway of armed rebels for a brief period last year — long enough to ensure presidential elections in May could not be held there.On the face of it, things have changed. Severodonetsk sports hallmarks of a more fervently patriotic new order. In front of the imposing, colonnaded House of Culture building, a plinth once topped by the statue of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader reviled by Ukrainian nationalists, stands empty save for the national blue-and-yellow flag. A craze has swept through Ukraine for the removal of Lenin monuments, regardless of abiding fondness among many elderly people for the communist era.The ties that bind the region with Russia — whose strong role in organizing and supporting the separatist movement is widely accepted — are still readily apparent. Advertising notices glued to lampposts and noticeboards almost all offer holiday packages to Russia’s south.Economic ties are being made into a formal reality in rebel areas, where pensions have started to be paid in Russian rubles. The currencies of Ukraine and Russia are used interchangeably in the separatist fiefdoms, with the latter said to prevail where militiamen from Russia have gathered in large numbers. Pro-Russian sympathies have historically been strong in a region where Ukrainian identity has tended to be much weaker than elsewhere in the country. Russian is spoken almost universally and if Ukrainian is heard in towns like Severodonetsk, it is now more likely to be coming from the mouths of troops garrisoned there.Soldiers are viewed with resentment, not least for their not infrequent propensity for aggressive boozing, which has led to a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol to troops. A trio of disappointed and empty-handed men in military fatigues observed Wednesday trudging from one shop to another in Severodonetsk suggested liquor vendor are holding up their end of the bargain.Residents of Severodonetsk whose lives have been disturbed by the unrest are less interested in the politics behind their predicament than understanding how to negotiate their plight.There is resentment at the arrival of those fleeing their homes because of the upward pressure they have applied to apartment rental prices and groceries bills already inflated by a depreciating currency.Meanwhile, the displaced feel as trapped as anybody in Katerynivka.The blockade championed by Moskal does not go down well with people like Vladimir Nikolayevich, a 56-year old doctor, who was compelled by shelling to abandon his hometown of Pervomaisk, now in rebel territory. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Patients with chronic pain give advice Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The sound of shelling begins as dusk nears. Katerynivka has been spared much direct damage and the projectiles largely whistle over to fall closer to Ukrainian positions a few minutes up the road.Still, venturing around the village is fraught with risks and any false step is potentially life-threatening. Over the weekend, a local 54-year old cowherd was hospitalized with grievous shrapnel wounds after setting off a tripwire while leading his animals to graze. The homemade explosive device was made with a coil from a spring mattress.Ukrainian soldiers say it was laid by rebels, some of whom they say are likely from the village.“Most of the healthy male population is fighting on the side of the LPR,” said Papa, using the initials of the self-styled breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic movement. “They remain in communication with their families and sometimes carry out attacks on our checkpoints.”Until a few weeks ago, people could travel to and from separatist areas by driving along a road running past the turnoff to Katerynivka. Soldiers guarding the way now turn back all traffic.As the 450-kilometer (280-mile) line separating government and rebel territory began to evolve into a fixed feature last year, Ukrainian authorities created an unwieldy system of permits for movement from one zone into the other.
Credit company suspends all Bahrain Air cards. Image: GulfBusiness.com A credit card company in Bahrain, CrediMax, has confirmed it has frozen credit cards of some Gulf Air and all Bahrain Air employees after both carriers announced staff cuts.This month, Bahrain Air announced it had entered voluntary liquidation and suspended all operations as a result of ‘considerable financial losses’ acrued during 2011’s State of National Emergency.Last month, Gulf Air announced it would restructure its network and reduce its workforce to meet the operational needs of the revised network. According to the airline’s union, up to 1,200 employees are at risk of losing their jobs, Emirates 24/7 reported.Following the announcement, the credit card company has issued a statement explaining it had ‘suspended’ employee cards to ‘limit their own losses’. According to a CrediMax spokesperson, there could be a risk of people running up massive last minute bills before leaving the country. Staff who can present the credit company with a salary certificate or confirm that their job is secure are able to have their card reactivated.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J.
GreenLeaders, TripAdvisor’s new sustainable hotel programme, aims to “gives consumers around the world a simple way to make greener travel choices, right at the point at which they are making that decision.” 8,000 hotels are already participating and earning green badges on the popular travel review site.The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders programme allows hotels to self-report their work on sustainability. The information they provide is then validated by random or investigative audits, as well as by TripAdvisor’s network of reviewers who are asked to point out any discrepancies noticed during their stay.To receive a green badge, a hotel must show demonstrable commitment, which at the very minimum includes linen and bath towel reuse. Hotels around the world are adopting a wide variety of green policies and practices today. These may include direct guest experiences, such as an organic menu in the restaurant, or background efforts such as efficient lighting and grey water recycling.TripAdvisor worked with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) as well as with organisations such as the Carbon Trust and EnergyStar in designing this program. “Transparency is at the heart of sustainability,” stated Jenny Rushmore, Director of Marketing for TripAdvisor.According to Harold Goodwin, founder of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, GreenLeaders program is a “game changer.” The day TripAdvisor launched GreenLeaders in Europe, the interest was so huge that the website crashed. TripAdvisor also commands substantial peer influence on consumer choice because the site links to Facebook, enabling users to share their reviews over social media.
Tourism Malaysia and Tiger Air recently conducted a familiarisation trip for a group of 10 travel agents from Uttar Pradesh, which is part of their ongoing efforts to promote the country as a destination of choice and services of the airlines amongst the discerning Indian travellers. Tiger Air, with a fleet of Airbus A320, flies to 40 destinations across Asia including 31 weekly flights from India.The five-day itinerary focused on familiarising the group with Malaysia’s most Southern state Johor and included some of the iconic attractions of the place. The capital city, Johor Bahru, boasts of some of the most premium shopping experiences in the South East Asian region with its Johor Premium Outlets. The outlet stores, with its collection of 130 designer and name brands, offer savings of 25% to 65% every day. The centre is highly accessible to all traffic going to and from Johor and Singapore, which is about an hour drive from the city. About three hours from Kuala Lumpur and only a short distance from Senai International Airport, Johor. “Johor is a perfect family destination for our Indian guests. From adventure parks, theme based hotels to shopping and natural scenic beauty, Johor has something to cater to the likes of every member of the family. We understand that the travel trade plays a big role in influencing holiday destinations and hope that they will now add Johor to their list of must-visit destinations,” said Sulaiman Suip, Director, Tourism Malaysia. India is a significant contributor to the Malaysian tourism economy and was amongst the top 10 arrivals in 2015. This year, Malaysia hopes to welcome over 10,00,000 Indian visitors to the country.
The Arizona Cardinals’ defense last season was very good despite lacking an elite pass rushing threat from their outside linebacker position.While Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield are still early in their development, neither has shown a consistent ability to get to the quarterback, which is something that is very important for the Cardinals defense to take that next step.There’s a definite possibility that the Cardinals address the pass rush position in round one or two in the draft, if players like Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah make their way down to the seventh pick. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Washington would have to come initially as a pass rusher because he didn’t spend a ton of time dropping into coverage at Georgia, but his athleticism, smooth movements and lateral quickness could turn him into an every-down outside linebacker force.Trevardo Williams, Conneticut 6-1 241 lbs.The most entertaining argument I see of why the Cardinals shouldn’t draft Matt Barkley is because the last USC quarterback they drafted failed.In that respect the Cardinals should never, and I mean NEVER scout another Conneticut prospect because of how awful the Cody Brown selection was in 2009, because was that not one of the worst drafts in Cardinals history?Back to Williams, he is an intriguing prospect if he isn’t expected to come in and do more than rush the passer in year one.He is similar to Bruce Irvin last year in build and skill set, but without the buzz Irvin had.What he can do, though, is get after the quarterback. Williams shows a bevy of quickness and athleticism to consistently win on the edge. He is able to bend around the blocker and shows an impressive counter-move to take the inside gap of the offensive tackle at times.Where Williams is going to struggle is if he is asked to play as an every-down type linebacker early. Top Stories “I wasn’t specifically watching him but Missouri Western DE David Bass continues to jump out. His quickness off the snap and ability to get off blocks are far above and beyond anyone else on the East.” While his times may not be as sexy as others making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in the draft, Bass is the one that has put up consistently dominant production over four seasons. Even though it may have been against Division II competition, he’s a guy that I believe will be productive at the NFL level. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo There are also a couple interesting players in round two in Corey Lemonier and Sam Montgomery that could be available if the Cardinals decide to address the offensive line or even the quarterback position in round one (I know I know, no one wants a quarterback).The problem becomes the Cardinals’ needs and player value may not match up to the point where they address pass rusher early, so here are three I like that could be available on day three of the NFL draft.Note: With the importance of getting to the quarterback all of these players could get picked earlier, but they all three are consistently graded as day three selections.Cornelius Washington, Georgia 6-4 268 lbs.What jumps off of the tape when you are watching Washington is how uncomfortable he looked in his role in the Georgia defense in 2012.While he struggled to show the ability to anchor and shed blocks as a five technique defensive end, if you go back and watch the 2011 games, when Washington lined up outside on passing downs and was able to pin his ears back and go after the quarterback.He was consistently around the quarterback, and even though he only notched five sacks he accounted for 29 quarterback pressures (as noted by the Georgia athletic department). Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires He’s transitioning from playing as an undersized defensive end in the Conneticut system and will need time to learn how to play the outside linebacker position in the NFL.That being said, if he is used similarly to Irvin, I wouldn’t be shocked if he put up as good — if not better — numbers than the Seahawks’ rookie pass rusher.David Bass, Missouri Western State 6-4 262 lbs.The darling of the Shrine Game, Bass left many within the Internet draft community a little disappointed when he ran in the 4.8s for his forty times at the NFL Combine.All that means is teams are going to overlook him because he didn’t run as fast as he plays.While Bass may have some work to do to refine his game as an outside linebacker, he is a relentless worker who understands how to set up moves and get to the quarterback.Bass is already the best run stopper out of the three outside linebackers I highlighted today, and he shows a consistent ability to get to the quarterback.He was ultra-productive over his four seasons at Division II Missouri Western, and translated that well to his first taste of competition at the Shrine Game. Here’s what my friend Jeff Risdon of DetroitLionsDraft.com had to say:
Cheap flights carrier easyJet will launch new flights to Antalya, Crete, Kos and Zakynthos from London Gatwick this spring.The routes to the Turkish and Greek holiday destinations will start in May, with one-way fares starting at £41.99.Flights will be operated using an Airbus A320 aircraft, a new aeroplane that will arrive at easyJet’s Gatwick base ahead of the summer season.Services to Antalya and Zakynthos will begin on May 21st, while flights to Kos will take off the following day. The Crete route will commence on May 23rd.News of the new services comes after easyJet announced that launch of further new flights to Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Bordeaux, all of which will begin next month.It will introduce further flights to Bodrum and Dalaman in Turkey and Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia from Stansted ahead of the summer holiday season.From May, easyJet will have 41 aircraft based at Gatwick, which will be used on the airline’s 83 routes from London’s second-largest airport.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map RelatedeasyJet announces four new flights from London GatwickeasyJet announces four new flights from London GatwickBrits hop on winter flights to EuropeBritish tourists are fleeing the UK to remedy their winter blues with some holiday cheer, according to easyJet.New flights to Turkey to be launched by MonarchNew flights to Turkey to be launched by Monarch
By Elias HazouTHE TERMINATION of a non-binding preliminary agreement with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum regarding the latter’s acquisition of a stake in the Leviathan licences is not expected to affect exploration and development activities in Cyprus’ Block 12, Noble Energy said yesterday.In a written response to a query from the Cyprus News Agency, the Texas-based energy outfit said they “remain committed to monetising Block 12 gas resources and are working with the Ministry of Energy Commerce, Industry and Tourism to determine the optimum development scenario.”Noble went on to note that the options under evaluation include the onshore LNG plant at Vasilikos, floating LNG, and export to regional Mediterranean markets via pipeline or marine compressed natural gas (CNG).Earlier this week, Noble released a statement announcing that a non-binding memorandum of understanding regarding the sale of interest in the Leviathan licences, offshore Israel, to Woodside Petroleum, had been terminated.“The plans for development of the Leviathan discovery have significantly changed since we began the search for a partner approximately two years ago,” said Noble chairman and CEO Charles Davidson. “Perhaps the most dramatic changes have been associated with the growth in the regional markets. The emergence of these regional markets, which are accessible through pipeline outlet, has pushed the need for LNG into a later phase of development versus our earlier plans.”Noble said also that it aims to sanction the initial phase of development at Leviathan by the end of 2014, with first production from the field currently planned for late 2017.“The initial development phase is planned to be a 1.6 billion cubic feet per day floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) system, to provide natural gas into Israel and surrounding regional markets. Front-end engineering and design studies are ongoing for the second phase of development at Leviathan, which is anticipated to be a floating, liquefied natural gas (FLNG) production system.”Noble Energy’s revision of its plans reshuffles the timelines of its grander scheme for the Eastern Mediterranean. The company had unveiled their development plans for their East Med gas finds during an investors’ conference held in Houston late last year. Under those plans, the first phase of development would see Noble and their partners supply Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The second phase was floating LNG (FLNG), and the third phase regional supply agreements – with Turkey, Egypt and lastly Cyprus being potential destinations. You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoYahoo SearchBack Pain Treatments That Might Surprise You. Search For Back Pain TreatmentsYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
13Jan Rep. Yonker invites residents to January coffee hours State Rep. Ken Yonker will host January coffee hours in Wayland to discuss state and local government with residents of the 72nd House District.Yonker, R-Caledonia, invites local constituents with questions or suggestions about government to attend the coffee hours, which will take place at the following time and location:Friday, Jan. 30 at Daily Brews Coffeehouse, 128 S. Main St., from 7:30 to 9 a.m.No appointment is necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Yonker toll-free at 888-347-8072 or by email at KenYonker@house.mi.gov.### Categories: News
##### Categories: News,Vaupel News Spending plan also boosts smaller school districtsState Rep. Hank Vaupel today voted for a state budget that puts emphasis on education, spending a record amount on K-12 schools and helping smaller districts bridge a funding gap that has existed for decades.Vaupel, of Handy Township, said the Legislature has focused on improving education funding, investing in the future of children in every county in the state.“We are spending more on K-12 education than ever before in Michigan’s history, focusing on giving children the very best education possible,” Vaupel said. “Our budget increases spending for career and technical education by one-third, giving more people a chance to learn a trade and fill the in-demand jobs across the state. These are good-paying jobs that can help improve the everyday lives of families in Michigan.”Vaupel said the state budget also prioritizes public safety by adding Michigan State Police troopers to protect communities and increasing funding for local governments to maintain law enforcement officers.“We are training another 150 State Police troopers who will monitor our roads and our neighborhoods to keep family safe,” Vaupel said. “We’ve also increased funding to local governments so they can maintain vital services for our communities.”Other aspects of the state budget include:The 2017-18 budget spends less on the state budget next year than was spent during the current year.Overall growth in spending does not exceed the rate of inflation. Just like families across Michigan, the Legislature is tightening the state’s belt by cutting inefficient programs and eliminating waste in state government.The Legislature addresses the need for more road and bridge repair and maintenance by allocating a record amount of money for transportation and water delivery systems.The budget helps make life better in communities across Michigan by adding money for road repairs, public safety departments, parks and other programs to improve our daily lives.The plan pays down millions of dollars in debt, helping relieve state liability and opening the door for a more secure financial future. 20Jun Rep. Vaupel: State budget prioritizes education funding
Rep. Sue Allor of Wolverine has announced October office hours for Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Iosco and Presque Isle counties.“Holding office hours is one of my top priorities,” Rep. Allor said. “In today’s political climate, it is important to have open communication, and I am determined to be available to residents. I encourage everyone to attend.”The schedule for office hours is as follows:Monday, Oct. 210:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Cabin Creek Coffee House, 201 N. Second Ave. in Alpena;12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at The Flour Garden, 105 S. State St. in Harrisville; and2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Big Boy Restaurant, 1222 E. US 23 in East Tawas.Friday, Oct 2010:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Karsten’s Restaurant, 1072 W. 3rd St. in Rogers City; and1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at The Thirsty Sturgeon, 11900 Scott Road in Wolverine.Residents also may contact Allor at her Lansing office at (517) 373-0833 or SueAllor@house.mi.gov. Categories: Allor News 21Sep Rep. Allor sponsors October office hours
State Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake invites residents to join him for local coffee hours in White Lake, Highland and Milford on Friday, Oct. 13.“I always look forward to meeting residents and discussing important issues,” Rep. Runestad said. “Listening to community members is one of my top priorities as a legislator.”Coffee hours will take place at the following times and locations:8 to 9 a.m. at Leo’s Coney Island, 6845 Highland Road in White Lake;10 to 11 a.m. at Colasanti’s Market, 468 S. Milford Road in Highland; andNoon to 1 p.m. at Bakers of Milford, 2025 S. Milford Road in Milford.No appointment is necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Runestad at 517-373-2616 or via email at JimRunestad@house.mi.gov. Categories: Runestad News 05Oct Rep. Runestad to host local coffee hours
Categories: Barrett News 17Apr Rep. Barrett plan allows young victims to utilize courtroom support dogs State Rep. Tom Barrett, right, discusses his legislation with Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd, center, and investigator Bryan Seratt, while Reagan, the Eaton County canine advocate, waits nearby.State Rep. Tom Barrett was joined today by Reagan, Eaton County’s canine advocate, while speaking before the House Judiciary Committee in support of his plan to help young and vulnerable victims who testify in court.Barrett’s bill allows courtroom support dogs to sit at the feet of certain victims while they take the stand to testify in sex abuse, child abuse and other cases involving serious crimes.“The criminal justice system is intimidating and scary for young victims, especially when they have to take the stand against someone who has hurt them,” Barrett said. “Courtroom support dogs help keep kids calm and give them the emotional strength to relive the traumatic details.”Canine advocates are currently utilized in 28 prosecutor’s offices throughout Michigan, including Eaton County.While current practice and a recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling allow the support dogs to be present during jury trials, Michigan law only technically provides for a “support person.”Barrett said the plan laid out in House Bill 5645 establishes regulations that allow support dogs to be present in court without jeopardizing the rights of the accused. For example, it provides a clear definition for what qualifies as a courtroom support dog.“We’re not talking about amateur dogs taken off the street,” Barrett said. “It will be dogs that are well-trained for the type of work they’re expected to perform who won’t cause a disturbance in the courtroom.”Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd testified in support of the bill, saying Reagan has helped more than 270 victims in Eaton County.“Reagan’s sole job is to be there for the victim,” Lloyd said. “Reagan sits there with the victim during meetings. He will go into court, sit there, and most of the time do nothing. But, amazingly, he feels the energy the individual is giving out when they get stressed. Reagan’s way to handle that is to put his head on their knee or to touch them on their foot, allowing the victim to know that ‘it’s OK.’”The legislation remains under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesAnthon Jackson / Shutterstock.com March 23, 2014;+972 MagazineRegardless of where one stands on the specific underlying issues that the NGOs might be addressing, one has to respect how some NGO staff put their personal reputations and physical safety on the line on a regular basis. For example, a Palestinian working for Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group that provides legal assistance to West Bank Palestinians, was attacked and beaten up by settlers as he monitored Palestinian road-paving south of the city of Nablus. Although the Palestinians were working on an approved project and even accompanied by Israeli Defense Force and Civil Administration staff, settlers drawn to the site by something called the Committee for Settlers in Samaria showed up to harass the workers, throw stones at Palestinian homes, and ultimately beat up the Yesh Din investigator, Munir Kadus. The IDF personnel reportedly didn’t intervene to stop the settlers’ attack. Just being beaten up and hospitalized isn’t the worst of the dangers faced by employees of NGOs. In Kabul last week, five Taliban gunmen attacked a guesthouse of a San Francisco-based NGO called Roots of Peace, holding several non-Afghanis hostage in the process. The ostensible reason for the attack, as announced by a Taliban spokesperson, was that the NGO was reportedly engaged in converting Muslims to Christianity, though an overriding rationale might have been the upcoming Afghanistan elections and a demonstration of the vulnerability of Kabul itself to Taliban attacks.Now that Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has declared that he is running for president of the country, Egypt’s crackdown on NGOs, both pre- and post-Morsi, looks destined to continue and deepen under a stronger military government. Remember that Sisi is the leader who warned that the “army is a fire… Do not play against it and do not play with it.” As the UN’s undersecretary general for emergency relief, Valerie Amos, noted last week, in Syria, there has been absolutely no improvement in conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid since the Security Council’s February 22nd resolution calling for unimpeded access, most of which she attributed to governmental noncooperation, including holding up food aid at checkpoints and removing medicines from aid trucks. In Syria and in Egypt, working for an NGO is increasingly dangerous business. In some cases, there are questions about the independence and integrity of some NGOs. Recently, a representative of a Chinese NGO called the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture tried to attend a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. There, he was caught taking close-range pictures of a woman who was testifying that her father was serving a life sentence in a Chinese prison for his political activities. UN representatives deemed the photography “intimidation” and took away the NGO employee’s pass to attend UN meetings. The New York Times went to Beijing to investigate the NGO and basically discovered that the NGO is pretty clearly controlled by the Chinese government and not particularly representative of Tibetan interests and concerns. In this case, it probably took some courage on the part of UN personnel to kick out a phony NGO representative who was probably working for the Chinese government. When nonprofits think about the challenges and obstacles of doing nonprofit work, consider the issues of working for an NGO on the front lines of the major crises in the world today and remember the courage that it takes to do what so many NGO workers do.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share41Tweet2Share51Email94 SharesFebruary 5, 2017; The GuardianChanges in the UK’s Code of Governance could mean higher expectations for charities and greater emphasis on the role of boards and board leadership. A work group composed of key charity associations is in the process of a major overhaul of the code.Proposed changes include a greater emphasis on the role and responsibilities of trustees intentionally pushing expectations of trustees “to excel in their role and provide strong leadership.”The Code was created in 2005 in response to the demand of the sector and support of the Charity Commission, the UK regulatory body charged with registering and regulating charities in England and Wales. Seventy-four percent of charity chief executives say their groups use the code.Five key points of recommended change include:Guidelines that help boards to promote prudence, but to also understand that being risk averse is itself a riskRegularly assessing whether or not the work of the charity is still relevant in a changing worldIncreased expectations about board composition, ethical standards, and terms of officeIncreased emphasis of the role of chair of the board in promoting good governanceIncreased emphasis on openness about their work, results, as well as about the interests of trustees and those involved in leadershipHowever, the final code is yet to be released. The work group charged with the update asked for comments and the deadline just closed. Richard Litchfield, writing in the Guardian, openly asks if the charity sector is ready for the changes he believes are long overdue.Taking the long view, the growth of organized charities is a great success story of the past two decades, but regulation and governing institutions have not kept pace with this expansion. Much of the public concern with charities stems from this tension: either charities are seen as not professional enough to manage complex and high-risk services, or not voluntary enough to put vulnerable people before their organizational interests. My concern about the new governance code is that it does not go far enough…. Many of the most effective charities in the country are calling for this. They are fed up being tarred by the brush of mediocrity and caught up in a media scramble to defend sector-wide failings.The role of charity in the UK—and the U.S.—following Brexit and the U.S. presidential elections may be at the brink of redefinition. The last time key changes were made in the expectations of the U.S. nonprofit sector was the push provided by President Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty initiatives. With President Trump embracing an entirely different worldview not only on the role of the public sector, but on tax deductions and the role of charity, U.S. nonprofits might consider the UK code’s updates as valuable recommendations about how to begin to better meet changing expectations of donors, public sector clients, and those they serve.—Kevin JohnsonShare41Tweet2Share51Email94 Shares
Share67Tweet15Share11Email93 SharesGiant Sequoia National Monument / David PrasadJuly 26th, 2017; Hawaii News NowPeople making sentimental appeals on behalf of environmental causes often say things like, “We have to preserve our natural treasures for our children.” One kid from Hawaii apparently didn’t think the grown-ups were doing a good enough job, so he stepped up to do it himself. Nine-year-old Robbie Bond founded a nonprofit called Kids Speak for Parks, and kicked off his summer-long tour of America’s greatest national monuments.Bond told the Huffington Post that he felt “scared,” “angry,” and “sad for our country…I want to make sure that our national monuments are available for my kids and for future generations.”Bond plans to tour 27 natural sites this summer, including Bears’ Ears, whose threatened status and celebrity attention NPQ reported earlier this year. He has a sponsorship from Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company that has donated tens of millions of dollars in cash, in-kind, and work hours to environmental nonprofits.NPQ noted back in January that Ryan Zinke, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, “received an extremely low lifetime score of three percent regarding his environmental record from the League of Conservation Voters.”The 27 sites Bond plans to visit this summer are not a random number; they’re 27 sites that were part of Trump’s recent executive order, the “Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act.”The concern stated in the review is,Monument designations that result from a lack of public outreach and proper coordination with State, tribal, and local officials and other relevant stakeholders may also create barriers to achieving energy independence, restrict public access to and use of Federal lands, burden State, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth.Zinke is ordered to determine whether “the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders, to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.”Of course, failure to coordinate properly with tribal officials has been the source of plenty of trouble for the Trump administration, from the Bears’ Ears backlash to the protests at Standing Rock, but it’s not restricted economic growth that caused the controversy.Nine-year-old Bond may not understand the complicated history of tribal relations to government-owned land or the pressure for energy independence, but he knows one thing: The environment has to be protected if he wants to tour sites like Giant Sequoia or Craters of the Moon when he’s older. Bond plans to enlist more fourth-graders in his effort; we hope there are more kids like him.—Erin RubinShare67Tweet15Share11Email93 Shares
Share54Tweet9Share2Email65 SharesPublicDomainPictures.netNovember 9, 2017; The ConversationIn the Conversation, Kevin Albertson, an economist from Manchester Metropolitan University, calls on citizens to devise local policy solutions to meet the challenges posed by globalization and the nationalist reaction that globalization has spawned “as citizens across the world are increasingly looking to the nation state for protection.” Albertson is a member of the Labour Party, which has historically favored a strong role for the central government, yet he concedes that it is “by no means assured that the policies which suit a strong domestic government will be better than those which suit foreign owned multi-national corporations.“Also,” Albertson adds, “history indicates the fear of global capital may be coopted by unscrupulous politicians into a fear of other nations or fear of other peoples.”Rejecting the options of big state or big government, Alberton instead calls for a focus on what he calls localism, an approach that holds the promise of developing “independent income sources and financial sustainability; organizational stability suitable for undertaking long-term development work; improved partnership work due to possession of a needed commodity; an engine to drive the local economy towards environmental and social improvements; the building of community pride, networks and skills, and empowered citizens.”In the US, the localist idea has gained a broad range of adherents. For instance, the national nonprofit Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) has worked for 15 years “with entrepreneurs, investors, funders, and community leaders to discover how to create an economy that works for all of us. [It’s] found that prioritizing local ownership, collaboration, and production weaves greater equity and health.” BALLE centers its work around eight principles that include prioritizing attention to equity, regenerating nature, collaboration, shared ownership, and connectivity. Another national nonprofit, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), has promoted localist policies that foster “humanly scaled institutions and economies and the widest possible distribution of ownership” for over four decades. Since the Great Recession, these approaches have started to attract support from foundations, such as NoVo and Surdna.Michael Shuman, author of many books on how to build a local economy, including The Local Economy Solution, observes:There is no question that the localization movement has made huge strides. There used to be a saying that you know you’ve made it when you’re on the cover of Time Magazine. Well, it was March 2007 when Time had on its cover “Forget organic, eat local.”You know, I visit 40 or 50 communities each year to speak, many in deeply conservative areas, and every place I go, I see signs that say buy local, eat local, bank local. I have never seen the sign, “We are not local—buy from us.” We have won the war of ideas.And yet, as Shuman would be quick to acknowledge, economic development still looks very different, with, for example, cities seeking to outbid each other to attract the corporate behemoth Amazon to their communities. Yes, the mayor of Washington, D.C., really did engage in a faux conversation with Amazon’s voice recognition software Alexa in an effort to cajole the company into selecting her city for its second headquarters. Tucson, the New York Times reports, sent a 21-foot-tall saguaro cactus on a flatbed truck to Amazon in Seattle. Greg Leroy notes that the organization he directs, Good Jobs First, has found that the average cost of public subsidies given to corporations to move jobs from one city to another totals $658,000 per job, hardly localism in action.Albertson attempts to confront this problem. “Local protection from exploitation by global interests,” he contends, “requires the right mix of global and local policies.” To avoid creating incentives that encourage localities to bid against each other by providing ever lower taxes (thereby reducing the resources available to support nonprofit-provided social services), Albertson says that “taxes should be collected nationally, and shared proportionally (on the basis of demographic profile) to the devolved authorities.” For Albertson, the pursuit of “localism will require a systemic shift in how the national government goes about shaping society.” Albertson does not engage in a detailed explanation of what kinds of policies he would support. He does, however, identify a few, such as local currencies and local ownership of utilities. Presumably, Albertson would not be unsympathetic to efforts under way in Preston (population 140,000), which, the Economist reports, has “encouraged local firms to consider becoming co-operatives—which are owned and controlled by their workers.”For nonprofits negotiating the nation’s shifting economic, social, and political terrain, Albertson provides food for thought. A few years ago, in an essay titled “The World Has Changed and So Must We,” the FB Heron Foundation observed, “The pathway of Americans out of poverty in the 21st century requires economic reinvention.” Whether the path forward ends up centering on localism, reclaiming community control of common resources, restoring reciprocity as a central organizing principle, or some combination remains to be seen. At a minimum, though, Albertson takes us a few steps on that journey along a highly necessary economic reinvention road.—Steve DubbShare54Tweet9Share2Email65 Shares
Share54Tweet2ShareEmail56 SharesTony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsJanuary 13, 2019, New York Times; and January 4, 2019, Kaiser Health NewsA new rule from the Trump administration required hospitals to begin posting their price lists online on January 1st. The goal is to give consumers more information in order to make better decisions regarding our care, but both in theory and practice, the effort, at least in its current form, offers little in the way of illumination.First, the theory: “We must do something about rising cost, and a key pillar is to empower patients with the information they need to drive cost and quality by making our health care system evolve to one that competes for patients,” says CMS administrator Seema Verma.This theory is based on the idea that health care is a consumer product that we buy, just like a car or a computer. But there is little evidence to support this notion. We generally choose our health care based on factors other than price: recommendations from our doctor, experiences of family and friends, our insurance network, the closest hospital in the case of an emergency. When making life and death decisions, consumers care much more about quality than cost.Health care consultant Lynne Bailey explains to the Greenville News, “The asymmetry in health care is that you are the patient and all you know is you’re having chest pains or your abdomen is hurting. You don’t know the cause until you encounter the provider, who says it could be this or that so let’s run some tests,” she said.“And if you’re in the ER,” she adds, “you can’t say, ‘Can we wait until tomorrow morning so I can get the imaging done at a center down the street for a third of what the hospital charges?’ It’s not like you can get back in your car and drive to the state line or the next community and get a better deal.”Despite this reality, Verma insists the new rule is “a small step” toward price transparency and “empowering patients.”Unfortunately, even if you believe this to be true, the actual implementation of the new rule is too deeply flawed to result in anything close to transparency.Hospitals have posted what is called their “chargemaster,” the list price of tens of thousands of procedures identified most often by a billing code and a cryptic abbreviation that only an expert can decipher.Vanderbilt University Medical Center, for example, lists a charge of $42,569 for a cardiology procedure described as “HC PTC CLOS PAT DUCT ART,” writes Robert Pear in the New York Times. Kaiser Health News (KHN) gives another example: “Arthrocentesis Aspir&/Inj Small Jt/Bursa w/o Us,” otherwise known as draining fluid from the knee ($378).“I don’t think it’s very helpful,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management, told Julie Appleby and Barbara Feder Ostrov at KHN. “There are about 30,000 different items on a chargemaster file. As a patient, you don’t know which ones you will use.”Appleby and Ostrov attempt to analyze prices for delivering a baby:Minnesota Mayo Clinic’s online chargemaster page shows two listings, one for $3,030, described as “labor and delivery level 1 short” and the other for $5,236, described as “labor and delivery level 2 long.” But, what’s a short labor? What’s a long one? How is a patient who didn’t go to med school supposed to know the difference?Also, those are just the charges for the actual delivery. There are also per-day room charges for mom and the newborn, not to mention additional charges for medications, physicians and other treatments.When University of California-San Francisco shows the “bundled charge for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery,” as required under California law, the price is $53,184, suggesting that the “procedure” cost has little to do with the actual price of delivering a baby in a hospital.Add to this confusion, the fact that the chargemaster list has little to do with what people actually pay for their health care. Insurers negotiate rates, and patients are liable for different portions of those costs, depending on their plan. Someone without insurance—or seeing an out-of-network provider—may be billed based on the list price, but even that price is negotiable.The real problem here isn’t that costs aren’t transparent, but that our health care system, which consumed 18 percent of GDP in 2017—more than $3.5 trillion—is irrational. It is the most expensive system among the world’s high-income countries, and yet it delivers the worst outcomes. Mission has been overpowered by greed. Though greater transparency may be a goal worth pursuing, it isn’t one that will fundamentally change what consumers really care about: universal access to quality care.—Karen KahnShare54Tweet2ShareEmail56 Shares
Russian broadcast group CTC Media is revamping its target demographics for two of its main channels as it looks to stem falling ratings. The broadcaster is launching new demographic targets for its main CTC Network and Peretz Network at the start of 2013. CTC Network, which used to target an audience of 6 to 54 year-olds, will now target an audience of 10 to 45 year-olds. Meanwhile, Peretz Network, which previously targeted an audience of 25 to 59 year-olds has lowered its target to 25 to 49 year-olds.This move comes after the channel saw its average daily share of Russian viewers over 18 fall to 5.2%.It follows the appointment of Boris Podolsky as chief executive in June and comes after the company announced its latest financial results. ”We have also made the important strategic decision to adjust the target demographics for the CTC and Peretz Networks to ‘all 10-45’ and ‘all 25-49’, respectively. The change will take place from the beginning of 2013 and reflects the Company’s overall positioning strategy for Domashny and Peretz and the channels’ high affinity levels in these commercially attractive audience groups. The transition is therefore expected to have a positive impact on both audience shares and inventory levels moving forward,” said Podolsky.
Thomson Video Networks has announced that its ViBE VS7000 multiscreen video platform has been tested and certified for use with Anevia’s ViaMotion system for catch-up TV, over-the-top video streaming and on-demand content delivery.The ViBE VS7000 OTT encoder uses a multi-profile encoding technology to stream video content to various devices including smartphones, tablets, PCs, set-top boxes and IP connected TVs.“This integrated OTT solution combines the ViBE VS7000’s excellent video transcoding along with multi-screen packaging and streaming through ViaMotion,” said Damien Lucas, vice-president of sales and product marketing, Anevia. “We are pleased to partner with Thomson Video Networks to provide our joint customers with an interoperable and integrated solution for delivering high-quality content through both live and VOD access.”
Set-top manufacturer Pace has struck a deal with South African pay TV broadcaster MultiChoice to work with local supplier Vektronix, based in East London in Eastern Cape provice, to assemble and build a new HD DVR for the broadcaster.The new box, the DStv Explora, will be built in South Africa. Pace is already a technology partner with MultiChoice for its existing DVR product.The 2TB, three-tuner DStv Explora will be available in retail outlets from August 15, priced at ZAR2,499 (€190). The box promises up to 220 hours of recording time as well as access to additional DStv catch-up services, advanced search and discovery across an eight-day TV guide, and pause live TV for up to two hours. The box is internet-connectable but no applications are currently available.“We are pleased that Pace is manufacturing the DStv Explora in South Africa. This will contribute positively to skills development, local economic development and job creation in the manufacturing, logistics and sales sectors of our economy,” said Collins Khumalo, CEO of MultiChoice South Africa.“We are proud to be selected by MultiChoice to deliver their latest generation decoder. It is testament to the advanced, user-friendly and robust Pace set top boxes that MultiChoice’s HD customers have been using since 2008. The deal extends our global HD leadership – Pace’s HD expertise, customer base and technological capability – that is unrivalled by our competitors,” said Shane McCarthy, president of Pace International.