By Elias HazouCYPRUS expects to begin exporting natural gas around 2020 if all goes according to schedule, the trade and energy minister said yesterday.Giorgos Lakkotrypis said, under a road map drawn up by his ministry, the final investment decision for a liquefied natural gas plant – the cornerstone of the island’s energy policy – will likely be taken in 2015.He was speaking at a press conference in Nicosia, having had earlier in the day outlined to the President and the Cabinet a preliminary road map for the development of hydrocarbons.This A to Z opens with Noble Energy’s appraisal drilling at the Aphrodite well – slated to begin this week – and closes with the export of gas, expected to occur in late 2019 or early 2020, said Lakkotrypis.He said confirmation of the gas estimates at Aphrodite – lying in offshore Block 12 licensed to Noble Energy– would be “a strong card” for Cyprus as it would allow the island to start sounding out long-term buyers for the gas, also paving the way to seeking financing for the LNG terminal.The government wants to sign a memorandum of understanding with Noble for developing the LNG facility. The MoU is seen as precursor to an eventual deal establishing a joint venture between the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company (CNHC) and Noble, a special purpose vehicle to seek out investors for the plant. The intended deal relates to the construction of a single train at Vassilikos of five million tonnes per annum.Should the gas estimates for the Aphrodite well pan out, Lakkotrypis said, Noble would declare commerciality on the prospect, a move that would attract investors for the LNG facility.And assuming gas were discovered in other concessions, the process would be repeated with other concession holders forming additional joint ventures with the CNHC in the LNG project with the construction of more trains at the plant.Still, Lakkotrypis stressed, the estimated reserves within Aphrodite alone – some 7 trillion cubic feet – are sufficient to make the LNG project financially viable.But, the minister stressed, proving the reserves in Block 12 is key. It will allow Cyprus to seek long-term contracts for gas sales, and in turn the contracts would be used as collateral against borrowing money for the multi-billion euro LNG plant.“These contracts will not be revenues per se, but they will be a strong card allowing us to finance infrastructure projects and thus bring about economic growth earlier,” he said.The search for investors in the LNG plant would start in early 2014 and end later that year, while the final investment decision would be taken in 2015.Asked who would finance the LNG project, the minister said already a number of “economic giants” have expressed interest.He did not elaborate, except to say that the interested parties came from both inside and outside the European Union.Responding to another question, Lakkotrypis ruled out advance sales of gas. He explained that as long as gas reserves are unproven they are worth very little, but once they have been confirmed their value grows exponentially.The minister predicted that Total – which has concessions in blocks 10 and 11 – would itself conduct exploratory drilling by late 2014. The French oil giant is planning to run seismic surveys of the seabed this year.Meanwhile in an interview yesterday with the Cyprus News Agency, CNHC chairman Charalambos Ellinas said Cyprus has a possible ‘Plan B’ in case the reserves at the Aphrodite well turn out to be lower than estimated.Should the well yield less than 6 tcf of gas – the ‘threshold’ for making the LNG plant commercially viable – this shortfall could be made up through discoveries in a second, smaller field within Block 12 that could hold around 2 to 3 tcf, Ellinas said.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 ArePopularEverythingUndoSenior Living | Search AdsCheap Senior Apartments in Rowland Heights Are Turning HeadsSenior Living | Search AdsUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)UndoConcern over falling tourism numbersUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
A fine of €500 for breaching personal data laws was imposed on a jeweller’s shop for installing cameras which were able to record the movement of staff and visitors at a neighbouring café in Nicosia, it emerged on Monday.In a ruling, the administrative court supported the view of the personal data protection commissioner that installing the video surveillance system outside the jeweller’s breached the law.According to the complaint, filed in 2016, the CCTV cameras were installed in such a way that they could record every move by the café owners, staff and customers without their consent.In addition to the fine, the court also ordered that the cameras be removed and placed inside the jewellery shop.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Using state-of-the-art sonar and a robotic camera, the search at the Mitsero red lake resumed Monday morning for a third suitcase that may contain the remains of one of the seven victims of a serial killer.A suitcase was retrieved from the lake on Sunday containing a badly decomposed body that has not yet been identified. This was the second body recovered from the toxic lake. A woman’s body was found in a suitcase there on Easter Sunday, April 28.The sonar swept the lake from the morning, recording data in the search for a third victim. After the data was to be analysed and there was evidence something might be there, a decision to send divers would be made.Reports from the scene at around 11.30am said the robotic camera had been sent back into the lake and that this was a sign something had been located. Minutes later divers began preparing their boat and gear to enter the lake.According to the suspect’s alleged confession, he threw three of his seven victims in the red lake; Romanian mother and daughter Livia Florentina Bunea, 36 and Elena Natalia, 8, who disappeared on September 30, 2016, and 30-year-old Maricar Valdez Arquila from the Philippines who went missing in December 2017.On Sunday when the second suitcase was brought up, it was not immediately clear whether it was a woman or a child, police said, and it was taken to the morgue for further examination.Information began to leak out shortly afterwards that the body was fully clothed and was likely that of a child so probably Elena Natalia.Five bodies from seven have now been recovered. Two other victims remain unaccounted for. If the bodies recovered from the red lake turn out to be Livia and her daughter Elena Natalia, the remaining two victims to be found will be Maricar Valdez Arquila, and Sierra aged six, the daughter of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, also from the Philippines. The suspect allegedly told police he threw Sierra’s body in Memi lake in Xyliatos but daily searches have not yet found any trace of her.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoModernizeIf Your Home Has Old Roofing, Read ThisModernizeUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
13Mar Rep. Lucido to host town hall meeting Categories: Lucido News State Rep. Peter Lucido will host a town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, to discuss topics related to Utica Community Schools.“I am honored to work with my colleagues as we address the vital issues facing our local schools,” Rep. Lucido said. “We want to hear your thoughts and questions, so I hope you are able to join us for this important conversation.”The town hall takes place at The Palazzo Grande at 54660 Van Dyke Ave. in Shelby Township. The event begins at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m.Utica Community Schools administrators, teachers, union representatives, and area state legislators have been invited to speak.For more information, contact Rep. Lucido’s office by calling (888) MICH-REP or by email at PeterLucido@house.mi.gov.
Categories: Schroeder News State Rep. Andrea Schroeder of Independence Township invites residents to her in-district coffee hour on Monday, March 18 from 3 to 4 p.m. at The Coffee Bucket, 3549 Airport Road in Waterford Township.“Talking to everyone in our community and listening to what matters most to them is one of the most important parts of my job,” Rep. Schroeder said. “I am determined to remain accessible and accountable to you, and this is a great way to do just that. I hope you will join me.”No appointment is necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Schroeder at (517) 373-0615 or via email at AndreaSchroeder@house.mi.gov. 21Feb Rep. Schroeder invites residents to meet with her on March 18
01Mar Rep. Mueller participates in Legislative Polar Plunge Categories: Mueller News,Mueller Photos PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Mike Mueller of Linden led efforts in raising $25,000 for children and adults with mental health challenges at the Capitol on Thursday, participating in the eighth annual Legislative Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Michigan with his legislative director Scott Kempa. In tradition of the event, participants are encouraged to be creative and wear a costume that best fits them. Rep. Mueller chose the uniform he wore as a SWAT team member of the Washtenaw County Sheriff Department.
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesLawrence Lessig / Joi ItoSeptember 3, 2015; Washington PostTo make a point about campaign finance corruption involving 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, PACs, and Super PACs, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig started what appeared to be a quixotic campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. His idea was that he would run simply to overturn the nation’s horrendous system of campaign finance and then turn over the White House to his vice-presidential running mate, who would be addressing the rest of the traditional presidential plate. Key to his potential campaign was raising $1 million—not from PACs or other dark money groups, but from regular people, through Kickstarter.Lessig’s campaign may be no less quixotic today than it was a month ago, but it is gaining steam. He has raised, he says, $750,000 so far toward his September 8th deadline and has been pushing campaign finance reform onto the agendas of some of the other presidential candidates. Lessig complains that as a priority, campaign finance reform is 15th on Martin O’Malley’s list of 15 top issues for his first term, but Bernie Sanders has boosted the issue from eighth to second on his list. Nonetheless, it must be hard for some potential voters to wrap their heads around the idea of a president who would take office for the purpose of passing one item—the Citizens Equality Act (yet to be written)—and then resign.At AlterNet (and rerun at Salon), Steven Rosenfeld has penned a devastating critique of Lessig’s single-issue campaign and the friendly signals Lessig has sent to none other than Donald Trump. Rosenfeld notes that Lessig has spoken positively about Trump’s commentary that big donors have essentially purchased the loyalty of Trump’s Republican primary opponents and even suggested that if the Donald were to make a third-party campaign focused on campaign finance with a promise to resign after achieving needed reforms, he might be willing to sign on as his running mate.Rosenfeld’s critique of Lessig’s proposed dalliance with Trump pulls no punches on either candidate:Let’s imagine that Lessig somehow links up with Trump. Are people who want to see a fundamental restructuring of interplay between private money and political candidates suppose to ignore Trump’s racism, sexism, elitism, and war-mongering, just because Trump has been bombastically telling Americans that he’s invested and gotten results from politicians, and “that’s a broken system?”This is the danger of single-issue politics: seeing the light and being blinded by it. The problem is not that Lessig’s analysis of the problem is wrong. His remedies, including a national system of publically financed elections, are also correct—that, too, has been proven over the years in states and cities to be a generally better approach than the endless dialing-for-campaign-dollars status quo.The problem is the most public leader of the democracy reform movement in 2015 is not showing political skill or judgment by jumping on the coattails of the ever-unpredictable Trump. It looks like a desperate measure in a desperate time, and cheapens the issue—and his compelling analysis—by flirting with today’s biggest political bomb-thrower.As Lessig’s campaign evolves, it looks like he is discovering the difficulty of a single-issue candidacy laser-focusing on a single issue. David Weigel’s article in the Washington Post noted that Lessig visited Ferguson, Missouri earlier this week and commented on the people being harmed by “taxation by citation,” though he found a way of returning that to his campaign theme of the corrupting influence of campaign finance. In fact, as Mark Schmitt pointed out in Vox, Lessig has been careful not to focus the Citizens Equality Act exclusively on campaign finance reform as a silver bullet, but to include other topics such as voting rights, perhaps ranked-choice voting, weakened legislative gerrymandering, and incentives for small-donor participation in campaign contributions. Moreover, knowing how inordinately long it can take to pass a constitutional amendment, Lessig and the chairperson of his campaign finance reform PAC, Zephyr Teachout, talk about campaign finance reform legislation that would pass constitutional muster and criticize candidates such as Hillary Clinton who call for campaign finance reform but link it to the need to amend the constitution to undo the Citizens United decision.Writing for the Brookings Institution, elections expert Thomas E. Mann is no less scathing in his comments about Lessig than Rosenfeld:The hubris of the Harvard Professor is breathtaking. In virtually every respect, his strategy is absurd. Lessig’s political reform agenda is stymied by Republicans, not Democrats. Why not direct his energies where the opposition resides? All of the current Democratic presidential candidates support the thrust of these reforms. But saying that this is their highest priority is likely to harm, not boost, their candidacies. Why would even the most ardent supporter of the three pillars of Lessig’s reform agenda cast a ballot solely on this basis? Big and important issues divide the two parties today and the stakes of public action or inaction are huge. We don’t have the luxury of using the election to try to build a mandate for a set of political reforms that would have no chance of passing in the face of GOP opposition and would be of only incremental utility if they did.Campaign finance does play a corrosive role in our democracy and I have invested much of my career grappling with it. There is no doubt that money in elections facilitates the transfer of economic inequality into political inequality, and the spectacle of several hundred plutocrats dominating the finance of our elections should be a target of serious reform efforts in the courts and the Congress. At the same time it is foolish to imagine that campaign finance is the only route for private wealth to influence public policy or that its reform will dramatically transform the policy process. Money did not prevent the major legislative enactments of 2009-2010—including the stimulus, student loans, the Affordable Care Act, and financial services reform. Nor is it likely to be the critical factor on climate change, immigration, infrastructure or jobs and wages; which party wins the White House and whether control with Congress is unified or divided is key. If anything, the Lessig campaign is likely to weaken the forces for political reform by demonstrating just how small the relative priority for this action is.Mann concludes with a devastating critique of the Republican Trump and the ostensible Democrat Lessig: “Both Lessig and Trump, despite their differences in visibility and importance in the election, will have contributed to the dumbing down of American politics, a reality that will bring tears to the eyes of civics teachers and political science professors across the country.” Given the nonprofit sector’s excitement about Lessig, the commentaries of Rosenfeld and Mann raise important questions about quixotic presidential quests.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share9TweetShareEmail9 SharesSeptember 22, 2015; Los Angeles TimesThe controversy over two Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) nonprofit trusts continues, as the Los Angeles Times reports that they will keep more than $11 million in a reserve fund, despite a city auditor’s recommendation that they spend their cash on hand before receiving any more ratepayer money.The nonprofits, jointly run by DWP management and the city-owned utility’s largest union, have been at the center of a two-year controversy over how they have spent over $40 million in public ratepayer funds over the last dozen years. They receive about $4 million a year, but have yet to demonstrate what they do with the money to the satisfaction of city officials.“I believe rainy day funds are important, but this is more like a hurricane fund,” said City Controller Ron Galperin. “I don’t see what the point is of these trusts hoarding this money.”The Times reports that the controller’s auditors found earlier this year “that the nonprofits had paid millions to outside contractors without competitive bids, overpaid top administrators and allowed employees to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to ratepayer-financed credit cards for travel, meals and auto expenses without filing reports to justify them.”A separate audit by L.A.’s chief administrative officer found that the nonprofits failed to provide any “real information on the outcomes and effectiveness” of their programs. During that time, they left a large amount of cash unspent, which the controller said should be first be spent before the city gives them more money.The nonprofits became controversial when a Times report in 2013 said that city leaders knew next to nothing about how their money was spent. Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to bring transparency to the groups, which ignited a battle with the union’s politically influential leadership. In the mayor’s race earlier that year, the union strongly backed Garcetti’s unsuccessful opponent.The union claims the money is no longer public once it is paid to the nonprofits, meaning that city officials have no right to audit the books. That dispute is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, although a deal between the union and city leaders allowed the city to audit four years of records earlier this year; it was the first time there was a public review of the nonprofits’ spending since they were created in the early 2000’s.Earlier this week, the DWP’s General Manager, who is also on the boards of the nonprofits, rejected the idea of spending down the balances before further contributions were made by the city. She said the annual payments are required by the city’s contract with the labor union and therefore must be made on schedule.The nonprofits decided to hold onto the surpluses as “rainy day” funds to cover safety and training programs in case DWP contributions might not be sufficient.—Larry KaplanShare9TweetShareEmail9 Shares
Share8TweetShare1Email9 Shares“Rally for Refugees at National Airport (2/1/17) – Smartphone shots” from Geoff LivingstonFebruary 5, 2017; CNN PoliticsThe Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the order of a federal judge in the state of Washington imposing a nationwide stay on President Trump’s temporary travel ban. As CNN notes, “The order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries—Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen—from entering the U.S. for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days, and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.” The president’s executive order was signed on January 27.The federal appeals court ruling applied solely to the Justice Department’s request on Saturday for an immediate stay of the district court injunction imposed on Friday. The appeals court has asked attorneys representing both the federal government and the government of Washington state to return on Monday prepared to argue the merits of the case. Meanwhile, a seven-day stay issued by a federal judge in Boston is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, and it’s unclear whether the First Circuit (which includes Massachusetts) will rule exactly the same way as the Ninth Circuit (which includes Washington state). In addition, a different federal judge in Boston ruled in favor of the Trump administration, citing the president’s broad Constitutional powers over immigration. Though two federal courts have ruled differently and two dozen lawsuits and petitions have been filed across the country, the government is abiding by the injunction decision made by U.S. District Judge James L. Robart in Seattle due to its uniquely comprehensive approach to the executive order.What does this all this legal wrangling mean? There’s strong potential that one or more parties will appeal the travel ban to the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as the respective appeals courts issue their rulings. Given the temporary nature of the ban (except as it applies to Syrian refugees), the Supreme Court may choose to accept the case or cases on an expedited basis. Alternatively, it may decline to hear the cases on an expedited basis and, instead, allow a single Supreme Court justice (Justice Breyer in the First Circuit, Justice Kennedy in the Ninth Circuit) to decide whether the appeals court decisions will be implemented or stayed. If so, the clock will likely run out on the immigration bans, rendering those cases moot. Depending on how long the “indefinite” Syrian refugee ban remains in place, a case centered on that section of the executive order may still be considered timely by the Court.The temporary ban has caused widespread confusion both within and between federal agencies as well as for immigrants, refugees, advocates, airlines, and foreign governments. For example, the ban was enforced differently at different U.S. ports of entry across the globe, with some refusing entry to foreign nationals from the affected nations who already possessed valid visas or lawful permanent resident (LPR, or “green card”) status. The order was later clarified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to include green card holders from the seven affected countries. Meanwhile, immigration advocates and others are encouraging immigrants to travel to (or return to) the U.S. as soon as possible, as court decisions affecting implementation of the executive order could change again suddenly.—Michael WylandShare8TweetShare1Email9 Shares
Share83TweetShare13Email96 Shares“2nd Lambeth Girl Guides Achieve” by Girl Guides of CanadaMarch 14, 2017; NBC NewsCiting uncertainty about the new administration’s travel policies, the Girl Guides of Canada, an organization much like the Girl Scouts of America, has cancelled all trips with the girls to the United States—even including those with airline connections in the U.S.On its website, Girl Guides calls the decision “very difficult” but says it “reflects [a] commitment to inclusivity and equal opportunities for all girls and women.”“Girl Guides is a very inclusive and diverse organization,” spokeswoman Sarah Kiriliuk told the CBC. “It is part of our mandate and it is very important to the fabric of our organization to be inclusive and diverse. And we wanted to make sure we could extend that to all aspects of our organization—which includes girls that are traveling.”The measure, she said, was designed to ensure “no girl gets left behind.”President Trump’s new executive order on travel, which will take effect on Thursday if it is not stayed, blocks most travel to the U.S. for 90 days by citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Bookings for travel to the U.S. are down in general.The Globe and Mail of Canada reports that the Girl Guides are not alone in worrying about and cancelling children’s trips to the United States.Several schools and school districts across Canada debated going ahead with trips south of the border following the first executive order issued by President Donald Trump that imposed travel restrictions to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.A Winnipeg junior high school cancelled a trip by its track team to Minnesota in January because it wasn’t certain all students would be able to cross the border.The Greater Essex County School Board in southwestern Ontario decided in February to cancel a handful of trips over concerns of safety and equity, while districts in southern Vancouver Island debated whether to ban all U.S. travel or handle each trip on a case-by-case basis.—Ruth McCambridgeShare83TweetShare13Email96 Shares
Share15TweetShare3Email18 SharesBy Sarah Ewart (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 21, 2017; Indianapolis StarPresident Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in December 2015 reduced the power of the federal government to shape public education, shifting the balance of power to the states. One issue that the Trump administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been very clear on is their commitment to expanding school choice, particularly by increasing federal support for school vouchers.School funding is an area where state governments play a critical role. Through the size of the allocation and the mechanisms by which funds are parceled out to local districts, state government is a key factor in making sure students have the quality of education to which they are entitled. A large majority of public school funding comes from state and local sources. However, overreliance on local funding can lead to students in poor communities facing underfunded schools. A state formula that does not appropriately prioritize funding for districts where students are most in need of added support will fail those students.As the approach of summer brings the legislative season in many states to a close, we can now see more details of the directions states are heading in response to this new era of federal education policy. The Indiana legislature provides insight into how one Republican-controlled state government is tackling some of the thorny issues.With this funding power in their hands, the Indiana legislature chose to take a step backward. As the Indianapolis Star reported, “Even with an overall budget increase for K-12 schools next year, the state will devote less money to helping some urban districts…educate its most vulnerable, low-income students.” The legislature chose to increase the per-pupil funding to each public school district but reduce allocations to districts with the hardest-to-educate students and the least ability to raise funds locally. As a result, wealthier suburban districts will see more funding while poorer, often urban, districts will not.Wayne Township Schools Superintendent Jeff Butts told the Star that “the reduction in complexity index hits us hard…When you have an increase in population of students who are coming to you with high needs, it really does present a challenge when you’re trying to compensate for some of those societal issues they’re bringing into school.”President Trump’s plan to improve public education through greater school choice relies heavily on his proposal to shift $20 billion to encourage states to make vouchers a big part of the strategy. Indiana plans to increase its existing voucher program over the next two years, but its goals are modest. If it meets its target, 38,000 students will be attending schools outside their home district with the help of a state voucher, but that will still mean that 97 percent of Indiana’s students remain in a traditional public school or a charter school. That growth may be enough to warrant some of the Trump voucher funds, if they are approved, but it will not drastically change the nature of Indiana public schools. While the president and his Secretary of Education prefer vouchers, it seems that across the nation, if choice is the way to go, charters are preferred.As Michael Wyland described in a recent NPQ piece, ESSA does require states to establish success criteria and mechanisms to measure public school progress. But like many states, Indiana is still trying to meet that need. It has scrapped its current testing program and gone back to the drawing board to create a new approach, which is slated to be ready for use by 2019.If testing as an accountability measure is still front and center for public schools, Indiana, like many other states, has refused to tighten accountability standards for other schools. Even fiscal insight oversight falls short. The state legislature rejected a proposed law requiring private schools that receive state funds via voucher payments to become more fiscally transparent. State Representative Robert told the Star why he opposed imposing any reporting requirements on these schools:I look at voucher schools, when it comes to financial issues, in a very similar way that I think the state should look at any vendor we do business with. If we receive services, we should give them a payment. How they handle that payment, as long as they’re not doing something illegal, is not in the state’s jurisdiction.All in all, despite the sound and fury in the nation’s capital, if Indiana is a bellwether, public education at a state level seems to proceed with little change. Unable to overcome the political power of richer and whiter suburbs, poor districts struggle to get a fairer share of state funding. Vouchers have proponents but will not be the way most students get their public education. Testing will go on, but just how is still being worked out. And, accountability for the beneficiaries of expanded choice options will continue to be much less than we expect from traditional public schools.—Martin LevineShare15TweetShare3Email18 Shares
Share7TweetShare4Email11 Shares“Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon” [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 23, 2017; Santa Fe New Mexican (AP)States and school districts across the country are preparing for a brave new experiment in assessment. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, passed in 2015, includes flexibility for states to design their own criteria for determining the effectiveness of their K-12 instructional systems. About 15 states have submitted or are about to submit their accountability blueprints. The remaining states will submit their plans in September.Connecticut and Delaware, for example, are looking at college readiness, focusing on students taking academically challenging courses and how students score on the SAT college admissions test. Tennessee wants to focus on school performance, with each school receiving an A–F grade as a way to inform parents about the quality of their local public schools. Vermont and Connecticut plan to evaluate student physical fitness as a component of school quality.Not surprisingly, almost all states are evaluating chronic absenteeism as an indicator. This makes sense for both altruistic and self-interested reasons. In order for students to benefit from education, they should be physically present. In addition, most states allocate state aid to education based at least in part on how many students are being educated by a school district. The more student absenteeism, the lower the average daily membership (ADM) and the lower funding going to that school district.U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is responsible for approving states’ assessment and evaluation plans. According to the AP, DeVos “has said her goal is state and local flexibility in education and indicated that she might use the process to advance school choice.”The new metrics and the methods by which states are developing them are receiving early praise, especially for reaching out to stakeholders for comment and input. A representative of the Council of Chief State School Officers said, “They’ve been very proactive to engage anybody who has an interest in the plans.”There are concerns, however, that a lack of uniformity in standards will make it difficult to perform comparisons between states. Moreover, there is a risk that some student populations, such as students with disabilities or special learning needs, may be lost in the shuffle as states choose broad measures and, possibly, measures they believe will put their schools in a favorable light.Marc Magee, CEO of 50Can, an education nonprofit, expressed concern that “if everybody doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, we could go back to that era where certain populations of students become invisible inside schools even if they are struggling mightily and not getting the opportunity that they deserve.”—Michael WylandShare7TweetShare4Email11 Shares
Share8Tweet1ShareEmail9 Shares February 22, 2019; SlateYou just got a new job. It’s your first day. You spend hours signing papers in the Human Resources Office. Four years later, when you have a grievance over your wages or hours or harassment from your supervisor, you are told that you have no right to bring legal action against your employer in court. Your only option is mandatory arbitration, with your employer choosing the arbitrator. Why? Well, you agreed to it when you signed all those papers on your first day of employment.This is not an unusual story for many employees. In 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled five to four in Epic Systems Corps v. Lewis that companies could mandate individual arbitration and disallow group arbitration or any legal court action in workers’ wage, hours or other employment disputes. So, the path for employees seems narrow with little light at the end of the tunnel. But not so, for the employees of Google who joined together and stood up to mandatory arbitration and succeeded. Perhaps.First, from Rebecca Koenig at US News & World Report, here’s a bit more background on mandatory or forced arbitration, without being too wonky.Arbitration shares some similarities with the public court system. Both involve two disputing parties arguing their cases before a third party, which decides a winner and awards damages.But there are key differences. Court cases tend to move more slowly than arbitration cases, which are often more efficient. Court cases are matters of public record, leaving paper trails that anyone can access, while arbitration cases are private and under no obligation to release information. Some employers take this privacy a step further, requiring workers to sign nondisclosure or non-disparagement agreements and keep proceedings secret.Court cases are decided by judges and juries, neutral parties with no vested interest in the outcome. Arbitration cases are decided by arbitrators, often retired judges or lawyers who are paid by one or both parties.The other key difference between court cases and arbitration cases is in who wins most often. The answer is the employer. A study from 2015 found the employee win rate to be 35.7 percent lower in arbitration than in federal court, and damages awards to employees were also lower. There is a difference in appearing before a jury of your peers than before an arbiter, who is most often paid by the employer and brought back for other arbitrations when the findings are to the employers’ liking.This process also does away with class actions. Determining each employment dispute on a single, one-time basis not only slows things down, but also leaves the remedies in much smaller amounts than when a group or class sues a company in court. Is it any wonder that employers are lining up in support of mandated arbitration?But, a ray of light appeared last week after some very determined Google employees rode in like the cavalry. Following months of protests by thousands of these workers, Google agreed to stop requiring its workers to submit to forced arbitration in employment disputes. At first, the agreement was to only cover sexual harassment disputes, but it now will cover most employment issues such as wage theft, discrimination, or other areas. Google employees can take their disputes to court and can file class action suits.Applause all around—to Google for being a role model for other companies, and to Google employees for their perseverance in protesting and staying the course to get to this place.But is this all sunshine now? According to Terri Gerstein, writing for Slate, we don’t quite know yet just how Google will offer employees this new option.Will prospective employees be given information about this choice as part of a job offer and have time to consider the options, or will it be hastily communicated on the first day of work along with a mountain of human resources forms to complete? Will it be buried in minuscule print somewhere, with legalistic and inaccessible language? Will there be a default selection of arbitration (so that employees have to opt out in order to preserve their access to courts), or a default selection of court access (so that employees have to affirmatively choose arbitration)? Or no default at all, just two options? Will workers have a one-time opportunity to opt out of arbitration, or will they have the option at a future date to change their selection? And if there’s an option to change, will that be ongoing, or an annual opportunity (as occurs with health insurance enrollment)?Ideally, workers would be given plain language, reasonable fonts, and accessible information about arbitration and other aspects of their employment contracts well before day one on the job, with no default favoring arbitration and the opportunity to opt out in the future.The bottom line is that there is more work to do—not just at Google, but at companies and with employers, large and small, for-profit and nonprofit—when it comes to employee disputes and how they are handled. For Google employees, the answer was in standing together and not backing down (and these were not union employees). Others should pay attention. Forced arbitration is not seen as being in the best interest of the “little guy,” and it would be hard to make that case to most employees. Hiding it in the middle of a stack of employment documents may not work as employees become savvier and get advice about what to look for. So, finding other options to replace forced arbitration seems like a good idea before the lessons learned from Google employees go viral.—Carole LevineCorrection: This article has been altered from its initial form to correct the publication for which Rebecca Koenig writes.Share8Tweet1ShareEmail9 Shares
Deutsche Telekom has launched a new business unit designed to tap into digital trends and to open up new fields of revenue outside its core business.The Products and Innovation unit, headed by Thomas Kiessling, will focus on six business segments – communication services, media/entertainment, cloud services, advertising, advertising business/e-commerce and payment services.The media/entertainment segment will be run by former BSkyB exec Gerry O’Sullivan. He will oversee pay TV platforms Entertain and EntertainSat, as well as music, video and gaming activities.“We can build on our strengths in the new business areas in particular: consumers and business customers trust our brand and our ability as a technology company to offer safe products which are easy to use across networks and on all devices and operating systems. In turn, product partners work with us because we support them in getting their innovations to the market quickly and thus making them available to our broad customer base. Both sides benefit from this,” said Kiessling.
Liberty Global-owned pay TV operator UPC DTH has added Sport1 HD to its offering for Hungary.From tomorrow, Hungarian UPC DTH customers will be able to view the channel as part of the HD package.The move will take the number of HD channels offered on the Hungarian service to 12. UPC DTH has plans to add further services in the near future.“We are pleased to strengthening our UPC Direct HD line-up with another high quality channel that broadcasts not just international but popular local sport events such as Hungarian football championships and Handball World Championship,” said Zoltán Pinkola, director of marketing and sales Hungary for UPC DTH. “The addition of Sport1 HD channel now makes our HD package a superior value for sports enthusiasts. As the satellite service with the largest number of HD channels, and the first satellite provider carrying Sport1 HD, UPC Direct now provides channels for everyone in top quality HD. The HD package is not only a sports fans’ dream but also has a number of genres including documentary and local programming providing the highest quality viewing experience.”
The sharing of spectrum in a way that ensures Freeview still has the space to innovate and develop more HD channels is crucial to the future of the platform, Ilse Howling, managing director of the UK digital-terrestrial free-to-air platform said at the DTG Summit in London this morning.Speaking on a panel at the event, Howling said Freeview could launch up to 10 additional HD channels next year and was in discussion with Ofcom over how this could be achieved.She said that Freeview was the biggest TV platform in the country and was a leading HD platform, with 3.5 million HD homes.Howling said that for Freeview, “innovation is about taking a product and making it mass market, mainstream and free for everyone”. She said that free TV was “part of the country’s DNA”.She said cost and brand were important to consumers, followed by access to HD services and video-on-demand.However, Howling said that if Freeview is “pushed out” of spectrum, it could become a “pale shadow of its former self”.She said the progressive migration of the platform to DVB-T2 would enable more efficient use of spectrum over time.Addressing alternative ways of delivering advanced services, Howling said connected TV platform YouView presented an option for delivering additional services to Freeview homes. Alternatively, if users bought a Freeview HD TV with an ethernet connection from the likes of Samsung, they could now have access to all four of the main broadcasters’ online players.However, said Howling, it was unrealistic to think that broadband coverage alone would give people universal access to free services for the foreseeable future.Wendy McMillan, group strategy and business development director, Arqiva, speaking on the same panel, said that said the end-to-end delivery cost of TV from other technologies for the foreseeable future would be significantly greater than for broadcast. IP delivery of public broadcast services would carry a significant cost, she said.However, she said, changes to the DTT platform should not just be viewed through the lens of technology.“There is also a social equity cost,” she said. Clearing spectrum would disrupt a large number of DTT viewers to benefit a relatively small number of users of high-speed mobile services.Clearing the 700MHz spectrum could force consumers to change aerials and migrate to DVB-T2 reception equipment, which would clearly involve a cost to them, she said.Reducing the breadth of choice on Freeview would also clearly reduce competition between platforms, said McMillan.
There are more than 280 children’s TV channels in the European Union and some 320 in wider Europe, according to stats by the European Audiovisual Observatory.The latest figures claim that there are 21 channels as part of the public service broadcasting system, while almost 300 are private.Some major expansion in the kids market took place between 2006 and 2010 with the spread of Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Boomerang brands throughout Europe, the Observatory said.However, more than 80 channels are focused on national markets, while public children’s channels such as KIKA in Austria and Germany, DR Ramasjang in Denmark, Clan TVE in Spain, Gulli in France and CBBC in the UK are often the most popular children’s channels in their respective countries, the study found.“The most important of the pan-European brands are Disney (63 channels), Nickelodeon (44), Cartoon Network (29) and Boomerang (21) who have various channels and a large number of linguistic variations throughout Europe,” said the Observatory.The Disney Channel scores highest in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. The Nickelodeon channels score highly in Austria, Belgium, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands, the report said. It also referenced Baby TV, Duck TV, Kidsco and JimJam as other ”significant pan-European brands.”
France24’s Eric Cremer talks to DTVE about the changing role of the international news channel and new projects including HD.
Intel has reportedly dropped facial recognition functionality from its forthcoming TV service, which is expected to roll out later this year. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Intel’s Erik Huggers decided not to pursue camera-based recognition, which would have been used to help personalised the TV experience, as the technology did not work well in low lighting and raised privacy concerns.Huggers quit his role as the BBCs director of future media and technology in 2011 to join Intel and is leading the firm’s TV efforts. Intel is expected to launch a subscription set-top service that will deliver live TV, catch-up and additional content over the web.According to reports last month, Intel is trailing its forthcoming TV product among some 2,000 company employees and has started to build a call-centre operation ahead of the launch.
Belarus service provider Beltelecom has introduced TV banking as part of its Zala TV offering. Zala subscribers can now access the systems of various banks and pay for services via the TV, according to Beltelecom. Custoemrs can pay for services by bank card via after registering and obtaining a password for the TV portal, enabling them to pay for communication services and utilities and obtain information about their balance and recent transactions.