EAC announces further price drop updated

first_imgBy Elias HazouThe price of electricity is to be reduced due to falling oil prices, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) announced on Tuesday.April’s household bills will see a 1.2 per cent decrease in the unit price of electricity, relative to the previous month, and a total 9 per cent decrease compared with February’s prices.A year-on-year comparison reveals a 20 per cent decrease in the price of electricity.Meanwhile, energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis has promised to meet anew with EAC workers’ unions in a bid to avert a potentially crippling showdown over government plans to privatise the power utility.“We are committed to continuing the dialogue… and over the next days I shall have a private meeting with the unions in an attempt to bridge any differences,” the minister told reporters on Tuesday after a session of the House commerce committee.The dialogue with the unions would be based on the suggestions made by the chairman of the commerce committee, Lakkotrypis said.On Tuesday, committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou (DISY) proposed pushing back further the tender deadline for a study on the legal separation of the EAC.The deadline was initially set to expire on March 31, but through the commerce committee’s mediation last week, it was delayed to April 15 – temporarily averting planned strikes by EAC workers that would have led to power outages.Last Thursday, the Privatisations Commissioner announced that a tender deadline for a study on the legal separation of the EAC would be pushed back by two weeks. In turn, the trade unions said they would likewise suspend any industrial action until April 15 as a goodwill gesture.Zachariou’s proposal also envisages modifying the terms of the tender, following consultations with all the stakeholders.“Cyprus and its economy cannot afford strikes at the moment, and it is not right for consumers to be left without electricity during Easter,” the MP later said.“Candles should be lit only to celebrate the Resurrection, and not for illuminating our homes because there is no power,” he added.The MP said he felt the two sides – the energy ministry and the EAC – are closer to each other than they realise.“They just don’t know it yet. In order that they do realise it, we shall be convening again before the end of the week, giving them a chance to reach an agreement that will be to the benefit of the economy, the consumers, the EAC and the workers whose rights are enshrined in law.”For his part, head of the EPOPAI-SEK trade union Andreas Panorkos welcomed the dialogue but warned the strike measures have been suspended, not cancelled.He went on to remark that EAC employees might spend the Easter holidays at home, hinting at possible strikes during this time.The Privatisations Commissioner has initiated a tender for the appointment of an independent energy advisor “to provide professional services regarding the preparation of a study for the legal unbundling, the corporatisation and the privatisation of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, and the required regulatory review.”EAC unions want the tender scrapped, and a new study initiated, to be carried out by them, the EAC and the energy ministry – taking the Privatisations Commissioner out of the loop.The unions say the tender documents incorporate a memo put out by the ministry, which proposes that the energy regulator impose a power generation quota, or cap, on the EAC so that new players are encouraged to build power units.The ministry has also proposed downsizing the EAC, selling off its assets to investors abroad, and leasing its most efficient power engines to local private operators.The ministry memo is partly based on a study commissioned by the energy regulator late last year regarding changes to the energy market.The regulator is currently examining stakeholders’ – including the EAC’s – comments on that study; it’s understood that the regulator will issue a finalised study sometime this month.Under the terms of an international bailout deal, Cyprus has to raise €1.4bn by privatising state-owned enterprises.Under the road map agreed by the government and international creditors, the EAC is to be transformed into a corporation governed by private law by the end of 2015, with all of the company’s shares held by the state. Full privatisation of the EAC – however this is implemented – must be completed by 2018.EAC employees, who fret for their jobs, argue that privatisation as envisaged by the government will not lead to a drop in electricity prices.The domestic price cuts announced Tuesday will be matched for commercial, industrial, and street lighting, the authority added. You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoIcePopMan Notices A Strange Hole In This Lake, So He Gets A Drone, Flies It Inside And Captures ThisIcePopUndoYahoo 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 Taboolalast_img read more

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Fifty polling stations being set up near crossings to facilitate TCs in

first_imgThe election service is planning on setting up around 50 special polling stations across the island to cater for the needs of Turkish Cypriots who want to vote in the upcoming European elections, the Cyprus Mail has learned.The head of the election service, Demetris Demetriou, said they were looking to set up around 50 stations near the crossing points from Kato Pyrgos to Dherynia, which will be connected between them and the civil registry to ensure no one would attempt to vote twice.Demetriou said they could not know how many Turkish Cypriot planned on crossing to the government-controlled areas to vote on May 26 out of the around 81,000 eligible individuals.Main opposition Akel party will be fielding a Turkish Cypriot candidate, professor Niyiazi Kizilyurek while six other Turkish Cypriots will also stand as candidates as part of the Jasmin Movement.The candidates are Afrika newspaper publisher, Sener Levent, Ibrahim Aziz, Oz Karahan, Leyla Hussein Kiralp, Zeki Besiktepeli and Faize Ozdemirciler.Levent, said that they are not running as Turkish Cypriots but as Cypriots, citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, “who condemn the Turkish occupation”.Cyprus has six seats in the European Parliament.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 Taboolalast_img read more

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Hellenics Matsis says too much regulation puts off investors

first_imgIoannis Matsis, Hellenic Bank’s new top executive, said that excessive regulatory requirements for European banks discourage the consolidation of the Cypriot banking sector, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported.The acquisition of a locally regulated bank by a competitor regulated by the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) implies additional cost to turn the bought-out bank into a systemic institution supervised by the Frankfurt based body, he said according to the CNA. Matsis was addressing an audience at an event on Tuesday.Hellenic Bank together with Bank of Cyprus, Cooperative Central Bank and RCB Bank, is jointly supervised by the Central Bank of Cyprus and the SSM since late 2014.Banking regulation is very punitive and disproportional subjecting lesser euro area banks to the same regulatory requirements as major banks in the single currency bloc, Matsis, whose appointment as Hellenic’s chief executive officer received the ECB’s approval a week ago, said. Constantly changing regulation, he continued, also deters investment as it makes proper forecasting more difficult.“Regulation has many different faces, some of them are good, we need to be disciplined, self-regulation works to a certain extent and as the crisis proved we needed more of it, but at the same time we have the pitfalls that come with the regulation” he was quoted as saying.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 Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

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Endless Paphos works killing oldtown shops

first_imgPAPHOS small business owners say they’re in dire straits as the massive renovation of the old town is causing tourists to avoid the area believing information from their holiday reps that the area is closed due to project works.Kathryn Swift, owner of ‘Boo-tea-licious tea rooms’ told the Sunday Mail she has only a matter of weeks left before she has to shut up shop for good, and has just had to make a decision to lay off a valued staff member in a bid to survive.“If people want to have a vibrant old town, they have to come and visit us, or there won’t be anything left to visit except empty shops, when the work is finally finished,” she said.Swift opened her tea room just over two years ago and was beginning to build a solid client base when major upgrading works in the town started to get underway. The businesses owner said long delays and a lack of interest and support from the authorities has left her and other businesses in the area desperate. She warned unless immediate measures are taken to ease the situation, many more premises will close down and remain empty.The tea rooms serve all sort of fresh home-made fayre, and on Monday also started home deliveries in a bid to stay open.Swift, who currently has no income from the shop and has spent her savings on trying to keep it afloat, said that she only needs around 20 customers a day to survive, but currently only a handful, if she’s lucky, visit each day.She and neighbouring arts and crafts shop owner, John Mann, both have shops on Kanari Street, and say it also desperately needs trees to provide some shade.In addition, they say that holiday reps are compounding the dire situation by informing holidaymakers that the old town is ‘closed.’“The reps are still telling people not to come and that’s it’s dangerous as work is still ongoing. This just isn’t true. A couple visited my shop this week and told me what their rep said. They have complained about it, as they loved all of the shops and the area,” said Swift, who has written an email to Thomson holidays to complain.“I asked them if they understand that it’s people livelihoods they are messing with, but I have yet to receive a reply,” she said.A spokeswoman for Thomson said they were focusing on helping stranded holidaymakers following the earthquake in the Aegean Sea on Friday, but added: “We will endeavour to look into the matter and respond as soon as possible.”Mann, who moved his popular Kato Paphos arts and crafts shop ‘Rainbow’s End’ to the old town last December, agrees with Swift.“We feel forgotten by everyone, the tourism board are no help at all and people are actively being told not to come by tourist reps; there is just no support,” he said.Mann was told that upgrading work in the area would be completed before he opened his shop last December, however, it’s now July 2017, and some roads still remain closed, creating an impression of inaccessibility, he said.Both agree that one of the biggest problems is that the main road of Aphroditi and Fellachoglou Street, which provides a way around the market and was previously a busy drop off point for buses, has been closed for months.“We need to get this open and buses running along here again. More information needs to be given to tourists about the old town and people that live here really need to come and support us all; it’s such a struggle,” she said.Granite paving slabs that were laid along the street were only down for a month before workers had to come back and replace them as they had been laid at the wrong depth, she said. Swift had to again close her shop for a week as there was no access to her front door.In 2015, €60 million worth of projects for Paphos, including the regeneration of the traditional shopping centre and Kennedy Square, the restoration of the municipal market, the upgrading of the Markideio theatre, and connecting and enhancing the squares of October 28, Kosti Palama and Dionysios Solomos around the town hall were announced by the president.“The mayor has visited the old town, but he never comes down our street or comes to meet us,” said the duo. Swift also noted that although refuse tax was cut by 50 per cent last year, it is the only consideration that has been offered by the authorities.There is no compensation available for businesses, Swift still pays her social insurance contribution, although she doesn’t take a wage, and for the last six months there hasn’t been a refuse bin available on the street. Businesses have to walk to a nearby car park to place rubbish in a bin, or alternatively, take it home to dispose of it, she said.“The car park close by is full of machinery and people think it’s closed and there’s nowhere to park. There is also a new car park behind the mosque, which is nearby, but no-one knows about it as it’s not even signposted,” said Mann.Swift added that she is passionate about the old town and urged residents to make the effort to visit and show their support of local businesses.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 Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

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Russian investor asked permission to increase BoC stake over 10

first_imgRussian investor Viktor Vekselberg applied for permission to further increase his stake in Bank of Cyprus before the government decided to grant him an honorary citizenship, a document suggests.“Vekselberg is owner of Lamesa Group, present in Cyprus since 2006 and made a significant investment in Bank of Cyprus in 2014, raising the percentage of his shares to 9.88 per cent,” the interior ministry document drafted almost a year ago and obtained by the Cyprus Business Mail said. “This investment occurred at a particularly difficult time for the economy of Cyprus, when foreign investment was the only road to recovery, when investors could hardly show confidence in the Cypriot economy.“As a sign of his further commitment to Bank of Cyprus and his commitment to the economy of Cyprus, Vekselberg manifested his interest to further increase the (participating) equity of Lamesa Group in Bank of Cyprus, a request which is under consideration by competent authorities,” it added.According to the website of the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE), the shareholding of Lamesa Investment Ltd in Cyprus’ largest lender on June 23 last year was 9.27 per cent, 51 basis points below the figure mentioned in the document.Interior minister at the time Socratis Hassikos was in favour of the proposal to naturalise Vekselberg, believed to be close to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, citing his “highest-level services to the Republic of Cyprus, taking into account the so important investment in Bank of Cyprus and his entire business activity in Cyprus benefiting the economy,” according to the document.According to his spokesman, the Russian billionaire, worth $14.9bn (€12.1bn) according to Forbes Magazine, appears to have declined the honour.“Vekselberg has only one citizenship,” the spokesman said, which is that of the Russian Federation and added that the investor “was never granted any other citizenship including Cypriot”.Lamesa’s investment in Bank of Cyprus occurred in August 2014, less than a year-and-a-half after the culmination of the fiscal and banking crisis in Cyprus. The bank which had in March 2013 resorted to converting almost half of its customers’ uninsured deposits into equity sought an additional €1bn in fresh equity to comply with capital requirements ahead of the Europe-wide bank stress tests.The bank’s success in attracting new equity amid a large degree of uncertainty about the future of the country’s economy which was in its third consecutive year of recession, was described by its chief executive officer John Hourican and Finance Minister Harris Georgiades as the largest ever foreign investment in Cyprus. The capital increase also attracted a group of American investors led by Wilbur Ross, who US President Donald Trump appointed last year as Secretary of Commerce.Vekselberg’s investment in the bank, which is struggling with an €8.8bn mount of non-performing loans accounting for 46.9 per cent of the total, has not paid off. Bank of Cyprus’ share, meanwhile listed on the London, is traded at around €2.35 which after the January reverse split accounts for a 50 per cent loss of the initial investment.The Cyprus Business Mail understands that Vekselberg’s request to further increase his stake to a “qualifying holding” of more than 10 per cent of shares or voting rights, is still under consideration by the bank supervisors.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoSmart Tips DailySeniors With No Life Insurance May Get A $250,000 Policy If They Do ThisSmart Tips DailyUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

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Make sure garden is safe before heading away

first_imgBy Patricia JordanIt’s that time of year again when those who live here year round escape to cooler climes, even if it is only the coast or the mountains. For those left behind and the holidaymakers, frangipani is flowering away, but don’t try growing it in your garden if you live above the coast, as it needs humidity to grow well.You will see the ubiquitous multi-coloured oleanders and hibiscus everywhere, enjoying the heat and you may even espy the first of the Hibiscus mutabilis, which does well in more humid gardens. Flame trees (Delonix regia) are blazing away in larger gardens with a wonderful show of fiery flowers among the fernlike leaves.Around the airport car parks, Albizia julibrissin (see Plant of the Month) will be shaking its silky pink, sweetly-scented tassels to welcome visitors to the island. Jasminum officinale and Cestrum nocturnum scent the night air and if they are planted near a window or door, then their perfumes will drift in on the evening breeze.However well you look after your garden you can’t care for it when you are far away and you will probably have to rely on neighbours or friends to help out, so make it easy for them. Group potted plants together on gravel trays in a shaded spot, which makes for easier watering. Potted plants can suffer greatly during this period unless some water retaining crystals were used in the compost mix. The nutrients in potting compost are quickly used up, so a liquid feed of perhaps half a capful of a liquid fertiliser (something like ‘One’) in 10 litres of water every other week, will keep the plants nourished.Hanging baskets could be lifted down and perched over a bucket or similar container. Most large gardens with trees have watering systems and some even are computer-controlled, which make watering easier for those who maybe aren’t used to dealing with large areas. Switch the controls to night watering, so as to really benefit the plants.With the best will in the world, preparations can go awry – a pipe could burst or outlets become blocked, so double check everything before you leave home. Lock away movable valuables including expensive chairs and tables, or if that is not possible mark them with your postcode or something like that and enjoy yourselves!WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN IN HIGH SUMMERWhile the garden holds its breath during this time and growth is slow, there are bugs out there to wage war on. Lots of Med flies are looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. They need soft skins on fruits to be able to penetrate and if any of your new season oranges or grapefruit are colouring up at all, they will be targetted. Their other favourite fruits are nectarines and peaches. So change any yellow sticky cards as they become filled. Watch out for Oriental Hornets as well. They feed on sap from pecans and almonds and then look for water to drink, which may be from your swimming pool.Potted cycads may look rather strange at this time of year as their outermost layer of leaves turn brown. No need to worry about that as it is a natural occurrence and if you look inside the plant you will see a new crown of leaves emerging from the centre. It’s alright to cut off the dying leaves. If your cycads are as big as trees than you may have to saw the branches off. There are some specialists about who could do this for you. The same goes for palms, which may be too tall for you to reach. The lower leaves of Yuccas can look a sorry sight too when they die off, so smarten them up by cutting them off and cleaning up the trunk, but watch out for the needle-like points on the ends of the leaves as they are sharp and will fight back! Aeoniums can look weak and tired while the heat continues, as they use up all the water inside their stems and leaves to keep going, but come the autumn they will fill out again in time to show off their attractive flowers in late winter. The garden centres are full of climbing plants at this time of year for you to try. Hoya and stephanotis are soaring skywards, as are the lovely pink Mandevilla splendens. These will be followed by Pandorea jasminoides, an Australian woody climber with delicate trumpet-shaped flowers in white or pale pink. These plants would be eminently suitable if your garden is a veranda, provided that you give them some support so that they climb away. Although you wouldn’t want to try Campsis radicans, known as the Trumpet Vine on an apartment veranda with its mile-a-minute growth leaping up the nearest power pole. I am always hearing that supposedly ‘drought proof’ plants disappoint and keel over. Sometimes it takes several months or even years until a plant becomes completely drought proof even though it says it is on the label, so you have to help things along. When I planted up a steep bank in our garden some years ago I didn’t want to have to water it by hand every day, as it was too far from a watering point. Each plant had a cut off water bottle plunged into the soil behind it and I did water them by hand for the first two years, and during some of that period we had little or no rainfall. However, they have become established and I do not water the bank at all now that they have all settled in. Chrysanthemoides, a grey felted-leaf plant, has spread giving good ground cover in a huge area while the favourite Carpobrotus edulis known here as Aphrodite’s tresses, gives bright green areas of cover too. Leucophyllum frutescens, a desert plant, whose grey felted leaves protect the lovely pink flowers that only appear when it is rained on or where there is heavy humidity, was another good choice. The popular shrub Plumbago auriculata from South Africa grows well too, with blue or white flowers. With all the winter rain this year this has put on lots of growth and when the first flowers are finished and before the sticky seed pods appear, it’s best to cut the flower stems right back and you will be blessed with another flowering in a short while. Lots of rosemarys and lavenders do well here with very little attention now that they are established and that is what I am looking for. Various clumps of Aloe vera and echium, although the latter is rather short lived, give height while the frontage comprises groups of Iris albicans, originally found growing in Yemen and Saudi Arabia and otherwise known as the white flag iris. Apparently, Iris albicans is thought to be the oldest iris in cultivation,Plant of the Month – Albizia julibrissinThis fast-growing, deciduous, semitropical or tropical tree belongs to the Mimosa family and produces its seeds in pods. Originally found growing in China and Iran, it needs heat to grow well but can tolerate a little cold. Used mainly as an ornamental tree, it is drought tolerant and can survive strong winds. Not fussy about soil types, albizia can grow just as easily in sandy free-draining soil as in clay, and the roots have nitrogen fixing abilities. The tree can be trained into a canopy, making it an attractive asset in the garden and providing dappled shade.The sweetly scented flowers appear in mid-summer and are most unusual, having no petals, but clusters of 10 or more long stamens, resembling silk threads, hence the common name of Persian Silk Tree. These are generally pink, or pink and white and are extremely attractive to bees, moths and butterflies and in some countries even hummingbirds. The foliage, resembling that of mimosas, has around twenty pinnate leaflets. Although albizia can be propagated from seeds, for quicker results it is better to buy a young tree from a garden centre or nursery.You May LikeCalifornia Earthquake AuthorityEarthquake insurance that fits your future plansCalifornia Earthquake AuthorityUndoLivestlyChip 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 ArePopularEverythingUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

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Rep McCready announces April office hours

first_img28Mar Rep. McCready announces April office hours ### State Rep. Mike McCready invites residents of the 40th House District to meet with him from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, April 18, in Meeting Room 3 of the Bloomfield Township Public Library, 1099 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Township. No appointment is necessary.“I always look forward to hearing input from residents in our area,” said Rep. McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills. “Office hours are an important tool to meet with people and hear questions and concerns regarding state government.”Anyone unable to attend Rep. McCready’s office hours is encouraged to contact his office by calling toll-free at (855) 373-8670, emailing MikeMcCready@house.mi.gov or visiting his website, www.RepMikeMcCready.com.center_img Categories: McCready Newslast_img read more

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Rep Griffin bill to update 21st Century education standards

first_img03Mar Rep. Griffin bill to update 21st Century education standards Categories: Griffin News,News State Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan is helping set the table for all Michigan students’ futures as part of a four-bill package to update state high school graduation standards.Griffin’s legislation specifically requires students complete at least three courses in 21st Century Skills including foreign language, visual or performing arts, computer science or coding, or a formal career/technical education (CTE) program in order to graduate.“This is a great step towards helping prepare kids for today and their future,” said Griffin, a former teacher at Parchment Middle School. “This bill package gives students better choices and options to prepare for life after high school. It’s crucial to help match educational opportunities with which careers and jobs are out there today versus 20 years ago.”The merit education package will also:Allow the foreign language course requirement to be met by completing a CTE program or visual/performing arts course.Allow completion of a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration general industry or construction training program to fulfill a health education requirement.Allow for statistics to be an alternative to Algebra II within current Michigan merit standards that require at least four mathematic credits to graduate.“As a teacher, it makes me feel good to know the classes students could be taking may lead directly to a future career,” Griffin said. “As a former county commissioner and educator, I’ve talked to a lot of employers who say ‘we’ve got jobs but we can’t find employees with the job skills we need.’ This a great step forward for students, families and our community.”#####last_img read more

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Rep Kahle hosts summer reading contest for area kids

first_img05Jul Rep. Kahle hosts summer reading contest for area kids One winner will be ‘A Rep. for a Day’State Rep. Bronna Kahle today announced she is sponsoring a summer reading contest for children, first through fifth grade in Lenawee County. Rep. Kahle, of Adrian, is partnering with several libraries and organizations in the district for the contest.Area students are encouraged to read as many books as they can during July and August. Children or their parents can record the titles of completed books and the number of pages read on a bookmark available at the participating locations or at www.repkahle.com. Readers must submit the bookmarks in the contest box by Sept. 1 to be eligible to win. One winner will be drawn, and the winner and his or her family will be guests of Rep. Kahle at the state Capitol to be a “Rep. for a Day.”“Over the summer months, kids should try to read every day so they can maintain, and hopefully strengthen, the reading skills they learned during the school year,” Rep. Kahle said. “Plus, reading is fun. Students can travel to distant lands and exciting new worlds. They can meet unique characters and make new friends in the pages of a book.”Libraries and organizations taking part in the contest are:-Stair Public Library, Morenci-YMCA of Lenawee, Adrian-Boys and Girls Club of Lenawee, Adrian-Adrian District Library, Adrian-Lenawee District Library, Adrian-Clinton Township Public Library, Clinton-Deerfield Branch Library, Deerfield-Cradle To Career Summer Learning Pop Up Literacy Labs (locations vary around the county) Categories: Kahle Newscenter_img #####last_img read more

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Rep Bellinos air ambulance legislation approved by House

first_img Categories: Bellino News 06Dec Rep. Bellino’s air ambulance legislation approved by House The Michigan House of Representatives today overwhelmingly approved air ambulance reform legislation authored by state Rep. Joe Bellino of Monroe.Bellino’s measure requires hospitals to transport patients via ground ambulances, rather than air ambulances, unless medically necessary. Patients sometimes are transported to hospitals by air ambulance without it being necessary and are eventually slammed with outrageous medical bills.“To protect patients from being hit hard with air ambulance bills costing in the tens of thousands of dollars, this bill stresses ground ambulance transportation over air,” said Bellino. “Too many patients have gone into debt because of air ambulance medical costs.”Air ambulance companies currently participate in “balance billing” where the patient’s health care provider will pay for a portion of the bill, but not its entirety. This leaves patients with medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.“In a case in which an air ambulance is requested, hospitals should order an air transport vehicle from a participating provider with the nonemergency patient’s health benefit plan to help avoid huge billing costs,” Bellino said. “I am happy my colleagues in the House voted in favor of protecting patients. I look forward to working with the Senate to further advance my measure.”House Bill 5217 now moves to the Senate for consideration.last_img read more

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Rep Roberts ends third consecutive year in office with perfect voting record

first_img State Rep. Brett Roberts, of Charlotte, completed his third consecutive year in office with a 100 percent voting record, taking part in every roll call vote during the 2017 legislative session.“Our neighbors sent me to Lansing to represent them, and part of that is making sure that I consistently voice their opinions,” said Roberts. “There is no such thing as a day off when it comes to voting on behalf of the people of the 65th District.”Rep. Roberts maintained a perfect voting record in spite of many challenges including his son being born on the day he was sworn into office in January 2015, an unscheduled appendectomy in the middle of a session week in Spring 2016, and his tractor being struck by a vehicle hours before a House session in Winter 2016.“I’ve been humbled by the responsibility entrusted to me by the people in our district,” said Roberts. “Being able to represent our community is a great opportunity, and I will never take it for granted.” 18Dec Rep. Roberts ends third consecutive year in office with perfect voting record Categories: Roberts Newslast_img read more

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House approves legislation protecting children involved in abuse investigations

first_img Categories: Hornberger News,Runestad News 21Feb House approves legislation protecting children involved in abuse investigations Bipartisan bill package requires the recording of forensic interviewsLegislation aimed at bringing additional clarity to legal matters involving allegations of child abuse and neglect was approved today in the Michigan House with overwhelming support.State Reps. Jim Runestad, Robert Kosowski and Pamela Hornberger sponsored the bipartisan three-bill package requiring all forensic interviews conducted at child advocacy centers with children involved in abuse and neglect investigations to be recorded on video.“The young kids involved in these cases are traumatized, making them particularly susceptible to influence during interviews,” said Runestad, R-White Lake, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “Videotaping protects the witness and the due process rights of the accused by ensuring an accurate record of the questions and their responses.”The bills also allow recorded interviews to be used in certain court hearings, provide protocols for accessing and storing the recordings and increase penalties for intentionally disseminating the recordings to unauthorized individuals.“House Bills 4298-4300 are common-sense legislation that protect some of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents – children who have been involved in abuse and neglect situations – while codifying a best practice,” said Kosowski, D-Westland.The Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect recommended videotaping forensic interviews as a best practice after a pilot program found that recordings resulted in more pleas entered to the original charge rather than going to trial.“Recording all forensic interviews with children really is the best practice,” said Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township. “It guarantees an accurate record of a child’s account of events and decreases the likelihood that vulnerable kids will have to repeat the painful details of their trauma over and over again.”House Bills 4298-4300 now move to the Senate for consideration.###last_img read more

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Schools Stress Libraries and Families with Digitally Dependent Homework

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesOctober 12, 2014; Miami Herald This article in the Miami Herald describes yet one more way to stress out low income families—by assigning homework that requires an Internet connection and a working computer. This has driven many families in Dade County to the local library, where there are long waits for the computers. Although the library plans to beef up its digital access, “We really shouldn’t be requiring kids to go to the library to complete assignments,” Sylvia Diaz, assistant school superintendent for innovation, said. “A project or something special is OK, but not daily homework assignments that are dependent on computer use.”Still, though this is the official position, according to this article, Miami-Dade…“recently shifted to digital history textbooks for high-school freshmen, providing all ninth-graders with tablets containing the interactive books. County elementary schools now incorporate the online program called Reflex Math, which looks like a video game and can be accessed by students 24 hours a day. And with printed-material budgets under pressure, some students describe traditional textbooks as valuable commodities.“Isaiah Goulbourne, 16 and a junior at Miami Norland High, said there’s a textbook waiting for him each day for English, but it never leaves the classroom. ‘We’re not allowed to take them home because there aren’t enough for everyone,’ he said. ‘Most of our textbooks are accessible online.’“Goulbourne said he relies on the North Dade library for online school work since he doesn’t have Internet access at home. It’s a common need at the branch, which sits in Miami Gardens, where one in five residents live below the poverty level.”A survey of young library users in Dade County in 2011 found that almost half reported having no online access at home. Conversely, the schools estimate that only 25 percent of students are without access.Access watchdogs assert that the pace of the use of online resources for teaching must align with the online access of low-income families or those families are placed at even a worse disadvantage by having to find a place to do homework.“The sequencing has to make sense, otherwise you create deeper gaps,” said Zach Leverenz, CEO of EveryoneOn, a group that has also suggested that access issues are closer to the library’s figures. “What I don’t think is a good stop-gap is assuming students are going to be able to find public hot spots, including libraries.”—Ruth McCambridge ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

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Nonprofit Turns Facebook Conversations into Political Input

first_imgShare7Tweet5Share1Email13 SharesPixabay. Public Domain. [CC 0]April 10, 2017; New Hampshire Public RadioA number of experiments have been run on the use of digital communication to affect political processes. We are not sure that this one works as-is, but it is worth a further look. Citizens Count NH/Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) runs a campaign called “Citizen Voices” that collects comments from N.H. residents via Facebook, then summarizes them and delivers reports to state lawmakers. Sometimes, they’ll present the findings in a hearing or deliver the report to pertinent special interest groups or departments. They don’t take sides on any issues and they don’t support or denounce candidates; their goal is to bring the voices of the people to the government without the complications inspired by lobbyist groups or campaign supporters.LFDA also provides information about candidates in state and national races, which they glean from news articles, books and other published material, and direct interviews with the candidates. Anna Brown, a staff member at LFDA, said that the organization has good relationships with legislators, who will occasionally ask the organization to help them gather feedback about a proposal.Anyone can start a discussion or ask a question on LFDA’s platform; sometimes the organization posts a question or a proposal, and sometimes members of the discussion group will do so. Anyone is free to comment on these posts, and the results are filtered for New Hampshire residency before being collected for analysis.And that’s really it. LFDA is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and unaffiliated with other political advocacy groups. They have three full-time staff members and part-time and volunteer help. They collect comments from Facebook and deliver them without commentary to the state house in Concord twice a week, and in doing so, they help bring people & politics closer together.According to the United States Election Project, New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the nation; 31.1 percent of residents voted in the 2012 presidential primary elections, which is when Brown says that LFDA really took off. In the 2016 primary, 52.4 percent of residents voted in New Hampshire, out of over a million eligible citizens. That’s a lot of voters in need of information.In the weeks since President Trump’s inauguration, a soaring number of Americans have contacted their elected officials about pending legislation. Congressional representatives reported being flooded by thousands of phone calls about the American Health Care Act in the short span between the bill’s release and its withdrawal. Wired magazine explained that since Congressional representatives are only permitted to hire 18 staffers each, “the flood of voices so overwhelms the bureaucratic machine that any one citizen becomes hard to hear.” When taking calls on crucial issues, some representatives have asked constituents to keep their feedback to a simple “yes” or “no,” substituting volume for nuance to help more voices be heard. Is the kind of summation LFDA provides to lawmakers of conversations on a neutral platform a step forward, or just another incremental point of information in how to help digitally facilitate civic engagement? Only time will tell.—Erin RubinShare7Tweet5Share1Email13 Shareslast_img read more

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Foster Care in Texas Engenders Soaring Teen Pregnancy Rates

first_imgShare90Tweet1ShareEmail91 SharesTexas Freedom Network.January 24, 2019; Colorlines and Texas ObserverTeen pregnancy is a problem. But the good news is that the rate of teen pregnancies in the United States has been reaching new lows…unless you happen to be a teenage girl in foster care in the state of Texas.In the state of Texas, the rate of teen pregnancies of girls ages 13 to 17 in foster care is nearly five times that of their peers, according to a report from the nonprofit Texans Care for Children. The rate of teen pregnancies for girls in foster care is generally higher than the population at large. The National Center for Health Research reports that, “Teenage girls in the foster care system are twice as likely to get pregnant before turning 19 than teenage girls who are not in foster care.” But it’s clear the pregnancy rate among Texan girls who are in that state’s foster care system is extreme.In looking for root causes, Texas shares challenges with other states that also have overworked and understaffed social service systems. Social workers making foster placements see their teen clients infrequently and rarely get enough time to establish relationships with them. This does not make talking about pregnancy prevention or sex easy. And when teens see their social workers infrequently, and shift frequently from placement to placement, an issue of trust comes into play. The same holds true for foster parents and guardians, who change frequently in the Texas system.It is hard enough for teens to build trust when they are constantly being moved. Teens see their peers as their most reliable and consistent sources of information and advice. With no one to talk to, and those around them getting pregnant and having babies, teenage girls in foster care in Texas may see pregnancy as a way to join the crowd. As one teen said to Rebecca Grant, writing for the Texas Observer, “All my friends that I was in placements with—every single one—either has a kid or is pregnant right now.”But in Texas, there is yet another barrier between teens and the information and resources that might help prevent teen pregnancies. That barrier is repercussions for adults who even discuss sex education, beyond abstinence, with a teen.Adults in the system who do make sex-ed a priority can face repercussions. Six child-welfare professionals described to the Observer a prevailing culture of fear that they could be fired, delicensed, cited or sued for discussing sex or facilitating access to birth control or abortion.“I know when I was a caseworker, I was so scared to talk about birth control and stuff with the kids,” said Mary Green, who now manages a youth center in Houston. “It’s scary, as the adult, to talk about with someone under 18 because of the rules, the laws.”Texas has become a hotbed for laws often inspired by the beliefs of the religious right. In 2017, Texas passed a law that allowed faith-based agencies with “sincerely-held religious beliefs” to act on those beliefs in their work. This allows for them to not discuss the use of contraceptives among foster teens. They can bar LGBTQ, Jewish, and Muslim adults from serving as foster or adoptive parents. And agencies that help frightened teens in their care obtain the morning-after pill risk losing state funding.The myriad issues of sex education have been a political football for years at the local, state, and national levels. Texas has been part of this game, seeking funding for its abstinence-only programs and restricting what can and cannot be taught in schools. (NPQ reported on one highly successful pregnancy prevention program’s ups and downs during the “un-funding” in 2018.)Race may be an added driver of the high pregnancy rate. While racial disparities in teen pregnancy rates have declined markedly since the 1990s, a gap persists, primarily because “teens of color are less likely to have access to quality health care and contraceptive services, and are much more likely to live in neighborhoods where jobs and opportunities for advancement are scarce,” according to Teresa Wiltz of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The racial breakdown of children in the Texas foster care system, according to a 2018 report from the Child Welfare League of America, indicated that 42 percent were Latinx and 21 percent were Black in 2015.So, is Texas the perfect storm of an embattled system, with limited resources and restrictions on what can be taught about sex? Are there options? For one Texas judge, Darlene Byrne, who presides over placements in Travis County (county seat: Austin), a better tracking system of the individual foster teens’ sexual health would help her see how girls in foster care are doing and who is getting lost in the system.The state has taken some steps to address teen pregnancy in the foster care system, such as incorporating reproductive health into its minimum standards and developing the PAL [Peer Assistance Learning] curriculum. Collecting data on the total number of pregnant and parenting foster youth also helps provide insight into the scale of the problem. The report from Texans Care for Children acknowledged these steps but found that “well-intentioned efforts have suffered from a lack of focus and follow through.”Shortly after the report was released, DFPS [Department of Family and Protective Services] Commissioner Hank Whitman said in a statement that it was “based on misleading conclusions and flawed methodology.” He emphasized that foster care does not cause teen pregnancy and that the agency “continues to work to improve outcomes for all children in our care.”But with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation, perhaps Texas needs to evaluate how well its systems are working. Social service systems, and not just those in Texas, must reassess how much time their social workers get with their teenage charges. Building relationships within foster placements that allow for accurate, up-to-date information on sex education and options for pregnancy prevention are crucial. Nonprofits should not fear loss of funding for providing young people with information and resources to make good choices.The children in foster care in Texas deserve better, and those who entrust them to this system expect more.—Carole LevineShare90Tweet1ShareEmail91 Shareslast_img read more

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Dutch cable operator Ziggo has completed the acqui

first_imgDutch cable operator Ziggo has completed the acquisition of business services telco Esprit Telecom following approval by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).According to Ziggo, the acquisition will help it expand its services for the business market. Esprit is active in the small and medium enterprise market in the Netherlands. The acquisition also includes Zoranet, an information and communication technology specialist that focuses on the retail sector.last_img

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Liberty Globalowned cable operator UPC Cablecom h

first_imgLiberty Global-owned cable operator UPC Cablecom has welcomed a decision by the Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) to end the obligation to broadcast analogue TV channels.The obligation to broadcast foreign channels in analogue will be lifted on June 1, with national channels to follow by January 1 2015. Cable operators that make digital receivers available free of charge to their customers can cease broadcasting analogue services immediately.UPC Cablecom met the latter obligation at the end of last year by removing encryption on basic services, thereby removing the need for a dedicated decoder.last_img read more

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Ukrainebased Divantv has launched an internation

first_imgUkraine-based Divan.tv has launched an international OTT service targeting Russian and Ukrainian-speakers.The combined live TV and subscription video-on-demand service will target the estimated 300 million Russian and Ukrainian speakers worldwide with an offering of 60 live channels and VoD for US$9.99 (€7.36) a month.Divan.tv will be available on LG, Samsung, Philips, Sony and Panasonic smart TV portals as well as the Roku media player and Android and iOS tablets.Divan.tv said it would spend “millions of dollars” on developing the global service, with a target of breaking even in two and a half years. The company will now split its head office functions between California and Moscow, leaving only research and development and back-office functions in Ukraine.“We are happy to introduce TV Everywhere concept (Smart TV, STB, tablets, laptop) for all our audience worldwide. We plan to serve up 2 million customers in upcoming three to four years,” said founder of Divan.tv and managing partner of AVentures Capital Andrey Kolodyuk.Divan.tv launched in Ukraine in 2009 and says it has attracted about 125,000 users with a mix of freemium and subscription services. The service has previously signed deals with a number of international content providers including Scripps Networks, and recently expanded its reach by signing deals with a number of local ISPs as well as launching iPad and Android tablet apps.last_img read more

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BSkyBs Sky News has launched a new digital platfo

first_imgBSkyB’s Sky News has launched a new digital platform aimed at giving young people an enhanced voice ahead of next year’s UK general election.The Stand Up Be Counted site will enable people aged between 16 and 25 to post videos, articles and comments on the issues affecting them and their friends, and share them across multiple social media platforms.Sky News is working in partnership with communications charity the Media Trust and other youth organisations to ensure they reach a diverse and representative number of young people across the UK, according to Sky.There will be four areas on the site dedicated respectively to ‘Hot Topics’, a general debate area, ‘Open Mic’, a space for stand-ups to talke about any subject they like, ‘News Feed’, highlight cointent from Sky News, and ‘Stand Ups’, featuring profiles of and content from registered stand-ups.Each area will also allow the Stand Ups to share content via social media including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WhatsApp and Kik. There is also a camera icon at the top of the page which allows users to upload videos, as well as a Register to Vote icon option which takes users directly through to the government’s online Individual Voter Registration site.“Our campaign is bold in scope and I hope thousands of young people across the UK will become a part of it. Young people have told us they don’t think politics or the media represents them or their interests. They tell us they are seen as either scapegoats or victims, and are viewed as part of the problem rather than as a solution,” said John Ryley, head of Sky News.“We want to give them a platform which works for them – a place where they can talk about their hopes, dreams and fears about the future and share them with their contemporaries via social media platforms. Their voices will become an integral part of our coverage, we will highlight the issues that matter to them ensuring our content becomes more inclusive and reflective of a younger generation.”last_img read more

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Italian public broadcaster Rais transmission towe

first_imgItalian public broadcaster Rai’s transmission tower subsidiary Rai Way has successfully completed its IPO, with its share price rising significantly after the company began trading.Rai Way set its IPO price last week at €2.95, at the bottom of its initial price range, valuing the company at €802 million. The company said at the time that its order book was oversubscribed by a factor of 2.1.Rai Way’s shares rose by about 5% on early trading before falling back slightly on news of an unsuccessful legal suit against the Italian government’s decision to levy €150 million against licence fee income, which provoked a split in Rai’s board and the resignation of one of its members, entrepreneur Luisa Todini.In an interview with business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Rai director-general Luigi Gubitosi said the appeal decision “certainly does not send a good signal to the market” but said that Rai Way would succeed in any case because it is a well-managed operation with good growth prospects.Gubitosi said that the privatisation of Rai itself, which has been discussed in the past, was a matter for the government but that he did not think it would happen during his term in office, which is due to expire next year.Rai Way’s successful IPO, which was executed within five months comes despite unfavourable economic news from Italy, with other companies pulling their listing plans in recent months.last_img read more

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