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Projected $7M budget deficit could equate to 80 layoffs in Hoboken,…

first_img An early projected budget deficit of $7 million for the upcoming fiscal year could potentially equate to 80 layoffs among municipal employees, Hoboken Business Administrator Stephen Marks said at last night’s city council meeting.“We’re potentially talking about a citywide layoff plan: I just want to make sure that everyone understands the fact, if there are in fact cuts, especially in salary and wages, that will affect their pay into the future – we’re going to start paying at a certain range right now,” began 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo.His remarks came while the council was considering a resolution authorizing temporary appropriations for the 2020 budget.1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco questioned what the implications would be if the council voted down the measure in front of them, with the answer being that the municipal government would not have the funds necessary to remain in operations.“Do you find it professional to have omitted a large percentage of this governing body, in advance of this vote, knowing there are significant shortfalls in our budget? Because this is absolute news to me in the last two weeks, that this administration has been operating in the deficit spending mindset,” DeFusco continued.“This temporary budget, by law, is set at 26.25 percent of the previous year’s spending. It is temporary: it gets us through the first three months,” Marks explained.“The city council, in the past, has scheduled hearings for the introduction of the full year budget, so this basically gets us started for the 2020 calendar or fiscal year and it will be up to the city council to set the spending limit for each department, for each division, throughout the year, during that process.”Based on last year’s roughly $117 million budget, the figure in front of the council last night was approximately $30,712,500.While indicating that he would be willing to work with the administration going forward, DeFusco expressed further frustration with “the garbage budget” the council has to use as a starting point.Upon being asked by 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos how large the budget shortfall is currently projected to be, Marks said that the 2019 pension payment is up around $600,000 from 2018 and that the city’s health benefits plan is expected to cost $1.5 million more in 2020 than it did last year.This, along with the facts that the parking utility and the municipal court are down a combined $1 million in revenue from 2018 (decreases of $400,000 and $600,000, respectively), the budget is currently looking at a shortfall of over $7 million, Marks stated.He also mentioned that the collective bargaining agreements with all six of the cities labor unions need to be negotiated, which will involve binding arbitration at the state level, one example of “things that are beyond the control of the city.”Russo pressed forward on the matter, insisting to know how many layoffs such a figure could cause among municipal employees.“It looks like about 80 people,” Marks responded.2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher added that figure reflects the number of layoffs that would be projected without a tax increase, further stating that any plan would have to include both since the deficit exceeds the cap bank – which currently sits at approximately $6 million.Ultimately, the resolution was approved by a vote of 7-2, with DeFusco and Russo voting no.City spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri told HCV that the administration looks forward to working with the council on the budget in the face of “several unavoidable challenges” this year.“Due to a number of non discretionary factors, including rising pension costs for municipal employees at the State level, higher costs of employee health benefits, and union contract obligations, the City budget – like other municipalities across the State – will face several unavoidable challenges for the 2020 fiscal year,” he said.“The administration looks forward to collaborating with the City Council to examine any and all ways to provide both long term and short term financial viability for the City as well as providing a responsible budget to taxpayers in the months ahead.” January 3, 2020 4:35 pm at 4:35 pm By John Heinis – January 3, 2020 4:17 pm 5 Previous articleProsecutor: East Newark man charged in man’s death at North Bergen recycling plantNext articleSudhan Thomas faces new charges, accused of embezzling over $45k from JCETP John Heinis 5 COMMENTS Lamentar LOL! You didn’t vote for him. It is shocking. Start saving now as the Ravi Bhalla tax bill is coming. It was my mistake to vote for him. The Auditor Bayonne Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Community Projected $7M budget deficit could equate to 80 layoffs in Hoboken, official says Jersey City high school teacher suspended after rant calling George Floyd ‘a f***ing criminal’ January 4, 2020 11:22 am at 11:22 am RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Ravi’s Garbage Budgetcenter_img FBW says Prime Cycle’s new location violates state guidelines for Hoboken waterfront Pretty shocking news after the New Year holiday. Can’t believe this is how Ravi runs Hoboken. Good story but terrible news showing no leadership in the mayor’s office. So HobokenHorse was right again. Ok, time for those Ravi loons to eat more crow. 3-2-1 until they start crying how everyone who doesn’t love Ravi Bhalla for this is a racist. January 5, 2020 8:35 am at 8:35 am HobokenPolitics & Policy There’s absolutely no way this administration has the ability to cover for prior administrations’ terrible contracts AND run the current budget. Far too much for them to handle. I don’t know if having a state monitor come in again is the ultimate answer, but it would at least put much-needed oversight on the administration. Clearly they all the help they can get. Lamentar TAGShoboken budgethoboken city councilmike defuscomike russoStephen Markstiffanie fisher SHARE CarePoint Health reaches deal for Cigna Health Insurance to join their network NopeDope Community Sadly, I did. I bought in to Ravi Bhalla’s lies and Dawn Zimmer who told us Ravi was the only one she trusted. Now we have to pay for the error. Thanks Dawn! January 5, 2020 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm January 7, 2020 11:39 am at 11:39 am Facebook Twitter Comments are closed.last_img read more

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Facebook campaign tops $5 million to reunite immigrant families separated at border

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(SILICON VALLEY) — In a little over three days, a fundraising campaign on Facebook has topped $6 million to help reunite undocumented families split up by the U.S. government at the Mexico border.The fundraiser page, “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child,” was launched on Saturday by three Facebook employees. As of Tuesday night more than 146,000 people had donated to the fund, which was fetching more than $61,000 an hour in donations. Several people donated $250,000 each.“We are collectively revulsed at what’s happening to immigrant families on our southern border,” the fund’s organizers wrote the campaign’s Facebook page.The page was launched by Silicon Valley power trio Malorie Lucich and Dave and Charlotte Willner, who were among the original employees at Facebook and now work at Pinterest, the popular image-collecting site. The Willners also work at Airbnb.The goal of the fund is to raise $8 million.The money will go to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, and provide legal aid for undocumented immigrant parents arrested on suspicion of crossing the border illegally.“In times when we often think that the news can’t possibly get worse, it does — we learned … that 2000 children (many of them infants and toddlers) have been separated from their parents in just six weeks under President Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy,” the organizers wrote.Bond for the parents arrested at the border has been set at a minimum of $1,500, according to RAICES. Unlike in the criminal justice system, bail bond companies either do not help people in immigration proceedings or impose strict requirements, according to RAICES.President Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the administration’s controversial immigration policies on Monday.As part of the “zero-tolerance” policy, federal prosecutors have been ordered to file criminal charges against any adult caught crossing the border illegally, including those traveling with minors. The children are being placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and adults are apprehended by law enforcement.“Children are not being used as a pawn,” Nielsen said at a press briefing Monday. “We are trying to protect the children.”She and Trump said the administration is enforcing laws already on the books.“The voices most loudly criticizing the enforcement of our current laws are those whose policies created this crisis and whose policies perpetuate it,” Nielsen said.Attorney General Jeff Sessions scoffed at claims that the policy harkens back to Nazi Germany after former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, who served mostly under George W. Bush, tweeted a picture of a Nazi concentration camp and wrote, “Other governments have separated mothers and children.”“Well, it’s a real exaggeration,” Sessions said in an interview Monday on Fox News. “Of course, in Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”The policy of separating parents from children at the border had been widely denounced by both Democrats and Republicans. Former first lady Laura Bush penned an op-ed in The Washington Post calling the policy “cruel” and “immoral,” and comparing it to Japanese internment camps during World War II.Lucich and the Willners called the policy “a grave American moral failing.”“These children don’t know where their parents are,” they wrote on the Facebook fundraising page. “Their parents aren’t allowed to communicate with them while in custody. The government hasn’t set up a system to reunite separated parents and children if one or both are ultimately released. In many cases, parents have been deported without their children — sometimes, young children are deported without their parents.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Coronavirus live updates: Trump expected to declare emergency, LA schools to close

first_imgnarvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) — As the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise in the United States, Americans are hunkering down and more and more schools, sports leagues and amusement parks are closing.There are at least 1,701 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 40 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Globally there are over 136,000 cases.Here’s the latest on the developing situation. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.1:22 p.m.: Louisiana delays democratic primaryLouisiana’s Democratic primary that -was scheduled for April 4 is now pushed back to June 20, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Friday.One key stakeholder in the decision was to protect the election day polling commissioners as more than half of them are over 65 years old, Ardoin said.1:05 p.m.: Miami mayor tests positiveMiami Mayor Francis Suarez said Friday that he has coronavirus.The mayor added that he feels “completely healthy and strong” and will “remain isolated while I lead our government remotely. ““If we did not shake hands or you did not come into contact with me — if I coughed or sneezed — there is no action you need to take whatsoever,” Suarez said in a statement. “If we did, however, touch or shake hands, or if I sneezed or coughed near you since Monday, it is recommended that you self-isolate for 14 days, but you do not need to get tested.”According to the Miami Herald, Suarez recently attended an event with a Brazilian government official who later tested positive for coronavirus.President Donald Trump also met with that Brazilian official over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago.12:35 p.m.: Los Angeles, San Diego, West Virginia schools closeCalifornia’s two largest school districts, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District, will close their doors on Monday to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.The two districts teach more than 750,000 students combined. Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced he will close his state’s public schools, saying the “risks outweigh the good.”West Virginia is just one of three states, along with Idaho and Montana, without any confirmed coronavirus cases.12:28 p.m.:Trump expected to declare national emergencyTrump is expected to declare a national emergency at a 3 p.m. press conference, four administration sources tell ABC News.It’s not clear what directives the president may issue under the order.Former DHS acting Deputy Secretary John Cohen, now an ABC contributor, said declaring a national emergency “conveys to the public that the nation faces a serious crisis and that drastic action is necessary.” Also, “it will immediately make available resources and other support that can be directed to protect communities across the nation.”12:11 p.m.: Europe now ‘epicenter’World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Europe has now become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.”He urged other countries on Friday to look toward the actions of “China, South Korea, Singapore and others,” which, he said, “clearly demonstrates that aggressive testing and contact tracing, combined with social-distancing measures and community mobilization, can prevent COVID-19 infections and save lives.”“Our message to countries continues to be: You must take a comprehensive approach. Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all,” he said. “Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks ‘that won’t happen to us’ is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to anyone.”11:25 a.m.: Drive-through mobile testing center opens in hard-hit New RochelleNew York state’s first drive-through COVID-19 mobile testing center opened in the city of New Rochelle Friday.The center will test up to 200 people on Friday and that number could reach 500 per day, the governor said.A one-mile radius “containment area” was established in New Rochelle to try to stop the virus from spreading.10:25 a.m.: Boston Marathon postponedThe 2020 Boston Marathon is postponed until Monday, Sept. 14, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday.9:43 a.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz extends quarantineSen. Ted Cruz has decided to extend his self-quarantine.While the senator’s elected self-quarantine ended Thursday afternoon, he said he then learned Thursday night that “he had a second interaction” with someone who tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.“On March 3, I met in my D.C. office with Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox Party in Spain. We met for about 20 minutes, sitting together at a conference table. We shook hands twice and took pictures together,” Cruz said in a statement Friday. “My understanding is that Mr. Abascal tested positive for COVID-19 last night. His staff have informed us that he was asymptomatic at the time of our meeting and that several days after our meeting he had extended interactions with another individual who has also tested positive.”“I’m still not feeling any symptoms,” Cruz went on. “But, for the same reasons I initially self-quarantined — out of an abundance of caution and to give everyone peace of mind — I am extending the self-quarantine to March 17, a full fourteen days from my meeting with Mr. Abascal.”Why some people aren’t social distancingCruz is one of nine members of Congress who have elected to self-quarantine.7:45 a.m. DC public schools to closeWashington, D.C., public schools will shutter from Monday, March 16, through the end of the month, said Mayor Muriel Bowser.After spring break next week, students will learn through “distance learning” the rest of the month, the mayor said.Children will have access to meals on the days schools are closed, the mayor said.7:34 a.m. Australian official tests positive after meeting with Ivanka TrumpAustralia’s minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, said Friday he’s contracted coronavirus, one week after he was seen meeting with President Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, in Washington, D.C.Dutton said in a statement, “I feel fine and will provide an update in due course.”7:16 a.m. Fauci says spread will “get worse before it gets better”Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News’ Good Morning America Friday that the coronavirus spread will “get worse before it gets better.”“There’s no doubt that we have not peaked yet,” Fauci said.“It will be at least a matter of several weeks. It’s unpredictable, but if you look at historically how these things work, it will likely be anywhere from a few weeks to up to eight weeks,” Fauci said. “I hope it’s going to be in the earlier part, two, three, four weeks, but it’s impossible to make an accurate prediction.”Fauci urged Americans to adapt to physically separating, calling it “one of the very effective ways you can really mitigate the spread.”As many Americans say they’re not getting access to COVID-19 tests, Fauci told GMA, “I think in the next week or so you’re gonna see an acceleration in the availability of tests.”As for when people should request testing, Fauci recommended that the public follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).5:42 a.m. Charles Barkley in self-quarantine, awaiting COVID-19 test resultsNBA Hall of Famer and TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley announced Thursday night that he is self-quarantining and is awaiting results from a coronavirus test.Barkley, in a phone interview with his co-hosts of NBA on TNT, said he felt sick after returning to Atlanta from a trip in New York City.“I talked to a couple people at Turner and a couple doctors and they told me to self-quarantine for the next 48 hours. I started yesterday, this is my second day,” Barkley said during the interview.“I haven’t been feeling great and they didn’t want me to take any chances … I went and took the coronavirus test late this afternoon, I have not gotten the results back,” he said. “So I’m just kinda in limbo right now. I’m really hoping it was just a bug.”Earlier this week, the NBA announced it’s suspending the 2019-2020 season due to the coronavirus. NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Thursday night saying play will be suspended for at least 30 days, but that the league intends to resume play this season when it’s safe.3:18 a.m. Oregon, Michigan close all schoolsThe states of Oregon and Michigan announced they are closing all K-12 schools in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.“This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement Thursday night. “I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food. I know this will be a tough time, but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe.”There are currently at least 12 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, the state said.Oregon also announced school closures Thursday, which will be shut down through the end of March. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she understands the burden closing schools puts on families and students, but the move was necessary for public safety.“This is a trying time for our community and I am reluctant to increase the burden on families who are already struggling to adapt to and stay healthy during this crisis,” Brown said in a statement. “However, we are left with little choice in light of school districts’ staff capacity and operational concerns.”In Oregon, there are 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19.There are zero coronavirus-related deaths in Oregon and Michigan.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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‘We’re paying for it’: COVID-positive Atlanta mayor says state reopened too soon

first_imgAtlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appears on “Good Morning America,” July 7, 2020. – (ABC News)By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News(ATLANTA) — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Tuesday that she, her husband and one of their children are now among a rising number of Georgia residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are “paying the price” for the state reopening its economy too soon.“Prayerfully my symptoms won’t get any worse,” Bottoms said during an interview on Good Morning America with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.“What they’ve told me is I have a low-positive test,” she said. “So it either means I’m on the way up or down. They don’t know which one. But they’ve told me to treat it as if I’m positive, just in terms of quarantining and all other things that are recommended that people do.”Bottoms, a 50-year-old Democrat, broke the news of her diagnosis to her constituents in a Twitter post on Monday, writing, “COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.”On Tuesday, Bottoms said she has only suffered headaches in recent days, but chalked it up to allergies.She said her husband, Derek W. Bottoms, and one of their four children have tested positive. She said one of her children tested negative and she plans to get the other two children tested on Tuesday.“My husband literally slept from Thursday until yesterday and that’s what gave me some concern. I’ve just never seen him sleep that much, but he’s feeling better,” Bottoms told Stephanopolos, who along with his wife, author Ali Wentworth, tested positive for coronavirus in April and have since recovered.Bottoms’ diagnosis comes at a particularly turbulant time for Atlanta, one of several major U.S. cities that saw a surge in gun violence over the Fourth of July weekend.On Monday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard troops to help restore order in the Atlanta. The order followed an incident early Sunday in which about 60 to 100 protesters allegedly descended on the Georgia Bureau of Public Safety headquarters in Atlanta, vandalized the building and sparked a fire injuring two employees of the law enforcement agency, authorities said.Since the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the June 12 fatal police-involved shooting of another Black man, Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, the Georgia capital has become a flashpoint for protests that have spread across the nation, fueling calls for police reform.Bottoms said she was against Kemp, a Republican, deploying the National Guard to Atlanta, adding that the move was made without consulting her or other city officials.“The irony of that is I asked him to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no,” Bottoms said. “But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard.”Asked about the uptick in violence in recent days in Atlanta, Bottoms blamed it on “a perfect storm of distress in America.” “I think that people are obviously anxious and even angry about COVID-19. Loved ones are dying, people are losing their jobs and I think there’s a lot of frustration, a lot of angst and I think that the rhetoric that comes out of the White House doesn’t help at all,” she said. “It doesn’t give people much hope. And I think it’s all converging together.”Bottoms, who has been talked about as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, also expressed disappointment in the governor for reopening the economy while the state is still in the throes of the pandemic. Georgia is one of several states that continue to see a rising number of coronavirus cases.On Monday, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed 97,064 coronavirus cases in the state, an increase of 6,571 cases since Friday.Bottoms said that while Atlanta has taken a phased approach to reopening, elsewhere the reopening has been “too aggressive.”“It was too soon and we’re paying for it not just in Georgia but we’re paying for it across the country and people are paying for it with their lives,” Bottoms said.While President Donald Trump has said at recent rallies that schools across the country should reopen in the fall and he and First Lady Melania Trump were scheduled to participate on Tuesday in a National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools, Bottoms suggested that schools in Atlanta, which are controlled by independently elected boards, may not be ready to reopen by the beginning of August, when classes traditionally begin.“I expect that we’ll have more announcements soon but with the way the numbers are up I don’t know how it can possibly be safe to send kids back into the school for the sake of our teachers,” Bottoms said. “The kids may be OK but our teachers will certainly be at risk.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 6, 2020last_img read more

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Wiederer to lead EHF in next four years!

first_imgShareTweetShareShareEmailCommentsEuropean Handball Federation got a new president Michael Wiederer at EHF Congress in Vienna held on 25th Anniversary. Here is the conclusion of the voting process – the list of Executive Committee members.Executive CommitteeEHF President – Michael Wiederer (AUT)Nominated by the Austrian Handball Federation, the EHF Secretary General – in post since 1 September 1992 – was unanimously elected as the new EHF President. His confirmation as president was greeted with a standing ovation from delegates present in the auditorium.EHF Vice President – Predrag Boskovic (MNE)Anrijs Brencans (LAT) withdrew from the election. Predrag Boskovic (MNE) as the only remaining candidate was confirmed as Vice President.Treasurer – Henrik La Cour (DEN)As the only candidate, Henrik La Cour was confirmed as EHF Treasurer,Chairman Competitions Commission – Bozidar Djurkovic (SRB)Ernö Kelecsenyi (SVK) withdrew his candidature. Bozidar Djurkovic (SRB), currently President of the Serbian Handball Federation, was thus confirmed by the Congress unanimously.Chairman Methods Commission – Jerzy Eliasz (POL)Eliasz as the only candidate was re-elected for the next four year period unanimously.Chairman Beach Handball Commission – Ole R. Jørstad (NOR)The first electronic vote by Congress was won by Ole R. Jørstad against Sinisa Ostoic (CRO). Jørstad continues as chairman for a further four years.EHF Executive Committee Members – Gabriella Horvath (HUN), Stefan Lövgren (SWE) and Anrijs Brencans (LAT)PHOTO: EHF ShareTweetShareShareEmail Michael Wiederer is only candidate for EHF president Michael Wiederer re-elected for EHF president Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published.Comment Name Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. National teams with 20 players’ squad at Men’s EHF EURO 2022 Recommended for you Click to comment Related Items:EHF, european handball federation, Michael Wiedererlast_img read more

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Arpad Sterbik to finish career

first_imgShareTweetShareShareEmailCommentsOne of the world’s best goalkeepers of all-time Arpad Sterbik will end career according to several sources.The 40 years-old Spanish goalkeeper with Hungarian origin, but born in Serbia, will not extend contract with the best Hungarian team and EHF CL runners-up Telekom Veszprem, where he will be replaced by Rodrigo Coralles.Sterbik won EHF Champions League as member of BM Ciudad Real, Barca Lassa and RK Vardar Skopje. Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published.Comment Name Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 1 Comment Pingback: Arpad Sterbik termine sa carrière – Handball Actu 1 Comment Related Items:Arpad Sterbik VIDEO: Arpad Sterbik first days in coaching career WORLD HANDBALL GOALKEEPER OF DECADE? Is Sander Sagosen ready to break “anathema” of TOP transfer title holders? Recommended for you ShareTweetShareShareEmaillast_img read more

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Flemish nationalists break cover on Belgium’s future

first_imgThe party had been building up to Vuye’s appointment for weeks, putting statements in the press intended to appease traditional N-VA voters and frighten political opponents terrified that the country might fall apart.A Flemish nationalist figurehead, Jean-Pierre Rondas of the online magazine Doorbraak.be, wrote in De Standaard: “If you’re a Belgium-lover you’d better hope that the N-VA is part of a government: You’re ensured a period of peace on the debate of the reform of the state.”De Wever’s new frontman on constitutional affairs has three years to prepare the battleground on reform of the state, which is expected to play a key role in the 2019 election campaign.De Wever’s new frontman on constitutional affairs has three years to prepare the battleground on reform of the state, which is expected to play a key role in the 2019 election campaign.“The awareness that a [new] reform of the state is coming is known by all political parties,” Vuye said. “The question is when, and how big, this round will be. We have to prepare for that.”Bad memoriesVuye’s mission means the end of a year of relative peace on the question of the country’s future. Belgium’s largest party dusted off its plans to create a separate Flemish state, undermining a promise it made to coalition partners to bury its core message of splitting the country in two.Bart De Wever, leader of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), last week tasked his parliamentary whip with devising a strategy on securing greater autonomy for Flanders after national elections in 2019, devolving powers to such an extent that Belgium will eventually cease to exist. Hendrik Vuye, a professor in constitutional law, will now have to work out how the party could dismantle Belgium’s notoriously complex state structures.The move has provoked anger among other Belgian parties, who fear a repetition of the political deadlock of 2010-2011, when it took 541 days to form a federal government. Parties from across the linguistic divide work out compromises at the federal level on issues such as justice, foreign affairs and interior affairs, while regional governments control the likes of education, culture and integration policy. Many policy areas are, in typically Belgian fashion, subject to a complex power play between different levels of government.The Flemish nationalists’ pitch is, according to Wouters: “At the federal level, we will ask the question: What are we still willing to do together? In principle, all competences would move to the regional level, but there will be competences of which we’d argue it is better, or more efficient, to do them together.”And they won’t shy away from radical methods, with Vuye suggesting they could even bypass the Belgian constitution. “Ideally, the Belgian constitution will be opened up for revision,” he said, “but constitutional law isn’t just about that text.”The party’s aim is to dismantle the federal state so much that Belgium would cease to exist over time. “[The debate] will revolve around larger issues,” prominent party member Liesbeth Homans said in a recent interview, adding that this could cause Belgium “to disappear” by 2025.The N-VA’s backyardWith the appointment of Vuye as state reform czar, De Wever has cast doubt on the future of the federal government, of which the N-VA is the largest member. The N-VA want to devolve more powers, but its coalition partners do not.The N-VA has been increasingly in the spotlight over the past year, with Interior Minister Jan Jambon the point-man in the fight against terrorism and Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt dealing with a shift in taxation policy. It comes at a time when the government has advocated moving in the opposite direction: strengthening federal law enforcement powers in the wake of the terrorist scares that followed the Paris attacks, which raised awareness of the Flemish nationalists at national and international level.But De Wever has another constituency to please: the N-VA’s core voters, who back a separate Flemish state and have felt increasingly abandoned as the party successfully moved into the mainstream by smoothing off the rough edges.The party’s plans revolve around the notion of “confederalism” — which even Vuye admits is a hard concept to grasp.The party’s plans revolve around the notion of “confederalism” — which even Vuye admits is a hard concept to grasp. “The term has a different connotation in Belgium than abroad. We see it as an extended form of federalism,” he told POLITICO. The idea is to have a union of states in which each part has extensive, independent powers over internal and external affairs.“We’re building on ideas agreed on by the party in 2014, and working to put these into concrete law proposals,” Veerle Wouters, the party’s specialist on Belgian finances, who will be working alongside Vuye, said. “We have to test the water and find public support for this notion of confederalism.”Joined together, pulling apartBelgium has been moving in this direction for decades, shifting more and more powers from state to regional level, turning the country into an ever-looser union between Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia — with Brussels and the tiny German-speaking community caught in the middle. For other Belgian parties, it has uncomfortable echoes of 2010-2011. Then, the N-VA enjoyed electoral success but the party’s demands to dismantle the state proved too much for its opponents. The result was political deadlock.But De Wever in 2014 reconsidered his demands in exchange for a shot at power when he struck a deal with Prime Minister Charles Michel to put the push for state reform in the deep-freeze.Michel’s reaction to De Wever’s move last week was to stress that there “would not be a reform of the state before 2019.”Elio Di Rupo, a former prime minister and current president of the French-speaking Socialists (PS), told public broadcaster RTBF: “The N-VA is holding its circus. We won’t play along … We don’t want to enter these N-VA games … The PS will preserve the country’s existence.” Also On POLITICO Belgium’s Mr. Right By Laurens Ceruluslast_img read more

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The Disco Biscuits Open Up New Year’s Run at Best Buy

first_imgLast night, The Disco Biscuits opened up their 5-night New Year’s run with the first of four shows at The Best Buy Theater, which will culminate with a fifth and final night at The Theater at Madison Garden.  From the first notes of an unfinished “Abraxas” into an early taste of an unfinished “Hot Air Balloon”, everyone in attendance could tell that this run was going to be started off properly.  It was like having all your family that you haven’t seen in awhile under the same roof again; people were getting down, with smiles from ear to ear.  A dyslexic “Digital Buddha” brought the crowd to a frenzied state as hands were raised high while singing along, before finishing the set with a “Triumph>Rock Candy”.Finishing “Digital Buddha” to begin the second set, the Biscuits jammed into a well received “Pilin’ It Higher”.  They tore through the second set with an unfinished “Portal to an Empty Head”, and finished the show on a high note with a delectable sandwich of “Robots>(inv)Crickets>Robots”.  At some point in the second set, if sounded as if a “Gamma Goblins” jam was thrown in there, but that is unconfirmed.  There was no encore, which left some in the crowd puzzled, but that may have been due to the fact that the second set went a bit over, and the band may have just kept on going instead of taking a break.Tickets to the remaining four shows are still available here, and if last night was any indication of what the rest of the run will bring, we recommend that you get on it, and quickly at that.Set List1. Abraxas (unf) > Hot Air Balloon (unf) > Gangster > Digital Buddha (dys), Triumph > Rock Candy (end)2. Digital Buddha (dys) > Pilin It High > Portal To An Empty Head (unf) > Pilin It High, Save The Robots (beg) > Crickets (inv end/beg/mid) > Save The Robots (mid/end)last_img read more

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Forest Policies in Rwanda, US and Gambia Win UN-backed Awards

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreRwanda won a United Nations-backed gold award for its forest promotion policies, an event that former US track and field star Carl Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold winner, called more important than any athletic medals he garnered.Policies from the US and Gambia were runners-up, beating out entries from 20 countries to win joint silvers in the Future Policy Awards for forestry, announced this week by the World Future Council.Despite continuing population and land pressures, Rwanda has achieved a major reversal of its trend of declining forest cover and is on course to reach its goal of increasing forests to 30% of total land area.Forest cover has already increased by 37% since 1990. Massive reforestation and planting activities to promote indigenous species and involve the local population were undertaken, along with new agro-forestry and forest management education.“Exemplary policy solutions do exist. The Future Policy Award celebrates the best of them,” says Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council. “Rwanda has sought not only to make its forests a national priority, but has also used them as a platform to revolutionise its stances on women’s rights and creating a healthy environment,” says Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Honorary World Future member and Founder of the Green Belt Movement.Rwanda has also taken a lead in bio-diversity conservation, ecotourism and green jobs. The country of 11.4 million people has also been a pioneer in banning plastic bags: in 2008 a bill was introduced to prohibit the manufacture, import, use and sale of polythene bags in the country.The first Silver Award went to The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy, which has achieved sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation by handing control of forests to the communities that use them.“The success of the Gambia’s Community Forest Policy proves that even in the world’s poorest countries, with the right policies and legal framework in place, rural populations can benefit economically from forests and significantly improve their food security and environment,” said an official of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.The second Silver Award went to the US Lacey Act amendment of 2008 which prohibits all trade in wood and plant products that are knowingly illegally sourced from a US state or any foreign country.The World Future Council is a group of 50 respected leaders from all five continents representing governments, parliaments, the arts, civil society, science and business world.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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‘Dymphna’ explores themes of mental health and history

first_imgSenior FTT major Zoë Usowski will present the original theatrical production “Dymphna,” which tells the story of a 1930s mental ward nurse struggling with issues of morality, for the first time Friday evening in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center as part of her senior thesis.Usowski said she first proposed the idea behind “Dymphna” because she wanted to call attention to issues of mental health and its treatment throughout history.“I really wanted to highlight things I felt were missing in theater,” Usowski said.Usowski began working on “Dymphna” in February of last year while in a playwriting class taught by associate professor of Film, Television and Theatre Anne García-Romero, who later became her spring thesis advisor. Usowski said she found the playwriting process intense but rewarding.“We spent two months just talking about characters and what I wanted from them, and their voices and how they exist in the world,” Usowski said. “I think I wrote the entire first act in one day. I just sat in Starbucks and typed.”Usowski said she also made a deliberate choice to have “young, college-aged women at the forefront of the play,” feeling it important to create female characters who deal with issues other than romantic relationships.Senior Teagan Earley, the actress who plays the protagonist, said she appreciated the complexity of her character.“She is young, only 21, and new to the psych ward, and she wants so badly to make a difference in these people’s lives,” Earley said.Earley’s character also deals with personal issues outside the psych ward, struggling to establish herself as a successful nurse to avoid being forced to quit once she gets married.While the project is labeled a creative thesis, Usowski said the research component actually took up most of her time.“I wanted it to be grounded in realism, so that meant I needed to do research,” Usowski said. “I found handbooks in the library that were given to asylum workers in the early 1940s, and I read over those to see the language they used. They used terms like ‘moron’ that we no longer use in defining their patients. I had a whole stack of books in my room.”“The challenge in writing a play based on a particular time period is balancing research with writing,” García-Romero echoed.Usowski was in charge of all the writing, directing and design for the play. The cast and crew is small — the performance will feature five character actors and a sixth actor reading stage directions, she said. “Dymphna” will also feature visual elements inspired by Usowksi’s research.“At the performance, there will be boards featuring photos taken at asylums at the time,” Usowski said. “It’s really saddening to look at them — they’re really cramped situations, often alone.”Despite the play’s challenging subject, Earley said she found the process of acting and rehearsing enjoyable.“The cast and creatives were incredible to work with,” Earley said. “It’s so exciting knowing you get to be part of telling an important story for the first time.”Overall, Usowski said she hopes the project promotes awareness of mental health issues at Notre Dame.“Mental health care at ND can be pushed farther than its current iteration, so I just wanted to really humanize it — to make it present at the forefront of people’s minds,” Usowski said.García-Romero agreed with Usowski and she said she hopes Notre Dame students will attend the performance to learn about the issues Usowski hopes to highlight.“Mental health awareness is an issue that is crucial for our campus and our country,” García-Romero said.“Dymphna” will premiere Friday at 7:00 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Tickets can be purchased either at the box office in DPAC or at performingarts.nd.eduTags: Department of Film Television and Theatre, Mental health, Playwrightlast_img read more

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Mark Evans, Ann Harada, Nikki M. James Set for I Married an Angel at Encores!

first_img View Comments Mark Evans Star Filescenter_img Casting is complete for the upcoming City Center Encores! staging of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1938 musical I Married an Angel. The previously announced production will run from March 20-24 at New York City Center.Newly announced cast members include Mark Evans (The Play That Goes Wrong) as Count Willy Palaffi, Ann Harada (Pacific Overtures) as Duchess of Holstein-Kuloff, Tony winner Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon) as Countess Peggy Palaffi, Phillip Attmore (Hello, Dolly!) as Peter Mueller, Max Baker (1984) as General Lucash, Hayley Podschun (Something Rotten!) as Anna Murphy and Tom Robbins (Head Over Heels) as Harry Mischka Szigetti.They join the previously announced New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns as the Angel.The ensemble includes Rachel Coloff, Barton Cowperthwaite, Jōvan Dansberry, Alexa De Barr, Christine DiGiallonardo, Erica Dorfler, Kellie Drobnick, Julia Estrada, Ta’Nika Gibson, Stephen Hanna, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Naomi Kakuk, Francis Lawrence, Cory Linger, Robin Masella, Gia Mongell, Lindsey O’Neil, Michelle Mercedes Russell, Ryan Steele, Christian Tworzyanski and Kathy Voytko.With a book and score by Rodgers and Hart adapted from the play by Janos Vaszary, I Married an Angel centers on an angel (Mearns) who descends from heaven to save an unhappy and unscrupulous banker (Evans) from his sins. The Encores! production will be directed and choreographed by Tony nominee Joshua Bergasse.last_img read more

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IRONMAN UK gets altitude with Altium i10

first_imgImproving oxygen uptake is key to boost cardiovascular fitness. The Altium i10 device measures and reduces the oxygen concentration that the athlete breathes in. Over an initial period of 28 days, with an athlete using the device for one hour a day, every other day, the body adapts to improve oxygen flow to the muscles.Based in Glasgow and officially launched in September 2015, at the Cycle Show in Birmingham, UK, Altium i10 has been making waves across the endurance sport community in recent months. The Altium i10 is currently being used by keen amateur athletes competing at age-group level, along with elite cyclists, runners and triathletes aiming for the Olympic Games and the pinnacle of their chosen international sport.Brand ambassadors include: Rio qualifiers Callum & Derek Hawkins (marathon) and Hannah Miley (swimming); elite athletes Matty Hynes (running), Charline Joiner (cycling) & Grant Sheldon (triathlon); and amateur age group triathlon team the Hartree JETS.Altium i10 is billed as ‘the performance edge you have been searching for’… ‘It offers a way of physically stressing the body to simulate altitude without overloading the body; and it is a convenient and alternative method to deliver the endurance benefits of being at altitude.’www.altium-i10.comwww.ironmanuk.com Specialist altitude simulator brand Altium i10 has announced its partnership with the iconic IRONMAN UK event, which takes place in Bolton, North West England, on 17 July 2016.As part of its partnership with the event, Altium i10 will have a stand at the IRONMAN UK expo at the Macron Stadium in Bolton – and members of Team Altium will be on hand to explain the benefits of Altium i10 for long course triathlon racing.Katie Reid, Manager, Global Partnerships – UK at IRONMAN said, “It’s great to have the guys from Altium i10 at IRONMAN UK this year – explaining the benefits of their new altitude simulator device.“IRONMAN UK presents a tough, challenging course – and it’s interesting to see how Altium i10 can help athletes boost power on the bike, and then have enough in the tank to beat a personal best.”IRONMAN UK is the largest and most prestigious long course triathlon in the UK. Around 2,000 athletes face a gruelling bike course in the scenic Lancashire countryside before finishing with a run on the crowd-lined streets of historic Bolton. A crucial qualifier for the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawai’i, the event attracts leading pros, triathlon stars and celebrities from all around the world.Alan Montgomery, founder and director at Altium i10 said, “We’re really looking forward to chatting to the athletes at IRONMAN UK and talking through the benefits that our altitude simulator device delivers. We recognise that this face-to-face dialogue with athletes is so important, particularly for a new brand such as ours.“So, all athletes and visitors to the IRONMAN UK expo should pop by our stand, meet our expert team and fire away with any questions they have!”Montgomery explained Altium i10’s benefits: “By controlling and reducing the amount of oxygen athletes experience at high altitude, the Altium i10 device triggers the body to improve oxygen efficiency – and, in turn, boosts endurance.“In other words, it gives a boost to the ‘engine’ of the athlete; and we continue to see more and more individuals beating their best using our device.”Unlike altitude tents or other simulators that can be priced in the thousands, Altium i10 has an RRP of £499. This includes the device and cartridges for the main 28-day altitude simulation phase. Cartridges typically last two to three sessions and can be bought separately at £10 per unit. A free iPhone app works with the device to analyze and track progress. Relatedlast_img read more

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The Dangers of Talking to Your Car

first_imgInc.:Just because you can talk to your car doesn’t mean you should. Two new studies have found that voice-activated smartphones and dashboard infotainment systems may be making the distracted-driving problem worse instead of better.The systems let drivers do things like tune the radio, send a text message, or make a phone call while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, but many of these systems are so error-prone or complex that they require more concentration from drivers rather than less, according to studies released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah.One study examined infotainment systems in some of the most common auto brands on the road: Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai and Mercedes. The second study tested the Apple iPhone’s Siri voice system to navigate, send texts, make Facebook and Twitter posts, and use the calendar without handling or looking at the phone. Apple and Google are working with automakers to mesh smartphones with infotainment systems so that drivers can bring their apps, navigation and music files into their cars.Read the whole story: Inc. More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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Active ingredient in magic mushrooms reduces anxiety and depression in cancer patients

first_imgShare on Facebook Share Share on Twitter Email A single dose of psilocybin, the major hallucinogenic component in magic mushrooms, induces long-lasting decreases in anxiety and depression in patients diagnosed with life-threatening cancer according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.Patients who receive a cancer diagnosis often develop debilitating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Reports from the 1960s and 1970s suggest that hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD may alleviate such symptoms in cancer patients, but the clinical value of hallucinogenic drugs for the treatment of mood disturbances in cancer patients remains unclear.In this new study, Roland Griffiths and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine investigated the effects of psilocybin on symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals diagnosed with life-threatening cancer.center_img LinkedIn Five weeks after receiving a dose of psilocybin sufficiently high to induce changes in perception and mystical-type experiences, patients reported significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression compared with patients that received a low dose of the drug. The positive effects on mood persisted in the patients at 6 month follow-up.The authors suggest that a single dose of psilocybin may be sufficient to produce enduring decreases in negative mood in patients with a life-threatening cancer. Pinterestlast_img read more

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Letter To The Editor: Fate Of Our Recyclables?

first_imgBy GRAHAM MARKLos AlamosWhat happens to the stuff that we put in our recycle bins? How much is actually recycled?Even if recycling is something of a sham (“It’s OK to be wasteful—Just recycle!”), it is broken in many parts of the US (Sierra Magazine July/August 2019).What is the state of our local recycling? Does all of our correctly sorted recyclable stuff really get recycled? What happens to the plastic shopping bags that Smith’s collects?Thank you.last_img