BERLIN — Four young men have gone on trial over the brazen theft of a 100-kilogram Canadian gold coin from a Berlin museum.The “Big Maple Leaf” coin, worth several million dollars, was stolen from the Bode Museum in March 2017.Three men, identified only as Wissam R., Ahmed R. and Wayci R., are accused of stealing the coin during the night using a wheelbarrow to haul it away.The fourth suspect, Dennis W., worked as a guard at the museum for a private security firm and is accused of scouting out the scene.German news agency dpa reported the four men, aged between 20 and 24 years, went on trial Thursday in Berlin district court.Investigators believe that the suspects cut up the coin and sold the pieces.The Associated Press
“There is a major societal need to further develop the capacity of satellites to monitor even more accurately climate and weather,” UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a news release ahead of his agency’s annual Consultative Meetings on High-level Policy on Satellite Matters in New Orleans on 15–16 January. At least 16 geostationary and low-earth orbit satellites currently provide operational data on the planet’s climate and weather as part of the WMO Global Observing System (GOS). They are complemented by numerous experimental satellites designed for scientific missions or instrument technology demonstration. A record number of 17 satellites are planned for launch this year to further strengthen the system’s work. The satellites provide a global picture of shifts in the climate system, the rising of ocean levels, impacts on land and alterations to the atmosphere, as well as assisting in disaster risk reduction. WMO has long worked with the space agencies of various countries to use satellites for monitoring the Earth’s weather and climate Next week’s meeting has been organized in part for the agencies to discuss WMO’s new vision for its Global Observing System, setting priorities for the next generation of satellites needed to monitor weather and climate change and related applications. The meeting will also discuss a road map to transfer current experimental satellite missions into ongoing operational programmes. 11 January 2008The United Nations meteorological agency is to present an updated strategy for tracking severe weather and changes to the Earth’s climate with dozens of new satellites at a meeting of top officials of international space agencies next week.
The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus for another six months and urged the leadership of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to accelerate the pace of talks aimed at reunification.Expressing full support for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the Council voted to extend its mandate until 15 December this year. The UN has maintained the peacekeeping force on the island since 1964. The force’s current strength is nearly 1,000 uniformed personnel and 150 international and national civilian staff.In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council urged the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leaders to “intensify the momentum of negotiations, engage in the process in a constructive and open manner, and work on reaching convergences on the remaining core issues in preparation for their meeting with the Secretary-General in July 2011.”It also called on them to “improve the public atmosphere in which the negotiations are proceeding, including by focusing public messages on convergences and the way ahead, and delivering more constructive and harmonised messages.” The Council also called for increasing the participation of civil society in the negotiations process where appropriate.The Council echoed the Secretary-General’s view that a solution is well within reach, saying it looked forward to decisive progress in the near future.The 15-member panel said it was convinced of the many important benefits for all Cypriots accrue from a comprehensive and durable settlement and urged the two sides and their leaders to “foster positive public rhetoric.” It encouraged them to explain the benefits of a settlement, as well as the need for increased flexibility and compromise in order to reach an agreement.The resolution noted with regret that both sides had withheld access to the remaining minefields in the buffer zone, causing demining work to stop. It called for rapid agreement on facilitating the resumption of demining operations and clearance of the remaining minefields.The UN has been facilitating talks between the leadership of the two communities with a view to the establishment of a Federal Government with a single international personality, consisting of a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status. 13 June 2011The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus for another six months and urged the leadership of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to accelerate the pace of talks aimed at reunification.
“We support the decision of President Juan Manuel Santos to convene a high-level meeting of the National Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General’s decision to advance investigations into the latest facts presented,” the Mission said in a statement today. “We hope that speedy investigations, as requested by the Office of the Ombudsman, and the measures that may be taken by the various State agencies, will contribute to protect the civilian population and create greater tranquillity among communities,” it added. According to the Mission, there is a fear among the affected social organizations that the violence could undermine confidence in a stable and lasting peace on the eve of the expected signing of the final peace agreement in the country. The final peace agreement, to be signed between Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), provides for the implementation of several measures aimed precisely at ensuring security for leaders of social organizations, human rights defenders as well as for political action, in particular through the installation of the National Commission on Security Guarantees. The statement further noted that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is undertaking field missions to verify the alleged incidents and that the results will be made public once the missions have been completed. The Mission and the Country Team, comprising UN agencies, funds and programmes on the ground, also reiterated their commitment to protect the civilian population, within the framework of their respective mandates and to provide continued support to build peace and respond to the expectations of the Colombian population, particularly in the conflict-affected territories.
Konecranes, a global leader in manufacturing and servicing of overhead cranes and lifting equipment, demonstrated its RailQ runway survey technology at Minexpo. Designed for overhead lifting equipment runways, this combines laser survey techniques with Konecranes-specific software to accurately measure straightness, elevation, rail-to-rail elevation and rail span.Konecranes engineers demonstrated how the RailQ system uses visualisation technology and a remote controlled robot trolley which runs along the rail to collect data via Bluetooth® technology. The system transfers the data to a Total Station, and then generates 3D and 2D graphs of the runway rails to identify misalignment and tracking issues. It conveys information on the runway alignment in an accurate, safe and efficient manner and offers optimal recommendations for corrective action.RailQ is a cost-effective solution for any rail system and for all makes and models of cranes. It can also reduce surveying time and minimise downtime, as it assesses all dimensions of the crane rail with one measurement. With RailQ, technicians are able to navigate the runway just once to obtain all distinct measurement data.Additionally, Konecranes displayed its wide variety of crane service offerings, including maintenance,consultation, remote services, training, modernisations, machine tool service, spare parts and more.
The class, with the help of their teacher Lára Ní Dhonnchú, took Collins’s second novel and transformed it into a short film.Over four weeks, the young students translated the work, wrote the script and designed the set. The school also used a green screen for the first time during filming.On completion, there was a film premier in the school, complete with red carpet, in celebration of Seachtain na Gaeilge last week.Here is Cluichí an Ocrais – Aibhleog Splaince in all its glory. As we said about the first incarnation – even if you can’t follow every word, the final product is quite compelling:(YouTube: Lára Ní Dhonnchú)VIDEO: The Hunger Games gets an Irish makeover (Last year we brought you the school’s Cluichí an Ocrais) MOVIE FRANCHISES DON’T come much bigger than The Hunger Games series right now.Pairing Academy Award-winning actress and Hollywood darling Jennifer Lawrence with Suzanne Collins’s popular teen reads was always going to be a winner.And the second part of the series, Catching Fire, didn’t disappoint fans late last year.That meant the pressure was on for 22 Sixth Class pupils at Gaelscoil Nás na Ríogh to emulate their predecessors in giving the film an awesome Irish makeover.
1. The Straight Burn Source: Imgur2. The ‘No, I’m A Grill’ Source: Justsomething3. The Selfie-Off Source: Imgur4. The ‘Look man, I’m just interested in the car’ Source: knowyourmeme5. The Compliment Source: Imgur6. The Draw Me Like One Of Your French Girls Source: thenapturalone7. The ‘Cuban Pete’ Source: Imgur8. The Selfie-Off (Hairy Chest Edition) Source: Imgur9. The Dog Source: Justsomething10. The Where’s Rudy Source: Imgur11. The Brotha Source: Imgur12. The Photoshop 101 Source: Imgur13. The NSA Quartet Source: Justsomething14. The Let It Out, Bro, Let It Out Source: Imgur15. The… Wait… No, there isn’t a way to respond to this Source: Imgur16. And the ‘You know what? I’m not even mad.’ Source: Imgur Source: Imgur Source: Imgur
Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#TurksandCaicos, November 15, 2017 – Providenciales – The general public is duly notified that Wednesday, 15 November 2017, will see the resumption of the conch season. The open season allows the export of conch and other derivatives of Conch e.g. conch pearls, conch shells, and conch shell products etc.You are therefore reminded of the following restrictions:Conch shells: size restriction of a minimum of 7 inches; export of 4 or more shells requires CITES permit, of which can be applied for through the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR); andConch meat: once removed from the shell, of a total weight of 8 ounces after the removal of the digestive gland.The DECR would also like to remind all fishers, hotels and restaurants that the final day for the 2017 Nassau Grouper season will end on Thursday, November 30th, 2017.The Fisheries Protection Ordinance (Amendment) Regulation 12 (1A) states: “The close season in relation to Nassau Grouper shall be from the first day of December to the twenty-eight day of February (inclusive) in each year or such other dates as may, from time to time, be appointed by Governor in the Gazette.”During the closed season, any person who fishes for, purchases, or is in possession of a Nassau Grouper will be committing an offence that is punishable by a fine of $5,000 or six months imprisonment or both.The DECR is seeking the cooperation of the public in the above matter.Please contact the department for clarifications pertaining to the above matter at Tel. 338-4170 or email email@example.com. Please also visit our website to familiarize yourself with the Fisheries Protection Ordinance, http://www.gov.tc/dema Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp
2 students go missing in BayTwo students went missing in the Bay of Bengal while swimming in Bashbaria beach under Sitakunda upazila of Chattogram on Thursday, reports UNB.The victims are Imon, 18, a Class-XI student and son of Mohammad Khokon of Siddhirganj in Narayanganj district, and Rashu, 16, a Class-X student hailing from Tongi of Gazipur.Station officer of Sitakunda Fire Service Wasi Azad said a group of nine tourists from Dhaka went to bathe in the sea around 2:30pm.Some of them, including Imon and Rashu, drowned while bathing, he said.Locals managed to rescue seven of them while the two college students remained missing till filling this report around 11:00pm.
Head quarter of OPCW in Hague. Photo: Wekimedia CommonsGlobal powers will seek next week to take a historic step in the fight against chemical weapons by giving the world’s toxic arms watchdog new power to identify those behind such attacks.Widely shunned as taboo since silently culling the battlefields of World War I, recent use of poison gases in the Iraq and Syria conflicts-as well as rare nerve agent attacks in Kuala Lumpur and the sleepy English town of Salisbury-have triggered international alarm.Despite widespread revulsion at shocking images of children fighting for breath, the international community has so far failed to agree on any punitive action against those believed responsible, amid a bitter standoff between Russia and Western nations at the United Nations.Now in the wake of the nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury-the first such attack in decades on European soil-Britain is leading calls to give the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) broader powers.OPCW ‘expertise’Backed by 11 allies, London has called a rare special session of the OPCW’s policy-making Conference of State Parties in The Hague at which it will seek to give the body a mandate to say who is to blame for any chemical weapons attacks.A draft British proposal will go to the meeting, which opens Tuesday, proposing the OPCW “begins attributing responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a tweet.“With proven technical expertise on chemical weapons the OPCW is the right body to study who is behind an attack,” he added.Some 96 per cent of the world’s declared toxic arms stockpile has been eliminated by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation, with the rest still held by the US due to be destroyed by 2023.But new evolving scenarios, including the use of mustard gas by the jihadist so-called Islamic State group, are triggering fears.“This is not the chemical weapons problem we faced during the Cold War for example,” French diplomat Nicolas Roche told Washington think-tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) this week.“This is really about almost daily use of those weapons on a theatre of operations for tactical and military gain.”Tense showdownAmid sharp political differences over the war in Syria and divisions between Russia and the West, the talks in the Hague could see a tense showdown.The first day is open to the media, before delegates from possibly all 193 OPCW member nations will huddle behind closed doors to vote on the British-led draft, which will need a two-thirds majority of those voting to pass.What was initially planned as a two-day meeting may now stretch into a third day on Thursday, the OPCW said on its website.“We are at a crossroads,” the body’s director general Ahmet Uzumcu told the CSIS seminar.The recent chemical weapons attacks are a “rude awakening”, he said, adding that the current situation was not “sustainable” as the current lack of an attribution mechanism was a “major gap, and prevents necessary remedy action”.But Russia, the main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and which London has accused of the Skripal poisoning, has already denounced the talks.“The initiators are doing little to conceal the fact that they plan to use it for fanning anti-Syria and anti-Russia hysteria,” the Russian embassy in The Hague said in a tweet.JIM is deadMoscow wielded its power of veto at the UN Security Council to effectively kill off a previous joint UN-OPCW panel aimed at identifying those behind attacks in Syria.Before its mandate expired in December, the panel known as the JIM (Joint Investigative Mechanism) had determined that the Syrian regime had used chlorine or sarin gas at least four times against its own civilians. The Islamic State group used mustard gas in 2015.The OPCW is also due to unveil soon the results of its probe into the 7 April alleged sarin and chlorine attack on the then rebel-held Syrian town of Douma.Moscow has insisted the viral images of the alleged attack were merely staged by the Syrian volunteer group the White Helmets.But labs designated by the OPCW are analysing samples, such as blood and soil, brought back from Douma after a difficult inspectors’ mission.“If the conference of state parties next week can adopt a decision to give a mandate to the secretariat to develop some arrangements for attribution work, this work can be done by the OPCW in technical terms,” Uzumcu said.And he warned against inaction, saying “a culture of impunity cannot be allowed to develop around the use of chemical weapons”.
The woman weeping at the 1964 premiere of Mary Poppins? None other than the classic children’s book author P.L. Travers. But these were not tears of joy or gratitude. Travers hated the movie. The Disney adaptation’s success at the box office was a blessing and a curse, saving her from bankruptcy but robbing Mary Poppins of the subversive edge Travers had so carefully crafted. She never forgave Walt Disney. As recounted in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, starring genial Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and a glorious tight-curled Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers, both were strong-willed and affected by difficult childhoods, but in starkly different ways. He became a relentlessly hopeful optimist; she hewed to a more darkly pragmatic realism.Papa Walt became familiar with Mary Poppins the way many fathers did—through his daughter’s enthusiasm. He grandly and perhaps unwisely assured his child he’d make a film of her favorite bed-time story, never dreaming someone would disagree with his intentions. He had not yet met P. L. Travers.P L TraversIn fact, it took Disney nearly 20 years to secure the rights, and she finally agreed only because she was on the brink of bankruptcy. Disney paid her $100,000 and 5 percent of gross earnings, and agreed to a live-action film and script approval—this last a decision Disney would regret.Since she wrote about a nanny bringing a family back together, Disney probably assumed Travers shared his same conventional, traditional nuclear-family leanings.But P. L. Travers was a self-styled iconoclast. She was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Australia in 1899, the eldest of three. Her father, an Irish farmer and banker prone to excessive drinking, died when she was 7. Her mother seemed ill-equipped to cope, at one point leaving the children in the care of Helen, telling them she was going to a creek to drown. Helen made up stories to soothe her terrified siblings, planting the early seeds of future Mary Poppins books. Their mother came back, but the threats understandably scarred her eldest daughter. They moved in with Helen’s kind but brusque great-aunt, who inspired the famous nanny, saying, “Spit spot, into bed.”In her teen years, Helen began writing for newspapers and magazines and acting in a traveling Shakespeare troupe, taking her father’s name for her stage name of P. L. (or Pamela Lyndon) Travers.In her early 20s, Pamela Travers decided to strike out for greater cultural stakes in London. She became the rare female reporter on Fleet Street. Her submissions to an Irish poetry journal won her an audience with its editor, the poet known as A. E., who in turn introduced her to W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, and another like-minded young single woman named Madge Burnand, whom Travers moved in with, in 1931. One winter, Travers fell ill, and bored in bed while recovering, she began to write her most famous stories.Travers tapped into a rosy revisit of her childhood—the aptly named Mr. Banks is a banker (though not a drunk), the mother is flighty (but not suicidal), and Mary Poppins, like Travers’s great-aunt, is the Banks children’s caring if unsentimental ballad, “tart and sharp.” Ever controlling, Travers chose her own illustrator, typeface, and dust jacket. Published in 1934, Mary Poppins was an immediate critical and commercial success.The old Animation Building at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Author: Coolcaesar CC BY-SA 4.0By 1961, the Disney team had sketched the broad outlines of the Mary Poppins film and sent drafts to Travers, who responded with her own screen adaptations. Perhaps sensing her resistance, Disney invited Travers to California, where he intended to dazzle her with a private tour of Disneyland, a glamorous hotel suite, and a limo to usher her to screenings.Travers remained unimpressed. And so Disney ran off to Palm Springs, leaving her to the scriptwriter and songwriters so they could persuade her to sign off. Astonishingly, at Travers’s insistence, these meetings were recorded and exist to this day. (At the end of Saving Mr. Banks, you can hear the real Travers barking, “No, no, no, no!”)“She didn’t care about our feelings, how she chopped us apart,” songwriter Richard Sherman told the New York Times in 2013, shuddering at the memory. The songwriter was caught between a rock and a hard place, as Disney would brook no negativity. “He’d kill you if you said you didn’t like something,” Sherman said. “He’d say, ‘If you can’t think of something to improve it, then keep your mouth shut.’ ”But Travers never stopped criticizing Disney’s production, sending multi-page memos that the fed-up filmmaker ignored. She didn’t like Dick Van Dyke (she had wanted Laurence Olivier); she thought Julie Andrews was too pretty, sweet, and saccharine. She hated the music. She was so disenchanted with the whole experience that when she was approached about a stage adaptation in the 1990s she stipulated that no Americans work on the project.Publicity photo of Walt Disney from the Boy Scouts of America. Disney was given an award by them in 1946.Disney didn’t invite Travers to the movie’s premiere; Travers had to wangle an invitation out of an assistant. She wept in frustration, and cornered Disney after the screening to inform him she had many changes, starting with the dreadful animation scene. To which Disney replied, “Pamela, that ship has sailed.”Mary Poppins was Disney’s greatest live-action success. It won five Oscars in 1965, including a Best Actress for Julie Andrews, Best Music, and Best Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”Related story from us: When the Swedish author of “Pippi Longstocking” had to pay 102% in taxes, she fought the injustice with her best weapon: her writingWalt Disney died in 1966. P. L. Travers lived in England to the age of 96, granting interviews during which she would answer no questions, intractable to the end.
Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon, announced that he will enable extraordinary fiscal and financial measures for the tourism industry with the main objective of accomplishing a fast reactivation for the country’s tourism. In a message to the nation, the President stated that a promotional campaign with the main goal of winning back the trust of international tourists, will soon take effect.Mexico’s government is working intensely for the return of normalcy in the country and in the hopes that that tourists will soon return to Mexico and take advantage of the country’s beauty and excellent lodging, leisure, entertainment and hospitality that only Mexico can offer.During a recent press conference, the Secretary of Treasury and Public Credit stated that they will offer fiscal incentives to tourism companies, such as a 50% reduction of costs towards the use of air space and cruise ports for the next three months as well as adiscount of 20% in management quotas paid to the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).These and other actions form part of the government’s financial stimulus plan which in total add up to 17 million 400 thousand pesos (approximately 1.3 Million dollars).The measures taken to prevent the virus from spreading have caused a huge economic impact and are critical to the tourism industry, which is the country’s third source of revenue. Nevertheless, Mexico complied with federal and local sanitary protocols and collectively faced this crisis.Upon the emergence of this new virus, which had the potential of turning into a pandemic, the Mexican government acted responsibly in respect to the health of its people and in regards to the health of the world’s population; Mexico’s officials had a vision and the strength to carry it out.The World Health Organization (WHO), along with US President Barack Obama, and Chief of State, Jose Luis Zapatero, have all recognized that it is unfair to accuse Mexico of overreacting and for taking immediate effective actions aligned with international sanitation protocols.In addition, last Tuesday, Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, stated that he would petition governments to annul their commercial and travel bans in place due to the virus outbreak, unless the restrictions were founded on scientific evidence. Dr. David Nabarro, Senior UN Coordinator for Influenza, said countries must explain to WHO their rationale for such measures, and said that their effectiveness is minimal at best.”We want to be very clear that WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of this novel form of influenza,” said Nabarro. Both dignitaries’ statements are examples of the efforts being made to create unity amidst a global crisis.Financial Institutions as solid as Grupo Santander, have expressed their optimism towards the adverse situation in Mexico, stating “the Mexican government has acted magnificently in regards to this health crisis,” confirmed President Emilio Botin, “their actions have been phenomenal, very different from past incidents where action was probably not as quick, but in this occasion, fast action was taken with real organized measures and the country will come out of this crisis a lot sooner than expected…the virus will not affect Mexico’s economy in the long-term,” he added.Speaking about the current international crisis, the banker emphasized that “Mexico’s economy has been coping pretty well during this global crisis and it is much better prepared in comparison to other countries” “We will continue to invest in Mexico,” assured Botin.www.visitmexico.com or www.mexico-update.com
State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, left, met Wednesday in Lansing with Dan Murphy, president of MAG Insulation of Auburn, chairman of the board of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan. Murphy and other contractors visited the state Capitol as part of ABC-Michigan’s State Legislative Day.The organization’s highest priority is the repeal of a state law that requires school districts and state and local governments to pay the “prevailing” union wage on all public works projects, which is estimated to cost taxpayers an additional $400 million a year for new school construction and other public works projects.Glenn supports legislation repealing the prevailing wage requirement on all public projects, and he is preparing legislation to repeal the requirement specifically for all public school construction projects, which would save local school districts an estimated $224 million per year. 11Feb Glenn, Murphy meet in Lansing, discuss prevailing wage law Categories: Glenn News,Glenn Photos
01Jun Rep. LaFave urges budget negotiators to include EMS funds Categories: LaFave News,News Lawmaker: Lack of funding will hurt rural communitiesState Rep. Beau LaFave today called on House and Senate budget negotiators who are finalizing the Department of Health and Human Services spending plan to include funding for the Upper Peninsula Emergency Medical Services (UPEMS).LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said the House draft of the state budget did not include the $182,000 to fund the EMS operations, and as a result many rural communities will not have adequate emergency medical care. The Senate version did include the funding.“As House and Senate conference committees work to reconcile differences between the two budget amounts, I urge them to restore funding so UPEMS can continue to save lives in the Upper Peninsula,” LaFave said.This funding pays for an annual continuing education seminar in the Upper Peninsula for EMS drivers. Last year 500 UP EMS personnel attended. It also will fund vehicle inspections to ensure the ambulances are safe on the roads.“I cannot imagine a more appropriate way to spend $180,000,” LaFave said. “We will not be forgotten about while I’m in the Legislature.”The House-Senate conference committee will continue work on a reconciliation budget in the coming week.#####
18Dec Rep. Lucido plan creates more consistency for certificates of trust Legislation streamlining process heads to governorState Rep. Peter Lucido’s plan to streamline Michigan’s procedures for certificates of trust is headed to the governor’s desk for consideration.Certificates of trust are used to give banks, brokerage firms or transfer agents necessary information regarding a trust to help facilitate the transfer of property.Lucido, of Shelby Township, said Michigan currently has two different sets of rules for certificates of trust. One applies to real estate transactions; the other applies to non-real estate assets. His plan harmonizes the two systems.“We were in need of an update for a long time,” Lucido said. “This simple solution will help reduce mistakes and confusion by creating more consistent rules. It also will greatly reduce the costs and delays currently associated with preparing real estate certificates.”House Bills 5362 and 5398 received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.### Categories: Lucido News
Share48TweetShareEmail48 SharesJune 25, 2015; USA TODAYThe Supreme Court decision today on housing discrimination is the result of the activism of a nonprofit organization. The actual case is Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, et al. The nonprofit in question is the Inclusive Communities Project, a Texas-based nonprofit “that works for the creation and maintenance of thriving racially and economically inclusive communities, expansion of fair and affordable housing opportunities for low income families, and redress for policies and practices that perpetuate the harmful effects of discrimination and segregation.”The court basically agreed with ICP—and many other civil rights organizations—that ostensibly benign, race-neutral housing policies that lead to discriminatory housing conditions such as racial segregation may be subject to discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Essentially, the Court ruled that “disparate impact” claims can be pursued as housing discrimination—though in the view of swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the Court’s decision, statistical disparity isn’t enough; plaintiffs must be able to connect the statistically demonstrable racial disparity to the actions or policies of entities that cause the disparity, notwithstanding the fact that the policies or actions might not have been pursued with discriminatory racial intent.The NPQ Newswire has previously mentioned the work of the Inclusionary Communities Project before in exactly this arena, specifically its challenge of HUD policies concerning the distribution of Section 8 rental vouchers in Dallas “having the effect of concentrating blacks and Latinos in minority neighborhoods” even though a pilot program there had demonstrated how Section 8 could be used in higher income suburban neighborhoods. The case that reached the Supreme Court, which involved the TDHCA distribution of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, was initiated by ICP back in 2008, when “ICP alleged the Department has caused continued segregated housing patterns by its disproportionate allocation of the tax credits, granting too many credits for housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.” ICP’s statistical evidence of the concentration of LIHTC units in predominantly minority neighborhoods was easy to demonstrate. (“92.29 percent of [low income tax credit] units in the city of Dallas were located in census tracts with less than 50% Caucasian residents,” the District Court found.) The issue before the Court was to determine whether the policies that led to the overconcentration of LIHTC units in minority neighborhoods, conducted without racial intent, nonetheless constituted a Fair Housing Act claim.The Court in a 5-4 decision found that disparate impact was meant to be actionable under the Fair Housing Act, citing case law that many of us who were trained as urbanists or city planners have long known: Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971), Huntington Branch NAACP v. Huntington, 844 F.2d 926 (1988), Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. v. Arlington, 558 F.2d 1283 (1977), and United States v. Black Jack, 508 F.2d 1179 (1974), just to mention a few of the cases better known to this author (Note: In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas chose to reject the doctrine of stare decisis and simply declare Griggs an error and recommended that the Court “drop the pretense that Griggs’ interpretation of Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] was legitimate.”)This decision, as much as any in recent years, comes closest to tackling institutional racism and, to some extent, structural racism. Writing in the SCOTUS Blog, Howard University assistant professor of law Valerie Schneider described the Court’s logic:“Without analyzing current patterns of segregation, how can municipalities implement policies that avoid disparate impacts? Without acknowledging the racial impacts of decisions, how can courts implement remedies that have a realistic chance of addressing insidious disparate impacts where they exist? The Court recognized today that in order to effectuate the broad purpose of the Fair Housing Act, we cannot simply close our eyes to the racial impacts of seemingly race-neutral decisions.”The Court’s decision didn’t create a new cause of action under the Fair Housing Act, but reaffirmed 40 years of case law with Griggs and other decisions that disparate impact is a valid concern to be remedied under the Fair Housing Act, something that private developers and some governmental agencies wanted to eliminate.Both the specifics of the TDHCA decision and broader considerations still leave questions to be addressed by the nonprofit sector:Since disparate impact cases are difficult to bring and prove, what will be the follow-up by the nonprofit sector now that the Court has made it clear again that charging disparate impact is legitimate, important, and worthy of action?Since nonprofits in minority neighborhoods are often the recipients and users of subsidies such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Section 8 vouchers, how should they as implementers relate to the disparate impact concerns validated by this decision?And, as with many arenas of institutional or structural racism, once the issue of disparate racial impact is raised and even proven, what might be the appropriate and pragmatic remedies for nonprofits and governmental agencies to put into practice?Despite the complexity of the issue, the role of the Inclusive Communities Project and the leadership of its executive director, the widely admired Elizabeth Julian, demonstrate the importance of nonprofit advocacy and persistence.—Rick CohenShare48TweetShareEmail48 Shares
Share4Tweet21Share7Email32 Shares“RANT, this way” by NessterAugust 5, 2017; Recode and GizmodoNPQ has often discussed the efforts of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and others inside the world of technology to increase diversity and inclusion among their workforce. Often, this involves partnerships with nonprofit groups like Girls Who Code and All Star Code, staging “hackathons” and establishing mentorships to nurture an interest in programming at the point when young people are choosing careers to pursue. However, all that money and energy put toward encouraging diverse candidates to apply to and join big tech enterprises is wasted if the internal culture of those companies is toxic; recruitment is one thing, retention another.On Friday, word spread to social media of a memo circulating internally at Google that came out against the company’s measures to improve diversity, especially when it comes to matters of gender. The 10-page memo, with the header “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” explained in detail the author’s retrograde positions on closing the pay gap (unnecessary), gender balance among the tech staff (a function of evolutionary psychology), and empathy (to be “de-emphasized”). The closing recommendations included an end to programs encouraging diversity—save for “ideological diversity,” by which was meant conservative or non-progressive political views.Louise Matsakis, writing for the “Motherboard” section of VICE, discussed some of the aftermath of the memo:The 10-page Google Doc document was met with derision from a large majority of employees who saw and denounced its contents, according to the employee. But Jaana Dogan, a software engineer at Google, tweeted that some people at the company at least partially agreed with the author…. While the document itself contains the thoughts of just one Google employee, the context in which they were shared—Google is currently being investigated by the Department of Labor for its gender pay gap and Silicon Valley has been repeatedly exposed as a place that discriminates against women and people of color—as well as the private and public response from its workforce are important.A recently departed Google higher-up, Yonatan Zunger, offered some of his thoughts here, in a blog post on Medium.One of the consequences of the memo leak was a statement from Danielle Brown, Google’s new VP of diversity, integrity, and governance, who was hired at the end of June, having just held a similar position at Intel. She writes, in part,Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As [Google VP] Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ’Nuff said.”Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a companywide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job.Google attracted some attention last year for its Project Aristotle, an initiative that started as a study of functional teams and ended up as an effort to prioritize psychological safety, defined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson in 1999 as “a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” Such safety is hard to come by in the world of tech, and we hope that Danielle Brown can use her new position to help bring more of it to Google.—Jason SchneidermanShare4Tweet21Share7Email32 Shares
Lagardère Active, the arm of the French conglomerate that encompasses TV and press activities, posted revenues of €207 million for the first quarter, down 5.3% year-on-year on a comparable basis and down 50% in absolute terms, thanks to the sale of Press Magazine Internationale and its Russian radio activities.Lagardère posted positive results for its TV channels, with revenues up 2.9%, thanks notably to strong advertising sales for its Gulli channel, while TV production saw a decline of 2.5% thanks to a number of productions being pushed back to later this year.
United Group-owned Slovenian cable leader Telemach has acquired smaller operator Kabel TV, which operates networks in north-eastern Slovenia and has a market share of about 4.6% in the country.Kabel TV posted revelues of €3.7 million last year, compared with €65.6 million for Telemach.Telemach will make the full range of its services available to Kabel TV subscribers, including HD channels, time-shifting, video-on-demand, mobile TV service D3 Go, high-speed internet, mobile telephony and free calls to SBB customers in Serbia and Telemach customers in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Poland’s SPI International has appointed a former HBO Europe country manager to take on the same role for its upcoming Hungarian portfolio.As of June 1, Tamás Fülöp has been overseeing SPI’s local FoxBox movie channels, and soon-to-launch thematic hannels bouquet.His overall remit comprises FightBox HD, FashionBox HD, DocuBox HD, 360 TuneBox, Fast&FunBox and adult channel Erox; and responsibilities include distribution, marketing and business operations of the premium networks.Fülöp joins from a Hungarian business, Hattererorszag/Done, where he was director of business development. Before that, he was HBO’s country manager for Hungary, where he oversaw the launch of an SVOD service that ranks among the territory’s first.He also held senior roles at TV2 in Hungary and Viacom-owned VIVA+.“We are very excited to bring on board such an experienced media professional as Mr. Fulop,” said SPI-owned FilmBox International’s executive director Berk Uziyel.“I strongly believe that his thourough knowledge of the TV business will contribute to the growth of our FilmBox brand not only in Hungary but also in the entire CEE region.”