Morocco JanuaryFebruary trade deficit expands 47 percent

first_imgRabat (Reuters) – Morocco’s trade deficit expanded 4.7 percent from a year earlier in the first two months of the year to 31.39 billion Moroccan dirhams, the foreign exchange regulator said on Monday, mainly due to increased wheat imports. The north African country’s wheat imports jumped 60 percent or 2.548 billion dirhams compared with the same two months last year as the government suspended customs duties and introduced subsidies from the start of January to counter rising world prices. Those measures will expire at the end of April.Energy imports edged down 0.1 percent to 14.84 billion dirhams from 14.99 billion in the same period in 2013. Tourism receipts fell by 0.9 percent to 7.95 billion dirhams, and remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans living abroad dropped by 3.3 percent.last_img read more

Foreign exchange rates

These are indicative wholesale rates for foreign currency provided by the Bank of Canada on Wednesday. Quotations in Canadian funds.Australia dollar 1.0014Brazil real 0.4022China renminbi 0.1868Euro 1.4890Hong Kong dollar 0.160678India rupee 0.01973Indonesia rupiah 0.0000940Japan yen 0.01136Malaysia ringgit 0.2931Mexico peso 0.07029N.Z. dollar 0.9340Norway krone 0.1593Peruvian new sol 0.3876Russia rouble 0.02073Saudi riyal 0.3349Singapore dollar 0.9246South Africa rand 0.09488South Korean won 0.001119Sweden krona 0.1551Switzerland franc 1.2960Taiwanese dollar 0.04154Thailand baht 0.03776Turkey lira 0.3556U.K. pound 1.6619U.S. dollar 1.2560Vietnam dong 0.000055 read more

UN agency in Gaza voices deep concern over escalation of deadly violence

“We support the calls of the Secretary-General for an immediate de-escalation of tensions and his demand that both sides should do everything to avoid further escalation and must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times,” the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) added in a news release.In addition to calling for an immediate de-escalation earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel and called on Israel to exercise maximum restraint.The new wave of violence in Gaza and southern Israel has resulted in several people being killed or wounded on both sides.UNRWA has over one million beneficiaries in Gaza, where, earlier Thursday, one of its staff members was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the north. The relief agency said that reports indicate that Marwan Abu El Qumsan – an Arabic teacher in his fifties at UNRWA’s Preparatory Boys School in the city of Jabalia, in northern Gaza – was in a car near the scene of an air strike at the time of his death; his brother, who was with him in the car, was severely injured. UNRWA also expressed its condolences over Mr. El Qumsum’s death.Separately, an UNWRA spokesperson in Gaza, Adnan Abu Hasna, said that the agency had closed its schools temporarily due to the violence.“There will be no schools as long as the situation remains dangerous and the air strikes continue. The students will be in danger, that’s why UNRWA has decided to suspend the work in its educational institutions until further notice,” Mr. Hasna told UN Radio.He added that the agency’s international staff members continue with their work, noting that staff had entered Gaza today to help with emergency operations.Also today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) highlighted that the continuous waves of airstrikes and indiscriminate rocket fire have triggered widespread fear among the civilian population in Gaza and southern Israel, especially amongst children.In particular, OCHA added, the humanitarian situation remains precarious, with widespread panic amongst the population in Gaza, stockpiling of food and fuel, low levels of drug and medical supplies and the closure of crossings for humanitarian goods. In southern Israel, all schools within a 40 kilometre radius of the border with Gaza are closed and movement is limited. OCHA said that all parties must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to spare civilians from the effects of hostilities, in accordance with the principles of distinction and proportionality.On Wednesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy about the situation in Gaza and southern Israel. He expressed his concern to Mr. Netanyahu about the deteriorating situation, which in addition to the increase of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, includes the targeted killing by Israel of a Hamas military operative in Gaza.Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, the head of the military wing of the Palestinian group Hamas which controls Gaza, was killed when his car was reportedly targeted during Israeli air strikes on the territory, following a wave of rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza.In the telephone call, the UN chief also noted his expectation that Israeli reactions are measured so as not to provoke a new cycle of bloodshed that could cause additional civilian casualties and have dangerous spillover effects in the region. He also called for the parties to exercise the utmost restraint and to respect international humanitarian law.In his call with President Morsy, the Secretary-General stated the need to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, and expressed strong support for the leadership being exercised by Egypt to restore calm in the region.The Security Council also met on the issue on Wednesday night behind closed doors. read more

Hvidt and Noddesbo are not guilty – In Blaugrana with complete teams

Decisions have been made by the EHF Court of Handball following disciplinary proceedings against Jesper Brian Noddesbo of FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) and Kasper Hvidt of AG Kobenhavn (DEN).Both players received a direct disqualification in the 58:45 minute of the EHF VELUX Men’s Champions League Quarter-final match betwen AG Kobenhavn and FC Barcelona Intersport on 20 April 2012.Referreing to the EHF legal bodies case law, the EHF Court of Handball found that the conduct of the players Jens Brian Noddesbo and Kasper Hvidt sanctioned during the match did not meet the necessary characteristics to impose further sanction.text: eurohandball.comThe players are therefore eligible to play in the 2nd leg Quarter-final match FC Barcelona Intersport vs AG Kobenhavn which will take place in Barcelona on 28 April 2012. ← Previous Story Sanne van Olphen and Estavana Polman stay in Sonderjyske Next Story → Lajos Mocsai is leaving MKB Veszprem after five years? AGEHFJesper NoddesboKasper Hvidt read more

Paco Lopez Levante proud to beat Barcelona with or without Messi

first_imgLevante manager Paco Lopez says he is proud of his team’s performance as they defeated Barcelona 2-1 in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg on Thursday night.Levante dominated control in a match where Barcelona star player Lionel Messi was not listed to play a part and many soccer followers suggest Barcelona’s decision to rest key players accounted for the outcome of the Match.Lopez has now played down such claims and feels the victory was no less commendable even in the Argentine’s absence.“For a team like ours, defeating Barcelona is always based on merit and I am not going to take anything away from it.Gerard Pique, Neymar, BarcelonaLa Liga Betting: Match-day 4 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Despite it being very early into La Liga season, both Barcelona and Real Madrid have had unprecedented starts to their campaigns. With this in…“We are aware that the best player in the world was not present, but I am very proud of my team, very proud,”  Lopez told Marca.Levante made some changes to their lineup as eight new faces played a part in the game.Barcelona look set to concentrate on LaLiga title race.last_img read more

Tropical Depression to form in a few days

first_img Tropical Watch with three systems being monitored Related Items:tropical depression Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Weekend Weather Watch – storms and general TCI weather for weekend Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 17 Aug 2015 – We are watching a system which the Natl Hurricane Center believes will develop several hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It is expected the system will be a tropical depression by midweek as it moves west at 15mph. System becomes Tropical Storm Dannylast_img read more

CTran office houses odd assortment of items left on buses

first_imgCall 360-695-0123.When the PR guy for C-Tran freely admits that something to do with his agency is “sad and bizarre” — it has to be truly weird.Not surprising, then, that spokesman Scott Patterson was referring to a baby octopus in a pickle jar … or, one of the most strange things drivers handed over to C-Tran’s lost and found at the end of a route.While many folks have the luxury of leaving their odd personal items in their back seats, those riding Clark County buses risk leaving their oddball cargo in a very public place.Among the other greatest hits left on C-Tran buses? A full-size mannequin; teeth; a drum found just after the Paddy Hough Parade; and a giant walking stick with bright paint, stickers and a skull head on top.On a recent trip to C-Tran’s headquarters, where they store lost items behind a padlocked fence, the collection included: umbrellas, a few strollers, a cane, six bikes — and a large bird cage, complete with an inflated latex glove attached to the perch.last_img read more

Ponte 16 operator Success Universe tipping threefold profit growth in 1H19

first_imgMacau gaming investor Success Universe, which operates peninsula integrated resort Ponte 16 under license from SJM, has issued a positive profit alert ahead of the release of its 1H19 financial results later this month.In an announcement filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Success Universe said it expects to record an increase of “around 2 to 3 times” in consolidated profit for the six months ended 30 June 2019, having reported a profit of HK$14.2 million in the prior year period. RelatedPosts Strong VIP growth sees Okada Manila GGR climb 72% in August Load More RGB expecting strong 2019 despite second quarter revenue, profit decline South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos see revenues grow in August The company said the increase is primarily due to an increase in its share of profit from Ponte 16.Success Universe saw gross profit of HK$34.4 million and profit attributable to owners of the company of HK$54.5 million in FY18, boosted by a 90% increase in revenue to HK$1.12 billion.last_img read more

OneBlood hosts rare blood drive for Broward toddler with cancer

first_imgSOUTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) – A nonprofit hosted a blood drive as part of a worldwide effort to save the life of a South Florida girl with an extremely rare blood type.OneBlood hosted a rare blood drive on Sunday for 2-year-old Zainab Mughal in South Miami. Organizers rolled out a mobile unit and collected blood from donors that may be a match.Zainab, who lives in Broward, is battling neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer, and she requires a specific type of blood. Her family is looking for donors with the missing antigen Indian B from someone of Pakistani, Iranian or Indian decent.“I heard about the blood donation for Zainab, like the rare blood type that they need,” said donor Daniel Mehranfard. “My mom and dad, both of them are Persian, and my blood type is A [positive], so I just called OneBlood, and I found out that I’m eligible, so I’m just trying to see if I can be matched with her and help her somehow.”So far, three matching donors have been found, one from the United Kingdom and two from the United States.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Mazda and Porsche shrug off concerns over selfdriven cars

first_imgA participant drives his 1973 Porsche 911 as he arrives in Mexico City to take part in the Carrera Panamericana (“Pan-American Road Race”) in Mexico October 15, 2016.Reuters fileIs car-driving all set to fade into oblivion in the era of autonomous cars? No, say Mazda and Porsche, so long as people are passionate about driving. The trade-off is that you will have to be content with low volume growth.Take for instance, Japanese automaker Mazda CEO Masahiro Moro who is clear that driving matters when it coming to car buyers. “Mazda is targeting a very small niche of customers. These people really like driving and, to them, a car isn’t a commodity; it’s an emotional expression of their style,” he told Bloomberg in an interview recently.”We focus on a particular type of customer. Our share is two percent; it’s very small,” he said, matter-of-factly.His counterpart at Porsche, Klaus Zellmer has a similar view that shows no signs of nervousness over autonomous driving. The mantra for him is simple: embed all the technologies while ensuring the joy of manual manoeuvrability.”Of course, we’ll have an autonomous drive mode in all of our cars. You will be able to press that button and the car will take you home, because our customers also experience traffic situations they don’t enjoy and they want to do something else. That does not conflict with grabbing the steering wheel and doing the manual shifting,” he told Bloomberg.Zellmer makes a statement that would make volume-obsessed car makers feel embarrassed. “Porsche is not looking for volume; Porsche is looking for fans,” he said.German company Porsche’s range of sports cars sold in the US includes Porsche 911, 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. The company sold 989 sports cars out of 4,479 last month in the US, as against 1,571 sports cars sold in March last year. Mazda Motor Corp’s new open-top sports car “Roadster”, also known as “MX-5” in overseas markets, is displayed at an unveiling in Tokyo May 20, 2015.Reuters filelast_img read more

Lightning kills 70 in 2 months

first_imgDisaster management and relief minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya on Tuesday said 70 people were killed in lightning strikes in different parts of the country in March and April, reports UNB. The minister came up with the information while briefing newsmen at the Secretariat over the government steps during the current weather situation.Fifty eight people, including 29 people in two days – 29 and 30 April -were killed by lightning in April while 12 people were killed in March, said Maya.”We want to assure the country’s people that the government is intensely monitoring the current weather condition including lightning strikes and storms,” he said.The minister urged all to observe the weather condition before going out of home.last_img read more

What kind of traveller are you

first_imgWhen you arrive at a hotel, you immediately sling your bags down and head outside for a ‘bit of an explore’. You think the best way to discover a city is to walk its streets and go where your fancy takes you. And guidebooks aren’t necessary when it comes to choosing where to eat – you prefer, naturally, going by your gut. Besides, you never know what you’re likely to discover around the next corner. You like to go with the flow and experience life as it comes. Why spend time planning when you can spend time living? You’re a free spirit! You choose where to stay and what to do based on value for money. It might mean opting for  a hostel rather than a hotel, and a packed lunch rather than a fancy meal, but the money you save can extend your trip a little further – and that’s more important. You’ve never owned a suitcase, but your backpack is falling apart from overuse. You have a strict daily holiday budget, and you’ve been known to skip major tourist attractions if they’re too expensive. You’re determined to make your money stretch as far as it possibly can. You’d stay on holiday forever if you could! Theorganised traveller Is this you? Then you’re a tech-savvy traveller.You probably know this already, but Starling Bank is part of theFinTech revolution that’s transforming the way we manage our money. WithStarling Bank’s app, you receive instant payment notifications (in bothcurrencies) and personalised data on your spending habits. Technology’s at thecentre of what they do, but don’t worry, the robots haven’t taken over just yet.They provide 24/7 customer support – so whatever time zone you’re in,Starling’s right there with you. When it comes to travelling, are you a planner or a free spirit? Head up, taking it all in, or head down, finding the next place to explore on your mobile? It’s the future of banking! ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Is this you? Then you’re a spontaneous traveller – and as such, a spontaneous spender. So, it helps to be with a bank that’s as flexible as you are – one like Starling Bank. They won’t charge a fee for using your card or ATMs abroad. And if you ever lose your card, you can lock it from the Starling Bank app. You’re most likely to be seen browsing the electronics markets of Akihabara in Tokyo or gadget shopping in B&H in New York City. You may have even flown to Los Angeles especially for the Consumer Electronics Show. Is this you? Then you’re an organised traveller. With Starling Bank’s ‘Goals’ feature, you can plan ahead by putting  money aside in separate pots for things like hotel costs and travel money. You can even round your transactions up to the nearest pound and put the spare change into your savings. Travel money tips to get the most of your pound when you’re abroad You like to unpack your bags and put your clothes away neatly as soon as you check into your hotel room. You’ve studied the guidebooks beforehand, so you have a detailed itinerary of what to see and do while you’re away – you’d hate to miss anything. You choose where to eat by carefully browsing recommendations from travel websites. You always check out of the hotel on time because you packed up the night before. You do your research and get a buzz  when everything goes according to plan. You’re a pro at planning! Find out more about Starling Bank Thespontaneous traveller You’re most likely to be seen sunning yourself on the tropical beaches of the Caribbean, the Maldives or a Pacific island like Fiji or Hawaii. Closer to home, you’re more than likely to be found watching the sunset while sipping a cocktail on the Greek island of Santorini. You’ve been on more than one spa holiday. Mixing business with leisure: how to get the most out of your ‘bleisure’ trip Is this you? Then you’re a chilled-out traveller – who would appreciate a bank that recognises your pursuit for a fuss-free life. Starling Bank makes travelling easy because they won’t charge you any fees for using your card abroad. And to ensure your travel money goes further, they offer one of the most competitive exchange rates on the market. You’re most likely to be seen methodically working your way around the must-see sights of places like Paris, Rome, Athens and Madrid. Your ambition is to visit every capital in Europe – and then write the guidebook on them. Or at least correct some of the glaring errors you’ve found in the guidebooks you’ve already got. Thebudget traveller Holidays are meant to be relaxing, and you avoid stress at all costs. Why wait for a bus when you can just hop in a taxi? More importantly, why bother doing anything at all when can just spend all day lounging on the beach? You choose your hotel chiefly on whether it has a spa. You’ve been known to eat in the same restaurant every night just to avoid the hassle of choosing somewhere new. Holidays are for chilling out, not rushing between tourist attractions! In partnership with Find out more about Starling Bank Find out more about Starling Bank Thetech-savvy traveller RelatedOne world, 20 very special destinations (for a very special occasion)Anniversary? Big birthday? Honeymoon? Or hen do? To mark oneworld’s 20th, we put together a list of destinations worthy of a special occasion.How to enjoy luxury holidays for a fraction of the price You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel like one. Here are our top travel hacks for those hoping to enjoy five-star luxury without the price tag.How to search for multi stop flights with SkyscannerFind out how to use Skyscanner’s multi stop search tool to build your perfect trip. More about Starling Bank Is this you? Then you’re a budget traveller who can spot a good deal when they see one. With the Starling Bank app, you can keep an eye on your balance and use ‘Spending Insights’ to see what you’ve spent your money on and how much is left. If you’ve dined out with a group, worry not – just split the bill in the Starling app. Find out more about Starling Bank Read Next The first thing you do when you arrive at a hotel is log on to the Wi-Fi. You have an app for everything, whether you’re dividing up the bill in a restaurant or in need of an audio guide for a foreign city. You’d never set out for the day without your all singing, all dancing camera. You arrive at the beach, laden with gadgets like sand-proof beach towels and solar-powered speakers. You love anything technological that makes your life easier. Your smartphone is your faithful travel buddy and the gateway to knowledge about the world around you. Technology is your friend! You’re most likely to be seen well off the beaten path, exploring less well-known cities like Riga in Latvia, Sofia in Bulgaria and Ljubljana in Slovenia. You’re drawn to the chaotic and vibrant markets of Marrakech in Morocco. You’re most likely to be seen hitting the backpacking routes of South America, India or South-East Asia – basically anywhere that’s cheap enough to travel for months at a time. You’ve spent more time touring ex-Soviet Bloc countries in Eastern Europe than you have in France or Spain. Find out more about Starling Bank Off the beaten track: check out these exciting alternative destinations Thechilled-out travellerlast_img read more

New York New York – Reported by Elite Traveler t

first_imgNew York, New York – Reported by Elite Traveler, the Private Jet Lifestyle MagazineSustainable Travel International (STI) has just announced that Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Arenal, Costa Rica, has achieved its Luxury Eco Certification Standard (LECS), becoming the first hotel in that country to pass the intensive on-site inspection and receive this distinction. Designed to educate, as well as help luxury hotels create and implement a sustainability management framework, LECS is the first and only voluntary, global certification program of its kind. Focusing on Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet and Profit), the comprehensive standard aligns with impending global accreditation through the Tourism Stewardship Council.With sustainable tourism on the rise, Leading Hotels spearheaded a new partnership between STI, the global non-profit leader in sustainable travel solutions, and Leading Quality Assurance (LQA), a joint venture of Leading Hotels that specializes in quality assurance, benchmarking and training to the luxury hospitality industry. Together, they created an innovative program, which carries out evaluations in five areas: policy and documentation; energy conservation; water conservation; recycling; and community. The fusion of these five components will reduce long-term operating costs, and create customer and employee good will.In order to become LECS certified, hotels must undergo a preliminary desk audit, complimented by an on-site, third-party assessment handled by LQA. The process of becoming LECS eco-certified is challenging and requires a serious commitment on behalf of the hotel applicant, and Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort exemplifies this commitment on many levels. Perhaps principal among them is the fact that two underground reservoirs provide all of the hotel’s water – both hot and cold – eliminating the need to use any other energy sources for heating or cooling it. The hotel also has in place significant practices for conserving water and electricity, and recycling a variety of materials.In addition to engaging vigorously in staff training, the hotel offers guests opportunities to support its sustainability initiatives through tree-planting projects, contributions to the local community development fund, and making local products and handcrafts available for sale in its shops.Commenting on the resort’s philosophy, Uwe Wagner, general manager, noted, “One may not be able to change the world, but one can certainly make a big difference in the place where you live, making it a better place for everyone.”Brian T. Mullis, President of Sustainable Travel International stated, “The Luxury Eco Certification Standard has set a new precedent in the luxury accommodation sector. An increasing number of five-star hoteliers around the world are applying for eco-certification. They’ve excelled in quality and service and now want to demonstrate their commitment to helping to safeguard the natural and cultural heritage of our planet for future generations.”www.lhwgreen.comlast_img read more

Details of 2017 accomplishments

first_img Categories: Victory News I worked closely with many Ottawa County residents and businesses in 2017 to prioritize legislation that helps our community and all of Michigan’s economy.As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I helped shape a state government budget that keeps Michigan moving forward.  My colleagues and I approved a balanced budget with a record amount of spending to fix our roads and bridges – vitally important to improving our quality of life and our economy.The budget also includes more money than ever before for K-12 schools, benefitting our students and teachers. Public safety is enhanced through the addition of 150 Michigan State Police troopers. We also were fiscally responsible, paying down debt and adding to our state’s “rainy day” fund.Here are some other accomplishments from 2017, my fifth in the Michigan House:•           Created the Bee Protection Program to ensure growers have access to reliable pollinators.•           Passed legislation to allow fundraising license plates to be placed on company-owned pickup trucks or vans. Small businesses and public universities will now be allowed to brand their trucks and vans to support organizations and causes.•           Passed legislation to ensure fair and accurate drain assessment along intercountry drains. This bill helps communities receive fair and accurate drain fees and gives the drain commissioners the flexibility they need to get their jobs done in a reasonable time frame.•           Introduced legislation to ensure that Michigan growers have access to national and global markets.•           Voted to enhance skilled trade education in Michigan. The five-bill package encourages students to explore career opportunities and helps provides them with the resources they need to succeed and fill in-demand jobs.•           Voted in favor of reducing income taxes for Michiganders. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I knew where we could have made reasonable spending reductions to implement the income tax cut. We could have easily afforded the cut and continued to pay down our debt responsibly.•           Voted in favor of giving Michigan drivers a choice in their auto insurance coverage levels. Michigan drivers pay the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. I have heard the overwhelming outcry of support from my district to pass this reform. The current system is unfair and unsustainable and while the auto no-fault program has its merits, it has not changed since its introduction 30 years ago and needs significant improvements.I will continue to work hard for Ottawa County residents in 2018. I will continue to fight for legislation beneficial to the community and believe we are headed in the right direction for our economy to continue to grow.If you have any questions or concerns contact my office at 517-373-1830 or by email at 27Dec Details of 2017 accomplishmentslast_img read more

Rep Hank Vaupel Weekly Column April 22 2019

first_imgAfter talking with professionals across the state, I know many retired employees would consider returning to public psychiatric care if it didn’t mean losing their pension income. Ultimately, this legislation benefits both workers and the state as it will ensure more state psychiatric jobs are filled by specialized and experienced individuals. The bill will now be considered by the state Senate.***In addition to my role as your state representative, I also participated as an honorary member on the Brain Injury Association Honorary Committee. This week, the association hosted its 21st annual Legacy Society Spring Tribute Dinner. It was a great night supporting an important cause. Thank you to everyone involved with the Brain Injury Association of Michigan for your tireless work protecting those made vulnerable through traumatic incidents.***As a member of the House Education Committee, I recently joined some of my colleagues for a tour of a school-based health center at Eastern High School in Lansing. School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan organized the event to provide us an inside look at child and adolescent health centers. It was an insightful and beneficial learning experience, which will no doubt be useful as we draft future policy.***I recently met with some of Livingston’s local and county officials in Lansing to discuss how state and local governments can better work together. It is a privilege to serve with so many sincere public servants who care about our communities. It is important we all work together to make the best decisions for the people of Livingston.***If you have any ideas, comments or questions for my office, please do not hesitate to call us at 517-373-8835 or send an email to We are happy to hear from you! 22Apr Rep. Hank Vaupel Weekly Column: April 22, 2019 On Wednesday, the House approved my legislation to combat the ongoing shortage of behavioral health workers across Michigan. The issue was brought to my attention last year during the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force statewide tour, which was established to find solutions to critical mental health issues. This bill would allow certain retired mental health professionals to come back to work with the Department of Health and Human Services without forfeiting pension benefits.center_img Categories: Vaupel Newslast_img read more

Rep Bellino Governors veto threat misguided and without merit

first_img09May Rep. Bellino: Governor’s veto threat ‘misguided and without merit’ State Rep. Joe Bellino of Monroe today issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer threatened to veto the House-approved plan that would lower car insurance rates across Michigan:“I’m saddened to learn the governor appears willing to preserve our state’s much-maligned no-fault car insurance system at the expense of Michigan drivers. The governor’s threatened veto of a common-sense bipartisan plan to guarantee lower rates for drivers is misguided and completely without merit.“After the governor expressed her dissatisfaction for the Senate version of the plan, we worked with our Democratic colleagues to ensure lower rates were guaranteed and non-driving factors were addressed. Now the governor is making the bizarre excuse that lower rates aren’t guaranteed.  It’s guaranteed.“If the governor vetoes this important reform plan, it should be obvious to everyone that she never had any intention of giving more than 7 million Michigan drivers the rate relief they so desperately deserve.” Categories: Bellino Newslast_img read more

Hospital Food as Part of the Solution

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares Rob Byron / Shutterstock.comJune 23, 2014;The GuardianA 4.5/5 rating on Yelp, a focus on farm-to-table fresh food, organic grain-fed beef, and 1500 patient food trays a day. Does this sound like your average cafeteria in a medical center? According to a recent article in the Guardian, the “Moffitteria” or Moffitt Café, is the main dining hall of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Seven years ago, a partnership with the nonprofit Physicians for Social Responsibility began a focus on providing food choices that were “tasty, healthy and good for the environment.”Food service reps from several SF area healthcare systems came together to pool their purchasing power. They sought higher quality ingredients, and more organic and sustainable foods. “We need to lead by example, because we are a teaching institution,” says Jack Henderson, the food service project manager.Health Care Without Harm, a global coalition for environmentally responsible healthcare, also joined in the meat-reduction campaign, with almost 500 hospitals nationwide.This year, the UCSF Medical Center spent approximately 25 percent of its $5.3 million food budget on sustainable edibles, such as organic yogurt, cage-free eggs, and antibiotic-free chickens. The collective strategy of the hospitals is to “put enough gentle pressure” on local food distributors and suppliers.“When the largest healthcare facilities in a region pool their purchasing dollars to ask for an aggregated volume of a particular organic food item, they can be incredibly influential,” says Lucia Sayre of Physicians for Social Responsibility.An example of “gentle pressure?” Concern over medication overuse of livestock led the university health care system to decide to purchase only antibiotic-free meats. The current contract meant that the food distributor would remain the same. By joining with six area hospitals and using volume purchasing power, UCSF medical center was able to negotiate a workable price for organic meats.Another example is the partnership with Community Alliance with Family Farmers. This nonprofit organization, which advocates for California’s family farmers and sustainable agriculture, created an alliance that allowed the six hospitals to purchase pesticide-free strawberries, squash and other vegetables from local family farms. Everyone benefits, as the financial commitment from the large hospitals allows the farmers to better plan ahead.Sayre, of Physicians for Social Responsibility, hopes that other healthcare institutions will develop the joint purchasing programs and begin to shift the marketplace towards healthier, local, organic and sustainable foods. Currently similar programs have started up in Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, and New England.Don’t forget to check out the Yelp ratings the next time you dine in at the local farm-to-table hospital cafeteria.—Jeanne AllenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Baltimore No Charm City For Black Residents Pursuing Education at ForProfit Institutions

first_imgShare6TweetShare1Email7 SharesFederal Hill Park – Steps / m01229September 15, 2016; Science Blog Baltimore’s residents can’t seem to catch a break. Baltimore, a longtime majority minority city plagued by urban poverty, a twenty-five percent unemployment rate, failing public schools, rampant crime, and an out-of-control police force now adds for-profit education shams and fraud to African American residents’ litany of setbacks.In Baltimore’s public school universe, 86.6 percent of the 83,800 students are African Americans and they are at risk. Often, those who manage to complete high school are first-generation students without the navigational skills to succeed in two- and four- year public institutions. These schools, many without federally funded TRIO programs, learning communities, First Year programs, or any of the initiatives that increase student retention and success, allow students to fall between the cracks. When students see their opportunity for advancement disappearing, the quick credential offered by for-profit schools appears to be a viable option.If a student entering community college—which, by law, must enroll all who apply—is not academically prepared for college-level coursework, their collegiate experience quickly becomes a nightmare. Students remain in remediation courses for semesters, using up their student loan money and earning zero college credit. Time passes, motivation disappears, students want careers and jobs…and those ads on the television for “Quick Fix College” start looking good.For at least the last five years, most school districts have been under state mandate to assist students who have dropped out. Finally, this year, Baltimore Public Schools realized its responsibility to the out-of-school, unemployed and underemployed African American school-age people in the inner city. According to former City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton:The plan includes a re-engagement center at the district office, which is officially opening next week, that will help students find an academic program that meets their needs and connects them with social and emotional resources. I am committed to the academic success of all our students, and students who have dropped out need additional support from us to graduate and achieve success in their future.These reclaimed adult learners are the most at risk to enroll in duplicitous for-profit career education institutions. Without the benefit of guidance, they are persuaded that these institutions are a path to success. Students soon learn these institutions have less to do with education and than the business of making a profit. Classes are perfunctory and narrow in scope, teaching is rote, and the learning is questionable. Overworked instructors are less qualified than adjunct positions at public institutions and student supports are virtually non-existent.These institutions operate with limited administrative staff whose primary responsibility is recruitment. One of the more suspect practices at one institution was to establish a veteran’s organization on paper as a ploy to recruit unsuspecting vets. The University of Phoenix lost half its students after the Department of Defense refused to pay for the veterans enrolled in the school.Critics of for-profit post-secondary institutions say their education offerings are substandard, their costs ridiculously high, their reliance on federal student aid to cover operating costs too great, and their descriptions of graduates’ job opportunities and employment placements ridiculously overstated. These complaints emanate from an assemblage of significant detractors: the White House, senators, the Secretary of Education, teachers’ unions, nonprofit education institutions, community colleges, and multiple state attorneys general.The Department of Education, with strong support from the White House, instituted policies that safeguard students’ federal financial aid and in the process put the two largest national networks of for-profit education institutions out of business. Corinthian Colleges fell first, and others followed. Corinthian filed for bankruptcy under a cloud of state and federal allegations after closing twenty-eight schools and disrupting the education of sixteen thousand students. Last month, ITT Educational Services, the parent company of ITT Tech and the for-profit institution standard bearer, was forced to file for bankruptcy after the Department of Education rescinded federal aid to its new students. Prior to this filing, ITT Tech closed its one hundred and thirty-seven technical college campuses, affecting thirty-five thousand students and eight thousand employees.Former Corinthian students will be able to recoup some of their loan payments with loan forgiveness programs resulting from the $820 million fine Corinthian was forced to pay. As the Secretary of Education observed, “When Americans invest their time, money and effort to gain new skills, they have a right to expect they’ll get an education that leads to a better life for them and their families. Corinthian was more worried about profits than about students’ lives.”In the rush to protect the interests of largely low-income students, more thought could have been given to where and how students would complete their educations. A more effective strategy might have been to broker better agreements or arrangements with community colleges to work with disadvantaged students.Do these for-profit educational institutions have any redeeming qualities? In contrast to conglomerates like Corinthian or ITT Tech, it appears that the smaller the operation, the better the outcomes. Effective for-profit education institutions are typically aligned with the industries that recruit their graduates. They understand their role in the educational pantheon; they leave a focus on “breadth and depth” to Cornell and Harvard. When for-profit education institutions are good, they can be pretty good—but when they’re bad, they’re criminal.—Mary Frances MitchnerShare6TweetShare1Email7 Shareslast_img read more

Crisis in Puerto Rico Reveals Deeper US Political Fissures

first_imgShare109Tweet27Share8Email144 SharesPuerto Rico National guard photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos.October 16, 2017; CNN, NPR, and The HillIt’s less than a month since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, but Puerto Ricans are already adapting and doing all they can to take care of each other. Adaptation has been hard, and has included making do with substandard or nonexistent basics like food, water, and power; moving stateside; or sending children away to attend school.One of the many disturbing realities: CNN reported yesterday that people are drinking water from the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site, a Superfund site that the EPA designated as contaminated with industrial chemicals that can cause damage to the liver and increase the risk of cancer. According to the Associated Press, “Even the island’s own water authority has distributed water from some wells at the Dorado Superfund site.” Puerto Rico, an island 100 miles across and 40 miles north to south, contains 18 Superfund sites, likely the result of the US pharmaceuticals companies that took advantage of tax-free policies and US Navy bombings.The EPA is asking residents to avoid using the wells in the western portion of the site. Erik Olson, the Health Program Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council in an email to CNN wrote, “It is irresponsible to not make every effort humanly possible to find and provide safe drinking water as soon as possible.” Academi, the private security firm headed by Betsy DeVos’s brother—you may remember it as Blackwater, from when four guards were found guilty in 2007 of the shooting of over 30 Iraqis—has received requests to send employees to the island to protect fuel and water distribution. The New York Post writes that armed mercenaries now roam the streets and local leaders seek to regulate their presence and behavior.According to The Hill, unemployment is close to 100 percent. Since October 4th, less than two weeks ago, 30,000 have left the island. Of 1,113 schools in Puerto Rico, NPR reports that only 200 have reopened. Students have already lost 35 to 40 days of school, according to Julia Keleher, the island’s secretary of education. In many cases, students are traveling stateside, often on their own, and staying with relatives to attend school. In the case of the children covered in this report, it wasn’t the federal government that helped, but the company of the husband of the family taking them in.US politicians, particularly Democrats, are trying to mobilize those coming to the mainland as potential voters. Meanwhile, Trump begrudgingly provides as little rebuilding support as possible while complaining that he should not have to and blaming Puerto Ricans for being the cause of their own problems, debt, and failing infrastructure. It’s as if the fact that US companies have benefitted from the tax haven and market that is Puerto Rico—if the island were an independent country, it would be the United States’ fifth-largest market—does not figure into the account.But this is how domination works: a removal from history and a reversal of facts. In spite of high poverty, Puerto Rico has a literacy rate of 94 percent; an island of just over three million awards 50,000 college degrees a year. With 97 percent of these graduates currently unable to find employment on the island, The Hill concludes that what Puerto Rico needs is a business plan that starts at zero—that is, with no debt, from scratch (right now, Puerto Rico’s debt totals $74 billion). By now, we can conclude that this isn’t something that the US federal government or its agencies will support.In this political leadership vacuum, nonprofits, private companies and individuals are taking the lead. We saw this script play out before with Katrina. At the time, we thought this was an exception to the rule. Now it is beginning to look like the new normal, only this time, unlike with Katrina, the scenario of an absent federal response is playing out without 24-hour coverage. In short, it seems it’s not just Puerto Rico’s infrastructure that is collapsing, but the legitimacy of the US government. We may want to pay attention and learn; one day, this may hit even closer to home.—Cyndi SuarezShare109Tweet27Share8Email144 Shareslast_img read more