Scientists Discover Possible Interstellar VisitorWater Vapor Detected on Potentially ‘Habitable’ Planet Stay on target Cosmic events like last month’s Micro Blood Moon eclipse are breathtaking from Earth. So imagine the views from outer space.German cosmonaut Alexander Gerst gave us a sneak peek when he tweeted a series of photos (captioned “Just magical”) from the International Space Station.But perhaps even more impressive are the images captured by NASA’s Messenger satellite, which orbited Mercury between 2011 and 2015.A video, first published in December and rebroadcast this week by Business Insider, provides footage of what lunar eclipses look like from our Solar System’s innermost planet.The timelapse, created from 31 images taken two minutes apart, starts just before the Moon enters the darkest part of Earth’s shadow (the umbra). Seen from 48 million miles away, the bigger, brighter light is Earth, and the smaller, fading glare is its satellite.Watch as the Moon is engulfed in the Earth’s shadow, seemingly disappearing completely.Intended to help astronomers better understand Mercury—the smallest, densest, and least-explored terrestrial planet—Messenger was launched in August 2004, completed one Earth flyby, two Venus flybys, and three Mercury flybys before spending a year orbiting the orb.It successfully completed its primary mission in 2012, and, after two mission extensions, the spacecraft deorbited and impacted the surface of Mercury in April 2015.Luckily for us, it captured a 2014 lunar eclipse—a rare cosmic sighting.Plenty of folks on Earth, meanwhile, shared snaps of this year’s second total lunar eclipse, which occurred when the Moon passed within our planet’s shadow, “covering” part of the satellite and turning it a deep shade of red.Unlike January’s Super Blue Blood Moon, when the planetoid was circling quite near us, on the day of this eclipse, the full Moon was at its farthest from Earth, appearing smaller in the sky (hence the “micro” title).For someone standing on the Moon during July’s Micro Blood Moon eclipse, the Earth, according to Business Insider, would have looked as if it were surrounded by a ring of fire. Want to know more about eclipses? You can read up on them here! You can visit all of Geek’s space coverage here.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Bahamas, February 23, 2018 – Nassau – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Peter Turnquest said based on the performance in the first half of fiscal year 2017/18, the country is moving in the right direction.“Compared with the first six months of Fiscal Year 2016/17, the fiscal performance has turned in a $92.3 million or 61.4 per cent reduction in the overall deficit—to $198.0 million, from $290.3 million in Fiscal Year 2016/17,” the DPM said in a ‘State of the Economy Report,’ hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation at Atlantis, Paradise Island, February 21, 2018.He said gains in revenues of $24.8 million are supported by a $67.5 million or 43.6 per cent reduction in spending; comparisons with the budget show revenues running at some 41 per cent of the target and adjusted recurrent and capital spending, at 44.7 per cent and 33 per cent, of their respective targets.“We believe that the measures taken, and those in the pipeline, have the ability to help restore fiscal discipline and place the finances on a sustainable path for the benefit of all Bahamians. However, we would acknowledge that these measures alone will not get us to where we want and need to be.“Most importantly, we must grow our economy and do so in a sustained way; additionally, if our fiscal plans are to be sustainable, they need to be reinforced by other administrative and legislative initiatives designed to bolster credibility, in a transparent and accountable manner.”The DPM explained that last year, he introduced to the public, the public financial management reform measures underway to deliver more efficient and effective allocation and use of public funds, by addressing cumbersome processes and inconsistent and outdated practices in our public financial management activities.“An important element of the Public Financial Management reform agenda focuses on bringing greater transparency, fairness and efficiency to bear on public procurement activities.”He said public procurement is big business for governments, and equally as big are the temptations and opportunities for corruption, collusion, fraud and manipulation.“For The Bahamas, more than $1.475 billion or an estimated 13 per cent of Gross Domestic Product was spent in FY2016/17 to acquire goods and services —underscoring the imperative for the Government to obtain value for monies spent.”The DPM said the first stage in these reform efforts was marked by the recently launched pilot phase of the Government eProcurement portal—a single access point—where all announcements, documents and information about tender participants, summary of bid evaluation reports, and notice of procurement awards will be published.“All suppliers interested in doing business with the Government have been invited to register their businesses by uploading all of the requisite documents via the portal.”He said work is also well advanced on finalizing the draft public procurement legislation that will bring the regulatory framework closer in line with international standards and best practices. Some of the areas covered in the legislation are the establishment of a public procurement department; a public procurement board, and a public review tribunal to provide persons with an avenue for recourse.“The most critical element of this procurement reform will be the requirement that all tenders and bid offers be published publicly online and that all successful bid offers accepted by government also be awarded. This, ladies and gentlemen, changes the game for all stakeholders.”The DPM explained that these same principles of transparency and competition are behind the Government’s recent decision to engage the services of the Caribbean Development Bank to formulate a Public, Private Partnership. Having clear and transparent policy guidance for all stakeholders will ensure that the Government is identifying the right private sector partner and carrying out the required analysis of all risks, while easing the burden on public resources.DPM Turnquest said, “These reforms are long overdue, but once completed will increase the ease of doing business with the Government, make procurement processes more transparent and competitive, and are generally supportive of the Government’s overall goal of restoring the public’s trust in its management of public funds.By: Llonella Gilbert (BIS)Photo Caption: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Peter Turnquest brings remarks at the ‘State of the Economy Report’ hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) at Atlantis, February 21, 2018. Looking on from left are CEO, BCCEC, Edison Sumner and Chairman, BCCEC, Mike Maura, Jr.(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna) Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – One woman died and another is recovering at the hospital after, police said, they were shot while inside a car in a Southwest Miami-Dade neighborhood, then crashed into a tree, Friday night.Miami-Dade Police and Fire Rescue responded to the scene of the reported shooting in the area of Southwest 218th Street and 120th Avenue, just after 9 p.m.Officials said the call originally came as shots fired.Officers found both victims with gunshot wounds inside the car, which had smashed into a tree after the shooting, detectives said.According to investigators, the two female victims were sitting the a car when they were both shot.“It is unknown what happened,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Jennifer Capote, “whether or not it was a drive-by from one vehicle to the females’ vehicle, whether the vehicle that the females were in was just driving by, and somebody shot at them from a residence or whether they shot at them from a nearby block.”Officials believe the victims were shot prior to the crash. Both victims were transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where one victim died from a gunshot wound to her abdomen. “Upon arriving at the hospital, the officers were told that one of the females had died,” said Capote.The other victim is expected to recover from a gunshot wound to the left leg. She is being treated at Jackson South Community Hospital.Detectives are now looking for tips. “Apparently they have no witnesses that they’ve found at this time,” said Capote. “They are seeking the assistance of the community.”If you have any information on this shooting, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
“If anything shuts down, we will see more people on the streets,” Khan said. As of Friday evening, Anderson said his organization was still assessing the full impact of the governor’s vetos. So were other shelters and social service organizations around Anchorage. Lisa Aquino, executive director of Catholic Social Services, said the nonprofit had relied on more than $1.3 million in vetoed state funding. She said its board of directors plans to hold an emergency meeting this week to determine the next steps. One thing was immediately clear, she said. The Brother Francis Shelter, an emergency shelter for adult men and women, will have to reduce its capacity from 240 to approximately 100 people, according to Catholic Social Services. The Clare House, Catholic Social Services’ emergency shelter for women with children and expectant mothers, may have to close during the day. Safe Harbor Muldoon, a transitional housing facility sheltering dozens of families facing homelessness, faces closure. So does Sitka Place, a supportive housing facility serving homeless people with serious mental illnesses, according to Patrick Anderson, CEO of RuralCap, the statewide nonprofit operating both Sitka Place and Safe Harbor Muldoon. Anchorage homeless shelters and services are bracing for cutbacks and closures after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced about $400 million in line-item state budget vetoes Friday. “It’ll be devastating,” Aquino said. “And it will have big financial implications for so many in the community.” Statewide, homeless shelters and housing services received funding through four grant programs: the Homeless Assistance Program, the Special Needs Housing Grant, the Human Services Community Matching Grant and the Community Initiative Matching Grant Program. The governor’s recent vetoes sharply reduced the first two programs and zeroed out the latter two. Jasmine Khan, executive director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, said overall state funding for homelessness services fell from approximately $13.7 million to about $2.6 million. The money funded 50 programs around the state and at least five shelters in Anchorage, Khan said. Ending the programs would have an immediate negative effect on homelessness in Anchorage, she said. The extent has yet to be realized. “The State’s fiscal reality dictates a reduction in expenditures across all agencies,” read the fiscal note for the cuts. “That’s devastating,” he said.
Prince William and Kate Middleton.Getty imagesThe Royal couple must bear some responsibility for what happened to an elderly woman during their trip to The Order of the Garter ceremony. Reportedly a grandmother is seriously ill in hospital following an accident involving Prince William’s official convoy.This is the fourth such incident involving a Royal convoy. Ironically, the convoy is meant to keep the Royal couple safe during transit. But not at the detriment of those unfortunate enough to occupy the streets when the couple travels.Police watchdogs are reportedly investigating the incident. The incident is said to involve one of the police motorcycle outriders who are in charge of holding back the traffic. A description of the incident states that ‘a lady was on the ground being attended to by the paramedics and a police motorcycle was lying on its side on the road nearby.’ A spokesman for the royal couple told the Mail they were ‘deeply concerned and saddened’ and had been in touch with the victim’s family. Flowers have been sent. Prince William and Kate Middleton attend the Queen’s Birthday Garden Party in BerlinJENS KALAENE/AFP/Getty ImagesThis seems like damage control, but Kate Middleton and Prince William have said that they would like to visit Mrs. Mayor (the elderly woman involved in the accident) if she feels ready. Her daughter Fiona, said that her mother suffered a lot of injuries as a result;t of the accident and that they are just keeping her stable at the moment. Mrs. Mayor is 83 years old. An incident like this could very well have killed her. Royal and official convoys need to be more careful, not just with their cargo but also with the safety of the citizens on the street. You can check out the video here:
Do you feel sleepy during daytime at work? Blame it on your love for oily samosas and cheese-laden pizzas — not to forget a poor night’s sleep —for this.According to a study, men who consume diets high in fat and sleep less during night time are more likely to feel sleepy during the day.“After adjusting for other demographic and lifestyle factors and chronic diseases, we found that those who consumed the highest fat intake were more likely to experience excessive daytime sleepiness,” said lead author Yingting Cao, doctoral student at University of Adelaide in Australia. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Higher consumption of food items rich in fat was also strongly associated with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder. “Poor sleep and feeling sleepy during the day means you have less energy, but this, in turn, is known to increase people’s cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods associated with poor sleep outcomes. So the poor diet-and-sleep pattern can become a vicious cycle,” Cao explained in the paper published in the journal Nutrients.Daytime sleepiness may have significant implications for alertness and concentration, the researchers warned, adding that people need to pay more attention to eat better and have a good sleep.“We hope our work could help to inform future intervention studies, enabling people to achieve healthy weight loss while also improving their quality of sleep,” Cao added.About 54 per cent had mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, and 25 per cent had moderate-to-severe sleep apnea.
The speakers included Dr Ranjana Kumari (Director of Centre for Social Research), Dr Jyotsna Chatterji (Director JWP) and Dr Chandra Rajan, (Advocate Supreme court).Several prominent women’s groups celebrated ‘Mahila Aarakshan Diwas’ at Dilli Haat on September 14 and reaffirmed their commitment to the passage of women’s reservation bill in parliament which will allow more women to serve their country at the highest level and guarantees a minimum of 33 per cent representation to women in all political parties. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfEven a sudden downpour did not dampen the spirit of the participants. Speaking in the rain, Dr Ranjana Kumari, iconic Director of Centre for Social Research said that the fight for passage of the bill would continue. She stated that the current government, being in a majority in the Lok Sabha was in a well-placed position to pass the Bill and fulfill their pre election promise about women’s welfare and more female participation at the highest levels. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveDr Jyotsna Chatterji, Director JWP, and a respected senior leader of the movement said it was the democratic and constitutional right of women to rule. Dr Chandra Rajan, advocate at Supreme Court said that it was necessary to include women in high-level democratic processes as this would build a safe and progressive society.The Justice Seekers group felt that a huge new talent pool would come into the parliament and decrease dependence on criminals in polity.Several citizens attended the grand event including Asha Singh, Nirbhaya Jyoti’s mother, Ladkumari ji and members of organisations such as JWP, CSR, VIVAT, WPC, CBCI, AIWC AIDMAM, YWCA, Justice Seekers, Nirbhaya Jyoti Foundation, Conference of religious India, Pink and Blue Foundation among many others.
Last week, Torkel Ödegaard co-founder of Grafana released the stable version Grafana 6.2. This version has improved security, enhanced provisioning workflow, a new Bar Gauge panel, Elasticsearch 7 support, and lazy loading of panels, among other things. Improved Security Datasources will now store passwords and basic auth passwords in ‘secureJsonData’ which will be encrypted by default. Browser caching is now disabled for full page requests, which will enable mitigation of risky sensitive information. Upgrade notes is provided to migrate existing data sources to use encrypted storage. Provisioning Environment variables can now support and reload configs without restarting Grafana. This feature will not allow deletion of provisioned dashboards. Instead, when a user tries to delete or save a provisioned dashboard, a relative file path to the file is shown in the dialog. Bar Gauge Panel This is an exciting feature, which is similar to the current Gauge panel and shares almost all its options. Bar Gauge uses both horizontal and vertical spaces much better, which helps in stacking efficiently. The Bar Gauge also comes with three unique display modes: Basic, Gradient, and Retro LED. Panels Without Title Sometimes panels do not need a title, but still the panel header takes up space. This makes ‘Singlestats’ have bad vertical centering. In version 6.2, Grafana will now allow panel content to use the full panel height, in case there is no panel title. Lazy Loading of Panels Out of View Grafana will not issue any data queries for panels that are not visible. This will greatly reduce the load on the data source backends, when loading dashboards with many panels. This was one of the most requested features from Grafana users. Minor Features and Fixes User time zone support added, called ‘Explore’ Support for configuring timeout durations and retries Support for multiple subscriptions per datasource A small bug fixed which will display percentile metrics in table panel called ‘Elasticsearch’ ‘InfluxDB’ to provide support for POST HTTP verb ‘CloudWatch’ is an important fix for default alias disappearing in v6.1 New ‘Search’ option Ödegaard has also notified users to switch to the new repo soon, as the previous depreciated repo will be removed on July 1. The new repository will contain all the old releases, so the user will not have to upgrade to switch package repository. Users of Grafana are quite happy with the new Grafana 6.2 version. A user on Hacker News commented, “Lazy loading is a feature I was waiting for long time, hopefully this time is here to stay!” Another user added, “Those new gradient bar gauges look great, can’t wait to use them on some environmental data.” Read more about the Grafana v6.2 release on the Grafana blog. Read Next Grafana 6.0 beta is here with new panel editor UX, google stackdriver datasource, and Grafana Loki among others ‘Tableau Day’ highlights: Augmented Analytics, Tableau Prep Builder and Conductor, and more! Facebook files a lawsuit against South Korean data analytics firm, Rankwave, for unlawful data use amidst high profile calls to “break it up”
The Digital Hub, Ireland’s largest cluster of digital media, technology and internet businesses, has announced the appointment of its first Technologist-in-Residence at its Dublin 8 campus. Experienced technologist Rodhán Hickey, a former CTO of workforce management software firm, Bizimply and a respected digital innovator, has now taken up residency in the enterprise cluster for a nine-month period as part of a pilot initiative being run by The Digital Hub.Rodhán is being provided with desk space in The Digital Hub for the duration of his residency.Speaking about the new Technologist-in-Residence initiative, Fiach Mac Conghail, Chief Executive Officer of The Digital Hub said: “We are delighted to welcome Rodhán to The Digital Hub as our first ever Technologist-in-Residence. Rodhán brings with him over 20 years experience in the technology industry, solving technical problems and helping companies, teams and individuals to reach their potential. A key part of Rodhán’s remit at The Digital Hub will be to inspire greater connectivity and collaboration amongst our enterprise companies, to identify and support the growth of specific industry sub-clusters and to share his passion for the introduction of new and emerging technologies, such as augmented reality and 3D printing, with both our companies and the local residents of Dublin 8 through our community learning programmes.”Commenting on his appointment, Rodhán Hickey said: “I’m excited about the role because it gives me the time and space to experiment and develop some ideas that I have been toying with for a while. I have several ideas for initiatives that I would like to introduce to The Digital Hub during my residency, including the idea of running technology showcase weeks. Larger companies have innovation labs where their employees can go to experience new technology and work through ideas that they might have. I’d like to bring the idea of an innovation lab to The Digital Hub, not only for the benefit of the client companies, but also for the wider community of the Liberties by inviting schools and community groups to themed technology showcases where they can experience things like Virtual Reality and 3D Printing for themselves.”Rodhán also hopes to foster collaboration amongst the client companies at The Digital Hub, saying: “The main thing I hope to achieve during the residency is to increase the ties between the tech teams of The Digital Hub’s client companies. I am going to establish some “birds of a feather” groups to allow companies who, from the outside, may not appear to be similar, but when you look at the day to day work of their developers and the problems that they are facing, they have a lot of similarities and could really benefit from knowing each other and hopefully going on to solve some of their challenges collaboratively.”The Technologist-in-Residence appointment follows the successful introduction last year of The Digital Hub’s Artist-in-Residence Programme, comprising a residency for both a filmmaker and a photographer, who brought their unique perspectives to life and contributed to The Digital Hub’s learning and community initiatives, as well as the artistic and cultural life of the Dublin 8 area. The Digital Hub believes the new Technologist-in-Residence initiative will add significant value to its offering and contribute positively to government strategies covering community digital initiatives and the National Digital Strategy.
A helicopter crash in the Bulwer area yesterday claimed the life of Blake Simpson.It is believed that he, together with an unnamed passenger from Stellenbosch, were flying in the Underberg area carrying out an alien plant species survey. Just after 11am, a farm worker heard the chopper some distance away… Seconds later, there was a loud bang as it smashed into the ground.Both pilot and passenger were killed in the crash. WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite “I’ve always been fascinated with flying, but there is something about helicopters that was just extra special. As a child, I knew what I wanted to be,” Blake Simpson told the NKZN Get It Magazine in an exclusive interview in April 2014. See full interview.Blake had recently changed employment and had started flying for a PE-based company.
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite A pedestrian was knocked down in Kandahar Avenue this morning (Tuesday).Sharaj Ambulance Services rushed out to attend to the injured person. Public Safety and police were also at the scene.Motorists and other pedestrians stopped to see what was going on. The accident victim sustained moderate injuries and was taken to hospital.
Kensington Palace has confirmed dates for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s visit to the Pacific including Fiji and Tonga.It’s the first major tour for the royal couple outside the United Kingdom.The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit Suva on October the 23rd and 24th and Nadi on the 25th from where they’ll depart for Tonga.The couple will be in Nuku’alofa until Friday the 26th.Their two week Pacific visit starts in Australia and ends in New Zealand.The programme focuses on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts.[Source: Radio NZ]The post More details for Prince Harry and Meghan’s Pacific tour appeared first on Discover the South Pacific.Source: Blog
Then coach Bell explains why he doesn’t believe kids should be tweeting those “blessed to receive an offer from…” messages that fill people’s timelines.“If a kid visits here and he has a genuine interest, I have no problem extending an offer. But if a kid just wants to be recruited, nah, I’m not going to appease you. I don’t want you tweet out what you’re ‘blessed to receive,’ if you have no intention of coming here.“You have no idea of what I’m trying to offer you if that’s your motive.”See more from coach Bell in the clip. Recruiting is the lifeblood of every good program, regardless of what division we’re talking about. One of the realities of recruiting is that some places are harder to sell than others, and that tends to be more and more evident with coaches that have a few stops on their coaching journey. Some coaches can sell sunshine and the beach, some can sell tradition or the league they compete in, and others have to get a little more creative with their pitch.Kelvin Bell, the assistant defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Iowa, answered some questions recently about the challenges of recruiting future Hawkeyes, the type of kids they’re going after and they’re recruiting philosophy, and also and shared some interesting perspective on modern-day recruiting and how scholarship offers are viewed by student-athletes today.“Kids have no idea what an offer means. They have no idea what an offer means. I showed those guys an NLI – a National Letter of Intent – and asked those kids, ‘Have you ever seen this before?’” Bell asked, with Hawk Central there to capture it on video.Bell explained that the kids responded that they hadn’t before going on to tell them, “This never gets tweeted out, because when this is in front of you, that’s when it’s real. All the offers and things of that nature, the really nice graphics you’ll get on August 1st when we’re able to make official offers, doesn’t mean anything until you get an official letter of intent in front of you. You only get one. You can have a dozen offers, but you’ll only get one National Letter of Intent and you sign with one school.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Sponsored By Connatix
— Alexander Honig (@AlexanderHonig1) July 29, 2019According to a Bleacher Report profile, Alexander’s father, James, became a fan of American football in 1981 as a 15-year-old. James’ fandom eventually became a passion, and he played in two European Championships as a linebacker on the All-Germany team.James eventually stopped playing and moved into coaching, and Alexander began playing at age 14. He grew into a 6-foot-6 quarterback with 11-inch hands and an arm that can throw the ball from Deutschland to Normandy.“He’s enormous, strong and athletic,” 247Sports scouting director Barton Simmons told B/R. “He has very unique physical traits and a cannon for an arm.”Aside from the fact he grew up an ocean away from the United States, Honig is a prototypical American teenage quarterback. He traveled the East Coast attending as many camps and combines as his schedule would allow. He watches Last Chance U. He has a YouTube highlight tape with a generic soundtrack.Of course, it takes more than a highlight tape for a German player to catch the attention of American college coaches, so to bridge the gap Honig turned to Premier Players International, a recruiting service started by former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Brandon Collier, who became aware of American football talent among European players while playing overseas.“You made me believe that even though I am a (G)erman QB I would get to play at a D1 school and look at how it played out now,” Honig thanked Collier in his commitment announcement. “Without you I wouldn’t be in this position I am today.”Honig is not the first German or even European player to commit to a big-time American college football player. German-born Bjorn Werner played at Florida State and was a first-round selection of the Indianapolis Colts in 2013 — though he attended high school in Connecticut. Margus Hunt left Estonia for SMU in order to become an Olympic discus thrower and is now a Colts defensive lineman.More recently, quarterback Luke Wentz signed with Virginia’s 2019 class out of Troisdorf, Germany.The Germany-to-U.S. recruiting market is officially open for business — 70 years in the making. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Sponsored By Connatix On April 3, 1948, President Harry Truman signed the European Recovery Program, a $12 billion plan to fund the reconstruction of war-torn Western Europe. In what would become the Marshall Plan, the goal was not just to pull Western Europe’s economies back to its feet, but to help America’s former enemies — even the former Nazi Germany — but to win them over to the American way of life, both politically and culturally.On July 29, 2019, the Marshall Plan finally became complete, when a German-born 17-year-old achieved the most American of endeavors — he announced over Twitter his commitment to a college football program.Alexander Honig, a 6-foot-6 quarterback who lists a 40-yard dash of 4.7 and can broad jump 9’7″, has joined TCU’s 2021 class.Committed! @TCUFootball@TCUCoachP @SonnyCumbie_TCU @Kennyhill13 @CoachAltman @PPIRecruits pic.twitter.com/D9n8gkTaNw
Cyprus has the highest consumption of cocaine in Europe, a new study by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported.Among respondents who reported using cocaine, the proportion using the drug frequently (on more than 50 days in the last year) ranged from none at all in the Czech republic to over 10 per cent in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Italy and Luxembourg, the drug report concluded.Cocaine consumption varied between countries, ranging from an average of 1.3 grammes per day of use in Austria, Belgium and France to 3.5 grammes in Cyprus.Methamphetamine use, generally low and historically concentrated in Czech and Slovakia, now appears to be present also in Cyprus and other countries, the annual report found.In Cyprus, between 20 and 50 per cent of opioid clients enter treatment for problems related to the use of other opioids, such as oxycodone.Some 4.3 per cent of young adults aged 15 to 34 in Cyprus used cannabis in the past year, while 7 per cent of teenagers 15 and 16 years old have used the drugs during their life.According to the report, current data on cocaine show that both the number of seizures and the volumes seized are at an all-time high in Europe.“Cocaine enters Europe through numerous routes and means, but the growth in large-volume trafficking, using maritime shipping containers, stands out as a major challenge,” it said.There are signs that the increased cocaine availability is resulting in growing health costs. Since 2014, the number of new clients in Cyprus entering treatment for cocaine problems, although still relatively low, has increased by over 35 per cent, with around two-thirds of countries noting an increase.President Nicos Anastasiades warned earlier this year that the proliferation of drugs has taken on large dimensions, calling for public cooperation to help police fight the issue. You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoSmart Tips DailySeniors With No Life Insurance May Get A $250,000 Policy If They Do ThisSmart Tips DailyUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Share22Tweet57ShareEmail79 Shares“Wall request,” extraterilaMay 7, 2019; SlateFive days ago, we published a story about Alabama’s new anti-abortion bill, which would incarcerate doctors who perform abortions at any stage of pregnancy for up to 99 years. Yesterday in Georgia, a bill was signed into law that would impose a life sentence—or even the death penalty—for women who elect to abort after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. Even if a woman goes out of state to avail herself of the procedure, she could be charged with conspiracy to murder, along with whoever has transported her.HB 481 declares that “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that deserves “full legal recognition.” Thus, Georgia law must “recognize unborn children as natural persons”—not just for the purposes of abortion, but as a legal rule.A woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.Although this is definitely one of those state laws written expressly to get a Roe v. Wade challenge in front of the now-conservative-majority Supreme Court, it is also a prosecution that would not be foreign to the state. Even before the law was passed, a prosecutor in Georgia charged one woman with murder after she improperly used an abortion pill in an attempt to end her pregnancy. The case was dropped once the prosecutor found it legally impermissible; starting next year, no barriers stand against such a prosecution.The Medical Association of Georgia and the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians opposed the legislation, and the ACLU of Georgia said they would challenge the bill as “unconstitutional.” Heartbeat bills have already become law in Mississippi and Kentucky. Other states considering such legislation include Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, and Ohio.—Ruth McCambridgeShare22Tweet57ShareEmail79 Shares
Share10Tweet26ShareEmail36 Shares“Protest sign.”May 7, 2019; Wall Street JournalLast October, NPQ covered the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and noted that of the first 19,321 applications submitted for loan forgiveness, a grand total of 55 passed muster. Those numbers came out last year from a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report and were based on requests submitted as of April 2018.According to Michelle Hackman of the Wall Street Journal, data is now available through March 2019 and the numbers are…not much better.As Hackman writes, “More than 73,000 people have applied for debt forgiveness as of March 31 of this year, according to Education Department data, but just 864 have had their loans erased.”While the odds of getting loan forgiveness approved have quadrupled—from 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent—it’s no surprise the other 98.8 percent are none too pleased.Back in 2016, an article in NPQ by Nancy Berlin and colleagues at CalNonprofits extolled the benefits of the PSLF program:The federal government offers a program that makes staying in the public sector easier: Public Service Loan Forgiveness. PSLF eliminates your debt after 10 years of payments. Shockingly few people know about this program (see the chart below) but it can bring life-changing debt relief to thousands of nonprofit employees—and it’s also a great recruiting tool for nonprofit executive directors and HR managers.[…]In a nutshell, the PSLF is a federal program from the Department of Education that helps nonprofit staff with student debt stay in the sector by forgiving the balance of their student loans after 10 years of payments. Since 120 qualifying payments must be made on eligible federal student loans after October 1, 2007, the first applications for debt relief will be accepted in October of 2017.One can understand the enthusiasm. Clearly, having debt written off after 10 years would be life-changing, if implemented. Instead, it’s been a bureaucratic nightmare. Tripwires are almost everywhere. As Hackman explains, to be eligible for forgiveness, a borrower “must work for a government entity or nonprofit, hold a certain type of loan, enroll in one of several specific repayment plans and make 120 full and on-time monthly payments, or 10 years’ worth. Falling short on almost any of these requirements can mean disqualification.” Hackman adds that “antipathy from conservatives—particularly in the Trump administration—who would prefer the program had never been created” have exacerbated this.Rejections occur for many reasons. According to the US Department of Education, one in six (16 percent) “borrowers had the wrong type of loan, making them permanently ineligible.” Another 25 percent, notes Hoffman, “were turned away due to missing information in applications, a potentially fixable error.” About 53 percent were denied for not making enough payments, which could be a) a counting error or b) having an ineligible repayment plan for part of the 10-year period.How many ways can one fall into that 98.8 percent rejection rate? Several. One problem affecting many law students concerns the fact that from 2007 to 2010, back when loans could either come from a bank or the federal government, only government loans were forgivable, but nearly all law school loans were from private banks.“Congress,” Hoffman notes, “went on to eliminate federally guaranteed private loans entirely in 2010, making all future loans eligible for public-service discharge, but private loans taken out before that time remained ineligible.”Then there is the story of Bonnie Svitavsky, who Hoffman profiles. Svitavsky accumulated student loan debt to get two master’s degrees and has worked for 10 years in a public library near Tacoma, Washington.Hoffman explains her story: First, Svitavsky lost 23 months because her servicer had her on an extended repayment plan, which is ineligible for forgiveness. Fortunately, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Congress created a temporary fund of $700 million to allow workarounds, but only 442 have achieved loan forgiveness through this measure.As for Svitavsky, with those 23 payments credited, she filed for forgiveness of her $80,000 loan balance again in August 2018. But because three servicers had handled her account, she missed one payment each time there was transfer. Rejection number two. Then she made those three payments, applied again, and was rejected a third time. Her case is currently under appeal.Svitavsky surely speaks for many when she tells Hoffman, “It’s deeply frustrating, because you know you’re done, and you’ve jumped through all these hoops. It feels like a broken promise.”—Steve DubbShare10Tweet26ShareEmail36 Shares
Share3Tweet9ShareEmail12 Shares“ID Requirements Are Changing,” Eric FischerMay 6, 2019, Civil BeatIf you’ve renewed your driver’s license recently, you are likely aware that new requirements for a federally recognized REAL ID make the process more complicated, requiring more items to prove your citizenship, residency, and so on. If you are a Micronesian living in Hawaii, it turns out you can’t get a federally recognized driver’s license at all.Civil Beat reporter Anita Hofschneider explains that local resident Charity Joel, a Micronesian who has lived in Hawaii for 19 years, found herself in this predicament when she took the day off from work to renew her license.According to guidance from the US Department of Homeland Security, non-US citizens must present visas or employment authorization documents to receive driver’s licenses or state IDs compliant with REAL ID. But there’s a hitch: Micronesians are legally entitled to migrate to the US under the Compact of Free Association without these documents. COFA gives the US military access to one million square miles of the Pacific, and in exchange allows residents of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia, the ability to live and work in the US. About 20,000 Micronesians live in the state of Hawaii.Tatjana Johnson, managing attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, told Hofschneider, “It’s crazy because there is no visa, so why are you asking for it? It just doesn’t apply.”According to Civil Beat, citizens of COFA nations can apply for employment authorization documents without paying fees, but it can take up to six months to get these documents. In the meantime, people who work at the airport or in other jobs that require a federally approved ID could lose their jobs, says Johnson.The REAL ID law, which originally failed to include COFA citizens, was amended in December 2018 to ensure these legal residents could get federally approved driver’s licenses. But Senator Maize Hirono (D-HI) expressed concern that Homeland Security is misinterpreting the amendment. She told Civil Beat:I am concerned that the Trump administration is ignoring the spirit of the law and making it unnecessarily difficult for COFA citizens to get the IDs and driver’s licenses they need to live and work in this country. Everyone deserves equitable access to identification, and I will continue to explore all avenues to force the administration to comply with the letter and intent of the law.Spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation Shelly Kunishige expressed sympathy but claimed that the state had to follow federal policies. According to Kunishige, the state only learned of the new requirements in April.Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Honolulu Department of Customer Services, told Civil Beat that COFA citizens could get limited-purpose driver’s licenses, the same licenses issued to undocumented citizens. But no one offered this option to Charity Joel when she applied for her license.For those who don’t drive, the hurdle is even higher. A law that would have given COFA residents access to limited-purpose state IDs failed to pass the legislature this year. That leaves no options for a legal ID for non-drivers.Advocates for the Micronesian community in Hawaii see this latest barrier to full participation in civic life as one more example of the institutional discrimination they face. Nearly half of the Marshallese in Hawaii live in poverty, and due to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, Micronesians cannot access most public benefits, including Medicaid. The result is they cannot access the medical care they need, and many live in substandard housing or on the streets.Johnson, the Legal Aid attorney, blamed the current situation on the state, which in her opinion should not have accepted new rules “at odds with both federal law and legislative intent.” She told Civil Beat, “People had no warning or ability to prepare for the new policy because the change happened with no public education.”Dina Shek, a law professor at the University of Hawai‘i, said, “I’m especially upset that our Hawaii administrators and leaders would choose to take such a narrow view and create these roadblocks for our community members who have lived here for decades. Hawaii should know better. We should know better.”—Karen KahnShare3Tweet9ShareEmail12 Shares
ShareTweet7ShareEmail7 SharesHollistaylor66 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMay 8, 2019; St Louis Post-Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain DealerFour years of study graphically defined many urgent problems facing residents of the St. Louis metropolitan area. Two more years were spent developing a sweeping set of recommendations to overhaul the area’s complex governmental bureaucracy central to those problems. Town hall meetings were held and robust community robust education efforts were implemented. This week, the results of all that work were shelved in the face of vocal community opposition.When it was formed in 2013, the Missouri Council for a Better Economy desired to become the “catalyst for the removal of governmental, economic, and racial barriers to the region’s growth and prosperity for all of our citizens by promoting unity, trust, efficiency, and accountability.” Under the banner of Better Together, the organization, led by a diverse set of community leaders, concluded that “from inefficient government spending to frequently predatory courts, our region is struggling to thrive.”With serious problems to solve, their proposals were radical. Recognizing that race had shaped the structures that determined who had access to jobs, quality schools, good housing, effective policing, and health care, Better Together wanted massive political rearrangement. According to CityLab, their proposal would “combine the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County in a new type of local government for Missouri: a metropolitan city.”Governed by an elected “Metro Mayor” and a 33‑member council, the new Metro City of St. Louis would have sweeping powers to enact new laws, tax residents, and oversee law enforcement, justice, planning, zoning, and economic development.…Such a consolidation would overnight transform St. Louis into the 10th largest city in the US, with 1.3 million people—larger than San Jose and right behind Dallas.The 88 suburban cities, towns, and villages that surround the City of St. Louis would be “municipal districts” within the new St. Louis and have limited local autonomy. Beyond improved services and the ability to spur growth, Better Together estimated that this consolidation would save $250 million per year.It should be noted that CityLab estimates that “there have been about 40 city-county mergers in the U.S.; in recent decades, major examples include Nashville (1962), Indianapolis (1970), and Louisville (2003). They’re rare because they’re difficult to pull off: Voters may be skeptical of the money-saving arguments for consolidation and susceptible to fears over changing borders between segregated communities. Louisville only got their union done on the fourth try.” It noted back in January that “some were concerned that the proposed merger would dilute local African American political power.”And, indeed, in the end, all of Better Together’s efforts could not overcome fears that power would not be shared equitably. Peter Krouse of the Plain Dealer observes:Proponents never convincingly addressed concerns by other African Americans within the City of St. Louis, where the population is 48 percent black, that they would have a significant say in a metro government that would be only 30 percent black.Two of the city’s aldermen believed that Better Together would “result in a sharp reduction in African-American political influence and representation and thus jeopardize advances made for black residents of St. Louis over the years.”In the wake of the collapse of the Better Together plan, reactions of two suburban leaders indicate how wide the trust gap is. Wellston City Administrator Janice Trigg said she wouldn’t work with Better Together, and Crestwood’s Mayor Grant Mabie said he’d treat the collective as one would treat a political rival—“as the US does with the Russians.” Even that grudging concession, however, was seen as a compromise, rather than risk the possibility of “some hairbrained Better Together Version 2.0” in the future.We are left with some important questions to ponder. Was this failure simply a process problem that could be solved by better efforts to listen and engage? That’s the position of Mark Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University and chair of the campaign to approve the Better Together plan. “I think we need more dialogue about what is actually being proposed,” Wrighton says. “I think there are misunderstandings.” He told the Post-Dispatch that the public needs better information on “the shortcomings of the region, the fragmentation of governments, and the need for reform.”If solving our cities’ problems and healing the scars of racism require the kind of radical restructuring Better Together has proposed, how do we venture into this uncharted territory? Our current era of intense political factionalism does not offer much hope for overcoming longstanding barriers and moving toward a future not controlled by old patterns. Yet, if Better Together’s analysis of the situation is even partially correct, solutions will require a level of trust that was absent in St Louis.—Martin LevineShareTweet7ShareEmail7 Shares
Share5Tweet24ShareEmail29 SharesElizabethForMA / Ayanna Pressley at the Unity Rally – Cambridge, MAMay 9, 2019; Washington PostHappy Mother’s Day…or maybe not so much. The most recent statistics on maternal mortality in the United States show that women are now more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than they were 32 years ago in 1987. In fact, the US has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and those rates have been rising to hit the rate of 18 pregnancy-related maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, per year.The Washington Post notes a lack of concern about mothers in the birthing process, seeing correlation in the fact that “several states with the strictest antiabortion laws have maternal mortality rates over twice the national average.” But race also plays a large role; Black women make up a disproportionate number of these mortalities, dying of pregnancy-related causes at three to four times the rate of white women. According to the CDC, Native American and Alaskan Native women are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.One of the results of new congressional leadership is there is finally strong movement on this issue. Last week, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, with the support of Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, introduced the Healthy MOMMIES Act to the Senate and the House.Pressley, one of fifty members of the new House’s Black Maternal Health Caucus, promotes the new bill as “a community-based, holistic approach to maternal care that recognizes current disparities in healthcare and critical environmental factors impacting communities,” adding, “Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare5Tweet24ShareEmail29 Shares