Category: qmfebvdp

Ottawa professor who died in Ethiopia plane crash remembered for public outreachOttawa professor who died in Ethiopia plane crash remembered for public outreach

first_imgOttawa professor Pius Adesanmi, one of the 18 Canadians killed in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, is being remembered as a public intellectual whose outreach to Africans across the globe shaped the way Canada is seen abroad.A colleague says Adesanmi, as director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies, deepened the academic discipline within Canada and elevated the school’s program to international renown.Nduka Otiono, a fellow Carleton professor and Adesanmi’s friend of 25 years, says the Nigerian-born professor amplified his activism to his “cult following” on social media and by building relationships on the ground in Africa.Otiono says it’s difficult to imagine the depth of the devastation being felt across the globe in the wake of his colleague’s tragic death. A Nigerian representative to African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council told The Associated Press that Adesanmi was on his way to a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, when the jet went down Sunday shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa airport, killing all 157 aboard.Adesanmi, who was also a professor in Carleton’s Department of English Language and Literature, won the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fiction writing in 2010.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Helen Mirren Attends Chelsea Flower Show For Princes TrustHelen Mirren Attends Chelsea Flower Show For Princes Trust

first_imgDame Helen Mirren attended this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in her role as a Prince’s Trust Ambassador.She visited the Burncoose Garden, as well as meeting a Trust-supported gardening business.Since 2003, Prince’s Trust Patron Terra Firma Capital, has sponsored the Burncoose Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where they promote the support they give to The Trust.Terra Firma Capital have been proud Patrons of The Prince’s Trust for ten years and their support has helped disadvantaged young people through The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and xl clubs.Dame Helen Mirren reflected on why she supports the work of The Prince’sTrust, after meeting Trust-supported gardener Dan Hallett: “I have been fortunate in life. I always knew that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry and was lucky enough to carve a successful career as well as have the support of my family.“Sadly, others are not so lucky. Many young people don’t have the support and guidance they need to create a future for themselves, or they’ve fallen victim to the ever-present youth unemployment crisis.“For the hundreds of thousands of young people out there who are struggling to get a foothold in life, the future can seem bleak. Youth unemployment can breed low self-esteem and sometimes even depression.“I’m a Prince’s Trust Ambassador and a huge supporter of the youth charity’s work because they believe every young person deserves a chance in life.“Not only do they help young people move into work, training or education, but they invest heavily in their Enterprise programme, which helps the hardest-to-reach young people set up in business.“This is why I was thrilled to attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show yesterday as an Ambassador for The Trust. Not only did I visit a garden which is donating valuable funds to the charity – I met with a Trust-supported young person who has successfully created his own business in the gardening world despite the tough economic climate.”A professional soldier, Dan Hallett returned from Iraq after the birth of his daughter, physically and mentally exhausted. Suffering from flashbacks, he concluded the army was no longer for him.Once discharged, he went through a series of low-paid jobs to support his family. Around this time, his relationship ended leaving Dan with two young children to support.He struggled to get by, experiencing periods of depression and loneliness. Doubting his abilities, Dan had lost confidence and belief in himself.Things began to look up when he approached The Prince’s Trust for supporting in starting a gardening business.He went through The Trust’s Enterprise programme, which has helped 80,000 young entrepreneurs since 1983 with support from funders like RBS. This made him realise that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. With this support and funding, he managed to start his own business ‘Gardeners R Us’.Today, Dan is a different person to the world-weary ex-soldier he once was. His business is going from strength to strength and he has taken on 30 new clients in the past two months alone. Dan is also creating jobs for others in his local community, having already recruited three members of staff to help him grow his business.It is also incredibly inspiring that Dan’s main goal is to provide for his family and be a positive role model to his children.Dame Helen Mirren said, “It is stories like Dan’s which remind me why I’m so proud to be an Ambassador for The Trust. The economic climate has hit young people the hardest, leaving them exposed to low self-esteem and unemployment. With our help, The Prince’s Trust can help turn around tens of thousands of lives every year.”Source:Prince’s Trustlast_img read more

CORRECTED USW mill workers in Fort St John to vote on strikeCORRECTED USW mill workers in Fort St John to vote on strike

first_imgCORRECTION: United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 President Brian O’Rourke has clarified yesterday’s announcement, saying that a strike vote is only being held by workers at 13 mills owned by members of the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations, or Conifer. A press release issued by the union had quoted USW Wood Council Chair Bob Matters as saying that the union was “bargaining for 23 different worksites…” O’Rourke said however that only 13 worksites are currently in talks, and suggested that the press release may have contained a typo.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Officials with the United Steelworkers Wood Council say that members of USW Local 1-2017, which represents workers at the Canfor sawmill in Fort St. John, will be conducting a strike vote after talks broke down with their employer.In a release, the USW says that the Wood Council recently held a fifth round of negotiations with the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations, or Conifer, which is a non-profit society that was formed for the purpose of coordinating collective bargaining activities for member organizations. He added that the vote needs to be conducted in the next two weeks. Among the members of Conifer are Canfor’s sawmills in Fort St. John and Prince George, Canfor Energy North’s Fort St. John and Chetwynd operations, West Fraser’s Williams Lake division, and the Conifex mill in Mackenzie, in addition to over a dozen other mills across Northern B.C.However, the USW says that talks with Conifer broke down because of what it claims was the employer being unwilling to listen to the concerns of union members.“We are looking for improvements to our working conditions,” said USW Wood Council Chair Bob Matters. “The employer is unwilling to discuss the most basic proposals. Our workers are demanding changes and we will fight for them. We are bargaining for 23 different worksites and it’s time to send them a message.”The union said in their release that has proposed changes to the collective agreement that includes leave for members struggling with domestic violence, union representation and pension funding improvement.“Our goal is to get a fair contract for our members,” said USW Local 1-2017 President Brian O’Rourke. “The employers are having one of the best economic years in decades and workers should share in this prosperity.”Matters said that over 1,500 workers will be participating in a vote for the union to get a strike mandate from each worksite covered by Conifer, which includes the two locations in the Peace Region.last_img read more

Foxconn buys building across street from Wisconsin CapitolFoxconn buys building across street from Wisconsin Capitol

MADISON, Wis. — Foxconn Technology Group announced Friday it was buying a six-story office building across the street from Wisconsin’s state capitol to house an off-campus research centre it will run as part of a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.The purchase is the latest in a string of buildings Foxconn has acquired in Racine, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Eau Claire as it expands its reach across Wisconsin beyond its massive campus in the southeast part of the state.The Taiwanese-based company is the world’s largest electronics provider, with Apple, Google and Amazon all as customers. Foxconn has said it will build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin to make liquid crystal display screens for cellphones, tablets, televisions and other devices.Foxconn has said that campus will employ 13,000 people and cost $10 billion, which would net the company about $4.5 billion in state and local tax credits. Construction of the manufacturing facility was to begin this year and is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020.But critics of the deal, struck with the help of President Donald Trump who came for a groundbreaking ceremony, have questioned whether Foxconn will follow through as promised.Speaking to an audience that included officials with Gov. Tony Evers’ administration, the president of the University of Wisconsin System and other business and government leaders in Wisconsin, Foxconn’s Alan Yeung addressed concerns about its plans for the Madison building.“Foxconn will be a good neighbour and I can also assure you that building will not be an empty building,” Yeung said to a smattering of nervous laughs.Yeung, a UW graduate and Foxconn’s director of U.S. strategic initiatives, later told reporters the buildings have to be “adequate and well-equipped” before workers move in.“We don’t actually make an effort to acquire buildings to leave them empty,” he said. “We do have a plan.”Yeung would not say how many people he expected would be working at the Madison office, dubbed Foxconn Place, but said it would be “sizable.” He said Foxconn would have employees there by the end of the year.Foxconn and UW-Madison last summer announced a collaboration under which Foxconn promised to invest $100 million in engineering and innovation research, if the university came up with an equal amount. Part of that deal including constructing a new College of Engineering building and also having an off-campus site, which would be the building across from the Capitol.Foxconn said UW-Madison students along with staff, faculty and researchers would collaborate to support research and development initiatives in various areas, including medicine and computer and data sciences.BMO Harris Bank owns the six-story building Foxconn was buying and operates a branch on the main level that will remain along with its roughly 100 employees.Yeung and BMO Harrison U.S. CEO David Casper declined to discuss terms of the sale, including how much Foxconn paid and how much space in the 55,000-square-foot building it would occupy. City records put the value of the property at about $5 million.The sale has not closed yet, but Yeung and Casper both said it was imminent.Foxconn has also purchased a building in Milwaukee for its North American headquarters and buildings in Green Bay, Eau Claire and Racine for innovation centres.___Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at Bauer, The Associated Press read more

Thailand donates 3000 metric tonnes of rice to UN food effort forThailand donates 3000 metric tonnes of rice to UN food effort for

In its largest-yet donation to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Thailand has contributed 3,000 metric tonnes of rice for the agency’s relief efforts in Afghanistan, a WFP spokesman announced today.”The rice from Thailand, worth $678,000, is enough to feed some 360,000 Afghans for one month,” WFP spokesperson Jordan Dey told reporters in Islamabad.WFP Deputy Country Director David Fletcher said the food would “assist a nation struggling to be reborn.” Welcoming the donation, he called on other countries to follow suit. “WFP needs all the help it can get to feed millions of Afghans both within and outside of their country,” he said.The agency, which has been working in Afghanistan for over three decades, is currently running a $230 million emergency operation to assist 7.5 million hungry people in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. read more

Ban rings Wall Street closing bell welcomes NY Stock Exchange to UNBan rings Wall Street closing bell welcomes NY Stock Exchange to UN

“There are few better places than this trading floor for appreciating the realities global economic activity and investment trends. Shocks here ripple across the world, with grave consequences for the most poor and vulnerable” Mr. Ban said in his remarks just before ringing the closing bell on Wall Street to welcome NYSE Euronext to the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. The Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative explores how exchanges can work together with investors, regulators, and companies to enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on environmental, social and corporate governance issues and encourage responsible long-term approaches to investment. Since its creation in 2009, eight exchanges have joined, with nearly 13,000 listed companies in developed and emerging markets. “The addition of the world’s largest stock exchange to this group is a significant forward step, signalling the importance and relevance of sustainability to the private sector around the world,” Mr. Ban said.“But the world will need more exchanges, investors and companies to join forces with Governments and civils society if we are to achieve a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable future.” “The daily index of profit and loss is a measure of the hopes and plans of people from all walks of life – from the wealthiest investors to nurses and teachers looking forward to a comfortable retirement,” the Secretary-General said. He stressed that the private sector plays a central role in creating solutions for the world’s most pressing needs, and added that responsible business is essential to rebuild trust in markets, particularly after seeing the consequences of the global financial crisis. ‹ › Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and rings the closing bell. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas “Investment must be sustainable – delivering value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and developmental terms,” he said. Mr. Ban noted that investors are increasingly realizing that development challenges such as climate change, poverty and inequality, are long-term risks that threaten stability and businesses, and are therefore embracing social, economic and environmental sustainability. “That is why the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment now has more than 1,200 signatories who collectively manage over $34 trillion dollars in assets,” he said. “Each has committed to incorporate sustainability into their investment decision making, ownership practices and engagement with companies.” Mr. Ban, who will ring the NYSE bell today to close the markets, thanked NYSE Euronext for committing to the SSE initiative and urged stock exchanges around the world to follow its lead. read more

Torture is unacceptable and unjustified at all times underscore top UN officialsTorture is unacceptable and unjustified at all times underscore top UN officials

In his message to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the “absolute prohibition” of torture is “stipulated in unequivocal terms” as a foundational principle, including within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.“Much has been achieved in the fight against this and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and treatment, yet more action is needed to eradicate torture fully,” he said.“Torture remains unacceptable and unjustified at all times, including during states of emergency, political instability, or even in a war.”In the message, the Secretary-General also paid tribute to all who stand in solidarity with the victims of torture and their families, and underscored that the victims have the right to justice, rehabilitation and redress.Commemorated annually on 26 June, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture marks the moment in 1987, when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, came into effect.The International Day also serves as a rallying cry for all stakeholders including UN Member States, civil society and individuals to unite in support of victims of torture and those who are still subjected to the ghastly practice. It also highlights the need for prompt and specialized rehabilitation programmes to help victims “make the transition from horror to healing.”“It takes decades to restore this broken human being as a result of the effects of a pernicious attack on their body and their mind,” said High Commissioner Zeid in a separate message.In his message, the UN rights chief also reiterated the vital role played by the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, a unique victim-focused mechanism that channels funding for the assistance to victims of torture and their families that helps over 50,000 torture victims and their families every year.The UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, also underlined the need for stable and peaceful States everywhere, to support victims of torture.“If you do not pay attention” to the victims, he said, “and if you leave them unattended, they are the ones will keep the wounds of a State open because their suffering hasn’t been addressed.The High Commissioner for Human Rights added that the Fund plays a “critical role in restoring some sense of humanity to societies and societies” where torture is still used. read more

SMMT members awarded government fundingSMMT members awarded government funding

SMMT members, Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive, have been awarded funding for the development of an all-electric city car, government announced today. The T.27 project is supported through a £4.5 million investment from the Technology Strategy Board and a matched contribution from the consortium of Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive. Marketed as a sustainable vehicle, the T.27 is designed to minimise the use of materials. The aim is to ensure that the environmental impact of the materials and energy used are as low as possible. The funding will allow the consortium to develop four prototypes of the vehicle by February 2011. Science and innovation minister Lord Drayson said, “The T.27 is a great example of smart engineering and sustainable design. It’s timely too, as the UK must demonstrate its readiness to exploit the emerging low carbon vehicles market. The challenge is far greater than simply meeting stricter EU emissions targets, we need to expand our car industry through green innovation.” The development of ultra-low carbon vehicles provides an important opportunity for the UK motor industry and SMMT is determined to provide the support mechanisms needed to maximise value to the national economy. To prepare for the expansion of ultra-low carbon technology within the UK motor industry, SMMT has set up the Electric Vehicle Group. The group comprises volume manufacturers, niche vehicle producers and component suppliers and plays an integral role in helping to develop government policy and legislation, research and development and technical regulations regarding electric vehicles. For more information on SMMT membership, click here. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

Scandalhit ambulance trust put into special measures after 111 scandalScandalhit ambulance trust put into special measures after 111 scandal

first_imgEarlier this year, the Care Quality Commission issued a warning notice, after inspectors found a host of failings, including continued delays responding to 111 calls and failings in oversight of the trust.The trust is now expected to be put into special measures, following the publication of a damning inspection report by the watchdog. It comes amid speculation that the trust could merge with neighbouring South Central Ambulance Service. Paul Sutton  Paul Sutton resigned as chief executive of South East Coast Ambulance Service trust in May following the scandal  A scandal-hit ambulance trust which deliberately delayed thousands of 111 calls is to be put into “special measures” over a damning inspection report.South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) has been under scrutiny following a Telegraph investigation which revealed that up to 20,000 patients were subject to delays under a covert operation.The policy, introduced by the trust’s then chief executive, meant patients – including those which classed as life-threatening – were left to wait up to twice as long if their call was referred via the helpline.center_img Under NHS rules, calls designated as “life-threatening” are supposed to receive an ambulance response within eight minutes – regardless of whether the caller dials 999 or the non-emergency 111 line.But the ambulance trust, which covers Sussex, Kent, Surrey and North East Hampshire, unilaterally invented its own system to “stop the clock” and routinely downgrade 111 calls.In May, the trust’s chief executive Paul Sutton was forced to quit over the scandal. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Council tax exemption for pooper snoopers offers mayorCouncil tax exemption for pooper snoopers offers mayor

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. I wouldn’t call anyone who allows their dog to foul outside my house a neighbourJoe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool Liverpudlians can avoid paying council tax for a year if they take pictures of neighbours who fail to clear up after their dogs, the city’s mayor has promised.Snoopers will also be rewarded for providing evidence against fly-tippers and those who do not recycle properly as part of a bid to crack down on “environmental criminals”.Joe Anderson, Liverpool’s first directly elected mayor, said the move would be cost neutral, however experts have warned it could leave the council vulnerable to legal challenge if it failed to show value for money.center_img He told the council’s cabinet that the smell of dog mess in some parts of the city was now “totally unacceptable”.“That is why I am saying that if you provide us with identity of someone who allows their dogs to foul the streets and doesn’t clear it up and that leads to a prosecution, then we will give you your council tax for free,” he said.Mr Anderson said this could be done by providing photographs or video evidence, or by confidentially informing the council of the identities of repeat offenders.He added that the policy would pay for itself because the council would fine offenders the maximum penalty of £1,000 each.An estimated 21,000 tonnes of recyclable goods are needlessly thrown into landfill each year because residents fail to put the waste in the proper bins, according to the city council.The missed recycling adds costs of about £1.2 million a year and is frustrating the body’s aim to recycle 55 per cent of waste by 2020.It is about putting civil pride back into the community,” he said.“I need people to tell me where they know people are throwing bags in an alleyway the day after bin collection.”“I wouldn’t call anyone who allows their dog to foul outside my house a neighbour.“I class them as totally irresponsible and don’t care about their community.”Mr Anderson appeared to suggest the last straw for him had been the sight of his wife returning home from a walk “with dog muck all over his shoes”.“In certain parts of Liverpool now, you get out of your car and you are hit by the smell of it – it’s totally unaccpetable.”Last night legal experts warned that the new scheme could be challenged in the courts by auditors or other tax payers if the tax exemptions ended up costing the council money.Helen Randall, a leading local government partner at Trowers & Hamlins said disputes over what constitutes evidence leading to a prosecution could tie the council up in litigation which may compromise its legal duty to obtain value for money.“This is a very unusual idea,” said, adding that in order not to breach nationwide tax laws, Liverpool City Council would end up having to pay people’s council tax bill themselves, rather than technically waving it.“They would have to be legally quite creative, but they could manage it,” she said.The proposals, which will be formally put to the council next month, are being opposed by the Liberal Democrat opposition, whose leader Richard Kemp said they would not yield many fines.He argued for more dog wardens rather than neighbours reporting each other.last_img read more

Suspected bombs mailed to top Democrats two weeks before US electionSuspected bombs mailed to top Democrats two weeks before US election

(L-R) U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party donor George Soros and former U.S. President Barack Obama are pictured in a combination photograph made from Reuters file photos. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl/Kamil Krzaczynski/Luke MacGregor/Siphiwe Sibeko/FilesWASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Police intercepted suspected bombs mailed to former U.S. President Barack Obama, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other high-profile Democrats, in what New York officials described on Wednesday as an act of terrorism.With the country deeply polarized, the packages brought a new level of tension to Nov. 6 political contests that will decide whether Democrats can challenge the majorities now held by Trump’s Republicans in Congress.The CNN bureau in New York also received a device looking like a pipe bomb, leading police to evacuate the building, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said his office also received a suspicious package. CNN reported that Eric Holder, who was U.S. attorney general under Obama, was also among those targeted.“This clearly is an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference.U.S. President Donald Trump condemned what he called “despicable acts” and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.“In these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America,” Trump said at the White House.“We’re extremely angry, upset and unhappy about what we witnessed this morning, and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump said.A similar pipe bomb was delivered earlier this week to the home of George Soros, a major Democratic Party donor.There has been no claim of responsibility.All of the targets are frequently disparaged by right-wing critics and Trump, whose spokeswoman condemned the acts.“Our condemnation of these despicable acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants. These cowardly acts are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter.Alexander Soros, the son of George Soros, said in an opinion piece published by The New York Times that his father had long faced verbal criticism and threats over his involvement in politics, “but something changed in 2016” when Trump was elected.“Before that, the vitriol he faced was largely confined to the extremist fringes, among white supremacists and nationalists who sought to undermine the very foundations of democracy. But with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, things got worse,” Alexander Soros wrote.He placed direct responsibility with those who sent the devices, but added: “I cannot see it divorced from the new normal of political demonization that plagues us today.”PACKAGES RECOVEREDThe package to Clinton was found late on Tuesday while the one addressed to Obama was recovered early on Wednesday, both during routine off-site mail screenings, the Secret Service said. Obama and Clinton were not at risk, they said.Police intercepted what appeared to be a live explosive device and an envelope containing white powder at the Time Warner Center, where the CNN newsroom in New York is based, Police Commissioner James O’Neill told the news conference. Experts were analyzing whether the powder was a dangerous substance, he said.In the weeks following the attacks of September 11, 2001, anthrax spores were mailed to news media offices and two U.S. senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others.CNN is a frequent target of Trump, who routinely calls the news media the “enemy of the people” and belittles critical coverage as “fake news.”Officials said the package received by CNN was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, a periodic guest commentator on the cable network.Brennan has been an outspoken critic of Trump, calling the president’s performance during a July joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki “nothing short of treasonous.”Media reported that other mailed devices had also been intercepted, apparently with the return address of U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic Party national chairwoman.Wasserman Schultz’s office was evacuated after a suspicious package arrived in the mail, WFOR-TV in Miami reported, citing Sunrise police. CNN said the package was meant for Holder but sent to the wrong address and returned to Wasserman Schultz’s office.A source familiar with the matter earlier said a suspicious package addressed to the White House had also been intercepted, but soon after said that information was wrong. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedDe Niro, Biden latest suspected bomb targets as Trump slams mediaOctober 25, 2018In “World”FBI arrests man in Florida suspected of sending parcel bombsOctober 26, 2018In “latest news”Trump will get wake-up call when he takes office, Obama saysNovember 15, 2016In “latest news” read more

Analysis What does Jamie Heaslip do for IrelandAnalysis What does Jamie Heaslip do for Ireland

first_imgHeaslip contributed to another of Ireland’s turnovers earlier in the game, when Gordon D’Arcy wrapped up Aaron Smith and the No. 8 piled into to create the choke tackle. This example again demonstrates Heaslip’s intelligence as a player.As you can see in the screen grab below, Heaslip is grabbing and holding up players who aren’t even on the ball. He’s preventing any chance the All Blacks players have of bringing the choke tackle to the ground. It’s a simple thing again, but it helps.There were a couple of other examples of Heaslip getting close to turnovers and frustrating the All Blacks at the breakdown when they were defending. The No. 8 was something of a thorn in the side for Steve Hansen’s men in this area.AttackHeaslip made a total of nine carries over the course of the afternoon for Ireland. He didn’t make a huge amount of yardage in those carries, but all of them created forward momentum for his team. One of the batons used to beat Heaslip in recent seasons has been his failure to stand out in this area for Ireland, but it’s a nonsensical argument.The majority of the ball carrying Heaslip does for Ireland is in positions like that above, close in to the rucks. It’s difficult to make line-breaks and bounce defenders off in here, simply due to the build up of bodies in front of him.Some critics wonder why Heaslip is less visible than someone like Sean O’Brien in attack, but the No. 8 has a different role. One aspect of his duties is to maintain width for Ireland after set pieces. He is often off camera, keeping defenders occupied by holding wide positions.It’s a thankless task and there is strong temptation to abandon it and head into the ruck area for a slice of the action. Kieran Read performs a similar role for New Zealand – holding width – but the difference is that the All Blacks move the ball out to him regularly, whereas Ireland haven’t played with width in recent years.Against Samoa and Australia, Ireland used O’Brien to hit the ball up in midfield on first phase after line-outs, but it was Heaslip who stepped into that role twice against the All Blacks. It’s a promising development, particularly as it may eventually free up the flanker to carry the ball in later phases, when he excels.RucksHeaslip is one of the top ruck specialists for Ireland, and many of the defensive strengths we highlighted above are useful in attack too. Against the All Blacks, the 29-year-old was involved in 16 attacking rucks.Only one of those involvements was negative, coming after just 35 seconds when Heaslip was slow to the ruck and allowed Wyatt Crockett to make a turnover. That apart, the No. 8 was effective. Quite a few of his attacking rucks involved acting as guard, where he simply provided protection over the ball, but there were five excellent clear outs of opposition defenders too.Heaslip is usually very quick to recognise any threats of a turnover against Ireland and remove the offending player. The example above highlights one of those occasions against the All Blacks. Ma’a Nonu is having an effort to steal the ball, but Heaslip is swift to remove him and Ireland retain possession.Even when Heaslip is acting as a guard in the ruck, he is clever at involving defenders around the fringes. The screen grab below shows a typical example, where the No. 8 is dragging Cory Jane into the ruck. Again, it’s a simple thing, seemingly meaningless, but it means that Jane is slightly delayed at getting back into the defensive line.Set pieceHeaslip was obviously involved in every single scrum in the game from his position at No. 8. He is skillful in controlling the ball at the base of the scrum and he made two pop passes to Conor Murray from that position against the All Blacks.The Leinster man made only one catch at the line-out against New Zealand, popping the ball off the top after a clean take at the front of the line-out. He made a single lift in the entire game, on Paul O’Connell in defence, but it didn’t lead to a steal.OverallIt may not have been spectacular from Heaslip against the All Blacks, but that is not his role for Ireland now. Instead, he was as doggedly effective as ever in contributing to one of Ireland’s best performances in recent times.Which Connacht stadiums could be part of the Rugby World Cup bid?Analysis: Two minutes of hell for Ireland against the All Blacks JAMIE HEASLIP PLAYED the full 80 minutes of all three of Ireland’s November Tests, captaining the side against Samoa.The 29-year-old is vice-captain for the team and rated as one of the most important players within the set up. He has won Heineken Cups, a Grand Slam and gone on two Lions tours. Despite clearly being an excellent rugby player, there are still doubters.Much of the criticism of Heaslip in recent years has quite probably been based on his off the pitch activities, which is hard to understand. Rugby players should be judged on what they do during games, and Heaslip rarely lets his teams down in that regard.We’ve taken a detailed look at Heaslip’s performance for Ireland against the All Blacks on Sunday to see exactly what he contributes to this Ireland team.DefenceThis is an area where Heaslip nearly always excels. The No. 8 is exceptionally fit and very often ends games as Ireland’s leading tackler. The clash against New Zealand was one of those occasions, as Heaslip completed 24 tackles.He did make a poor start in terms of tackling, missing Aaron Cruden with his first attempt in the sixth minute and allowing the out-half to break Ireland’s line. It was a case of not getting his feet close enough to the All Black before attempting the tackle and that meant he couldn’t use his shoulder (below).Thereafter, Heaslip’s defensive input was superb. He didn’t make too many dominant tackles [knocking attackers backwards] but the sheer number of them was hugely impressive. The majority were tackles around the upper body of the All Blacks forwards, wrestling them to ground.There were also a number of low tackles around the ankles of the stronger ball carriers. Heaslip was noticeable in those closing minutes as Ireland tried in vain to keep the All Blacks out, particularly in how he was one of the few players to remain aggressive in terms of line speed.The 29-year-old’s fitness certainly helped in that regard, and is generally one of the reasons he is so prominent in defence.TurnoversHeaslip made one clean steal at the breakdown against the All Blacks and contributed greatly to two other turnovers. The first of those occasions came in the ninth minute, when he bounced back onto his feet after making a tackle on Israel Dagg.The arrow in the screen grab above signifies where the ruck would normally take place in an instance like this. You can see Dagg trying to present the ball from the position he’s been tackled by Heaslip, but in the meantime, the No. 8 has bounced back off the ground and driven over the ball.Heaslip, circled at the bottom of the new ruck, has gone off his feet, but Nigel Owens doesn’t see it as deliberate and Ireland make the turnover. Even when Heaslip doesn’t manage to help Ireland make turnovers, he is a real nuisance at the breakdown in defence. He’s always looking to drag attackers in, or use his feet to slow the ball down [as below].This may seem like a meaningless action, but it frustrates the opposition and slows their possession down slightly. In the example above, Heaslip had had an effort at turning over the ball with his hands, got driven off it and then competed with his feet. It slowed down good All Blacks possession and Ireland were able to re-organise in defence.Heaslip made a clean steal in defence in the 55th minute, with the away team looking threatening. It demonstrated his ability to bounce off the deck once again, as he assisted in a tackle then went back for the ball.It’s quite rare to see a clean turnover at the breakdown nowadays, with most attackers choosing to hang on and concede the penalty, so credit to Heaslip for this one [below].last_img read more

Confusion over lastminute change in leadership of new garda probeConfusion over lastminute change in leadership of new garda probe

first_img THE SENSE OF frustration felt by the group of politicians in Committee Room 1 in the Houses of the Oireachtas was tangible on Thursday morning.It was their chance to question senior gardaí, including Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, about revelations that some one million breath tests that never happened were somehow recorded on the force’s internal system. Though garda management has made itself available for questioning a number of times since the news broke nine days ago – and issued several statements – it is no clearer how this happened.On Thursday, there was added confusion over an apparent last-minute change in leadership of the internal investigation that is supposed to find out exactly that.The appointment of Superintendent Pat MurrayOn 23 March, journalists were invited to the Dublin Metropolitan Headquarters in Harcourt Square so they could be briefed on the breath test scandal and the discovery that hundreds of thousands of summonses had been wrongly issued to drivers.Among the barrage of questions thrown at Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn by the group of baffled reporters was a request for information about what exactly was being done now to find out how this happened and which individuals were responsible for it. Source: An Garda Síochána via Facebook“We have appointed somebody, a Superintendent, to carry out what I’d call a fact finding investigation to establish exactly what went wrong. That will be preliminary to… if we were going to initiate some sort of discipline investigation. We do what we call a fact finding investigation and somebody has been appointed to do that. That’s to look back at the overall bigger picture,” Finn replied.During the questions and answers session, a reporter asked:You’ve already appointed a Superintendent? Confusion over last-minute change in leadership of new garda probe The lack of clarity about who was involved in the internal investigation was highlighted by TD Mick Wallace when he questioned the Commissioner this week. By Michelle Hennessy Short URL Saturday 1 Apr 2017, 6:15 AM We have.Can you tell us who it is?Superintendent Pat Murray from Athlone.What resources does he have? Is he on his own, does he have a team?We will give him all the information and all the data we have that will assist him with that. It is going to take him some time to do that, it will take him time and he will need time doing it.That was Thursday afternoon. Two days later, on Saturday afternoon, the Garda Commissioner’s first statement on the scandal was released.In it, she said she had directed newly promoted Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan and a team to:…undertake a further detailed analysis of the work undertaken to date; consider whether any further remedial actions need to be taken; and confirm whether the issues identified were the result of individual or system failings.She said An Garda Síochána will provide an initial report to the Policing Authority on this work within one month.‘Yes or no?’Fast forward to Thursday morning this week in Committee Room 1. It was Mick Wallace’s turn to grill O’Sullivan, and he wanted to know who, in fact, was conducting the investigation.“Did Superintendent Pat Murray have an involvement in the internal enquiry?” he asked.The Commissioner looked to the chair Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin for direction, stating she did not think it “appropriate to speak about individual members”.Wallace, on request, rephrased the query: “I just read a press report that Superintendent Pat Murray was actually involved in it, but I don’t know if it’s true or not. And I just wanted the Commissioner to confirm if yes or no…”Following further queries, Wallace was told by the chair to “be careful” in the context of warnings given at the outset of all meetings in relation to privilege.“The Commissioner is free to answer as she deems appropriate, and if the matter is inappropriate in her opinion I will accept that is the case and we will move on,” Ó Caoláin added.In her response to Wallace’s line of questioning, the Commissioner said:I thank the chairman. What I can tell the committee here today is that Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan is appointed to conduct the investigation and to establish the facts.The back and forth continued.“So the Commissioner is saying Pat Murray is not involved?” the Wexford TD repeated, at which the chair interjected again.I think, with respect, the Commissioner does not believe that is appropriate in the context that the Deputy has raised and I am respecting that. Is that the Commissioner’s position?“Yes,” O’Sullivan confirmed.“The Assistant Commissioner is in charge of the investigation, there is nobody else in charge of the investigation.”Wallace, again: “So he [Pat Murray] is not involved in it?”The chair cut short O’Sullivan’s reply, directing Wallace to move on.“I will move on. I realise it’s hard to get answers to questions.”Another unanswered question: Why was there a sudden change in leadership of the new garda probe?‘Inappropriate’ sought to clarify this point with An Garda Síochána, asking whether a mistake had been made at the first press conference about the scandal during which Pat Murray was named as the person appointed to conduct the investigation, or whether he had at that time been appointed but a last-minute change was made.We also asked, if this was the case, why a change in leadership of the investigation had taken place 48 hours after his appointment was announced.The Garda Press Office said: “Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan has been appointed to investigate all elements surrounding these issues. As this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to discuss any matters pertaining to this investigation at this time.”After a second query seeking a response about the change, a spokesperson said:“Pat Murray was doing the initial fact-finding. That is now superseded by Michael O’Sullivan. He has taken it over.”They said Murray had done a “brief dipping the toe” and that his work had now been passed up to the Assistant Commissioner to aid his investigation. They clarified that O’Sullivan had been appointed to lead the probe as he is a more senior officer.Read: Questions, unanswered: Scandals are ‘at best, incompetence and, at worst, deception’>Read: Frances Fitzgerald claims she only found out about scale of garda scandal after press conference> Share47 Tweet Email2 center_img Image: Leah Farrell/ Image: Leah Farrell/ Apr 1st 2017, 6:15 AM 25 Comments 24,493 Views Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img read more

California OKs health care for some adult illegal immigrantsCalifornia OKs health care for some adult illegal immigrants

first_img Posted: June 10, 2019 FacebookTwitter AP, Updated: 10:33 AM AP Oralia Sandoval, center, holds her son Benjamin, 6, as she participates in an Immigrants Day of Action rally, Monday, May 20, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed offering government-funded health care benefits to immigrant adults ages 19 to 25 who are living in the country illegally. State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, has proposed a bill to expand that further to include seniors age 65 and older. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Some low-income adults in California living in the country illegally will soon get health benefits.Democrats in the state Legislature on Sunday agreed to make adults between the ages of 19 and 25 eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. Not everyone will get those benefits, only people whose incomes are low enough to qualify for the program. State officials estimate the program will cover an additional 90,000 people at a cost of $98 million.“California believes that health is a fundamental right,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations.The move continues to stake California’s position as a bulwark against the policies of Republican President Donald Trump. While the Trump administration has worked to weaken the health care law signed by former President Barack Obama, the budget agreement approved Sunday and expected to pass the state Legislature later this week would strengthen California’s commitment to the law known as the Affordable Care Act.In addition to covering some adults living in the country illegally, California’s proposed $213 billion budget would make the state the first in the country to help families earning as much as six times the federal poverty level pay for their monthly health insurance premiums. That means families of four earning $150,000 a year would be eligible for help of about $100 a month.But to pay for part of it, the state will begin taxing people who don’t have health insurance. It’s a revival of the individual mandate penalty that had been law nationwide under Obama’s health care law until Republicans in Congress eliminated it as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.Republicans on the legislative committee negotiating the budget voted against the proposal, arguing it was not fair to give health benefits to people who are in the country illegally while taxing people who are here legally for not purchasing health insurance.The budget agreement still must be approved by the full state Legislature. State law requires lawmakers to enact a budget by midnight on June 15. If they don’t, lawmakers would lose their pay. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has 12 days to act on the budget once lawmakers pass it. In a news release, Newsom said the budget initially approved by lawmakers on Sunday is balanced and “creates historic reserves” and said he looks forward “to continuing to work with the legislature.”The health care proposals are a win for first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who proposed both of them. Several lawmakers in the Democratic-dominated state legislature wanted to go further by offering health coverage to all adults living in California illegally. But Newsom opposed that, noting it would cost $3.4 billion.Newsom did not get everything he wanted in the deal. Advocates say more than 1 million people in California don’t have access to safe drinking water. Newsom had proposed a 95-cent tax on most residential water bills as well as fees on dairies, animal farms and fertilizer sellers, to help water districts pay for improvements and boost supplies.Lawmakers rejected the tax, arguing it was too burdensome in a year when the state is projected to have a $21.5 billion surplus — the largest in at least 20 years.Instead, lawmakers decided to use $130 million in existing tax revenue to pay for the drinking water improvements. Most of that money — about $100 million — would come from the state’s sale of carbon credits as part of its “cap and trade” program. The move means the state’s agricultural industry, whose pollution is often blamed for the drinking water problems, would have about $100 million less than it normally gets from the program for various projects.Newsom also wanted to spend an additional $800 million to boost the annual tax refunds for low-income people who have at least one child under the age of 6. But to pay for it, he wanted to selectively adopt some of the changes to the federal tax code that Trump signed into law in 2017. The changes, which would mostly impact businesses, would have brought the state an extra $1 billion.But the legislature did not include the tax changes in its version of the budget proposal. Instead, lawmakers said they hope to reach a tax agreement outside of the budget process by July 1. California OKs health care for some adult illegal immigrants Categories: California News, Local San Diego News, National & International News, Politics June 10, 2019last_img read more

This is Publishings Next New Hope How DepressingThis is Publishings Next New Hope How Depressing

first_imgDearie me. How depressing.How about this for an alternative 21st century publishing strategy?1. Buy what you can afford.2. Maintain a reasonably diversified portfolio. 3. Understand the importance of long-term editorial relationships versus word counts.4. Don’t publicly disparage your journalists’ desire to write well-crafted copy.5. Pay attention to integrated media including print.6. Keep substantially more than 60 percent of your staff happy.In a 15 trillion dollar economy, that’ll work.last_img

Arkansas Regional Publisher Announces Sale to Company PresidentArkansas Regional Publisher Announces Sale to Company President

first_imgMitch Bettis“We continue to add staff to support our ongoing growth, and we have an amazing team of people who work hard every day for our readers and advertising partners,” he added.Farrell, who has led ABPG since 1995, intends to retire at the end of the month.After joining the Arkansas Writers Project in 1978 as part of the ad sales department at the alt-weekly Arkansas Times, Farrell was among the founders of Arkansas Business in 1984 and Southern magazine in 1986, the latter of which was eventually sold to Time Inc. subsidiary Southern Progress Corp. and shuttered as part of a 1990 shakeup there.She became CEO and principal owner of the newly formed ABPG in 1995, after negotiating a spinoff of Arkansas Business and a handful of other titles from the Arkansas Times and the Arkansas Writers Project.Olivia Myers Farrell“[Bettis] is a uniquely talented leader and businessman and a tremendous asset to our community,” said Farrell. “This transition will benefit our readers and our staff, and I look forward to seeing the great things the company will accomplish under his direction.”With a total headcount of 65 employees, ABPG claims that paid circulation at Arkansas Business is at an all-time high (its weekly print readership is 80,000, according to its media kit), and reiterated Bettis’s assessment that the company “logged its fifth consecutive year of record revenue or profit” in 2018.“Olivia has left a unique and indelible mark on our state,” added Bettis. “Her leadership has been marked by more than 100 national and local awards for outstanding publications. She has given her life to building this company, but her community work is just as large a part of her legacy as she has changed the lives of so many people around the state.” Arkansas Business Publishing Group president Mitch Bettis has reached a deal to acquire the company from founder and CEO Olivia Myers Farrell, the pair announced Monday.Effective February 28, the sale includes the company’s flagship weekly, Arkansas Business, as well as the 17 year-old lifestyle title Little Rock Soirée, 25 year-old Little Rock Family (both monthlies) and the twice-annual Arkansas Bride magazine, as well as Flex360, the company’s in-house web development and digital marketing agency. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.Bettis, who will serve as president and CEO after the sale, first joined ABPG in 2013 as GM and publisher of Arkansas Business before being promoted to president of the company a year later. Prior to arriving at ABPG, Bettis spent nearly four years as a regional publisher at GateHouse Media, overseeing regional titles in Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri.Despite “some tough years” for the media industry, Bettis says Arkansas Business, Little Rock Soirée and Arkansas Bride have had “five consecutive years of record growth,” according to an announcement published by Arkansas Business.last_img read more

Bring your own bag campaign to stop plastic usage in KarimnagarBring your own bag campaign to stop plastic usage in Karimnagar

first_imgKarimnagar: To stop plastic pollution and to promote usage of cloth bags, wallpapers ‘Bring Your Own Bag’ were released a programme at Nijaithigudem village of Manakondur mandal in Karimnagar district on Tuesday.Chief Guest Manakondur mandal Tahsildar M Srinivas, Manakondur Police Inspector B Santosh Kumar, Ojha Founder, President & CEO IYSO Team India & Anti-Corruption Team India Ghansham and Nijaithigudem village Sarpanch B Murali participated in the programme to promote ‘Stop Using Plastic & Beat Plastic Pollution’ and distributed cloth bags later. Also Read – Warrant issued against Renuka Chowdhury in cheating case Advertise With Us Speaking on the occasion, Tahsildar M Srinivas urged the people not to use plastic items like cups, glasses, plates etc and not to throw garbage in plastic covers. Asking the people to support the plastic ban strictly, he said that then only we can save the environment. and stopped. The village volunteers were asked to work towards the community betterment. Simple initiatives can help in preventing such immaterial activities and also to make healthy environment. He appreciated the IYSO Team India members for their continues efforts towards community betterment and assured for total support for such noble causes. Also Read – Parts of Hyderabad witness heavy rainfall Advertise With Us Police Inspector B Santosh Kumar requested the people to participate in anti-plastic campaign and to educate all about the hazardous effects due to plastic usage. No country is exempted from plastic pollution and it’s a universal problem and it is time to take the issue seriously and unite all sections of people to promote the ban of single use plastic items with immediate effect. Kumar said the State government is making sincere efforts to control plastic pollution, but the response from the public is very poor. He appreciated the entire IYSO Team India and volunteers for their dedication and added that the police department always supports such noble initiatives and is ready to help for community betterment. Village vice-sarpanch Kalva Sampath, Secretary Shivakoti and others participated in the programme.last_img read more

Arrest of TDP leaders sparks protest by MPArrest of TDP leaders sparks protest by MP

first_imgBhimavaram: The police thwarted the attempt of the TDP leaders to take out a rally in the town protesting the closure of Anna canteens on Friday. They arrested a few leaders on their way to organise the rally followed by dharna. The police said the leaders did not take prior permission for the rally and dharna. Former RTC regional chairman Mente Parthasarathy, Bhimavaram AMC former chairman Kolla Nageswara Rao, Bhimavaram municipality former chairperson M Narayanamma and others were arrested midway attending for rally. They were shifted to police station where TDP district president Thota Sitaramalakshmi rushed and expressed anger over police action. She questioned Circle Inspector Govindarajulu how could they arrest TDP leaders on their way to hold a peaceful rally.. The Rajya Sabha member warned the police of serious consequences if they failed to release the arrested leaders immediately.last_img read more

TxDOT Eyeing Accounting Trick To Get Around Toll Road ProhibitionTxDOT Eyeing Accounting Trick To Get Around Toll Road Prohibition

first_imgManaged toll lanes were added to LBJ Freeway in Dallas when that infamously traffic-clogged corridor was rebuilt almost two years ago. John Brady, the strategy and revenue director for the project, said the addition of managed toll lanes has reduced overall congestion by 60 percent.“The rush hour tended to average 35 to 40 miles per hour,” Brady said. “Today across the system, they averaged 55 miles per hour.”But the managed lanes may not ease congestion for very long. Dave Ellis, a senior researcher at the Texas Transportation Institute, said a concept called induced demand — where drivers who had avoided a congested highway begin using it after it’s improved — has erased the effects of widening other Texas highways.“We’ve seen this before on Interstate 10 in Houston, where there was increased mobility when they added lanes and added toll lanes,” Ellis said. “But then over time, the speeds began to slow down again.”In addition to adding capacity, the managed lanes are seen as revenue generators for future road projects. Once construction loans are paid off, the tolls could generate revenue to pay for maintenance of the main lanes and help build other new roads in a particular metro area.“We’ve got to consider all balance sheet options and make a business decision,” transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin said at a meeting last month. “Emotions get in the way a lot.”A legislative push loomsMichael Morris is the transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, which sets policy and steers federal funds to projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.That region has seen several new managed toll lanes, like those on LBJ Freeway, in recent years. Morris said he plans to continue building more. One reason: They could be reserved for autonomous vehicles as such technology becomes more mainstream.“What’s wrong with using managed lanes to implement next-generation technologies?” Morris said. “Why do we have to put our head in the sand, and not come up with innovative ways to deliver driverless vehicles?”Vandergriff said the transportation commission has yet to formally weigh in on whether using Prop 1 and Prop 7 dollars on roads alongside managed toll lanes is constitutional — or even complies with the spirit of what voters were promised.“We should discuss that in an open forum where we have input from the public and more detailed presentations from staff,” he said. “I don’t think we should make an assumption one way or another.”Pickett, the El Paso Democrat who is seeking an attorney general’s opinion on TxDOT’s financing idea, championed the legislation that helped create Prop 1 and Prop 7. He said legislators in 2019 will likely push bills that further limit how Prop 1 and Prop 7 money can be used — regardless of how the state’s top attorney rules on his request for an opinion.“The devil is in the details, as they say,” he said.  The landslide support of Propositions 1 and 7 came in part because the state touted the fact that the money would be constitutionally forbidden from being spent on toll lanes. But transportation department employees are considering using accounting maneuvers to divvy up the mix of tax dollars and federal loans so that toll lanes could still be added when the agency rebuilds or expands existing Texas highways.Highway corridors that could see managed lanes include U.S. Highway 183 and Interstate 35 in Austin, the eastern portion of LBJ Freeway in Dallas County and I-35 in San Antonio.The idea is that Prop 1 and 7 funds would be spent on the non-tolled main lanes, while the new toll lanes next to them would be funded through gas tax revenue or federal loans that don’t come with restrictions on using them for toll projects.Transportation officials say funding the managed lanes with federal loans backed by toll revenues, while adding non-tolled main lanes with tax dollars, would help TxDOT build more capacity with limited funds.“I don’t see that as inconsistent with the constitutional mandate,” said Bruce Bugg, who chairs the Texas Transportation Commission that oversees TxDOT. Share Cars back up during afternoon weekday traffic on southbound Interstate 45 in Houston north of downtown.Toll lanes were supposed to stop popping up alongside Texas highways. At least, that’s what voters who approved billions of dollars for new state transportation projects thought.Yet the Texas Department of Transportation’s latest plans to unclog congestion in the state’s largest urban areas call for building a bevy of managed toll lanes as the agency rebuilds and adds new lanes to existing highways. “It’s a mess,” said State Rep. Joe Pickett, who is seeking an attorney general’s opinion on whether a controversial new TxDOT financing idea is constitutional.At issue is billions of tax dollars that Texas voters in 2014 and 2015 overwhelmingly agreed to spend on highway projects. Those constitutional amendments steered existing sales taxes and oil and gas taxes to the transportation agency, which now stands to receive an additional $7.2 billion in the next two years. But a litany of conservative Texas groups, including those who heavily influence Texas politics, disagree.“There’s always another bureaucratic plot afoot with perpetual whining that they don’t have enough money,” Grassroots America Executive Director JoAnn Fleming said in a prepared statement this month. “If they spent one-quarter of their time working to eliminate bone-headed, wasteful processes that burn through cash, instead of devising ways to defy the Governor and the state constitution, we’d all be better off.”Gov. Greg Abbott vowed in his first state-of-the-state address to secure more money for TxDOT so highway capacity could be added without new toll lanes. Bugg, who like the commission’s other members is appointed by the governor, said Abbott’s staff is aware of the financing mechanism TxDOT is exploring. Abbott’s office did not respond to requests for comment this week.“Gov. Abbott needs to put his foot down to stop these rogue actions, which undermine his administration,” Fleming said.Extra capacity, extra cash The transportation commission and TxDOT staffers are currently hammering out the state’s Unified Transportation Program, which lays out the long-term plan for funding and prioritizing transportation projects. The commission plans to include in a 2018 update of that document a list of major highway projects that aim to achieve one of Abbott’s chief priorities: unclogging congestion in the state’s metropolitan areas.TxDOT is currently considering whether to include in the long-term plan 17 urban highway rebuilds and expansions, many of which are facing funding shortfalls. Many projects on that list also include managed toll lanes under the plan.Such lanes, sometimes called express lanes, run alongside non-tolled main lanes and generally charge drivers rates that vary based on usage. The tolls increase as the managed lanes become more clogged so that fewer people enter the lanes, with the goal of preventing them from becoming more congested.“The end result will be that traffic in the main lanes will be better,” said Victor Vandergriff, a state transportation commissioner.last_img read more

BlackRock Center for the ArtsBlackRock Center for the Arts

first_imgFatoumata Diawara will perform April 17 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts.Malian singer- songwriter, Fatoumata Diawara, will perform, 8 p.m., April 17, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Md. Tickets are $15-$26. Call (240) 912-1058 or visit to purchase tickets.last_img