Disabled activists are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to release secret reports which could prove whether it has been engaging in a propaganda campaign to demonise disabled people in the media.DWP has told Disability News Service (DNS) that it will not release documents compiled by its own communications department that describe the impact of its briefings to the media on disability benefit reform.DWP initially denied that any such documents existed, but DNS has discovered that a monthly report is compiled describing the impact of its press releases and other media briefings.These reports could reveal how DWP has briefed mainstream newspapers – including the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express – on its social security reforms, and how it judged their subsequent coverage.Disabled activists and opposition politicians have repeatedly raised concerns that ministers or civil servants have briefed newspapers in a way that encourages them to report inaccurate and misleading articles with headlines such as “75 per cent of incapacity claimants are fit to work” and “Disabled benefit? Just fill in a form”.After DNS lodged a freedom of information request in August, asking “whether the department keeps a record of which actions by DWP communications have led to the publication of welfare stories that appear in the media”, DWP initially insisted that no such reports existed.It also denied keeping any record of complaints the department made about social security-based news stories that have appeared in national newspapers over the last five years.Following a fresh request by DNS on 19 September – after discovering a reference to monthly impact reports on a former press officer’s social media profile – DWP has now admitted that it does hold “some of the information” DNS is seeking.But it is now claiming an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act because, it says, releasing the information would “prejudice the commercial interests” of both DWP and “third parties”.DNS has asked DWP to review this decision, and plans to appeal to the Information Commissioner if it does not release the reports.A spokesman for Disabled People Against Cuts said: “It is very much in the public interest to know the extent to which the DWP have been engaging in a propaganda campaign to demonise disabled people in the media.“We already have evidence that this has and is taking place, and we require full disclosure – nothing less is acceptable.”A DWP spokeswoman appeared to suggest that the two FoI requests had asked for different information – which was why DNS was originally told such documents did not exist – and insisted that it did not hold a record of “DWP communications” work*.Asked what the commercial interests were that would be damaged by releasing the reports, she said: “You’ve already asked for a review into this [freedom of information] response.“You will receive the appropriate response once the correct processes have been followed.”And asked if the reports would show that the department had been engaging in a campaign to stir up hostility towards disabled people in the media in order to justify government cuts and reforms to disability benefits, she said: “We disagree with the premise of this question.“DWP press office and communications directorate is proud of the work we do to promote the interests of disabled people.“We promote schemes such as Access to Work, and through our Disability Confident campaign we have helped to dispel myths about employing disabled people and have highlighted the valuable contribution they make to the workplace.“We are particularly proud of our recent work with campaigning groups to persuade the Premier League to make all their stadia accessible by August 2017.”DWP has been the subject of a string of complaints from disabled activists and politicians over its communications with the media over the last five years.In 2011, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was criticised by the work and pensions select committee for “pandering to the Daily Mail” and sending out misleading press releases about incapacity benefit reform.Duncan Smith protested then that he was unable to control how the media covered welfare reform stories, but promised DWP would improve the way it dealt with statistics on disability benefits.Just 24 hours later, he provided quotes to selected news organisations – including the Mail – suggesting that thousands of disabled people were receiving disability living allowance they were not entitled to.In 2013, Esther McVey, at the time the Conservative minister for disabled people, claimed in the Mail on Sunday that coalition plans to abolish working-age DLA had led to a huge increase in applications by people desperate to claim the benefit before it was replaced by the new personal independence payment.The article talked of an “extraordinary ‘closing-down sale’ effect, with rocketing claims as people rush to get their hands on unchecked ‘welfare for life’ before McVey’s axe falls on April 8”.But the interview was based on government figures which actually showed the number of working-age claimants fell by more than 1,600 in the relevant three-month period.The following week, Duncan Smith repeated the claims, even though his department had been alerted to McVey’s use of the misleading figures.And last year, the disabled Tory peer Lord [Chris] Holmes, who heads the equality watchdog’s disability committee, was asked by members of the all-party parliamentary disability group if the hostile rhetoric of his party’s ministers had helped fuel hate crime.Ministers have repeatedly blamed the tabloid press for whipping up hostility towards disabled benefit claimants, and insist that they have done everything they can to “stop the rumour mill”.*By 9pm this evening (19 November), DWP had not been able to clarify how these two requests were different
A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Disabled activists have called for a boycott of the UK’s first accessible shopping day because of its close links with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and fears that CCTV footage could be used to dispute disability benefit claims.Purple, the social enterprise formerly known as Essex Coalition of Disabled People, has secured the support of DWP for next week’s Purple Tuesday event but has denied that there is any “hidden agenda”.Tuesday’s (13 November) event has also secured at least 14 high-profile partners, including retailers M&S, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Argos, and shopping centre owners such as intu and Landsec.One of the partners, intu – which owns and runs shopping centres across the country – today (Thursday) refused to promise not to pass CCTV footage from the event to DWP, while Sainsbury’s has refused to answer questions.Purple is hoping to engage with another 500 retailers across the country, all of which will be asked to make at least one pledge to improve the experience of their disabled customers and show a video to their staff that describes five ways they can improve their customer service for disabled people.But Disability Labour, which represents disabled people who are members of the Labour party – but is independent of the party itself – has called for a boycott of the event.It has raised fears that those companies taking part could pass CCTV pictures from the day to DWP to use against disabled people who have made benefit claims.It highlighted how Sainsbury’s has previously admitted that it occasionally passes CCTV pictures to DWP.Fran Springfield, co-chair of Disability Labour, said: “Disability Labour are deeply concerned that the DWP, which harasses and persecutes disabled people on a daily basis, will use video footage to identify if claimants are shopping, what they’re purchasing and even how far they are walking.”She said the potential of retailers sharing CCTV from the event with DWP was a “huge concern” for disabled people.Springfield said: “I don’t trust DWP any further than I can throw them because of the way they have treated people.”She said Disability Labour was “dismayed” at the involvement of retailers in the campaign.Kathy Bole, co-vice chair of Disability Labour, said: “Sainsbury’s already has form in relation to sharing CCTV footage to spy on disabled benefit claimants.“Their surveillance of disabled people has led to increased distress and isolation.”Disabled People Against Cuts said it supported Disability Labour’s concerns because it had been told of a small number of cases in which disabled people had lost their entitlement to benefits in transferring from disability living allowance to personal independence payment after being found to be “able to go shopping in their wheelchairs”.Mike Adams (pictured), chief executive of Purple, said he was concerned that the boycott would “frighten the living daylights” out of retailers who had been prepared to “put their head above the parapet” and support the Purple Tuesday campaign.He said: “If I had hands, I would throw them up in the air.“I do understand the concerns and I do understand the worries that there might be a hidden agenda. There really, really isn’t.”Purple Tuesday was a “totally independent campaign initiative”, he said, which had received “not one penny” from DWP.He said: “I am frustrated because I thought we had been absolutely clear that this is not government-led or involved or paid for in any shape or form.“There is no agenda. This is absolutely about getting disabled people to be seen as customers and making sure that retailers are aware and understand how you can improve the shopping experience of disabled people.“I would urge them to seriously rethink the boycott. I think it is counter-productive to what we are trying to achieve.”He said there had “never been any conversations” about the sharing of CCTV footage and that “absolutely nothing” DWP had said had led him to believe that it would be using CCTV from the event as evidence to use against benefit claimants.More than 80 per cent of Purple’s board are disabled people, and the organisation provides training for employers, and works with disabled people to find jobs, recruit personal assistants and manage their direct payments.Adams said Purple Tuesday was “an initiative that has been crafted, created, coordinated and delivered by a disability organisation”.He said Purple Tuesday was about awareness-raising on the day itself, but also about “what then happens for the following 365 days”, while a call had gone out to disabled people to describe their “good and bad” retail experiences.He added: “I think it is incredibly important that society understands and sees disabled people as real valued people who have money to spend and who deserve by absolute default a right to a good customer experience.“It is my view that if businesses improve their customer services, more disabled people will spend their money with them, and that will drive business to want to reflect in their workforce their consumer base.“That is an approach that I am hoping will start to really make inroads into some of the inequality… on employment, education, well-being.“I think it goes hand-in-hand with the work that we do to support disabled people on a day-to-day basis.”DWP said that any claims that it would use CCTV footage from the event as evidence that disabled people were not eligible for certain benefits were “categorically untrue”.A DWP spokeswoman said: “We have not provided funding to Purple but we have worked closely with them to facilitate Purple Tuesday and ensure it is a success.”Sainsbury’s had refused to comment on the boycott call by 1pm today (Thursday), and also refused to say if it had ever shared CCTV footage with DWP to use as evidence to justify rejecting a benefit claim.It also refused to promise that it would not share such footage from Purple Tuesday with DWP.An intu spokesman said: “Purple is one of many different organisations we work with in order to identify new ways to improve our physical spaces, customer service and employee support, so that we can ensure intu shopping centres are accessible destinations for all.“We are unaware of any links between Purple Tuesday and the DWP and we think it would be a shame if the event is boycotted because of the valuable insight and awareness it is creating for this important cause.“Like other organisations, intu is governed by current legislation which means that we would only share CCTV footage with individuals and public authorities in line with GDPR [data protection] requirements and under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.“These requests are always fully scrutinised in line with current legislation.”But he refused to pledge that intu would not pass CCTV footage from Purple Tuesday to DWP.An M&S spokeswoman said the retailer had “never shared CCTV footage with the DWP to use as evidence to justify rejecting a benefit claim”.She added: “As we don’t share footage with the DWP, we won’t do it on Purple Tuesday.”She said: “Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges our disabled customers face so that we can improve the shopping experience for them.“The accessibility of our stores and website is extremely important to us and we’re delighted to support it.”A Landsec spokeswoman said the company “would not share any CCTV with the DWP, unless we were served with a court order to do so”.She added: “Landsec is committed to making its retail destinations as accessible as possible, for the sole reason that we believe in creating spaces which everyone is able to enjoy equally.“While we recognise that, for the retail industry, Purple Tuesday is a move in the right direction, rather than a complete solution, we’re pleased to be able to raise awareness of the importance of disability access.”
An open letter demanding the resignation of Labour’s defence spokesperson Nia Griffith has reached almost 1,500 signatures, after the opposition frontbencher tweeted apparently in support of government proposals to grant veterans immunity from prosecution.Penny Mordaunt, the new Defence Secretary, recently revealed plans to introduce an amnesty for alleged offences committed by British soldiers in the course of duty over 10 years ago. The cabinet is divided over whether this should cover soldiers who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.Many Labour members on the left, particularly those interested in the anti-imperialism and anti-militarism traditionally espoused by Jeremy Corbyn, expressed strong opposition to the suggestion when the six-day-old tweet by Griffith gained traction last night.Glad to hear this from the new Defence Sec.The Tories made a commitment to deal with this back in 2017 and it‘s shameful that no action has been taken.Labour will support any proposals that are effective and fair and I look forward to working with @PennyMordaunt on this. https://t.co/2dn2pBDzbr— Nia Griffith MP (@NiaGriffithMP) May 9, 2019An open letter written by two Scottish Labour members, Ewan Gibbs and Michael Muir, criticises the position expressed by Griffith, which it says “legitimates the most reactionary elements of British society”.Addressed to Corbyn, it calls on the national executive committee (NEC) to “discuss and clarify the party’s stance” and demands that the party leadership take action if Griffith refuses to resign.It is understood that a reference to the NEC, a body that usually deals with the application of party rules rather than policy-making, was included in the letter as a way of encouraging NEC members to ask Corbyn whether Griffith’s stance accurately reflects Labour policy.The online letter was promoted by NEC youth rep Lara McNeill, and has been signed by high-profile activists including Momentum chair Jon Lansman, NEC member Huda Elmi and Young Labour’s Marcus Barnett.Although the names have not been updated at the time of writing, LabourList has seen that the letter has attracted almost 1,500 signatures. Most so far are from young Labour members.Young Labour, London Young Labour and Scottish Young Labour have all released statements calling for Griffith’s suspension or resignation from the shadow cabinet.Update, 1.10pm. Momentum has called on Griffith to “retract her statement”:We can’t just give soldiers a blank cheque to commit war crimes. It would dishonour all those soldiers and civilians who have been killed in war and we have to hold our military to the highest standards. @NiaGriffithMP was totally wrong and should retract her statement.— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) May 16, 2019LabourList has requested comment from the Labour press office but none has been offered at this time.Tags:Penny Mordaunt /Nia Griffith /Lara McNeill /Defence policy /
Supervisor Aaron Peskin was this morning flanked by a minivan’s worth of his legislative colleagues, as well as the District Attorney, the inveterate good-government activist, and a front-running mayoral candidate.They were gathered in a City Hall antechamber to talk about the man who was not there, the man behind the curtain — the favorite human allegory of all that ails San Francisco for Peskin and his ideological compadres: Ron Conway. Tags: Board of Supervisors • Elections • Mayor Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% “This is not about Ron Conway or any other investors with handfuls of cash to float around,” Peskin at one point said during a press conference that was very much about Conway, et al., and announcing legislation very much aimed at Conway, et al.“Mr. Conway is a symptom of a much larger problem in San Francisco and this country and that is the Wall Street mentality of routinely putting profits over people.”Peskin and his bevy of legislative co-sponsors were announcing today’s introduction of an ordinance meant to curtail the unlimited spigot of cash Conway and others have dumped into city elections — the massive, hard-to-track work of political action committees (PACs) and independent expenditure campaigns (IEs) enabled by the Citizens United Supreme Court case.“If I could ban these sorts of donations, I would,” assured Peskin. But he can’t, thanks to “a right-wing Supreme Court that has fallen under the influence of the Koch brothers.”Instead, if he and others have their way, major donors will have to disclose not only who they are but what investment holdings they possess — which may, in Peskin’s words, “connect the dots” for voters wondering why money flows in the patterns it does.Specifically, this legislation would — retroactively to Jan. 1 — require any individual or entity who makes a donation of $10,000 or more to a committee to disclose this within 24 hours, and also disclose investments or leadership ties with city business entities.During this gathering that wasn’t about Ron Conway, Peskin continually dropped examples that seemed strangely germane to Ron Conway.“This is retroactive to Jan. 1, so I’m putting anyone on notice who’ll dump millions into supervisors races or mayors races: You’ll have to tell everyone whether you’ve invested in Airbnb or Lyft. … You’ll have to tell everyone what your investments are.”Peskin all but dared London Breed — the board president and, whether she likes it or not, Conway’s preferred mayoral candidate — to not fast-track his bill.Breed, no fool, agreed to fast-track the bill. Mayor Mark Farrell has, purportedly, known of this legislation for some time, and supported its creation. Peskin told the gathered crowd that the mayor had pledged to sign it, and he hoped it would pass with a supermajority. At the soonest, this could be the law of the land before April.That would be to the liking of Mark Leno, who bemoaned the pro-Breed PAC currently demonizing him (Leno, notably, blamed the “extraordinary amount of new money” in San Francisco for clouding voters’ ability to make decisions). Breed, who was invited to today’s press conference, did not attend. Fellow candidate Jane Kim, a co-sponsor of the legislation, also did not attend, though she blamed a scheduling mishap.For any candidate hoping an anonymously funded PAC would shoot the wings off their opponents, or any operative looking to do just that, today was a frustrating day. The pro-Breed PAC that has used undisclosed donations to blast Leno, Peskin, Farrell, Jeff Sheehy and others described the pending legislation as an effort to “silence women under the guise of campaign ethics legislation” and a “phony gimmick” meant to “intimidate women from exercising their constitutional right to support London Breed for Mayor.”That may be, but considering the retroactive portion of the legislation, this group would have to do all of the above while disclosing their large donors. And quickly.Politically, keeping Conway’s name in the news — and converting him into a rich, white albatross around Breed’s neck — has emerged as an obvious campaign tactic. And sometimes it seems Conway can’t help himself with regard to staying out of the news.When reports hit the papers that Conway was a prior investor in Farrell’s venture capital firm, it was pretty clear that this information wasn’t disclosed by the secretive, private firm — leaving relatively little doubt where it originated.Similarly, when a memo to investors in Farrell’s firm touting the “intangible benefits” of eventually having a former mayor on staff was leaked to multiple media outlets, blame was, again, assigned to a certain investor in that firm.“This is proof that Ron Conway and his associates are throwing their weight around,” Peskin told the Chronicle. All of this spurred one frustrated political onlooker to note that the best way to be a Koch brother operating out of view is to stay out of view.Asked about his bill’s chances of escaping legal scrutiny, Peskin, once more, took aim at Conway. “I would not be surprised,” he said, “if some billionaire took us to court.” City lefties are in their happy place: They get to target a gauche tech billionaire in a good-government campaign. 0%
Tags: arts • graffiti • street art Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Some are pink, some are blue and some are orange. Some have halos over their heads and some are surrounded by stars and hearts of bliss. Some are tall, some are short, some are fat, some are skinny. Some even say, “Plug me in.” They hang out on mailboxes, walls, street poles, newsstands and wooden boards. In the Mission, they’re everywhere. And, yes, they’re vibrators. Just any vibrator? “It’s a wand-style vibrator — probably a Magic Wand,” says Haley, a resident vibrator expert at Good Vibrations, adding that the shape, location of the button, and the cord are extra evidence that it is, indeed, a wand. “The Magic Wand is an icon at this point,” she added. “It’s been our best seller since the ‘70s.” 24th and Harrison. Photo by Julian Mark.23rd & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.21st & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.20th & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.18th & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.Mission Street between 18th and 19th. Photo by Julian Mark.The inspiration. Photo by Julian Mark. 0% Did she know why anyone would blanket the Mission with the iconic toy? She had no idea. “It’s probably some sex-positive artist,” she said, “although I hope he doesn’t mark up our building.”Mission Street. Photo by Julian Mark.Mission between 21st and 22nd. Photo by Julian Mark.21st and South Van Ness. Photo by Julian Mark.Mission Street. Photo by Julian Mark.24th & Harrison. Photo by Julian Mark.24th & Florida. Photo by Julian Mark.20th & Valencia. Photo by Julian Mark.23rd & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.
MIKE Rush has thrown down the gauntlet to his charges to carry on winning – or be pulled into a battle for the lower playoff places.Speaking ahead of this Friday’s clash with seventh-placed Hull KR, Saints Acting Head Coach wants to continue the run of form that has seen them climb to fourth in the table.“Would we have taken fourth when we took over? We probably would have,” he said. “What you’re asking me is if I would have taken two defeats in 12 league games or so… then I’m sure we would have.“But we have a real test this Friday, Hull KR are playing well and alongside Wigan and us, are one of the form teams in the competition. We will need to make sure we are at our very best. Michael Dobson, Ben Galea and Craig Hall are all playing well for them and even though they have lost Kris Welham and Rhys Lovegrove they are still a class side.“The eight will be tight right up until the end of the season and it is up to us to keep winning, stay in there and not get dragged into a battle for fifth to eighth.”Saints came through the 32-10 win over Salford with Rush highlighting the backline of Paul Wellens, Tommy Makinson and Francis Meli as “outstanding”.“They were great on Friday I thought,” he continued. “Francis Meli was really physical and a real handful and was complemented by Tommy Makinson who is lightning fast. Paul Wellens backed all that up really well. It was great to get a win at a place we normally struggle at.“It was good to see Lee Gaskell get some game time too but he knows he has to keep working hard. He probably has to work harder than anyone in the starting 17 at the moment as when you are on the outer you have to work harder than those on the inner to break through.“Sometimes it isn’t easy to knock someone over when you are winning games but I thought he did well at the weekend. Lee has been with us since he was 11 and I am a big fan; if I wasn’t I wouldn’t have signed him, but people have to understand he is still young and he still needs game sense and work on other facets of his game.“Jamie Foster is the same really but probably has a tougher task. Adam Swift has had a run in the team and has done well. Tommy Makinson and Francis Meli are in great form and Ade Gardner, up until his injury, was the best of all of them. You have to feel for Ade there, he was outstanding against Leeds and Warrington.“We’re doing well for wingers at the moment so Jamie has to work hard. He has to do something special in the under 20s to knock somebody over in the first team.”Tickets for the match are still on sale by visiting the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
SINCE we launched our special one off shirt to raise awareness of Autism – and help St Helens Autism Support – fans from all over the Rugby League world have been sharing the news on social media.We couldn’t be more proud of the rugby league community in highlighting this important condition and spreading the word – and we thank you as all.We’ve also had support from across all different kinds of sport such as Boxing, Football, Cricket, the NRL and Rugby Union as well as stars from TV, Film and Music.Footballer and pundit Joey Barton said it was an “interesting shirt for a good cause” whilst comedian Johnny Vegas said “good on you Saints” for highlighting Autism.Other tweets came from cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham, NRL’s Cameron Smith, cross-code star Gareth Thomas MBE, boxers Anthony Crolla, Martin Murray and Paul Smith JNR and Ireland RU’s Ronan O’Gara.McFly’s Harry Judd also highlighted the kit on his Twitter page, as did St Helens Actor Michael Parr, singer Kiera Weathers, The Beautiful South’s Jacqui Abbott and MP Andy Burnham.Saints’ players backed the launch too as did Beau Ryan, Sia Soliola, ex-player Apollo Perelini, commentator Andrew Voss, Penrith CEO Gus Gould and Mark Geyer.And naturally, the Steve Prescott Foundation also lent their support.Other supporters included several Super League clubs and ex-players including Tommy Martyn, Paul Sculthorpe MBE and Paul Wellens, Rugby Union’s Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Ugo Monye and Tom Evans and TV personalities Gethin Jones and Rav Wilding.Once again, we thank everyone who has backed the shirt and there’s no doubt it is raising Autism awareness.We estimate that well in excess of five million people and followers have had access to the information.The special edition kit will be worn in Newcastle at the Magic Weekend when we take on Huddersfield Giants on May 22.We have had an excellent response to it – if you’re planning to order you need to do so by April 14.A donation from every shirt sold will go to local support group St Helens Autism Support.You can buy at the Saints Superstore, via 01744 455 050 or online.
SAINTS 2017 Members can enjoy a whole host of great offers and discounts – and we have a bumper selection for you!Simply present your Membership card at the outlets below and enjoy your benefits!Costa Coffee (Ravenhead Retail Park, St Helens Retail Park & Town Centre) – 10 per cent off across all St Helens branchesNandos (Bridge Street, St Helens) – 20 per cent off food Frankie & Benny’s (Ravenhead Retail Park) – 20 per cent off foodSubway (Bridge Street, St Helens & Ravenhead Retail Park) – £3.60 for 6 inch or £5 for foot-long meal deals Maplin (St Helens Retail Park) – 10 per cent offDarkstar (Central Street, St Helens) – 3 games for the price of 2My Protein – use code STH10 at checkout for 10 per cent off.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s the fifth show of the season for Big Dawg Productions.According to their website, “12 Angry Men” is a uniquely American classic. The play follows one man who “refuses to succumb to prejudice so that 12 men can prevent a miscarriage of justice.”- Advertisement – The action centers on juror 8, who is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. He sets his sights on getting the other jurors to look at the situation in a way not affected by their personal prejudices. The play’s original broadcast was in 1957.One of the cast members, Anthony Corvino, stopped by Good Morning Carolina to give a preview of what to expect.Related Article: Iconic Wilmington tour guide Bob Jenkins dies“12 Angry Men” comes to life at the Cape Fear Playhouse in Wilmington throughout the month of August.Performances are August 10-12 at 8 p.m., August 13 at 3 p.m., August 17-19 at 8 p.m., and August 20 at 3 p.m.Tickets range from $20 to $22. To purchase them, click here or email email@example.com
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of cocaine today in Port Everglades. (Photo: USCGSoutheast/Twitter) FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (WWAY) — Seven tons of cocaine was seized and offloaded at Port Everglades in Florida by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Wilmington-based Coast Guard Cutter Diligence assisted in that large drug bust.In a video released by the Coast Guard Tuesday morning, the crew on board the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton can be seen approaching cocaine smugglers in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Minutes before making contact, the smugglers can be seen dumping their cargo into the ocean in an attempt to hide their crime.- Advertisement – “It’s pretty intense. I think everybody’s heart rate gets going, and we’re all trying to stay focused on what we’re doing,” said Assistant Operations Officer Drew Ferraro.According to officials, the haul totals more than $190 million and is set to arrive at Port Everglades at 8 a.m., Tuesday, a little over a week since the drugs were seized. The cocaine arriving is from the Feb. 4 bust involving the Hamilton, Diligence and crews of three other cutters.The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of cocaine today in Port Everglades. Read more here https://t.co/BWuC3PFvww pic.twitter.com/jqmqPAo6S2— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) February 13, 2018Related Article: DRUG ROUNDUP: Sheriff’s office sweeps Brunswick streets“I know the communities of South Florida have first-hand history with the dangers of transactional criminal organizations and highly profitable drugs,” said Hamilton Capt. Mark Gordon. “No one wants to see a return to the days of cocaine cowboys.”Back on Dec. 7, the crew of another Coast Guard cutter brought back a similar haul of seized cocaine. The commander of that vessel explained what’s at stake in those kinds of missions.“These at-sea interdictions are often high-tempo, high-risk evolutions that occur in the dark of night,” said Commander Michael Turdo.Keeping the drugs off the street is a major blow to organized crime networks and the wide range of illegal activities they take part in.Some officers, like Morgan Bal, have personal motivations on keeping the drugs off the streets. “As someone who personally lost a loved one to overdose, I feel like I’m doing my part to making sure other family and friends and loved ones don’t lose somebody else,” Bal said.A total of 27 people have been detained as part of this operation. Eighteen of them were brought back to the United States, while the rest of them were deported to Ecuador.The Drug Enforcement Administration is now taking over the investigation and will ultimately destroy the drugs.
Trogdon says new technology, including drones, helped the Department of Transportation gather more information earlier in the storm than ever before.He says repairs will be needed at 3,100 sites and his department aims to have temporary fixes in place within 30 days.At the peak of the storm, Trogdon says 2,500 roads were closed, but that number is down to 127, mostly in southeastern counties.Related Article: Truck brings needed food and supplies to familiesTrogdon estimates that state lawmakers will need to allocate at least $66 million as the required match to draw down federal money. A portion of NC Highway 210 near Moore’s Creek Bridge is partially collapsed and washed out in parts due to flooding from Hurricane Florence. (Photo source: Moore’s Creek National Battlefield) RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina officials say repairing roads damaged by Hurricane Florence will cost at least $266 million.WRAL-TV reports that Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told a House transportation committee Wednesday that estimate is expected to rise as more information is gathered.- Advertisement –
Soller is charged with rape, burglary and 1st degree sexual offense.In 1996, Soller allegedly broke into a young woman’s apartment along Saint Johns Court, threatened her life, and raped her at knifepoint.Soller was visiting Wilmington for work. A rape kit was completed but due to regulations at the time, it was not submitted for analysis.Related Article: Dogs attack 76-year-old attending funeral in South CarolinaThe kit sat unopened for 22 years, until October, when Wilmington Police sent it and dozens more to be tested.Investigators say a DNA match linked Soller to the assault.Soller is in jail under a $2 million bond. Wayne Edward Soller (Photo: New Hanover Co. Sheriff’s Office) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The man arrested in Florida last week in a decades old rape case appeared in a New Hanover County courtroom Friday morning.Wayne Edward Soller, 60, was extradited to New Hanover County from Volusia County, Florida on Thursday night.- Advertisement –
Armed robbery and pedestrian hit near Leland Library (Photo: Andrew James/WWAY) LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Law enforcement officers from the Leland Police Department and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office are on the scene of an armed robbery, near where a pedestrian was also hit.Right now, it’s uncertain whether the armed robbery and crash are related.- Advertisement – The pedestrian was hit on Shady Grove Lane, which is right across from the library in Leland.The armed robbery happened by the library, according to Leland Police Lt. Jeremy Humphries.Details are limited right now. WWAY is working to get more information.
Advertisement Today, Google has announced that is bringing unlimited storage to Google Apps for Education soon, too, with the launch of Drive for Education.This means that students whose school use Google Apps for Education will soon be able to store as many files in their Google Drive folders as they like.Earlier this year, Google launched Drive for Work, its premium $10/month version of Google Drive with unlimited storage and a couple of additional enterprise features. – Advertisement – Individual files can measure up to 5TB, which should be more than enough for most legitimate use cases.Drive for Education is available free of charge for all non-profit educational institutions (and there are no ads either).Drive for Education will automatically become available to all Google Apps for Education users over the coming weeks. This is a slow rollout, however, and it will be a few weeks before it reaches all users.Google will also bring free access to Google Apps Vault, its compliance solution for businesses that need to be able to archive emails and chats, for example, to educational users. Enhanced Auditing support, too, is on the road map for educational institutions, but the company didn’t say when exactly that will become available.At the moment, Google Apps for Education users “only” got 30GB of free space for their accounts.Source: Tech Crunch
Advertisement 120 girls have been selected to participate in the Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM Camp from July 25 – August 15, 2015, at the Gashora Girls Academy in Rwanda. The high school girls from across Africa and the United States will have the unique opportunity to learn valuable skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design and Math (STEAM) fields, while enjoying a rich cross-cultural experience.This first-of-its-kind program is organized by the U.S. Department of State, Microsoft 4Afrika, Intel, AOL Charitable Foundation, the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, with support from Meridian International Center, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the African Leadership Academy, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Additional programmatic support was contributed by UNESCO, HeHe Labs, and Indego Africa.The WiSci Camp is part of the Let Girls Learn initiative, promoted by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, to ensure adolescent girls get the education to build brighter futures and stronger communities. It is also part of LIONS@FRICA, an initiative founded by the U.S. Department of State along with Microsoft, Nokia, DEMOAFRICA, VC4Africa, the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and other partners to help entrepreneurs start and scale new businesses throughout Africa. – Advertisement – “The State Department is thrilled to support the WiSci Camp this summer,” said Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships Thomas Debass. “Through this new and exciting public-private partnership, we hope to increase opportunities for women and girls to pursue the necessary knowledge and skill sets to better take advantage of future career opportunities in STEAM-related fields and ultimately participate in the global economy.”A strong gender imbalance exists internationally in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The WiSci Camp aims to help bridge that gap through access to education, mentorship opportunities and leadership training.CurriculumThe STEAM curriculum will be developed in partnership with science and technology industry leaders Microsoft, Intel and AOL Inc. Girls will have access to mentors from these participating partners, engage in leadership development and skills-based workshops organized by Girl Up, and take field trips within Rwanda.The specially-curated program will feature hands-on experiential learning and a wide array of opportunities in the STEAM fields for the participants. The formal curriculum will be led by Microsoft and Intel employees and will include a week each on Computer Science, Robotics and Design, Art & Culture, with time during the third week to work on small group projects. The girls will hear from inspiring guest speakers and mentors, while participating in sessions on design-thinking, marketing, writing, online advocacy and leadership development curated and facilitated by Girl Up. The AOL Charitable Foundation provided a grant to fund the camp, and will work with AOL Inc. to enhance the program’s curriculum with expertise in digital marketing and blogging and involve AOL employees for further mentorship and volunteer opportunities.ParticipantsThe WiSci Camp will bring together 120 talented girls from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States. The girls were selected among a competitive pool of applicants from the networks of Girl Up and the African Leadership Academy, and were chosen for their demonstrated interest in the STEAM fields and record of leadership in their community. The participants will be able to share their experience to inspire other girls in their community upon return to their high schools in the fall.Further InformationMore details and background on the WiSci Camp are available at www.africa.co/wisci/. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and follow #wisci2015 for social media coverage.
###For more information about the conference, or to schedule interviews withBaker Institute director Djerejian concerning the fall conference, pleasecontact Michael Cinelli, Rice University News Office director, at (713)831-4794. AddThis ShareCONTACT: Michael CinelliPHONE: (713) 831-4794KISSINGER, VANCE, BAKER, CHRISTOPHER, GORBACHEV TO HIGHLIGHT BAKERINSTITUTE ANNUAL CONFERENCE Former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger,Cyrus Vance, James A. Baker, III, and Warren Christopher, and former SovietUnion president Mikhail Gorbachev will discuss major foreign policy issuesfacing the United States in the 21st century at Rice University’s BakerInstitute in October.CNN news anchor Bernard Shaw is scheduled to moderate the paneldiscussion.The program, set for Oct. 16 in Autry Court on the Rice campus, is thecenterpiece of the Baker Institute’s third annual conference. Dedication of thenew Baker Building, which houses the institute’s facilities as well as theoffice of the dean of the school of social sciences and Rice’s political scienceand economic departments, will take place on Oct. 15.As part of the annual conference, Gorbachev will receive the BakerInstitute’s Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service. The former SovietUnion president will be the second recipient of the award, which was presentedto former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell at the institute’sinaugural annual conference in November 1995.“The third annual conference and the dedication of the Baker Building is aspecial occasion to mark the inauguration of our new facility as the forum forinnovative research and ideas on domestic and foreign policy issues,” said BakerInstitute director Edward Djerejian. “The gathering of noted foreign policystatesman to discuss future strategies is a characteristic of the work of theinstitute.”Kissinger is chairman of his own international consulting firm. He has had astoried career in international affairs. He served as the 56th secretary ofstate under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford from Sept. 22, 1973 untilJan. 20, 1977. He also served as assistant to the president for nationalsecurity affairs. He was appointed by President Reagan to chair the NationalBipartisan Commission on Central America, and he served as a member of thePresident’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.Vance is a partner in the New York law firm of Simpson Thatcher &Bartlett. He served as the 57th secretary of state in the Carter Administration,and as a personal envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations in anumber of key missions.Baker served as the 61st secretary of state from 1989 to 1992, a periodencompassing the fall of the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf War as well asother major foreign policy initiatives. His book, “The Politics of Diplomacy:Revolution, War and Peace, 1989-1992,” was published in 1995. He is currently asenior partner in the Houston law firm of Baker & Botts LLP and a seniorcounselor for the Carlyle Group.Christopher is a senior partner in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers. Heserved as the 63rd secretary of state from Jan. 20, 1993 to Jan. 20, 1997. Hewas deputy secretary of state in the Carter Administration and was credited withnegotiating the release of the American hostages in Iran.Gorbachev is president of the Gorbachev Foundation, a non-profit,non-partisan education foundation, and he is the founder of the environmentalorganization, Green Cross International. He was president of the Presidium ofthe Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 1985 to 1990. He received the 1990 NobelPeace Prize.For more information about Rice/s Baker Institute and the October annualconference visit the institute’s World Wide Web site at http://riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/baker/index.html.
AddThis ShareJeff Falk713email@example.com Centennial video series: The history of new-student orientation at RiceRice University’s weekly centennial videos run through Oct. 12 HOUSTON – (Aug. 9, 2012) – Orientation Week, or O-Week, kicks off at Rice University Sunday, Aug. 12. It is a unique weeklong orientation that will prepare new students, the members of the Class of 2016, for their life at Rice.O-Week is an experience like no other, and many students look back on O-Week as one of the most formative experiences at Rice, organizers say. Working with Centennial Historian Melissa Kean, video producer Brandon Martin takes a look at the story behind this rite of passage.For more information about O-Week at Rice, visit http://firstyear.rice.edu. For more information on Rice’s history, visit Kean’s blog at www.ricehistorycorner.com.O-Week at Rice has a storied history.To help celebrate the university’s centennial Oct. 12, Rice University is producing weekly videos exploring the school’s unique history.The video, available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/Kcn9ar7Y69Q, is also available to media in high quality and without music for editing purposes. For higher-quality video, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-348-6775. -30-To see other stories in the centennial video series, go to http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL60D6D71E71B66B3D&feature=plcp.Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom.” With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf.
AddThis ShareMEDIA ADVISORYDavid Ruth713email@example.comJeff Falk713firstname.lastname@example.org Texas’ three presidential libraries topic at Rice’s Baker Institute May 14HOUSTON – (May 8, 2013) – The directors of the three presidential libraries in Texas will discuss the role of their institutions and the presidents they represent at a free public forum May 14 at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Texas is the only state to have three presidential libraries.Who: Warren Finch, director, George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station; Mark Updegrove, director, LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas at Austin; and Alan Lowe, director, George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.Edward Djerejian, founding director of the Baker Institute, will moderate the discussion.What: “Lone Star Treasures: The Presidential Libraries of Texas” forum.When: Tuesday, May 14, 7-8:30 p.m.Where: Rice University, Baker Hall, Doré Commons, 6100 Main St.This interactive forum is the first of the three-part, multicity series “Lone Star Treasures: The Presidential Libraries of Texas,” sponsored by the Texas Tribune. During these events, the presidential library directors will discuss how their institutions preserve history, facilitate research and education and contribute to their communities through public programs and special events.The May 14 event is sponsored by the Baker Institute and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation.To view the event description and registration information, visit http://bakerinstitute.org/events/lone-star-treasures-the-presidential-libraries-of-texas. A live webcast will be available at http://bakerinstitute.org/webcasts.Members of the news media who want to attend should RSVP to Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at email@example.com or 713-348-6775.-30-Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.
AddThis ShareDavid Ruth713firstname.lastname@example.orgJeff Falk713email@example.comPaper: Mexico’s natural gas and electricity industries still far from a competitive marketplaceHOUSTON – (Feb. 1, 2017) – The recent reform in Mexico’s natural gas and electricity industries is hampered from ushering in a competitive marketplace because of the country’s economic regulation and regulatory design, according to a new paper from the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.Credit: shutterstock.com/Rice UniversityThe paper, “Economic Competition and the Energy Sector: The Electricity and Natural Gas Markets,” presents the main types of elements or conditions that, if not recognized in a timely manner by the industry regulator and by the entity with jurisdiction, may limit the effective application of the reform. It was co-authored by Josefina Cortés Campos, a professor at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico in Mexico City, and Eduardo Pérez Motta, a partner at Agon and former president of Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission.“Gas and electricity markets exhibit a vertical structure that is conditioned by large amounts of investment, by levels of production with decreasing outputs by scale, and in some cases, by the presence of high sunken costs, traits that lead to a very long process of capitalization and recovery of investment and, in some segments, the presence of natural monopolies,” the authors wrote. “This condition requires that the regulatory framework that applies to such sectors operate under conditions of stability, transparence and in consideration of goals consistent with the characteristics of the industry, considering that it is only in such a scenario that participants can set up adequate commercial strategies that have effective economic consequences.”The paper was written for a Mexico Center research project examining the rule of law in Mexico and the challenges it poses to implementing the country’s energy reform. The project’s findings are compiled in a Spanish-language book and are being posted on the Baker Institute’s website in English.Mexico’s energy sector had been under strict governmental management since 1938. This changed in 2013 and 2014 when Mexico amended its constitution and passed enabling legislation overhauling its energy sector to allow private and foreign investment.In the paper, the authors show the main obstacles documented by economic regulation in terms of creating competitive markets in the natural gas and electricity industries – from barriers of entry to low price elasticity of the demand for electricity and lack of investment. They also refer to the different developments and maturities of those markets. Finally, they present some of the elements that may limit the development of competitive markets on the level of regulatory design of the energy sector, such as no clear delimitation of the areas of competence regarding policy authority, regulatory authority and proper management or administration authority.“The introduction of competition into the productive segments that operate through network infrastructures is normally the result of a long process involving changing the legal and economic rules that are applied to such sectors,” the authors wrote. “As this involves changing the status quo, the reform process requires a change in the behavior and mentality of the agents and authorities that are involved in the sector. These are the characteristics that have led to the affirmation that the reform of energy markets has not been completed anywhere in the world, and that revisions over time are required in terms of the effectiveness of the regulatory models implemented.”-30-For more information or to schedule an interview with Cortés Campos or Pérez Motta, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-348-6775.Related materials:Paper: www.bakerinstitute.org/media/files/files/efb5c188/MEX-pub-RuleofLaw_Campos_Mota-012717.pdf.Follow the Mexico Center via Twitter @BakerMexicoCtr.Follow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.
Sad depressed woman sitting in her bed late at night, she is pensive and suffering from insomnia. Photo credit: 123rf.com AddThis Return to article. Long DescriptionPhoto credit: 123rf.comThe study, “Bereavement, self-reported sleep disturbances and inflammation: Results from Project HEART,” was recently published in Psychosomatic Medicine. It compared the self-reported sleep habits of recently widowed people to a control group. Both groups had sleep disturbances, such as insomnia.The researchers found that the link between sleep disturbances and inflammation was two to three times higher for the bereaved spouses. Inflammation was measured by the level of proinflammatory cytokines, which are designed to be short-term fighters of disease but are linked to long-term risk for health problems including cardiovascular disease.Corresponding author Diana Chirinos, a research assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who began examining the topic as a Rice Academy postdoctoral fellow in Rice’s Department of Psychological Sciences, said the study suggests that these bereaved individuals are more susceptible to the negative health effects of poor sleep.“The death of a spouse is an acutely stressful event and they have to adapt to living without the support of the spouse,” she said. “Add sleep disturbance to their already stressful situation and you double the stressor. As a result, their immune system is more overactivated.”Chirinos said she and her fellow researchers already knew widowed individuals had higher levels of inflammation. Prior work revealed that in the first six months after the loss of a spouse, widows and widowers are at a 41 percent higher risk of mortality, and 53 percent of this increased risk is due to cardiovascular disease. However, they wanted to find the specific cause.“Now we know it’s not the grief itself; it is the sleep disturbance that arises from that grief,” Chirinos said.Chris Fagundes, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Rice and the principal investigator for Project HEART, said the finding is another revelation in the study of how human behaviors and activities impact inflammation, and it adds to a growing body of work about how bereavement can affect health. His initial work showed why people who have been widowed are at higher risk of cardiovascular problems and premature death by comparing their inflammation with matched controls.“While working in my laboratory as a post-doctoral fellow, Diana did a great job incorporating her expertise in sleep data collection into this project,” he said.Ultimately, the researchers hope the findings will help to design better health interventions for those suffering from loss.The study included 101 people with an average age of 67. Half were bereaved (identified through obituaries), and the rest made up the control group.The study was co-authored by Luz Garcini, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice; Daisy Alvarado, BUILDing scholar at the University of Texas at El Paso; and Jason Ong, a researcher in the Department of Neurology and the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern.The work was supported by grant 1R01HL127260-01 from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.-30-For more information, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or email@example.com.This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Related materials:Photo link: https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/news-network.rice.edu/dist/c/2/files/2018/11/70264912_l-2jcudpz.jpgPhoto credit: Rice University/123rf.comLocated on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview. ShareRice UniversityOffice of Public Affairs / News & Media RelationsNEWS RELEASEDavid Ruth713firstname.lastname@example.orgAmy McCaig713email@example.comGrief linked to sleep disturbances that can be bad for the heartRecently widowed people more likely to have sleep disruption that exacerbates levels of inflammation and increases heart health riskHOUSTON – (Nov. 9, 2018) – People who have recently lost a spouse are more likely to have sleep disturbances that exacerbate levels of inflammation in the body, according to new research from Rice University and Northwestern University. These elevated levels of inflammation may increase risk for cardiovascular illness and death.