Environment and Politics

first_imgThe environment is the biggest element and important element in human’s life. Without a clear environment, not a single living thing can be alive. We all need to save the environment from all kinds of negative elements, like pollution, population, etc.Pollution and population have a direct impact on our environment. Different people are working differently for our environment. Jal sangrakshan, paid bachao, Nadi bachao, and many more.Everybody is doing their bit. But still, too many unwanted elements are working in our surroundings and destroying our environment.We need to join together and work towards saving our environment.last_img

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Moving forwards

first_imgIt also costs money to download a video. But then it’s worth it.  Amid all these banal postings there comes a good forward which touches your heart, projects a social issue, makes you introspect or simply tickles your funny bone!During a stressed-out period at work, it’s a good idea to sneak a peek at WhatsApp.  The red numbered notification makes you eager to read the message. Pictures of my grandchildren become a stress reliever. Performances of talented children and amateur artists come as a breath of fresh air amidst the drab professional performers who dominated the entertainment space till recently. Humour messages leave a smile on your face and peps you up. Many of the jokes are marriage-related. By reading them you can console yourself that the ordeals you go through are common in most marriages! Classic marital humour that I received is “Marriage is the only war where you sleep with your enemy”! Jokes and cartoons about politicians are dime a dozen. Come election time, the social media forwardsmiths work overtime photoshopping images to create classics. I have come to learn that political parties have departments for propaganda and to troll their opponents.But the best messages are the ‘moving’ forwards: forwards that inspire, encourage and edify. The video of Nick Vujicic a man born without arms and legs is amazing. How he battled the odds by the faith in God is a lesson for normal people who complain about petty inconveniences. Messages from speakers like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are spiritually uplifting.WhatsApp also has utility value. Messages on health, public interest, human interest and practical tips keep coming. For example, I got the all-purpose emergency telephone number 112, railway emergency crime-stopper number 182 and the all India gas leak reporting number 1906 from the WhatsApp University. On the world environment day, there were many beautiful messages about problems with plastics and proper garbage disposal. All these are packaged as beautiful videos so that you can remember them. During a sports season, beautiful video clips let you see the thrilling moments you may have missed.  Our college friends who are located all around the world could be located in a WhatsApp group. We could organize a reunion!Of course, there are several hoax messages and chain messages vying with genuine messages in the social media space. Many look innocent but one must check the veracity of such messages. One such forward is ‘Is your car killing you with benzene?’ It says do not turn on the a/c as soon as you enter a parked car. It seems the heated dashboard, seats and air freshener emit Benzene, a cancer-causing toxin. This appears to be good advice. But just to find the truth I checked with the American Cancer Society which trashed it. Similarly, there are many moving forwards which have been “Indianized”. The names in the original story are substituted by Indian names. The authors of such mischief little realize that the credibility of our nation takes a beating by such appropriations.It’s great fun posting messages on WhatsApp – the responses are fast. Recently I posted a forward about the value of a good reputation over money. At his deathbed, a daughter cursed her father for not making enough money. But later she relented when she realized that her career reached great heights because of her father’s great reputation as an honest man. I got 5 thumbs up, 7 clapping hands and 4 OK emojis in appreciation.WhatsApp has awakened the child in me and put me in the learning mode. I researched the Emojipedia to understand the nuances of emojis and studied the social media lingo to keep up with the junior citizens (winking emoji). Isn’t that great for a senior citizen (ROFL)? I am sure the present social media issues are a passing phase moving forward to better use of these platforms. With the Coronavirus still playing spoilsport, the 2020 Bihar assembly election will mark the beginning of an era in which digital campaigns will become central to Indian elections. With stringent guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India in light of the pandemic, physical campaigning will have a limited impact in swinging the electoral outcome. The campaign tools of this election, then, will not be set in rallies and roadshows, but on WhatsApp and Facebook.Of late Facebook and WhatsApp have come under the scanner in India again, this time for ignoring hate speech in order to rake in in more money from its business in India. They may face scrutiny by a Parliamentary panel because of this. To counter all this WhatsApp has introduced a feature providing a simple way to check messages that have been forwarded many times to help people find news results or other sources of information about the content they have received. Amidst all these controversies I continue to use Whatsapp – juggling between work and family time forwarding a good message to like-minded friends. Simply because it’s fun!Of course, it’s time-consuming to engage with social media platforms. One has to juggle through the barrage of messages consisting of flowers, teacups and yummies;  good mornings, afternoons and evenings; and the omnipresent emojis winking, smiling, laughing and teasing!last_img read more

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Dressage Canada Announces Final Eight Combinations for Pan Am Selection Trials

first_imgMore from Horse Sport:Christilot Boylen Retires From Team SportAfter an exemplary career as one of Canada’s top Dressage riders, seven-time Olympian Christilot Boylen has announced her retirement from team competition.2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair CancelledFor only the second time in its history, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair has been cancelled but plans are being made for some virtual competitions.Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Statement on 2020 EventAs the Province of Ontario starts to reopen, The Royal’s Board and staff will adhere to all recommendations put forward by government and health officials.Government Financial Assistance for Ontario FarmersOntario Equestrian has recently released this update of several financial assistance packages available, including those for farm business. Rider                           Hometown                Horse              OwnerKaren Pavicic               Richmond, BC              Lionheart          Karen PavicicDiane Creech               Caistor Centre, ON        Wiona               Doug & Louise LeatherdaleGillian Sutherland        Unionville, ON              Great Tyme       Gillian SutherlandDominique Culham       Langley, BC                  Matisse             Dominique CulhamEvi Strasser                  Sainte-Adele, QC          Foto Tyme         Evi StrasserAndrea Bresee             Brockville, ON               Raffles              Gina Smith & Faith BerghuisJacqueline Brooks        Mount Albert, ON         Balmoral           Brinc Ltd, Anne & John Welch, Nick & Jean ViniosTom Dvorak                   Hillsburgh, ON             Beaumarchais   Susan Holden“The High Performance Committee congratulates all competitors on their success to date and extends best wishes to each for continued success in achieving their goals,” said Gwynne Rooke, Chair of Dressage Canada’s High Performance Committee. “We are confident that the final PAG team of three riders plus one Reserve will do Canada proud.”These eight combinations will now compete in two head-to-head final selection trials. In the event any of these top eight (8) rider/horse combinations are unable to participate, those qualified in descending order will be invited.  The first trial will take place May 30-31 at Saddlewood Equestrian Centre in Bethany, ON. The second trial will follow on June 1-3 at the CornerStone Spring into Dressage show being held in Palgrave, ON. International Judging PanelBoth trials will boast an impressive international judging panel comprised of:Trial # 1 – Saddlewood Equestrian Centre – May 30-31, 2007Lorraine MacDonald (FEI ‘I’ – CAN) – President of Ground JuryMarian Cunningham (FEI ‘I’ – PER)Lorraine Stubbs (FEI ‘I’ – CAN)Jeanne McDonald (FEI ‘C’ – USA)Gabriel Armando (FEI ‘C’ – ARG)Trial # 2 – CornerStone Farms Spring Into Dressage – June 1-3, 2007Gary Rockwell (FEI ‘O’ – USA)Marian Cunningham (FEI ‘I’ – PER)Lorraine MacDonald (FEI ‘I’ – CAN)Joan McCartney (FEI ‘I’ – CAN)Jane Weatherwax (FEI ‘I’ – USA)Gabriel Armando (FEI ‘C’ – ARG)Jeanne McDonald (FEI ‘C’ – USA)How will the Final Selection Trials Work?Each rider/horse combination will compete in the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle classes at both final selection trials.  Total scores from the final selection trials will be tabulated as follows:   – Two Prix St.Georges classes  –  30% each (total of 60%)  – Two Intermediate 1 classes – 15% each (total 30%)– Intermediate 1 Freestyle score –  10% How are the Final Standings Calculated?The final members of the 2007 PAG Dressage Team will be selected in descending order of total scores as calculated above.  The highest three scoring rider/horse combinations will be selected to the 2007 PAG Team, and the next rider/horse combination will be named as reserve.   After the final selection trials in Ontario, the team horses will then prepare for the trip to Miami, Florida for quarantine before flying out to Brazil at the beginning of July.Help Support Our Pan American Games Team Athletes!A fundraiser luncheon will be held during the second trial on Sunday June 3, 2007. The luncheon, sponsored by CornerStone Farms, Schleese Saddlery Service and Dressage Canada, will be held during the Freestyle competition June 3. Tickets are $25 with all proceeds going directly to the 2007 Pan American Dressage Team. For more information, contact Lisa Kostandoff at [email protected] Donations can also be made directly to Dressage Canada. Visit http://www.dressagecanada.org/dcp.asp?pageid=94 for more information. Subscribe to the Horse Sport newsletter and get an exclusive bonus digital edition! We’ll send you our regular newsletter and include you in our monthly giveaways. PLUS, you’ll receive our exclusive Rider Fitness digital edition with 15 exercises for more effective riding. SIGN UP center_img Email* Horse Sport Enews Ottawa, Ontario — Dressage Canada is pleased to announce the following eight combinations who will be vying for one of only three positions on the Canadian Pan American Games Dressage Team:last_img read more

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Survey shows effect of outsize of job loss on Utah women

first_imgSALT LAKE CITY (AP) — New data shows nearly 16% of Utah women have withdrawn in some way from the workplace during the coronavirus pandemic. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that figure represents thousands and thousands of women. The survey found women commonly said they left jobs because their employer had to close or faced some type of financial hardship or because they had to care to care for children, the elderly or people with disabilities.  Susan Madsen with the Utah Women and Leadership Project at Utah State University says the new survey confirms women in Utah have been impacted by the pandemic and accompanying economic upheaval in life-changing ways.last_img

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The money behind the New York tenant movement

first_imgFrom left: New York Communities for Change director Jonathan Westin, Neighborhood First Fund program director Joan Byron, and Ford Foundation president Darren Walker (Credit: NYC Communities, LinkedIn, and Ford Foundation)With just 11 days left before the rent laws expired, a chain link of tenants formed along the stairs that led to the New York State Assembly chambers, refusing to let anyone — especially real estate lobbyists — in or out.Their chants filled the hallway outside the chamber doors, where lobbyists and others vied for a chance to influence lawmakers. Clad in red “housing justice for all” t-shirts, the protestors held signs calling on Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to pass nine bills that would radically overhaul New York’s rent stabilization system. Over 60 tenants would be hauled away in handcuffs that day. The acts of civil disobedience dominated the news cycle; the Senate released a statement of support hours later. “Vito López long ago said, ‘I’m going to defeat you every time.’ When you’re the house, everyone expects you to win every time. But you can’t,” — Rent Stabilization Association president Joe Strasburg Across the street at Wellington’s in the ornate Renaissance Albany Hotel, real estate lobbyists gathered around a partially concealed table for a quiet lunch, working as they prefer — behind the scenes.While industry trade groups spent millions on a traditional ad campaign that highlighted the plight of small landlords and even brought in a powerful union to amplify their message, their opponents pushed a multi-pronged strategy that largely relied on protests and direct contact between tenants and elected officials.Through over a dozen interviews and an analysis of lobbying disclosures, tax filings and advertising data, The Real Deal assembled the clearest picture yet of how a coalition of 70 different tenant organizations raised half-a-million dollars — still outspent by more than five to one — and set into motion a strategy that helped ultimately turn the tables on the real estate industry, which had held a grip on Albany politicians for a generation.Bargain huntingBy November, it was clear to the real estate industry that their business interests were under serious threat. A number of far-left-wing candidates, some endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, had just picked off reliable incumbents, and they made it clear that rent reform would be a top legislative priority. Though the real estate industry had tangled with activists before and generally came out on top, the political climate felt different this time.“Vito López long ago said, ‘I’m going to defeat you every time.’ When you’re the house, everyone expects you to win every time. But you can’t,” Rent Stabilization Association president Joe Strasburg said.Real estate trade organizations such as the Real Estate Board of New York, Community Housing Improvement Program and Rent Stabilization Association quickly began amassing a war chest and outlining a strategy for the upcoming battle. Over the next six months, they would buy media ads and hire well-connected lobbyists to ensure reforms would be incremental, not radical.Between March and June, the industry’s umbrella lobbying group, dubbed the “Responsible Rent Reform” coalition, spent $2.8 million on print and social media advertising buys, according to lobbying disclosures. They aired television ads from Niagara Falls to Manhattan, and their social media ads reached households as far as Scranton, Pennsylvania, according to advertising data from Facebook. In all, the industry’s campaign spent $73,000 on Twitter and Facebook ads (though none of the ads were targeted, according to Facebook data). Between January and June, at least $750,000 more went to lobbyists hired by LeFrak, Blackstone Group, Cammeby’s International, RSA and REBNY to gin up support from elected officials in the Capitol, according to public lobby disclosures.(Click to enlarge)Their opponents operated quite differently.The Upstate/Downstate Alliance, a coalition of more than 70 tenant organizations responsible for the historic legislative defeat of the real estate industry in June, raised a little over $500,000 for their campaign, our analysis shows. That figure is actually smaller than previous legislative campaigns by rent reform groups in Albany, and dramatically smaller than past progressive campaigns like minimum wage.The $500,000 went toward paying the salary of one full-time coordinator, chartering buses, purchasing vouchers for cafeteria meals for tenants while in Albany, hiring a strategic communications firm, and a handful of targeted Facebook ads (the group spent just $123 on targeted Facebook ads between March and June).“[Real estate] chose to go on the airwaves while we went to Albany to talk to lawmakers,” said Jonathan Westin, the director of New York Communities for Change, one of the 13 tenant groups that formed the governing body of the coalition. “It was a grassroots coalition, supported by a number of allies on a shoestring budget, that went up against the largest industry in New York that spent millions on commercials, lawsuits and litigations. The Upstate/Downstate campaign was about organizing tenants.”Coordinated “Tenant Tuesdays” highlighted tenant narratives from around the state. Tenants’ organizing efforts were amplified by volunteers, bolstered by a digital strategy put into action by staff from NYCC. Organizations including the Met Council and the DSA led canvasses and collected data and stories from tenants in key districts. The coalition assembled weekly “digital toolkits” to even the playing field for upstate tenant organizations with fewer staff resources than their downstate coalition partners, while low-cost Facebook ads targeted lawmakers in the final days of the session.Kawanais SmithWithout a lot of money to spend, the movement relied on tactics largely carried out by volunteers, including direct lobby visits, strategic amplification of tenant stories and dramatic protests.Rochester tenant leader Kawanais Smith went to Albany 30 times during the legislative session, staying at local apartments in the capital arranged by other tenant organizers. Smith was among the 61 arrested outside the Senate chambers on June 4.“It’s hard to convince tenants to do anything, but you have to stand up for something,” she said. “I’d have been so quiet before. But I’ve changed, I found my voice, now I speak up for other tenants.”Where the money came fromThough much of the tenant groups’ strategy relied on sympathetic tenants publicly appealing to lawmakers, the source of the tenant group’s money is not a matter of public record. Because the Internal Revenue Service does not require nonprofit organizations to disclose their revenue sources (except for private foundations and political organizations), it’s impossible to fully determine who funded the tenant movement. “[Real estate] chose to go on the airwaves while we went to Albany to talk to lawmakers,” said Jonathan Westin, the director of New York Communities for Change Here’s what we do know about the movement’s backers:The Ford Foundation appears to be the biggest funder of progressive housing issues in New York, and the nonprofit has increased its funding levels in the last two years. TRD’s analysis found that the Ford Foundation has granted at least $6.7 million to New York nonprofits for housing-related issues since 2018.In 2018, it gave $700,000 to a general fund operated by NYCC, following a series of similar grants from 2014 to 2016. The Upstate/Downstate Alliance is mentioned in a $438,000 expense line in 2017, that states the fund “is working with and on behalf of tenants throughout New York.” The description also says the funding will go toward taking action “to win housing justice for all.”<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>A spokesperson for the Ford Foundation — which has not previously been identified in news reports as a key backer of New York tenant causes — said the grant was not earmarked specifically for rent reform, and NYCC was permitted to spend the money as it saw fit.The Ford Foundation has also funded several other nonprofits in the tenant coalition, including Make the Road, to which it gave $3 million through a 2017-2018 grant.Ford Foundation president Darren Walker (Credit: Melissa Bunni Elian via Flickr)“The funding levels have risen in recent years as we have made multi-year grants to build the organizational capacity of key grantees working in multiple issue areas across the state,” a spokesperson for the Ford Foundation said in a statement to TRD.Other prominent nonprofit backers include the Oak Foundation, a family foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland, which gave $750,000 to NYCC from 2018 to 2021; and the North Star Fund, which gave $10,000 to Tenants and Neighbors, $5,000 directly to the Upstate/Downstate Alliance and $2,000 to Met Council.NYC-based Neighborhoods First Fund, which is also funded by the Oak Foundation, the Ford Foundation and Deutsche Bank, gave $150,000 directly to the tenant campaign.Neighborhood First Fund program director Joan Byron said that the grants her organization made were to support housing nonprofits’ ongoing work, and that philanthropy has been “responding to the [movement’s] agenda, not setting it.”Though they were outgunned by the real estate industry, several of the 70 nonprofits in the coalition have sizable budgets. In 2017, NYCC reported $2.9 million in revenue and Make the Road reported $22 million in revenue, though they work on far more than just tenant causes.Union alliancesMany of the tenant groups and their allies also committed to providing employee hours and facilities, like meeting space in New York City and Albany. Ellen Davidson, an attorney from Legal Aid Society, reiterated that support for the campaign wasn’t just from grants— her organization, like others, committed to providing staff hours. And 307 individual donations from donation platform Action Network, while not the lion’s share of the money received, paid for events and direct actions.Cara NoelThe support of organized labor also played a crucial role in the campaign: while 32BJ backed the industry campaign and sent members to Albany to highlight how the new rent laws would affect construction workers, 1199 SEIU, a union that represents healthcare workers, paid for buses and lunches for tenants and members who went to Albany to testify, according to 1199 SEIU spokesperson Cara Noel. Twelve other unions — including 1199 SEIU, United Auto Workers and Hotel Trades Council — wrote of their support for universal rent control in a May 13 letter, just one month before the new rent law was signed. Still, a campaign with the full backing and financial support of organized labor would have been very different.“When all of the unions throw their weight behind a campaign there’s a much much bigger budget. More earlier would have been helpful,” a tenant coalition leader said.Money doesn’t completely account for the tenants’ stunning victory, but it is unlikely they would have succeeded without any. In a series of upcoming profiles, TRD will take readers inside the tenant movement, examining key strategic figures who helped topple the real estate industry, waging a complex state-wide campaign from social media to the state capitol, from Rochester to Ridgewood, eventually wresting control of Albany politicians from the real estate industry.Additional reporting by Kathryn Brenzel This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

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Jeff Sutton sells $31M stake in Williamsburg property

first_img Message* Full Name* Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties with 103 North Fourth Street. (Google Maps)The middle range of New York’s real estate investment market was active last week, with Jeff Sutton dealing in Williamsburg, a bulk condo buy at a fashionable Gramercy residence and an acquisition by design-development firm Tankhouse in Fort Greene.Six mid-level investment sales totaled $146.9 million, a jump from the previous week’s $81.2 million.Other transactions recorded last week involved a storage REIT in Queens and two mixed-use deals on the Upper East Side. Here are more specifics for the week ending March 12.1. Storage REIT Life Storage purchased a 70,000-square-foot building of self-storage units at 134-31 Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica for $36.4 million. The seller was SNL Storage.2. Jeff Sutton’s Wharton Properties sold a stake in a 6,200-square-foot commercial property at 103 North Fourth Street in Williamsburg for $31.3 million. The buyers were Korean real estate investors who formed a partnership with Sutton on the property, a person familiar with the transaction said. The limited liability company 166 Berry Owner, affiliated with Wharton Properties, received a $20.1 million loan from South Korea-based Kookmin Bank. Sutton purchased the property in 2019 for $20 million.In response to the pandemic, some Korean property investors have been setting up U.S. operations recently to facilitate due diligence, deal sourcing and property management, the Korea Herald reported last month.Read moreMarch 5: Delshah Capital buys Midtown commercial condo at former TGI Friday’sFeb. 26: Benchmark picks up UES building; SNL snares Bronx warehouseCharter school developer buys Brooklyn site out of bankruptcy Email Address* 3. Mountbatten Equities sold 10 residential units at its Gramercy Park condominium, Rutherford Place, at 305 Second Avenue for $18.6 million. The buyer was a limited liability company, 305 Second Avenue Mezz Lender, property records show. Alexander Zabik of private equity firm Pennybacker Capital signed the deed for the buyer.4. The Lycée Français de New York purchased a 17,700-square-foot, mixed-use building at 1414 York Avenue on the Upper East Side for $18.1 million. The building has 16 residential units across seven floors. The seller was Liberty Enterprises, through limited liability company 1414 York Realty.5. James Gaston sold 30,000 square feet of mixed-use property at 1301–1309 Third Avenue for $32.5 million, according to a person familiar with the deal. The buyer was EJS Group. The brokers were JLL’s Bob Knakal and Guthrie Garvin.The site has 75,000 square feet of development potential, which increases to 90,000 with an inclusionary housing bonus.6. Tankhouse bought a 9,900-square-foot lot with 39,500 buildable square feet at 134 Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene for $10 million. Sebastian Mendez signed for the buyer. The seller was Cumberland Farms.Contact Orion Joneslast_img read more

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Commission stands firm on economic forecasts

first_imgHowever, the Commission remains convinced that GDP will grow in the 11-member single currency area by 3.0% this year and 3.2% in 1999.Officials said that this belief had been reinforced by the latest survey of EU business sentiment, which showed increasing confidence regarding orders and costs throughout the Union. A Commission official insisted that these were “prudent assumptions” which did not have to be changed.The Japanese outlook has been undermined by the recent financial turmoil in South East Asia, which has weakened demand in the region for exported goods and exposed some of Tokyo’s already shaky financial institutions to a sudden surge in bad and doubtful loans.Other G7 members – the US, Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Canada – have called on the Japanese government to boost the country’s economy by cutting taxes and increasing public spending. Interest rates are already so low that they cannot be cut again and G7 members would be opposed to any measures which caused the yen to fall further.In response to these demands, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto last week announced tax cuts for 1998-99 totalling close to 30 billion ecu, to be added to the previously announced 110-billion-ecu fiscal stimulus package.The position of European exporters has deteriorated because the collapse of several South East Asian currencies and the recent fall in the value of the yen have further shifted the balance in the Asians’ favour.Some analysts fear that this, together with the possibility that these devaluations will cause a massive fall in the price of imported consumer goods from Asia, could undermine European growth and monetary stability in the run-up to the euro. Anxiety is growing among members of the Group of Seven leading industrialised countries about the impact on the US and European economies of a recession in Japan.Last week, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecast that Japanese gross domestic product would shrink by 0.3% this year and only grow by a sclerotic 1.3% in 1999. In 1997, GDP grew by only 0.9% and, towards the end of the year, the economy began to nose-dive.However, Commission forecasts published just a week earlier to coincide with the report assessing member states’ readiness to join the euro-zone are far more optimistic. They assume growth in Japan of 0.4% this year and 1.5% in 1999, and a yen-per-ecu exchange rate of 139.9, compared with a current rate of more than 144.last_img read more

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Defying euro fears

first_imgTo the astonishment of many, the beleaguered eurozone will get its 17th member on 1 January when minuscule Estonia begins to phase in the common currency. The Baltic state, which had originally intended to join the zone as early as 2008, could not have picked a less propitious time for the changeover.  The euro is undergoing the worst crisis in its 12-year history, and last year Estonia’s economy tanked by 14%, one of the worst declines in the EU. Should the tech-savvy nation of 1.3 million – the size of Milan – have waited a couple more years for the dust to settle before taking the plunge? The country’s centre-right leadership has been arguing just the opposite: the sooner Estonia is in the eurozone, the better. Currency risk has wreaked havoc with the country’s ratings and short-term outlook, so embracing the euro will help dispel potential investors’ fears. Besides, Estonia “already is” in the zone, proponents say. The kroon has been pegged to the euro for nearly a decade and consecutive governments have gone to great pains to adhere to the Maastricht criteria on debt, deficits, and inflation. In fact, Estonia will join the eurozone as its most disciplined member. According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund, Estonia will have the lowest deficit and debt levels among eurozone members. Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, remarked at a recent conference in Tallinn that Estonia “should export its fiscal policy.” Unclear benefits Still, it is unclear what benefits the common currency will bring to Estonia, which will be the eurozone’s poorest member. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip stresses that businesses will save on foreign exchange costs and investors will be inclined to give the tiny, open economy preference to, say, non-members such as Latvia and Lithuania. But critics say that foreign exchange expenses are tiny and the recent defection of a Coca-Cola bottling plant from Estonia to Latvia shows that currency is far from the primary consideration of investors. A few contrarian economists have tried to argue that, yes, Estonia should join the eurozone eventually, but only a few years from now. Instead, the country should focus on catching up with the rest of Europe by running larger-than-usual deficits and shrugging off the inevitable inflation from such a fiscal policy. It is a compelling argument, particularly given Estonia’s current economy, which is largely driven by exports to Nordic countries. Domestic demand is weak, and unemployment remains alarmingly high at more than 15%. This is constraining fiscal policy, especially as the government raises taxes. Nevertheless, nearly all economists have proclaimed that Estonia’s economy, which grew 4.7% in the third quarter year-on-year, has emerged from the crisis and is well positioned to maintain growth in upcoming years at about 2% annually.last_img read more

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Conn. Paramedic Accused of Ambulance Sex Assault

first_imgUpdated at 12:34 p.m. PST HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) – A paramedic raped a woman as she lay unconscious and strapped to a stretcher in the back of an ambulance on the way to a hospital, police said Friday.The 22-year-old woman, who had fallen and suffered a concussion at a holiday party, says she woke up to find the man assaulting her inside the ambulance on Dec. 25, according to Hamden police. She said she could not move because she was strapped down.Mark Powell, 49, of North Haven, surrendered Thursday to face charges of first-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint and was released on $25,000 bond. He did not respond to a phone message seeking comment, and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said the allegations represent “outrageous and horrifying conduct” by an emergency medical professional.“Our society places the greatest level of trust and confidence in its public safety providers, and the circumstances in this case reflect a tremendous breach of that faith. The victim in this incident demonstrated enormous strength and courage in bringing this complaint forward,” he said.Police responded to the report of the woman’s fall around 3 a.m., and she was treated at the scene. She was allegedly assaulted en route to Yale-New Haven Hospital and contacted police after she was released.Powell was the only person in the American Medical Response ambulance aside from a driver and the victim, according to Hamden Police Capt. Ronald Smith. He said investigators are still conducting interviews and waiting for lab results, but charges are not expected to be filed against anybody else.AMR spokeswoman Deborah Hileman said it is a national standard to have only one person in the back of the ambulance during the transport of a patient.The company said Powell has been placed on administrative leave.“This kind of behavior is an affront to AMR caregivers across Connecticut who provide high quality care to their patients each and every day, with integrity and compassion,” AMR General Manager Charles Babson said.last_img read more

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Seniors to enter religious life after graduation

first_imgCourtesy of Christina Serena Senior Christina Serena (left) will join the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in August. To her left are Sister Joseph Andrew, foundress and vocations director of the order, and two postulants.“Rather than waiting for that time to test out my vocation, I’ll actually get to live it and see it with clearer eyes than I’ve been able to so far,” Serena said.When she first arrived at Notre Dame, Serena said she didn’t want to be a religious sister. But like Bellafiore, her love for religious life grew during her time as an undergraduate.“Through my Foundations of Theology course and through my prayer and getting to know God better in that way, it became clear to me that God was calling me to consider [religious life],” Serena said. “The more I prayed about it, the more I learned about the Dominicans, the more it attracted me. And there just became a point where I fell in love with religious life, and during prayer one morning said, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do.’ And that’s what I’ve wanted to do since.”By the time she was a sophomore, Serena had decided she wanted to join the Dominicans.“I don’t think I would have been able to discern my vocation without an image of religious life,” Serena said. “And the first sisters I ever encountered were from my community, in Spain at World Youth Day. And after [God] introduced them to me it was most natural for me to begin, first of all, discerning with them. And later, meeting other religious orders, I realized that God introduced me first to the order that was right for me. It’s a matter of the heart, so I can’t say exactly why I’m called to them.”Serena said there are many reasons she loves the order.“I love the Dominicans’ commitment to study,” Serena said. “I love that they’re the order of preachers, because I think that’s so important, especially with all the people in our culture today who don’t recognize Christ. They’re also very monastic. I love all the traditional ways of praying, and they wear the traditional Dominican habit. But they’re also very young and joyful; their average age is 30 and the average age of those who enter is 21.“So I’m already over the average. One of the pre-postulants was asking me how I felt about being old,” she said with a laugh.To those discerning their vocation, Bellafiore said the most important thing he has learned throughout the process is not to be afraid.“Fear is not something that comes from God,” Bellafiore said. “He always speaks through peace. There’s also no reason to be afraid because He’s totally good and totally in love with you and wants nothing but what’s good for you.”Serena agreed.“I think oftentimes when people are trying to figure out God’s will, they think of it as something that God knows and He won’t necessarily tell them unless they do everything perfectly, or they really think about it and obsess about it,” she said. “But the vocation is something that God has already implanted in you through baptism, and He actually desires for us to know our vocations more than we do ourselves. So as long as you’re staying close to God through the sacraments and through prayer, He will reveal your vocation to you at the right time.”Tags: Commencement, discernment, dominican sisters of mary, priesthood, Seniors Like most Notre Dame students, senior Sam Bellafiore had an idea of what his future career would be when he was still in high school. But at the time, Bellafiore wasn’t thinking about becoming an accountant or a lawyer — he was thinking about becoming a priest.Bellafiore, who will enter Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, this September, said he has been drawn to religious life for quite a while, even though there were many times he said he wished he wasn’t.“I started thinking about [becoming a priest] late in high school, and you don’t particularly like the idea of not getting married, or not owning very many things or having to spend every day helping other people,” Bellafiore said. “[Religious life is], on the face of it, not particularly attractive. And I kept finding that, on the surface level, even though it wasn’t attractive, there was something very deep inside of me that still kept wanting to do this.”That part of him that wanted to become a priest grew throughout his time at Notre Dame, Bellafiore said.“Really from the first day I was here — I met someone in my section as a freshman the first week of class, and we talked about discernment,” he said. “People are just in general more open to the idea of someone becoming a priest or religious [at Notre Dame] than you’d find in a lot of other places. So the fact that people were open with it and thought it was an okay thing to do – it makes it a lot easier to think about.”Men that join a seminary can choose either to join an order — like the Congregation of Holy Cross — or a diocese. Bellafiore said he considered joining an order, but ultimately decided to join a diocese so he could serve the city where he grew up.“I was really drawn to serving the people in the place that I’m from, the place that raised me and formed me and helped me become who I am,” Bellafiore said. “And I want to go back and help people there.”Bellafiore said serving the people of his community is something he’s looking forward to most as he prepares to enter religious life. What will be even more important to him than that, though, will be the Mass, he said.“If I became a priest, the most important thing in my life — and if I don’t become a priest, the most important thing in my life — would be Mass, when God actually continues to take flesh in the world and be with us,” Bellafiore said. “That would be the most important thing. There’s nothing more important than that. But I’m also looking forward to, in seminary and if I become a priest, just spending time with people, ministering to them, learning from them and bringing whatever I can share to them.”Senior Christina Serena, who will join the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in August, said she is most looking forward to giving her life “entirely to God” after graduation.last_img read more

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