Vermont Public Television receives national award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

first_imgVermont Public Television (VPT) has received a My Source Community Impact Award for Education from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). VPT president John King accepted the award at a ceremony March 7th in Washington, DC. The ceremony was part of the CPB/PBS-hosted Council of Chief State School Officers Legislative Conference. Also attending was Vermont s commissioner of education, Armando Vilaseca.The My Source Community Impact Awards for Education were created by CPB to recognize public television stations for their commitment to providing educational services to learners of all ages and abilities, as well as for the services the stations provide to teachers, parents and caregivers.For its local project, VPT partnered with two Harwood Union High School teachers and their students in Duxbury to explore ways to integrate community-focused learning with VPT s local programming. In February, 2008, teacher Jean Berthiaume s social studies class took part in a live VPT Public Square program that debated extending the term length for Vermont s governor. Students participated as a live studio audience that posed questions directly to panel members, and continued the debate as part of their classroom curriculum. In June, also as a Public Square broadcast, VPT screened a new film produced by Harwood students, under the guidance of Maureen Charron-Shea, about the day-to-day struggles faced by the disabled. Following the film, the students also convened a live, on-air panel discussion about those issues.About the project, King said, Along with lifelong education, fostering civic and community engagement is an important part of VPT s mission, and we saw this partnership as a viable means to promote that message, particularly among a younger audience. And the students got an important lesson in real-world community participation. The project also allowed us to explore new ways for public television to collaborate more effectively with the education community, and the folks at Harwood were great to work with. Education is a core value of public service media, on air, online and in the community, said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of CPB, who presented the awards. CPB congratulates Vermont Public Television for this important commitment to community and our country through education.About CPB: CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. For more about VPT s My Source initiative, visit www.vpt.org(link is external).Photo caption:Pictured: John King, Vermont Public Television president, receives the Community Impact Award for Education from CPB president Pat Harrison (left) and senior vice president of Education and Children s Content, Dr. Susan Zelman.last_img read more

Op-Ed: ‘The U.S. Coal Industry Is Dying, and It’s Not Coming Back’

first_imgOp-Ed: ‘The U.S. Coal Industry Is Dying, and It’s Not Coming Back’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Michael R. Bloomberg for Bloomberg View:As world leaders gather in New York on Friday to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, some have expressed concern that as they implement their commitments, the U.S. Supreme Court has put on hold the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Their concern is understandable, but it’s important to recognize: The federal government is not the primary force in the U.S. fight against climate change, and even if the court ultimately strikes down certain parts of the plan, the U.S. will meet and probably exceed its commitment to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Here’s why.It was a modest goal. By 2015, the U.S. had already cut emissions by 11 percent compared with 2005 levels. So our starting line was nearly halfway to our goal. Given this progress, many of us believed that President Obama should have set a more ambitious target. Even now, with the Clean Power Plan on hold, a more ambitious goal is achievable.The court’s ruling is limited. No matter how the court rules, the federal government will still have a mandate, under the Clean Air Act, to limit carbon pollution from power plants, cars and trucks, and other major sources. Moreover, the Obama administration recently joined with Canada to draft rules to limit leaks of methane (a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide) from existing natural gas wells and pipelines.The public favors action. Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies funded a poll of Democrats, Republicans and independents living in four states — Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin — where attorneys general have sued the Environmental Protection Agency to block the Clean Power Plan. More than six in 10 registered voters in Missouri, and seven in 10 in Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin, support the plan. In Florida, nearly six in 10 voters said they’d be more likely to vote for a presidential or gubernatorial candidate who supported the plan, while just one in 10 said they’d be less likely.The market is moving. The U.S. coal industry is dying, and it’s not coming back. A combination of forces — cheap gas, price-competitive solar and wind energy, and public opposition to polluted air — will make sure of it. A recent report showed that solar jobs in the U.S. have grown at a rate 12 times faster than the national job growth rate. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which I have supported, has helped phase out more than 230 coal plants in recent years — one-third of the nation’s coal fleet. And we aim to lock in the retirement of half the nation’s coal fleet by the end of next year.Cities are leading. More than 100 U.S. cities have joined the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of city officials committed to lowering local emissions — and publicly tracking the reductions. Moreover, mayors are talking with international leaders about big ideas, such as building and financing new clean energy electric grids. For instance, earlier this week I met with Liu Zhenya, chairman of the State Grid Corporation of China, who shared with me his idea of a Global Energy Interconnection to help the world get 80 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources. Working with businesses and investors, cities will be instrumental partners in bringing such bold ideas to life.States are acting. Many states rightly view the EPA’s targets as a floor, not a ceiling. Governors of nearly half of U.S. states have said they will proceed with the Clean Power Plan regardless of the Supreme Court’s temporary stay. California has adopted a plan that imposes far deeper cuts on emissions than what the Clean Power Plan calls for. Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee are on track to meet or exceed federal compliance targets without doing much more at all. Even heavily coal-dependent Kentucky, where elected officials have voiced opposition to the Clean Power Plan, will likely wind up meeting the plan’s targets, because of market forces driving more investment in cleaner energy.In 2009, Congress debated a cap-and-trade bill that would have cut emissions by 8 percent by 2015. It failed to pass, and many were despondent, believing that was the last, best hope for making progress. But since then — thanks to the above forces, particularly the market and Beyond Coal campaign — the U.S. has cut emissions by more than what the cap-and-trade bill hoped to achieve.The fact is that cities, states, businesses and community leaders collectively play a larger role in the future of emissions than the federal government. The prospect of a Supreme Court ruling striking down aspects of the Clean Power Plan should lead each group to accelerate its efforts, while also reassuring world leaders of our resolve to achieve and exceed the federal government’s goals.U.S. Can Meet Paris Climate Goals (With or Without Supreme Court)last_img read more

Historic Land Controversies Re-emerge in Path of Pipeline

first_imgNearly a year later, with the pipeline project seemingly losing its legal footing, Becky is still fighting. The pipe is in the ground on her land, but at the moment, the company has lost its permit to cross the Jefferson National Forest and the Appalachian Trail, which follows the ridge of Peter’s Mountain. It’s not just about her property. As she described her relationship with the place, “It’s beyond ownership. I think that sense of nurturing land is very strong among people who live on or near Peter’s Mountain. You want to take care of it. It’s something beyond the earthly that goes on on Peter’s Mountain. It’s a part of the earth that I’m familiar with and therefore it’s a friend.” In the statue we see a vision of humanity that is always competing with natural forces and obsessed with conquering them. Ozymandias, however could not conquer time and could not beat death and in the end we see what his works have come to: Fossil fuel extraction has left its embattled print on Appalachia since its beginnings in the late 1800s. The wells that mine the gas for this pipeline in Wetzel, WV had their own protest slogans years before this pipeline project began. No Fracking Way is one that may be familiar. Before hydraulic fracking there was mountain top removal, and before mountain top removal whole towns were arming themselves against the coal companies in what we now call the West Virginia coal wars. During the labor strikes of the early 1900s the protestors were outraged that their homes were being stolen, the land destroyed, and their way of life dominated by the company. The same sentiment can be heard here today. Like other communities opposed to the project, Blacksburg has little control in the matter. Both the Blacksburg Town Council and the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors issued resolutions opposing the Mountain Valley Pipeline back in 2014. The documents outline why they stand against the project, but they’re not much more than public statements of their stance. Neither governing body has any authority in approving, denying, or amending the pipeline plan. This makes grassroots organizing the only viable option for people in towns like Blacksburg to have any voice in what happens to their community.  In this case, because of the nature of a pipeline and the area that it crosses, a different tactic is required to build it. If any piece of the land is unavailable the whole thing is defunct. Thus the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) steps in. This agency can take the land under eminent domain if they deem it necessary to the public good. But many question the integrity of FERC’s decision. FERC was founded in 1977 in order to propel the natural gas industry of the United States. In the past 30 years, it has approved 398 of 400 proposed pipeline projects. Opponents see it as a government-mandated theft of land for an industry that has wasted the area for so long already. That’s why it comes to me when I’m looking out of the kitchen window at Four Corners Farm, where, whether you’re looking over the compost or the garden or the busy chickens or the sloping pasture, the thing you always see is the unburied Mountain Valley Pipeline at the bottom of the hill. From this vantage, the proposed 303 mile structure could also be a monument of conquest, cutting through the forest as part of the latest advance of what may be the most invasive industry in the region’s history.  “I feel an immense lack of knowledge and intelligence in something I understand to be essential to my existence: which is how I nourish myself,” said one of the farmers in the coalition. “Even though I can recognize how harmful certain practices are I feel bound to them nonetheless, and entangled with them nonetheless. And I think that’s the great contradiction that so many of us are in, that many of us are so clear-eyed about the extent of the climate crisis and the threat to our existence but we are still so entangled in the flows and mechanisms that are generating that crisis.” Both figuratively and literally, mining has profoundly shaped Appalachia. Here’s how it happened. In 1880, with the industrial revolution at full blast, there was a rush to claim the valuable coal locked in the Appalachian Mountains. Investors saw a high demand for this resource hidden under the rural residents and landowners. Hot burning anthracite (which was the kind of coal in the Appalachians) had become integral to smelting the iron contemporary cities needed, and corporate interests were hungry to gain control of the assets. So they set out to acquire rights to the minerals under the surface of the land from locals. For the most part, people didn’t know what they were selling and sold dirt cheap. The mineral rights holders had the right to do what they deemed necessary to access the minerals below, and that often meant destroying the quality of the surface land.  By 1920, 70 to 90 percent of the mineral rights in Central Appalachia were owned by corporations and Appalachians quickly found themselves dispossessed. The land imbalance persisted and in 1974 at least half of the land in West Virginia was owned by out of state corporate interests. The whole time, money, resources, and quality of life flowed unilaterally out of the mountains. It was business as usual, and a business does not operate democratically- it operates hierarchically with the goal of increasing its productivity. Without ownership of where they lived, people found democracy and self-government next to impossible.  As roommates in North Western Roanoke the group had already been made aware of the shortage of healthy food available. It was a 15 minute drive to the closest grocery store, something that wasn’t always an option for many in their neighborhood. People were left to convenience stores and gas stations stocked with chips, candy, and overpriced junk food. For that reason the neighborhood had a community garden, where the group volunteered and became inspired. You might say that the community garden is what fanned the agricultural spark into an active flame. The knowledge that there are people who struggle for access to the basic necessities of a healthy life is always there in the background.   She adds, “The mountain talks you know. There is a roar that is a geologic phenomenon that only happens at Peter’s Mountain. It’s usually early in the morning and you stop in your tracks. It may not even be daylight yet, and you hear it. There’s a sense that all is right in the world, the mountain is talking today.” The irony here is that eminent domain is supposedly a provision for the public good. Yet, as the farmers point out, people need food, not pipelines. They need to have clean water, not gas and oil, and they deserve a healthy planet, not a check. At the start of spring a poetry reading advertises that donations will go to groups helping to fight the Mountain Valley Pipeline. More often than not, that has been a common thread for events in the rural college town for over a year. Before construction even began there were readings against the pipeline, concerts against the pipeline, yard sales against the pipeline, dinners, and once even eating a chipotle burrito could be a way of combating the pipeline.  Late in the summer of 2018, Becky Crabtree found herself in that latter category as the sun rose to find her chained to the steering wheel of her 1971 Ford Pinto parked on wooden blocks in front of the 12 foot trench prepared to bury pipe in her field. The 64 year old grandmother, biology teacher, and author has been opposing the mountain valley pipeline since it was proposed in 2015. Her homestead had been at the base of Peter’s Mountain for close to 40 years and she did not see why she should move for the construction crews approaching her home.  Farther West, over the Blue Ridge Mountains, across the Roanoke River Valley, and into the New River Valley, the pipeline curls along the periphery of the town of Blacksburg. Here, No Pipeline signs pepper roadside spaces next to mailboxes. There are community meetings, and presentations about how to get involved against the pipeline.center_img Up and down the line, there are tangible concerns: destruction of habitat, air quality, safety, but the most outstanding is the impact to water quality. Starting at the Marcellus Shale, where the gas is being drilled, polluted water is a byproduct that gets into groundwater and streams. The pipelines themselves have been known to overlook water quality standards. In 2017 Energy Transfer Partners was sued for $2.3 million by the Ohio EPA for repeatedly spilling drilling fluid into wetlands, ponds, and streams. Erosion pushing sediment into streams is another issue and MVP has racked up over 300 documented violations and a pending lawsuit. In Appalachia’s Karst and water rich environment many life giving sources are at risk. Four Corners Farm is fed by a well and a large creek through the property that would likely be affected. Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal Wreck, boundless and bareThe lone and level sands stretch far away. There’s a poem that keeps coming back to me. It’s one of those aphoristic poems that shows something so clearly it comes to embody a particular thought. That thought has been on my mind lately. The poem is Ozymandias by Percy Shelly and in it, the pharaoh’s wasted monument is discovered buried in the desert. On his statue these words are inscribed: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! “They must have thought they would roll right over us, but we won’t just sit back and watch. We’re showing them what the people can do,” said one young activist. The monument to his grandeur becomes a monument of impermanence as it spends the years abandoned in the sand. So the poem can be taken as a warning against this ambition to command the forces of nature and the futility of it.  This process is not unique; it’s a pattern. Early on, it was by levers of ownership that Appalachia was wrestled away from Native Americans. To the residents of Four Corners the glaring problem is that our society is set up for this kind of behavior. We treat land as a resource to be used up. We believe it belongs to us, and when we take what we want out of it, leaving our surroundings depleted rather than enriched, we consider it a profit. If that sounds backwards to you, you are not alone. In many ways, farming on the route of the pipeline is an attempt to turn that model around and put something back. On the farm we feed everything around us. We feed the soil, we feed the plants, we feed the chickens, we feed each other, and through these things we are fed. Farming shows us again and again that we are richest in what we can give, not in what we are able to take. For now the farm is bustling again with the activity of preparing beds, watering seedlings, and chasing around chickens. They’re looking forward to trellising peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes, planning out summer greens and fall grains. There is a degree of marvel in witnessing something grow, like you can’t quite believe that it’s real, like some kind of magic is taking place. I can hear it bottle their breath when we scan the burgeoning beds. Yet any day things could take a dark turn for these sprouts. The threat of construction is looming as MVP is allowed to show up any time with heavy equipment that would crush the sensitive soil. She had not thought it would come to this. Like many of her neighbors, she had tried every legal avenue and with them she had been mostly ignored or brushed aside. “I had signed every petition, I had been to every court hearing, I had helped finance court cases, I had written letters, I had done all I knew how to do,” she recalls. When people started breaking laws, officials paid more attention. Protestors hoped to delay progress of the pipeline while pressure mounted on MVP.   Because of independent citizen actors, MVP has had a slow, rough road strewn with obstacles. Coalitions like Mountain Valley Watch and POWHR monitor MVP and document violations of environmental regulations and permits. Others put pressure on legislators (sometimes by showing up in mass to hearings and government offices).  Then there are those who physically block the pipeline’s progress.  “First we had a schedule. We had when they could not cut down trees. There was a timeline, because the songbirds come make their nests, and there was a timeline related to the bats.” That timeline refers to the company’s initial plan, which was to finish all tree clearing before March 31, 2018 to avoid damaging wildlife protected under the endangered species act. Cutting after that would disturb the endangered Indiana Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, and various migratory birds nesting in the trees. The tree sits on Peters Mountain hoped to stall the company past its deadline. Clearing started in February of that year along with legal action leveled against those standing in the way. The deadline passed and the trees were still standing. But, in April citizens documented tree cutting still going on. The company alleged that they were only cutting in areas where the endangered bats were not affected. A tense standoff continued through April, May, and then June began and the stand on Peter’s Mountain was finally evicted and arrested, leaving behind them the example that when what the state deems ok is not ok with you, it is your right to stand against it. At the end of July, with construction at her doorstep, that is exactly what Becky did.  The six friends pulling this off aren’t exactly farmers. This is their first attempt at living off of the land. But when the owners, the Reilly family, who used to raise cows, sheep, and chickens, packed up after a long, hard battle with MVP over their land, feeling robbed and violated, it looked like the end of the farm. The sympathetic collective saw an opportunity to salvage something and worked out a way to rent the place.  The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest in the world. They’ve been here long before we were, before the United States, before countries and constitutions, before they even had a name, and they’ll be here long after we’re gone. They’re home to countless creatures and the source of countless springs. A single ridge may nestle several towns, across counties, and thread together countless ways of life. They shape the land more profoundly than any line on a map or civil boundary. Who could claim to own something like that? Who could say it’s theirs to command? Again I can see the image of Ozymandias scowling as time goes by, the desert stretches out according to its own laws, and hardly notices.last_img read more

Colombia and United States Announce a Regional Security Plan

first_img The United States and Colombia are already working jointly on training issues in the Americas and West Africa. Through Operation Martillo, a U.S. mission is coordinating the maritime and air operations of the Colombian Navy and the U.S. Air Force to thwart organized-crime groups in Central America. U.S. President Barack Obama and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos agreed on April 15 to intensify their security cooperation in the Americas and West Africa. The plan highlights “Colombia’s established and expanding expertise and capacity for countering this threat and shared U.S. responsibility to address the demand for illicit narcotics.” The statement added that “coordinated Colombian and U.S. law enforcement and defense support can more effectively counter the threats of transnational organized crime.” The United States – Colombia Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation is a response “to increasing insecurity generated by transnational organized crime,” the State Department said in a statement. center_img This extensive cooperation “will support whole-of-government strategies and produce a greater effect throughout the hemisphere and West Africa,” the statement explained. The Colombian National Police also provides training in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. Colombia and the United States are holding a series of “frequent” meetings to coordinate their security operations within the plan’s framework, with emphasis on drug trafficking, the fight against crime, reinforcing institutions, and convincing populations to resist. By Dialogo April 17, 2012last_img read more

Colombia Deals Heavy Blow to Gulf Clan

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo December 21, 2016 Colombian security forces dealt a heavy blow to drug trafficking when they seized 130 kilograms of cocaine that was to be transported via an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) — the latest tool for transporting drugs from Colombia’s jungle region to Panama. On November 15th, following an intelligence operation, 50 men from Colombia’s National Police, Office of the Attorney General, and Navy, located ready-to-assemble drone parts and cocaine buried on a beach in the Bahía Solano coastal region, in the heavily forested department of Chocó. The drugs were marked with the logo of a rock band. This action “is a resounding blow against drug trafficking. The aircraft is capable of transporting 10 kilos of cocaine and covering a distance of 100 kilometers,” General José Gerardo Acevedo, regional police commander told Diálogo on December 12th. Police suspected the Gulf Clan used drones to transport small shipments of cocaine to Panama, where other members of their organization would retrieve them. Operation Agamenón was launched on February 2, 2015, with 1,200 police officers to wipe out the Gulf Clan, considered the largest criminal organization in the country. Police estimate that the Gulf Clan has about 2,600 members. The criminal organization is devoted to drug trafficking, illegal mining, extortion, and recruiting minors. Operation Agamenón was developed by the Intelligence; Anti-Drug, Anti-Kidnapping and Extortion; and Criminal Investigation directorates, and Interpol, in coordination with Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General and Air Force (FAC, per its Spanish acronym). Advances in police techniques for drug interdiction have forced drug traffickers to look for new ways of avoiding detection. “This is the first time that we have found drone parts linked to drug trafficking activities, another way of transporting drugs,” said Gen. Acevedo. “We’re talking about a carbon fiber composite unit that uses batteries and fuel, and can fly autonomously for two hours,” Rafael Vides, founder of Colombian enterprise Soluciones Robóticas Integrales S.A.S. told Diálogo. The Colombian company developed a drone capable of using an electronic nose to detect antipersonnel mines from the air. “This small aircraft evades radar controls. The unit located by the security forces is worth approximately $10,000.” Security forces use a drone system in aerial patrol work to provide support in natural disasters, search and rescue, border control, highway patrol, combating illegal mining, and rural support and development. The use of drones for border patrol is not new to the region. Mexican authorities became aware in 2011 that drug traffickers were using drones or unmanned aircraft to smuggle drugs into the United States. The Gulf Clan has been one of the main suppliers of narcotics to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. Colombia is considered the world’s largest cocaine producer, according to the Monitoring Report on Territories Affected by Illicit Crops in Colombia, issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in July 2016. As of 2015, the country’s coca cultivation area had jumped 39 percent, from 69,000 hectares in 2014 to 96,000 hectares in 2015. Colombian Navy authorities estimate that one kilogram of cocaine is worth approximately $5,000 in Colombia, $20,000 in Mexico, and as much as $37,000 in the United States. A drug trafficker can operate around 24 drones for the price of building one submarine, according to an article published on May 22, 2014, by the online journal Robotics Business Review. “We must not allow these aircraft to be used for illegal activities. The misuse of these devices puts our regional security in jeopardy,” Vides stated. “Drones can ultimately be used by criminal groups to carry out terrorist attacks.” Drug traffickers also employ ultralight planes, torpedoes, semi-submersibles, speedboats, radio buoys, cargo containers, canned fruit, agricultural products, and even people (drug mules) who ingest cocaine packed in latex capsules, which they later excrete. Although these means and measures test the authorities’ adaptability in fighting drug trafficking, “we have the antidote and the technological means to combat these threats,” Gen. Acevedo said. The company Alta Tecnología para la Defensa de Colombia is actively engaged in developing radars “that allow us to detect this kind of emerging technology,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrés Niño told Diálogo. Lt. Col. Niño is assistant director of Defense Operations for the FAC. The FAC began to fly this type of aircraft in 2005. As of March 2016, they had logged 18,000 flight hours in unmanned air systems. “We have established procedures for capturing these aircraft in one way or another, which are being used to do things that fall outside the law,” added Lt. Col. Niño. Colombian security forces have dealt heavy blows to drug trafficking. The National Police reported in a November 21st press statement that during the 700 days that Operation Agamenón has been fighting the Gulf Clan, security forces have arrested 906 people linked to that group and 279 others affiliated with other transnational criminal organizations. “Crime has never prevailed in our country. They have all fallen; from the biggest crime bosses to the leaders who support them; criminals cannot operate at ease here,” Gen. Acevedo concluded.last_img read more

4 Long Islanders Charged in $30M Nonprofit Scam

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The number of Long Islanders accused of bilking New York City drug rehabilitation centers has doubled from two to four and the amount they allegedly stole has increased tenfold from $3 million to $30 million, authorities said.Two Melville men, including 60-year-old Alan Brand, who was the executive director of Narco Freedom, and his 36-year-old son, Jason, who worked as a manager for the Bronx-based nonprofit, were indicted on upgraded charges of enterprise corruption. They pleaded not guilty, just as they did to previously filed charges of insurance fraud and grand larceny. Alan also previously pleaded not guilty to commercial bribe receiving and money laundering.“Criminal enterprises that use nonprofits to steals millions in public funds poison New York’s charitable sector, which is one of the greatest in the nation,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.Two Huntington men also indicted in the case were John Cornachio, 60, and 33-year-old Jonathon Brand, who is another son of Alan. Both also pleaded not guilty to grand larceny. Freedom’s current chief executive, 56-year-old Gerald Bethea of Inwood, additionally pleaded not guilty enterprise corruption along with Richard Gross, 61, of Yonkers.Prosecutors said in addition to the previously allegations, the suspects used the nonprofit to defraud Medicaid out of $27 million and syphon off Narco Freedom’s revenue to fund their lavish lifestyles.Authorities previously have said the father and son defrauded Arch Insurance Company out of $3.5 million by filing a false insurance claim in 2009 for storm damage to a former treatment facility Brooklyn—one of 10 facilities the nonprofit runs citywide.They allegedly did not disclose that Jason not only worked for Narco, but also owns the construction company that the nonprofit hired to make the repairs, DASO Development Corp., resulting in both entities also being charged with insurance fraud and grand larceny. Authorities added that Alan and Jason overstated the cost of the repairs.Alan also allegedly received $13,000 in monthly kickbacks from a real estate developer who rented buildings to Narco—effectively skimming from the $40 million in taxpayer dollars that New York State annually allocated to help fund the group between 2009 and this year, according to investigators.Bail was set at $350,000 for Alan Brand, $275,000 for Jason Brand, $100,000 for Gross and $50,000 for Cornachio as well as Jonathan Brand. All are due back in court May 20. Bethea was released without bail and is due back in court Friday.last_img read more

City Council names Gerindra’s Riza Patria as Jakarta deputy governor

first_imgPrasetyo said that the City Council would immediately submit the decree announcing Riza as the Jakarta deputy governor-elect to the President and the Home Ministry as the legal basis for installing him.The seat of deputy governor has been vacant since Gerindra politician Sandiaga Uno resigned from the post in August 2018 to be the running mate of Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto in the 2019 presidential election. Prabowo has since been appointed as Defense Minister by President Joko Widodo, his erstwhile political rival.Longtime allies Gerindra and PKS were engaged in a prolonged tug-of-war over the vacant post, with the two parties finally reaching an agreement in February 2019 to submit two nominees from the PKS to the council. However, the sluggish process caused Gerindra to change its mind and nominate Riza as its own candidate.Topics : The Jakarta City Council declared Ahmad Riza Patria of the Gerindra Party as the Jakarta deputy governor-elect in a plenary meeting on Monday.”In accordance with the results of the vote count, Ahmad Riza Patria has been elected as the Jakarta deputy governor for the remainder of the 2017-2022 term,” said City Council Speaker Prasetyo Edi Marsudi of the Indonesian Democratic Party and Struggle (PDI-P).Selection committee chairman Farazandi of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said that Riza had secured 81 votes and his opponent Nurmansyah Lubis of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) had gained a mere 17 votes, with two votes thrown out from a total 100 votes.last_img read more

Sterling falls after PM Johnson hospitalized over persistent coronavirus symptoms

first_img“When a head of state or government is stricken like this, it will cause concern for holders of sterling and sterling assets,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.“Coronavirus cases in Japan may not peak for another month, so the markets will think that now it’s Japan’s turn. A state of emergency is necessary, but this could be yen negative.”The pound fell 0.26 percent to US$1.2242 on Monday in Asia. Against the euro, it fell 0.27 percent to 88.39 pence.Johnson was admitted in what Downing Street said was a “precautionary step” because he was showing persistent symptoms of COVID-19 10 days after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. The pound fell against the dollar and euro on Monday after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for tests after showing persistent symptoms of the coronavirus.The yen fell against the dollar and the antipodean currencies after Japanese media reported Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may declare a state of emergency as early as Tuesday to curb an alarming acceleration in coronavirus infections.The dollar was on the back foot against the euro after data last week showed companies in the United States shed jobs at break-neck speed as the COVID-19 pandemic leads the global economy into a deep recession. Also weighing on sterling is Britain’s constitution – an unwieldy collection of sometimes ancient and contradictory precedents – that offers no formal deputy or caretaker who would take over if Johnson cannot continue to lead.The coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, has turned into a pandemic that has infected more than a million people, killed over 68,000 and paralyzed large swathes of the global economy.In the offshore market, China’s yuan  held steady at 7.1134 per dollar after the mainland reported 39 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, all but one of them imported, up from the 30 reported a day earlier. China’s mainland markets are closed Monday for a public holiday.The yen  fell 0.4 percent to 108.93 against the dollar. It also weakened against the euro, the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar.Japan’s prime minister will declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus as early as Tuesday, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, as the number of infections topped 1,000 in the capital, Tokyo.Abe will likely announce his plans to declare the emergency on Monday, the paper said.Pressure has been mounting on the government to make the move as the pace of infections – while slow versus harder-hit countries around the world – continues to accelerate.The dollar eased slightly to $1.0814 per euro and held steady at 0.9769 Swiss franc.US President Donald Trump on Sunday expressed hope that the United States was seeing a “leveling-off” of the virus crisis in some of the nation’s hot spots.However, sentiment for the greenback remains fragile after a series of data last week showed US job losses are soaring as draconian measures to curb the virus hurt consumer spending and factory activity.Currencies of major oil producers fell in Asia on Monday as crude prices gave up some of their recent gains after Saudi Arabia and Russia postponed to Thursday a meeting about a potential pact to cut production.The rouble lost about 1 perrcent against the dollar, while the Mexican peso fell 1.6 percent. The Norwegian crown also fell more than 0.3 percent against the dollar.Topics :last_img read more

Planned food estates in South Sumatra to damage environment: Experts

first_imgTopics : The projects are also aimed at overcoming food distribution issues across the archipelago, land use change, especially in Java, and the increase of the country’s population, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s Food Security Agency (BKP).Read also: Explainer: All you need to know about the govt’s food estatesSouth Sumatra Forestry Agency head Panji Tjahjanto told the Post on Sept. 24 that the Environment and Forestry Ministry would revoke the forest status of the 26,000 ha of land.Panji argued that the forest zone conversion into farming areas would not affect South Sumatra’s total forest zones of 3.46 million ha, or around 39 percent of the province’s land area.“Some of the existing production and protected forest zones are already opened. Therefore, we are only waiting for the ministry’s instruction,” he said.The executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in South Sumatra, Hairul Sobri, rejected the government’s notion to redesignate forest land for the food estate program, urging the government to instead protect existing food producing areas from agrarian conflicts.“Many forest zones in South Sumatra have been transformed and do not function as forests anymore. Don’t pile up more problems by damaging the existing forest ecosystem,” he said.Hairul further said that the government could redesignate failing oil palm plantation areas for the food estate program rather than forest zones, so as to prevent further environmental damage. (mpr) “We shouldn’t clear land for new agriculture zones, because it will worsen the environmental damage. The food estate program should have an integrated strategy to prevent negative impacts on other sectors,” he said.The government is pinning its hopes to bolster the nation’s food security on developing food estates in several provinces, including South Sumatra, North Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, as the COVID-19 crisis has aggravated Indonesia’s food security issues.In late April, a month after the outbreak in the country, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reported that key commodities, such as garlic, sugar, chili and chicken eggs, were in short supply in more than 20 provinces, while rice, a staple food for Indonesians, was lacking in seven provinces.The World Food Programme’s (WFP) office in Indonesia has estimated that the country experienced a 13.2 percent year-on-year decline in rice production to 16.1 million tons in the first half of 2020.center_img The government’s food estate program in South Sumatra could harm the environment, as an estimated 26,000 hectares of forest zones might be converted into farmland, experts have warned.Ida Banjumi Wahab (IBA) University rector and public policy expert Tarech Rasyid told The Jakarta Post on Sept. 9 that while the province had the potential to become a food supplying region due to its sheer acreage of agriculture land, especially to prevent a food crisis during the COVID-19 outbreak, the government should find a way to use the land while minimizing the environmental damage.The province currently has 980,000 ha of rice harvest areas that produce 4.7 million tons of rice per year, according to Agriculture Ministry data. The food estate program is expected to take up a total of 235,000 ha of land.last_img read more

Brisbane house prices hit new record high in ‘unbeatable market’

first_imgThe entrance to 51-53 Portobello Drive which has broken the sale price record in Mermaid Waters.Further north on the Sunshine Coast, Tom Offermann Real Estate Noosa principal Tom Offermann said Noosa had also experienced substantial growth in the past 12 months.“We have buyers from Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand, our usual Brisbane market, plus a lot of overseas buyers and that’s driven by the big lift of around 100 per cent in values in Melbourne and Sydney markets,” he said.“People are using equity in those properties and shifting some of that up to Noosa, where the values have only recently started to catch up to southern states’ growth.”Mr Offermann said Noosa had also benefited from a lift in the number of visitors to the area. “In the last three years, we’ve seen year-on-year growth of around 16 per cent, so even during off-peak times, it feels like holiday season here.” An aerial shot of Brisbane, which experienced 3.6 per cent growth in house prices in the year to June.REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee said Brisbane was still “a very affordable city”.Only 6 per cent of the suburbs in Brisbane have a median house price of $1 million or more, compared to more than half in Sydney and a third in Melbourne.“That makes Brisbane so attractive,” she said. “Look at what you can buy for a million bucks.”The suburb of St Lucia, in Brisbane’s west, saw the strongest median house price growth in the year to June, rising nearly 22 per cent to $1,255,000.Rod Dashevici has almost finished building a new house there, which he plans to sell and reap the returns from.Mr Dashevici said he chose to buy a block of land in St Lucia because he knew the suburb was popular with both owner occupiers and investors.“Being in the Ironside school catchment is very important and it’s also close to the University of Queensland, so you’re winning,” he said.“It’s just such a great family suburb.” Aerial view of Gold Coast, which saw a 6.8 per cent jump in its median house price in the year to June.The upcoming Commonwealth Games and the luxury housing market are driving price growth on the Gold Coast.Ms Conisbee said it was unusual for a region to outperform a capital city housing market, but that was the case when it came to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.“The Gold Coast is creating quite a lot of jobs at the moment because of the Commonwealth Games and infrastructure spending,” she said.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this homeless than 1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investorless than 1 hour ago“It provides a lifestyle that people — particularly from places like Sydney — find highly desirable.”Ms Conisbee said nine of top 10 suburbs in Australia for rental demand were on the Gold Coast. “A lot of people rent first before they buy.”Kollosche Prestige Agents managing director Jordan Williams said his agency had completed $40 million worth of sales in the past four weeks, and the majority of buyers were local. “Local buyers are seeing value in the market,” he said.“It’s hard to find good quality homes and buyers are snaffling them up quickly.” This house at 51-53 Portobello Dr, Mermaid Waters, has just sold.Erik Raaschou and his wife, Lea, have just sold their mansion at Mermaid Waters through Mr Williams for a record sale price for the Gold Coast suburb.The five-bedroom, four-bathroom waterfront home on a huge 1900 sqm has sold for $2.9 million to a family relocating from Brisbane.It’s definitely paid off for Mr Raaschou, who paid $2.05 million for the property in May last year, even though he undertook substantial renovations.“For us to get that sort of a return after a bit over a year is testament to the strength of the Gold Coast market,” he said. “It’s gone nuts.” QUEENSLAND’S TOP 10 SUBURBS FOR HOUSE PRICE GROWTHSuburb Price growth in year to June 20171. Woodend (Ipswich LGA) 34.5%2. Murgon (South Burnett LGA) 26.0%3. Clear Island Waters (Gold Coast) 24.0%4. Oonoonba (Townsville LGA) 23.6%5. Sunshine Beach (Noosa LGA) 23.1%6. St Lucia (Brisbane LGA) 21.8%7. Gaythorne (Brisbane LGA) 21.6%8. Ascot (Brisbane LGA) 21.6%9. Auchenflower (Brisbane LGA) 19.2% 10. Noosa Heads (Noosa) 19.1%(Source: REIQ) View over Noosa Main Beach and Noosa Sound. Photo Lachie Millard.BRISBANE LGA’S TOP 10 SUBURBS FOR HOUSE PRICE GROWTHSuburb Price growth in year to June 20171. St Lucia 21.8%2. Gaythorne 21.6% 3. Ascot 21.6%4. Auchenflower 19.2%5. Wilston 18.8%6. Corinda 17.5%7. Milton 17%8. Fig Tree Pocket 16.5%9. Doolandella 14.3%10. Coopers Plains 14.3%(Source: REIQ)center_img Southeast Queensland’s housing market experienced strong growth in the June quarter, according to REIQ. Third of Aussies lie to buy a home Andrew Winter’s spring selling tips Suburban stunner sells for big sum The latest Real Estate Institute of Queensland quarterly report shows the Brisbane local government area median house price rose 3.6 per cent over the year to June to a new high of $655,000 — up from $505,000 five years ago.That’s nearly 60 per cent higher than it was a decade ago, showing the resilience of the city’s housing market against headwinds such as the global financial crisis and the mining downturn.But Brisbane wasn’t the state’s strongest performing LGA in the 12 months to June.That was the Gold Coast, which saw a 6.8 per cent jump in its median house price to $595,000.The Sunshine Coast wasn’t far behind its southern cousin — growing 6.2 per cent over the year to June to $550,000.And Noosa was the top-performing market in the state during the period — recording median house price growth of more than 12 per cent to $645,000. Rod Dashevici at the home he has built at 91 Eighth Avenue, St Lucia. Pic Peter WallisHOUSE prices in Brisbane have hit a new record high with some suburbs in the the sought-after inner-city ring increasing by more than 20 per cent in the last year.St Lucia, Ascot, Auchenflower and Wilston were the best performing suburbs in Brisbane where the prices increased by more than $150,000.Property experts say the Queensland’s southeast had emerged as a powerhouse property market generating solid capital growth for homeowners and putting its southern counterparts to shame. Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella. Photo: Claudia Baxter.REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella said Queensland’s southeast corner was the ideal housing market, delivering steady, sustainable growth and beating Sydney and Melbourne when it came to affordability and lifestyle.“There is no denying the consistency of Greater Brisbane’s yearly median house price growth — we have grown steadily for about four years — which is proof that affordability combined with jobs and lifestyle are the recipe for a pretty close to perfect house market,” she said.“We have withstood an enormous level of disruption from the GFC and the mining downturn and despite this, over the past 10 years our median house price has grown 58 per cent.”She said the latest capital city property data from research firm CoreLogic supported the case that Brisbane was an unbeatable house market, when compared with Melbourne and Sydney.“As those markets start to cool people are naturally growing concerned about a potential correction,” Ms Mercorella said.“However, throughout the southeast corner, our growth is based on an improving value proposition, which means it is reliable, sustainable capital growth.“There’s no boom or bust here in Brisbane.” Rod Dashevici at the home he has built at 91 Eighth Avenue, St Lucia. Pic Peter WallisBut it’s not just the affluent suburbs that have outperformed.In Gaythorne, 7km west of Brisbane’s CBD, the median house price grew nearly 22 per cent in the year to June to $720,000.“This was definitely a bit of a surprise,” Ms Mercorella said.“It’s one of those inner west suburbs getting a bit of the halo effect from surrounding suburbs, like Enoggera.” last_img read more