Displaying 1 - 10 of 108 entries.

Nelson Mandela charity official resigns over ‘blood diamonds’

  • Posted on October 21, 2017 at 2:44 am

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) trustee Jeremy Ractliffe has resigned from the charity’s board, twelve days after admitting to the possession of “blood diamonds”.

Earlier this month, supermodel Naomi Campbell testified against former Liberian president Charles Taylor when she claimed she received “very small, dirty looking stones” from two men, allegedly associated with Taylor. Campbell said she gave these diamonds to Ractliffe to “do something good with” in 1997. He gave the diamonds to police the day after Campbell’s testimony. The police confirmed the stones were diamonds.

The board of the Mandela charity said in a statement, “Mr. Ractliffe regrets his omission to inform the chairperson, chief executive officer and the rest of the board of trustees of the NMCF of his receipt of the uncut diamonds until now… [Ractliffe] acknowledges that had he done so, he and the board would have found a better and lawful way to manage the situation.”

Ractliffe took the diamonds from Campbell, fearing she might be prosecuted for removing uncut diamonds from South Africa, illegal without a license.

Ractcliffe said, “Naomi suggested they could be of some benefit to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund — but I told her I would not involve the NMCF in anything that could possibly be illegal… In the end I decided I should just keep them.”

Taylor is on trial in The Hague, The Netherlands for allegedly trading diamonds for weapons to supply the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. Taylor faces eleven counts for international crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enlistment of children under the age of fifteen, and pillaging.

Nelson Mandela charity official resigns over ‘blood diamonds’
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Google News seeks patent for search system that returns ‘quality’ links

  • Posted on October 20, 2017 at 3:10 am

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Google News submitted patent applications both in the United States and world-wide in September 2003 for a system of ranking search returns. The patent protection filings seek to control Google’s approach that filters headlines through a complicated algorithm, including the quality of the news organization. How much of this system is currently in use by the search engine giant is unknown.

Primitive search engines are expected to organically evaluate links based on how closely the keywords typed in the search field match an object link, and how many other links are attached to the object. Then a measure of relevance is calculated before returning a reply.

It seems some measure of the work being done at Google is a reaction to search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns which can, if done effectively, skew results to certain domains. A challenge for Google is to develop its technology to nullify efforts on the dark side of SEO and link-spamming.

What also seems to be coming out from this, according to research from the Internet Search Engine Database, is that Google does indeed have a ‘sandbox’ where domains are evaluated first by a human factor before being released into its algorithms.

In its first ever Securities and Exchange Commission filing since the company went public last year, Google indicated that it intends to spend US$500 million on technology development, more than double the $177 million it spent two years ago.

The language used in the lengthy patent application itself is difficult to understand. An excellent article titled “Google United – Google Patent Examined” found below, describes some of the nuts and bolts of Google’s techniques.

Google News seeks patent for search system that returns ‘quality’ links
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Home-invaders pose as NYC police

  • Posted on October 20, 2017 at 2:48 am

Monday, July 16, 2007

In two separate incidents, men posing as members of the New York Police Department (NYPD), have invaded homes in the New York City area. In both cases, they robbed the residents, but in the most recent, they sexually assaulted a woman.

On Saturday, July 14, at 1:09 a.m. EDT (UTC-4), four men knocked on the door of a Yonkers, New York, apartment. The 33-year-old male that lives there opened the door, as the men outside wore NYPD hats and t-shirts, and had badges hanging around their necks.

The men promptly ordered the male victim to the floor. “When this guy pushed me, he had a gun in my face,” the victim said. “I could see the other guy. He motioned to the others, come on, let’s go, let’s go.” The intruders shouted “Where are the drugs?” as they ransacked the apartment.

Two of the men entered the bedroom and sexually assaulted the 30-year-old female. The couple has a five-year-old child, who was sleeping in another bedroom. “The more I resisted, the more he began to hit me,” the woman said. She said she was sexually assaulted by two of the men while her boyfriend was bound and guarded.

Frightened. Make you think twice before you want to open the door, you know

Police said the men then left with a cell phone, a laptop computer, a diamond ring and a gold chain. Police do not believe that they were real officers. As of this afternoon, no arrests have been made.

On Thursday, July 5, shortly after six p.m. in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn five men knocked on the door claiming to be “the police.” When the victims opened the door, they pushed their way in demanding the family give them drugs and money.

When police responded to a call reporting a robbery, they found the family, husband, wife and their daughter, tied up. The man suffered a head injury when he was pistol-whipped. Police say the robbers got away with a camera, jewelry, and US$5,000 in currency.

Neighbors told NY1 that they were stunned. “Frightened. Make you think twice before you want to open the door, you know,” said one of the neighbors. “Now you be asking for all this ID and stuff and even still you’re going to wonder, are they for real? So it’s kind of scary.”

There is no word about whether the two cases are connected. Yonkers is on the border of New York City, but is outside the jurisdiction of the NYPD.

Home-invaders pose as NYC police
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Making Your Own Organic Face Wash}

  • Posted on October 19, 2017 at 2:40 am

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Submitted by: Exuberance Beauty Exuberance Beauty

Making Your Own Organic Face Wash

Skin care products can be quite expensive. If you don’t have the dough to pay for regular facials or to buy natural and organic skin care products, then it might be better for you to make your own organic face wash. It’s not at all difficult, and you can always choose the ingredients that are already available in your house. There are certain recipes for dry or oily skin, but it is always easy to just start with whipping a recipe for combination skin type.

Oatmeal natural face mask

All you need to do this face mask is ¾ cups of ground oatmeal and 1/3 cup of warm water. Once you have the oatmeal (the best one are those rolled oats that you can buy in a grocery store), grind them with a blender or a coffee grinder. If you don’t have any whole oats, simply buy one that is grounded already. Just make sure they are unsweetened and have no additives.

The next step would be to take ¾ cups of grounded oatmeal and mix it with 1/3 cup of warm water. Add water just enough to make a paste-like texture. Spread the paste then on your face and then try to relax. Allow the paste to dry on your skin before rinsing it with warm water. If you want, you can wipe a piece of ice cube on your face to make you feel more refreshed.

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For alternatives, you can also use unflavored yogurt rather than warm water. You can also add a teaspoon of honey on the oatmeal. After mixing them all together and forming a paste texture, put them on your face and let settle for 10 minutes. Remove the mixture with warm water and a soft cloth.

Alternative facial cleansers

If you don’t have the time to make such an organic face wash, you can use other natural fruits, oils and minerals that are also suitable to be used on your skin. The possibilities are endless. You can use, for example, apple cider vinegar, apple juice, aspirin, yogurt, tomato, strawberries, rose oil, pineapple, sea salt, peppermint oil, peach, papaya, orange, mint, milk, baking soda, blackberries, buttermilk, cedarwood oil, clay, coconut oil, cornmeal, cream, cucumber, marigold, lime, lemon, juniper berry oil, honey, green tea, grapes, grapefruit and egg white. In some cases, you can even use mayonnaise since it has been tested to revitalize the skin.

However, as much as these natural products can be used as organic face wash, it is still important that you know exactly if you are allergic or not to a certain fruit or oil. A lot of people will say that there is no such thing as an allergic reaction to natural and organic products. Yet, you still must make sure that your skin will react positively to whatever mixture or natural products you are going to apply on it.

Resource

Company Name: Exuberance Beauty

Contact Person’s Name: Organic Face Wash

Company Address: 2501 Schieffelin Road, Suite 114, Apex, NC 27502

Contact Details: 1.877.273.3551 or thru email support@ExuberanceBeauty.com

http://www.exuberancebeauty.com/shop/products/cleansers/green-tea-fragrance-free-facial-cleanser.php

About the Author: However, as much as these natural products can be used as organic face wash, it is still important that you know exactly if you are allergic or not to a certain fruit or oil. A lot of people will say that there is no such thing as an allergic reaction to natural and organic products. Yet, you still must make sure that your skin will react positively to whatever mixture or natural products you are going to apply on it. Resource Company Name: Exuberance Beauty Contact Person’s Name: Organic Face Wash Company Address: 2501 Schieffelin Road, Suite 114, Apex, NC 27502 Contact Details: 1.877.273.3551 or thru email support@ExuberanceBeauty.com

exuberancebeauty.com/shop/products/cleansers/green-tea-fragrance-free-facial-cleanser.php

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Ground broken on Northpoint development in Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Posted on October 19, 2017 at 2:24 am

A view of the Leonard Zakim bridge from the construction site. The warehouses at right will be replaced by a five-acre park within two years. The elevated roadway in the foreground is the John F. Gilmore Bridge.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cambridge, Massachusetts — Construction of two condominium buildings and a five-acre park began on March 21, in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. The buildings and park are part of the 45-acre Northpoint development, which will take 15 years and more than $2bn to complete, according to the Boston Globe. The buildings, designated as “Building S” and “Building T” by the planners of the project, Spaulding & Slye Colliers, have been designed by local architectural firm Childs Bertman Tseckares and Architects Alliance from Toronto. Buildings S and T are the first of an eventual 20 buildings planned at the site.

The development will fill what used to be a railroad yard for the Guilford Rail System, a subsidiary of Guilford Transportation Industries. According to Hoovers.com, Guilford is controlled by Timothy Mellon, heir to the Mellon banking fortune. Guilford Rail Systems has its headquarters in North Billerica and owns 1600 miles of railroad throughout New England. The tracks in the Northpoint plot have been removed, though Boston subway’s Lechmere station remains within walking distance of the site, along with parts of Boston and Cambridge. The site is bordered by Route 93 on its eastern side, Monsignor O’Brien Highway to the west, and the Gilmore Bridge to the south.

The landscape architecture of the park is provided by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a landscape architecture firm on Concord Avenue in Cambridge. The firm’s principal teaches in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. MVVA is also completing the landscape for Harvard’s Northwest Science Building.

Ground broken on Northpoint development in Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

  • Posted on October 19, 2017 at 2:21 am

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds
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Six killed in Sadr City bombing

  • Posted on October 19, 2017 at 2:21 am

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Iraqi police report a bomb explosion killed five civilians and one security official, and injured at least another twelve, Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. The bomb was planted near a state-operated bank in a Shi’ite slum.

The blast occurred while retirees waited in line to receive their pension checks.

Three anonymous civilians told Associated Press, the blast killed three men and two women.

According to Naval officer Admiral Mike Mullen, violence in Iraq is at its lowest since 2003, however, Baghdad remains an area where low-level violence still occurs.

Six killed in Sadr City bombing
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Club Tables: Consider What You’re Using Them For}

  • Posted on October 19, 2017 at 2:16 am

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Club Tables: Consider What You’re Using Them For

by

Dimitri Valenberr

There are three main types of club tables:

Tennis Tables

Pool Tables

Golf tables

Tennis Tables

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Though a lot of people mistakenly refer to the game as ping-pong (a name branded by Parker Brothers), table tennis is among the most well-liked sports around the world. It sets a premium on staying power and reflexes as compared to size and strength, allowing the players of all ages and genders to play on an equivalent field. Tennis equipment is comparatively inexpensive, though, picking the accurate equipment to adjust with your skill level and playing approach is very essential.

Following are the specifications for tennis tables:

Sizing

Tables as well as nets for table tennis should stick to the ruling dimensions if you decide to play competitively.

Tables must be 9 feet lengthy, 5 feet diagonally, and two-and-one-half feet tall (floor to playing surface).

The net should be 6 inches tall and extend across the center of the table, and 6 inches across both sides.

Surface

The face of the table should have a downy, low-friction outside layer. It must also be a monotonous, non-reflective shade that goes opposite to the white and orange balls.

Black, royal blue and green are trendy colors in tennis tables.

Top Thickness

The most significant thing is the width of the table top, because it has an effect on bounce and table sturdiness.

Golf Club Table

Different types of golf tables are used for different distances and uses. Deciding which golf tables to drag at each occasion is matter of skill as well as trial and error. Determining the standard characteristics of each golf club tables can be a superb help however. There are several characteristics, which should be considered while buying. These features include shaft length, angles of loft as well as the standard distance your golf ball can take to the air using the different kinds of golf clubs. Women’s golf club tables are typically an inch shorter as compared with men’s. Shorter tables have more lofts and reduced distance whereas golf clubs with longer shafts have reduced lofts and more distance. The driver which is the longest club has the slightest loft and highest distance. Meanwhile, the sand wedge which is the shortest of all has the maximum loft and the shortest distance. Take into account all the factors that you have to consider inside the table. Let them guide you in the buying process.

Pool Club Table

To purchase a new pool table is a major decision. It is the buying that you will have to live with for the rest of the time. Buyers remorse is not as powerful when you explore your choices and make a knowledgeable decision. All the dimensions of the room in which you are going to place the pool table, is very significant in the selection of a pool table, since you would not like to get the table fixed and known that there is no space to roll the pool cue. The next problem is price. In general, the more you give, the more you find, but not everyone is concerned if they enjoy on top of the line tournament pool tables. The other main decision to make when purchasing pool tables is the material of the playing surface. The material that is used for the play bed decides the performance of the table. The rest of the features are mostly for appearance and personal choices, they don’t make a bigger difference to fun pool players. You can find outdoor pool tables, made with water-resistant and extra sturdy materials to hold out all the elements. A number of pool tables are available in all the items required to begin playing (pool cues, triangle, balls, chalk), but generally you will have to buy your pool table accessories one by one.

Dimitri Valenberr is a huge fan of drawing,

barstools

, knitting a cushion and

reception chairs

.

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Club Tables: Consider What You’re Using Them For
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Dungog, Australia residents celebrate continued protection of local forest

  • Posted on October 18, 2017 at 2:36 am

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Local residents of Dungog, a small country town in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, held a celebratory nature walk on Sunday after they received assurance that their local forest was deemed worthy of “enduring protection.” Previously, a proposal before the NSW government to log over one million hectares of protected national park forests had caused alarm among nature conservationists.

To celebrate the continued protection of national parks in NSW, a free guided walk was held on Sunday in the Black Bulga Range Conservation Area. This family-friendly nature ramble meandered along the mountain’s ridge, with locals enjoying the forest, sharing a cup of billy tea and knowledge about the local forest’s ecology and history. The physical presence of the locals in the forest demonstrated their continued use of this area and the importance of national parks for the community.

Since early 2012, the possibility of logging for commercial timber in NSW national parks had been emerging. A state government inquiry on the management of public land in NSW received submissions and evidence from both the Australian and NSW Forest Products Associations (FPA). The FPA’s recommendation to “tenure swap” between national parks and state forests in order to sustain the timber industry were included in the final governmental report.

The process began in April 2012 when the NSW Legislative Council —the upper house of the parliament of NSW— established an inquiry into the management of public land in New South Wales, conducted by the General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5. According to a media release from the Legislative Council at the time, the primary purpose of the inquiry was to “scrutinise the management of the State’s public land and review the process and impact of converting Crown Land, State Forests or agricultural land into National Park estate.”

By August that year, the committee had received a recommendation from Mr. Grant Johnson of the Australian Forests Products Association for the “re-introduction of harvesting activities in forest areas previously set aside for conservation.” The following month, Mr. Johnson and Mr Russell Alan Ainley, Executive Director, NSW Forest Products Association, were invited before the committee. At this hearing, the chair, Mr. R. L. Brown, member for the Shooters and Fishers Party, asked Mr. Ainley for “a calculation of the area currently in [national parks] reserve that would need to be returned [to state forest] to be available for timber extraction”. In response, Mr. Ainley suggested “a little more than one million hectares.”

On May 15, the NSW Legislative Council published a Final Report on the management of public land in New South Wales. Among its key recommendations was that “the NSW Government immediately identify appropriate reserved areas for release to meet the levels of wood supply needed to sustain the timber industry, and that the NSW Government take priority action to release these areas, if necessary by a ‘tenure swap’ between national park estate and State forests. In particular, urgent action is required for the timber industry in the Pilliga region.”

A “tenure swap” would reserve areas of NSW state forest where logging is now allowed, in exchange for opening areas of national parks for logging.

Environment groups such as The Nature Conservation Council of NSW and The Wilderness Society announced that these government documents signaled an immediate threat of logging in national parks in NSW. This information raised concerns of other community and activist groups because logging is not conducted in national parks in Australia. According to the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, a national park is an area designated to “protect Australia’s plants, animals, ecosystems, unique geology and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultural connections to the land.”

The Black Bulga State Conservation Area was one of many parks listed by the environment group Save Your National Parks as potentially vulnerable for “tenure swap”. This forest covers 1554 hectares and connects Dungog Shire to the World Heritage listed Barrington Tops National Park, part of a green corridor from the ocean to the mountains.

Residents living near the forest were concerned by the proposal for logging in their area. A local information day held in June, at the Settlers Arms, Dungog, motivated local action. As a consequence of the event, over forty hand-written letters were posted to the Premier and local MPs. In a recent reply from the NSW government, the Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker, stated: “The Government does not support commercial logging in national parks and reserves, including Black Bulga State Conservation Area, and has no plans to allow it. The NSW Government recognises that our national parks and reserves are special and unique places that deserve enduring protection. The Government is committed to their important role in conserving native flora and fauna and cultural heritage, and to improving community well-being through increased opportunities for recreation and tourism”.

As reported in the Dungog Chronicle, Jo New of the Black Bulga Range Action Group was thrilled by the government’s response to a community-driven campaign. “It goes to show what a wonderful impact local people can have after they do something simple, like posting a letter”.

Dungog, Australia residents celebrate continued protection of local forest
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Schools benefit from new California budget

  • Posted on October 18, 2017 at 2:16 am

Saturday, July 1, 2006

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bipartisan state budget Friday that invests a record $55.1 billion in education – an increase of $3.1 billion this year and $8.3 billion over the last two years – and allocates $4.9 billion to create a budget reserve and to pay down the state’s debt early.

Schwarzenegger credited bipartisan cooperation in coming up with a budget he was willing to sign, and do it on time, a rarity in recent California politics.

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when Democrats and Republicans work together in Sacramento,” said Schwarzenegger. “I want to thank the legislative leadership – Senators Don Perata and Dick Ackerman, Speaker Fabian Nunez and Assembly Republican Leader George Plescia – for all their hard work on the budget. We put politics aside and were driven by the overwhelming desire to do what’s best for the people of California.

“I am especially proud that the budget expands preschool, and returns art, music and physical education classes to our children,” he said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said he is pleased by the budget. “The budget passed by the Legislature brings welcome support to education in California, making good on past debts to our schools and investing in sorely needed classroom programs,” he said.

He had his own budget favorites: “I’m particularly pleased that the budget includes increased funding for school counselors, teacher professional development, programs targeted to helping students pass the high school exit exam, and expanded and improved student nutrition programs.

“While there are some priorities over which we may disagree, I applaud the Governor and the Legislature for a budget that makes education a top priority.”

Barbara E. Kerr, president of the 335,000-member California Teachers Association, also likes the direction of the new budget. “The timely approval of the new state budget is good news for our public schools and students,” she said. “School districts and teachers can now plan ahead. The nearly six percent cost-of-living-adjustment will allow local schools to restore funding to education programs that have been cut over the past few years and provide for salary increases.”

Still, Kerr, said, the budget doesn’t go far enough. “This budget is a down payment on the debt owed to our schools. Teachers will continue to work with the governor and the Legislature to ensure repayment of the $3 billion still owed to our schools under Proposition 98 and the lawsuit settlement agreement announced last month. That money will help our schools of greatest need reduce class sizes, improve teacher training and increase parental involvement.”

How the budget affects the New Haven Unified School District and James Logan High School, or the James Logan Courier, specifically is not yet clear.

State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running for governor against Schwarzenegger, liked the increased education funding, and praised his fellow Democrats in the legislature for that, but criticized the entire budget for being out of balance.

“On higher education, Democrats in the Legislature did the right thing, when the governor would not, and gained a $6 per unit rollback in community college fees,” he said in a statement. “That is a start. But the governor’s budget will still leave community college fees nearly double what they were just three years ago. And the budget will also leave untouched the fees at CSU and UC, which have increased by $2,000 and $5,000 respectively under Governor Schwarzenegger.”

Missing from the budget, Angelides said, is funding to expand health care for low-income children. Schwarzenegger “failed to get members of his own party to agree to a budget that funds health care for more kids from low-income families on the Healthy Families program regardless of the families’ immigration status. Compassion requires – and intelligent public health practice demands – that all people residing in California have access to adequate health care,” Angelides said.

Schwarzenegger credited a strong economy that increased state revenues for providing the cash to cover the increased expenditures and set aside a $2.1 billion reserve and an additional $2.8 billion for debt prepayment. Included in that is $1.42 billion for repaying borrowed funds earmarked by the voters for transportation projects aimed at reducing traffic throughout the state. The early debt payment and the reserve account for nearly 4.7 percent of the overall budget – the highest in 25 years.

Still, Angelides said, the budget is out of balance and the state is running up more debt. “Despite his repeated pledges to ‘cut up the credit card’ Governor Schwarzenegger has produced a budget that still leaves a $3.3 billion structural budget deficit for 2006-07 and more deficits for years to come,” Angelides said, “It is a budget that will continue to shift the burden of today’s deficits onto the backs of future generations.”

The budget largely mirrors the May Revise, which has since prompted all three Wall Street credit rating agencies to upgrade the state credit rating, reducing the cost of state borrowing. One of the agencies, Fitch, Inc., cited “California’s continuing economic recovery, strong revenue performance and continued progress in reducing fiscal imbalance” when upgrading their rating on the state’s general obligation debt from A to A+ last month. Standard and Poor’s also raised its rating from A to A+ in May. Moody’s Investors Service raised its rating from A2 to A1 the same month.

Despite the improved credit ratings, Angelides said, the three rating agencies still have reservations about the state’s fiscal future. The agencies “have corroborated my warning and that of the Legislative Analyst that while state revenues have improved, California’s fiscal condition will remain insecure until the state produces balanced budgets,” he said.

Highlights of AB 1801, the Budget Act of 2006 by Assembly member John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), include:

Preschool through High School Education – The budget includes $100 million for the Governor’s targeted preschool initiative, which will make preschool available to every four year old living in a low-performing school district. $50 million of this funding will be used to build and improve preschool facilities. The budget also includes $645 million to fund physical education, arts and music programs. Overall, $11,264 will be spent on each student, an increase of $516 from the current year.

Higher Education – The budget allocates $19.1 billion from all sources for higher education and eliminates tuition and fee increases at UC and CSU. California, which already has the lowest community college fees in the nation, will further lower student fees from $26 per unit to $20, effective Spring 2007.

Law Enforcement – The budget includes an additional $196 million to support law enforcement efforts, including money to fund Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement teams, 500 GPS devices to track and monitor the highest-risk parolees and four new Gang Suppression Enforcement Teams. The budget also proposes the addition of 235 California Highway Patrol positions, includes $56.4 million to replace the CHP’s existing radio system and allocates $6.4 million to handle the increasing number of wireless 9-1-1 calls. Additionally, the budget includes a $20 million investment to strengthen efforts to fight methamphetamine trafficking and $6 million to create three new California Methamphetamine Strategy program teams.

Disaster Preparedness – The budget provides $220 million to enhance California’s ability to prepare for, mitigate and respond to emergencies, including money to strengthen public health response during a disaster. This includes preparations to prevent a pandemic influenza outbreak and expanding efforts to help local governments develop disaster preparedness plans.

Public Health – The budget includes $22.6 million for counties to perform outreach and enrollment activities to reach the 428,000 children who are eligible for Medi-Cal or the Healthy Families program but are not enrolled. The budget for the Healthy Families program also covers enrollment growth for 78,200 additional children.

Transportation – In addition, the Budget makes a substantial investment in improving California’s transportation system. It provides $1.4 billion to fully fund Proposition 42 for the second consecutive year, and it provides an additional $1.4 billion for the early repayment of past loans from Proposition 42, for a total of $2.8 billion. Of the $1.4 billion repayment, $440 million is designated for cities and counties for local road and street maintenance that would otherwise not be funded.

The budget is the first on time budget since 2000 and the fourth in the last 20 years. The 2006-07 budget’s general fund is $101.3 billion and total is $131.4 billion. For a more detailed overview of the budget, please visit www.dof.ca.gov.

Schools benefit from new California budget
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