Facebook Comments Related posts:Police arrest 2 US citizens on cocaine possession charges US real estate developer accused of $7 million fraud Ohio man convicted in Costa Rica telemarketing scam Former U.S. convict Dan Fowlie speaks out against being barred entry to Costa Rica again Update: The Judicial Investigation police published a clarification that the woman’s name was Kropf, not Crock as originally reported by the authorities.A U.S. woman was killed with a rock to the head in southern Costa Rica on Wednesday afternoon. Police responded to a 911 call that a woman had been attacked with a rock in Coto Brus. When they arrived at the scene with a Red Cross ambulance they found the woman dead from apparent head injuries. The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) told The Tico Times that the victim’s name is Ester Kropf, age between 35-40 years old.A 20-year-old male suspect, identified with the last names Jiménez Torres, called police after the incident and is in custody. According to the suspect, Kropf raised Jiménez since he was a boy. He accused Kropf of sexually abusing him. The two were in a river 500 meters from their home in Los Ángeles de Limoncito when Jiménez allegedly grabbed a rock and smashed it into Kropf’s head.The daily La Nación reported that Kropf had lived in Costa Rica for 14 years as part of a Mennonite community in the southern canton that sits alongside the Panamanian border. The Tico Times was unable to immediately verify her immigration status.This story is a breaking news story, and will be updated as it develops.
ixigo has launched ixigo inspire, a Chrome extension that inspires travellers and instantly compares travel deals across travel sites. Earlier in beta, the plug-in has now been fully rolled out to ixigo’s user-base and works on the desktop version of Chrome. The extension also acts as a one stop solution to manage all your bookings.ixigo’s inspire plug-in opens each new Google Chrome tab with a stunning background photo of an inspiring destination from around the world along with an array of quotes that can stimulate your travel aspirations! Apart from this, the browser add-on helps you find the cheapest deals on hotels and flights. While you browse on any online travel website, ixigo automatically brings you the best deals available real-time, no matter which travel website they are on. The extension enhances the traveller’s browsing experience, by adding unique features like PNR lookups and PNR confirmation predictions for trains from ixigo’s website.Talking about this innovation, Rajnish Kumar, CTO & Co-Founder, ixigo, said, “ixigo aims at enhancing the end to end travel experience for our users. Each new browser tab now refreshes and informs you about a wonderful new destination to visit. At launch, we already have over two lakh users getting inspired to travel every day, and we expect this to become the default tab for five million travellers by the end of the year.”
Top Stories Recognizing him might not be a problem. After all, Jackson spent the first nine years of his career playing for division foe St. Louis. But going up against the 30-year-old has never been a walk in the park for Arizona’s defense.While the 10-year veteran has a career average of just 76.7 yards per game in 15 appearances against the Cardinals, his last two trips to Glendale have resulted in monster performances of 130 and 139 yards respectively.“He’s definitely a strong running back,” Cardinals defensive tackle Dan Williams said. “Last year, he had probably one of his best games of the year against us when he was still in St. Louis. He still has a lot left in the tank. He’s a hard-nosed runner, definitely going to get downhill as fast as possible. He’ll break a lot of arm tackles, so he’s not very easy to bring down.”The tank level has come into question this season as Jackson, who signed a three-year deal with Atlanta back in May, has missed the last five weeks due to a hamstring injury. But don’t expect the Cardinals to take him lightly. In their eyes, he’s 100 percent.When asked what kind of threat Jackson is when fully healthy, all Arizona head coach Bruce Arians could do was chuckle. “[Jackson and Rodgers] are playmakers for them,” said Williams. “They definitely get the ball to them a lot, and they definitely put up a lot of points for their team. It’s just not, ‘Oh, let’s dump the ball off and see how many yards we can get with them.’ When they get the ball in those guys’ hands, they’re expecting big plays from them. They can do a lot coming out of the backfield.”It seems that if familiarity has bred anything when it comes to Jackson, it’s respect not contempt.“He brings a lot to the table with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield,” Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “He’s always reliable in that sense. He’s able to pick up the blitz. He’s very savvy. And like I said, he runs the ball well. He wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t running the ball. They brought him in for a reason that was to run the ball.”Matt Ryan might have great presence in the pocket. Future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez might be a big play waiting to happen in the middle of the field. And Harry Douglas might possess first-rate speed down the sidelines.But Sunday, the Cardinals understand that to win they must first shut down No. 39. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo TEMPE, Ariz. — His uniform might look a little different and his body might be a little more worn, but when Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson takes the field Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals won’t have to do any double takes.To them, he’s still the same old Steven Jackson.“He’s a big back,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “He’s tough. He’s been in the division a long time, so seeing him again won’t be a problem. They’ve seen him with the Rams a few times over the years. He’s another great back. He gives them one more bullet in the gun. We have to be on our P’s and Q’s.” 0 Comments Share “He’s a playmaker,” said Williams. “He’s been doing it for years in St. Louis, scoring touchdowns and catching touchdowns. There’s definitely an emphasis on slowing him down, because once he gets going, it’s probably going to be a long day for your defense.” Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires “He’s big, strong and fast,” Arians said. “You better have big boy pads on to tackle him, because he’s a horse.”While his limited numbers in 2013 — 14 carries for 77 yard and six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in two games — would suggest that Father Time has started to catch up with the three-time Pro Bowler, Jackson’s 240-pound frame and rare blend of athleticism out of the backfield creates matchup problems similar to those presented by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.“You have to wrap [running backs like Jackson and Lynch] up, put a body on them,” said Williams. “You have to use both arms. You can’t just try to use one arm, grab them and pull them down. They’ll break through those type of tackles. You have to come with great form, like I said before you have to wrap up.”Wrapping Lynch up was a bit of an issue in the Cardinals’ 34-22 loss back in Week 7. The Seahawks’ tailback carried the ball 21 times and had no problem shedding would-be tacklers en route to 91 yards and a touchdown on the ground.But whereas Lynch was almost exclusively used in the run game against Arizona, the same won’t likely be true for Jackson come Sunday. Without star receivers Roddy White (hamstring) and Julio Jones (season-ending foot surgery), Jackson and second-year back Jacquizz Rodgers could see an increased role in passing situations.
The Steelers’ once-potent offense has sputtered since Ben Roethlisberger went down with a knee injury nine quarters ago and Vick took over:• The offense fell from fifth to 13th in the NFL.• The passing game dipped from third to 19th.• In 32 drives, Vick has led the offense to more than two first downs only four times.• Ten times they have gone three-and-out.• The offense has scored only 40 points.Steelers might need to turn Vick loose Sunday vs. high-scoring Arizona (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)What if Mike Vick started playing football like Michael Vick, the former swashbuckling quarterback, the magician who could pull touchdowns out of hats and turn defeats into victories?Might the Steelers be better with that quarterback?Don’t expect Haley to turn Vick loose vs. Cardinals (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said on Thursday what most everyone who has watched the Steelers the past two weeks already surmised. He is calling a scaled-back game with backup quarterback Mike Vick, and he doesn’t plan to change a lot on Sunday when the Steelers play host to the Arizona Cardinals.Thursday, October 15Ben Roethlisberger is tough, but playing Sunday would be major upset (ESPN.com) The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers Winners and Losers (SB Nation)Last-second wins are exciting, but throughout games which go down to the wire some players can be left out in terms of recognition. Also, some players’ mistakes are masked by the fact the team had a dramatic win. This very well could be the case after the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 5 win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. See who were dubbed ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers’ after their latest victory. Whether Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s chances to return Sunday are 1 or 100 percent, the Cardinals have to worry about those chances now, even though the number is probably closer to 1.The Technician vs. The Freak: Antonio Brown and Patrick Peterson present must-see NFL matchup (ESPN.com)One of the best things the NFL has to offer is an elite corner matching up with elite receiver on a Sunday. This will be the case when Steelers wideout Antonio Brown and Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson face off Sunday at 1 p.m. in Heinz Field.Antonio Brown to Michael Vick: Trust me to make plays (ESPN.com)“He’s got to take some shots,” Brown said from his locker Wednesday. “I told him, trust me a little bit. Let me make some plays. Let’s get a victory. It doesn’t have to be that hard.”Steelers’ Roethlisberger participates in drills for first time since knee injury (TribLive.com)The team classified Roethlisberger as a limited participant during its first practice of the week as it prepares for Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Cardinals. The quarterback has missed the past two games since spraining his left MCL and bruising a bone in his left knee during a Sept. 27 win at St. Louis. For the second straight week, the Arizona Cardinals have a game in the Eastern time zone against a team coming off a Monday night game on the west coast.Last week, the Cardinals destroyed the Detroit Lions, who had lost a heartbreaker in Seattle. This week, they’ll visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat the San Diego Chargers in dramatic fashion at Qualcomm Stadium Monday night.All week, we’ll keep you updated on everything going on in the Steel City as Pittsburgh prepares to take on the Cardinals at Heinz Field. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Had Bell not scored on that play, however, the NFL would have had another wild controversy on its hands. For reasons that were not immediately clear, 18 seconds ran off the game clock after a touchback at the start of the Steelers’ final possession.Rossi: Just wait until Ben comes back (TribLive.com)The Steelers were supposed to range from lousy to awful on the side of the ball for which the franchise is most reputable. The secondary was to be terrible. The linebackers were to be a work in progress. The line was to be good, but not very deep.Steelers defense displays resiliency in victory over Chargers (TribLive.com)The defense was far from perfect in the Steelers’ 24-20 victory Monday night against the San Diego Chargers. After all, it allowed a sounds-worse-than-it-looked 406 yards, seemingly (again) had no answer for stopping an opposing tight end, and it gave up points on the Chargers’ final three possessions as it fatigued in an uncharacteristic steamy San Diego heat.Ron Cook: Stunningly, Vick trumps Rivers to help Steelers escape with victory (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)Wouldn’t you know it that Vick outplayed Rivers in a 24-20 win that went down to the final play, a daring call by coach Mike Tomlin to go for it all from the 1-yard line on a run by Le’Veon Bell with five seconds left. From the wildcat formation, no less. Comments Share Friday, October 16Steelers’ Bud Dupree looking more like a first-rounder each week (ESPN.com)Dupree, part of a four-man outside linebacker rotation for the Steelers, was tied with Saints linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha for the rookie sack lead through five weeks with 3.0. Kikaha recorded a sack Thursday night against Atlanta to take the outright lead. Thirty-four NFL players had at least three sacks as of Thursday, and two rookies were in that bunch. Dupree has 13 tackles and is on pace to play more than 500 snaps, a sign that he’s earned trust from the coaching staff.Second surgery could cost Maurkice Pouncey season (ESPN.com)If Pouncey misses the entire season, it would be his second full year lost since 2013, when he sat out after tearing an ACL.Steelers spent fifth-round pick on a cornerback they refuse to play (ESPN.com)The Brandon Boykin mystery continues.When the Steelers traded a conditional fifth-round pick to the Eagles for the rights to Boykin, the move presumably solved a need at cornerback.But Boykin has played one defensive snap — one! — in the last three weeks. He’s logged less than 20 snaps the entire year.Steelers OC Haley: Priority for Vick remains protecting football (TribLive.com) Tomlin had the courage of his convictions on final play call (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made the call to go for the victory against San Diego instead of settling for overtime Monday night because he doesn’t “live in his fears.” Had Le’Veon Bell been tackled short of the goal line, Tomlin would have been under fire this week for snapping the ball to his halfback and having him run with only five seconds remaining with a timeout still at his disposal.Tuesday, October 13Le’Veon Bell changes Steelers’ season with 1 beautiful yard (ESPN.com)From the 1-yard line, Le’Veon Bell takes the snap, he waits, he waits, he waits — man, did he wait — and he follows a flailing David DeCastro into the end zone, stretching the ball over the goal line as time expires for a win the Steelers so desperately needed.Steelers playing scrappy survivor role until Ben Roethlisberger returns (ESPN.com)That sequence explains where the Steelers are right now. This is a good-but-flawed team that must pull out every stop to get wins until Ben Roethlisberger returns. Monday’s wild 24-20 win was no different.Game clock runs off 18 seconds in error to start Steelers’ winning drive (ESPN.com) Top Stories Is Ben on the verge of returning? (Steelers.com)Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t offer any type of injury update during his weekly press conference this week on Roethlisberger, saying he was focused on guys who ‘were on the brink’ of returning to action. Wednesday, October 14Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (sprained MCL) ready to practice (ESPN.com)Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is ready to participate in practice 17 days after suffering a sprained left MCL and bone bruise, widely believed to be a four- to six-week injury.Gruden: Vick struggling to grasp Haley offense (ESPN.com)Video: Analyst Jon Gruden breaks down the quarterbacks difficulty in the Pittsburgh offensive scheme.With Michael Vick at QB, Le’Veon Bell shines while Antonio Brown’s numbers drop (ESPN.com)Consider this stat from ESPN: Roethlisberger was 29-of-34 targeting Brown in 11 quarters before the injury, while Vick is 8-of-17 targeting Brown in nine quarters, resulting in eight catches for 87 yards in the last two games.Steelers’ road show boggles the mind (TribLive.com)“It was a tough environment tonight — like being on the road,” Philip Rivers said. “Odd is one word we could use. We were in a silent count, and we had no chance. We were checking in and out of plays, and it was about as tough as it gets. I’m usually hoarse after road games, and I’m going to be today as well.” Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling
Go back to the e-newsletter >Alila will launch six new properties in 2016, expanding its portfolio into two new countries, with new properties in Cambodia and China alongside a third property in Jakarta, Indonesia and a heritage property in India.Alila SCBD, JakartaOpening in the second quarter next year, Alila SCBD will be Alila’s third property in Jakarta and will serve as a vibrant and modern retreat for both young urbanities and business travellers. Alila SCBD is located in the heart of Jakarta’s Financial District, next door to the Indonesia Stock Exchange, with convenient access to leading corporate offices, world-class shopping and entertainment facilities. Guests can choose from one of the 227 contemporary rooms and suites including the Executive Suites set on the top floor and offering access to an exclusive lounge. The hotel will also be home to the first South East Asian outposts of the Hakkasan, Sake no Hana and the OMNIA luxury lifestyle brands. The two new restaurants and nightclub, managed by Hakkasan Group and owned by investors KJA Jakarta, will ensure the hotel is the ultimate destination for dining and entertainment in the city.Alila Anji, ChinaThree new Alila properties are set to launch in China next year starting from the second quarter. Alila Anji will be located in the heart of the Zhejiang province, surrounded by the pristine beauty of bamboo groves and white-tea plantations. The resort will resemble a traditional Chinese village, featuring 74 stately villas and suites with elevated views across the lake, perfect for guests looking for quiet indulgence and fresh air. The first Spa Alila in China will be a destination within itself, with seven treatment rooms and an extensive menu of health, beauty and restorative treatments, including traditional Chinese medicine inspired treatments.Alila Yangshuo, ChinaAlila Yangshuo, originally a sugar mill, will now become a historical yet contemporary design resort. As well as 118 rooms, suites and villas, Alila Yangshuo will feature a signature restaurant, exhibition hall, Kids Club, Spa Alila, a meeting loft and library for private gatherings and a stunning infinity-edged pool that connects to the Li River.Alila Tianxi Lake, ChinaThe third property to open in China next year, Alila Tianxi Lake, will overlook a stunning lake and contemporary luxury golf course. It will also feature 68 suites and 13 villas, two restaurants, an event space, cooking studio, an indoor and outdoor pool, Spa Alila, a library and herb garden.Alila Fort Bishangarh, IndiaIn Jaipur, India, Alila Fort Bishangarh will launch at the end of next year following the restoration of the beautiful 230 year-old Rajasthan Fort. Positioned on a granite hill in the Arvalli Mountain Range, with spectacular 360-degree views, the warrior fort is thought to be the only one of its kind to be converted into a heritage resort. The all-suite resort will feature 59 stately suites with stunning views. Leisure facilities within the fort will include an outpost of Spa Alila, two specialty restaurants, an all-day coffee lounge, a bar and cigar room, wine cellar and library. Down the hill, the public areas will include a pool, pool terrace and juice bar, fitness centre and a ‘Play Soldiers Club’ for children.Alila Villas Koh Russey, CambodiaAlila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia will launch by the end of 2016, the five-star eco resort will be the first ‘Villas’ resort outside Bali. Located amid the Koh Rong archipelago, Alila Villas Koh Russey will be a 15-minute boat ride from the Cambodian coast. The resort will feature one and two-bedroom villas, each with its own terrace, private pool and garden. The resort’s four-bedroom pool villa features a large living area, kitchen, master bedroom, three guest bedrooms and an expansive outdoor terrace and pool area. The resort will offer a wealth of in-house facilities including a beachfront Spa Alila, Kids Club, Beachside Grill, Sunset Bar on the Western Cape and the Ridge Restaurant with five-star international and local cuisine.Go back to the e-newsletter >
THE agreement between the Finance ministry and civil servants union PASYDY as regards demands of nurses is in the process of implementation, the union’s nursing branch said in an announcement.The union said that the Public Administration and Personnel department gave the go-ahead to the Health Ministry to submit a proposal to fill 185 vacant nursing positions.“Finally, 185 of our colleagues will acquire permanent nursing staff status,” it said.The union said it was also informed that soon, a bill will be tabled to parliament to convert the contracts of short-term staffers who have completed 30 months of employment into an open ended category, which will also end the 10 per cent pay cuts to those who have completed 24 months of employment.They expressed hope that “the effort that we undertook some time ago to resolve all the problems of contract staff to be completed as soon as possible, so that we can freely focus on other pending issues.”PASYDY members distanced themselves from independent nurses union PASYNO’s indefinite strike. PASYNO members demand that their qualifications are recognised as university level and move up their pay scale. PASYDY believes it can discuss this issue at a later stage, while PASYNO wants this now prior to plans for hospital autonomy.The state doctors union PASYKI, said in another announcement, that they have asked the health ministry to review the bill concerning the conversion of temporary contracts of doctors to open ended in order to submit their own remarks so it can be voted in parliament before the legislative body is dissolved ahead of the elections, in mid-April.The union adds that the employment status of doctors under hospital autonomy conditions “should be discussed in-depth and decided during the drafting of bills on the autonomy of public hospitals.”All unions of health professionals were given a draft of the hospitals’ autonomy bill last week and were told to submit their comments and proposals soon.Unions, however, expressed reservations as to whether this will be possible, as they believe there is not enough time to discuss all issues, especially employment terms.Hospital autonomy is a basic pre-requisite for the implementation of the National Health Scheme, as state hospitals need to be made administratively and financially independent to be able to compete with private ones.You May LikeYahoo SearchThe Early Signs Of Type 2 Diabetes. Search Type 2 Diabetes TreatmentsYahoo SearchUndoInsured Nation – Auto Insurance QuotesNew Rule in Rowland Heights, California Leaves Drivers FumingInsured Nation – Auto Insurance QuotesUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Objectives prepare Michiganders for vocational opportunitiesA policy blueprint for the 98th Legislature was revealed today at a Capitol news conference hosted by Michigan House Republicans, and state Rep. Bruce Rendon, is especially enthusiastic about items focused on educating people today for the careers of tomorrow.“Michigan’s continued growth depends on our skilled and talented work force,” said Rendon, R-Lake City. “The technical jobs are there, and now it’s our task to equip the people of Michigan with the right skills.”The House Republican Action Plan specifically outlines ideas offering educational training programs, incentives and flexibility; advancing skilled-trade job opportunities; emphasizing skills needed for high school graduates in today’s economy; expanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiatives into grade schools; and efficient education savings programs for students of Michigan’s public colleges.“The Michigan Legislature must continue connecting high-school students with the training needed for high-demand, well-paying jobs that are available right now,” Rendon said. “We need to embrace common-sense ideas and expand vocational, technical and post-secondary training and programs to prepare young people for this growing job market.”Commitment to reform, strengthening the state’s economy, holding government accountable, and smart, sound budgeting are also key pillars of the House Action Plan, which—when paired with a focus on the people who make Michigan great—will chart a path to a successful and bright future for all.Learn more at gophouse.org/FocusonMICH. 05Feb Rendon praises focus on technical career goals in House ‘Action Plan’ Categories: Rendon News
State Rep. Aaron Miller today announced a state grant has been awarded to reconstruct a portion of Wade Street in Sturgis.Rep. Miller, R-Sturgis, said the Michigan Department of Transportation has awarded a $259,040 Transportation Economic Development Fund grant to the city of Sturgis to reconstruct Wade Street from M-66/South Centreville Road to approximately 370 feet east of Clark Street.The roadwork will accommodate the growth of Sturgis Molded Products, which is expanding its existing facility by constructing a 45,000-square-foot combined manufacturing and warehouse facility. The new facility will create 30 jobs and result in a $3 million investment in the new building and equipment.“This is excellent news for the city and the local economy,” Rep. Miller said. “Sturgis Molded Products is making a huge investment in our community, and creating much-needed jobs. The road grant is vital to the success of the company’s growth.”Wade Street connects to M-66 at South Centreville Road, and provides the company’s only access to the state highway, Rep. Miller said. Reconstruction of Wade Street will improve the automobile supply firm’s access for inbound material deliveries and outbound trucks shipping finished product to customers.Rep. Miller said the project accomplishes two goals of the Republican Action Plan announced earlier this year by House leadership.“This very much ties in with the Legislature’s focus of boosting Michigan’s overall economy and making our roads safer,” Rep. Miller said. “Sturgis-area residents will benefit with new jobs and smoother roadways.”##### Categories: Miller News,News 25Mar Rep. Miller announces road improvement project for Sturgis
State Rep. Mary Whiteford will meet with Allegan County residents during scheduled office hours in February.“I want to hear about what matters most to people in our community,” Whiteford said. “My job, after all, is to be their voice at the Capitol so I encourage everyone to attend.”Rep. Whiteford will be available Monday, Feb. 25 at the following times and locations:10 to 11 a.m. at the Allegan District Library, 331 Hubbard St. in Allegan; and12 to 1 p.m. at the Fennville District Library, 400 W Main St. in Fennville.No appointments are necessary. Those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times, but would like an opportunity to talk with Rep. Whiteford may call her office at (517) 373-0836 or email MaryWhiteford@house.mi.gov.### 29Jan Rep. Whiteford announces February office hours Categories: Whiteford News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares The Nonprofit Quarterly uses a unique collaborative journalism model that engages multiple contributors to identify and work on evolving stories as they develop over time. The method is well suited to make practical sense of a complex and evolving environment, and both individuals and institutions may act as contributing partners on a single story. To a certain extent, it is a dialogue—or a multiparty conversation—on complex topics that benefit from many viewpoints alongside validated factual content.NPQ has been developing collaborative journalism as its core practice for a few years, but in June 2012, media guru Jay Rosen wrote a blog post entitled “Covering Wicked Problems” that neatly laid out the conceptual framework of networked journalism. (We will refer to that post below.)Core to NPQ‘s model are our volunteer newswire writers, whose work helps us trace trends as they emerge. We thought that, at year’s end, you might be interested in some of their picks for favorites among the newswires they personally penned.Rethinking Practice in a Technology-Rich EnvironmentIn a world where rapid technological advances challenge legal, practical, and ethical frameworks, one finds a wealth of teachable moments. Newswire writer Jeanne Allen recognizes that these issues, as yet unresolved, are important to surface for practitioners. She says, “I am attracted to articles that cause nonprofits to rethink assumptions, especially using technology or ideas that stretch our everyday thinking. For that reason, I picked the article ‘What to Do with Employees’ High-Profile Social Media Persona?’ The concept of co-branding an individual with their current employer is both a challenge and opportunity for nonprofits. How this can and will benefit a nonprofit is still undecided and will continue to evolve.” Jeanne also wrote “8 Tips on the Effective Use of Social Media for Social Good” and “The Role of Controversy in 2012’s Top Five Nonprofit YouTube Videos.”Jeanne also makes active use of her participation in NPQ’s newswire writer group, seeing it as a part of evolving practice. “Thanks for the opportunity to contribute. Like others have written, this forces me to stay abreast of issues and challenge my own thinking.”Ethical Considerations in PhilanthropyLikewise, new ethical issues have emerged over the past year, many having to do with the practices of philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy is one area where we have done a number of newswires because there are so many situations in which ethical boundaries are fuzzy. Newswire writer Jennifer Amanda Jones says that she “most enjoyed writing newswires about so-called consumer philanthropy, like ‘Time to Rethink Pink’ and ‘Checkout Charity.’” She comments that, “Consumer philanthropy can be a powerful tool for fundraising; however, we do need to think critically about the potential costs.”Although she did not write exclusively about philanthropic trends, she also wrote “Wealth and Narcissism: Is Philanthropy a Mirror on the Wall” and “Does Impact Investment Signal a Paradigm Shift?” Jennifer also penned a number of thought-provoking pieces about social enterprise, including “Social Enterprise: Making the Difference Between For-Profit and Nonprofit” and “Senior Transportation Cooperative to Start in Delaware.”The Influence of Macro-Environmental Issues: The EconomyRob Meiksins has written quite a bit on economic issues, and he chose “Noam Chomsky on the Class War in America” as his favorite. It is one of the most fundamental concerns of our time: What does it mean to do the work you do in the context of an ever more extreme wealth divide, and what are the dynamics and language of class war? Another article he nominated was, “Is Overaggressive Philanthropy Subverting Social Contract?”Why these two? “Because the process of writing them made me think about how things work. While writing the one on strategic philanthropy, I found myself learning a great deal, doing some research on the people involved in the discussion and what concepts they were espousing. I found myself challenged to decide what I thought about it, asking questions like, ‘What should be the nature of the relationship between the donor and the nonprofit? Who leads, who follows, and who gets to decide what a successful end result would be?’”Rob also wrote on other aspects of how the sector meets the economy, such as “Where Should Local Economic Development Agencies Sit?” and “Convoluted Finding in Wisconsin on Public Sector Unions.”Big Ongoing Stories: Healthcare and the IRSMichael Wyland is a bit of a policy wonk with a special but not exclusive interest in healthcare. He is also of a more conservative bent than some of our other writers. He nominated “all the IRS pieces [he’d] written in 2013, with special emphasis on these three: ‘IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups a Threat to Nonprofit Sector,’ ‘Inspector General’s Report on the IRS: A Summary,’ and ‘Does IRS Have Resources to Do Its Increasingly Complicated Job?’”The reason why he spent so much time on this thread of stories? “The IRS scandal threatens the integrity of the regulation of all nonprofits. The already-fragile trust the public has in its federal tax collector has been materially harmed by the politicization of the IRS and its unusually strong oversight power. The article on IRS resources demonstrates that, even without the scandal, the IRS’s capacity for administration is slipping and will continue to do so.”He also nominated two articles on the botched Sanford Health-Fairview merger, which was more local to his home: “The Merger That Might Have Been: Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services” and “‘Negative Sentiment Override’ in a Failed Merger.” The reason he appreciated these was because “a single event holds many teachable moments for nonprofits. Merger considerations, branding and communication, and real and perceived conflicts of interest are all woven into this story.”The Nonprofits and Local Government BeatLarry Kaplan is mesmerized by the local intersection of government and nonprofits. He nominated two newswires looking at the relationship between new mayor Bill de Blasio and the nonprofit community in New York City—“Is NYC’s de Blasio Really a Threat to Nonprofits? Or to the Status Quo?” and “NYC’s de Blasio’s Radical Plans to Reverse Recent Education ‘Reform’”—but he is equally interested in that intersection in smaller localities. “These two stories are classic examples of the importance of nonprofits having to work with and maintain a good relationship with the elected officials who represent their communities.”He tracked the intersection of philanthropy and local and state governments in “Pittsburgh’s Foundations to Help New Mayor Staff Up,” “Small Maine Town Leaders Cut Local Charities out of Their Proposed Budget,” and “California Desert City Helps Local Nonprofits while Helping Itself.” Each of these stories, along with many more he penned, helped NPQ monitor an important new realm of relationship between nonprofits and local government.Working Wicked ProblemsThe newswire process allows writers to explore issues that have all of the markers of “wicked problems.” Jay Rosen described these as follows:Wicked problems have these features: It is hard to say what the problem is, to define it clearly or to tell where it stops and starts. There is no “right” way to view the problem, no definitive formulation. There are many stakeholders, all with their own frames, which they tend to see as exclusively correct. Ask what the problem is and you will get a different answer from each. Someone can always say that the problem is just a symptom of another problem and that someone will not be wrong. The problem is inter-connected to a lot of other problems; pulling them apart is almost impossible. In a word: it’s a mess.But it gets worse. Every wicked problem is unique, so in a sense there is no prior art and solving one won’t help you with the others. No one has “the right to be wrong,” meaning enough legitimacy and stakeholder support to try things that will almost certainly fail, at first. Instead failure is savaged, and the trier is deemed unsuitable for another try. The problem keeps changing on us. It is never definitely resolved. Instead, we just run out of patience, or time, or money, or political will. It’s not possible to understand the problem first, then solve it. Rather, attempts to solve it reveal further dimensions of the problem. (Which is the secret of success for people who are “good” at wicked problems.)In this vein, Lou Altman says his favorite newswire from this past year was “More Movement Afoot in Massachusetts for a Mandatory Outpatient Treatment Law.” He says, “I am deeply concerned with the stigma attached to mental illness, as if the mind were not part of the body. Assisted outpatient treatment is a difficult concept to judge in this light for me because of the danger to the patient and to society when mental illness goes untreated and the dangerous threat to freedom when treatment is forced upon an individual. I like to work with issues that challenge my beliefs.”Not a View from NowhereBut the reason why our newswire writer group is so rich is that each writer brings commitments, knowledge, and grounding to their reporting.Again, from Jay Rosen,“Every journalist, every writer should tell us where he’s coming from. So it is with networked beats. So it is with this beat. The wicked problems beat is not a ‘View from Nowhere’ thing. It starts from the limits of professional expertise. It is a reflection on unmanageable complexity. It preaches humility to the authorized knowers. It mocks the one best answer and single-issue people. It seeks to deliver us from denial.”John Brothers is quite open about what informs his perspective. “My favorite newswire was the one I did on Nevada busing their mentally-ill homeless to California. It was personal for me, having been homeless, and sparked good discussion amongst my kids and me…. I also exchanged Facebook emails with the daughter of one of the daughters of the cited formerly-homeless men, which made my newswire feel more like a public service.”John has a wealth of knowledge about nonprofit management and is able to parse some of the emerging management issues of our field with great aplomb, as he does in “Mixing Federal Funding for Expansion: One Health Center’s Approach,” “Board Files for Restraining Order against Founder, Who Still Comes into Office Every Day,” and in “Is a Renewed Economy Based on the Nonprofit Model in Our Future?”An Artistic ApproachEileen Cunniffe likes the stories she has done on volunteerism because she feels that that exchange is at the heart of what we do:“I would choose ‘Pro Bono Is a Two-Way Street’ and ‘Study Underscores Health, Wellness and Career Benefits of Volunteering.’ It’s my privilege to work with skills-based volunteers and nonprofit board members every day, and these newswires illustrate why this is so satisfying—on both sides of the volunteer exchange, everyone benefits.” But she is also attentive to what is happening in the arts, covering everything from “On News of Kennedy Death: A Moment at Boston Symphony that Resonates Today” to her “Positive Trends in Arts and Culture Funding—At Least on the Surface” and “From Black Boxes to Random Acts of Culture: Opera Companies Find New Ways to Connect with Audiences.”Weaving It All TogetherKathi Jaworski was one of our first newswire writers, and she has inspired us consistently with her intelligence, discernment, honesty, and grounded perspective. She has an enormous respect for what our readers do.She chose “Expandable ‘Community’ to Address Poverty from ‘Ticked-Off’ Social Worker,” saying, “I still love this article because it covers the nexus of several important sector issues: the emergence of crowdfunding, the important unglamorous work of addressing persistent poverty, and the value of humanizing philanthropy. What I have found most satisfying in my contributions as an NPQ writer is when I can highlight small yet creative, compassionate and impactful nonprofits whose work bears wider attention.”In the end, we see that the newswire helps track the progress of various emerging forces in the sector. Some of them are driven from outside, and some are our own experiments with new ideas, practices and forms in a changing environment so that we can have a hand in its development.Thus, Anne Eigeman nominated her “UC Uses Crowdfunding in Campaign to Draw On a New Demographic.” “I like this newswire,” she says, “because it opened my eyes to some funding challenges for public institutions of higher education in California that are having a direct effect on current students. I was impressed by the range of creativity that came out in the course of Berkley’s campaign, and like one reader who expressed interest in attending the institution, I can’t stop thinking that if someone had made a promise to bake dozens of cookies during exam week when I was a student, my college experience would have probably been very different.” Anne has a very broad and deep understanding of this rich and complex sector that allows her to interpret the news she reads and covers in ways that resonate with and inform NPQ’s readers. Some great examples are “Targeted Editorial Stands Out for Separating a Nonprofit’s Poor Management from Its Value” and “Sector Jumping: GED Restructures to Go from Nonprofit to For-Profit.”NPQ publishes close to 2,000 newswires a year. The information from them continuously evolves our understanding of the fields and environment we all work in, but the whole is like a well-woven rug, with all of the writers looking to not only the pieces they weave, but to the whole of the knowledge base we are building. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our writers for their energy and discernment and enthusiasm. Without them, NPQ would not be what it is.—The Editors ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares May 1, 2014; Senate Budget CommitteeThe recent Senate Budget Committee hearing on social impact bonds was relatively low profile—surprisingly so for a subject whose advocates trumpet nearly anything and everything that concerns social impact bonds or pay-for-success programs. In digging through an early transcript of the hearing, there were plenty of nuggets for nonprofits and social enterprises to ponder. Try these comments on for size.Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) took the tack that the federal government needs the help and discipline of private markets:“Frankly, the federal government does a poor job of understanding what works. Federal agencies often talk a good game about measuring results and delivering value for the taxpayers. But the truth is, in that evaluating what works and what doesn’t really work isn’t really something the federal government doesn’t do—doesn’t do very well.”Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) added, “I think that there is at least the prospect of a real opportunity here, when new theories of ways to save money can meet the standard of a private investor, but can’t meet the standard of our dear friends at CBO or OMB.”Jeffrey B. Liebman, the Malcolm Wiener professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, provided the explanation for the Warner/Whitehouse hope for private investment in SIBs:“Over the past two years, we’ve observed the pay-for-success model improve government performance in three ways: First, it improves decision-making by bring market discipline to government decisions about which programs to expand, as investors will only put their dollars behind programs with a strong evidence base. Second, it shifts government resources to pay for preventative services, rather than pay for the remedial costs associated with bad outcomes. And third, it fosters multiyear collaborations to tackle challenging social problems, something that is very difficult to accomplish with conventional annual government budgeting, and standard management techniques.”In contrast, Mark Fisher, from the Maryland House of Delegates, summarized the critical findings of a Maryland state analysis of the potential of SIBs:“In January of 2013, the Department of Legislative Services advised against SIBs for the following reasons: SIBs cause an increase in budgetary pressure, compared to direct program financing, due to the necessity of funding, contingent liabilities, and the added expense features unique to SIBs. SIBs do not produce cost savings when outcomes are achieved, even under highly optimistic assumptions. SIBs could effectively exclude new providers and program types that do not have a well established record of success with investors seeking to minimize risk. And SIBs potentially distort evidence used in policy decisions…. In conclusion, SIBs are well intended, but they unnecessarily blow bureaucracies. Moreover, they have the potential of leading to crony capitalism. And as the Maryland Department of Legislative Services concluded, they do not save money.”Although now an analyst with the Texas Legislative Budget Board, Kyle McKay was one of the Maryland researchers who did that state’s analysis:“For governments facing revenue constraints, social impact bonds may appear to be the silver bullet for social services. However, the benefits may be based largely on wishful thinking. Yet, the risks and costs to governments who are engaging in this type of model are real…Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but if a program funded by a social impact bond works, the government will have to pay for the program. Thus, governments should budget for this potential payment by appropriating funds in advance…Because the government may have to pay back investors with interest and a bonus, or a return on investment, and the mechanics of this model require a large number of consultants and intermediaries, the government must budget for the potential payment using an amount that is greater than the investors provide to the program. In Massachusetts, for example, the state is liable for up to $27 million in payments for their social impact bond pilot program. Yet, the investors are providing only $12 million in funding. A social impact bond will therefore add pressure to a cash-strapped budget….”McKay’s trenchant analysis pointed out the limitations of single-project SIBs:“Proponents argue that social impact bonds will result in decreased expenditures, and thus, cost savings to the state. There’s a basic mathematical problem with this claim, though. Pilot programs do not operate at a scale large enough to produce significant cost savings to the government. In Maryland, we used well-established, cost-estimation techniques with our state agencies to model a high-impact pilot program. The program came nowhere close to paying for itself, which is consistent with Rand’s finding that Peterborough [the first SIB from the UK] is too small to produce savings.”“In short, it’s my personal opinion that social impact bonds are expensive and risky. They may also distract governments from a more comprehensive, sustainable approach to improving public policy,” McKay concluded. “Across a variety of policy areas, we have learned that measuring outcomes, and using monetary payments to incentivize behavior change, is difficult, and often produces mixed results. Simply throwing investors into the fray will not resolve the ongoing limitations and problems. Instead, it may very well exacerbate the challenges.”He added a postscript about limited innovation in the supposedly innovative SIB experience in the U.K. and the U.S.:“The Center for Law and Social Policy looked—they just released a report where they looked at most of the social impact bonds that have been implemented to date, and what they found is that, quote, ‘Investors appear to be sticking to models that have already been extensively evaluated,’ which is sort of consistent with what you would expect if investors are trying to minimize their risk.”“It is possible for a state, a government, to get in over its head if it hasn’t chosen the program wisely, and then the investors know more about the project than the government does, and they start to get spun, because the investors have a different motivation,” Whitehouse observed after the McKay testimony. “That’s a risk. Everybody concedes that? Yes, everybody concedes that.”Senator Angus King (I-ME) sussed out the subtext of the SIB strategy:“I think this is an admission that government can’t do what it’s supposed to do…. This just strikes me as…it’s a fancy way of contracting out. And as I say, I don’t believe government contracts very well…and the government is always going to be outfoxed on the contracts, in my experience.”For a hearing that was undoubtedly intended to highlight the social impact bond phenomenon, it didn’t quite turn out that way. It would seem that the promoters of SIBs have to do a better job of getting past their own promotional rhetoric and explain the substance to answer the challenges posed by Senators King and Whitehouse, not to mention McKay, the analyst who conducted the Maryland analysis.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesJanuary 26, 2015; MSNBC Whilst for many Tuesday’s snow brought only an anticlimactic paid holiday, the weather conditions threw up more pressing complications for thousands of low-paid workers in the Northeast.There are up to 577,000 people earning just at or below the minimum wage within the region affected by the storm, according to this report created by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Unavoidable interruptions to working life, such as winter storms like Juno, have a different effect on low-wage workers than those earning a more sustainable salary. While employers in certain northeastern states are required by law to offer paid leave, existing laws do not protect those who need their coverage most, excluding those who have to miss work due to childcare needs or disruptions to public transit services. Therefore, many of the low-wage workers employed by service industries are unlikely to be paid if they cannot get to work.A hotel maid told Al Jazeera America, “My boss is making me work tonight and tomorrow night. If I didn’t go in, I would lose my job.” She has to commute 25 miles on dangerous roads to make less than minimum wage. Amy Traub, a senior policy analyst at liberal think tank Demos, pointed out that those affected are also generally employed in the service sector, which is particularly inflexible:“There is no working from home if you’re a sales associate or if you’re a cashier. If they can’t get to work because of weather, you miss a paycheck. If the store closes early or works with a skeleton staff, you miss a paycheck.”Despite the existence of paid leave laws in New York City, Massachusetts and Connecticut, the situation is the same even in ideal weather conditions. The BLS estimates that only 20 percent of the lowest paid tenth of workers have paid sick leave, in stark contrast to the 98 percent of the highest paid tenth. Workers are faced with a choice—or not, in fact—to go into work or lose their jobs. This means that taking time off for sickness or other personal reasons is unfeasible. Especially in places like New York City where space is scarce and gentrification is quickly spreading, it is often the case that these workers live further afield, meaning that they are even more affected by the elements.Inequality is problem on the global agenda for everyone. Indeed, the widening income inequality gap was identified by the World Economic Forum as the most significant trend of 2015 in terms of the key challenges facing the world’s global leaders. In both developed and developing countries, the poorest half of the population often controls less than 10 percent of its wealth.These issues are cyclical: As people feel increasingly marginalized by society, social cohesion is weakened and our democracies are damaged. Income inequality and the laws that enable and exacerbate this are part of a broader issue that is essentially an inequality of opportunity that spans age, gender, and ethnicity. Any hope for sustainable development must find equal opportunity as its base. Juno starkly highlighted the deep inequality that runs throughout the United States—while it gave rise to discussions about the best Netflix marathons or complaints at the delay to Seamless deliveries, for many it represented much more of a substantial problem.—Hannah Butler ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share2TweetShareEmail2 Shares August 26, 2015; Boston GlobeNPQ has been following the changing public opinion of the death penalty amid criminal reform efforts, particularly how those dynamics interacted in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing perpetrator Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. While the trial took place in downtown Boston, where the overwhelming majority of residents—including some of Tsarnev’s victims— oppose the death penalty, the twelve jurors sentenced the defendant to death in May. Now, a juror from the case is coming forward to say he “probably” would have voted against the death penalty had he known the some of the victims did not support the sentence.Kevan Fagan, 23, spoke to WBUR about the experience of being a juror in the trial, of which he is writing a book, though he refused to comment on the deliberations. Fagan is the first and so far the only juror to speak publically and identify himself as being of the twelve jurors that served on the case. (A judge recently rejected a motion by the Boston Globe and WBUR to release the names of the jurors for now while the defense was still making motions.)“If I had known that, I probably—I probably would change my vote. But then again, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be on the jury either,” said Fagan, referring to the orders given by the judge to refrain from reading or watching anything about the case in the media. Particularly, Fagan remarked he didn’t know that the family of Martin Richard, 8, the youngest victim, had written to the U.S. Attorney General opposing the death penalty.“We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal,” wrote the Richards family in a letter published by the Boston Globe:We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government ha its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives.Similar pleas were made by other survivors, such as Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, who both lost their legs in the bombings. Indeed, this information never made it to jurors’ ears or eyes during the trial. The judge had prohibited victims and family members from giving their own perspectives of the death penalty during the sentencing phase of the trial. Daniel Medwed, a Northeastern University law professor, indicates that there is legal precedent in preventing victims from giving their personal opinions on the legality of the death penalty, and that those opinions are not relevant to jury deliberations. Moreover, as Fagan is writing a book, Medwed worries about his ulterior motives for coming forward.Regardless of Fagan’s motives, what these personal opinions do show is the complicated attitude regarding the death penalty and an approach to the criminal justice system that’s growing more humane. The death penalty has been losing support steadily over the past two decades from its peak in the mid-’90s. And while the nonprofit world, the courts, and the legislature are furthering the cause to question the constitutionality of the death sentence, significant work remains to be done.—Shafaq HasanShare2TweetShareEmail2 Shares
Share53TweetShare2Email55 SharesNovember 10, 2015; Daily BeastIn some counties of South Carolina, we’ll bet there are few Syrian immigrants or refugees, or maybe none. That lack of exposure to Syrians hasn’t stopped Berkeley County, in the metropolitan area that includes Charleston and North Charleston, from approving a resolution opposing the Obama administration’s Refugee Resettlement Program, which could allow as many as 10,000 or 11,000 Syrian refugees into the country next year.The County’s resolution was proposed by Jennifer Ort, a member of a group called Concerned Voters of Berkeley County, who described the potential Syrian refugee resettlement as “like leaving your door unlocked in a bad neighborhood.”“Call me what you want to call me, you’re not going to hurt my feelings,” said Council member Tommy Newell, who introduced the resolution against the possibility that a Syrian might be moved to the area. “I have to look into the eyes of my eight-year-old daughter and know that when I lay my head down at night, I’ve done everything I can to keep her protected from any kind of evil that I can.”Newell’s concern appears to be, shall we say, prophylactic. Expressing his opposition to the Berkeley County resolution, state representative Bakari Sellers explained that there aren’t any Syrian refugees in the entire state. Last month, Rev. Jason Lee, the head of the Spartanburg chapter of World Relief, explained that no Syrians were scheduled to be moved to the county. Since 2000, the entire state has accepted a total of 1,700 legal refugees.Noting that Daniel Island, South Carolina, somehow appeared on an ISIS “kill list,” Newell added, “you have to take care of your own before you take care of somebody else,” suggesting that Berkeley County’s homeless population deserved help before Syrian refugees should be considered.While Councilman Newell expressed concerned that his eight-year-old child might be attacked at school by Syrian refugees, others took pains to suggest that Newell’s and Ort’s hostility toward Syrian refugees shouldn’t be seen as a sentiment of South Carolinians overall.“The views of the Berkeley County Council don’t represent the views of South Carolinians, or Republicans even,” Omar Hossino of the Syrian American Council pointed out. “Lindsey Graham has been one of the strongest advocates in the U.S. Senate for Syrian refugees… Syrian refugees must be vetted to the full extent, but for people to say they want to kick these people out because they’re ISIS when they’re actually fleeing ISIS…It’s very odd.”On the other hand, Berkeley County isn’t the only South Carolina county to pass a resolution against resettling Syrian refugees. It was preceded by the Pickens County council, home of Clemson University, and reportedly the county council in Greenville plans to take up a similar resolution.Technically, these county resolutions have no legal effect on the ability of the federal government to proceed with the resettlement of Syrian refugees, but earlier this year, in a meeting in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard said that the State Department “won’t send Syrian refugees into a community that is hostile to them,” according to Ron Barnett of the Greenville News.Richard’s statement makes clear why these apparently silly county resolutions aren’t so silly at all. When people like Ort and Newell, who may not reflect the attitudes of all the residents of their county, are able to get a resolution passed that might convince the federal government from considering an entire geography for otherwise legal refugee resettlement, it should be a signal to nonprofits that they have to monitor and challenge actions like this. Otherwise, people like Ort and Newell don’t just embarrass their home communities and states, they send a signal to other communities that a couple of local activists can deprive legal refugees of resettlement opportunities anywhere in the country just be passing an otherwise non-binding government resolution.—Rick CohenCorrection: Berkeley County is adjacent to Charleston County, where Charleston sits, but neither North Charleston nor Charleston are properly part of it.Share53TweetShare2Email55 Shares
Share3TweetShare4Email7 SharesJune 13, 2016; Washington PostThe nonprofit health insurance cooperatives established as a part of the Affordable Care Act haven’t had an easy road. More than half—13 of 22—have closed their doors. Some of the remaining co-ops are suing the federal government in an effort to get additional funds and/or relieve themselves of their share of more than $2 billion in federal start-up loans.Evergreen Health Cooperative, Maryland’s co-op, which serves almost 40,000 residents, is suing for what it claims is the “dangerously flawed” administration of the ACA’s so-called “risk management” provisions, where insurance companies with relatively healthier customers (presumably costing less to cover) take a portion of their revenues to support other insurance providers with relatively sicker customers. The goal of the risk management program was to level the playing field for insurers being forced to insure all individuals, regardless of pre-existing conditions or other actuarial predictions of the insurance companies’ costs of coverage. NPQ reported last year on Evergreen’s optimism after a rocky start and its determination to repay $65 million in federal loans.Evergreen says that, under risk management, it must pay $22 million, or 26 percent of its revenues from premiums, to the state’s Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurance company. Not only is this requirement a serious burden, Evergreen says, it is based on an inaccurate assessment of Evergreen’s insured population. Since Evergreen is a relatively new insurer, it does not have the vast historical data that an established insurer would have to evaluate its risks. Without such data, the federal risk management program assumes a relatively health insured population when such may not be the case. In addition, it lacks the large market share that would give it the resources to absorb temporary revenue imbalances like risk management payments.The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), which administers the risk management program, has announced that there will be changes to address issues discovered during implementation. Evergreen Health, however, says that it can’t wait until 2017 or 2018 when the changes are expected to take effect.—Michael WylandShare3TweetShare4Email7 Shares
Share25Tweet10Share9Email44 SharesJanuary 2, 2018; Los Angeles TimesA young nonprofit organization, Innovate Public Schools (IPS), is challenging San Francisco’s Public Schools to more aggressively address the persistent gap between students of color and their white peers. Its efforts have placed the Bay Area front and center in the national debate over the gap’s causes and how best to eliminate it.In October, IPS partnered with local NAACP leaders to challenge the city’s educational leadership. Thomas Maffai, Senior Research and Policy Lead at IPS, used data developed by IPS to show that city schools were not as effective as other schools in California in closing the gap. He told the Bay City Beacon,We compared San Francisco to the most similar districts across the state, districts serving similar numbers and demographics, and what we find across the board in both math and English is that San Francisco is near the bottom of the list for both African American and [Latinx] students…We see this not only as a district problem but [as] one for the entire city…we want our school system to be preparing students to access that economy, those high-paying jobs. Instead, we’re seeing students who are falling behind early, and they’re never able to catch up by the time it comes to graduation [and entering college]…[this] really brings into question the identity of who we are as a city.Rev. Amos C. Brown, San Francisco’s NAACP branch president, told the Los Angeles Times that “Black students have been underachievers. They’re living in toxic situations. It’s amazing they’ve done as well as they have done, but it’s criminal that sophisticated children in progressive San Francisco are performing at these levels.” Brown said it was time for the district to declare a state of emergency and take bold steps to change this picture.IPS was formed in 2012 “to build the parent and community demand for world-class public schools, and to accelerate the growth of these schools, particularly for low-income students and students of color.” With seed funding from the Walton Family Foundation and ongoing funding from other school choice supporters (including Michael Bloomberg), it is not surprising that their solution is to stop trying to “fix” existing low performing schools and instead direct resources and energy toward the creation of new, high performing schools, many if not all of which will be charter schools.As covered in another story today and ongoing NPQ coverage over the years, there is a significant and well-financed national strategy to privatize public education. Nonprofits with words like “great schools” and “excellent schools” in their names and purporting to engage parents are the tip of the iceberg. Often times, these nonprofits target parents of color, who are desperate for better education for their children.Using the data in their study as the focal point, IPS has been organizing parents to join them in advocating to support their call to action, opening new and better schools, preferably charters. While San Francisco parents can already choose their children’s schools, IPS believes that educational inequality stems from the paucity of quality schools that are geographically inaccessible to minority and low-income students, making choice an ineffective response.San Francisco needs schools that change lives and enable children to advance, that build a foundation for permanence and an anchor for neighborhoods…The majority of charter schools have notably better academic results for low-income [Latinx] and low-income African American students. Many of these schools are providing better options to families who don’t have many.[…]While low-income families struggle to find secure, high-quality schools for their children, San Francisco’s wealthy families have abandoned the public schools…This calls San Francisco’s leaders at every level and across multiple sectors to act with new urgency for the education of our underserved children. That means listening, changing policy, reconsidering past answers that have amounted to “no”—no to new schools, no to bolder forms of school turnaround, and no to new effective ideas.IPS is right to describe the achievement gap as a critical problem. But in apparently focusing on schools as the solution, they are missing, as do most school choice advocates, the bigger picture. Their approach ignores system-wide challenges and larger societal issues that affect educational outcomes and will challenge new schools as well. San Francisco Public Schools have been investing in small schools, keeping class sizes small, maintaining social workers, and pumping up preschool programs as part of a comprehensive approach to school improvement. But with the funding limitations common to public schools, the budget has been balanced by keeping teacher salaries low. The result is high turnover, which harms educational quality.Finding enough money to avoid the choice between teachers and other system improvements is important but goes unaddressed by IPS’s recommendations. Vincent Matthews, San Francisco Unified School District’s superintendent since last May, told the Beacon that they also do not address “the interplay of education with housing security, community safety, and the physical and emotional wellbeing of students,” all factors critical to academic success.Superintendent Matthews believes IPS’s agenda will move his district in the wrong direction. According to the Los Angeles Times, Matthews wants to “attack the achievement gap by improving the quality of his workforce, making sure teachers can serve different types of learners within the same classroom and ensuring students and teachers see achievement as something that can grow, rather than a fixed quantity…keeping a close eye on schools that appear successful but fail specific groups of students.”The charter school movement wants to characterize the racial achievement gap as a school and teacher problem. But the problem is poverty. Parental income is the biggest indicator of a student’s educational outcomes.—Martin LevineShare25Tweet10Share9Email44 Shares
France’s AB Group plans to launch a subscription video-on-demand service called Jook Video in January.Jean-Michel Fava, president of the group’s pay TV service ABSat, this week said that the service will launch on January 10, a little later than initially envisaged. Speaking at an NPA conference, he said that the service would go beyond a recycling of AB’s own catalogue and would be priced aggressively at €6.99 a month, without the need for an ongoing subscription.The service will offer movies, series, kids programming, sport and factual programming, according to Fava. The group hopes to sign up between 50,000-60,000 subscribers within the first year and expects to break even with 300,000. The group is in discussion with French ISPs about carrying the service as part of their bouquets.AB Group, which is one-third owned by TF1, holds rights to a catalogue of over 1,500 French titles. Jook Video will compete with the existing CanalPlay Infinity service. There has also been speculation that Amazon could launch an SVOD service in France next year – fuelled by comments made by Canal Plus CEO Bertrand Méheut in October when giving evidence before the country’s Conseil d’État.
BBC Worldwide has appointed former Fox International Channels executive Jay Tallon to the new role of senior vice president high growth markets CEMA.Tallon, who joined BBC Worldwide from Fox in 2013, is being upped from her current role as head of business and legal affairs CEMA and will be responsible for leading the sales and affiliate strategy across all BBC Worldwide businesses in high growth Central Europe, Middle East and African markets.She will report to Ian McDonough, BBC Worldwide’s executive vice president CEMA, and her appointment completes BBC Worldwide’s leadership team for this region.The rest of the team consists of: Jacek Koskowski, vice president and general manager Poland; Joel Churcher, vice president and general manager Africa; Heike Renner, vice president and general manager CEE; and Natasha Hussain, vice president and general manager Middle East and Mediterranean.“CEMA is an area of growth and offers many exciting opportunities and challenges. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and our business partners to grow our business in these regions,” said Tallon.
The Man in the High CastleAmazon Prime Instant Video has sent a pair of dramas, an unscripted series and two kids shows to series.The shows are the latest to come through Amazon Studios’ piloting process in which feedback from viewers is considered before season orders are placed.The dramas are Cris Cole’s US version of Mad Dogs and The Man in the High Castle, with magazine series The New Yorker Presents and kids series Just Add Magic and The Stink & Dirty Show rounding off the commissions.Amazon said The Man in the High Castle, which is based on a Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel that considers a world in which the Allied forces lost World War II, was its most-watched pilot ever. However, as per Amazon policy, numbers were not broken out.The Man in the High Castle comes from David Semel, Frank Spotnitz, David W. Zucker, Scott Free Productions, Stewart Mackinnon, Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd.The show was originally revealed in 2010 as a BBC One coproduction with Headline, Scott Free and FremantleMedia, and was later worked up as a four-part series for US cable channel Syfy. However, Amazon swooped in and ordered a pilot last year.Mad Men, meanwhile, based on the British Sky comedy-drama about a group of middle-aged friends that find themselves in trouble after a reunion. Sony Pictures Television is a coproducer.The New Yorker Presents is Amazon’s first half-hour docu-series. It features stories from the popular New Yorker magazine, and comes from Condé Nast Entertainment and Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions, who co-produced the pilot.Amazon says “noted filmmakers, star talent and New Yorker writers” will feature in new segments in the series.On the kids front, 6-11-targeted Just Add Magic is a single-cam live-action series based on a young adult book from Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco, while preschool series The Stinky & Dirty Show is about a unlikely hero pair, Stinky the garbage truck and Dirty, a backhoe loader. Ireland’s Brown Bag Films animated the show.“During the latest pilot season, Amazon customers made The Man in the High Castle our most watched pilot ever,” said Roy Price, VP of Amazon Studios. “These new series, including our first docu-series, are some of our most ambitious to date and I’m looking forward to their premieres in the future.”
French service provider Numericable-SFR has added a Polish bouquet to its La Box Fibre services across both the Numericable and SFR networks.The Bouquet Polonais comprises four channels, available for €6.90 a month. The service will include iTVN and iTVN Extra, entertainment channels from TVN Group aimed at Poles living abroad, new channel TVN24 and public broadcast service TVP Polonia.Numericable-SFR already offers a range of other bouquets aimed at Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese and German-speakers living in France.Separately, Numericable-SFR affiliate Sequalum, set up in 2006 to install fibre for the local government of the Hauts-de-Seine department, which includes La Défense financial district outside Paris, has failed in an attempt to avoid paying a €10 million indemnity for its failure to fulfill the contract, which was canceled by the department earlier this year.Sequalum had appealed against a ruling that it should pay the indemnity but a judge ruled that the department had met all the conditions requiring the guarantee for which Sequalum was held to be liable to be honoured.The Hauts-de-Seine department is claiming at total of €96.7 million in indemnities from Sequalum following cancellation of the contract.