Stevens, Coffey will restore order in Milton

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion At recent town of Milton board meetings, we learned how the town came up over $1 million short and now must double the tax rate and take out $700,000 in reserves to fix the “mistake.”Also disturbing is the lack of respect and civility that board members show each other and the public. The town of Milton has been run for years by one political party that has continued bad financial and accounting practices administration after administration. When even a fellow Republican like Barbara Kerr asks questions, she is disrespected and interrupted by the supervisor. It’s well past the time for new faces on the town board.Long-time, community-engaged citizens Meg Stevens and Sergia Coffey will bring new voices and ideas unrestricted by politics. They are committed to being open and responsive to residents by recording town meetings, posting complete minutes, hosting public Q&A sessions, and creating greater transparency.Meg and Sergia have the expertise and experience to review expenses and budgets and make meaningful suggestions. They are truly interested in serving Milton and will bring back ethical behavior and civility to the Board.Sander BonvellBallston SpaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesGuilderland girls’ soccer team hands BH-BL first league losslast_img read more

Tax reform divides upper from lower

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion How do we learn the names of large-contribution campaign donors who are putting pressure on members of the House and Senate to approve the tax bill?Why do they insist on tax reform that so heavily favors the very wealthy while impacting the rest of us by small (and temporary) tax cuts, by increasing the national debt, and by cutting benefits to middle- and lower-income citizens in important areas of health care, education, child welfare, etc.. These cuts are bound to increase as the deficit effects are felt.While some in this country seek to divide us by left and right, the real division here is between top and bottom.Would it not be wise for the many of us in the “bottom” category to act together in our own behalf, letting our lawmakers know this is a tax reform we can not live with?Carole deForestDelansonMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Statement on NRA was lacking facts

first_imgRe March 11 letter, “NRA just wants to boost sales of guns”: I’m contacting you regarding an erroneous statement printed in The Gazette by Stephen Anderson of Charlton. While in attendance at the NRA annual meeting and convention, attendees may carry firearms in accordance with federal, state and local laws. Only in places prohibited by law, such as areas under control of the U.S. Secret Service are we as attendees disarmed. All firearms exhibited by vendors and manufacturers are proven to be non-functioning before the doors are open to the public. This sensible measure ensures safety in a packed convention hall. I invite all local firearms enthusiasts to attend an NRA convention. We are the most family-friendly, polite, well-mannered group you may ever experience.CHARLES BEERS IIIGlenvilleThe writer is the Capital Region director of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

Home Office plan hit by premature withdrawal

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The man who wants to buy Stanhope

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AWG gets £10.5m Cambuslang go-ahead

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Palestinians channel protests through dawn prayers

first_imgBefore sunrise, thousands of Palestinians streamed towards the mosque in Nablus’s Victory Square, swelling the usual crowds of morning worshippers to launch a new front in their protests against Israel and the United States.The scene has been repeated elsewhere in the West Bank, where people have begun turning out for early prayers in unprecedented numbers, forsaking the usual protest sites where they risk arrest and channeling their anger into a mass expressions of faith.”This is the most peaceful way to get the message out,” said restaurant owner Saif Abu Baker, as the Nablus crowds spilled out of the mosque into surrounding alleyways and courtyards. Political slogans including “For the sake of God, we have risen up” echoed through Nablus’s Old City after the calls from the muezzin and the murmured recitations of the faithful.“I would hope that it is a new form of channeling the way the message is being sent out there,” said Abu Baker. “Because we have tried protesting and it did not work because we don’t have enough power. It’s the safer way for everyone.”Much of the crowd’s message at Friday’s fajr (dawn) prayers – the day when most people turn out – was a rejection of the perceived pro-Israel bias of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.There have only been small regular street rallies since that plan was launched last week. Few have responded to calls by President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority for ‘Days of Rage’. Instead many have begun heeding calls on Facebook and other social media sites to attend what is becoming known as the ‘Great Fajr Campaign’ – described as a show of solidarity against Trump and what they see as Israeli threats to Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and Hebron. Those two cities have also seen larger turnouts in the past few weeks.The first calls for a surge in attendance were from Fatah, Abbas’s nationalist political faction that dominates the Palestine Liberation Organization.Numbers grew after the campaign gained support from the Islamist group Hamas, which holds sway in mosques, especially in cities where it has a sizeable following.Knights of the dawnHamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, in Gaza, told Reuters the campaign was a bid to alert Palestinians to the Trump plan, and to Israel’s plans to annex its West Bank settlements.In Nablus – where crowds surged to several thousand on Friday, from around 2,000 the week before – worshippers insisted there was no single group behind the drive, describing it as a grassroots movement still finding its feet.But the streets echoed with chants popular at Hamas rallies, including: “A nation with the leadership of Muhammad will not be defeated”.The event appeared to be organized – extra prayer carpets were rolled out, food and water were available in abundance and the gathering was supervised by stewards wearing fluorescent jackets proclaiming them ‘Knights of the Dawn,’ and bearing the stenciled image of the nearby al-Nasr (Victory) mosque.The crowds have been much smaller than the numbers that attended the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border fence when that campaign started nearly two years ago.In those Gaza demonstrations, 215 Palestinians were killed and several thousand injured in confrontations with Israeli troops. One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.In Nablus the crowds at dawn prayers have been peaceful, with little sign of any heightened security.Hani Al-Masri, a Palestinian political analyst, said the campaign reflected Hamas’s cautious approach to operating in the West Bank, where, unlike Gaza, it faces Israeli troops and Palestinian Authority forces intent on stopping Hamas from inflaming the streets and seizing control.”Hamas’s organization in the West Bank is not in good shape because of crackdowns by the Palestinian Authority and by Israel,” he said.“Fajr prayers is the most that Hamas can do.”Asked whether Israel was aware of the enlarged dawn prayer meetings, an Israeli military spokesman and the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency had no immediate comment.Topics :last_img read more

US Olympic swim champion, a rape survivor, fights abuse in sport

first_img‘Profoundly broken’ For decades, Hogshead-Makar did not talk publicly about the traumatic events that occurred in the autumn of 1981 when she was 19. While out jogging outside the campus of Duke University in North Carolina, she was raped by a stranger. With help and support from loved ones, friends and coaches, she rebuilt her life but kept the attack private.”I didn’t talk about it for 20 years because I would have started to cry, as I healed from it,” Hogshead-Makar said. Eventually, a friend and mentor, the human rights activist Richard Lapchick, suggested that talking about the attack could help.”He said, ‘You really need to start talking about your own experience’,” Hogshead-Makar said. “And he was right.”She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. “I felt profoundly broken. I felt forsaken by God. I was scared all the time,” she said. “I thought that I could overcome it by willing it away.”Hogshead-Makar said she benefited from two things that many sexual assault victims don’t receive.”Number one, everybody around me believed that it happened,” she said. “Number two, people believed in the depth of my emotional harm. Nobody told me, ‘Just get over it’.” Topics : Three years after the trauma of being raped by a stranger while jogging outside a university campus, American swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar lit up the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles by winning three gold medals and a silver.Today, the 57-year-old lawyer, mother and activist devotes her life towards the fight for gender equality and the battle against sexual abuse in sport.In an interview with AFP ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Hogshead-Makar says she remains “unrealistically optimistic” about her work and life in general. After retiring from swimming, the Iowa native channeled her energy into helping others. After becoming a lawyer, she focused on campaigning for gender equality and combating sexual abuse in sport.center_img Gender equity In her efforts to foster change in Olympic sports in the United States, she’s drawing from her experience as an elite swimmer. Hogshead-Makar believes that the nature of competitive swimming fosters equality.”It’s no coincidence that some of the best gender equity advocates come from the sport of swimming because we see equality,” she said.”I trained almost exclusively with guys. I was accustomed to having things be fair. We swam lap-for-lap and we lifted weight-for-weight.”There have however been cases of questionable behavior. One of Hogshead-Makar’s former coaches, Mitch Ivey, was suspended from the sport for life in 2013 after evidence emerged of improper sexual relationships with multiple swimmers he had coached.”The boundaries are just not well spelled out the way they are for counselors, religious leaders or lawyers or teachers,” says Hogshead-Makar, who has founded the advocacy group Champion Women. In 2012, the United States Olympic Committee ordered all its member federations to ban intimate relationships between coaches and athletes, regardless of age and consent.Hogshead-Makar however says the message still needs to be reinforced. She estimates that only 0.5 percent of swimmers and 1.4 percent of their parents have received adequate training to safeguard against the problem.To raise awareness on the issue, Hogshead-Makar is working on a social media campaign with Child USA, a non-profit which works to end child abuse and neglect in the United States.She was also heavily involved in the effort to launch the US Center for SafeSport, the first independent organization to combat sexual and physical violence in Olympic sports, which launched in 2017. “I guess you have to be in order to try to win in the Olympics and try to address sexual abuse in sports,” Hogshead-Makar said. “They’re pretty audacious goals.”The day before the interview, Hogshead-Makar had been working until the early hours drafting a letter to the US Congress about bipartisan legislation that calls for tougher protections for amateur athletes against abuse by coaches and employees.Hogshead-Makar’s work ethic mirrors the dedication that formed the cornerstone of her swimming career — from the age of 11, she would spend four hours a day churning the waters of her training pool.”My winning formula was to compete,” Hogshead-Makar said. “That’s how I was successful in life.”last_img read more

Armed with lessons from Ebola, Africa braces for coronavirus surge

first_imgTopics : Asking patients to self-quarantine at home is not practical in many areas, where families cram into a single room, share a communal tap or latrine, and survive on daily earnings.”Africa should brace itself for a serious challenge,” John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on March 11. “I still believe containment is possible, but only with extensive testing and surveillance.”Ebola experienceIn some places that looks all but impossible.In South Sudan, devastated by a five-year civil war, the government has just 24 isolation beds, said Dr. Angok Gordon Kuol, incident manager for the outbreak at the Ministry of Health.He said public officials were trying to encourage hand-washing, but many in the impoverished East African nation of 12 million people could not afford soap and did not have running water.The health ministry in Burkina Faso, which is under siege from jihadist groups linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda, said in a report last week that the country lacked the resources to deal with the outbreak.Its border crossings have no sites to isolate suspected cases, and the West African country does not have enough skilled health workers, the report said. “This can result in high mortality rates and an increased risk of spreading the disease.”Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It devastated communities but provided valuable lessons.The Africa CDC, set up by the African Union in 2017, has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to strengthen emergency coordination, improve testing and surveillance, and equip treatment centers.”We know the fragility of our system, and because of that, when the outbreak was declared, the countries just went into action,” said Mary Stephen, technical officer at the WHO’s Africa office.The number of countries with labs able to diagnose COVID-19 in the region increased from two to 39 in just over a month. But that still leaves eight countries without.Passengers arriving at major airports have temperatures checked and are asked to fill out travel questionnaires, and in Nigeria, a taskforce meets regularly to evaluate the risks.”We will never be caught pants down,” said Bamidele Mutiu, who helped coordinate the West African country’s Ebola response and now runs a biosafety lab in Lagos.With three confirmed cases, Africa’s most populous nation is scrambling to increase the number of isolation beds and provide more specialized medical training and equipment at state hospitals.”Our health system is not as strong as we’d like it to be,” said Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. “It is because we are a bit worried about our capacity to deal with a large outbreak that we are focused so intensively on prevention and early detection.”Promoting good hygiene is a key part of that effort. But that is easier said than done. Less than half the population in 34 African countries have basic hand-washing facilities in their homes, according to a 2017 United Nations survey.Keeping cleanIn Senegal’s capital Dakar, announcements ring out through loudspeakers on passing cars urging people to wash their hands. A group of school children in soccer shirts reels off highlights from a recent lesson – a crash course in preventing COVID-19.But in their suburb, Pikine, where more than a million people live, the water is frequently cut off.”Cleanliness is important, but here it’s not easy,” said Marcelle Diatta, a 41-year-old mother of four who lives in a two-bedroom apartment with four extended family members.Khary Faye Sougou, head nurse at a local health centre in Pikine, where donkey carts jostle with delivery trucks on sandy alleyways, said she was encouraging residents to stockpile bottles of water; but not everyone could afford to do so.In Senegal, a West African country that has recorded 27 cases, medical staff said they had received limited protective equipment beyond extra gloves and masks.”If we have a case, maybe I’ll go with a mask and my white coat, and after the visit I’ll throw them away,” Sougou said.Ousmane Gueye, head of the crisis unit at Senegal’s health ministry, said the government was deploying protective gear to facilities that need it.There are ample stocks of masks and gloves and enough beds to accommodate dozens more patients, according to health officials. However, there are no reserves of ventilators, which are in short supply across Africa.In South Africa, which has recorded 62 cases of the virus, medical services could be “swamped” if it spreads within the country’s vast shanty towns, Susan Cleary, a health economist at the University of Cape Town, said.”Transmission in an informal settlement is a disaster, an absolute disaster,” she said. When a passenger arriving from Brussels at Cameroon’s Yaounde Nsimalen airport on Saturday was found to have a temperature, health officials say he was whisked to a hospital and diagnosed inside four hours as the country’s fourth case of coronavirus.The central African country was doing more generalized screening for disease long before China revealed the new virus that has killed around 7,000 people globally. Along with other countries on the continent, it hopes its experience guarding against Ebola and other epidemics will help its health system cope with a pandemic that could quickly overwhelm it.”We have cases that were not caught by the measures in France and Italy that were caught here,” Georges Alain Etoundi Mballa, who runs the health ministry’s epidemic response, told Reuters, describing the screening as a “spying network”.center_img “Epidemics come and go, but we keep on the surveillance.”The virus now ravaging Europe has appeared in at least 26 out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In most of them the recorded cases are still in single figures and have come in from abroad – notably Europe – rather than emerging at home.The stakes are high – if the disease gets into Africa’s poorest areas, squalid, cramped conditions could cause it to spread at lightning speed.Hospitals are already overburdened with cases of measles, malaria and other deadly infectious diseases, and conflicts have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed infrastructure.last_img read more

Lion Air Group suspends flights from and to Malaysia amid lockdown

first_imgDanang said the decision to suspend all international flights from and to Malaysia was taken after considering the safety and security of all passengers, cabin crew members and all Lion Air Group staff members amid the global pandemic. Read also: How a 16,000-strong religious gathering led Malaysia to lockdownThe COVID-19 coronavirus has infected more than 218,000 people worldwide and caused about 8,800 fatalities. Indonesia reported 227 confirmed cases and 19 deaths as of Wednesday.Danang said the Lion Air Group would notify its passengers and refund their tickets. Passengers would also be given an option to reschedule their flights based on seat availability. Lion Air Group serves at least 10 routes connecting Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia. The flights include Aceh-Penang, Medan-Penang, Jakarta-Penang, Pekanbaru-Malaka, Pekanbaru-Subang, Selangor, Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur, Bandung-Kuala Lumpur and Denpasar-Kuala Lumpur. While it suspends international flights, Lion Air Group will continue its domestic flights within Malaysia and Indonesia. Lion Air Group has temporarily suspended its international flights from and to Malaysia from Wednesday until March 31 following the Malaysian government’s decision to lock down the country, effectively barring people from crossing its borders to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. In the Lion Air Group airlines are Kuala Lumpur-based Malindo Air and Jakarta-based Batik Air and Wings Air. “This measure is being carried out to support the national movement by the Malaysian government by which people in Malaysia are not allowed to leave the country while the entry of foreign visitors is limited,” said Lion Air Group spokesperson Danang Mandala Prihantoro in a statement obtained by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.  Topics :last_img read more