Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Carol Palmer, today (October 11), signed a $50.7-million contract for the re-construction of the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court Attendance Centre.The Centre, which was destroyed by fire on December 30, 2015, will be located at the corner of East and Beeston Streets in downtown Kingston.The contract signing took place during the Ministry of Justice’s Quarterly Press Briefing, held at the Ministry on Constant Spring Road.Mrs. Palmer said that children who are dependent on the resocialisation services of the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court Attendance Centre have been displaced in their educational pursuits.She expressed the hope that contractor, Contraxx Enterprise Limited, will deliver on their agreement to complete the Centre by January 2019.
Did you know the two people who developed the cure for Ebola are Canadian?Jennifer Diakiw with the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation said a lot of people didn’t, until Dr. Gary Kobinger and Dr. Xiangguo Qiu won a Manning Innovation Award last year.“We think that it’s important for them to apply for these awards, because it really shines a light, not just on them as individuals, but on Canadian innovation and Canadian innovators,” she said.Nominations are being accepted for the 2018 Manning Innovation Awards until January 15. read more
Dear Editor,I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents of Wilmington who voted in the recent town election. I am truly grateful for your expression of confidence and trust in my candidacy for re-election to the Board of Selectmen. A sincere thank you to my family and friends who worked so tirelessly on my behalf.I congratulate both Greg Bendel on his re-election and Jomarie O’Mahony on her election. I look forward to serving with them and the entire membership of the Board of Selectmen.You may be assured that every decision that I make will be based on what I believe is in the best interest of the Town. The residents of Wilmington have given me the privilege of working on their behalf and for that I am very grateful.Sincerely,Kevin CairaLike Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedLETTER TO THE EDITOR: Former Selectwoman Judy O’Connell Endorses Kevin Caira For SelectmanIn “Letter To The Editor”LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Caira Thanks VotersIn “Letter To The Editor”LETTER TO THE EDITOR: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It! Re-Elect Kevin Caira To The Board Of SelectmenIn “Letter To The Editor” read more
Tags Comments Share your voice Facebook Mobile Tech Industry 10 Now playing: Watch this: Facebook is putting women on the front line of its war… 4:06 Staff sit at computers inside a Facebook content moderation center in Berlin. Soeren Stache/Getty Images Some of the workers saw video of a man being stabbed to death. Others viewed acts of bestiality or animals being tortured. Suicides and beheadings popped up too.The reason for watching the gruesome content: to determine whether it should be pulled from Facebook before more members of the world’s largest social network could see it.Content moderators protect Facebook’s 2.3 billion users from exposure to humanity’s darkest impulses. Scouring posts that’ve been flagged by other members of the social network or by the Silicon Valley giant’s artificial intelligence tools, they quickly decide what stays up and what comes down. But reviewing the posts comes with a cost. Constant exposure to violence, hatred and sordid acts can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health. Former content moderators have already filed a lawsuit against Facebook in which they say repeated exposure to violent images caused psychological trauma. There’s a reason being a content moderator has been called “the worst job in technology.”It’s also an important job, and one that isn’t handled by Facebook employees. Instead, it’s outsourced to contractors, some of whom turn to drugs and sex in the workplace to distract themselves from the abhorrent images they see every day, according to a February story in The Verge, which reported that some of the workers make as little as $28,800 per year. That’s just over the federal poverty level for a family of four. Facebook said in May that it plans to raise the minimum hourly wage for contract workers, which is currently $15 per hour. Details of the working conditions of content moderators are still coming out. On Wednesday, The Verge reported that a content moderator who worked at a site in Florida operated by Cognizant died after having a heart attack at his desk. The site in Tampa was reportedly a stressful, dirty and unhealthy environment. Cognizant says that it works to “ensure a safe, clean, and supportive work environment.”Contracting in the tech industry has reached a flashpoint, escalating tensions in Silicon Valley’s world of haves and have-nots. Contractors and temps don’t get the health care or retirement benefits that full-time employees do, a difference that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year, contract workers at Google protested, demanding higher wages and benefits.Facebook said Wednesday it works with its contractors “to provide a level of support and compensation that leads the industry.” The social media giant also said its thoughts go out to family, friends and co-workers of the deceased moderator.”There will inevitably be employee challenges or dissatisfaction that call our commitment to this work and our partners’ employees into question,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “When the circumstances warrant action on the part of management, we make sure it happens.”Here’s a look at five of the companies that have worked with Facebook to police content.CognizantA multinational provider of services to technology, finance, health care, retail and other companies, Cognizant offers services including app development, consulting, information technology and digital strategy.Based in Teaneck, New Jersey, Cognizant has roughly 281,600 employees around the world, according to its annual report. Nearly 70 percent of its workforce is in India.The company’s role in supporting Facebook’s content moderation activities was the subject of recent stories in The Verge, which reported that roughly 1,000 Cognizant employees at its Phoenix office evaluate posts for potentially violating Facebook rules against hate speech, violence and terrorism. Cognizant Technology Solutions office in Chennai, India. The company works with Facebook on content moderation. Madhu Kapparath/Getty Images The workers get two 15-minute breaks, a 30-minute lunch and nine minutes of “wellness time” per day. They also have access to counselors and a hotline, according to the report.Still, some workers said that constant exposure to depravity has taken its toll. One former content moderator said he started to believe conspiracy theories, such as 9/11 being a hoax, after reviewing videos promoting the idea that the terrorist attack was faked. The former employee said he had brought a gun to work because he feared that fired employees would return to the office to harm those who still had jobs. Cognizant said in February it looked into “specific workplace issues raised in a recent report,” that it had “previously taken action where necessary” and that it has “steps in place to continue to address these concerns and any others raised by our employees.”The company outlined the resources it offers employees, including wellness classes, counselors and a 24-hour hotline.Cognizant also runs a site in Tampa, Florida that employs about 800 workers, according to The Verge. Workers at that facility have filed two sexual harassment complaints against coworkers since April. “Like any large employer, Cognizant routinely and professionally responds to and addresses general workplace and personnel issues in its facilities,” Cognizant said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our Tampa facility is no different. Cognizant works hard to ensure a safe, clean, and supportive work environment for all of our associates.”PRO UnlimitedBased in Boca Raton, Florida, PRO Unlimited provides services and software used by clients in more than 90 countries. Last year, Selena Scola, a former PRO Unlimited employee, who worked as a Facebook content moderator, filed a lawsuit alleging that she suffered from psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by viewing thousands of disturbing images of violence. Scola’s PTSD symptoms can pop up when she hears loud noises or touches a computer mouse, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was amended to include two more former content moderators who worked at Facebook through staffing companies. “Her symptoms are also triggered when she recalls or describes graphic imagery she was exposed to as a content moderator,” the lawsuit states, referring to Scola.Filed in superior court in Northern California’s San Mateo County, the lawsuit alleges Facebook violated California law by creating dangerous working conditions. Facebook content moderators are asked to review more than 10 million posts per week that may violate the social network’s rules, according to the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status.At the time the original lawsuit was filed, Facebook acknowledged the work can be stressful and said it requires the company it works with for content moderation to provide support such as counseling and relaxation areas.Facebook in a court filing denied Scola’s allegations and called for the case to be dismissed. A Facebook spokeswoman said the social media giant no longer uses PRO Unlimited for content moderation. PRO Unlimited didn’t respond to a request for comment.AccentureOne of the most prestigious consultancies in the world, Dublin-based Accenture has more than 459,000 people serving clients across 40 industries and in more than 120 countries, according to its website.People enter an Accenture office in downtown Helsinki. Jussi Nukari/Getty Images In February, Facebook content reviewers at an Accenture facility in Austin, Texas, complained about a “Big Brother” environment, alleging they weren’t allowed to use their phones at their desk or take “wellness” breaks during the first and last hour of their shift, according to a memo obtained by Business Insider. “Despite our pride in our work, Content Moderators have a secondary status in [the] hierarchy of the workplace, both within the Facebook and the Accenture structure,” the memo read. Accenture didn’t respond to a request for comment. At the time, Facebook said there had been a “misunderstanding” and that content moderators are encouraged to take wellness breaks at any time throughout the day. Some of Accenture’s clients have included other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon. More than three-quarters of Fortune Global 500 companies work with Accenture. ArvatoOne of Facebook’s largest content moderation centers is in Germany, a country that started enforcing a strict hate speech law last year that would fine social media companies up to 50 million euros ($58 million) if they didn’t pull down hate speech and other offensive content quickly enough. Arvato, owned by the German media company Bertelsmann, runs a content moderation center in Berlin. The company has faced complaints about working conditions and the toll the job takes on workers’ mental health.In 2017, Arvato said in a statement that it takes the well-being of its employees seriously and provides health care and access to company doctors, psychologists and social services. The company, based in Gütersloh, Germany, has 70,000 employees in more than 40 countries. It’s been providing Facebook with content moderation services since 2015. Arvato, which was rebranded last week as Majorel, said it offers content moderators a salary that’s 20 percent above minimum wage and support such as wellness classes and counselors. Workers can also take “resiliency breaks” at any time of the day.”We are proud to be a partner of Facebook and work in alignment with them to offer a competitive compensation package that includes a comprehensive benefits package,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to work together to improve our offerings and support of our employees.” GenpactNew York-based professional services firm Genpact won a contract with Facebook last year to provide content moderation, according to The Economic Times.Concerns about the mental health of Facebook content moderators weren’t enough to scare off applicants in India, who flocked to jobs that paid between 225,000 and 400,000 rupees a year (about $3,150-$5,600). Genpact was searching for content moderators fluent in Tamil, Punjabi and other Indian languages.Some Genpact workers have complained about low pay and a stressful work environment, according to a report this week by Reuters. One former Genpact employee told the news outlet that at least three times he’s “seen women employees breaking down on the floor, reliving the trauma of watching suicides real-time.”Facebook pushed back against allegations of low pay but outlined the work it was doing to improve working conditions for content moderators. In an email, a Genpact spokesperson confirmed that it partners with Facebook but said it doesn’t comment on work with clients. “As a company we bring our extensive experience in the field of content review and operations to our partners by providing industry-leading support for our team of content reviewers and a best-in-class working environment,” the Genpact spokesperson said in a statement. “We take very seriously this work and the services that we provide to our clients.”First published on March 1 at 4:00 a.m. PTUpdate, 4:03 p.m. PT: Includes new material from Facebook about PRO Unlimited. Update, 5:24 p.m. PT: Includes material about an amended lawsuit against Facebook.Update, June 19: Includes new reported details of a Cognizant facility in Tampa, Florida. read more
Share your voice Originally published Nov. 15, 2018. Update, Aug. 6: Adds new ABC information. Marvel Target ABC Tessa Thompson played a Valkyrie warrior in the 2017 movie Thor: Ragnarok. Marvel With a new live-action series focused on Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) called WandaVision headed to the new Disney Plus streaming service. And now it looks like ABC might be eyeing a Marvel female superhero series for its own network.”I have spoken to Marvel and we are in active talks about one project in particular,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke told Deadline on Monday. Burke said the character would be “something brand new, mostly” to align with ABC’s strategy of focusing on female superheroes.While we’re excited that both ABC and Disney Plus are exploring more Marvel characters for upcoming shows, we have our own list of female superheroes we think deserve their own TV series.Enlarge ImageShe-Hulk in the Marvel comics. Marvel 1. She-Hulk When lawyer Jennifer Walters gets an emergency blood transfusion from her cousin Dr. Bruce Banner, she ends up getting a milder case of his Hulk condition. Unlike Hulk, Walters can keep her emotions in check when she transforms into She-Hulk. The lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night angle worked well for the Marvel character Daredevil in the hit Netflix series, so why not She-Hulk? Perhaps ABC or Disney Plus can relaunch She-Hulk as a Law & Order-type drama, or maybe even an Ally McBeal comedy. In the comics, She-Hulk was also a member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders and S.H.I.E.L.D., so the crossover potential is endless. 2. Black WidowNatalia “Natasha” Romanova/Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson in the MCU) was a Russian spy and adversary to Iron Man. She ultimately defected to the US and joined S.H.I.E.L.D. Later, she became an important member of the Avengers. Black Widow is already getting her own prequel movie where we see how she transformed from spy to superhero, but what about a series with Black Widow as a teenager? High school Natasha Romanova could be like Riverdale with a lot more fighting.Enlarge ImageThe fictional nation of Wakanda in “Black Panther” was guarded by the Dora Milaje, which took inspiration from a real group. Marvel Films 3. The Dora MilajeThe warrior women of Wakanda from Black Panther are fierce and fabulous, so why not give them their own women-centric spin-off series? Black Panther director Ryan Coogler recently commented that he’d be interested in making a spin-off movie about them. Even the real-world 19th-century Dahomey Warriors — the all-female military regiment who inspired the Dora Milaje — are getting a TV series. It would be interesting to see how the Dora Milaje came to be, before Wakanda was revealed to the outside world. 4. X-23Laura Kinney AKA X-23 was created to be the ideal killing machine thanks to Wolverine’s stolen DNA. In the Marvel comics, Laura’s mother Dr. Sarah Kinney was hired by a top-secret program to recreate the Weapon X experiment that originally turned Logan into Wolverine. Laura — named X-23 — was a clone created from these experiments and trained to kill. But she eventually escaped and eventually found Charles Xavier and joined the Avengers Academy. Imagine what she could do with her own TV series?Enlarge ImageZoe Saldana as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel 5. Gamora Then there’s the female space assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Her character’s complex history would make for an ideal ABC series, particularly if the show focused on why she’s the last of her species (Zen-Whoberis) after everyone was exterminated by the Badoon. Overcoming her tragic past to later rise up as one of the deadliest assassins in the universe is inspiring to say the least. 6. Danielle Moonstar It’s about time fans were introduced to one of the first female Native American characters in a series all her own. Danielle Moonstar is a mutant raised as part of the Cheyenne Nation. Under the guidance of X-Men’s Professor Xavier, she learned to hone her ability to create images of people’s greatest fears. This series could either focus on her life with other teen mutants at the school, or the superhero she became later as an adult.7. A-Force The Avengers might have felt like the superhero all-stars in their heyday, but the all-female A-Force is even cooler. This lineup consists of Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Medusa, She-Hulk, Singularity, Nico Minoru and a female Thor who band together to fight evil. That alone sounds like the best series ever. Enlarge ImageSpider-Gwen in action. Marvel Animation 8. Spider-Gwen Peter Parker’s flame Gwen Stacy is living her own web-slinging adventures as Spider-Gwen in an alternate universe. It would be refreshing to have a Spider-Man series with a female lead for a change. Plus considering how much fans were excited to spot her as an Easter egg in Avengers: Endgame, now might be the perfect time for a Spider-Gwen TV series. 9. Misty Knight When police officer Misty Knight lost her arm in battle, she soon got an bionic arm and became the kind of superhero New York City deserved. We’ve already seen her character (played by Simone Missick) impress fans in the Netflix series Luke Cage, but it might be time to shine the spotlight more on Misty to tell her full story. 10. Kamala Khan as Ms. MarvelMeet 16-year-old Pakistani-American Kamala Khan from Jersey City, New Jersey. She idolizes Carol Danvers and wants to follow in her superhero footsteps. In 2014, Khan was given her own Ms. Marvel comic book series by Sana Amanat, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona. She is the fourth character to take the name Ms. Marvel. She’s also the first Muslim superhero character to headline her own comic series. This could be a great character for Disney or ABC to explore more, giving their network some much-needed diversity.11. The Valkyries Fans got a glimpse of the female demi-goddesses known as the Valkyries in the 2017 movie Thor: Ragnarok. Actor Tessa Thompson stole the movie as the hard-drinking character Scrapper 142, previously a legendary Valkyrie warrior. A prequel series all about this character could show how the Valkyries came to be, and why they were ultimately defeated. The 15 most powerful female superheroes right now (pictures) Tags Comments 6 TV and Movies 17 Photos read more
Murali Gopy: FacebookMurali Gopi is a man with many layers and we can even call him a shapeshifter in the Malayalam film industry. He is an established journalist, a firebrand scriptwriter, an elegant singer and moreover a top rated actor. This multi-talented personality is now enjoying the success of his latest film Lucifer directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran. Apart from Mohanlal’s scintillating screen presence, it was Murali Gopy’s script, actually a contemporary take on Indian power politics that played a crucial role in determining the box-office success of Lucifer.In an exclusive talk with International Business Times, India, Murali Gopy opened up about the possibility of making a sequel to Lucifer with Mohanlal in the future, his alleged connection with Illuminati as claimed by a section of social media users, and restrictions on freedom of arts in India.How do you feel after the overwhelming success of Lucifer, especially when most of your previous films garnered critical acclaim with its uncompromising cinematic language, but failed to make a huge impact at the box office? I feel validated. Specifically, since there was this assumption in the industry that my threads and my writing styles were not mainstream enough to be huge box office successes. It’s good to know that Lucifer has spoken for me.Lucifer is such a movie which seems like a normal mass masala entertainer in its first watch, but when we go deep, we can see different layers in the story. As you recently revealed ‘L’ is just the tip of an iceberg, what more should the audience interpret from Stephen Nedumpally? Lucifer, although it is drawn peripherally as a blue-blooded mainstream entertainer, is woven within multiple layers of codified dramatic clues. What you see on screen is only the tip of the iceberg. There is more to Lucifer than what meets the eye. On repeated views, it can and will be revealed in its own ways. How do you rate Prithviraj Sukumaran as a director? Why?He is one of the most hands-on directors I’ve seen and worked with. His grasp of the filmmaking technique and syntax is phenomenal. And there is a great creative vibe that I share with him. He has just begun his directorial journey. And I dare predict that he would attain great heights there.The final moments of Lucifer end in an open note. Can we expect a sequel that narrates Stephen Nedumpally’s mysterious past or future?Lucifer is definitely designed as a franchise, and it is very evident from its structure and progression that it is one. I will abstain myself here from giving you any further leads. Several people allege that Murali Gopy as a writer is intentionally trying to propagate Sangh Parivar ideas through his movies. When it comes to Lucifer, you have exposed the tactics of contemporary power politics embraced by both left and right democratic fronts, but you did not talk anything about Sangh Parivar or BJP. Would you mind telling something about this?Either such people are blind or they feign to be so. I don’t feel there is any need on my part to respond to such baseless allegations. Murali Gopy: FacebookA section of people believes that Prithviraj Sukumaran and Murali Gopy are part of Illuminati, a group that controls the world with their clandestine clutches. Interestingly, some scenes in Lucifer portrayed Illuminati symbols including the ‘All Seeing Eye’. Was that a mere coincidence? Nothing is coincidental about what you see on screen here. However, it would be a very immature thing to say that the makers are a part of what they show on screen. This question may seem a little weird. Do you believe in Illuminati or any other secret shadow group that controls the governments? Again, the creator of a work of art need not answer such questions. It is like asking Shakespeare whether he was a Roman because he wrote Julius Caesar.What is your take on restricting artistic freedom, especially in the wake of the recent complaint lodged by Kerala Police regarding the controversial poster of Lucifer? No comments there. Art is free. So are people to file complaints. One has to speak out only when it comes to restricting art on the basis of such complaints. Why are Mollywood audience hesitant to watch movies like Kammara Sambhavam which portrayed deceptions in history? Murali Gopy’s Tiyaan also faced the same fate even though it handled a very serious issue. As a writer, are you finding it difficult to balance between class and mass elements, especially while making movies in a large canvas, and the only exception is Lucifer? Unlike Lucifer, both Kammara Sambhavam and Tiyaan were mainstream experiments. Why they were not accepted at the box office, is a question that the audiences have to answer. Tell us more about your future projects. As a writer, I’ve committed to a few projects, the specifics of which would be announced later. As an actor, I just finished doing Kiran Prabhakaran’s Thakkol, and have agreed to do a few others, including Maqbool Manzoor’s Vala Vala. read more
New generations take inspiration from the glorious history of Bangladesh’s youth force in 1971 for bringing changes whenever necessary, the youth of today and of yesteryears acknowledge.Freeing the country was the main driving force, some freedom fighters recalled. Their joining the 1971 liberation war was triggered by the denial of democratic rights of people.The spirit of liberation war was reverberated during the subsequent movements, especially the one by students in 1990, to restore democracy in the country.While some see the 1990 movement as an extension of 1971, the youth today still dream of taking Bangladesh to the next stage of nation-building and development in the light of liberation war spirit. The young demonstrators of safe roads and some other recent movements have all shown their respect for the 1971 youth.Like some others of the 1971 generation, Md. Shahidul Alam, a freedom fighter from Kusthia’s Kumarkhali, had fixed his first objective to liberate the motherland from the occupation of the Pakistan military.“Of course then consciously, our collective dream was to get a democratic country where we’ll not face any disparity of any kind,” Shahidul said, lamenting that “many of our dreams of liberation war remain unfulfilled.”A college boy in 1971, Shahidul Alam was caught at the hands of razakars (auxiliary force of the Pakistani army) at the beginning of December when the nation was inching towards freedom, he told Prothom Alo.He was a freedom fighter, and so were his two other brothers. As a patron of the freedom fighters, his father was targeted by the Pakistani forces.He mentioned that at one night, the razakars held Shahidul and his father and took them to nearby riverbank in Kumarkhali and shot them. Shahidul’s father was shot dead and his body could never be recovered.Despite being bullet-hit in right arm and left leg, Shahidul managed to swim across the river.“To be honest, I didn’t have any of the high hopes in 71. My only thought was liberating our motherland so that we could breathe in a free country,” he said recently.With hindsight, he thought the Pakistani authorities committed two major mistakes by denying the Awami League power even after election victory in 1970 and by launching the crackdown on the Bangalees on 25 March 1971.Sad to see that many of the dreams of his generation not being materialised, Shahidul still leaves the responsibility to the younger generation of Bangladesh to work for fulfilling the dreams of older ones.Md Hamidur Rahman, another freedom fighter, emphasised the innocence in a fighter in joining war for the country.“Not all the freedom fighters had that deep understanding, but all had a common goal — to free the country,” said Hamidur, who was BSc student at Dhaka College and resident of Mohammadpur in 1971.“Initially we had nothing on our minds except saving our livee. Then we took training and joined the guerilla warfare.”Hamidur escaped the 25 March crackdown, left Dhaka city in early April and reached India through Nilphamari after a fateful journey of eight days.“We couldn’t even fully realise how powerful an army we’re fighting against. Only thing we had in mind was to get independence at any cost,” he pointed out.Masuk Ahmed Chowdhury of Sylhet is a bridge between generations two of his elder brothers were freedom fighters and he was a participant of the mass movement of 1990 that brought an end to the autocratic rule of HM Ershad.He thinks the dreams of 1971 might often be stumbled but the glorious history of nine months of war had always been the source of inspiration for youth.“It’s like passing the baton from one generation to another,” he said adding that the liberation war led to the student-mass upsurge of 1990 and that the target was democracy, also a key demand in 1971.“Getting a democratic country was one of the main guiding forces of our liberation war, a process which was resurfaced in 1990 after years of military rule,” Masuk expressed his views.When asked about their dreams, some youth observed that the freedom fighters had done their job.“We are at the age similar to most of freedom fighters during 1971. If they could do such an enormous task like liberating the country, why don’t we try to realise the dreams and the cause they fought for,” said Dhaka University student Ishrat Jahan, herself daughter of a freedom fighter.A truly democratic country free from corruption with equal rights for all is what she derived as her dream from the dreams of 1971.Nazmus Sakib, a student of Dhaka Residential Model School and College, said, “Freedom fighters should be given the most revered place in our history.” read more
Share Nicolas Henderson/FlickrTexas State Capitol in Austin.More than two dozen new Texas state laws took effect with the first of the year.Top of the list is SB 5, the latest version of the Texas voter ID law. The law’s supporters argue it is necessary to combat voter fraud. A federal court has already ruled that SB 5 discriminates against minorities, as its opponents contend. The law is now awaiting review by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether lawmakers intended to discriminate.“If it’s the case that it’s believed that Texas did so on purpose, it may pull Texas back into a specific provision under the Voting Rights Act, which would require federal supervision when Texas changes any kind of election law,” says Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston. “This process is what we call ‘preclearance.’”Another new law, SB 1381, aims to cut down on credit and debit card fraud by letting merchants ask for a photo ID. Al Pascual, Head of Fraud and Security at Javelin Strategy & Research, says the law would have been ideal about ten years ago.“So, it’s really only going to be for lost and stolen debit and credit cards,” says Pascual, noting that helps cut down on fraud against brick-and-mortar stores. “A lot of the fraud though unfortunately, now, because of EMV [chips] and just because criminals have gotten a lot better at it, has shifted online. So, instead of ripping off Walmart, they’re ripping off Walmart.com, and in that case you’re not going to check an ID.”While the law allows merchants to ask for a photo ID, it does not require them to do so.Several of the other new laws are targeted to specific industries or interest groups. SB 1383 increases the amount of milk a truck can transport from 80,000 lbs. to 90,000 lbs. SB 549 allows organizations that applied for a temporary bingo license from the Texas Lottery Commission to get a refund if they haven’t used it within a year of the date the license was issued.A complete list of Texas laws that took effect January 1, 2018 is available here. X 00:00 /01:09 Listen To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: read more
X 00:00 /00:46 To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: After Hurricane Harvey, care providers thought an influx of grant money would help them hire more bilingual counselors, specifically who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, or Farsi. “That would have been the same six months earlier or a year earlier, but the funds weren’t there so it’s really brought that issue to light,” said Alejandra Posada, Chief Program Officer at Mental Health America Houston.Often, counselors will have to conduct sessions through an interpreter over a phone call.Posada says the issue extends to outreach as well — information, like brochures on mental health care, are not readily available in languages besides English and Spanish. She says right now, organizations like hers are focused on getting more bilingual students in the pipeline to become counselors. As demand for mental health care in Houston has grown over the past year, providers say the lack of bilingual counselors has become more apparent. Share Listen read more
Russian service provider VimpelCom has named Artyom Nits as the new vice-president and regional director for its Moscow region operation.Nits replaces Andrey Pyatakhin, who is moving to take up the post of general director of VimpelCom’s Armenian subsidiary ArmenTel. He was previously chief financial officer at Ukrainian mobile service provider Kyivstar.