January 1

Vermont state workers’ union loses court case over layoffs

first_imgA Chittenden County Superior Court judge denied today a Vermont State Employees Association request for a restraining order against the Douglas Administration. The state workers’ union sought the order against the administration to stop it from laying off more than 120 state employees, approximately 100 of whom were scheduled to begin departing state government today.In a written statement, VSEA Director Jes Kraus said: “Our heart goes out to the hundred employees who are being, in our views, unnecessarily forced out the jobs that they work so hard at. VSEA will continue pursuing every option available to us in our efforts to avoid more senseless layoffs.” In any case, the administration maintains that it has the right to layoff workers, as it always has, and will go ahead with its plan to do so. It expects the action to save about $13 million through this job action in the coming fiscal year. VSEA s complaint asserted that the layoffs violate the Appropriations Act, which went into effect June 2 over Governor Douglas’ veto. The Act specifically prohibits the administration from proceeding with layoffs unless they are first submitted as part of a plan that is vetted and approved by the Legislature s Joint Fiscal Committee. However, a companion bill passed Wednesday to the Act (the state budget) somewhat changed the language of that section. Attorney General Sorrell had offered an opinion to legislative leaders suggesting the language might be unconstitutional, which is a point Governor Douglas previously had made. Also at issue is that the state budget technically does not kick in until the start of the new fiscal year July 1, calling into question whether the layoff language, right or wrong, can even be applied during the current fiscal year. Nor has the governor signed nor vetoed the companion bill.center_img In an effort to not have to file this lawsuit, VSEA did send a letter to Secretary Lunderville on Tuesday, asking the administration to rescind the RIFs, but we never heard back, said VSEA Director Kraus. That silence forced VSEA to take the action we will tomorrow (Thursday), as we believe the Legislature s veto override means the governor must now follow the law, whether he approves or not.last_img read more

December 20

Colombia, New Target of Russian Disinformation

first_imgBy Gustavo Arias Retana / Diálogo April 09, 2020 In December 2019, Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez told the press that Colombia was suffering a wave of disinformation attacks from Russia and Venezuela. Ramírez said that social media trolls (people who disrupt online communities) encouraged violent protests, in an attempt to destabilize Iván Duque’s government.These complaints coincide with a report from the U.S. Department of State that The New York Times disclosed on January 20. The report confirmed that Colombia is one of the main targets of Russian disinformation in the region, and that the Kremlin seeks to “sow confusion” through social media.“Russia’s interest is to breed distrust among the democratic governments in the western world, and Latin America is no exception. Since Vladimir Putin took office as president, Russia has embarked on a large and surprisingly effective campaign to expand its outreach in our region,” Hugo San Martín, an expert in strategic studies and international security at the University of Granada, Spain, told Diálogo. “In the case of Colombia, the proximity to one of its regional partners, Venezuela, encourages Moscow to take aggressive measures.”Colombia’s strategic position in Latin America is another reason for the country to become a target of Russian disinformation attacks. “Colombia is a power with a dual role: It is the only South American country with coasts off the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Plus, it has influence in Central America,” Carlos Murillo, an expert in international relations at the University of Costa Rica, told Diálogo. “This puts Bogotá in a favorable position. Moscow knows that and needs to have a larger presence.”Both San Martín and Murillo said that the main Russian activities detected have to do with the dissemination of fake news, generated for the region by Russian disinformation networks.“There is evidence published that the Russian media, reinforced by bots [programs that simulate human behavior] and fake accounts on social media, carry out deception campaigns, advance the Kremlin’s agenda, and act as key actors in disinformation operations,” Murillo added.RecurrencesThis phenomenon is not limited to Colombia, but it extends to other nations in the region. “Disinformation is an asymmetrical and indirect military method that Russia uses in different countries. It is one of the main instruments of Russian strategy for political influence, which it executes through conventional mass media and social media. The defense of Bolivia’s electoral fraud, and the attacks against the democratic governments of Ecuador and Chile are evidence of Russian influence,” said San Martín.“Analyzing the images and footage of protesters in those countries, we can see that they mobilize in groups, with military skills, using protection and tubes to throw projectiles at the police, similar to those used in some Colombian cities in previous months. Hatred is injected in society, and [the Russians] wait for the right moment to make it blow up,” San Martín concluded. “Russia sees influence operations as normal business, because they use them inside the country to repress dissidence and control different thinking. It is not only political, but also digital authoritarianism.”last_img read more

December 17

Double-digit HSA growth tied to health plan coverage

first_imgGrowth in health savings accounts (HSAs) continued at a rapid rate last year, with a 20 percent increase in the number of accounts and a 22 percent increase in assets from 2015 to 2016, according to the 2016 Year-End Devenir HSA Market Survey. The number of HSAs now exceeds 20 million and the accounts hold close to $37 billion in assets, based on data from the top 100 HSA providers that participated in the Devenir survey.Devenir provides customized investment solutions for HSAs and the consumer-directed health care market. Ascensus partners with Devenir to offer the Devenir myHSAinvestments solution and private-label HSA investment platform to banks and credit unions.The growth in the number of HSAs results primarily from the growth in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) that are paired with an HSA or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). The 2016 Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI)/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey reported that 14 percent of privately insured adults were enrolled in a CDHP. And, while more than half of CDHP enrollees (56 percent) opened an HSA, the survey reported that 25 percent of CDHP enrollees were enrolled in an HSA-eligible plan but had not opened an HSA. The other 19 percent of CDHP enrollees were enrolled in an HRA and were not eligible to open an HSA. continue reading » 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

September 29

Ireland Strategic Investment Fund commits €30m to SME lender

first_imgThe Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) will invest €30m into the country’s largest non-bank lender, Finance Ireland.The €8bn sovereign wealth fund has “conditionally agreed” to take a 32% stake, according to a statement from Finance Ireland, and will nominate two directors for the lender’s board.Last year, PIMCO bought a similar stake in the company through a private equity vehicle it runs.Finance Ireland lends to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture, motor and commercial real estate sectors. It expects to provide “in excess of €300m in new lending” to Irish businesses this year.The ISIF and Finance Ireland began working together earlier this year as part of a group providing €100m of loans to milk suppliers.The two firms teamed up with Rabobank and Glanbia Co-operative Society to launch the Glanbia MilkFlex Fund.Eugene O’Callaghan, director at the ISIF, said: “[Our fund] was attracted by the opportunity to support an established and experienced management team to expand its non-bank platform and in particular grow its SME and agri-leasing businesses.“This investment complements the products provided by other non-bank platforms in the SME sector the ISIF has supported.”Finance Ireland founder Bill Kane added: “This significant investment by the ISIF underpins our very ambitious growth plans for the coming years. “Our mission is to create a major non-bank lender in the Irish financial landscape offering customers a real alternative to the traditional banking sector, and we are well on the way to achieving that.”This is not the first time the ISIF has invested in SME funding – in March, the fund was announced as the cornerstone investor in a €30m fund backed by BMS Finance.last_img read more

August 6

Washington State Recycling Association Honors Three Local Organizations

first_imgFacebook31Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Thurston County Solid WasteThree out of the nine 2014 Washington State Recycling Association’s (WSRA) Recycler of the Year awards went to organizations here in Thurston County. Each year, a diverse panel of WSRA members chooses organizations, businesses, and individuals who have made outstanding recycling achievements. WSRA members represent a variety of aspects of the recycling industry, including collectors and processors, government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Recipients will receive their awards at the Recyclers of the Year Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 6 during WSRA’s annual conference.City of Olympia Public Works Waste ReSources – Public Agency Recycler of the YearWSRA recognized the City of Olympia for their accomplishments and new programs centered on their Vision of Zero Waste, a mission to lead and inspire their community toward a waste-free future and to play a strategic role to create opportunities to eliminate waste. Olympia’s innovative programs include their award-winning GrassCycling Virtual Workshop, Pedestrian Recycling, 3rd Grade Education Program, Business Waste Assessments, and Lakefair Parade Recycling.Olympia School District’s Child Nutrition Services Department – Youth Education Recycler of the YearWSRA recognized the Olympia School District for implementing some of the most innovative and visionary school food service waste reduction initiatives in the nation. These include using milk dispensers to reduce milk carton and milk waste; replacing disposables with durable utensils, bowls, cups, and trays; and participating in the Food Rescue program to collect prepared but unserved food for the Thurston County Food Bank. The Olympia School District has a 30-year history of reducing waste, and was one of the first school districts in the state to implement comprehensive recycling and organics collection programs.Thurston County Solid Waste’s Plastic Whale Project – Societal Impact Recycler of the YearWSRA recognized the Plastic Whale Project for uniquely combining art and marine biology with the goal of preventing waste. Thurston County Solid Waste Division educator Carrie Zeigler conceived a plan to marry her artistic skills with her environmental education job by having local school children assist with the creation of a giant whale sculpture that would use plastic bags and other plastic waste. The large-scale art project was a way for kids to get a hands–on experience while learning about the harmful effects of plastic waste on the environment and wildlife. The project brought together more than 900 people from all walks of life to create a 32 foot replica of a gray whale made entirely out of plastic bags and other waste commonly found in our oceans. More than 100,000 people viewed the whale in person, and it was seen on television by 1.65 million people.last_img read more

August 5

Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy Talks Neck Pain

first_imgFacebook12Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Jennifer Penrose, DPT, OCS, MTC for Penrose & Associates Physical TherapyIf you or a loved one suffer from chronic pain – so bad that you struggle to do simple things like turning your head to look over your shoulder, or sleep at night without pain, then reading this report and attending our free neck pain workshop may be the most important things you do this year. It may unlock the agonizing mystery of your neck pain and show you a way to get back to the life you deserve…A life where you can sleep at night without tossing and turning, hoping to find one position where your neck pain stops.A life where you can read a book before bed… or newspaper on a morning… without the fear of more neck pain.A life where you can wake up in the morning and not suffer from headaches or migraines…A life where you can plan family time with your kids or grandkids, without worrying over if your neck pain will strike!…Basically, a life without chronic or severe neck pain!We are hosting a free neck pain workshop where we will explain neck pain, headaches, how to tell if it is neck pain versus shoulder pain, and give you some tips to use right away.  You will learn some simple stretches and we will measure your posture that evening to see how much forward head posture you have from using all those “smart” devices!  You can even start with a free neck pain tips report before the workshop on March 14th. “7 Quick, Easy Ways To End Neck Pain Without Taking Painkillers… Or Having To Call And See Your PCP!” (Value $28!), reveals the leading remedy for neck pain that is often overlooked by 95% of even good family doctors, and also shows how you can get to the bottom of neck pain quickly and naturally, for FREE, without even needing a referral from your doctor!…Here’s What You’ll Learn Inside This New Report: The 7 urgent coping strategies every neck pain sufferer must never forget when neck pain strikes!The vital warning signs that it’s not just “another headache” or “a bit of neck stiffness”…The 3 things you can do if you’re hoping to avoid neck surgery – worth requesting just for this!1, 2 or 3? Just how many pillows should you sleep with? And what about your mattress… it’s covered in here.The most successful treatment for chronic neck, (and even nerve pain), that doesn’t involve any drugs, seeing a chiropractor regularly or talking to a doctor.At the workshop there will be some simple exercises that will make a significant difference to neck pain before you wake up tomorrow. And even what to do right now… if you suffer from any motion limiting neck pain.Here’s How To Get Your Free report : Request your 100% Free copy to be sent to you, by calling free on 360-456-1444… you can leave a message 24hrs. Or, if you want the report right now, you can visit www.penrosept.com/neck-report and you can download it instantly.If you want to attend our FREE neck pain workshop at Penrose Physical Therapy Thursday March 14 at 6:00 p.m then please RSVP by emailing us at info@penrosept.com or call 360-456-1444.   You will be so glad you did!last_img read more

August 3

Saints add another seasoned D-man to the squad in Nitros Mark Strachan

first_imgThe Selkirk College Saints Men’s Hockey program is pleased to announce a commitment from defenceman Mark Strachan (Calgary, AB) to attend Selkirk College and compete for the Saints beginning in the 2012/13 B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League season.Strachan joins the Saints following three seasons split between the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Fernie Ghostriders and Kimberley Dynamiters. He enjoyed an offensive breakout as a 20-year old in Kimberley, scoring 15 goals and picking up 46 points in 50 regular season games and adding 10 points in 13 playoff contests as the Dynamiters advanced to the Eddie Mountain Division finals. His 56 total points on the season were the third most by a KIJHL defenceman.The 21-year old wore the ‘C’ for the Dynamiters and was named the club’s Most Valuable Player following the season. He also spent two years in Fernie, where he contributed 49 points in 88 games and played a key role in the Ghostriders’ silver medal performance at the 2011 Cyclone Taylor Cup. “Mark is a smart, skilled, puck-moving defenceman coming off an outstanding season on and off the ice in Kimberley,” says Saints head coach Jeff Dubois.”His strengths fit in perfectly with the style of game that we will play this season and he adds to what is quickly becoming a very talented roster. He also has experience playing up front, so his versatility is another plus, and I expect that his leadership abilities and work ethic will both be an asset for us moving forward.” Strachan is the third defenceman to commit to the Saints for the 2012/13 season, joining Brett Kipling (Melville, SJHL) and Dylan Smith (Richmond, PIJHL).Selkirk also returns second-year blueliners Justin\ Sotkowy and Sandro Moser, who combined for 43 points in 48 games last season and finished third and fourth respectively in scoring by BCIHL defencemen. “I’m looking forward to furthering my academic career in the Business program at Selkirk College while having the opportunity to play at a higher level,” says Strachan, who describes himself as a playmaker who is comfortable playing at forward as well as on the blueline.”I’d like to accomplish a good balance between academics and hockey working towards a diploma and helping the team win a championship as well as improving my game at both ends of the ice.” Also committed to the Saints for 2012/13 are forwards Logan Proulx (Cowichan Valley, BCHL), Thomas Hardy (Aldergrove, PIJHL), Jackson Garrett (Comox Valley, VIJHL), Cole Thomson (Kerry Park, VIJHL), Scott Swiston (Creston, KIJHL), Connor McLaughlin (Fernie, KIJHL), Kyle Golz (Grandview, PIJHL), Cody Fidgett (Delta, PIJHL), John Proctor (Delta, PIJHL), Matthew Luongo (Aldergrove, PIJHL) and Brodie Gibbon (Oceanside, VIJHL), as well as goaltender Stephen Wolff (Oceanside, VIJHL).last_img read more