Attack on low-caste men sparks protests


Attack on low-caste men sparks protests
AAP
10:53PM July 20, 2016

Protesters from India’s low-caste community have blocked roads and attacked government buses in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state in a third day of demonstrations over the flogging of four men accused of skinning a cow.

The four members of the Dalit community were last week tied to a car in Gujarat state, stripped and flogged with sticks by self-styled hardline Hindu cow protectors who then published a video of the attack as a “warning” to others.

The beatings sparked the most serious protests by Dalits in years in Gujarat, with seven youths trying to kill themselves in protest by taking pesticide in different parts of the state, an act that further inflamed tempers.

Cows are revered in Hinduism and their slaughter is banned in most Indian states including Gujarat, where Modi ruled as chief minister for a decade and spearheaded a 2011 ban.

Dalits in the state, however, say they earn their livelihood from skinning cows that die naturally, buffalos and other animals, and have vowed to fight anyone trying to stop them from doing so.

Dalits are at the bottom of India’s ages-old social hierarchy, making them vulnerable to attacks perpetrated by self-styled cow-protecting vigilantes.

Several people accused of eating beef have also been attacked, including a Muslim man who was last year beaten to death by a mob in a town near New Delhi.

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Its back to school at Cleveland Elementry School


Today at 1:06 AM

Students lined up outside Cleveland Elementary’s front doors Tuesday with bright backpacks, jittery anticipation and eager smiles. The familiar scene might seem a couple months too early for most families, but its back to school at Cleveland Elemtary School. c. Within an hour of the first day, principal Michelle Kritsistick said she received plenty of hugs and even a purple flower from students who were excited to get back to learning.

“I think we’re going to have a great year,” said Kristick, whose first day as principal of the school also was Tuesday.

Cleveland Elementary is the only school in Port Huron Area School District that is on a balanced — year-round — calendar. Kristick said this means that although students are in class 180 days as are their peers at schools with traditional calendars, the school days are distributed through the entire year. The students will have four-day school weeks until October and their winter and spring breaks will be three weeks each.

Cleveland Elementary adopted its balanced calendar in the 2014-15 school year as part of a three-year pilot program.

A $383,235 Michigan Department of Education grant covered most of the cost of installing air conditioning within the building, making it possible for Cleveland Elementary to transition into the new schedule. The grant specified the school must have a balanced calendar for at least three years, said Tracie Eschenburg, Port Huron Schools executive director of employee and student services.

Because other schools in the district lack climate control, Eschenburg said they are not being considered for year-round classes.

Cleveland Elementary was also chosen for the balanced calendar because it is considered an at-risk school, based on poverty rates in the area, said Eschenburg.

“The greatest impact is in those schools where you have more economically disadvantaged students,” Eschenburg said. “There is research that shows it supports improved academic performance, especially at your most at-risk schools.”

Kristick said being on a balanced calendar prevents “the summer slide.”

“When they’re not in school, their test scores dip a little bit,” Kristick said. “We don’t have to reteach expectations.”

The school’s 250 students began their new school year on Tuesday after a month-long summer break.

Kristick said she was able to get to know a number of the students at the school’s open house earlier this month. Kristick is new to the school but not the district. She taught reading recovery and was an interventionist at Woodrow Wilson Elementary for the past four years.

“It was nice to reconnect with those parents and students I met at the open house,” she said of the first day.

Isabella, 5, said she was excited to begin first grade because she loves to read books. Her mother, Paige Currier, said when she first learned the school was on a year-round schedule, she was apprehensive.

THE TIMES HERALD

But she has grown to appreciate the program and likes that the students aren’t out of school for the usual three-month break that other schools have. Currier likes the pace of the curriculum at Cleveland Elementary.

“(Isabella) learned to read in kindergarten,” Currier said.

Kristick said there are 29 students at Cleveland who enrolled through Schools of Choice.

Wendell Callahan said his son Xzavier, who just began third grade, first started at Cleveland Elementary because they lived in the area. They later moved away, though, but Xzavier wanted to stay at Cleveland with his friends.

Callahan said Xzavier was ready to get back to school because he was already starting to get bored with his break.

“I think it keeps him fresh and keeps him out of trouble,” Callahan said.

Xzavier, 9, said he is hoping that he can take technology classes this year and that he’s looking forward to getting started.

Due to changes in state testing, Eschenburg said there is no comparable data to look at Cleveland Elementary’s performance before and after the balanced calendar was put in place.

However, perception and feedback has shown the district that the balanced calendar has been beneficial.

“It has allowed us to implement extended learning opportunities through a partnership with district Title I funding and Port Huron City Recreation,” Eschenburg said. “We have also found that the shorter breaks reduce the need for as much reteaching related to school routines and academics.”

Although Cleveland Elementary is in its final year of the pilot program, Eschenburg said the district currently has no plans to return Cleveland Elementary to a traditional calendar.

“We will analyze everything at the end of the year and analyze the three-year trend to make a decision,” Eschenburg said. “But at this point, based on the positive feedback, there is no plan to end it.”

Contact Anya Rath at (810) 434-2172 or arath@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @anya_rath.
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HINDI TIMES – Pensions of ‘dead’ persons restored


TelanganaNational
JAIPUR, July 9, 2016
Updated: July 9, 2016 23:18 IST

Mohammed Iqbal
Rights groups demand reopening of about 7.5 lakh pension accounts closed in Rajasthan

After the Rajasthan government’s acceptance of wrong classification of living persons as “dead” and restoration of their social security pensions, civil rights groups here have demanded reopening of about 7.5 lakh pension accounts closed earlier and re-verification of about 10 lakh pensioners in the State.

The physical verification by activists of the Right to Information Campaign and Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in one revenue village, Chaak Hirat in Rajsamand district, revealed that out of the 11 people who had been classified as “dead”, as many as nine were still alive. The State government resumed the Rs. 500 per month pension of eight of them earlier this week.
New applications
After acknowledging mistakes in official documents, the district administration attempted to get the affected pensioners to file new applications, but the activists refused to see this as a solution. Though they also raised the demand for compensation and penalties in such cases, the authorities did not give any response to it.

Nikhil Dey of MKSS on Saturday said the RTI activists had carried out more verifications in Kushalpura panchayat of Rajsamand district and found that 13 more people who were alive were classified as “dead” in the panchayat, and some more in neighbouring panchayats. This showed that these were not isolated instances, he said.

The Suchana Ka Adhikar Abhiyan has written to the State Social Justice Secretary with the demand for restoration of pensions with arrears in the 13 fresh cases identified as well as action against those responsible for wrongly verifying and stopping the pensions.
Verification process
“More importantly, we have demanded immediate reopening of the verification process of all the 7.5 lakh people whose pensions have been cancelled. Besides, the cases of about 10 lakh pensioners, who have not received payment for several months, should be re-verified,” said Mr. Dey.

He said this should be a “transparent, consultative and robust” verification process that should have accountability mechanisms built into the structure. He underlined the significance of accountability law in the context of the pension issue and said legislating such a generic law at both the State and national levels was the need of the hour.

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National
JAIPUR, July 9, 2016
Updated: July 9, 2016 23:18 IST

Pensions of ‘dead’ persons restored

Mohammed Iqbal

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Rights groups demand reopening of about 7.5 lakh pension accounts closed in Rajasthan

After the Rajasthan government’s acceptance of wrong classification of living persons as “dead” and restoration of their social security pensions, civil rights groups here have demanded reopening of about 7.5 lakh pension accounts closed earlier and re-verification of about 10 lakh pensioners in the State.

The physical verification by activists of the Right to Information Campaign and Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in one revenue village, Chaak Hirat in Rajsamand district, revealed that out of the 11 people who had been classified as “dead”, as many as nine were still alive. The State government resumed the Rs. 500 per month pension of eight of them earlier this week.
New applications
After acknowledging mistakes in official documents, the district administration attempted to get the affected pensioners to file new applications, but the activists refused to see this as a solution. Though they also raised the demand for compensation and penalties in such cases, the authorities did not give any response to it.

Nikhil Dey of MKSS on Saturday said the RTI activists had carried out more verifications in Kushalpura panchayat of Rajsamand district and found that 13 more people who were alive were classified as “dead” in the panchayat, and some more in neighbouring panchayats. This showed that these were not isolated instances, he said.

The Suchana Ka Adhikar Abhiyan has written to the State Social Justice Secretary with the demand for restoration of pensions with arrears in the 13 fresh cases identified as well as action against those responsible for wrongly verifying and stopping the pensions.
Verification process
“More importantly, we have demanded immediate reopening of the verification process of all the 7.5 lakh people whose pensions have been cancelled. Besides, the cases of about 10 lakh pensioners, who have not received payment for several months, should be re-verified,” said Mr. Dey.

He said this should be a “transparent, consultative and robust” verification process that should have accountability mechanisms built into the structure. He underlined the significance of accountability law in the context of the pension issue and said legislating such a generic law at both the State and national levels was the need of the hour.

Posted in freedoms lost, government discrimination, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Zealand Fourth in Adult Literacy


c

beehive.govt.nz Tuesday 28th June, 2016
http://www.singaporenews.net/index.php/sid/245361945

New Zealand’s ranking in adult literacy has improved significantly to fourth in the OECD from 12th in 1996 says Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce.

The Survey of Adult Skills, released today, shows Japan first in adult literacy followed by Finland, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

These results are great news for our economy and our society. Our workforce needs world class skills and knowledge that will boost the productivity of the New Zealand economy. A more highly skilled, highly qualified workforce is essential and that must include good literacy skills across the board,” says Mr Joyce.

The progress we have made is a real tribute to the adult educators and all those involved in improving literacy in New Zealand.”

New Zealand is also amongst the world leaders in problem solving using technology – a skill that’s been tested for the first time in the OECD survey.

We rank fifth for this important skill and have the highest proportion of adults with moderate to high problem solving skills using computers. These are skills increasingly called for in today’s working environments.”

Adult numeracy skills have remained steady since 2006 and New Zealand is ranked 13th in the OECD, ahead of Australia, Canada and Singapore and the OECD average.

The survey results follow years of intensive focus by the Government on improving adult literacy and numeracy, particularly in the workplace.

The numbers of adults accessing help with their literacy and numeracy has quadrupled between 2010 and 2013 from 36,200 to 175,000. We’re also seeing earlier identification of problems with literacy and numeracy through use of the adult literacy and numeracy assessment tool,”

In 2015 alone, the Government invested $248 million into tertiary courses with literacy and numeracy embedded within other subjects. Another $48.5 million is available for courses specifically for adult learners to improve their literacy and numeracy and/or learn English.

Literacy and numeracy received a further boost in Budget 2016. $14.6 million will be provided over four years so that foundation education at Levels 1 and 2 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) is completely fees-free (these courses always include literacy and numeracy). Another $11 million is being provided for 600 more places for the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Programme and around 900 places more places from 2017 onwards compared with 2015.

The results show that our system is on the right track. In the years ahead we will focus particularly on lifting numeracy skills further, while seeking to maintain our strong performance in literacy and problem-solving”

The Survey of Adult Skills is conducted in 33 countries and measures the key skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper.

The Survey of Adult Skills interviewed more than 6,000 New Zealand adults aged between 16 and 65. The survey also collected information on participant’s education, employment and use of skills at work and at home.

Skills in New Zealand and around the world: Survey of Adult Skills

https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/survey_of_adult_skills/skills-in-new-zealand-and-around-the-world-survey-of-adult-skills

Skills and Education: Survey of Adult Skills

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Guns and Academia – Very “Unexpected” and Surprising Results Here


According to a study in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which cites the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations International Study on Firearms Regulation, the more guns a nation has, the less criminal activity.

http://www.beliefnet.com/news/articles/harvard-university-study-reveals-astonishing-link.aspx

In other words, more firearms, less crime, concludes the virtually unpublicized research report by attorney Don B. Kates and Dr. Gary Mauser. But the key is firearms in the hands of private citizens.

“The study was overlooked when it first came out in 2007,” writes Michael Snyder, “but it was recently re-discovered and while the findings may not surprise some, the place where the study was undertaken is a bit surprising. The study came from the Harvard Journal of Law, that bastion of extreme, Ivy League liberalism. Titled Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?, the report “found some surprising things.”

The popular assertion that the United States has the industrialized world’s highest murder rate, says the Harvard study, is a throwback to the Cold War when Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than American rates. In a strategic disinformation campaign, the U.S. was painted worldwide as a gunslinging nightmare of street violence – far worse than what was going on in Russia. The line was repeated so many times that many believed it to be true. Now, many still do.

Today violence continues in Russia – far worse than in the U.S. – although the Russian people remain virtually disarmed. “Similar murder rates also characterize the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and various other now-independent European nations of the former U.S.S.R.,” note Kates and Mauser . Kates is a Yale-educated criminologist and constitutional lawyer. Dr. Mauser is a Canadian criminologist at Simon Fraser University with a Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine. “International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error.”

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By the early 1990s, Russia’s murder rate was three times higher than that of the United States. Thus, “in the United States and the former Soviet Union transitioning into current-day Russia,” say Kates and Mauser, “homicide results suggest that where guns are scarce, other weapons are substituted in killings.”

“There is a compound assertion that guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why the United States has by far the highest murder rate,” report Kates and Mauser. “Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated,” the statement “is, in fact, false.”

Norway, Finland, Germany, France and Denmark, which have high rates of gun ownership, have low murder rates. On the other hand, in Luxembourg, where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, the murder rate is nine times higher than Germany. Their source of information? The United Nations’ International Study on Firearms Regulation, published by the UN’s Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Commission on Crime-Prevention and Criminal Justice.

When Kates and Mauser compared England with the United States, they found “’a negative correlation,’ that is, ‘where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense, violent crime rates are highest.’ There is no consistent significant positive association between gun ownership levels and violence rates.”

In 2004, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released an evaluation from its review of existing research. After reviewing 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications and its own original empirical research, it failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, suicide, or gun accidents, note Kates and Mauser.

“The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control,” write Kates and Mauser. “Armed crime, never a problem in England, has now become one. Handguns are banned but the Kingdom has millions of illegal firearms. Criminals have no trouble finding them and exhibit a new willingness to use them. In the decade after 1957, the use of guns in serious crime increased a hundredfold. In the late 1990s, England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban of all handguns and many types of long guns. Hundreds of thousands of guns were confiscated from those owners law-abiding enough to turn them in to authorities.” But crime increased instead of decreasing.

Ignoring these realities, gun control advocates have cited England, as the cradle of our liberties, as “a nation made so peaceful by strict gun control that its police did not even need to carry guns,” write Kates and Mauser. “The United States, it was argued, could attain such a desirable situation by radically reducing gun ownership, preferably by banning and confiscating handguns.”

Continued on next page…

Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/news/articles/harvard-university-study-reveals-astonishing-link.aspx#Um0LVqWdUrflATYP.99

Firearms, Crime and Gun Control

According to a study in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which cites the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations International Study on Firearms Regulation, the more guns a nation has, the less criminal activity.

posted September 12, 2013

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Third Brazil minister resigns over bribery scandal


Brasília (AFP) – Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer lost the third cabinet member of his month-old administration to a corruption scandal when his tourism minister resigned Thursday after being accused of taking bribes.

Tourism minister Henrique Eduardo Alves announced his resignation after a key witness accused him of accepting 1.5 million reals (around $445,000) diverted from state oil company Petrobras.

Alves, a member of Temer’s center-right PMDB party, said in an open letter he was stepping down to avoid “creating problems for the government.”

He joins former transparency minister Fabiano Silveira and former planning minister Romero Juca, who were both forced to resign over leaked phone recordings linked to the scandal.

Temer and Alves were among some 20 politicians named in the latest batch of allegations by Sergio Machado, the former chief executive of Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro.

Machado said in a plea deal with prosecutors that both men asked him for money from an illegal kickbacks scheme that diverted some $2 billion from the national oil giant.

Machado said Temer asked him for about $430,000 to fund an ally’s campaign for mayor of Sao Paulo, according to documents published Wednesday.

An irate Temer took to national television Thursday to deny the allegation.

He branded the allegations “frivolous, lying and criminal.”

– President indignant –

Temer took over last month from suspended president Dilma Rousseff. She is facing an impeachment trial in the Senate on unrelated charges of illegally manipulating public accounts to hide the government’s budget problems.

Temer has repeatedly denied involvement in the Petrobras scheme, but the investigation remains a major threat to his administration.

“I’m not going to let this pass,” he said on Thursday of Machado’s allegations.

“I am speaking out with indignant words to register yet again that this frivolity cannot prevail.”

The Senate is due to vote on whether to impeach Rousseff around mid-August, when Brazil will be hosting the Olympics in Rio.

If Rousseff is impeached and Temer survives the scandal, he would see out the current presidential mandate to the end of 2018. Elections are due to be held that year to choose a successor.

Brazil is in its worst recession in decades. The economy shrank 3.8 percent last year, according to official figures.

Temer’s government on Wednesday announced plans to limit public spending to strengthen the public finances of Latin America’s biggest economy.

Political analyst Andre Cesar of the consultancy Hold in Brasilia saw Alves’s resignation as a sign of “political fragility.”

“Temer’s government is walking on thin ice that could break at any moment,” he said.

For it to survive, Temer will have to avoid being directly implicated himself as well as fighting the economic crisis.

Aside from the recession, Brazil is struggling through a turbulent year of sharp political divisions. Various pro- and anti-Rousseff protests broke out in the weeks leading up to her suspension.

“If the government does not provide quick answers to the economic problems weighing on people’s wallets, people will lose patience and take to the streets again,” Cesar said.

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Accident discovers material which sheds water


(Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Eric Mack ,
Contributor
I cover science and innovation and products and policies they create. Full Bio Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.)

“Our unusual material behaves a bit like a sponge; it wrings itself out halfway before it’s fully saturated with water,” explained PNNL researcher David Lao, who manufactured the material.

They also found that the process is reversible and that the material took on water as humidity in the ambient surroundings decreased. The team was hard-pressed to think of any other material that takes on water at low humidity and expels it at high humidity, but it did seem to validate a process that was theorized as far back as the 1990s.

The findings and their potential future uses are laid out in a paper in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Possible uses include systems that could literally collect drinking water from thin air in deserts and underserved areas. We can also imagine fabrics that are essentially self-wringing when they get wet by spontaneously releasing liquids into the air as a vapor.

“Our unusual material behaves a bit like a sponge; it wrings itself out halfway before it’s fully saturated with water,” explained PNNL researcher David Lao, who manufactured the material.

They also found that the process is reversible and that the material took on water as humidity in the ambient surroundings decreased. The team was hard-pressed to think of any other material that takes on water at low humidity and expels it at high humidity, but it did seem to validate a process that was theorized as far back as the 1990s.

The findings and their potential future uses are laid out in a paper in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Possible uses include systems that could literally collect drinking water from thin air in deserts and underserved areas. We can also imagine fabrics that are essentially self-wringing when they get wet by spontaneously releasing liquids into the air as a vapor.

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