CCH Tax Day ReportIn a Summary Decision, the California Board of Equalization (BOE) determined that (1) an S corporation’s income should flow through to the taxpayers, rather than to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), under IRC §409(p); (2) steps taken by the taxpayers in connection with the acquisition of the S corporation by the ESOP, and the implementation of a management fee arrangement, were part of a sham transaction that lacked economic substance; (3) the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) properly applied the assignment of income doctrine to re-allocated income passed through by the S corporation from the ESOP to the taxpayers; and (4) the FTB properly applied the noneconomic substance transaction (NEST) penalty and an interest-based penalty for each year in issue.The S corporation in question was originally created to provide management services to another business owned by the taxpayers. The S corporation later established the ESOP for its employees established a trust fund for the ESOP to hold, invest, and administer the assets of the trust by the taxpayers, who were designated as the ESOP’s trustees. The trust fund also purchased the S corporation’s stock from the taxpayers, and the ESOP became the sole shareholder of the S corporation. The S corporation and the taxpayers’ other business entered into a management agreement under which the taxpayer-husband would provide services to the other business and the other business would pay the S corporation for those services. During the 2003 tax year, the S corporation reported a distribution of over $6 million on its tax return. The taxpayers did not report the 2003 distribution on their 2003 return. The FTB audited the S corporation and determined that it passed through all of its income to the ESOP during the years in issue. However, the auditor concluded that the creation of the ESOP was a sham transaction that lacked economic substance and treated the income as though it was passed through to the taxpayers. As a result, the FTB issued a Notice of Proposed Assessment (NPA) for the 2001, 2002, and 2003 tax years, which re-allocated the income passed through by the S corporation from the ESOP to the taxpayers. Each NPA also proposed a NEST penalty and an interest-based penalty.First, the BOE noted that, under IRC §409(p), participants of an ESOP are subject to tax if they are determined to be “disqualified persons” during a nonallocation year. According to the BOE, the S corporation stock was allocated 100% to the taxpayer-husband, which resulted in a nonallocation year in the 2001, 2002 and 2003 plan years. Therefore, the taxpayer-husband was considered a “disqualified person” under IRC §409(p) and treated as having received 100% of the deemed distributions for those years.The BOE then applied a two-prong “sham transaction” test to determine whether the transfer of the S corporation stock to the ESOP had any practical economic effects other than tax benefits by examining whether the taxpayers showed (1) a subjective business purpose for entering into the transaction, and (2) the objective economic substance of the transaction. With respect to the first prong, the evidence showed that the taxpayer-wife was the S corporation’s only employee and the other persons designated as “participants” were actually employed by the taxpayers’ other business. While the taxpayers claimed that the transactions had the business purpose of providing meaningful benefits to rank-and-file employees, the BOE determined that the evidence indicated that the transactions were actually undertaken for the purpose of sheltering the taxpayers’ income from tax. With respect to the second prong, the annual valuation stated that 100% of the S corporation stock, the sole ESOP asset, was allocated to the taxpayer-husband who, prior to the transfer, was one of the S corporation shareholders. Although the taxpayers claimed that the annual valuation was in error, they did not provided any evidence to show that there were allocations to rank-and-file employees. Finally, approximately $3.3 million of the management fees was paid into deferred compensation trusts for the benefit of the S corporation employee, which the BOE stated belied the alleged purpose of the ESOP assets (the S corporation stock) as a means of providing broad-based retirement coverage for rank-and-file employees. Thus, the transaction did not change the taxpayers’ economic position in a meaningful way (apart from the income tax effects), because they held a beneficial interest in 100% of the S corporation stock before and after the transfer. In addition, there was no evidence that the management agreement had a subjective business purpose other than as a means of shifting income from the taxpayers’ other business to the tax-exempt ESOP.The FTB claimed that if the S corporation is determined to be a separate entity, the assignment of income doctrine requires the taxpayers to report the income rather than the S corporation. According to the FTB, the taxpayers improperly assigned the “consulting” income that their other business allegedly paid to the S corporation under the management agreement and, as the only shareholders of the other business, the taxpayers should report that income. The BOE noted that the taxpayers were the only shareholders of the other business and had exclusive control over the disposition of its income. In addition, there was no evidence that the taxpayer-husband performed services as an employee of the S corporation or, even if he did perform such services, that he received reasonable compensation indicating that he was employed by the S corporation. Thus, the BOE stated that there was no evidence that the S corporation employed the taxpayer-husband and thereby had the right to control his activities and the amount of his compensation. As a result, the BOE concluded that, under the assignment of income doctrine, the payment from the other business was properly taxable to the taxpayers.With regard to the NEST penalty, since the BOE found that the subject transaction lacked economic substance and that the taxpayers did not have a valid nontax California business purpose for entering into the transactions at issue, the penalty was applicable. Furthermore, the BOE noted that (1) it was precluded from reviewing the decision of FTB’s Chief Counsel denying the taxpayers’ request for penalty relief, and (2) it did not have the authority to determine whether the penalty was unconstitutional. However, the BOE did reverse the interest-based penalty because the transaction in question was not identified by regulations as having a potential for tax avoidance or evasion.Park, California State Board of Equalization, No. 529805, March 25, 2015 (released May 2017), ¶406-689
In October of 2011, McAfee release the ePO Deep Command module for security management beyond the operating system. Deep Command uses Intel AMT to accomplish a variety of tasks.For a preview of how Deep Command works, see McAfee – Intel Demo A recorded demonstration showing actual usage is provided on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tabs.More information on the product is available at McAfee ePO Deep Command | McAfee Products
How does training and professional development figure into the equation?I have seen the impact of programs such as Intel Teach, and have worked closely with former teachers now working at Intel or teachers in our Visionary program. Each of them, over many years, has taught me how crucial professional development is to the successful utilization of technology in the classroom and therefore the support students need in developing future-proof skills.The data is clear across the education landscape: irrespective of the amount of technology in a classroom, success in the classroom is about who is teaching. We know this as parents and as professionals in the industry, and that point is constantly backed up by empirical data and research. In this third of a series of posts, Intel’s America’s Regional Director for Government and Education shares his insights into how today’s students can prepare for tomorrow’s challenges and how industry partners can best support the development of these skills.How can we help students to develop the skills they need for the future?I think about this through the lens as a technologist and policy practitioner—helping customers and industry partners in the education community—but I also think of vital student skills as a parent of a five year-old boy and a seven year-old girl.First, I ask myself: “What are skills that are relevant for students and educators as we undergo tectonic technological, demographic, policy, and social changes?”Like many in our industry, I think about the excitement of robotics, autonomous platforms, augmented and virtual reality learning experiences, fast ubiquitous networks, self-provisioning on-demand cloud educational services, and the implications of emerging technologies such as block-chain. The combination of these technologies all advancing at once is changing everything at a very rapid pace.I also think a lot about the skills that will enable future innovators to succeed in this type of technologically immersive environment and whether we are putting those skills in place at our schools and in our homes. I also think about student safety, digital citizenship, and equitable access to technology as things move more quickly: especially the association between opportunity and skills and how having access to the best technology can create opportunity or—for those who don’t have access—how a lack of essential skills can be a limiting factor.When I interview a potential employee today, I don’t ask them: “Tell me about your last three jobs.” I don’t want to know what job they did: I want to know what skills they developed in those jobs and how those skills were applied to solve problems. That’s what leaders and managers hire for: skills. Skills such as technical aptitude, the ability to bring others together, the ability to be collaborative and to team with people, to be intellectually curious and adaptable, and to solve problems as a member of a large and often complex team or ecosystem.I believe the skills that we see in practice today are in line with the ideas and thinking that leading industry organizations like P21Opens in a new window, SETDAOpens in a new window, CoSNOpens in a new window, and ISTEOpens in a new window have been promoting for many years. It’s crucial to instill critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills into our students through the right curriculum, pedagogical practices, the right physical spaces, technology, and—of course—great teachers!When I think of my own kids and the students we see in today’s classrooms, my hope for them is to not just be consumers of products and services, but to also be the developers of new products and services: actively participating in the creation of new technologies and capabilities because they have been taught and immersed in the types of skills needed to thrive as a creator and innovator. So what skills are required to be able to do that? Coding should be a mandatory part of every curriculum today and we see both national agendas and local policy agendas going in that direction: something we as a country are not moving fast enough to implement. I have introduced my seven year-old girl to coding using Intel maker kits, and while her curiosity far exceeds her skills today, it’s great to see her excitement about building things and seeing how things actually work under the hood.We want students to deeply understand how things actually work and we want to instill or unleash the excitement and intellectual curiosity to create. It’s part of the maker and innovator mentality that Intel and Intel’s CEO is so passionate about.I think coding is a great entry point: whether a high school student or a first grader. Beyond that, you must have the skills to learn and adapt quickly because things are moving so quickly that what you know today may be and will most likely be completely irrelevant in six months. That may not hold true for all professions, but it is certainly true in ours! Lastly, the ability to excel in a diverse workplace with many different points of view and perspectives: this requires excellent communication, listening, and collaboration skills. All of this adds up to every student having a growth mind-set if they are going to succeed. What can industry partners do to support the development of these skills?No one entity in the industry can solve every problem and we are fortunate to have so many companies that are passionate about education. It takes a broad ecosystem to address a diverse system of learners and school systems. When you think about curriculum providers, professional development capabilities, infrastructure companies…there’s innovation in every part of the education sector and it’s continuous, whether it’s pedagogy and professional development or innovation at the device and platform level. You truly need that entire ecosystem and collaboration across that ecosystem to make things work in a successful way.Intel has over 90 ecosystem partners that we engage with in different ways throughout the tech-ed communities: partners who have the scale, the means and the skill-sets to have an impact on students in a very positive way. Intel and our peer industry partners invest significantly in everything from professional development, coding academies, to professional certifications. We each use our core competencies to add unique value to move the skills issue forward. Are you optimistic about the future of technology in education? I am personally very optimistic. Progress is not always a straight line and there are always arguments for and against technology in the classroom: and that argument has been on-going for two decades as technology has advanced, adapted, and changed. In an earlier blog, we talked about how things can go wrong with technology implementations. My experience is that, when technology is applied in a thoughtful, programmatic manner, by skilled practitioners, the result can be excellent. As we see new capabilities and technologies advance, I think “implementation” will continue to be the core differentiator in realizing the promise and utility of technology to give students the skills they need to succeed in today’s world.
An exposition and a concert are being held at Emancipation Park, today (November 20) as part of activities to mark Civil Service Week 2012. This follows Monday’s official launch of the week at the Office of the Prime Minister, at which the civil servant of the year was announced. Senior Public Health Nurse, Beverly Davis Samuels is this year’s winner. Civil Service Week is geared towards highlighting the work and worth of outstanding civil servants who have given excellent service to central government and to the country as a whole. The week’s activities showcase talents, special efforts, outstanding performances, years of active dedicated service in central government and team effort portrayed by civil servants. The highlight of the week, which runs from November 18 to 23, will be the Jamaica Civil Service Long Service Awards to be held on Wednesday (November 21) at King’s House. On Thursday (November 22), Ministries will have their in-house activities; and the Jamaica Civil Service Association will host its Secondary School Quiz Competition at the Medallion Hall Hotel. Activities will culminate on Friday (November 23) with ‘Brain Games’ to be held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning; and the Out of Many After Work Lyme that will be held at the National Housing Trust Club House. Minister with responsibility for the Public Service, Horace Dalley, in his remarks read by Director General in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dian McIntosh,at the launch, said Civil Service Week 2012, should be used “to encourage, reinvigorate, and re-energise our civil servants to work better for the Jamaican people, despite the challenges of the tough economic times.” “Do not be discouraged, but continue to give of your best in implementing policies, programmes, and delivering quality services required to move the country towards prosperity for the next 50 years,” he said. He noted that although great strides have been made, “we still have a lot more work to do to deliver an efficient and modernised public sector, built to respond to the increasing demands and needs of its stakeholders.” The Minister noted that the Government is working towards creating a sector that is leaner, open, responsive and innovative; and one that ensures good governance and accountability. “This is why the Government is firmly committed to finding creative avenues through which to invest in our human resources without jeopardising the economic welfare of the country. We acknowledge that you (civil servants) have been called upon to make many sacrifices in the interest of the country, even as we face the day to day challenges of balancing your limited resources,” he said. President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, Oneil Grant, for his part, contended that what citizens of Jamaica enjoy today, “could not have been made possible without the civil service, the civilian arm of Government.” “Our role (civil servants) is to guard the administrative front. Our role is to ensure that the type of war that we are fighting, the economic war, dealing with the social issues, creating a state that supports every citizen, is one that we are fully equipped and well trained to deal with,” he said. Civil Service Week is being held under the theme: ‘Civil Servants in Action: Celebrating Jamaica’.
zoom OSI Maritime Systems (OSI) has signed a contract to integrate its flagship software, ECPINS-W Sub, into the UK Royal Navy’s T45 Destroyer Integrated Bridge System (IBS).Under the terms of this contract, OSI will provide software engineering activity to fully integrate ECPINS into the existing IBS system architecture.OSI supplies the Royal Navy with its advanced NATO WECDIS STANAG 4564 certified ECPINS-W Sub software across all operational ships, submarines, shore headquarters, and training establishments.Also, as the Prime Contractor for the Royal Navy Warship AIS program, OSI has further systems deployed across the fleet and is providing a fully Integrated Logistics Support service for 20 years.“This new contract, for the integration of ECPINS into an existing IBS, confirms the Royal Navy’s long-term commitment to the company and its technology,” OSI said in a release.OSI recently announced the signing of contract with the Royal Canadian Navy to provide a software upgrade and in-service support for the software that is deployed across their fleet of warships and submarines.OSI, April 25, 2014
The ICS comments support the maintenance of important anti-trust exemptions that currently apply to international maritime transport.“The provisions under Part X of Australia’s Competition and Consumer Act currently permit container shipping lines to organise consortia and other co-operative arrangements, and have helped to ensure that international shipping markets function smoothly, notwithstanding their cyclical and highly volatile nature. However, these arrangements are now subject to a ‘root and branch’ review of Australia’s competition regulations,” ICS said.ICS has highlighted that Australia’s current treatment of international shipping is consistent with the competition regimes applied by Australia’s major trading partners, including nations in the Asia Pacific whose regimes have also recently been subject to review.ICS believes that it remains appropriate for exemptions to apply to certain carrier agreements which yield net benefits to shippers, exporters and consumers in Australia, as well as to the economy of Australia as a whole.“ICS suggests that whatever Australia decides should at least be consistent with the APEC Guidelines Related to Liner Shipping adopted by the APEC member economies in June 2011, in Brisbane. ICS also notes that the European Commission has recently decided to extend the block exemption from competition rules that applies to liner shipping consortia until at least 2020,” the comments conclude.Press Release, July 15th, 2014 zoom The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has submitted comments on behalf of the global shipping industry to a comprehensive competition policy review being conducted by the Australian Government.
Advertisement TORONTO, May 6, 2019 – The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) is proud to announce the shortlists for the CJF Jackman Award for Excellence in Journalism, recognizing news organizations that embody exemplary journalism and have a profound and positive impact on the communities they serve. Finalists are recognized in two categories: large and small media.Since 1996, the CJF has honoured news organizations that embrace ideals of journalistic excellence – accuracy, independence, accountability, courage and originality – with this prestigious award.“The submissions for the 2019 CJF Jackman Award were remarkable and inspiring,” says jury member Peter Herrndorf, former president and CEO of the National Arts Centre, and a former CBC executive. “They are a testament to the ongoing strength and vitality of Canadian journalism.” Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter Advertisement Login/Register With: Advertisement The five finalists in the large media category (more than 50 full-time employees) and the work that highlights their excellence are:– CBC News for its Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo podcast, which explored the disappearance of Cleopatra Semaganis Nicotine who, along with her siblings in a Cree family, were taken into government care in Saskatchewan in the 1970s and adopted into white families in Canada and the U.S. The podcast explored what happened to the siblings but also sheds light on what became known as the Sixties Scoop.– CBC News for “Deadly Force,” which documented and analyzed each fatal encounter between police and Canadians between 2000 and 2017, a project that included the creation of an interactive database of more than 460 cases.– The Globe and Mail for investigating the flourishing trade of aging wells, in which major companies are routinely offloading energy assets burdened with hefty cleanup costs onto smaller players with scant ability to pay for cleanup.– National Post – Postmedia Network for gathering more than five million records from across Canada to create the country’s first central, searchable database of political donations in every province and territory.– Toronto Star for its “Medical Disorder” investigation that revealed a patchwork of rules and disclosure polices that allows doctors on both sides of the border to leave behind documented histories of crime, sexual misconduct, incompetence and fraud.The five finalists in the small media category (fewer than 50 full-time employees) and the work that highlights their excellence are:– CBC Saskatchewan for the digital legacy project “Beyond 94” that includes a teacher’s guide, among other stories—that measures Canada’s progress in addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.– National Observer for revealing how the Canadian government made a politically motivated decision to approve the major Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain west coast pipeline and tanker expansion project, without adequately reviewing all of the evidence and considering the consequences.– Regina Leader-Post/Saskatoon StarPhoenix for coverage of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, including the first 36 hours thereafter, a documentary about a trip survivors took together and the mix-up of victims.– St. Catharines Standard for a major series called “All the Chair’s Men” that exposed corruption at the Regional Municipality of Niagara, including the local government and regional chair manipulating the hiring of its chief administrative officer.– Saint John Telegraph-Journal for an investigation into unmanned ambulances and paramedic shortages that exposed systemic life-or-death health service gaps, lack of accountability and rampant secrecy within Ambulance New Brunswick.The winners in both categories will be announced at the annual CJF Awards held at the CJF Awards on June 13 inToronto. For ticket, table and sponsorship opportunities of the gala event, visit the CJF Awards page.The members of the jury are:Chair – Wayne Parrish, Chair, Awards Committee, The Canadian Journalism FoundationIsabel Bassett, former Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation and former chair and CEO of TVOJoshua Benton, Director, Nieman Journalism Lab, Harvard UniversityColette Brin, Director, Centre d’études sur les médias, Université LavalPeter Herrndorf, Former President and CEO of the National Arts Centre, and former CBC executiveShachi Kurl, Executive Director, Angus Reid InstituteFollow #CJFawards on Twitter.About The Canadian Journalism FoundationFounded in 1990, The Canadian Journalism Foundation promotes, celebrates and facilitates excellence in journalism. The foundation runs a prestigious awards and fellowships program featuring an industry gala where news leaders, journalists and corporate Canada gather to celebrate outstanding journalistic achievement and the value of professional journalism. Through monthly J-Talks, a public speakers’ series, the CJF facilitates dialogue among journalists, business people, academics and students about the role of the media in Canadian society and the ongoing challenges for media in the digital era. The foundation also fosters opportunities for journalism education, training and research.
This was through four separate transactions involving two TFC directors and NSB Chairman Pradeep Kariyawasam, when the share market price was hovering around mere Rs 30-31 a share.The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is probing the deal. National Savings Bank (NSB) Chairman Pradeep Kariyawasam has tendered his resignation, in a letter sent to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Finance Ministry. The deal involves a 13 per cent stake of The Finance Company (TFC) being bought by the NSB on April 27 at around Rs. 50 a share. His resignation follows a controversial share deal between the National Savings Bank (NSB) and The Finance Company (TFC).
UK new van registrations increase by 10.6% to 66,123 units as new models and incentives drive demand.Growth fuelled by rise in demand for medium and large vans, up 17.9% and 13.0% respectively.Positive start to the year sees Q1 registrations rise to 102,743, up 8.9%. SEE LCV REGISTRATIONS BY BRANDDOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE AND DATA TABLEThe UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market saw year-on-year demand increase by 10.6% in March, marking the sector’s best ever monthly performance, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations in the month accounted for almost two-thirds of the quarter’s volumes, as business buyers took advantage of new models and strong market incentives.More than 66,000 new vans and pick-ups hit British roads in March compared with the same month in 2018, an uplift of 6,359 units. Both medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes and large vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes saw double-digit growth, with demand rising by 17.9% and 13.0% respectively. Registrations of pick-ups also rose, by 6.7%, to more than 11,000. Meanwhile small vans weighing less than 2 tonnes experienced a decline, falling -10.6%.March rounded off a positive quarter for the sector, with demand for new LCVs up 8.9% on the same period in 2018, at 102,743 registrations.Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,March is typically the busiest month of the year and it’s great to see large demand for the new ‘19 plate. While the market does fluctuate with buying cycles, it appears buyers are making the most of the fantastic deals on offer. For such exceptional demand to continue long term, however, we need business confidence to improve and that means an end to the political and economic instability besetting the UK. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
LSU’s Ben Simmons is a ludicrously versatile basketball prodigy whose freshman numbers already compare favorably with greats of the past. He’ll probably go first overall in this summer’s NBA draft, and deservedly so. But for all of Simmons’s brilliance, his Tigers aren’t very good — they rank 75th in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, and at 18-12 they’re a long shot to make the NCAA Tournament.This pairing of an exceptional individual and an unremarkable team is pretty rare. When a team has a prospect as good as Simmons, it doesn’t usually lose before the second weekend of the tourney, much less miss the field entirely. To measure this, I gathered ESPN’s prospect rankings for collegiate players from 2001 through last season, tracking how far their teams went in the postseason during their final NCAA season. Among top-five prospects in that span — and Simmons ranks No. 1 this year — 87 percent were on teams that made the NCAA Tournament, with about half going as far as the Elite Eight before losing. The rest of the No. 1s went far — and I mean really far. Half went to the Final Four, and a third went to the national title game. They didn’t do it alone, though. Shane Battier, Anthony Davis and Greg Oden, for instance, generated almost exactly 25 percent of their teams’ win shares when they blazed a path to the championship game. Simmons has been a bit less productive than that trio on a per-minute basis, but he’s also generated 33 percent of LSU’s win shares this season, with his teammates creating roughly 45 percent fewer wins per game than those of Battier, Davis and Oden. If Simmons had anything close to their supporting casts, LSU probably wouldn’t be fretting about Selection Sunday.Instead, we’ll probably be left with a March Madness that doesn’t feature the nation’s best NBA prospect. That isn’t unprecedented, but it is pretty rare — and, mainly, it’s a bummer because Simmons is such an electrifying all-around talent in a sport that needs all the excitement it can get. The crew of prospects Simmons will join if LSU fails to make the tournament isn’t exactly bad — even Steph Curry ended his Davidson career in the NIT, after all. (Granted, Davidson in the Southern Conference and LSU in the Southeastern Conference are apples and oranges; perhaps a better comp for Simmons is Chris Bosh, who couldn’t elevate Georgia Tech into the tournament out of the ACC in 2002-03.) But the distribution of basketball talent is steep. Top draft picks are, on average, so much better than their peers that a No. 1-ranked prospect should probably be held to a higher standard than the rest of the top five.And, sure enough, in the 15 years before Simmons only one No. 1 prospect was on a team that missed the NCAA Tournament: Nerlens Noel, in 2012-13. The other 92 percent of No. 1s at least got to the round of 64, and even Noel’s case comes with a huge asterisk. Before Noel was lost for the season with a knee injury, his Kentucky team was on the bubble at 17-6, but improving; afterward, the Wildcats closed out the season 4-5 and stamped a nonrefundable ticket to the NIT.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedSARA officials earning $$$M a month in salary, benefitsDecember 11, 2018In “latest news”Over $100M in supplementary funding approved for SARA under Legal AffairsAugust 3, 2017In “latest news”LETTER: SARA is disqualified by any standard from being a professional investigative unitJune 7, 2019In “latest news” Below is an opinion piece by Attorney-at-Law, Member of Parliament and former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil NandlallThe incompetence which permeates every sector of this Government is simply unparalleled in the English speaking Caribbean. It is as if they can get nothing right. Let us examine the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA), as an example.The SARA, after a long hibernation, is back in the news. Earlier this week, it was disclosed that SARA would be laying charges in relation to 25 cases within the next month. This disclosure came from Mr. Aubrey Heath-Retemyer, who is described in the press as the “Deputy Director” of the Agency. Although the SARA Act came into force since the 11th day of May, 2017, SARA remains mired in deep controversy. The serious questions, which were raised even before the Bill was tabled in the National Assembly by a wide cross section of society, including, the Parliamentary Opposition, to date, remain unanswered. Rather than clarify these important issues which have been highlighted, the Government chose to ignore them and proceeded to activate SARA.Expectedly, within one month of its enactment, legal proceedings were launched challenging the constitutionality of several of the provisions of the controversial SARA Bill (now Act). These proceedings are still pending in the Constitutional Division of the High Court. If this challenge is successful, then everything that SARA would have done would become legally questionable, including, the impending charges. It would be interesting to see how the Government will navigate these technical legal issues. If any reliance will be placed upon the Attorney General, Basil Williams, to advise, the nation can be reasonably certain of the consequences.Transitionary provisionMost importantly, the persons who currently hold the position of Director and Deputy Director of the agency, Professor Clive Thomas and Mr. Aubrey Retemyer, respectively, seem to be holding those posts, unlawfully. Having regard to the track-record of the Coalition Government, these persons are obviously enjoying handsome remuneration packages. The public is unaware of what these packages are, although public funds are being utilized to finance them. These persons may be obtaining those monies unlawfully because the Act provides for the Director and Deputy Director to be appointed by the National Assembly. Neither Thomas nor Retemyer were appointed by the National Assembly, although the Act is in force for over a year. The terms of their office are to be determined by the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments, as provided for by the Act. Again, this has not been done.Section 106 of the Act is a transitionary provision: it provides for the Head of the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) to continue to act as the Head of SARA, but for not more than four months after the SARA Act comes into force. The SARA Act, as I indicated, came into force over a year now. Yet, Professor Clive Thomas continues to act as the Director of SARA under this transitionary provision. His continuation in office, therefore, is as illegal as that of the Deputy Director, who can only be appointed by the National Assembly under the Act and who was not. How can these two gentlemen, who are holding these offices illegally, lecture to this nation about illegality and entrusted with the responsibility of investigating and curbing illegality?The other significant issue, which contaminates these two office holder, is their known and professed political connections. Professor Thomas is a leader of the WPA, one of the political parties in the Coalition Government. He is a renowned politician infected with political biases and prejudices. For the same reasons that I cannot be a Judge of the Supreme Court he cannot be the head of a Law Enforcement Agency. For over a year, prior to the establishment of SARA, almost every week, Thomas was quoted in the press as signalling whom he intended to charge and prosecute. At that time he was speaking for SARU, the precursor to SARA. Most of these threats were directed to PPP leaders and the business community. This was long before a single investigation had even begun. Therefore, preconceived notions have long destroyed his objectivity. How can anyone trust this gentleman to investigate fairly or to act with integrity and professionalism? Obviously, he will be thriving to prove his public pronouncements true, regardless.Political affiliationsMr. Retemyer is in no better position. He is quoted in the press, earlier this week, as conceding that he has political affiliation. Though he did not disclose to which political party he is aligned, it does not take a genius to figure out where his political allegiance lies. It certainly is not with the Opposition. However, he maintains that despite his political affiliation, he can act fairly. What he fails to understand is that the test is not subjective but objective: it is not what he thinks, but the perception, harboured by the ordinaryGuyanese, that is important. Quite frankly, a perception that he will take instructions from the Office of the President is a quite reasonable one to hold in the circumstances. After all, SARU was housed in the Ministry of the Presidency while he was a member thereof. He was appointed by the Ministry of the Presidency to SARU. That appointment still holds in SARA.SARA was or is possibly still being housed within the Ministry of the Presidency. Minister Harmon conceded in the National Assembly that SARU’s budget is funded from the Ministry of the Presidency. So it is quite natural to conclude that Mr. Retemyer has political connections to the Government. These perceptions or realities will militate against Mr. Retemyer and he may never be able to convince an alert Guyanese population of his impartiality and professionalism in this office.Messrs Tacuma Ogensey and Desmond Trotman, two longstanding leaders of the WPA were also employed by SARU, exacerbating the political contamination. There is no indication that they have not been transitioned over to SARA like their colleagues. Mr. Trotman was appointed as a Commissioner to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). There has been no public disclosure that he has relinquished his position in SARU/SARA. He may be continuing to hold these two offices. Nothing is beyond this Government.What I do know is that lawyers will have a field day at the appropriate time.
Posted: December 25, 2018 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) – As 2018 comes to an end there has been many developments in the White House this year, including several changes in the Trump administration.White House expert Lauren Wright stopped by Good Morning San Diego to discuss the turnover in staff and what to expect in the new year.Lauren Wright, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where she teaches courses on The American Presidency and Executive Power, Women and Politics, and Political Communication. December 25, 2018 What to expect in Washington D.C. politics in 2019 Jonathan Halvorson, Jonathan Halvorson Categories: Good Morning San Diego, Local San Diego News, National & International News, Politics FacebookTwitter
Composition of the outgoing European Parliament, as of 20 May.Voters in Brexit-bound Britain cast ballots Thursday at the start of 28-nation EU elections in which eurosceptic, anti-immigration forces have vowed to create a political earthquake that will shake the Brussels establishment.With Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation appearing imminent after she postponed a forlorn attempt to push her divorce deal through parliament, Britain joined the Netherlands in kicking off four days of voting across the continent.The elections were a surreal spectacle for a country that voted almost three years ago to leave the European Union, with May vowing on countless occasions to honour the result in time to avoid the election.The Brexit crisis mirrored deep divisions across the continent.Rising anti-establishment forces across the continent are bidding to make significant gains, in a threat to closer EU integration.More than 400 million European voters are eligible to elect 751 Members of the European Parliament, with the first results announced late Sunday once voting in all 28 member states has been completed.These are the ninth European parliament elections since they began in 1979 and voter turnout has dropped each time, hitting 43 percent in 2014.’Peaceful political revolution’Having opted to leave the EU in a seismic referendum in 2016, Britain was originally meant to depart on March 29 and therefore not take part in the contests.But MPs have rejected May’s withdrawal agreement and the country now finds itself in the absurd situation of electing lawmakers to an institution it plans to leave.The issue looked set to dominate how Britons vote.”Once you’ve made a decision to leave I felt that we should have executed it,” said Neil Rodford, 49, as he cast his ballot in southwest London.Accountant Margaret Clark, 64, felt the opposite as she voted in Northern Ireland.”What’s mostly on my mind is the fact that I would like to remain in the European Union,” she told AFP.The Brexit Party, formed only this year by eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage, is leading the latest opinion polls with 37 percent of the vote.Amid widespread frustration at the political gridlock, the ruling Conservatives are in fifth place with just seven percent while the Labour opposition also lag behind on 13.”We are attempting a peaceful political revolution in this country,” Farage told the party’s final rally this week.”The establishment: they’re not frightened — they’re absolutely terrified!” he said of his new party’s rise.Opposed to closer EU integrationAround the continent, national leaders are scrambling to mobilise their supporters to resist the populist surge, with opinion polls showing nationalist parties in the lead in France, Italy and Hungary, among others.Pro-European leaders fear a good showing for the eurosceptics will disrupt Brussels decision-making, threatening reform efforts at closer integration.In the Netherlands, flamboyant populist Thierry Baudet, a classics-quoting climate sceptic, is on course to win the same number of seats as Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals.Once best known for naked Instagram selfies and controversial comments about women, Baudet, 36, stunned Europe in March when his Forum for Democracy became the biggest party in the Dutch senate.Matteo Salvini of Italy’s anti-immigrant League and Marine Le Pen of France’s far-right National Rally (RN) want their Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group to become the third largest in Brussels. The League has topped opinion polls in Italy.Meanwhile Le Pen wants to strike a blow to Emmanuel Macron’s faltering French presidency by overtaking his centrist, pro-European party Republic on the Move.Polls give her RN party a slight edge, with around 23 percent support.”Everything has changed,” Le Pen told AFP.”In the space of a few months, a whole range of political forces have risen up in spectacular fashion.”Centre-right set to winHowever, the strong showing by eurosceptics is not expected to sweep the whole bloc, with voters from Spain to Ireland and the former Soviet Baltic states indicating solid backing for the EU.In Germany, surveys show Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party — a heavyweight in the EU-wide centre-right EPP group — in first place, with the Greens second.The latest Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the European Parliament found 61 percent of respondents calling their country’s EU membership a good thing — the highest level since the early 1990s.The polls will open on Friday in the Czech Republic and Ireland, and on Saturday in Latvia, Malta and Slovakia.But most countries will be voting on Sunday, with the results expected overnight into Monday.Nine different projections this month gave the EPP the most seats ahead of the main centre-left PES bloc and then the ALDE liberals.Former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker is stepping down after five years as president of the European Commission.EPP leader Manfred Weber is their candidate to replace him, while the PES is putting up former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans.The hunt will also be on for someone to replace former Polish premier Donald Tusk as head of the EU leaders’ council
Share CREDIT GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUTNora Cadena, of Insure Central Texas at Foundation Communities, assists with enrollment in the Affordable Care Act at a Foundation Communities Community Tax Center in North Austin.Americans in states that Donald Trump carried in his march to the White House account for more than 4 in 5 of those signed up for coverage under the health care law the president still wants to take down.An Associated Press analysis of new figures from the government found that 7.3 million of the 8.8 million consumers signed up so far for next year come from states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The four states with the highest number of sign-ups — Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, accounting for nearly 3.9 million customers — were all Trump states.“There’s politics, and then there’s taking care of yourself and your family,” said analyst Chris Sloan of the consulting firm Avalere Health. “You can have political views about a program like the Affordable Care Act, but when you get an opportunity to get subsidized health insurance for you and your family … politics is a distant consideration.”AP’s analysis found that 11 states beat 2017’s enrollment figures. Of them, eight —Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming— went for Trump, who posted double-digit victories in all but Iowa.To be sure, Trump states are also home to many people who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But the AP’s analysis points to a pattern of benefits from the health law in states the president won. The premium dollars have economic ripple effects, reimbursing hospitals and doctors for services that might otherwise have gone unpaid and written off as bad debt. Also, people with health insurance are better able to manage chronic medical problems, remaining productive, tax-paying members of society.Such economic and political realities will be in the background when Congress returns in January to another installment of the nation’s long-running debate over health care. Republicans and Democrats seem to have battled to a draw for now.The year 2019 — the effective date for repeal of the ACA’s requirement that most people have coverage — is looking like a time of reckoning for the law’s insurance markets, which offer subsidized private plans to people who don’t have job-based coverage.Unexpectedly strong enrollment numbers announced this week for the 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website testify to consumer demand for the program and its guarantee that people with medical problems can’t be turned away. Yet those numbers still lag behind last season’s sign-up total.It’s unclear what the final count for next year will be. HealthCare.gov numbers released Thursday are incomplete, and some states running their own insurance websites will continue enrolling people throughout January.Separately, actions by the Trump administration and the GOP-led Congress are creating incentives for healthy people to stay out of the health law’s insurance markets.Starting in 2019, people won’t have to worry about incurring a fine from the IRS for being uninsured, because the tax overhaul repeals that mandate. At the same time, the administration is taking regulatory action to open a path for the sale of low-cost insurance plans that don’t provide the health law’s benefits or guarantees.“The real worry for me is what the health plans do,” said Sloan. “If they decide that without the mandate it’s not worth staying in this market, you could end up with swaths of the country having no insurers.”Bipartisan legislation to stabilize insurance markets is still alive in Congress, but its prospects are unclear.On Friday, Trump said he thinks repealing the mandate as part of the tax overhaul “ultimately leads to the end of Obamacare.” The president continued to ignore other parts of the law that remain untouched by the tax bill, including its Medicaid expansion benefiting low-income adults and the popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions.Others say a corner has been turned in the health care debate, but where it will end up is still uncertain.Former President Barack Obama’s law “is more durable and important to Americans in terms of getting affordable health insurance than even its advocates expected,” said John McDonough, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who served as an adviser to Senate Democrats during the ACA debate more than seven years ago.“With the end of the attempts to bring it down and to repeal it, perhaps there will be opportunities in the near future to try to actually build up and improve it, because it could use some work,” he added.
Elizabeth “Bettye” Murphy Phillips MossElizabeth “Bettye” Murphy Phillips Moss, reporter, editor, publisher, corporate officer, and major stock holder in the AFRO-American Newspapers would have celebrated her 100th birthday March 11th. The granddaughter of founder John H. Murphy, Sr., she started her career very early following her father Carl Murphy around the newspaper learning the family business.One of the youngest editors and eldest of five daughters, Bettye Moss was one of the first female African American War Correspondent dispatched by her father to cover World War II. Other firsts include being the first African American woman appointed to the Baltimore City School Board where she fought for educational programs for African American students and the appointment of minority administrators.Journalism was her first love and she had a special gift for telling the total story. Over five decades, she tutored budding writers who worked under her umbrella. Up until her death in 1998, she wrote her column “If You Ask Me” that was born out of a charge that was given by her mother that there always needs to be some good news. Co-founder of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Vashti Turley Murphy’s challenge kept her writing good news using her unique skill to intertwine introducing the person while reporting on the event.In addition to being a Golden Life member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and life member of the NAACP, she was active in many civic and community organizations including the Philomathians, Chums, We Wives, and Couples Club.If You Ask Me tidbit: In memory of this legendary Journalist, newspaper executive, mother and friend; it should be noted that today’s publication of the AFRO is on her Centennial Birthday.Thank You Mommy – Your Children and Grandchildren
Before steampunk developed its own subculture over the last decade or so, it started as a subgenre of literature, specifically of science fiction/fantasy. “Steampunk” is word that was coined in the 1970s to describe stories that celebrate the adventurousness and technological progressiveness of the Victorian Era; the genre actually first came into being at the same time as the scientific romance, an early name for science fiction, back in the actual Victorian Era according to Steampunk Magazine #2. Some of the earliest written works of this type included stories by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Mark Twain. Those writers, in turn, were heavily influenced by the work and discoveries of leading scientific minds of the time, like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, and the reigning social bents toward technology, heavy industry, and colonialization.The August 1927 issue of Amazing Stories featuring work by H. G. Wells.All of those factors, together, made for a body of fiction that is a little hard to define. Some early stories were American novels that dealt with issues of technological progress and the expansions that could arise as a result.Some were about discovering new worlds, such as Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, and still other stories were studies on what can happen when the wonders of technology are meddled with for malign or foolish ends.Steampunk-style composite apparatus. Photo by Mark Harding CC BY 3.0By World War I, scientific romances became less popular, replaced by the burgeoning ideals of superheroes and the exploits of adventurers. Even so, you could still see those stories popping up in both silent films and early films with sound from the 1920s and ’30s, although they were usually set in what was then the modern day.The attempts at updating weren’t, by and large, very successful, since enough time had passed that a lot of the technology being envisioned by writers like Verne weren’t speculative anymore. They had already not only come into being but had become common enough that they just seemed anachronistic and dated.Original illustration of Jules Verne’s Nautilus engine room.That’s the point at which the film industry started to come to the conscious decision to leave those stories in the Victorian Era, rather than trying to make them more modern. The genre began to take a feel of alternate history, melding the culture and history of that time period along with fantastical and futuristic science.Steampunkforge.com has a slightly different perspective on how the phenomenon of steampunk came into being. At the outset, the genre can be further divided into several distinct types, including Steampulp, Gaslamp fantasy, Victorian Science Fiction, and Les Voyages Extraordinaires, noting also that romance is a common element in all them.‘Maison tournante aérienne’ (aerial rotating house) by Albert Robida for his book Le Vingtième Siècle, a 19th century conception of life in the 20th century.Gaslamp refers to stories that are in urban settings in the U.S., Canada, or other Western countries and are usually set during the Victorian or Edwardian era. Victorian Science Fiction is set in Europe, and almost always in England. Les Voyages Extraordinaires can be set in any exotic location, ranging from the jungle to the moon. Steampulp primarily refers to things like 1950s horror movies.The common threads among all types, however, remains science and technology, including clockwork, steam engines, and occasionally powered flight, but only in the context of dirigibles (blimps) and airplanes with propellers.Steampunk outfit with leather vest, heavy gun, vambrace, backpack time machine, mask, and Victorian clothes. Photo by Alexander Schlesier CC BY-SA 3.0As a body of work, Victorian fashion and culture is very common. Protagonists are often of the upper classes, and mad scientists are ubiquitous, whether they are the heroes or the villains of the piece. Female characters are often seen as equals to male characters, too, despite the fact that wasn’t the case in the actual Victorian Era.Pipes Steampunk Time Travel Gears Brass DoorWhat really varies between these two histories is that Booker’s Steampunk Magazine article talks about the 19th century, but the Steampunk Forge discussion goes significantly farther back, in fact, nearly a thousand years farther back. In the anthology One Thousand and One Nights (also known as Arabian Nights), there are references to automatons or robots.Truth Coffee, a steampunk café in Cape Town. Photo Courtsey http://www.yatzer.com/ CC BY-SA 4.0One story features humanoid constructions and another features a mechanical flying horse that could be controlled by keys and travel through time. Sir Francis Bacon published Novo Atlantis in the 17th century, an unfinished novel that was a utopian story of the Les Voyages Extraordinaires mold.By the early part of the 19th century, Mary Shelley began the rise of the mad scientist figure in her Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. While Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth is considered to be the first “true” steampunk novel, the roots clearly lie in these earlier works.Aura Crystall Instrument – 1987. Photo by Marc van den Broek CC BY-SA 4.0Early pioneers in the genre aside, it was the film industry that carried steampunk through the next several decades. A handful of movies in the 1930s kept the steampunk flame alive, but science fiction, including steampunk, really began to take on a life of its own in the ‘50s and ‘60s, amid the atom bomb and the space race.Stories like H. G. Wells War of the Worlds and Conan Doyle’s The Lost World became attractive again, and Walt Disney decided to break from cartoons with Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Disney had wild success, and the Victorian scientific romances were back in style.Steampunk went back out of fashion, for the most part, during the Vietnam era, its technological optimism out of step with current societal trends. But it survived, and by the late 1970s had finally earned the “Steampunk” name.Tim Wetherell’s Clockwork Universe sculpture at Questacon, Canberra, Australia (September 24, 2009). Photo by OpheliaO CC BY-SA 3.0The name itself was a semi-humorous offshoot of another type of science fiction that was gaining popularity – cyberpunk. Cyberpunk looked forward to a time when the boundaries between humans and computers have become increasingly fuzzy, and was rife with threads of rebellion against social norms.steampunk Princess Leia, Star Wars celebration 2015. Photo by Brian CC BY 2.0That spirit of rebelling from the rules of society was also common in those Victorian-era explorations of the science of its time, which often featured steam engines, so… Steampunk.Steampunk festival. Photo by Richard Croft CC BY-SA 2.0Today steampunk has moved from just being about books and movies to encompass a sizeable fandom and an entire subculture. There are steampunk-themed conventions and other events, and fans can spend huge amounts of time, energy, and money coming up with cosplays that combine the most romantic elements of Victorian fashion with bizarre contraptions made of gears and clockwork.Read another story from us: These Peculiar Aztec ‘Swords’ Struck Fear Into the Hearts of the ConquistadorsDespite the fact that steampunk as we know it has been around for over a hundred years, it’s clear that its combination of progressive optimism and scientific discovery still speaks to people’s spirits, even now.
Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Remember that adorable redneck, car lover from the first episode of the rebooted Queer Eye, Tom? GAYSTARNEWS- Abby and I in 2006 pic.twitter.com/oD2ENvtFxZ— Tom Jackson (@TomJack20176306) February 26, 2018 Tom and Abby from Queer Eye just got engaged and love is not deadQueer Eye’s AJ married his boyfriend and our hearts can’t take itOh, happy day: Tom from Queer Eye is back with his wifeRead the full article on Gaystarnews: :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/tom-queer-eyes-first-episode-broken-wife/ Abby and Tom rekindle their love on Netflix’s Queer Eye. | Photo: Netflix Abby 2006 pic.twitter.com/L2FiWaF1ZG— Tom Jackson (@TomJack20176306) February 26, 2018 We all fell in love with the star of ‘You Can’t Fix Ugly because he was very set in his routine, made a lethal ‘redneck margarita’ and loved his grandson, Chandler, to bits.If you don’t remember him, here is a quick refresher about his story:Sweeties, we’re ready to UNPACK the season! @JVN and @bobbyberk look back at Tom’s self-confidence journey that allowed him to RADIATE! pic.twitter.com/tc8kNUIBwr— Queer Eye (@QueerEye) February 24, 2018But ond of the standout moments of the episode was how much he wanted to win back his third ex-wife, Abby.The Fab Five worked hard to overhaul Tom’s apartment, style and to give him the confidence to ask Abby to a car show.When she showed up full of enthusiasm and walked around hand in hand with her ex-husband looking at cars, we thought they would for sure get back together.She even agreed to a second date, where they ate homemade guacamole and it seemed they were going to be together forever (again).Well, love is dead because Tom took to Twitter to confirm he and Abby split up.I just watched my episode for about the 20th time. I cry like a baby ever time I watch it. Just to let the world know, Abby and I are no longer together. She will always be the love of my life. I will always love her more than anything!!!!!!!— Tom Jackson (@TomJack20176306) February 28, 2018For a creature of habit who was reluctant to try new things, Tom certainly took like a fish to water on Twitter. We have to give him props for his strong emoji game. His Twitter bio. | Photo: Twitter Me and Abby a few weeks after filming July 4 th I think. pic.twitter.com/hxI76WrD0u— Tom Jackson (@TomJack20176306) February 21, 2018 pic.twitter.com/bpdL0yRza4— Tom Jackson (@TomJack20176306) February 26, 2018Good luck Tom, we hope you find love soon.Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . His daughter, Katie (Chandler’s mom) was the first to reply to the tweet, promising him that he will find the perfect woman.You’ll find the perfect woman for you. Proud of you, Dad! Keep up the positive changes! Love you!— Katie Phelps (@Phelps_katie910) February 28, 2018Tom’s heartbrokenHeartbreakingly, he posted multiple photos of Abby in the days leading up to his Twitter announcement including a photo of their wedding day.He described his wedding to Abby as the happiest day of his life other than when his daughter and son were born.This is me and Abby when we got married. The happiest day of my life. Other than the day Katie and Chandler were born. pic.twitter.com/TPHHHSY6VF— Tom Jackson (@TomJack20176306) February 21, 2018 eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us)
Related posts:Rangers at Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park use satellite technology to fight illegal gold mining Sea Shepherd’s R/V Martin Sheen lands in Costa Rica for 4-month research mission Bumblebee tongues are shrinking because of climate change, study says Toucan gets 3D-printed beak after gruesome injury Facebook Comments Bees have always shown what it means to live in a harmonious system of collaboration. These tiny insects are a testament that a team made up of hard-working, determined, and well-organized members can be endowed with the greatest of tasks.What’s that task?Bees help sustain the Earth’s ecosystems. The vast majority of the crops we consume depend on bees for pollination. Does that mean our lives depend on bees? Yes, to a certain extent.Unfortunately, these workaholic insects are currently in distress. That’s why scientists, beekeepers, and bee lovers around the world are working arduously to rescue bees and raise awareness about this issue.Two of those people are in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. They’re husband-and-wife-beekeepers, Carlos Cortes and Liz Paniagua, and the founders of Api-Agricultura’s, an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving bees while teaching others about their importance.“I have always been drawn to bees, since I was a 5-year-old boy,” Carlos said. Carlos Cortes and a bunch of his favorite insects (Photo courtesy of Api-Agricultura)However, he said bees weren’t seen in the best light by locals in his community. When he grew up, he came up with an idea to bring locals more information about bees. The goal was that community members would learn to cherish them.“I want people to relate to bees in an intimate way, that will make them realize their importance in the ecosystem,” he emphasized.To successfully pass on this message, Cortes and Paniagua have devised an innovative project, which intends and teach schoolchildren to love and care about bees.What is this project about?Carlos Cortes: When we came up with the idea about creating Api-Agricultura, I told my wife that if we really wanted to reach more and more people with our message, it would be great to implement a plan that would efficiently foster the significance of bees in the ecosystem.We consider that an environmental class imparted to school kids was fundamental to reinforce our initiative. This is how we began structuring our project with an educational approach aimed at children from public schools.Kids are like sponges they tend to quickly absorb what they are taught.In addition, we have designed school gardens, where we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and plantains, and by doing so we teach students about the interaction between agriculture and bees. If there are no bees, there is no agriculture, and if there is no agriculture, there are no bees.We breed different kind of bees that we have incorporated to the school gardens, most of them are gentle bees so kids can safely interact with them.Your daughter seems to be involved in this effort, too. How do you feel about it?Liz Paniagua: We are very proud of her, because we have seen our love of bees reflected in her. Every time she has to present her science project, she opts for bees.We want this not only for our daughter, but to shape all children’s mentality about bees. They are the future, and if we inspire them to look after them, bees will be better off. Carlos and Liz’s daughter (center) shares her parent’s passion for bees. (Photo courtesy of Api-Agricultura)Your organization’s motto is “Protecting bees is life.” Why is it so important to rescue bees?Paniagua: For me, bees are a resource for life. They are the greatest pollinators in the ecosystem. They have the responsibility of global pollination on their shoulders. Pollination produces seeds, and this means bees play a key role in the food chain. Their contribution to biodiversity is beneficial to all living things.What is threatening bees, currently?Paniagua: Over the past years, there has been a global phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is significantly attributed to the use of pesticides, herbicides, and monoculture; this latter means growing a single crop for several years on the same land.Locally speaking, logging can be a factor, but here in my southern Caribbean community, I have seen a lack of information in regard to the bees. This unawareness about their importance can be detrimental. People sometimes perceive bees as a threat rather than allies.What is it like to work together?Cortes: We are aware that this is a joint effort, we make a great team. I am lucky that she is my wife, my friend, my partner, and to be able to share her love of bees with me is a great joy.Paniagua: I am very grateful to God, I have a husband that has taught me so much about bees. Because of him, I came in contact with them, and I ended up falling in love with bees. I think many couples have affinities in different regards, some like to talk about sports, and others like us enjoy to talk about bees.Cortes: We even dream about bees. Bees at Api-Agricultura Sweet bee dreams (Photo courtesy of Api-Agricultura)Carlos and Liz have several plans for the future. They want to run a bee tour designed for locals and tourists. The National Distance Education University (UNED) is also interested in supporting their initiative by doing a research about the bee species they keep at their organization.Api-Agricultura has also been supported by volunteers from around the world who have come to Costa Rica learn more about their initiative. The project also follows a sustainability model certified by the Rainforest Organization, an international non-profit organization aimed at protecting the environment as a whole.To know more about their work, you can visit Api-Agricultura’s Facebook page.
TripAdvisor rates three Thai landmarks as among Best in Asia for 2017Three of Thailand’s most iconic landmarks, all in Bangkok, have been listed as among the top 25 Landmarks in Asia by the influential international travel website TripAdvisor in its 2017 Travelers’ Choice listings.The Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, (Wat Phra Kaeo) all on Bangkok’s historic Rattanakosin Island were named in the top 25 list, taking 4th, 9th and 14th place, respectively. These three landmarks are regarded as some of Thailand’s top tourist sites and have appeared regularly in must-see lists published internationally.The Temple of the Reclining Buddha also took 21st spot in the TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks in the World 2017.Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “Some of Thailand’s greatest treasures can be found in the historic heart of Bangkok, and we’re delighted that so many tourists come here to delight in the artistic, cultural and religious heritage of the kingdom. Thailand offers a huge array of historic sites including temples and cities, and we invite everyone to explore and discover the amazing art and craftsmanship of Thai builders and artists from times past.”The annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, are given based on the quantity and quality of travellers’ reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor’s website gathered over the previous 12-month period.On the website, tourists said the Temple of the Reclining Buddha was “Breathtaking” and “Iconic” and “A true beauty to behold”. The famous Grand Palace is called “Majestic” and the number one “Must-see site” in Thailand. The Palace’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is described as “A treat for the eyes” and a “wonderful example of Thai architecture.”TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site and gathers advice and reviews from millions of travellers from around the world, covering seven million hotels and types of accommodation, restaurants and attractions. The website reaches 390 million monthly visitors in 49 worldwide markets. Source = Tourism Authority Of Thailand