Senate leaders recommend $14 million in cost cuts to avoid layoffs

first_imgSenate leadership today recommended over $14 million worth of savings in labor costs.  The Senate is opposed to Governor Douglas proposal to lay off an additional three hundred and twenty employees and asks the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) and the Douglas Administration to move forward with negotiations.  Senate leadership has put forward the recommendations to the VSEA and the Administration and urges them to move forward with their negotiations.   The Senate’s recommendations include ten ongoing furlough days, freezing the cost-of-living increase and individual step increases in pay, cutting five media related administration positions, cutting private contracts and more.  The full proposal is attached to this email.   “State employees are gripped with fear, focusing on whether they will lose their positions instead of focusing on their jobs,” said Senator Illuzzi.  “Our hope is that by putting forward this proposal we will jumpstart the negotiations between the Administration and the VSEA.”Vermont state government has already made significant position reductions; in the last two years alone, over four hundred positions have been eliminated.  Additional reductions will significantly impact the state services that Vermonters are relying on and further strain our troubled unemployment fund.  While the legislature can not interfere directly with the negotiations, recommendations can be made for how the state can protect our hard working employees and save $14 million.   The Senate’s proposal would save the state over $14 million and alleviate the need to eliminate three hundred and twenty state employees. “Our goal with this proposal is to work together with all the parties concerned to ensure that three hundred and twenty Vermonters keep their jobs and the services that Vermonters are relying on stay intact,” said Senator Peter Shumlin. Source: Senator Shumlin’s Office. April, 16, 2009 AttachmentSize Senate personnel cuts.DOC46 KBlast_img read more

2012 Vermont Governor’s awards for environmental excellence

first_imgVermont Business Magazine,Application due January 20, 2012Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. The annual awards honor the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution and promote sustainability.Applications are encouraged from:Business, Industry, and Trade or Professional OrganizationsEnvironmental, Community, and Non-Profit OrganizationsIndividual CitizensInstitutions (such as schools, hospitals, and municipalities)Teachers and StudentsPublic AgenciesApplications must be received electronically, no later than Friday, January 20, 2012. Application materials are available on the Internet Click HERE for application link. For questions or to obtain email copies of the application, contact Emma Schumann at sends e-mail), 802-241-3600.Sponsored by:follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friendCopyright © 2012 Vermont Business Magazine, All rights reserved.You are receiving this email because you are a VBM subscriber or you opted in at our website.Our mailing address is:Vermont Business Magazine365 Dorset StreetSouth Burlington, Vermont 05403Add us to your address bookunsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferenceslast_img read more

FARC’s Pipeline Attacks Disrupt Colombian Economy, Drive Away Foreign Investment

first_imgBy Dialogo February 06, 2012 Guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) carried out 40 attacks on oil pipelines last year, causing oil spills and significant environmental damage, says Colombia’s Ministry of Mining and Energy. FARC already has picked up this year where it left off with a series of attacks, including the coordinated bombing of two different sections of the 770-kilometer Caño Limon, the country’s second-largest oil pipeline. The sabotage — carried out in Norte de Santander on the border with Venezuela — triggered a large oil spill, the ministry said. Another pipeline attack in the municipality of El Tarra caused a spill in the Catatumbo River. Renzo Zoronado, a representative of Petronorte, which owns the pipeline, told RCN Radio that “we have activated contingency plans in order to control the oil that spilled into the river, but it’s almost impossible. Every time there is an attack, there will always be spilling.” Repairs to the fractured pipeline were delayed until army reinforcements could be moved into the area to protect oil workers. FARC attacks cause millions in losses Of the 40 attacks in 2011 mounted by FARC, 13 involved explosives that were used to blow up pipelines, causing millions of dollars in losses. Government officials say none of the attacks resulted in production being halted. Affected oil companies continued production while their pipelines were being repaired, though they were forced to store crude or transport it by truck. A resurgence of attacks on Colombia’s energy sector by FARC and another rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) occurred last year. Kidnappings of oil-company workers increased by 25 percent, according to private security consultants. According to government figures, 38 oilfield personnel were seized. The oil industry wasn’t alone in being targeted by FARC. The country’s power supply also came under attack with bombings of 36 electrical towers — double the number of attacks in 2010, according to government figures. FARC attacks hurting Colombians Such acts of sabotage are frustrating both industry and government, and preventing the country’s oil sector from reaching its full potential. At present, Colombia is the third-largest oil producer in Latin America. Armando Zamora, general director of the National Hydrocarbon Agency, said all Colombians are being made to suffer as a result. On the organization’s website he asserts: “The terrorist acts are causing high costs to the state, to Colombians and to the environment.” More than 100 domestic and foreign companies are involved in Colombian oil exploration and production; last year, the sector attracted more than $4 billion in foreign investment — a 25 percent jump from 2010 — with 2011 production averaging around 965,000 barrels a day. With help from oil exports, the Andean nation has become a darling of international investors looking for good returns. Last year, sales of Colombian corporate bonds rose 149 percent to $4.3 billion — the second-biggest jump among major emerging-market countries after the Czech Republic, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The considerable security gains in recent years have done much to help lure foreign investors to Colombia. Government officials from President Juan Manuel Santos on down have warned that the targeting of a crucial sector like oil threatens to jeopardize those gains. At a recent press conference, Santos said the FARC attacks prove the guerrilla movement isn’t serious about negotiations. “Their actions show that all they want to do is damage the Colombian environment and affect the oil industry,” he said. Santos also criticized FARC for its involvement in illegal mining, which he said is “an important and growing source of financing” for the guerrillas. It also causes environmental damage, say officials at the Ministry of Mining and Energy, while depriving the government of tax revenue. Last summer, Santos announced new measures to improve highway security in Caqueta state, the location of several FARC attacks against oil company personnel. Yet Zamora said the increase in pipeline attacks is a sign of weakness on the part of FARC. “They want to create pressure and show they are still alive,” he told Bloomberg in an interview. “What else can they do but attack something essential?” The Ministry of Defense reports about 80,000 soldiers are deployed nationwide defend mining and energy infrastructure nationwide. Improvement in recent years Certainly the security situation has improved dramatically in recent years, thanks to initiatives begun by President Alvaro Uribe and continued by his successor. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw hundreds of pipeline attacks; in 2002, one pipeline alone was hit 171 times. Back in the 1990s, FARC claimed it was highly concerned about the environment and boasted that it laid down strict environmental rules on farmers, fishermen, hunters and loggers in territory it controlled. International journalists were invited to observe FARC environmentalism first-hand. This included the enforcement of hunting and fishing seasons, the imposition of fines and banishing at the point of a gun those who broke the guerrillas’ rules. “All units are told to protect watersheds, fauna and especially the fish population,” FARC spokesman Camilo López told the Miami Herald in a 1999 interview. “Go to the riverbank and you will see that the turtles are returning, that other animals are coming back. In some areas of the mountains, deer are coming back.” But the FARC’s pipeline attacks have caused long-lasting damage to the environment. “FARC is one of the groups who contribute the most to polluting our country,” Santos said at a news conference. “Their acts against the oil industry just add to the long list of irreparable offenses.” Environmentalist Gustavo Wilches Chaux, recently told local newspapers it’ll take decades for polluted rivers to recover, and that oil spills had forced affected farmers to abandon their land or bring in fresh, pure water and fertilizers at a very high cost. To help improve law-enforcement surveillance in the north, where many of the pipeline attacks are being launched, Colombia purchased last year an Israeli unmanned air vehicle, and is considering acquiring at least one more, defense industry officials said. Israel’s Elbit Systems publicly confirmed this month that it had sold a UAV for $50 million to the Colombian national police, and AviationWeek magazine reported that the Colombian army is also interested in procuring a similar drone.last_img read more

Republicans’ haste leading to flawed tax legislation

first_imgLikewise, the House version would stop allowing taxpayers to take a deduction for medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of their income.That would hurt middle- and working-class families.On matters small and large, Republican leaders have deliberately left no time for definitive congressional analysis of the economic and social fallout.Then they’ve summarily dismissed research by respected outside groups like the Tax Policy Center, which has found that the legislation decisively tilts to the well-to-do — by 2027, the wealthiest 1 percent would get 60 percent of the benefits, the group says — and that by 2027, tens of millions of middle-class families would pay higher taxes.The Senate bill has a provision for triggering automatic additional corporate tax cuts in the unlikely event that revenues exceed expectations.On Tuesday, Republicans inserted a so-called “backstop” provision that would limit tax cuts years from now if there’s a revenue shortfall.Details weren’t provided and it’s probably more of a vote-getting device than a substantive check on ballooning deficits. Sen. Ron Wyden, the panel’s senior Democrat who was amenable to a bipartisan tax-reform deal. Instead, the seven-term Utah lawmaker, under pressure to retire next year, went small, expensive and partisan.Stephen Shay, a Harvard University law school lecturer, tax lawyer and former Treasury official, has predicted that the rushed legislation “will be rife with undiscovered loopholes that increase the windfalls and scope of the deficit.”The Finance Committee did hold an Oct. 3 hearing, he noted, but it lacked substance and was “irrelevant except to permit the committee majority to say a hearing was held.”Overall, Shay writes, “There is a pervasive failing in the bill to introduce guardrails around substantial rate reductions that would effectively police the many new boundaries between rate differences that the bill creates.”Some provisions are included to score cheap political points. Conservatives targeted higher education, elite liberal institutions in their book, with taxes on the endowments of better-off colleges and on the tuition waivers graduate students receive for working as researchers or teaching assistants.There were no hearings that weighed the effect of these measures.University officials claim they would reduce research and cut financial assistance for middle-income students — at a time the federal government is cutting back in the same areas. Over the summer, Republican leaders brushed aside Sen. John McCain’s call for “regular order” to consider what soon became a failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Regular order involves dozens of hearings in which different views can be ventilated, along with deep analysis in a bipartisan spirit.Politically motivated haste has now produced an equally reckless tax effort.On a macro level, it’s not going to produce the promised economic growth.It can be expected to add at least $1.7 trillion to the deficit in 10 years and worsen income inequality.It’s no surprise the House legislated on a partisan basis; that’s long been the way it does business.But the Senate ought to be a different story.Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who leads the Finance Committee, could have tried to work with Oregon Categories: Editorial, OpinionAny major tax bill has unintended consequences and hidden loopholes.But the current Republican tax effort just bristles with such potential miscues.It’s a slipshod product, legislated with minimal transparency and analysis and with a premium on partisan politics.The Senate is slated to vote very soon on a tax bill that’s similar to the one the House passed on Nov. 16.Both call for huge tax cuts, primarily for corporations and upper-income individuals, with little, sometimes nothing, for many middle-class taxpayers.Both parade as tax reform, but do little to reorganize the tax system as the last real tax reform did in a bipartisan measure passed in 1986.The legislation has been rushed so fast through a short-circuited lawmaking process that if it’s successful, many of the politicians who voted for it may find themselves shocked to discover what they’ve done. Sponsors contend that tax cuts benefiting the middle class that are slated to expire in 10 years actually will be extended by a future Congress.If that’s true, what they don’t acknowledge is that these future cuts would add even more to the deficit, bringing pressure for significant spending reductions.The only big available targets are entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, or military spending.That’s why there should be a clear path for deficit hawks like Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, or defense hawks like McCain, to send this bill back to the Finance Committee for real hearings, review, debate and analysis.That’s called regular order.Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist and former executive editor of Bloomberg News.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Coronavirus carrier faces jail in Singapore for lying over movements

first_imgThe husband had been confirmed to be infected with the virus in late January, and has since recovered, while his wife had been quarantined due to her close contact with him.The health ministry said “detailed investigations” had established their true movements and they were charged “in view of the potentially serious repercussions of the false information…and the risk they could have posed to public health”.Charges under the Infectious Diseases Act are rare and this is the first case during the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore. First time offenders under the Act can be fined up to S$10,000 ($7,147) or imprisoned for six months, or both.Also on Wednesday, Singapore said a 45-year-old man lost his residency status after failing to comply with an order to stay at home for 14 days when he returned from China. The city-state – known for its tough laws – has also cancelled work passes and cut employers’ rights to hire foreigners for breaches of other virus prevention measures.Topics : A Chinese national who contracted coronavirus has been charged by Singaporean authorities for allegedly giving false information about his whereabouts in the city-state and could face up to six months in jail.Singapore has won international praise for its fastidious approach in tackling the virus – which has included using police investigators and security cameras to help track suspect carriers. The wealthy island state, an important regional financial center and transport hub, has confirmed 91 cases so far.The health ministry on Wednesday said it had charged a 38-year-old man from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus first surfaced late last year, and his wife who resides in Singapore for allegedly providing false information to authorities about their movements for contact tracing.last_img read more

Holocaust memorial sites fight new threat from far right

first_img“There have always been incidents at memorial sites, but we have noticed an escalation due to the far right’s breaching of language taboos,” he said. At Buchenwald, where 56,000 people died between 1937 and 1945, the number of reported incidents has doubled since 2015.Right-wing extremists have also been known to take smiling selfies in front of furnaces used to cremate victims and leave stickers glorifying their fellow revisionists, Knigge said.More recently, a growing number of tour guides have been interrupted by extremists propagating revisionist theories.  Topics : Remembrance culture This year marks 75 years since the liberation of most of the Nazi death camps in Europe.The rise in incidents at memorial sites also comes as the generation of Germans who lived through World War II is beginning to die out and attention is shifting to making sure that the horrors of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were systematically murdered, are not forgotten.But recent years have seen the anti-immigrant AfD party establish itself as the most electorally successful far-right movement in Germany’s post-war history.Founded in 2013, the AfD is now the largest opposition party in Germany’s parliament, and many of its key figures have attacked the long-standing culture of atonement for Nazi crimes. Regional leader Bjoern Hoecke has called for a “180 degree reversal” in German remembrance culture, and labeled the Berlin Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame”.Former AfD chairman Alexander Gauland has dismissed the Nazi dictatorship as a “speck of bird shit” in German history, and called on citizens to be proud of soldiers who fought for the Nazi Wehrmacht, or army. “The far right and the AfD always adopt a strategy of pushing boundaries in order to normalize their thought,” said Bianca Klose, of the Berlin-based organization Mobile Counseling against Right-wing Extremism (MBR).Since the party won seats in all of Germany’s regional parliaments, several AfD MPs have also tried to influence the cultural-historical programs of memorial sites, she added.”They question the pedagogical choices and attempt to erase certain historical aspects. Even worse, they intimidate people by demanding information about their private life or political orientation,” Klose told AFP. From swastikas sprayed on the walls to Hitler salute selfies, far-right provocations are a growing problem at the sites of former Nazi concentration camps in Germany.Museum directors have sounded the alarm over a spike in incidents, which include visitors writing messages of Holocaust denial in the guestbook and challenging tour guides on the facts of the genocide.”Messages glorifying Nazism or demanding the camps be reopened for foreigners have become more common,” Volkhard Knigge, museum director at the former Buchenwald concentration camp in eastern Germany, told AFP.center_img Security measures There are 15 former concentration camps on German soil, which have been turned into memorial sites.The most well-known among them, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Neuengamme, Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbrueck and Buchenwald, received almost three million visitors in 2018.But faced with the new challenge from the far right, many of the sites have been forced to adapt. In Berlin, Neumaerker allows his tour guides to choose themselves whether or not to accept groups from the AfD, and has provided staff with special training in how to react to provocations. Like his colleague Knigge at Buchenwald, he has blacklisted certain members of the AfD. At Neuengamme, any delegations from the AfD are accompanied by extra tour guides.Certain sites have also introduced a so-called “extremist clause”, prohibiting access to anyone wearing clothes, which reference the Third Reich. Yet financing CCTV cameras and security personnel diverts funds, which “would be more useful in education… especially for younger people,” said Knigge. The Buchenwald director also said he regretted that schools had cut back on lessons dedicated solely to teaching the history of Nazism in their busy timetables, an issue that has provoked concern in Germany and a parliamentary study two years ago. “The memorials can’t compensate for what schools are no longer doing,” he said. Uwe Neumaerker, director of Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, said that his museum faced similar problems. “Visitors are questioning the truth of the genocide. That is something which we didn’t experience even a few years ago.”last_img read more

Family First appeals against deregistration

first_imgNZ Herald 27 May 2013Family First has lodged a High Court appeal against the removal of its charitable status – a decision the group has blamed on a single complaint which coincided with the same-sex marriage debate.The Charities Registration Board earlier this month ruled Family First’s main purpose was political, rather than charitable, and that it would lose its charitable status unless it appealed by today.An appeal was lodged in the High Court at Wellington this afternoon, which means the group can remain on the charities register until the outcome of the appeal.Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the group had been de-registered because of its views on gay marriage, which was legalised by Parliament last month.He said the “highly politicised” decision to remove its charitable status followed an investigation sparked by a single complaint on August 28 last year – the day before same-sex marriage legislation was given its first reading in Parliament.The two-sentence complaint, released to Family First under the Official Information Act, said the group was “a religious based pressure group” with the sole purpose of preventing human rights for non-heterosexual people.Mr McCoskrie said the board’s decision was an abuse of power which showed government groups were being used to enforce an ideology.He said the board had investigated only one charity which opposed Family First’s views, and that group was still registered.“The Charities Registration Board should be consistent – but it’s quite evident that it’s not, and is using isolated complaints by disgruntled people to muzzle groups who challenge the prevailing politically correct view.” First fights for charity status3 News 27 May 2013 First to appeal deregistrationONE News 27 May 2013Family First New Zealand says it will appeal a decision that will soon see it deregistered as a charity. read more

NCAA Tourney

first_imgDo you wonder what the deciding factor is in picking the “at large” teams for the NCAA tournament?  The conference tournament championships and league champions are automatics.  You make it as one or the other but not for both.  So how do the others get in?  The factors are: Power Ranking (wins over rated teams) Total wins plus being in a major conference Your coach’s reputation and your fan baseBeing in the top 50, no bad losses, name recognitionThe Committee bias (look good for TV ratings)You probably don’t agree with all of these, and if you ask the committee who picks the remaining teams, they will deny any of those factors that I listed that can not be quantitatively backed up.  How many times have you seen Duke or North Carolina left out of the NCAA?  Case closed.last_img read more

St. Louis students receive gold at ISSMA contest

first_imgBATESVILLE, Ind. — Seven students from St. Louis school recently participated in the ISSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest.The students competed in nine contests, and the students received Gold rankings in each.Participating in vocal solos and earning gold medals were Martha Hillenbrand, Evelyn Storms, Alyssa Wanstrath, and Anna Wanstrath.Participating in piano solos and earning gold medals were Elizabeth Harmeyer, Kayla Stone, Alyssa Wanstrath, Anna Wanstrath, and Teresa Wanstrath.Gold is the highest ranking the judges can award.last_img read more

VanLaanen cruises at Thunderhill Raceway

first_imgBy Edward AnschutzSTURGEON BAY, Wis. (Aug. 16) – After taking the lead on lap two and surviving a number of restarts, Jarred VanLaanen’s cruised to victory Sunday in the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod main event at Thunderhill Raceway.VanLaanen built a straightaway advantage, only to see it taken away by a caution on lap eight. VanLaanen again set sail on the restart, leaving the battle for second. Jacob Zellner bobbled while running near the front, setting off a chain reaction wreck that collected title contenders Ber­nie Reinhardt and Tom Stark.Stark returned on the lead lap after a trip down pit lane. Several mid-race cautions kept the field tight but no one had anything to challenge VanLaanen, who dominated the remainder of the event with his second feature win of the season. Vince Engebregtsen was second and Cody Rass placed third.Other feature winners were Greg Gretz in the Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modifieds, Tom Brumlic in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars and Dave Schmidt in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks.last_img read more