Three disabled peers have asked a panel of senior

first_imgThree disabled peers have asked a panel of senior civil servants why the government appears to have failed to enforce the Equality Act since it became law five years ago.The peers were questioning civil servants from the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) and the Government Equalities Office (GEO), in the first evidence session of a committee set up to examine the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people.Members of the Equality Act 2010 and Disability Committee – set up on the prompting of the disabled Liberal Democrat peer Baroness [Celia] Thomas – repeatedly asked the civil servants why the government had taken so few steps to enforce the act, one of the final pieces of legislation introduced by the last Labour government.The hearing came days after GEO published a memo setting out key developments since the act was introduced five years ago.The memo reveals that of all the enquiries made to the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS), which was set up in October 2012 to replace the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) helpline, 62 per cent related to disability, compared with 15 per cent on race, and eight per cent on gender-related concerns.The disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell – in a week that saw her given a lifetime achievement award by the Bevan Foundation – suggested that the government’s decisions to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and place a cap on payments from the Access to Work fund were “very much against government policy on halving the employment gap” between disabled and non-disabled people.And she suggested that the moves could have breached the government’s public sector equality duty, under the Equality Act.Baroness Thomas said that the government’s own Fulfilling Potential disability strategy pledged to transform the care and support system in order to promote wellbeing and independence and achieve choice and control for disabled people.But she said that that promise “does not sit very well with the closure of the Independent Living Fund”, and asked: “How are you going to monitor what the closure of the ILF means for disabled people?“Are you going to talk to local authorities to see how they are fulfilling their part of the bargain, which is what disabled people are very, very worried about?”When Pat Russell, ODI’s director, said the ILF closure was the responsibility of the Department of Health, Baroness Campbell suggested that her answer appeared to contradict ODI’s supposed “enabling” role and its “cross-government responsibilities”.Baroness Thomas asked the trio of civil servants what the government had done to ensure that the duties under the act to make reasonable adjustments were “actually applied in practice”.She said: “We all know about the theory, but what about in practice?“Those of us who are disabled feel that there’s a great deal that is not being done in this area.“How well do you think service-providers and employers know what a reasonable adjustment is and know what their duties are?”Of the roughly 2,200 enquiries a month made to EASS since 2012, 24 per cent have been about a failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person, according to the GEO memo.Charles Ramsden, head of the GEO’s equality framework team, said the government was “aware of concerns” about reasonable adjustments, particularly in terms of access to buildings.He said that case law had built up over the 20 years since reasonable adjustments were introduced through the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), and he said EHRC had produced guidance on reasonable adjustments and was frequently involved in key legal cases.Russell pointed to schemes such as Disability Confident and the Accessible Britain Challenge as evidence of government action.But a third disabled peer, Labour’s Baroness [Rosalie] Wilkins, said: “What you have been talking about are educational campaigns, which is what we had before we had the DDA and the Equality Act.”She said: “The act is supposed to be enforcing things, not educating the public. Where is the enforcement?”Baroness Campbell said she was “really worried” by the government’s emphasis on Disability Confident, when the Business Disability Forum (BDF) had been doing similar work for the last 10 years.She said: “Why are we reinventing the wheel… when you could actually be doing the enforcement practice on employers who are confident but still do not undertake the reasonable adjustments so [disabled] employees can come to work every day?“It seems that we are spending a lot of time on awareness campaigns that already exist, and not enough time enforcing the Equality Act.”Russell said that enforcing the act was not the role of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is responsible for ODI, and that colleagues were working alongside the BDF rather than replicating its work.She added: “It is not the department’s policy responsibility to look at enforcement… that enforcement function sits elsewhere.”Ramsden said that, although there were concerns that EHRC had lost some of its functions, it retained its Equality Act enforcement role, and was still able to assess compliance with the public sector equality duty, carry out investigations, and help people taking cases to court.He said: “The nub of the issue, and an extremely difficult one, is trying to get some kind of handle on enforcement but at the very earliest stage before in effect there has been any kind of dispute.“Clearly that is the $64,000 question and the element that is invariably the most difficult to solve.”last_img read more

Disabled members of the Conservative party have la

first_imgDisabled members of the Conservative party have launched their own investigation into the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), following widespread concerns about its impact across the country.The Conservative Disability Group (CDG) has issued an appeal to former ILF-users and those who had friends or relatives who were recipients of ILF funding to help with the research.Disabled campaigners have accused the government of trying to “wash its hands of all responsibility” for meeting the social care support needs of former ILF-recipients, with the transition process hit by reports of cuts to their care packages. ILF was funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, and when it closed on 30 June 2015 it was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.But ministers decided it should be scrapped, promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred through DCLG to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.CDG – which provides a forum for party members with an interest in disability to raise concerns and make suggestions that can be passed on to Tory MPs and councillors – plans to write a report to share with the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson.Wayne Henderson, a member of the CDG executive, has told members the project will examine how well the transition has been managed.He has asked for evidence of how the process has worked in different parts of the country, whether there have been any problems, and whether people’s care packages have been protected by their local councils.He told Disability News Service that it was CDG’s “first call for evidence in recent years” and that they were “using our limited resources to investigate one of the most current areas where there are reported problems in order to find out the facts”.But he said it was too early to say if he or other CDG members were concerned about how the transition from ILF closure had been managed.He said: “We are doing this because we have heard that the transition varies considerably from area to area and we want to get more facts to inform our consideration and thence to pass on information and suggestions to the parliamentary group.”A spokeswoman for Inclusion London welcomed CDG’s decision to carry out the investigation, but said it was a surprise.She said: “People haven’t felt listened to by the Conservative party. It shows that it is such an important issue that they are choosing to research in this area. It shows an awareness that the transition has not gone smoothly.”A Conservative party spokesman said: “The CDG are an independent organisation, so it is up to them what research they choose to undertake.”In October, figures obtained by Inclusion London through a freedom of information request showed that in one local authority, Waltham Forest, more than a quarter of disabled people who previously received ILF support had had their social care packages cut by at least half since it closed.Meanwhile, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has finally confirmed – following weeks of requests for information from Disability News Service (DNS) – that it will provide some funding to councils to compensate them for the extra costs of providing support to former ILF-users in 2016-17.DCLG had insisted that any grants to support councils with the costs of former ILF-users in 2016-17 would depend on the outcome of the government’s spending review, and later said it would provide details once last month’s local government finance settlement had been announced.A DCLG spokeswoman has now finally told DNS: “Local councils are now responsible for meeting all of the eligible needs of former Independent Living Fund recipients.“The government is committed to ensuring councils meet their duties under the Care Act 2014 to former fund recipients.“We will be providing a grant to councils to fund former ILF recipients. Full details will be published in due course.”Ellen Clifford, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “I would be surprised – although delighted – if there really was continuation of the separate ILF grant determination.“The delay in releasing this information means that local authorities will continue to plan ahead on the basis there won’t be, leading to re-assessments going ahead meanwhile on the basis of a need to cut costs.”This week, DPAC issued an appeal for donations to set up a fighting fund to help former ILF-recipients challenge cuts to their care packages.Clifford said that cuts to the extent of those seen in Waltham Forest “mean robbing disabled people of independence, dignity and equality”.Changes to legal aid mean some former ILF-users are no longer eligible for help with their legal bills, but cannot afford to fund court action to challenge cuts to their care packages.Clifford said: “Legal challenges are an important way of testing out the rights of former ILF recipients under the Care Act 2014 and making examples out of local authorities that are not meeting their legal duties.“This is why we need a fighting fund available to support legal challenges by former ILF recipients not eligible for legal aid.”Meanwhile, the Welsh government has confirmed, in an email to a former ILF-user, that it has allocated £27 million for 2016-17 to a fund it set up as a result of ILF’s closure.The Welsh independent living grant (WILG) funding will ensure that former ILF-users continue to receive their existing level of financial support for social care until at least March 2017.In the email sent to campaigner and former ILF-user Nathan Lee Davies, the first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said the Welsh Labour government’s draft budget for 2016-17 “contains £27 million to enable the WILG to continue to March 2017 as planned”.He added: “I understand that the minister for health and social services will shortly be engaging with representatives of stakeholders to identify the best way of providing support in future.“This will be in the light of the public consultation held earlier this year. This is to ensure that future arrangements are in place for when the current grant concludes in 2017.”Davies said on his blog that this response was “the best Christmas gift I could have asked for as now I have it in writing that WILG will continue to March 2017 as planned”.He added: “I must keep my eye on the ball and continue to fight to secure long-term assurances for disabled people, but I can now forge forward with hope in my heart.”A Welsh government spokesman said: “The UK government’s decision to close the ILF caused anxiety among those who receive support, and their carers.“The Welsh grant scheme to replace the ILF came into operation on 1 July 2015. It allows local authorities to pay existing recipients their current level of funding.“The actions the Welsh government has taken to ensure this important source of funding continues to be delivered by our local authorities means people who currently receive ILF payments will still be able to get direct payments to sustain their levels of care and support under a new made-in-Wales process.”The Scottish government has set up its own Independent Living Fund, for both existing and new users in Scotland.Picture: Activists campaigning to halt the closure of the Independent Living Fund taking part in a protest in the grounds of Westminster Abbey in 2014last_img read more

SHANNON McDonnell grabbed a hattrick as Saints fi

first_imgSHANNON McDonnell grabbed a hat-trick as Saints finished their Super 8s campaign with a 32-12 victory over Wakefield Wildcats.The treble eased his side to a six-try win and a semi final with Warrington Wolves next Thursday.But they know they’ll have to play a lot better if they are going to progress.After an opening stalemate with handling errors on both sides, Jonny Lomax produced a crucial try-saving tackle on Craig Hall.That was as threatened as either try-line got until Saints opened the deadlock after 20 minutes – Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook showing great strength to stretch over after a short ball.Luke Walsh kicked the conversion and then almost fashioned another chance for LMS and Jordan Turner on the very next play.But Craig Hall crossed on 27 minutes following some great handling close to the goal line.Both sides toiled to create anything definitive but Saints increased their advantage courtesy of a superb ball from Lomax two minutes before half time.He’d been unlucky earlier in the set with a darting run, but he certainly made no mistake with a long cut out pass for Jack Owens to cross for his sixth of the season.Liam Finn making it a six point game as the hooter sounded with a penalty.Saints thought they’d scored first in the second half as Jon Wilkin and Theo Fages combined to put Joe Greenwood over.But the move was bizarrely called back for obstruction.Wakefield threatened on 50 minutes but a big tackle from Alex Walmsley stopped the threat.Saints then turned defence into attack.Turner found himself free on the left hand side and fed McDonnell on his shoulder.The winger then duly took on Bill Tupou, produced a worldie of a stop start step to bamboozle his opposite number, and flew over from 40 metres.Tom Johnstone finished well on 58 minutes to keep the visitors in the hunt but McDonnell crossed for his second seven minutes later.Again, it was another flowing move – Fages and Turner linking for the winger to pick it up off his bootstraps.His third wasn’t too long in coming either.On 70 minutes Amor put in a barnstorming run to get Saints in field position and McDonnell picked another one off his laces for his hat-trick.Saints had their tails up and completed the match right on the stroke of full time.Amor was again involved; offloading for Fages to show great feet and dart under the posts.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Owens, McDonnell (3), FagesGoals: Walsh (4 from 6)Wildcats:Tries: Hall, JohnstoneGoals: Finn (2 from 2)Penalties:Saints: 6Wildcats: 8HT: 12-6FT: 32-12REF: Joe CobbATT: 9516Teams:Saints: 1. Jonny Lomax; 23. Shannon McDonnell, 4. Mark Percival, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 22. Jack Owens; 3. Jordan Turner, 7. Luke Walsh; 11. Atelea Vea, 28. Morgan Knowles, 10. Kyle Amor, 20. Joe Greenwood, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 17. Luke Thompson. Subs: 8. Alex Walmsley, 12. Jon Wilkin, 19. Theo Fages, 26. Oliver Davies.Wildcats:21. Max Jowitt; 2. Tom Johnstone, 14. Reece Lyne, 18. Joe Arundel, 3. Bill Tupou; 25. Craig Hall, 7. Liam Finn; 11. Michael Simon, 20. Mikey Sio, 35. David Fifita, 19. Jon Molloy, 17. Matty Ashurst, 13. Anthony Tupou.Subs: 16. Tinirau Arona, 22. Jordan Crowther, 28. Andy Yates, 31. Jason Walton.last_img read more

The 21yearold has spent the last five weeks with

first_imgThe 21-year-old has spent the last five weeks with York and scored two tries in their world record 144-0 win over West Wales Raiders at the weekend.Hull KR have signed the former England Under 18s representative to cover at dummy half with Shaun Lunt injured.Naturally, we wish him all the best at the Robins.Meanwhile, Josh Eaves is now on loan at Whitehaven alongside teammate Liam Cooper on a week by week basis.last_img

Chancellor provides update on UNCW repairs

first_img The university has also hired an independent firm to assess the effectiveness of UNCW’s response and recovery from the storm.Here’s the update Chancellor Sartarelli provided to students:Dear Campus Community:Welcome back! I hope you had a relaxing and reenergizing spring break, and that you have settled back in as we proceed toward the end of another semester! I wanted to share some updates with you in terms of campus repairs and construction, campus climate, and an opportunity for you to share your feedback on our institutional response to Hurricane Florence.Campus Repairs and ConstructionOur facilities team worked through the break on Hurricane Florence-related repairs across campus, including painting and roofing. Next month, we will begin site preparation for the next set of modular lab units, to account for the teaching laboratories lost in Dobo Hall and needed for the 2019-20 academic year.  These will be located adjacent to, but not on, parking Lot R2 and Chancellor’s Walk (across from Cameron Hall, next to Chancellor’s Walk). We will also begin site preparation for the Applied Research Learning Facility, which will be a permanent building ready for use in early 2020.  It will be located adjacent to, but not on, parking Lot Q (between the Cultural Arts Building and Friday Hall). Construction has concluded on the Administrative Annex, and staff moves were completed this week. I want to thank everyone who contributed to the planning and construction of this building, as well as the teams who have moved in, for their patience and enthusiasm about their new space! The parking lot serving the Administrative Annex, located across from the building on MacMillan Avenue, is now complete, and an additional parking lot is under construction for completion in April, at the intersection of Hurst Drive, Hamilton Drive, and MacMillan Avenue.  The Student Housing Village construction remains in full swing. Two buildings are scheduled for completion in the fall of 2020 and the two remaining buildings will be completed for the fall of 2021.  You can always check the status or impacts of campus construction by visiting this site.Campus ClimateThe Campus Climate Committee has been working hard to further enhance our environment of diversity and inclusion. They are working with SGA and Student Ambassadors on DIVE IN week activities, to include thought-provoking forums, a variety of music and food, a reaffirmation of the Seahawk Respect Compact, and a co-sponsored workshop with CTE on Mindfulness and Diversity and Inclusion. Keep an eye on the SGA web page for more info on DIVE IN week! The Campus Climate committee is also busy creating learning module for employees concerning the First Amendment, evaluating and making resource websites more user-friendly, promoting cultural events across campus, and evaluating a safety app to recommend for possible campus use. You can find the new Campus Climate webpage here. Many thanks to Dr. Kent Guion, Liz Grimes, and Bradley Ballou for leading this effort.Hurricane Florence FeedbackAs a means of continuing to enhance our Emergency Operations Plan, the university has initiated an “after-action review” of our response to Hurricane Florence. Hagerty Consulting, an independent firm, will assess the effectiveness of our response and recovery from the storm to ensure we are as prepared as possible for future storms. This will occur via interviews with various constituents on campus (the Emergency Planning Group and others directly involved in the response and recovery) as well as via a survey targeting faculty and staff and a wide sampling of students. Please keep an eye out for an email from Hagerty Consulting (it will be from an  “” address). Allow me this opportunity to acknowledge that just as our campus continues to recover, I know many of you continue to recover personally as well. Please do let your colleagues and friends on campus know if there is any way we can offer you our support.In the coming weeks, you will see an invitation to a campus forum, which will be an opportunity for you to share feedback or ask questions about any of the above topics, or anything else on your mind.It has been an interesting academic year – challenging,rewarding and unlike any we have ever experienced – but one that has allowed us all to illustrate the values of Seahawk strength and unity, and build upon an already stellar path. I want to thank you all, our incredibly dedicated staff, our world-class faculty, and our resilient and motivated students, for once again making me proud of who we are as a campus and as a community. Go Seahawks!Sincerely,Jose V. SartarelliChancellor Dobo Hall was the building most damaged by Hurricane Florence.(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As we approach another hurricane season, work continues to repair the millions in damage Hurricane Florence caused at UNC Wilmington.Facility teams worked through the break on repairs across campus. Starting next month, UNCW will begin preparing a site for modular lab units to temporarily replace the labs lost in Dobo Hall.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Climate before cash – young Norwegians call time on oil industry

first_imgFILE PHOTO: A student holds a placard during a protest against climate change in front of the Parliament building in Oslo, Norway March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Nerijus AdomaitisFILE PHOTO: A student holds a placard during a protest against climate change in front of the Parliament building in Oslo, Norway March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Nerijus Adomaitis When Norway’s largest political party decided that the Lofoten Islands in the north should not be opened up to oil exploration, a chill ran down the spine of the energy industry.The decision by the opposition Labour party last weekend effectively ended any chance of drilling in the foreseeable future in an area of natural beauty that energy executives say is important to the future of the country’s oil production.It was a stark example of how priorities are changing in a country that has become one of the world’s richest on the back of oil. In particular, young people concerned about climate change are pushing for curbs on exploration, with many thinking the unthinkable: shutting down the oil industry altogether.“Climate comes before cash,” said Simon Sand, 16, demonstrating in front of Parliament during a recent climate protest inspired by Swedish teenage activist Gretha Thunberg.While some might dismiss such protests as youthful rebellion, young people are undeniably driving change.The decision by Labour, a traditional ally of the oil industry, to withdraw its support for Lofoten drilling was largely down to an internal campaign by its AUF youth wing.“In this area, nature has to come first,” AUF leader Ina Libak, 29, told Reuters. “Because it’s so vulnerable, and because of fisheries and other kinds of industries.”Indeed the youth wings of seven out of the nine parliamentary parties in Norway call to either restrict or to completely phase out petroleum activities, according to a Reuters review of the programmes of the youth organisations.The youth wing of the ruling Conservative party does not call for restrictions, but says it assumes “market and environment-based” downsizing of the industry. Labour’s AUF wants to phase it out altogether by 2035.Labour’s Lofoten move, which created a parliamentary majority against drilling, caused consternation in the oil and gas industry. The area is estimated to contain 5 percent of total undiscovered resources on the Norwegian continental shelf and, furthermore, executives fear the green lobby will soon move on to their next target, such as exploration in the Arctic.Unions highlighted the economic risks of winding down the oil and gas sector – it employs 170,000 people and is the country’s top moneymaker, projected by the government to produce 17 percent of gross domestic product this year.“Every responsible government, on the left or on the right, will need to balance the budget and they will have to rely on revenues from oil and gas,” said Frode Alfheim, the leader of the top trade union for oil workers, Industri Energi.“Those revenues are not possible to replace from other sources. Much of the welfare state comes from this industry,” he told Reuters.FILE PHOTO: Students gather in front of the Parliament building during a protest against climate change in Oslo, Norway March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Nerijus AdomaitisSTRUGGLE FOR STAFFAnother sign of the hardening opposition towards fossil fuels, particularly young people, and its impact on the energy industry is a lack of qualified recruits to replace a rapidly ageing oil and gas workforce.State oil giant Equinor, the top oil producer in Norway by far, expects about half of its 21,000-strong workforce to retire in the next decade.Yet the number of applications for petroleum geosciences and engineering program at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, the country’s leading programme, fell to 33 in 2018 from 420 in 2013 – though the 2014-2016 downturn in crude prices could also have been a big driver.“It will be hard for us to provide enough for the oil companies in the next five years,” Egil Tjaaland, head of the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum at NTNU told Reuters.“Is this a response to the price of oil or is it because of environmental reasons, or political reasons? Young people today are looking for a secure job in and a job with a future – as it has always been,” he added.But those calling for Norway – western Europe’s largest oil producer and Europe’s second-largest gas supplier after Russia – to wean itself off oil and gas say the future of jobs in the country is a big factor motivating their campaign.“The worst thing that we can do for people working in oil and gas industry is to close our eyes to what’s happening abroad and just say ‘good luck with this’,” Libak said.“When Europe stops using oil and gas and switches to other energy sources, and that is happening very fast, it would affect us … I’m really concerned that we will have high unemployment in 20 years if we don’t make that plan now.”WHEN, NOT IFAda Johanna Arnstad, leader of the youth wing of the agrarian Centre Party, questioned how Norway could maintain high oil and gas output if countries met their carbon emissions reduction goals under the Paris climate accord, leading to falling demand for fossil fuels.“Right now we (Norway) are planning for the Paris agreement to come true. If it does, we will have huge issues in Norway if we continue to bet that oil and gas production will last for another 50 years,” the 26-year-old said.Her family is well-versed in the energy sector; her aunt, Marit Arnstad, is a former oil minister and an ex-member of the board of Equinor.The state oil giant changed its name from Statoil last year, partly to become more appealing to young people by emphasising its renewable energy credentials.“Let’s face it, the increased pressure and higher expectations (on oil companies) are not only coming from narrow political groupings, and activists, as they used to,” Equinor CEO Eldar Saetre told oil executives in Houston last month.“But increasingly also from broader political circles, from more and more investors, and not least from young people.”From being a poor country characterised by emigration and living off fishing and agriculture, Norway became prosperous after oil was discovered at Ekofisk in the North Sea in 1969.It now enjoys a GDP per capita roughly twice the level of Britain’s, according to 2018 International Monetary Fund data, and prudently pooled its revenues from oil into a sovereign wealth fund, now $1 trillion in size and the world’s largest.However, in a sign of the times, the giant wealth fund is itself now reducing its investments in oil and gas explorers to reduce its exposure to a risk of a permanent decline in oil prices.For the country’s central bank, which manages the fund that owns about 1.4 percent of all equities worldwide, it’s not a matter of whether the oil industry will disappear, but when.“We have always known that oil and gas activities will be phased out sooner or later,” Central bank Governor Oeystein Olsen told a meeting of Norway’s political and business elite in February.“A stricter global climate policy may mean that this will occur sooner than foreseen earlier,” he said, though cautioned against actively forcing a downsizing of the industry.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Photos Czechs stage biggest antigovernment protest since communist era

first_imgA demonstrator wearing an EU flag attends a protest rally demanding resignation of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Prague, Czech Republic, June 23, 2019. REUTERS/Milan KammermayerA demonstrator wearing an EU flag attends a protest rally demanding resignation of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Prague, Czech Republic, June 23, 2019. REUTERS/Milan Kammermayer Czechs turned out in their thousands on Sunday in Prague to call for the ousting of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, in the biggest show of public discontent since the 1989 Velvet Revolution which overthrew Communism.The rally in Letna park was the culmination of a series of demonstrations in recent weeks against Babis, who has faced investigations over alleged fraud and conflicts of interest.Organisers said they believed that about 250,000 people had attended Sunday’s rally, from all around the country, but this figure could not be verified.Some carried banners saying “Resign”, “We’ve had enough”, and others waved Czech or EU flags. Many families brought children to the protest, which was peaceful so far as were other recent protests against both Babis and his justice minister.Police proposed in April that Babis, a billionaire businessman-turned-politician sometimes likened to U.S. President Donald Trump, should be formally charged for fraud in tapping a European Union subsidy a decade ago to build a hotel and conference centre outside Prague. He denies any wrongdoing.The appointment of a new justice minister just after the police announcement prompted rallies by demonstrators suspicious that Babis was trying to influence proceedings. Babis has also vigorously denied that claim.Filip Rubas, who joined protests in 1989 against the then communist regime, said he turned out on Sunday to send a message to politicians that they will be held accountable.“We think that our leaders need to be reminded very strongly that they do not own our country, that they are not above the law (or constitution) and that there are still enough caring people who are not brainwashed by hateful propaganda,” said Rubas, 50.He travelled to the rally with his wife and a group of friends from Brno, the country’s second city, 200km from Prague.Sunday’s protest was organised by civic group Million Moments for Democracy, founded by students. Politicians were not invited to speak at the rally which began at around 16.30 (1430 GMT).Babis suffered another setback from leaked preliminary results of an audit by the European Commission, which determined he is in conflict of interest as the beneficiary of trust funds where he had transferred his business valued at $3.7 billion (£2.90 billion) by Forbes.Babis insists the audit is wrong and this would be proven in the final conclusions, expected late this year or early in 2020.Babis has said people have the right to protest but has firmly refused to step down. His populist ANO movement remains the most popular party, although its support has dipped slightly in the past two months to 27.5%, according to a poll by Kantar agency released on June 9.Babis also has enough backing in parliament, where a no-confidence vote planned for the next week is likely to fail. WhatsApp SharePrintcenter_img <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Why Apple Actually Lost to Samsung

first_imgAdvertisement Much of this case revolved around the fact that Samsung obviously copied certain icons already used by Apple. The most blatant is the white phone on the green background that indicates that you want to bring up the keypad or initiate the actual call.My Galaxy Nexus shows a blue phone on a transparent background.Locking itself to the Apple icon was arbitrary but it was Apple’s idea first. Nokia or Motorola should have patented the color green to indicate the dialer and red to indicate the disconnect button.Both companies would be in trouble, but why dwell on opportunities lost? Green and red stem from stop and go traffic signals, which are also arbitrary. Someone could have patented that and everyone would be in trouble.Do you see how stupid the current patent system is? But I digress. – Advertisement – The white handset icon set against a green background is a critical part in fully understanding how similar the Samsung phone is to the iPhone. In fact, Apple designer Susan Kare actually testified that when she was playing with the Samsung phone, she swore it was an Apple iPhone! Her testimony was quite convincing.It convinced millions of people that for a lot less money, they can get an iPhone by buying Samsung’s phone. Genius!But it gets worse.Apple made a big deal about its patents on the bezel, the angles of the corner curves, and other designs it apparently patented.People in general reacted with astonishment that anyone could get a patent for a curve or straight line or flat surface.This sent two messages through the brains of consumers: First, this is an idiotic patent and Apple is grasping for straws.Second, the company is spending too much time on minutiae rather than actual functionality.And now, go back and compare Samsung’s calling icon with Apple’s. The Samsung art for the handset is better than Apple’s simplistic art. Samsung’s just looks more modern.I’m sure this is one of the reasons Susan Kare confused the Android phone with the Apple phone as she assumed the slicker version of the exact same phone would be Apple, by default.This is a disaster for Apple no matter what Samsung does to its interface and its rounded corners.The case and its results, because of Apple testimonies, make it sound as if Apple was suing because a better product evolved.Will the public stick with the iPhone just to be loyal to the creator of the modern smartphone concepts? In a down economy where every penny counts, it’s doubtful.Samsung is not only a cheaper alternative but has many more models. Combine this with the scandals at Foxconn, Apple’s manufacturer, and Apple is in trouble.Keep in mind that Samsung makes many of the iPhone components, including the custom CPU, and Samsung has not even begun to leverage that sort of information.I consider this situation to be dire for Apple.When the iPhone 5 arrives shortly, it will be crunch time for the company. If this is the end of the line for the iPhone, you can point to this lawsuit as the tipping point. It may be the last important iPhone.I’m reminded of how the little-known MP3 gained popularity when the RIAA filed various lawsuits.Apple may have pulled a similar stunt by alerting the public that the Samsung phone is the exact same thing as an iPhone, or better.A billion dollars well spent.Source: PC MAGlast_img read more

Microsoft to partner with Rwanda to advance economic transformation

first_imgAdvertisement Microsoft has announced plans to partner with Rwanda to advance economic transformation and improve its global competitiveness as it moves to accelerate development in the next seven yearsRwanda is among the select African states beneficiaries in the Washington-based company’s “Microsoft 4Afrika initiative” that seeks to bring one million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online, facilitate 200,000 workforce, and fresh graduates to develop entrepreneurial skills.Microsoft officials unveiled the plan yesterday, in Kigali  at a function that attracted government officials, the private sector and local entrepreneurs/innovators, among others. – Advertisement – According to the US global IT firm, 75 per cent of fresh graduates in the chosen African nations, Microsoft will help them in job placements.The $75 million (about Rwf47b) initiative also plans to help place millions of smart gadgets in the hands of African youth by 2016.“The world has recognised the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise. We want to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers and business and civic leaders to turn great ideas into a reality that can help their community, country, continent, and beyond,” said Fernando de Sousa, the general manager, Microsoft4Afrika Initiative.Speaking at the launch, Minister of Youth and ICT Jean-Philbert Nsengimana said the programme is important because it is in line with government’s priorities.The initiative comes at a time when Rwanda is promoting knowledge-based economy and empowering young people to engage in job creation.“Technology is becoming an engine for our development and we can’t afford to be left behind. I believe a lot can be achieved through smart private and public partnerships. We welcome Microsoft’s plan and are committed to developing innovative ways using the power of technology,” he said.The minister said government is looking into five key areas where to partner with the Microsoft initiative, for instance services, such as e-governance, e-health, e-agriculture, e-education and the growth of SMEs using the power of ICT.“We want to create ‘government Appstock’ where people can use their mobile phones to access government services. We should have developed applications to be used in the selected sectors by June.”Patrick Kabagema, the chairperson of ICT Chamber at the Private Sector Federation, said the initiative is a great opportunity that will enable Rwandans to compete globally in information technology.“We want Microsoft to customise their applications and hardware to fit the way Africa and Rwanda, in particular, do business,” Kabagema said.He said PSF will sign a partnership with Microsoft to continue extending its innovative ideas and skills to Rwandan ICT entrepreneurs.Claude K. Migisha, the general manager of kLab, an innovation hub for IT entrepreneurs at Telecom House, said they are looking forward to using the Microsoft initiative to exploit their innovation skills.“The company is bringing in affordable smartphones, which will increase mobile penetration in our country, an opportunity that will enable ICT innovators to develop more applications to be used in those phones,” he added.Africa is home to 16 of the world’s 30 fastest growing economies. Roughly, 44 per cent of the population of Africa is under the age of 15, and around 90 per cent of the phones sold on the continent are still feature phones.“We want to partner with the Government of Rwanda, because the country has demonstrated the ability to deliver to its citizens. Our goal is to give Rwandan youth and SMEs skills that will enable them achieve what they want to achieve,” said Ivan Lumala, the technology officer, Microsoft4Afrika.The government has identified two lead programmes for possible collaboration with Microsoft within the 4Afrika initiative.“The ‘Viziyo programme’ is designed to increase citizen access to smartphones and the ‘Smart Village programme’ is in line with digitised model villages across the nation as a means to achieve an ICT-driven economy,” he said.Credit: New Timeslast_img read more

Samsung denies privacy claims concerning JayZ app

first_imgAdvertisement Samsung is denying claims that it has invaded the privacy of customers who downloaded the free Jay-Z app saying the complaint is baseless and it takes privacy seriously. Jay-Z and Samsung teamed up to offer one million people the album for free.US civil liberties group the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (Epic) claims the app collects “massive amounts of personal information from users, including location data”.[related-posts] – Advertisement – The “Magna Carta app also includes hidden spam techniques” that makes users promote Magna Carta Holy Grail to their friends. Epic says.They say it also pulls in data from other accounts and other apps on the user’s phone. The privacy group has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which protects consumers in the US, to suspend distribution of the app.In a statement, Samsung said: “We are aware of the complaint filed with the FTC and believe it is baseless. Samsung takes customer privacy and the protection of personal information very seriously.“Any information obtained through the application download process was purely for customer verification purposes, app functionality purposes and for marketing communications, but only if the customer requests to receive those marketing communications.“Our permissions are in line with other apps’ standard permissions. Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process.”Previously Epic has complained about Snapchat, the publisher of a mobile app that deletes pictures and videos after they have been viewed, for “falsely” claiming they could be removed “forever”.The Magna Carta Holy Grail app was released on 4 July with Samsung paying £3.2m for digital copies for its customers.Source: BBClast_img read more