Science inspired Interstellar, and film now returns the favor

first_imgWho says Hollywood trivializes science? The 2014 blockbuster movie Interstellar has spawned its own academic paper, published online today in Classical and Quantum Gravity. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who came up with the original idea for the movie, worked closely with the London-based special effects company Double Negative to ensure that the wormhole and black hole shown were as realistic as possible. Using physics equations provided by Thorne, the company’s computers mapped the paths of millions of rays of light through the warped spacetime caused by a fictional black hole. As well as producing Oscar-nominated visual effects for the movie, Thorne and the effects team also unearthed some unexpected physics, such as that an observer close to a rapidly spinning black hole would see more than a dozen images of individual stars just outside one edge of the black hole’s “shadow.” These multiple images are caused by the spinning mass dragging spacetime into a whirlpool that bends the light rays around itself many times. The team, once their film work was done, carried out a number of research simulations with Thorne, studying how the swirling spacetime distorted star fields behind the black hole (above). As a virtual observer moves around the black hole, it could see the swirling spacetime constantly creating and annihilating images of individual stars. The multiple-image effect was observed only on the side of the black hole where spacetime is being dragged toward the observer, which the team concluded was because some light was being “flung” outward.last_img read more

Wozniacki into Aussie Open quarterfinals vs Suarez Navarro

first_imgLATEST STORIES She has won both matches since in straight sets and will next play Carla Suarez Navarro, who came back from a set and 4-1 down to beat No. 32 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.After a tight tussle in the opening four games against No. 19-seeded Rybarikova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, Wozniacki dominated the fourth-round match and conceded only six points in the second set. She even tried a between-the-legs “tweener” from near the baseline for the first time in a tour-level match. She didn’t win the point, but said it was progress.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I think you can tell my confidence is high,” Wozniacki, who finished last season by winning the WTA Finals title, said in an on-court TV interview. “I tried a tweener today and it went in.”She looked at a replay on the stadium screen and joked “I’m admiring myself there.” Wozniacki could return to the top ranking if she reaches the semifinals and a combination of other results go her way.She has never won a Grand Slam singles title but lost the U.S. Open final twice — to Kim Clijsters in 2009 and to Serena Williams in 2014.Suarez Navarro has reached the quarterfinals at a major five times, but is yet to make the semifinals.She has won two of their seven career head-to-heads, which date back to a match on a lower-tier tour in 2006.“Well, we play a lot of times,” Suarez Navarro said. “I know how she plays. I know how tough she is. She’s fighting every ball, but at the same time she can play aggressive. She has a lot of experience on these rounds.”ADVERTISEMENT Read Next Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki blows kisses to the crowd after defeating Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)MELBOURNE, Australia — Caroline Wozniacki is continuing to cash in on her second chance at the Australian Open, reaching the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova on Sunday.After her close call in the second round — she had to save two match points and come back from 5-1 down in the third set — No. 2-ranked Wozniacki said she was “playing with the house money” and had nothing to lose.ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Aquino to Filipinos: Stand up vs abuses before you suffer De Lima’s ordeal PLAY LIST 02:07Aquino to Filipinos: Stand up vs abuses before you suffer De Lima’s ordeal00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City MOST READ Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Paul, Rockets end Warriors’ streak John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding View commentslast_img read more

PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar and Pullela Gopichand to be gifted BMW cars

first_imgIndia’s Rio Olympics medallists PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and badminton coach Pullela Gopichand will be gifted BMW cars at a function to be held in Hyderabad on Sunday. (PV Sindhu flooded with offers to endorse big brands)Chamundeshwarnath, president of the Hyderabad District Badminton Association, is presenting the luxury cars to the four sportspersons for their outstanding achievement. (PV Sindhu offers prayers at famous Mahakali Temple in Hyderabad)Legendary cricketer and goodwill ambassador for India at Rio Olympics Sachin Tendulkar will hand over the keys at a function to be held at Gopichand Badminton Academy.Chamundeshwarnath, a former cricketer and businessman, had initially announced that he will gift a BMW to Sindhu but later decided to give it to the three others as well.Gopi’s ward Sindhu won the silver medal in women’s singles badminton while wrestler Sakshi bagged bronze in women’s freestyle 58 kilogram. Dipa finished fourth in artistic gymnastics.last_img read more

Mavs Making Note of What Could be Nowitzki’s Final Home Game

first_imgDALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki has not said whether he is retiring because he never wanted a farewell tour.As much as the Mavericks have tried to honor the 40-year-old’s request, owner Mark Cuban makes no secret of the team’s desire to recognize the big German in the final home game of his record 21st season with the same franchise. Dallas hosts Phoenix on Tuesday night.“I know a little bit. Don’t want to know too much,” Nowitzki said recently of the plans, which include a giant downtown mural and other tidbits that were detailed in a news release last week around the same time Cuban told fans to show up early and expect to stay late. “I still kind of got to focus on the game. Just want to go out there and hopefully perform a little bit and enjoy competing. Everything else will be a surprise to me.”A watch party is planned for the final game of the season in San Antonio on Wednesday, with the Mavericks long since eliminated from the playoff contention for a third straight season. It’s the longest drought of Nowitzki’s career.Nowitzki, a few steps slower than in his prime and a role player on a team now led by rookie sensation and fellow European Luka Doncic, has been serenaded in every road arena. Some opposing fans chanted, “We want Dirk,” late in games with outcomes decided and Nowitzki on the bench.The 14-time All-Star gave the home folks the thrill of passing Wilt Chamberlainto regain sixth on the career scoring list last month. Nowitzki reached that spot last season, but LeBron James passed him. Nowitzki, who led the Mavericks to their only championship in 2011, had 31,510 points with two games to go.The NBA’s highest-scoring, foreign-born player broke Kobe Bryant’s record of 20 seasons with the same franchise, although it took longer than expected because of setbacks following ankle surgery that sidelined Nowitzki for the first 26 games.Bryant retired from the Lakers three years ago. It’s expected that Nowitzki will pass on joining former teammate Vince Carter, who has said he plans to return for a record 22nd season. Carter has played for eight teams.If Nowitzki doesn’t return, the 20-year-old Doncic still will be able to say he spent a season with the player who changed the game as the first 7-footer who was a legitimate threat from the 3-point line.“All the things he did for the NBA,” Doncic said. “Now every big fella trying to shoot the ball from 3. Dirk made it happen, and he deserves everything.”Nowitzki will get showered with praise Tuesday night, whether he wants it or not.By: Schuyler Dixon, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

1st ODI: Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav fire India to huge win over England

first_imgRohit Sharma’s 18th hundred and Kuldeep Yadav’s record 6 for 25 highlighted India’s eight-wicket demolition of England at Trent Bridge in the first ODI of the three-match series.Chasing 269, India romped home with 59 balls to spare, thanks to Rohit’s unbeaten 137 and Virat Kohli’s polished 75. Shikhar Dhawan had set the stage for a fluent reply with a 27-ball 40.It was the same venue where England had amassed a world-record 481/6 against Australia on June 19.Up against a much better Indian bowling attack, England’s batsmen were all at sea. Their capitulation against Kuldeep continued as the left-arm chinaman bowler dismantled the visitors with the wickets of Jason Roy, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and David Willey.INDIA vs ENGLAND: LIVE SCORE | BLOGUmesh Yadav picked two wickets and the rest of the bowling line-up did well to keep a dangerous England batting order in check. With little to defend, England’s bowlers did not ever look like challenging a formidable Indian batting line-up. Dhawan teed off early and by the time he departed, India had added 59 for the first wicket off 7.5 overs.Dhawan’s dismissal brought together Rohit and Kohli. The pair added 167 for the second wicket off 25.5 overs and produced a batting masterclass in front of a dominant Indian crowd. There were boundaries aplenty, sharp singles and quick running between the wickets as Eoin Morgan looked on helplessly.A Rohit masterclass gives India the opening win! His 137* powers India to a comfortable 8 wicket victory against England with 59 balls remaining at Trent Bridge!#ENGvIND scorecard (@ICC) July 12, 2018Last month, England had whitewashed Australia in a five-match series but Rohit and Kohli showed India were going to be a far more formidable opponent. Morgan tried everything at his disposal but the Indian pair was just too good for the English bowlers.Mark Wood, Willey, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have had some impressive performances this year but against India, they were rendered ineffective.To begin with, Kohli was the more dominant of the duo but Rohit upped the ante after crossing his half-century. Incidentally, both men got to their fifties off 54 balls and with a boundary.READ – 4 days after record T20I hundred, Rohit Sharma bullies England with 18th ODI tonKohli, in fact, went past 600 ODI runs this year in only his seventh match. He also went past 1000 internationals in 2018. Rohit, meanwhile, continued his red-hot form in England – he had smashed a record-equalling third T20I hundred at Old Trafford on Sunday and continued from where he left off as India stormed home.Earlier, after winning the toss, Kohli had no hesitation in opting to bowl first. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had to be rested with a stiff back and that meant Siddharth Kaul got his maiden ODI cap.READ – Kuldeep Yadav creates ODI history with figures of 6 for 25 vs EnglandKaul and Umesh Yadav looked sharp but not menacing enough to trouble the opening pair of Buttle and Bairstow, who added 73 off 10.2 overs. They were soon sent back as Kuldeep was pressed into service – the Englishmen, for the second time in nine days, looked utterly clueless against Kuldeep’s guile.Kohli, in the process, drew level with Ricky Ponting and Clive Lloyd in an elite club. All three captains won 39 of their first 50 ODIs.last_img read more

Maye Musk 69yearold Canadian model and mother of Elon Musk snags CoverGirl

first_img Twitter Musk, who walked the runway during New York Fashion Week earlier this month, has been modelling since her mid-teens, starting in South Africa. The Saskatchewan native moved back to Canada in the 1980s and studied nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, eventually establishing a nutrition business that she runs out of her current home of Los Angeles. She is also mother to three children, one of whom is Tesla CEO and inventor Elon Musk.“With wearing makeup a part of my job as a model, one might think I’d get tired of it, but I absolutely love it,” Musk said in a statement. “I’ve had the benefit of working with a lot of wonderful artists through the years, and it’s a fascinating process: you start as a blank canvas and then a transformation occurs, but there’s always a very real and honest piece of me there, too.”Her addition to CoverGirl’s ever-expanding roster of celebrity faces furthers the beauty giant’s mission to push the message of diversity and inclusivity in the beauty world. Last year, the brand added its first male ambassador, James Charles, and beauty vlogger Nura Afia, a Muslim who wears a hijab.“I just love that CoverGirl wants to do diversity,” Musk said in an interview with The New York Times. “They haven’t had a model this old in their campaigns. I’m turning 70 in April of next year. I think that women will be really inspired to see that even at 69 you can get a beauty campaign.”Ukonwa Ojo, SVP of CoverGirl, said in a statement that Musk’s ambassadorship is an “affirmation.”“This is exactly what CoverGirl is all about: owning your identity and proudly sharing with the world all the facets that make you, you. Maye is an affirmation of the power and importance of diversity and inclusivity in the world of beauty. She is unstoppable and, together, we’re just getting started!”by Marilisa Racco – Global News Maye Musk, a 69-year-old Canadian model, has been announced as the latest face to be added to the CoverGirl line-up. She joins the likes of Rihanna, Zendaya, Drew Barrymore and Katy Perry in fronting for the beauty brand.Earlier today, the silver-haired beauty tweeted: “I’m so excited to say that I’m now officially a CoverGirl, at 69! Beauty is for all ages.”.@covergirl I’m so excited to say that I’m now officially a COVERGIRL, at 69! Beauty is for all ages. #COVERGIRLMADE— Maye Musk (@mayemusk) September 27, 2017 Advertisement Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment center_img Advertisement The 69-year-old model and dietitian joins a roster of diverse faces including Issa Rae and Queen Latifa. (CoverGirl) Advertisement Login/Register With:last_img read more

Feds promise 45B in new spending on Indigenous peoples in preelection budget

first_imgFinance Minister Bill Morneau answering questions inside the budget lock up.APTN NewsThe federal Liberals are promising to spend $4.5 billion in new money over five years for First Nation, Metis and Inuit as the government delivered its final budget before the October election.“We know that building a better Canada must, by definition, include advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau in his budget speech.The main focus of the budget is cash for Jordan’s Principle, keeping on-reserve water systems up and running, and education for First Nation, Metis and Inuit post-secondary students.According to the government, the two per cent funding cap has been lifted, and spending will reach $17 billion by 2021-22.Jordan’s PrincipleJordan’s Principle, the program that provides services for First Nation children living on reserve will get a total of $1.2 billion over three years. According to the budget, 214,000 children have received services including speech therapy, educational supports, medical equipment, and mental health services under the program since 2016.“Budget 2019 includes important new measures to help advance self-determination and improve the quality of life for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation Peoples,” said Morneau. “It includes new investments to better uphold Jordan’s Principle, so that First Nations children can get the help they need—when they need it, where they need it.”Read:Budget 2019Bill Morneau’s budget speechDespite the fact that Bill C-92, the Liberal’s child welfare law is making its way through parliament, there is no new money for First Nation, Metis or Inuit child welfare in anticipation of the law passing.According to the government, the First Nation Child and Family Services program, which pays for the services that are needed, currently has a budget of $1.1 billion and spending for the proposed Bill C-92 child welfare legislation will operate from that pot.The program was topped-up in the 2018 budget by $1.4 billion.In the north, $220 million over five years is being promised to provide services to Inuit children on health and social services with “government partners.”LanguagesWith Bill C-91 being studied by committees in the House and Senate, the government is promising $333.7 million over five years to support the proposed Indigenous Languages Act. The bill, which has the support of the Assembly of First Nations, and the Metis National Council but not the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, will start receiving money to launch it in 2019-20 with $115.7 million per year ongoing.The money will be administered by Heritage Canada in anticipation that the bill will be passed and implemented.Education:The government decided to segregate First Nation, Metis and Inuit students in this year’s budget.Money for First Nation students will total $327.5 million over five years.The money for Inuit and Metis students is spread out over ten years.The budget for Inuit students is set at $125.5 million with $21.8 million ongoing.The Metis program will receive $362 million with $40 million ongoing.Infrastructure:Despite the high profile stories on communities struggling with mold and water issues, there is no new money for on reserve or northern housing as money from last year’s budget is kicking in.The government says so far it has spent $2-billion in new public water systems in First Nation communities which includes repairing and upgrading existing systems.Now, with its self-imposed deadline of 2021 to end all water advisories, the feds are proposing to spend $739 million over five years on providing support for communities to keep systems running and updated, and to make sure that people are trained to operate them.“So far, we have lifted more than 80 long-term water advisories, and we’re on track to eliminate all of the advisories in the next two years,” said Morneau.“There are, today, children living on reserve in Canada who cannot safely drink, or bathe in, or even play in the water that comes out of their taps. That’s not okay.”Inuit initiativesIn the north where people live in crowded homes, for years, there is no new money for housing – the government is sticking with its 2018 commitment of $300 million over 11 years.The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) launched its suicide prevention strategy in 2016. Ottawa is now financially supporting that initiative with $50 million over ten years with $5 million per year ongoing.$15 million over five years to establish a northern remote community food production system.Metis Initiatives$30 million to recognize the contribution of Metis veterans of World War Two.$50 million over five years to enhance the funding of the Metis Capital Corporations to support the start-up of small and medium sized businesses – and $100 million to establish an Indigenous Growth fund to encourage investments in Indigenous led businesses by Aboriginal financial institutions.The North$700 million will be spent over ten years for more diversified post-secondary educational options, enhanced infrastructure resources to connect remote communities, increased economic development and research.$26 million over five years to Yukon college for its transformation into a hybrid university.The Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the Northwest Territories will receive $13 million to foster Indigenous knowledge and education.Comprehensive Claims and governance reform According to the government, as of March 4, 2019, Ottawa has settled 68 specific claims – a 40 per cent increase in the number of settlements between 2012 and 2015 – the year the Liberals were elected.The budget proposes to forgive $1.4 billion in loans to First Nation and Inuit communities that were forced to borrow money from the government to help them negotiate comprehensive claims.The government says it will also reimburse any community that has already paid back its loan.According to the budget, this will affect 200 communities.Despite the death of the Indigenous rights framework legislation, the budget includes notes that it will try a new approach to governance funding that includes a new lifecycle funding model for the maintenance or replacement of community infrastructure, and an interim approach to land and resource management responsibilities.That includes, $78.9 million over seven years starting in 2019-20 with $13.7 million per year ongoing to permanently fund the Surveys on Indigenous Peoples and First Nation Regional Health survey to help communities make better decisions about what programs are needed in their communities.And, $48 million over two years for communities in greatest need obtain the expertise, advice and tools required to govern their community and deliver critical programs and services.Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action in the budget: Calls to Action: 53-55$126.5 million to establish a National Council for Reconciliation and provide it with “initial operating capital.” The council will bring together First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation peoples as well as non-Indigenous Canadians to get a “better understanding of reconciliation.”Calls to Action: 72-76$33.8 million to develop and maintain the National Residential school student death register and work with various organizations to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries. This will be done in partnership with affected families and communities, as well as the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.Calls to Action: 50$9.1 million over three years to “support the construction” of an Indigenous Legal Lodge at the University of Victoria. The budget also proposes to spend $10 million over five years to support Indigenous law initiatives across Canada to improve equality for Indigenous Peoples in Canada’s legal system.Calls to Action: 66$15.2 million over three years for an Indigenous youth pilot program delivered by Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE). According to the budget, the CRE is a non-profit organization that works to “advance reconciliation by bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to promote mutual understanding and respect.”Calls to Action: 80$10 million over two years to enable communities to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools on the proposed National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.Other budget spending:$9-million over three years for Indspire.$60 million over five years for urban Aboriginal programs including money for Friendship Centres.The government says that it is also looking at creating a marine conservation area in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuittuq – the last portion of the Arctic region expected to retain summer sea ice until at least 2050, according to the budget.$211 million over five years with $49.4 million per year on going to increased emergency management on reserve.$48 million over four years starting in 2020-21 to renew funding for infrastructure projects on reserve that will protect communities from climate-related read more

Statistics Canada says wholesale sales gained 15 per cent in July

first_imgOTTAWA – Statistics Canada says wholesale sales rose 1.5 per cent to $62.4 billion in July boosted by the building material and supplies subsector as well as the food, beverage and tobacco group.The agency says sales were up in five of the seven subsectors, representing 86 per cent of total wholesale sales.The building material and supplies subsector posted the largest gain in dollar terms for the month as it increased 4.8 per cent to $9.0 billion.The food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 2.4 per cent to $12.2 billion.Sales in the miscellaneous subsector fell 1.3 per cent to $8.0 billion.Overall wholesale sales were up 2.1 per cent in volume terms.last_img read more

Ottawa to announce help for struggling oil patch but no money for

first_imgOttawa, O.N. – The federal government is taking a step Tuesday to help Canada’s battered energy industry.Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr will be at an Edmonton college campus to unveil a support package for oil and gas companies to reach new markets.The announcement is in Alberta, but the funds are available to any oil and gas companies nationwide. The impasse has left a sharp divide between Alberta and Ottawa.Although Tuesday’s announcement comes in the Alberta capital, neither Notley nor anyone from the Alberta government is scheduled to be there for the announcement.Earlier this month, Sohi asked the National Energy Board to do a review of existing pipeline capacity to make sure it is being used in the most efficient way and also to figure out whether there are any short-term steps that could maximize rail capacity to ship more oil.Days later, the NEB responded to Sohi and said it will provide him with a full report in February.9 Premier Notley has made no secret in recent weeks of her desire to have Ottawa help the province buy new rail cars to ship two additional trains full of Alberta crude out of the province every day.Alberta is already negotiating with an as-yet-unnamed third party to buy the rail cars, but Canada has not indicated any willingness to share the cost of the purchase yet, and rail cars are not part of Tuesday’s announcement.Although the price for Alberta crude has rebounded slightly from a panic-inducing $11 a barrel in late November, it is still trading between $26 and $28, only about half of what Texas oil producers are getting. The difference is costing the Canadian economy an estimated $80 million a day, according to both the Alberta and federal governments.Alberta’s struggle to get its oil to market with pipelines at capacity and some refineries down for maintenance have contributed to the price differential, but so has Canada’s almost total reliance on the United States as an export market.Almost every drop of oil that is not refined and used in Canada is exported to the United States. Without more pipelines to the coasts where oil tankers could theoretically then ship oil overseas, Canada’s oil producers are at the mercy of the Americans.The only current proposal to increase pipeline capacity to the coasts is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is in limbo following a court ruling overturning its federal approval. Ottawa is trying to get that project back on track with more consultations, but if that does happen, it will be several years before oil actually starts to flow.last_img read more

UN Peacebuilding Commission discusses strategy for Burundi

27 April 2007The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, which was established to help countries recovering from war avoid a relapse of violence, today held talks in New York on its strategy for Burundi, which suffered decades of ethnic conflict pitting the Hutu majority against the Tutsi minority. “The strategic framework is a document that should highlight the make or break priorities for sustaining peace in Burundi, and outline those commitments needed from the government and the international community to meet those priorities,” said Norway’s Ambassador Johan Løvald, who chaired the informal meeting and recently led a mission to the country.“To be most useful, the framework should not include a listing of needs, all of which are already well documented in existing frameworks and strategies, but should rather articulate those issues that will be critical for safeguarding peace in Burundi.”The strategic framework recognizes the responsibility of the country’s leaders towards achieving stability, said Youssef Mahmoud, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Burundi.“This vision is one of a country where the ghost of the ethnic conflict and civil war will wiped out forever,” he declared. But he stressed that the most immediate priority is effective implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement between the Government and the Palipehutu-National Liberation Forces (Palipehutu-FNL).Another major challenge is the urgent need to quickly reach a national consensus on the justice mechanisms of transition and to assure progress toward national reconciliation, he said, calling for consolidation of democratic culture. Security forces, he stressed, must always act in the interests of the population, while ex-fighters must be reintegrated into society.International support for Burundi is also key to the consolidation of peace, he said, proposing a series of consultations next month with all partners in this effort.Established in December 2005, the Commission focuses on reconstruction, institution-building and the promotion of sustainable development in post-conflict countries. read more

UN Health Agency to vaccinate millions of children in the Horn of

In the largest-ever synchronized vaccination campaign in the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya will simultaneously vaccinate millions of children under five years of age starting this weekend, the United Nations World Health Organization (said. Polio-free for almost three years, Somalia became re-infected last year with a poliovirus imported from Yemen, WHO said, and has since seen some 215 confirmed cases. Since its re-infection in December 2004, Ethiopia has reported a total of 37 polio cases with four out of 11 regions infected. The high-risk areas remain the cross-border region of Somali, Ethiopia and north/central areas of Somalia. Kenya has been polio-free for the last 22 years.The upcoming drive will involve teams on the ground ensuring that every child is vaccinated by moving from house to house, in cities, towns, and villages, and in hard to reach areas, using all transportation means possible, such as camels, horses and donkeys. The polio eradication effort in the Horn also involves religious and community leaders, women’s groups, youth associations, schools, and governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), all working to prevent the paralysis of children, WHO said.The complex operating and unstable environments, exacerbated by recurrent drought and floods in Somalia and heavy rains in Ethiopia, continue to hamper the implementation of high-quality polio immunization campaigns, according to the agency. International and national staff have difficulties accessing conflict zone areas. Depending on the availability of funds, three synchronized campaigns are planned for this year, in September, November and December in the Horn of Africa, WHO said. But globally, there is a funding gap of $50 million for 2006, which the agency said in a news release “must be filled urgently by October to ensure the implementation of planned activities through the end of the year.”If these funds are not mobilized, it warned, “immunization campaigns may need to be scaled back, which would result in more children being paralyzed.” read more

Jean Coutu hopes Quebec can reach deal with drugmakers to avoid tendering

by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Apr 27, 2017 6:13 am MDT Last Updated Apr 27, 2017 at 3:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Jean Coutu hopes Quebec can reach deal with drugmakers to avoid tendering MONTREAL – The Jean Coutu Group hopes Quebec can reach an agreement with generic drug manufacturers to reduce drugs costs without resorting to the tendering of certain medications that will hurt its business.“It’s always best when you have a deal with the players of the industry,” CEO Francois Coutu said Thursday during a conference call about its latest financial results.Canadian generic drug manufacturers like Jean Coutu’s Pro Doc fear they would lose business if others won the exclusive rights to distribute blockbuster generic drugs in Quebec.Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette has said he prefers to negotiate a deal with the generic drug industry to reduce costs, however the province put in place last week a regulation that allows it to tender the provincial supply of individual medications.A spokeswoman for Barrette has declined to indicate if or when the minister might issue requests for proposals.The negotiations with the generic drugmakers follow a recent agreement between the Quebec government and the provincial association of pharmacy owners.The province agreed to restore $133 million a year it had cut from pharmacist fees while also restoring a 15 per cent cap on professional allowances paid to pharmacists by generic drug manufacturers.Jean Coutu said it believes the minister knows he has to ensure the generic drugmaking business remains strong and not risk drug shortages by making moves that would reduce the number of industry players.Jean Coutu (TSX:PJC.A) said its net profits took a hit in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year as the contribution from Pro Doc fell mainly because of higher professional allowances. The maximum payments were raised twice last year and ceiling removed entirely in January.The Quebec-based pharmacy company earned $47.8 million or 26 cents per share in the period ended March 4 — down seven per cent from the comparable period last year.Higher expenses related to its transition a new head office and distribution centre in Varennes, Que., near Montreal, was also a factor in lower profits.Revenue grew 11.7 per cent to $789 million, including an extra 14th week due to the timing of the company’s year-end.Same-store sales grew by 4.0 per cent overall, although pharmacy sales grew less than front-of-store sales.For the full year, Jean Coutu earned $199.5 million or $1.08 per share on $2.7 billion of revenues. That compared to $213.7 million or $1.14 per share on $2.57 billion of sales in fiscal 2016.Despite the ongoing uncertainty about Quebec’s generic drug efforts, the company is increasing its quarterly dividend by 8.3 per cent to 13 cents per share.Jean Coutu’s shares closed up 5.5 per cent to $23.32 in Thursday trading after hitting a 52-week high of $23.47 on the Toronto Stock Exchange earlier in the day. read more

UN condemns terrorist attack in Egyptian capital Cairo

In a statement issued by his office, Mr. Ban condemned the terrorist act against the place of worship and expressed hope that its perpetrators will be swiftly identified and brought to justice.Dozens of people have been killed and many more injured in the attack.In separate statement, the UN Security Council also spoke out against the attack and reiterated that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”The Council also underscored the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of such reprehensible acts to justice.Further in the statement, Council members also condemned the terrorist attack in Giza on Friday in which six Egyptian policemen were killed and a number of civilians injured. Wide view of the Security Council Chamber. UN Photo/Loey Felipe (file) Members also urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with all relevant authorities in holding those responsible for the killings to account.Further today, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC) also denounced the attack.“The brutal crime, which killed dozens of people and wounded many others is shocking by all means taking place near a church, a sacred place of worship where people of faith seek peace and comfort and share the values of compassion and tolerance,” read a UNAOC statement.The UN officials and the Security Council also expressed their sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims as well as to Egyptian Government, and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured. read more

Nikki Bella gets season high on DWTS Main Event tapings in Portland

first_img John Cena Twitter Google+ Dana Brooke suffers head injury during WWE Main Event tapings this past Monday in Los Angeles Pinterest Nikki Bella gets season high on is reporting that Nikki Bella received her highest score to date – 27 – on last night’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC during Disney Night.WWE provided a description of Nikki’s dance on Monday night.“A beaming Nikki danced a jazz routine to “Remember Me” from the upcoming Pixar animated movie “Coco.” She received a season-high 27 on Disney Night after tapping into her Mexican roots for the dance.”ABC shared a clip of the dance that you can view below.Main Event tapings in PortlandThe following matches were taped last night in Portland for Main Event.* Rhyno def. Dash Wilder.* Mustafa Ali def. Drew Gulak.Source: WrestlingInc.comRecommended videosPowered by AnyClipJohn Cena Not In Royal Rumble Due To InjuryVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteDuration 0:30/Current Time 0:01Loaded: 19.58%0:01Remaining Time -0:29 FullscreenUp NextThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Replay the list Ronda Rousey Says Bella Twins Are A ‘Bunch of Untrustworthy B–s’ John Cena Not In Royal Rumble Due To Injury Now Playing Up Next Facebook Nikki Bella reveals a brain cyst forced her to retire from WWE, Provides health update Now Playing Up Next Now Playing Up Nextcenter_img Bully Ray Calls Out Ring Of Honor Fan On Twitter WhatsApp Now Playing Up Next ‘Total Bellas’ Season 4 Will Not Feature John Cena Now Playing Up Next Videos Articles Videos Articles Jason Namako RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Nikki Bella confirms her new relationship in dance video, Natalya shows off injuries from RAW Nikki Bella WWE Confirms The Shield And Ronda Rousey At Super Show-Downlast_img read more

ASA Welcomes Senate Recognition of Jobs Created by Biobased Products

first_imgThe American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased that the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), will hold a “Growing Jobs in Rural America” hearing on Thursday that will highlight the contributions biobased products are making to jobs and the U.S. economy.”This hearing underscores the benefits of the efforts of ASA, soybean farmers, and the companies that are making soy biobased products to grow and create jobs, displace petroleum, and improve the environment,” said ASA Chairman Rob Joslin, a soybean farmer from Sidney, Ohio. The Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center, which collaborates with the Ohio Soybean Association, is participating in the hearing. “ASA and the soybean industry have and will continue to lead efforts to establish and expand federal programs and policies that support and promote the development of biobased products.”ASA, along with soybean industry partners and congressional champions, has led efforts to promote federal support for biobased product development through the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bill Biobased Market Program. ASA is a leader and founding member of the Biobased Products Coalition, a group of companies, both small and large, that make biobased products and ingredients, and agricultural organizations that represent the feedstock providers for the biobased products.Companies that produce soy based products, including members of the Biobased Products Coalition, have also been invited to participate in the hearing. John McIntosh, vice president sales and marketing for Signature Crypton Carpet will describe how naturally renewable soybean oil is an important component of the BioCel™ and EnviroCel™ backing on their carpet and AstroTurf, as well as other carpets and synthetic turf products. The soybean oil used in carpet backing and other biobased products provides multiple environmental and economic benefits, including creating new jobs in the United States.”Today, there are many biobased products produced from soy,” Joslin said. “These include biobased chemicals and consumer and industrial products such as cleaning products and lubricants, as well as soy foam that is being used in furniture and automotive interiors. Together we have created jobs, while helping to develop new markets for soybeans, which create demand and value for ASA’s members, all soybean farmers and rural communities.”While the membership-based ASA is the policy advocate for U.S. soybean farmers, the national soybean checkoff, which is prohibited by law from engaging in domestic policy activities, has invested significant soybean farmer resources into developing soy products for the biobased market. The United Soybean Board maintains an ongoing catalogue of soy-based products and manufacturers at”ASA appreciates the efforts of Senator Stabenow in holding this hearing,” Joslin said. “Soybean farmers are proud of the homegrown contributions we are making to biobased products.”last_img read more

Suspect arrested on Palmetto Expressway following road rage incident

first_imgMIAMI (WSVN) – Police have arrested a man following a road rage incident in Miami Thursday afternoon.Investigators said 41-year-old Juan Jose Vargas was driving on Coral Way behind a woman who had four children in her car. When Vargas became angry, he pulled alongside her car and displayed a firearm to the victim as he verbally threatened her, according to Miami-Dade Police.The victim called 911 and followed Vargas onto the Palmetto Expressway.Police intercepted Vargas and the victim in the northbound lanes, and three lanes were shut down causing heavy traffic in the area, as police arrested Vargas.He now faces five counts of aggravated assault.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Sheet metal apprenticeship organized in rural Alaska

first_imgCVRF and the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 23 are working together to develop a training program for rural Alaskans. David Ayagalria Theodore Brown, Thomas Brown and Willie Egoak were among rural Alaskans who attended the first training, which focused on sheet metal, welding, refrigeration and electrical on February 15-17, 2017.(Photo: Rachel Ayuprun / CVRF)Rural and urban Alaska can be very different worlds, and skills used in constructing buildings or maintaining equipment in one might not apply to the other. For example, most rural Alaskan communities use fuel oil for heating, while cities largely use natural gas. Most rural homes use metal roofing, while urban homes use shingles. This week, a new partnership of urban trainers and rural workers is seeing if it can take what’s taught in urban Alaska and create an apprenticeship program for rural communities.Listen nowBruce Bold coordinates the Sheet Metal Workers Union’s Local #23 Apprenticeship Program in Anchorage. Last winter, he was at a conference when he struck up a conversation with a lady from a rural area.“And she was talking about some of the issues in rural Alaska that they’re running into,” Bold said. “A lot of it was maintenance-type issues on maintaining equipment.”And Bold thought, “Hey, we offer that training. How can we get it to rural Alaska?” Then he started talking with contractors about how they’d like to be able to hire locally in rural regions.CVRF and the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 23 are working together to develop a training program for rural Alaskans. Instructor Bruce Bold works with Thomas Brown, Willie Egoak, Bob Marquez, Theodore Brown and David Ayagalria, on February 16, 2017.(Photo: Rachel Ayuprun/ CVRF)Bold said they were on board. “They’re like, ‘Wow, if I had someone local I could put on a job instead of flying a guy out there, paying him per diem, paying for his plane ticket, especially for a small job.’”Some contractors, Bold found out, won’t bid on certain rural jobs because they can’t find qualified local workers.With that, Bold reached out to Bob Marquez, who runs the mechanic and welder program for the Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF).CVRF is part of Alaska’s groundfish Community Development Quota Program and is tasked with economically developing the area’s coastal communities.Bold knew there was a need for rural Alaska training, but he didn’t know what that training needed to be. Marquez agreed to send a group of CVRF mechanics and welders to Anchorage for three days to help him figure that out.“They’re learning what our needs are, and what’s valuable for education and training. And we’re learning from them. So this really is a test,” Marquez said. “We want to see how it benefits our employees, and furthermore, how it’ll benefit the residents of the communities.”The hope is to shape a sheet metal and service technician apprenticeship program for rural Alaska. More contractors could then hire locally in rural areas.Bold says that everything is in the preliminary stages, but the program could begin as a pilot project with CVRF.last_img read more

JC2 inspects site for Ganesh Idol immersion in Kakinada

first_imgKakinada: Joint Collector -2 G Rajakumari along with BJP leaders on Tuesday inspected Balagangadhar Tilak, Vinayak Sagar area near Jagannaickpur Bridge. The issues of immersion place surfaced as the smart city developmental works are in progress. While the BJP leaders demanded for permission at the same place they conducted the immersion for the last three decades, but the smart city authorities wanted to shift the venue to I town station area. Also Read – Former Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao put on house arrest Advertise With Us Speaking on the occasion, BJP East Godavari unit president Y Malakondayya assured that they will not cause any obstruction for the developmental works as the immersion takes place only for two days that is on 11th and 12th of September after the Ganesh festival on 2nd of the month. The JC-2 said that the details of inspection of the site will be informed to the district collector to find an amicable solution to the issue.last_img read more

Western envoys seek meeting with China on Uighur concerns

first_imgXinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Party Secretary Chen Quanguo attends a group discussion session on the second day of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on 19 October 2017. Reuters File PhotoA group of 15 Western ambassadors in Beijing, spearheaded by Canada, are seeking a meeting with the top official in China’s restive, heavily Muslim Xinjiang region for an explanation of alleged rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs.The envoys are making their request in a letter to Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s Communist Party boss, according to a copy of a draft letter seen by Reuters.The move represents unusually broad, coordinated action by a group of countries over a human rights issue in China, and illustrates the mounting backlash Beijing is facing over its crackdown in the western region.Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, academics, foreign governments and UN rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups who call Xinjiang home.In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that a million or more Uighurs in China are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.China says it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education, but rather some citizens guilty of minor offences were being sent to vocational centres to provide employment opportunities.Beijing bristles at criticism of its human rights situation, espousing a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. China’s top diplomat said on Tuesday the world should ignore “gossip” about Xinjiang and trust authorities there.It was not clear if the letter had been sent yet or if it contents could be revised. One diplomatic source said it was being passed around for more countries to potentially sign.Several other diplomats familiar with the letter would only confirm its existence and refused to discuss it further, citing its sensitivity. All of the diplomats declined to be identified.Many foreign governments have refrained from speaking out over the Xinjiang situation, with diplomats saying countries are fearful of angering China, an increasingly weighty diplomatic player thanks to its economic heft and initiatives such as the Belt and Road infrastructure programme.- ‘We are deeply troubled’In the draft letter addressed directly to Chen, who outranks the region’s ethnic Uighur governor Shohrat Zakir, the ambassadors said they were highly concerned by the UN findings on Xinjiang.”We are deeply troubled by reports of the treatment of ethnic minorities, in particular individuals of Uyghur ethnicity, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” the draft reads, using an alternate spelling for Uighur.”In order to better understand the situation, we request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns.”The letter is copied to China’s Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Security and the Communist Party’s international department.It is not possible to directly contact any senior Chinese leader for comment. The Xinjiang government, ministries of foreign and public security, the party’s international department and party’s spokesman’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.China has said Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions with the ethnic Han Chinese majority.The letter carries the names of 15 Western ambassadors, including the Canadian, British, French, Swiss, European Union, German, Dutch and Australian envoys. The other countries’ ambassadors names in the letter are Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Finland and Denmark.Four diplomats familiar with the letter and its contents said Canada had taken the lead in its drafting.Canada’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, did not comment directly on the letter but expressed deep concern over the reports of detention and mass surveillance of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.”The Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the situation faced by the Uighurs directly with China’s Foreign Minister at the UN General Assembly. Canada regularly raises concerns about Xinjiang with Chinese authorities both publicly and privately, bilaterally and multilaterally, and will continue to do so.”The EU, British, German, Swedish, Swiss, Belgian, Dutch, Finnish and Norwegian embassies declined to comment on the letter.The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government was concerned about the situation in Xinjiang and officials had conveyed these concerns to China on a number of occasions.The Irish, Danish, French and Estonian embassies did not respond to requests for comment.The United States is not represented on the letter, although non-US diplomats say the country has been deeply involved in advocacy on the Xinjiang issue.”We remain alarmed that since April 2017 the Chinese government has detained an estimated 800,000 to possibly more than 2 million Uighurs, Kazaks and other Muslims in internment camps for political re-education,” a US embassy spokesman said, responding to a question regarding the letter.”The United States will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies and free all those arbitrarily detained. We are committed to promoting accountability for those who commit human rights violations and abuses, including by considering targeted measures against Xinjiang officials.”The United States has said it is considering sanctions against Chen, other officials and Chinese companies linked to allegations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.last_img read more

Texas House Approves Property Tax Reform Bill Setting Up Negotiations With The

first_imgAnother change lets taxing units factor indigent health care costs into their revenue growth calculations.Texas’ top Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott and the leaders of each chamber of the Legislature, have pushed for property tax and school finance reform since the beginning of the session, though the Senate has emphasized the former and House has accentuated the latter, if ever so slightly. Movement on both pieces of legislation slowed this month as both chambers eyed each other warily and waited for the other to move on its priorities.House leaders have signaled that they believe property tax reform legislation should run on a parallel track with the school finance bill since the issues are so closely intertwined. Ahead of Tuesday’s debate on Senate Bill 2, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, indicated this to the two party caucuses in separate meetings — signaling that the House won’t act any further on property tax reform negotiations until the Senate passes a school finance bill, according to multiple people with knowledge of the meetings.House leaders have also reworked the property tax bill to make it contingent on school finance reform passing.State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said earlier Tuesday that the Senate Education Committee he chairs would likely not approve the school finance bill until Thursday or next week. But by the end of the day, that timeline had rapidly accelerated: The committee now plans to vote on the bill Wednesday morning.Meanwhile, there are few differences between the House’s version of the property tax package and the bill passed by the Senate earlier this month. Perhaps the most significant point is that the House offers community colleges and hospitals an 8% election trigger, while the Senate has reduced it to 3.5%.In addition, the Senate had required voters in small taxing units — those that bring in less than $15 million combined sales and property tax revenue — to opt in to some of the bill’s provisions. The House’s revision eliminated that definition and inserted a new allowance to let all taxing units increase their property tax levy by $500,000 without triggering an election.The Senate also permitted the costs of providing indigent defense services to be factored into the revenue growth calculation. The House removed that language but included a similar clause that protects cities and counties from being penalized if they offer homestead exemptions to their residents.Finally, the lower chamber’s version includes a provision that lets taxing units bank unused revenue growth for five years, allowing them to surpass the 3.5% trigger in some of them.Currently, cities, counties and other taxing units can raise 8% more property tax revenue before their voters can petition for an election to roll back the increase. SB 2 would make those elections automatic and put in place a battery of reforms designed to increase transparency and utility for taxpayers.State leaders had said property tax reform is necessary to protect Texans whose property tax bills are growing faster than their incomes. Abbott has said on Twitter that “skyrocketing property taxes must be fixed” and that a previous increase to the homestead exemption was quickly “eroded by rising appraisals and rates.”But Democrats and ultraconservative lawmakers have clamored for weeks over how much control the state should exercise over local property tax revenue growth and whether the bill should include school districts.Schools levy the bulk of property taxes across Texas, and hard-right lawmakers and activists have argued property owners will feel no relief if schools are exempted from the bill.The House initially tried to strip schools from the measure, saying its school finance bill, HB 3, was the appropriate vehicle. Burrows later reinserted schools into the property tax measure — with the caveat that it was a symbolic move that does “absolutely nothing” in practice.“If we’re going to have property tax reform, we can’t do it with just cities and counties. We also have to do it for school districts,” Burrows said, referencing HB 3. But he said those changes need to be made in the state’s education code, not the tax code.An attempt to decouple the property tax bill from the school finance legislations Tuesday earned an impassioned rebuke from Burrows and Huberty, who authored the school finance bill.After the lawmakers suggested that passage of both bills was critical to meet the House priorities laid out at the start of the session, the amendment sank on a 143-5 margin. Even the speaker took the rare step of casting a vote in opposition.The most consistent legislative opponents to the property tax reform effort have been Democrats, who have asked for a higher election trigger or for certain costs to be exempted from the calculation.Efforts to exclude public safety expenses, economic development expenditures and spending on flood risk mitigation from the revenue growth calculation all failed to progress Tuesday.City and county officials have also maintained the bill imposes an election trigger that is not practicable.Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said that “a 3.5% revenue cap would create unintended consequences” and would “hamstring cities” without providing meaningful tax relief to residents.Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, which already operates under a revenue cap, also said the proposal would have little impact on taxpayers’ bills.“Last year, revenue caps saved the average Houston homeowner less than $10 a month,” he said, “and resulted in 1,152 fewer police on the street.”In a statement after the vote, Abbott applauded the bill’s passage and thanked Burrows and Bettencourt for their leadership.“For too long, Texans have watched their property taxes skyrocket while being reduced to tenants of their own property. That is not the Texas way,” Abbott wrote. “In the final days of the legislative session, I am confident this historic legislation, combined with additional reforms working their way through the system, will reach my desk where I will sign them into law.”Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reacted to the passage of SB2 during his post City Council session media availability on Wednesday. He said that “at 3.5 percent,” in reference to the percentage in property tax raises at which the City would have to hold an election, “generally speaking, it may give us a little bit more breathing room. I don’t think it would work against the City of Houston.”Cassi Pollock and Aliyya Swaby contributed reporting. It was originally published in The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.Additional reporting by Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz (Houston Public Media) Share Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas TribuneUnder Speaker Dennis Bonnen, the Texas House has passed all three of state leaders’ highest-priority bills for 2019.The Texas House gave preliminary approval to a priority property tax reform package Tuesday, teeing it up for negotiations with the Senate and impelling the upper chamber to act on an omnibus school finance measure.Together, the education and tax overhaul bills have been the top policy issues of the 2019 legislative session, and they are ultimately expected to be ironed out behind the scenes — and perhaps simultaneously.Tuesday’s vote marks a small milestone for House leadership, which has muscled its must-pass budget, public education and tax reform bills to passage, all before the last month of session begins. But the House and Senate will next need to reconcile notable differences among the three measures, and the upper chamber has yet to move the school finance bill out of committee.“We have done our job in the House — and we have sent everything over to the Senate,” said state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, author of the school finance bill.Senate Bill 2 was approved on a 107-40 margin after a half-dozen hours of debate. More than 20 Democratic lawmakers broke party ranks to support the measure, which has garnered adamant opposition from city and county officials since its introduction.A top imperative for state leaders, SB 2 offers wholesale reforms to the property tax system and limits the ability of cities, counties and other taxing units to raise property tax revenue. As passed, it forces cities, counties and emergency service districts to hold an election to approve raising 3.5% more property tax revenue than the previous year. Hospitals and community colleges have an 8% election trigger in the version passed by the House.“Texas taxpayers are frustrated by rising property taxes. They’re often confused by the process, and many are scared of losing their homes,” said state Rep. Dustin Burrows, the bill’s author and chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. While the bill makes the tax process more transparent, “it does not lower anyone’s property taxes.”“It was never designed to do that, and I’ve never promised anyone that it did,” said Burrows, a Lubbock Republican.Few attempts to make major changes to the bill were successful Tuesday.One amendment, from state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, seems to bar anyone but licensed attorneys from representing taxpayers in the property tax appeal process on a contingency fee basis. The change would likely affect the author of SB 2, state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Houston Republican and a property tax consultant.“It affects a lot of people. We’ll talk about it in conference,” Geren said. He added, “I don’t believe in contingency fees, but if we have to have contingency fees to do this, then I want the lawyers to do that.”last_img read more