A digital media awash in “truthiness” needs “trustiness.”That became clear during a high-octane symposium at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that examined comedian Stephen Colbert’s definition of a truth that is known in the gut and can’t be swayed by facts or logic.“Truthiness is a rhetorical poker game that the ’net let people play,” said Charles Nesson, founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, in giving a midday “inflection point” of a two-day symposium on “Truthiness in Digital Media,” co-hosted by the Berkman Center and the MIT Center for Civic Media and supported by the Ford Foundation.On Tuesday, prominent Web activists, researchers, and opinion makers gathered at Harvard to lay out the challenges of truthiness. On Wednesday, they went to the MIT Media Lab for “Hack Day” to try to come up with new technical tools to address those challenges. Those were myriad, as indicated by the event’s subtitle: “A symposium that seeks to understand and address propaganda and misinformation in the new media ecosystem,” as in “the Internet spreads lies.”Wendell Potter, a former health industry PR executive, described how the media world has shifted from having skeptical reporters act as gatekeepers to an open field where he could spread information “without being asked a difficult question.”Participants described a media landscape where roving bots produce near-human conversation on Twitter, where citizens cluster in right- or left-wing echo chambers, and where measured, carefully presented debunking may only reinforce a falsehood because of quirks in human psychology.That’s the dark side.But the bright side is equally valid, participants noted. Crowdsourcing can effectively debunk falsehoods or sort through confusing public documents like tax returns. And if mainstream journalists fail to fact check, the Internet supports groups that will.Tuesday’s presentations began with one by someone who admitted he had come over from the dark side: Wendell Potter, a former health industry PR executive turned industry critic. Potter described how the media world has shifted from having skeptical reporters act as gatekeepers to an open field where he could spread information “without being asked a difficult question.”“All this means the consumer is at a big disadvantage; it is easy for the dark side to spread misinformation,” Potter said, citing as an example the rumors of “death panels” during the health reform debates.The symposium showed how researchers, such as Yochai Benkler, the Berkman Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, and Filippo Menczer, professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University, are studying, tracking, and graphing the spread of information and misinformation. For example, Benkler showed through a series of slides how discussion of federal anti-piracy legislation moved from technical sites to policy sites and eventually countered the impact of heavily funded lobbying groups to derail the legislation. “It’s not about fact-checking, it’s about frame shifting,” Benkler said.Menczer described how activists used technology to tweet and retweet fake news about President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan, in an effort to target influential Twitter users. Such efforts can be detected, he said, but “by that time the damage is already done. The trick is, can we detect it early, before the damage is done?”The public is not aware of the massive funding behind advocacy groups, Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the audience.Tim Hwang, chief scientist of the Pacific Social Architecting Corp., discussed his team’s efforts to create social media bots that were so effective that people often engaged them in long conversations. (Sample bot response being, “That’s so interesting. Tell me more.”) To prevent manipulation, “You should treat social networks like computer networks,” he said.Many of those who spread misinformation are sincere in that they actually believe that there is no global warming or that vaccines cause health problems. However, there are some Machiavellis out there. Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, discussed a media baron who she says created at least 25 non-profit “education” groups (such as one that debunks the “myth of childhood obesity”) that are staffed by his PR agency. The public, she said, is not aware of the massive funding behind advocacy groups.Even journalists can be blinded by their own mindsets, said Kai Wright, a writer and editorial director of Colorlines.com, citing the time in 2006 when some people’s fortunes were booming due to the stock market, while poorer communities were suffering from predatory lending. Should then a reporter say the economy is good or bad? “The media has done a poor job of reporting the truth because they only look at a narrow set of facts,” he said.Even if myriad tweets put out the facts, many people may not believe them. Chris Mooney, author of the forthcoming book “The Republican Brain,” admitted even he had been deceived by the traditional Enlightenment view of reality, the idea that putting out clear, well-reasoned information changes minds. It turns out that the brain doesn’t work that way, he said. Indeed, the smarter you are, he said, the less likely you are to change your mind.“The more capable you are of coming up with an argument that supports your belief, the less likely you are to change,” he said, even if you are only rationalizing, not reasoning. “There is a science of why we deny science,” Mooney said. “There is a science of truthiness.Often, said Brendan Nyhan, assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College, people “double down” on their beliefs. And if you restate false claims while debunking them (as in a health brochure on vaccines), you may “make the claims more familiar, and now they seem more true.”But the day was not all gloom: Potter noted that through a social media groundswell, Bank of America did not implement an unpopular new fee. Hwang said bots could also be deployed to detect other bots. During the lively question-and-answer session, Panagiotis Metaxas, a Wellesley computer science professor, said, “I trust crowds quite a bit. They are too big to be bought.” Through technology, crowds can be formed, he added.Kathleen Hall Jamieson, communication professor at the Annenberg School, said the public and journalists should be made aware of methods of fear mongering. Citing her new site, Flackcheck.org, Jamieson urged the audience to push broadcasters to check the veracity of third-party ads before airing them. “You can learn to detect the patterns of deception,” she said.Video of the symposium will be posted on the Berkman Center’s site.
Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaThe weather has been good, almost too good, for one of Georgia’ssweetest crops, says a University of Georgia expert.Georgia’s peach crop has had the weather it needed to grow wellthis year. Shoppers can expect plenty of large, pretty peaches,says Kathryn Taylor, a horticulturist with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences. It’s one of the bestpeach crops in years.”Georgia’s peach trees are producing very large fruit due to thespring and summer rains,” she said. And, due to the relativelycool spring, “fruit color has been better than in recent years.”But those same heavy rains, it seems, have also caused someproblems.Best fruits laterThe rain has diluted the sugar content of the early fruits,”making them seem less flavorful,” she said. “But we expect thelater fruit to have better flavor, as late fruit usually does.”The rain has also increased the potential for fungal diseases onthe fruit.Peaches are more prone to develop fungal rot and can have ashorter shelf life. But growers are taking extra measures, shesaid, to prevent rot and remove suspect fruit during packing.”It seems that every good event in agriculture has its cost,” shesaid.Almost all of the crop is in good to fair condition right now,according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service.Harvest going strongMiddle Georgia growers produce about 90 percent of the state’speach crop. South Georgia growers produce the rest. SouthGeorgia’s harvest is coming to an end, but farmers in middleGeorgia will harvest into the first week of August.Georgia’s chilly winter got the peaches off to a good start forthis harvest.Peaches need so many chill hours (below 45 degrees) during thewinter. Depending on the variety, they need from 400 to about1,000 chill hours to perform well during the growing season, shesaid. Middle Georgia got more than 1,300 hours.(Brad Haire is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
By Dialogo June 01, 2012 A police sweep in Bolivia revealed 37 home cocaine laboratories set up in private residences in the rural town of San Miguel, in the department of Santa Cruz, a high-ranking official responsible for the fight against drugs announced on May 30. During the police operation, at least 20 people were also arrested, four rudimentary landing strips were discovered, and at least eight vehicles adapted to transport drugs were seized. Each laboratory had the capacity to produce an average of 100 kilograms of cocaine a day, for a total of “around 3,700 kilos of drugs a month” in each residence, Colonel Gonzalo Quezada, the national director of the Police Anti-Drug Force (FELCN), said at a press conference. “Pits in the ground were also detected, where the drug traffickers camouflaged the drugs once produced, along with barrels of sulfuric acid, which is used in the production of cocaine,” Quezada added. An anti-drug prosecutor, Basilio Vilca, revealed that inhabitants of Yapacaní, an electoral stronghold of President Evo Morales, opposed a similar operation in response to the suspected presence of drugs on May 27. “A commission of prosecutors and FELCN personnel detected a house in Yapacaní where drugs were reportedly intended for transport within the country and abroad (…). When we tried to enter the residence, some individuals called more people from the surrounding area with mortars to ambush us,” Vilca told the official news agency ABI. Bolivia is the world’s third largest cocaine producer, after Peru and Colombia. Great, perfect job, evil should be struck on its root. Perfect, FELCN is very relevant for everybody.
Within Bolivia, women, children, and men are subjected to sex trafficking, often in urban areas. But members of indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Within the country, Bolivian children are found in domestic servitude, forced begging, and forced labor in mining and agriculture. • Police officers also continued to conduct awareness programs in public schools in the La Paz area. With respect to prosecution, the report says that the government also enacted a new trafficking law in July 2012 that prohibits all forms of trafficking and establishes penalties of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed under Bolivian law for other serious crimes, such as rape. • The government provided human rights training with anti-trafficking content for its troops before they deployed on international peacekeeping missions. The report’s recommendations for Bolivia include enhancing victim services across the country by increasing resources designated for specialized assistance for trafficking victims, including for victims of forced labor; strengthening efforts to prosecute trafficking offenses, and convicting and punishing trafficking offenders and fraudulent labor recruiters; increasing resources for prosecutors and police and ensuring that dedicated human trafficking units focus on human trafficking as opposed to other crimes such as missing persons. • The government also developed public service announcements on the new law that aired during the year. The new law required media outlets to run a certain number of minutes of public service announcements about human trafficking and the new law each month. Additionally, the report recommends that Bolivia enhances its efforts to identify trafficking victims proactively by developing formal procedures for identification of victims among vulnerable populations; intensifies law enforcement efforts against the forced labor of adults and children, including domestic servitude, and the forced prostitution of adults; and ensures that returning Bolivian trafficking victims receive reintegration services. The Government of Bolivia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the year, the government enacted a new trafficking law that strengthened victim protection and trafficking prevention efforts. However, it did not provide dedicated funding to government ministries to fulfill some of the law’s new requirements until 2013. In order to implement the new law, the government of Bolivia took various steps. Some of these are summarized below: • The national anti-trafficking council, which also focused on smuggling, developed implementing guidelines for the new trafficking law, which were formalized in February 2013. By Dialogo September 03, 2013 • The government also hired officers in 14 specialized anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling police units that were also funded by foreign governments. • Law enforcement officials and prosecutors received anti-trafficking training from government officials in 2012, often funded by NGOs, international organizations, as well as a foreign government. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report published in June 2013 by the U.S. Department of State, Bolivia is principally a source country for men, women, and children who are exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor within the country or abroad. Bolivians are found in conditions of forced labor in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Spain, the United States, and other countries, usually in sweatshops and agriculture, as well as in domestic service. The law diverges from the 2000 UN TIP Protocol by penalizing illegal adoption as human trafficking. Previously, Bolivian law prohibited all forms of human trafficking and prescribed penalties of eight to 12 years’ imprisonment.
26SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Greg Michlig Greg Michlig joined the New Jersey Credit Union League as President/CEO in May of 2013. He has a strong background in the credit union, association and related financial services … Web: www.njcul.org Details Rules and regulations are important in everything from our social interactions with one another to the complex business guidelines and measures enforced by regulatory agencies across our country. Those agencies, including the National Credit Union Administration, play an important role in creating an environment in which expectations are set and monitored to keep bad actors from damaging the marketplace.While, in the wake of the recent financial downturn and the ensuing increased regulatory oversight, many express ire with the prudential regulator, most will also acknowledge that the NCUA has a difficult job to do in striking balance between supervision and market suppression through over-regulation. We recognize the importance of safety and soundness in the credit union system and the significance of NCUA’s function.However, regulatory burden is real and credit unions of all sizes are feeling the pinch. Managing compliance matters and participating in the examination process draws significant resources for credit unions at all levels of complexity. Those resources could be redeployed in areas dedicated to growth and consumer benefit.This is where increasing attention on the industry dialogue with NCUA is of utmost importance. It is difficult to fully understand and gain clarity from an agency when conflicting messages are delivered on issues and within levels of the organizational structure.For example, the recent 18-month exam issue was first struck down, almost immediately, by NCUA spokesman Ben Hardaway. Credit Union Journal quoted Hardaway as stating, “The current 12-month exam cycle has proven to be both more appropriate and more effective than an 18-month cycle,”. Credit Union Journal goes on to state that, according to Hardaway, credit union financial stability changes too quickly to allow for the risks that can occur when an institution goes longer than 12 months without an exam.This swift and seemingly definitive response was met with concern from credit unions, trade associations and even NCUA Board Member J. Mark McWatters. In a response, also posted to the Credit Union Journal, McWatters stated the following, “That NCUA would scuttle this request without debate among the board offices further evidences the lack of transparency and collegiality within the agency. As we all know, more than 70% of NCUA’s operating budget consists of examination and travel related costs, and any reasonable suggestion regarding how to better manage the inexorable increase in these costs merits thoughtful reflection. NCUA seems to have forgotten that it’s not 2008, but, instead, 2015 and that the credit union community — in NCUA’s own assessment — is strong and resilient. That the top-tier of credit unions require full-tilt examination every 12 months is worthy of challenge and rigorous debate.” Mr. McWatters goes on to state that he is not necessarily supporting the proposed move to the 18-month exam cycle, but acknowledges the need for additional conversation on the topic before moving forward.In an additional twist, Larry Fazio, director of the NCUA’s Office of Examination and Insurance, later cited a need for technological improvements to facilitate moving to an 18-month examination cycle. With implementation of a new system, which is currently being evaluated, on-site time at credit unions would be reduced.Understanding that there is now stated openness to discuss the matter further, I would offer that an earnest request for dialogue from the NCUA at the outset would have been much better received within the credit union community. It is my hope that this is a stepping stone to more robust interaction between the agency and credit unions along with their representative associations.For example, there are a number of New Jersey credit unions that offer Taxi Medallion Loans. As NCUA Chairman, Debbie Matz, stated in her Supervisory Letter—Taxi Medallion Lending in April of 2014, “Taxi medallion lending is a valuable member service provided by certain credit unions with expertise in this form of member business lending which entails some unique risks.” Understanding these risks and following guidance is to be expected for any credit union engaging in such loans. In addition, focus on the fact that this line of lending is a valuable member service, should hold an equitable share of the discussion. It is my hope that prior to NCUA action relative to this area, credit unions are engaged in a discussion around strategy and workable solutions to any concerns that may exist.It may be naïve to suggest that the regulator and the regulated can exist in an environment relatively free of tension. In fact, it is probable that such an environment wouldn’t be satisfactory for any parties involved. That said, through continually taking steps towards open and transparent discussion of key issues, better clarity around conflicting points of view can be gained by all those involved. With such understanding, I believe that together, we can advance the credit union movement to new heights in delivering value to our members and the many additional consumers who will look to credit unions as their best financial partners in the days, months and years ahead.
Chenango Forks and other districts across the Southern Tier say they hope federal aid can alleviate the financial fallout of the pandemic. TOWN OF CHENANGO (WBNG) — The Chenango Forks Central School District is joining the list of Southern Tier school districts facing immense financial deficit amid the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed up to 20% cuts in state aid to New York schools back in March, saying it was because of economic stress from the pandemic. Looking at how to survive, Peck said the district could save up to roughly $3.8 million by moving to remote learning or half or all year. “If the federal government does not come through and make up this 20%, then I seriously have no idea how to run this school district and make up 4.1 million dollars without impacting the education of our students.” Not only is the district dealing with cuts, it’s also spending more to reopen this fall. Peck said the district is looking at spending between $200,000-250,000 on items like PPE to open safely under regulations. However, Peck said, “Is that the best education for our students? Absolutely not.” On Wednesday, Chenango Forks Superintendent Lloyd Peck said those cuts are already happening to the tune of nearly $90,000 lost in August. Peck urges the community to contact local lawmakers to push for help with funding. If the cuts last all year, Peck said state aid accounts for 60% of the district’s budget, so about $4.1 million would be gone.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is considering his Arsenal future (Picture: Getty)Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ‘keeping his options’ despite the club’s best efforts to get him to sign a new long-term deal.The Gabon forward has scored 50 goals in 78 appearances for the Gunners since a £57million move from Dortmund in 2018.Arsenal have opened talks with the 30-year-old over a new deal at the club, as recognition of Aubameyang’s contribution since joining the club.But the club have been frustrated with their lack of progress and Goal report that Aubameyang is unwilling at this time to commit his future.ADVERTISEMENT Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang considering Arsenal exit despite club’s efforts over new deal Metro Sport ReporterSunday 3 Nov 2019 11:28 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link8.6kShares Aubameyang’s current deal runs until 2021The striker is keeping his options open to see how the season pans out for the Gunners, while Unai Emery’s future is also likely to prove pivotal.AdvertisementAdvertisementAubameyang’s current deal expires in 2021 and Arsenal are understandably treating the matter with urgency given he’ll have one year remaining in the summer.The 30-year-old was heavily linked with a move to China before he settled on a move to the Emirates but he’s yet to taste Champions League football with the Gunners.More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalThe club are also similarly determined to hand strike partner Alexandre Lacazette a new deal but they’re yet to reach an agreement.Getting Mesut Ozil’s wages off the books could help the club stretch their budget further and Unai Emery is keen to offload the German.Ozil earns around £350,000-a-week but has started just one league game this term.MORE: Arsenal legend Ian Wright ‘very disappointed’ by Unai Emery decision during Wolves draw Advertisement Advertisement Comment
From €18,668.01 to €70,044.005.5% He stressed that the proposed system would only be for those not currently in a second-pillar scheme, as the ICTU does not want to see the approach “replace the few good pension arrangements around”.National Superannuation FundWhelan said the ICTU would like Ireland’s revenue office to be in charge of collecting contributions, which would be paid into a single, central, defined contribution (DC) pension fund – the National Superannuation Fund – administered by a trustee board. The pension pot would be transferable, in that it would follow employees if and when they joined a new employer.Whelan warned against the involvement of a private company pursuing a profit motive for such a scheme.“The danger of people just milking this system would be ever-present, so we are fairly determined to avoid that if we can,” he said.However, he accepted private sector asset managers would have a role in investing any contributions.The emphasis on a potentially government-backed not-for-profit provider echoes the statutory nature of a number of large pension funds, such as Sweden’s AP7, the UK’s National Employment Savings Trust and the Cook Islands’ National Superannuation Fund.Similarly, the Canadian provincial government of Ontario is to launch the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan in 2018 – with a compulsory, employer-matched contribution of 1.9% for workers not currently saving into a private-sector plan.Whelan said initial discussions with Ireland’s employer association, IBEC, had already taken place, and that he was “very pleasantly surprised” to see it broadly support ICTU’s proposal.He added: “They’ve no objection to paying into a scheme, so long as they have certainty about their level of contribution.”IBEC’s head of education and social policy Tony Donohoe agreed there was little point in phasing out the USC, only to introduce “a similar tax in the form of a universal pension scheme in the future”. He also said New Zealand’s approach of having a regularly tendered list of default Superannuation providers – then assigned by the New Zealand revenue office if beneficiaries made no active provider choice – was worth considering.IBEC has previously offered qualified support to the Universal Retirement Savings Group (URSG), convened by the government in early 2015 to consider the introduction of either an auto-enrolment-based or mandatory second-pillar system.Whelan explained that the ICTU’s proposal had not been submitted to the URSG, as the initial consultation period in early 2015 had not allowed it sufficient time to consult its union member base.Successive Irish governments have weighed up, or pledged, the introduction of an auto-enrolment system, to no avail.However, the two largest parties in the current parliament both pledged before February’s election their support for such a model. From €70,044.01 to €100,000.008% From €12,012.01 to €18,668.003% Income bandRate Irish unions have called on the government to introduce a mandatory second-pillar defined pension system, suggesting it should forego a planned tax cut and use the income as the initial contribution.Fergus Whelan, head of pension policy at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), told IPE the country was facing a “huge crisis” due to low pension coverage for private sector workers and declining pension adequacy for those in Irish public sector schemes.He said the union umbrella group was supporting the introduction of a mandatory, universal retirement system for those not currently saving into a pension fund, although he noted its proposal had not been put to the Universal Retirement Savings Group (URSG) convened by the government last year. Conceding that the ICTU had “probably missed the boat”, Whelan nevertheless suggested eligible workers’ initial contributions for the proposed universal system be diverted from the Universal Social Charge (USC), a progressive tax on income which the new Fine Gael-led minority government has pledged to phase out. Introduced in 2011, the USC is levied at a rate of 1% on income up to €12,012, increasing gradually to 8% on income above €100,000.“So, what we are saying is that, for any worker who is not in a scheme, instead of giving them back their Universal Social Charge, the Universal Social Charge should be their initial contribution to the scheme,” Whelan said.“That should be matched by a contribution from the employers.”USC rates in 2016USC rates in 2016 Up to €12,0121% Any PAYE income over €100,0008%
Van Vollenhoven said she could imagine that large pension funds would place the important positions within their own administrative functions, whereas it would be likely that board members would take on these tasks at smaller schemes.The personal assignment of these functions would also pose a challenge, because in most cases DNB had to approve appointments, the supervisory director said.Pensions lawyer Frank Doornik described DNB’s offer as “very positive”, adding that the regulator should repeat this for other subjects.However, he noted that the key functions could trigger questions about the collective responsibility and accountability of a pension fund’s board.“What does it mean for the division of roles if a trustee for internal auditing is to report to the board and the internal supervision about things that have gone wrong?” he asked. “Would the board still be a collective one in this case?”In Doornik’s opinion, pension funds must be much more careful when recording their decisions and how they have been made.“This would not only apply to the decision itself, but to all considerations and all individual comments on the subject,” he said. Dutch supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) has offered pension funds assistance in filling in key positions to comply with the EU-wide pensions directive IORP II.At the annual congress of the Institute for Pensions Education (IVP) last week, Gisella van Vollenhoven, DNB’s director for pension fund supervision, said the regulator had noticed that it was difficult to comply with the conditions set for the key functions of audit, actuarial matters and risk management.She said the watchdog was ready to provide advice, explaining that the support would depend on pension funds’ structure, governing bodies and scale.The introduction of key functions forms part of the pensions directive, which must be implemented across EU member states through local legislation before 13 January 2019. The Dutch Senate was expected to pass the legislation this week.
Radio NZ 26 Nov 2012The Families Commission says culture and the church are major contributors to Pacific communities getting into trouble with debt and loan sharks. The commission’s report, Pacific Families and Problem Debt released on Saturday says Pacific families are going into debt to fulfil cultural obligations to churches and extended families. It says some churches add to the pressure through tithing and donations, including reading out what each family gives. Families Commissioer James Prescott says churches need to be at the forefront of helping Pacific families out of debt, not getting them into it. “Church leaders, for instance, need to be aware of the financial constraints that many of their parishioners face so that they’re not asking them to contribute beyond their means.” Dr Prescott says Pacific families also need to learn to say no, and to offer food or other help instead of money. The commission’s report also found low incomes, easy access to finance with high interest rates and language barriers when it came to understanding contracts were factors in financial strain.http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/121827/church-urged-to-consider-pacific-families’-financial-constraints