A disabled civil servant has told MPs how her care

first_imgA disabled civil servant has told MPs how her career has stalled because of the failure of the IT systems in the Home Office to cope with the assistive technology she needs to do her job.Jo-Ann Moran, a senior executive officer in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, told the work and pensions select committee yesterday (Wednesday) that she had been encouraged to apply for promotion but declined to do so because of the IT problems she was facing.She told the committee that it had been a “culture shock” to “all of a sudden be denied access” after 30 years of full-time employment.Moran (pictured), who has a degenerative condition that affects her hearing and sight, said: “I am a top performer in my grade and I keep getting told, ‘Come on, go for it,’ but I can’t because I am just not going to be reliable.”She added: “We just can’t get the assistive technology to work. It’s not through the [lack of] trying, it’s just about the infrastructure being able to cope with the additional technology.”The evidence session was part of the committee’s inquiry into the role of assistive technology in improving disabled people’s employment rates.Moran said she feared that if she applied for a job working for a minister, that minister would not be able to accommodate her if she had to say, ‘Sorry, my computer’s not working today.’“So that’s where my barrier is at the moment. I have employment, I have over 30 years of full-time employment, but I am now too scared to go for promotion.“I have always done well, I have always been able to overcome, so this has been a real culture shock for me to all of a sudden be denied access.”She said she was working with a team in the Home Office that was trying to build a new IT system that would allow her to use “as many mainstream integrated systems as possible”.If that works, she said, “I will be promoted and I will be in SCS [senior civil service].”Moran was one of four disabled people who gave evidence to the committee about assistive technology.Another was Dr Stephen Duckworth, a consultant who was previously chief executive of the personal independence payment (PIP) division of the troubled outsourcing giant Capita.He told the committee that he had tried to recruit disabled people to Capita but found that he was unable to employ blind people because the technology that the Department for Work and Pensions had imposed on Capita through its PIP contract was inaccessible to them.He said he would like to see a new scheme set up, similar to the existing Motability vehicle scheme, but for those with assistive technology needs.He said this scheme would be open to disabled people who receive the PIP daily living element, who would then be able to use their monthly payments to fund expensive assistive technology.Duckworth said this would give “autonomy, power and control back to individuals so they can choose and control how they use that money to invest in their future”.He said this would “help them take responsibility, not just for independent living, but also for their future employment and contribution that they make back to society”, while it could prevent disabled people being charged one thousand per cent interest rates on loans from payday lenders to fund the purchase of assistive technology equipment.Robin Christopherson, head of digital inclusion at the technology and disability charity AbilityNet, told the committee the government should do more to enforce existing obligations to ensure digital accessibility under the Equality Act.He said: “We would want to see government embracing that very, very strongly, to be able to get a seismic change in the landscape.“Historically, the government have not seen it as their remit to enforce that area of the Equality Act, so it is left to disabled individuals or organisations like RNIB to do class actions.”He said the legal requirement under the Equality Act is for websites of service-providers to achieve the “double A” level of accessibility, but 95 per cent of sites in the UK do not even meet the lower “single A” level, 20 years after protection was first introduced through the Disability Discrimination Act.He also told the MPs that the government’s Access to Work scheme was only “scratching the surface” of what was needed in funding disabled people’s workplace adjustments.And he said that AbilityNet and ClearTalents will be trialling the use of the ClearTalents diversity profile – which provides “tailored reasonable adjustments” for disabled people, as well as those who face recruitment barriers for other reasons, such as cultural factors, transgender status or caring responsibilities – in a number of jobcentres in London.He said it was “really, really important” for employers to be “much more proactive” in the provision of reasonable adjustments.And he said that organisations that use the ClearTalents system increase the “disclosure rate” of such barriers from about two to three per cent to between 60 and 65 per cent.Consultant Simon Wheatcroft told the committee that there needed to be “far more integration” of IT systems and assistive technology, because there are “so many systems, there are so many assistive technology solutions”.He has to use three separate devices, because none of the systems he uses will work in every situation.He said: “It’s very task dependant. No one system exists that can help me in every situation.“I have to spin my work out across three different devices and three different operating systems just to perhaps achieve the same task that someone with sight might use.“If there was a more integrated approach I could use one system, maybe one device, and be far more productive.”last_img read more

PostFlorence larcenies double at UNCW dorms

first_imgUNCW campus police (Photo: uncw.edu) WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) — In the first weeks after Hurricane Florence, police at the University of North Carolina Wilmington got 36 reports of items stolen from residence halls. Two months after the storm, Police Chief David Donaldson estimates that number is now between 65 and 70.And while many of those cases are inactive, Donaldson said none have been resolved.- Advertisement – “No, there are none that have been fruitful,” he said this week. “It’s unlikely that many of these cases will end with an arrest.”Police were stationed at campus entrances 24 hours a day during the 25 days UNCW was closed to the public. But campus buildings had to be unlocked for days to allow contractors to begin repairs.Read more from StarNewsOnline.last_img read more

Several injured in highspeed crash in Burgaw

first_img Capt. James Rowell with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy passed a speeding car heading north on U.S. 117, but before the deputy could turn around and catch up to the driver, the driver hit a vehicle at the intersection of U.S. 117 and NC 53.The driver didn’t stop, then hit another vehicle a couple hundred feet down the road near the entrance to Hardees, Rowell said.At that point, the driver’s car went airborne, rolled, then caught on fire. The driver was injured and taken to the hospital.Related Article: Investigators: Dispute over woman leads to shooting at Rocky Point storeThe driver’s identity has not been released, but Rowell said he has outstanding warrants out of New Hanover County.Rowell said people from the other two cars were also injured, but no word on the extent of their injuries or how many passengers were in each car.A block of U.S. 117 was closed for about two hours. BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — A man allegedly driving 100 miles per hour crashed into two cars in Burgaw on Tuesday afternoon.It happened just before 3:00 p.m.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Governor visits Wilmington childrens center to push for Medicaid expansion

first_img “You work so hard but you still struggle,” said teacher Lauren Beasley.Nineteen percent of early childhood educators in North Carolina do not have health insurance according to the Governor’s office. Several teachers who sat with the Governor rely on health insurance to come from either the jobs of their spouse or another family member.“My passion is with the younger ones and it’s just really disappointing that I have to go back to school to do something else because of something like health insurance,” said teacher Camden Rivenbark who is losing insurance this month.Related Article: Republicans face more powerful Cooper with Democrats’ gainsThe issue of Medicaid has risen in the legislature in bills like HB 656, but not significantly in the House and Senate budgets. Today leading lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown issued a letter the Governor. In it he informed the Governor that staff from the Governor’s office said talks would not move forward on the budget if Medicaid is left out.“It should be a part of this negotiation and I hope that it will be in the coming weeks or months,” said Governor Cooper. “It’s time for North Carolina to expand Medicaid and help our early childhood educators and other hardworking North Carolinians get access to quality health insurance.”Republicans have said the expansion would hurt hospitals and private insurance users in the state.Gov. Cooper has been traveling the state hearing from North Carolinians about the urgency to expand Medicaid according to his staff. In addition, he and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have hosted six roundtables on the health coverage gap. Rural hospital CEOs, childcare directors and teachers, mental health providers, obstetricians and pediatricians, and families impacted by the opioid epidemic have all traveled to Raleigh from across North Carolina to urge lawmakers to close the health coverage gap.The Governor’s office says expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs according to his staff.Currently, a family of four with working parents must earn less than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid according to the Governor’s office. The same family’s income would have to exceed $25,000 to qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. Gov. Cooper holds roundtable at Noah’s Ark Children’s Center. (Andrew James/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Expanding Medicaid in this year’s state budget is a top priority for Governor Roy Cooper. His statewide trip to push for it brought him to Wilmington today.Governor Roy Cooper met with childcare teachers at Noah’s Ark Children’s Center in Wilmington. In a roundtable discussion, teachers shared that too many of their colleagues are suffering from preventable diseases because they do not have access to health insurance.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Oak Island residents fight to keep dog park open

first_img Since then, more than 70 comments have been posted by people asking what they can do to help save the park.Kristin Ilchert says she brings her dog to the park often, and is doing what she can to stop it from shutting down.“We were told that there were holes and leaves and stuff, and nobody was here to help, but nobody has asked for any help,” Ilchert said. “90 percent of us or more didn’t even know it was volunteer-run.”A sign tells supporters of the dog park to attend a meeting on June 20th.(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)Related Article: Oak Island Pier set to reopen WednesdayIlchert says there’s been some confusion about when the public can voice their support for the park. She says she plans on attending a Parks and Recreation meeting on Thursday.The official dog park Facebook page says to voice concerns at a town council meeting on July 18. A dog enjoys Salty Dog Park in Oak Island.(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY) OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — Dog lovers in Oak Island are trying to save the town’s only dog park after hearing that it would be closing.According to Salty Dog Park’s Facebook page, the park is maintained by volunteers and the funds they raise. On June 10, they posted that the park would be closing on August 1 due to a lack of volunteers.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Panama papers being considered not evidence – PACE Inquiry found Egrant papers

first_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> http://www.assembly.coe.int/nw/SessionVideoPress-EN.aspPieter Omtzigt, rapporteur appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is heading the second hearing on the report titled “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law, in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges”.He was appointed to prepare the report after a motion was passed, signed by 114 members of the Assembly. Present are Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici, Attorney General Peter Grech and Martin Kuijer, substitute member for the Netherlands, European Commission for Democracy through Law, Council of Europe.09:25 Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici listed the improvements which he said government has made in the past years to improve the rule of law. He mentioned the removal of criminal libel and anti-SLAPP laws. He said that Malta joined the EPPO as well as other initiatives.09:30 Referring to the murder of journalist Caruana Galizia, whom the Minister described as ‘brutal’, Bonnici said that the relevant authorities not only had been given the required tools but, in a few days had arraigned three persons and had worked with Finnish and Dutch Authority. Regarding the Venice Commission, Bonnici said that the recommendations on the Attorney General and on the Judiciary are being considered as these require constitutional amendments. He said that that the changes are aimed for the end of the current year.09:40 Attorney Peter Grech outlined his work as the government’s lawyer and his position in magisterial inquiries. Grech said that although three persons have been arraigned, the possibility of further arraignments is not excluded. he referred to the wish of the family as he had been officially notified, that the family will press for a public inquiry. He said that the necessity of this is debatable but cannot be excluded. He said that what is necessary at this point is to assess if a public inquiry will help or hinder the ongoing investigations.09:50 Martin Kuijer member for the Netherlands, European Commission for Democracy through Law, Council of Europe said that the report found that power in Malta is vested in the Prime Minister, that MPs are part-time and that they should have information which is non-partisan. He said that the President should be distanced from the government and that the judiciary should be reformed and overhauled. Appointment by merit and upgraded judicial discipline should be introduced, said Kuijer. He said that the report recommended the setting up of a public prosecutor with security of tenure and the Attorney General will remain as the lawyer of the government.09:55 Pieter Omtzigt asked Dr Grech if it requested help from UAE and other jurisdictions in the Daphne Investigation. Dr Grech said that it would not be appropriate for him to answer that question in the light of the investigations.10:05 Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi listed a number of issues which he said tainted government with corruption in relation to impunity enjoyed by persons impugned by the Panama Papers such as Minister Konrad Mizzi and accountant Brian Tonna. Azzopardi asked how the minister could be considered credible when he had called Daphne Caruana Galizia a hate blogger. Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi asked if the government was working to introduce the reforms requested by the Venice Commission. Finally Pieter Omtzigt asked why it took Malta 3 months to clean the Great Siege Monument which he described as an important public memorial to a murdered journalist. He remarked that the cleaning of the Arc de Triomphe took only 11 days.10:10 Minister Bonnici, replying to Jason Azzopardi said that while he disagreed with Daphne’s style of writing but he still condemned the murder. He defended Brian Tonna as he had been consultant for culture. He added that magisterial inquiries are being conducted on the Panama Papers and the courts have so far, decided for government and the Prime Minister. In reply to a question on Daphne Garuana Galizia’s laptop, Bonnici said that he had no idea how this could end up in Germany. Minister Bonnici concluded that Malta is not about restoration of monuments taking long. ‘Malta is so much more than this’ concluded Bonnici.10:15 Pieter Omtzigt said that the Commission against Corruption has existed for the past 30 years and the very serious issues of the Panama Papers are being sidelined as ‘not evidence’. Minister Bonnici took exception to these concluding demands and replied that the Panama Papers had been under magisterial inquiry which found that papers in the Egrant investigation had been falsified.WhatsApplast_img read more

Protester tosses egg at Australian prime minister

first_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the INPEX Gala Dinner in Darwin, Australia November 16, 2018. David Moir/Pool via REUTERS/File PhotoFILE PHOTO: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the INPEX Gala Dinner in Darwin, Australia November 16, 2018. David Moir/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo A 25-year-old woman threw an egg at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s head at an election campaign event on Tuesday and was arrested, New South Wales state police said.Security guards swiftly pounced on the protester, who was wearing a beanie and casual clothes, and dragged her away.“Officers from the Murray River police district placed the woman under arrest after she allegedly threw an egg at the prime minister during a Country Women’s Association event at Albury Entertainment Centre,” the police statement said.“The egg appears to have struck the prime minister on the head,” police said.They did not disclose the protester’s name.Morrison rubbed his head briefly after the egg was tossed and then helped an elderly woman who was pushed to the floor in the scuffle, television images showed.No injuries were reported, the police said.“We will stand up to thuggery whether it’s these cowardly activists who have no respect for anyone, or militant unionists standing over small businesses and their employees on work sites,” Morrison said in a message on his Twitter feed.We will stand up to thuggery whether it’s these cowardly activists who have no respect for anyone, or militant unionists standing over small businesses and their employees on work sites.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 7, 2019The incident occurred during a visit by the prime minister to Albury, a constituency in New South Wales, where an independent candidate is the bookmakers’ favourite as rural voters desert the government.The woman protester later told reporters that her action “speaks for itself” and referred to Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, where Australia has long detained refugees, according to a reporter with the Australian newspaper.In March, a teenager smashed an egg onto the head of a controversial right-wing Australian lawmaker who had blamed New Zealand’s mass mosque shootings on its immigration programme.WhatsApplast_img read more

Court cites conflict of interest and revokes DB Group permit

first_imgThe controversial db Group City Centre Project in Pembroke has been brought to a halt after the Court of Appeal found that one of the sitting board members of the Planning Authority board had a conflict of interest in the project on Wednesday morning.Developer Silvio Debono will now need to submit a fresh planning application, after Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti ruled that the decision by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) given in February this year, should be revoked and said that the decision which was taken by the Planning Authority Board on 20 September 2018 was “deemed as null and without effect”.READ: NGOs file judicial protest against Lands Authority over db Group developmentREAD: Lawsuits filed over db Group planning tribunal and permitThe Local Councils of Pembroke, St Julian’s, and Swieqi, along with non-governmental organisations Moviment Graffitti, Friends of the Earth Malta, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left, Din l-Art Ħelwa, and Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, as well as residents Alison Pullicino, Sonya Tanti, Rita Zammit, Norman Zammit, Mario Sultana, Adrian Grima, Josef Buttigieg, Stephanie and Arnold Cassola took the matter to court and appealed the decision by EPRT.Back in September 2018, the Planning Authority Board had approved the project which includes a 37-storey tower and a 17-storey hotel, with 10 votes to 4.Miguela XuerebNewsbook.com.mt had revealed that Board Member Jacqueline Gili was flown in by a jet to vote in favour of the project.READ: Jetset votingThe Shift News then revealed that board member Matthew Pace is a franchise owner of Remax Alliance Group. Pace was appointed on to the Planning Board only weeks after the general election of 2013. The Shift News had reported Remax was directly involved in selling apartments for Debono’s project in 2016. Back in 2016, there was no planning permit for the project and the land had not been transferred to Debono.In its reasoning the court observed that the project was being advertised long before the application had been voted on. The franchise which Pace owns, has a shared website and database with Remax Malta, and the court observed that any property agent who secured a deal would receive a commission even if they had not been directly involved.The court further said, that irrelevant of how the commission is shared between the different franchises, what was relevant, the court added was that Pace was in a position through his estate agency for which had not yet been approved and which he had a say in approving, through his vote as a member of the Planning Authority Board. “This shows without any doubt that Matthew Pace had a clear and direct interest in the outcome of the vote on the project, from which he could potentially have benefited once the project is approved,” the court said. The court further said that Pace “ought to have declared such interest prior to discussing the development application, and that he ought to have abstained from the sitting on the Board when the decision on City Centre Project was to be taken.The case was filed by lawyer Claire Bonello who said that this was a rare occasion indeed when conflict of interest was recognised by court, and was substantial enough to warrant the revocation of a permit.The project now needs to be brought back to the table for a vote. Observers close to the planning scene told Newsbook.com.mt that the ruling did not affect the plans but was taken on the issue of ‘conflict of interest’. This means that the project, per se, can just be tabled again for decision in a few days time.db Group denies excavations on bunker’s site; says Graffitti statements ‘absolutely untrue’1930s engine room omitted from DB Group assessment report Read also: Db Group submits new plans for former ITS siteUpdated: db Group changing its plans for ITS site, a ‘significant win’ – Graffitti‘We have nothing to hide’ – db Group claimsCrowdfunded appeal against dbGroup project filedPressure piles on db Group as ‘state aid’ accusations gather momentumPD file complaint with EC on db Group land acquisitiondb Group had admitted paying a low price for the land in Pembroke WhatsApp Pembroke Mayor Dean Hili on a Facebook residents’ group announced that access will be opened once again as the Local Council wrote to the architects requesting that the hoarding on the sidewalk blocking access is removed following the decision on Wednesday morning. In comments given to Newsbook.com.mt, Hili said that “the application will once again have to go through the planning procedure and we will be there once again, as we have been throughout the first instance.”Hili further added that “it is now clear more than ever that this entire procedure needs to be handled with the highest levels of diligence, sensitivity and objectivity, free from any sort of conflict of interest”. The mayor of Pembroke further remarked that while he does “not interpret this judgement to be a decision to this effect, the Planning Authority has another chance to get it right” saying that the project can be downsized.Moviment Graffiti has announced the legal victory over the development over their Facebook page.Environmental NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar said “It’s a good week for Malta’s environment! Together we can achieve more,” as it reacted to the news. While Din l-Art Ħelwa said that “Perseverance pays,” on its Facebook page.center_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Yes the FBI and CIA – or your government – can read

first_imgAdvertisement The U.S. government — and likely your own government, for that matter — is either watching your online activity every minute of the day through automated methods and non-human eavesdropping techniques, or has the ability to dip in as and when it deems necessary — sometimes with a warrant, sometimes without.That tin-foil hat really isn’t going to help. Take it off, you look silly.Gen. David Petraeus, the former head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, resigned over the weekend after he was found to have engaged in an extra-marital affair. What caught Petraeus out was, of all things, his usage of Google’s online email service, Gmail. – Advertisement – This has not only landed the former CIA chief in hot water but has ignited the debate over how, when, and why governments and law enforcement agencies are able to access ordinary citizens’ email accounts, even if they are the head of the most powerful intelligence agency in the world.If it makes you feel any better, the chances are small thatyour own or a foreign government will snoop on you. The odds are much greater — at least for the ordinary person (terrorists, hijackers et al: take note) — that your email account will be broken into by a stranger exploiting your weak password, or an ex-lover with a grudge (see “Fatal Attraction“).Forget ECHELON, or signals intelligence, or the interception of communications by black boxes installed covertly in data centers. Intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies can access — thanks to the shift towards Web-based email services in the cloud — but it’s not as exciting or as Jack Bauer-esque as one may think or hope for.The easiest way to access almost anybody’s email nowadays is still through the courts. (Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true.)The ‘save as draft’ trickPetraeus set up a private account under a pseudonym and composed email messages but never sent them. Instead, they were saved in draft. His lover, Paula Broadwell, would log in under the same account, read the email and reply, all without sending anything. The traffic would not be sent across the networks through Google’s data centers, making it nigh on impossible for the National Security Agency or any other electronic signals eavesdropping agency (such as Britain’s elusive GCHQ) to ‘read’ the traffic while it is in transit.And yes, terrorists and pedophiles have been known to use this ‘trick’, but also sophisticated criminals also use this technique. It eliminates a network trail to a greater or lesser extent, and makes it more difficult to trace.But surely IP addresses are logged and noted? When emails are sent and received, yes. But the emails were saved in draft and therefore were not sent. However, Google may still have a record of the IP addresses of those who logged into the account.However, most Internet or broadband providers offer dynamic IP addresses that change over time, and an IP address does not always point to the same computer, let alone the same region or state every time it is assigned to a user. Even then, recent U.S. court cases have found that IP addresses do not specifically point to a computer, meaning even if the authorities were sure that it was Petraeus, for instance — though IP addresses very rarely give the exact house number and street address — it would not stick in court.As is often the case, human error can land someone in the legal spotlight. 37-year-old Florida resident Jill Kelley, a family friend to the Petraeus’, allegedly received emails from an anonymous account warning Kelley to stay away from the CIA chief.But when Broadwell sent these messages, it left behind little fragments of data attached to the email — every email you send has this data attached — which first led the FBI on a path that led up to the very door of Petraeus’ office door in Langley, Virginia.Get a warrant, serve it to Google?There’s no such thing as a truly ‘anonymous’ email account, and no matter how much you try to encrypt the contents of the email you are sending, little fragments of data are attached by email servers and messaging companies. It’s how email works and it’s entirely unavoidable.Every email sent and received comes with ‘communications data,’ otherwise known as “metadata” — little fragments of information that carries the recipient and the sender’s address, and routing data such as the IP addresses of the sender and the servers or data center that it’s passed through. Extracting this metadata is not a mystery or difficult, in fact anyone can do it, but if you have the legal tools and law enforcement power to determine where the email was passed through — such as an IP address of one of Google’s data center in the United States.The system is remarkably similar to the postal system. You can seal the envelope and hide what’s inside, but it contains a postmark of where it came from and where it’s going. It may even have your fingerprints on it. All of this information outside the contents is “metadata.”That said, even if you use a disposable Gmail account — such as iamananonymousemailsender@gmail.com, for instance — it’s clearly a Gmail account, and Gmail is operated by Google. Sometimes it just takes a smidgen of common knowledge.Ultimately, only Google had access to the emails. Because it’s a private company, it does not fall under the scope of the Fourth Amendment. If the U.S. government or one of its law enforcement agencies wanted to access the private Petraeus email account, it would have to serve up a warrant.In this case, however, the Foreign Intelligence Services Act (FISA) would not apply. Even the Patriot Act would not necessarily apply in this case, even though it does allow the FBI and other authorized agencies to search email. However, in this case, above all else, the Stored Communications Act does apply — part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.The act allows for any electronic data to be read if it has been stored for less than 180 days. In this case, the law was specifically designed — albeit quite some time before email became a mainstream communications medium — to allow server- or computer-stored data to be accessed by law enforcement.However, a court order must be issued before the 180 day limit, and in this case it was. Reporting from London, the BBC News’ Mark Ward summed it up in a single sentence:Once it knew Ms. Broadwell was the sender of the threatening messages, the FBI got a warrant that gave it covert access to the anonymous email account.And that’s how they do it. No matter which way you look at it, no matter how much the government or its law enforcement agencies want the data or the proof of wrongdoing, they must almost always get a court order.And Petraeus is no different from any other U.S. citizen, U.K. citizen, or European citizen — and further afield for that matter. What it always boils down to is a court order, and it’s as simple as that. It’s not ECHELON or an episode of “24” using hacking or cracking techniques; it’s an afternoon in a fusty courtroom with a semi-switched on (and preferably sober) judge.That said, it doesn’t grant unfettered or unrestricted access to a user’s inbox or email account, but when an alleged crime has been committed or law enforcement starts digging around, it allows a fairly wide berth of powers to request access to electronically stored data.Former assistant secretary to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Stewart Baker told the Associated Press:The government can’t just wander through your emails just because they’d like to know what you’re thinking or doing. But if the government is investigating a crime, it has a lot of authority to review people’s emails.So there it is. A court order is all you need to access a person’s inbox, but sufficient evidence is often required in order to do this — particularly through the Stored Communications Act, or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.It sounds obvious, of course, that’s because it is.That said, if there is reasonable suspicion albeit lacking evidence, or a U.S. law enforcement agency is dealing with a foreign national outside of the United States, that normally requires a secret FISA court order to be granted in order to proceed with the interception of data or warranted access to an email account, for example.Outside the U.S.: Is it still ‘just’ a court order?A simple court order is all it takes and it can apply to anyone in public office or the man on the street holding a sign warning that “the end is nigh.”But it’s OK; you’re in Europe, or Australia, or Asia. The U.S. can’t use their laws against you in a foreign country because, well, you’re outside of its jurisdiction. Again, sorry to burst your privacy bubble but that excuse didn’t wash with the European Parliament, it shouldn’t with you either.If you’re a European citizen with a Microsoft, Google, Yahoo or Apple account — or any email offered in the cloud by a U.S. company — which is most consumer email services nowadays — it is accessible to the U.S. courts and other nations through various acts of law, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or the PATRIOT Act, in which the latter amended much of what the former had implemented in the first place.(“Oh great, he’s talking about the Patriot Act again,” says everybody.)It’s worth noting a common few misconceptions. Since first reporting this some years ago (and subsequently sparking a trans-Atlantic diplomatic row, whoops) analysts and experts alike, some who are under the thumb of the cloud companies themselves, claim that the Patriot Act — to use the umbrella, common term — does not allow the U.S. government or its law enforcement agencies the powers that others (*cough* including me) claim.Let’s just run through a few examples of false claims on top of false claims:MythFactThe Patriot Act is the magic wand that allows the U.S. government unrestricted access to any data, anywhere, anytime.Untrue.The Patriot Act gives the U.S. government unprecedented access to data hosted by U.S. companies anywhere in the world.Untrue.All countries have similar legislation that gives the authorities a means to requisition data on cloud services, to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism.Unt… actually, quite true.It doesn’t give “unrestricted” or “unprecedented” access to date outside the U.S., because for the most part these warrants must go through a special FISA court. The trouble is even though there is some level of accountability via the FISA courts, these sessions are held in secret and there are no public minutes or record to go from, so swings and roundabouts.Only in exceptional cases where warrants are not issued is when there is an immediate threat to life. But because these courts are secret, there’s no definitive and ultimate way to know for an absolute fact that the U.S. authorities don’t just bypass the FISA courts and skip ahead with their investigations anyway. (You only really have my word — and my sources in the U.S. government, such as legal counsels and spokespeople, to go on.)On the third point, other countries do have similar laws and this should be noted. (I personally thought it was relatively common knowledge, forgive my naivety.) The U.K., for instance, has the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act that can be used to acquire data from a third-country via a U.K.-based firm, just as the Patriot Act can be used on a U.S. firm to access data in a third-country via a local subsidiary.But in terms of where the major email and cloud providers are based — the United States, notably on the West Coast — it means that U.S. law must apply, in spite of foreign laws that attempt to or successfully counteract the provisions offered in U.S. law. Not many major cloud providers operate solely in the U.K., whereas Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon are all U.S. headquartered with a subsidiary in the U.K. and other countries.The lesson here? We’re all as bad as each other and no legally or financially reasonable place is safe to store data if you’re a massive criminal or looking to stash a bunch of secret or uncouth documents away from the authorities.As for Petraeus, he may have been careful but in spite of his counter-terrorism knowledge and clever tricks in going under the radar, ultimately there was a weak link in the security chain — and no matter how far you go to try and cover your tracks, often it always falls down to two things: human error, or sex.Credit: ZDnet.comlast_img read more

Facebooks New Chat Room

first_imgAdvertisement Facebook has built a new feature codenamed “Host Chat” that lets people set up chat rooms their friends can join without an invitation. This could get Facebook users to meet friends of friends and spend more time on the site.The leak comes as Facebook is fighting a war for messaging. It’s own cross-platform chat competes with SMS, Apple’s iMessage, and now Google’s new unified messaging system Hangouts. Meanwhile, it’s battling independent international players like WhatsApp, sticker-focused products like Japan’s Line, and novel communication forms like Snapchat.The Facebook chat rooms feature creates an option to “Host Chat” in the Facebook home page’s status update composer. Currently users see buttons for “Update Status”, and “Add Photos/Video”. The “Host Chat” button would be a third option there. – Advertisement – [related-posts]When clicked it opens a chat room that the host can name if there’s a specific purpose for the room, such as discussing a certain topic, planning an event, or working on a project. The host can add specific friends to the room, similar to Facebook’s existing ad-hoc private group chat feature. Those participating see the room as a window similar to traditional one-on-one Facebook chat, though it might be a bit bigger to accommodate a higher pace of conversation.What makes Host Chat special is that any of the host’s friends can join without being invited. They see a story in their news feed that a friend is hosting a chat room and they’re given the option to jump in. This works similar to the chat feature within Facebook Groups, where anyone in the Group can join a discussion. The use of the news feed to spread and grow rooms takes advantage of Facebook’s ubiquity and the relatively large number of a person’s friends likely to be browsing the feed at any given time.Hosts can set privacy restrictions to limit who is allowed to join their room, and can expel people they don’t want present. There may be an option to allow friends of friends to join so a room could grow virally, but this isn’t confirmed. Figuring out the best way to handle privacy when people who aren’t friends interact in a chat room may be one of Facebook’s goals for the test.A mid-sized group of Facebook employees including some of the existing chat team have been working on the feature. Early internal tests of Host Chat only supported text — no photo or video. Images would likely be included but no word on whether chat rooms will allow Facebook’s cutesy new messaging stickers. Tests were also limited to the web, though Facebook’s insistence that it’s a mobile company means it might be cranking on small-screen support, which could launch eventually if the feature is well received. It’s possible that you might be able to participate in a chat room but not start one from mobile in the initial tests happening now.You might not see this on your Facebook page as usually, only a small percentage (and in selected countries) of all the users is chosen to participate in such trials.Credit: Techcrunchlast_img read more

Orange partners with global laptop vendor to enhance data usage

first_imgAdvertisement  Integrated telecommunications service provider Orange has partnered with global notebook vendor, ASUS, to offer its customers additional convenience with the launch of three of the vendor’s Notebook models into the Kenyan market. The laptops, from the VivoBook range, will be available at select Orange shops in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. They will be sold as standalone units, or bundled with either a 3G or a CDMA modem.The laptop devices that come with a host of innovative and convenient features: large memory and storage capacity, HD graphics and the latest Windows Operating System, Windows 8, have a one year international warranty and will retail between KSh 42,999 and KSh 56,999.Company CEO, Mickael Ghossein says that the partnership with ASUS is in line with the firm’s data strategy. – Advertisement – “These new devices will broaden our device portfolio and position Orange as a one stop shop for premium devices. The bundled offer that allows a customer to also purchase a modem will push our Internet penetration agenda,” says Ghossein.Customers that purchase the bundled offer (laptop plus modem) will also get to enjoy the benefits of the data bonus promotion from Orange that comes to a close on September 30, 2013. Orange customers purchasing Internet Everywhere (IEW) data bundles for their modems will also benefit with a 100 percent bonus for the purchase of data bundles ranging from 50MB to 5GB.last_img read more

Nokia Unveils Lumia 625

first_imgAdvertisement Nokia today announced the Nokia Lumia 625, an accessibly priced 4G smartphone to help people see more of what they love. The Nokia Lumia 625 delivers high-speed entertainment to a wide audience with a large 4.7-inch super-sensitive LCD screen and 4G Internet access.Building on the award winning Nokia Lumia design, the Nokia Lumia 625 includes five brightly coloured changeable shells, which add to the Live Tile personalisation brought by Windows Phone 8.The Nokia Lumia 625 also provides many innovations found in the recently announced flagship Nokia Lumia 1020. These include a range of integrated camera applications like Nokia Smart Camera, offering handy features like removing unwanted objects from pictures, and Nokia Cinemagraph, which turns photos into living memories with added movement.“With our largest smartphone screen to date, the Nokia Lumia 625 is a perfect example of how Nokia is delivering leading smartphone innovation and experiences at every price point,” said Jo Harlow, executive vice president, Nokia Smart Devices. – Advertisement – Powered by the latest version of Windows Phone 8 and including the Nokia Lumia Amber update, the Nokia Lumia 625 delivers a richer and easier to use smartphone experience at a competitive price. Live Tiles update direct to the home screen, and People Hub makes it easy to stay connected with friends and family. Windows Phone 8 also includes Xbox Live, Microsoft Office, and 7GB of online SkyDrive storage to simply make life easier.With access to more than 165,000 apps including Vimeo, Temple Run and WhatsApp, the Nokia Lumia 625 offers faster mobile fun, as well as safer surfing with Internet Explorer 10 – making it ideal for viewing videos, games, and other content. The Nokia Lumia 625 also offers SD memory card support, allowing up to 64GB of additional content storage.Nokia Music provides unlimited streaming of ad-free mixes without registration or subscription, plus the ability to download mixes for listening offline with the Nokia Lumia 625. Nokia has also teamed with Coloud(TM) to create BOOM(TM) headphones that combine audio prowess with excellent value, and integrated microphone and buttons for voice calls and music control.With its big screen and super-fast connectivity, the Nokia Lumia 625 offers leading maps and location experiences from HERE, providing free maps, turn-by-turn navigation and public transport guidance.The Nokia Lumia 625 will be available in a range of colours including orange, yellow, bright green, white and black with an array of changeable shells enabling easy personalisation. With an estimated retail price of 220 Euros before taxes and subsidies, the Nokia Lumia 625 is planned to begin selling in China, Europe, Asia Pacific, India, Middle East, Africa and Latin America in Q3 2013.Nokia Lumia 625Operating SystemWindows Phone 8Display 4.7 inch WVGA @ 201ppi with Sunlight Readability Enhancement, High Brightness Mode, Color Enhancement and Super Sensitive TouchBattery2000 mAhProcessor1.2GHz, Dual CoreCameraMain: 5MP Autofocus, LED flash ,1080p@30fps, VGA front facing cameraMemory512MB RAM8GB with support for up to 64GB SD cardRead more about the Nokia Lumia 625 on Nokia Conversations.last_img read more

Yemeni Brides Father Demands One Million Facebook Likes as Dowry

first_imgAdvertisement In what has been described as the most bizarre dowry demand ever in Yemen, a father has asked his daughter’s husband-to-be to get one million likes to his Facebook profile.Salem Ayash, a poet from the city of Taiz, has got 30,170 followers to his Facebook profile so far.“It’s the first time we’ve heard of something like this,” Bashraheel Bashraheel, a journalist with Yemen’s Al-Ayyam newspaper told BBC. – Advertisement – While the strange payment demand for dowry has set the social media in Yemen abuzz, the father thinks it is just his way to highlight the societal situation of the war-ravaged country where no one can afford gold or money for dowry payment anymore.“No-one in Yemen can afford dowries anymore,” Ayash said.He said that he hasn’t given the groom, identified as Osama, a deadline but would keep a watch on his hard work and eagerness to increase the Facebook likes and that he could reduce the dowry if he is satisfied by Osama’s progress.“He can take a month, a year, or even two years to collect the requested number of likes. If I see that he’s worked hard, I’m willing to be flexible to see them happily married,” Ayash said.Paying dowries in Yemen is increasingly becoming a concern since most of the young men cannot afford it.Campaigners are forcing parents of brides to lower dowry amount in the face of the high prices. Inability to pay dowries is one of the key reasons for the popularity of mass weddings in Yemen.Ayash’s dowry demand breaks away from the tradition and is in a way a respite for the suitor. His Facebook page is flooded with mixed comments. While some accuses him of using his daughter for fame, others support him for raising awareness about the issue of dowry payment in Yemen.Credit: IBTlast_img read more

Hon Rebecca Kadaga Lauds Huawei for Improving Education in Busoga

first_imgBUKEB Chairman Mr. Kiswiri Arnold (Middle) receiving the donation as Bai Chengyu from Huawei, (3rd left), Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of Parliament (3rd Right), H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang, The Chinese Ambassador (2nd Right) with other dignitaries in Busoga. Advertisement The Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda; Hon. Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday lauded Huawei for their efforts in improving Education in Busoga Kingdom. This happened at the Busoga Kingdom Headquarters in Bugembe where Huawei donated an examination printer and photocopier, an office printer and photocopier too, reception chairs, laptops, desktop computers and reception table among others to the Busoga Kyabazinga Examination Board (BUKEB).This is not the first time we see the Shenzhen-based IT firm improving the well being of school children. In June this year, they partnered with telecom firm; MTN Uganda to give laptops and school bags to Kireka Barracks School. The partnership was in relation to MTN’s 21 Days of Yello Care initiative; a staff volunteerism project that aims to continue driving access to education, particularly through the digitalization of teaching.Notably, the donation worth 30,000,000 UGX (roughly USD$8301) was handed to BUKEB by Mr. Bai Chengyu, Huawei Uganda’s Executive Director – Government and Enterprise Business in the presence of the Kyabazinga of Busoga His Royal Highness William Gabula Nadiope, the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, and the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang.Huawei’s 200 bicycle donation to Kamuli People being delivered. Witnessing this is: Bai Chengyu Executive Director, Huawei Enterprise & Government Business group, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament, H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang, Chinese Ambassador, Patrick Tong Huawei’s PR Director and the leaders of Kamuli. – Advertisement – “Busoga had the worst six performing districts in the national examinations. But with this boost I believe there shall be a big improvement,” Hon. Rebecca Kadaga stated during the donation ceremony.Speaking at the ceremony, the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang also commended Huawei for being a responsible corporate citizen and encouraged the people of Busoga to embrace education.“I urge the beneficiaries to embrace education because through it, the world is empowered by knowledge to make the impossibilities possible,” he said.Mr. Bai Chengyu, Huawei’s Executive Director – Government and Enterprise Business group noted that the donation will improve the education standard in Busoga and encourage many parents to invest in their Children’s pursuit of knowledge.Huawei has a prgoramme dubbed the “Seeds for the Future” a program that aims at developing young ICT talents all over the world through technological training and hands-on skills. And on this the Hon. Speaker wished that the Busoga region is considered in the selection of the participants to take part in the final 10 students that receive technological training in China under that program.“Let at least two come from the Busoga region,” she said.[related-posts]last_img read more

Most Important Customer Experience Tech Trends in 2019

first_imgThe rise of the virtual assistant for your touch points ensures less wait-time when it comes to finding the right landing point for any consumer engagement | Courtesy Photo/Pexels. Advertisement Technology continues to be the maindriver of business development, and businesses of all sizes have a growing needto keep up with the latest tech trends. No industry or sector has beenunaffected by the digital age.From disruptive tech that transforms an entireindustry to standardized tech that is now a basic necessity, it’s imperativethat you keep abreast of the latest technological changes in your sector.Customer experience is one of the areas that has most been affected by tech disruption, and that means that there are a growing number of hardware and software solutions to ensure that your customer experience is as streamlined as possible. Here are the most important tech trends in 2019, and how they can boost your business model.Listening to Customers – Advertisement – The more that you listen to yourcustomers, the clearer an idea you’ll have of what they are looking for fromyou. This will be an essential stepping stone to creating the customer journeyand experience that they are looking for.Listening to your customers is by far the mosteffective means of understanding more about your consumer demographics, andthat means using technology to boost your methods of obtaining feedback andacting on it. Having your own dedicated app is not only an effective way of keeping in your customer’s minds, but it is also useful for gathering feedback. Not only is it more immediate than email after-purchase surveys, but you can also even get your feedback in real-time, making it easier to perfect the customer journey as it’s actually happening.Omni-Channel Interaction and EngagementYour customers will be able to touch basewith your business in a variety of ways. From a call center to your socialpages, those touchpoints need to be able to interact with each other in orderto provide a more seamless experience.The challenge is to ensure that the lines ofcommunication are consistent and that there are no unexpected roadblocks to thecustomer journey towards a purchase. The rise of the virtual assistant for your touch points is not just a way to ensure that you’re faster to respond to communication, but that there is less wait-time when it comes to finding the right landing point for any consumer engagement.New Touch pointsOnce you have developed a more streamlinedcustomer journey, you’re going to want more people to take the initial stepsalong it. There have been a variety of tech developments that can help improvethe reach of your marketing, but the focus in 2019 is less about social mediaand more about messaging.WhatsApp marketing has become one of the most consistently promoted technologies over the last six months, and the messaging app looks set to become a major battleground in terms of customer engagement. Not every business will be suited to WhatsApp marketing, but it could be the key to reaching out to new people, developing brand loyalty, promoting impulse purchases, and having a direct line into the lives and devices of your audience.Knowing which trends to keep an eye onand which can be ignored is a difficult aspect of running a business. However,by being more aware of those tech trends, you will be far more likely to adoptthose that are going to be of benefit. Failing to integrate the newest techinto your business processes is a surefire way of falling behind yourcompetitors, and when competition is fierce, you need all the edge you can get.last_img read more

Villa to restore some sanity this weekend

first_img[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ell that certainly wasn’t in my script and I’m not sure how many other peoples either.Was it Chelsea that were especially good or Arsenal abjectly poor ? I’m 4/9 the latter. If felt the equivalent of your horse losing 10 lengths at the start of a five furlong contest and the betting slip was in the bin after three seconds I think it’s fair to say, what was very much a four horse race, is now down to three.At the other end of the table it’s harder to call. The current bottom three Sunderland, Cardiff and Fulham are obviously the most likely but even today’s two sides Aston Villa and Stoke in 10th and 11th respectively can hardly be considered safe just yet.HEAD TO HEAD RECORD(Max last 10 only)Dec 2013 Premier Stoke 2-1 Aston VillaApr 2013 Premier Stoke 1-3 Aston VillaDec 2012 Premier Aston Villa 0-0 StokeApr 2012 Premier Aston Villa 1-1 StokeDec 2011 Premier Stoke 0-0 Aston VillaApr 2011 Premier Aston Villa 1-1 StokeSep 2010 Premier Stoke 2-1 Aston VillaMar 2010 Premier Stoke 0-0 Aston VillaDec 2009 Premier Aston Villa 1-0 StokeMar 2009 Premier Aston Villa 2-2 StokeVilla stunned the Chelsea faithful last weekend with a battling 1-0 win. If only we could use ‘collateral form’ as in horse racing.Villa beat Chelsea 1-0 Chelsea beat Arsenal 6-0So….Villa beat Stoke 17-0Of course, it’s never that easy in football – and horse racing too for that matter !Villa might just edge this one against a Stoke side who have collected just seven points from 15 Premier League away matches, only Cardiff have a worse away record.A telling stat is that Aston Villa are unbeaten at home against Stoke in the top flight for 14 matches since a 1-0 defeat in November 1965.RECOMMENDED BET (scale of 1-10 points)10 points ASTON VILLA at around 11/10 with Star SportsRUNNING RETURN (MARCH): LOSS 52.25 POINTSRUNNING RETURN (YEAR): LOSS 72.28 POINTSWhat’s your view? CALL STAR SPORTS 08000 521 321last_img read more

PREVIEW Swansea v Liverpool

first_img[dropcap]L[/dropcap]iverpool desperately need all three points at the Liberty Stadium tonight if they can still entertain the prospects of Champions League football next season.Even a win would leave them two points off the top four after wins for Arsenal and Man U over the weekend consolidated their respective positions.Liverpool come into this on a real streak of form – unbeaten in their last 12 league games with nine wins from their last 11 matches side but face a stubborn Swansea side who are more than capable of turning up the heat against supposed bigger rivals as recent wins over Southampton and Man U testify. Swansea also have a great record at home this season and have only lost on three occasions.However, Swansea have only beaten Liverpool once in seven matches (D3, L3) since winning promotion to the Premier League in 2011.Swansea’s striker Bafetimbi Gomis has been given the all-clear to play by specialists after his collapse at Tottenham whilst for Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard is fit again after missing seven games through a hamstring injury.Swansea City v LiverpoolPremier League8pm LIVE ON SKYHEAD TO HEAD(Maximum 10 matches)Dec 2014 Premier Liverpool 4-1 SwanseaOct 2014 Capital One Cup Liverpool 2-1 SwanseaFeb 2014 Premier Liverpool 4-3 SwanseaSep 2013 Premier Swansea 2-2 LiverpoolFeb 2013 Premier Liverpool 5-0 SwanseaNov 2012 Premier Swansea 0-0 LiverpoolOct 2012 Capital One Cup Liverpool 1-3 SwanseaMay 2012 Premier Swansea 1-0 LiverpoolNov 2011 Premier Liverpool 0-0 SwanseaJan 1990 FA Cup Liverpool 8-0 SwanseaA DRAW / DRAW on the Star Sports HT/FT market makes some appeal at around 9/2.RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-50 points)BACK DRAW/DRAW on the HT/FT market for 4 points at around 9/2 with Star SportsRETURN SINCE START OF WORLD CUP: PROFIT 87.92 POINTSWhat’s your view? CALL STAR SPORTS 08000 521 321last_img read more

Hamill Foundation funds innovation program at Rice

first_imgAddThis Share CONTACT: Jade Boyd PHONE: (713) 348-6778 E-MAIL: jadeboyd@rice.edu Hamill Foundation funds innovation program at RiceInstitute of Biosciences and Bioengineering makes four inaugural awards Rice University’s Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) today announced the first grants awarded under its new Hamill Innovation Grant program. The program, which provides seed funding for collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects, is funded by a generous gift from the longtime IBB sponsor The Hamill Foundation. ”This new program is designed to provide start-up funding for research programs that have enormous potential but which traditional funding agencies too-often reject as risky,” said IBB Director Jennifer West, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. ”We are extremely grateful to the Hamill Foundation for its support of this innovative program.” The high-risk, high-impact research supported by the program honors the adventurous spirit of the late Claud B. Hamill, a successful oil wildcatter. The Hamill Foundation, which was founded by Mr. Hamill and his late wife Marie G. Hamill, is a loyal supporter of IBB, having been the first foundation to support the institute upon its inception in 1987. The Hamill Innovation Grant program is designed to foster collaborative research among IBB researchers from varied disciplines. The program provides one-year, $15,000 grants that cover direct, start-up costs. Proposals were judged on their originality, scientific rigor, potential impact and integration of the collaborative team. The inaugural grants will fund research by: •  Rebekah Drezek, the Stanley C. Moore Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Jane Tao, assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology, to develop a nanoparticle-based point-of-care test for respiratory viruses. The team is aiming for a test that’s faster, cheaper and more sensitive than existing tests, which will allow doctors to quickly determine the type of flu or respiratory virus a patient suffers from. •  Ching-Hwa Kiang, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, Jane Tao, assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology, and Michael Deem, the John W. Cox Professor of Biochemical and Genetic Engineering and professor of physics and astronomy, to investigate the mechanical properties of the protein titin. Titin, a large, elastic protein, plays a central but poorly understood role in the formation and function of heart tissue. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical studies, the group hopes to develop a solid understanding of titin’s mechanical properties, both at the molecular and the macro scale. •  K. Jane Grande-Allen, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Joff Silberg, assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology, to develop and apply new tools to sequence and manipulate complex chains of carbohydrates called glycosaminoglycans, or GAG, fundamental components of the extracellular matrix in all higher-order life forms. The project aims to lay the groundwork for new sequencing technologies — similar to those developed for DNA sequencing — that scientists can use to decipher and manipulate the wide variety of GAG chains found in human and animal tissues. George Bennett, professor and chair of biochemistry and cell biology, and Ka-Yiu San, the E.D. Butcher Professor in Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering, to explore new routes to biosynthesize resveratrol, a natural compound found in grapes, mulberries, peanuts, and other plants that has shown promise as a potential cancer fighting agent and a heart disease preventative. While a number of researchers are studying the effectiveness of the compound, the cost of resveratrol — about $400 per gram — could limit medicinal applications. Bennett and San hope to develop a cheaper way to make the compound by combing genetic sequences from various organisms to form resveratrol-making gene clusters in bioengineered bacteria. last_img read more

Rice U student named Truman Scholar

first_imgShareRice UniversityOffice of Public Affairs / News & Media RelationsNEWS RELEASEB.J. Almond713-348-6770balmond@rice.edu Rice U. student named Truman ScholarHOUSTON — (April 23, 2014) — Rice University junior Hira Baig has been named a 2014 Truman Scholar.She is one of 59 students selected from 655 nominations from nearly 300 institutions. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate study.The Truman Scholarship Foundation identifies its scholars as future “change agents” who have the “passion, intellect and leadership potential” to improve the ways that public entities serve the public good.Caroline Quenemoen, director of fellowships and undergraduate research at Rice, said the Truman Scholarship is one of the most competitive undergraduate awards in the U.S. “The application for it is extremely demanding,” she said.Baig, from Sugar Land, Texas, is a double major in political science and policy studies. She will graduate a year early and become an M.A. candidate in religion, ethics and politics at Harvard University this fall. She plans to go to law school the following year to complete a joint M.A./J.D. program.“I will be studying religious diversity in the United States and its meaning for American public life,” Baig said. “I am hoping to garner a better understanding of challenges the United States’ complex religious landscape faces as they affect policy. At Harvard, I will continue my study of Arabic and draw connections between policy and religious issues. As a law student, I plan on participating in counterterrorism and human rights clinics. This will allow me to address harms committed to religious groups by the government’s counterterrorism practices, preparing me to contribute to antidiscrimination efforts through a career in government.”Baig said her political science coursework introduced her to how policy ideas are shared within and across government entities and how they change. “My Rice education has exposed me to the strategic thinking needed to make policy change, innovation and diffusion,” she said.“While studying abroad in London as part of my policy studies course work, I took a course that allowed me to study the impacts religious minorities have on cities. Through field interviews and research in London, this course exposed me to the connection that exists between faith communities and policy,” she said.Baig said she feels well-prepared for graduate school. “Participating in public policy seminars with Dr. Steven Lewis as part of Rice’s Baker Institute Summer in D.C. fellowship and working with the Boniuk Institute allowed me to pursue my interests in politics and religion in incredibly formative ways,” she said.Baig plans to pursue a career at the Department of State. “My goal is to work as an adviser under the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, reporting directly to the special adviser to the secretary of state,” she said. “I will work with diverse communities both at home and abroad to advance U.S. diplomacy and development objectives. I would also help prepare foreign and civil service officers to engage faith communities effectively and respectfully by developing training programs focused on interfaith engagement. In the long term, I plan on continuing my advocacy work for women and diverse communities.”The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president and is supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. In addition to funding for graduate school, Truman Scholars receive priority admission at some premier graduate schools, career counseling, leadership training and special internship opportunities with the federal government.# # #Photo to download:http://news.rice.edu/files/2014/04/HiraBaig.jpgLocated on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6.3-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU. Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Office of News and Media Relations – MS 300, Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005 AddThislast_img read more

Texas ID requirement kept voters from the polls

first_imgFacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThis Share3NEWS RELEASEDavid Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduConfusion over Texas ID requirement kept voters from the pollsBetter ID education needed to encourage participationHOUSTON – (Aug. 6, 2015) – Confusion over Texas’ voter photo identification requirement potentially discouraged as many as 9 percent of registered voters from going to the polls in the November 2014 elections in the Latino-majority U.S. Congressional District 23 (CD-23), according to a new study by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the University of Houston Hobby Center for Public Policy.Image courtesy ThinkStockPhotos.com/Rice UniversityThe study found that nearly 6 percent of the CD-23 nonvoters stated that the principal reason they did not vote was because they did not possess any of the seven forms of photo identification required by the state to cast a ballot in person. More than twice that many, nearly 13 percent, agreed that their lack of any one of the seven photo IDs was a reason they did not vote. However, when further queried about the different forms of photo identification actually in their possession, the survey revealed that a much lower proportion, slightly less than 3 percent, in fact lacked one of the seven forms of ID needed to vote in person. Still even fewer nonvoters (between 0.5 and 1 percent) both attributed their nonvoting to the lack of a photo ID and actually did not possess a valid photo ID.“The study suggests the most significant impact of the Texas voter photo ID law on voter participation in CD-23 in November 2014 was to discourage turnout among registered voters who did indeed possessed an approved form of photo ID,” said Mark Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies, professor of political science and fellow in political science at Rice’s Baker Institute. “Through some combination of misunderstanding, doubt or lack of knowledge, the voter believed that they did not possess the necessary photo identification.”“One of the most striking findings of this study is that voters who did not vote actually did possess one of the valid forms of photo ID,” said Jim Granato, professor and director of the Hobby Center. “An important issue to be explored is not just the voter photo ID law itself, but the actual education and outreach efforts to ensure all eligible voters understand what form of photo ID may be used to vote.”CD-23, which spans a large geographic area in west and south Texas, is a Latino majority district with Hispanics accounting for 65.8 percent of the district’s voting-age population and 58.5 percent of its registered voters. “Most observers consider CD-23 to be the only one of the state’s 36 U.S. House districts that is competitive for both Democratic and Republican Party candidates in the November general election,” Jones said. “If the voter photo ID law affected the outcome of any 2014 federal race in Texas, it would have been in CD-23.”Other findings:Regarding the potential impact of the Texas voter photo ID law on the outcome of the 2014 election in CD-23, the findings suggest that the presence of the law kept far more supporters (four to five times as many) for then-freshman incumbent representative Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, away from the polls than those who supported the district’s current representative Will Hurd, R-San Antonio.Latino nonvoters were significantly more likely than Anglo nonvoters to strongly agree or agree that a lack of photo ID was a reason that they did not cast a ballot in the Nov. 4 contest.Gallego lost to Hurd by 2,422 votes, 49.8 percent to 47.7 percent, in a district where 118,004 registered voters cast a ballot (115,429 in the CD-23 race) and 271,005 did not.The study is based on a March 2015 telephone survey of 400 registered voters who did not vote in CD-23’s November 2014 election. It was conducted in English and Spanish.For more information or to schedule an interview with Jones, contact David Ruth, director of national and broadcast media at Rice, at 713-348-6327 or david@rice.edu.Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.-30-Related materials:The full report is available at http://bakerinstitute.org/research/he-texas-voter-id-law-and-2014-election-study-texass-23rd-congressional-district/.Jones biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/experts/mark-p-jones/.The 50th anniversary of the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965 is this week.The seven forms of approved identification are:Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS.Texas personal identification card issued by DPS.Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS.United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph.United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph.United States passport.Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.Follow Rice University’s Baker Institute on Twitter @BakerInstitute.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 10 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.last_img read more