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STATE REP RACE QA Judy OConnell Discusses Taxes Being Responsive To Constituents

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).Below, in her own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Judy O’Connell (D-Wilmington).#11a) Do you feel Massachusetts residents are over-taxed?Yes.#11b) How will you balance the need to provide government services to the taxpayers & fund the government with most taxpayers’ desire for no tax increases?There is no easy or short answer to this question as the Massachusetts state budget approaches a total of $41 billion dollars a year. In January 2018, the Baker-Polito administration submitted a FY19 budget proposal that attempted to keep state spending in line with revenue growth, to minimize reliance on non-recurring revenues, and to avoid tax or fee increases to balance the budget, while investing in key areas such as local aid, education, workforce development, substance misuse, mental health, housing, and transportation. Massachusetts has started the next fiscal year without a permanent budget in place after lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement in time. The 2019 fiscal year began July 1 and the Legislature passed an interim budget which will fund the state through the end of July. With the passing of this interim budget, there will be no disruption of any services in Massachusetts. As State Representative and member of the House of Representatives, I would be an active participant in this process and I would be advocating for the 19th Middlesex District with the taxpayers in mind while ensuring Wilmington and Tewksbury receive their fair share and any possible increases if possible in Chapter 70 funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid. These funds are critical to both communities in helping assist local government with providing the suite of services that people and families have come to expect and deserve. I would advocate for any available state grant money for any projects or initiatives that pertain to either community within the District on an annual basis.As a prior elected official on the School Committee and Board of Selectmen for the Town of Wilmington, I have always been fiscally conservative and have attempted to strike a balance in meeting collective bargaining agreements, supporting capital improvement projects, continuing the highest level of municipal services possible, supporting smart economic development within the community, maintaining a strong free cash position as recommended by the town’s financial advisors and supporting the Board of Selectmen annual vote of the maximum tax shift classification to help lessen the tax burden on the resident population. I intend to take this same balanced approach to Beacon Hill while recognizing we need to look at strategic ways to fund current and future services not always on the backs of taxpayers.#11c) Can you point to anywhere in the state budget where you believe there is waste, fraud or abuse? What will you do about it?As State Representative, I would become a scholar of the state budget and would always keep a watchful eye in looking for areas of improvement regarding waste, fraud and abuse. There are documented cases of abuse such as overtime costs, employee benefit cases, etc. for example and one could analyze areas of wasteful spending in every budget which I intend to do on a regular basis. Regarding fraud, I will be reviewing consistently the work done annually by the Office of the Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which is an independent agency charged with preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in the use of public funds and public property. This Office investigates allegations in these areas at all levels of government; reviews programs and practices in state and local agencies to identify system-wide vulnerabilities and opportunities for improvement; and assists the public and private sectors to help prevent fraud, waste and abuse in government spending. There have been various reports released from the State Auditor’s office. For example, in April 2018, State Auditor Suzanne Bump released the annual report for her office’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI), which identified a record $16.9 million in public assistance benefit fraud in FY 2017, a 9% increase over the previous year. This marks the seventh straight year of increased findings according to the report which is not an indication of more fraud in these programs, but rather a reflection of the growing effectiveness of the agency and the expanded use of data analytics to identify fraudulent activities. According to this report, Bump’s office identified over $16 million in fraud, spread over 1,150 completed investigations. The majority of the fraud which was approximately $10.3 million or 61 percent was identified in the Mass Health program. There are other reported areas of fraud and as State Representative, I would do my part in helping to ensure these public benefit programs continue to be designed to provide the needed assistance to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents who truly need the help as many of the beneficiaries of these programs are children, disabled adults, veterans and seniors.#12) Former State Representative Jim Miceli was known through the district for his extraordinary constituent services. Do you pledge to provide a similar level of constituent services if elected? How will you be responsive to requests for help from residents of Wilmington and Tewksbury?Yes, if elected, I do pledge to provide the same extraordinary level of constituent services that State Representative Miceli provided that the people of the Wilmington and Tewksbury are accustomed to while looking for ways to enhance and improve these services provided in any manner possible. State Representative Miceli should be applauded for his hard work, commitment and dedication to constituent services on behalf of the 19th Middlesex District for decades and I would be honored to carry on his legacy in this regard if elected as the next State Representative.As State Representative, there are many ways to be responsive to the communities within the 19th Middlesex District. First, I will hold regular offices hours in both Wilmington and Tewksbury to be available to the public. I would make sure my contact information is widely publicized and my commitment is to be accessible and responsive to anyone within the District at all times. Some constituent service matters are highly sensitive and confidential and must be treated with the proper care and compassion they need and deserve. Sometimes in addition to taking care of the business at hand, people need a leader who listens and one who is trustworthy and provides a level of human service that goes beyond just being an elected official. I am committed to providing this kind of constituent service as I believe it is the right thing to do in taking care of the people and families that make up the fabric of our district that I have been entrusted to serve. Additionally, I intend to be very visible in both Wilmington and Tewksbury by attending as many events, community activities and town meetings as possible. I will be an active listener, a strong voice for the people and I will be willing to assist the residents of the 19th Middlesex District relative to any matter or need that they have. Constituent services can span across many areas and I would use the full weight of the office to be a supporter and advocate for the entire District including residents, local businesses and municipal town government. Providing the highest quality of constituent services as the next State Representative is of critical importance to me and I will work tirelessly on behalf of the 19th Middlesex District every day I am in office.(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSTATE REP RACE Q&A: Pina Prinzivalli Discusses Taxes, Being Responsive To ConstituentsIn “Government”STATE REP RACE Q&A: Judy O’Connell Discusses State Rep Pay, Environmental IssuesIn “Government”STATE REP RACE: Judy O’Connell Addresses Allegations Of Federal Tax Liens On Her HomeIn “Government”last_img read more

Mosque massacres revive Balkan war wounds

first_imgA woman writes a note to leave among flowers left in tribute to victims in Christchurch on 17 March 2019, two days after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city. — Photo: AFPAs the gunman drove to the two New Zealand mosques where he carried out his mass killings, a Serb nationalist song was heard playing in the background of the haunting video he broadcast live on Facebook.The mass shooter’s weapons also bore the names of several historical Serb nationalist figures, revealing an unexpected interest in Balkan conflicts that stirred bad blood in a region fractured by war.Hours after 50 people were gunned down in two mosques by the Australian right-wing extremist in Christchurch, Bosnia’s ambassador went on local television to express concern about the song heard in the suspected killer’s video that went on to show him murder victim after victim.It was a “Serbian nationalist song in which the name of Radovan Karadzic is mentioned and called on to lead Serbs”, he said, referring the convicted war criminal who led Bosnia’s Serbs during the 1992-95 war.Karadzic will go before a UN court this week to hear the final verdict on his 40-year sentence for the genocide of Muslims in Srebrenica and other atrocities during the inter-ethnic conflict in Bosnia that left 100,000 dead.According to the Bosnian diplomat, the song’s lyrics also say “Turks must be killed”, a term hardline Serb nationalists still routinely use to refer to Bosnian Muslims.Though linked the 1990s war, the song played by the 28-year-old suspect Brenton Tarrant appears to have more recently been revived as an internet meme in the extreme-right circles he circulated in online.But Tarrant also connected his savage act to figures deep into Balkan history, alongside a roster of other right-wing extremists from across the globe he paid homage to in his hate-filled manifesto.- Ottoman obsession -Among the historical military figures whose names were scrawled on Tarrant’s weapons were several Serb nationalist icons.They were men who fought in famous battles against the the Ottoman Empire’s armies, such as Milos Obilic, a knight in Serb folklore, and Stefan Lazar, a 14th-century Serbian prince.The names of two other 19th century Balkan military leaders against the Ottomans, including Montenegrin general Marko Miljenov, were also written on the guns.During the Ottoman empire the Balkans was a site of frequent contact and conflict between the Muslim and Christian worlds.That history remains a key reference point for Serb ultra-nationalists today.According to local authorities, Tarrant travelled to the region himself in 2016 and early 2017, passing through Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, and then Bulgaria in November 2018. He also visited Turkey.- ‘Inspired by Serb nationalism’ -In Sarajevo, the Islamic Community of Bosnia said it was alarmed that the “assassin started his bloody escapade to the sound of a song glorifying war crimes in Bosnia”.He “was clearly inspired by this same extremist ideology and hatred” of the 1990s, the group added.The shooter’s Balkan references also aroused bad memories in Kosovo, a mostly Muslim and ethnic-Albanian former Serbian province that broke away in a 1998-99 guerilla war. Some 13,000, mostly Albanians, were killed in the conflict.Writing on Twitter, Kosovo’s former foreign minister Petrit Selimi said the Australian gunman was “inspired by a particular brand of white supremacist nationalism rooted in #Serbia”.He added: “Wars and genocide perpetrated by Serbian ideologues, in Kosovo and Bosnia, seem to have become a point of inspiration for far right across the globe.”- ‘Anti-Serb hysteria’ -Officials in Serbia and Bosnia, whose Serb community is semi-autonomous, have been quick to denounce the finger-pointing.Bosnia’s ethnic Serb Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak condemned the “anti-Serb hysteria” he felt seized the region after the Christchurch massacres.”It is dangerous and irresponsible to establish a link between the crazy actions of a disturbed and sick person and an entire people,” he said in a statement.The country’s Serb co-president Milorad Dodik, who shares the post with a Croat and Muslim counterparts, also criticised the “vile campaign” against his community.Meanwhile in Belgrade, foreign minister Ivica Dacic insisted “Serbia had nothing to do with” the massacre.And the ultra-nationalist Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj, who was convicted of crimes against humanity but still serves in parliament, appeared to see himself as the victim of the story.”The demonisation of the Serbs will continue until our country has surrendered,” he told the local channel Happy TV.last_img read more

Breaking stigmas attached to mental health

first_imgIndian Chamber Of Commerce, Kolkata, organised a session titled ‘Mental Health – Breaking the Stigma’ on February 2, 2019 at the chamber itself.Eminent doctors and social workers like Dr Manoj Shah, Psychiatrist and Professor of Child and Adolescent psychiatry, Hofstra – Northshore LIJ School of Medicine, USA; Dr Shashi Panja, Minister, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal; HE Bruce Bucknell, British Deputy, High Commissioner in Kolkata and Dr Prerna Shah, Neuropsychologist and Associate Director, Northshore University Hospital, USA alongwith Minu Budhia, Chairperson, ICC Task Force on Special Abilities and Psychotherapist and Founder – Caring Minds, ICANFLYY and Café ICANFLYY were present at the event. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfIn her address, Minu Budhia welcomed the guests on the behalf of ICC Special Task Force on Special Abilities. She said that this is the first time in any Chamber of Commerce or Industry Association, that a committee or task force has been made to create awareness and talk about mental health. Budhia believes that it is as important for child, as for parents, teachers, or medical professionals. Sharing her personal experience, Minu stated, “As a mother of a special daughter, I have undergone a full circle – running from pillar to post and surprised at the nil or negligible awareness about mental health. I believe that the first step for mental health is acceptance by family and society. We have come a long way but still miles to go. And that is what we are here to do today.” Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveMinu feels that addressing the barriers attached to mental health is important. As a parent, it took her 10 years to understand and accept and then take it as challenge. With that ongoing journey of understanding mental health problems and unfolding the myths about it, she started actively working towards the cause too. In the attempt to fight against the mental health problems, she started her own initiatives like CARING MINDS, a psychological wellness centre and ICANFLYY – an institute for special needs and cafe icanflyy – a cafe which runs by special needs individuals. When it comes to mental health and dealing with its problems, the awareness needs to start from childhood at home, in schools, in colleges and at workplaces. And, the interactive session served as a much-needed platform for exchanging and expanding ideas and issues related to mental health and special needs. While talking in the session, Minu Budhia quoted Demi Lovato: “I wish people could understand that brain is the most important organ of our body. Just because you can’t see mental illness like you see a broken bone, does not mean it is not as detrimental or devastating to a family or an individual.” The session discussed that special need individuals do not need to be employed out of pity or sympathy. Moreover, corporates, businesses and start-ups should be motivated to embrace the idea with an open mind not only because it is a social responsibility, but also as there is a pool of unemployed and under employed talent that can wbe trapped for the employers’ own growth. The discussion led to a conclusion that workplaces where special individuals work with dignity and confidence are needed, in order to them the place and respect they deserve in society.last_img read more

Do You Remember RadioShack Back When

first_img This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine 11 min read Register Now » RadioShack is on its last legs, reportedly in talks to shut down and sell its storefronts to companies like Sprint and Amazon.For many technologists, this is much more than just the loss of another strip mall retailer — it’s the end of where their passion really began. The place where they bought their first transistor, the place where they first learned to code. Fortune’s Term Sheet newsletter asked readers to submit their first memories or early experiences at RadioShack, and got lots of nostalgic replies.Below are some of our favorites:• “Radio Shack was always my favorite store as a child. From their Battery of the Month Club, to their vacuum tube testers (remember those?) to their electronics kits and soldering irons, I was hooked as a young boy. No wonder I was always getting chased out of there! But the turning point for me was the TRS-80 (as I am sure it was pivotal for so many others) – that cemented my life as an engineer and geek. The TRS-80 was the first computer I typed into, wrote my first programs and played games on. Now, we never owned one – I did that all in the store. We were never in a position to spend the $1,000 (give or take) for the computer – but every trip to our little mall included a stop for me at Radio Shack.” ~ Jack Unverfurth, director of software at Get Real Health.• “I learned BASIC programming at a Radio Shack store when I was 11 years-old. They held this class in a back room at the store and me and a about a dozen adults learned how to do ‘Print’ and ‘If-Then’ statements. This was like 1981 and the first exposure any of us had to computer programming.” ~ James Navin, VP of strategic operations at Sharethrough• “My grandfather — who is now 94 and who’s got all the zipper machine patents in Google patent search — took me to Radio Shack when I was about 8 years-old. He bought me a soldering iron and we made electromagnets. That was the first time i made something. I cant imagine what we would’ve made with Arduino or Raspberry PI. I guess the combination of entrepreneurial genes and that early time screwing around in grandpas lab inspired me to found MINR. ~ Sol Weinreich• “My first computer was a TRS-80 bought in 1979 at local Radio Shack – 16K with a black and white monitor and cassette tape drive. Wouldn’t have my 20-year career in tech if not for the experience of having a PC in our living room as an 8 year-old.” ~ Steven Mitzenmacher, VP of corporate development at NetApp• “I used my Bar Mitzvah money to buy my first ‘personal’ computer in 1981 — the TRS-80 from Radio Shack. It had no disk drives; the only memory was 16K of RAM. I had to save programs on a cassette tape, and the filenames could be no longer than two letters. So awesome.” ~ Paul Greenberg, CEO of Nylon• “Back in the mid-90s, there was no DigiKey or hundreds of other component sites. The information wasn’t as abundant either for amateur geeks (like myself), so you could bring a circuit board with burnt out component and get help finding replacement. Radio Shack employees were true hardcore geeks. Somewhere in early 2000’s Radio Shack started hiring sales people and not geeks, which resulted in Best Buy-esque experience. You may have wanted some random component, but were pushed cellphone plans instead. Knowledge of associates dropped to such low levels, they would read you what is on the box, but would have no idea what is the difference between resistor and capacitor. That is when the company became dead to me. ~ Apollo Sinkevicius, COO of Robin Powered• “Radio Shack was one of my favorite stores growing up. My dad was an electrical engineer, so many a project involved a trip to Radio Shack: removing alternator noise from a car audio system, fixing the tube amp on my 1930s Hammond Organ, building a home-brew security system, etc. As the years went on, the front of the store was filled with more mobile phones & games, and our little section of resistors, capacitors & breadboards was relegated to a smaller and smaller back corner of the store.” ~ Matt Brezina, CEO of Sincerely Inc.• “I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Radio Shack was everywhere. I could ride my bike to the nearest one in a shopping center that also had my haircut place (back when we called them ‘barbers’) and a local ice cream store that I loved but can’t remember the name of. Across the street was a Piggly Wiggly in a big shopping center. It’s all at Arapaho Road and Coit Road in Dallas in Spanish Village. I’d ride by bike up to Radio Shack and just sit and screw around in the store forever. I was always amazed at the diodes, capacitors, resistors, wires, and cables. Eventually they had a CB Radio that I somehow convinced my dad to by for his car. I was totally into Breaker-breaker-1-9 and my favorite thing to do was to say Breaker-breaker-1-9 I need to take a 10-100. When the TRS-80 came out, that was the end of that. I got an Apple II instead and when the Epson MX-80 printer came out, I was done with Radio Shack for a long time.” ~ Brad Feld, venture capitalist• “During my early teenage years in the 90’s, my dad was posted in Sana’a, Yemen. For a kid in the MTV generation this spelt a death knell. Socially speaking, the city was as barren as its desert. But… it had a Radio Shack! For kids like me that was the epitome of cool. The Technic earphones and Sony tape decks were sights that we saw only on TV. But the Shack brought it to life for us. Many a dull afternoon have I spent foraging through their shelves. Hence nostalgia abounds whenever I think of them. Doubt if others see it my way, but Radio Shack would always be my yardstick as far as cool quotient comparisons go.” ~ Raju Joseph• “I was an early personal computer hobbyist, and in 1981 entered Johns Hopkins University’s first national search for applications to benefit the disabled. My entry was a design and prototype for a word processing service that would hire typists who were blind to type dictation over the telephone and return finished text by e-mail. I used a TRS-80 and Radio Shack answering machine to prove the concept. The Radio Shack store in McLean, Virginia was where I got the equipment, but also found helpful people with ideas and encouragement. Word processing centers and services were, of course, quickly eclipsed by advances in business technology, but I still got that certificate on my wall.” ~ Alan Kotok, editor and publisher at Science & Enterprise• “I was an early RS consumer having spent paperboy delivery money on countless ‘free’ baseball bat sized d-cell flashlights, the mystical p-boxes and subsequently, Band-Aids (early life lesson on how hot a solder iron can get…) to returning later as a college co-op student to the Fort Worth, TX headquarters. Tandy’s Research & Development division offered me a full-time offer upon graduation where I became part of the Team behind the TRS-80 and the new Tandy 2000 Personal Computers. Had the opportunity to meet Dell and Gates who were each just starting their respective companies.” ~ Don Metzger• “Our dads built Heath kit stereos and passed on soldering skills and the maker spirit in projects we built from parts purchased at Radio Shack. I remember wanting my own radio, and us building a crystal radio to fit inside a 7-up can. One-part James Bond, one part learning the skills of engineers. The radio was my first project built with my dad, doing something he did as a boy. We later built a launcher for Estes rockets with buttons, switches, wire and solder from Radio Shack to start our family space program! Turning screen-time into ‘us time.’” ~ Joe Salesky, CEO of Ustyme• “I learned how to program Basic on a Radio Shack (Tandy) TRS-80 in NYC in the early 80s. I would sit in the store for hours, program, and play. The software was downloaded from an audio cassette at a 300 Baud rate. A simple pong-like game would take about 5 mins to download from the cassette. Fun times.” ~ Bart Schachter• “I bought a 101-in-One electronics kit in the 70’s to have some fun tinkering. In the 80’s my little daughter took a liking to it and how things work. Her educational path lead her to a PhD in chemistry. I don’t doubt that the kit I bought from Radio Shack created her first science building block. Thank you Radio Shack!” ~ Len Charmichael, CFO of Sunnyside Corp.• “When I was 12-14 years old (1979) I got into talking on CB radios. I think it had to do with Smokey and the Bandit. I went to Radio Shack weekly to get the latest antennae, amplifier, speaker, etc. I remember extending wires to all four corners of my room. The theory was the larger the antennae the more distant signals we could pick up.” ~ Keith Wasserstrom, consultant• “When I was in high school, I was in a band. I thought we were the best band in school, but another band (whose lead singer was the son of the guy who owned the Detroit Pistons) always won competitions and I thought it was because they had better equipment. We couldn’t afford better equipment, so my dad and I started to go to Radio Shack and bought raw parts to put together a complete P.A. system. We never lost again. And I’ll always treasure spending time with dad and learning about the science behind the music. ” ~ Jason Mendelson, venture capitalist• “For me, Radio Shack was the equivalent of today’s Apple store. I loved going in there and just looking around, wondering what half the stuff was, particularly their walls of transistors, capacitors, plugs and patch cords. One of my first at home/Saturday morning projects as a 10 year-old boy was to build a robot with tin cans my Mom had thrown out and plenty of lead solder and an ‘Archer’ soldering gun, which still works after 50 years, even the little light on the front! Unfortunately the robot never did. I also still have an Archer voltmeter from the early 70’s that works great. In my teens I used some of those transistors they sold to build a device that allowed me and a friend to make long-distance phone calls for free, even though we didn’t really have anyone to call. My dream as a kid was to someday work in a Radio Shack and, dare I think it, even manage one! Today I run a software development company and credit much of my tech curiosity to those days wandering – and wondering – around in my local Radio Shack. I’m sorry to see them go.” ~ Frank Kenna, CEO of The Marlin Company• “I still remember my brother and I as kids on a road trip fighting over a Walkman until my parents had to find a radio shack (without googlemaps) to buy a headphone splitter. Then we just argued over which cassette tapes to play.” ~ Chris Livingston, associate with Summit Partners• “I was a geek when being a geek was not fashionable. When portable computers weighed 40lbs and the concept of a laptop was just a dream.I was a geek when a mouse was a furry thing that you chased out of your house not made a home on your desk.I was a geek when computers had names like Trash 80I was a geek on the cutting edge of technology,I was a geek thanks to Radio Shack.”~ Warren Markowitz, Geek, attorney, radio host, and a kid from the 1980’s February 4, 2015 Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Globallast_img read more