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July 2021

Upper house

France passes laws to fight terrorism, but critics call them excessive

PARIS – French lawmakers have passed two bills that the government says will strengthen its ability to fight terrorism and Islamist extremism following a series of attacks that have heightened the sense of insecurity before the presidential election next year.

Debate over the bills, passed Thursday and Friday, had been pushed out of the headlines by an outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but critics say they are restricting civil liberties and extending police powers to an worrying degree.

One of the new laws gives French security services more tools to track suspected terrorists and monitor them online; it was adopted Thursday evening by the National Assembly, lower house of Parliament, by 108 votes to 20.

The other, voted on Friday by the same chamber by 49 votes to 19, aims to combat extremist ideas at all levels of French society. Among a series of measures, it toughens home schooling conditions, toughens the rules for associations requesting state subsidies and gives authorities new powers to close places of worship deemed to be tolerant of hateful or violent ideas. .

Both measures had been pushed by President Emmanuel Macron and his government as necessary responses to a persistent threat posed by Islamist extremism against France’s ideals, in particular secularism, and its security.

“We are giving ourselves the means to fight against those who abuse religion to attack the values ​​of the Republic”, declared Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior. on Twitter.

Over the past year, people identified as Islamist extremists fatally stabbed a policeman, killed three people in a Nice basilica and beheaded a teacher near Paris who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class discussion on freedom of expression. As recently as this week, the government Recount that the country’s authorities be on high alert after al-Qaeda released a video threatening France about the cartoons.

Right-wing opponents, where politicians scramble to run for next year’s election have made security a key issue, say the two laws do not go far enough. Human rights groups and left-wing critics say the measures are onerous and that Mr Macron’s government has turned to increasingly repressive policies.

Anne-Sophie Simpere, an Amnesty International activist, said the anti-terrorism law, like others before it, was too broad and vague, raising concerns that it was being poorly applied.

“Often one of the government’s arguments is that these restrictive measures have been used in a reasonable way,” she said. “But these tools are here to stay, regardless of which government is in power, and there is a lot of room for interpretation.”

The measure on Islamist extremism had been hotly debated in Parliament in recent months, especially in the Senate, the upper house dominated by the right.

There, lawmakers voted on a series of amendments that critics said were blatantly anti-Muslim or xenophobic but did not appear in the final version of the bill. These proposals included a headscarf ban for parents accompanying children on school trips.

the anti-terrorism law enshrines and expands measures that were first introduced on an experimental basis in a comprehensive counterterrorism bill of 2017. Among other things, it grants the security services the power to monitor and restrict the movements of people who have been imprisoned for terrorism for an extended period after their release. The law also allows security services to use computer algorithms that automatically process data from phones and web addresses to detect potential suspects.

the Islamist extremism law is vast, with a panoply of measures aimed at eradicating what the government considers to be sources of extremism in all corners of French society. Critics like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, say instead that the measures cover an “anti-Muslim” bias.

The law changes the rules governing home schooling by requiring parents to seek state authorization – previously, parents only had to officially declare their intentions – and restricting the reasons that would justify such authorization .

The education of children at home, which is not widespread in France, is seen by the government as a possible source of “separatism” which, according to it, undermines French values, for example by giving conservative Muslim families a way to keep their children away from public schools. .

The law also extends strict religious neutrality obligations beyond civil servants to anyone who is a private contractor in a public service, such as bus drivers. It makes associations requesting state subsidies sign a commitment to “respect the principles and values ​​of the Republic”. And, it prohibits health professionals from issuing “virginity certificates” before religious marriages.

An article in the new law, added after the beheading of the schoolteacher – whose murder came after videos criticizing him circulated widely on social media – criminalizes posting someone’s private information online. ‘there is a clear intention to endanger him.

The law also creates a new offense of “separatism”, with sentences of up to five years in prison and fines of up to 75,000 euros, or $ 88,000, for people who threaten or assault an elected official or an official. civil servant because they do not want to respect the rules governing French public services, for example if a person becomes violent in a public hospital because he refuses to be examined by a female doctor.

Some lawmakers have already warned that they will file a petition with the French Constitutional Council to verify that the new measures comply with the French Constitution, meaning some could be overturned. For example, key articles from another security law passed in April were hit the next month, forcing the government to introduce another bill.



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Legislature

Stuck in court, preserves hope legislature will help | news / arlington

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

After failing in a Hail Mary legal challenge to force preservation of land surrounding Rouse’s razed estate on Wilson Boulevard, some activists are now considering taking their cases to the legislature.

On July 16, a Circuit Court judge bluntly dismissed a challenge to Arlington County Council’s actions related to the property, saying the plaintiff – Arlington Green Party leader John Reeder – did not lacked the legal capacity to challenge the decision in court.

Judge Louise DiMatteo hinted that the public’s appeal, if they were not satisfied with the county council’s decision, was at the polls and not at the courthouse.

In April, members of the county’s board of directors rejected a recommendation by the Historic Affairs and Sites of Interest Review Board (HALRB) that the property should be covered with a local historic designation. The vote only came after the county board members, willingly or not (and they indeed knew exactly what they were doing), gave the owner of the property enough time to secure demolition permit for the main house and outbuildings from the beginning of the 20th century.

The court’s decision was likely inevitable, as Virginia law grants landowners extremely strong rights and, in many cases, also gives local governments powerful powers to interpret and enforce their own rules and policies – like those that have sued unsuccessfully to prevent the name change of the school board from Washington-Lee High School can attest to this.

While Reeder was unhappy with DiMatteo’s decision, he directed most of his shots at the local government.

“Our county council bowed to the money and the developers,” he said in an email to those who supported the lawsuit. “County board members simply saw more development, more luxury homes, and more wealthy people moving in as their goal. They don’t care about our past history, culture, and unique history as a major area of ​​Civil War in the 1860s. They see no value in nearly 10 acres of open land with mature trees, shrubs and vegetation as a park open to all for recreation.

Reeder suggested that preservation advocates could continue to champion their cause, seeking to allow greater public input into preservation decisions, when the General Assembly meets in Richmond in 2022.

But the issue could turn into local political football before that, as independent county council candidate Audrey Clement appears to be making it the cornerstone of her long-term attempt to topple outgoing Democratic County Council member Takis Karantonis.

“If the public is unhappy with the cavalier manner in which [the] The county council got rid of much of its legacy of the civil war and the brutal way the Circuit Court extinguished its legal rights, and then it can elect new leaders, ”said Clement, making echo of the court decision, in an email to supporters. “I think Arlington needs public servants who honor rather than denigrate the rights of its citizens.”

(Independents Michael Cantwell and Adam Theo also challenge Karantonis in November. Republicans did not field a candidate in the race.)

In late January, HALRB determined that the 9-acre property met requirements for a historic district, sending the case to the planning commission and county council for decision. This HALRB recommendation came over strong objections from the owner – a trust representing the family of the late Randy Rouse – who wanted nothing to do with preservation.

The historic designation application was filed in the spring of 2020 by Tom Dickinson, who is active in the Arlington Historical Society and preservation circles.

The Historic District Ordinance allows for such third-party applications, but it had been three decades since the Arlington government had imposed a Historic District over an owner’s objections. And given the aggressive stance taken by the estate’s powerful legal team, the members of the board of directors and the county attorney seemed reluctant to provoke a legal battle they believed they would end up losing.

And so, critics argue, county council members have stuck in an effort to shirk responsibility for deciding one way or another.

These critics seem to be right.

County council members could have held a public hearing on the recommendation of the HALRB in early March, before the Rouse estate received demolition permits from the local government bureaucracy. But by the time the measure finally reached the county council platform in April, the buildings had been leveled and council members wrung their hands but said, in essence, that was it.

The Rouse parcel, which is likely to be sold for development, is located at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North McKinley Road. This is what remains of 26 acres of land bought by sportsman Randy Rouse in the 1950s. Rouse owned it until his death at the age of 100 in 2017; his widow resided in the main house until recently.

While some use the name Rouse to refer to the property, Conservatives and the county government seem to prefer “Febrey-Lothrop,” which is reminiscent of the families who owned the land in the 19th century.


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Legislative assembly

Bust of former KKK chief removed from Tennessee Capitol

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The bust of a Confederate general and the first leaders of the Ku Klux Klan that had been prominent inside the Tennessee Capitol for decades – despite objections from black lawmakers and activists – has been removed from its pedestal on Friday.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s image has sparked protests since its installation in 1978 as advocates sought to praise his legacy while critics objected to honoring a historical figure who supported Southern secession. Over the years, some have suggested adding historical context next to the bust. Yet many others, including Republican Gov. Bill Lee, have successfully advocated moving it to the Tennessee State Museum, just north of the Capitol.

Workers prepare scaffolding in front of a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest at the State Capitol on July 22, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.Kimberlee Kruesi / AP

Forrest was a Confederate cavalry general who amassed a fortune before the Civil War as a Memphis slave trader and plantation owner. He was later a leader of the Klan as he terrorized black people, quashing reconstruction efforts and restoring white power in the South.

He was in charge during the Battle of Fort Pillow, where about 300 African-American soldiers were slaughtered by Forrest’s men after surrendering. The massacre sparked outrage in the North and was one of the most hotly contested incidents of the Civil War.

Busts of Union Navy Admiral David Farragut and US Navy Admiral Albert Gleaves were also moved to the museum on Friday, as part of a deal used to gain necessary votes on the panels keys that military leaders should not be displayed in the Capitol.

Forrest died in 1887, but he maintained a strong presence throughout Tennessee history. A state park and state vacation are named after him. There is a 25 foot statue of Forrest on a horse located along Interstate 65 firing a gun.

Most recently, the bodies of Forrest and his wife were moved from Memphis in June. Forrest, a former member of the Memphis city council, had been moved there and buried in 1904 under his statue.

Still, the bust on Capitol Hill remained particularly painful for Tennessee’s black legislative caucus, many of whom had made moving speeches about the need to go through a slave trader and a Confederate general as they went about their work every day.

“From the Fort Pillow massacre to wandering lynchings, from Jim Crow to the assassination of MLK, Jr., it is time for us as a people to heal the wounds of the past,” said Senator Raumesh Akbari, a black lawmaker. of Memphis who chairs the Democratic Senate caucus.

The Tennessee State Building Commission on Thursday voted 5-2 to remove the busts, the latest obstacle in a months-long process that legislative leaders had strongly opposed.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly has refused for years to push forward legislation calling for bust removal. In 2016, lawmakers changed state law to make it harder to remove statues or rename streets of controversial figures by requiring those changes to receive a two-thirds majority vote from the Tennessee Historical Commission. The amendment came just a year after former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam supported the removal of Forrest’s bust in 2015 after the murder of nine black worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina. Haslam again called for the withdrawal in 2017 after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but that year the proposal was rejected by a state panel.

However, the momentum changed when Lee shifted his stance and called for moving the Capitol bust in 2020 amid nationwide outcry over George Floyd’s death in Minnesota custody. Floyd’s death sparked a new push to remove Confederate symbols, including the bust of Forrest.

Lee’s position was markedly different from when he took office in 2018, arguing that “the Ku Klux Klan is part of our history that we are not proud of in Tennessee, and we need to remember that and make sure that we do not forget it. I would therefore not recommend removing ”the bust.

The bust of Forrest will be ready for public viewing at the State History Museum on Tuesday. It is not known what exactly details will be released about him.


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Puerto rico government

Burn victim’s military hospital’s $ 1.7 million medical bill canceled

(CBS)

A Puerto Rican man who suffered burns over most of his body in a gas explosion and was treated at a US military hospital in Texas, and then received a government bill for $ 1.7 million, had his medical debt canceled.

As “CBS This Morning” reported earlier this year, Alexis Hernandez, 25, a Puerto Rican resident who was studying medicine in Mexico, was billed for his treatment at a burn center located at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Anna Werner, CBS News consumer survey correspondent, told us the story of Hernandez, who has been waiting almost two years for someone to help with the massive bill. And now, after two members of Congress responded to our show, Hernandez has received good news: Military officials have waived the bill, courtesy of the Department of Justice.

“Now I know anything is possible,” Hernandez said.

Werner asked, “How do you feel now that this weight has been taken off your shoulders?” “

“I feel good because I have 1.7 million reasons to smile! ” he has answered.

A gas explosion in his apartment had left Hernandez with burns covering more than 70% of his body, and he was sent for specialist treatment at this burn center. He spent seven months there and underwent 19 surgeries.

And as he told us earlier this year, “It was really painful. I can’t express in words how painful it was.

With a $ 1.7 million bill hanging over his head, Hernandez potentially faced life-long debt and feared he would never be able to return to medical school. “I will not be able to pay it,” he said.

After Werner shared his story, Puerto Rico-born New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez wrote to the Treasury Department asking for the bill to be forgiven.

“It could happen to any other person, any other American,” she said.

Representative Joaquin Castro, who represents San Antonio, also contacted government officials. He said, “It’s a tragic story, and we’ve seen cases like this in Texas time and time again.”

Cases like Hernandez’s are the reason Castro launched legislation, which was passed last year, that allows military officials to waive medical bills for civilians unable to pay who have received “medical treatment.” ’emergency’.

“A lot of times people are oblivious and don’t make a decision as to which hospital to go to,” Castro said.

He said there was a good reason why the bills of civilian patients who cannot afford to pay should be waived: “This is a training hospital where members of our military train at the hospital. trauma treatment, ”Castro said. “And so there is an advantage for the United States government and the military to be able to see these patients. And yet it was really ignored when people were charged. “

Despite the change in law, “CBS This Morning” found that some people were still waiting for a waiver.

Ernest Faris, a 52-year-old welder from Fisher, Texas, suffered a broken neck in August 2018, after falling about 20 feet from a ladder. Emergency responders flew him to the trauma unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, where he stayed for a week.

“Just remember you are in real pain,” Faris said. “They put pins and screws in my neck. He broke it in two places, I believe. So, I am extremely lucky to still be alive.

An x-ray shows pins and screws used to repair Ernest Faris’ broken neck. Credit: Ernest Faris

Brooke Army’s bill? Over $ 114,000, which he had no insurance to cover. The best he said the government would do would be to offer a payment plan of $ 4,000 a month.

“It would have been impossible,” Faris said. “There wouldn’t have been a way, and I told her over the phone. I said, ‘Ma’am,’ I said, ‘I don’t even earn that much a month.’

So earlier this year the government started to garnish his salary, taking over $ 470 each month.

Faris said: “I have no control over it. They’re going to take any amount of money they want, and I have no control over it.

Faris said the government also seized his tax refund and that with interest and penalties the debt kept growing. It now stands at over $ 159,000. “It doesn’t make a hole, so I’ll probably never get paid,” he said. “I mean, you work your whole life so that you can retire someday. I’m just trying to get on with life the best that I can, but, you know, knowing it’s there, it’s pretty sickening.

Brooke Army Medical Center officials did not respond to our questions regarding Faris’ case, but said they were working “diligently to educate patients on the billing process” and were following “regulations and federal debt collection policies “.

A Treasury Department spokesperson told CBS News: “By law, when agencies, including the Department of Defense, initiate claims, the Office of the Tax Service is required to assist in the collection of claims. valid debts. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service works with federal agencies to ensure that those in debt are given proper advice and opportunities to challenge their debts as well as have the ability to repay their debts over time. Federal laws prevent the Bureau of the Fiscal Service from commenting on an individual’s case.


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Legislature

Hong Kong legislature begins discussions on anti-doxxing privacy bill – jurist – news

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Legislative Council on Wednesday began discussions on the Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill, which focuses on combating doxxing behavior. The controversial bill has drawn criticism from tech giants and activists for its implications for data privacy and free speech.

The Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill of 2021 aims to punish anyone who discloses an individual’s personal data without their consent with the intention of causing specified harm. The harms specified include harassment, threats, intimidation, bodily harm, psychological harm, causing the victim to be concerned about safety and others. The sentence includes fines of up to HK $ 1 million ($ 128,736) and five years in prison.

The bill also grants the Personal Data Protection Commissioner a wide range of powers. The Commissioner can request a warrant to enter and search premises and seize documents for investigation. The Commissioner can also access electronic devices without a warrant, as well as issue notices to remove content or block access to such content anywhere in the world.

Asia Internet Coalition, an advocacy group for tech giants Google, Twitter and Yahoo, among others, raised concerns with Ada Chung, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, on the month last. The main concerns included ambiguity in the definition of acts of doxxing, the liability of intermediaries and exclusions in case of genuine disclosure.

Coalition members also warned the commissioner that they could stop offering their services in Hong Kong if authorities implemented the changes to the law.


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Puerto rico government

The Senate Judiciary Committee advances the candidate of the 1st circuit Gustavo Gelpi

The United States Capitol in Washington, DC REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

  • Senate panel voted 12-10 to move Senate nomination
  • Gelpi’s criticism of Supreme Court ‘island affairs’ drew opposition from Republicans

(Reuters) – The appointment of US District Judge Gustavo Gelpi to sit on the 1st US Court of Appeals was presented to the entire US Senate on Thursday amid Republican objections to his criticism of “island affairs” of the United States Supreme Court of the early 20th century.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee backed Gelpi’s nomination in a 12-10 party line.

If confirmed, Gelpi, a federal judge in Puerto Rico since 2006, would become the second judge of Hispanic origin to sit on the Boston Court of Appeals. Circuit judge Juan Torruella, the first Hispanic judge of the 1st circuit, died in October 2020.

The administration of President Joe Biden has made the diversification of the federal judiciary a primary goal.

Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were divided over Gelpi’s criticism of a series of Supreme Court rulings in the early 1900s that many legal experts say created an “underclass” of American citizens living in unincorporated territories without full constitutional protection.

Torruella was one of the main critics of the cases and urged the Supreme Court in a 2014 speech to “disown” them.

“Liberal and conservative jurists have criticized island affairs,” Senate Judicial Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said on Thursday. “This is a series of Supreme Court rulings, dating back over 100 years, that American citizens living in unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico may not have the same constitutional rights as citizens Americans living in the States. “

Durbin called Gelpi an example of the “exceptionally skilled” lawyers Biden appointed as part of his drive to diversify the bench.

US Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican from Iowa, said he was troubled by Gelpi’s views. “He expressed his opinion on it in his opinions. He wrote a book about it. Justice Gelpi took the remarkable step of calling the wrongly decided Supreme Court cases and calling for their overthrow.” Grassley said. “It’s not without precedent. But it’s very unusual. And frankly, it’s probably inappropriate coming from a trial judge.”

In written responses submitted to the judicial committee, Gelpi declared that “despite my academic criticisms, the island case doctrine constitutes a binding precedent of the Supreme Court”. He said he was bound, like all judges, “to comply with them whenever applicable”.

Prior to joining the federal bench, Gelpi’s career in law included a stint as a federal public defender in Puerto Rico from 1993 to 1997. He graduated from Suffolk University Law School, where he has been an assistant professor since 2012. L The American Bar Association unanimously declared that Gelpi was “well qualified” for the appeals court.

Gelpi was first approached by the Obama White House about a possible 1st Circuit nomination in April 2012, according to a survey he submitted after Biden appointed him in May.

The committee also advanced the appointments of Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Angel Kelley to sit on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and Christine O’Hearn, Labor and Employment Partner. at Brown & Connery, New Jersey, to serve as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Read more:

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Former public defender, Zuckerman partner confirmed at 7th Circuit

Biden’s latest court picks focus on public defender’s work


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Legislative assembly

Oscar Fernandes still critical, operation postponed

Top Congressman and former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes (80) continues to be on a ventilator after being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at Yenepoya Specialist Hospital on Monday.

Surgery originally scheduled for Thursday morning was postponed on expert advice, sources said DH.

Later that evening, KPCC Chairman DK Shivakumar and Assembly Opposition Leader Siddaramaiah visited the hospital. Executives inquired about Oscar Fernandes’ health while interacting with doctors and Oscar’s wife, Blossom Fernandes.

Shivakumar later told reporters that he has known Oscar Fernandes for more than 43 years from his days as a student leader.

The doctors treating Oscar Fernandes and Blossom Fernandes are confident that Oscar Fernandes will recover soon. Let us all pray for his speedy recovery, said Shivakumar.

When asked about Oscar Fernandes’ transfer to Bengaluru hospitals, Shivakumar said Mangaluru hospitals are among the best in the country. Even foreigners come here for treatment, he said.

Shivakumar said he spoke to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Both had access to Oscar’s medical reports, he informed.

Opposition leader in the Legislative Council SR Patil, KPCC working chairman Saleem Ahmed, among others, were also present.

Canceled conference

AICC general secretary and Karnataka official Randeep Singh Surjewala issued a tweet saying that the interaction with congressional leaders from five districts scheduled for Friday was postponed.

“In view of the news regarding Oscar Fernandes, interaction with congressional leaders in Mangalore has been postponed,” he tweeted.

“The entire party and the people of Karnataka pray for the well-being of Oscar Fernandes, MP and the party’s top leader. For many of us who have grown up under his shadow and wisdom, he is a father figure, who inspires us to work tirelessly every day. Our prayers are with his family, “he tweeted.

Many top congressional leaders also tweeted praying for Oscar Fernandes’ speedy recovery.


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Upper house

What $ 1.5 million buys you in Illinois, Michigan, and California

This North Shore suburban home was originally owned by Leslie Goudie, a leader of the Chicago Teamsters union at a time when the organization was rocked by gang violence. Mr Goudie is said to have traveled in an armored car with police bodyguards to avoid the fate of his predecessor, Patrick berrell, who was killed by machine gun fire. Mr. Goudie died in 1944 of complications from a hernia operation. Since then, there has been only one owner of the house.

The property is half a mile south of the Highland Park business district, where there is a Metra station serving Chicago (the journey takes about an hour). Driving time along I-94 is approximately 35 minutes in light traffic. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s summer home in Ravinia is two miles to the south; the Chicago Botanical Garden is three miles to the south; and a public beach on Lake Michigan is a mile and a half east.

Cut: 6,477 square feet

Price per square foot: $ 231

Inside: The front door is located in a shallow central portico topped by a wrought iron balcony. It opens to a lobby with redone pale hardwood floors, light teal walls with ivory moldings, a Murano glass chandelier, and a curved staircase with spindles and a wrought iron banister. To the right is a 30 foot long living room with the same surface materials and the same pallet; it includes a bay window and a wood-burning fireplace with a decorative-style carved wooden frame inlaid with black marble. The decor themes continue in the formal dining room, to the left.

A swinging door opens from the dining room to a breakfast room with bay window and an adjoining kitchen with white, black and teal mosaic flooring, white tiled walls, original white metal cabinetry topped with stainless steel and up-to-date appliances.

On the other side of the entrance hall is a closed hallway with a pair of cupboards, a make-up vanity and, at the back, a powder room. The dominant color is a pale shade of raspberry.

The master suite is at the back of the ground floor. It focuses on a 27-foot-long room containing a kitchenette with a fridge, freezer, and dishwasher. The room connects on one end to a den with large built-in bookcases and on the other to a lighted patio. The private bathroom has original Art Deco tiles and includes two sinks, a wheelchair-accessible shower and a walk-in closet with mirror and vanity unit. Next to it is a 6 foot by 11 foot closet.

A second en-suite bedroom is upstairs, to the right of the landing. It has pale green walls, a trio of closets, and a walk-in closet with three additional and built-in closets. The vintage private bathroom is fitted with a separate shower and bathtub. Two back-to-back bedrooms to the left of the landing share a bathroom down the hall with vintage pink tiling and a combined tub and shower. The fourth bedroom, at the rear of the house, has a corner ceiling and built-in desks and wardrobes. It is adjacent to a second 24 foot long office and leads to an approximately 500 square foot deck with a hot tub.

A finished basement room with knotty pine paneled walls and a fireplace served as a playroom. It has a wet bar with a beer tap and stainless steel sink, and is adjacent to a room with a dining area, full kitchen, and pantry. There is also a powder room on this level.

Outdoor space: A spiral staircase descends from the upper aft deck to a stone patio at the rear. The attached side garage has double doors and direct access to the main level. The large grassy backyard is fully fenced. Additional lawns and paved seating areas can be found in front of the house.

Taxes: $ 20,209 (2019)

Contact: Gus Karigan, @ Properties, 847-732-6393; atproperties.com


This shingled vacation cottage on the east shore of Lake Michigan has been owned by one family (with seven children) since the 1950s. The listing agent described it as “rustic but well maintained,” with a roof that has been replaced in 2013. It is not insulated, but has electric baseboard heating and two wood-burning fireplaces to relax on out of season days. Set on a bluff with spectacular lake views less than 10 minutes south of Grand Haven, a lakeside town of 11,000 people, it sits just below the Rosy Mound Natural Area, a park with dunes, trails and a beach. Grand Rapids is 31 miles east and the drive from Chicago is approximately three hours.

Cut: 2,429 square feet

Price per square foot: $ 617

Inside: Knotty pine covers the interior walls and ceilings, and the floors are hardwood. The fireplace in the living room and dining room is surrounded by concrete and patterned tiles; the sash windows overlook the lake and the lightly wooded property. A basic white kitchen has an electric range and stainless steel sink and connects to the smaller of the two screened porches. (The larger one is outside the living room.)

One bedroom is on the ground floor, with direct access to a bathroom with shower-over-tub and a separate entrance from a hall from the kitchen. The master bedroom is on the second floor and includes a brick fireplace, en-suite powder room and access to a large roof terrace from the larger porch. Two other bedrooms upstairs share a bathroom with a shower over the bath.

Outdoor space: The house is approached by a long shared dirt road. A wooden staircase of 60 steps leads you to the beach. The large properties to the south and the park to the north give a strong sense of privacy.

This house, located in a cul-de-sac in the Hiller Highlands neighborhood, was part of the redevelopment that took place after the area was destroyed by the Oakland Firestorm in 1991. The property is a short walk away. distance from the Grove Shafter Freeway, which provides direct access to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It is about three and a half miles east of the Claremont neighborhood in Berkeley and three miles east of the Claremont Club and Spa. The 34-acre University of California Botanical Garden in the Berkeley Hills is six miles northwest.

Cut: 2,856 square feet

Price per square foot: $ 516

Inside: The stucco-clad house is entered through either of a pair of one-car garages, or the front door between them. The three doors open into a foyer with a backlit glass tile ceiling, freshly painted walls, and refurbished pale hardwood floors (the latter two features are found throughout the main level) . The first door to the left of the central hallway leads to a breakfast nook with one of the property’s many new light fixtures. The room flows into a kitchen with wooden planks and ceiling trusses, and simple wood cabinetry with quartz countertops. Beyond is a dining room with a wooden ceiling and sliding glass doors that open onto a terrace.

The sequence of rooms to the right of the front door begins with a powder room with a quartz-top vanity; continues with a family room with wooden ceilings, wiring for sound and a built-in shelving unit in a niche; and culminates in a living room with large screened windows and a wood-burning fireplace.

At the end of the hall, between the open living and dining room, is a metal staircase leading down to the bedroom floor. There, the master suite includes a newly carpeted bedroom with direct access to a lower deck, two closets (one walk-in closet) and a bathroom with double sinks carved out of a long wooden vanity. A shower with a glass door and a bathtub are arranged side by side. A second carpeted bedroom also opens onto the lower deck. The third bedroom is smaller and has a double wardrobe with folding doors. The two bedrooms share a bathroom which contains a separate shower room with a chest of drawers. There is also a dedicated laundry room.

Outdoor space: The house has a two level deck that was recently custom built in redwood.

Taxes: $ 18,438 (estimated)

Contact: Ken Nwokedi, Toro Property Company, 510-220-2989; 59bayforest.com

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Puerto rico government

Repairing the roads of Puerto Rico | Business

Whether you’re driving in San Juan, Caguas, Toa Alta, or Añasco, we can all agree that most of the roads in Puerto Rico are in dire need of repairs. Uneven sidewalks, potholes galore, lack of road signs, recurring flooding during heavy rains and many dark roads at night mean that driving is a challenge for most local residents.

It might be hard to believe, but it’s been almost four years since Hurricane Maria devastated the island and its infrastructure, and yet government officials are still dealing with much of that damage.

The good news is that help is on the way, as the federal government continues to allocate millions of transportation funds to help Puerto Rico, along with all 50 states, improve the nation’s vital transportation infrastructure.

Funding and much needed construction work will also be a boon to the local economy.

Island Transport Secretary Eileen Vélez Vega confirmed THE WEEKLY NEWSPAPER that the agency, known as DTOP from its Spanish acronym, is recruiting local companies as subcontractors for its multiple reconstruction projects, thus rebounding positively on the local economy.

Earlier this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced another round of $ 299 million to rebuild the island’s roads and bridges. Regarding this recent allocation, the secretary indicated that there are 100 projects across the island for permanent works, for which 22 local companies have been subcontracted through a request for proposal (RFP) process to submit their bids for respective design.

“The other projects are in the process of being designed. Other funds still to be committed include the two categories: design projects and projects ready to start construction, ”she said, adding that $ 13 million has already been identified for projects that do not require design.

Vélez acknowledged residents’ concerns about the slow pace of reconstruction work, as many roads were severely damaged by Maria in September 2017, but she noted that the agency had carried out emergency work as part of the phase. recovery, such as the installation of road signs, safety fences and reflectors, as well as the fight against landslides.

“Projects have already been launched. I can cite you, for example, the 770 highway project in Barranquitas, which is a bridge that was affected by Hurricane Maria, ”said Vélez. “In the coming weeks, calls for tenders will be launched for this project in order to begin construction. “

The secretary said the agency is committed to improving the island’s transport infrastructure with “safe and well-maintained roads”.

Landslides, which are a top priority for the DTOP, are particularly time consuming due to bureaucratic processes. For example, obtaining the appropriate permits to begin the necessary works if the landslide reaches private property or if the agency needs to enter private property to acquire the land, explained Edwin González Montalvo, executive director of Road and Transportation. Authority (RTA) of DTOP.

In addition, approximately $ 150 million of the nearly $ 502 million in FEMA transportation funding was allocated to emergency projects, which provided temporary assistance to road infrastructure affected by the 2017 hurricane. González clarified that the RTA has transferred $ 241 million of its approved funding to the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) – a branch of the Federal Highway Administration – while the remaining $ 260 million is to be used by the RTA.

“Of the 260 million dollars that the [RTA] a, $ 237 million has already been committed and $ 23 million remains to be committed. And of the 237 million dollars already committed, 178 million dollars have been disbursed, ”he said.

While the Executive Director noted that the EFLHD has fallen behind in the execution of reconstruction projects, he assured that “we have been in constant communication with them and that they have received instructions to carry out several of these projects “. Some of these include “multiple offers,” he said, such as those to provide signs along the PR-52, PR-53 and PR-1, 2 and 3 roads.

As for President Joe Biden’s titanic infrastructure plan, González claimed it would increase RTA’s annual budget from $ 238 million to around $ 340 million, according to information gathered during his meetings with the resident commissioner. Jenniffer González and the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration in Washington, CC

The increase would allow the entity to redistribute its budget to the various segments that were carried over for insufficient funds. “In other words, if there were projects that we could not carry out because the funds were limited, now we can move that money to be able to carry out the necessary projects,” he said.

More FEMA funds allocated

FEMA announced that to date, the federal agency has committed nearly $ 299 million to DTOP to repair damage and optimize state roads and bridges across the island. This includes nearly $ 92 million approved in 2021 to address infrastructure in nearly 30 municipalities. The bonds represent ongoing work projects to remediate more than 250 damaged areas on Puerto Rico’s roads and bridges.

One item that deals with road safety is the replacement and installation of thousands of traffic signs that were touched by Maria. To this end, FEMA has allocated more than $ 28.3 million for a 238 highway sign replacement project in Puerto Rico, stretching 496 miles from San Juan to Aguadilla.

DTOP reported that more than 300 signs and posts have been removed, while the installation of signs and plaques exceeds 3,000 units. The installation of signs in the Ponce and Guayama regions will begin soon, while the manufacturing of signs for the Humacao region continues. The production of road signs represents a positive impact on the manufacturing sector, since some are carried out by entrepreneurs in Humacao, Guayama, Mayagüez and Ponce.

In addition, more than $ 3.5 million has been allocated to repair several roads in the central part of the island. This obligation includes $ 1.8 million to rebuild three segments of the PR-612 in Utuado, including a three-span bridge that suffered severe damage and serves as a main road for residents of the Don Alonso and Caonillas Abajo neighborhoods. It also includes $ 1.6 million to repair nine segments of the PR-531 at Jayuya.

Likewise, more than $ 4.7 million has been allocated to DTOP to repair several sections of PR-742 and PR-738 in Cayey. In addition, repairs will be carried out on the PR-7731 road in Cidra, which provides access to main roads and shops for approximately 9,000 residents of the Carite, Vegas, Montellano and Quebrada Arriba neighborhoods.

As of March 2021, work on 42 transport projects was already underway on the island, with an investment estimated at $ 108.7 million, according to government officials. Among the municipalities benefiting from these road repairs were Jayuya, Yauco, Maricao and Barranquitas.

Under a decree signed by Governor Pedro Pierluisi in March 2021, construction crews working on federally funded projects are now paid a minimum wage of $ 10.95 per hour. Puerto Rico’s minimum wage rate is $ 7.25 an hour, which is the same as the federal minimum rate.

Invest in America Act

Meanwhile, President Biden continues to tout his massive infrastructure plan and support for social services for families, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, saying they will boost economic growth and help the middle class. Speaking at the White House, the president called his plans a “blue collar plan to rebuild the US economy … It is the best strategy to create millions of jobs and raise middle class families, increase wages and keep prices affordable for a long time ”. term, ”as cited by The Associated Press.

HR 3684 Invest in America Act was passed in the United States House on July 1, by a bipartisan vote of 221-201. The bill is a $ 715 billion surface transportation and water infrastructure reauthorization bill, with over $ 44 billion added during the amendment process to make even larger investments in infrastructure, including all-electric vehicle (EV) charging and rail passenger subsidy programs, among other additions. .

“The American people are fed up with potholes, traffic jams, slow buses and trains, back-up lead-contaminated pipes and sewers, the result of decades of underinvestment in our infrastructure,” our communities and our future. The good news is that this is an American problem that America can solve, ”said Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The bill has passed the US Senate, which is evaluating its own version of the measure.

The US House bill included “transit specific” allowances across the country. For Puerto Rico, local transportation projects estimated at $ 52.4 million have been included. Among them, the extension of Avenida Ángel Castro Pérez (PR-122) between San Germán and Lajas; works on the road links between Gurabo and Trujillo Alto; and various improvements on PR-2 (kms 9.0 and 10.0) PR-6 (km 0.0 to 0.3).


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The Jakarta Post: New deal, old approach to West Papua

EDITORIAL: By the Jakarta Post Editorial Board

The unanimous decision of the Indonesian House of Representatives last week to approve the revised Papuan Special Autonomy Law shows, once again, the propensity of Jakarta’s elite to dictate the territory’s future, despite calls persistent in honoring local demands.

This “new deal” is unlikely to end violence in resource-rich provinces, which largely stems from Jakarta’s refusal to address past human rights violations there.

On paper, the revision offers some of the substantial changes needed to help Papuans close the gap with the rest of the nation. For example, it extends the special self-reliance funding for Papua and West Papua until 2041 and increases its amount from 2% to 2.25% of the general allocation fund, with particular emphasis on health and l ‘education.

JAKARTA’S POST

The Ministry of Finance estimates that over the next 20 years the two provinces will receive 234.6 trillion rupees ($ 16 billion).

The revisions also strengthen initiatives to empower Indigenous Papuans in the policy-making process by allocating a quarter of the Regional Legislative Council to non-partisan Indigenous Papuans on appointment. They also demand that 30 percent of these seats go to indigenous Papuan women.

Under the new law, a new institution will be created to “synchronize, harmonize, evaluate and coordinate” the implementation of special autonomy. Led by the Vice-President, the new body will report to the President and have a secretariat in Papua. The previous government formed a Presidential Unit to Accelerate Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), but President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo dissolved it shortly after taking office in 2014.

The chairman of the special House committee deliberating on the review, Komarudin Watubun, a Papuan, called the new law a “breakthrough” because it would require the government to consult with the governments of Papua and West Papua when drafting regulations for the country. application.

But this is where the central problem of the special autonomy law lies. In a democracy, respect for the will of the public, including dissenting opinions, is essential to the legislative process precisely because laws will affect that public. Public oversight should precede rather than follow a law, but in the case of the Special Autonomy Law, this mechanism was removed from the House’s deliberation, which lasted seven months, under the pretext of social distancing to contain the spread of covid-19.

Jakarta’s elite clearly left out the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) as a representation of the customs and will of the people of the provinces, as well as the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP), not to mention groups in society. civilians, tribes and those who distrust special autonomy and government. In the words of MRP chief Timotius Murib, the revisions reveal Jakarta’s lack of good intentions for Papuan development.

This is not the first time that the executive and legislative powers have agreed to bypass public consultation on a highly controversial bill. The tactic worked with the passage of the Job Creation Law last year, as well as the new mining law, and the approach is apparently repeated in the ongoing deliberations on the review of the code. criminal.

As long as the obsolete, Jakarta-centric approach remains intact, Papuan peace and prosperity will remain elusive.

This Jakarta Post editorial was published on July 21, 2021.

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