Bay Area transit workers ratify agreement

first_imgBART workers and community supporters protest at BART management offices on Oct 8.Oakland, Calif. — More than 2,300 Bay Area Rapid Transit workers voted on a tentative agreement Oct. 26. Three unions are represented in the contract negotiations. Eighty-eight percent of Service Employees union Local 1021 workers approved the settlement, as did 85 percent of Amalgamated Transit Union 1555 workers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, with the smallest number of workers involved, hasn’t scheduled its vote as yet, nor has the BART Board of Directors.Workers, angry about not receiving a raise since 2009 and being forced to give up concessions worth $100 million in the last recession, struck for four-and-a-half days in July and another four days in October. However, in the months between a state-negotiated 30-day contract extension in July and a state-imposed 60-day cooling-off period, BART management, supported by local, state and federal governments, and by the mainstream media’s ongoing vicious attacks against the workers, managed to dissipate the workers’ anger.The structural weaknesses of the unions’ negotiating efforts played right into the hands of management’s divide and conquer tactics. Why are there three separate and distinct unions representing the workers in the first place? Additionally, the struggle of the AC Transit (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District) workers, represented by ATU Local 192, was allowed to be split off, rather than all the unions going out together. Local 192 workers have voted down two tentative agreements and are now under a separate state-imposed 60-day cooling-off period.And how did the unions allow strike captain George Figueroa to be fired and face criminal charges, without making amnesty for him a requirement for ending the strike? Passively allowing this kind of intimidation against militant leaders will only undermine the workers’ struggle, keeping them from being able to regroup and fight back. Additionally, ATU International President Hanley weakened the strength of the negotiating team by arbitrarily imposing his power to remove Yuri Hollie, a Black woman militant, from it.In the end, it was BART management’s own stupidity and greed that forced them to mitigate their “best and final offer” a little towards the side of the workers. Despite all the unions’ safety warnings that BART management should not be allowed to operate the trains during the strike, they tried to do it anyway. This resulted in the death of two workers, who had crossed the picket lines and were struck by a train being operated by a management trainee. The deaths so angered the public that management was forced to better their offer to the unions.According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the agreement is “a four-year contract with a 15.38 percent raise over its term and increases to employee health and pension contributions. The net difference amounts to a 2 percent pay increase over four years, the union said. The package will cost BART an additional $67 million per year. The contract also requires BART workers to accrue 15 years with the agency before earning lifetime health benefits under the new contract, compared with five years previously.” (Nov. 2) Retirees face an additional $44 per month in health plan costs.BART should be organized as a real public entity, under community/labor control, rather than its current state, in which the so-called public agency is overseen by whichever bourgeois party is in control of the government at the time. A community/labor agency would see to it that the needs of the community for low-cost transit, and for good-paying jobs with decent benefits, take priority over paying exorbitant salaries to management. Corporations benefiting from BART’s ability to efficiently bring workers to their doorsteps from all over the Bay Area would be taxed to pay for these services, rather than burdening the community and workers. Under such management, there would be no need to pay $399,000 to Veolia’s union-busting negotiator, Tom Hock.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

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Thousands of African migrants strike in Israel

first_imgAfrican migrants protest in Tel Aviv.Tens of thousands of African migrants suspended a general strike Jan. 13 that had been in effect since January 5 in the Zionist state of Israel. The strike is scheduled to resume on Jan. 15 in the aftermath of the death of Ariel Sharon.A list of demands put forward by the African community — most of whom come from Eritrea and South Sudan — calls for the nullification of the recently enacted Anti-Infiltrator Law, a halt to arresting people under that law, the release of those currently jailed and a review of asylum requests for Eritreans and Sudanese. The strike impacted the hotel, restaurant, café and cleaning services sectors of the Israeli economy.Some 60,000 migrants from Eritrea and South Sudan have entered Israel since 2006. Over the last two years, a new detention facility has been constructed to hold migrants on the border with the Egyptian Sinai.The migrants are forced to flee ongoing conflicts in Central and East Africa and the subsequent economic devastation they have created. These conflicts are a direct result of Western imperialist interference in the internal affairs of post-colonial African states.The Workers’ Hotline organization has received numerous complaints from African migrant workers of terminations and other threats from employers. “A group of workers came to our offices, and we also got phone calls from workers in Eilat who were told not to come back, and that their strike was seen as quitting without notice,” said Noah Kaufman, who works as a coordinator for refugees and asylum seekers at the agency. (Haaretz, Jan. 13)Kaufman went on to say, “There were two accounts of workers given ultimatums — either agree to change their employment conditions for the worse, or quit without getting severance pay or notice.”The agency says it is developing a legal strategy for addressing the ultimatums and firings.A staff attorney for the Hotline, Michael Tadjer, stated: “Employers cannot exploit the asylum seekers’ suffering to worsen their terms of employment. They are using this as a means to threaten their workers. In essence, they’re saying, ‘We can fire you, so either you quit or we take away your seniority, worsen your conditions,’ or lots of other things. Employers are using this for exploitation.” (Haaretz, Jan. 13)Tadjer went on to note: “The legal question is how much the strike was protected. Although they are unorganized workers, there is an umbrella organization that declared this strike, and there have been precedents in Europe in which sectors of the population went on strike in protest against the government, when policy directly harmed individuals. This strike is a political strike, and it might be that it is supported by law, but it hasn’t come up for legal review. We think that firing workers after a week-long strike against a law that harms the most basic thing — their freedom and ability to work — is an act committed in bad faith.”Strike galvanizes migrants to demand asylumThe political actions of the African community in Israel have created a sense of urgency. On Jan. 12, long lines gathered outside the immigration offices in Tel Aviv in order to fill out forms requesting asylum.One migrant told Haaretz, “I had an appointment, and the first security guard passed me through. The second one said, ‘You’re leading all of the protests and strikes, you were interviewed on Channel 2, I’ll show you.’ He tore up the slip, and said, ‘Go home,’ and began to scream at me.”Political attacks on the African migrant community have been growing for the last two years. From low level politicians to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Africans have been labeled as “infiltrators” and “criminals.”There have been anti-migrant demonstrations by Israeli settlers through neighborhoods where African migrants live and own businesses. Africans have been beaten and their stores trashed.In response to these racist provocations the African migrant community is becoming more outspoken and militant. The general strike and the subsequent mass demonstrations are a reflection of a heightened consciousness and organizational sophistication.On Jan. 6, thousands of migrants marched to the foreign embassies in Tel Aviv seeking international intervention on their behalf. Some Israelis have marched in solidarity with the migrants’ demands. On Jan. 9, thousands gathered outside the parliament in Jerusalem where several left-wing labor politicians addressed them decrying the conditions which they are subjected to by the Israeli authorities. (Reuters, January 8)David Grossman, a writer who has been labeled as a member of the Israeli left-wing, told the mass demonstration in Jerusalem that the state’s treatment of the migrants was shameful.“I look at you now. … I feel embarrassed and ashamed. Israel has not created this problem, but there is a problem now (and) we have to struggle with it and to solve it in the most humane way.”Continuation of settler policy against Palestinian and Arab peopleNonetheless, Israel is inherently a settler-colonial state, born in alliance with world imperialism through the suppression, oppression, forced removals and mass killings of the Indigenous Palestinian Arab population. Palestinians still live as colonial subjects in their national homeland and are subjected to constant detentions, dislocation, racist discrimination, military occupation, and repeated attacks by the army and air force.Palestinians who have been forced from their homeland are denied the inherent right of return. In the Gaza region of the country, 1.5 million people live in what has been described as the largest open-air prison in the world.Israel also occupies the Golan Heights in Syria, where an imperialist-backed war of regime-change has resulted in the deaths of at least 100,000 people over the last three years. The Israeli Air Force has carried out several bombing incursions against Syria in just the last year.Other Israeli air strikes have been carried out against the Republic of Sudan, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian national liberation struggle, which maintains a close fraternal relationship with Iran. Israel is backed up by the U.S. government through billions of dollars in direct aid, diplomatic support and military assistance.Developments in Israel involving the escalating repression against African migrants should be seriously taken up by the African Union and other mass organizations on the continent. Israel was one of the main advocates and supporters of the partition of South Sudan from Khartoum, leading up to its realization in 2011.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

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Solidarity caravan heads to U.S./Mexico border

first_imgSolidarity caravan stops in Philadelphia, Oct. 11.WW photo: Joseph PietteHistoric Riverside Church in New York City was the location for the send-off on Oct. 10 of the “National Caravan in Solidarity with the Children and Families at the Mexico and Texas Borders.” The enthusiastic crowd of nearly 100 supporters cheered on caravan organizers and participants, jumping to their feet several times during the program.The Solidarity Caravan is being organized by immigrant rights, faith-based and other community, social justice and progressive activists, and labor unionists. Their school bus is traveling to 12 cities on its way to the militarized border town of McAllen, Texas. As of Oct. 13, the caravan had stopped in Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington; Durham, N.C.; and Atlanta.The caravan received a warm welcome at its first stop in south Philadelphia on Saturday, Oct. 11, at a breakfast and discussion organized by Juntos, a Latino/a immigrant rights community organization. Relatives of undocumented immigrants currently facing deportation were among the speakers. Philadelphia area activists hopped aboard the caravan bus for a brief solidarity action prior to its departure.A press release issued on Oct. 13 by caravan coordinator Teresa Gutierrez and Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, announced that on Oct. 14 there will be a meeting in Jackson, Miss., with civil rights activists to discuss the shared struggle for human rights for migrants, immigrants and all oppressed people in the U.S. There will also be a memorial service dedicated to the city’s late mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, an internationally known human rights leader.On Oct. 15, the caravan will leave for Houston, and then continue on to San Antonio the next day. Stops are also planned for other cities in the state: Laredo, Brownsville, and finally, McAllen. There, the caravan will join with U.S., Mexican and Central American activists from human rights, faith-based and social justice organizations to protest the increasing militarization of the border and the enormous human cost of migration.Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called in the National Guard, so there are now military personnel staffing checkpoints 100 miles from the border.A major goal of the caravan is to redefine the upsurge of Mexican and Central American migrants from being simply a humanitarian crisis to its reality as an unprecedented Central American refugee crisis, which this year alone has led to the detention at the border of more than 65,000 unaccompanied children and 60,000 families. It will raise awareness of and mobilize against federal and local governments’ inhumane measures in dealing with the refugee crisis and the broken immigration system.This is the worst refugee crisis in the U.S. in more than 30 years, say caravan organizers, with the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of children and families from their homes. They are fleeing organized crime, paramilitary violence and destruction of their local economies due to the imposition of free trade agreements under the auspices of the U.S. government.Betsey Piette contributed to this article.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

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Did you know that independent journalism is a high-risk sport in Azerbaijan?

first_img June 8, 2021 Find out more RSF_en News News June 4, 2021 Find out more Help by sharing this information “We’ll hold Ilham Aliyev personally responsible if anything happens to this blogger in France” RSF says News After urging governments not to send a high-level delegation to the inaugural ceremony and urging sponsors not to turn a blind eye to the problems for the sake of their business interests, Reporters Without Borders is now offering a visual spotlighting the violations of freedom of information.More information: http://en.rsf.org/azerbaijan.html(Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP) to go further With the first-ever European Games about to get underway in Baku, Azerbaijan, Reporters Without Borders is launching a campaign to draw the public’s attention to the dire state of freedom of information in the host country. News AzerbaijanEurope – Central Asia April 9, 2021 Find out more RSF calls for a fully transparent investigation after mine kills two journalists in Azerbaijan June 11, 2015 – Updated on February 16, 2017 Did you know that independent journalism is a high-risk sport in Azerbaijan? Organisation Follow the news on Azerbaijan Russian peacekeepers deny foreign reporters access to Nagorno-Karabakh AzerbaijanEurope – Central Asia Receive email alertslast_img read more

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Financial Stress and Foreclosure Activity

first_imgSign up for DS News Daily Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Consumer confidence appears to be easing, according to a new report from LegalShield. LegalShield’s Consumer Confidence Index fell nearly 10 points to 121.5 in June and is down 2.7 points compared to last quarter. While consumer optimism remains elevated, confidence in the U.S. economy has declined over the last six to nine months. Consumer spending grew in Q1 at its second weakest pace since Q2 2013. However, the combination of historically low unemployment, rising household net worth, and record-high stock prices should keep consumers on good footing as the economic expansion enters its 11th year.“Though the LegalShield Consumer Financial Stress Index increased in the second quarter, consumers remain on good footing despite some recent dips in confidence,” said Scott Grissom, SVPt and Chief Product Officer, LegalShield. “With this being said, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a slow build in consumer financial stress in the coming months, reflecting weak growth in real disposable income, falling demand for credit card loans, and a softening global outlook.”LegalShield’s Foreclosure Index increased by 2.1 points in Q2 2019, and despite headwinds, consumer financial stress is low as foreclosure activity remains muted. Additionally, the share of all delinquent mortgages at least one payment past due is down 21 basis points year over year.According to CoreLogic’s July Loan Performance Insight Report, 3.8% of home mortgages were in some stage of delinquencies—down from 4.1% last July and the lowest July figure in more than 20 years.Housing starts improved in Q2, but LegalShield notes that the data does not point to a resurgence in building starts. LegalShield’s housing index increased 2.4 points year over year, to the highest point in three years. Homebuyers are weighed down mostly by affordability issues, as the National Association of Realtor’s Housing Affordability Index recorded its lowest level of the year in May. Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Previous: Why Investors are Buying into Single-Family Rental Next: Ginnie Mae Hits $32B in Platinum Securities About Author: Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Featured, Foreclosure, Market Studies, News October 15, 2019 1,110 Views Share Savecenter_img  Print This Post Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Seth Welborn is a Reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Harding University, he has covered numerous topics across the real estate and default servicing industries. Additionally, he has written B2B marketing copy for Dallas-based companies such as AT&T. An East Texas Native, he also works part-time as a photographer. Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Consumer Confidence Economy Foreclosure 2019-10-15 Seth Welborn Tagged with: Consumer Confidence Economy Foreclosure Related Articles The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Financial Stress and Foreclosure Activity Home / Daily Dose / Financial Stress and Foreclosure Activity Subscribelast_img read more

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Number of Gardai in Donegal falls 16% over the past five years

first_img WhatsApp RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Twitter 75 positive cases of Covid confirmed in North Pinterest Gardai continue to investigate Kilmacrennan fire Previous articleTwo débuts for Cavan side to face ArmaghNext articleDonegal Fire Service urging public to be mindful of fire escape routes following Moville incident admin Homepage BannerNews Pinterest Google+ It has been revealed that the number of Gardai in Donegal has declined by sixteen per cent over the last five years.Figures released by the Department of Justice show that the number of Gardai in Donegal dropped from 466 in 2010 to 392 in 2015 – a decrease of 74 Gardai in the county.Donegal Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher is calling on the Justice Minister to restore Garda numbers in the county to 2010 levels within a three year period:Audio Playerhttp://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cope1pm.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. By admin – May 27, 2016 center_img Main Evening News, Sport and Obituaries Tuesday May 25th Man arrested on suspicion of drugs and criminal property offences in Derry Number of Gardai in Donegal falls 16% over the past five years Facebook WhatsApp Further drop in people receiving PUP in Donegal Twitter 365 additional cases of Covid-19 in Republic Facebook Google+last_img read more

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Exchange presents A.C.E. awards

first_img Pike County Sheriff’s Office offering community child ID kits Published 9:52 pm Thursday, April 21, 2011 Aman said Gombar has flourished academically, athletically and personally.“Brittany said that graduating from high school is her biggest achievement but it’s only the beginning,” Aman said. “Her goals are to attend a four year college and earn a degree in physical therapy and to encourage and inspire others to accomplish their goals.”Gombar humbly and graciously accepted the A.C.E. Award and gave the credit for her achievements to her grandmother, Shirley McCann of Brundidge.“I lost my parents when I was three years old and my grandmother has supported me like no one else,” Gombar said. “I love her and appreciate her. I was born with cerebral palsy on my right side but I’ve pushed myself to go as far as I can go. My grandmother has been with me all the way.” By The Penny Hoarder Sponsored Content Skip McCann said her granddaughter has worked very hard and understands that she is not disabled, just different.“It has not been easy but Brittany keeps moving forward,” McCann said. “I’m proud of her and of this award for her. I think she deserves it.”Gombar received a plaque and a check in the amount of $1,000. The other nominees received certificates and checks for $50 each.Aman said the A.C.E. awards program had two objectives.“One objective is to help encourage young people to overcome hardships and get back on the track toward a high school diploma,” Aman said. “The other is to recognize students who are often overlooked for their accomplishments.” Exchange presents A.C.E. awards Troy falls to No. 13 Clemson Remember America’s heroes on Memorial Day Penny Hoarder Issues “Urgent” Alert: 6 Companies Are… Print Article The other nominees for the prestigious award were Taylor Cheshire, Charles Henderson High School; Melissa Sullivan, Goshen High School; and Morgan Wyatt, Pike Liberal Arts School.Diane Aman expressed congratulations to the nominees and said that all four are winners because they serve as a powerful example to all students that hard work and perseverance do pay off.“All of the nominees are deserving but we can only select one for the A.C.E. Award,” Aman said. “Brittany Gombar lost both her parents when she was very young and she has persevered despite physical challenges and strives to do her best in everything.” You Might Like BOA approves daycare plans A new day care center may be coming to 1402 Park St. thanks a variance granted Thursday by the Troy… read more Latest Stories Plans underway for historic Pike County celebration Around the WebDoctor: Do This Immediately if You Have Diabetes (Watch)Health VideosIf You Have Ringing Ears Do This Immediately (Ends Tinnitus)Healthier LivingHave an Enlarged Prostate? Urologist Reveals: Do This Immediately (Watch)Healthier LivingWomen Only: Stretch This Muscle to Stop Bladder Leakage (Watch)Healthier LivingRemoving Moles & Skin Tags Has Never Been This EasyEssential HealthRemember Them? I’m Sure Their New Net Worth Will Leave You SpeechlessbradofoThe content you see here is paid for by the advertiser or content provider whose link you click on, and is recommended to you by Revcontent. As the leading platform for native advertising and content recommendation, Revcontent uses interest based targeting to select content that we think will be of particular interest to you. We encourage you to view your opt out options in Revcontent’s Privacy PolicyWant your content to appear on sites like this?Increase Your Engagement Now!Want to report this publisher’s content as misinformation?Submit a ReportGot it, thanks!Remove Content Link?Please choose a reason below:Fake NewsMisleadingNot InterestedOffensiveRepetitiveSubmitCancel Email the author The Troy Exchange Club presented A.C.E. achievement recognitions to four high school seniors at the Fourth Annual A.C.E. luncheon Thursday. Pictured from left, Diane Aman, presenter, Taylor Cheshire, Charles Henderson; Melissa Sullivan, Goshen; Brittany Gombar, Pike County; Morgan Wyatt, Pike Liberal Arts; and Vitaly Voloshin, Troy Exchange Club president. Brittany Gombar, a senior at Pike County High School, received the Troy Exchange Clubs’ Fourth Annual A.C.E. (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) award at a luncheon Thursday at the American Legion Post 70 home in Troy.The annual awards recognize and reward outstanding high school seniors who have overcome obstacles on the road to successful high school graduation.The Troy Exchange Club recognizes an outstanding senior from each of the four high schools in the county with A.C.E. Award of Achievement certificates and the winner of the A.C.E. award advances to the Exchange Club’s District A.C.E. Awards competition. Book Nook to reopen By Jaine Treadwelllast_img read more

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Pastor presents Bible in 15 minutes

first_img You Might Like Christmas Open House at Johnson Center Sunday Submitted PhotoChristmas ornaments by Tara Satorius will be available at the Johnson Center for the Arts this holiday season. The… read more Remember America’s heroes on Memorial Day By Jaine Treadwell Book Nook to reopen The Rev. Ed Shirley, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church, entertained the Rotarians as the fire and brimstone preacher, Pastor Pugh Hopper, at the Club’s Wednesday meeting.“Pastor Pugh Hopper kept us laughing all the time,” said Rotarian Dixie Shehane. “Pastor Pugh Hopper’s not your typical pulpit preacher. He took us right through the Bible but in no particular order.”Shirley’s portrayal of the “save ’em or send ’em” old-time preacher was not his first at the Brundidge Rotary Club. At an earlier meeting, he played the role of Boudreaux the Cajun comedian. Latest Stories Shirley recently performed as Boudreaux for the Troy Rotary Club and as Francis Scott Key for the Troy Exchange Club.His list of characters includes such notables as the Apostle Peter, Roman Governor Pontius Pilate and, at the other end of spectrum, country music star, Ray Price, and the one and only Elvis.Shirley also has an interest in history and theater.While at Camden United Methodist Church, he served as the president of the Wilcox Historical Society and was the overseer of several major projects including the restoration of the 1889 jail and the establishment of a walking tour of the historic Camden Cemetery.Shirley also introduced the idea of forming a community theater in Gees Bend to present the “Gees Bend Play,” which has now completed two performance seasons. Troy falls to No. 13 Clemson Around the WebMd: Do This Immediately if You Have Diabetes (Watch)Blood Sugar BlasterIf You Have Ringing Ears Do This Immediately (Ends Tinnitus)Healthier LivingHave an Enlarged Prostate? Urologist Reveals: Do This Immediately (Watch)Healthier LivingWomen Only: Stretch This Muscle to Stop Bladder Leakage (Watch)Healthier LivingRemoving Moles & Skin Tags Has Never Been This EasyEssential HealthTop 4 Methods to Get Fortnite SkinsTCGThe content you see here is paid for by the advertiser or content provider whose link you click on, and is recommended to you by Revcontent. As the leading platform for native advertising and content recommendation, Revcontent uses interest based targeting to select content that we think will be of particular interest to you. We encourage you to view your opt out options in Revcontent’s Privacy PolicyWant your content to appear on sites like this?Increase Your Engagement Now!Want to report this publisher’s content as misinformation?Submit a ReportGot it, thanks!Remove Content Link?Please choose a reason below:Fake NewsMisleadingNot InterestedOffensiveRepetitiveSubmitCancel Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2013 Skip Not often does a congregation get to hear a sermon that encompasses the entire Bible in 15 minutes or less.But then, the congregation’s not often the Brundidge Rotary Club and the preacher’s not Pastor Pugh Hopper.If it’s true that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, then the Brundidge Rotarians got a big dose medicine that should keep them merry until after the next revival meeting. Pike County Sheriff’s Office offering community child ID kits Print Article Penny Hoarder Issues “Urgent” Alert: 6 Companies Are… Sponsored Content By The Penny Hoarder The Rotarians enjoyed him so much they wanted him back again – back for another does of Rev. Ed’s medicine that has only one adverse side effect — people have been known to split their sides in laughter.“I like to sing, play guitar, mandolin and I’m learning to play the hammered dulcimer,” Shirley said.“I love to entertain people with comedy, impersonations and dramatic monologues.“I adorn a costume and speak in first person as a hymn writer, biblical person or historical character.” Email the author Pastor presents Bible in 15 minutes Plans underway for historic Pike County celebrationlast_img read more

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Woman accused of Arkansas state senator murders-for-hire plot pleads not guilty to new charges

first_imgKuzma/iStock(JACKSON COUNTY, Ark.) — The woman accused of killing a former Arkansas state senator has pleaded not guilty to new charges.Rebecca O’Donnell, currently awaiting trial in the killing of former Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, was charged earlier this month with attempting to orchestrate a spree of murders-for-hire from inside the Jackson County Jail, where she had been held on a capital murder charge since June.The new charges levied by Jackson County are two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence.Prosecutors allege O’Donnell targeted Collins-Smith’s ex-husband and his new wife, as well as the former judge and former prosecutor assigned to her case.Defense attorney Lee Short dismissed the new charges almost immediately after they were filed, telling ABC News that high-profile homicide cases can bring jailhouse informants out of the woodwork.“It’s not surprising at all — inmates do it all the time,” Short told ABC News at the time. “In high-profile cases, especially homicides, people tend to seek opportunities to improve their situations by giving statements against people.”O’Donnell’s lawyers on Wednesday waived a formal arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty.Moments later, Judge John Fogleman allowed attorneys representing ABC News to intervene, hearing arguments from the defense, the state, and counsel for ABC News on the issue of lifting or modifying a gag order that restricts the release of case documents connected to O’Donnell’s prosecution.“It’s important that the public be given the full opportunity to watch the justice system in action and understand the charges and what is being alleged,” said John Tull, who’s representing ABC News and the Arkansas Press Association.Enacted hours after Collins-Smith’s body was found, the gag order issued June 5 resulted in any and all records — “affadavits, law enforcement reports, documents, recordings, statements, search warrants, crime lab reports, medical examiner reports” — be sealed until a court rules otherwise.The order also included that officials involved with the case are prohibited from giving extrajudicial statements or speaking about the case at all.Six months after O’Donnell’s arrest, ABC News filed a motion requesting the opportunity to argue against the order. The former presiding judge, David Goodson, denied that motion without a hearing. A week later, Goodson recused himself from the case.Last month, ABC News asked newly appointed Judge John Fogleman to reconsider that motion, on First Amendment grounds, and Tull argued on Wednesday that “the public and the professional press have the right to observe the criminal justice system at work.”Newly appointed prosecuting attorney Robert Dittrich disagreed.“I believe my chance of seeding an impartial jury will be seriously impacted if the seal is lifted,” he told the court. “If there is more reporting, there will be more chattering, more this, more that. I believe that it’s adding fuel to the fire.”The defense team also opposed lifting the orders.“The purposes of this trial, to achieve justice, are not going to be advanced by opening up investigatory documents,” Short said.Fogleman announced during court that he’d be filing a new order to seal, supplanting the previous two orders, stipulating that any document must undergo his review before being placed under seal.“In this case, involving the death of a senator and former representative … and where the death penalty is being sought, the court recognizes the considerable interest from the press,” Fogleman said. “Sometimes constitutional rights can collide with one another, and in this case that is [freedom of the press] with the defendant’s right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.”Fogleman also modified the gag order, lifting the order barring disclosure from officials at the medical examiner’s office, the Arkansas crime lab and the Arkansas Federal Bureau of Investigation.The judge ruled that the trial addressing the Jackson County charges would be scheduled for November or December 2020, only after the murder trial had concluded.O’Donnell’s next scheduled court appearance is Feb 28.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Knock, a CRM for landlords, raises $20M

first_img Fifth WallMultifamilyProptechstartup Share via Shortlink Knock co-founders Tom Petry and Demetri Themelis (Photos via Knock)Knock, which bills itself as the “front-office tech stack” for apartment landlords, has raised $20 million in growth equity to accelerate the rollout of new products, including virtual touring and leasing.The round, led by Fifth Wall Ventures, brings the startup’s total funding to $47 million. Previous backers Madrona Venture Group, Lead Edge Capital, Second Avenue Partners and Seven Peaks Ventures also participated in the round.Based in Seattle, Knock’s core product is a customer relationship manager (CRM) for multifamily owners. The funding will allow the company to invest in new products, including centralized sales and lease management, virtual tours, applicant screening and AI communications and forecasting. Knock has 100 employees, and plans to add 40 to 50 more this year.It’s not affiliated with another company with the same name, which helps people buy homes; or with Easy Knock, a sale-leaseback company for homeowners.Knock was founded in 2014 by Tom Petry and Demetri Themelis, who previously worked together at UBS Wealth Management in New York City. The idea stemmed from their painful experiences as renters. “Looking under the hood, it was even worse” from a property management perspective, Themelis said, citing a lack of technological innovation.Using Knock’s software, renters can see what’s available and book tours. From there, property managers can use Knock to manage correspondence with prospects and stay on top of calendar items — from showings to renewals.“Every operational touch point is managed within Knock,” Themelis said.Read moreSmartRent rises $60M with multifamily play NestEgg raises $7 million to help landlords get paid Cracks in the multi-family market? In a statement, Fifth Wall partner Vik Chawla said institutional capital is flowing into the multifamily space. “With asset prices increasing in response, operators need to improve yield and maximize operational efficiencies,” he said.Knock is subscription based, and while it declined to disclose revenue, the company said it’s quadrupled its revenue over the past two years. It also experienced a massive uptick last year, when the pandemic pushed landlords to rapidly adopt tech, if they weren’t already.The company has 1.5 million units on its platform. Customers include CAPREIT, the Canadian Apartment Properties REIT; as well as Pinnacle Property Management, which was acquired last year by Cushman & Wakefield; and Highmark Residential, an affiliate of Starwood Capital.“We are selling to owners and operators of large portfolios, who use Knock as a portfolio management solution,” Themelis said.Contact E.B. Solomont Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Tags Message* Email Address* Full Name*last_img read more

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