The equality watchdog is facing concerns over link

first_imgThe equality watchdog is facing concerns over links between the government and two of its leading figures as it prepares to investigate whether Tory welfare reforms have breached the human rights of disabled people.Last week, Disability News Service (DNS) revealed that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was to examine the impact of changes to the welfare system on independent living and poverty.The announcement was included in the watchdog’s new business plan for 2016-17 which was published by EHRC last week without any publicity.But concerns have now been raised about the impartiality of two key figures in the commission, who are both likely to play a key role in the inquiry.Disability Rights UK (DR UK) has come forward to raise concerns over the voting record of Lord [Chris] Holmes (pictured), the watchdog’s disability commissioner and a Conservative peer, who voted in the House of Lords in favour of those welfare reforms.But there are also concerns over David Isaac, the lawyer the government has chosen to take over as the commission’s new chair.Isaac, a former chair of the gay rights charity Stonewall, is a partner in law firm Pinsent Masons, and specialises in providing advice on “major public and private sector UK and global commercial and outsourcing projects”.His own profile on the firm’s website states that he “leads teams of lawyers on major projects” for, among others, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).But Pinsent Masons this week refused to say which outsourcing projects Isaac has worked on for DWP, leading to the possibility that he could have been involved in some of the reforms his own watchdog will now be investigating.Sue Bott, DR UK’s deputy chief executive, said Lord Holmes had voted in favour of the government’s welfare reforms, including cutting payments by £30 a week for new employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants placed in the work-related activity group.She said: “He is solidly in favour of the ESA cuts, he is solidly in favour of the cuts to PIP [that were later withdrawn by the government] and every other cut to disabled people’s income in recent time.”But she said these were measures the commission would be investigating as part of its probe into the human rights impact of the government’s welfare reforms, with Lord Holmes likely to take a lead role.She believes EHRC was pressured into carrying out the inquiry by the work of the House of Lords Equality Act 2010 and disability committee, which concluded last month that government spending cuts were having “a hugely adverse effect on disabled people”.Bott said: “We are concerned about the voting record of Lord Holmes because it is straight down the line voting for the government and we wonder therefore how disabled people are to have confidence in the inquiry whilst Lord Holmes has his position as a commissioner and chair of the EHRC’s disability committee.”She pointed out that other Conservative peers had voted against the government or abstained from votes on the welfare reforms.She said: “We think Lord Holmes has some questions to answer as to what his position is. I think that he needs to make his position clear so that it is all upfront and transparent.”Asked whether she would be concerned if Lord Holmes played a role in the investigation, she said: “I think he should consider his position and whether he feels able to lead such an inquiry, given that he is so clearly in favour of everything the government has done to date.”Asked whether she also had concerns about Isaac, she said: “It is important that disabled people have confidence in what the EHRC is doing and that there is clear independence and leadership.”EHRC plans to commission an assessment to “determine how changes to the welfare system have affected equality of opportunity and the human rights of people who share certain protected characteristics”.It also says in its business plan that it is “not clear whether the government’s reforms to tax, welfare and public spending have taken into account the cumulative impact of these changes on the standard of living of disabled people”.Asked about the impartiality of Lord Holmes and David Isaac, an EHRC spokesman said in a statement: “We have an ambitious programme of work to tackle discrimination and promote equality of opportunity based on comprehensive evidence about the barriers and unfairness faced by disabled people.“The fact our business plan includes these priorities underlines that we are fully independent, and we will show neither fear nor favour in how we do our work.“We have rigorous processes in place to avoid any conflicts of interest. Commissioners are required to comply with the principles of public life [first set out by Lord Nolan in 1995] and our code of conduct, with a register of interests publicly available.“The strength of our board comes from the diverse range of professional skills, experience, personal qualities and perspectives our commissioners bring to bear on our important work.”A Pinsent Masons spokesman said that the company’s “professional obligations governing client confidentiality mean we are unable to comment”.last_img read more

A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… The government’s mainstream benefit sanctions regime has been discriminating against disabled people throughout nearly the whole of the last decade, according to new figures secured by Disability News Service (DNS).The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, show that disabled people claiming the mainstream jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) were more likely to have their benefits sanctioned than non-disabled people in all but two years.The figures show this has been true for every year from 2009 to 2018, except for 2017 and 2018 when the figures for disabled and non-disabled JSA claimants were almost identical.They provide further evidence for the call in the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition for DWP to be declared institutionally disablist and not fit for purpose*.The DNS research builds on work by the academic Ben Baumberg Geiger, from the University of Kent, which was published in February 2018 and reported figures for 2010 to 2014.It has taken DNS nearly 18 months to secure the necessary data from DWP – which has repeatedly breached its legal obligations to provide the information – to show whether the discrimination continued after 2014.The figures show that, when the JSA sanctions system was at its most discriminatory – in 2009 and 2013 – disabled people claiming jobseeker’s allowance were about 50 per cent more likely (2009) and a third more likely (2013) to have their benefits sanctioned than non-disabled people claiming the same benefit.The figures take a snapshot of how many disabled and non-disabled JSA claimants were sanctioned in one month – May – for every year and compare that with how many disabled and non-disabled people were claiming JSA in that month, using figures provided by DWP through the freedom of information request.When DWP’s sanctioning regime was at its most extreme, in 2013, more than seven per cent of disabled people claiming JSA were sanctioned in May of that year, compared with more than five per cent of non-disabled JSA claimants.In May 2013, more than 21,000 disabled people (21,526) claiming JSA had their benefits sanctioned for breaching conditions laid down by DWP.But even in 2018, when far fewer JSA claimants were being sanctioned, a disabled JSA claimant was still almost as likely to be sanctioned (0.41 per cent) as a non-disabled claimant (0.45 per cent).A DWP spokesperson did not dispute the DNS figures, but he said that DWP did not accept that the evidence showed the department was institutionally disablist and not fit for purpose.He also pointed out that the figures were drawn from “an amalgamation of two different sources”.He said: “Since 2012, of all decisions that have been referred to a decision maker, disabled claimants are less likely to get an adverse sanction decision imposed, compared to non-disabled claimants.“Furthermore, the likelihood of the outcome of a sanction referral being adverse [a recommendation that a claimant should be sanctioned being confirmed by DWP] is lower for disabled claimants than non-disabled claimants.”He added: “It is completely untrue to say that sanctions are applied more harshly to disabled people.“In fact those with a severe disability or health condition, who are not required to seek work, are not subject to sanctions at all.“Sanctions are only ever used where a claimant has failed to meet their agreed obligations without good reason, and any obligations will vary depending on an individual claimant’s circumstances.“The latest figures show that universal credit sanctions have fallen to the lowest rate on record, affecting fewer than three per cent of claimants who are subject to obligations for their benefits.”Although the DWP figures are important in showing how the department appeared to repeatedly discriminate against disabled people for nearly a decade, there are now crucial concerns over its failure to show how many disabled claimants of the new universal credit, which is gradually replacing JSA for most people, are being sanctioned.Anita Bellows, a researcher for Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), this week told a parliamentary inquiry into the impact on children and disabled people of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 that many disabled people were “becoming invisible” on universal credit.She told the evidence session, chaired by Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, that the lack of clear information about universal credit (UC) being provided by DWP made it impossible to tell how many disabled people were being sanctioned.Dr David Webster, a leading researcher on unemployment and sanctions at the University of Glasgow, made a similar point to the Commons work and pensions select committee last year.He warned then that it was impossible to tell from DWP statistics how many claimants of UC who had been sanctioned were sick and disabled people.A House of Commons briefing paper last September – drawing on Dr Webster’s research – said that sanction rates under UC appeared to be “several times higher” than under the benefits they were replacing.Bellows said: “It is not surprising to learn that disabled JSA claimants are being disproportionally sanctioned, as it has been a constant feature in the benefit system that some people, including disabled unemployed people, are seen as soft targets by the DWP: people who have learning difficulties, mental and physical health issues, along with people for whom English is their second language, etc.“What is worrying is that the introduction of UC has led to the invisibility of disabled people in the system.   “Information given by UC statistics does not desegregate the data by claims, or by work capability assessment outcomes, but by ‘conditionality group’.“These different conditionality groups include disabled and non-disabled claimants, which makes it impossible to know the percentage of disabled people exposed to sanctions, or who are being sanctioned. “What it means is that it is more difficult to know what is happening to disabled people in the benefit system and to hold the DWP accountable for its performance, at a time where the DWP is more and more resorting to exemptions in order to refuse answering freedom of information requests.”*Sign the Jodey Whiting petition here. If you sign the petition, please note you will need to confirm your signature by clicking on an email you will be sent automatically by the House of Commons petitions committeelast_img read more

AWAY days are some of the best you can have with t

first_imgAWAY days are some of the best you can have with the Saints.Bouncing on the terraces at Warrington after the opening win of 2014… beating Salford Red Devils on a cold night… and that last gasp win at Castleford.Saints ‘on the road’ conjure memories that will never be forgotten – and this is the kit in which new experiences can be created.The Sky Blue body colour with Black shoulders and sky criss-cross details make it a cut above its peers in Super League.“Sky Blue and Black have been two of the most popular colours with fans on the Away kits we have produced over the years,” Steve Law, Merchandising Manager, explained. “We asked O’Neills to develop a kit that would feature both colours whilst ensuring it is modern, distinctive and retaining a vee that is synonymous with this club.“The black speckled vee highlights this superbly and the players that modelled the shirt said it was one of best they had seen.“We’re sure it will be equally as popular with the fans too.”As with the home shirt, it is available in pro, adult, kids, toddlers and ladies’ versions – and we have also reduced its price without neglecting its quality.An adult home shirt is £45 making it even better value for season ticket holders when you use your 10 per cent discount.Sizing and Price:Adult: Small to 7XL – £45Kids: 5-13 – £35Ladies: size 8 to 18 – £45Toddlers: From £30Shorts and socks are also available.The sizing is designed to be ‘snug’, so please refer to the guide on the Saints Superstore.Personalisation will be available but please note 2015 Squad List hasn’t been confirmed yet.You can pre-order the away kit by popping into the Saints Superstore or logging on here.We are expecting delivery in the first week of December.last_img read more

Submit your questions as Leland H2Go candidates meet for forum tonight

first_imgCandidates forum held at Leland Town Hall on Oct. 19, 2016. (Photo: Sarah Johnson/WWAY) LELAND, NC (WWAY) — With less than five weeks until Election Day, voters in northern Brunswick County get a chance to hear from candidates tonight.The League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear is sponsoring a series of candidate forums for certain Brunswick County municipal elections before the Nov. 7 votes. Those forums begin tonight with candidates running for Leland mayor, Leland Town Council and H2Go Commissioner.- Advertisement – H2Go commissioners represent water customers throughout northern Brunswick County.WWAY Evening Anchor Daniel Seamans will moderate tonight’s forum at Leland Town Hall at 102 Town Hall Drive off of Village Road NE. The forum starts at 6:30 p.m.Residents are encouraged to submit questions for the candidates at leland2017quest@gmail.com.Related Article: “Thank you President T”: Trump tweets as holiday break endsWWAY Morning and Noon Anchor Randy Aldridge will host the next forum scheduled for Oct. 16 in Southport. That event also starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Southport Community Building at 223 E. Bay Street. It will features candidates for mayor, Board of Aldermen Ward 1 and Ward 2. Residents can submit questions for the candidates at spt2017quest@gmail.com.The League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear’s final forum is Oct. 18 in Oak Island. Candidate for mayor and town council will face off at 6 p.m. at Town Hall at 4601 E. Oak Island Drive. Residents can submit questions to oki2017quest@gmail.com.Early One-Stop Voting runs Oct. 19-Nov. 4.last_img read more

Aquarium educates visitors on endangered species

first_img Gail Lemiec, who is apart of the education team, said she hopes this day helped share a lot of information about these animals to the public.“If they don’t know it’s Endangered Species Day, then they are made aware and educated about it like, hey not only do we have endangered species in this country, but there are endangered species right here that they can see,” Lemiec said.Lemiec said the Aquarium works specifically to save sharks, sea turtles and gopher frogs. Endangered Species Day (Photo: Jenna Kurzyna/WWAY) KURE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher held an endangered Species Day Saturday. They taught visitors all about the threatened animals and the ones in our area.The Aquarium said they highlighted ten different species. They also had programs on sharks, sea turtles as well as a bald eagle and alligator feeding programs.- Advertisement – last_img

Talents come out at All American Beauty Pageant

first_img “The feeling of being on stage is just really exciting once you’re on it. And so, you’re nervous of what they’re going to think but once you’re up there, you just do your own thing,” pageant participant Daniel Vestal said.At the end, they awarded everyone, both boys and girls, with crowns for their performances. All participants were given a crown for their performances in the pageant. (Photo: Hannah Patrick/ WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s not your typical beauty pageant. It’s a pageant highlighting the talents of those with developmental disabilities in our area.From singing to dancing to piano playing, participants showed off their skills to the audience at the Cape Fear Christian Church. Everyone was supportive of each other after all the practice they put into their performances. It was pretty nerve wracking for some participants but they said it was an amazing experience.- Advertisement – last_img

Google denies killing donkey in Botswana

first_imgAdvertisement Google says this photo was taken after the Street View car had passedA Google Street View image of what appears to be a seriously injured or even dead donkey in Botswana has prompted questions about whether the search giant harmed the animal.Twitter user @TheRealSheldonC has tweeted an image of the donkey, which appeared to be seriously injured or dead.Images from Google Street View initially show the donkey standing upright on the right side of the road. However, scrolling up further along the dirt road on Street View and looking back reveals that the creature is lying on its side. – Advertisement – Subsequently, speculation has emerged that the donkey was hit by a car that Google employs to capture images used on the Street View offering.But the search giant has denied that it has done anything wrong.“Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously,” a Google spokesperson told Australian news website news.com.au.“A review of our imagery confirms that we did not cause any harm to the donkey,” said the official.Google reportedly told news.com.au that the donkey was lying down when it was approached by the Street View car. The search giant adds that the animal then stood up and walked off uninjured.However, a news.com.au report says that the version of events seems inconsistent with photos of the scene.A cloud of dirt can be seen near the donkey, leading some Twitter users to suggest it was caused when the animal hit the ground, says the news website.Botswana became the second country in Africa after South Africa to get the Google Street View service last year.Credit: ITWeb Africalast_img read more

Apple buys social media analytics firm Topsy Labs

first_imgAdvertisement Apple has bought social media data analytics firm, Topsy Labs, which specialises in using data from Twitter to track customer sentiment.Topsy is one of the few firms to have access to Twitter’s entire data stream.It has recently created a searchable database of all tweets sent – more than 400 billion – since Twitter’s launch. – Advertisement – Apple did not say how much it paid for the firm, but the Wall Street Journal which first reported the story put the figure at around $200m (£122m).Topsy competes with firms like DataSift and Gnip to figure out who is influential on Twitter, what terms are trending, and the impact of specific Twitter campaigns.It is Apple’s second acquisition in recent weeks.Last month, it announced it had bought Israeli firm PrimeSense, which specialises in making 3-D motion detection technology.Surprise move?Apple is one of the world’s biggest firms in the technology sector but the firm is not known for its forays into the world of social media.The company’s earlier effort at social networking – the Ping music sharing service – failed to catch on with consumers.As it confirmed the latest deal, an Apple spokesperson declined to give details of the firm’s plans with Topsy.“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose,” the spokesperson said.However, some analysts said Apple could look to use the data analytics for a variety of purposes, not least a better placement of its products across social media.“There are millions of people sharing their thoughts on platforms such as Twitter on any given day,” Sanjana Chappalli, Asia-Pac head of LEWIS Pulse, a firm specialising in digital marketing services, told the BBC.“For companies to be able to understand what is popular with these users and what they are interested in, and then use it to their advantage, they need to filter the content and understand it.“Topsy gives Apple the tools to do just that,” she explained.Manoj Menon, managing director as consulting firm Frost & Sullivan added: “Brands across the world are looking at ways to use the time spent by customers on social media to enhance their brands, and Apple is no different”.Personalised searchAt the same time, companies operating internet search engines have also been looking to tap into the social media sector to try and offer more personalised search results to users.“They are looking at what your friends are commenting on or tweeting about and then giving you similar recommendations when you look for information online,” said Ms Chappalli.She added that search engines such as Google and Bing have been moving in that direction for some time.“Apple, with its Safari web browser on all its devices, could do with such an analytics capability provided by Topsy to achieve that,” she added.At the same time, some analysts suggested that Apple could also use Topsy’s technology to its own data, such as information from the App Store.“Apple may also be able to provide better user experience to customers by integration of analytical capability to its products and services,” said Mr Menon.last_img read more

NonProfits Get Donate Now Button on Facebook

first_imgAdvertisement Facebook added a new donation feature on Monday 16th/Dec that allows users to contribute cash to non-profits directly through the platform.Facebook partnered with 18 different non-profits during the initial rollout of the feature, including the Boys & Girls Club of America, Livestrong Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.Users can donate using an embedded “Donate Now” button on each partnering non-profit’s Brand Page. The button allows users to donate in preset amounts of $10, $25, $100 or $250, using a credit card, debit card or PayPal. – Advertisement – If a user comes across a non-profit’s post in his News Feed, he can donate using the same button embedded on the post. This button also gives donors the option to manually enter a preferred donation amount so they are not restricted to the preset amounts listed above.For now, only the 18 partner non-profits can elicit donations on Facebook, but the company “hope[s] to open it up in the coming weeks” to other non-profit partners, according to a spokesperson. There is no plan to add partners that are not non-profits.Facebook first tested this feature in November when users were able to donate to Red Cross via Facebook following the deadly Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the amount of money raised through the campaign, but in that instance, users were able to donate straight from a notification at the top of their News Feeds.The feature was rolled out on Facebook’s web version to all users in the United States on 16/December. There is no set timetable for its availability on mobile, but a Facebook spokesperson called mobile integration a “priority.”Credit: Mashablelast_img read more

Facebook Hires Experts to Expand Oculus Division in Europe

first_imgImage Credit: vrbites Advertisement Social networking giant Facebook has hired a team of experts in London to create the first European base for its Oculus virtual reality division, a media report said.The social network has substantially expanded its British team of engineers and developer relations staff in the last six months after acquiring Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, the Telegraph reported on Saturday.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is betting heavily on virtual reality for his company’s future. The social networking site last year bought a British virtual reality startup, Surreal Vision, and moved its team to the Oculus office in Redmond, Washington, the report said. – Advertisement – The Oculus team in Britian is led by Mike LeBeau, a former senior engineer at Google who founded the company’s voice search software. He moved to London to join Oculus in January this year.“We’re going to build some really cool stuff,” LeBeau said in a Facebook post.Zuckerberg strongly believes that virtual reality will be the next major technology we use to interact with each other.“Virtual reality is going to be most social platform (and) we’ve created new teams at Facebook to build the next generation of social apps and VR,” Zuckerberg said earlier this year.Besides Facebook, Google and Sony are also making huge efforts to bring virtual reality into the mainstream. Apple is also believed to be exploring the technology.[Gadgets 360]last_img read more

MTN Uganda Guide App Review Experiencing the Pearl of Africa Like Never

first_imgMTN Uganda Guide App. Photo Shot: Nathan Ernest Olupot Advertisement MTN earlier this month officially launched their new free smartphone application for Android, iOS and Windows Phone; dubbed “MTN Uganda Guide App” for the country’s incoming travelers as well as local tourists.We managed to have a review on it’s Android version, and here’s what we got;Basic Functionality: In general, according to it’s developers, the application makes your visit to Uganda a memorable experience. Right from the start when you arrive at Entebbe International Airport, it recommends you on accommodation options in Kampala and beyond, along with recommendations for restaurants and bars; adventure activities; museums, monuments and other tourist attractions; modes of transport; and the best places to shop. – Advertisement – In case of any emergencies, you’ll find details of local police, hospitals, as well as a list of embassies, consulates, banks and travel agencies.The app also provides a useful list of everyday phrases translated from English into Swahili and Luganda, two commonly spoken languages in Uganda.Additionally, you’ll find information to help you switch your cellphone onto the MTN network and make use of services such as roaming and pay-as-you-go data and voice bundles, to name a few.Audience: According to Apps & Games content ratings on Google Play, the application’s content rating is at 3+, meaning it’s suitable for all age groups. However, bad language is not permitted. (These ratings are maintained by the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC).)Simplicity and ease of use: MTN Uganda Guide App is much easier to use since it’s so precise and user friendly. On it’s opening, all you have to do is to scroll through and make your selection, for instance; knowing “About Uganda,” is what every tourist would love to do first. Since, everything can now be found on google, MTN Uganda Guide App narrowed down for you, giving you short and precise information about; history, geography, population & languages, currency and finally safety. All what a tourist MUST first know about a country.Now, let’s say you want to do a “Hotel Search.” More than just a travel app, MTN Uganda Guide App is good for booking accommodations. The app conveniently offers both a map view and a few details about the hotel plus it’s contact info. list view of search results.Playfulness: MTN Uganda Guide App does delight the user. It’s GUI (Graphical User Interface) is simple to use (user friendly), it’s a matter of choosing any option of your choice. No need to hustle through the whole application, playing around it is much easier.MTN Uganda Guide App1 of 12 Visual design: The app’s design is visually appealing with the sunset background. However it’s icon isn’t distinctive and eye-catching, because it isn’t visible enough, most especially the word Uganda. It’s menu is scroll-able and colorful with the yellow representing the sunset design.[related-posts]THE GOOD: MTN Uganda Guide App sets itself apart from other travel apps with its unique sorting features and visual interface.THE BAD: Some writings lack visibility.WHAT’S MISSING:Doesn’t let you sort results by different criteria, including Ecstasy, which takes into account factors like price, amenities.Does not show a full menu of filter options when doing a hotel search.Doesn’t show vacation packages that include both flights and accommodations.Final thoughts The app is a reliable performer that’s great for finding accommodations, restaurants and bars, adventure activities and other tourist attractions. The application also offers emergencies contacts including; Police, Hospitals, Fire brigades and so forth.SetupFeaturesInterfacePerformanceOverall10/106.5/107/109/107.5/10Let us know your thoughts about the application in the comment section below.last_img read more

Facebook Announces Winners of Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge

first_imgEmeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa. (Photo Courtesy) Advertisement In an announcement that was made via Facebook Live by Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Platform Partnerships, on Monday, June 19th on his Facebook Page, 3 teams emerged winners and 3 were recognized as runners up from 60 finalists as part of the first-ever Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge.The Bots for Messenger Challenge was launched on 15th February, 2017 in 64 countries (UGANDA inclusive) across the Middle East and Africa to recognize and reward developers who were able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger.3 teams that emerged winners won a prize of USD$20,000 (Roughly 71,840,000 UGX) while 3 other runners-up won USD$10,000 (Roughly 35,920,000UGX). in additional, all the 6 team were also given three months of Facebook mentorship. – Advertisement – MENA Runner-up/ Winning teams of these three categories are:Gaming and Entertainment: Winner: Trivoxx from Morocco; designed a bot that allows one’s or a group of friends test their trivia on sports, science, and cities in three languages: Arabic, French, and English.Runner-up: Mastermind Games Bot from Egypt is a collection of five interactive games to solve codes based on various combinations of logic and memory. Every time a user guesses the correct code, a cave safe will open to obtain a diamond. Users can share games with their friends as they vie for the top scores.Productivity and Utility: Winner: Mr. Ink from Egypt; designed a bot that allows users to either type a book name, or snap a photo of the book cover, to obtain information about the book including its author, rating, and book description.Runner-up: Evii from Jordan; with their bot that helps customers order and pick up food via its bot. Evii seize the opportunity to expand by building more end-to-end customers tools.Social Good: Winner: MathHook from Egypt; their bot brings math into everyone’s life by helping users to solve complex math problems and search for math courses on YouTube across 3000 math videos. There’s also a chat function to connect users with teachers or other students to solve math problems.Runner-up: Adam (9 months) from Egypt; their bot aims to create community for pregnant women via tools and guidance, and safe communication channels between community members. Adam utilizes additional features such as location services to let users search for nearby pregnancy care, baby or maternity places. It also has an analytics tool to log user actions in custom events with custom parameters to better understand community perspectives.In a press statement, Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa, said; “We congratulate all the winners, wish them luck and thank all of the participants for making the Bots for Messenger Challenge a success! We look forward to seeing these bots continue to evolve into strong services for their communities.”Notably, 3 Ugandan bots; 1. Nutshell Bot: A Chat bot that gives you daily news headlines, and search for stories across Politics, Entertainment, Sports, World, Business, Gossip etc, 2. DaktariHealth: A Chat bot that helps you find Doctors, Hospitals, and Ambulance services near you, and 3. Mamas’ League: A Chat bot for expectant and youth mothers to help them interact and gain health information along different stages of mother’s pregnancy – were among the 60 finalists that were selected.last_img read more

IFCbacked Global Logistics Platform Kobo360 to Launch in Ghana and Kenya

first_imgKobo360 will be expanding its operations to Ghana on April 4th then later in May to Kenya. Pictured are Ife Oyedele (L) and Obi Ozor (R) the founders of Kobo360 | File Photo. Advertisement Nigeria-based tech, logistics platform; Kobo360 — has announced it’s expanding their operations to Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya. The announcement comes after the company launched in Lome, Togo early this month.The move for expansion comes as Kobo360 seeks to build a global logistic operating system that will power trade and commerce across Africa and emerging markets.Positioned as key trading and transport hubs in Africa, the new territories have seen almost exclusively double-digit growth Togo, Kenya and Ghana, and Kobo360 is now strategically positioned to grow with them.   – Advertisement – The company is currently rolling out a beta operation in Ghana—scheduled to officially launch on April 4th — expecting to expand to the Kenyan market in the coming weeks. Quoting Ife Oyedele, the Co-Founder and CTO of Kobo360 at the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, said; “Kenya is the hub of East Africa. It’s the most innovative market in technology and if we win here, we have won across the region.”He further said once they get market in Kenya, their will then expand to Uganda, and Tanzania.In Nigeria, Kobo360 has stood at the forefront of logistics, covering over 80% of the country and recording a 40% cost reduction in the supply chain. Therefore the company’s plans to aggressively extend to other key markets — with expectation on being in 9 African countries before end of 2019.“Time, cost and quality are key drivers of success in logistics which is why we’re building a global logistics operating system that will ensure fast movement of goods at a lower cost for businesses across Africa,” said Ife.Kobo360 is backed by international and African investors, including International Finance Corporation, Y Combinator and TL.com. To-date, they’ve partnered with global logistics brands including Dangote Group, DHL, Unilever and Lafarge. Their logistics value chain in Africa is currently estimated at USD$150 billion (approx. UGX555.2 billion).Kobo360 efficiently connects end-to-end haulage operations to help cargo owners, recipients to achieve an efficient supply chain framework. Through an all-in-one robust logistics ecosystem reducing logistics frictions in supply chain via a combination of Internet of things, mobile technology and data analytics.In less than six hours, they matche a user’s request with a selection of quality trucks of all categories, anytime with service delivery guaranteed – no telephones, opaque pricing or expensive middlemen needed.last_img read more

BENS BLOG FEAR in the bettingring

first_img[dropcap]B[/dropcap]log, I must say that; although the results may not have suited, it was a real pleasure to be an on-course bookmaker yesterday. It has long been said, and its true, that ‘the game has gone’ at the track, BUT, just once in a while, the ring, like a sleeping volcano, breathes again. And the Richter scale certainly registered HIGH for the first day’s action…This is because there was FEAR in the betting-ring. The results were getting out of control. The Punters were suddenly holding more ammo, and confidence, than ever before. And the reps for the Firms, HAD to spring into action. If you wanted to be a layer, you could do your business, at the ‘right’ price, and for AS MUCH as you liked. ATTACK!!Ladbrokes are still a firm, that use and support the ring, at the festivals. We passed on their offer, of laying 8/11 Un De Sceaux, but obliged them of a £35k – £42k (5/6) about Faugheen (booh!), and then a £40k – £70k (4/7) on Annie Power. Thank you very much for the business, Ladbrokes. Along with their play, we also saw, on-course, another firm have a £30,500 – £50k (8/13) Annie Power. So it was certainly, volume wise, the busiest I have ever been on a pitch. LOVING THE GAME.In other news:Blog, here’s a certainty for your note-book: ‘The Croft’ in Bourton-on-The-Water (http://www.chesterhousehotel.com/dining/) . This is a CRACKING little restaurant, with a great menu, that you can really get stuck into. We went last night, and 8 of us, all had a starter and a main, with a couple of extra starters chucked in for luck, plenty of sides, and the chaps also marched on, with 3 bottles of wine. The bill, including service?? £155. Yes!! Well, value like that has to be rewarded highly, don’t you think? The Croft. Don’t miss the Camembert starter. 1965 prices. No Portions Police call-outs either. 8.5.Over and out, B xlast_img read more

BENS BLOG Trident

first_img[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat is Trident?Trident is the much talked about nuclear deterrent.‎ A submarine, that circles the UK, with a crew given instructions, to blow up any nation, should we all be dead, because the UK has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb.What is anybody that doesn’t agree with Trident?An irresponsible and dangerous idiot, quite prepared to put the lives and future, of every single person in our country, at risk, during the most politically volatile period of history ever, just so they can look a bit more pompous, idealistic, and perfect, whilst attending middle-class-leftie dinner-parties.‘A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.’. Our Finest Leader.In other news:What is the exact difference bet‎ween ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’? I have never quite been in the loop on this whole thing.Over and out, B xlast_img

STAR SPECIALS The Queen to reign at 100

first_img[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tar Sports is celebrating the Queen’s birthday with Royal odds that predict Her Majesty to still be on the throne at 100. The firm offer betting on when a new Head of State will be crowned, and make 2026 or later the short favourite. The Gentleman’s Bookmaker also offer betting on who will succeed Her Majesty, with Prince Charles the favourite.Luke Tarr, Star Sports spokesman, comments: “Recently some have said the Queen could abdicate after her 90th birthday and enjoy her retirement. Nonsense we say! She’s still a fantastic figurehead for our country, we are confident she will still be going strong at 100 and we’re happy to offer 33/1 she abdicates this year!”He continued “Charles is the favourite to succeed Her Majesty and is odds-on at 2/5 but don’t rule out William at 2/1. We think Prince Charles has got a wait on his hands to become King and could pass the throne to his son… but not Harry, who we make 50/1!”When Will The Next Monarch Be Crowned?2016 33/1 2017 25/1 2018 20/1 2019 16/1 2020 12/1 2021 10/1 2022 8/1 2023 7/1 2024 6/1 2025 5/1 2026 or later 2/1Next Head of StatePrince Charles 2/5 Prince William 2/1 Any Other 12/1 Prince George 25/1 Prince Harry 50/1last_img read more

STAR PREVIEW Dream bet at Windsor

first_img[dropcap]M[/dropcap]onday night can only mean one thing. Racing by the Thames at Windsor.Tonight’s seven race card gets underway at 5.30pm on good ground which has been watered.Expect an outcry if the heavens open today which they are widely reported to if the forecasters can be believed.The BBC weather service is predicting: “More general rain will spread east during the afternoon, becoming more persistent and locally heavy in the west by evening.”That could lead to several non-runners on tonight’s card.The NAP on the card looks to be the William Haggas trained Julia Dream – especially as she has already proven at Salisbury that she can handle cut in the ground when runner-up to the John Gosden trained hot-pot Sovereight Parade on ground that was good to soft and soft in places.She went even closer last time out when denied a neck by the Sir Michael Stoute trained Haddajah.In short, she has bumped into a couple of well above average sorts and should finally get her chance tonight.Dean Ivory’s Blaze Of Hearts ran well here last time when a 66/1 runner-up and looks the danger.RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)BACK JULIA DREAM 14 points at SP with Star SportsPROFIT/LOSS SINCE EUROS: +59.50 pointsBET NOW WITH STAR SPORTS 08000 521 321last_img read more

International Expert on School Change to Participate in Reforming Schools Institute at

first_imgAddThis Share CONTACT: Michael Cinelli PHONE:(713) 831-4794E-MAIL: mcinelli@rice.edu INTERNATIONAL EXPERT ON SCHOOL CHANGE TO PARTICIPATE IN REFORMING SCHOOLS INSTITUTE AT RICE UNIVERSITY Internationally recognized experton school change Michael Fullan will offer his insights on educational reform tosome 200 teachers and administrators from 56 campuses in the metropolitanHouston area during the third annual Reforming Schools Summer Institute at RiceUniversity.The institute will be held July 20-22 on the Ricecampus.Fullan, dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies inEducation of the University of Toronto, has developed a number of partnershipsdesigned to bring about major school improvement and educational reform. He willspeak in the Grand Hall of the Rice Memorial Center on Tuesday, July 20, at 8:45a.m. He will be available to talk with reporters after his speech.In addition to his keynote address, Fullan will work closelywith groups of principals and meet privately with business, foundation, andeducation leaders during the event.Rounding off the institute program will be Barbara Watkins,a successful reforming school principal in the Chicago Public Schools, and PedroBermudez, who is involved with the Annenberg Reform Movement nationally and atthe Miami, Florida site.Offering the essential community element of school reformwill be Lucretia Coates, an elementary school principal in the Baltimore CityPublic School System. A number of educators from local schools and universitieswill present workshops, participate in roundtable discussions, and facilitatesmall group conversations.”The increasing participation of local presenters indicatesthat Houston’s capacity for reform is growing both in breadth and depth,” saidLinda Clarke, executive director for Houston Annenberg Challenge.Teachers and administrators from seven area schooldistricts—all from Beacon Schools and Lamplighter Networks of Schools which areinvolved in the Houston Annenberg Challenge reform movement—will attend theinstitute.The mission of the Houston Annenberg Challenge is ”topromote an academically rich and purposeful education for more of our childrenand to demonstrate how such an education could become possible for all ourchildren.”Houston was named a national Annenberg reform site in 1997.Over a five-year period, the Houston Annenberg Challenge will distribute $60million in support of local public school reform initiatives. The NationalAnnenberg Challenge awarded Houston $20 million with the provision that localfoundations, businesses, organizations and citizens match the remaining $40million over the allotted time period. The Brown Foundation, Inc. and theGreater Houston Partnership have led the way in their philanthropic support ofthis public education effort.”The Annenberg Challenge, Houston, has worked as a realpartner with the Houston Independent School District to support our mission ofschool improvement,” Clarke said. ”Teachers, principals and districtadministrators now have the opportunity for reflection and dialogue withcolleagues across the city, as well as opportunities to hear national, state andlocal experts share their knowledge of school reform strategies andissues.”The event is sponsored by the Rice University Center forEducation, the Coalition of Essential Schools, and the Houston AnnenbergChallenge, the Rice University Reforming Schools Summer Institute representsboth the heart and lifeblood of school reform work in the metropolitan Houstonarea. ###last_img read more

Noted Chinese artist to speak at Rice Oct 12

first_imgAddThis ShareCONTACT: Franz BrotzenPHONE: 713-348-6775E-MAIL: franz.brotzen@rice.eduNoted Chinese artist to speak at Rice Oct. 12Internationally acclaimed artist Cai Guo-Qiang will speak at Rice University Oct. 12 ahead of the opening of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Arts of China Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), where Cai’s site-specific installation, “Odyssey,” will permanently line the gallery walls. The gallery opens Oct. 17.The lecture will be the first in the Frank and Cindy Liu Distinguished Visitor Series, designed to enliven the research, education and community outreach activities of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Studies by bringing some of the world’s most distinguished speakers and artists to Rice University’s campus.Cai’s lecture will begin at 5 p.m. in McMurtry Auditorium at Anne and Charles Duncan Hall on the Rice University campus, 6100 Main St. For directions, go to http://www.rice.edu/maps/maps.html.Cai was born in the city of Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China, and studied stage design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. His work has since crossed multiple mediums within art, including drawing, video and performance art. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he further explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and with gunpowder as his signature medium. The Houston commission illustrates the painterly quality and the eternally poetic world in early Chinese landscape ink-and-brush painting, with mist-shrouded mountains as the setting for details of rocks, vegetation and insects. The piece will be installed floor-to-ceiling.Cai was awarded the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, the seventh Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007 and the 20th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. He received worldwide attention for his work as the director of visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In the same year, he was the subject of a midcareer retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. His work can be found in museum collections worldwide, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, Queensland Art Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Tate Modern, London. He lives and works in New York. Cai’s lecture at Rice will be the only speaking event held in conjunction with the creation and display of the “Odyssey” installation. The MFAH is the first museum in the United States to display a site-specific, permanent installation of one of Cai’s gunpowder drawings. The MFAH is also co-sponsoring Cai’s lecture at Rice.For more information about Cai and “Odyssey,” go to: http://www.mfah.org/collection.asp?par1=5&par2=1&par3=627&par4=1&par5=1&par6=1&par7=&lgc=4&eid=%EF%BF%BDtPage. last_img read more

Rice presidential expert Paul Brace available to comment on 2012 State of

first_imgShareDavid Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduAmy Hodges713-348-6777amy.hodges@rice.eduRice presidential expert Paul Brace available to comment on 2012 State of the Union addressAs President Barack Obama prepares for the final State of the Union address of his current term and heads into this all-important election year, Rice University political scientist Paul Brace is available to comment on what can be expected from the speech.“President Obama’s State of the Union Address will be the effective launch of his re-election campaign,” Brace said. “The speech should be far less lofty than his past speeches. He will seek to neutralize his biggest vulnerabilities: the sluggish economy and stubbornly high unemployment rate of 8.5 percent. More specifically, he will campaign against congressional Republicans. Last December’s failure to pass a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut and the House Republicans’ botched attempt to block a two-month bill have given Obama ample material to weave a speech that could give him the political advantage on Congress’ own turf.”Brace is the Clarence L. Carter Professor of Political Science at Rice. He is co-author of “Follow the Leader: Opinion Polls and the Modern Presidents,” author of “State Government and Economic Performance” and co-editor of “The Presidency in American Politics” and “American State and Local Politics.” He has published research in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Polity, Social Science Quarterly, American Politics Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly and other journals.Brace is available for commentary before and after the State of the Union address at 9 p.m. EST Jan. 24. Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7. To schedule an interview with Brace, contact Amy Hodges, senior media relations representative at Rice, at amy.hodges@rice.edu, 713-348-6777.-30-Related materials:Paul Brace bio: www.ruf.rice.edu/%7Epbrace AddThislast_img read more