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Foster's Group
08 апреля, 10:50

When Fighting in War Tests Your Faith

Two military veterans share their experiences. This first reader, Tony from Boise, was deployed to the Middle East three times, once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq: I was raised in a very Catholic, Midwestern town in North Dakota. Church wasn’t just something you did on Sundays; it was a way of life. During lent you went to church every morning at 7 am, and you absolutely did not eat meat on Fridays during lent for fear of eternal hell fire. The first thing that ever made me think twice about it, was the fact that after church every Sunday we would go to my grandmas, and all of the adults would sit and talk crap about everyone who was at church—who was there, who wasn’t there, who looked hungover, who sucked at singing … the list goes on and on. After high school, I joined the Army. The turning point in my life and my view on religion is when I met a 12-year-old Iraqi girl who had lost her arm from an RPG. It was intended for an American convoy but hit her house instead. I remember thinking, “What did she do to deserve this? If there is a guy up there, how can he justify this?” I spent a lot of time soul-searching over that deployment and came to terms with the fact that religion isn’t for me. If anyone can justify that, and plenty of people could, it just isn’t for me. In a world where you can justify the loss of an arm of a 12-year-old girl, where does it stop? Genocides for your religion, killing yourself or others for what you believe in, has to stop. I get along with Muslims really well now that I am in college. I connect with them, and I have nothing against them. They are people, the same as you and I. When Christians want to talk about how violent they are, I always end the conversation with “Remember the crusades?” This next Army vet, on the other hand, stuck with his religious faith through the horrors of war. Here’s Patrick Stallings’s story: My experience with religion has been deep and has kept me moored through the many different phases of my life. Growing up, my mom was Catholic, dad was Methodist, brothers never really went to church, and I ended up going with my granddad to a Presbyterian church. I saw my church as full of thoughtful, introspective, and kind people. When I tagged along with my other family members, I saw much of the same. The church members weren’t outspoken about the kinds of volunteer work they did, but they were there. I remember couples fostering children, groups working in soup kitchens, and others raising money for projects across the city. It was far from perfect (my home church has split twice over LGBTQ inclusion questions), but it very much seemed a net good. I left town and joined the Army. My first deployment (Northern Iraq 2006-2007) was brutally violent. I saw the worst of humanity, but in that darkness I also saw the best of humanity. As I worked with my platoon to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and ultimately reconcile people who had murdered each other across sectarian lines, I worked with village leaders and imams and I saw the powerful way which religion framed that reconciliation. Not only was it the part of their identity that was catalyzed to start the fighting, it was the frame of reference they used to reconcile their hatred, and ultimately forgive the “other.” My faith was challenged, and I spent years of my spare time reading philosophy and theology, as well as reflecting as I struggled to make sense of it. Eventually, I came to feel a sense of peace as I accepted knowledge that some questions are unanswerable. Through that process I abandoned my faith and found it again. I realized that so much religious strife was due to the conflation of core tenants and theological questions, most prevalently by those with little understanding of theology or even intentionally by those who seek to weaken or co-opt religious institutions. I continue to reflect, but in the years since I have realized how my understanding of my own faith has increased my capacity to understand and work with those who have a religious perspective that differs from my own, and how so much of the dogma that people fight over matters so little.

27 августа 2015, 21:29

Juvenile Justice Reform Must Address the Unique Needs of LGBTQ Girls

After being in and out of court for offenses such as shoplifting clothing and fighting back at school, Destiny, a 15-year-old African American transgender girl, was sent to a high security juvenile detention facility for boys, since no other program would take her. Other youth at the facility regularly subjected her to sexual assault and intimidation. Meanwhile, the adults entrusted with her care did little to prevent this abuse, refusing to recognize her gender identity and even blaming her for the harassment. Once released, advocates worried that, if arrested again, Destiny would land in the adult criminal justice system, where she would be even less likely to receive services appropriate to her as a young transgender survivor of sexual violence and harassment. Unfortunately, Destiny's story is not unique. Far too many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth who encounter the juvenile justice system are placed in facilities that fail to address past experiences of trauma or where they are at risk for sexual violence. Juvenile justice initiatives often fail to include the unique challenges confronted by young LGBTQ women of color in their approaches, making issues associated with sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression invisible. Earlier this summer, a report on the sexual abuse to prison pipeline--through which girls who are survivors of trauma are funneled into a punitive juvenile justice system--found that, in some states, as many as 8 in every 10 girls in the juvenile justice system have a history of sexual or physical abuse. The report also notes that a high percentage of girls in the juvenile justice system--40 percent, most of whom are girls of color--identify as LGBTQ or as gender-nonconforming (GNC). Many of these young women have significant histories of trauma and often land in detention following circumstances beyond their control, such as family rejection and homelessness.Research shows that 45 percent of LGB girls in detention have lived in a foster or group home--compared to 27 percent of heterosexual girls--where they disproportionately report poor treatment, including verbal, physical, and sexual harassment. Furthermore, like other LGBTQ youth and adult LGBTQ women, LGBTQ girls are at high risk of physical and sexual victimization. For instance, within the juvenile justice system, a study found that 42 percent of gender-nonconforming girls have been removed from their home because someone was hurting them, compared to 20 percent of gender conforming girls. As a result of interpersonal violence, trauma, homelessness, and a lack of affirming health care services, many of these girls turn to survival strategies such as sex work, drug use, shoplifting, or panhandling. In fact, LGBQ girls in detention are twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to have been detained for engaging in the sex trade. But rather than address the underlying issues that cause at-risk LGBTQ girls to engage in these activities, our nation's child welfare and juvenile justice systems criminalize youth in need of trauma-informed services. As Destiny's story shows, the trauma that often leads to detention doesn't end once LGBTQ girls are locked up. LGB young people in the juvenile justice system are seven times more likely to experience youth-on-youth sexual victimization than their heterosexual counterparts, and LGBTQ youth are often placed in solitary confinement. Upon exiting the system, LGBTQ youth often struggle to navigate a world that is hostile to them on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or race, as well as a host of barriers to employment, education, and services that exist for individuals with criminal records. Without receiving necessary services while in state systems of care or custody, many simultaneously work through issues related to poor mental or physical health and a lack of education or career training, often without the resource of positive adult support systems. Advocates, researchers, and policymakers are increasingly realizing that detaining young peoplefor the failings of abusive or neglectful families, a broken child welfare system, and unsafe schools is an inappropriate and costly response to experiences of violence and trauma. But while programs that are inclusive of multiple genders and responsive to youth with histories of trauma are critical, they are not by themselves enough. For LGBTQ girls - and all LGBTQ young people - to have the opportunity to succeed, we must avoid criminalizing youth responses to victimization and their strategies for survival. We must also meet pressing needs related to housing, physical and mental healthcare, employment, education, and mentorship and support. And in order to improve existing youth structures, it is critical that our child welfare and juvenile justice systems affirm LGBTQ identities and build on their strengths as young people and as survivors. Policymakers must consider the unique circumstances and issues confronted by LGBTQ young people in any juvenile justice or criminal justice reform proposals. Hannah Hussey is a Research Associate for LGBT Progress at the Center for AmericanProgress. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

22 сентября 2014, 23:51

Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on Southeast Asia at the Brookings Institution

Good afternoon everyone.  It’s great to be back at Brookings.  This was my place for six years, and since my mother and I both worked here for so long, it really has the feel of home.  This is where I met so many gracious and insightful colleagues, whom I still turn to for guidance and support.  And of course, working here was the last time I got a full 7 hours of sleep.  So I’m especially nostalgic.  Strobe and Martin, thank you for inviting me to participate today.  I’m honored to be here with Foreign Minister Shanmugam. President Obama and I met with Prime Minister Lee at the White House a few months ago to affirm the excellent partnership between Singapore and the United States.  And, I think it’s fitting that Brookings’ new Chair in Southeast Asian Studies is named for Singapore’s founding father, a man who has played such a key role in shaping the region’s growth, Lee Kuan Yew. In many ways, Singapore embodies the arc of development that nations across Southeast Asia are achieving.  The people of Southeast Asia are increasingly connected—to each other and to the global economy.  Entrenched dictatorships have given way to new democracies, and throughout the region, citizens are playing a greater role in their government and civil life.  As President Obama said in Malaysia earlier this year, “perhaps no region on earth has changed so dramatically” during the past several decades.  With this change comes growing influence and greater opportunities to engage on the world stage.  Asia’s rise in global affairs is due in no small part to Southeast Asia’s contributions.  That’s why the nations of Southeast Asia are and will remain a central focus of America’s rebalance to Asia.  We see the nations of Southeast Asia as equal partners in our mission to advance a vision that promotes growth and development, bolsters the security of nations, strengthens democratic governance, and advances human rights for all people. President Obama will continue this work when he visits the region again in November, including stops in China to participate in APEC, Burma for the East Asia Summit, and Australia for the G-20 meeting. Southeast Asia and its markets are critical to America’s prosperity.  Together, ASEAN comprises the seventh largest economy in the world and the fourth largest trading partner for the United States.  ASEAN nations draw more U.S. investment than any single country in Asia.  And, with some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, ASEAN will only become more important to our economic future.  That’s why we’re committed to completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  One-third of TPP participants are from ASEAN, including members like Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia, for whom the high-standard agreement means making serious new commitments.  But, this agreement will deliver tremendous benefits to all our economies, and we are committed to helping our partners meet TPP’s requirements and realizing the opportunities for greater trade and investment that come with it.  We’re working to deepen our trade and investment ties with the region.  In June, Secretary Pritzker led a delegation of American business leaders to the Philippines, Vietnam, and Burma to explore new commercial opportunities.  Ambassador Froman met with all his ASEAN counterparts in Burma last month.  Together, we’re promoting growth that is broad-based and sustainable, so that economies can compete on an equal footing and prosperity is shared among citizens at every level of society.  Equally, Southeast Asia plays a vital role in maintaining peace and stability throughout Asia.  We have long-standing alliances with Thailand and the Philippines, as well as an important security partnership with Singapore.  In April, President Obama and President Aquino announced a new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that will strengthen cooperation between our militaries.  We’re also enhancing our security cooperation with nations like Malaysia and Vietnam, including by improving their capacity to contribute to maritime security.  We continue to work with nations in the region on challenges that none of us can meet alone.  This includes addressing borderless threats like climate change, responding to humanitarian crises like last year’s super typhoon, countering violent extremism, and peacefully resolving maritime disputes among neighbors.  To support cooperative solutions to these challenges, the United States has made historic investments to strengthen the region’s institutions, including ASEAN.  President Obama hosted the first U.S.-ASEAN leaders meeting in 2009, and it’s now an annual event.  The President sent our first resident ambassador to ASEAN, and the Senate just confirmed Nina Hachigian to fill the post in the coming years.  This increased engagement with ASEAN has already delivered substantial benefits, including improved coordination in responding to natural disasters, growing investment in developing the region’s infrastructure and green energy sources, and rapidly expanding cooperation on maritime safety and security. We’re also working with governments, institutions and people to strengthen the democratic foundations of the region and fortify protections for human rights.  We’ve seen significant successes, as in Indonesia, which demonstrated the strength of its democracy through successful elections and peaceful arbitration.  President Obama is looking forward to meeting with President-elect Widodo in November.  We’ve seen hopeful steps in Burma, but significant challenges remain as we continue to work with the government and people as they pursue their democratic transition.  Unfortunately, we’ve also seen troubling setbacks, as in Thailand.  We remain committed to our alliance with the Thai people, but we want to see the country return soonest to an inclusive and democratic government.  We’re also building partnerships directly with the people of the region.  We’re doing this through programs like the Lower Mekong Initiative, which helps strengthen communities’ ability to provide for their own healthcare, educate their children, and protect their environment.  In Cambodia, USAID is working with local authorities to improve school enrollment among young children.  In Indonesia, the Millennium Challenge Cooperation is helping villages raise incomes while reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.  And, through President Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, we are helping young people across the region build their skills and connect them to the resources they need to serve their communities, create new businesses, and become the next generation of leaders.  President Obama hosted a remarkable town hall with many of these young people in April in Malaysia.  There were entrepreneurs and activists and advocates, all of them impressive and thoughtful young people, and each determined to forge a brighter future.  They wanted to know not just how they could become stronger leaders, but how to bridge gaps of culture and language and belief in order to unite a region as diverse as Southeast Asia so that it can to achieve its full potential.  That’s a goal we share—because Southeast Asia is brimming with enormous potential.  It’s also facing serious questions about how to adapt as several major powers become more active in the region.  China’s rise, Japan’s reemergence, India’s revival, and, of course, America’s rebalance—these dynamics are real, and they converge squarely in Southeast Asia.  But, these trends ought to be an opportunity for greater cooperation, not just competition.  Southeast Asian nations should not have to choose sides among major powers, particularly when it comes to the United States and China.  Preserving the independence and sovereignty of all our partners in the region is at the heart of our policy toward Southeast Asia.  To be sure, America’s relationship with China is important to the future of both our nations, to the region, and to the world.  I just traveled to China a couple weeks ago and met with their senior leaders.  In November, President Obama will meet again with President Xi to continue deepening our cooperation on major regional and global challenges—building a relationship that allows us to work together on shared interests, and to talk frankly about areas where we disagree, including human rights.  At the same time, we continue to build stronger bilateral relationships with the nations of Southeast Asia and to work together as equals in multilateral fora so that individual nations can preserve their independence while fostering a group dynamic that reinforces collective norms and prevents large states from pressuring smaller ones.  That’s another reason we’ve focused on strengthening Asia’s regional institutions, like the East Asia Summit.  We want to build and reinforce habits that encourage collaboration—to establish a common set of rights as well as responsibilities that ultimately ensures a level playing field for all.  All of the challenges I’ve discussed today require sustained attention, and even in the press of world events—ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, heightened tensions with Russia over Ukraine, an Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa—the U.S. commitment to Asia, and to Southeast Asia in particular, remains a priority.    The United States is a Pacific nation.  Our shared future is as certain as our shared past.  And, the people of the United States and the people of Southeast Asia share a common vision for that future—a future where daughters and sons can go to school and reach confidently for their dreams; where anyone can start a business and have a fair shot to succeed; where fundamental rights can never be restricted or denied.  That’s what we’ve been building toward for the past five years.  That’s why we’ve worked so closely together in pursuit of shared goals—whether we’re securing the sea lanes of the Pacific or delivering relief in the wake of natural disasters.  With each year, the ties between our peoples grow stronger.  And, as we continue working together toward our shared future, the United States will remain a reliable partner and a true friend to all the people of the region.  Thank you. 

14 июля 2014, 19:24

Foster Children Become Focus Of California Schools

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is embarking on a first-of-its-kind attempt to improve the academic lives of foster youth by giving schools more money to meet their special learning and emotional needs and holding educators and administrators accountable. But first, officials have to figure out how many school-age foster children they have and where they are enrolled in a state that's home to nearly one-fifth of the nation's foster children. Until now, no state has attempted to identify every foster child in its public schools or to systematically track their progress, much less funnel funds toward those students or require school districts to show they are spending the money effectively. That changed in California this month as part of a new school funding formula that will direct billions of extra dollars to districts based on how many students they have with low family incomes, learning to speak English or in foster care. The state's 1,043 school systems had to submit plans by July 1 for how they intend to use the funds, a pot projected to reach at least $9.3 billion by 2021, to increase or improve services for those specific student groups. During the next school year, districts also will have to report on their foster children's absences, progress toward graduation, standardized test scores and other measures they already maintain for the other two target groups. The moves are significant for an estimated 42,000 school-age foster children, less than 1 percent of the state's 6.2 million public school students, said Molly Dunn, a lawyer with the Alliance for Children's Rights, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group. It means educators and elected officials have recognized the group is facing unique educational hardships from abuse or neglect, frequent moves and experiences in foster or group homes, Dunn said. "It's a whole new world," she said. "They are a very small group of students, they are lagging so far behind and for them to be included with these much larger populations of students focused the attention on the great level of need they have. And that's only right because these are our kids, the state's kids, and they are doing the worst." A report last year by the nonprofit research agency WestEd found California's foster youth had the lowest math scores of any group, and had results in English comparable to those with disabilities or English learners. Students in foster care also dropped out of high school at significantly higher rates than other at-risk students and were least likely to graduate. The authors noted that unlike racial minorities, English learners and impoverished students, the needs of foster youth had gone "unrecognized and unmet." Come fall, school districts are to receive weekly updates on which students are in foster care, the result of a new data-sharing agreement between the state education and social service departments. The change marks a fundamental shift from past practice, which held that schools should not get the information to avoid stigmatizing children or violating their privacy, said Jesse Hahnel, director of the Foster Youth Education Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law. "If they don't know who their kids are, they can't design a program for them. It's not like there is a big group of parents advocating on their behalf," Hahnel said. Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest, educates more than 5,000 foster children. For next year, it has earmarked $9.9 million to hire 92 guidance counselors, behavior specialists, attendance monitors and service coordinators to help those students, a job that previously fell to just three foster youth liaisons. "We really scaled it up significantly so we could provide direct support to every foster youth, which is what we wanted to do but didn't have the resources to do," Erika Torres, the district's pupil services director, said. The 10 school districts in Santa Cruz County, with about 450 foster children, have proposed tutoring, counseling, extra-curricular activities and other help for foster youth in the region south of San Jose. County Superintendent Michael Watkins said such efforts are a result of the state "holding everyone's feet to the fire" by grading schools on support for foster children. "We won't know for a couple years, probably, but I'm hopeful this will stem the tide for youth who, through no fault of their own, end up in a system that totally fails them," Watkins said. Michael Jones, a resource teacher in the Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento, has doubts. "You can't fund decency. You can't fund caring. And unfortunately, that's a big problem with the system right now is the mindset is we will throw money at it and we will make things better," Jones said. "There is not enough money on the planet to put people in kids' lives who actually care and are there because they think it's the right thing to do." Six years ago, he founded a weekly class where students in foster care could meet each other, talk about their struggles, get a hug and pick up school supplies, toiletries, and even prom attire that he bought or were donated. He has since expanded it to the district's other high schools. Former student Kandance Stagner, 18, who has been in seven foster care settings since the second grade, graduated from high school in June and is preparing to attend college in Nebraska — achievements she attributes in large part to the nurturing environment Jones created. She hopes foster youth who come after her will get the sort of tutoring and other help she received. "I understand what they've gone through and I've been through what they've gone through and I chose to take a bigger and broader step," Stagner said. "I just know, I hope, that we will stop being the outcasts and the statistics."

13 мая 2014, 17:00

Private Documents Show Coca-Cola Played Both Sides Of The Drunk Driving Debate

WASHINGTON -- At various moments over the past two decades, Coca-Cola, the massive soft-drink conglomerate, has aligned itself with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in campaigns to promote vehicular safety. In 1996, the company teamed up with Wal-Mart to donate more than a quarter million dollars to MADD. In 1997, it launched a campaign in which it gave 15 cents for every case of soda sold in Wal-Mart stores over a six-week period to the anti-drunk driving organization. In 2012, Coca-Cola's own website praised the "crucial role" that MADD was playing in the United States in "aiding the fight against drunk driving." Unbeknown to MADD, at the same time that Coca-Cola was helping organizations combat drunk driving, the company was also a member of a trade association that fought tougher drunk driving laws. Companies like Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's were members of ABI in 2013. Coca-Cola Food Service is among the nearly 150 companies listed as members of the trade association American Beverage Institute either in 2011 or 2013, according to documents obtained by The Huffington Post. Coca-Cola North America -- the North American operation -- was listed as a member in 2003. "On behalf of our customers, Coca-Cola has provided support to ABI over the years," said Coca-Cola spokeswoman Kirsten Witt. "We are not engaged in ABI advocacy efforts." Up until now, the companies' longstanding involvement with ABI has been largely a secret because ABI won't share the list of members with the general public. The Huffington Post obtained a list of names from the good-government group Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, which discovered the documents during a site-specific Google search of ABI’s website. "I really don't know what to say," said J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for MADD when told of Coca-Cola's association with ABI. "It is a little shocking. I guess it is unfortunate. But it certainly is their right." The American Beverage Institute was started in 1991 by longtime political consultant Rick Berman, whose advocacy on behalf of tobacco, guns, booze and anti-union interests has earned him the enmity of consumer advocates and the gratitude of industry forces grateful for a barroom brawler in Washington, D.C. ABI's mission, according to its website, is "the protection of responsible on-premise consumption of adult beverages." What that has meant, in practical terms, is campaigns to oppose legislation to lower legal blood-alcohol limits for drivers, stop the implementation of breathalyzer ignition technologies in cars, fight increases in alcohol taxes and push back against sobriety checkpoints. The work requires its fair share of political combat, often against MADD. The two groups have butted heads on nearly every alcohol-related issue. ABI officials routinely call MADD a "neo-Prohibitionist" anti-alcohol organization. The clashes still take place, though according to officials with each group, they happen less frequently these days. In addition to the combat, ABI's work has also required its fair share of secrecy. As a 501c6 organization, ABI is not required to list the names of its members. And, like basically all of Berman's empire, it doesn't. That secrecy has made it the object of frustration for critics who have complained that ABI is doing the dirty work of companies that wouldn't dare be caught advocating such policies on their own. "This is the way Washington operates these days," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director. "I think that many of those companies would be insistent that their participation be secret because there's just no way they want to take on those kind of aggressive tactics… . They're not going to go out and attack Mothers Against Drunk Driving. None of them. But they seem happy Mothers Against Drunk Driving is attacked." In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sarah Longwell, ABI's managing director, insisted that the organization's member list is not private. "We give these out to prospective members. We give them out to all of our current members. We publish a book every year that has all the companies in it," she said. But when The Huffington Post asked Longwell to direct us to a list of members on ABI's website, she acknowledged that no such page exists. During an interview on Friday, she agreed to provide a full copy of the materials handed out to members at the organization's retreats. She then backtracked, offering the material only if The Huffington Post shared with her the ABI info that we had obtained. We declined. "We don't like to have our members singled out by reporters. So we don't just turn over our list to them when they ask," Longwell said, explaining why the names were not being given upon request. Later, she insisted that the whole matter was overblown. "If you just googled the major companies in the restaurant, beer, wine and spirits industries, you pretty much have a list of our members," she said. "It's everybody."  In 2011 promotional materials, ABI broke down its members. According to 2011 ABI materials, an estimated 48 percent of the group's members are from the wine, beer and liquor industry. The names of members include companies like Samuel Adams, MillerCoors and Skyy Spirits that would have less obvious discomfort being part of a trade association that pushes hot-buttoned alcohol-industry-related policies. Longwell took issue with the characterization from critics that her group tries to help these companies undermine stricter drunk driving laws. She pointed out that ABI has worked with MADD's founder Candy Lightner, who had a falling-out with the organization in 1994. Several reporters who have covered the political battles over drunk driving laws, including The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim, have criticized MADD for overreach. But the list of ABI members also include several companies that, like Coca-Cola, cater to a wider audience that may find the association troubling. All told, 33 percent of ABI's members are restaurants, including family-oriented chains like Chili's, Ruby Tuesday, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and P.F. Changs. The Huffington Post reached out to every organization listed on the ABI documents from 2011 and 2013. Few responded to the requests. The majority of those who did referred comment to the association itself. "Red Bull works with industry associations throughout the world; these working relationships are matters for the associations and are not appropriately answered by individual members," said Anna Berkl, international communication specialist for Red Bull Media House. Other companies said they were proud to associate with the trade group and supported some of its efforts. "Hard Times Cafe does not support the reduction [of the legal blood alcohol level] to .05 from .08," said Rich Kelly, an executive at Hard Times. "We are in favor of the courts enforcing the laws that are in place." A few, however, sought some distance from ABI or some of its political efforts. "We became a member because we sell a great deal of beverages in multiple venues, but we’ve never participated in a campaign," said Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson. In public materials, ABI claims to have 8,000 members, though several of the companies listed on their materials, including Heineken and Foster's Group, said that they weren't actually members during the year they were listed. ABI members are asked to pay various amounts of dues. According to other 2003 documents, retail members are expected to pay "$125 per unit per year, with a maximum contribution of $100,000." Companies that produce beer, wine, and spirits have dues fees as low as $2,500 a year (if their annual sales are under $500,000) and as high was $75,000 a year (if their sales are above $2.1 billion). Those member that are "non-alcohol" companies pay dues based on how many meetings they attend per year. The range is between $2,500 a year (for companies with under $1 billion in sales that attend no meetings) to $45,000 a year (for those with $2 billion in sales that attend the three ABI meetings a year). What a company gets for those payments are a variety of influence-peddling functions without their fingerprints attached. Among the various efforts that ABI has opposed are increases in the alcohol tax, bans on alcohol advertising, and the installment of more sobriety checkpoints, which ABI deems neither effective or cheap. The group has fought againts the lowering of blood alcohol limits, which it says hurts "responsible moderate drinkers" and it opposes the development and use of ignition interlock devices in cars, which it argues will eventually evolve into a mandate that all cars be equipped with such technology. ABI was registered to lobby the federal government up until 2007. It still writes op-eds, editorials and letters to the editor; operates a number of astroturf websites; runs thousands of public service announcements on radio; produces informational campaigns and places ads against "negligent driving" -- in which it calls attention to the role played by cell phone use while downplaying the role of drinking. Two ABI ads can be viewed below.   According to tax forms, in 2012, ABI raised a total of $1,545,823 ($1.46 million of which came from membership dues) while spending $1,635,175. Longwell said that in the trade association world, that total was "not a lot of money." For a small group, however, ABI does seem to have outsized influence. And for Sloan and others, the fact that the group's donors would have remained private were it not for a well-timed google search is problematic. ABI's secrecy is not universal; some trade groups do disclose their members. "It allows the members to have things said on their behalf that they would never say themselves," said Sloan. Paul Blumenthal contributed reporting. List of companies that ABI listed as members 2011 or 2013: 

13 мая 2014, 17:00

Private Documents Show Coca-Cola Played Both Sides Of The Drunk Driving Debate

WASHINGTON -- At various moments over the past two decades, Coca-Cola, the massive soft-drink conglomerate, has aligned itself with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in campaigns to promote vehicular safety. In 1996, the company teamed up with Wal-Mart to donate more than a quarter million dollars to MADD. In 1997, it launched a campaign in which it gave 15 cents for every case of soda sold in Wal-Mart stores over a six-week period to the anti-drunk driving organization. In 2012, Coca-Cola's own website praised the "crucial role" that MADD was playing in the United States in "aiding the fight against drunk driving." Unbeknown to MADD, at the same time that Coca-Cola was helping organizations combat drunk driving, the company was also a member of a trade association that fought tougher drunk driving laws. Companies like Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's were members of ABI in 2013. Coca-Cola Food Service is among the nearly 150 companies listed as members of the trade association American Beverage Institute either in 2011 or 2013, according to documents obtained by The Huffington Post. Coca-Cola North America -- the North American operation -- was listed as a member in 2003. "On behalf of our customers, Coca-Cola has provided support to ABI over the years," said Coca-Cola spokeswoman Kirsten Witt. "We are not engaged in ABI advocacy efforts." Up until now, the companies' longstanding involvement with ABI has been largely a secret because ABI won't share the list of members with the general public. The Huffington Post obtained a list of names from the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which discovered the documents during a site-specific Google search of ABI’s website. "I really don't know what to say," said J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for MADD when told of Coca-Cola's association with ABI. "It is a little shocking. I guess it is unfortunate. But it certainly is their right." The American Beverage Institute was started in 1991 by longtime political consultant Rick Berman, whose advocacy on behalf of tobacco, guns, booze and anti-union interests has earned him the enmity of consumer advocates and the gratitude of industry forces grateful for a barroom brawler in Washington, D.C. ABI's mission, according to its website, is "the protection of responsible on-premise consumption of adult beverages." What that has meant, in practical terms, is campaigns to oppose legislation to lower legal blood-alcohol limits for drivers, stop the implementation of breathalyzer ignition technologies in cars, fight increases in alcohol taxes and push back against sobriety checkpoints. The work requires its fair share of political combat, often against MADD. The two groups have butted heads on nearly every alcohol-related issue. ABI officials routinely call MADD a "neo-Prohibitionist" anti-alcohol organization. The clashes still take place, though according to officials with each group, they happen less frequently these days. In addition to the combat, ABI's work has also required its fair share of secrecy. As a 501c6 organization, ABI is not required to list the names of its members. And, like basically all of Berman's empire, it doesn't. That secrecy has made it the object of frustration for critics who have complained that ABI is doing the dirty work of companies that wouldn't dare be caught advocating such policies on their own. "This is the way Washington operates these days," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director. "I think that many of those companies would be insistent that their participation be secret because there's just no way they want to take on those kind of aggressive tactics… . They're not going to go out and attack Mothers Against Drunk Driving. None of them. But they seem happy Mothers Against Drunk Driving is attacked." In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sarah Longwell, ABI's managing director, insisted that the organization's member list is not private. "We give these out to prospective members. We give them out to all of our current members. We publish a book every year that has all the companies in it," she said. But when The Huffington Post asked Longwell to direct us to a list of members on ABI's website, she acknowledged that no such page exists. During an interview on Friday, she agreed to provide a full copy of the materials handed out to members at the organization's retreats. She then backtracked, offering the material only if The Huffington Post shared with her the ABI info that we had obtained. We declined. "We don't like to have our members singled out by reporters. So we don't just turn over our list to them when they ask," Longwell said, explaining why the names were not being given upon request. Later, she insisted that the whole matter was overblown. "If you just googled the major companies in the restaurant, beer, wine and spirits industries, you pretty much have a list of our members," she said. "It's everybody."  In 2011 promotional materials, ABI broke down its members. According to 2011 ABI materials, an estimated 48 percent of the group's members are from the wine, beer and liquor industry. The names of members include companies like Samuel Adams, MillerCoors and Skyy Spirits that would have less obvious discomfort being part of a trade association that pushes hot-buttoned alcohol-industry-related policies. Longwell took issue with the characterization from critics that her group tries to help these companies undermine stricter drunk driving laws. She pointed out that ABI has worked with MADD's founder Candy Lightner, who had a falling-out with the organization in 1994. Several reporters who have covered the political battles over drunk driving laws, including The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim, have criticized MADD for overreach. But the list of ABI members also include several companies that, like Coca-Cola, cater to a wider audience that may find the association troubling. All told, 33 percent of ABI's members are restaurants, including family-oriented chains like Chili's, Ruby Tuesday, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and P.F. Changs. The Huffington Post reached out to every organization listed on the ABI documents from 2011 and 2013. Few responded to the requests. The majority of those who did referred comment to the association itself. "Red Bull works with industry associations throughout the world; these working relationships are matters for the associations and are not appropriately answered by individual members," said Anna Berkl, international communication specialist for Red Bull Media House. Other companies said they were proud to associate with the trade group and supported some of its efforts. "Hard Times Cafe does not support the reduction [of the legal blood alcohol level] to .05 from .08," said Rich Kelly, an executive at Hard Times. "We are in favor of the courts enforcing the laws that are in place." A few, however, sought some distance from ABI or some of its political efforts. "We became a member because we sell a great deal of beverages in multiple venues, but we’ve never participated in a campaign," said Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson. In public materials, ABI claims to have 8,000 members, though several of the companies listed on their materials, including Heineken and Foster's Group, said that they weren't actually members during the year they were listed. ABI members are asked to pay various amounts of dues. According to other 2003 documents, retail members are expected to pay "$125 per unit per year, with a maximum contribution of $100,000." Companies that produce beer, wine, and spirits have dues fees as low as $2,500 a year (if their annual sales are under $500,000) and as high was $75,000 a year (if their sales are above $2.1 billion). Those member that are "non-alcohol" companies pay dues based on how many meetings they attend per year. The range is between $2,500 a year (for companies with under $1 billion in sales that attend no meetings) to $45,000 a year (for those with $2 billion in sales that attend the three ABI meetings a year). What a company gets for those payments are a variety of influence-peddling functions without their fingerprints attached. Among the various efforts that ABI has opposed are increases in the alcohol tax, bans on alcohol advertising, and the installment of more sobriety checkpoints, which ABI deems neither effective or cheap. The group has fought againts the lowering of blood alcohol limits, which it says hurts "responsible moderate drinkers" and it opposes the development and use of ignition interlock devices in cars, which it argues will eventually evolve into a mandate that all cars be equipped with such technology. ABI was registered to lobby the federal government up until 2007. It still writes op-eds, editorials and letters to the editor; operates a number of astroturf websites; runs thousands of public service announcements on radio; produces informational campaigns and places ads against "negligent driving" -- in which it calls attention to the role played by cell phone use while downplaying the role of drinking. Two ABI ads can be viewed below.   According to tax forms, in 2012, ABI raised a total of $1,545,823 ($1.46 million of which came from membership dues) while spending $1,635,175. Longwell said that in the trade association world, that total was "not a lot of money." For a small group, however, ABI does seem to have outsized influence. And for Sloan and others, the fact that the group's donors would have remained private were it not for a well-timed google search is problematic. ABI's secrecy is not universal; some trade groups do disclose their members. "It allows the members to have things said on their behalf that they would never say themselves," said Sloan. Paul Blumenthal contributed reporting. List of companies that ABI listed as members 2011 or 2013:  Correction: This piece initially labeled the group that provided the ABI documents, “Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington." Its correct name is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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23 сентября 2013, 07:22

Fred Ryan to step down at POLITICO, ACC

Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the founding CEO and president of POLITICO and president and COO of Allbritton Communications Company, announced late Sunday night that he would be stepping down to "pursue other career options." The news comes in the wake of chairman and CEO Robert Allbritton's decision to sell the company's television properties and invest more heavily in POLITICO and other digital ventures, including the newly acquired Capital New York. "Although it has been a difficult decision to make, I have concluded that the closing of the sale will be the logical time to pursue other career options that have emerged in recent months and explore how best to put my business interests to work in a new arena," Ryan wrote in a memo to staff late Sunday night. "I will remain in my roles at POLITICO and Allbritton Communications Company until my work in closing the television sale is complete. This gradual transition will allow Robert Allbritton to think about his goals for the company and his options for my successor at POLITICO," he wrote. Ryan has been with ACC since 1995 and has served as POLITICO's CEO since its launch in 2007. In a separate memo, Allbritton and the top POLITICO brass called Ryan's departure "a big moment in the life of our publication," which "comes at a moment when we are well-positioned to begin a new chapter at POLITICO." "We have some important decisions ahead, and they are coming at a very good time. As Fred noted, and we strongly agree, POLITICO is exceptionally well-poised for further editorial and business success and continued expansion," they wrote. "We are now talking about the smartest path forward, given our ambitions and imminent expansions into magazine journalism and into New York with Capital. Robert will have a lot to say on this in the coming days." POLITICO COO Kim Kingsley declined to provide further comment on Sunday night. The full memos after the jump. From Fred Ryan: Dear ACC and POLITICO colleagues, For the past seven years, I have held the best job in media. I have had the thrill and satisfaction of serving simultaneously as president of Allbritton Communications Company, an industry-leading group of cable and broadcast stations, and as CEO of POLITICO, one of the most successful media startup ventures of the digital age. The superb team at ACC has built and fostered a group of television stations that tops the industry in terms of editorial and business performance. Over the past year, we have devoted substantial effort to preparing the stations for sale - a process that achieved our high expectations. Subject to regulatory approval, we expect the change in ownership to take place late this year. The success of the sale was very gratifying to me personally and has also been an occasion to contemplate my professional and personal choices going forward. Clearly, the dual-hat role as president of both Allbritton Communications Company and POLITICO will no longer exist. Although it has been a difficult decision to make, I have concluded that the closing of the sale will be the logical time to pursue other career options that have emerged in recent months and explore how best to put my business interests to work in a new arena. I will remain in my roles at POLITICO and Allbritton Communications Company until my work in closing the television sale is complete. This gradual transition will allow Robert Allbritton to think about his goals for the company and his options for my successor at POLITICO. As you can appreciate, it's also a difficult decision on the personal level, given the deep and enormously rewarding relationships I have here, and how much I have enjoyed my role as POLITICO CEO. So I'd like to share some of the context for this move with you. Robert, my friend and collaborator for nearly two decades, and I have discussed this carefully to ensure that the transition unfolds in ways that position POLITICO and other enterprises remaining under Robert's ownership for maximum success in the years ahead. He has asked me to maintain a relationship with POLITICO by serving as a director and I have agreed. We will have plenty of time to continue to work together in the coming months, but it is important for me now to express something that I hope you already know, and that is how much I admire the business and journalistic achievements produced by all of you. The collection of talent in our newsroom and in our business operations is something truly extraordinary. Working with Robert, John Harris and Jim VandeHei as a co-founder of POLITICO has been one of the true highlights of my professional career. We set out seven years ago to create what I often called "the ESPN of politics" and we have succeeded beyond any reasonable expectations. Over these seven years, we have expanded our leadership circle to include such pivotal people as Kim Kingsley and Roy Schwartz. As I witness on a nearly daily basis, the indispensable ingredient of POLITICO's success has been our ability to identify and recruit the very best talent. There are now more than 280 people who work in our newsroom, business and technology operations, with expertise and judgment far beyond anything we brought to the table when we began our work in the fall of 2006. This place is in great hands. As far as POLITICO has come in seven years, its future could not be brighter. Mike Allen, who has been the "heartbeat" of POLITICO since our first pulse, frequently signs emails to me with the phrase "TYFP" - Thank You For POLITICO. But I am truly serious now when I say TYFP to all of you at POLITICO, and an equally heartfelt thanks to all my colleagues at Allbritton Communications Company. You will always have my loyalty, admiration, appreciation and respect. Fred. And from Robert Allbritton, John Harris, Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Kim Kinglsey: Friends, By now you have seen Fred Ryan's note about his plans to depart later this year as POLITICO CEO, and his fellow co-founders would like to add some very heartfelt words of our own. This is a big moment in the life of our publication. It is one we have known is coming for some time, and it comes at a moment when we are well-positioned to begin a new chapter at POLITICO. But that does not make the moment any less emotional for all of us. Fred's leadership at POLITICO has been unique and indispensable, and we hope everyone here will pause to contemplate how much we are in his debt. There are now 280 people in our POLITICO community who recognize and live by the conviction that this place is something special. It is not just a job but a mission -- to prove that a new kind of publication can produce great journalism and be a great business. At the beginning, seven years ago this fall, it was a small circle of people who realized that we had an opportunity before us that was something special, and that it was imperative we seize it. Fred was an instrumental voice in the circle and his role in those early days was much like it is now. He simultaneously pushed us to think ambitiously and to not settle for conventional goals or conventional results -- and also to think realistically and to remember that everything we do must make sense as a business and be sustainable for the long haul. The venue for two of the important conversations leading to what became POLITICO was at Washington's Metropolitan Club. The head waiter seemed to sense, somehow, that John and Jim looked out of place. He was about to call security until he realized they were guests at "Mr. Ryan's table," and escorted them over with great courtesy. Fred was better dressed than others at the table, but all of us instantly recognized that our ideas about the media business were wonderfully in sync -- and that is how they stayed for the next seven years. This group, with an uncommon shared respect for each other and amazing ability to finish each other's sentences, locked arms and created a publication that could never have happened without the contribution of every co-founder. Fred has been a skilled ambassador to all manner of important POLITICO constituencies on the business side. His credibility and reputation helped position POLITICO to be a co-sponsor of four presidential debates during the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. Along the way he showed a knack for promotion that would make P.T. Barnum envious. Most important, Fred has a gift for making work so fun that it doesn't seem like work at all. We have discussed his move carefully for months now. Fred has led Allbritton Communications Company to industry highs and, over the past seven years, has helped establish POLITICO as the dominant political news publication in the country. These are two organizations that have melded the highest standards of business, journalism and commitment to the public good. This year, Fred has played an especially important role in helping prepare the ACC stations for sale at the right price to the right owner. We understand Fred's view that now is a natural time for him to both enjoy his success and think about choices in his professional life. We are appreciative that he has made clear that his own deliberations and timing are secondary to his ongoing responsibilities as CEO of POLITICO, and he will not set those aside until a smooth and purposeful transition is complete. We are grateful also that he will continue to serve as an adviser to POLITICO, even after he moves on from the company. We have some important decisions ahead, and they are coming at a very good time. As Fred noted, and we strongly agree, POLITICO is exceptionally well-poised for further editorial and business success and continued expansion. We are now talking about the smartest path forward, given our ambitions and imminent expansions into magazine journalism and into New York with Capital. Robert will have a lot to say on this in the coming days. We have ample time still to enjoy Fred's presence and find ways to toast his success. No one will be doing that with more enthusiasm, and more knowledge of his contribution, than all of us. Robert Allbritton John Harris Jim VandeHei Mike Allen Kim Kingsley

19 сентября 2013, 04:32

Hassan Rouhani: Iran will never seek to build nuclear weapons

In interview with NBC, new president insists his country has no intention of developing weapons of mass destructionIran's new president Hassan Rouhani has told an American television audience he is hopeful of a diplomatic breakthrough over Tehran's nuclear weapons programme, insisting his country had no intention of developing weapons of mass destruction.Speaking before a crucial visit to the United Nations in New York, Rouhani claimed his government had "full power and authority" from Iran's supreme leader to negotiate over the nuclear programme, which the US fears is close to creating a bomb."The problem won't be from our side," said Rouhani in his first interview with western journalists since coming to power. "We have sufficient political latitude to solve this problem.""Under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever," he added in initial clips of the interview with NBC aired on Wednesday night"We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so. We are solely seeking peaceful nuclear technology."Though Iran has long insisted it has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear programme, the reassurances of Rouhani on US television before his trip to New York will help foster hopes in the administration that more moderate political forces are prevailing in Tehran.President Obama and Rouhani recently exchanged letters following Iranian elections and the two may meet on the sidelines of the UN general assembly next week.Rouhani even appeared to pay tribute to Obama's handling of the Syria crisis, saying it was not a sign of weakness to seek diplomatic rather than military solutions in such cases."We consider war a weakness and any government that decides on peace we look on with respect," the Iranian president said.He declined to comment on Iran's role in the deal over Syrian chemical weapons recently brokered by Moscow, but added: "We are one of the countries in the region that seeks peace and stability and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction."Earlier, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama welcomed the recent positive noises from Tehran."I think it's fair to say that the president believes there is an opportunity for diplomacy when it comes to the issues that have presented challenges to the United States and our allies with regards to Iran," he said. "And we hope that the Iranian government takes advantage of this opportunity."But Carney said the US will test Rouhani's assertions that he wants to improve relations with the international community.In his letter, Obama indicated that the US was ready to resolve the nuclear issue in a way that would allow Iran to demonstrate that its program was exclusively for peaceful purposes, Carney said.Rouhani said of the note he got from the White House congratulating him on his June election: "From my point of view, the tone of was positive and constructive.""It could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future. I believe the leaders in all countries could think in their national interest and they should not be under the influence of pressure groups. I hope to witness such an atmosphere in the future."Hassan RouhaniNuclear weaponsIranMiddle East and North AfricaUnited StatesDan Roberts theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

16 сентября 2013, 08:00

Tales from the development frontier

Tales from the development frontier is an important publication that presents analytical reviews and case studies that show how selected developing countries have developed light manufacturing to create jobs and foster prosperity. China's emergence as a powerhouse in light manufacturing is a major focus of this volume, but other countries in Africa and Asia are also included. Mindful of the adage that there is as much to learn from success as failure, the case studies examined in this book cover both triumphs and disappointments, eliciting from them lessons on the development of light manufacturing and how this sector can be leveraged to accelerate growth in poor countries where the initial conditions may not be quite ideal. The book brings out the role of focused, targeted initiatives that can help break the poverty trap and ignite growth that begins small but can eventually lift broader segments of the economy. Each successful enterprise or industry described in this book began as a family workshop, a microenterprise, or a group of small entrepreneurs meeting a limited demand in a small area. Although these fledgling ventures confronted market, institutional, and regulatory environments loaded with daunting obstacles, they managed to find room for organic growth, supported by focused government policy interventions to ease the binding constraints. At some point, though not necessarily at first, cooperation and even partnership with government policy makers helped to power a gradual transformation that turned small informal firms into modern corporations capable of establishing national and, eventually, international distribution networks. The book argues that this sequence of ground-level entry and gradual organic growth to a larger scale represents a common element in the growth of light manufacturing in the United Kingdom and other early developers, as well as the recent successes such as China. China's emergence as a powerhouse in light manufacturing is a major focus of this volume, but other countries in Africa and Asia are also included. Mindful of the adage that there is as much to learn from success as failure, the case studies examined in this book cover both triumphs and disappointments, eliciting from them lessons on the development of light manufacturing and how this sector can be leveraged to accelerate growth in poor countries where the initial conditions may not be quite ideal.

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12 сентября 2013, 18:32

Foster Wins EPCm Contract from Sasol - Analyst Blog

A subsidiary of Foster wheeler AG's (FWLT) Global Engineering and Construction Group received an EPCm contract from Sasol Petroleum International (SPI) to provide low pressure equipment for the latter's low pressure compression project.

12 сентября 2013, 01:29

#S17: Our One Demand Is To End Capitalism

On September 17, 2013, the second anniversary of the beginning of the Occupy Movement, tens of thousands will come together across the country and the world to honor the most important and influential social movement in generations. As we exchange stories about the past and ideas for the future, we will be opposing a number of the 1%’s toxic attempts to siphon even more of our money and power away from us. The Trans Pacific Partnership “free trade” agreement, the undue influence of money in politics, and the lack of accountability in the global financial sector will be just a few of our targets. But, as we attack these symptoms it is necessary that we remember the disease: capitalism. Without capitalism, there could be no undue influence of money in politics. Without capitalism, trade would be truly free. Without capitalism, the financial sector would be an embarassing relic of the past, a warning to future generations. Without capitalism, there can be no neoliberalism. Anticapitalism is the true big tent. Whether or not you think the reforms proposed and enacted by various Occupy-related groups (like StrikeDebt, Occupy Sandy and the Occupy Card) will fix the systemic problems of capitalism, they are campaigns worth supporting. They provide temporary relief to people who need the most and allow us to experiment with alternatives. This is a good thing. But we can't let a good treatment distract us from a cure. Without addressing the underlying cause of capitalism, these problems will only get worse. Globalization will continue to send jobs overseas. Technology will continue to automate human labor and obsolete the professions of millions of workers who will have no choice but to adapt. But for those who can't adapt to the new economy, the sentence under capitalism is death. This is because capitalism denies the necessities for human survival (like food, housing, and health care) to those unable to sell themselves to corporations. Even in times of plenty when you'd think we'd have to work less and less. The end of capitalism means the beginning of your new life - a life where your home cannot be taken from you by force to maintain the bottom-line of a multi-billion dollar company that pays less in taxes than you; a life where you own your future; a life where politics represents you. The end of capitalism means the life you’ve always wanted but never thought you could have. The end of capitalism means freedom. The 1% owned the mainstream American political system long before the Supreme Court upheld Citizens United. The 1% oppressed the global 99% long before “free trade” agreements became the norm. The 1% used the financial sector to swindle the people long before Dodd-Frank was repealed, long before the Federal Reserve. As we come together on #S17 it is important that as we oppose the institutions that capitalism has created to oppress us, that we oppose capitalism as well. If we allow ourselves to be held hostage by the symptoms of our disease we will never find our way to the cure. The cure, as we knew and demonstrated two years ago, is revolution. Two years after Occupy Wall Street was founded we are still here, and so are our problems. On September 17th, and every day - take the street, take your jobs, take back your money, take back your power. Organize.

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11 сентября 2013, 16:00

Nice or Tough: Which Approach Engages Employees Most?

It's probably no news to most people who work that poor leaders produce disgruntled, unengaged employees. Our research also shows convincingly that great leaders do the opposite — that is, that they produce highly committed, engaged, and productive employees. And the difference is cavernous — in a study of 160,576 employees working for 30,661 leaders at hundreds of companies around the world, we found average commitment scores in the bottom quarter for those unfortunate enough to work for the worst leaders (those leaders who had been rated in the bottom 10th percentile by their bosses, colleagues, and direct reports on 360 assessments of their leadership abilities). By contrast, average commitment scores for those fortunate enough to work for the best leaders (those rated in the 90th percentile) soared to the top 20th percentile. More simply put, the people working for the really bad leaders were more unhappy than three quarters of the group; the ones working for the really excellent leaders were more committed than eight out of ten of their counterparts. What exactly fosters this engagement? During our time in the training and development industry we've observed two common — and very different — approaches. On the one hand are leaders we call "drivers"; on the other, those we call "enhancers." Drivers are very good at establishing high standards of excellence, getting people to stretch for goals that go beyond what they originally thought possible, keeping people focused on the highest priority goals and objectives, doing everything possible to achieve those goals, and continually improving. Enhancers, by contrast, are very good at staying in touch with the issues and concerns of others, acting as role models, giving honest feedback in a helpful way, developing people, and maintaining trust. Which approach works best? When we asked people in an informal survey which was most likely to increase engagement, the vast majority opted for the enhancer approach. In fact, most leaders we've coached have told us that they believe the way to increase employee commitment was to be the "nice guy or gal." But the numbers tell a more complicated story. In our survey, we asked the employees not only about their level of engagement but also explicitly, on a scale of one to five, to what degree they felt their leaders fit our profiles for enhances and drivers. We judged those leaders "effective" as enhancers or drivers who scored in the 75th percentile (that is, higher than three out of four of their peers) on those questions. Putting the two sets of data together, what we found was this: Only 8.9% of employees working for leaders they judged effective at driving but not at enhancing also rated themselves in the 10% in terms of engagement. That wasn't very surprising to many people who assume that most employees don't respond well to pushy or demanding leaders. But those working for those they judged as effective enhancers were even less engaged (well, slightly less). Only 6.7% of those scored in the top 10% in their levels of engagement. Essentially, our analysis suggests, that neither approach is sufficient in itself. Rather, both are needed to make real headway in increasing employee engagement. In fact, fully 68% of the employees working for leaders they rated as both effective enhancers and drivers scored in the top 10% on overall satisfaction and engagement with the organization. Clearly, we were asking the wrong question, when we set out to determine which approach was best. Leaders need to think in terms of "and" not "or." Leaders with highly engaged employees know how to demand a great deal from employees, but are also seen as considerate, trusting, collaborative, and great developers of people. In our view, the lesson then is that those of you who consider yourself to be drivers should not be afraid to be the "nice guy." And all of you aspiring nice guys should not view that as incompatable with setting demanding goals. The two approaches are like the oars of a boat. Both need to be used with equal force to maximize the engagement of direct reports. 

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11 сентября 2013, 12:00

Nice or Tough: Which Approach Engages Employees Most?

It’s probably no news to most people who work that poor leaders produce disgruntled, unengaged employees. Our research also shows convincingly that great leaders do the opposite — that is, that they produce highly committed, engaged, and productive employees. And the difference is cavernous — in a study of 160,576 employees working for 30,661 leaders at hundreds of companies around the world, we found average commitment scores in the bottom quarter for those unfortunate enough to work for the worst leaders (those leaders who had been rated in the bottom 10th percentile by their bosses, colleagues, and direct reports on 360 assessments of their leadership abilities). By contrast, average commitment scores for those fortunate enough to work for the best leaders (those rated in the 90th percentile) soared to the top 20th percentile. More simply put, the people working for the really bad leaders were more unhappy than three quarters of the group; the ones working for the really excellent leaders were more committed than eight out of ten of their counterparts. What exactly fosters this engagement? During our time in the training and development industry we’ve observed two common — and very different — approaches. On the one hand are leaders we call “drivers”; on the other, those we call “enhancers.” Drivers are very good at establishing high standards of excellence, getting people to stretch for goals that go beyond what they originally thought possible, keeping people focused on the highest priority goals and objectives, doing everything possible to achieve those goals, and continually improving. Enhancers, by contrast, are very good at staying in touch with the issues and concerns of others, acting as role models, giving honest feedback in a helpful way, developing people, and maintaining trust. Which approach works best? When we asked people in an informal survey which was most likely to increase engagement, the vast majority opted for the enhancer approach. In fact, most leaders we’ve coached have told us that they believe the way to increase employee commitment was to be the “nice guy or gal.” But the numbers tell a more complicated story. In our survey, we asked the employees not only about their level of engagement but also explicitly, on a scale of one to five, to what degree they felt their leaders fit our profiles for enhances and drivers. We judged those leaders “effective” as enhancers or drivers who scored in the 75th percentile (that is, higher than three out of four of their peers) on those questions. Putting the two sets of data together, what we found was this: Only 8.9% of employees working for leaders they judged effective at driving but not at enhancing also rated themselves in the 10% in terms of engagement. That wasn’t very surprising to many people who assume that most employees don’t respond well to pushy or demanding leaders. But those working for those they judged as effective enhancers were even less engaged (well, slightly less). Only 6.7% of those scored in the top 10% in their levels of engagement. Essentially, our analysis suggests, that neither approach is sufficient in itself. Rather, both are needed to make real headway in increasing employee engagement. In fact, fully 68% of the employees working for leaders they rated as both effective enhancers and drivers scored in the top 10% on overall satisfaction and engagement with the organization. Clearly, we were asking the wrong question, when we set out to determine which approach was best. Leaders need to think in terms of “and” not “or.” Leaders with highly engaged employees know how to demand a great deal from employees, but are also seen as considerate, trusting, collaborative, and great developers of people. In our view, the lesson then is that those of you who consider yourself to be drivers should not be afraid to be the “nice guy.” And all of you aspiring nice guys should not view that as incompatable with setting demanding goals. The two approaches are like the oars of a boat. Both need to be used with equal force to maximize the engagement of direct reports. 

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09 сентября 2013, 18:21

Church leaders urge release of abducted Syrian bishops

VIENNA (Reuters) - A group formed to foster ties between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches appealed on Monday for the release of two prominent Syrian bishops still missing after their abduction in Aleppo province in April.

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06 сентября 2013, 14:14

Children removed from Christian sect after German police raids

Forty children taken from their parents in Twelve Tribes sect in Bavaria after allegations of child abuseForty children have been taken from a Christian sect in Bavaria, southern Germany, following police raids at a monastery and a farm after accusations of child abuse.The children, aged between seven months and 17 years old, are members of the Twelve Tribes sect, which has its roots in the US. They have been placed with foster families while the group is being investigated.The group, whose teachings are based on the Old and New Testament, is known to believe in corporal punishment. It had been under observation by authorities for some time, particularly for its refusal to send its children to school.Teaching licences were recently withdrawn from the sect's own school near the town of Deiningen, near Augsburg, with inspectors declaring its teachers unfit.The sect's two complexes were sealed off on Friday as officials explained that Thursday's dawn raids, carried out over three and a half hours by 100 police officers, were prompted by "fresh evidence indicating significant and ongoing child abuse by the members".Police said they were looking to press charges against the parents and the sect's chief, 54-year-old Detlef Markell, who has professed his innocence.By their own admission, parents of the Twelve Tribes, which has around 100 members in two locations in Bavaria where it has had a base for 15 years, are instructed to beat their children "with a small reed-like rod which only inflicts pain and no damage".On its website, the group declares itself to be an "open and transparent community that does not tolerate any form of child abuse. Our children grow up in a loving environment and are educated in the spirit of charity."But Helmut Beyschlag, head of Noldingen district court, said: "We suspect that parents were exercising abuse."According to initial reports, the disciplinary rods used were soaked in oil to make them more pliable during a beating, when children were allegedly struck on their bare feet, arms and backs, inside the former Cistercian monastery.Eyewitnesses to the police raids said no resistance was shown, and that as the children were removed they showed no emotion towards their parents.The Twelve Tribes lives a self-sufficient existence, producing its own food and electricity. As well as resisting the state education of its children, it also rejects sex education and the women (known as "sisters") of the sect are subservient to the men (known as "brothers"). The members believe themselves to be descended from early Christians.Following a magazine investigation last year in which the abuse allegations were raised, the sect strongly denied allegations of abuse, declaring: "We are an open and transparent community which does not tolerate any form of child abuse."GermanyEuropeKate Connollytheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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05 сентября 2013, 22:23

The 13 Questions Great Leaders Ask Their Teams

We’re often encouraged to “lead by example,” and that through your explanations of various tasks at hand or answers to conundrums, your team members will grow. While good leaders may voice a solution when a problem rears its ugly head, great leaders ask their teams how to solve it. By framing a problem around appropriate questions, your team will discover the right answers on its own terms, rather than simply being told. This fosters ownership, autonomy, and feelings of success – all crucial ingredients toward a healthy and productive group.

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05 сентября 2013, 20:12

Statoil Picks Foster for Feasibility Study - Analyst Blog

A subsidiary of Foster Wheeler AG, Global Engineering and Construction Group (E&C) recently received a contract from Statoil to conduct a feasibility study

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05 сентября 2013, 19:01

Why you need to dress like your boss

The team that dresses alike, works together better, apparently, and if you really want to get on in your career, you could do far worse than emulate your manager's dress senseFirst the bad news: if you think your co-workers dress like drones and pride yourself on your own "unique" sense of style, you're committing an act of sartorial career sabotage. A depressing new study has found that a "cohesive sense of style" in an office is perceived to create a better team spirit and foster higher levels of productivity. Accordingly, co-workers often subconsciously develop a uniform "look". And before you start claiming the sartorial high ground, nope, it doesn't matter if you dress better than your dull colleagues. Dressing differently is all it takes to find yourself rudely ejected from their style tribe and out in the cold.Now the even worse news: it's specifically your boss you need to style-stalk. In the same study, commissioned by Debenhams, more than two-thirds of managers admitted to a "heightened awareness" of staff with a similar style to themselves. Such colleagues "gain brownie points" they added.Yes, the idea of copying your boss's wardrobe to make them like you seems undeniably creepy; decidedly Single White Female. But the fact that employees emulate bosses, and that bosses approve, comes as no surprise to me. I worked in fashion journalism for eight years. I used to share a lift with the GQ team; I know that on any given day the office resembles a slightly unimaginative set for a Burberry campaign, so perfectly co-ordinated are their suits with ties all at identical widths. Last winter, Vogue suffered a severe outbreak of feather and fur gilets after a senior member of the fashion team debuted hers. The current dress code at Asos, I'm told, is tartan kilts and checks; they're grunging like it's 1991. There has been such a proliferation of Mouret-esque Galaxy dresses at News International that one Sun worker I know now refers to Wapping as Battleship Galaxy-Dress-Off. And ever since one former Shortlist editor started arranging her bleach-blonde tresses into a rockabilly beehive, hairlines rose as surely and steadily as dough during an episode of Bake Off. She fondly fingered these "tribute beehives", as she christened them, and happily dished out tips to junior staffers on getting a good rise.Upwardly mobile style copycats are nothing new, points out Julia Twigg, professor of social policy and sociology at the University of Kent. "Fashion has always been hierarchical in nature; historically lower-status people have dressed to emulate high-status individuals," she says. And what of the shared office dress sense? "Fundamentally, fashion is about relating to each other in groups," says Twigg. "Most people are very concerned at the idea of not fitting in." What is an office, if not a sweaty roomful of desperate people all clamouring to prove how well they fit in?A more prosaic explanation comes from 33-year-old charity worker Kate Lucas, who has noticed a shared dress sense among female co-workers at her offices in London. "People are busy, so if you see someone in the lift wearing something you like, you're bound to ask where they bought it." Could it be this simple? That dressing like your co-workers is less to do with a tribal identity, and more about sheer laziness? Why bother scouring the pages of Grazia if your co-worker has helpfully demonstrated what looks good and what looks rubbish? Modeling Zara's new denim dungarees is one task you can breezily delegate without an awkward email exchange.But where does all this desire to copy and fit in leave competitive dressing and fashion one-upmanship? It's a balancing act, admits Twigg. "Ideally, we want to be wearing the right clothes to fit into a group, but also looking slightly better than the others in the group," she says. "The aim is to mark ourselves out as somehow better and different, but not so different that we don't belong." Easy.Work & careersMagazinesNewspaperstheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

03 сентября 2013, 19:35

Higher Education, the President’s Initiatives, and the American Dream - in Three Charts

President Obama recently outlined a series of initiatives to make higher education more affordable to middle class Americans by driving better college performance, promoting innovation and completion in the marketplace, and ensuring that student loan debt is manageable. Economists have long known that education (or, as economists call it, “human capital”) benefits America as a whole. After all, a well-educated and highly-skilled work force is a key ingredient for long-term economic growth, especially in an increasingly competitive global economy. But there is also strong evidence that the economic benefits of college education to individual Americans and their families are large and growing.  In the 21st Century, a college degree plays an increasingly pivotal role in helping families achieve the American Dream – getting a job, earning a decent living, and climbing the economic ladder from where their parents were. But at the same time, paying for college has become more difficult, especially for middle and working class families, whose college attendance continue to lag behind that of wealthier families. That is why it is important that a quality higher education remains within the reach of all Americans, regardless of income.  Higher education brings many direct and indirect benefits, but two are of particular importance to the economic wellbeing of American families. First, higher education leads to higher wages and more-secure employment. The median weekly earnings of a full-time, bachelor’s degree holder in 2012 were 63 percent higher than those of a high school graduate ($1,066 compared to $652). Median earnings were even greater for those with graduate or professional degrees. At the same time, education lowers the chances of unemployment and acts as an insurance policy against economic downturns. The unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree was 4.5 percent in 2012, roughly half of the rate for people with only a high school diploma and well below the national average.  Second, higher education significantly enhances economic mobility. Higher education not only pays now in absolute terms, but helps successive generations climb the economic ladder and become better off than their parents were. For example, among children born into the middle fifth of the income distribution (in 2011, this would have been roughly between $39,000 and $62,000), only about 12 percent without college degrees end up in the top fifth as adults. But when children from this group attain college degrees, over 30 percent end up in the top fifth, nearly a three-fold increase relative to those without a college degree. Likewise, obtaining a college education insulates children against falling down the economic ladder.  Less than 10 percent of children born into the middle fifth will end up in the bottom fifth, if they get a college degree.  Indeed, with a college degree, almost 80 percent of children end up as well as, or better off than, their parents. However, whether a child attains higher education depends critically on family income. The good news is that overall the fraction of children completing a college degree has increased markedly over the past 20 years across all income levels. Unfortunately, disparities by income remain, and in fact have grown. In 2010, only 12 percent of children (aged 26-30) whose parents were in the bottom fifth of the income distribution completed a bachelor’s degree.  By contrast, over half of the children born in the top fifth completed a college degree. And children at the lower end of the income distribution have not experienced as rapid an increase in college completion rates.  This relationship between family income and college completion of children implies that income inequalities today carry on to the next generation. Increasing access to college education, regardless of family income, provides all Americans an opportunity to climb the economic ladder. The uneven increase in the rate of college attendance is partly due to the rising cost of higher education. Over the past several decades, funding of higher education has shifted from state assistance—in the forms of grants and subsidies—to increased tuition borne by students and their families. For example, at public four-year colleges and universities, tuition and fees (as a percent of revenue) has doubled since 1987, while the proportion funded by state and local governments has fallen by about one-third.  Today, facing higher tuition and bearing a greater share of college costs, the average undergraduate student loan borrower graduates with over $26,000 in debt.  The rising financial burden has made going to college increasingly difficult for the children of working and middle class families, whose college attendance increasingly lags behind that of wealthier families. And at the same time, too many working and middle class students who enroll in college do not complete their degrees, further increasing the gap with their wealthier peers. The President implemented several policies during his first term to increase access to a college education, including increasing the maximum Pell Grant award for working and middle class families by more than $900, creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and enacting effective student loan reforms eliminating subsidies to banks and redirecting those investments towards making college more affordable.  Building on these initiatives, the President last week outlined a new agenda aimed at driving better college performance, promoting innovation and completion in the marketplace, and ensuring that student loan debt is manageable. Combined, these efforts will make higher education more affordable and higher quality for middle and working class families, helping more students graduate with a degree that empowers them to achieve a better future.  And by fostering educational opportunities of middle and working class Americans, the President is ensuring a more skilled workforce and long-term economic growth for all Americans. Wesley Yin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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03 сентября 2013, 19:30

Four Areas Where Senior Leaders Should Focus Their Attention

It was getting close to lunch time and the people seated around the table — the CEO and seven of his direct reports — were clearly getting antsy. But it wasn't because they were hungry. In fact, they'd been eating snacks all morning, mostly out of boredom. The COO was at the front of the room, talking through slides projected on a screen. The conversation was primarily one way, with the COO explaining and, when necessary, defending his work. Finally, when we broke for lunch, the CEO took me aside and told me what we all already knew: "This is a waste of time." When you bring a senior leadership group together in a room, it's a massive commitment of resources. The hotel and food are the least of it. Even the consultant, if you're using one, is a negligible cost compared to the investment of monopolizing the focus of seven or eight highly compensated, time-starved leaders. Yet how often do those meetings consist of one presentation after the next, while the executives listen numbly or answer emails under the table? How often does the conversation involve everything but the big issues that need executive attention? With all that brainpower around the table, the focus of a senior meeting needs to be conversation, controversy, even conflict — not updates. Leaders should never sit and read together. They should be engaging and struggling with the organization's most critical and difficult-to-solve issues. So how do you get there? By creating an environment in which leaders are real, vulnerable, and brave with each other. An environment in which they can expose their weaknesses, break through silos, and engage one another with challenging questions, thinking, and decisions. My first rule for these meetings is no slide decks. As soon as someone projects slides onto a screen, the entire focus of the room shifts from each other to a single person (at best) or their smartphones (at worst). Neither is useful. Once the no slide deck rule is established, the team needs to choose where to focus their attention. Which brings me to my second rule. When I run senior leadership meetings, I make sure we focus on four things: 1. Decisions that move the needle. Don't waste energy talking about expense reports when you should be talking about mergers and acquisitions or a new business line or a reorganization. Incremental improvements are the purview of lower levels of management. One of my clients, the CEO of a company with revenues of a billion dollars, likes to measure this is by the number of zeros involved. Are we talking about a $500,000 decision or a $5,000,000 decision? If there aren't enough zeros, the decision isn't strategic enough and shouldn't absorb senior leadership time. Senior leadership should be focused on fundamentals, not incrementals. 2. The big arrow. Think of your company as one big arrow that contains lots of little arrows — projects, businesses, clients, business deals. The big arrow is your company's culture, strategic direction, core competencies, and core values. The CEO and his or her leadership team own that big arrow. The problem is that, often, the little arrows point in different directions as people solidify their silos, bicker amongst themselves, and neglect the larger mission. Senior leaders have the responsibility to make decisions and act in ways that break through silos and align everyone with the strategic and cultural direction of the company. That's how they can ensure all the arrows will be shooting in the same direction. 3. The next level of leadership. One of the most important roles of the most senior leaders is to engage the up-and-coming leaders, fostering their leadership and decision-making. That's how a company grows. Talking about the next level of leadership, developing succession plans, pushing decisions to that level, including them in strategic discussions — those efforts are high return. 4. Undiscussables. Talking about the thing that no one is talking about is an almost foolproof way to improve company performance. Maybe it concerns another leader or maybe it has to do with the performance of a certain division. Maybe it's about the CEO's leadership style or a lack of trust among the senior team. Whatever it is, the mere fact that it's important and not being discussed is a solid indication that it's holding the organization back. Dealing with whatever comes across your desk leaves the control in other people's hands. CEOs and other senior leaders can't afford to be that passive. Every single thing you do as a leader needs to have an impact. Your job is to think big. If the topic is outside the rubric of these four things, then it should be dealt with at a more junior level of the organization. During lunch, I shared these four points of focus with the CEO and we agreed that the most critical one, for his team, was the way his direct reports were working together. Or rather weren't working together. That had been an undiscussable for some time. By the time the team got back to the room, the slide projector was gone. At first, people were off-balance. What about the work they had put into their presentations? What about the safety they felt hiding behind slides? "Your brains are too valuable to sit through presentations," the CEO said, "Your brains need to think together." Then he threw a zinger on the table: "Look around the room. Who's not getting along with each other? Let's talk about that!" Silence ensued. To the CEO's credit, he did nothing to dispel the awkwardness. He tossed the ball and it was their turn to step up and run with it. Finally, after what felt like forever, one of his direct reports spoke up, admitting what everyone else in the room already knew but never talked about: He and another person in the room were having a hard time working together. And for the next three hours of lively, engaged, sometimes difficult conversation, not a single person looked at their email under the table.