Tens of thousands of disabled people could have had their disability benefit claims decided on evidence from assessment reports that were of “unacceptable” poor quality, government figures suggest.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures suggest that civil servants may have been deciding many personal independence payment (PIP) claims based on information contained in assessment reports that were of such poor quality that they should have been sent back to DWP contractor Atos to “rework”.DWP and Atos – which carries out PIP assessments on the government’s behalf – have both denied any such inference can be made from the figures passed two weeks ago by the minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton (pictured), to Labour MP Grahame Morris.But disabled campaigners believe the figures raise fresh concerns about the quality of PIP assessment reports and how DWP decides claims, following years of mounting anger about the way the extra costs benefit is run since it was launched five years ago as a replacement for working-age disability living allowance.Morris had asked DWP ministers how many PIP assessment reports in each of the last five years had been returned to Atos for “reworking” because they were “deemed unacceptable”.In another question, he asked how many PIP assessments Atos had carried out every year.But the figures showed only a tiny proportion of assessment reports were being returned by DWP case managers to Atos for reworking because they were “unacceptable”, with 301 (0.48 per cent of them) returned in 2013-14, 640 (0.18 per cent) in 2014-15, 748 (0.14 per cent) in 2015-16, 1,727 unacceptable reports (0.22 per cent) in 2016-17, and 8,702 (1.14 per cent) in 2017-18.The figures showed a huge increase in the last two years, but the proportions were still far lower than Atos had admitted to the Commons work and pensions committee last December.Giving evidence to the committee, Atos said the proportion of PIP assessments graded as “unacceptable” had been as high as 30 per cent at one stage of its contract and was still about five or six per cent.DWP explained last week that the rates revealed in the committee’s evidence session in December had been the proportion of PIP reports graded as “unacceptable” after an Atos “independent audit”, which was why they were different to the figures released to Morris.Only a tiny proportion of reports are ever audited.This suggests that in the last five years, assessment reports of an “unacceptable” quality may have been at times more than 100 times less likely to be picked up by a typical DWP case manager and sent back to be “reworked” than the small number of reports that were audited.With more than 760,000 Atos assessments taking place in 2017-18 and more than 780,000 in 2016-17, this suggests that tens of thousands of unacceptably poor reports could have slipped through the net and led to unfair decisions to refuse disabled people’s entitlement to PIP.Both DWP and Atos deny that this is what the figures show.But DNS has previously spoken to a DWP civil servant working on the PIP “frontline”, who has said that DWP case managers have strict targets for the number of PIP claims they need to process every day, and are quizzed by their superiors if they miss their weekly targets.He has said they are also “instructed to act on the assessor’s report, given that they are the medical experts”.This week, he stressed again that case managers are “browbeaten by the ‘you are not medically trained, go with the Assessment Provider’s justification’”, but insisted that case managers “do try to ensure accuracy and will question”.When asked to explain the discrepancy between the two sets of figures last Friday, DWP originally promised to respond on Monday this week. It finally responded after 4pm yesterday (Wednesday), nearly five days after the original request was submitted.When it finally issued a statement, DWP argued that its PIP decision-makers did not always return poor quality reports to Atos but were instead “empowered to overturn decisions without further involvement of the Assessment Providers”, while they would “also seek advice and clarification directly from the Assessment Providers without the need for formal re-work”. A DWP spokeswoman said this meant that its staff had not been basing huge numbers of decisions on unacceptably poor PIP assessment reports.She also said that “re-work guidance” for its decision makers was revised in September 2017 so that it was consistent with the guidance used by the Atos internal auditors, and “to help improve the quality and accuracy of the information that was the basis of the PIP decisions”.She added: “The proportion of all reports that are sent back for re-work is very low given the vast numbers of reports produced.“The vast majority of reports are of a quality that can be used by decision-makers in the first instance.”But she refused to say by noon today (Thursday) if DWP believed that its decision-makers prevented a similar proportion of PIP claims being decided on “unacceptable” reports as the Atos auditors.She has also repeatedly failed to explain why the proportion of assessment reports returned by DWP case managers to Atos as “unacceptable” shot up from 0.14 per cent in 2015-16 to 0.22 per cent in 2016-17, and 1.14 per cent in 2017-18, an increase last year of more than 400 per cent.An Atos spokesman said: “We don’t in any way recognise the interpretation of the data or the conclusions reached by Disability News Service.”DNS has been investigating claims of widespread dishonesty by PIP assessors – from both Atos and fellow outsourcing giant Capita – for nearly 18 months, and has heard from about 300 claimants who say their PIP assessment reports contained clear lies.Morris, the MP for Easington, said: “The minister for disabled people is presiding over a systemic failure, which is causing misery and hardship for thousands of vulnerable sick and disabled people.“DWP are not providing sufficient oversight and scrutiny, with so few reports sent back to Atos for re-work.“I can see from my casework, and I fear, that thousands of vulnerable people are being denied access to PIP based on substandard reports produced by outsourcing contractor Atos.“The health assessment process does not work and is a cruel system which harms the health and wellbeing of the sick and disabled.“There is gross incompetence at every level. The government demonise the sick, viewing them as claimants to be processed, rather than as people in need of support to manage often multiple complex health conditions.“The system will never be fit for purpose while the government’s motivation is about cost-cutting rather than an individual’s health needs.”Campaigner John Slater, whose freedom of information work has previously produced crucial data about the DWP’s PIP assessment contracts with Atos and Capita, said the new figures appeared to confirm his suspicions about the audit process.He said they appeared to show that a significant percentage of unacceptable reports are never spotted and acted on by DWP.He said: “My personal view is that the DWP is doing all it can to be opaque about the true extent of quality problems with PIP assessment reports.”Bob Ellard, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “To the uninitiated, this might sound like simple incompetence by the DWP, but for those with more experience of them will see that this is just one part of the ‘hostile environment’ that they perpetrate towards disabled people and other claimants. “For them to have the knowledge of such a high number of unacceptable assessments, and yet only rework a small number of them, shows once again deliberate maltreatment of disabled people for whom their benefit entitlements can form a vital lifeline.”Although there are not yet any statistics to show the levels of “unacceptable” assessment reports by the other PIP assessment provider, Capita, it is likely that similar problems also affect its reports.In December, the Commons committee heard from Simon Freeman, managing director of Capita’s PIP contract, that at one point, internal audits were showing 60 per cent of its reports were of an “unacceptable” standard, while the current rates were still at nearly seven per cent.
Tags: films • Fires Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Some San Franciscans remember a time when the corner of 16th and Valencia streets was a graveyard. Memorials filled the empty pit and the walls to commemorate the estimated 14 people (the final number is still unknown) who perished in a fire at the Gartland Hotel on the night/morning of December 12, 1975. Archival photos of the scene look eerily similar to the fire-ravaged excavated spaces at 22nd and Mission and 29th and Mission streets.That similarity is not lost on the makers of a new documentary about the Gartland, which was made by firefighters Michael Rustia, Ron Lewin, David Jebe and Adam Wood. In “The Gartland Fire,” shown at a private screening last week, they reconstruct the historical context of the fire and use the stories of the firefighters who responded to the fire to create a riveting and haunting narrative of the fire and its aftermath. They juxtapose that story with commentary from neighborhood luminaries, poet Alejandro Murguia and activist Roberto Hernandez, who draw parallels between fires and gentrification. This is a firefighter film, made by firefighters for the 150th anniversary of the San Francisco Fire Department. To outsiders, parts of it can feel a bit like exclusive insider banter. (Firefighters I spoke to praised the film, by the way.)But having to guess what “hose lead” or a “box” or “going to a third alarm” mean doesn’t stop a layperson from being drawn into the sometimes horrifying, sometimes lighthearted retelling of what happened when the Gartland was set on fire. “The Gartland Fire” is compelling despite being very procedural. The latter is helped by the inclusion of vast amounts of archival footage and photographs that illustrate the firemen’s stories. The events unfold strictly chronologically, and the film explains thoroughly the location, layout, and history of the Gartland fire, as well as the technical difficulties that kept firefighters from reaching victims. “It was pretty tough to put down,” said Gary Leal, a firefighter who fought the Gartland blaze, because the arsonist who started the fire had spread gasoline all over the stairways.There are horrific details of the victims firefighters weren’t able to reach including the woman who came to the window and then simply melted away. And then there is the task of excavating and transporting the bodies, a macabre but necessary reminder of the loss caused by the fire.But perhaps even more important to viewers who live in a modern San Francisco, where fires still plague low-income neighborhoods and buildings, is the context. Through the notes of neighborhood news reporters working at the time at legacy newspapers like El Tecolote and the New Mission News, Rustia pieced together a map of the blocks surrounding the Gartland and illustrated the frequency of fires. In just two years after the Gartland fire, the nearby blocks were hit by dozens of fires. In the nine-block area around the Gartland, there were 146 fires, 14 proven to be arson, in the three year period from 1974 to 1976. At least 56 of those occurred in the peak year, 1975.Firefighters in the film remember being called to a near-unimaginable number of blazes. In some cases they are in the process of putting out one fire and already seeing the smoke or glow of another one a few blocks away. One firefighter recalls working on a fire only to see two more ignite at the same time in different buildings.“The thing we recall is the amount of fires. Every watch, it was guaranteed to be a fire…you had arson like crazy,” said Dennis Pardini, a firefighter who was at the Gartland, after watching the film. Indeed, Pardini said he’d been there responding to another fire two weeks earlier, finding heaps of mattresses stacked in the basement. For context, Mission Local has covered around 25 fires in the entire neighborhood in the last two years, at least three of them occurring in tents on the street and some of them at commercial buildings. While the Gartland and other fires of its time were ruled arson, evidence of foul play has not been found in any of the recent residential fires in the Mission.But, as the documentarians make clear, a fire doesn’t have to be caused by arson to be devastating. In the film, Hernandez and Murguia point out that fire-damaged buildings are often converted, in effect, from housing for low-income tenants who have been able to stay there because of rent control to much higher priced rentals, or even newly constructed condominiums. In the case of the two most devastating fires in the neighborhood in recent years, the owners have marketed the property after the fires, but neither property has been redeveloped. Tenants displaced by both continue to wait, in the case of 22nd Street for more than two years, for someone to rebuild the sites. In the meantime, they struggle to hold on in the city. “If it’s neglect or arson, the effect is the same. People still can’t come back,” the filmmakers told me.The producers of “The Gartland Fire” are still circulating the film to film festivals and therefore unable to publicly screen it, but hope to release it after it makes its festival debut. 0%
Godzilla, that stalwart of the man-in-a-dinosaur-costume-stepping-on-toys genre, emerged from the depths of the sea in 1954, and has been featured in 32 sequels. The spectacle of watching an oversize rubber iguana go full Keith Moon on an elaborate, flaming set of obvious papier-mache landscapes populated with dollhouse cities and model trains and cars is its own elevator pitch (hence the sequels).It’s not high art, but it’s on. And you’re watching it.And yet, there are deeper themes at play here. Godzilla, conjured into being by humankind’s callous and irresponsible use of nuclear power, is a large and ungainly metaphor. He is the embodiment of the horrifying destructive power derived by splitting the atom — which, for Japanese postwar audiences, was hardly a hypothetical scenario.Somewhat amazingly, in later films Godzilla was cast as the hero, protecting humanity from more predatory monsters. The people cheered as the warring gargantuans did battle (ravaging their cities in the process). Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Nobody I’ve spoken to thinks Prop. C isn’t going to pass. Polls quoted to me put it comfortably ahead. But not at the two-thirds plateau necessary to avoid the being tied up, for years, in litigation from anti-tax absolutists insistent that a mere majority is not enough for such a revenue measure. Prop. C backers are pretty open, at this point, about how their only remaining hope is that a judge may rule in their favor — if they can dissuade 23 percent of the voters from taxing Jack Dorsey’s money.Government sources, however, tell me the City Attorney feels pretty solid about San Francisco prevailing in such a suit, meaning there’s a better than decent chance that this money will, eventually, get collected and get spent. Many of Prop. C’s biggest backers ought to be ebullient. But they aren’t exactly that. Rooting for your gargantuan to beat their gargantuan doesn’t quite feel like participatory democracy.“It shows us that the system is broken,” says a veteran city politico. “This is great, but it also turns us into serfs begging for some rich person to be on our side.” Millionaires, billionaires, or confederations of both spending lavishly to entrench their special interests has, for quite some time, been par for the course on the federal and state levels. Anyone who’s perused the state ballot measures is aware of this; we have healthcare unions battling dialysis centers (Prop. 8) and an ambulance company serving as the sole funder for a measure that would let it off the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in potential legal payouts while additionally pawning hundreds of millions in labor costs off on the public (Prop. 11). But, increasingly, that’s how things work on even the municipal level. Airbnb spent more than $8 million to avoid tighter regulation, defeating Prop. F in 2015. One year later, soda companies spent some $23 million fighting a sugary beverage tax — but lost thanks to $15.4 million in spending for the tax, including more than $9 million alone from rich person and liliputian gargantuan Michael Bloomberg (of note, roughly $40 million was spent on the 22nd proposition of 24 on the ballot that year). People-powered campaigns sometimes do win against the heavy funding of a Ron Conway, a Don Fisher, or the many intertwined corporate Political Action Committees. But, mostly, they lose. Having your own gargantuan is a better bet. The only loser is democratic ideals. “I have lived my life and spent my career in this system,” says a city political operative. “We don’t really have a democracy anymore. We have oligarchs battling each other at the ballot box.” It’s not high art, but it’s on. And you’re living it. It was hard not to think of Godzilla trading blows with other titans as Salesforce co-CEO and benevolent billionaire Marc Benioff overtly sparred with a host of less generously inclined San Francisco tech barons, namely Twitter and Square CEO Jack “be the change you want to see in the world” Dorsey, Stripe boss Patrick Collison, and Zynga honcho Mark Pincus. The spectacle of San Francisco’s battlin’ billionaires has attracted no small amount of national press — which not every proposed municipal gross receipts tax can claim. At issue is San Francisco’s Proposition C, which would tax companies’ revenue at up to 0.5 percent after they gross $50 million and funnel that money into housing and other services for the homeless and mentally ill. As of Friday, Benioff and his company had put some $8 million behind the measure, single-handedly transforming what would have been a 4-to-1 spending disadvantage for the Yes on C forces into a 4-to-1 advantage. For those enthused about Prop. C (or enthused at separating Dorsey from his money, or both), Benioff has become an improbable folk hero. The Halloween transformation of Salesforce Tower into the Eye of Sauron was greeted as a hilarious joke — not a creepy metaphor of its own coming from San Francisco’s largest private employer and occupant of the city’s tallest building, overseeing all the realm. The sad truth of the matter is that, when you’re cheering on brawling gargantuans, it means that the conflict has transcended the realm of the little people below and is now in the hands of gargantuans. And there may be altruistic gargantuans and greedy gargantuans and better gargantuans and worse gargantuans but, long story short, you ain’t winning this fight unless you’ve got a gargantuan. So, there’s an election Tuesday. You should vote. If you’ve failed to register, you can do that at City Hall. Right now. I mean, you should read to the end of this column first, and then go do that. Especially on a district level — a small enough venue that on-the-ground organizing and old-fashioned get-out-the-vote tactics are not yet anachronistic — it remains somewhat challenging to simply buy an election. That will be tested this year, as it is every year; millions of dollars in Independent Expenditure money are propping up what used to be called “downtown-friendly” candidates. That includes, by the way, a $50,000 donation to the IE campaign backing District 4 hopeful Jessica Ho — made by none other than Salesforce. Contributing to the orgy of soft money flooding candidate races isn’t folk hero-type stuff (unless you’re Mitt Romney or something). Ho, who — mind-blowingly — didn’t even move to this city until March, notably does not support Prop. C. We inquired of Salesforce why this donation was made and whether any of it had been subsequently rescinded. A company spokesperson wrote back, somewhat opaquely, “We made the decision to contribute to the Safe and Clean Sunset Coalition some time ago.” Well, perhaps, but the donations were made on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. “We are focusing our efforts on Prop. C, and have requested a return of our contribution.”No doubt they’ll get it back. The Eye of Sauron does see all.Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have donated a tremendous amount of money to social causes. He was, legitimately, burned up about what he perceived as cruel and publicity-conscious rousting of homeless people during Super Bowl 50 and our leaders’ selling out of our city without “without regard to our public schools, hospitals, & homeless.” Benioff gives his employees time to do work in the community; he doesn’t just want them cutting a check. He wants them to be involved. So, Benioff is something of a mensch. But he’s also a billionaire. And he’s also the co-CEO of a publicly traded company. He has a fiduciary interest to maximize the well-being of his shareholders. He has not said he’s pushing Prop. C solely due to simple altruism (though that’s likely part of it) or to show up the San Francisco billionaires he’s accused of miserliness (though that may well be part of it too). He has, however, emphasized that Prop. C is good for business because a humanitarian crisis on our streets is not. That’s likely true, too. But it’s also the kind of thing a responsible fiduciary would do. Volunteering to pay more in corporate taxes out of simple benevolence is the sort of act that inspires shareholder lawsuits. So you could argue there are sound business reasons to reduce human misery on San Francisco’s streets. But it’s harder to come up with any shareholder-pleasing rationales for stocking San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors with left-leaning legislators who’d work against Mayor London Breed. For Salesforce to send $50,000 toward Ho — toothpaste money — could be considered a mollification for the mayor and her backers. Considering the high drama and unusual dynamics of Prop. C, the donation to Ho was an embarrassing misstep that was quickly undone. And yet, even beyond a make-good move, it made sense on a higher level. “There are all kinds of ways a progressive Board could be very damaging to the tech industry,” notes a longtime city political shot-caller. “To start with, they might make them obey the law.” Email Address
Making pie isn’t like operating an app-based business in San Francisco. There are rules. If you don’t follow the rules, you don’t make good pie. Karen Heisler follows the rules. Karen Heisler makes good pie. Before co-founding Mission Pie a dozen years ago, Heisler spent 15 years working for a regulatory outfit you may have heard of: the Environmental Protection Agency. She specialized in agricultural and pesticide regulation. “I believe in the law,” she says. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Email Address In April, the news broke that DoorDash — one of the many food delivery services of the sort Heisler will not do business with — was applying tips given to its delivery workers to their base wages instead of treating them as what they are: a gratuity. For a company capitalized to the tune of billions of dollars, this was a profoundly petty move. And, of course, it would also appear to constitute wage theft: Supervisor Aaron Peskin took it upon himself to personally file a complaint with the city’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. Heisler noticed this. And she subsequently reached out to Peskin with an intriguing message: Think bigger. Rather than just reacting to one particularly odious move by one particularly callous company, why not focus on the fundamental issue: that food delivery outfits’ practice of classifying their workers as contractors — and not employees — all but certainly contravenes state law. Their business model would appear to be expressly illegal — and, in fact, is designed to be that way, thereby avoiding regulation and ensuring that a competitive advantage is, pun intended, baked in. This is not just the opinion of a put-upon pie-maker watching scofflaws slice into her profits and viability, but of legal experts. Last year, the state Supreme Court handed down what is now known as the “Dynamex” decision. The takeaway from that 82-page ruling: We start with the presumption that workers are employees, not contractors — a presumption akin to “innocent until proven guilty. On top of that, the onus is on the employer to establish that workers are, indeed, contractors and not employees. This is done through a three-pronged “ABC” test, each category of which must be met: (A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.This is arcane and complex and grows ever more so when we tumble down the rabbit hole of billion-dollar-app-based services’ surreal claims that their workers are, in reality, their customers — a claim that goes down easier after a few slugs of whiskey or a frying pan to the head. In actuality, these companies claim, they are not people- or food-delivery services but ethereal tech platforms. These are not the droids you’re looking for. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Let’s leave that madness aside and stress that, whether it’s Lyft/Uber drivers or food delivery workers, it’s nigh-impossible to conceive of a scenario in which the ABC test can be passed. Among many other stumbling blocks, these are some of the most controlled and directed workers in the history of mankind. These workers should all be employees. “There is no doubt they will need to revamp their worker classifications in light of the Dynamex case,” says Golden Gate University labor law professor Hina Shah. Adds UC Hastings labor law professor Veena Dubal, “Under Dynamex, companies like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates are misclassifying their workers.” And, adds Dubal’s Hastings colleague, Reuel Schiller, that’s nothing new. “This idea of getting competitive advantage through regulatory avoidance — it happens all the time.”Earlier this year, Supervisor Aaron Peskin personally filed a complaint against Door Dash, alleging wage theft. Mission Pie’s Karen Heisler has a message for him: Think bigger. Photo by Lola M. Chavez.But there’s a difference between government and politics. In addition to spending heavily on (extremely creative) lawyers, app-based outfits lobby heavily, too. They also contribute mightily to individual politicians; Uber, for one, maxed out its givings to Gov. Gavin Newsom, always a friend in need for disruptive tech. As such, Newsom’s message in the wake of the Dynamex ruling hasn’t been “enforce the law.” It’s been about collaboration and conciliation and creating a blue-ribbon panel to “expand worker opportunity.” That’s fun. One could argue that the state Supreme Court’s ruling already did just that. So, local enforcement agencies aren’t exactly incentivized to start kicking down doors and, ahem, enforce the law. Everyone is waiting to see what happens in Sacramento, how various bills clarifying Dynamex fare in the legislature, and how numerous lawsuits are decided. Pat Mulligan, the head of the local Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement (OLSE), says he has several open cases regarding food delivery outfits. And, soon, he may have one more. Heisler has had conversations with the offices of Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Rafael Mandelman — and Peskin tells your humble narrator that, if he receives a favorable OLSE ruling in l’affaire Door Dash, he’d be amenable to filing a broader complaint of the sort Heisler envisions: “Oh, yes — in a hot second.”Until then, everyone here at Mission Pie keeps knitting, and drinking coffee, and eating forkfuls of dessert for breakfast. And, outside, we’re in stasis, too: The workers for delivery services don’t benefit from wage or hour laws or have health insurance, and, in the event something goes dreadfully wrong, they’re subsidized by the social safety net (i.e. you). Establishments like Heisler’s also pay taxes that enable this social safety net, yet find their business being syphoned away by outfits that, expressly, do not. It’s not clear how tenable this is for the restaurants that make the food — without whom all of this would be impossible. When you work in the pie business and rogues don’t follow the law, people get hurt. And things wither and die. It’s easy to see why. When you work in pesticide regulation and rogues don’t follow the law, people get hurt — and things wither and die. It’s just so much better when the government concerns itself with ensuring society gets what it desires from corporations rather than ensuring corporations get what they desire from society. But that all seems like long ago. Because it was. Inside Heisler’s restaurant, everyone is eating pie and drinking coffee. Some manner of knitting klatch is meeting around the large main table. Outside, the 14 and 49 buses rumble by on Mission. On their sides, high-contrast photos of delicious food entice would-be customers to stay in and have dinner delivered to their homes tonight. But if you want to eat Mission Pie, you’re probably going to have to put on your socks and your shoes and head down here. Heisler is unwilling to submit to the 25 to 30-percent commission these delivery services demand from brick-and-mortar establishments — a rate she says far outstrips her profit margin. Contracts she’s been shown, furthermore, wouldn’t allow her to recoup her costs by charging higher rates for delivery customers. The natural solution would be to raise prices on everyone, forcing the knitting klatch here to subsidize the folks at home enjoying Netflix and pie (She could also open up a remote ghost kitchen for delivery purposes only, and price everything there that much higher). But that’s not how Heisler rolls. To hell with all that.A Mission Pie kitchen worker prepares food.Her frustration isn’t that the “shut-in economy” has advanced to the point that contracting with a third party to have pies sent to your home is the epitome of San Francisco normal. If people desire delivery, let the people have what they want. It’s deeper than that. Heisler’s workforce is all employees. They have health insurance. She hands over payroll taxes and, additionally, with more than 20 employees, she and her co-owner Krystin Rubin are subject to any number of “employer mandates” this city has chosen to impose on its resident businesses. Well, some of those businesses: The app-based food delivery outfits do not tend to categorize their workers as employees. They do not tend to offer workers healthcare. They do not tend to pay the requisite employment taxes. They do not deem themselves subject to employer mandates. And yet they claim their pound of flesh from brick-and-mortar establishments that pay all these taxes and do all these things. “If this was a fair competition, I would be willing to accept it if the consumers didn’t want what I had to offer,” Heisler says. “But I am not willing to accept being outcompeted by virtue of another sector being given a pass when it comes to compliance with the law.” “We will not participate. We will not be extorted from.”
THE sixth Magic Weekend proved to be the most magical of all with a record-breaking attendance of 63,716 turning out to see two days of spectacular Stobart Super League action at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.The superbly-appointed home of newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City also drew a new event-high crowd of 32,953 on Sunday, when fans were treated to four matches of the highest calibre.Sunday’s attendance followed on from a crowd of 30,763 on Saturday, which featured three entertaining games, the last a stirring Hull derby which kept everyone inside the Etihad Stadium captivated until the very end.Super League Chief Executive Nigel Wood said Magic Weekend 2012 was an event the whole sport should feel proud of and has thanked Rugby League fans for the part they played in the two-day spectacular.“I think Magic Weekend 2012 encapsulated all that is great about Rugby League: superb athletes delivering skilful and exciting entertainment to enthusiastic crowds in a terrific stadium,” said Wood.“We witnessed some wonderful action out on the pitch and the players deserve rich praise for the high standard of play in the glorious sunshine.“I would also like to thank the fans who turned out in their tens of thousands to create a carnival atmosphere both inside and outside the Etihad Stadium.“Once again our supporters showed what Rugby League is all about and I’m sure they will turn out in even greater numbers over the coming months as the Super League season builds towards the Grand Final at Old Trafford in October.”The de-brief into the sixth Magic Weekend will begin on Monday and will involve full consultation with all stakeholders, including Manchester City FC and Manchester Council, who were very supportive of the event.“Manchester and Magic Weekend made for a very successful combination and clearly we will be exploring the opportunity to build on what we experienced over the last couple of days,” added Wood.
KEIRON Cunningham has extended his contract as Head Coach of his hometown Club until the end of 2018 after completing his first year in the position.Chairman Eamonn McManus stated: “Keiron is a young, talented and ambitious British coach who, even at the very beginning of his career, has already won the absolute respect of his team and of all at his Club.“In his first season he took the team to within a whisker of another Grand Final and against the background of an injury ravaged campaign. He will continue to gain experience, as will his young side.“No one knows the Club, and its standards and its expectations, better than Keiron. The extension of his contract will bring stability to the Club and enable him to implement longer term plans and strategy in addition to seeking immediate success.”Keiron added: “I really enjoyed my first year as head coach at the club and I am looking forward to the future with this great group of players. It is an honour to coach my hometown club and we are well positioned for success in the coming seasons.“I’d like to thank Eamonn, Mike Coleman, Mike Rush and the board for agreeing to extend my deal; they have been steadfast in their support for me.”
Brunswick Riverwalk Park is closed after being damaged during Hurricane Florence. (Photo: WWAY) BELVILLE, NC (WWAY) — As recovery continues in our area after Hurricane Florence and things start to get back to normal, some may want to get out and get some fresh air.One nature spot you won’t be able to visit for a while is Brunswick Riverwalk Park.- Advertisement – Belville Mayor Mike Allen says the park is closed for the time being as the town waits for contractors to survey damage and begin work.Allen says the town will take on the initial cost for cleanup and repairs but FEMA will reimburse most of that money.“We got a lot of trees down, our walkways and everything right now, the park’s completely closed,” Allen said. “We’re getting the estimates, and hopefully by next week, we’ll have a contractor in here cleaning debris up so we can open the park back up as soon as we can to the public, and we’ll make sure we put that information on our website.”Related Article: Florence sweeps away motel and family’s hard work, savingsAllen says he wants to thank everyone who has assisted in hurricane response and recovery.
Image Credit: Picdn Advertisement In February every year, the world celebrates what we now know as Safer Internet Day (SID). Organized by Insafe (a European network of Awareness Centers), its principle objective is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world.Internet safety is quite a broad subject whose scope of potential effects may range from privacy compromise and misuse to financial loss, emotional and physical harm. Back home, we ask: How have you prepared yourself to ensure your own internet safety?You visit someone’s profile and they have crucial information. Image Credit: BougieBlackGirlA couple of days back, Joanitah Nalubega delved a bit into basic checks and precautions that could help you maintain or improve your browsing experience. Today, we look at a few more that will help you draw a comprehensive safety checklist; – Advertisement – 1) Check for, and activate any additional security features (aside from the SSL already mentioned) that may trigger alerts you in case your profile is in danger of being compromised. These include email login alert for social media sites like facebook, yahoo and Gmail, as well SMS notifications.2) Maximize the use of privacy features and settings on any sites that have these options. Again, social media is the biggest culprit here. Some people put their bio-data out there for every Tom, Dick and Harry.You visit someone’s profile and they have crucial information like phone number, date of birth, email and their spouses exposed to everyone. Only people you consider close enough should have access to this information.3) Certain streaming websites (news, sports and other events) contain multiple adverts that may either be malicious or time wasting. Most of them have actually have provisions for closing the ads without necessarily visiting the embedded links, but these are usually made less conspicuous than the hoax close options that are always more prominent.4) Turn off the location feature when posting social media status updates unless you are travelling to some place you don’t know. It may make it easy for someone trailing you to locate you. Some smart phones have this feature turned on by default.5) Regularly change/update personal security information such as passwords. Social media is awash with a number of applications and games that require the user to supply their passwords. You never know from which application someone will access your private information. [related-posts]6) Apply strict filtering on your email accounts to avoid running into spam emails. The same applies to social media accounts that are now awash with schemers and scammers.7) Avoid using the same password on all your internet accounts – email, online transaction accounts, social media, forum subscriptions and professional group memberships such as LinkedIn. Granted, we now live in an era where we have tens (and probably hundreds) of PINs and passwords that we ought to memorize, but maintaining the same password for each medium is never a good idea.8) Install and regularly update a strong anti-virus. Regular checks on trending anti-viruses may help. There was a time when Avast was the in-thing, then came AVG, f-secure, Kaspersky, Symantec (Which is still doing strong, I must add) and many others in between.9) Avoid download links that go through additional 3rd application downloaders. What do I mean? I have seen phones that cannot, for example, do direct 3rd application installations (such as whatsapp). In such cases, the app (or its update) has to be downloaded via a PC first and transferred via bluetooth before it can be installed on the phone.In some cases when a user just types “Whatsapp free download” (as an example), they are redirected to a site that requires them to get a third party application downloader first. Some of these are hoax download links that come with malware.10) Take note of warnings regarding browser add-ons and plugins that may affect your browsing experience. One example here is Internet Download Manager (IDM). Some add-ons slow down, and may temporarily hang or crash certain browsers. This may happen when you are in the middle of a composing an important email and you will end up losing your (unsaved) data.
Image Credit: apx-labs Advertisement Augmedix, a startup that uses Alphabet’s Google Glass to provide documentation services to doctors and other healthcare workers, said on Monday it had closed a $17 million (roughly 56.6 billion ugx) funding round led by investment firm Redmile Group.Augmedix’s employees transcribe doctors’ notes and update patients’ electronic medical record through Google Glass.The San Francisco company, which has raised $40 million so far, also said it had received investments from five US healthcare networks, including Sutter Health and Dignity Health, which together have more than 100,000 healthcare workers. – Advertisement – Augmedix, with 400 employees, said it serves doctors in nearly all 50 US states.Funds raised will be used to build up the service to serve more health systems and private clinics, the company said.Augmedix is one of 10 partners authorized by Alphabet to deliver enterprise services through Google Glass.The next generation of Google Glass wearables from the Mountain View giant has been expected for a while.Last month, a “reliable” seller on eBay was selling what was claimed to be the Google Glass 2.0 headset, also rumoured to be called Google Glass Enterprise Edition. The listing on the shopping portal also unveiled the design changes the forthcoming model of the virtual reality glasses will sport, matching leaked images spotted in a December FCC filing.The new Glass seems to have a folding hinge, and an outward-facing LED light. Folding hinge feature is in line with a report from last year which claimed that Google was working on the second-generation of its virtual reality headset.[related-posts]According to an earlier reports, Google is working on three next-generation head-mounted devices. One of them, interestingly, doesn’t have a screen at all, as per the report. It’s an audio-focused model meant for the sports crowd.Google is expected to unveil the Google Glass 2.0 at its upcoming developer conference I/O 2016.[Gadgets 360]
Advertisement On Wednesday as Cupertino, California-based tech firm, Apple Corp. was launching their most anticipated flagship, the ‘iPhone 7‘, Apple’s Chief Operating Office Jeff Williams showed off a new version of the Apple Watch, ‘Apple Watch Series 2‘, featuring a fast dual-core processor, a brighter screen, heart rate sensor, water resistant and a built-in GPS.According to Apple, the watch is designed with a GPS chip that allows for running and walking to be more accurately tracked during fitness sessions. The company adds that the watch is water resistant to a depth of 50 meters.Apple also showed off a number of new apps that come with the device, including Niantic’s popular location-based augmented reality game, Pokemon Go. The Apple Watch Series 2 is priced at $369 (roughly 1.3 million UGX), and will be available on September 16 as pre-orders are on September 9.[related-posts] – Advertisement – Apple’s first watch was shipped last year in April hoping for a new blockbuster product amid slowing iPhone sales, which contribute more than 60% of the companies annual revenue.While the company shipped 1.6 million devices from April to June, the product’s growth fell more than 56% from the same period in 2015, according to research analyst IDC.